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INSIDE

CN&R

Vol. 44, Issue 13 • July 1, 2021

OPINION

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Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Second & Flume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Guest Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 This Modern World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Streetalk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

NEWSLINES

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8

Downstroke: Council chaos . . . . . 8 Nonprofits help rebuild Paradise . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 New community advisory board for Chico police . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

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FEATURE

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What’s the solution for sheltering homeless?

ARTS & CULTURE

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July Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Reel World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Scene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Arts DEVO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Brezsny’s Astrology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 ON THE COVER: CYCLING ON THE MIDWAY BIKE PATH PHOTO COURTESY OF EXPLORE BUTTE COUNTY

353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928 Our Mission: To publish great newspapers that are successful and enduring. To create a quality work environment that encourages employees to grow professionally while respecting personal welfare. To have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Editor at large Melissa Daugherty Interim Editor Jason Cassidy Contributing Editor Evan Tuchinsky Staff Writers Ashiah Scharaga, Ken Smith Calendar Editor/Editorial Assistant Trevor Whitney

Contributors Alastair Bland, Juan-Carlos Selznick, Robert Speer Managing Art Director Tina Flynn Publications & Advertising Designers Cathy Arnold, Katelynn Mitrano, Jocelyn Parker Sales & Business Coordinator Jennifer Osa Advertising Consultant Ray Laager Distribution Lead Trevor Whitney Distribution Staff Michael Gardner, Drew Garske, Jackson Indar, Bill Unger, Richard Utter, David Wyles

Mail PO Box 13370 Sacramento, CA 95813 Phone (530) 894-2300 Website chico.newsreview.com President/CEO Jeff vonKaenel Director of Nuts & Bolts Deborah Redmond Director of Dollars & Sense Miranda Hansen Accounting Staff Gus Trevino Developer John Bisignano System Support Specialist Kalin Jenkins Got a News Tip? chiconewstips@newsreview.com Post Calendar Events chico.newsreview.com/calendar Want to Advertise? cnradinfo@newsreview.com Editorial Policies: Opinions expressed in CN&R are those of the authors and not of Chico Community Publishing, Inc. Contact the editor for permission to reprint articles or other portions of the paper. CN&R is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or review materials. Email letters to cnrletters@newsreview.com. All letters received become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to print letters in condensed form and to edit them for libel. Advertising Policies: All advertising is subject to the newspaper’s Standards of Acceptance. The advertiser and not the newspaper assumes the responsibility for the truthful content of their advertising message. CN&R is printed at PressWorks Ink on recycled newsprint. CN&R is a member of Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, AAN and AWN.

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OPINION

Send guest comments, 340 words maximum, to gc@newsreview.com or to 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928. Please include photo & short bio.

SECOND & FLUME

EDITORIAL

Stand up to the extremists

by Melissa Daugherty m e l i s s a d @ n e w s r e v i e w. c o m

ACouncilman campaign targeting now-former City Scott Huber signals a new low local political action committee’s

eventually sent out an email attempting wash the PAC’s hands of the matter by saying that contacting the aforementioned company was “not cool and we condemn it.” in the annals of Chico politics, but more What a load of road apples. Thing is, disturbing is how it demonstrates that our DuBose didn’t release that weak condemnaonce-fair burg is susceptible to the type of tion until after Huber resigned. It had been extremism that threatens the very fabric of days since he complained about his workplace our democracy. being targeted and how the harassment placed That may sound hyperbolic, but let’s him in jeopardy of losing that job, a gig he review recent events. secured following a COVID-era job loss. After learning that Huber had taken a DuBose knew full well what she was seasonal job out of state at an outfit that doing: instigating a low-class witch hunt. It offers guided tours of national parks, the was a truly reprehensible campaign, but it Citizens for Safe Chico PAC led by downshows everyone just what Safe Chico is all town businesswoman Teri DuBose sent out about. emails and took out ads on social media Though purportedly focused on commucondemning him for taking the job, with the nity safety, the PAC’s juxtaposition that he’d fled the main initiative has been region after letting “transient Sadly, there’s electing public officials camps take over Chico.” willing to install cruel laws Never mind that there a very real regarding homelessness. are only two regular meetings during the rest of the segment of our Exhibit A: The city is now being sued for those polisummer and how Huber had community cies, and the federal judge purchased plane tickets to be able to attend them. Better yet, that is bent on in the case says they’re consider how there’s nothing “winning” at unconstitutional. If anything, Safe Chico in the municipal code that has helped divert taxpayer precludes him from spending a all costs. funds in the form of that few months out of the region. aforementioned litigation, Or, you know, the fact that a development that has sullied the city’s Chico remains his home. reputation far beyond the confines of Butte Still, Huber’s temporary absence provided County. And, of course, it forced a Chicoan the perfect fodder for Safe Chico. out of his job and political office. DuBose took things way too far. Not so Sadly, there’s a very real segment of our subtly, one of her email blasts was accomcommunity that is bent on “winning” at all panied by the logo of Huber’s employer, costs. To hell with human decency, reason whereas the online ads paid for by the PAC and, yes, the Constitution. If that sounds cut to the chase by including a link to the familiar, it’s because we watched the result company’s Facebook page. It didn’t take of a mob mentality Jan. 6 at our nation’s long to rile up the lunatics among Safe Capitol. That dark stain on our country Chico’s followers, the kind of people who was instigated by PACs, politicos and other began reaching out to the company not power brokers. only to voice their displeasure with Huber’s Extremism is dangerous. We saw that in public service in a city 900 miles west but January at the federal level, and we saw it also to threaten to give the business bad locally last week. online reviews. As much as we disagree with DuBose, And that wasn’t the end of it: In online we would never jeopardize her business forums, some thought it was relevant to discuss what street Huber lives on and where by suggesting people boycott or write bad reviews about it. But the PAC is fair game, his wife works. That’s where he drew a line. and we certainly hope that it loses support Fearing for his family’s safety, he handed in now that it’s been exposed. his resignation shortly thereafter. Chico is better than this. Or at least it Even in conservative circles, DuBose’s should be. tactics went over like a lead balloon. She Ω

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CN&R

Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for August print edition is July 27.

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Busted I’ve never been more embarrassed for my beloved community. Because, while the Chico City Council and administration have made some pretty big blunders over my two-plus decades here, nothing compares with the “resting environment” set up for local homeless people on what’s essentially a gravel tarmac next to the airport. The site’s amenities, if one can even call them that, include a shade covering, port-apotties, picnic tables and unrefrigerated water tanks. Yet somehow the members of the council majority believe the place is fit for upward of 600 human beings in the middle of this particularly brutal Chico summer. It is, quite frankly, an unmitigated failure. In a word, shameful. I wouldn’t walk my dog at that site, let alone let him live there for any length of time. In my mind, the set-up closely resembles criminal negligence. Seriously. Were people to actually use it in this triple-digit heat—few have, for obvious reasons—I expect some would die. At best, we’re talking massive liability. It doesn’t matter that the site is temporary. Mind you, the only reason any type of respite space has been attempted is because a federal judge blocked the city from further evicting people from public parks until such time that a suitable alternative location is established. I can’t imagine this is what he envisioned. Indeed, the aforementioned accommodations are not going over well with the public, which accounts for the crickets coming from the council majority, Councilman Sean Morgan excepted. The former mayor has been busy pointing fingers. Last Friday (June 25), he went on the defensive, in rage-and-fear mode, in a letter to constituents. Charging that “powerful forces are working against our community,” Morgan lamented that the county threatened to withhold the money it had earmarked for the creation of the site and that it will not provide behavioral health services at the location. He also chided service providers, who he said “are having none of it.” “What is happening? We are under attack!” exclaimed Morgan. The veteran councilman is desperate for the public to believe the fiasco at the airport is somebody else’s fault, but it turns out there are numerous omissions in his narrative. The next day (June 26), Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Andy Pickett shot back with a detailed press release to set the record straight. The city and county had met months ago to discuss solutions, the document explains, and the Board of Supervisors had pledged a half-million dollars toward the creation of a site for resting and sleeping. But that commitment was based on, among other things, a location in the core of the city that had climate-controlled pallet structures, along with shower and laundry facilities. You know, something hospitable to everyday life. Moreover, according to Pickett, once the federal lawsuit was in play, the city declined to share its plans. Officials at the county seat found out about the location and amenities—or lack thereof—when the city revealed them to the public. And that site is, as Pickett put it, “not suitable in many respects for the county to provide mental health and social services, which are key components of the solution.” Speaking of getting busted, there’s a bit of that going around. Sunday (June 27), just six months into her tenure, District 3 City Councilwoman Kami Denlay tendered her resignation. In her announcement, Denlay claims she made the decision out of concern for her family. She implies that people had come onto her private property. She uses the words “loitering” and “surveilling.” By whom, she doesn’t say, though she makes a vague reference to an encounter with a “reporter.” To be clear, none of the CN&R’s reporters or editors went onto her property. Yet we were working on a story about her residency in the days prior to her resignation. Once we’d gathered enough information, there is definitely a chance we’d have come knocking. That’s what reporters do in these situations. And newsflash: It’s perfectly legal. It so happens the door we’d be knocking on isn’t in Chico—it’s in Red Bluff. That’s where Denlay and her husband purchased a house back in December, though the couple took her name off the title shortly thereafter. Interim Editor Jason Cassidy has the receipts on that maneuver, among other tidbits, all of which is public record. The story was developing on deadline; you can read a brief in this week’s Downstroke section (page 8) and expanded coverage on our website.


GUEST COMMENT

Don’t let it burn candidates were asked how they would direct Aresources to Bidwell Park. One candidate, who shall

few years ago at an election forum, Chico City Council

remain nameless, laughed at the question. “There’s no money for that,” he muttered. On June 18, the Chico Elks Lodge parking lot was filled with fire engines, crews and their police escort, having worked through the night to protect our town after a predictable trigger. A human being, intentionally or not, caused a fire at Bear Hole after 9 p.m., which used to be the park’s closing time. That fire destroyed a huge swath of land. by Post-blaze, city planners and Robert Gregg officials should do a cost-benefit Born and raised in analysis in short order: What did Chico, the author returned to his the response cost? Then there’s the hometown in 2013. less quantifiable costs, including residents losing a night of sleep and children losing access to Monkey Face and the trails off the

North Rim for the foreseeable future. It’s time for an Upper Bidwell Park user fee, just like at the state parks, to offset the costs of adequately patrolling the space. Such revenue would allow the city to perform sweeps to actually close the park at 9 p.m., as well as enforce other laws already on the books. This includes the ban on smoking, the proper use of its one-way streets and the policy that requires dogs to be leashed after 8:30 a.m. in Lower Park. Again, the problem is not that we’re lacking laws. It’s that enforcement has been selective because “there’s no money for that.” In short, it’s time for an ounce of prevention to save our community, rather than letting things take their own course. The job of city planner includes the word plan in it, which means determining the best way to use a city’s land and its resources. Such work is especially critical in terms of wildfire prevention. Bidwell Park is an amazing resource, preserved in many places since people began using it thousands of years ago. My message to the city’s elected officials and administrators: Kindly don’t sit on the sidelines as Ω it burns to the ground.

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LETTERS

Send email to cnrletters@newsreview.com

Common sense and decency Think about it. We hear fellow citizens express frustration over our current state of affairs by blaming the easy, conspicuous and most defenseless target: people living outside. Blaming houseless people ignores economic forces (e.g., stagnant wages and skyrocketing rents), municipal planning (which has favored bigger homes and resulted in the dramatic per capita reduction of very low income homes), social forces (e.g., domestic violence) and environmental forces (e.g., the Camp Fire and the North Complex Fire, among others). Expressing your frustration by being angry with the houseless ignores the common sense logic of first addressing the underlying forces causing our shelter crisis. The blame game does not offer a strategy for moving forward. Scapegoating a group of people ignores our most important spiritual lesson, “love thy neighbor.” How ineffective to miss the opportunity to acknowledge and accept their presence, work together for the common good and know their gift of gratitude and talents undiscovered. We live in a fire zone that is in a drought. If we don’t have another fire disaster this year, we are prime candidates to have one next year. Effective leadership would include addressing our current shelter crisis by facilitating the establishment of well-managed non-congregate campgrounds, RV parks and a safe car park (per the North State Shelter Team proposal). Effective leadership would also include preparing for the next disaster (which we know will happen). Charles Withuhn Chico

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Congressman LaMalfa, your response to me about the Jan. 6 commission was troubling: It begs so many questions. You say we should evaluate Jan. 6 in conjunction with the Portland riot. Why stop there? Why not hurtle backward settling upon one big-city riot after another. Where do we stop on this slippery slope? The Watts riots of the 1960s? Or further? Your letter also says we must look to ANTIFA to understand Jan. 6. Interesting that you chose that group. No mention of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Nazis, QAnon, etc.? As for comparing Jan. 6 with Portland, etc., we should not forget that Jan. 6 was an attack upon the People’s House where

the completion of the democratic process, validating the Electoral College votes, was being finalized. Is there any riot in recent history that qualifies as identical? People were killed. A noose was constructed with the intent of hanging the Vice President of the United States. Rioters called for the Speaker of the House and others, intent on doing them extreme bodily harm. Let’s not forget, we all witnessed the Jan. 6 insurrection, minute by nauseous minute. What is the real reason you are choosing to deny a Jan. 6 commission? Is there a truth you’d prefer people not to know about that terrifying day? Lynn Elliott Chico

Recall the recall Our governor has done his best to keep Californians safe and our economy stable through this pandemic. He doesn’t deserve to have a target on his back. Maybe he has made some mistakes, but this was uncharted territory. We will soon have a chance to replace him—if that is the will of the people— through our regular election. Why spend millions now? Vote “no” on the recall. Beth Bjorklund Orland

White men in uniform There was a group photo posted June 17 on the Chico Police Department Facebook page of the newly hired officers. There was no diversity in this group of new officers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2019, Chico has 1,771 residents (2 percent) who identify themselves as black, 13,315 residents (18.4 percent) who identify themselves as Latino and 53,043 residents (51.2 percent) who identify themselves as female. Where is the diversification, Chief Madden? Scott Rushing Ventura

Write a letter Tell us what you think in a letter to the editor. Send submissions of 200 or fewer words to cnrletters@newsreview.com. Deadline for August print publication is July 27.


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NEWSLINES DOWNSTROKE DENLAY IN THE DISTRICT? In the course of six days, the Chico City Council went from seven to five members. On June 21, Councilman Scott Huber submitted a resignation letter to the city, and six days later, Councilwoman Kami Denlay (pictured) did the same. Denlay shared her letter on her City Council Facebook page (which has since been deactivated), and in the attendant post she states that “certain members of the community have taken it upon themselves to investigate where my young family lives.” In her letter she pointed to surveillance and her children being “frightened by what they’ve experienced” as her reason for stepping down. Questions of where Denlay has lived were brought to the attention of the Chico News & Review in the days prior to her announcement. This newspaper received multiple independent tips alleging that the then councilwoman had been living in Red Bluff while serving as a District 3 councilor in Chico. Documents obtained by the CN&R from the Tehama County Clerk and Recorder office confirm that Denlay’s husband, Joshua Klingbeil, purchased a house in Red Bluff in December of 2020 and that Denlay transferred sole ownership to her husband the same day. In her post, Denlay addressed the rumor directly: “Does my family have property outside of Chico? Yes. ... Do I have somewhere in my district to live to fulfill my duty as a city council member? Yes!” Information provided to the CN&R by the Butte County Clerk-Recorder’s office shows Denlay having updated voter registration less than two weeks ago (June 18), listing her current mailing address at the Red Bluff home and a residence address in Chico in District 3. As of press deadline, Denlay had not responded to this paper’s interview requests. Huber resigned after first quitting an out-of-state summer job, citing politically motivated harassment of his employer that turned to targeting his wife’s employer. Chico City Clerk Debbie Presson said that the council will address the two resignations and vacancies at its meeting Tuesday (July 6). For expanded coverage of this story, visit chico.newsreview.com.

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‘Beacon of hope’ Local nonprofits help low-income families return to Paradise by

Ashiah Scharaga as h i a h s @new srev i ew. c o m

hen Jennifer Wolfe drove to her new

W neighborhood in lower Paradise, she didn’t focus on the charred trees or the canyon left bare in the wake of the Camp Fire. As the sun set, she envisioned her 10-year-old son, Riley, and a friend riding their bikes down the street on warm summer nights. She could see him swaying in a hammock in the backyard; she and him catching frogs; hosting family dinners. When she visited the neighborhood, she didn’t see the destruction. All she saw was home—at last. This neighborhood off Pearson Road

is where she and her son will finally settle down after years of moving around after the disaster, which wiped out thousands of homes and claimed 85 lives. Wolfe and her son aren’t the only ones whose dreams of returning home to the Ridge have now become a reality. Three families have started building their homes on the same street, all selected as part of Habitat for Humanity of Butte County’s affordable housing program. The fire inspired the nonprofit to ramp up its efforts, dedicating more time and resources to the rebuild. While Habitat for Humanity typically builds about two homes per year in Butte County, it now will focus solely on Paradise, with the goal of building 10 homes per year there, giving first preference to fire survivors. Another nonprofit, Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), is also expanding its plans in Paradise.

CHIP aims to finish rebuilding Paradise Community Village, a 36-unit complex that was destroyed by the fire, this September. In addition, it is launching home-ownership programs for rebuilds in Paradise—eight homes will be constructed initially. Both organizations are aiming to serve local, working, low-income families— many of which were uninsured renters at the time of the fire. These are families that have struggled to get back on their feet in the wake of a disaster that struck an impoverished county already in the throes of the statewide housing crisis. That crisis, plus delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an overwhelming unmet need, make their work a daunting task. Wolfe, a single mother who was born in Paradise and has lived there most of her life, told the CN&R that home ownership was a dream of hers that was simply


Left: Community Housing Improvement Program’s Paradise Community Village (pictured this June), under construction since last October, is slated to open in September and house 36 families. Preference is given to applicants who are former residents and other Camp Fire survivors. PHOTO COURTESY OF COMMUNITY HOUSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM

Above: Jennifer Wolfe and her son, Riley, stop by their new property in Paradise, where they will help build their home via a Habitat for Humanity of Butte County program. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

unobtainable due to her single income and lack of credit. In the aftermath of the fire, she ended up on wait list after wait list for rentals, finally landing an apartment in Chico that was smaller than her old place in Magalia, didn’t have a yard and cost nearly twice as much to rent. Even then, she was only able to move in with rental assistance from the Community Action Agency of Butte County. She lost her job as a waitress at Jaki’s Hilltop Cafe after it closed due to the Camp Fire; then COVID-19 caused her to lose her job at Casa de Paradiso, which closed its doors due to the impacts of the pandemic. She’s since been able to obtain a full-time job at a local nonprofit, but those months while she was searching for work and for a place were rough. Her son kept her motivated, she said: “I wanted to provide safety, Go build: security and stability Habitat for Humanity of Butte County is seeking for him.” community volunteers Even though she’s to help Camp Fire been out to the site survivors build their of their future house new homes. Go to buttehabitat.org to find many times, the realout more. ity that they’ll be back

home on the Ridge still hasn’t hit her yet. It’s a subject that brings happy tears to her eyes. “We’ve been through so much. … It still doesn’t feel real,” Wolfe said. “This is the first time I can dream and plan.”

‘More relevant than ever’ Habitat for Humanity’s team is personally motivated to make a difference in Paradise, Executive Director Nicole Bateman told the CN&R—several staff and board members were among the survivors of the deadly blaze. After the fire, the local nonprofit received support from the international Habitat for Humanity organization and enough donations and funding to get started on its first homes for survivors coming back to the Ridge—on that quaint street that the Wolfes will soon call home. Habitat for Humanity of Butte County expanded its capacity, bringing on board a development manager, homeowner coordinator and administrative assistant. The affiliate also created two fulltime positions in construction (versus one part-time) and shifted its accountant position to full-time as well. Bateman is confident this internal expansion will help the organization be better equipped to respond to local housing needs. “We are here for a reason,” Bateman said. “And we’re going to do our part to help the community heal and to rebuild and for those families to find some peace.” In the 28 years since Habitat for Humanity was established locally in Chico, NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

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it has built 40 homes and had no foreclosures, Bateman said. It had one home in Paradise before the fire that was destroyed. (The property owner has since moved out of the area and donated her land to the effort.) “Affordable housing, that’s the No. 1 need in our community,” Bateman said. “The need was already there before the fire. Our mission is more relevant than ever.” Habitat for Humanity’s programs aren’t a panacea, and not everybody will qualify. The organization specifically serves households that have some form of stable income—whether that comes from disability benefits or employment, for example—and a low amount of debt. Their income must be between 40 percent and 80 percent of From left: Habitat for Humanity of Butte County Development Manager Jenny Fales and Executive Director Nicole Bateman. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

Gary Brand and his mother, Terry Curtis, say their new home, made possible by a Habitat for Humanity of Butte County program, means stability. They’ve been lifelong renters and unable to afford market housing prices. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

the median income for Butte County (i.e., $22,700-$45,250 for a household of two, $26,785-$50,900 for a household of three and $30,775-$56,550 for a household of four). The families also have to dedicate 250 volunteer hours or “sweat equity” into the home, be it through the literal erection of walls or working at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore housewares shop on Meyers Street in Chico. But for those who qualify, the total of mortgage plus home insurance (higher than average on the Ridge due to wildfire risk) and taxes paid are set at 30 percent of the household’s income. For most families served, Bateman said, that pencils out to about $350 to $700 a month. As soon as their homes and sweat equity hours are completed, families sign a mortgage with Habitat for Humanity and become homeowners, added Development Manager Jenny Fales. The organization anticipates that the Paradise homes will take about 25 to 30 years to pay off. Ownership is why Gary Brand and his mother, Terry Curtis, were so thrilled to be chosen for the program. For them, it means stability—they’ve been lifelong renters who have moved around a lot. They’ve lived on the Ridge—Paradise and Magalia—the past 20 years. Brand, who is a caretaker for his mother, a deaf senior, said they were looking to buy a home before the fire, “but the prices were just out NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

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of control,” and those prices only climbed afterward. Brand says he wakes up every morning at their rental in Paradise (it survived the fire) and has to remind himself that they’re actually going to be home owners. Like Wolfe and her son, he and Curtis have already envisioned life at their property: sitting on the porch and sipping coffee, working on the yard together and planting roses. “I’m just so thankful and grateful for everything they’ve done for us,” Brand said. The families all expressed relief regarding the structure of the homes as well. Habitat for Humanity partnered with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association to construct these first three homes with insulated concrete forms, designed to make them fire-resistant.

O’Shaughnessy said, allowing CHIP to pivot and focus on developing smaller, scattered sites in Paradise to help survivors. The organization is working with four landowners to help them rebuild, and another four families will be purchasing land from CHIP and partnering to build on their new properties. Both programs have the same purpose of “providing support and helping them through the building process,” O’Shaughnessy said, with CHIP coordinating trade work—such as concrete, electrical and plumbing—so that “they’re able to successfully build their homes.” CHIP is continuing to focus its efforts regionally: It has about 100 homes in progress across Williams, Corning, Anderson and Biggs (where five homes will be reserved specifically for Camp Fire survivors). In addition to Paradise Community Village, CHIP is pursuing land and funding for ‘An important housing stock’ another multifamily project in Paradise, Habitat for Humanity isn’t the only O’Shaughnessy added. It is also launchorganization that has ing a single-family rental been busy with recovpilot program. CHIP has ery efforts. Come purchased two lots and September, CHIP will two manufactured housing “Affordable bring even more famiunits that will be installed lies home to Paradise. housing, that’s permanently, onto foundaThe organization early next year. received 256 applicathe No. 1 need in tions, “We know that singletions for the 36 units in rentals are someour community. family Paradise Community thing that don’t come Village, a complex that The need was back after a fire and other it has been focused on disasters, too,” she said. rebuilding since the fire already there “It’s not economically feadestroyed the original for small landlords before the fire. sible development. First prefto rebuild and rent, so we erence will be given to Our mission is know it’s an important former residents and housing stock.” other Camp Fire survimore relevant vors. ‘Winning the lottery’ than ever.” Similarly to Habitat Challenges to buildfor Humanity, CHIP’s —nicole Bateman, executive director of ing in Paradise have team was impacted Habitat for Humanity of Butte county made progress slowpersonally by the disasmoving, Bateman and ter, with staff from the O’Shaughnessy both Ridge who survived but shared. It took Habitat for Humanity lost everything, said Seana O’Shaughnessy, months just to get lots ready to go, having president and CEO. The nonprofit has built over 2,600 housing to repair/replace septic systems, remove dead and dying trees, and complete lot surunits across Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties since it was veys and leveling. The pandemic has had its impacts as well. founded in the 1970s. CHIP serves the same Habitat for Humanity has had to spend more demographic as Habitat for Humanity—low money for construction because it hasn’t been income families that make less than 80 able to rely upon any volunteers. percent of the area median income—and CHIP has experienced similar barriers, provides mutual self-help (i.e., sweat equity) housing and affordable multifamily apartment with escalating material costs, labor shortages and subcontractors that are very busy due to housing. all the rebuild activity on the Ridge. Typically, the organization’s mutual self“It’s hard because housing development help program has neighbors build their homes is so slow. It’s sad that we’re three years out collectively in a subdivision funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs for [from the Camp Fire]—we’d like it to be rural communities. Paradise did not qualify as faster, but we are working hard to create that a rural community until 2019, after successful new affordable housing,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s important. We need everyone. It’s lobbying efforts. CHIP, it’s Habitat, it’s organizations coming This removed a significant barrier, 12

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in—all of us have to work together to meet this tremendous need in our community.” Those efforts, despite the challenges, have allowed some low-income families with deep roots in Paradise to be able to come home. Like the Wolfes, Dayna Collett and her 10-year-old son, Tristan White, found it challenging to find a place to land after the fire—any lead they found was “taken up so fast,” she said. Collett, who was born and raised in Paradise, was living with family at the time of the fire and was not insured. White has suffered from night terrors and separation anxiety—he had to flee the fire with a family member while Collett was working in Chico, she said. He was on his way to school with cupcakes to celebrate his birthday. On a recent afternoon while visiting their new property in Paradise, White played fetch with their new puppy, Walter. His dog is a survivor, too, a rescue from 2020’s North Complex Fire. Having Walter as a companion has been therapeutic for her son, Collett shared. The pandemic has exacerbated the trauma he has experienced being disconnected from his community—as his classmates went back to school, he had to continue learning from home. He is an insulin-dependent diabetic, which puts him at greater risk of infection. Her son has been so excited about coming back to Paradise, Collett shared. White has talked about returning to school, going fishing at the Aquatic Pond and playing at Bille Park. He’s thrilled that his friend Riley, Wolfe’s son, will be one of his new neighbors. Like Wolfe, when Collett speaks about her future, it brings tears of joy to her eyes.

Dayna Collett; her son, Tristan White; and their puppy, Walter, visit the site of their future home in Paradise. Collett said being selected for Habitat for Humanity of Butte County’s affordable housing program “just changed my life forever.” PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

The day she found out she’d been selected for the program is one that she’ll never forget, she said. She heard a knock at the door of her apartment in Chico and opened it to find the Habitat for Humanity team standing there with a sign informing her that she would be a new homeowner. Her son joined her to see what was going on, and they cried together. “It was literally like winning the lottery. Like, Oh my god, that just changed my life forever,” she said. White and she have a Pinterest board that contains images representing their goals and dreams for their new home. Collett said she’s looking forward to enjoying fresh fruits and veggies from her own garden again. Her son is excited about having barbecues and bouncing on a trampoline in the backyard. “We’re just a family trying to start over. We’re just so grateful for this opportunity and just excited to see where life goes from here.” Wolfe and Collett both told the CN&R how deeply connected they feel to Paradise. Though the devastation can be hard to bear at times, they haven’t lost hope for the future of the town. They want to be part of its rebirth. “I hope we can be that beacon of hope,” Wolfe said, “to help guide other people Ω home.” MORE

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NEWSLINES Chico Police Chief Matt Madden (left) and Jovanni Tricerri, chair of the Police Community Advisory Board. PHOTO BY EVAN TUCHINSKY

public input and for all meetings to be public. Swick proposed, “If we could redefine it and make it a community advisory board for the police, instead of a police board …”

Board direction

Re-formed, but reformed? Chief’s changes to Police Community Advisory Board address some, not all, concerns about input by

Evan Tuchinsky evant@ n ewsrev iew.c om

DMadden ing, Chico Police Chief Matt made a public presenta-

uring a recent City Council meet-

tion about the drone program his department is developing off a start-up grant from a local community group. He explained the laws limiting use of these unmanned aerial units and detailed the training officers must receive in order to operate them. Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds praised the presentation, which she noted she’d seen previously with the Police Community Advisory Board. Reynolds’ revelation, more than

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anything Madden shared, drew the strongest question. Councilmember Alex Brown expressed surprise that advisory board was still active—understandable given both the pandemic and change in police leadership, with Madden succeeding retired Chief Mike O’Brien last summer, but also because O’Brien suspended the board’s meetings in 2019. Madden re-convened the board soon after becoming permanent chief last August. Then he sought to change it. Madden told the council that the Police Community Advisory Board, or PCAB, would post agendas and minutes, plus release an annual report to the public. In some fundamental ways, his description of the panel evoked a city-like board or commission (one

that would be subject to the state’s open meetings law, the Brown Act). Is it? The chief plans to present his plans to the City Council—he was postponed from the June 15 meeting, with no reschedule date set as of publication—but from what he told the CN&R, the new PCAB is more public but it stops short of a being a police commission empowered with oversight. “We’re taking this in a little different direction,” Madden told the CN&R during an interview at his office with the board’s chair, Jovanni Tricerri. “I still feel very strongly that this is a board that can look into the police department with a whole different set of eyes and be able to be able to provide feedback to your chief of police as

to what the community feels like the Chico Police Department is doing well and where the police department can improve. “This is not a City Council-run board; this was created by the chief of police, for the chief of police,” he added. “If council wants to create some different type of board, ad hoc committee, whatever— similar to what we saw last year [with then-Mayor Ann Schwab’s Policing Ad Hoc Committee]— they have all the authority to do that.” Margaret Swick and Cory Hunt, citizen appointees to that Policing Ad Hoc Committee, both told the CN&R they were wary of this latest effort based on their experience with police review in Chico. Each expressed a desire for more direct

The city’s PCAB dates to the 1990s under former Chief Mike Dunbaugh (in his response to Brown, Madden said it’s met since 1995). Over the decades, the board has ebbed and flowed. Mike Maloney revived it after becoming chief in 2009; according to ChicoSol.org, O’Brien planned to resume meetings last April, before announcing his retirement. Madden, promoted from deputy chief, told the CN&R that he prioritized reconstituting PCAB. He became interim chief, then chief, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, which sparked protests in Chico and cities across the country. Local protesters also decried three fatal shootings by Chico police officers—those of Desmond Phillips and Tyler Rushing in 2017 and Breanne Sharpe in 2013—as well as others over the past couple of decades. The push for social justice and police reform prompted the City Council to create last summer’s Policing Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Schwab. It also motivated Madden to call back the most recent members of PCAB to lay out his vision for community input. “I wanted [the board] to be more advisory, I wanted more engagement with it, and I wanted it to be more diverse—because, from my perspective, as we’ve seen the things that have gone on on a national level and even here in Chico, I want to focus on building relationships in Chico,” he said. “Because Chico is a very different community than a lot of the communities around us ... and there were current board members on


there who felt the same way.” Most members stayed; some left and were replaced. The new iteration (see infobox, page 17) encompasses citizens of various ethnicities, backgrounds and professions—with one commonality. “You’re not going to find on this board somebody who doesn’t want the police department to exist,” said Tricerri, who’s served several stints on PCAB since 2016. “If you look at each member of this board, they would really like, with the chief, to make this better, have the hard conversations. That’s what struck me in re-upping with this board. “I was prepared to step back and not be part of the board any more to free up some time, but we’re in national and local conversations about policing that are important conversations. Those who are on the board now really feel their perspective is valued. And I can attest to the chief, as far as the reason he is not only continuing with [PCAB] but making it deeper and more expansive, is because he really wants to lean into the hard conversations.” PCAB has met once or twice monthly— so far in private sessions, both Madden and Tricerri said, to have candid discussions while setting out areas of inquiry. The board decided to start on six: community policing; training; communications and messaging; support services; officer safety and wellness; and recruitment and retention. Moving forward, some meetings will be

Police reformer Margaret Swick says she hopes this version of PCAB will allow for more public participation. CN&R FILE PHOTO

public, Madden said, based on the topic and confidentiality considerations, such as personnel matters. “I don’t want the politics to take over what we’re trying to accomplish,” he added, contrasting PCAB with a Brown Act board. “This is really designed to get into the weeds on issues with the police department and relationships with the community.” Tricerri, a former City Council candidate, said that “the key to this process is transparency. Yes, we’re meeting in private in many of these meetings and discussions, but what we’re discussing will be very transparent to the public as far as the agendas and minutes and the public report.”

Ample input? PCAB isn’t Madden’s sole conduit for input. He has engaged community groups and residents, including those critical of his department. Swick, a founding member of Chico’s Concerned Citizens for Justice advocacy group, said she’s spoken with Madden, including about PCAB. “The chief does say he believes in community policing, and part of what he’s doing is meeting with a variety of community members,” she told the CN&R by phone. “He seems to care deeply about these things, and I’m glad of that. But we kind of are sitting on different sides of the fences. “Even though this is considered community policing, there’s no format for the public to speak,” added Swick, who observed PCAB meetings under O’Brien and his NEWSLINES C O N T I N U E D

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predecessor, Kirk Trostle, for the League of Women Voters. “It’s the goal of a community advisory board to build trust and two-way communication, but in the past, there’s been no two-way communication. Hopefully this one will move forward with that intention.” She and Hunt, an activist who co-founded Justice 4 Desmond Phillips, represented reform-minded Chicoans on the Policing Ad Hoc Committee, which also included Brown (then vice mayor), Reynolds, Madden, two other police officers and a lawyer. Hunt told the CN&R by phone that he had felt marginalized on the committee, which he said Chico Police and supporters dominated. Discovering that Schwab “already had created the agenda with the police” instead of developing the plan with the full committee “was off-putting … made me lose a lot of faith in the possibilities of what could happen in that.”

Who’s on board Chico’s Police Community Advisory Board: Antonio Arreguin-Bermudez, Chico State professor Gloria Halley, Butte County Office of Education administrator Scott Kennelly, Butte County Behavioral Health director Michael Lo, financial adviser and Community Housing Improvement Program board member Matt Madden, Chico police chief Kasey Reynolds, Chico vice mayor Tray Robinson, diversity and inclusion officer at Butte College (newly hired from Chico State) Jovanni Tricerri, North Valley Community Foundation vice president Tom van Overbeek, developer and Downtown Chico Business Association board member Julia Yarbough, former broadcast journalist and former Chico Police spokesperson

Social justice activist Cory Hunt (pictured speaking in Chico June 10, 2020, during a “people’s town hall” on policing and racial injustice) has concerns about the new PCAB after serving on the city’s Policing Ad Hoc Committee last year. CN&R FILE PHOTO

As such, he has low expectations for Madden’s PCAB. “Public relations—that’s what it seems like this whole advisory board is,” Hunt said, “this whole public relations stand, where they’re just trying to get a better light on [the department], create a perception around them of positivity. With the committee, I just wanted everybody to be involved— and they’re still not letting everybody be involved. “I’ve been hesitant to speak on this, because I don’t want to detract from anybody trying to get work done on this. But being on the committee gave me a very microscopic view of how entrenched the power structure is…. Police have been trying to protect themselves from reform for a long time.” Madden pledged openness, saying he introduced his command officers (captains and lieutenants) to PCAB, conveyed to the department his commitment to the board and accorded board members access to information they require, including confidential (e.g., personnel files, etc.). “I know, working inside a police organization a long time, what’s important to the chief of police is important to your staff,” Madden said. “I make it clear anytime I promote somebody or hire somebody that the badge, the authority, comes from the state [but] the power, the responsibility of being a police officer, comes from your community.” Ω

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As Chico’s airport shelter draws critcism, other California cities show a better way

This won't fly

by

Ken Smith kens@ n ewsrev iew.c om

T

John Howlett visited the Chico Municipal Airport the day before the city’s sanctioned campground there opened. The site remained off limits to the public and press until it opened on June 25. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

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he day before the city of Chico opened its “resting site” for the local unhoused population at the Chico Municipal Airport last Friday (June 25), John Howlett stood in sweltering heat, peering through the fence at the end of Boeing Avenue toward a distant white tent in a field of brown grass on the far side of the runway. After years of following the city’s ever-worsening homeless crisis and the city’s response to it, the former planning commissioner-turned-homeless advocate said he didn’t expect to be wowed by the City Council’s plan to provide shelter options to Chico’s homeless population, as ordered by a federal court judge in April. But after more than two months of closed-session council meetings, court extensions, the formation of an ad hoc committee and the untold amount of hours city staff spent exploring shelter solutions, he’d expected something more than the bare-bones facility the city offered.


Left: The airport shelter had 571 separate spaces for campers lined out, and three portable toilets at the time it opened. City staff on-site on the camp’s first day of operation said they would supply more facilities as the camp’s population grows. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

Establishing one or more sanctioned campgrounds quickly became the focus of those ad hoc committee meetings—in which Howlett participated—with advocates and service providers bringing suggestions of best practices at such sites to the table. With the growth and visibility of illegal homeless encampments in the age of COVID—fueled by social distancing requirements leading to lessened capacity at congregate shelters and communities relaxing camping enforcement in keeping with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to limit the virus among the unhoused—several cities, including San Francisco and Sacramento, are currently experimenting with similar solutions. Others, like Santa Rosa, have already experienced some success by providing legal, safe spaces for campers. “I was hopeful for about a day [after the ad hoc committee meetings] that they were actually going to listen, that maybe [the] City Council just wanted this all over with so bad that they’d do something good.” he said. “Now it’s clear they were just blowing smoke up everyone’s ass. “There was so much good input in those meetings, and that has been brought to the council, and they didn’t take any of it, not one bit. And now,” he continued, indicating the faraway tent, “here’s what we’ve got.” What that is is a fenced swath of hardpacked, sun-scorched aggregate with lines painted to deliniate 571 spaces for parking and camping. There is no power at the site, with light provided by a handful of portable light towers. Amenities include the white “cooling tent,” two 275-water gallon potable water tanks, two hand-washing stations and three portable toilets. There are no other structures, or trees, to protect people from the triple-digit heat of summer. The city had yet to secure a service provider to manage the site when it became operational, though it had contracted with Armed Guard Private Security for round-the-clock security. The site is meant to be temporary as the city works on the second phase of its plan, a more permanent facility where the Silver Dollar BMX track is currently located in south Chico. The only timeline offered by the city is that the latter site will be developed within the next year. Howlett is not alone in his criticism. The city’s airport plan was met with a chorus of disapproval from advocates, service providers and unhoused individuals since it was first announced in court documents filed June 21 and made public the following day. On June 24, an organization called the California Homeless Union Statewide Organizing Council issued an open letter to the city threatening legal action. By the time the site opened, Butte County had also joined the list

of detractors; a June 26 press release from the county’s Chief Administrative Officer, Andy Pickett, indicates the city’s facility falls far short of solutions discussed and planned in cooperation with the county. As a result, the county will not provide $500,000 in funding, nor other services it had committed to. Howlett referred to the airport shelter as a “boondoggle,” a sentiment echoed by other critics who wonder why the city would waste taxpayer money on a project many doubt will appease the courts while offering no substantive solution—temporary or otherwise—to Chico’s homeless crisis.

Built to fail? For the past several years, local homeless advocate Charles Withuhn has been looking into planned communities—like tiny-home villages and sanctioned campgrounds—as a way to provide shelter and services to the local unhoused population. He said that he’s proposed six detailed plans for such sites during that time, all rejected or ignored by both the current City Council and the previous leftleaning incarnation. Withuhn founded the North State Shelter Team last year to help promote those solutions and to provide support—in the form of trash collection and food and water delivery—to existing illegal encampments that sprang up during the COVID crisis. “I’m baffled at the direction they’re taking [at the airport],” he said by phone June 23. “The location violates any established shelter placement planning criteria,” Withuhn added, citing his own extensive research, which includes visits to working tiny-home villages in Yuba City and Eugene, Ore., and works such as a study conducted by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School called “Welcome Home: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States.” The NLCHP also offers a list of “Encampment Principles & Best Practices” that Howlett referenced during the ad hoc committee meetings. Withuhn’s litany of complaints about the site are in line with those of other critics: It’s isolated, far from the city center and any services; it’s unprotected from the brutal North State heat; its proximity to the airport runway creates noise, safety and pollution concerns; and the projected population would be far too large to be manageable. “The most critical situation is it’s unwalkable—that’s one of the most important criteria,” he said. “If someone starts walking from that spot, they’d have to walk miles just to get to a tree. It’s not inconceivable that people will die in 115 degree heat, especially if they try to walk to town for services.” The sole council member to criticize the airport shelter is Alex Brown. “What the council is doing is truly the bare minimum they think they need to do to get out of a lawsuit,” Brown said by phone June 27. “Through this whole process, all we’ve heard from the conservatives on coun-

Top: Conservatives on the Chico City Council plan to resume evictions at encampments—like the city’s largest at Comanche Creek (pictured)—if a federal judge lifts the temporary restraining order barring such action. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY

Bottom: The city of Santa Rosa operated a successful sanctioned campground at the Finley Community Center for six months in 2020. Guests were provided with amenities and services like tents, storage bins, hand-washing centers, bathrooms, case workers and visits by a mobile health clinic. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIELYNN HOLMES

cil is that we need to ‘get this done so we can get back to enforcing law and order.’ They’re determined to do so without any care or concern whatsoever for the population we’re supposed to be trying to help. “Since the previous council started exploring the idea of sanctioned camping, our goal was always to work with the experts and approach this in a way that provides meaningful solutions and addresses the needs of our most vulnerable. This plan looks nothing like what service providers have brought, and I think it’s a slap in the face to them and to the

people of Chico.” Councilman Sean Morgan, on the other hand, defended the airport site and railed against criticism in a pair of missives to his constituents sent to email subscribers and posted to social media on June 24 and 25. In the latter, he characterizes the county, Judge Morrison England Jr., service providers and other airport camp critics as “powerful forces … working against our community” and minimizes concerns expressed by providers, advocates and the unhoused. “What is happening?” Morgan wrote. “We are under attack! A judge has made it impossible for us to restore law and order until we do certain things. Our staff has worked diligently, identifying sites, cleaning them up, getting fencing, tents, and facilities in place: to appease the judge and allow us to protect our parks and waterways once again. “‘Solution providers’ are having none of it. The site does not have a laundry service, they SHELTER C O N T I N U E D J U LY 1 , 2 0 2 1

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Time to vote:

GOODS & SERVICES Ag/Growing Supplies Antiques store Appliance store Auto repair shop Auto paint/body shop Bank/credit union Bike shop Cab company Cannabis dispensary (within driving distance of Chico) Car dealership Car wash Convenience Store Day spa Dry cleaner Esthetician/waxing studio Feed store/farm supply Place for a mani/pedi Florist Gift shop Grocer Barbershop Hair salon Place to buy clothes Baby/kids’ clothier Jeweler Liquor store New Business (non-food service, open in last year) Nursery Pet groomer Local pet store Place to buy books Place for electronics/ computer repair Place to buy outdoor gear Place to buy home furnishings Shoe store Sporting goods Tattoo parlor Thrift store Attorney General contractor Financial planner (name and location) Insurance agent Landscaper

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Our celebration of all the good stuff in Chico is finally here and you’re invited to be part of the Comeback! All you need to do is vote for your favorite people, places and things that make Chico such a great place to live and visit.

How to vote: The polls are open now and voting takes place exclusively online where full contest rules are available. Categories are shown on this page.

Voting ends Sunday, Sept. 5, at 11:59 p.m. Outdoor living (patios, pergolas, pools, etc.) Plumber Professional photographer Housecleaning service House painter Real estate agent Roofer Solar company Tree service Window treatments

FOOD & DRINK Local restaurant – Chico Local restaurant – Oroville New eatery (open in last year) Food server (name and location) Delivery driver (COVID) Chef Caterer Cheap eats Craft beer selection Fine dining Patio Take-out/Curbside (COVID) Breakfast Brunch Lunch Munchies Bakery Diner Local coffee house International cuisine Asian cuisine Italian cuisine Mexican cuisine

Vegetarian cuisine Street food Barbecue Burger Burrito Ice cream/frozen yogurt Pho Pizza Sandwich Sushi Taco Local winery – Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama) Locally produced food – Regional (Butte/ Glenn/Tehama) Local brewery – Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama)

HEALTH & WELLNESS Alternative health-care provider Acupuncture clinic Local CBD source Chiropractor Dental care Dermatologist Eye-care specialist General practitioner Hearing aid specialist Pediatrician Physical therapy office Veterinarian Massage therapist Gym Boutique gym Personal trainer Local Zoom workout (COVID)

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NIGHTLIFE & THE ARTS Bar Sports bar Watering hole for townies Mixologist (name and location) Happy hour Place to drink a glass of wine Margarita Bloody Mary To-go cocktail or bar service (COVID) Virtual local show (COVID) Place to dance Venue for live music Local music act Local visual artist Art space Place to buy art Theater company Casino – Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama)

COMMUNITY Charitable cause Community event (virtual or in-person) (COVID) Farmers’ market vendor Museum Place to pray/meditate Radio station Youth organization Local personality Instructor / professor Teacher (K-12) Volunteer Dance studio Golf course – Regional (Butte/Glenn/Tehama) Martial arts studio Yoga studio Place for family fun

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say. It is too far away. It is hot in Chico. There are no generators. There is no Ferris wheel.”

A familiar saga The airport shelter bears little resemblance to models that have recently been successful in other cities. For one of the best examples, Chico leaders needn’t look further than Santa Rosa, which operated a muchlauded temporary sanctioned campground at its Finley Community Center from May to November 2020. Though virtually all California cities are grappling with homeless issues, Chico and the Sonoma County seat share some distinct factors that add difficulty the struggle. Both suffer from a lack of housing, particularly affordable housing, a situation exacerbated in both cities by massive wildfires (the 2017 Tubbs Fire that leveled several neighborhoods in Santa Rosa was the most destructive wildfire until the Camp Fire struck the following year). Santa Rosa has also been the subject of action in federal court over its treatment of the homeless—legal issues related to a civil rights case filed in 2018. Sonoma County operated under a stipulated preliminary injunction that barred enforcement against campers on public property from August 2019 through June 2020. As in Chico, long-running, heated political debate reached a fever pitch in Santa Rosa with the spring 2020 proliferation of COVID, as highly visible makeshift encampments took root. Due to social distancing measures, capacity at the city’s primary homeless shelter—Samuel L. Jones Hall—was reduced from 230 to 150. According to Santa Rosa City Councilman Tom Schwedhelm—who was then serving as mayor and spearheaded the Finley site—the sanctioned campground with tents providing space for up to 68 people was part of a multipronged pandemic response. The city also provided motel rooms for unhoused individuals with health risks according to the Project Roomkey model, and the Finley site served as a six-month stopgap while the city made improvements to—and installed large, tentlike “sprung structures” at—Sam Jones Hall to increase capacity there. The city of Santa Rosa committed $680,000 to outfit and run the campground and $2.6 million to improve the permanent shelter. Schwedhelm said the costs have been or are largely expected to be reimbursed by COVID- and housing-related funding from FEMA, Community Development Block Grants and fire-disaster relief. Just as shelter solutions have been met with massive resistance in Chico, NIMBYs and citizens touting public safety concerns came out in force to oppose the Finley campground. More than 400 people signed on to a Zoom meeting of Santa Rosa’s City Council in mid-May of 2020, with hundreds intent on stopping the plan and threatening to vote out council members who supported the project.

Jennielynn Holmes, chief program officer for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, oversaw operations at a Santa Rosa sanctioned campground. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIELYNN HOLMES

Schwedhelm and his colleagues forged ahead: “We had to do something because of the gravity of the situation,” he said in a recent phone interview. “It was just the right thing to do. “Part of it in my case was having the political will ... I base my decisions on data and evidence-based practices,” continued Schwedhelm, a longtime homeless advocate who embraces the Housing First philosophy (an assistance model based in the belief that people must be housed before being able to address other issues, like unemployment, substance abuse and mental illness). He’s also a veteran law enforcement officer who formerly served as Santa Rosa’s police chief. In order to appease fears about safety, the Finley plan included round-the-clock security. In keeping with best practices and the ultimate goal of actually addressing homelessness, the city contracted with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa—which also oversees the Sam Jones shelter—to run the camp and deliver services. Catholic Charities provided caseworkers for all camp guests and partnered with other agencies, including a mobile health unit that visited several times weekly to conduct COVID testing and provide other medical services.

Lessons learned In stark contrast to Chico’s airport shelter, the Finley site was located in a scenic park at the center of a relatively affluent tree-lined neighborhood located a few miles away from the city center and a short walk from grocery stores and other services. Schwedhelm said that, as the camp began to operate with minimal problems and disturbance to neighbors, SHELTER C O N T I N U E D

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Heat is a big concern among critics of the airport shelter site, where temperatures often reach the triple digits. One “cooling tent” provides the only shade at the site. PHOTO BY KEN SMITH

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many of its naysayers had a change of heart, with a few even offering to donate goods and services to assist the camp. By the end of the six months, he invited the public to a Zoom postmortem meeting to voice any complaints about how it went. He said less than a dozen people participated, mostly to compliment the camp. Jennielynn Holmes, the chief program officer for Santa Rosa’s Catholic Charities, oversaw operations at the Finley site. She told the CN&R by phone that the camp exceeded expectations, and that several guests were able to transition into permanent housing. “What we quickly learned is that it was so much more than just a pandemic response,” she said. “It actually became a way to engage part of our population we’d been trying to work with for many years, but traditional shelter was not necessarily something that worked for them. At one point, we found that more than half the people in the camp had never engaged in services before. “We also found it didn’t just provide safety from the pandemic,” she continued, “but safety for a very vulnerable population. … We had a lot of women who were victims of domestic violence or sexual assault come to the site, and they felt safe here with 24/7 staffing and security.” Holmes said there were, of course, some issues with unruly guests and other problems, but none serious enough to detract from the site’s overall success. Two of the biggest dayto-day problems encountered at the Finley shelter mirror some concerns that have been voiced about the airport shelter: weather and maximum population. “We faced everything from extreme wind to heat to downpours to cold weather,” she said. “If we do it again, we might provide more than a tent, something more sturdy.” As for size, Holmes said Finley housed 65 people at its busiest: “I would not do more than that for sure,” she said. “My recommendation would be smaller camps in different parts of community. The more people you have, the more conflicts and more issues you have, and staff gets stretched pretty thin.” Holmes said another important thing to keep in mind is that sanctioned camping—and any shelter options—need to be part of a

pathway that ultimately leads to permanent housing. “If your community is not also focused on building and securing housing units for these individuals, then you’re not solving homelessness, you’re just managing it in place,” she said. “You’re giving that person a place to be for the moment, but you’re not resolving the crisis or issues that the community is facing, and you’re keeping a marginalized and vulnerable community marginalized and vulnerable.”

Too little, too late? What remains to be seen is if Judge England—who’s presiding over the court case brought against the city of Chico by Legal Services of Northern California on behalf of eight unhoused individuals—will be appeased by the city’s efforts thus far. England is expected to make a decision July 2. If the judge lifts a temporary restraining order against enforcement action, the city is poised to again clear unsanctioned homeless encampments. In his June 24 message to the public, Morgan expressed his belief that court will find the city’s airport and follow-up at the BMX site acceptable. “It is a site we are optimistic the judge will find acceptable as a place for those with no where else to go can go and rest,” he wrote. Brown expressed doubt that the court will be pleased: “I’m curious to see what the judge says, and I really don’t anticipate it being positive,” she said. “If that’s the case, then at some point the conservative council members and city staff who supported and enabled this plan need to be held accountable.” Howlett said that, whether the judge accepts the plan or not, the airport shelter has already done more harm to community relations regarding the homeless crisis. “If this is the best possible solution to get the TRO [temporary restraining order] removed, people will not put up with it,” he said. “[The city] won’t be able to continue the heavy-handed tactics they have used for removal. They’ll meet with greater resistance than ever before … not just from the homeless community but from those who want to help them.” Ω


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Arts &Culture Show up early to sign up and play. Sun, 7/4, 5pm. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

WED7 OPEN MIC AT STUDIO INN: Free open mic comedy every Wednesday. Sign-ups 7pm. Wed, 7/7, 8pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. 520-0119.

PARTY IN THE PARK: A weekly summer celebration of community and commerce with produce, crafts, vendors, live bands and more. Wed, 7/7, 5:30pm. Free. Paradise Community Park, 5570 Black Olive Drive. 8779356. paradisechamber.com

THU8 OPEN MIC COMEDY: Free comedy on the patio. Hosted by: Dillon Collins. Thursdays, 8pm. Free. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250

ICE CUBE Sunday, July 18 Rolling Hills Casino

Cohasset Rd.

SOUL POSSE: Dance and sing along to hits from the past 60 years with the local cover band on the patio. Thu, 7/8, 6pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St. 530-828-8040.

THURSDAY NIGHT MARKET: Farm-fresh produce from CDFA certified farmers, local arts & crafts, food trucks, restaurants, and music from local singer/songwriters. Thu, 7/8, 6pm. Downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

JULY

THU1 AT THE DRIVE-IN: This month’s films include

ALL MONTH Art BUTTE COUNTY LIBRARY: Teen mural contest. Entries accepted through 7/31. 820 Mitchell Ave., Oroville, 712-7720.

CHICO ART CENTER: Discovery Series - Social Justice, artwork that demonstrates awareness of social justice issues and inspires conversation. The exhibit is dedicated to supporting emerging artists in Northern California. Through 8/8. 450 Orange St. chico artcenter.com

GARTEN SUMMER CAMP: A two-session kids camp focused on creativity and gardening. An exhibit of the children’s work will be displayed at the end of each session. The first session begins 7/12 and the second begins 7/26. $250 - $450. Museum of Northern California Art, 900 Esplanade. monca.org

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART: Safe Haven, a group exhibit featuring artists’ sense and experience of safe and unsafe spaces. Through 7/25. $5. 900 Esplanade. monca.org

Markets FARMERS MARKETS: Butte County’s markets are open and selling fresh produce and more. Chico: Downtown (Saturdays, 7:30am-1pm & Thursdays, 6-9pm); North Valley Plaza (Wednesdays, 8am-1pm); Chico State University Farm (Fridays, noon-4 p.m.). Paradise: Alliance Church (Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; “Farmers Market Mobile” in Paradise, 1397 South Park Drive (Thursdays, 2pm).

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Silence of the Lambs (7/1), Independence day (7/2), 40-Year-Old Virgin (7/9), Karate Kid (7/10). Visit site for updated schedule. Meriam Park Drive-in, 1930 Market Place. Meriampark.com

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Free comedy on the patio. Hosted by: Dillon Collins. Thursdays, 8pm. Free. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Rd.

THURSDAY NIGHT MARKET: Farm-fresh produce from CDFA certified farmers, local arts & crafts, food trucks, restaurants, and music from local singer/songwriters. Thu, 7/1, 6pm. Downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

TRIVIA NIGHT: Teams of up-to-five compete for intellectual dominance and glory. Hosted by Joe Griffith. Thu, 7/1, 7pm. The Commons Social Empourium, 2412 Park Ave. thecom monschico.com

FRI2 AT THE DRIVE-IN: See Thursday, 7/1. Meriam Park Drive-in, 1930 Market Place. Meriampark.com

CONCERTS IN RIVERBEND PARK: Free summer concerts, with food trucks, river rentals and live music. This week: Community concert for the 4th. Fri, 7/2, 6:30pm. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St., Oroville. 533-2011. oroville chamber.biz

DJ COOTDOG & DJ LOIS: Music, booze, and food from Golden State Smokery. Fri, 7/2, 9pm. The Commons Social Empourium, 2412 Park Ave. thecommonschico.com

FAMILY FUN 4TH OF JULY: A weekend-long Independence Day celebration with a dunk tank, kids’ pool, games, glow sticks and more. Fri, 7/2, 2pm. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Free, live, local music every week. This week: the party-time fun boys of Smokey the Groove. Fri, 7/2, 7pm. City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

MAX MINARDI: Local singer/songwriter. Fri, 7/2, 6pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the happy hour crowd. Fri, 7/2, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

SAT3 CHUCK EPPERSON: Live music on the patio by the local guitarist and Kenpo Jujitsu teacher. Sat, 7/3, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway, Ste. 130.

FAMILY FUN 4TH OF JULY: See Friday, 7/2. Sat, 7/3, 2pm. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

SUN4 FAMILY FUN 4TH OF JULY: See Friday, 7/2. Sun, 7/4, 2pm. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. FIREWORKS IN OROVILLE: The fireworks will be launched from the Oroville Municipal Airport. There will not be public access; however, areas around the airport will be accessible by personal vehicle to tailgate during the event. Show starts 30 minutes after sunset. Sun, 7/4. Oroville Municipal Airport, 225 Chuck Yeager Way. visitoroville.com

GIANT FIREWORKS DISPLAY: Fireworks are back at the races. Watch 360 sprints, street stocks, IMCA sport mods, hobby stock, and—after sundown—the big light show. Tickets: $15$18 Sun, 7/4. Visit site for race updates. Silver Dollar Speedway, 2343 Fair Street. silverdollarspeedway.com.

JAM SESSION: Mora Sounds hosts an open jam session with local band Blu Egyptian.

FRI9 AT THE DRIVE-IN: See Thursday, 7/1. Meriam Park Drive-in, 1930 Market Place. Meriampark.com

CONCERTS IN RIVERBEND PARK: Free summer concerts, with food trucks, river rentals and live music. This week: Classic rock with Driver. Fri, 7/9, 6:30pm. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St., Oroville. (530) 533-2011. oro villechamber.biz

DADDY LONG LEGS: Chico Theater Co. is back with a musical about an orphan who gets to go to college thanks to a mysterious benefactor. Fri, 7/9, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Free, live, local music every week. This week: Alan Rigg Band. Fri, 7/9, 7pm. City Plaza, downtown Chico. down townchico.com

SAT10 AT THE DRIVE-IN: See Thursday, 7/1. Meriam Park Drive-in, 1930 Market Place. Meriampark.com

CINDY & EMPTY GATE: Local dance/goth/poppunks Empty Gate with San Francisco somber dream-pop crew Cindy. Sat, 7/10, 10pm. $5. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sat, 7/10, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

THE MAKER’S MILE: Live music by four local dudes who describe their music as “if you threw Sublime in a blender with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and maybe a cup of yogurt and two vitamin boosters.” Sat, 7/10, 9pm. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

REECE THOMPSON: Acoustic covers by the local guitarist. Sat, 7/10, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway Ste. 130.

SLICE OF CHICO: The community tradition returns, with downtown vendors offering slices of watermelon and other activities throughout the day. Sat, 7/10, 10am. Downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

SUN11 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sun, 7/11, 2pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany. com

KEITH ANDREW: LA-via-Bay Area guitarist visits Chico. Sun, 7/11, 3pm. Free. Secret Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

SKID ROW AND WARRANT: It’s a full-on 80s metal fest with four headliners—Skid Row, Warrant, Winger and Autograph—joined by local headbanging cover crew Blackout Betty. Hosted by Eddie Trunk! Sun, 7/11, 8pm. $30. Rolling Hills Casino Amphitheater, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. rolling hillscasino.com

WED14 OPEN MIC AT STUDIO INN: Free open mic comedy every Wednesday. Sign-ups: 7pm. Wed, 7/14, 8pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. 520-0119.

PARTY IN THE PARK: A weekly summer celebration of community and commerce with produce, crafts, vendors, live bands and more. Wed, 7/14, 5:30pm. Free. Paradise Community Park, 5570 Black Olive Drive. (530) 877-9356. paradisechamber.com

THU15 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Thu, 7/15, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicothe atercompany.com

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Free comedy on the patio. Hosted by: Dillon Collins. Thursdays, 8pm. Free. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Rd.

THURSDAY NIGHT MARKET: Farm-fresh produce from CDFA certified farmers, local arts & crafts, food trucks, restaurants, and music from local singer/songwriters.. Thu, 7/15, 6pm. Downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

July 9-25

FRI16

Chico Theater Company

CONCERTS IN RIVERBEND PARK: Free summer

DADDY LONG LEGS

concerts, with food trucks, river rentals and live music. This week: California Dreamin’, a Beach Boys tribute. Fri, 7/16, 6:30pm. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St., Oroville. (530) 533-2011. orovillechamber.biz

DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Fri,


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FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Free, live, local music every week. This week: Off the Record. Fri, 7/23, 7pm. City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

ROAST BATTLE COMEDY: Comedy roast at the Lab, featuring John Ross. Fri, 7/23, 8pm. $20. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Road.

SAT24 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sat, 7/24, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

SUN25 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sun, 7/25, 2pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

KIMMI BITTER: Live country/blues. Sun, 7/25, 3pm. The Commons Social Empourium, 2412 Park Ave.

SURF NOIR KINGS: Live surf music by the Chicobased band. Sun, 7/25, 3pm. Free. Secret

SAFE HAVEN

Trail Brewing Company, 132 Meyers St., Ste. 120.

Showing through July 25 Museum of Northern California Art

7/16, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chico theatercompany.com

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Free, live, local music every week. This week: The Cana Road Band. Fri, 7/16, 7pm. City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the brunch crowd. Fri, 7/16, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

SAT17 BUCK SCHAECHTERLE: Live music on the patio. Sat, 7/17, 1pm. The Allies Pub, 426 Broadway Ste. 130.

CALIFORNIA COUNTRY: Live country music by the Nor Cal-based band. Sat, 7/17, 9pm. $5. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

COMEDY SHOWCASE WITH REGINA GIVENS: Sacramento comedians Regina Givens and Shaun Grady along with locals Sam Mallett, Jared Carter and Robyn Engel. Hosted by Dillon Collins. Sat, 7/17, 8:30pm. $5. Duffy’s Tavern, 337 Main St.

DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sat, 7/17, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

SUN18 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Sun, 7/18. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicothe atercompany.com

ICE CUBE: The OG MC is live at the casino. Plus, special guests Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Kurupt. Sun, 7/18, 8pm. Rolling Hills Casino Amphitheater, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. rollinghillscasino.com

WED21 OPEN MIC AT STUDIO INN: Free open mic comedy every Wednesday. Sign ups: 7pm. Wed, 7/21, 8pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. 520-0119.

PARTY IN THE PARK: A weekly summer celebration of community and commerce with produce, crafts, vendors, live bands and more. Wed, 7/21, 5:30pm. Free. Paradise Community Park, 5570 Black Olive Drive. (530) 877-9356. paradisechamber.com

THU22 DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Thu, 7/22, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

EXMORTUS: LA metal band plus Bloody Roots

WED28 OPEN MIC AT STUDIO INN: Free open mic comedy every Wednesday. Sign-ups: 7pm. Wed, 7/28, 8pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582 Esplanade. 520-0119.

PARTY IN THE PARK: A weekly summer celebration of community and commerce with produce, crafts, vendors, live bands and more. Wed, 7/28, 5:30pm. Free. Paradise Community Park, 5570 Black Olive Drive. (530) 877-9356. paradisechamber.com

THU29 BANDA MS: Live Mexican banda music in the amphitheater. Thu, 7/29, 8pm. Rolling Hills Casino Amphitheater, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning. rollinghillscasino.com

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Free comedy on the patio. Hosted by: Dillon Collins Thursdays, 8pm. Free. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250 Cohasset Rd.

THURSDAY NIGHT MARKET: Farm-fresh produce from CDFA certified farmers, local arts & crafts, food trucks, restaurants, and music from local singer/songwriters. Thu, 7/29, 6pm. Downtown Chico. downtown chico.com

FRI30 CONCERTS IN RIVERBEND PARK: Free summer concerts, with food trucks, river rentals and live music. This week: Classic rock with Cadillac Ride. Fri, 7/30, 6:30pm. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St., Oroville. (530) 533-2011. orovillechamber.biz

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERTS: Free, live, local music every week. This week: reggae with Triple Tree. Fri, 7/30, 7pm. City Plaza, downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

TYLER DEVOLL: The local singer/songwriter serenades the brunch crowd. Fri, 7/30, 5pm. Free. La Salles, 229 Broadway St.

SAT31 AMAHJRA: Local alternative rock band with Nor Cal hip-hop duo RCnDon. Sat, 7/31, 9pm Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave. MARLON WAYANS: Two standup sets with the actor, comedian, writer and producer. Sat, 7/31, 7pm & 9:30pm. Gold Country Casino & Hotel, 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville. goldcountrycasino.com

WED8/4 OPEN MIC AT STUDIO INN: Free open mic comedy every Wednesday. Sign-ups: 7pm. Wed, 8/4, 8pm. Free. The Studio Inn Lounge, 2582

from CDFA certified farmers, local arts & crafts, food trucks, downtown restaurants, and music from local singer/songwriters. Thu, 7/22, 6pm. Downtown Chico. downtownchico.com

FRI23 CONCERTS IN RIVERBEND PARK: Free summer concerts, with food trucks, river rentals and live music. This week: Gypsy, jazz and swing with Feather River Gypsies. Fri, 7/23, 6:30pm. Riverbend Park, 50 Montgomery St., Oroville. (530) 533-2011. orovillechamber.biz

DADDY LONG LEGS: See Friday, July 9 for info. Fri, 7/23, 7:30pm. $20 - $24. Chico Theater Company, 166 Eaton Road, Ste. F. chicotheatercompany.com

the 3,670-acre preserve at the heart of this community, do we? The shade, Sycamore Pool, shade, One-Mile Recreation Area and shade of Lower Bidwell Park; the miles of biking and hiking trails and swimming holes of Upper Park; and the something-for-all developed features in Middle Park—Bidwell Golf Course, Horseshoe Lake, the observatory and more. Recent wildfires on the north side of Middle/ Upper Park have forced the closure of many popular areas, so visit the city’s website at chico.ca.us for updates.

BIG CHICO CREEK ECOLOGICAL RESERVE: Chico State manages 4,000 acres of natural habitat that shares a border with the eastern edge of Bidwell Park. The university offers public hikes as well as group and private tours. There is also a self-guided tour available, with pamphlets on BCCER’s website. 898-5010, csuchico.edu/bccer

CHICO AREA RECREATION: Chico Area Recreation & Park District’s Summer Play guide is out and packed with a wide range of summer camps for kids. Visit CARD’s site to download the guide and to get info on adult sport leagues and on the district’s facilities, from the expansive sports fields of Community Park to the softball diamonds and dog park at DeGarmo. 895-4711, chicorec.com

GRAY LODGE WILDLIFE AREA: More than 9,000 acres of seasonal wetlands favored by birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, as well as local species. The area features 80 miles of roads and 50 miles of walking/cycling trails. 846-7500 (weekdays), 846-7505 (weekends), tinyurl.com/graylodgewildlife

HUMBOLDT AVE. SKATE PARK: The park was completely remodeled in 2018 and now includes a bigger bowl and expanded street features. 371 Humboldt Ave., 895-4711, chicorec.com

LAKE OROVILLE: Levels at California’s secondlargest reservoir are very low, but for now, recreational activities remain—including boating, swimming, hiking, camping and more. Visit website for updates. Lake Oroville Visitor Center, 917 Kelly Ridge Road, Oroville, 5382219, lakeoroville.net

OROVILLE RECREATION: Feather River Recreation & tion of community and commerce with produce, crafts, vendors, live bands and more. Wed, 8/4, 5:30pm. Free. Paradise Community Park, 5570 Black Olive Drive. (530) 877-9356. paradisechamber.com

Parks District has a full slate of activities and classes for kids (swimming, summer camps), sports for adults (soccer, softball) and varied facilities, including Riverbend Park, Bedrock Tennis & Pickleball Courts and Bedrock Skate & Bike Park. 533-2011, frrpd.com

PARADISE RECREATION: Paradise Recreation and Park District’s Summer Guide is filled with activities ranging from swimming and kayaking to softball leagues and corn hole. Visit the website to browse the guide and for information on open parks and facilities on the Ridge. 872-6393, paradiseprpd.com

EDITOR’S PICK

Cohasset Rd.

THURSDAY NIGHT MARKET: Farm-fresh produce

BIDWELL PARK: We don’t need to tell locals about

Esplanade. 520-0119.

PARTY IN THE PARK: A weekly summer celebra-

(Tribute to Sepultura) and local melodic death metal group Plague of Malice. Thu, 7/22, 5pm. $10. Tackle Box, 379 E. Park Ave.

OPEN MIC COMEDY: Free comedy on the patio. Hosted by: Dillon Collins Thursdays, 8pm. Free. The Lab Bar and Grill, 250

It’s summer, go outside!

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY California has officially reopened, but with new COVID-19 variants in the air and the number of vaccinated far from the herd immunity threshold in Butte County, one could be forgiven for not being ready to join a big crowd yet. Thankfully, with Independence Day fireworks events, it’s possible to enjoy the show at a safe distance from others. In Chico,

SACRAMENTO RIVER: Fish, float or just enjoy the riparia of California’s great river. The BidwellSacramento River State Park (12105 River Road, Chico) provides a suitable kickoff spot for adventure. parks.ca.gov/?page_id=463

WEEKLY FUN RUNS: Chico Running Club hosts runs

if you’re not up for braving the racetrack stands, the Silver Dollar Speedway’s light show is visible from many vantage points around town. And in Oroville, the Rotary Club’s show at Oroville Municipal Airport is back, and socially distant tailgating from home or outside of the airport grounds is encouraged. Both shows begin after sundown on July 4.

(for members and the public) on Saturday mornings (8 a.m.) starting on the north side of One Mile, and Sundays with varying start times and routes—typically 5 miles for runners of all levels. Email for the details on when and where to meet. chicorunningclub. crc@gmail.com

VERBENA FIELDS: A 21-acre, rough-hewn nature park between Lindo Channel and East First Avenue near Verbena Avenue with native plants, a trail loop and the colorful Mechoopda Trail Youth Mural. Join monthly Traditional Ecological Knowledge Walks July 27 and Aug. 31, 4-6 p.m. (more info at campfire restorationproject.org).

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MUSIC

Light up the marquee Longtime promoter cautiously bringing shows back to the Senator This feature is a part of the Chico News & Review’s Bring Back the Arts campaign, an interview series featuring the leaders of Butte County arts and music venues discussing their efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The Q&As are published in the CN&R and broadcast during the Chico News & Review radio show, Thursdays, 5-5:30 p.m., on KZFR, 90.1FM.

C

oncerts have been Justin Maximov’s life

ever since he came to Chico for college and started working the door at legendary downtown hole-in-the-wall venue Juanita’s. He got his booking break with Chico State’s AS by Presents and has been Jason Cassidy putting on shows in Chico and at venues j aso n c @ across the western states newsrev iew.c om for 32 years. In 1999, while booking shows at the nowPreview: defunct Brick Works Upcoming shows on club, he started JMax the JMax schedule include Fenix Flexin’ Productions and grew the on Sept. 18, Tech N9ne scope of his live-music on Oct. 9 and Colter production company to Wall on Oct. 10. Visit include venues in Nevada, Jmaxproductions.net Oregon and California. In for the full schedule and ticket information. Chico, his main spot in recent years has been the Senator Theatre Senator Theatre, where 517 Main St. he’s hosted a constant jmaxproductions.net

stream of big-name touring rock, rap, metal, punk, indie and country acts—everyone from Modest Mouse to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Last May, the theater’s iconic marquee went dark as COVID-19 shut down live music everywhere. With California fully reopening, Maximov has cautiously started booking shows again, and if the Sept. 18 Fenix Flexin’ show goes off as planned, it will have been a year and a half between shows at the downtown theater. The CN&R caught up with Maximov recently to talk about the return of his business and the uncertainty that remains. There’s a show on the Senator calendar for September. That’s amazing! Yes, let’s hope so. First show back right now is Labor Day Weekend in Tahoe at the Hard Rock—it’s with Rebelution. Then we come back in Chico in September; that’s the plan right now. Are you fully back to booking shows like normal? To be honest, we’re kind of sitting back. We’re not trying to lead the charge here. We’re not Live Nation, we’re not Another Planet. I’m kind of sitting back and waiting to see how this plays out with everybody. In the last month, it’s almost like things went hyperspeed, and it’s like, “Whoa!” [California’s economy fully] opening up June 15, it flipped a switch. We’re still kind of waiting. I even think September is a little bit aggressive for us. I would prefer to wait a little bit longer. [But] I felt like it was time, with college coming back, to test the waters. We’re not coming back 100 percent right now. I don’t want to put tens of thousands of dollars into plexiglass and PPE stuff and preventative measures, and then find out a week later that it wasn’t necessary. I’m just trying to see where people are comfortable. We want people to be happy, we want people to be safe. I’m not trying to rush into this. From left: Justin Maximov with Mike Thrasher and Sean Colin Major at the 2020 Pollstar live-entertainment conference. PHOTO COURTESY OF JUSTIN MAXIMOV

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How excited are you about that first show back? It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to see people in line for a show and then seeing the lights go down and the music start. Our sound guy came in a month and a half ago and said, “Maybe I should just check out the system? It’s been like a year.” We turned down the lights, turned the system up, and it literally gave me goosebumps. I can’t wait. It’s just there’s a lot going into it right now. It’s not as easy as flipping a switch. There’s not a huge workforce out there; I’ve lost most of my employees. I don’t know how

we’re going to staff it. We’ll figure it all out. In California, there are extra stipulations for “mega events” (5,000 indoors, 10,000 outdoors). Do any of the venues you book fall under that? Actually, in Tahoe we do, but in Tahoe I’m on the Nevada side. In California, though, they’re going back to 100 percent [capacity] with sporting events, so I don’t know. The reason I held off for awhile is because live concerts and sporting events were never in Gavin Newsom’s tiers, and now that we’re open ... I can’t just sit and wait [for potential guidance].


Left: The marquee at the Senator Theatre was still blank as of June 24, but JMax Productions shows are scheduled to return to the downtown landmark starting in September. PHOTO BY JASON CASSIDY

Above: HIRIE on stage at the Senator Theatre in February 2020—one of the last JMax Productions shows before the pandemic shut down live music. PHOTO BY KEN PORDES

Do the artists seem ready to return? Yeah. A year ago, there were a lot of artists who seemed like they were very COVIDconcerned. A lot of these events that we had scheduled for spring of 2020, summer of 2020, they postponed into the fall [of 2020] or spring of this year thinking it’s only going to be another three months or whatever. They [didn’t] want anyone touching their food, they [didn’t] want loaders. [Now,] the contracts with all the COVID restrictions, they’re pretty much gone. Have people been buying tickets? Yeah, like crazy. But we also get people— it’s a much smaller percentage—who say, “I’m not comfortable going to a show.” We talked a year ago when things were closing down, and you said at the time that this was all new territory and you had no backup plan. What did you end up doing to survive? To be honest, I wish I could go back in time and know that business was going to

be down. I would have taken up a hobby, I would have gotten another degree, maybe gotten a real estate license or whatever. For me, I always had this three-month window where I thought things were going to change. I had no clue that it was going to last for 18 months. I kept working with the mindset that I’m three months away from doing shows. So, every time we’d postpone shows, I’m booking more shows or changing the date from Tech N9ne in May of 2020 to Tech N9ne in October of 2020 to Tech N9ne in April of 2021 to Tech N9ne in October of 2021. We kept having to change fliers, change tickets, reissue tickets. We never stopped moving in that regard. I have [a friend] in the business who said, “You know, I’m going to open a food cart.” His food cart did so well, he actually opened a second food cart. He pivoted; I just kept thinking, we’re just a couple months away. I stayed the course and went into a lot of debt. At the same time, my yard looks really good. Did you get any help from the Save Our Stages legislation and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program? I checked tonight (June 23) and I’m still in the “submitted” stage; we’ve been in the submitted stage for like four weeks now. That money was [approved] back in November, and people, for the most part, haven’t received the money. As far as I have seen and been told, based on the number of applicants and the grant amount, there’s plenty of money. It would be really nice if they got that money out. How are you feeling about the future of live music? Are you optimistic? Absolutely. It’s all going to come back. We’ll figure out a way to make it work. What else am I going to do? I’m 52 years old, I have tattoos on my hands; I’m not going to go get a part-time job. This is what I do, this is what we do; we’ll figure it out. Once it starts back up, we’ll be right back where we were. Ω Frontman Jimmy Adkins during Jimmy Eat World’s Sept. 27, 2017, show at the Senator Theatre. CN&R FILE PHOTO

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Now taking Reservations at 5thstreetsteakhouse.com


REEL WORLD

Another last roundup CN&R film critic still wandering the streaming frontier

Ibutfreedoms of “streaming in place,” I’ve also been finding that, as ’ve been enjoying the peculiar

a movie reviewer, the paths I’ve been following seem increasingly personal by Juan-Carlos and idiosyncratic. Selznick Without the regimen of weekly reviews and new releases in local theaters, I have access to multiple new or recent releases as well as the freedom to wander among classics and older films and all sorts of intriguing marginalia online. In recent weeks, that approach has held true but with viewing tendencies leaning more toward the old movies/ marginalia end of the spectrum. And as it happens, several of the newer movies I’m about to recommend aren’t exactly “brand new.” By some mildly ironic chance, as movie theaters in general get closer to reopening, the best foreign film I’ve seen recently is Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the film I would have been previewing for its opening at the Pageant Theatre when the lockdown first went into effect. Céline Sciamma’s film is an exquisitely atmospheric period piece and character study, and an impassioned meditation on love and art as well. Ricky Staub’s Concrete Cowboy (Netflix, 2021) is a modern day father-son tale set among the

African-American horsemen riding out of the stables in a Philadelphia neighborhood. Its hybrid mixture of social document and redemptive drama works well as an urban western with contemporary bite to it. Idris Elba is the father, Caleb McLaughlin is the son, and both deliver with quiet conviction. The Good, the Bad, the Weird is from 2008, but it’s new to me, and my chance encounter with its seriocomic mixture of spaghetti western and Asian action movie proved unexpectedly compelling. The action scenes of South Korean director Jeewoon Kim are generically fantastical but not at all lacking in convincing physical gravity. The ferociously picaresque tale involves two outlaws and a bounty hunter pursuing a treasure map in Manchuria circa 1940. The overall result sometimes feels like an extremely rowdy mixture of Buster Keaton, Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa. As for marginalia and old movies, I continue to enjoy serendipitous encounters with little treasures from the first 40 years of film history (1900-1939, let’s say), especially silent and early sound-era westerns. For me at least, in its more rewarding moments, that sort of browsing and viewing becomes a kind of arm-

Be part of

2021

Above: Concrete Cowboy Right: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

chair time-travel moving through illuminated landscapes. Examples abound, and perhaps I’ll say more about them sometime soon. Recently, such travels have

brought me into the very peculiar territory of Robert J. Horner’s nobudget westerns. Horner’s films have an ultra-marginal cult following as the worst low-budget westerns ever made. That reputation is richly deserved, but attentive latter-day viewers may find that the

THE COMEBACK!

BEST OF CHICO

loony ineptitude of Horner’s films gives them a curious kinship with the dazed homemade surrealism of experimental films made in the ’50s and ’60s. I don’t recommend The Apache Kid’s Escape (1930) of course, unless you’re up, or down, for that kind of (mis)adventure. Ω

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SCENE

Painting hope Artists and Camp Fire survivors come together to remember and heal with community mural

IAndrew knew that she had to try for her late partner, Downer.

ris Natividad had never painted before, but she

She picked up a paint brush on June 5, dipped it in yellow paint and touched it to the wall of the Skyway by Antique Mall in Paradise, Ashiah Scharaga where over 60 artists have ash i ahs@ left their mark on a massive newsrev iew.c om mural since May 1. For the organizers and community members taking Ceremony: part, the piece represents not A mural dedication will be only the town’s history—with held Saturday, July 3, its clock faces honoring 9 a.m., at Skyway Antique Mall, 6118 Skyway. notable figures, places and traditions—it also signifies how Paradise is trying to forge ahead with hope as it recovers from the devastation of the 2018 Camp Fire. At the center of the mural is a heart shape around a wide view of the Ridge, as well as a timepiece with angelic wings; across the bottom, daffodils represent the lives lost in the tragedy. That’s what brought Natividad and other families there that day—a chance to honor their loved ones by painting the colorful flowers. As they painted, they laughed and cried and remembered the people they lost and still love—the community and the creation helping with the healing process. Natividad and Downer had been together for 28 years. She called him “Duck Dynasty” because of his long gray beard, she said with a smile. The day of the Camp Fire, he was stranded in Paradise and unable to drive to safety due to a disability. Natividad was over 100 miles away, working in Sonoma County. The opportunity to honor him moved her to tears. “He always had a saying: ‘Nothing but love,’ and he wanted to spread love,” she said. “He was a giving person; a little silly.” At the other side of the mural, Marge Nelms and her niece, Denise, along with Denise’s 10-year-old daughter, Lexi Lindstrom, added finishing touches to their daffodils. The person on their mind that day was Lolene Rios. Marge and Rios were life34

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long friends who lived in the region—first in Concow, then in Paradise—for decades. Her friend was one of the most giving people that she knew, she said, always bringing back trinkets or key chains from trips for her loved ones. Denise said Rios was like an aunt to her, someone who she could always count on. She remembers sitting on top of Rios’ shoulders at her first concert (Billy Ray Cyrus) and going to her as an adult when she needed relationship advice. Rios would tell Denise to know her worth and stay strong through hard times. “She was always there for you no matter what you were going through,” Denise said. “She always had something positive to say to get you through.”

A community project As the muralists worked through the early afternoon on June 5, drivers would frequently honk and wave as they passed by on the Skyway. Jess Mercer, a Camp Fire survivor and the artist behind the concept of the mural, said that’s happened every weekend

Above: Steve Ferchaud, Corinne Mercer, Jess Mercer (no relation) and Tiffany Russell stand before the mural on the Skyway Antique Mall in Paradise. They have been working on the community project alongside dozens of other artists since the first weekend in May. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

Right: Marge (left) and Denise Nelms put the finishing touches on a daffodil memorializing beloved family friend Lolene Rios. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

since the community started the project the first weekend in May. The muralists often stop painting to wave in return, smiles spreading across their faces. There’s been a lot of positive energy and community support surrounding the project, Mercer said. A private donation has helped pay for a majority of the mural’s supplies, for example. Community members and local businesses have also donated drinks and snacks to the muralists. Mercer first floated the idea at a Paradise Arts Alliance virtual meeting back in January, she said. The alliance is a collective of different organizations in Paradise that are focused on maximizing the quality of life in town, according to its Facebook

group. Mercer has committed herself to trying to help Paradise heal since the fire through multiple creative initiatives. She is the artist behind the Ridge Key Phoenix sculpture made from the keys of survivors’ homes that burned to the ground, installed at the town’s Building Resiliency Center. She has created multiple programs—including a traveling art project, Butte County Art on Wheels—to help schoolchildren heal through art. She told the CN&R she was itching to do another big proj-

ect and wanted to include as many people as possible. “I’ve driven by the Skyway Antique Mall since I was 15,” she said. “It’s a giant white wall. As an artist, you’re just like, ‘I gotta paint that!’” Mercer received support and encouragement from the alliance and teamed up with well-known local illustrator Steve Ferchaud, who did the story and artwork for the children’s book My Name is Haley, and I Live in Paradise. He sketched the mural design that has come to life over the past month and a half.


The full mural as of June 10. PHOTO BY JESS MERCER

Healing together Corinne Mercer (no relation to Jess) said she learned about the mural after seeing open calls online for community members interested in getting involved. She’s an artist but has never shared her work publicly, she said. She arrived happy to paint a single leaf and ended up working closely with Mercer, Ferchaud and Tiffany Russell—an artist who, like Corinne, also is new to a project like this—for weeks. Corinne said she was especially honored to help work on the interior of the heart at the center of the mural. She had a heart attack after

YOGA CENTER OF CHICO BRING YOGA INTO YOUR LIFE Iris Natividad painted a daffodil on the Skyway Antique Mall mural in honor of her partner, Andrew Downer (pictured on her phone), who perished in the Camp Fire. PHOTO BY ASHIAH SCHARAGA

the Camp Fire. For her, this project symbolizes not only her emotional but her physical recovery in the aftermath of the disaster. Corinne grew up in Paradise and lived there over 50 years. She lost her home, but her mother’s survived, and that’s where she has since resettled. “My heart belongs in Paradise. To be able to be part of the inside of the heart, I can’t even describe what it means,” she said. “It’s been extremely healing for me.” Along those same lines, Ferchaud, a fire refugee, said he comes by to do detail work and shading but mostly leaves the ownership of the piece to the rest of the

community. Like all of the work he’s done since the fire, he said it’s been therapeutic. “This is a whole community thing—that’s what’s important,” he said. Jess Mercer told the CN&R that the mural has been cathartic for many reasons: honoring those who died in the fire, witnessing the community support and kindness the muralists have received and creating a space for new and experienced artists to laugh, cry and grieve together. “I know I gave an opportunity for so many people to come and share space at the same time,” she said. “The emotional part of it, which is to thread us all together for a common purpose, was reached the first day we started painting and it’s been blossoming and blossoming. “I feel very connected to my home.” Ω

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Bille Estrada, owner of the Skyway Antique Mall (6118 Skyway), was approached by Mercer and her team, and said she loved the concept of honoring the town’s history. Her family is from Paradise: Bille Road is named after her great grandfather, and Bille Park after her grandfather. She and her late husband, Don, opened the mall in 2000, and they closed it for two and a half years after the fire. He died in November 2020. “We always talked about a mural,” she said. “He would be delighted to see that mural; he would love it.” The mural doesn’t just honor the past but captures the hope and resilient spirit of the town, she said. The building itself represents resiliency as well, Mercer added: It was one of the few left standing after the blaze. “I think people appreciate that Paradise is going to be here a long time—it’s coming back,” Estrada said. “It’s worth it.”

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ARTS DEVO by JASON CASSIDY • jasonc@newsreview.com

WHAT PANDEMIC? Ever get that feeling that you’ve just traveled through a portal and landed in a time when the current stress and strife have been erased— and you’ve been reunited with the entire community of creatives, instigators, freaks and fun people that has been your collective best friend for the past 32 years, and you felt a surge to the Energy Dome that made you tingle with joy? Me, too! This past Saturday (June 26), Stonewall Alliance Center hosted its cornerstone Chico Pride event: the Pop-up Fair and Festival in Weak Daze at Pride Pop-up Fair and Festival, June 26. the parking lot next to its office. It hardly mattered that it was several ticks over 100 degrees on the blacktop because Arts DEVO was with his people. What a beautiful way to return to the world after COVID-19 exile, at a celebration of diversity. It was my first time in a crowd without a mask on my face—and the first time I’ve seen the faces of most of my friends and acquaintances in Chico—since the beginning of the pandemic. Plus, there was great art! Siana Sonoquie and Paul Alvarez were aerosolpainting murals on site; my old favorite local musician, Scout, and one of my new favorite local crews, Weak Daze, played great sets (check out the latter’s brand-new hyper single, “My Wife’s Boyfriend Bought Me a Nintendo Switch” at weakdaze.bandcamp. com); and the sammich masters at Gnarly Deli fueled my day with a work of art dubbed Siana Sonoquie, live painting in progress. “Hammitch.” Even though I felt reasonably comfortable outdoors among a crowd that featured many folks who I personally know have received a COVID-19 shot (way moreso than I would at a grocery store in this county where only 36.2 percent of the residents are currently vaccinated), I stll have mixed feelings about the all-at-once reopening of the arts and live-event scene. It’s a thrill to see fliers for that “crazy mother-f’r from around the way,” Ice Cube, playing at Rolling Hills Casino (July 18), and I’m very stoked about local fun-rockers The Empty Gate joining

Cindy, coming to Duffy’s Tavern July 10.

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Gnarly Deli’s Hammitch.

excellent S.F. dream pop crew Cindy at Duffy’s Tavern (July 10), but none of this comes without risks. I’ll probably beg off indoor events and enormous crowds for now and sustain myself on the good Pride fair vibes for a minute. Enjoy yourself, my friends, and stay safe out there.


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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY

That is a big piece of the pie but where is the transparency? I believe 48.8% is illusory. I say the actual costs will be higher. What I do not see when looking over the figures are the costs directly related to lawsuits and settlements that have resulted from aggressive actions by Chico PD officers.

The City of Ventura, where Tyler Rushing resided, population 109,106± in 2019, per the city’s published police department budget for 2021-2022 is 32%. The population of Chico was 103,301± in 2019. Who is running Chico? The residents, elected officials, or the police department? And, let me remind you, the police officers of Chico are not elected officials. Any thoughts Chicoans? If so, please leave a message at 530.487.5507. PS: Nearly 70,000 viewers, worldwide, have watched the Real News Network video of my son Tyler being killed in Chico on July 23, 2107. The video link is below:

&

https://youtu.be/gEBwhGF7KA0

N E W S

Past lawsuits include the killing by Chico PD officers of Breanne Sharpe and Desmond Phillips; the killing of Tyler Rushing is currently in the courts. Are there other lawsuits in process? Is the budget hiding these expenses such as staff time, attorney fees, court costs, increased insurance premiums? These costs to the taxpayer should be clearly itemized in the proposed budget.

C H I C O ’ S

The Chico city council is considering a budget for the fiscal year 2021 to 2022. A review of the proposed budget on the city website, page 18 under POLICE, has a pie-chart indicating the Chico Police Department costs are 48.8% of the projected expenses. Some cities are lowering police budgets but not Chico.

A production of the Real News Network, Police Accountability Report.

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Rushing Around Town… TRUTH IN NUMBERS?

FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 1, 2021 ARIES (March 21-April 19): Columnist Linda Weltner says that there’s a dual purpose to cleaning your home, rearranging the furniture, adding new art to the walls and doting on your potted plants. Taking good care of your environment is a primary way of taking good care of yourself. She writes, “The home upon which we have lavished so much attention is the embodiment of our own self love.” I invite you to make that your inspirational meditation for the next two weeks.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “For peace of mind, I will lie about any thing at any time,” said author Amy Hempel. Hmmmm. I’m the opposite. To cultivate peace of mind, I try to speak and live the truth as much as I can. Lying makes me nervous. It also seems to make me dumber. It forces me to keep close track of my fibs so I can be sure to stick to my same deceitful story when the subject comes up later. What about you, Taurus? For your peace of mind, do you prefer to rely on dishonesty or honesty? I’m hoping that for the next four weeks, you will favor the latter. Cultivating judicious candor will heal you and boost your intelligence.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In her essay about education, “Don’t Overthink It,” philosopher Agnes Callard reminds us, “No matter how much we increase our investment at the front end—perfecting our minds with thinking classes, long ruminations, novel-reading and moral algebra—we cannot spare ourselves the agony of learning by doing.” That will be a key theme for you in the next four weeks, dear Gemini. You will need to make abundant use of empiricism: pursuing knowledge through direct experience, using your powers of observation and a willingness to experiment.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that when our rational minds are working at their best, they inspire us to cultivate our most interesting and enlivening passions. They also de-emphasize and suppress any energy-draining passions that might have a hold on us. I’m hoping you will take full advantage of this in the coming weeks, Cancerian. You will generate good fortune and sweet breakthroughs as you highlight desires that uplift you and downgrade desires that diminish you.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Leo author Wendell Berry suggests, “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” Although there’s wisdom in that formulation, I don’t think it’s true a majority of the time. Far more often we are fed by the strong, clear intuitions that emerge from our secret depths—from the sacred gut feelings that give us accurate guidance about what to do and where to go. But I do suspect that right now may be one of those phases when Berry’s notion is true for you, Leo. What do you think?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In 1750, more than 250 years after Columbus first visited the New World, Native Americans were still a majority of the continent’s population. But between 1776 and now, the United States government stole 1.5 billion acres of land from its original owners—25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Here’s another sad fact: Between 1778 and 1871, America’s federal administrations signed over 500 treaties with indigenous tribes—and broke every one of them. The possibility that these sins will eventually be remedied is very small. I bring them up only to serve as possible metaphors for your personal life. Is there anything you have unfairly gained from others? Is there anything others have unfairly gained from you? The next six months will be prime time to seek atonement and correction.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Libran Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh advises you and me and everyone else to “seek the spiritual in every ordinary thing that you do every day.” You have to work at it a bit, he says;

BY ROB BREZSNY you must have it as your firm intention. But it’s not really hard to do. “Sweeping the floor, watering the vegetables and washing the dishes become holy and sacred if mindfulness is there,” he adds. I think you Libras will have a special knack for this fun activity in the coming weeks. (Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a series of “Mindfulness Essentials” books that includes How to Eat, How to Walk, How to Relax, and How to Connect. I invite you to come up with your own such instructions.)

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): My unexpected interpretation of the current astrological omens suggests that you will be wise to go naked as much as possible in the coming weeks. Being skyclad, as the pagans say, will be healing for you. You will awaken dormant feelings that will help you see the world with enhanced understanding. The love that you experience for yourself will soften one of your hard edges and increase your appreciation for all the magic that your life is blessed with. One important caveat: Of course, don’t impose your nakedness on anyone who doesn’t want to witness it.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): If you analyzed the best-selling songs as measured by Billboard magazine, you’d think we were in the midst of a dangerous decline in population. The vast majority of those popular tunes feature lyrics with reproductive themes. It’s as if there’s some abject fear that humans aren’t going to make enough babies and need to be constantly cajoled and incited to engage in love-making. But I don’t think you Sagittarians, whatever your sexual preference, will need any of that nagging in the coming days. Your Eros Quotient should be higher than it has been in a while.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donna Tartt, born under the sign of Capricorn, writes, “Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.” In my view, that’s an unwarranted generalization. It may sometimes be true but is often not. Genuine beauty may also be elegant, lyrical, inspiring, healing and ennobling. Having said that, I will speculate that the beauty you encounter in the near future may indeed be disruptive or jolting, but mostly because it has the potential to remind you of what you’re missing—and motivate you to go after what you’ve been missing.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): On July 21, 1969, Aquarian astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the second human to walk on the moon. It happened during a spectacular astrological aspect, when transiting Jupiter and Uranus in Libra were trine to Aldrin’s natal Sun in Aquarius. But after this heroic event, following his return to earth, he found it hard to get his bearings again. He took a job as a car salesman but had no talent for it. In six months, he didn’t sell a single car. Later, however, he found satisfaction as an advocate for space exploration, and he developed technology to make future trips to Mars more efficient. I hope that if you are now involved in any activity that resembles Aldrin’s stint as a car salesman—that is, a task you’re not skilled at and don’t like—you will spend the coming weeks making plans to escape to more engaging pursuits.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Astronomers say the Big Bang birthed the universe 13.8 billion years ago. But a star 190 light years away from Earth contradicts that theory. Its age seems to be 14.5 billion years, older than the universe itself. Its scientific name is HD 140283, but it’s informally referred to as Methuselah, named after the Biblical character who lived till age 969. Sometimes, like now, you remind me of that star. You seem to be an impossibly old soul—like you’ve been around so many thousands of lifetimes that, you, too, predate the Big Bang. But guess what: It’s time to take a break from that aspect of your destiny. In the next two weeks, you have cosmic permission to explore the mysteries of playful innocence. Be young and blithe and curious. Treasure your inner child.

www.RealAstrology.com for Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY AUDIO HOROSCOPES and DAILY TEXT MESSAGE HOROSCOPES. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888.

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