Women’s March in Chico Participants Speak up for Diversity, Women, Immigrants

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Chico Women’s March organizers said about 2,000 people showed up to participate in the Jan. 21 event. The march and City Plaza rally were held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., and marches were underway in major U.S. cities and around the world. Many of the participants said it was the largest march they had seen in Chico. 

Slideshow photos by Karen Laslo and Leslie Layton

Fear grips communities as immigrants prepare for new administration Information is empowering, rights advocates say

OneJustice legal fellow Maureen Slack and Orland Unified Student Support Services Secretary Neli Peña discuss the upcoming immigration fair.
OneJustice legal fellow Maureen Slack and Orland Unified’s Neli Peña at a planning meeting for the March immigration fair.

by Leslie Layton

Scared.

That’s how attorneys and immigrant rights advocates were describing their clients in the weeks preceding the inauguration of a president whose campaign was laced with hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As a candidate, Donald Trump talked about massive deportations and vowed to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has brought relief to hundreds of thousands of young adults who were raised in this country without legal status.

The best antidote for fear, say rights advocates, is preparation. In California cities, immigrants can usually find a qualified organization that offers free or low-cost services – including legal consultations and know-your-rights forums. But in rural California, those kinds of resources are often rare or nonexistent.

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Oil Trains Pose Threat to Lake Oroville and State’s Water Supply, SOOT Says Butte County supervisors mum on SLO rail expansion

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Dave Garcia at Chico Certified Farmers Market

by Leslie Layton

Chico, with its state university, valley oaks, coffee shops and bike paths, feels more collegial than industrial, a place that’s far from the contamination and accidents that plague oil country. But the people in bright orange “Stop Toxic Oil Trains” T-shirts – they sometimes appear at Saturday Farmers Market and other events – say that when oil country rolls through Butte County, it brings accident potential here.

No one seems to be sure how many oil trains pass through the Feather River Canyon on Union Pacific’s (UP) Oroville route that snakes above the north fork of the Feather River, but the activists in orange T-shirts want to stop crude-by-rail shipments on that route. That’s because derailment and a spill of oil or another hazardous substance could contaminate Lake Oroville and poison the water supply that serves millions of Californians.

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Political action committees spend big to oust Chico liberals PAC under state investigation avoids pre-election disclosure requirement

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By Dave Waddell

A political action committee, under state investigation for its 2014 activities, again produced a slew of negative advertising this election year, flooding the mails with attacks on liberal candidates for Chico City Council.

The PAC, called Butte County Awareness and Accountability, is the subject of an ongoing probe by the Fair Political Practices Commission that resulted from a ChicoSol story that can be read here. Tom Kozik, a member of the Chico Municipal Airport Commission, is the PAC’s founder and treasurer. For years, Kozik was a leader of the Tea Party in Chico.

In 2016, two conservative PACs – Kozik’s committee, as well as a separate PAC headed up by ex-police chief Mike Maloney — distributed a total of four negative mailers, including two that solely attacked Councilman Randall Stone.

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‘Door of Hope’ event opens wall that splits families Divided by an international border, families win a few minutes of respite from separation

by Bianca Quilantan

Laura Avila and her daughter Laura Vera Martinez waited nervously on the United States side of the border with her mother standing inches away from them in Mexico. Rusted pillars and steel mesh divided them. They could hear one another, but not touch.

Avila had driven 140 miles from Los Angeles to San Ysidro, a San Diego district and the last U.S. exit before entering Mexico. Her mother, Maria Socorro Martinez Lopez, had flown 1,821 miles from Puebla, Mexico, to Playas de Tijuana for a chance to see her daughter and granddaughter.

Only six families and two alternate families were selected by Border Angels, a humanitarian group, and the U.S. Border Patrol to have the opportunity to briefly reunite with their loved ones that could not legally visit because of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program/work permit. It allows them to stay in the U.S. but also prevents them from being able to leave. Most of their families across the border also cannot visit legally because they have been deported.

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An Election That Will Change Lives Trying to breathe again

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by Natalie Charlesworth

Nov. 8, 2016:  I sat in math class, frantically checking the presidential election polls every chance that I got. The numbers were so close. Hillary, Trump, Hillary again, and then back to Trump. Jumbled thoughts like ping-pong balls bounced back and forth in my mind. My palms, sweaty. My anxiety increasingly getting worse. I began to wonder, why I had even decided to attend class that day? I then put my phone down and got back to what I should have been doing –focusing on math.

As I walked into the house later that evening, I saw my mom sitting on the couch. I could tell just by looking at her that she was nervous. Her freckled face pale, and her eyes watery. We sat in silence for awhile, not knowing what to say. The first words spoken came from my mouth: “Donald Trump isn’t even the scariest part of this election; it’s that his blatant racism, homophobia and misogyny wasn’t a deal breaker for his supporters. Instead of putting them off, they have interpreted his words as validation to say or do whatever they want.’’

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