Camp Fire Town Hall draws several hundred Protesters line the entrance to the Chico Elks Lodge

photo by Karen Laslo
Steve Marquadt from Chico’s Sunrise Movement (left) and Mary Kay Benson from 350 Butte County, protesting Congressional inaction on climate change at today’s Town Hall, call for a Green New Deal.

by Leslie Layton

The appearance of Congressman Doug LaMalfa and state lawmakers at today’s Camp Fire recovery Town Hall meeting drew anxious survivors and evacuees, as well as protesters who lined the entrance to the Chico Elks Lodge.

Several hundred people filled the lodge auditorium, as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Office of Emergency Services. After presentations by lawmakers and officials, audience members concerned about the need for tree clearing and road widening to provide safe evacuation routes from fire-prone communities, about water quality and services for survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, lined up to ask questions. An Oroville resident asked about the toxicity of the heaps of concrete and metal being trucked out of Paradise and whether it’s being handled in the safest possible way. read more

Protesters hold rally at PG&E forum Utility giant seeks rate increase in wake of Camp Fire

photo by Karen Laslo
“This meeting should be about breaking up PG&E and taking local control,” said protester Susan Sullivan.

by Karen Laslo

Chico area residents spoke at two forums held July 18 on PG&E’s request for a rate increase, and some participated in a rally to protest the utility, which owns the electrical transmission lines that Cal Fire says caused the Camp Fire.

The forums were sponsored by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to take public comment on the request for a rate increase on gas and electricity that would take effect in January 2020. Several people spoke at the second forum at 6 p.m., including Camp Fire survivors, PG&E customers, and environmental and social justice advocates. All spoke against the rate increase. read more

Sick of gerrymandering? Join California’s redistricting commission Panel seeks to end political rigging of voting districts

Kathay Feng, Common Cause national redistricting director, has championed independent redistricting efforts across the country. Those efforts began with two initiatives California voters passed prior to the 2010 Census, leading to the formation of the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is now seeking new members.

by Mark Hedin
Ethnic Media Services

California is looking for new commissioners to draw its redistricting maps — the maps that define who votes for California’s representatives in Congress, its state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization members. The deadline is coming up fast to apply for the job, which pays up to $300 per day.

The initial application form takes five minutes to fill out. It’s due by Aug. 9 for the first round of the application process. Find it here. read more

Camp Fire housing bill to face final committee hearing AB 430 doesn't address need for affordable housing or housing in Paradise

photo by Karen Laslo
AB 430 author James Gallagher, 3rd District assemblyman, at July 3 Senate committee hearing. Gallagher said the bill will create a “narrowly-applied, streamlined” approval process – but whether that streamlining will produce affordable housing is the topic of debate.

by Leslie Layton and Karen Laslo

Chico-area residents and Butte County leaders spoke at last week’s Senate committee hearing in Sacramento, some in support and some in opposition to Assemblyman James Gallagher’s Camp Fire housing bill that will encourage large-scale development.

Gallagher’s bill, AB 430, was passed July 3 on a 5-1 vote by the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee and will be the subject of a final committee hearing on July 10. The bill will facilitate housing construction in eight communities by letting builders, in many cases, circumvent review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and by reducing requirements for public hearings for new development. read more

Proposed citizenship question turns Census into civil rights issue Inaccurate tally could affect minority communities, election results

by Lindajoy Fenley

Ethnic minority organizations are vowing to do everything possible to encourage an accurate census count in the face of what they called a Trump Administration plan to solidify conservative Republican power with a distorted tally.

“The 2020 Census is one of the most urgent civil rights issues facing America,” said moderator Beth Lynk of the Leadership Conference Education Fund in opening an Ethnic Media Services press conference by telephone that featured speakers for five organizations. read more

Chico’s “undocumented” attorney earns U.S. citizenship Sergio Garcia says family-based migration is crucial

photo by Karen Laslo
Salvador Covarrubias (left) brought his young son Sergio Garcia to Chico, knowing that the boy would qualify for residency.

by Leslie Layton

It took Sergio C. Garcia longer to become a U.S. citizen than it took for his native country, Mexico, to win independence from Spain.

It took longer than it took for him to win the right to practice law, becoming the nation’s first, so-called undocumented attorney.

Garcia will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a ceremony today in Sacramento – the end of a journey that began in 1994 when he was brought to the country as a teen who knew even then that if he was going to live in the United States, he wanted to belong as a participating citizen. read more