Lessons from James Baldwin On International Women's Day, his influence on my mother

James Baldwin portrait by Gus Bouquet
James Baldwin portrait by Gus Bouquet

by Leslie Layton

My closest sense of connection to the writer James Baldwin comes not through the wonderful film showing through March 9 at the Pageant Theatre about him, and not even through iconic books like “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” which I read during my formative first year in college.

It comes through a painting of him, a less-than-literal interpretation of the mood and character that I might have glimpsed had I known James Baldwin as a boy. I keep that painting – which happens to be my most treasured keepsake from my late mother – hanging on a wall near whatever desk I use when I work – that is, when I really work — at writing.

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Police-community relations on the mend after low point Critics say more change needed at CPD; cell phone case looms

photo by Karen LasloMike O'Brien assumed the chief's post almost two years ago when Dunbaugh left.

photo by Karen Laslo

Mike O’Brien assumed the chief’s post almost two years ago when Dunbaugh left.

by Dave Waddell

Two years ago, Mike Dunbaugh came out of retirement to set the Chico Police Department on a path to reform. His five-month stint as interim police chief ended with a June 4, 2015, final report. In that confidential memorandum sent to the City Council and other officials, Dunbaugh described Chico PD as having abnormally poor relations with the community it served, as well as being unwelcoming to women. 

“The failure of the Police Department to maintain healthy community connections is extreme,” Dunbaugh wrote.  “In over 40 years of being associated with the law enforcement industry in California, I have not seen a department from a city this size dig a hole this deep for itself. City leadership played a role in this happening; and, it is going to take significant effort and time for the police department to reconnect and correct.”

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Rally speakers promote sanctuary city concept

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Ali Knight, a member of the Mechoopda tribe indigenous to the Chico area, spoke in favor of sanctuary status at a Saturday rally at Downtown Plaza in Chico. “This is Mechoopda land,” Knight reminded about 100 people who gathered to support a sanctuary designation for Chico. “Most of the native population here was decimated. The idea that people don’t belong to a place started a long time ago.

“We are still here and want to promote this as a sanctuary city,” Knight said.

The rally and march Saturday were organized by Shelby Chase, a member of the board of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in response to the Feb. 21 City Council vote against considering sanctuary status for Chico. A sanctuary designation could be either symbolic or viewed as a policy statement related to local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

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Sanctuary proponents regroup after failed effort at City Council Community members regret lack of discussion

photo by Karen Laslo Cassandra Hernandez told the council, "We're not numbers. We're actual people."

photo by Karen Laslo

Cassandra Hernandez told the council, “We’re not numbers. We’re actual people.”

by Leslie Layton

In part, it was the 4-3 vote against merely considering their request that surprised and frustrated college students, and that moved some of them to booing before they left the Council Chamber.

In part, it was the way the vote was taken – swiftly and without explanation – that stunned or offended some community members. On Tuesday, an audience that filled the chamber asked the Chico City Council to consider at an upcoming meeting a sanctuary policy that would help protect the local immigrant community and its relationship with police.

The sanctuary issue was addressed at 9 p.m., three hours after the meeting had begun. It had come as “business from the floor,” and there it stayed – as business on the floor. The council’s vote had unceremoniously ended what Councilwoman Ann Schwab called an extraordinary “outpouring.”

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Not on our agenda! Chico City Council won't agendize a discussion on sanctuary status

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by Leslie Layton

The Chico City Council’s conservative majority blocked a community-wide effort, led by a group of college students who made brave and articulate presentations Tuesday night, to agendize a discussion on sanctuary status.

Sanctuary is a designation that could be as simple as an official statement welcoming diversity, or as meaty as a statement that guides law-enforcement policy toward the local immigrant community.

The panel quickly voted 4-3 against a motion by Councilwoman Ann Schwab to discuss sanctuary status for Chico at an upcoming meeting, after 37 people – including college students, attorneys, teachers, activists and other community members – asked for a hearing on the matter.

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Chico residents to ask City Council for sanctuary designation On Tuesday, from the floor, a resolution proposal

women's march on chico

photo by Karen Laslo

 
Participant in January’s Women’s March on Chico

by Leslie Layton

A group of Chico residents plan to address the City Council Tuesday to request a “sanctuary” designation for the city – a statement that is important and controversial in an era of harsh immigration enforcement.

Elizabeth Alaniz, assistant director of Chico State’s Financial Aid and Scholarship office, said students from several campus groups plan to address the City Council on the issue at the panel’s Feb. 21 meeting. And Chico author and Zen Buddhist Lin Jensen said he has composed a draft resolution for a sanctuary designation after conducting extensive research on the matter.

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