County supervisors endorse new water district Tuscan Water District creates water oligarchy, critics say

photo by Karen Laslo
Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue: “I believe we should use all of our county resources, including surface water.”

by Leslie Layton

The Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to endorse the formation of a new, landowner-run water district in which members will get one vote per acre of land they own. Members may also have to pay a hefty fee to belong to the governing body that will have authority to implement projects affecting the region’s aquifer.

The proposed Tuscan Water District (TWD) was endorsed by board Chair Bill Connelly and supervisors Tod Kimmelshue and Doug Teeter after hearing more than two hours of impassioned testimony from dozens of members of the public. (District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero cast the lone vote in opposition and District 3 Supervisor Tami Ritter left the meeting early because of a personal emergency.) read more

Lucero: Public discourse on Tuscan Water District comes — but late "The public had not been part of the formation process"

photo by Karen Laslo
District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero

by Debra Lucero
guest commentary

The Tuscan Water District story is unfolding in Butte County. This isn’t the first time large landowners have joined together to try to “preserve their way of life and heritage.” It has happened all over the state and more recently, in San Luis Obispo where the proposition to form a new, powerful California Water District failed.

So, how did this current effort in Butte County get birthed?

The former Butte County Water Conservation & Resource Department director, Paul Gosselin, (now the State of California’s deputy director of SGMA – Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) and a former longtime Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission executive officer, John O’Farrell, came up with another idea — one that could circumvent the arduous San Luis Obispo process and even the Board of Supervisors. read more

COVID-19 outreach events reach hundreds of needy families Ethnic disparity in positive cases appears to drop

photo by Kate Sheehy/Semillas
Reyna Nolta from the Hispanic Resource Council at the COVID-19 prevention event in Orland on Saturday.

by Leslie Layton
A COVID-19 prevention campaign targeting low-income and minority communities in the region — that public health officials believe has been effective — is reaching hundreds of families as it winds down for this calendar year.

Spearheaded by the Hispanic Resource Council of Northern California, staffers from a host of social service agencies and Butte County Public Health have distributed more than 2,000 masks, more than 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, information packets and educational materials translated into Spanish at events throughout the North State. The latest events, held Oct. 17 in Orland, Chico and Oroville, were the last big projects in the 2020 prevention campaign although other facets of the campaign will continue. read more

Dismissing public health metrics, Gallagher says open up Reporter's Mlog: lawmaker's district torn over path forward

photo by Karen Laslo
Assemblyman James Gallagher, who represents most of Butte County and much of the Northern Sacramento Valley, preaches civil disobedience.

by Leslie Layton
analysis

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) preached civil disobedience Thursday in front of the Chico Council Chambers, suggesting to unmasked constituents at an “Open Butte County” rally that opening up for business can be a necessary act of protest.

Speaking to almost 200 people, many of whom waved American flags or “Recall Newsom” signs, some sporting MAGA caps or Reopen T-shirts, the 3rd district assemblyman again said, as he has before, that shops and schools can consider reopening as acts of civil disobedience if they’re in violation of public health regulation. read more

Voter turnout critical in Butte County; vote early, officials say Experts say mail-in voting is safe; voter suppression is the problem

So-called “voter suppression laws” made it difficult for millions – many African American – to participate in the 2016 election. Turnout will be key in the upcoming General Election.

by Leslie Layton

If you’re eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 General Election, Butte County Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs has a single, simple piece of advice: Don’t procrastinate.

To make sure your vote gets counted on election night, register or update your registration now. Vote when you receive your ballot in October. Call the Elections Office with questions, whether you speak English, Spanish or Hmong, Grubbs says.

But in what some people are calling a “vote-because-your-life-depends-on-it” election, there is plenty to worry about in terms of national polling. In some states, millions of people who have voted previously must re-register — and may not know that — because of tough and suppressive voter registration laws. read more

Butte County Latinos hit hardest by pandemic City of Gridley now claims 35 percent of county's total cases

Butte County Public Health says 41 percent of the total COVID-19 cases, through June, were people identifying as Hispanic.

by Leslie Layton

Butte County’s Latino residents are becoming infected with COVID-19 at an alarmingly disproportionate rate, a reflection of the disparities surfacing throughout the nation that show low-income, immigrant and other minority communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Figures released earlier this week to ChicoSol in response to a Public Records Act request show that people identifying as Hispanic comprised 41 percent of 164 Butte County residents who had tested positive for COVID-19 through June 28. Latinos and/or Hispanics make up less than 15 percent of the county’s population, according to estimates, but belong to what is by far the county’s largest minority group. read more