School leaders in Chico work to reduce “unfinished learning” In wake of pandemic, experts suggest reform; Chapman employs community model

photo by Leslie Layton
Principal Mike Allen at Chapman Elementary just before opening bell.

by Natalie Hanson
posted March 23

As the pandemic disrupted Chico’s Chapman neighborhood, Chapman Elementary School Principal Mike Allen was one of several local school leaders known to knock on students’ doors and check on them, often with food in hand.

The schools were closed by state mandate with only online learning from March through August 2020, meaning that children missed seven months of in-person education. In October 2020, Chico Unified adopted a hybrid model. In August 2021, campuses fully opened to in-person learning. read more

Settlement ends lawsuit against City of Chico Vice mayor makes 11th-hour bid to postpone settlement

photo by Karen Laslo
Evicted campers leave their site after a sweep.

by Leslie Layton / commentary
posted Jan. 15

A settlement agreement in the lawsuit related to the city’s treatment of unhoused people, signed Friday by a federal judge, could end the spectacle of chaotic mass evictions that stranded campers who had nowhere to go.

Early last year, a newly-installed City Council began a series of sweeps in parks, near waterways and on patches of grass on public land.

Journalists watched as workers came in atop tractors, rumbling through encampments where displaced people had pitched tents and had failed to move their few belongings to who knows where – until we weren’t allowed to watch. read more

Civil rights action: Chico homeless caught in ‘web of ordinances’ Lawsuit stops sweeps momentarily

photo by Karen Laslo
Activist Emily Alma holds up a “Justice Prevails” sign at the Comanche Creek Greenway April 12 after a federal judge grants a temporary restraining order, pausing evictions of unhoused campers.

by Leslie Layton

Bobby Warren knows something about the crime of homelessness.

His court docket is a litany of supposed missteps, with various charges related to Chico ordinances. According to court records, he’s been caught in Depot Park when it was officially closed, stored belongings near a Chico creek, been cited for illegal camping — all examples of ways you might violate city code if you’re wandering unmoored, without an address, job or helpful relative.

Warren also must know something about misfortune: He lost his home after a divorce and cancer diagnosis. He has been fined around $2,000 for code violations, fines that came down after notices addressed to Warren were returned to the court (he sleeps outside!). The “Failure to Appear” entries mount up quickly, the docket shows. read more

“The End of Oil?” It’s about time!

photo by Karen Laslo
2019: Steve Marquadt from Chico’s Sunrise Movement (left) and Mary Kay Benson from 350 Butte County protesting congressional inaction on climate change at a town hall.

by Karen Laslo
guest commentary

For years, environmental activists have been warning us about the most dire existential crisis of our lives: Climate Change. But despite their best efforts, very little has changed as people on all levels continue to behave as if there is no crisis, including many of the elected officials that we depend on for leadership and protection.

As a result of this inaction, all creatures, human and non-human, on this beautiful planet we call Earth, our only home, are in imminent peril of extinction. read more

Denial all over Speaking to the unmasked, addressing "possibility"

photo by Karen Laslo
A sign at a Chico business reminds customers that masks are required in public by the state of California.

by Anna Blackmon Moore
guest contributor

My father, who died two years ago, was an alcoholic. When I was a child and he was inebriated, I’d ask him whether he was drunk. He always said no before stumbling off to bed. I watched him go and felt I had been wrong to suspect drunkenness and even more wrong to ask.

I stood in our hallway, balanced unsteadily on a threshold between what my father said and what I knew to be true. It was very uncomfortable, deeply personal, and profoundly difficult for me to understand. My stomach churned; I developed a pre-ulcerous condition; I grew into adolescence an extremely insecure girl. read more

City of Chico says it will enforce mask-wearing Council tries new approach to public participation at meetings

photo by Karen Laslo
Because of the pandemic, city employees sat outside during the meeting, in the 90-degree heat, handing out speaker cards to those who wished to speak at the City Council meeting.

Public participation was allowed at the Aug.4 City Council meeting — but a citizen speaker tore off his mask at the microphone as he addressed the panel.

The Council allowed in-person public participation at the meeting for the first time since the pandemic set in, asking would-be speakers to wear a face covering in the chambers and line up outside, staying 6 feet apart, until their names were called. They were allowed to then enter one-by-one. One man pulled off his mask as he addressed the Council, pleading with it not to enforce mandatory mask compliance. read more