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KPAY News Archives for 2013-01

Roof Fire Causes Brief Evacuation at Chico Grocery Store


A Chico grocery store was briefly evacuated after a fire broke out within the roof's solar electrical system.  The Chico Fire Department says there were no injuries at the Mangrove Avenue Safeway.  The store was closed for about an
hour Wednesday afternoon.

Chico Woman Accused of Knife Attack on Mother


A Chico woman is in jail on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly stabbing her mother. Chico Police say 20 year old Jerusalen Torres allegedly attacked her mother with a knife Wendesday morning at an E. Lassen Avenue apartment. The victim, 36 year old Alejandra Alvarado, was taken to a local hospital with non life threatening injuries. Torres was arrested on the assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Search for "Wanted Person" in Oroville Comes Up Empty after Chase


Butte County authorities say a "wanted person" got away after a Wednesday chase. The Sheriff's Office says a deputy tried to stop a stolen vehicle in Oroville Wednesday, but the driver reportedly sped off, then ran on foot on Grand Avenue.   Officials say a search for Ryan Blinston came up empty. But the Sheriff's Office says they recovered stolen guns from the car.

Chico Police Arrest Rape Suspect


A 40 year old Chico man is in custody on a number of kidnapping and rape charges. Chico Police think they've made a big breakthrough with the arrest of Lonnie Keith. Police say he's the prime suspect in a series of kidnappings and sexual assaults in the south campus area of Chico State over the past year and a half. In the early morning hours of January 26th, police stopped Keith on a traffic violation. A search found some suspicious items in a concealed compartment.

 

 

Police Lt. Mike O'Brien says many of the victims reported being forced into a vehicle before being raped. Keith is reportedly a physician's assistant at Enloe and Oroville Medical centers. He is being held on two counts of kidnapping and two counts of rape. Meanwhile, the inveastigation continues.

Two Arrested in Ridge Stabbing


Paradise Police say two people are facing charges of attempted murder with a gang enhancement, following a weekend stabbing.  Police say a 16 year old boy allegedly attacked a man on the bike path near Maxwell Drive late Sunday.  The victim suffered multiple stab wounds.   Police say another victim was assaulted by a 2nd suspect while  trying to fight off the teen.  Police say it appears the attack may have been tied to a gang initiation.  Officers say the 16 year old boy and 19 year old Alan Steen have been taken into custody.

Chico City Manager Proposes Staff Restructuring


Chico's city manager says re-structuring city government will cut city expenses.  City Manager Brian Nakamura presented a proposal to the City Council Tuesday that called for scaling back the number of city department heads from 12 to five.   The Chico ER reports those five department heads would be police, fire, public works, community development, and administrative services.  Nakamura told the council the change would lead to a reduction in staff and cost savings.
  

Chico Residents Can Apply for Cell Phone Tax Refund


Chico residents can apply for refunds for phone taxes paid to the city thanks to the failure of Measure J on the November ballot. City Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy told the Chico Enterprise-Record if an individual shows documentation that they paid a utility tax bill for cellphones or Voice Over Internet Protocol, the city will issue a refund. The City Council is trying to figure out how to compensate for the lost revenue, which could be $900,000.
 

Corning Woman Allegedly Stabs Husband in Fight Over a Cat


A knife attack lands a Corning woman in jail on attempted murder charges. Authorities say they responded to a call on McClane Avenue early Sunday morning where 55 year old Mary Oconner allegedly attacked her husband with a pocket knife during an argument over a cat. She reportedly stabbed him in the neck and arm multiple times. She was arrested and booked into the county jail.

CA Lawmaker Wants to Expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Assembly Speaker John Perez is introducing legislation to expand Medicaid in California under the federal Affordable Care Act, which he says would expand the health care program for the poor to include more than 1 million additional people. Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, said Monday that the cost of covering the additional recipients is still unknown, but would be paid for by the federal government as part of the health overhaul. His proposal would expand the coverage to people who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,400 a year for an individual. Health care providers on Monday also filed a lawsuit to block the state's cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates and announce an escalation of their legal fight. About 7.1 million Californians do not have health insurance.

Congressman Garamendi to Examine Fire Damage at Beale


A California Congressman is heading to Beale Air Force Base today to inspect the damage caused by a recent fire. The fire last week caused an estimated $10-20 million in damage to the civil engineering building at Beale. Congressman John Garamendi and staff members from the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer will also inspect the damage. Garamendi says he's working with Beale officials and the Department of Defense to secure the money needed to rebuild the facility.

Another State Agency Under Fire for Hidden Funds


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An investigation has found the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid $3.6 million in collected legal settlements rather than depositing it into the state's general fund as required. The Los Angeles Times found Cal Fire paid the nonprofit California District Attorneys Association to hold the money over a seven year span. The department used the cash for equipment purchases and training. The newspaper says the practice ended last year amid questions about whether the fund was legal. Cal Fire's own  regulations stipulate that proceeds of legal settlements go to the state's general fund. After questions from The Times last week, Cal Fire director, Ken Pimlott, notified the state Natural Resources Agency and state Department of Finance about the fund. The Department of Finance is planning an investigation.

Two Injured in Chico Park Stabbing


A weekend stabbing in Chico apparently left 2 men injured.  The Chico Police Department says two reportedly stabbed each other during a fight at Community Park Saturday.   20 year old Roberto Martinez was treated for minor injuries and arrested for public intoxication.    The 2nd suspect, identified as 21 year old Brandon Heaton, was located after he went to a local hospital.  At last report, neither man had been charged.

State Cleans Up Toxic Acids in Yuba City


YUBA CITY, Calif. (AP) — State toxics officials say a disaster was averted when officials found 11,000 gallons of potentially explosive chemicals in an abandoned building in Yuba City and safely disposed of them.  Officials said Friday that the chemicals at a site in Yuba City included a variety of acids and cyanide stored in 55-gallon drums and giant open vats. Charlotte Fadipe, a spokeswoman with the Department of Toxic Substances Control said that if spilled or mixed together, the substances could have exploded or caused serious injury. The property was a former custom chrome and bumper business that was abandoned when the owner died. It was located in an area of homes and commercial buildings. Fadipe said the department's emergency response unit spent two weeks preparing the chemicals for transport to a toxic waste facility in Utah. The cleanup cost more than $250,000.

Neighbor Arrested on Suspicion of Murder in Yuba City


Yuba City Police say a 20 year old man is accused of killing his 94 year old neighbor.  Michael Alexander was taken into custody Friday.   Police describe the attack on the elderly victim earlier this month as "savage."  Police say they believe financial gain was part of the motive for the killing.  Alexander was booked into the Sutter County Jail on charges including murder and robbery.
 

Deadly Fire at Butte County Mobile Home


One man has been killed in a Palermo fire.   Cal-Fire says the blaze was reported at a mobile home on S. Villa Avenue early Sunday morning.  The home was destroyed.  Officials say one man was able to escape through a window...another man died at the scene.  Five dogs in the mobile home also died.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.
 

Brown Delivers State of the State Address; GOP Lawmaker Responds


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Cheering a California rebound, Gov. Jerry Brown says voter-approved tax increases have put the state on sound financial footing but warns lawmakers that they must be tight-fisted with the government purse strings. The Democratic governor delivered his third State of the State address Thursday since reclaiming the governor's office. He did so just months after voters approved his Proposition 30, which raised sales and income taxes temporarily.  The main topics Brown addressed — reform of K-12 education funding, the need for the higher education systems to hold down costs, promotion of high-speed rail and water tunnels under the delta — have been addressed previously, including in his budget proposal.

 

Meanwhile, one Northstate lawmaker says it sounds like the Governor is moving to the center aisle. Assemblyman Dan Logue says he liked parts of the Governor's State of the State address and he also likes the Governor's planned trip to China to open the door for trade. But he disagree's that the budget is balanced, saying there are a lot of unknown factors like health care reform projections, federal money, and the cost of high speed rail.

Sacramento Prosecutor says She's Not Considering Charges in State Parks Funding Scandal


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento County's prosecutor has rejected a report from the state attorney general on $20 million hidden by state parks officials and says she will not consider pressing charges against anyone.  The attorney general had forwarded the report for possible prosecution, but District Attorney Jan Scully said in a letter Thursday that investigations involving state officials have historically been handled by the attorney general. The report also listed no suspects or potential crimes. The attorney general found that senior officials at the Department of Parks and Recreation helped keep millions of dollars secret from state finance officials for more than a decade. Scully said it would be difficult to prove criminal wrongdoing, however, as the funds were disclosed to the state controller, no one profited, and the money was never spent.

Corning Man Pleads Guilty in Crash that Killed Cal-Trans Employee


A Corning man pleads guilty to a drunk driving collision that killed a Cal-Trans worker on Highway 99.  The Butte County District Attorney's Office says 48 year old Russell Hodge will be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison next month.   Hodge pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Prosecutors say he drove his truck through a roadblock in 2010, killing Cal-Trans employee Gary Smith.  The victim had been diverting traffic around another fatal collision on the highway.

Butte County Chase Ends in Arrest and a House Fire


Butte County authorities say a robbery suspect crashed a stolen truck, caused a fire, and led a Sheriff's deputy on a pursuit Thursday afternoon.  The Sheriff's Office says a Forbestown man told investigators two men forced their way into his home, sprayed him with pepper spray, and left in his truck.  A deputy spotted the vehicle a short time later and followed it to Foothill Boulevard.    Authorities say the driver crashed into a power pole, another vehicle, and a fire hydrant.   The damaged power pole reportedly led to a fire at a vacant home.  The deputy arrested the alleged driver, identified as Christopher South, after a foot chase.
  

California's Governor to Lay Out Vision for the State


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is coming off a year of political success in which he delivered on a promise to persuade voters to raise taxes and made headway on other long-standing problems, such as runaway public pension liabilities.

The Democratic governor's State of the State address Thursday gives him an opportunity to focus on his vision for the state. With tax hikes helping the budget, Brown can turn his attention to other priorities.

Those could include overhauling California's school finance system, building a massive tunnel system for water in the Central Valley and constructing what would be the nation's first high-speed rail line.

He already has given a partial outline of his vision for reforming California's education system, calling for more money going to poorer districts and greater local control.

Shasta County Man Enters Plea in Hacking Deaths


MOUNTAIN GATE, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California man charged with hacking two men to death with an ax used to split logs has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thirty-five-year-old Thomas McDonald entered the plea in Shasta County Superior Court through his attorney on Tuesday.

The Record Searchlight of Redding reports that the judge appointed a psychologist to evaluate him.

McDonald is facing first-degree murder, aggravated mayhem and other charges in the February 2012 attack on 54-year-old Karl Bradshaw and 84-year-old Ralph Gearhart Torborg in the town of Mountain Gate.

Authorities say McDonald randomly attacked the two men with a splitting maul after a disturbance at his house.

CHP Vehicle involved in Cottonwood Wreck


    A CHP truck was involved in a 4 vehicle collision in
Cottonwood Wednesday.
    The CHP says an 18 year old Redding woman
hit a semi twice on I-5, then collided with two other vehicles.
One of those vehicles went out of control and struck
a CHP truck on the I-5 on ramp.
    Four people were injured in the wreck.  One lane
of traffic was shut down for several hours.
 

Corning Teen Injured in Apartment Shooting


 A Corning teenager is in critical condition after being
shot twice.
    Corning Police say someone kicked in the door of a
South Street apartment Tuesday night and shot 18 year old
Billy Thomvongham twice in the back.
    He was airlifted to Enloe Hospital.
    At last report, investigators say the motive for the shooting
is unknown...and no suspect has been identified.

Butte DA: Magalia Shooting was "Suicide by Cop"


A Butte County law enforcement official cleared in the shooting last year of Magalia resident Wayne Oxley. That's the finding of a special investigation into the December 20th incident. District Attorney Mike Ramsey says the investigation showed that Oxley was not angry at law enforcement, he just decided that he'd rather die by what's known as suicide by cop.  The matter was looked into by the county's special Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. It found Butte County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dineen was not criminally liable for Oxley's death.

CSU Officials Want $250 Million More in State Funding


LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California State University officials say they need nearly $250 million more in state funding for the next academic year than Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget calls for.

Assistant Vice Chancellor Robert Turnage told the board of trustees Tuesday that $371 million in additional funds is needed to pay for items ranging from salary raises to maintenance and equipment.

Brown has agreed to give the 23-campus system $125 million extra, of which $10 million will be spent to expanded online education to serve more students.

Brown, who attended Tuesday's meeting, says $250 million is more dream than reality. He also predicts that the requested $86 million for 3 percent salary raises will be hard to get approved by the Legislature, as other state workers have not received pay hikes.

Flames Cause Millions of Dollars in Damage at Beale AFB


BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a fire at Beale Air Force Base in Northern California caused more than $10 million in damage. A 38,000-square-foot civil engineering building was heavily damaged in the Monday afternoon blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Officials say one firefighter suffered minor injuries. Only one person was working in the engineering building at the time of the blaze.

Two Suspects Flee Following Chico Home Invasion Robbery


    Chico Police say two men demanded money, phones,
and drugs during a late night home invasion robbery.
    Police say two men walked into a W. 10th Avenue home
through an unlocked door just after 11 Monday night.  One suspect
was reportedly armed with a gun...both were believed to have
pepper spray.
    The suspects demanded the victims' purses, cash,
and any drugs they may have had, then fled.
    No injuries were reported.  Anyone with information is
asked to contact Chico Police.

CA Attorney General Seeks Funding Source for Prescription Drug Database


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A system that tracks prescription drugs and has assisted in several celebrity death investigations is in jeopardy of ending.

That is prompting California's top law enforcement official to seek new funding.

The state created the nation's first prescription drug monitoring program in 1939 and shifted to a computerized database in 1997. The online system tracks prescriptions written by doctors and filled by pharmacies, but nearly fell victim to state budget cuts 18 months ago.

Attorney General Kamala Harris now is working with lawmakers, medical providers and law enforcement agencies to collect enough money to retain and improve the system.

She estimates it would cost about $3.8 million to upgrade the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System and another $1.6 million to run it each year.

Chico Doctor says He'll Fight Accusation from State Medical Board


    A Chico doctor is under fire again, this time from the state. The Chico ER reports the state Medical Board wants to revoke or suspend plastic surgeon Loren Morgan's medical license because his practice is allegedly unsafe. The accusation alleges he has been negligent, and he suffers from illness that can affect his practice of medicine. Morgan told the newspaper he'll fight the charges, and said they stem from criticism of the previous administration of Enloe Medical Center.
 

Fire Damages Beale Air Force Base Building


    Beale Air Force base says a building was badly damaged
during a Monday fire.
    Officials say one person was inside the civil engineering
squadron building at the time of the fire and was able to safely
evacuate.
    The blaze left one firefighter with minor injuries.
    The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Bidwell Park Gets New Honor


An honor for Chico's Bidwell Park. The Park will be inducted into the State Park and Recreation Society's Hall of Honor for District 2. District 2 covers 19 mostly Northern California counties. The Society says Bidwell Park helps promote a high quality of life for Chico and draws visitors from throughout the region. Bidwell Park is more than 36 hundred acres, the third largest municipally owned park in California and the 14th largest in the country. The induction ceremony takes place February 22nd.

CA AG says State Could be Model for Gun Control


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's attorney general says the nation should follow the state's lead in seizing guns from felons, the mentally ill and others who are not allowed to possess firearms.

In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Kamala Harris says the state's Armed Prohibited Persons System has led to the confiscation of more than 10,000 illegally held weapons since it was created in 2006.

The computerized system cross-checks five databases to find people who bought firearms but are not permitted to own them. State Department of Justice agents have conducted a series of sweeps, seizing 1,900 weapons last year alone.

California is the only state with such a system.

Harris says in a letter made public Thursday that the nation should adopt California's model to help stem gun violence.

Trial Delayed for Firefighter Charged in Ridge Arson Case


  The trial for a volunteer firefighter accused of arson
has been delayed.
    The Chico ER reports Jairo Perkins-Grubbs was scheduled
to stand trial this month in connection with a series of fires
on the ridge in 2011, including fires at the DeSabla Market
and Lovelock Inn.
    His trial has been postponed until April.
  

Plane Lands Safely on Highway 70 in Butte County


    The CHP says a plane landed safely on Highway 70 in
Butte County this morning.
    Officer Cliff Morrison tells KPAY there was a report of
a plane in distress just after 8 AM.



    According to the CHP, there were no reports of injury.
 

Chico Gun Shop Reacts to Obama's Gun Control Proposals


    The owner of a Chico gun store says he believes the White House is
on the wrong track to curb gun violence.
    Charles Clemens owns North Valley Gun Shop...he tells KPAY that
current gun laws and background checks are sufficient...but the government
should increase penalties for violations.



    Clemens says he has also received dozens of calls in the last
few weeks from people concerned they won't be able to get the type
of gun they want in the future.

CA Lawmaker Expects Legislature to Tighten Gun Law "Loopholes"


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Lawmakers are sensing an opportunity to pass stricter gun and ammunition laws in California after New York passed the nation's toughest gun-control legislation and President Barack Obama proposed a sweeping national effort.

Yet the issue may not seem so pressing to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday that he expects the Democratic-controlled Legislature to tighten "loopholes" in the state's assault weapons restrictions.

He also says he will support proposals to make it more difficult to rapidly fire dozens of rounds from assault weapons and to require the reporting of ammunition purchases.

Brown's reluctance to engage in the debate over tougher laws can have implications for the wave of gun- and ammunition-control proposals this year, most of them from members of his own party.

Tehama County Man Accused of Assaulting Deputies


A Gerber man faces a slew of charges after allegedly attacking two deputies. The Tehama County Sheriffs office says it responded to a disturbance at a Red Bluff home Tuesday night. 24-year old Jose Hernandez was allegedly hiding in a closet. Deputies say he immediately attacked them when he was discovered, biting one deputy and trying to take a weapon from the other.

Former Ridge Coach Arrested for Alleged Lewd Acts


    A former volunteer coach at Paradise High School has
been arrested in a local molestation investigation.
    The Butte County Sheriff's Office says 28 year old William
Prinz was recently arrested for allegedly molesting a 13 year
old girl.
    Prinz has been booked into the county jail on charges
of lewd acts on a minor.
    Prinz reportedly resigned from being a volunteer coach
at Paradise High last year.

Man Robs Nord Avenue Gas Station


    Police say a man escaped with cash following a Chico
armed robbery.
    Officers say a man with a gun demanded money from
the clerk at the Sportsman 76 Station on Nord Avenue Tuesday
night.
    The suspect also apparently searched for a safe before
leaving the business.
    Anyone with information is asked to contact Chico Police.

CA Budget Analyst Agrees with Governor that Budget is Balanced


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst is agreeing with Gov. Jerry Brown that the state budget is balanced.

Analyst Mac Taylor issued the first review of Brown's budget on Monday. Taylor says that after years of multi-billion-dollar deficits, California has reached a point where its underlying expenditures and revenues are roughly in balance.

He commends the Democratic governor for emphasizing fiscal restraint and urges lawmakers to consider Brown's education reforms.

Last week, Brown released a $97.6 billion state spending plan for the 2013-2014 fiscal year that projected a $1 billion reserve. Two months ago, Taylor had projected a more cautious outlook that forecast a $1.9 billion deficit.

Taylor says higher tax revenues, increased savings and repayment of loans account for the differences.

 

Chico's Assistant City Manager Retires


    Chico's assistant city manager has retired.
    John Rucker notified the city last week of his immediate
retirement.
    He took over the assistant city manager position in 2008.  
    City Manager Brian Nakamura told the Chico ER the city
will likely begin recruiting for a replacement very quickly.
  

26 Arrested in Tehama County Undercover Operation


    Tehama County authorities have made more than 2 dozen arrests
as part of an undercover investigation targeting criminal activity on the
internet.
    A total of 26 people were taken into custody under "Operation Wicked Web."
    The Tehama County District Attorney's Office says those arrests
included two men who posed as tutors so they could meet minors for sex.
    Authorities also seized more than 170 pounds of pot during the 3 month
operation.
 

Chico City Leaders Get Financial Update Tuesday


Chico Leaders Tuesday get a snapshot of the city's finances. The annual audit shows an increase in most revenues except property taxes. City Manager Brian Nakamura however sees a gradual increase there.
What the audit doesn't show is the defeat of Measure J in November. That's the measure that would've let the city collect taxes on cell phones. Nakamura says the city will have to deal with an almost million dollar loss.  He thinks the money can be made up with a combination of budget cuts and innovative ways to raise revenues. The City Council later this month will have two workshops aimed at setting budget goals for the coming year.
 

CA Governor Wants to Move "Cautiously" on Health Care Reform


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown says he is firmly committed to making national health care reform work in California, but he also is wary of the potential costs.

In his budget released last week, Brown pledges to be a reliable partner in implementing the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income Californians. Yet he says he wants to move cautiously so the state can run a sustainable program that will not burden taxpayers.

The governor is concerned because the program already consumes 20 percent of California's $97.6 billion general fund. He set aside $350 million in his budget, but a top aide says the true cost is not known.

Known as Medi-Cal in California, Medicaid already serves about 8 million adults and children, nearly one out of every five residents.

CPD Investigating Stabbing and Reported "Explosion"


Chico Police say one man was stabbed downtown following a weekend fight. Officers found the 19 year old victim early Saturday morning outside the Main Street 7-11.  Officers say the victim had multiple stab wounds and was taken to a local hospital.   His injuries were not life threatening.  Police say all of the suspects involved in the fight had left the area before officers arrived.

Meanwhile, Chico Police are investigating what was described as a "loud explosion" late Saturday night. The Chico E-R reports a number of people reported the noise in the area of 7th Avenue and the Esplanade, but police came up empty handed. Four hours later the bomb squad was called to an apartment complex on West Fifth Street for reports of what were thought to be dry ice bombs. Anybody with information is asked to call Chico Police.
 

NRA: Assault Weapons Ban will Fail


WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the National Rifle Association is suggesting the group has enough support in Congress to fend off legislation to ban sales of assault weapons.

 

David Keene told NBC's "Today" show that he doesn't think such a ban is going to get the votes it would need. He also said there's a fundamental disagreement over what would actually make a difference in curbing gun violence.

 

The NRA was one of the pro-gun rights groups that met yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden, who is putting together the administration's response to last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. The NRA yesterday rejected administration proposals to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines, while also digging in its heels against an assault weapons ban, which President Barack Obama has said he will propose to Congress.

 

Today, Biden is meeting with representatives of the video game industry.

 

Biden has said he will have a set of recommendations for Obama by Tuesday. He said that won't be "the end of the discussion," but that "the public wants us to act."

US Mission in Afghanistan to Shift to Support Role


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai say in a statement that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is expected to shift to a support role later this spring — a few months earlier than expected.

 

Obama and Karzai were speaking at a news conference Friday, after meeting at the White House on the future of the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the 66,000 American troops serving there.

 

The leaders say in a joint statement that the military mission will shift from combat to support in the spring. That was originally expected to take place in the summer.

 

They say at the time of the milestone, most unilateral U.S. combat operations should end, with U.S. forces pulling back their patrols from Afghan villages.

 

Brown's Budget Plan Includes More Education Funding


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to spend $2.7 billion more on K-12 education for the next fiscal year.

Brown released a budget proposal Thursday that calls for spending a total of $56.2 billion on schools for 2013-14. That figure will bring the state almost back to prerecession funding levels.

Budget cuts in recent years had reduced spending to $47.3 billion this year.

Of the additional amount allocated for the fiscal year starting July 1, the governor wants to use $1.8 billion to pay school districts what the state already owes them in late payments for previous years.

The budget also allocates $450 million of revenue from a corporate tax increase to a special fund for school energy efficiency initiatives.

Governor Brown to Lay Out Budget Plans


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — After years of double-digit deficits, California's fiscal outlook is looking brighter.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday will propose his third budget since reclaiming the governor's office. It's expected to be the first time in many years that the nation's most populous state does not face drastic budget cuts.

The state still must address a $1.9 billion deficit, but that is far from the $25 billion shortfall Brown faced when he started his latest term as governor two years ago.

Thanks to tax increases approved by voters, California is projected to have a budget surplus within two fiscal years if Brown can keep the Legislature's Democratic supermajorities in check and hold down spending.

The Democratic governor says California isn't going to spend money that it can't afford to spend.

Yankee Hill Man Sentenced in Murder Case


    A Butte County man has been sentenced following the
fatal shooting of his roommate.
    The Chico ER reports 65 year old John Halsema was ordered
to spend 40 years to life in prison after being convicted of
second-degree murder in the death of Craig Davies.
    Authorities say Davies was fatally shot last January...and Halsema
waited 9 days to report his roommate was dead at their Yankee Hill
home.
 

Nielsen Wins Special Election


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — As expected, a former state assemblyman has won a special election in a GOP-leaning Senate district that covers a wide swath of rural Northern California.

Republican Jim Nielsen of Gerber nearly won the 4th Senate District seat outright during November's special primary but fell just shy of a simple majority. He split votes with another GOP candidate.

As of this morning, the Secretary of State's office showed Nielsen with 66 percent of the vote.

Nielsen's victory comes as Republicans carry a 12-point registration advantage in the district, which includes all or parts of 12 counties stretching from areas north of Sacramento to the Oregon border.

The seat opened last year when Republican Doug La Malfa, who had two years remaining in his term, successfully pursued a congressional seat.

In Tuesday's runoff, Nielsen defeated Democrat Mickey Harrington of Magalia.

The outcome does not affect Democrats' supermajority in the Senate.

Brown says He is "Ready to Go" Following Cancer Treatment


LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown says he feels great after concluding treatment for early-stage prostate cancer.

The 74-year-old Democrat told reporters in Los Angeles on Tuesday that he's "ready to go."

Brown's office disclosed last month that he was undergoing radiation treatment for the second most common cancer to afflict men. His treatment was scheduled to end this week.

It's Brown's second cancer scare since re-taking the office he first held from 1975 to 1983. Brown had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on the right side of his nose in 2011.

Detectives Find Bank Robbery Suspect at the Butte County Jail


Chico Police detectives headed to the Butte County Jail to arrest
a bank robbery suspect.
    Police say 28 year old Renaldo Perez was already in custody on
an unrelated charge when he was arrested Tuesday for armed robbery.
    He's accused of robbing Umpqua Bank on the Esplanade with
a knife in August.
  

Brown's Administration Wants to Increase Number of Inmates Allowed in CA Prisons


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Dueling court arguments mark the latest battle in a long-running dispute over California prison crowding that once reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration asked federal judges late Monday to modify their order capping the number of inmates that can be held in state prisons.

The state wants to house 6,000 more prisoners than what's allowed by the judges. Officials warn that if the request is rejected, potentially dangerous felons would have to be released early.

The cap was imposed after federal judges blamed crowding for causing conditions so dismal that they violated inmates' constitutional rights.

Officials planned to outline their options during a Tuesday news conference.

They argue that the state can provide constitutional conditions while housing more inmates than allowed by the courts.

Small Fire at Chico Charter School


   A small fire prompted a Chico school to be evacuated
Monday.
    Fire officials say the blaze at a Blue Oak Charter School
classroom was accidentally caused when a teacher plugged
in the wrong appliance and a basket on top of a hot plate ignited.
    All students and staff evacuated safely.
    Damage is estimated at less than 1 thousand dollars.
 

Suspect Arrested in Chico Bank Robbery


Chico Police believe they've caught the man responsible for a bank robbery on New Year's Eve. On Sunday police arrested 45 year old Kenneth Meza of Chico for the robbery at the Tri Counties Bank on Pillsbury Road. Chico Police say an officer recognized the suspect from surveillance photos.  Meza is currently in the Butte County Jail.


 

Red Bluff Police Probe Park Stabbing


    Red Bluff Police say a 22 year old man was
stabbed in the back during a BBQ at a local park.
    The victim and a friend were reportedly confronted
by a group of men Monday at Red Bluff City Park.  Police
say an argument led to a physical fight.
    The suspects ran from the park following the
stabbing.
    The victim was taken to a local hospital for
treatment.

CA Lawmakers Expected to Tackle Environmental Laws and Education Funding During New Session


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers are starting the new year with a tail wind they haven't had in 130 years — supermajorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

They also will be working with a governor of the same political party, a combination that means they can unilaterally increase taxes, pass emergency legislation and put constitutional amendments before voters.

As the legislative sessions opens Monday, Democrats' lengthy agenda includes state environmental laws, K-12 and higher education funding, and making sure California is prepared for federal health care reforms. No longer can Democrats blame minority Republicans for blocking their priorities.

Democratic state Sen. Michael Rubio of Bakersfield says the party has "no more excuses" for taking action.

Body Discovered Outside Beale Air Force Base Gate


    Authorities say a dead body was found outside Beale Air Force
base over the weekend.
    Beale officials say the body had a gunshot wound and was
located Sunday next to a car parked along the Vassar Lake Gate.
    The Air Force Base says there does not appear to be any connection
between the individual and the military.
    Officials are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the
death.
    

  

Store Clerk Stabbed During Chico Robbery


    Chico Police say a convenience store clerk was stabbed
during a weekend robbery.
    Police say two men confronted an employee at the Tower Mart
on E. Lassen Avenue Saturday night.  One suspect with a knife
allegedly stabbed the victim then grabbed cash from the register.
    The two robbers took off in a car...police say they located the
vehicle Sunday, but not the two suspects.
    Police say the store clerk suffered a non-life threatening
injury.

Detours in Place Following Big Rig Accident on Hwy 99


 A big rig accident on Highway 99 last night prompting detours in Butte
County today.
    The CHP says a big rig overturned just before midnight and caused
down power lines.
    The CHP says the northbound detour is set up at Highway 162...and
the southbound detour is at Highway 149.
    At last report, there's no estimated time when the roadway will be
clear.

 

Six Arrested after Chico Search


    Chico Police say six people were arrested following
a search of a local home.
    Police say they served a search warrant at a Spruce
Avenue home Thursday and located stolen property, meth,
marijuana, and illegal weapons.
    Officers say they seized stolen property from several
local burglaries.

CA to See Economic Reprieve Following Fiscal Cliff Deal


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff in Washington will bring a reprieve to California's slowly rebounding economy, but uncertainty remains in part because Congress delayed action on federal spending cuts.

H.D. Palmer, Gov. Jerry Brown's finance spokesman, said Wednesday the agreement helps California avoid sliding back into recession. But economic forecasters say a two-month delay on the so-called sequestration cuts could lead businesses to delay hiring or investments.

One immediate benefit of the New Year's agreement is that about 400,000 jobless Californians will continue receiving extensions of unemployment benefits.

The deal brought a smaller hit to most people's pocketbooks. A 2 percent Social Security payroll tax holiday was allowed to expire, but most taxpayers will not see their federal income taxes increase.

PG & E Customers to See Higher Electric Rates


New rates are in effect for P.G. & E. this year. Ratepayers will see their electric bills rise this month but their natural gas bills fall. But P.G. & E.'s Paul Moreno says natural gas rates will go up again in February as part of pipeline maintenance.  He says electric rates will rise because the company is required to purchase more renewable energy and is investing in more improvements in its electric system.

Chico City Council Votes in Favor of Plastic Bag Ban


    Chico's ban on plastic bags moves forward. The City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with banning large retailers from using the single use bags and charge 10-cents for paper bags. The E-R reports it won't be implemented for a year as the city monitors litigation against bans in other areas. Restaurants, nonprofits and social organizations would be exempt as well as  customers on government assistance.
 

Congress OKs Cliff Deal, Signaling Future Fights


WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress' approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands a victorious President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure.

 

Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.

 

The GOP-run House voted final approval for the measure late Tuesday by 257-167. That came after the Democratic-led Senate used a pre-dawn 89-8 roll call to assent to the bill, belying the partisan brinkmanship that colored much of the path to the final deal.

 

Meanwhile, Congressman Wally Herger says he supported the fiscal cliff deal to help provide tax relief for northstate families.  In a statement, Herger says without a new tax law, Americans would have faced a 50% cut in the value of the child tax credit and higher taxes on dividends for seniors living on fixed incomes.  But Herger says he regrets that "entitlement spending" was not addressed in the deal...and will now have to be tackled by incoming lawmakers.
 

New Laws Take Effect in CA


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Under some of the state laws taking effect with the new year, homeowners will have increased protections from foreclosure while parents will have an additional hurdle if they choose not to vaccinate their children.

California also is studying whether to create the nation's first state-administered retirement savings program for private-sector workers, although it will take additional legislation before the program can be fully implemented.

Other laws address emotional issues such as hunting and carrying guns in public.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed nearly 900 bills into law in 2012, most of which took effect Jan. 1.

The legislation covers a wide range of topics, from pension changes for public employees to new funding mechanisms for a state park system that has been tainted by financial scandals.

Authorities ID Victims of Fatal Anderson Fire


ANDERSON, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have released the names of two people who died in a mobile home fire in a remote area of Shasta County over the weekend.

Officials say 72-year-old Larry Heziekiah Estes and 62-year-old Sandra Lee Blakesley died in a fire that was reported just before 10 p.m. Saturday at the home in the tiny community of Anderson.

When firefighters arrived, they found the home engulfed in flames. After putting the fire out, fire crews found the bodies of the two victims.

The Record Searchlight of Redding reports the area where the mobile home was located is in a small, secluded valley with homes set far back from a main road.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

CPD Releases Photos of Bank Robbery Suspect


   Chico Police have released surveillance photos from a bank
robbery this week.
    Officers say a man fled with an undisclosed amount of money
from Tri Counties Bank on Pillsbury Road Monday afternoon.  Officers
searched the area, but the man was not located.
    Police say the robbery is still under investigation.
 

House to vote on 'fiscal cliff' bill


 

WASHINGTON - The Senate has passed legislation to block the impact of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts that make up the fiscal cliff. The vote was an overwhelming 89-8 and came well after midnight on New Year's Day. A House vote is expected Wednesday. The White House-backed legislation would prevent middle-class taxes from rising, and raise rates on incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. It also blocks spending cuts for two months, extends unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, prevents a 27 per cent cut in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients and prevents a spike in milk prices. A last-minute addition would also prevent a $900 pay raise for members of Congress from taking effect in March.

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