Archive Opinion The Orion

Buis’ Bits: A gamble not worth taking

August 1, 2005

Don’t get too comfortable with your classes this semester. Chico State just might be reclaimed by the people who say they had it first.

Butte County supervisor Jane Dolan mentioned last Tuesday that the Mechoopda Indian Tribe has the right to take back the land Chico State sits on. She later said it was “hyperbole.”

We need to stop paying for and reliving the past. These squabbles over past lands are strangling our future.

I live in Oroville, about 20 or 30 minutes from Chico. We have two Indian casinos in our town that just keep adding to their size and bringing all sorts of wealth to our town.

Oh wait, they built them away from the center of the town, and they’re tax-exempt. Well, at least there’s a huge surge of traffic driving through town and the hills to gamble away their earnings–just as it was hundreds of years ago when their ancestors walked the lands.

Meanwhile, downtown Oroville is on life support. The main road to get to the casinos passes by Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Rite-Aid and Walgreens (the last two are conveniently parked across the street from each other). It doesn’t pass by where miners pick away in murals or where the old City of Paris used to be.

Speaking of making things the way they were centuries ago, there’s a plan in place for the Mechoopda tribe to put in a casino were Highways 99 and 149 meet south of Chico. When I go by there every day, I think it’s the perfect place for an overdeveloped eyesore. Every open field needs an eyesore.

But the real concern about this casino is Highway 149, a two-lane road that connects Highways 70 and 99. Where Highways 70 and 149 meet, it’s a legendary death trap.

There’s the frustrated drivers coming off Highway 149 after being stuck behind a slow big rig. Then you have the drivers going south on Highway 70 that want to get away from Paradise and the long and winding hills on the way down as fast as they can. Throw in people trying to make an unprotected left turn from Highway 70 to Highway 149 and it’s officially a massive nightmare.

There’s been talk of expanding Highway 149 and possibly improving the nightmare where it meets Highway 70. But that’s it. Just talk and a few thousand signs, lights and those little white bumps in the road. It’s like putting a salty bandage on a gaping wound.

As if this isn’t bad enough, imagine a drunk driver who just put his last nickel in a slot machine swerving down that road. Now add in you, tired from school, trying to make it home after a late-night study session. How many campus-wide e-mails would President Zingg have to send?

Think about this. You reach into your savings to donate some money to help the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. What you gave goes to help people make a fresh start and grow as a community and build themselves back up. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Now imagine the bank deciding to go to Louisiana and Mississippi and take back what you gave, because they had the money before you did and they want to add a third floor to their building. Not so good, is it?

As a member of the Bidwell family, I am personally insulted by what someone who represents Chico decided to say after she wasn’t fast enough to volunteer for a “Tribal Relations Subcommittee.”

Some of the worst moments in world history have come after somebody spouted a little “hyperbole.” What Dolan said is a clear case of an ignorance of history–something she claims everyone else is doing.