LA Times Features Bishop Chickens

Just when you thought the issue had died down, the Bishop Chicken Controversy went big time.

In recent weeks, an LA Times reporter had contacted a number of people in the Bishop area about the chicken controversy that came to the surface at a Bishop City Council meeting in January. Friday, the LA Times published their story on the front page of the paper.

For those familiar with the chicken saga, much in the story will come as no surprise. Pro-chicken city councilmember Laura Smith is quoted saying that chickens are no big deal. Pete Watercott, hospital board president and well known musician makes an appearance in the pro-chicken camp. Councilmember Bruce Dishion is quoted as taking the position that chickens are currently illegal under the current chicken ordinance that many say is unclear.

The Sierra Wave website takes a prominent role in the LA Times story. News reportre Mike Anton quotes from a particularly nasty exchange between two people commenting on our website about the chicken issue. Mayor Jeff Griffiths is quoted as saying that the website comments stirred up emotions and “put people on both sides into their trenches.” The internet form of communication had never before played a central role in a high profile public issue. Several officials said they gained an understanding of public sentiment from the electronic pot shots.

The author takes the view that the chicken controversy is a question of identity for the people of Bishop writing, at one point Bishop’s birds have stirred an emotional debate that goes beyond domesticated poultry. It’s caused this Eastern Sierra town of 3,600 to examine its identity: Is Bishop city or country?

Thats certainly one point of view, but the author also points to what others see as another cause of the controversy – neighbors not getting along with neighbors. City Administrator Rick Pucci makes the story saying, Today there are just more and more requests for the city to get involved in disputes because neighbors don’t get along with each other,” Pucci said. “So they come to the government to settle things.”

While the chicken issue appears to have died down for the time being, there is plenty of time for the heat to rise again. The issue wont be decided until November when the people of Bishop vote on Measure C. If that measure does not pass, the city will still not be free from the chickens because the disputed and unclear current ordinance will still reign.

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