The death of Brett Olson has renewed the debate surrounding a possible alcohol ban on the Sacramento River during the Labor Day weekend.
"This is the time to act. We cannot allow this to happen again," former Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney said.
Maloney says he was angered when he heard about Brett Olson's
disappearance during the annual Labor Day float last Sunday and was even more upset when he heard of his death.
That’s because he says local supervisors had a chance to make the event safer by banning alcohol on the river during the Labor Day weekend.
"Our agencies foot the bill for nothing more than a giant party," Maloney said.
In 2011, Butte County Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance to ban alcohol on a six mile stretch of the river to limit the size of annual float.
To make that ordinance effective they needed a similar ordinance in Glenn County, but that fell one vote shy with the two dissenting supervisors saying the move would have unintended consequences.
"We are talking about college kids who text and use the twitter. They can have the thing moved down river in a matter of hours," Supervisor Dwight Foltz said during an August 30, 2011 meeting.
"To me trying to get information from tubers who are wearing their bikinis and their bathing suits and may not have ID on them. The unintended consequence is that you are going to be writing citations you have no way of following up on," Chairman Steve Soeth said during an August 30, 2011 meeting.
Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones, who supported the ban, told supervisors the ordinance would not change his department's plans for patrolling the event saying a citation would just be another tool for deputies.
Both dissenting supervisors cited the lack of impact as one of their reasons for voting against the ban, but Maloney is hoping the issue will be brought back before the board in the near future.
"I hope that the leaders throughout the region who have not taken a firm position in the past would be prompted by the tragedy to do so now," Maloney said.
Chairman Soeth did not return calls asking for comment, but supervisor Foltz says he still feels it is better to keep the floaters in one controlled area where crews can keep a closer eye on them.
In addition to the public safety benefits, proponents of the ban say it would also limit the environmental impact the tubers make on the delicate river ecosystem each year.