“Hostile” City of Chico mismanages the airport

20 Feb

For a few years now (since 2008) an item has popped up so regularly on the city council “closed session” agendas that I have come to recognize it without knowing anything about it.

the following: Danford A. Jay and Sandra R. Jay v. City of Chico, et al., Butte County Superior Court
Cases 145202 and 145203, pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(a).

It started to pique my curiosity, but I didn’t know how to find out about it. I figured, since it’s on the closed session item, they wouldn’t be exactly eager to discuss it with me, and you know, I get tired of being led a merry chase down at the City of Chico.

So, I finally stumbled onto the info, you know, casual conversation with some parent at a playground, that’s how I find out stuff around town.  I mean, it’s just amazing the people you find yourself chatting with, about what.

It seems this all relates to Chico’s abysmal reputation for being “hostile” toward business.

I’ve sat in at least two different Economic Development meetings in which the main topic of discussion was the airport. At one meeting, a couple of consultants complained that the airport does not offer consistent enough “service” for corporate types to fly to Chico to snoop out our job-ability. They didn’t explain it, they just said, these big-wigs want to be able to fly in and out at their convenience, and that’s not doable at Chico airport.

At another more recent meeting, a spokesman from Build.com said the airport needs a big commercial carrier. He seems to think we can turn our airport into the same kind of behemoth  as the Sacramento Airport, bring in TWA – wowsers! He mentioned regular flights to Disneyland as his main concern – what does Disneyland have to do with bringing job-makers into Chico?

No, no, no. It’s not lack of a commercial carrier, it’s lack of somewhere for really important people to land their own jets. I got news for Mr. Build.com – real employers don’t stand in lines to take a commercial carrier, they fly in with their own plane at 10 am and they fly out at 4pm. The don’t use giant, overrun airports, they use little executive airports unconstrained by heavy traffic and avoiding major accidents involving housing tracts. Chico Airport should be perfect for exactly this use.

Yes, it should be. Chico Airport is equipped with a special landing strip with a gated terminal, just for really important people. You might remember, Oprah landed at that gate. She was whisked away to Oroville to meet and interview a local beauty queen, and then within a couple of hours, there she went.

But, for some reason, when Governor Schwarzenegger came to town a few years ago, nobody came to open the gate to the terminal. Schwarzenegger was left outside a locked gate. This was sufficient to  make a laughingstock out of Chico Airport.  It’s happened more than once, and it’s apparently turned away big execs looking for prime employment territory.

The special terminal is owned by a local couple, Chris and Maria Rock, who have a special contract with the city of Chico to operate the terminal and an airplane fueling station. When a “special” visitor is headed for the airport, they are supposed to contact the Rocks, who are supposed to have that terminal open and functioning. Apparently the Rocks are pretty lackadaisical about their duties and more than one person has arrived to find a gate locked.

Enter Danford Jay.  Mr. Jay wants to be licensed to operate such a terminal himself. He operates a business out of the airport and his livelihood depends on the airport running efficiently. Apparently Mr. Jay is tired of watching the Rocks run business away from Chico.

But the City of Chico protects the Rocks’ contract for some reason, they won’t let Mr. Jay have a permit to operate his own terminal and fueling station. According to my source, this drives people to the airports at Redding and Oroville. My friend is himself considering moving his business and the 25 people it employs to the Redding airport.

This friend has been to meeting after meeting, in Chico, in Oroville, in Redding. He uses the word “hostile” to describe the city of Chico, and particularly, Dave Burkland.

Dave Burkland is not only our city manager, he’s the airport manager.  That’s why his salary is so  high – I’ve seen the breakdown – he gets separate salaries for all these jobs that should just be handed to different, hopefully more competent people. This is how the city “saves money.” And this is how Burkland will retire at over $120,000 a year soon.

And this is why our airport drives jobs away from Chico.

Meanwhile the city’s little protection racket racks up the bucks in court:


9 Responses to ““Hostile” City of Chico mismanages the airport”

  1. Concerned Tax Payer February 20, 2012 at 11:23 am #


    I’d be willing to bet a pretty hefty sum that the City’s assistant attorney might have some pull there on that situation. Do some digging on that and see what you come up with. Or maybe you already know who I am referring to…

    • Juanita Sumner February 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      Wow – if she was a snake, she woulda bit me! ALICIA ROCK? Is she some relation to Chris and Maria Rock?

      Geeshy – what are we insinuating here?

  2. Concerned Tax Payer February 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Do a quick web search and see what you find. You might find it directly interesting.

    No insinuation here, just wanting to do some digging to find out what is going on and who is close to who/ involved in suit, and so forth. Could be something, might not be.

    • Juanita Sumner February 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      Yes, our assistant city attorney Alicia Rock is the daughter of Chris and Maria Rock, who have been granted a very curious monopoly on city airport services, despite the fact their competence is being called into question.


      • Concerned Tax Payer February 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

        Found it interesting huh? Thought you would. Good thing she didn’t bite you. C. O. I. at the least maybe???

        Sorry for the somewhat cryptic posts, but I feel we should try to use our brains in order to stay sharp. Far too many accept spoon fed material for gospel or just gloss over typed sentences without deriving further meaning behind them (critical thinking skills going down the tubes…).

      • Juanita Sumner February 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        Thanks for pointing this out, I’m sorry to be thick. I have seen Alicia Rock’s name in agendas for years.

        It looks like a few other people are interested – this post has got more hits than any post I’ve made on Chico Taxpayers. Like double the usual traffic!

        I will have to pester my playground source for more info.

      • Juanita Sumner February 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

        Well, here’s what I got from an ex-city employee and a spouse of another.

        Yes, current council members Ann Schwab, Andy Holcombe, Mary Flynn, Scott Gruendl and ex-councilmen Tom Nickell and Steve Bertagna voted to deny Dan Jay’s permit, agreeing with Dave Burkland’s advice it would jeopardize the Rock’s business. Wahl was apparently the only one who didn’t join the dummass party.

        Tonight they appropriated more money from the General Fund to defend the above named dummasses in court. The case has been running since 2008, with almost weekly trips to court for one or another “action.” Or, “inaction,” as this case would be. I asked them about it during a leisurely babble regarding their balloon budget, but Ann just sat there looking at me like a sheep having an enema.

        Holcombe, Schwab and Walker babbled endlessly about what a great job the city is doing in minding our finances – are these people on brain Ex-lax or what? Walker said, “We’re here because of good financial management over the last five years…”

        Decisions these morons have perpetrated have ruined so many people’s lives.

        All I can say is, how much longer are we going to put up with this crap?

  3. Frequent Flyer October 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Commercial Service to LAX would benefit Chico in several ways. From sending employees out on business to SoCal, attracting SoCal folks to Chico to do business, and yes, to help people get to Disneyland. Also, the Chico-SFO flight is often cancelled and people miss many connections, and in a pinch one can always drive to SF. SoCal? Not so much, and it’s an excellent hub.

    There was a report that the city paid to have done in 2007 that indicted that approximately 60k people per year drive to Sacramento to catch a flight to SoCal, and when you couple that with the business needs of Chico employers and SoCal businesses looking to do business with Chico companies, the KCIC-KLAX route makes some sense. Throw in your Disneyland crowd and we may have a strong case for a 50 passenger jet servicing Chico’s needs.

    Anyway, these are just some ideas to bally about. The lawsuit with Northgate and the city? I’ve addressed elsewhere but there’s nothing pretty or logical about it.

    • Juanita Sumner October 4, 2012 at 5:54 am #

      I think you’re reading that statistic wrong – that’s not 60,000 people, it’s 60,000 trips. It’s the same little crowd, making a lot of trips. I’m not willing to subsidize these people. That’s asking too much. I’m tired of people expecting me to roll out a red carpet for them with my tax dollars. And here’s what’s funny – they move here, and they expect the same kind of services they got in LA. Well, move back to LA, is what I’m saying.

      Sacramento just expanded their airport the way Enloe just expanded their hospital – to take in the regional crowd for miles and miles. We paid for it with state and federal taxes. I don’t mind driving to Sacramento, why should I pay for the convenience of others? Just so we can have a dirty crappy badly run commercial airport here? With gi-normous planes flying in and out, right over our heads? There’s something about the Northern California lifestyle you’re not getting.

      As for business people – the kind we need to come here right now – they don’t fly in on commercial jets, they use their own private jet planes. Besides the fueling problem you mentioned in “Airport Lawsuit”, I’ve heard we need to lengthen the runway to accommodate the newer, propeller-less planes, and I’d be fine with that. What, add some asphalt to the tarmac? Let’s go for it! Unfortunately, there’s no money to do that. But last year, the city of Chico spent over $80,000 inspecting the vacant building left by Aero Union. $80,000 to do what landladies do every day for free – inspect an empty rental. That’s the kind of mismanagement I’m talking about. Can you see these people running a commercial airport?

      Excuse me if I come off rude – I hope your kid doesn’t play hockey with my kid. I’d probably take my gloves off if I knew you! I know a couple of dads who have to travel a lot with their jobs, and I’m sorry about that, but that’s why my husband and I chose the lifestyle we did, here, instead of in some stinking city where people’s value systems are completely upside-down.

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