Write those letters! Sustainability Task Force needs to GO!

23 Jan

I have finally given up trying to attend city council meetings. It finally hit me that all the real business goes on in the daytime meetings, by the time it gets to council, it’s pretty done.  As if I’m going to sit through another plastic bag discussion when I know the votes are already there.  Or, if it’s an especially contentious issue, or too complicated for their tiny minds, they kick it down the road. Right now, service fees, for stuff like, monopolizing a city parking lot for five hours every Saturday morning, have not been reviewed since “2005 or 2006, not sure…”  According to Scott Gruendl, the city is losing money hand over fist as long as we don’t update, or raise, those fees.  But our Finance Director won’t have any reports on that until March or April – she waiting for her paid consultant to get back to her.

This is how they milk us for money, they just take FOR-EV-ER to do anything. 

All the real important stuff is done behind closed doors anyway. The employee contracts are being discussed tomorrow night behind closed doors. We are not allowed in there. They are supposed to bring us some contracts to look over, but according to one council member I asked, they have NOTHING right now, they’re still hashing it out. I’ll never forget Steve Bertagna’s answer when I asked why the public is not allowed in those discussions – it would put the city at a disadvantage he said, to have the discussion public. He explained how they play the various groups against each other, and secrecy is a big part of that. 

Yeah, just like the mafia, eh? Don’t worry about it! Just like Bronco Bama’s Chicago gang-style politics. Just like Richard Daley and the Chicago cops at the 1968 Democratic Convention. 

As long as the public is held out of the conversations we will continue to have problems with our public safety salaries and benefits. It was the public safety departments that forced Vallejo and Stockton into bankruptcy. 

The contracts are the only important discussion on the agenda. The “work plan” discussion is just more crap, they keep mouthing the same things over and over and doing absolutely nothing. Right now, the only important issue we’re facing is what these salaries and the refusal of the management and public safety staff to pay more of their own benefits is doing to our local economy.  

I’m not putting aside my family dinner for one more of these meetings. I might watch on the box once in a while, but the daytime meetings are where it’s at.  If you want to have any effect, you need to watch the morning meetings and write letters ahead of the council discussion. 

In February the council will discuss the future of the Sustainability Task Force. City manager Brian Nakamura has been meeting  behind closed doors with members of the STF, who are desperate to keep their little trolley on the tracks. He and Linda Herman assure me nothing illegal or inappropriate has gone on at these closed meetings, but that’s what they say.  How are we supposed to know when we aren’t allowed in? 

We need to write letters to Nakamura and council now, telling them the STF is a giant waste of staff time.  Read the old reports available on the city website, and look at the waste of staff time – how many meetings were cancelled because members didn’t care enough to show up.   I have the e-mail conversations – Linda Herman, at $85,000 plus benefits, e-mailing for days, trying to get up a quorum. Some of the original members have quit – either frustrated with the lack of real action, or because they just got bored, I don’t know. One original member told me it didn’t take him long to figure that Ann Schwab wasn’t going to do anything “real,” like squash the college parking structure, or force people into new urban housing. He agreed with me – this is just about Ann Schwab’s resume, feel-good gestures with regulations that end up affecting private citizens without really fixing anything. 

Look along the highway next time you’re out – she’s banned certain plastic bags, what about all the other garbage you see piling up out there? 

The STF needs to go. We finally have a city manager who is trying to clean house – let’s help him! Write to Brian Nakamura and council and tell them the STF needs to go. 

That’s bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us, and you can reach the council at dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us

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