Park Commissioner Ober takes up sales tax pitch

9 Jun

I have had my ear to the railroad tracks, listening for the rumblings of a sales tax increase campaign, and I think the first train has come in – Park Commissioner Richard Ober wrote the opinion piece below for the Chico News and Review.

It’s a threat – pay an increased sales tax or we close Bidwell Park road, stop cleaning bathrooms, stop pruning trees, etc, etc. Funny thing is, a lot of his threats have already happened. The park is already dirty and disheveled, trash all over the place, invasive non-native plants covering the ground, choking out native species and leaving native animals without proper habitat.   Caper Acres is a trash pit, never know who will be hanging around there, when the gate’s open, that is. 

And he’s so out of touch with most people’s every day reality – a dollar for a cup of coffee? He’s trying to make it sound like we only pay sales tax on things we don’t need, like we’re all just dripping with discretionary cash. This reminds me of the time somebody asked George Senior, how much is a gallon of milk? Ober forgets all the household items we use everyday – soap, toilet paper, all those non-food items we buy at the grocery store are TAXED. 

Ober needs a reality check – but you apparently need to be a city insider to have his public e-mail.  The contact mechanism on the BPPC page doesn’t work.  You will have to contact him through $taffer Lise Smith-Peters,   Notice how she set up her e-mail with the first three letters capitalized, and leaves out the “Smith” in her hyphenated last name. These addresses are supposed to be set up so you can just use the first initial and last name, but it’s funny how many $taffers use these tricks to keep their publicly-paid e-mail address a secret from the public. Let Smith-Peters know too – she will just have to manage to drive that brand new city pickup truck around the park all day doing nothing on her current $56,000/year salary. 

If you don’t want to write to the papers, send your letters here, keep them factual and in somewhat good taste, and I’ll run them here. 

This article was published on 06.06.13.

The author is a longtime resident of Chico who has served on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission for eight years.

Ask anyone here what makes Chico special and the answers at the top of the list will always include “Bidwell Park.” The park is more than one of the largest municipal parks in the country hosting nearly 2 million visits every year. It is at the core of who we are. It is the heart and lungs of a landscape that is unique in its combination of urban charm and thrilling wildness.

Ask yourself: Whatever the reason you and your family came to Chico, is the park part of the reason you stayed? And then ask yourself: What is that worth?

We know that the city is under budgetary siege. Are we ready to endure the pain of draconian cuts? Or are we willing to step in and pay for that which defines us as a community?

Picture this: Upper Park Road is closed. The trails to Monkey Face are washed out. A fire has denuded all sides of Ten Mile House Road. There are no lifeguards at Sycamore Pool. Restrooms go uncleaned. And the trees are un-pruned and declining. Valley-oak seedlings choke under tangles of invasive blackberry vines. A chain locks the gate at Caper Acres.

Are we willing to accept this?

How much is Bidwell Park worth to us? We take pride in saying, “We’re from Chico, the town with Bidwell Park.” As the stewards of this place for a short while, it is our duty to do better.

How much is your park worth? When you spend a dollar at the coffee shop, is the park worth a penny? When you lounge in your back yard and know that you live in a town with a park like Bidwell (and your house is worth more because of it), is it worth a few dollars?

Let’s tell the leadership of our city that it is worth our pennies and dollars, and that we’ll do what we need to preserve it. Because we’re willing to add a few dollars in taxes in order to pass along to our grandchildren that which makes us who we are.

If you’re new to Chico, Bidwell Park might seem like just another place behind a gate, and so, why not leave the gate closed? But Bidwell Park is more than that. It’s who we are and we need to do the right things to keep that gate open.

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