Brian Nakamura finally moving to push the public out of public meetings

20 Aug

Tonight Brian Nakamura will make drastic changes to the committee meeting schedule, eliminating most meetings, and scheduling any remaining committee meetings to run with council meetings.

I don’t expect a lot of you to understand why this is a bad move because you don’t bother to show up so you don’t know what will be missed if Nakamura eliminates these morning meetings. We all know issues are decided by the time they get to council. We also know how it is to attend and try to speak at a council meeting – wait all night, and then get three minutes and no response to bullshit they spout after you sit down. Or, you can wait til  the end of the meeting to talk while they’re putting on their coats, gathering up their junk, and chattering among themselves.

They want to have the committee meetings quarterly, and one suggestion has them scheduled right before city council meetings. Why? Staff is down there from 8 – 5, talking about stuff we should know about – how would it save money to cut the public out of the meetings?

One councilor I talked to about this tried to act sympathetic, but admitted to me, he thinks they can get more stuff done without the public.  Oh great, that’s what we want! These guys being allowed to swing all kinds of deals behind our back, like:

  • the sale of Downtown parking lots to a high density developer – when they tried to have this conversation in a meeting, Nakamura tried to keep the public from talking about the real reason behind “surplussing parking lots” by claiming it was a Brown Act violation
  • the franchise agreement with the garbage haulers – they finally admitted, they’re not doing this to please the customers, so why do they need the customers in the conversation?
  • alcohol zoning – I also got a councilor to admit to me, this effort is being limited to Downtown, just like I suspected. Downtown bar and restaurant owners should be mad because they’re being singled out for punishment, and establishments across town should be mad because they aren’t getting as much service from Chico PD as Downtown
  • the fund deficits – why are the maintenance districts that homeowners pay into EMPTY? This I found out at a morning meeting last January. The maintenance districts that homeowners pay into for stuff like keeping medians mowed and shrubberies watered and trimmed have been sucked dry – these districts have been funded out of the general fund for over a year now. Where did that money go? Are the homeowners not paying enough, or was that money inappropriately shifted to pay salaries and benefits, like the Gas Tax and so many other funds have been pilfered?

These are all issues I have found out about during those morning meetings, and that’s why Nakamura wants to cut off the committee meetings. He wants the public out, we ask too many questions.

The councilor I talked to also stupidly admitted to being able to yak at staff whenever he feels like it. He asked me if he should have recorded a recent conversation with Debbie Presson.

Well, yes. Debbie Presson is our city clerk, she gets paid about $135,000 a year, and complains that her staff has been cut! She says she doesn’t have enough staff to cover these meetings but I don’t really get that – there’s only one meeting at a time, that’s easy enough to make sure of – there are only three committees, and they meeting only once a month at different times. I’m clueless as to why Ms. Presson is allowed to enjoy 10 minutes of casual shit-shooting with a council member, or anybody, but can’t just sashay downstairs to a meeting and take the notes herself. The meetings have been recorded in past, I really don’t understand how NOT recording meetings saves money, but  that’s the kind of doublespeak we get from Nakamura, and Presson as well.

Presson should have to account for her time, who she talks to, and what they discuss in some kind of log, available for review by the public. She should also have to sit at a public desk, where I can sit there and listen to her conversations from the visitor’s area if I feel like it. E-mails going in and out of that office should be available on the city website for viewing by the public.

This councilor I talked to says he is all for sunshine, “moreso than most”. I’m sorry, but if he votes for this move, he’s not for sunshine, he’s for cutting the public out.

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