Do our “public safety” unions exert inappropriate influence over our city council? See for yourself.

25 Jan

Thanks Michael Jones for all the digging you’ve been doing regarding city election campaign contribution reports. I’ve seen contributions in past that I thought were inappropriate, and I still remember most of a discussion here in town, years back, to limit single contributions. These efforts were undermined by laws that allow Political Action Committees, such as the Chico Police Officers Association, and the International Fire Fighters Association, to donate much more than citizens. In past elections, the CPOA has been the biggest single donor, followed closely by the IFFA, donating or spending thousands to skew our elections in their favor, making sure to promote people who will carry their agenda of higher salaries and fully paid benefits and pension, like Scott Gruendl, Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan.

Below Michael Jones has sent us a guest commentary regarding his findings. Thanks Michael! 

 

Previous Chico City Councilors felt that receiving political donations in excess of $500 for an election might lead “a contributor [to gain] disproportionate access to or influence” over the City Council.  They felt so strongly they banned contributions over $500, and they required that smaller donations to be publicly reported.  (Municipal Code 1.30) 

Supreme Court decisions disallow limits on independent efforts to elect particular candidates. These independent expenditures cannot be coordinated with the candidate’s campaign.  They also must be publicly reported. 

An effort by Councilor Dan Nguyen-Tan in 2003 would have required an announcement at the Council meeting when a major contributor had business before the Council.  This proposal did not pass.  But in the spirit of his concerns, and in harmony with the Municipal Code, we can make those public disclosures. 

Chico Police Officers Association (CPOA) has business before the Council this month.  That business is the negotiations of the union’s contract with the city.  Their contract for fiscal year 2013-14 is for $18,302,883 in wages and benefits, or $143,000 per police employee0.   

Previous Councilors put into the Municipal Code that disproportionate influence might be had for over $500 for an election.  The Supreme Court said the union (or anyone) could contribute more for the election as long as the candidate did not control it. 

CPOA expended $5000.001 for the 2012 election of Sean Morgan. 

CPOA expended $2709.212 for the 2006 election of Scott Gruendl. 

CPOA expended $2709.213 for the 2006 election of Mark Sorenson. 

These Councilors are now in negotiations across the table from CPOA.  It is their job to represent the interests of the people of Chico, not the interests of CPOA. 

0  2013-14 budget p 149, p 253 

1  $500 contribution, $4500 independent expenditure 

2  $2709.21 independent expenditure 

3   $2709.21 independent expenditure 

Note:  CPOA in 2008 expended $8000 for television ads for undisclosed purposes 

by Michael Jones  1/24/14

2 Responses to “Do our “public safety” unions exert inappropriate influence over our city council? See for yourself.”

  1. bob January 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Chico has the best city council that money can buy.

    • Juanita Sumner January 26, 2014 at 6:31 am #

      And you know the question – is our problem that we spend too little, or too much?

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