Who is really in charge Downtown?

9 Jun

I had e-mailed my question about the Nature Center loan (essentially, why was it pulled from last Tuesday’s agenda) to city obfuscators Mark Orme, Chris Constantin and fiscal bulldog Mark Sorensen. I got a response from Constantin. 

Hello Juanita,

 The City believes that there is an opportunity to renegotiation [sic] the loan and lease agreements with the Nature Center to avoid needing to write-off the loan.  The promising development is the reason why the item was pulled, and the City decided not to entertain a write-off of the loan at that meeting.

 Chris Constantin, MPA, CIA, CFE, CICA, CLEA

Assistant City Manager

Excuse me, this is always my immediate mental response to an e-mail from Chris Constantin – “What? Can you just tell us what the hell is going on?!”  

That’s why I call them names here, like “mangler” and “obfuscator”, because they won’t just talk about this stuff straight with the taxpayers, they try to wiggle out of a direct answer. Brian Nakamura was one of the best I’ve ever seen – he would contort his way through half sentences, acting as though he was under some brutal torture, and never finish what he was saying.  And nobody in the room was rude enough to say, “spit it out Brian, what the hell are you saying?”  I know my place – I get asked to shut up when I am too curious with these people, I really have to hold back. If you ask more than one question at these meetings, even on separate topics, they treat you as though you are trying to be difficult.

I notice the Enterprise Record editorial this week is getting at the same point – they are being too coy these days Downtown. Dave Little is blaming it on staff, as if the council is getting the same treatment as the rest of us. 

Ex city manager Dave Burkland and finance director Jennifer Hennessey acted the same way. At first the press said nothing, the council said nothing, but when the financial shit finally hit the fan, they were throwing their pointy fingers  around  so fast they almost got them caught in the fan blades. 

So now we have another little melodrama – according to the ER,  staff has now gone insubordinate on Sorensen and the conservative majority. Little accuses them of hiring without council oversight – including the promotion of Constantin to Assistant City Manager. Hey, you know, judging from Mark Sorensen’s reaction to the pulling of the Nature Center loan discussion from last Tuesday’s agenda, that action was a complete surprise to him. Was it? Is staff just wheeling their own deals these days? 

And Little accuses our lawyer consultant of putting up the back of his hand to protests from citizens. Well, as a person who’s seen the back of Little’s hand, I’ll say, nya nya nya. But he’s right, at least our former legal team answered our questions, even mine. Sorensen hired this new team – or did he? 

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4 Responses to “Who is really in charge Downtown?”

  1. Michael Jones June 9, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Interesting post. The E-R was concerned that staff was ignoring the City Charter. The Charter was voted in by public vote, and cannot be changed except by a vote of the public. I once resigned from the Park Commission because Tom Lando announced to me that he would not follow the Charter with regards to the Commission. Staff still ignore the Charter provisions with regards to the powers of the Commission. A very progressive Park Commissioner told be a few months ago that Efseaff keeps the Commission in the dark, and makes policy decisions without consulting them. When, of course, the Park Commission is THE policy-making body for the parks and open spaces, except when over-ridden by the City Council.

    If staff thinks the Charter is antiquated, then staff should the Council to place a Charter amendment on the ballot. I think we will be having a Charter amendment regarding Council districts soon, so this is a good time for the Chico intellectual class to review the Charter provisions. And either follow them, or propose to the People that they be amended away….

    • Juanita Sumner June 10, 2015 at 5:26 am #

      oh, so now we have an “intellectual” elite who will decide what’s best for us – sounds like “A Boy and His Dog”. Tell me more about this highly secretive effort to change the city’s charter? Who exactly is behind it? why won’t they go public? I’m so sick and tired of all the secrets around here – if you know something SPIT IT OUT.

      I’ll tell you what else we need to do – dump all boards that have not been directly elected by the people – no more appointed commissions. When I followed the park commission I found a bunch of idiots who were on a commission to further their own political ends, not to do any work. The airport commission meetings were torture – the same inane questions asked again and again by people who don’t pay attention. I’ll say something on behalf of staff here – working with these people is like attending a Mat Hatter’s Tea Party.

      • jb June 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

        Hurrah for Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog,” a quirky dark-humor tale with that ugly implication underneath. There’s a lot of dark humor in Chico politics.

      • Juanita Sumner June 12, 2015 at 4:14 am #

        Yes, Ellison is one of my favorite writers, although I mostly watch his old episodes of “Outer Limits” these days. I think he wrote for “Twilight Zone” too but that’s not on the air right now.

        Jason Robards was positively scary in the movie version of “Boy and his Dog”. I know I would get “the farm”.

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