Again, the city fiddles while Chico burns

2 Nov

I got a notice yesterday about a “special meeting” Downtown, starting at 8 am today. A “special meeting” only has to be noticed 24 hours in advance, and as I have understood it, is supposed to be called only in the event of some sort of emergency, like a fiscal crisis, or some item that has to be executed within an immediate time frame.

The notice said only that it was a special meeting of the council and all the commissions – airport, art, architecture, planning and parks for a “Required Orientation Pursuant to AP&P 10-1”  This I only knew had something to do with the “code of conduct” for council members and commissioners.

My husband and I had a lot of work today, again – there’s going to be a storm tonight and tomorrow, and we wanted to be ready. But when my husband told me he needed to go out to Payless Lumber and Home Depot to get items to make repairs, I asked him to dump me off at the meeting, which was scheduled to run all day.  He said it shouldn’t take him more than an hour to do his errands, and I couldn’t really get away any longer than that, I had a lot of stuff to do today too. So I got cleaned up and hopped in the truck and he dumped me off at the old city municipal building.

It was a little after 10 am, the room was packed. Clerk Debbie Presson was about a third of the way through the presentation, telling the story of how Larry Wahl got nailed for $12,000 by the FPPC for violating some sort of rule when he was a planning commissioner.

This room, although very nicely restored, was not adequate for public participation in this meeting.

The staffers manning the door looked distressed as I approached – they couldn’t turn away a member of the public, but there we no more chairs. One of the clerks offered hers, and I was on it like white on rice. I wondered why they didn’t use council chambers, I’ve heard the repairs are finished over there. The “big room” at the old muni building isn’t nearly adequate for a joint meeting of council and all the commissioners, and still allow for members of the public or press.

The deputy clerk gave me a thick packet of more than 20 pages – a power point presentation for Board and Commission Orientation. Aside from the greetings and introductions, most of the information pertained to the Brown Act.

I’d seen clerk Presson do this presentation – complete with the same anecdotes – in about 45 minutes for the Sustainability Task Force a couple of years previous.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2013/12/14/sustainability-task-force-meeting-a-lesson-on-open-meetings-law/

Why was this an emergency?  At some point, looking at all these people around me, I realized – they must have known more than 24 hours ahead of this meeting, most of them are employed, and would have needed a little more wiggle on the schedule. I can’t imagine telling my boss, “I can’t come in tomorrow, I have an emergency meeting to become oriented with a post I was appointed to months ago…” I saw many who had held commission positions for years, how was this meeting so “special”?

I wonder if the last minute nature of this notice was because they suddenly realized they had to notice members of the public. And since they only had 24 hours, they decided to call it a “special” meeting?

Frankly, if I wanted to nit-pick, I’d say, they only sent the notice 23 and a half hours ahead, at 8:29 am yesterday.

But, I didn’t have time to ask questions, I wanted to get to the bank. So I hustled out the door and beat a path for Wells Fargo over on Memorial Way.

As I approached the building from the corner by Morning Thunder, I noticed something didn’t look right.

Windows covered with plywood and cardboard.

When I finished my transaction I asked my teller if they’d been vandalized, and he reported they’d come to work this morning to find those windows smashed out.  He said he and other employees suspected “them,” and indicated the stretch of lower Bidwell Park right across Vallombrosa from the bank.

Right down the street from the post office annex, which recently shortened hours.

When my husband pulled into the parking lot a few minutes later and I told him about the windows he immediately asked if our security had been compromised. I felt stupid – I hadn’t asked. We drove over to Safeway to pick up some groceries. A person stood yelling obscenities in the middle of the parking lot, and we watched the Safeway security guard walk out to see what was going on. The man immediately stopped yelling and stood conversing quietly with the security guard as we entered the store.

Chico is in trouble, we need to have a “special” meeting about that.

UPDATE:  Here’s clerk Dani Rogers’ explanation about the poor noticing of this meeting:

“The agenda was not posted on the Minutes and Agendas page because there was a problem with the program that we use (Contribute) that allows us to post on the City website.  The agenda was posted on the bulletin board at the Chamber Building, the City’s designated and required posting location, on 11/1/17 before 8 a.m.”

One day I’ll do a post with all the excuses this woman has sent me – over $100,000/year in salary and a sweet benefits package and she still can’t use the software. So, all you citizens out there – either walk around 24-7 with your hands over the seat of your pants, or drive down to City Hall every day to check that bulletin board. 

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2 Responses to “Again, the city fiddles while Chico burns”

  1. Jim November 3, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    To me the concept of “Sustainability” should include crime, finances and growth. The effects of these make Chico unsustainable.

    • Juanita Sumner November 3, 2017 at 7:12 am #

      I agree. The word “sustainable” has been hijacked by the same people who stole “green.”

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