They won’t be accountable if you don’t hold them accountable

21 Jul

I spent most of yesterday on the horn with the city clerk – I got the notice for last night’s Parks and Playground Commission meeting last week, and it said the meeting would only be available on cable Channel 11, with an email address for public participation. When I asked City Clerk Debbie Presson about that, I could tell she was troubled. I know the Brown Act means a lot to Presson. I believe that she agreed with me that it was a Brown Act violation not to have the meeting available for everybody to watch and participate on Chico Engaged. 

My family can’t afford cable, and I don’t think we’re the only ones. We’re glad to be able to afford a meager phone/internet package. Besides, why should I have to have cable when the city has just spent a crap-ton of money updating the technology (as well as the furniture, wall paneling and carpet) in the city chamber, and who knows how much hooking up to  “Chico Engaged!”? That system has it’s flaws, but it’s better than Comcast Channel 11. 

So, I have to hand it to Debbie Presson – she worked her ass off all day yesterday setting up Chico Engaged for that BPPC meeting. I don’t know if that’s even her job, but she wasn’t about to let anything resembling a Brown Act violation go by on her watch. 

But now it’s gone from Granicus. Past council meetings are listed – cause you know what, I bitched about that too, so she added it. But no BPPC meeting. But I’m sorry, I’m not going to complain to Presson again – I could tell she was exhausted when she sent the last email yesterday. 

Why do I care about opening the meetings? Why don’t more people care? That agenda was loaded full of what people have been bitching and complaining about for months now – the condition of the parks and waterways due to illegal campers. The city has finally made it a formal policy, but they’ve been allowing it for years now. I still have the email in which Public Works Director Erik Gustafson told me these people have “4th and 14th amendment rights” to their garbage piles. 

Another big issue on the agenda was fire clearance – but just now, at the end of July? You’re not supposed to mow with metal right now, and you’re not supposed to do it after 11am. But they’re just now discussing their plan for fire clearance in Upper Bidwell Park? There are whole groves of standing dead trees along Hwy 32, left from the 2017 “Stoney Fire”.  Illegal campers pop up constantly in the CalTrans easement right next to the burn scar. In fact, less than a week before the Stoney Fire I reported illegal campers, and even sent Park Director Linda Hermann a picture of a burning cigarette left on a post at the entrance to the Peregrine Point disc golf course. 

Now that area is even more vulnerable, they haven’t mowed the chest high weeds, which are yellow and ready to go. One day we found another cigarette, lying on the ground near a trail. I know it had been thrown down still burning, because it had started to burn the pine needles it was laying on. By some miracle it had just gone out. I believe if it had landed in a patch of that grass we’d have had another Stoney Fire. 

Hey, it’s only been a couple of years, to this date, that my husband and I, driving into town along Hwy 32, noticed a city crew getting ready to mow that vacant lot there on Hwy 32 at Bruce. We wondered what they were thinking, 2:00 in the afternoon, late July, humidity in the single digits. Later that day we heard they’d started a fire and city fire engines were called to put it out. That’s a violation of the law. A man in Shasta County went to prison for 4 years after his lawn mower was blamed for the 2006 Bear Fire. A Tehama County man may still be in prison for the fatal fire he started putting his hot lawnmower in his shed.  But the city of Chico does what it wants without any accountability. Know why? Cause you’re not holding them accountable.

So yeah, that was an essential meeting last night, and it should have been open, or at least on Chico Engaged. I’ll say thanks again to clerk Debbie Presson, along with deputy clerk Dani Rogers, for working really hard to cover these capricious meetings. Council has made these decisions to have closed, non-essential meetings. The Park Commissioners made the decision to go ahead with last night’s closed meeting, without appropriate participation from the public. These are the people who need to be held accountable.

I’ve heard chatter about an open council meeting for the first week of August. But of course, with the social distancing, it will be a tough squeeze getting very many people into the chamber. And Governor Train Wreck is threatening to shut us down again. Wake up and push back Folks, or prepare to be boarded. 




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