Mau Mau the Flakcatchers (with my apologies to Tom Wolfe)

28 Jul

I’ll never forget this movie I saw when I was in college – “King of Hearts”, with Alan Bates and Genevieve Bujold. It is set in France during WWII – a British soldier is sent ahead to a French town to disarm a bomb left behind by the retreating Germans.  

What he doesn’t know, is that the residents have run away, leaving the local insane asylum open, and the mental patients have assumed charge of the town.  He explains to them that he is looking for a bomb, but they don’t seem to care, arranging a fabulous ceremony to make him their king.  He’s so polite he goes along with it. Eventually, the Germans return and attack his regiment, destroying the town in the process.  The soldier ends up returning to the asylum with his new friends. 

Ah, wishful thinking, wouldn’t we all just like to throw up our hands and let “somebody else deal with it…” 

Well, it looks like we have done just that – our town has turned into an insane asylum, and the inmates are running it. 


Thanks again Pypr! Cause this picture just says it ALLLLLLL!

I have to say, I’ve fallen into the madness myself – I called out the city manager the other day, and we had a little row that reminded me of closing time at a dive bar. I complained to him about the closed meetings for non-essential items, and he came out swingin’!

I’ve been trying to be patient, because I know the clerk’s office has been working really hard to make the closed meetings transparent, but when I heard the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, and then the Airport Commission, were having closed meetings that would not be available on Engaged!, I’m sorry,  I lost it. After going back and forth with the clerk for about a week, I had to thank her, and then I let Orme have it.

Thankyou for all your time dealing with this Debbie, 

but I’m going to keep squealing like a pig until they open the meetings again. I’m sorry to have to include you in the emails, but you’re the clerk of the board and I want it on the record.

I found the parks video, but how is anybody else supposed to find it? Does everybody have to email the clerk? I know Mr. Orme assumes “nobody reads it anyway” because that’s what he told a friend of mine when he inquired about public information not being posted on the website. I saw the email he got from Orme. I beg to differ, Mr. Orme, I receive requests for this type of information at my blog regularly, from people who have trouble navigating the website, and don’t know who else to contact. The website needs to be consistent, including the reports for various meetings. 


But as for meetings, there’s nothing like human participation, technology can’t accomplish that. Council and other boards keep scheduling meetings for less than essential subjects,  things that should be fully discussed in front of the public, like giving the park up to the bums, closing public roads, or putting city money up to guarantee a commercial airline. 


The closed meetings have to stop. 


Juanita Sumner

The clerk responded with her usual promise to keep trying to make it better, but Orme’s response was weird:

Ms. Sumner,

I am so sorry that you have been misled with regard to my opinions and desires.  All I’ve done – for years – has been reasonable, kind, forthcoming and responsive to you.  Yet you continue to falsely accuse me of things that are beyond my imagination, in addition to manipulate, stretch and weave untruths concerning my intentions and beliefs.  Let me be clear:

  1. I know people use/read the website – otherwise I would not have authorized its renewal to enable more capabilities for the public use.  As with all things “new”, it will take time to get it to a level of satisfaction for the users, as each department hears from the public on where things need to be more effectively designed.
  2. Feel free to share “the email [your friend] got from Mr. Orme”.  I would be happy to give you an accurate context to the response, as it looks like you have misread my intentions, albeit I have no idea what e-mail you’re referring to.
  3. I believe that meetings should have “human participation” as it is the best means of deliberating over items of public import.  No ifs, ands or buts.
  4. As for your opinions on what is important (essential) and what is not, that’s for the policy makers to determine what is a priority to bring forward and what is not.   Obviously, staff will bring forward items that are ready for consideration and also bring forward they are directed to by the City Council (it does not matter the political bent of the Council, as they were duly elected by the public).   Additionally, staff will not underhandly move items forward for their own manipulative reasons, but we are obligated to bring forward items that the Council desires to prioritize.  If staff brings something forward that Council disagrees with, the Council can simply decide not to hear those items.

I hope this brings clarity for your benefit. 



I’m no shrink, but I think this is “passive/aggressive”.

Passive-aggressive communicators will often use sarcasm as a way of masking their real feelings and opinions while also being inadvertently negative. They will give people the silent treatment and try to make people feel guilty to get what they want, says author and communication skills coach Barbara Small. Passive-aggressive communication also relies upon the subtle use of facial expressions and body language like pouting or smiling when in fact they are angry inside. They will try to appear pleasant and positive, but will simultaneously give off negative cues like ignoring you and trying to play the victim.

Saying you’re sorry when you’re not is “sarcasm”.  The crack “Feel free” is also sarcasm. He also tells me he’s been responsive to my questions – no, I’ve been including him in emails to the clerk but he has not responded until I mention the email a friend shared with me. Then he denies that he said it. And yes, he always tries to appear “pleasant and positive” but still makes some pretty ugly accusations toward me  – “ Yet you continue to falsely accuse me of things that are beyond my imagination, in addition to manipulate, stretch and weave untruths concerning my intentions and beliefs.”


I recognize this kind of behavior because I get it a lot . People get annoyed when you keep asking them for something they don’t want to give you. Orme has taken “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” and I want it back.  He’s the one who continues to “recommend” closed meetings and draconian restrictions on personal behavior. So he’s the one I’m addressing my grievances to. 

The article tries to explain why this person would act this way:

The reasons behind why someone communicates in a passive-aggressive way has to do with the feelings they are experiencing about themselves and an inability to express this openly and honestly. If a person is experiencing some sort of internal conflict, for example if they feel inferior to a work colleague, jealous of a friend or helpless in a given situation, they act in a passive-aggressive manner as a means of dealing with the emotion. It offers them deniability so that they don’t have to take responsibility for how they are feeling and instead they can displace the negativity onto someone else, says Green Psychology. This inability to communicate in a direct and assertive manner is a learnt behavior, says Serenity Online Therapy, and might stem from an upbringing in a dysfunctional family whereby healthy and open communication was not encouraged or exemplified.

I’m sure Orme is under a tremendous amount of self-driven pressure. He came to Chico in 2013 as the Great White Hope, and promised to turn around our near bankrupt town. But he’s done nothing but drive it deeper into trouble, and he knows it. Yes, he’s heard criticism – not just from me. I told him I’d heard from “a man from Paradise” – it was not just “a man”, it’s everybody I meet from Paradise who finds out I live in Chico. I was astounded they even know who our city manager is – how many people can name their own city manager, much less the CM in a neighboring town?  Orme knows he’s on Shit Lists for miles around Chico, and that can make a man pretty paranoid. 

So, how did I deal with this? I didn’t shrink down, I got right back to him, nice and direct. I’m not going to walk away from a conversation just because somebody calls me a liar- that’s the oldest trick in the book. 

I think you are letting your imagination run a little wild Mr. Orme. I’m not manipulating, stretching or weaving anything.  I’m asking questions, and I’m telling you what I think, and that is well within my rights. And when I share this type of conversation on my blog, I include the emails in their entirety so everybody can see what exactly you are saying. 
I told you what another person shared with me after he had emailed you for information. I get a lot of complaints from people who have tried to contact city staffers or council /board members but get insufficient or no response. They also complain about the new website, the closed meetings, and one fellow from Paradise went on at length about your comments describing the Camp Fire refugees as a burden on the city. I just got a comment today suggesting you should get fired. I don’t make this stuff up. 
But no, I won’t share the email in question,  because it’s not mine. I would not repeat it to anyone but you and the clerk. The man asked you about documents that had not been posted on the website and you told him not only were you not legally required to give him the information but that most people never read the documents anyway. I can’t quote you verbatim but I saw the email. You were not “kind”. 
The policy makers? You’re the policy maker Mr. Orme. You were given emergency powers by the mayor. Furthermore, every agenda item comes with “Staff recommendation” – you set policy Mr. Orme, everybody knows that. 
Another “special” meeting tomorrow [7/28], with 24 hours notice?  This should be a town hall event, like those that have been held publicly, in person, in Paradise, for example. 
I guess we also disagree on the definition of “kind”.  While businesses go under all over town, with people waiting for their unemployment to run out, streets unmaintained, park a mess, Mr. Dowell just made a $9 million+ payment toward the UAL. That is a fact. You threaten to eliminate more positions if we don’t pass a tax, while hiring two completely new positions (PIO and Homeless coordinator). 
What’s a person supposed to “weave” from the vast expanse between your words and your actions? 
Juanita Sumner
Please write to and tell him to open the meetings. Mayor Ann Schwab handed this guy the power to run our town, so he’s the Flak-catcher in Chief.  If he can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.



2 Responses to “Mau Mau the Flakcatchers (with my apologies to Tom Wolfe)”

  1. Scott Rushing July 29, 2020 at 11:44 am #

    Orme is trying to bully you into silence. An often-used tactic by a politician. He knows he is wrong and lost his cool instead of admitting his shortcomings. I compare his comments to those of police unions and police departments who reject transparency.

    On Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 3:28 PM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: “I’ll never forget this movie I saw when I was in > college – “King of Hearts”, with Alan Bateman and Genevieve Bujold. It is > set in France during WWII – a British soldier is sent ahead to a French > town to disarm a bomb left behind by the retreating Germans.” >

    • Juanita Sumner July 29, 2020 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks Scott, as a skinny annoying little twirp I am no stranger to bullying. And Orme is like many cops I’ve dealt with – while their mouth says nice things their eyes say “boy would I like to twist your head off Lady!”

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