Tag Archives: American Lung Association

Fun and games on your dime

15 Feb

You may have read that the City of Chico Internal Affairs committee yesterday refused to recommend a Downtown smoking ban.  What you didn’t read was that they spent almost an hour and a half  leading the cancer folks on as though they might consider it.

An hour and a half of $taff time, mulling over almost identical $taff reports regarding two almost identical items (see my previous post):


The room was packed with supporters of two proposed smoking bans – one a comprehensive ban of smoking almost anywhere Downtown. The other, a redundant ban that also includes all of Bidwell Park.  There was not a full committee present – Holcombe already seems to be making his way toward the exit.

Chair Jim Walker and third leg Bob Evans made it clear from the get-go that they would probably not recommend either ban. One of the proponents actually said they already knew they wouldn’t get Item A, and most had come to address Item B. But, Walker proceeded to ask for comments regarding Item A, and took up a good half hour on it.  At one point Walker actually used the words “convince me,” even though he had made it clear that he thought the Downtown ban was an attack on civil liberties, motivated by  a simple dislike of smokers. Regardless of his opening remarks, he continued to lead this group on for an hour and 25 minutes, telling me at one point, “I think this is the best use of public salaries…” .

This pandering  is an incredible waste of $taff time. I tried to point that out but  Walker kept interrupting me. Well, let’s do the math kids. At the table sat John Rucker, at over $165,000 a year, playing secretary to the committee. Next to him sat city attorney Lori Barker, at over $190,000. Then two members of the clerk’s staff (writing the reports that Rucker will read verbatim at the next meeting), the head of the parks department, one of his rangers, and a guy from CARD.  Want a grand total on those salaries – all of which YOU pay?  Well, I don’t have the current figures in front of me, but I’ll make a shot at the general ballpark  – we’re talking almost three quarters of a million dollars in horseflesh, sitting in one room, babbling two identical items that have  already received hours of $taff time in various reports and meetings. And that’s just the salaries, don’t forget we tote their benefits and pensions.

Feel like a pack-mule? Well you should – a blind pack mule headed for a precipitous drop.

These meetings aren’t video-taped,  and the minutes are questionable – it depends on who’s taking minutes how complete they are. The clerk or her assistant tapes the meetings, but only for their own use. I’ve been to meetings that went all over town, voices were raised, huge arguments were had, and then read the minutes: a list of the items discussed and sometimes the names of any people who spoke, but nothing about what they said. Sometimes the minutes make note of whether a speaker supported or opposed an item, but that’s it. The committee members are allowed to read the minutes and ask for things to be stricken, even if they are true. The council does not allow verbatim minutes of any meeting. You figure that out.

I think these committees should all be thrown out. The reason behind committees is supposed to be airing these matters WITH THE PUBLIC.  Let me ask a stupid question: how many of you are available for an 8am meeting, Downtown?

I have been to these meetings for years. I may not have a paid job, but it’s not like I don’t have other things to do. I used to take my kids, as young as four years old, and was proud how well behaved they were and how they’d always pay attention and make the most adroit observations afterward. But frankly, intelligent humans that they are, they got sick of going – it will wear you down morally, if you don’t have enough experience to put it in perspective.

So now, I go in by myself.  Yesterday I got up at 5 in the morning in order to get my  morning chores done – I get sick of coming home at 10:30 in the morning, feeling like I’ve been running behind somebody’s truck, and find myself two to three hours behind in my day. So, by 4:00 in the afternoon, I feel pretty shagged out, but take a nap? No, I work for a living. When I don’t work, I don’t eat.

And I’ll complain here: Jim Walker treated me like shit. He doesn’t like me, and he doesn’t like what I have to say. When I tried to ask the woman from the Lung Association just how she intended to enforce this rule, Walker interrupted me and  told me I was out of line. I told him this was part of the conversation, that Bob Evans had already brought it up. He asked the Lung Association woman if she was “comfortable” being asked questions by me, and she said no,  so Walker told me to shut up, essentially.

The Lung Association bitch had made this statement: “We don’t expect business owners to enforce it (a ban on smoking in doorways Downtown)  – the public will enforce it.” Her exact words. When I tried to ask her just exactly how far she expected public citizens to go in enforcing this ban, she wouldn’t answer me. She didn’t want to say, “I don’t care if you get the front of your head knocked out, I want you to attack smokers wherever you see them.”

Evans and Walker had already said they believed the Downtown ban was excessive, that 25 feet was onerous, and Evans had already questioned whether it was enforceable. As soon as Walker told me to shut up, Katie Simmons from the Chico Chamber spoke up saying exactly what I said – neither the Chamber nor the DCBA will support this ban because, not only is it not supported by their membership,  it’s unenforceable. Several other speakers followed with the same concern, including a guy who had earlier spoken on behalf of the ban.  But Walker told me to shut up. I’m so sick of that little dick, next January will not come soon enough for me. I wish I could throw that screen door at his ass myself, the self-righteous little prick. Out with bad rubbish!

Walker did make some interesting statements. This is why I question the hour and 25 minutes of $taff time that was taken for this issue. Walker said, right off the bat, “we mix up health issues with annoyance issues…things we just don’t like.” He went on several times to say that he believed the advocates were “just trying to make smoking so inconvenient” nobody could smoke anymore. He made it clear he wouldn’t support it. But, 20 minutes later, he asked for more comments from the audience, saying, “convince me…” It went on like that for an hour and 25 minutes of a two hour meeting with another item still waiting on the agenda.

These committee meetings rationalize millions in $taff costs, for questionable results. They do not make these conversations any more accessible to the public. They instead give the impression that the public has had input when they most certainly have not. It’s just a total scam, and we pay for it.

I’ll get back to Jon Luvass’s little rant later (Item C), but right now I got things to do.