Tag Archives: Chico Taxpayers Association candidate speaker series

Third District Assembly candidate Ryan Schohr greets voters at Chico Library with his take on state issues

1 Apr

Sunday’s meeting with Ryan Schohr was fun, a little more intimate than usual, and  gave me a chance to get to know the guy a little better.  While we still disagree on one key issue – water storage – I think I could learn to live with this guy. Especially if he lives up to his words – Schohr believes that a citizen should serve these offices, not become a lifelong professional trough dweller.

Schohr hit a chord with me when he began to discuss the myriad of state agencies that bind our government like some sort of flour paste. 

So Sue, who works part time for District 2 supervisor Larry Wahl, gave us an example –  Wahl recently asked for a list of Butte County boards and commissions, and was handed over 169 pages of listings. I thought she said, there’s 169 boards and commissions – no, 169 pages of them. She went on to say, Wahl was taken aback by the pile of paper, and said he’d actually only wanted those commissions and boards overseeing agriculture. No luck – that’s most of them, he was told. Bob Evans pointed out to us when he came in to chat – agriculture and small business in our county are completely overrun with regulations. 

These agencies often contradict each other – Schohr gave one simple concrete example that I knew about – our local fish and game agencies and mosquito control folks are at each other’s throats over their practices – mosquito spray kills wildlife. Years back, the Chico News and Review did a story about a local biologist who had gone to work for vector control, and when she complained that she was finding big dead mammals, like deer, along with skads of little animals and birds, around recently sprayed ponds and waterways, she was fired. We found out, that spray has a shelf life, and it gets “dumped,” into whatever little body of water comes up convenient, apparently. Here we have laws about private citizens dumping chemicals into public waterways, or even on the ground in your back yard, but the vector control people can literally spray poison all over everybody. That is a classic case of the silly contradictions and mismanagement that comes from turning every half-baked idea into a commission or a board.

“…all those boards we pay for,” Schohr reminds us. “That’s cost our economy,”  reminding us of pensions and benefits. “Government does this to itself, we pay to regulate all these agencies.” 

This is Bureaucracy folks, absolutely nothing new about slick types creating positions by which they can funnel the public’s hard-earned dollars into their own pocket. Schohr lamented that the decision making that used to be done directly by our elected legislators has largely been passed off to these boards and commissions, where, you know, it swirls around for years, doing nothing but generating salaries and benefits and pensions.  Bernie Richter told us, and I saw it as a young college student in Sacramento – alot of these legislators see their position as some sort of hayride, and that’s what it too often turns into. Richter complained about the suits and the way they treated outsiders who didn’t know how to dress for the constant luncheons in fancy hotels.  

When I lived in Sacramento, I had a friend who put up and took down tables and chairs in banquet rooms at the Holiday Inn. He said, about two thirds of the banquets he worked were made up of legislators and lobbyists . My sister was in the accounting department at the old Senator Hotel – that hotel also catered largely to politicos and their hangers on. If you rode the transit buses late enough at night, you’d see faces you recognized from news stories wandering along the sidewalk in pairs or small groups, snockered half out of their gourds. I once watched my own assemblyman load a completely wasted friend onto the bus I was riding, to take him to a parking garage, where I almost wanted to get out and watch him load the guy into a car, just for the entertainments’ sake. The stuff I used to see in Downtown Sacramento, sheesh. Remind me to tell you my Willy Brown story sometime.

So, Ryan believes we need to cut through all the duct tape that has gobbed our government up and prevents us from getting our money’s worth in public service. He says he wants to be the kind of legislator that deals directly with the people. He told us a story to illustrate this point. Schohr’s family has farmed near Gridley for several generations, and when Schohr was younger, they came up against a regulation that required an expensive one-day permit to haul farm equipment on or across a state highway. A farmer might own rice fields or orchards that are spread out and separated, and they need to drive big equipment a few times a year from one site to another. Some farmers are intersected, their property divided, by state highways.  So every time a farmer might need to use a particular piece of equipment, they would have to apply and pay for a permit that was only good for one day, a day to be specified by the paper shufflers. Furthermore, iff for whatever reason they couldn’t move the equipment that day – be it weather, mechanical failure or people problems – they would have to re-apply, re-pay, and take another shot at a permitted haul. 

That story set off our crowd. Why in the heck, several asked, would you need a permit to move your farm equipment. Well, it’s not just farm equipment, but farm equipment can also be quite large, endanger other drivers, utility poles, over passes and other edifices – my gramma’s mail box! Some need a CHP escort. When my brother was working in the gas fields, I once saw a derrick being moved. Wow, talk about other worldly. They usually move that stuff at night, and the route has to be mapped out and approved. So, yeah, there’s a need for some regulation here, but what Schohr saw was just a milking of the public trough that caused onerous hurdles for small business.

So, he went to Dick Dickerson, then Second District Assemblyman out of Redding. Dickerson he said, “brought people to the table,” worked for a solution, and was able to get the permit extended to a week.  This might not sound like much but of course it gives the equipment operator a lot bigger window without leaving the public in danger of being run off the road by trailer houses or giant sections of oil derricks or towering combines. 

“That is the style I think is important, bring people to the table for a common sense solution,” says Schohr. “We need to change the culture in Sacramento.”

 I’ll finish this tomorrow – thanks!