Tag Archives: Debbie Presson Chico Ca

Did that chamber remodel really cost $345,000? Or is the city of Chico secretly siphoning funding to pay down the pension debt?

2 Feb

I asked city clerk Debbie Presson how much the city gets from Comcast customers per year, and she sent me a report.

“I am attaching a staff report from the 11/7/17 that may help to explain how the PEG funds are allocated to the City, which includes the yearly amount passed through to the City. “

You can see the whole report at the city website, under the agenda/minutes filed for the 11/7/17 meeting:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

On December 18, 2007, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 2368 which established, among other things, a
public, educational and governmental (PEG) support fee of one percent (1%) of the gross revenues of state video
franchisees operating within the City of Chico which is codified in Chico Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 5.13,
Section 5.13.050. California Public Utilities Code Section 5870(n) was enacted as part of the Digital
Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA) and states that such an ordinance shall expire, and
may be reauthorized, upon the expiration of a state franchise. Comcast is currently the only state video
franchisee operating within the city of Chico and has a state video franchise certificate which will be expiring on
January 2, 2018. To ensure that there is no gap in the payment of PEG support fees, the City Council is being
asked to reauthorize the City’s PEG support fee and amend Title 5, Chapter 5.13 to include automatic
reauthorization of the PEG support fee.

I’m sorry, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, I missed this one. And now they’ve made it automatic, so they may never have to discuss it in front of the public again. This is one reason people are so ignorant of what the local government is doing – they’re tricky, and they hide stuff, the fucking dirt bags. Did you know, they are allowed to destroy records after a year? That’s another ordinance they swept right under the rug. Ask council member if they know about it, and I’m guessing, they’ll lie through their teeth.

Look how $taff introduced the subject back in November:

Recommendation: The City Manager recommends that the City Council introduce the ordinance below by
reading of its title only.

ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CHICO REAUTHORIZING CHICO MUNICIPAL
CODE CHAPTERS.13, FRANCHISES – DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND VIDEO COMPETITION ACT
OF 2006, AND ADDING SECTION 5.13.070 ENTITLED REAUTHORIZATION- Introductory reading

Yes, Chico city manager Mark  Orme made this recommendation, and he’s the one who came up with the title – which makes no reference whatsoever to a fee. That guy is the head of the stinking fish that is our local government.

Cause when the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish that stinks…

Furthermore, ” In fiscal year 2016-17 the fee resulted in revenue in the amount of $183,304.”

Now, any idiot would know, Comcast didn’t pay that $183,304 – they picked up the ratepayers by the ankles, and shook it out of their pockets. Which is just about anybody in Chico who uses cable because “ Comcast is currently the only state video franchisee operating within the city of Chico…”  In fact, I’d guess, they can’t dump the whole charge on their video customers so they also tack it on to their internet billing. Read your bill – do you know what all those charges are for? 

One cable/internet company, just like we only have one garbage company.   

The city is involved in a racket. They set us up with one provider for whatever service and therefore we are forced to use that provider, and that provider can call whatever rates that provider wants, as long as they go along with the city racket. 

Furthermore, “The revenue from the PEG support fee is allocated in the city’s budget to support the operations of BCAC TV
Channel 11, through a Public, Education and Governmental Access Channel Operations agreement with Upstate
Community Enhancement Foundation (UCEF) (Project No. 210-000-8801/50284-210-4800) as well as for the
equipment and capital costs associated with the broadcasting of city governmental programming such as City
Council meetings.”

Did I read that right? Cause I don’t see anything about new seats, carpeting, or fancy wood paneling. Oh, I see – “equipment and capital costs…”  They keep it vague so it can be interpreted…

But apparently various government entities have been playing fast-and-loose with the interpreting:

From the National Review

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/455784/pension-crisis-hitting-home-school-choice-may-be-only-solution

Fearful of voter reaction to the growing pension squeeze on public services, some officials have tried to hide the problem, pretending to raise the money for other purposes. In late 2016, for example, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system sought voter approval to bond $3.5 billion in infrastructure improvements even though, as the East Bay Times later reported, the needed upgrade was already covered by an ongoing capital fund. More recently, departing New Jersey governor Christie Christie (R.) and General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D.) agreed to address the state’s retirement deficit by making the lottery an asset of the pension fund — while ignoring that the loss of gaming revenue will create an equivalent shortfall in the state’s operating budget.

Go back to my first post about this – the news story on Ch 7 said the remodel would cost between $175,000 and $225,000, but the grant is for almost $350,000.

Do you think Chico voters are as smart as Sonoma County voters?

Such shell games are unlikely to succeed much longer. Voters in California’s Sonoma County defeated a recently proposed quarter-cent sales-tax increase for road repair because of widespread suspicions that the measure was really a bait-and-switch tactic to fund pensions.

If you’re sick of this stuff, e-mail the council through debbie.presson@chicoca.gov and tell them you are tired of paying for this kind of crap while the street in front of your house looks like a section of Downtown Tijuana.

Told ya so, told ya so, told ya so!

3 Jun

Wow, look! The Enterprise Record is acting like a newspaper! Now, that’s news!

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170602/increasing-retirement-plan-rates-will-constrict-chico-city-funds

Next Tuesday night, council will offer clerk Debbie Presson a 2 percent raise, to $142,000/year, to get her to pay 3 percent of her pension.

City mangler Mark Orme just cut himself a similar deal.

It’s just a ball ‘o confusion! You sure can’t hide!

 

Maybe now we’ll get more bounce to the ounce?

 

This is getting pretty funky!

Move the recycling center – city has permitted too much housing in that spot, so should help Chico Scrap Metal move to a new location

5 Jan

Yes, Debbie Presson is incompetent and should step down.  As David Little reported in this morning’s editorial,City Attorney Vince Ewing said he hadn’t prepared his legal opinion on the matter yet [Chico Scrap Yard]. Obviously the city clerk and the mayor didn’t realize that when they set the agenda. And so 11 people got up in front of the council to ask for a decision, only to be told it would be put off for two weeks.”

Presson really jumped the gun on that – the signatures were only turned in a couple of days before the meeting, the agendas had already been sent out. She had to send an amended agenda the day of the meeting. That’s not very good noticing, but hey, look who we’re talking about here. 

This is the same woman who once told me the noticing distance for a project was only 300 feet when it was actually 500 feet. When I pointed this mistake out to her she actually giggled. Her mistake meant a neighborhood meeting had to be cancelled and rescheduled, but who cares about the inconvenience of the public at the clerk’s office?   A few months later the distance was “administerially” changed to 300 feet, meaning Presson had to notice less neighbors of impending subdivisions and other projects. I had to wonder – how long had she been noticing only at 300 feet? When it was pointed out to her the rule was changed.

She also told my neighbors and I that the 300 feet extended only along the sidewalk, from the “front door” of the project. Our project was an empty lot, but she still refused to notice any of the neighbors that lived along the back border of the project, their back fences lining the lot. She said the distance was measured along the city sidewalk, and the notice only had to include the neighbors on the facing street. What a bitch.

Frankly, I’m guessing Mayor Sean Morgan, who can be found leaning over Presson’s desk quite regularly, encouraged her to agendize the matter quickly so he wouldn’t have to listen to the little mob that has formed around this issue. While I question Karl Ory and Mark Stemen’s motives in this movement, I know Morgan likens listening to the public to listening to a set of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard.

I honestly believe Morgan would like to run this issue under the radar, but the city attorney nailed him on it.

Little complains this issue has dragged out for 40 years. Well, in that time, the city has permitted housing right up to the boundaries of the property. Instead of protecting an industrial area by moving the old houses that were present, they permitted one low-income development after another. You realize, over the past 40 years, staff and elected officials have changed so much, the right hand hardly knows what the left hand is doing. That area is a planning disaster.

Yes, Chico Scrap Metal is an important business. When my family  was buying and fixing up old houses we made trips in there several times a year, with stuff no one else would take.  But that part of town has changed. Would you like to live next to the scrap metal yard? Who would? Especially now that other recycling locations are closing and that neighborhood suffers a steady stream of garbage can miners every morning.  But the city permitted housing right up next to that site as recent as last year. 

The scrap metal yard has been sitting on the train tracks for years – hey, wake up! You should have sued the city to stop permitting housing in your armpit or to help you move to a more appropriate location when they built Ricky Court. 

I do believe the city should provide financial and staff assistance in helping Chico Scrap find a new place. 

But yeah, this just adds more to Chico’s “business hostile” reputation and chases more jobs out of town.

 

Still no CPOA report on city website – is the clerk incompetent, or just won’t do her job?

19 Feb

Here it is, February 19, and still no campaign final report from the Chico Police Officers Association, which were due January 31. I don’t know if the clerk has the reports, but she hasn’t posted them on the website.

The City Clerk’s Office will post copies of all current election campaign statements as soon as possible after receipt.  Addresses of individual contributors have been omitted as required under the Public Records Act for internet posting.  Please note that a prima facie review of the documents has not been done prior to posting, and amendments may be requested of the candidates or committees.

“…as soon as possible after receipt...” without “prima facie review”, which should mean it gets posted as soon as they get their hands on it. 

No, I’m not going to her office. That’s what the website is for.  The idea that we have to interrupt our work day to go to her office to ask for documents that are supposed to be readily available to the public  is another reason we need to get somebody else in this job. The city clerk should be elected, she is supposed to answer to the public. She runs our elections, she can actually make candidates or pacs do stuff, or not, at her discretion. Right now, because of an ordinance passed in the 2012 election, she is answerable to the council with whom she can  choose to be helpful, or not, during an election. You know, don’t bite the hand that makes the campaign rules – mess with Debbie Presson, and you might find her a harsh taskmaster at re-election time.  I’m pretty sure that’s a conflict of interest, but I’m not a lawyer. 

I’m guessing what she is doing right now is perfectly OK with the council majority. Three of them were elected with money from the CCAG, and I’m guessing, CPOA spent most of their money on Sorensen, Coolidge and Fillmer as well. Why they are dragging their feet with their final report is the  question – why can’t the cops obey the law? 

At any rate, we will only get as good as we demand. 

Why PAC’s are BAD

17 Feb

There’s not much surprising in the reports that were just posted from former police chief Mike Maloney’s PAC – Chico Citizens for Accountability. Shocking, yes, disturbing, yes – surprising? No. 

Maloney raised around $50,000 – I didn’t do a formal tally – and spent it on mailers, billboards, radio ads and other support of candidates  Sorensen, Coolidge and Fillmer, as well as a pretty damning mailer with a picture of Scott Gruendl with the UNIVERSAL NO! over his face. I already knew that. I already knew alot of his donors – mostly realtors and construction people. 

What really disgusts me about these reports, beyond the fact that Maloney was allowed to be five days late in filing without being fined, is the amounts single donors are allowed to contribute to PAC’s – way beyond the city’s $900 limit for a single person.  For example, local realtor and developer Doug Guillon gave at least $5,000 in this last campaign. As an individual, like you and me, he would have been limited to $900.

Guillon has always been a big donor to the conservatives, and always gets a lot of consideration from them when he has a project. Years ago, conservatives led by realtor Dan Herbert were going to push forward an extension of Otterson Drive, in Guillon’s business park, meaning, put it ahead of other slated public projects, do it with public money, instead of making Guillon pay for it. People gathered signatures against it, and the council had to reconsider – the project ended up being scrapped. It was so obviously a spoils project for a big donor. 

You got to wonder, what will they try to give Guillon now? 

PACs are bad. We either need a resolution that severely limits PACs, or we need to kick them out of local elections. 

We do have a city clerk, Debbie Presson, who is supposed to keep these PAC’s honest – she has the discretion to fine them when they turn their paperwork in late – $5 a day – but has chosen not to do so, even though the CPOA has been late for a number of filings. It’s a pattern with those guys, and Presson lets them get away with it. The CCAG was five days late, according to the date stamp – I guess that’s  why she wasn’t posting that filing on line, she didn’t want people bitching about it. Well, I am. And the CPOA has yet to file, but she hasn’t fined them either.

We need to change the city charter to elect the city clerk. I know this hasn’t worked out perfect at the county, but I think it helps keep Candy Grubbs honest.  Presson is supposed to be an officer of the public, but she seems to work for the police union instead.

Presson tells me one story and newspaper another – which is it Debbie?

30 Oct

From the ER story run day before yesterday:

The Chico Police Officers Association Political Action Committee filed its statement of organization with the city July 31. No other paperwork had been filed since, which means it is not in compliance with city and Fair Political Practices Commission requirements.

It could be at risk of fines from both the city and the oversight agency of $10 per day, and potentially dating back to 2012 because of some other gaps in its paperwork, said City Clerk Debbie Presson.

She has sent reminders that the reports were due and a notice that the group missed the filing deadline. She said she has not heard anything back.

“I’m hoping to resolve it,” she said. “My hope behind all of this is compliance and getting the forms in here for citizens’ review.”

Presson also confirmed several political action committees participating in the city election have not filed courtesy copies with the city, although they have filed with the county. She also contacted the FPPC on that issue.”

But in a e-mail I received Oct. 23, she said,  “This process is in place and is being reviewed with FPPC.  In addition, this office has been working with the CPOA in order to obtain compliance on the required filings.  However, fines have not been levied at this time.”

Yes, she was so mad at my question, she wrote her entire answer to me in RED! See the entire e-mail exchange here:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2014/10/24/yeah-debbie-presson-is-a-bitch-and-shes-not-going-to-post-the-460s-is-she-doing-it-on-purpose-or-just-incompetent/

Well, which is it Debbie? Are you working with the CPOA toward compliance, or have you “not heard anything”?  Those are two distinctly different answers, I’d like her to pick one. 

I’d also like to know, who are the other PAC’s who haven’t filed? I don’t think there are any, I think she just threw that in there, or she’d name them. It’s not only public information, they’ve violated the law, and everybody needs to know who’s above board here and who’s not. The CPOA certainly is not, and Debbie Presson, an  officer of the city, isn’t doing anything about it. 

I don’t know why we have such a duplication – the county clerk is supposed to be responsible for elections, let’s give her the whole job and demote Presson to administrative secretary. She can’t even handle that, having taken months to get the minutes up to date – frankly I haven’t checked, I don’t even know if she has got the minutes up to date. 

 

 

 

Hey – sometimes bitching about something really does work! City Clerk posts up-to-date council minutes! (does her $135,000/year + benies job)

19 Oct

Stop the presses – the city council minutes have been brought up to date! Why? Because Debbie Presson won’t be publicly criticized. 

Thank you Truth Matters Chico!

Presson is now doing what folks have been asking for – posting the actions of the meetings almost immediately instead of holding them for six months while she powders her nose and fixes her lipstick.  She’s “annotating” the agendas with the motions made, the votes and actions taken. That’s good to have, really, because I’ve watched those meetings and things happen so quick and off-mike – sometimes I can’t tell what they did right in front of me.  Reading annotated notes is like going to a city council meeting without having to wade through hours of bullshit. 

Here’s why –  “Then Presson said she can spend time composing more detailed official minutes for council approval.”

That’s a good word to use – compose – because that’s more what she does – she picks and chooses which comments to include, and leaves the rest out. I’ve actually had to ask her to include question and answer sessions I’ve participated in at those meetings. She’s included some comments I’ve remembered at meetings and left out whole conversations on another topic. She left out the conversation I had with Jennifer Hennessy at one meeting, during which Hennessy gave me mis-information about the amount spent on employee pensions.   They should not be able to pick and choose – it should be either action-only (like she just posted) or it should be verbatim. They were doing the Chief’s Advisory Board minutes verbatim when Maloney was chief, why not city council and committee meetings? 

And then, what they’re not talking about in the news article, is “council approval“. Yeah, council members get to remove stuff they don’t like! Even if they really said it! 

I’m happy to see the action-only posted, but I’m sick and tired of Debbie Presson collecting a $135,000/year for sitting on her ass “composing” stuff to be passed off as the truth. 

We need a BIG shakeup in November 2014. 

Koyaanisqatsi! I agree with Dave Guzzetti!

8 Oct

I oftentimes find myself wondering – why do I bother to do this?  Here I’ve been complaining about lack of Sunshine Downtown, and I have to ask – would anybody read the minutes of meetings if they were posted? Who besides me and the gals over at Truth Matters Chico are even worried about the minutes? 

Then I found this petition set up online by Jessica Allen, who I assume put up the website “Save Chico Now.” It’s been signed by 50 people, all of whom seem to agree with me that we need to get those minutes posted in a timely fashion.  Good Gawd Maude – I agree with David Guzzetti!  I hope that gives him indigestion.

https://www.change.org/petitions/chico-city-council-please-produce-the-minutes-for-the-past-6-months-of-city-council-meetings-2

The efforts seems to have fizzled a little, but not before Allen got 50 signatures.  That’s more people than I would have believed were interested.

I wrote a letter to the Enterprise Record, sent it yesterday, but I’m running it here below because I don’t know when Editor will post it.  I had to resend my last letter, which is pretty common. If you don’t get a response, resend your letters, and include dlittle@chicoer.com in the ‘to’ bar.  He will usually send a little response – “thankyou, it’s in the cue” – if you don’t get that, resend. As much as we detest each others guts, I still have some modicum of respect for Little’s integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  Just because I disagree with the guy doesn’t mean I don’t respect him somewhat – I have yet to catch him in a lie, so I’m hanging in there. I also believe he hates liars, and wouldn’t intentionally lie. You can’t call a person a liar for their beliefs. 

I would say same about Stephanie Taber. I don’t agree with her right now, but I don’t doubt her integrity. Sure, she  can be wrong, and stubborn, and misled – who can’t? I challenge any of you to be right all the time, don’t make a mistake, don’t misstep – cause Macky’s back in town, Dear, and his teeth are shinin’ white.

I have finally come to doubt a couple of other people’s integrity – Brian Nakamura and Debbie Presson. I tried to believe the best about them, but given their actions, I feel like an idiot for trusting them.  I believe these people will tell the public anything to get their way.  Or not tell, as in this case of holding up the minutes for months on end, losing memos and documents, refusing to serve information requests. If you are friendly with her, Presson has all the time in the world to yak face about personal stuff – ask Sean Morgan –  but now suddenly she doesn’t have the time to honor information requests from the public? Doesn’t have time to post minutes for any meeting after April? I think this lady makes too much money to tell us she doesn’t have time to do her job. Maybe she should take some of that $135,000 a year salary (plus benefits and pension) and hire herself a staff? 

Here’s my letter to the Enterprise Record.  I wish some of the people on that petition would write letters too.

Chico City Clerk Debbie Presson says she struggles up to five hours transcribing minutes for one hour’s video tape of a city council meeting, citing a November 2000 council action approving  “‘action-only’ minutes, with staff to provide summary detail when needed.” This is why minutes are six months behind. 

 
 Presson decides when “summary detail” is needed, and which details to include, paraphrasing public comments, or leaving them out entirely.
 
Cities of Redding, Oroville and Willows offer up-to-date, “action only” minutes, a simple description of  motions made and passed, actions taken, etc, available in less than 30 days. They also offer videos, but the important facts are there at a glance for those who don’t have hours to sit through these meetings.
 
It is important to have the videos for better understanding of the council’s motives behind actions.  When I’ve tried to view Chico council videos online, I’ve seen “sorry, video is still processing…” When I asked Staff, I was told I needed to use Internet Explorer.  Google Chrome has over 53% of users, why aren’t our videos viewable on Google Chrome like other cities? 
 
We’re not being served. City management has eliminated positions and cut services to fund their own raises. Do they expect us to believe, if they pay one person four or five salaries, that person will actually be capable of doing the work of four or five people? 
 
Juanita Sumner, Chico

The fist puppets Downtown – manipulated from behind closed doors

21 Sep

Our town is broken, anarchy reigns. I used to think it might be fun to be an anarchist, but this really sucks.

I don’t know if you ever read Woody Allen’s short essay “A Brief Yet Helpful Guide to Civil Disobedience.” Allen discusses various tactics to annoy the shit out of government.  I know this may sound like a ripping good time, but I frankly prefer accomplishing something more practical. 

For years a lot of us have worked for more transparency in our city government. Not just because we’re nosy control freaks, but because we know, when you allow something to fester and rot behind a curtain you will certainly be left cleaning up a big mess when that curtain finally falls.

For a while, thanks in part to former councilor Larry Wahl,  the city website was usable by citizens who wanted to keep tabs but can’t walk away from their job or household responsibilities to go to these run-away meetings.  The committee meetings are shorter and better run, but held during most people’s work day. The council meetings are onerous – poorly agendized, time thrown out the door on stupid proclamations, trendy theology and off-topic chatter that goes out the door and around the block.  These meetings are more of a circus, a performance event, everything is scripted ahead of time.  Council all know how they will vote, they’re privvy to reports and communications from staff that we don’t get.  This stuff used to be more available on the website, for anybody, but lately it’s been hard to get anything out of staff, and more stuff is being taken behind closed doors, via memos and reports that the public never sees. 

Here’s an interesting story from Mary over at Truth Matters Chico:

http://truthmatterschico.com/2013/09/20/minutes-edited-to-cover-nakamuras-snow-job/

There she describes a report that was handed to council and some hard copies made available to the public, but none of it was recorded in the minutes or read into the video. It was never made available or mentioned on the website. This indicates to me that plenty of stuff goes on Downtown almost completely out of the public oversight. You have to be a fulltime council watcher to keep up with this stuff, and they know nobody can do that, not even Stephanie Taber. 

I attended the August Economic Development committee meeting, during which there was a discussion regarding future agendizing and scheduling of meetings for that committee.  Brian Nakamura has suggested dumping that committee a couple of times now because he says he doesn’t have enough staff to cover it. Shawn Tillman has supposedly been taking notes, but there’s no reports available on the website. Last meeting, they decided, I  thought, to change the schedule to include regular committee meetings, meetings at which the committee could “act” on various agenda items (make recommendations to staff or council), in alternative months, and then in between these meetings they would have what they called “listening meetings” with various local businesses. The “listening meetings” were to take place at various businesses around town. 

I told them the “listening meetings” sounded like opportunities for the business community to lobby the council, and that would be really inappropriate if the public were not included. They all agreed. The committee – Gruendl, Sorensen and Morgan – as well as Katie Simmons from Chico Chamber of Commerce and Audrey Taylor of Chabin Concepts (gets CBGF money) all acknowledged the Brown Act and the rules governing their activities as a committee. But I don’t believe they were sincere. Shawn Tillman, the staffer attached to the committee, said later he didn’t think it would be necessary to notice the “listening meetings” to the public, and frankly, if I hadn’t been there, I think that would have been the end of it.  I spoke up right away and said that would NOT be okay, that they needed to notice the same list of people who’d signed up to be noticed for the “regular” meetings. Tillman repeated what I said as though he was just told to eat a bowl of his own poop. Gruendl and the rest of the committee gave their lackluster affirmative.

They said the first “regular” meeting would be this month, on schedule, but just the other day I got the cancellation. They’d also said at the last meeting that the retail survey the city sponsored in part would be introduced at the October “listening meeting,” which was quickly metamorphosing into a series of workshops for Downtown businesses. I wondered, how will the public be included in that? Sounds like a Chamber event. But Katie Simmons made it clear that she’d be announcing that survey publicly, and the public would be welcome. She wouldn’t give me the details, she was pretty stubborn about that. 

Because they don’t want the public in those workshops, Dummass! At an earlier meeting, Tillman gleefully explained that the survey was going to show them “we’re not taking full advantage of the student population…” Wow, don’t be afraid to offend anybody Shawn, just blurt it out! Take advantage? As the mother of two college age people, I had to do a double take there.  And, it offended me as a consumer – here my city just used my tax dollars to help DOWNTOWN businesses find out how to better take advantage of my  college age kid, not to mention, my whole family. 

When I got the notice of cancellation for this month’s meeting last week, I replied to Tillman, including Gruendl and Sorensen, reminding them I’d asked to be noticed of all events scheduled for this committee, including the “listening meetings.” I also asked about the retail survey and whether the workshops would be open to the public. I didn’t get any response for two days, so I re-sent. This time I got an auto response from Tillman – he was out three days last week, won’t be back til Monday.  And, I got  this response from Gruendl. 

“The presentation of the retail market study will be at the October 15 city Council meeting at 6:30 PM. Instead of a September economic development committee meeting there will be an economic development committee meeting on its regular day in October on the fourth Wednesday at the regular time. “

Sure, they’d noticed me about the September meeting being cancelled, but when did they change their minds about the “listening” meeting in October? I’m assuming this was done in a discussion behind closed doors or on the phone or via e-mail with Katie Simmons.  And now we’ll see the survey, I guess, but we won’t be invited in on the Chamber activities.  

Simmons made a point to say, several times at the August meeting, that she’d be including the public in more of these business meetings that she schedules regularly with members of city staff and council. If you watch the Chamber website, you’ll see, these events are open to the public, at a charge, averaging $20 a pop. Or, you can just force your way in to the free business luncheons that she schedules over at the old Muni building. She can’t really say no if there’s a member of staff or a council member involved. Brian Nakamura speaks regularly at these meetings, including a meeting at which he disclosed that he was currently considering negotiating with Cal Fire to take over the fire duties of the city.  That conversation never went public, but it sure motivated acting Chief Carter to dump structural overtime and change the schedules at his fire stations.  You’d think that would have been a public conversation, but it was all handled behind closed doors with an “exclusive membership audience.” 

I did make one meeting, but it was a total pain in the ass, right in the middle of my work day I have to get cleaned up and change my clothes and forego my lunch to be spoon fed crap – no thanks.  They all know me anyway – the conversation is always different when I’m in the room – abbreviated, lots of body language and facial gestures. It’s always fun to get ahold of somebody who’s never heard of me, stupid enough to give me straight answers. That only happens once. 

Some of these people – and I’ll admit, some of them I know personally – really believe it’s okay to have secrets from the public. Makes them feel special, like one of the “in” crowd.   They think some information should be privileged.  That seems to be the going attitude Downtown these days.