Tag Archives: Economic Development Committee

The cars keep going faster all the time. The bums still cry “Hey buddy have you got a dime?!”

27 Jul

I went to the city Economic Development committee meeting this week unsure whether these meetings should continue. In past, this has been nothing more than a monthly justification for Shawn Tillman’s employment. His reports were pretty desperate attempts to make himself look busy. His $88,000/year salary was being paid out of the RDA successor agency.  Well, he didn’t show up this past week, and I’m wondering if he got the sack (good riddance). Brian Nakamura was given the task of note taking and he scribbled busily in a notebook just like mine the whole time. I would give $5 to see his notes.

At the last meeting in June, Tillman announced the meetings were unrecorded because the clerk’s office no longer had a staffer to take notes. No tape recording, nothing. At that point, I felt the meetings should be discontinued, but I wondered, how will the public be able to keep tabs on what they’re doing with all these local consultants and business agencies? If these meetings discontinue, and there’s no reporting of their activities, just what kind of deals with they be swinging with the Chamber of Commerce, the DCBA, and whatever local businesses, behind the public’s back?

We already have the “Mayor’s Business Council,” or something like that. Last year I tried to get in to those meetings – not only Ann Schwab but Mark Sorensen held me out by the forehead. Sorensen wouldn’t even tell me who else was involved, but Ann said it was Butte College, Chico State and PG&E! Well, I guess they do qualify as “local businesses.”

Now Sorensen seems to want to take the Economic Development committee behind closed doors by making the meetings at irregular times and dates, at different locations around town, with little time to notice the public. When Gruendl insisted, although half-heartedly, that the meetings needed to be scheduled consistently and noticed in advance, Sorensen said he doesn’t want consistency “to become a strait jacket.

Sorensen seems to be trying to keep people like me out. At this point Chamber director Katie Sweeny remarked that she didn’t think it was that important to get the public into these meetings anyway. Gruendl had to explain to her about that pesky Brown Act.

Ironically, Sorensen had criticized the wheeling and dealing that went on in the Sustainability Task Force, by which a $399,000 grant from PG&E was divvied up between several members of that committee, but I guess he forgot to send that complaint to the Grand Jury.

I was shocked at Sorensen’s behavior at last Wednesday’s meeting. He seemed to be trying to ditch the public from these meetings. Instead of following Nakamura’s suggestion, and having these meetings quarterly to save staff time, Sorensen and Gruendl came up with this plan to meeting monthly with various businesses, at their locations. Gruendl kept making it clear, since he’s up for re-election, that these meetings need to be noticed to the public – but it was funny how he and Sorensen kept coming up with ways to get around the Brown Act. “If we’re meeting outside our jurisdiction (Chico), there’s no Brown Act violation…” and stuff like that.

Sorensen and Gruendl want to keep the meetings monthly, and Sorensen doesn’t seem to care whether the public is involved or not.

After that $399,000 pie from PG&E was divvied up right in front of him by Schwab and her friends on the STF, you’d think Sorensen would be a little more appreciative of Sunshine. But he’s a local businessman, just think what kind of deals he can cut in this committee that will benefit his bottom line!  He was on the old RDA “citizen’s oversight” committee, which was totally running under the radar, a group of local business owners having meetings without public notice, and giving input regarding the spending of RDA funds directly to council. When I complained about the lack of public oversight on this committee, staff and council admitted it was illegal and disbanded it.

This committee is all full of rhetoric about helping Chico become “more business friendly” – “we’re creating bridges for people to move along as they build momentum and mass…”  “create venues for people to network...” What a pile of silly bullshit that is. Sounds like the Chamber of Commerce’s job. Katie Simmons gets a salary, which is partially paid with a grant from – you guessed it – the City of Chico. Then there’s the Downtown Business Association. These entities get money from their members, as well as city grants, to help businesses get started, navigate the governmental pitfalls,  all kinds of workshops and presentations to help them stay abreast of the changing regulations and business trends.  As Scott Gruendl rambled on describing his grandiose plans for the New and Improved!  Economic Development Committee, Katie Simmons kept reminding him that the Chamber does all the stuff he was babbling about – including an ongoing series of  “Budget 101” workshops with city manager Brian Nakamura.


The website says these presentations are exclusive to chamber members, but all you have to do is e-mail or call Katie Simmons and ask nicely if you can attend. She gets money from the city every year, out of our tax dollars, she’s pretty cooperative if you approach her the right way.  I have not been able to get to any of Brian’s lectures, but I went in when Chief Kirk Trostle was having a Q&A and that was very informative.

Sorensen is a funny guy. One minute he’s all yakking about sunshine and the public and yadda yadda, but when it’s his project, the public is not that important. I think the Economic Development committee should just be canned, but I sense Sorensen and Gruendl have something else in mind.

Meanwhile, throughout the meeting, right outside the windows, the Downtown circus was in full swing. At one point, a man approached the windows wearing nothing but a pair of ratty underwear, then climbed into the trout fountain to take a bath. A group of men stood across the street on the sidewalk along the plaza, talking, every now and then somebody would approach, and one man would walk over and open the trunk of a car parked along the street, motion the person over, stand behind the open trunk lid for a moment, then shut the lid and walk back to the group as the newcomer departed down the sidewalk. Cyclists rambled across the concrete plaza as though it was the skate board park, occasionally jumping the concrete curbstones and bouncing along the sidewalk.

And the beat goes on.

City of Chico is one of top five employers – only one private company in the top five

26 Jun

Today there’s an Economic Development Committee meeting Downtown, and one item on the agenda is, having less of these meetings.

This item caught my attention because, I know, I’ve complained about going to these meetings. The Sustainability Task Force was ridiculous. A bunch of people sitting around with a fully paid and benefitted staffer, making up problems to solve, the solutions of which caused more problems than they supposedly solved. 

But, I always considered the Finance, Internal Affairs, and Economic Development committees to be working committees that took up issues for more study, to be reported back to council at a later date. Most important to me, these committee meetings offer the opportunity for citizens to actually participate, instead of those stoooopid council meetings where you listen to the talking heads drivel on for hours kissing their own asses while  the Queen of Hearts can cut you off with however many seconds she allows and treat you like warmed over poop in a Dixie cup.

Scuse me, THAT was a run-on sentence. Sometimes I just get so excited.

So, I’m objecting to this plan, offered up by Brian Nakamura with assurance of saving money. Oh yeah, right – two hours a month of $taff time, that was what was putting us over the edge into bankruptcy! These people are like over-priced hookers!

He acts as if, these discussions wouldn’t be taking place anyway. Like what, when the meetings aren’t in session, the sidewalks just roll up and everybody goes home? The building goes to sleep, like my computer monitor? No, they’re all down there, swinging deals they’d rather not cut us in on.

There will also be reports about our employment situation. Did you know  the city of Chico if the fifth top employer in Chico? In fact, four of the top five are public entities, including the school district, the college, and Enloe Hospital. The only private business on the list is Sierra Nevada, at number 4. 

This is the kind of information they’d rather not be discussing in front of a public audience. Be there or be a mole rat. 

UPDATE:  Today committee member Scott Gruendl was unable to make the meeting, and had requested that the item regarding a quarterly meeting schedule be tabled until next meeting, in July.  I’ll have a recap of the meeting in another post.


Time for some economic development – Wednesday 4/24, City Chambers, 4pm, Conf. Rm 1

23 Apr

Tomorrow I am planning to attend the monthly Economic Development meeting, if for no other reason than I can. I been busy lately, and all these meetings seem to hit at once, like some kind of blitzkrieg. The ED committee meets at 4pm on a Wednesday, usually a good day and time for me. 

And I’d say, right now, this committee should be doing something!

The agenda says there will be a presentation from Wizard Manufacturing – I know them! They sponsor my kids’ hockey rink out in Ham City, where the rice is green and the girls are pretty. I know from the big ad they have rinkside, they make agricultural equipment – that’s all good with me too, my grandpa was a rice and nut farmer. Furthermore, they are located in Chico, and provide jobs – I will have to ask how many. Here’s their website:


An informative video on youtube:


Then we will hear about silly manager Brian Nakamura’s recommendations for hand-outs to organizations that supposedly promote economic development and tourism. The biggest snout here is the Chico Chamber, which, through it’s various octopus arms, will get almost $100,000 of the total $113,000 allocation. 

The really “excuse me – what?!?” news here is, he’s not recommending any funding for Artoberfest.  That sounds crazy, maybe I’m wrong, I’ll have to find out and get back to you on that. 

Then we’re going to get an update from Shawn Tillman about our Economic Development Plan. We have one, you know. Stop that, I’m trying to keep a straight face!

Here’s the agenda, see for yourself:


I’ll give you my perspective when I get back.