Monday, January 27, 2014

The Memorials – Bombay’s, February 8th

by Jeff Cole




So, we’re standing here at Bombay’s in Redding.  We’re throwing a show her on Saturday, February 8th with The Memorials.  They’re one of my favorite bands and they’ve got an incredible drummer in the band.  His name is Thomas Pridgen.  He used to play for a group called The Mars Volta and he’s a Grammy Award winner, just a world renown drummer, just an incredible musician.  He has so much energy.  We’ve got a killer lineup with my band, Monk Warrior.  We’re an instrumental Progressive Rock group.  Also Hollow Ln., they’ve been playing around town for about five years now.  They play Alternative Pop Rock.  Then we’ve got Belda Beast doing Indy Folk Punk and we’ve also got Six Mile Station all the way from Reno, Nevada.  They’re going to be playing acoustic music on the back porch here and it’s like Folk/Americana.


So it’s a killer lineup altogether.  We’re selling tickets in advance for $8.00 - $10.00 at the door.  If you get your tickets in advance, it’s gonna be redeemable for a raffle entry to win a merchandise bundle from all the bands playing.  It’s probably gonna be probably a CD, maybe a T-shirt from each band.  They’re on sale here at Bogbean Books & Music next to Bombay’s and also Fusion Pit in Anderson.


Walk a Mile in their Shoes

by Joey Ortez



The subject of homelessness is intriguingly controversial. I cannot understand why people have the "ship them out" mentality rather than "help them out" mentality.  After reading much rhetoric and outlandishly offensive comments on other news websites about the homeless problem in both Shasta and Butte counties, I had to write about it. I must say, I'm ashamed of my fellow humans who seemingly have no heart or compassion toward their fellow man/woman.  I am stunned by some of the comments I've read. Like, "Homeless people are pigs, they leave their trash everywhere, if they would just stop being homeless we wouldn't have such a problem" or "I hate seeing homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks in front of Safeway" or "Why can't the City of Redding do something about the homeless people camping along the river trail?" Even worse, "They should just ship all these homeless people out of town". Where will they be shipped to? What if that guy that just got "shipped out" was your long lost cousin? Oh snap! Comments like these make me sick to my stomach.
While all of the comments or ideas should have some kind of value to our elected officials, the comments seem to go unheard, with the exception of Chico. While I don't live in Chico and I rarely visit, I must say that I'm quite offended by what they've done. They are now fining homeless people for being homeless. Yes. Fining them. As if being homeless and having no money isn't enough; they have to come up with money to pay a fine? Are they even serious? Squeeze blood from a turnip? C'mon. This isn't a solution. The problem of being homeless and having no place to sleep is bad enough for these folks. I have only been homeless once in my life and it was only for about a week. It was humbling; and I managed to borrow money for a hotel room to have a bed to sleep in. I can't imagine what some of the horrors homeless people are going through. The cold weather, the fear of having what little you possess stolen by another homeless person, etc.  Back in March 2013 it was rumored that Chico was about to build another homeless shelter, one without restrictions. Currently the only shelters in Chico (as far as I know) don't allow pets and you're subject to a drug/alcohol test prior to entry.  In Redding, I believe there are only 4 or 5 shelters, all of which are religious based organizations. Which is okay, but you're likely subject to things you don't want to be subjected to upon entry or during your stay. 
On the other side, there are the angels who volunteer to help the homeless, like the Lunch Bunch for one example . . . These people are truly angels. Taking and organizing donated items, using their own vehicles/gas money to deliver the donated items, etc.  This and other groups like it really need a high five. Just a few months back I was appalled at the negative comments I read in another local newspaper's web version of their article about the Lunch Bunch. Some of the comments were, "This hand-out group and their efforts are attracting homeless people to the park.  Don't they know it's like feeding wildlife? If you keep feeding them they keep coming back". OMG!!! Really?!?!  It just blows my mind how people these days have NO compassion. For more on that science, read my article from September about "Respect" (see fantompenguin.com archives). I am just flabbergasted by this mentality of people. Even people who I know consider themselves quite religious have this mentality. Seriously. 
So, back to the title of my article:  Walk a mile in their shoes. Oh wait, that guy doesn't have shoes and it's the middle of January!  Would you be willing to walk a mile in a homeless person's shoes? What would you do if within 7 short days if you lost your job, your family, your bank account and everything you owned?  What would you do? If you had nowhere to go, no friends to borrow from, no one and nothing?  It's human nature to survive, but what can we do to thrive?  (That's is a movie a lot of people should watch to open their minds: "Thrive".)
So is there any real solution to the homeless problem? Why is it considered to be a "problem"? Is it a result of the bad economy? Is it because Obama is in office? Are people homeless because they choose to be? There are so many questions and all of the answers have variables. It seems like everyone I've talked to has an opinion about the homeless "problem".  The only problem I see with it is that the city officials don't have any real solutions that will legitimately HELP these people out of their struggle to survive. Me, personally, I believe it's because we live in such a capitalistic society that certain people can't get ahead no matter what they do. It's impossible to get out of a situation if the only solution is having money to get out of it.  Money. It rules everything . . . except for those native villagers who don't even have a concept of monetary systems. That's another article: "Civilized vs. Uncivilized" or something like that. 
I suppose the point I'm trying to make with this article is that if you have an opinion about the homeless "problem", YOU not doing anything is contributing to the problem.  If you can't stand to look at homeless people, you're part of the problem. If you can't take a quarter out of your pocket and give it to that dirty old man sleeping in front of Safeway, you're part of the problem. I've heard this saying recently and I just love it because it applies to nearly everything:  "The problem is not the problem . . . the problem is your problem with the problem". If you can't open your mind, open your heart or open your wallet, maybe it's you who should be "shipped out".

What if one of these homeless people was trying to walk the path of Jesus?  Although the Bible tells us that the real Jesus had "nowhere to lay his head" (Luke 9:58), many of us don't want to accept his homelessness. Also there is more evidence that the suggestion that from Matthew 8:20 where a scribe declares his intent to follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus responds by saying, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." The statement by Jesus is plainly a pithy saying intended to memorably make a bigger point about the cost of following Jesus and was probably intended to communicate to the scribe that he didn't really understand that to which he was committing himself. It may or may not mean that Jesus was literally homeless. We cannot imagine the Messiah lying under a blanket on a park bench. We assume that God wants his followers to be healthy and wealthy. Healthy and wealthy . . . there's the contribution to it. I said it earlier. Capitalism creates homelessness. Follow the steps, you'll figure it out. City planners develop cities to have low income housing; low income housing begets illegal activity (like drug sales) to supplement incomes; illegal activity begets people in prison. Prison is a business . . . and that's another article. 
I believe in the law of attraction. Just like the law of gravity in physics, the law of attraction is more metaphysics. It's based on energy and what energy attracts. Everyone chooses their path in life, whether you made a good choice, a bad choice, or whether you didn't realize you were even making a choice, there's a consequence for everything and for everything that happens to you. You've brought it upon yourself. If you choose to believe that you can't get a job because you're homeless, that's your choice. You can walk around town looking like you're not homeless and actually try to get hired, or you can wallow in self pity, or you can seek out a religious shelter. Some people don't choose to be homeless, but buying that $100 pair of jeans for your daughter instead of paying your electric bill was a choice. (That's just an example). You'll become homeless if you don't pay your electric bill. Most cities have made it illegal to live in a dwelling without power. So, your power gets shut off, then your landlord (or the city) evicts you from your home and bam... you're homeless. I want you all to think, really think about what you would do if you had to walk a mile in their shoes. What would you do? Where would you go? Once you got there, would you try to better yourself? Would you try to improve?


So many variables . . .

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shasta County Board of Supervisors, January 14, 2014

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met at 9:00 am on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at the County Administration Center on Court Street in Redding.  All five supervisors were in attendance.  This reporter was not present and this report has been prepared from the online video.  A brief report of each agenda item follows.

The first item on the regular calendar was the Shasta County Employee of the Month.  John Crowe, Associate Engineer, Department of Public Works was honored as the January, 2014 Shasta County Employee of the Month.  He was presented with a certificate and a gift bag filled with donated items and gift certificates.

The next item on the agenda was the Public Comment Open Time period.  Karen Blue addressed the Board of Supervisors saying that she is a user of medical marijuana and urging the board not to “destroy democracy” by making it difficult or impossible for medical marijuana users to obtain their medicine legally.  She mentioned the closure of all stores in Redding that sold medicinal marijuana and said that she would not want to be forced to obtain the drug on the black market.  She encouraged the board to go after large illegal growers but she asked them not to interfere with those trying to stay within law.

After that, the Board considered the Consent Calendar.  The Consent Calendar is for items considered routine and non-controversial.  The Consent Calendar was passed unanimously with no changes.

Item R2 of the regular calendar would authorize the Board to send a letter to the United States House of Representatives in support of H. R. 2735, a bill that would direct the courts to develop sentencing guidelines for environmental crimes related to illegal marijuana cultivation on federally managed land.  County Administrative Officer Larry Lees presented a report to the Board in which he indicated his support for sending the letter.  This passed unanimously.


The Board then recessed to a closed session to discuss legal matters currently before the courts to which the County is a party.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Decorum or Freedom of Speech?
Redding City Council, January 7, 2014

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Redding City Council met at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at City Hall on Cypress Avenue in Redding.  All five council members were present.  A brief description of each agenda item follows:

Photo by Joe McGarity
Item 2A on the agenda proclaimed 2014 “The Year of the Family Physician.”  Two local doctors spoke of the importance of the family physician as a family’s interface with the medical system and the first person to ordinarily encounter and deal with serious medical issues.

The next item on the agenda was the Public Comment Open Time period.

Kent Dagg addressed the Council first.  He said he was concerned about the “hijacking of the public comment period.”  He said that he supports the video taping of the meetings but was concerned that someone tuning in for the first time would think they were watching “auditions for the Jerry Springer Show.”  He said he’d like to see that time put to better use.  He went on to say that he’s worked with many city departments and has always been treated well.  He thanked the Council for their service.

George Clarke spoke next.  He said that “In the 2010 council race Mrs. Sullivan received over $15,000 in direct contributions from city unions,” referring to Councilwoman Francie Sullivan.  He referenced the book Shadowbosses by Mallory Factor, defining this as “hard money.”  He read a brief passage from the book describing a system whereby candidates receive money from unions and once elected cut generous deals for city employees resulting in higher union dues.  He asked, “Is this the secret to Mrs. Sullivan’s successful political career?” 

(Shadowbosses is available at our retail site, www.TraderPenguin.com.)

Murray Blake was up next.  He wanted to talk about the city’s negotiations with the McConnell Foundation over the sale of 14 acres of city-owned land on the Sacramento River.  He read a letter from a group called Friends of the Civic Auditorium.  Their letter asked questions about statements made by Mike Warren, President of Turtle Bay.  According to the letter, Warren’s comments indicate that he believes the hotel to be built on the property will not in itself be enough to make Turtle Bay self-sustainable.  According to the letter, the people have been led to believe that it will.  The group writing the letter notes that the property is not mentioned in the city’s general plan and asks for transparency in the handling of public property noting that it belongs to all of us.

Gary Hollahan then addressed the Council.  He spoke of the last council meeting.  He noted that after speaking at that meeting of what he considered to be the city’s inappropriate relationship with employee unions that Councilwoman McArthur had asked him about his retirement income from the California Teachers Association.  He remarked that he had been a member of the CTA because California is a “forced dues” state according the book the book Shadowbosses by Mallory Factor.  He made the claim that if he can get by and do well on $3,400 a month then city employees should be just fine on $5,000.

(Shadowbosses is available at our retail site, www.TraderPenguin.com.) 

Dolores Lucero came to the podium next.  She said she’d gone through a lot in the past two years.  She said she’d been “falsely accused of some things” in the City of Shasta Lake when she was on the council there.  She said that now is the time to start thinking about who we are going to elect this year adding that we need to stop re-electing the same people.  She mentioned Judge Bigelow and Steve Carlton saying they are related.  Mayor Rick Bosetti interrupted her, to which she objected saying, “this is my time to speak.”  The Mayor said, “I’m going to interrupt you at this point and if not I’m going to turn off your mic.”  He told her that the city has nothing to do with Judge Bigelow or Mr. Carlton.  (They are employed by Shasta County.)  Lucero told him she would file discrimination charges against him for treating her differently.  She addressed the audience saying “This is what we’ve got to stop.”  She said she would run for another position and displayed a document on the overhead projector saying the charges against her were being dismissed.  She announced her candidacy for Congress.

Next on the agenda was the Consent Calendar.  The Consent Calendar is for items considered routine or non-controversial.  Items on the Consent Calendar are usually passed together.  Councilman Patrick Jones requested the record reflect that he votes no on items 4.5(b) and 4.11(f).  4.5(b) appropriates money for the design of a building on Avtech Parkway.  4.11(f) appropriates bond money for the construction of a new police department building.  Councilman Garry Cadd noted he also votes no on 4.5(b).  The remainder of the Consent Calendar passed unanimously.

Agenda Item 7.1 would reappoint Bob Brennan, Judith E. Salter and John P. Wilson to the Community Services Advisory Commission.  City Manger Kurt Starman presented a report to the Council.  He said that the organization is usually referred to by its acronym, CSAC and that they are an advisory committee dealing with parks, trails and related amenities.

Dolores Lucero addressed the Council.  She said that she believes that Councilwoman McArthur has a conflict of interest on this issue.  Lucero said that McArthur is “good friends” with “Judy” and that McArthur sits on the boards of McConnell Foundation, Turtle Bay and Rotary.  She suggested that McArthur recuse herself from the vote.  McArthur did not respond.  This passed 5 – 0.

Agenda Item 7.2 appoints Marlene Lewis Batterton to the Shasta County Commission on Aging.  City Manager Starman presented his report on the subject.  He said that the City of Redding has one appointee on the commission and that Batterton would be replacing Murray Blake who spoke earlier.  This also passed 5 – 0.

Item 9A considered the purchase of a display system for City Council meetings.  City Manager Starman recapped the history of this item saying that Councilman Cadd had brought it up in May of last year.  The Council currently uses lights in front of each member to indicate that council member wishes to speak but the lights are sometimes difficult to see and sometimes the mayor cannot see whose light is on.  Starman said that this might be the right time to adopt a new system as the city has just changed providers for videoing the meetings.  (Videos for Channel 11 are recorded separately and will not be changing.)  The new company also offers a product that would allow members to indicate electronically that they wish to speak.  The program would automatically cue the council members in the order in which they made their requests and would even display a photo of the councilperson on the overhead projector.  It would also display the results of each vote as it took place.  The system would cost $11,500 per year, not including one-time installation costs.  He described Councilman Cadd’s reaction to the price as “sticker shock.”

Councilman Cadd said the figure was “far outside my range.”  He said the new video system was saving the city money and helping the Clerk’s office, but as for the “Press to Speak” module he said, “I’m not in favor of this whatsoever at all.”  He said that a “low-tech” solution had been presented more in the range of $2,300 – $2,500.  He made a motion that the Council direct staff to look into a solution in that price range.

After looking twice to see if his light was really on, the mayor called on Councilman Jones.  Jones said that what we just observed is the reason this item is being considered.  His light had been on for 45 seconds, he said and the mayor had not noticed it.  He added that it doesn’t come up very often and it isn’t very important, but that they do need a little bit better system than what is currently in place “that wouldn’t cost anywhere close to $10,000.”

Councilwoman Sullivan said that she’d sat on the end for two years and never felt like she didn’t have a chance to speak.  She said even $2,300 is too much asking how much playground equipment for parks or books for the library could be purchased with that amount.  “I won’t support spending any money on this,” she said.

Mayor Bosetti said that it’s sometimes difficult to see the members to his right because he’s giving his attention to the speaker at the podium, which is on his left.  He suggested that the lights should be in front of the mayor rather than each council member, since it is the mayor who calls on members to speak.

City Clerk Pamela Mize wanted to clarify the motion on the table made by Councilman Cadd.  There was a bit of confusion.  As Mize began to read the motion, the Redding Police Department officer assigned to the council began to move toward the dais.  The mayor asked, “Did I press the button to call the police?  My apology!”

“Is that the one where they all come running?” asked McArthur.

“I’ve been here seven years.  I’m still finding new buttons,” said the mayor.

After the confusion had died down, Mize read the motion as she had understood it, to direct staff to find a solution to the lighting problem in the approximate price range of $2,000 - $2,500.” 

“And if by chance they come up with a 250 watt light that would show up for 55¢, that’s okay as well?” asked the mayor.

“That works too,” replied Cadd.

“I don’t have a problem with that,” said Bosetti, “I just don’t want to see us have to spend $2,000.”

The item passed 3 – 2 with Sullivan and Bosetti casting the no votes.

Item 9B.  Decorum at City Council Meetings.

Councilwoman Missy McArthur began by explaining why she had put this item on the agenda.  “It seems like there are times when not only the public, but in fact the dais, has some sniping going on and I think it’s time that we sort of looked at ourselves as leaders to set a better example.”  She spoke of her visit to the Ronald Reagan Museum and of Regan’s nickname, “The Great Communicator.”  She noted that the Council Members are indirectly the bosses of the city staff.  She indicated that she had attached an article about being a good boss to the Staff Report for this meeting.  “First of all, when we talk to staff, being positive rather than negative all the time.  If there are negative issues we need to address them but there’s a proper channel to address them.”

 “From the speakers,” she said, “we’ve been getting some of the speakers attacking our staff is to me very unfortunate.  It’s similar to having a victim tied up and punching them.”  She called it bullying.  “Address your concerns to us, not to the staff.”  She showed the audience a coffee cup from the Ronald Reagan Museum with his picture on it.  She asked City Clerk, Pamela Mize if she would present the cup at the end of the year to one of council members or to a member of the public as a sort of a prize for being civil.  She noted that Mize is elected directly by the people and does not answer to the council.  Mize did not indicate whether or not she would do so.

Councilman Jones said that it was “touchy” to talk of decorum with regard to the public.  “People have the right to be here,” he said.  “People have the right to be rude if they so choose.”  He added, “People speak passionately and when they don’t think they are getting through they speak louder.”  He concluded by saying, “Maybe we should look within for change.”

Mayor Bosetti was about to call forward the first public speaker when he noticed that Councilman Cadd’s light was on.

Councilman Cadd said that it’s difficult for people to stay positive when they are looking at millions of their dollars being spent in a way they don’t approve.  He said there’s a $200 million shortfall in city pensions.  He went on about the pension issue saying that money isn’t fixing Pump House One or building roads or storm drains.  He said that sometimes this issue comes up and it’s not presented in a positive way.  “I don’t know how to spin a $200 short-fund in a positive mode.”

“At times there’s a little friction here and there.  We’re trying to work our way through it.”  He said it “grieves my heart” to see Redding in this position.  “We have some great employees, but we’ve got a problem and we need to do something about the problem.  The first thing that needs to be done is . . . “

“Mr. Cadd! –”

“See?  Now I’m being interrupted!”

“I’m going to interrupt you here, Mr. Cadd, because we’ve kind of gotten off the track of what we’re trying to talk about here,” said the mayor.  “You started off talking about your decorum and no one has a problem there.  You wanna talk positive about it?  Let’s find a solution for it.  Because I think there are some solutions and our employees are going to have to help in those solutions and a positive discourse with them is gonna be . . . “

“Mr. Mayor, I need say no more.  The interruptions continue.”

Bosetti:  “My questions I had were for our attorney.  We’ve had conversations before . . . and Mr. Jones, I have no problem with passion.  You’re talking to an Italian here who can get as passionate as anybody, who can get very upset.  And there have been times in the years that we’ve been here that you’ve see that.  Everyone up here has.  However I’ve never accused anyone personally of malfeasance.  I’ve never accused anyone of misappropriation.  I’ve never accused anyone of those types of things.  And these are the kind of things I have a hard time with and when I go to our attorney and I say, ‘Can people sit up here and make unfounded allegations that are factually wrong?’ and we’re told, ‘Yes, absolutely.  They can do that.  Not only can they do that, they can use as much foul language as they want.’  You probably all saw the email on the court ruling that came in where a case was settled where somebody sat up there and used as much foul language as probably anybody here would ever want to hear, part of it.  And they were protected by that right to do that.  So, my question is, with that background, when I read our meeting’s decorum, why do we even have language here that talks about that ‘the members must preserve order and decorum’ and that ‘members shall neither by conversation or otherwise, delay or interrupt the proceedings or be a person making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks,’ when we can’t enforce any of this?”

City Attorney Rick Duvernay responded, “We have that in our Municipal Code.  That is pretty standard language in municipal codes for local agencies throughout the state and it can be enforced.  And there’s a federal court of appeal opinion that’s right on point.  There was one in 1990 that actually . . .  It was called White vs. City of Norwalk and it upheld that very language as not being unconstitutional on its face.  And in a subsequent case in 1995, the Court of Appeal, the 9th Circuit upheld a similar type of language where a mayor ruled someone out of order and asked them to be escorted out of the council chambers when they were speaking when it was not their turn.  They were speaking from the audience.  There can be rules, rules of decorum both parliamentary rules for the council as it interacts, but also the rules pertaining to public comment for the council.  And you are right and Mr. Jones is right.  People have a right to be rude, but they have to stay on topic and they have to stay on a topic that’s within the jurisdiction of the council.  They’re either talking to an agenda item and if they come up and they want their three minutes on an agenda item they’ve got to be talking about what’s on the agenda not drifting off onto something else.  And in the non-agenda public comment portion, they have a right to come and speak but it has to be something that’s within the business of the city, within the jurisdiction of the city.  The California League of Cities actually has a publication that I was looking at earlier today, knowing this was coming up and it has some great advice in it.  It’s not legalese.  It’s question and answer and it says, ‘May a presiding officer prohibit a member of the audience from publicly criticizing an agency employee by name during public comment?’ and the answer is no, as long as the criticism pertains to job performance.  So if someone wants to come up here and be as rude as they can and call any one of us a name, as long as it’s relating to our performance in our job, they can do that.  But you can’t come up and you can’t make a personal attack that’s unrelated to job performance and so that’s why that language should still remain in the code.  If someone wants to come up here and get personal and say nasty things about either an employee or a member of the council because of their race, their religion, their political affiliation or who they associate with, nothing to do with job performance, just a personal attack unrelated to job performance, you can rule that person out of order because it’s not related to any city business.  Most of the time, what we hear during public comment is related to city business but there are times when people drift and you and I have had many conversations about that and we had an example of it tonight.  So if a comment is made about a public official, for example, who’s not an public official that works for the City of Redding, who doesn’t work for the City Council, who this council has no oversight for like a Sheriff, or a Board of Supervisor, appointed or elected, I think that it is perfectly acceptable to for you to tell that person that they’re out of order.  And if they refuse and continue to do that, they can be asked to stop speaking and escorted out, if that’s the case.  So that’s kinda the parameters.  People have a right to be angry.  They have a right to be rude but they’ve gotta be talking about city business in here.”

Mayor Bosetti called on Councilwoman McArthur.  “Because you can do it,” she said, “doesn’t make it right, or the right thing to do morally or ethically.  You get to be a brute and a bully if you want to be but, really?  Do you want to be that person?”

Sullivan:  “I’m assuming that you’re not talking about the mayor’s action.  You’re talking about someone else?  Could someone read . . . ?”

Bosetti:  “You want me to read that?  This was in the decorum . . .  I read part of it.  I didn’t read it in its entirety.  This is our Municipal Code and it says:  ‘Any person making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks or who becomes boisterous while addressing the council, shall be forthwith by the presiding officer barred from further audience before the council unless permission to continue is granted by a majority vote by the council.’”

McArthur suggested that if the public comment period were moved to the end of the council meetings rather than the beginning, people would be less likely to see it on the public access channel and it would not negatively affect their opinion of Redding.  She worried that people viewing the City Council meetings would decide not to move here.  The mayor noted that the meetings would still be available online.

Councilman Jones said that such a move would be viewed by the public as a lack of transparency.

The first person from the audience to speak on the subject was George Clarke.  He said his accusations against Francie Sullivan having taken $150,000 from unions was based on a formula which suggests that unions spend ten times as much “soft money” on campaigns as they do “hard money,” suggesting that if Sullivan received $15,000 on the books, she probably got ten times that amount under the table.  This formula is from the book Shadowbosses by Mallory Factor.  (Which can be purchased at www.TraderPenguin.com.)

Mayor Bosetti interrupted him.

“Mr. Clarke, I want to ask you how this pertains to our discussion that you just sat through about fifteen minutes of decorum?  You wanna talk about decorum?” he asked Mr. Clarke.

Mr. Clarke has stated in the past that Councilwoman Sullivan threatened him with a lawsuit and that he was too intimidated to speak for two meetings.  He seemed to be trying to express this, but he was livid and frightened and was unable to find his words.  When he composed himself, he asked that his time be restarted and the mayor agreed to do so.  He said that the actions of the council caused adverse reactions in people.  He said that Sullivan told him that “a number of attorneys” were looking into his statements made at City Council on June 18.  He said he still wants to know who they are.  He said that when he stated that Mr. Starman recommends raises for union employees, the mayor “jumped down my throat and told me to get my facts straight,” adding, “It sounds like he thinks his job is to protect the City Manager.”

The mayor interrupted him again.

“The comment that I made to you is that Mr. Starman doesn’t make the recommendations.”

“Look right here!” he said, pointing out Starman’s signature with his middle finger.  “It says ‘approved.’  This is the only thing me and the public get to read, so I think you owe me an apology!”

“What I explained before, Mr. Clarke, is that those negotiations and those comments were made in closed sessions and that when those negotiations are now made public, after we’ve all been in there and we’ve all voted . .  .”

“This is all I see!” Clarke replied angrily, indicating the staff report.

“And it’s been explained before in this public venue how the process works.  If you don’t want to listen to what the process is, you don’t have to.  We’ve talked about this many times on labor negotiations . . . “

Clarke interrupted him.

“This is all I see!”

He said he’d been harassed by former Mayor Dickerson and that when he complained, City Attorney Duvernay suggested that Dickerson had done nothing wrong but that Clarke himself could be charged with two violations.  He was very flustered and upset as his time expired.

McArthur:  “So, can I just say one quick thing to Mr. Clarke.  Mr. Clarke, I hope you can figure out a way to make a positive spin . . . “

Gary Hollahan spoke briefly saying that it seems like the Council does not want government by the people.  He also noted that three members of the council did not attend the CARB meeting held in early December.  He said that if no one speaks in opposition it will become like the City of Bell.  The council will assume that no one is interested but if many people come, the council will say the people are “rude and indecorous.”

Dolores Lucero said that she’s not surprised that Missy McArthur would bring a list of ways to chip away at our freedom of speech.  “And you sit there smiling and you think it’s so funny.”  She noted that McArthur had commented earlier that when an employee does something wrong, they need to know.  She pointed out that the Council are employees of the citizens.

After she spoke Mayor Bosetti characterized her comments as “three minutes of nothing to do with decorum.”

Councilwoman McArthur said, “I was just going to add, Mr. Mayor, that maybe it was unfortunate that I brought this item up.”

“Yeah, I would say so,” replied the mayor, “I’m gonna give you that one.”

Item 9C on the agenda assigned Mayor Bosetti as liaison to LAFCO and Councilman Jones as liaison to the Audit Committee.  These assignments do not require a vote.


The last item on the agenda certifies the Redding Independent Employee’s Organization as the union representing City of Redding employees.  Sheri DeMaagd, Personnel Director presented a report to the Council wherein she explained that the Council has few options regarding the acceptance of a vote by their employees regarding representation and that a nay vote on this item indicates that they believe the process was unfair or not democratic.  This passed 5 – 0.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Shasta County Board of Supervisors, January 7, 2014

by Joe McGarity

Photo by Joe McGarity


The Shasta County Board of Supervisors met at 9:00 am on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at the County Administration Center on Court Street in Redding.  All five supervisors were in attendance.  A brief report on each agenda item follows:

The first agenda item was the election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman.  Supervisor Leonard Moty nominated Supervisor Les Baugh for the position of Chairman and Baugh was unanimously elected.  Supervisor Pam Giacomini nominated Supervisor Moty for the position of Vice-Chairman and he was also unanimously elected.

Chairman Baugh then noted that the outgoing Chairman, Supervisor David Kehoe, had refused the plaque that would ordinarily be presented to the person vacating the position because of the expense to the county’s budget.  Baugh then presented Kehoe with a printed certificate asking that $1.00 from his own pocket be presented to the Clerk of the Board to cover the cost of the certificate.

Supervisors Giacomini, Moty and Supervisor Bill Schappell each in turn spoke of their respect for Kehoe noting his ability to keep the atmosphere of these public proceedings civil and polite.

Kehoe praised them as well noting the professional service of his colleagues.  He also thanked the employees of Shasta County, those who attend the meetings and finally the media for “reporting accurately, week after week, what goes on here.”

Employee of the Year, Kristi Cournyer
Item R1 on the Regular Calendar was to adopt a resolution recognizing Shasta County’s 2013 Employee of the Year.  Kristi Cournyer, Child Support Specialist II, Department of Child Support Services was presented a framed certificate by Chairman Baugh and a gift bag of donated items and gift certificates.

Next was the Public Comment Open Time period.  Dolores Lucero spoke of her concern about an incident involving law enforcement and a homeless man who had a knife.  Supervisor Moty interjected that the incident involved the Redding Police Department and not the Sheriff’s Department and was therefore outside the County’s jurisdiction.  Lucero reiterated her concern that public officials be held accountable for their actions.

The next item on the agenda was the Consent Calendar.  Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine and non-controversial.  Any board member or interested person may ask for an item to be moved to the Regular Calendar for discussion.  Three items were pulled.  The remainder was passed unanimously.

Item C8 was pulled by Dolores Lucero.  This agenda item would appoint James Berg as an alternate to the Employee Appeals Board.  Lucero noted that Berg had been recently appointed to serve on a board and asked if this was a separate appointment and if holding two positions constituted a conflict of interest.  Supervisor Moty remarked that these were two separate boards.  This item passed 5 – 0.

Item C10 was moved from the Consent Calendar by Cheri Beck.  This item would enact the changes made to the Family Care Residence portion of the Shasta County Code which allows a mobile home on private property where it would not normally be zoned if it is being used by family members caring for an elderly or infirm person.  The new rules make it easier to get and keep this status.  Ms. Beck said she had been in contact with families who will benefit from this and on their behalf she thanked the Board.  This passed 5 – 0.

Angela Davis, Director of Support Services presented a report on item C11.  This agenda item would renew an agreement with CyraCom LLC for document translation services at a per-word rate.  Supervisor Giacomini said that she had had some questions about the increase in translation costs over the past few years.  She said that Ms. Davis had responded promptly to her emails and answered those questions, but that she wanted the Board to hear the answers too.  Costs, said Supervisor Giacomini, have risen from $2,000 a year to $11,000 a year in a matter of a few years.  Davis said that a grant had paid for the translation of a large number of traditional family recipes.  Giacomini noted that in addition to the Spanish Language, County documents are now being translated into Traditional Chinese.  Supervisor Kehoe asked why the agreement is being called “evergreen” if the Board is being asked to renew it.  Davis answered that the new agreement will continue until the Board requests its termination.  This passed unanimously.
 
Chairman Baugh with Rubin Cruse
Item R2 of the Regular Calendar was slated for updates on legislative issues and the Supervisors’ travel reports.  There was no legislative report and the travel report was brief.  Afterward, newly elected Chairman Baugh surprised everyone by calling County Council Rubin Cruse to the podium.  Cruse seemed surprised and perhaps a little worried.  Baugh presented Cruse with a pin for 15 years of service as a county employee and thanked him for keeping the board out of trouble.  Cruse thanked him and the Board and commented that the county was “very fortunate” to have great department heads and elected officials.


The last item on the agenda would adopt a resolution that makes certain changes to the Health and Human Services Agency’s budget process in alignment with changes to the system introduced by the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, which went into effect on January 1.  Donnell Ewert, Director of Health and Human Services Agency presented a report.  He told the board that as of that date the State of California expanded Medi-Cal and took over a significant portion of the County’s responsibility for indigent health care.  He told the Board that of the 5,000 individuals the County had been responsible for providing health care, the State has taken over about 4,500 of those cases.  He told them that the State of California is reducing the budget by 60% and there would be limits on the growth of the program.  He added that if the Board does not pass this, the State will take more.  This passed unanimously.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Soapbox -- Decorum

Photo by Joe McGarity

Things went badly at the January 7, 2014 Redding City Council meeting.  A discussion about decorum got out of control.  There’s humor in that, friends.  And it’s okay for us to recognize the irony and even to laugh at it.  We should not allow ourselves to give in to the temptation to treat our democratically elected government as a joke.  My first reaction was perhaps motivated by my lowest instincts.  I was trying to come up with a funny headline, but the more I thought about what had taken place and put that into the perspective of this publication’s stated objectives, the more I realized that I had to try to do better than that.

It has been my wish that through my publication I could encourage people to interface with the government that rightfully belongs to them.  People seem to fear to engage the system.  It’s intimidating.  People wonder why government seems distant and disassociated from the public it serves.  It’s because too few of us make an effort to interact with the government process.  People have the perception, whether real or imagined, that they will be slapped down and punished for expressing their opinions.  Yet this is precisely what we must do to keep our form of government.  Use it or lose it.

I said that it’s funny that a discussion about civility and decorum broke down and became contentious.  It’s only funny at first blush.  Once you think about it just a little, it makes more sense.  They wouldn’t be having a discussion about how to get along if they weren’t already having a problem with it.  And it stands to reason that it would crop up again while facing the issue directly.  I’ll cover everything in detail in my gavel-to-gavel government story, but here’s how I see it:

Councilwoman Missy McArthur had placed a discussion item on the Council Agenda concerning “Decorum at City Council Meetings”.  It was item 9B on the January 7, 2014 Agenda.  A discussion item does not require a vote.  At most it would direct the City Staff to prepare an item for a future agenda that would then be voted upon and potentially enacted.  McArthur seemed concerned that city staff members were being “attacked” by name by speakers during the Public Comment Period and that because of the meeting rules they are not allowed to defend themselves or to respond in any way, which she compared to “bullying.”  She asked that speakers address their concerns to “us not to staff”, referring to the Council.  She said “Freedom of Speech is not a license to be rude,” a position with which this publication strongly disagrees.  This publication remains firmly opposed to any form of censorship.

However –

Being rude may not be the best strategy for accomplishing your political goals.  This publication has tried to present all public speakers with dignity and without personal judgment regarding the content of their presentation.  I’m a real person, folks and I have an opinion about everything that’s said at Council, sometimes a strong opinion.  But when someone at Public Comment says something I don’t agree with, I’m extra careful to get it right and to be respectful.  It has been the policy of the Fantom Penguin to treat all controversy from the perspective that it is a temporary condition.  Both sides will find a way to work out their differences once they learn to respect each other.  They will, in EVERY case, find that they are not so different as they imagined. 


This publication will not give in to the temptation to mock our government.  Though it was contentious, emotional and even upsetting at times, what took place last night was an honest attempt by everyone involved to learn to work with one another in the most effective possible way.  Although that goal was not immediately accomplished, we should be proud of our local government, not ashamed of it, just as we should be proud, regardless of their demeanor, of our citizens who understand that it’s their civic duty to be involved.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shasta County Pollution Control Board, January 7, 2014

Photo by Joe McGarity




The Shasta County Pollution Control Board met at 8:30 am on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.  In attendance were Les Baugh, David Kehoe, Leonard Moty and Debe Hopkins.  Missy McArthur was absent.

The first item on the Pollution Control Board’s Agenda was the Public Comment Period.  No speaker requests were turned in and the Board moved on to the Consent Calendar.

The Consent Calendar is for items considered routine and expected to pass easily.  Any Board Member or Member of the Public may ask for a Consent Calendar item to be moved to the Regular Calendar for more thorough discussion.  No such requests were made and the Consent Calendar passed 4 – 0.

Item R1 on the Regular Calendar would adopt a Resolution in which Shasta County would authorize the transferal of 25.086 tons per year of Volatile Organic Compound Emission Reduction Credits to the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.

Ross Bell, of Shasta County Air Quality Management District presented a report to the Board.  He told them this would be the first time credits of this kind had been transferred out of the County.  The credits to be transferred are currently held by Roseburg Forest Products and would be traded at a ratio of 2.1 to 1.  Roseburg would trade away 19.4 tons per year of this kind of material but the Yolo-Solano District would only receive 9.2 tons of credits in return.  The price of the credits is approximately $1400 per ton.

Board Member Moty wanted to know if the credits are owned by the County or by private businesses.  Bell told him that about 90% of the credits are currently held by private businesses in Shasta County and the rest belong to the County itself.

Board Member Kehoe wanted to know if permitting this transfer would diminish the position of the County in any way.  Bell told him that it would reduce the overall availability of credits in the County by a small amount, but it could motivate companies to reduce their emissions if they knew that they call then sell off their excess credits for a profit.

Board Member Baugh asked for an example.  Bell said that the Planning Commission has the authority to waive the first 25 tons of emissions, but that a new company would have to purchase credits to cover the rest.  He used the example of Simpson Paper, now closed, for which he had statistics.  If they wanted to re-open at the same level of production, they would need to purchase another 93 tons of credits beyond the first 25.  When a business like this goes bankrupt, their credits are sold right along with all of their other assets.

Board Member Moty asked if credits have been transferred within the County and was told yes they have been.  Roseburg sold some of theirs in 2011.  Bell added that Shasta County Air Quality Management District gets 5% of the value of these credits whenever they are transferred.  Moty asked if companies can be forced to sell.  Bell told him no, but the Pollution Control Board must approve each transfer and can block a transfer if it chooses.

Board Member Kehoe asked him if this would “in no way” diminish economic opportunity in Shasta County to which Bell replied, “Yes.”


This passed 4 – 0.

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