A predictable outcome

Five of six City Council members cave on police compensation

To our surprise, the boys in blue—aka the members of the Chico Police Officers’ Association—didn’t use their muscle Tuesday evening during the Chico City Council’s regular meeting. While there were a number of police officers in attendance, most were dressed in business suits or blazers—not uniforms, as we’ve seen during previous meetings when the CPOA’s contract was up for a vote.

Then again, the cops didn’t have to throw their weight around. The panel’s approval of a contract that costs the taxpayers an additional $1.5 million over the next three years was a foregone conclusion. Despite an impressive treatise by Councilman Randall Stone on how there is no substantial data linking officer compensation levels to the departure of Chico Police Department employees, members of the conservative majority used that red herring as justification for giving the cops a substantial raise. And longtime Councilwoman Ann Schwab went right along with it.

As Stone pointed out, and as the CN&R said two weeks ago in an editorial on the subject (see “Back to the drawing board,” March 26), the contract does not put more officers on the streets. “All we’re doing is spending more money,” Stone lamented.

That raise comes at a precarious time for the city. As staff pointed out, a preliminary plan to balance the budget is predicted to hinge on a razor-thin line (see “Money talks …,” Newslines, page 9). Moreover, the city is still in the red for many years to come.

In the face of those facts, conservatives argued that giving the cops a raise is a step in the direction of putting public safety first, but what they evidently don’t understand is that making public safety the No. 1 priority means protecting the taxpayers, not enriching the already overpaid police. In effect, approval of this agreement is actually a detriment to public safety. That’s because it increases costs of existing personnel—funds that could have been dedicated to hiring new ones.

We’re deeply disappointed in Councilwoman Schwab, Mayor Mark Sorensen, Vice Mayor Sean Morgan and the two new conservative members of the panel, Reanette Fillmer and Andrew Coolidge. All of them caved to the special interests, and their constituents will not soon forget it.