Candidate stew

What’s going on among the council’s conservative challengers?

News from the campaign front: It’s fair to say nobody was more surprised that Dave Donnan received the Chico Enterprise-Record’s endorsement for the Chico City Council than Dave Donnan himself. He says he expected the daily to tap either Andrew Coolidge or Toby Schindelbeck for its fourth endorsee, since they appear to enjoy more support from the Republican establishment. Not that he’s complaining …

I like Dave. He’s a friendly, chatty, good-hearted guy who readily acknowledges his life has had its ups and downs, including a bout with cancer, a nasty divorce, various business successes and failures, a couple of personal bankruptcies—the usual stuff. He’ll tell you all about it if you give him an ear to bend. There’s nothing blow-dried about Dave. He says it as he sees it. I won’t vote for him because I don’t share his views, but I certainly won’t be upset if he makes it onto the council.

Speaking of Republicans: It appears that four politically aligned council candidates—Bob Evans, Sean Morgan, Andrew Coolidge and Toby Schindelbeck—have become a slate of sorts. That’s a reasonable conclusion to draw from the fact that the four have signed onto an ad Evans has taken out in this issue of the CN&R (see page 13) and presumably elsewhere. The ad purports to describe “Where we are as a city,” but its real purpose is to denigrate the current council member majority that these four seek to defeat.

Reading it, you’d think the council and city staff had driven the city to the brink of bankruptcy in recent years while failing to do anything whatsoever about economic development. That’s simply not true, and Evans knows it. City staffers have been working for years to streamline the permitting process, even in the face of personnel reductions. Also, the council recently passed an excellent economic-development action plan. And in May, it agreed to let Innovate Northstate, whose whole purpose is economic development, set up shop in City Hall at no cost. Those are just some of the ways the council and Mayor Ann Schwab have worked to foster economic development.

Yes, emergency reserves are about half what they should be ideally, but that’s because the city has faced the worst fiscal emergency in its modern history. Between the recession and the state’s commandeering of funds, it’s a wonder city finances aren’t worse than they are. The council and city staff should be praised for safely navigating a perfect fiscal storm, not dissed because finances aren’t as good as they were before. The boat is battered but it still floats.

You really know Evans and pals are blowing smoke when you realize they oppose Measure J on the Nov. 6 ballot that would update the city’s telephone-users’-tax ordinance to include wireless phones. If that measure fails, it could cost the city up to $900,000 in revenues that it now receives.

These guys talk big about staffing police and fire fully, but then they advocate something that would slice nearly $1 million from the budget. Where do they think the staffing money’s going to come from? It makes no sense, common or otherwise.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.