City shouldn’t play favorites

Upper management allows politician free use of taxpayer-funded facility

Last month, the conservatives on the Chico City Council put to rest the idea that certain groups should be able to use the council chambers free of charge.

It was a controversial move because several prominent groups, including the Butte County League of Women Voters and the Chico Unified School District board of education, have paid a nominal fee ($29 per hour, plus ancillary fees) to rent the council chambers for many years. Back in February, the panel made the decision to start charging groups a higher rate: $137 per hour for the chambers and $150 per hour for the auditorium in the Old Municipal Building, plus ancillary fees.

The leftie council members wanted to allow the city manager the discretion to make exceptions for certain groups. But that didn’t fly with the right-wingers. The takeaway from the new policy is that no groups should receive preferential treatment when it comes to using taxpayer-funded facilities.

That’s why CN&R was stunned to hear that Congressman Doug LaMalfa was holding an event in a city-owned building, Fire Station 5, free of charge. Moreover, he had not only the blessing of the city’s upper management, but also the aid of city fire personnel, who set up for the so-called “community coffee” (see more on page 5).

It’s clear to this newspaper that LaMalfa’s visit was contrary to the spirit of the new policy, and, in general, not an appropriate use of city resources. It smacks of hypocrisy and unfairness. The city should not play favorites.