Diabolical forces at work

In Chico politics, paranoia is potent

The popularity of the Saturday Farmers Market at its current location in the city parking lot at Second and Wall streets was much in evidence Tuesday morning at a meeting of the City Council’s Internal Affairs Committee. Usually only a handful of people show up for IAC meetings, but this one was jam-packed. (For our report, see “Apples and oranges”.)

Folks were in a bilious mood. There were rumblings that a wrong vote could spell “political suicide” for the City Council members serving on the committee. Some people were convinced the city wanted to move the market only so it could build a parking structure on the Second and Wall lot.

In other words, it was another lively Chico meeting full of misinformation and mistrust.

The three members of the IAC—Andy Holcombe, Tom Nickell and Jim Walker—are all strong supporters of farmers’ markets, especially the Saturday one. They were just trying to figure out a way to deal with the market’s growing pains. Nothing had been decided. They were open to suggestions.

The hostility—and the size of the turnout—were caused by a viral e-mail message that stated, incorrectly, that “Some councilmembers are proposing to move our beloved, successful Saturday Farmer’s [sic] Market …” and suggesting they might have a “hidden agenda.”

You gotta love the paranoia. It makes things spicy. It’s ironic, of course, that the folks behind the e-mail were from the same liberal tribe as Holcombe, Nickell and Walker. You’d think they’d go a little easier on their brethren. But that’s not Chico, where every little controversy or disagreement is earth-shaking evidence of diabolical forces at work—maybe even among your friends.