Liberals flex muscles
The power of being in the majority became abundantly clear Tuesday (Jan. 2), when the five self-described liberal members of the Chico City Council dominated the appointment process for city boards and commissions.

Frozen out were such applicants as defeated conservative council candidates Mark Sorensen, who wanted to serve on the Planning Commission, and Michael Dailey, who asked for a seat on either the Planning Commission or Bidwell Park and Playground Commission.

A number of current commissioners were returned to office, including Jon Luvaas and Mary Brownell to the all-important Planning Commission. Current Commissioner Vic Alvistur got thumbs down, however, while environmentalist John Merz and former County Counsel Susan Minasian both got seats. Merz has served on the commission in the past. Long-time current Commissioner Irv Schiffman did not seek reappointment.

Three current members of the park commission—Richard Ober, Jim Walker and Stephen Lucaswere returned, along with newcomer Lisa Emmerich, a Chico State professor.

The appointees to one panel, the Airport Commission, got support from councilmembers virtually across the board. They were retired Monterey Police Chief Floyd Sanderson; Bob Koch, a retired city staffer who for 11 years was liaison to the commission; and Gayle Womack, who directed last year’s Airfest.

The council also appointed Nichola Ambrosia and Mike Borzage to the Architectural Review Board; Sandy Atkins, Paul Friedlander and Samantha Gale to the Arts Commission; and Rae Morrison, Ali Sarsour, Megan Thomas and Charles Turner to the Human Resources Commission.

There were 43 applicants for 20 positions. There were no African Americans or Latinos among them and only one Asian, David Kim, an architect who applied unsuccessfully for the ARB. The only appointee who even vaguely qualified as a member of a minority group was Sarsour, who was born in Palestine.

Artoberfest a hit
When she came before the City Council Tuesday requesting additional funding for Artoberfest, the month-long Chico celebration of the arts, director Debra Lucero (pictured) found herself being pummeled with praise, much of it coming from Councilmen Larry Wahl and Steve Bertagna, the two conservatives on the panel.

Wahl complimented her on both the event and the quality of the portfolio report put together afterward. Bertagna said the event was “some of the best economic development money we’ve spent in a long time.”

The city Arts Commission originally had recommended a three-year grant of $150,000, but in 2005 the council took a wait-and-see attitude and allocated $50,000 for one year. After listening to Lucero describe Artoberfest’s Chico Palio race around City Hall, the Palais Idéal music festival and 85 other events, the council voted unanimously to fund the remaining two years.