LaMalfa’s pawn

Chico’s vice mayor joins congressman’s battle, becomes a casualty

Reanette Fillmer despises the media. Chico’s vice mayor tweeted as much recently and has thrown barbs at journalists, including yours truly, on numerous occasions (see “Trickle-down Trump,” Second & Flume, Aug. 23).

I can’t help but see the irony of her running to Chico and Redding’s daily newspapers alleging she was illegally sacked from her job at a local lending company. Through her San Francisco-based lawyer—prominent GOP operative Harmeet Dhillon—Fillmer says the firing was a result of her participation in a TV commercial paid for by Rep. Doug LaMalfa. You know, one of the propaganda-filled campaign ads attacking his opponent, Audrey Denney.

In those reports, Dhillon cites state labor laws that prohibit employers from 1) enacting policy that directs or controls employees’ activities or affiliations, and 2) preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.

What Dhillon doesn’t say is that there are nuances when it comes to these worker protections. For example, wrongful termination exists only in cases in which dismissals are politically motivated. Employees can be fired if their political activities adversely affect the business for practical reasons—say, creating a conflict of interest.

Point is, the laws do not give employees carte blanche to do or say whatever they want whenever they want. As a human resources professional, Fillmer ought to know that.

Given that she is an unflinching partisan in the public sphere, and her employers would have known that prior to hiring her a few years ago, I can’t see how Fillmer’s termination would be politically motivated.

The whole situation is odd. I’m most curious as to why and how Dhillon—committeewoman for the National Republican Committee and a former vice chairman of the California Republican Party—got hooked up with the one-term Chico councilwoman.

Is there more to this story? I’d bet on it.

Consider, for example, how Fillmer has conducted herself as a member of the City Council. Here’s but a sampling of her behavior at public meetings: cursing, yelling, finger-wagging at those with opposing views, verbally attacking constituents. All of those things—and more—have been chronicled in this newspaper’s pages over the past four years.

The thing about becoming a politician is that it tends to magnify a person’s flaws—whatever they might be. In Fillmer’s case, sitting at the dais has revealed that her base instincts are, among other things, to be immature, vindictive and snide.

Fillmer has been a LaMalfa sycophant for years, and while I get that the two are ideologically synced, I can’t for the life of me understand why she would stick her neck out for the guy. From my perspective, she’s done so twice. Once by being featured in his ad, and again by airing her subsequent professional difficulties in public. The story does not reflect well on her—I can’t imagine it will help her job prospects.

I’m not sure how this will play out, but as of now, Fillmer seems like a casualty in LaMalfa’s war. I almost feel sorry for her.