Mondo meetings

Super Tuesday for city and county politicos

Nov. 6 sessions
Butte County Board of Supervisors: Adminstration Building, 25 County Center Dr., Oroville, 9 a.m. (M&T hearing 1:30 p.m.)

Chico City Council: Municipal Building, 421 Main St., 6:30 p.m.

If you’re the boss of a politico, gadfly or activist, don’t be surprised by a sick call on Tuesday. The Butte County Board of Supervisors is holding a public hearing on the M&T mine proposal that afternoon (Nov. 6), and the Chico City Council has several hot-button issues on its agenda that night. Come to think of it, sick calls might come Wednesday, too.

County supervisors—well, four of them, anyway—will hear testimony about the gravel mine Baldwin Contracting has proposed for the M&T Ranch off River Road southwest of Chico. The board voted not to remove the land from Williamson Act protection, but the county Planning Commission approved the project on a 3-2 vote, and now it’s up to the supervisors whether it goes forward.

Proponents and opponents have waged a public-relations battle via newspaper ads and letters to the editor (see Letters for examples). The public hearing may well be one-sided, though—Baldwin and county staff do not plan to make their presentations because the vote will not take place until January.

Why? Oroville-area Supervisor Bill Connelly will miss Tuesday’s meeting because of an out-of-state trip. Connelly pledged to watch a recording of the hearing, and all five supervisors are expected to be present when the issue comes up again Jan. 8.

“It makes the hearing a little bit weaker because the citizens won’t have a lot to respond to,” Chico Supervisor Maureen Kirk said. “But most people know the issue…. There’s a huge value in public participation, so I hope people come.”

As for the divided deliberation, Kirk said, “I guarantee it would have been a two-day hearing anyway.”

That evening, Chico’s “disorderly events ordinance” comes before the City Council for a final reading and ratification of the earlier 6-1 vote. The ordinance has stirred controversy (see Letters) and drawn throngs of opponents to council chambers.

Even if that crowd stays home, seats will be in short supply—52 will be filled by commission and committee candidates. The council will choose, from a pool of 11, the replacements for Planning Commissioners Steve O’Bryan and Kirk Monfort. The city has 41 applicants for seven spots on the General Plan Advisory Committee.

The GPAC selection will be the more involved of the two, yet probably not the more divisive. The Planning Commission, with four appointees by the current council, has come under fire for a perceived anti-developer slant. “I don’t agree with those criticisms,” Mayor Andy Holcombe said, “but I’m sensitive to them.”

As for ‘08 implications, Holcombe insisted this vote is “not political. That ugly head hasn’t raised itself yet. I know when we get within a year of the election, things get scrutinized closer and closer. That’s the lay of the land.”