No point to finger-pointing

A few days after Thanksgiving, my wife and I adopted a puppy from the shelter. We saw the Labrador retriever in him, so we knew he wouldn’t be tiny, but not knowing his lineage meant we could only guess at how he’d develop. Now we’ve figured out he’s part black Lab, part Great Dane—90 pounds at 10 months and growing faster than even he’s aware.

He still thinks he can ferret out balls that roll under the bed. Unfortunately, when he did that the other day, he got stuck and broke the adjustable foundation while squeezing his way out.

We’re annoyed, of course, but what are we going to do, blame the dog for acting like a dog? Blame ourselves for not anticipating it? No. What’s the point of pointing fingers? We’re getting the bed fixed and figuring out a way to keep him (and the toys) from getting under there.

This little incident came to mind last week after the Chico City Council decided to settle with Tom Fogarty, the Yuba City developer who sued the city over the Humboldt Burn Dump and his proposed Oak Valley subdivision. The city will pay $9.5 million, mostly from redevelopment funds, rather than risk a $48 million judgment—roughly equivalent to the 10-year deficit the council has been addressing.

The litigation stemmed from an action considered by only three current councilmembers: Steve Bertagna and Larry Wahl, who voted against it, and Scott Gruendl, who voted for it. Their responses to the settlement: told you so; told you so; mea culpa.

Gruendl’s acknowledgment didn’t deter the naysaying. The Enterprise-Record called for apologies from two of the other three yes-voters, Dan Ngyuen-Tan and Maureen Kirk (refraining, in good taste, from asking Coleen Jarvis to posthumously recant). Letter-writers assailed the “Gang of Four,” and recall buzz has begun to hum.

I’d like to repeat a line from our editorial last week: “We should all be glad that this reminder of our past negligence in handling waste hasn’t been more expensive than it has.” Had Chicoans been more responsible with toxic gunk and junk, the City Council wouldn’t have had a mess to clean up in the first place.

So, should we chastise everyone who’s lived here more than a decade?

Of course not. That would serve the same purpose as blaming the nation’s troubles on everyone who voted for Bush, or even Bush himself. Again, what’s the point of pointing fingers? Congress won’t impeach him, and he’ll be gone in six months. So we all should focus on making sure we get the best replacement (and that he doesn’t nuke Iran), because that will actually make a difference.

The city’s settlement is a current event. If you think the council misread the tea leaves, by all means, object—launch a recall, even, as one of Nguyen-Tan’s NorCal Blogsmates would like to do. At the end of the day (or year or election cycle), that won’t change the past … and, clearly, removing councilmembers for what their predecessors did will do nothing to safeguard the future.

I know it’s tempting to assign blame. “Bad dog!”—it’s such a relief to know where responsibility lies and vent emotions accordingly. Let’s make sure lessons get learned so we needn’t rant anew.