Nobody home?

Where does Chico City Council candidate Ross Bradford live? That politically pointed question is making its rounds through the local grapevine as the November elections draw near. Council candidate Barbi Boeger says that, while she was engaged in some friendly conversation with Bradford, she thought she heard him say, “I live around the corner from your brother.” Boeger’s brother lives in Durham. If Boeger heard Bradford correctly, then Bradford is not eligible to sit on the Chico City Council. I understand that some folks concerned with Bradford’s legal residence are checking with the Assessor’s Office and other depositories of public information. I gave Bradford a call this week and asked, “Where do you live?”

Bradford told me he lives on Shadowtree Lane in Canyon Oaks. He said he moved there last February. He signed the contract for the new home last August, and the city attorney assured him he was eligible for council. The phone book lists Bradford’s address in Stilson Canyon, which is not in the city limits. That residence, he said, belonged to his wife Judy, whom he married in recent years. They lived there for a while before selling it and moving into the Canyon Oaks residence. Bradford said he did live in Durham for 27 years before moving to Chico six years ago. “At one point when I left Durham,” he said, “I went through a series of apartments. The only steady place I had to receive mail was my dental office” on East First Avenue. He said he did have a house in Chico that he sold last November. He told me to call City Attorney Dave Frank for confirmation. I told Bradford I believed him and didn’t need to do that.

But then I got to thinking. Bradford has served on the city Planning Commission since his appointment in 1998. Did he violate any city charter by living outside the city—in Stilson Canyon—while on the commission? I called Frank and asked him. “I have no idea,” said the refreshingly frank Frank. He looked it up in the city charter and announced that commissioners must be both residents of the city and qualified voters. “It is expected normally that someone as a city resident serving on a committee gives up his seat by way of resignation if he moves out of the city,” Frank said. He cautioned, however, that “residency is not just a matter of where one lives, but also where one plans to live. “I don’t think someone on the City Council of New York City can move to Iowa for a while and say, ‘I’m just here until the weather improves,'” Frank said. It may be legal, however, “to live outside the city limits and still maintain residency if you’ve had an emergency situation where you’ve lost your home in a fire, for instance.” I asked if getting married constituted such an emergency. Frank said he wasn’t sure, though he agreed in some cases getting married may be the equal of setting a house on fire.

Speaking of the election, there’s a new independent expenditure committee in town called “Clear Course.” This developer-backed committee used to be called Chico Vision 2000, but that name is now more nostalgic than visionary. The committee has raised $15,550 since Jan. 1 and spent $8,838. Those contributing include Agasy Inc. ($1,000), Chico Vision (its remaining funds of $600), Wayne Cook ($2,000), Thomas Dauterman ($2,000), Epick, Inc ($2,000), M.W.S. ($2,000; I’m not sure what this is, but it’s located on Yellowstone Drive in a Greg Webb development), Ritchie Homes ($2,000), Land’s End Real Estate, Inc. ($1,000), Jim Mann‘s Rural Consulting Associates ($500) and Rene Vercruyssen of Baldwin Construction ($1,000). (One local smart guy, noting the development connection, suggested Clear Choice should call itself “Clear Cut.") So far the committee has spent $3,602 each on TV ads and mailers for Mayor Dan Herbert and Bradford. At this point, Bradford has a whopping $43,773 in his war chest, including a $25,000 loan to himself. His big contributors include Epick ($1,000), Carolyn Dauterman ($1,000), Webb Homes ($1,000) and Garey Weibel, former publisher of the Enterprise-Record ($1,000).

John Byrne has asked me to clarify a story we wrote a few weeks back about John Gillander‘s and David Reade‘s political adventures in Nevada County. He wanted it made clear that when he was running for the Republican Assembly nomination he did not approach Reade’s consulting firm Pillars. He wanted no part of Reade, he said. Instead, people he trusted advised him to contact Johnson-Clark consultants out of Sacramento. And he did so, not knowing that Reade has connections with Johnson-Clark, the late Bernie Richter‘s political consulting firm. He didn’t know who Gillander was when he called and asked Byrne for his strengths, weaknesses and financial situation. Thinking Gillander was going to help him run his campaign, he gave the information freely. “He told me they were trying to get [Doug] LaMalfa out of the race," Byrne recalled. In truth, Reade and Gillander were working for LaMalfa, who eventually won the nomination and is now set to win the November general election.