Partisanship and nepotism

That’s the best way to describe the record of the council majority and its mayor

“I hate to remind you, but you’re supposed to be a nonpartisan council—not a party council.”

That’s a portion of a prominent local businessman’s comments to the City Council’s conservative majority last month during one of the panel’s regular meetings. Michael Reilley, an insurance agent who has long kept tabs on the council, noted that he’d chided a previous liberal-dominated council for doing the same thing. He then reminded the current majority that an election is coming—that there’s a good chance they won’t hold sway.

Reilley’s remarks were spot-on. It was a dose of much-needed medicine for the four conservatives—especially the mayor, Sean Morgan. And hearing it from someone who’s contributed campaign donations to that faction is indicative of how bad things have gotten.

But were Reilley’s remarks taken to heart? Apparently not.

In case you missed it, during the panel’s last meeting (April 17), veteran Councilwoman Ann Schwab requested the council agendize discussion of public restrooms and that her colleagues direct the city manager to explore his idea of forming a partnership with another public agency to come up with a potentially cost-neutral way to open such facilities.

Morgan immediately pooh-poohed the idea—noting the vandalism that occurred at City Plaza during a trial run of round-the-clock facilities at that location. And then, unsurprisingly, a vote on the matter fell along party lines.

And this, dear readers, is just the latest of many examples of the council majority’s wanton disregard for the public process and transparency, not to mention the mayor’s unbridled nepotism.

A couple of issues prompted Reilley’s comments. One was the fact that the conservatives voted nay on Councilman Karl Ory’s request to agendize discussion of the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018. Another request they shot down: Schwab’s desire to discuss the city’s policy on proclamations following constituents’ attempts to get clarity on the issue.

Morgan stopped giving proclamations months ago—when questioned about that, he told the local daily that requests focused on “social ideological issues” prompted the move and that he didn’t want to appear to show favoritism. Morgan didn’t specifically note which ideological issues he was referring to, but the timing suggests the tipping point stemmed from proclamations back in November for Trans Week of Resilience and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Case in point: Neither is listed anywhere on the Nov. 7 meeting’s agenda, as proclamations typically are. However, you can watch the meeting video in which Morgan speeds through them, quickly shakes the hands of those behind the efforts (folks from Stonewall Alliance and Chico State’s Gender and Sexuality Equity Center), and then abruptly walks away before introducing them or offering them a chance to speak, as is custom.

Fast-forward to last month: As Reilley pointed out at the March 20 meeting, an Arbor Day proclamation appeared on that evening’s agenda. Thus, the need for policy discussion.

Following that public outing, the mayor has taken an end-run around the process; he’s giving proclamations under the guise of the “Mayor’s Achievement Award.” That’s what he did just this month for Pleasant Valley High School’s state championship boys’ basketball team, and the girls’ team, which competed at that level.

But that doesn’t jibe with history: In 2017, Morgan issued a proclamation for PV’s winning cheerleading squad (see the April 4, 2017, agenda). Further evidence: In 2016, Morgan gave a proclamation for PV’s winning football team when it won the state championship following the standalone parade the ball players received paid partially at the city’s expense. No such event will take place for this year’s basketball champions, though they do get to join the annual Pioneer Day Parade. Then again, Morgan’s kid isn’t on that team.

The antics of the conservatives and Morgan are clearly wearing thin. It’s time to end this blatant partisanship and nepotism.