Schindelbeck shoots first

Facebook posting reveals his true nature

To local journalists, Chico City Council candidate Toby Schindelbeck is good copy, as we say in the trade: He’s a conservative firebrand—passionate, controversial and not afraid to shake things up.

But he also has a tendency, as President Obama so famously said of Mitt Romney, “to shoot first and aim later.”

There have been several examples of this. First there was his insistence, at a Tea Party rally in April, that low-income housing draws crime—a charge not borne out by police data. Then, in May, he publicly blamed the City Council for the closure of Fire Station 5, when it was the fire chief’s decision. That charge—and the threatening emails council members received as a result—upset even the conservatives on the panel.

Schindelbeck also charged that the city had spent $74,000—money that could have been used to keep the station open—to buy five paintings for City Hall. Turned out the paintings had been purchased years earlier.

His latest gaffe is a posting he made on his Facebook page that has gone viral, at least locally. It was apparently a response to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and Romney’s charge that President Obama had “apologized” for America.

“Obama is an idiot and a coward,” Schindelbeck wrote. “A more useless excuse for a president can only be found in Carter, and I would rather have even him than B. Hussein Obama. He fails at economic development; he fails at being our Commander and Chief [sic], and he fails at being a real man in the face of an attack on our embassies. What a useless puke.”

This led Christian Crandall, an international-studies major at Chico State, to post a reply. Crandall was as reasonable as Schindelbeck was emotional, describing events as they actually occurred and pointing out that Romney had his facts wrong and was politicizing a crisis event. “I’m not comfortable, and no one should be, with anyone who is trying to exploit political mileage from the blood of our dead.”

Crandall continued: “Toby, if you’re running for council, you should know better. … [D]on’t turn this into a talking point. It’s disrespecting the dead, the facts, and only to fit your own rhetoric. You seem like you have a certain political point of view, Toby, and that’s great, but I sincerely hope that you aren’t making the needs of Chico fit into your own political paradigm. I hope your political paradigm is influenced by the needs of Chico. I don’t believe that’s the case.”

Schindelbeck’s response was blunt: “Christian, you are an idiot. Goodbye.”

But Crandall was right. Schindelbeck doesn’t have an open mind. He doesn’t listen, and he lashes out at those with whom he disagrees. And, as his comment about President Obama suggests, he’s deeply—and crudely—disrespectful of the man a majority of Americans elected to lead the country.

He’s good copy for journalists, but that doesn’t mean he’d make a good council member.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.