Shine a light

Last week certain Chico city councilmembers balked at the idea of required public disclosure whenever a campaign contributor who’s given $250 or more to a sitting councilmember is before that board with some sort of vested interest in mind. Those certain councilmembers called such a requirement “un-American,” as well as “intimidating” and “punishing,” to those willing to reach deeply into their pockets to help certain council candidates get elected.

There is little doubt that the liberal supporters of the disclosure rule were targeting the building industry, which for years has donated generously—usually $1,000 a shot—to those candidates its members see as friendly to their cause. And there is no doubt these same contributors have a vested interest in helping elect certain councilmembers.

To say that disclosing these contributors who come before the council is un-American, intimidating or punishing is hogwash. "Revealing" is the word that leaps to mind instead. The building industry is one of the three largest businesses in town, next to Enloe Medical Center and Chico State University. Lobbying government is a reality for all three. It just so happens lobbying for the building industry takes place at the local level. Let’s admit it and shine a light on it.