So much for transparency

City’s shadowy plans to create anti-homelessness ordinance disregard the public process

There’s a lot we don’t like about the ordinance the Chico City Council adopted this week (see “Campers in sights,” Newslines, page 9).

First off, anyone who says it doesn’t criminalize homelessness is a fool. Sure, the so-called Offenses Against Waterways and Public Property law can be applied to any citizen, but the fact is it will target a single group—indigent individuals who live on the fringes of society.

Second, given the Department of Justice’s rulings in other regions of the country where similar laws have been adopted, we believe the council’s move will open the city up to a potentially financially crippling lawsuit. We warned about this scenario prior to the meeting and will be surprised if a civil rights complaint is not filed in short order.

Third, as we also stated last week, this law does nothing to address the roots of the issue: drug dependency, poverty, mental illness, etc.

But what is also extremely disturbing about this decision is that it’s clear to us that city leaders, in conjunction with the police department and city attorney, intended to pass this law quickly and quietly. It was mentioned for the first time publicly just a few weeks ago, when Vice Mayor Sean Morgan asked that staff bring back a comprehensive ordinance on the issue. Turns out, behind the scenes, the law had been in the works for five months.

So much for transparency and the community-oriented policing model being extolled by the police department. The goal clearly was to slip it in under the radar.

Such shadowy efforts set a dangerous precedent. The current council majority has shown an utter lack of respect for the public process and should be admonished, and the lefties who went along with this farce are just as culpable and irresponsible.