Speaking of naïveté …

Toby Schindelbeck’s inexperience is showing

The author recently retired as executive director of Community Action Volunteers in Education. She is in her second term on the Chico City Council.

In his Sept. 27 Guest comment [“Schindelbeck doubles down”], Toby Schindelbeck defended his recent comments about President Obama, alleging that Obama is naïve, even to some Democrats. This was an interesting choice of words for a man who continues to demonstrate an alarming degree of naïveté as a candidate for Chico City Council.

Toby moved here several months ago from Paradise after he decided to run, which means he has never voted in the jurisdiction he now intends to represent. I’m not sure if this qualifies as being naïve, but it certainly seems presumptuous. He’s barely unpacked the moving boxes, and he wants to tell us how to run our city?

When I was growing up near Boston, a classmate of mine named Danny Bertoli ran for school president. He gave this passionate speech about all the things he was going to do for the school, and the idea that drew the most applause was his promise to make sure root beer would flow from the drinking fountains.

Toby has made a number of statements suggesting radical changes to the local landscape. One of the most provocative is the notion that we eliminate property taxes. He doesn’t seem to care that such a move doesn’t fall under the control of the city of Chico. And he doesn’t explain how he would handle the $4.2 million loss in city revenue if such a shift did occur. Like my old friend Danny, Toby doesn’t concern himself with the details.

A while back I met with Toby for coffee to talk about his ideas. At the meeting he suggested the city set up a Facebook page to improve communication about issues related to economic development. When I explained that such an endeavor would violate the Brown Act, which prohibits a majority of the council from conferring on issues outside of a public meeting, Toby was clearly puzzled. “Well,” he asked, “how does the council get anything done if that’s the case?”

He wasn’t kidding. He really didn’t know how our government works. Even worse, he didn’t ask me any questions in order to learn more.

I want people serving in our local government who have integrity, vision and a commitment to the entire community of Chico. I’m just not willing to take the bait and gamble away the future of our fair city on a naïve and inexperienced person like Toby Schindelbeck.