The market

Thoughts on efforts to move farmers’ market

I heard the Silly Council discuss the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market on June 18, and I got there just in time to hear Mayor Mary Goloff get the lumpy, under-inflated ball rolling. In a column from October 2010, I implied that Scott Gruendl and Goloff were interchangeable. OMG. Scott, I apologize for even mentioning you two in the same sentence.

Brian Nakamura gave his reasons for wanting to change the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market—traffic, parking, and unspecified, perhaps imaginary, and definitely unknown loss of customers of downtown businesses caused by the CCFM. I stayed for only the first 30-odd public speakers—maybe things were different later on—and the only complaining business mentioned was Zucchini & Vine, alias Zucchini and Vine. Nakamura seemed to favor moving the market to the city-hall lot mostly because of the nearby toilets, which would obviate the CCFM building its own.

The hardships the farmers’ market causes ordinary downtown businesses remind me of nothing so much as the weapons of mass destruction the government invented to justify invading Iraq. Nobody had any evidence that any business had ever lost a dime because of the CCFM, and I’ve never heard a good reason to move it. With all those extra people a couple of blocks away, a business that can’t figure out how to get a few of them in the door isn’t offering what they want.

I don’t doubt that somewhere, sometime, someone may have been unable to park where she wanted when she wanted and was unwilling to park anywhere else and abandoned her plan to shower the brick-and-mortar vendors downtown with riches, finding after much toil and woe an establishment with not so many other vehicles around, perhaps in Biggs. Maybe that happened, but nobody had any evidence. None. And if it happened, so what?

There’s a lot involved in the issue, including Nakamura trying to force the council to cancel the existing agreement by inventing a deadline crisis. Yellowcake uranium. For the two hours or so that I sat there, Goloff and Nakamura were the leading advocates of canceling the arrangement and forcing the CCFM to renegotiate. I wonder about that.

When Goloff was running for the council the first time—while stumping for votes at the Saturday market, by the way—she told me that one reason she was running was ego. I appreciated her candor, and her concern now with what at the meeting she called her “legacy” comes as no surprise. She also thinks she governs Chico, rather than serves it, and plans to govern in the future. At one point she seemed to think that the CCFM’s municipal lot belonged to her, rather than us. A standing ovation by and for the governed set her straight, although she threatened to gavel us.