The time for answers

Chicoans deserve the truth about what happened with the city coffers

There was a lot of talk this week about the Chico community coming together in an effort to help local leaders deal with the city’s ongoing economic struggles.

Mayor Scott Gruendl held a press conference early Tuesday evening (Sept. 3), espousing unity (see “Clarity on the way,” Second & Flume, by Melissa Daugherty, page 5) and lamenting the large number of requests for public records he said “borders on unreasonable.”

Gruendl mostly dismissed these particular Public Records Act requests, noting that every City Council meeting is recorded and available for viewing on the city’s website on the day after the gathering. In other words, everything the requests were seeking is freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

He also talked about how city administrators and council members have been dealing with the wrath of angry community members. This “overall negative discourse” wasn’t conducive to moving the city forward.

“Let’s be civil and responsible and reasonable,” he said, referring to the public.

That’s certainly good advice. But it doesn’t get to the bigger picture here. It doesn’t deal with the source of the public’s animosity, much of which stems from the fact that city leaders have never openly discussed who is responsible for the missteps that led to the city’s straitened budget.

Now that a financial audit is forthcoming, it’s time the City Council entertains that discussion. Doing so will serve the community in a number of ways. First, it will finally put the issue to rest. Second, it will help ensure that what happened will never happen again.

At one point during his press conference, Gruendl said, “I understand the need to know how we got here.” Given those words, we’ll look forward to seeing the council give an explanation that sufficiently answers the public’s query. It may not be an easy conversation to undertake, but it must take place. It’s long overdue.