Welcome to civic engagement

Taking part in public-policy discussions is more crucial than ever in Chico

It was exciting to see a packed City Council chambers Tuesday evening. A large cross-section of the community showed up for the regular meeting to discuss a long list of agenda items. In the gallery among the regular gadflies were local musicians and environmentalists, as well as a good showing from the Chico Tea Party Patriots and other local conservatives.

Several speakers during the meeting voiced distrust in the city’s new management team and its plans for bringing the general fund budget back into the black. They brought up some good questions, and clearly won’t be letting up until they get some answers. Their concerns underscore the need for more transparency at all levels of city operations. The City Council appears to have heard this message loud and clear, and we look forward to further discussions.

For some folks, it was their first time communicating with city policy makers. Almost every person who ended up speaking at the lectern added something valuable to the conversation. And despite the meeting going long—well past 10 p.m.—the council members and city staff kept their composure.

Everyone, it seems, left the gathering better informed.

It was during this meeting, for example, where we learned that Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle is a drummer. He explained that he put forward an extensive—some say draconian—set of proposed regulations for alcohol-selling establishments to give the council a comprehensive set of options from which to choose. Even he would not personally be in favor of all of them, especially an option to prohibit drumming.

A lot of people were understandably disappointed that the discussion regarding those rules—especially as it relates to live music—was postponed. The panel will address this subject at an upcoming workshop and again at the next meeting on Aug. 20. Those who didn’t have a chance to speak shouldn’t give up. Civic engagement is oftentimes inconvenient, but it’s crucial to the process.