Chico is not Minneapolis. But neither city is Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
Minneapolis is now having its Day of Reckoning. Will Chico have such a moment down the road? Is it time for more accountability from the people employed by the public and paid by local taxes?
What about more accountability by those elected to govern our community?
The Chico city charter does not allow for a “strong mayor” elected at large by the voters. Our system calls for an elected City Council of seven persons. The council in turn selects one of their own as mayor. The mayor, in essence, sits at the head of the table. The council’s most important function is to hire a city manager to perform the necessary administrative tasks that keep the community safe and solvent.
In the recent past, we have had two mayors who have tried to function as a strong mayor. Neither was remarkably successful; both had strong political agendas that have no place in a nonpartisan elected council.
Now, more than ever, we need a mayor who is a collaborator; the mayor should bring us all together. But, in truth, the mayor is only as strong as the four majority votes necessary to retain the title.
The city manager is truly the one in charge. Only the City Council can fire the city manager. It is an extreme action that does not happen often.
That is the cookbook. That is how it works.
The real question is whether within that cookbook is there a recipe for uniting a rapidly devolving Chico community?
Communication is no longer personal. The factions communicate and compete utilizing social media. Most significant is the loss of confidence in local law enforcement by some of the citizenry, and the counter demand by others for greater enforcement of the law.
Many more questions than answers.
The white voices in our community are calling out for a return to a Chico of the 1950s, when there was a white campus in a white community, and everybody bowed to the elders. The theme: Make Chico Great Again.
Jimmy Lee Campbell, 22, was shot to death on the night of Jan. 13, 1979, near 20th and Park, by one of three people who said they had gone looking for black people to shoot.
A Chico Enterprise-Record story, from Jan. 20, 1980, reported two Oroville men, James Thomas McCarter, 20, who shot Campbell, and Marvin Dean Noor, pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder in the killing.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, the district attorney agreed not to seek the death penalty or life sentences without possibility of parole. A third defendant, Dani Lee Shope, 23, of Oroville, had already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
I ask: Is this the Chico that some of you want back so badly?