A local political action committee’s campaign targeting now-former City Councilman Scott Huber signals a new low in the annals of Chico politics, but more disturbing is how it demonstrates that our once-fair burg is susceptible to the type of extremism that threatens the very fabric of our democracy.
That may sound hyperbolic, but let’s review recent events.
After learning that Huber had taken a seasonal job out of state at an outfit that offers guided tours of national parks, the Citizens for Safe Chico PAC led by downtown businesswoman Teri DuBose sent out emails and took out ads on social media condemning him for taking the job, with the juxtaposition that he’d fled the region after letting “transient camps take over Chico.”
Never mind that there are only two regular meetings during the rest of the summer and how Huber had purchased plane tickets to be able to attend them. Better yet, consider how there’s nothing in the municipal code that precludes him from spending a few months out of the region. Or, you know, the fact that Chico remains his home.
Still, Huber’s temporary absence provided the perfect fodder for Safe Chico.
DuBose took things way too far. Not so subtly, one of her email blasts was accompanied by the logo of Huber’s employer, whereas the online ads paid for by the PAC cut to the chase by including a link to the company’s Facebook page. It didn’t take long to rile up the lunatics among Safe Chico’s followers, the kind of people who began reaching out to the company not only to voice their displeasure with Huber’s public service in a city 900 miles west but also to threaten to give the business bad online reviews.
And that wasn’t the end of it: In online forums, some thought it was relevant to discuss what street Huber lives on and where his wife works. That’s where he drew a line. Fearing for his family’s safety, he handed in his resignation shortly thereafter.
Even in conservative circles, DuBose’s tactics went over like a lead balloon. She eventually sent out an email attempting wash the PAC’s hands of the matter by saying that contacting the aforementioned company was “not cool and we condemn it.”
What a load of road apples. Thing is, DuBose didn’t release that weak condemnation until after Huber resigned. It had been days since he complained about his workplace being targeted and how the harassment placed him in jeopardy of losing that job, a gig he secured following a COVID-era job loss.
DuBose knew full well what she was doing: instigating a low-class witch hunt. It was a truly reprehensible campaign, but it shows everyone just what Safe Chico is all about.
Though purportedly focused on community safety, the PAC’s main initiative has been electing public officials willing to install cruel laws regarding homelessness. Exhibit A: The city is now being sued for those policies, and the federal judge in the case says they’re unconstitutional.
If anything, Safe Chico has helped divert taxpayer funds in the form of that aforementioned litigation, a development that has sullied the city’s reputation far beyond the confines of Butte County. And, of course, it forced a Chicoan out of his job and political office.
Sadly, there’s a very real segment of our community that is bent on “winning” at all costs. To hell with human decency, reason and, yes, the Constitution. If that sounds familiar, it’s because we watched the result of a mob mentality Jan. 6 at our nation’s Capitol. That dark stain on our country was instigated by PACs, politicos and other power brokers.
Extremism is dangerous. We saw that in January at the federal level, and we saw it locally last week.
As much as we disagree with DuBose, we would never jeopardize her business by suggesting people boycott or write bad reviews about it. But the PAC is fair game, and we certainly hope that it loses support now that it’s been exposed.
Chico is better than this. Or at least it should be.