The Silent Government Dismantling Chico

Jessica Johnson

Grayson Boyer

When chaos unfolds on the national stage, it can be easy to miss the disruption that occurs right next to you.

Chico’s City Council, like many city councils across the United States, are making massive decisions that are radically changing the policies of the city. A silent form of governing is rearranging the norms of this normally liberal college town, and very few seem to notice or care.

The Republican success in the 2016 elections carried conservatives to power in many smaller government positions. As KRCR reports, Chico’s City Council now has a conservative majority for the first time since 2000. The shift in power has brought a drastic shift in policy directives for the City of Chico.

Yet this shift has gone largely unrecognized by what should be a highly politically-motivated populace, considering the national mood. It’s surprising that Chico’s liberal college population failed to notice the City Council banning recreational marijuana dispensaries on May 16th, even though it is listed on the agenda for their meeting.

Perhaps it isn’t that surprising. To learn about ordinances one would either need to navigate the labyrinth of legal terminology and endless lists on the city council website or attend a meeting that lasts until 11:15 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

Turnout to city council meetings is notoriously low, even for contentious subjects, such as when the council denied Chico the status of a sanctuary city. KRCR reports that only around 30 people attended the meeting to argue for the safety of illegal immigrants within Chico on Feb. 21.

Lack of interest is surely by design of the City Council. There is a reason council meetings are on weekday nights, why they often last until 11 p.m. and why the City Council agenda page is formatted in a fashion that bores you out of your mind.

Lack of political participation by citizens allows city council members to maintain greater power. The inconveniences of the City Council system are by design. It only takes one look at the City Council media archive to understand their strategy.

Yet there is truly no excuse for lack of political interest in the actions of local government. Perhaps city councils lack the appeal of the presidency, but they make weekly decisions on issues that truly affect citizens.

Marijuana use and sanctuary city policies are only two topics out of a myriad of radical ordinances that have been enacted in less than a year.

Political discourse and discussion lie at the heart of democracy and underlay the true beauty of this country. There is nothing wrong with agreeing with the conservative policy that is being enacted in Chico, but to simply ignore the actions of local government isn’t just lazy, it’s un-American.

Grayson Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.