More in Community Voices:
By Oleg Shishko–
I have enjoyed the other pieces written by Mr. Bullington, but his latest column about discord on the City Council has unfortunately disappointed with its ad hominem attacks and little substance.
See prior guest column: The real reason for the discord on the Citrus Heights City Council
Mr. Bullington says that the reason for the council’s schism “lies in an examination of motives and personalities.” I think many will agree that motives and personalities are very hard to objectively judge without inserting personal opinion and animus.
I don’t know the intentions, motives, or personalities of the other council members (Bruins, Miller, Middleton, and previously Slowey); but their actions on the council say a lot.
The majority of the council approved a salary increase for our city manager two times in the last few years. They approved a 2% increase in 2017 and a 3% increase in 2019. The city manager’s total salary and benefits were at $411,610 in 2019. On both occasions, it was only Bret Daniels who voted no.
Many citizens have been raising the alarm about the city departing from its tradition of being debt free. The only ones who really seemed to listen and echo them were Daniels and Tim Schaefer. While Daniels had unfortunately voted to approve our city’s first line of credit, he has been a vocal critic and opponent of other financial decisions of the city.
We were told that the Measure M tax increase was in the works for a long time. However, the public only found out not long before the council voted to place it on the ballot. At the time it really seemed that they were trying to ram it through with minimal public input.
Had they really been interested to receive the input from the public on this, they would have at least held more public hearings on the issue than the absolute minimum required by law. The only ones who resisted it were Daniels and then-candidate Schaefer.
Consequently, the majority of the council recently voted to require three votes instead of two in order to put an item up for discussion on the council, thereby restricting the voices of Daniels and Schaefer. (Kudos to Miller for joining Daniels in voting against this disingenuous tactic of political maneuvering.)
I was not happy when I heard the announcement of the retirement of Chris Boyd. It is sad that he wasn’t able to come to an effective, working relationship with Daniels and Schaefer.
I thank Chris Boyd for his years of service to our city. I don’t doubt his good intentions. I am sure he is interested in the welfare and prosperity of our city. However, I am of the opinion that he lacked in responding to and balancing the concerns of citizens, some of which are listed above.
So what is the cause of the recent discord at the city council? It’s not from subjective perceptions of “motives and personalities” of certain council members. It stems from the lack of transparency and questionable decisions of the majority on the council that have derailed our city’s financial base.
Our council members do vote together and are united on most issues. However, matters of the budget are too important for us to gloss over for the sake of feeling good about our “unity”.
“Discord” and “schism” are not always bad. I am glad that we have Daniels and Schaefer who are ready and willing to question the status quo.
They aren’t perfect, but we finally have council members who will give a voice to the many who are concerned about the city’s recent decisions and changes in financial direction. We need more like them on the council to ask hard questions and keep our public servants accountable.
Oleg Shishko is a four-year resident of Citrus Heights. He has served on the board of the Area 7/8 CHASE Neighborhood Association in 2020 and took an active role in defeating Measure M, serving as the Principal Officer of No on CH Measure M.
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