The Kingmakers


I have had this old e-mail below for almost 4 years, I had flagged it and set it aside and found it again yesterday. It’s from Larry Wahl, to me, a conversation between Wayne Cook and David Little and Larry about a pro-Larry editorial that David had written. Apparently Wayne had been looking for the old editorial, and David had sent it to him. 
This item is coming back again and the editorial is right on target.  Scott & Flynn look foolish.  See you tonight, I hope.


From: wayne cook

Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 1:21 PM

To: larrry wahl

Subject: FW: Found that editorial …

Larry,  Let us talk about this more Thurs.  wayne

To: aaawcook


Subject: Found that editorial …

Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 13:54:36 -0700

Particularly note the paragraph near the end that starts, “The city wants the land because …” It’s very telling.

      Editorial : City should have buyer’s remorse

Chico Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA) – Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our view: Chico city government is preparing to buy blighted property at a total cost of about $1 million an acre. It’s a bad deal for taxpayers. 

The Chico City Council is in the process of buying 1.5 acres of dilapidated, contaminated property for an ungodly price.  Somebody is getting a sweetheart deal. It isn’t the taxpayers. 

The council took the first step down that road late Tuesday night. Some councilors said the price is more than the city should spend, then voted to do so anyway. Six councilors voted in favor. Only Larry Wahl had the sense to vote no. 

It’s just the latest example of a City Council that treats taxpayer money as play money. Their desire to do something good far outweighs their business sense. 

The 1.5-acre plot is actually four lots at the corner of Park Avenue and East 11th Street, where the old Taylor’s Drive-In used to sit, along with auto repair businesses. Councilor Tom Nickell, a retired California Highway Patrol officer, said since 1995 the area has been a hotbed for “criminal, drug and gang activity.” 

Buildings will have to be torn down. The land is contaminated with petroleum and must be cleaned up, costing hundreds of thousands. There are homes on two of the four lots that are currently being used as rental properties. They also would be torn down if the city project proceeds. 

The city eventually wants to put commercial development on the ground floor and 50 to 60 low-income apartments on the upper floors. With required setbacks from Little Chico Creek and parking requirements, that seems impossible. Fifty units an acre, plus businesses? 

The city says it’s paying the appraised value for the parcels. Add the cost of demolition and environmental cleanup and it adds up to $1.5 million. Contaminated land with abandoned buildings and criminal activity now costs $1 million an acre in Chico? 

What about fair market value? There’s not even a “For Sale” sign up on the property. The city is creating the demand. We wonder if any private developer would want it. We’d bet that on the open market, the blighted properties would sell for a fraction of what the city is paying. 

The city wants the land because it’s the gateway to Park Avenue , across the street from a school, right on the creek. Mayor Ann Schwab said it’s the government’s job to reduce blight, and that’s exactly why redevelopment agencies (an arm of the council) exist. Councilor Andy Holcombe actually said, “This proposal is fraught with problems, and that’s the beauty of it.” Councilor Mary Flynn admitted the council probably is overpaying, but said the property is worth more to the Redevelopment Agency than to a private developer. Councilor Scott Gruendl said he was “gravely concerned” about the cost of the property and the cleanup. They all voted to approve the sweetheart deal. 

The only one who questioned it and still voted no was Wahl. 

“If you have enough money, you can solve just about any problem,” said Wahl, arguing against the purchase. “But you’re talking about taxpayer money here.” 

Taxpayer money isn’t actually abundant these days, a point the majority of the council still doesn’t seem to comprehend. 

There’s no denying that low-income housing is a critical need in Chico. If that’s the case, the city should stretch its dollars so that it can build or purchase more of it. Paying $1 million an acre for blighted land is not a wise use of money.  Back out of this deal before it’s too late.  

Now, just between you and me, is it ethical for the editor of a newspaper to conspire with a politician? Is it ethical for me to share it? I didn’t ask Larry to confide in me, I certainly never promised him any “cone of silence.” I just forgot about it, but now seems a good time to bring it up. 

What he was trying to get me to do was run that editorial on my blog, and yadda it up. I ignored him at the time, I never told him how much this little tryst disgusted me. I remained on his mailing list until just recently, when he realized, I wasn’t trashing Merkel like he wanted me to, he cut me off the list. What an idiot – he was sending his list disclosed, then one day somebody must have pointed out to him – “Hey, you got Juanita Sumner on this list with me too!” And he cut me off.

He had been sending around e-mails to get people to come to every supervisors’ meeting that involved the pot ordinance, trying to intimidate the pot people by jamming the chambers with his supporters.  I hate that kind of politics. He complained about it when the liberals did same in city chambers, but he does it all the time. That little old lady army of his was even dogging my meetings. When Merkel came to speak, Wahl sent in two of his “torpedoes”, who  wouldn’t let Merkel talk about anything but marijuana. Like Grandpa Simpson, they took our time with anecdotes that went to the Moon and back, never obliging us with any facts like police reports or physical addresses. I thought about cutting them off of their little fantasy anecdotes, they tried to run the whole meeting into the ground, but I thought Merkel handled them brilliantly – even when they’d repeat a question point blank, he’d answer politely, as completely as he could given the nonsense they were throwing at him.  

I’ll tell you what, there were more pro-pot people at my meeting than anti-pot, and they were respectful and intelligent and  represented themselves much better than the Bouncing Betty’s that Larry rounded up and sent in. He gets these Ding-bats who think he looks hot in a pair of old jeans, it’s pretty sad. 

My biggest problem is with Little – I’ve lost faith in that guy, I don’t think he has any integrity anymore. His endorsement isn’t worth toilet paper to me. 


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