Chico, Calif - February 18 2017 --
After paying $40 for a ticket to an event initially advertised as “open to the public,” community leaders and elected officials have been turned away, refunded their money, and denied access to a community forum hosted by the Mountain Counties Water Resource Association scheduled for February 24th at The Ridge Golf Course hosting the following elected officials:
- United States Congressman Doug LaMalfa, U.S. House of Representatives
- United States Congressman Tom McClintock, U.S. House of Representatives
- California Senator Tom Berryhill, California State Senate
- California Senator Ted Gaines, California State Senate
- California Senator Jim Nielsen, California State Senate
- California Assembly Member Kevin Kiley, California State Assembly
Tickets to this event went on sale in early February and garnered the attention of community members and public leaders interested in water conservation and environmental issues.
After Doug LaMalfa’s refusal to hold a town hall in his district, and after Tom McClintock’s hurried exit from his own town hall one week prior, concerned citizens and at least one local elected official saw buying a ticket to this event as a way to be included in a structured and critical discussion about local water resources that the public had been invited to attend.
Community members who had successfully purchased valid tickets through the event’s online ticketing kiosk several weeks ago, received an email on February 14th from Mountain Counties Water Resource Executive Director John Kingsbury. The email provides a ticket refund and states, “Space limitations prevent us from being able to accommodate your registration.” Evidence suggests this statement is false.
The ballroom at The Ridge Golf Course, where the event is being held, holds 300 people. There are only 67 members listed on the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association's web site. Brown Paper Tickets, the online company that the event used to distribute tickets, had a pre-determined cap in place for "community members" before tickets went on sale. Deciding how many tickets and at which level to sell was clearly decided beforehand. There were a limited number of community tickets and they sold out very fast, meaning that there was an approved and determined cap in place before ticket sales happened.
The organization closed all ticketing to this event after non-member ticket sales made it apparent the level of public interest. Public attendees believe that this move was politically motivated, an effort to dismiss those in attendance who may ask questions of their local elected officials.
Among the people dismissed from this public event: Nevada City Councilperson Reinette Senum; South Yuba River Citizen’s League Executive Director Caleb Dardrick; Tribal Council Secretary and Spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe and Executive Director of C.H.I.R.P. (California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project), Shelly Covert; Nevada County Small Business Advocate and Executive Director of Sierra Commons Hilary Hodge.
"With communities now being forced to deal with everything from infrastructure failure to drought, deluge and dam construction, such as the proposed Centennial Dam project, water is a hot topic and the political environment around it is constantly changing,” noted Nevada City Councilperson Reinette Senum “I wanted to hear what our other representatives had to say and I had hoped to ask them questions as a representative of my community.”
The Republican establishment appears to be testing a worrisome trend of blocking the public and refusing to meet with constituents in their districts. Concern has been rising with District 1 voters that have been calling for a town hall meeting with their Congressman, Doug LaMalfa. An online petition has garnered 7,119 signatures requesting Congressman LaMalfa hold the town hall. This most recent event with the MCWRA adds to a growing trend of representatives shirking public engagements because of public discontent.
Contact: Hilary Hodge
If you've had enough of politics as usual, help us Demand an in-person town hall in our District!