With a 4-1 vote, the City Council on Tuesday officially hired Barry Tippin to be Redding’s new city manager. By the time the tumultuous meeting ended, Tippin’s first official act may very well be to send a memo to himself urging caution in what he wishes for.
The appointment of Tippin, the former assistant city manager and director of Redding Electric Utility, appeared to be the spark that ignited a firestorm of criticism that started with his promotion and mushroomed into a searing indictment on Redding elected officials’ apparent lack of progress in making Redding’s streets safer.
By the end of the meeting, Dale Ball, representing a couple dozen boisterous members of the “Take Back Redding” Facebook group, served Council members Francie Sullivan and Kristen Schreder with notices of intent to seek their recall.
“If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem,” Ball said before announcing the recall effort, adding that it was “nothing personal.” His comments prompted one of dozens of rounds of rowdy applause and cheering that broke out during the three-hour meeting.
The bulk of Tuesday’s vitriol was served up during the public comment section of the meeting, as speaker after speaker complained about crime in Redding and questioned whether council members were listening. Bob Reitenbach, a frequent council critic, was typical. “We feed you,” he said, “and this is the way you repay us—you tell us where to put it in a nonverbal way. You should all just submit your resignations tonight.”
Schreder and Sullivan have a week to respond to the recall notices. Recall proponents will then have 160 days to collect signatures from at least 15 percent of Redding’s registered voters on each petition in order to force a recall election. There were 50,769 voters registered for the November 2016 election.
Tippin was selected from a field of 34 candidates who sought to replace Kurt Starman, who retired last month after 25 years with the city, including the last 11 years as city manager. Tippin, a civil engineer, worked for Caltrans for 13 years before joining the city in 2004. He was appointed assistant city manager in 2008 and tabbed to run the city’s electric utility in 2011.
A graduate of Enterprise High School and Chico State University, Tippin’s salary will be $210,000 a year and he will be eligible for a $7,000 raise in March 2018 if he receives a satisfactory job evaluation. Mayor Brent Weaver said Tippin waived a provision in his new contract that would have guaranteed he be paid 10 percent more than any department director.
Reitenbach called Tippin’s selection a product of the “good ol’ boy system” and wanted to know “what he’s got up his sleeve” that will put more police officers on patrol and address other longstanding problems.
Weaver said he heard “very loud and very clear” that the community wanted the next city manager to come from outside City Hall but in government, unlike a private business, decisions have to made as a team because “we don’t live in a dictatorship.” Weaver said Tippin impressed the council with his idea of preparing both a six- and a 12-month plan that will make it easier to measure Tippin’s leadership abilities.
Schreder said council members were painfully aware of the public safety concerns facing the community—“it’s important we recognize that these are some of the most challenging times we’ve faced”—and she promised “clear direction and priorities” under Tippin’s leadership.
Councilwoman Julie Winter said Tippin “is very aware” of the challenges ahead, including public safety and mounting unfunded pension liabilities. “Give him a chance. I think you will see this community will be well served.”
Councilman Adam McElvain, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he supports Tippin but he can’t support a contract with built-in raises.
In other action Tuesday, the council:
Heritage Plaza summer pool plans
–Heard a presentation from Bob Miller, chairman of the Heritage Plaza Apartments board of directors, who shared how the board was able to provide season passes to the Redding Aquatic Center (formerly known as “the Plunge”) to 45 families residing at the 180-unit affordable housing complex.
Miller, who also works with his wife, Chic, to operate Bella Vista Farms, a nonprofit sanctuary for aged and neglected animals, has served on the Heritage Plaza board for 47 years. He said federal housing subsidies and food stamps help Heritage Plaza tenants with the basics but board members “wanted them to be able to participate in some of the fun things” like enjoying a swim at the Caldwell Park pool.
Mayor’s Mountain Bike Challenge
–Heard a report from Public Works Director Brian Crane on the inaugural Mayor’s Mountain Bike Challenge that wrapped up last month. Designed to promote the trails in the Redding area, the challenge offered riders of all abilities a chance to complete a series of rides (five each at the beginning and intermediate levels and four in the advanced) that were listed on downloadable passports.
A total of 212 riders turned in passports by the time the 100-day challenge ended. There were 142 males and 70 females. Ages ranged from 7 to 74, Crane said. Some 67 riders completed the beginner trails, 86 tackled the intermediate courses and 59 riders finished the advanced trails.
Some 46 hearty souls, including Weaver, completed the “blackout” and bagged all 14 trails on the challenge for a total of 202 miles and 19,722 feet of climbing. Crane said plans are already in progress for next spring’s challenge.