Fury Over Flag Design Prompts Redding City Council to Abandon Project; Recreational Pot Sales Still Banned; Massage Parlor Rules are Eased

The Redding City Council on Tuesday OK’d the spending of more than $1 million on various projects, contracts and city services and heard nary a peep, but a modest proposal to update the city flag at a cost of $2,500 drew howls of protest.

After withstanding a barrage of complaints and criticisms of misplaced priorities and poor judgment, Councilwoman Francie Sullivan wanted to throw in the towel and withdraw her idea to redesign the largely unheralded sign.

City Council members hear testimony.

City Council members hear testimony. Photos by Jon Lewis.

To pursue it any further would be a “tremendous waste of energy,” Sullivan said. She first suggested the redesign last September after watching a “CBS Sunday Morning” report on city flags. At the time, Sullivan said she didn’t even realize Redding had an official flag and was surprised to learn the flag featured Mt. Shasta and Shasta Dam—neither of which are in Redding’s city limits.

A new look, and one that highlighted Redding landmarks like the Sundial Bridge, would be a simple way to boost civic pride, Sullivan reasoned.

Deputy City Manager Greg Clark with the proposed new flag design.

Deputy City Manager Greg Clark with the proposed new flag design.

Instead, the topic prompted critics to tear into the council for failing to hire enough police officers, ignoring the city’s unfunded pension liabilities, granting too many raises and not making any progress in regards to the homeless population and property crimes.

“The City Council needs this project; it’s one of the few things you can accomplish,” sneered Gary Hollahan. “You don’t have the money to spend, but I know you don’t understand.”

Linda Johnson, a retired teacher, questioned the wisdom of touting the Sundial Bridge on the flag since all that does is “invite anybody to see our crime.”

“When are you going to get off of your dead seats?” thundered Bob Reitenbach, another frequent council critic. “It isn’t worth the money.”

Another speaker asked that the flag depict so-called chemtrails, the long thin clouds formed when hot, humid exhaust from jet airplanes condenses in the cold air at high altitudes. Some believe the trails are evidence of a vast government conspiracy to alter the climate by spraying chemicals.

Terry Rapoza likened the spending of money on a new flag to the betrayal of campaign promises of improved public safety. Dale Ball also questioned the redesign and repeated some online comments critical of the action.

Patrick Westrip, an artist, said he was “totally for changing the flag” but he asked why local artists weren’t involved in the process. Another speaker worried the new design would necessitate new logos on city vehicles, stationery and uniforms.

Deputy City Manager Greg Clark said the city’s logo had been redesigned more than a year ago and was gradually being phased in. Marlys Johnson, a graphic artist with the city, came up with the new flag design flag design that depicts the Sundial Bridge against a field of blue and green. “I feel like it’s simple yet pretty descriptive of what Redding is about,” Clark said.

Current flag design.

Current flag design.

The city flag is displayed in front of City Hall and in the mayor’s office. It is occasionally displayed at Redding Municipal Airport and it is part of Redding Fire Department color guard presentations. Flags are purchased from a local vendor in lots of 12; the cost of each 5-by-8-foot flag is approximately $205.

After Sullivan despaired of the “mean-spiritedness” of the criticism and expressed her wish to abandon the plan with the hope the Redding Chamber of Commerce, the Shasta County Arts Council or some other group would take it on, Mayor Brent Weaver suggested the flag project could be funded through contributions and its design could be the subject of a local artist competition.

Councilwoman Kristen Schreder favored that approach. “I like the idea of a competition and I don’t want to have staff deal with it. Let’s let a group take it on and do contributions to fund it,” Schreder said.

The council voted 5-0 to support Weaver’s motion. Groups or individuals interested in the design competition are encouraged to contact the City Clerk.

In other action Tuesday, the council:


--Voted unanimously to extend a moratorium on outdoor cultivation, processing, testing, storage and retail use of recreational marijuana. The moratorium now extends to Dec. 1 but City Attorney Barry DeWalt said the ban could be lifted earlier if the council decides how the city will proceed with pot sales and distribution.

Redding’s moratorium does not apply to authorized medical marijuana users, nor does it prohibit the indoor cultivation of six or fewer plants, DeWalt said.

The moratorium does give the city time to research how to regulate the cultivation and retail sales of non-medical marijuana, he said. A workshop on recreational marijuana policies will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at the City Council Chambers. A citizens advisory committee also is expected to be formed soon.

Samuel Williams urged the council to approve pot sales.

Samuel Williams urged the council to approve pot sales.

Samuel Williams, a criminal defense attorney whose practice specializes in marijuana cases, urged the council to allow retail sales in Redding. “Marijuana will come into the city whether we want it or not,” Williams said, noting that Shasta Lake has three marijuana dispensaries. “The question is: who gets the tax money.”

Massage parlors

--Voted 5-0 to fine-tune Redding’s new ordinance regulating massage parlors. Adopted in June, the ordinance provides strict standards on the operation of massage parlors with the goal of prohibiting sex trafficking.

Since its enactment, three illicit massage parlors have been shut down, including one next to a school, DeWalt said. The amendments approved Tuesday make it tougher for people convicted of sex crimes to work in massage parlors; allows disabled and other special-needs customers to be accompanied in dressing rooms; allows licensed massage parlor operators to serve complimentary wine and beer; and frees certified massage therapists from having to get fingerprinted and undergo background checks.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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20 Responses

  1. This report landed in my email after 3 a.m.

    Thank you, Jon, for staying until the bitter end to cover t his marathon city council meeting.

    Thanks, Joe, for posting it on deadline.

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m happy they’re opening up the flag competition to local artists.  My submittal will depict a tempest in a piss pot.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Oh Steve, I laughed out loud at your comment.  When we watched the news last night where people were being interviewed about the flag, my husband and I both said, “So what?”  What a time waster when there are truly important issues to be dealt with.  It reminds me of a comment about Congressional spending:  they will argue endlessly about spending $250 for a whatever but will vote for spending $250,000,000 for this week’s useless gadget.  And the reasoning was that anyone can understand $250 but really have no notion what $250,000,000 actually is.  Just a bunch of zeroes.

      And as always, thank you, Jon, for keeping us informed without having to be there.

  3. Richard Christoph says:

    Jon, thanks to you  for your consistently accurate and lucid reporting, and to you, Doni, for ensuring that the newscafe.com comments to not degenerate into the vicious verbal flagellation of our elected leaders and City of Redding management and staff.  Last night’s meeting was an embarrassment, as were a number of speakers who were long on angry vituperative bombast, and at times short on facts  and basic reading comprehension. Especially disappointing was the behavior of one of those named above who was overheard saying how many former students he had taught.  His subsequent vicious diatribes based on factual misunderstandings  amply demonstrated that education alone is no substitute for the ability to reason and to study before forming erroneous conclusions.

    The fact that some were quick to gloat over the failure of Measure “D” while simultaneously attacking the Council, City leadership, and the RPD for substandard performance is the height of irony. Perhaps some of these harsh critics could offer themselves as candidates in the next election and try their hand at solving difficult problems and then being excoriated for their efforts.

    Bertrand Russell summed it up—“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”


  4. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    Many of the comments about the flag hinged on MONEY, or lack of it. Yet the council seems intent on making choices that will leave the city without hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax income from legal recreational pot. Speaking up on that issue by those in attendance would have been a strong indicator that they are really concerned about money. But there is no reports of such comments by the audience. Hmmmmmmm.

    • Rod says:

      Anita you’re a doll.  I feel the same way.  My new flag design will be free, a gift.  I’m gonna keep it secret until the best opportunity to energize positive dialogue.  It’ll contain a bit of green and it’s agricultural connection to Shasta will be emphasized.


    • Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

      I suspect a great artist would only receive a fraction of that money for the new flag design anyway.  Not a “making a living” decision for serious artists in this town.  However, creating a competition that pulls on all the artists in this community is a great idea!


  5. Frank Treadway says:

    I too was embarrassed for these individuals and their obvious team work that not only take up valuable council/staff time, but simply are out of touch with their own surroundings.  I’m sure they meet at some secret rendezvous and plot who’s going to address the various sections of the agenda.  The flag design will go forward, the concrete train will be placed in Kids Kingdom, despite the lack of  simple research by the nay-sayers. You have every right to address the Council, but, your decorum is lacking. I encourage the Mayor to formulate a statement that those using foul language and disparaging remarks to council members and staff, to be out of order and ask them to leave the podium.  Come on folks, we’ve got your game, you just want your ego out front, you can do that at other places.

  6. Horace MacGregor says:

    @Frank Treadway: Foul language has become such a part of our culture, it is everywhere! People use it to emphasize their feelings; likewise disparaging remarks often just show frustration when other forms of discourse are fruitless.  Trying to get the public at large to fit into your view of the world is undemocratic! Our country was founded on many beliefs and principles, one of them is Free Speech. If what you want is people behaving the way you think they should, you should join a private club and stop paying attention to city council meetings!

    Our local elected officials all seem to have pet projects and they often act as if they have a mandate when in reality they have been elected by a minority because the candidate pool is so lacking in diversity and few of the eligible constituents bother to vote. There is a very vocal conservative, well healed, old money minority and this is what the officials hear.

    Redding officials will continue to argue the points of the cannabis moratorium while The City of Shasta Lake profits from tax revenues!

    The majority of these anti cannabis people are old and eventually they will die off and perhaps more moderate means will be adopted.

    In other areas the City will continue to spend money on fluff like decorative street lamps and manhole covers while crime rates increase!

  7. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    Sounds like the gadflies were out in force last night. I don’t even have to see pictures of the people who were there, I recognize them from their rhetoric. I feel like everyone owes Marlys Johnson an apology. It’s not a bad flag design. It evokes a pleasant feeling.

    Gadflies I think are a necessary evil. They’re like broken clocks. Twice a day, they tell the correct time. When I was an editor in Santa Rosa, a chemtrail person used to call me all the time. “Go look  outside, quick!” So I’d go look outside. Chemtrails everywhere. “See?!” he’d insist, as if the proof was self-evident.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I worked on a Trans-Pacific fiber optic cable project for several years.  Two of the three cables landed in San Luis Obispo County, and I participated in numerous SLO Board of Supervisors meetings.  There was one fellow who offered comments on every single project at every meeting, regardless of any genuine interest in or apparent knowledge of the projects.  I was told he’d been doing it for years.  He was polite and reasonably well-spoken, but it was obvious that his primary agenda was getting his three minutes in the spotlight, over and over and over.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        For the journalist the bad thing is when they button-hole you at one of those meetings and you can’t get away. And actually, once or twice they’ve turned out to have a real story, not just a bunch of BS. But that’s two out of who knows how many?

  8. Jim Briggs says:

    I find it amazing that a sitting councilperson is unaware of the existence of a city flag. Then again, it may explain a lot.

  9. Diane says:

    Horace McGregor, foul language is not everywhere.  We taught our children to be well-mannered and courteous and they are.  Our grandchildren are being taught the same.  I think Frank Treadway is absolutely right.  If speakers at the City Council meetings cannot be courteous then be gone.  The Council members do not get paid to show up at meetings and be verbally abused.  These last few months have been tough, and on the nightly news we hear a very angry narcissistic man insulting those who disagree with him.  He’s a very poor role model and let’s hope people will not try to emulate him.  It is very responsible to attend the Council meetings, and OK to disagree with the Council members, but attendees should keep their egos in check.

    • Horace MacGregor says:

      Dianne, Although many of us were taught by our parents to be polite, well mannered and courteous, many others were not. Demographically, there are all types of domestic situations where children are raised, some without either parent, that have no similarities to Ward and June Cleaver’s household. These people grow into adults and some of them are ignorant about manners and behavior in society at large. And yet, these are people with rights the same as all citizens! I am not condoning this type of behavior, in fact, I find it boorish!  However, that does not give us the right to ban these people from these meetings. I am reminded of one individual a few years ago who defiantly grew 99 or 100 cannabis plants and was rude and arrogant to his neighbors and city officials. In my opinion, he was out of line and his case will be adjudicated, he was loud and offensive at meetings and he gave the cause a bad name ; however, it is still his right to address the council in any way he sees fit as long as he is in compliance with the law. I can understand the frustration people feel when those in power try to dictate how people other than themselves should live. It may not be popular, but it is a Free Speech right.

  10. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Jon, is the City of Redding going to contact art groups in town or is your fine article the only way that this information will be spread for people not in attendance?

    The council voted 5-0 to support Weaver’s motion. Groups or individuals interested in the design competition are encouraged to contact the City Clerk.

  11. Kath Surbaugh says:

    “Out of touch” and “provincial” describe Redding’s City Council — Shouldn’t these terms, too, be embossed on the flag?

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