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.
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.
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.
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, 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.”
--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.