Politicians have never really been all that trustworthy. That’s even more so in the post-truth era that began roughly in 2016, according to Wikipedia. Take Shasta County District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones, budding star of the Red White & Blueprint’s eponymous 10-episode docuseries.
Billed as a “blueprint” for other counties to follow, the docuseries is actually a thinly disguised campaign vehicle supporting the recall of three conservative Republican Shasta County supervisors, ostensibly for following the state’s COVID-19 precautions during the pandemic. RW&B’s fundraising activities are currently being investigated by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
As my review of Episode 3 of RW&B revealed, Jones has transformed the meandering production into an autobiographical melodrama in which he plays the victim tormented by political corruption in Shasta County. Lashing out at the one who’s harmed him the most, Jones singles out former Redding City Council colleague Rick Bosetti, the former mayor and major league baseball player who now manages the Redding Colt 45s’ summer collegiate baseball team.
The Colt 45s play at Tiger Field in downtown Redding. Bosetti first began managing the team in 2013 and his efforts to secure grant funding for Tiger Field while sitting on the city council and managing the team at the same time did cause some minor controversy. That is apparently what Jones is referring to in Episode 3 when he accuses Bosetti of selling out and denying Jones a three-vote majority on the five-member city council.
“He wanted Tiger Field, he owns Tiger Field today,” Jones says in Episode 3. “He wanted the concessions for Tiger Field, he has concessions for Tiger Field. He wanted improvements to Tiger Field, an anonymous $1 million came in to fix up Tiger Field.”
None of Jones’s allegations are true. Bosetti doesn’t own Tiger Field or the Colt 45s; the city of Redding does. Ticket sales, concession stand revenue and donations aren’t paid to him, they’re funneled back into Redding Colt 45s Baseball Inc., a nonprofit organization formed by Bosetti in 2014. The Colt 45s are a community-owned team. According to veteran journalists who covered the project, city officials who worked on it and Bosetti himself, Jones’s anonymous $1 million donation never happened.
Nevertheless, without citing any evidence, Jones insists it’s true.
“That should have raised some big eyebrows,” he says in Episode 3. “That just doesn’t happen [note to reader: it didn’t happen]. Most people are not going to cough up a million dollars. There are only a few people inside this county that would anonymously donate $1 million to help the city out to keep Rick Bosetti happy. And they needed to do that and that got done. These kinds of things happen in a small town if you don’t have a quality newspaper and people reporting the truth and to get to the truth.”
Like many right-wingers cast in the Tea Party/Trumpist mold, Jones is down on the fourth estate. The press is the enemy of the people. When I asked him via email for proof of the alleged $1 million anonymous donation, his reply was salty:
“Your (sic) not a very good reporter if you don’t know to check with the city of Redding on this,” he wrote.
Except I did check with the city of Redding.
“No, I’m not aware of any $1 million donation,” said Redding Community Services Director Kimberly Niemer, who has worked closely with Bosetti since 2013, when the two-term city councilman and former MLB player began his somewhat quixotic quest to restore the then-90-year-old Tiger Field.
Nestled between Cypress Avenue and the Shasta County Library and just down the street from the Redding City Hall, Tiger Field is an ideal location for a minor league-style baseball team like the Redding Colt 45s.
But the ballpark also butts up to South City Park, one of the few shaded places downtown where homeless people who use the city and county’s nearby public services can congregate. A criminal element comprised of those addicted to drugs and alcohol preyed on the homeless population in the park, passersby and local businesses. Back then, the area had a well-earned reputation as a needle park, a no-go zone for families.
Eight years later, Bosetti says it’s now possible to walk through South City Park and not worry (too much) about getting stuck by a junkie’s discarded needle. Squirrels have returned to the park—Bosetti grimly speculates the homeless were dining on the hapless critters before he and five volunteers erected an 8-foot-high wrought-iron fence barring access to South City Park without a reservation in 2018.
Asked about Jones’s claim that he received a $1 million anonymous donation, he burst out laughing on the telephone.
“Patrick Jones just spews stuff out; he makes it up,” Bosetti said. “It didn’t happen. It never happened. It can’t happen. We’re a community-owned nonprofit.”
By that, Bosetti means nonprofits have to report donations, even anonymous $1 million donations. ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer online database contains the Redding Colt 45s tax returns from 2014 to 2018. The Colt 45s received no donations, anonymous or otherwise, in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the team received $6000 in contributions. In 2017 it received $1250 in donations; in 2018 it received $4050. That’s $13,000 in donations over a four-year period, a far cry from $1 million.
As general manager of the Colt 45s, Bosetti did not draw a salary in 2014. He was paid $37,500 annually from 2015 to 2017. In 2018, which saw the Colt 45s annual revenue plunge from $244,000 to $108,858 after a series of disastrous fires struck the region, Bosetti was paid just $1500. Bosetti earned $114,000 serving as general manager from 2014 to 2018. Again, a far cry from $1 million.
The Redding Colt 45s earned a total of $1,068,549 in revenue from 2014-2018, which is more than $1 million. However, it was slightly less than the team’s expenses of $1,072,832 during the same time period. Sources of revenue include sponsorships, admissions, camp fees and merchandise sales. Expenditures include advertising costs, sports equipment and prevailing wages for grounds maintenance keepers and security guards on gamedays. These services are also provided to Simpson University’s baseball team in the spring and other local ball clubs that play at Tiger Field throughout the year.
That’s in accordance with the Colt 45s Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Redding. On all gamedays, not just their own, the Colt 45s are responsible for opening the gates, stocking the restrooms, cleaning the dugouts, laying out the bases, grooming home plate and the pitcher’s mound, picking up the trash after the game and locking the gate. In between gamedays they mow the grass and clean the bleachers. The city is responsible for plumbing, electrical and safety issues, as well as structural, minor facility and mainline irrigation repairs. It also handles graffiti removal.
Bosetti estimates that $650,000 worth of improvements have been made to Tiger Field since his quest began in 2013. Most of that was raised by the Colt 45s. Community Services Director Niemer confirmed that Bosetti has been “successful getting others to contribute” time, labor and material to the project. The Sons of Italy helped out installing bocce ball courts. In 2014, he struck a deal with Simpson University to exchange 500 stadium-style seats for increased playing time. The Colt 45s raised $40,000 for the wrought-iron fence barring the homeless from South City Park. It was installed by Bosetti and five volunteers. The city kicked in a Bobcat to dig the post holes, Bosetti said.
Could the $650,000 in upgrades to Tiger Field since 2013 be what Jones is referring to by the “anonymous $1 million donor” that allegedly caused Rick Bosetti to “sell out” Jones’s Tea Party cause? When I emailed Jones and told him I hadn’t been able to confirm his claim with anyone, he got salty with me once again.
“Your (sic) full of it, one quick look on the city web page and MOU with the city and Colt 45s, (sic)” he wrote in apparent cavemanese. “Maintenance and security, money, and signed by Rick Bosetti. 5 min of work. Maybe you should look for (sic) different type of work.”
It’s all nonsense. According to the MOU, the maintenance and security are paid for with the revenue from the team, not some anonymous $1 million donor. Even if Bosetti was paying himself to manage the team, mow the lawns, clean the bathrooms and walk the security beat, it still wouldn’t total $1 million after eight years.
As evidenced by his performance in Episode 3 of RW&B, Jones has never gotten over Bosetti choosing baseball over the Tea Party all those years ago. After Bosetti announced he was not running for re-election to the city council in 2014, an American Legion coach wrote Jones a letter complaining that Bosetti was allegedly favoring the Colt 45s over his grandson’s team when it came to Tiger Field playing time.
Jones didn’t tell Bosetti about the letter and invited the coach to speak at a city council meeting packed with Tea Party members—not too different from our Board of Supervisors meetings today—torpedoing Bosetti. Jones had the audacity to say it wasn’t a stunt. He went on to lose reelection to the city council in 2014.
“Anger; that’s his base, that’s who he appeals to,” said Bosetti, who claims that during the eight years he served with Jones on the city council, his colleague “never had an original thought.”
I asked Bosetti if he had considered taking legal action for Jone’s false allegation in RW&B Episode 3.
“I have made that call and will determine what sort of action can be brought to get a $1 million settlement,” he said.
Informed that Bosetti was considering legal action, Jones said, “I would love Bosetti to take action, the facts are clear and I have a great Attorney. (sic)”
Stay tuned. And if you’re looking for a place downtown to watch the Fourth of July fireworks, Red Bluff native and Nashville recording artist Chad Bushnel is playing at Tiger Field from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fireworks start at 10 p.m. Food service is by Smoking Joe’s Barbecue. Admission is $5.