Your support of the Saturday Farmers Market initiative has been great. As you know, over 9,200 Chico residents signed the petition! The County Clerk counted and verified that we have more than sufficient signatures. We succeeded!
This Tuesday, June 17, at 5pm, the City Council will be presented with the qualified initiative. By state election law, they MUST place on November 4th ballot for the voters to decide (or adopt as-is). We need your support at this critical meeting – at council meeting chambers, 4th & Main.
Mark Sorensen has said he will do everything possible to keep our initiative from going on the ballot, including using a Southern California law firm. We are marshaling all of our resources to get this on the ballot and let the voters decide. With a good campaign we will be able to ensure the market the stability to continue to thrive at 2nd and Wall.
Three things to do:
City Council email contact:
Scott Gruendl (Mayor)
Mark Sorensen (Vice Mayor)
City Council mail contact:
City of Chico, PO Box 3420, Chico, CA 95927
Chico News &Review: email@example.com
Chico Enterprise Record: firstname.lastname@example.org
We wanted to share with you Mayor Scott Gruendl’s recent statement supporting the Farmers’ Market Initiative:
We are happy, proud, and confident in our success thus far and very much appreciate our Mayor’s support!
The City Council will make a decision with regard to the Initiative on Tuesday, June 17 (the all day budget session). We believe the item will be heard at 5 PM.
Statement of Karl Ory regarding Chico withholding the Farmers’ Market petitions on behalf of the Friends of the Farmers’ Market
Farmers’ Market Initiative proponent and former City of Chico mayor
Cheryl King and Karl Ory, as proponents of the Farmers Market initiative, submitted 2,347 petitions containing 9,352 signatures of Chico residents on May 12, 2014 to Chico City Clerk Deborah R. Presson.
We were verbally assured by the City Clerk that the petitions would be delivered to the County Clerk the next day. On May 13, 2014, a volunteer witnessed the counting of the petitions by the City Clerk and we were again assured that the petitions would be delivered that day to the County Clerk for verification of signatures as required by State Election Law. We were also told that the City Clerk would provide a letter verifying the submittal of the petitions.
I discovered yesterday that the County Clerk had not received the petitions. I spoke with the City Clerk and she informed me that she had been directed by the contract City Attorney to withhold the petitions so that the matter could be discussed in secret session by the Chico City Council at their meeting of May 20, 2014.
The City Council agenda, again, did not specifically mention the Farmers Market Initiative as an item discussed in close session; however it was discussed as item 2.2, Anticipated Litigation. The contract City Attorney was asked to announce the closed session activity as item 1.6 on the Council’s regular agenda. Without reference to subject, he rattled off several votes taken by the council including one stated as a 3-3 vote. This was a vote of the council again rejecting the City Attorney’s opinion and choosing not to litigate the initiative.
I addressed the Council last night as representing over 9,200 residents who have had their democratic rights circumvented. I asked that the petitions be immediately transferred to the County Clerk for verification and certification. I received no reply to this request. I followed up that evening with an email to the City Clerk requesting an immediate response and the immediate transfer of petitions to the County Clerk. Again, at 9:15 AM this morning, I provided the office of the City Clerk with a letter asking for the whereabouts of the petitions and the time and manner of transferring the petitions to the county. I have received no response.
Our next steps are to ask for an investigation by the office of Kamala Harris, the State Attorney General and by the Butte County Grand Jury, as a violation of state election law and abuse of democratic principles.
We have been advised by attorney Keith Wagner that there is no basis for the petitions to be withheld. He calls the city action unauthorized and inappropriate.
I again request the City of Chico to do the right thing, and stop playing games. Once the petitions are certified, state law requires that the City Council either adopt the initiative or place it on the ballot. This manipulation of election procedures is something you would expect in the Ukraine or some third world country. This is not how we do things in Chico.
Councilmember Mark Sorensen does not want this on the November ballot where he must face voters who disagree with him. He has long supported evicting the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market. He has the City Manager and City Attorney working for him, even to the extent of violating state election law.
We hope the Attorney General and the Grand Jury will swiftly restore justice and allow voters rights to be upheld.
Courtesy of Action News Now:
Friends of the Farmers Market are one step closer to saving a decades-old Chico tradition. The group showed up at City Hall Monday afternoon with over 9,300 signatures, which is nearly double the amount required to put the issue on the November ballot.
The Chico Certified Farmers Market has operated at Second and Wall Streets for decades. When the agreement with the city was made null and void, community members started gathering signatures to put the issue on the November ballot to ensure the market stays put. “We decided to put it to rest once and for all and let the people of the city of Chico speak about what it is they want,” said Cheryl King, Spokesperson for Friends of the Farmers Market.
Supporters say the market is a big contributor to the downtown economy and brings 3,000 people each week. “To take that many people out of the downtown area on a Saturday, which is a busy shopping day where they go downtown to eat, visit, look in bookstore windows and clothing windows, would be an economic issue for this city,” explained King.
Natalie Carter, office manager for the Chico Certified Farmers Market says the market is a community tradition that we need to keep alive for future generations. “We really don’t want to mess with a good thing. We’ve been there for 21 years and it’s been a great home for the farmers market and for the community and we want to keep it that way.”
A committee, including city officials and the farmers market, has been put together to try to find a solution that everyone can agree with. However, city officials are concerned with the legality of the petition. “Placing something like this on the ballot that two city attorneys have opined is invalid and is not something that’s advantageous from the cities perspective. I mean, voters would be voting on something that could not be enacted, if the city attorney’s opinion is correct,” explained Chico City Councilmember Randall Stone.
Whether the petition is legal or not, the number of signatures collected sends a strong message on what the community wants. “Legal or illegal, that’s a significant motivator and that tells us what we should be doing,” said Stone.
No matter where the farmers market ends up, everyone can agree that they want to keep it alive. “The farmers market is really a gem for our community and it would be a hard loss,” said Carter. There have been suggestions to move the farmers market to the lot behind city hall but the lot is smaller and they would lose 20 percent of farmers. It would also reduce the aisles from 15 feet to 9 feet.
On May 12, 2014, the Friends of the Farmers Market submitted 9,352 signed petitions to the City!
Council members who are supportive of the initiative are under pressure to keep it off the November ballot. Please contact each council member below and tell them not to spend one dime of the taxpayers’ money against the Farmers Market initiative. Urge them to follow the State Election Code and either accept it as written or put it on the November ballot and let the people decide!!!
Email your council members at:
Mayor Scott Gruendl: email@example.com
Council Member Ritter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Member Stone: email@example.com
All council member email addresses can be found here: http://www.chico.ca.us/city_council/home_page.asp
Dear <Council Member>,
I support keeping the Saturday morning farmers’ market at its’ current location at 2nd Street and Wall Street in downtown Chico.
The Saturday morning farmers’ market is something that I and my family frequent and thoroughly enjoy. Downtown businesses thrive as a result of its current location and prosperity. The Saturday morning farmers’ market is an integral part of our community and, as it was ranked one of the top five markets in the world by Essential Travel (http://www.essentialtravel.co.uk/magazine/top-10/farmers-markets.asp), it would seem that if any changes were to be made to the market those changes should be to expand it at its current location.
I have signed the petition to put the farmers’ market initiative on the November ballot and let the voters decide on the fate and location of the Saturday morning farmers’ market. As such, and as over 9,000 others have signed the petition as I have, I ask and urge you to follow the State Election Code and either accept this initiative as written or do everything in your power to put this initiative on the November (2014) ballot.
Thank you for your time,
IF YOU HAVE NOT RETURNED PETITIONS: They must be turned in today (Monday) before 12:00 noon in order for us to submit them to the City Clerk at 1:15. Please bring them to 333 Main St., upstairs at the FFM office. No late petitions will be accepted by the City.
Please join us and show your support!!! This is too important to be complacent!!!
Thank you for all of your support and all you have done. Just Remember: You can make a difference!
If you have any outstanding signed petitions, please drop them off Monday at the FFM office (333 Main St., upstairs, #6) between 9am and 12pm. We will turn in all petitions at 1:15 PM at City Hall (the 411 building by the Hands) on Monday. No late petitions will be accepted by the City.
Please join us at City Hall and show your support! We will be meeting in the lobby at 12:15pm.
Friends of the Farmers’ Market Press Conference
Thursday, May 1, 9:00 AM
At steps of Chico City Council Chambers (on E. 4th Street)
Friends of the Farmers’ Market (FFM) announced today that 7,000 Chico registered voters have signed the initiative petition, asking that the Chico Downtown Saturday Market’s franchise agreement be reinstated for six years.
“Hundreds of petitions are still being circulated”, said FFM spokesperson Cheryl King. “We ask circulators to return them as soon as possible so that every signature can be counted.”
The petition signers ask the city council to either adopt the new franchise agreement or put it on the November 4, 2014 ballot for voters to decide. The State Election Code requires a minimum of 10% of total registered voters in order to qualify. “We need every signature possible in order to qualify”, said King, “and we will continue to collect signatures for the next ten days.”
“The State Election Code is clear”, King stated, “The city council has only two choices once the signatures are certified by the County Clerk: adopt the new franchise agreement, or let the voters decide.”
“For 21 years the Market has helped the downtown, bringing 12,000 shoppers downtown monthly”, said former Chico Mayor and outgoing Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA) board member Michael McGinnis. “The City has big problems”, he noted, “but this isn’t one of them. Let’s help the Market continue to thrive”.
King, McGinnis, and former Chico Mayor Karl Ory are the three official proponents of the historic initiative. “This is not a legal issue”, Ory said. “Once the signatures are certified, the first City Council vote required by State law, is whether to adopt the new agreement. There is only one question: ‘yes’ or ‘no’.” “A ‘yes’ vote removes all legal challenges”, he added. “We urge the City Council not to spend a dime of taxpayer’s money on a law suit. The City Council should vote ‘Yes’ or let the voters decide”, concluded Ory.
Once submitted, the County Clerk has 30 days to check validity of signatures. FFM expects the certified petitions will be presented to the City Council at a July meeting.
Petitions can be turned in at a table at the Saturday Market, or at the FFM office any morning, or call FFM at (530) 487-7085.
43 days ago, we printed petitions and began an initiative campaign to protect and promote the Saturday Farmers’ Market. We’ve had a great start, now half-way to our goal! And now we’re going to step it up and get it done!
Our printer has just finished printing a new batch of 5,000 petitions. With a letter and return envelope, these petitions will be mailed to selected registered voter households in Chico asking that they sign the petition and mail it back. We will get these mailers to the post office very soon!
At 333 Main St. (at 4th St., downtown), #6, upstairs.
Ways you can help us save the market:
Petition Circulators: Come earn a green t-shirt! Anyone can circulate, get your neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers to sign. Or do a two hour shift Saturday – or just about every day of the week at other locations. Pick up petitions to circulate on Saturday at Market or at office weekday mornings.
To Sign a petition go to: Pullins Cyclery, The Bookstore, Lyons Books, the Friends of the Farmers’ Market (FFM) booth at the Saturday Market, or the FFM office (333 Main St., #6, upstairs).
Volunteer: Office (weekday mornings); or Saturdays (two hour shifts at 8:30 and 10:30 AM), or special events (Pancakes for Peace, Wildflower, Endangered Species Day, Thursday Night Market). Campuses! We need help at both CSUC and Butte.
Money! Much appreciated. Please write a check to Friends of the Farmers Market and mail to PO Box 5281, Chico, CA 95927 (or bring to us at Saturday Market or to office) or use PayPal on our website (www.chicoffm.com). We also have a Donation can (and a Square) at the Friends table at the Saturday Market – any help is appreciated.
Letters to Editor needed every day! Write a letter to the editor in support of the market!
Enterprise Record: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy of The Orion | Written by Christine Lee
Supporters of downtown Chico’s Saturday farmer’s market are collecting signatures to allow for keeping the market for another six years.
Chico’s Saturday farmers market will close down by the end of this year if a ballot initiative to keep it operating does not pass.
The Chico Certified Farmers Market franchise proposed a ballot initiative to keep the downtown morning market open for six more years after its lease ends in December.
Market supporters have been collecting signatures in order to put the initiative on the November ballot for a vote. They would need at least 10 percent of all registered voters in Chico to sign the petition.
More than 3,000 signatures have been collected and 4,700 are needed, said Natalie Carter, officer manager for the Chico Certified Farmers Market.
“Most of the signatures we collect are valid Chico voters,” Carter said. “I personally saw one signature from Paradise. They want to support it so bad, they just sign it anyway.”
If passed, when the six-year contract expires, its contract with the city will be put on the ballot again for eight years.
Chico City Attorney Lori Barker found the granting of a franchise inappropriate for an initiative, she said.
“Because the California constitution said the initiative process can’t grant a franchise any special duties, granting the farmers market exclusive use of property is an improper subject for an initiative,” Barker said.
Keith Wagner, the attorney representing the market supporters, said the initiative is not granting the franchise new powers but rather allowing them the same powers they’ve always had.
“The farmers market has always been approved by an ordinance adopted legislatively,” he said. “It has been subject to voter’s right of referendum — there’s no difference here. As everybody has recognized, it’s a restatement of existing ordinance. It’s basically the same set of terms.”
Currently, the franchise pays $164 per year to rent the parking lot on East Second and Wall streets, according to Dani Brinkley, the assistant city clerk.
“The intention for the money is to go directly towards improving downtown although the city would have discretion with what happens with the fund,” she said. “It would benefit to have a long-term lease, we can expand and be able to provide community activities.”
If the new ballot initiative passes, the farmers market will pay $5,000 annually to the city to show support of the city and interest in making a beneficial arrangement for all parties, Carter said.
“It’s a deal that’s 25 times better than what they’re getting,” Wagner said. “That doesn’t raise any constitutional questions. That’s not even relevant to questions legally — it’s just a generous offer by the Farmers Market.”
Gabriel Pamatz, a first-year Butte College social science major, said she depends on the Saturday market because it’s one of her main jobs.
“I need this,” Pamatz said. “The market is good because its kind of the only organic farmers market and a lot of people here want it — they want the organic produce we sell here.”
Pamatz and her sister are from Live Oak. They sell asparagus, eggs, oranges and walnuts at the market. Each week they make around $2,000.
They wouldn’t mind helping pay their share of the $5,000 proposed on the initiative, Pamatz said. If the market closes down, they would continue to sell their produce at a market in Berkeley instead.
“A lot of people come and tell us about all these facts about vegetables, about why they don’t eat fruit or vegetables from the stores,” Pamatz said. “They feel like they need organic food to improve their health. People need to see how the farmers care about the people who are trying to be healthy.”
The city has not offered an alternative location for the market, Wagner said.
“Until something happens, the process is moving forward,” Wagner said. “The city attorney has a view that something should happen but nothing adverse has happened. So far, the city isn’t doing anything wrong yet.”