Ever since deep budget cuts have taken place, the political discourse in Chico has turned increasingly hostile.
City officials have taken notice, making a handful of small changes to increase security at the Chico Municipal Building.
The changes are most noticible on the third floor. Safety glass has been added to the Housing and Neighborhood Services Counter, creating a safety buffer between staff and Chico citizens.
Assistant City Manager Mark Orme said they’re not trying to shut out the citizens, just trying to make employees a little more secure. A couple of weeks ago the Chico City Council held a news conference to denounce the increasing hostile criticism of city leadership.
“We're conscientious of the political environment we're in right now,” said Orme.
The vitriolic political debate reached a crescendo when the Chico Enterprise Record printed a phone call from an anonymous caller which suggested that the city's new leadership have their heads hoisted on a petard so that citizens can throw tomatoes at them.
Orme said there have been a few instances with upset citizens visiting the 3rd floor city offices.
“We've seen some activity from some of those that come visit us,” said Orme. “However, I am unaware of any direct threats that have been made.”
Another change, a staffer who once worked out in the lobby now works behind the glass. Locks and door codes have also been changed. The total cost of the changes add up to a couple of thousands dollars. City officials said it’s worth the small expense.
“A minimal amount compared to the peace of mind it brings to the employee,” said Orme.
Everyone agrees that the best solution to this problem is far more difficult, but it doesn't cost a penny. That's a more civil discourse in our politics.
Orme emphasized that this is merely precautionary and that he doesn't want this minimal change to deter Chicoans from coming to the municipal building to ask questions.