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Mayor, Vice Mayor justify opposing votes in veterans museum funding

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:12:13 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 21 2013 02:43:29 PM CST
REDDING, Calif. -

For a second time, the Redding city council members voted to not contribute to the Northern California Veterans Museum and Heritage Center.

The amount of money being requested by the museum was a unique piece of funds.

"This particular pot of money was a rare pot of money that did not come from the taxpayers,” said Vice Mayor Patrick Jones. “It came from a piece of land that was donated to the city that we ended up selling for $285,000. A portion of that could then be used for the museum."

It was placed into the general fund. But Mayor Rick Bosetti believes the decision to not hand the money over was the correct choice, and that the funds should go elsewhere.

"I don't care how you say it, that is our money,” said Bosetti. “It's the money of the people of the city of Redding. I don't care if it came from a sale or from sales tax. That's the money that belongs to the people. How do we best use that money at this point in time?"

Last year, the council split 2-2 on a vote to give the museum the same amount. 

This time, it was a 3-2 vote after more than an hour of discussion and listening to public comments at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Council members Missy McArthur, Francie Sullivan, and Mayor Bosetti voted against the allocation of funds, while council member Gary Cadd and Vice Mayor Jones voted in favor of the motion.

"We had a chance to allocate some funds to get this project moving forward. The majority of the council members chose not to do that,” said Jones. “They have to live within themselves. They have to sleep at night. If they think that's a good decision, that's their decision. The public will respond at the voting box."

The museum requested $193,800 for expenses involved with finding their next home and building a new facility. The rent went up at the museum's previous location. They had to leave their Meadow View Drive home in September.

But when asked about his vote, Bosetti said it was a tough choice.

"It was not a difficult question when you looked at it from a business point of view,” Bosetti said. “Emotionally, it's very difficult."

This vote leaves the museum wondering what’s next for their facility. Officials at the center seemed irritated by the lack of action from the council.

“It's become apparent to me, going through this entire process, that the support for the museum sometimes seems to be based on money and politics rather than on the honor and the respect for our veterans and their freedoms,” said Museum President Rob Burroughs. “If it wasn't the case, the support would've already taken place."

According to Bosetti, those comments questioned his patriotism.

“For some people to make the accusation from the dais that if you don't vote for this you're not patriotic, that you don't care about veterans, that you don't feel the tradition, and that you don't understand the sacrifice that these soldiers have made for us, that's ludicrous. It's pandering," said Bosetti. “Sometimes you just have to make the decision that's right for the entire community. Last night, I thought we did.”

Despite their disagreements on the matter, both Bosetti and Jones said that timing was an issue.

“When you have that momentum going, and you're out there and you're approaching people and you're talking to them and you go, 'look at what we have. We have this success. We have that success.' Then it rolls, and you keep the ball rolling,” said Bosetti. “Last year, when the council split 2-2 with one abstention the ball stopped rolling."

Jones is a volunteer for the museum. He abstained from the earlier vote to make sure there was no conflict of interest. It was determined to not be an issue this time around. He said more could have been done.

"There's never a great time to allocate funds to any group, really, considering the state of affairs that the City of Redding is in,” said Jones. “We have some long-term problems that need to be solved today. But I don't see this council making those steps to take direction to solve those issues. This was a relatively very small amount of money that, again, did not come from the taxpayers that could've been made available.”