Most Viewed Stories
Spears: Committed to government openness
Willows City Councilman Bill Spears vowed Wednesday that promises made during his election campaign are not words that will ring hollow.
His swearing in by City Clerk Natalie Butler in a small but public ceremony marked a new beginning for the former police chief and the changing of the guard at City Hall.
Spears retired Monday after more than 40 years in law enforcement, but only after the City Council did not renew his contract.
Now he is a member of that council.
Spears said he feels more humbled than vindicated by the support of the public on Nov. 6, an election in which he received the most votes.
Spears said he is more committed than ever to create an unprecedented level of openness in Willows government.
He hopes to push his fellow council members to work with the public to ensure their trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration.
"I want to make sure (what happened to me) doesn't happen again to any other person," Spears said, referring to the closed-door discussions of a highly secretive budget committee that led to his departure.
The secrecy behind the decision cost Spears the same "golden handshake" retirement deal given to other staff members of retirement age, including Public Works Director Greg Tyhurst, who stayed on as a consultant, and Library technician Cha Yang, who retired Dec. 31, 2011.
"There shouldn't have to be a law that forces us to open our doors," Spears said.
Spears does agree it is time to move forward without hard feelings.
And like most newly elected officials, Spears said he hopes to make a difference and has plans to bring plenty of ideas to the table that could help revitalize the community.
He proposes painting a green line to the downtown and hopes to work with Caltrans about signs on Interstate 5 that entices people to stop in Willows.
"Willows' sphere of influence is 11 miles out," he said. "If we want to make Willows a destination place, then we are going to need a sign as big as a casino's."
Spears also wants to work with the school district, parents, teachers and local organizations to make schools safer, including finding the funding sources for more security.
He also hopes to keep office hours either at City Hall or elsewhere that will allow the public greater access to him to voice their opinions and ideas.
Spears was sworn in Wednesday instead of Tuesday's regular City Council meeting to ensure there is a quorum for that meeting, said Finance Director Tim Salisbury.
Gary Hansen, who was to stay on until Spears took office, notified Sailsbery that he was unable to attend.
Spears also replaces Hansen on the Glenn County Transit Committee and Glenn County Transportation Commission.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.