Politics, Power and Transparency: An Interview With Likely Shasta County CEO, Chriss Street

Street’s plans for Shasta County are based on his belief that both the political and economic structures of California are about to change.

March 19, 2023: 5:57pm: We have updated this article to clarify that Street received a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine and an executive diploma from Stanford, according to his LinkedIn.

The news that former Orange County treasurer Chriss Street might become the CEO of Shasta County broke earlier this week, released in response to leaks from confidential public meeting sessions. He’s the Board’s top pick for the job. But the title is still far from secure.

Responding to Shasta Scout’s questions by email Friday, Shasta County spokesperson David Maung said that Street had accepted a conditional job offer, pending a 3-6 week background check process. After the background check, Maung explained, the Board would need to vote again to extend a formal offer to Street.

“If that (second) vote passes,” Maung wrote, the Board “will then enter into contract negotiations with Mr. Street, at which point (he) will have another chance to accept/reject the offer.”

Street spoke to Shasta Scout by phone Thursday afternoon, saying he spent his early years in Redding, but has lived outside the County for most of his life. According to his LinkedIn, Street received a Bachelors Degree from the University of California, Irvine and an executive diploma from Stanford. Later, Street says he worked on what he describes as the “highest echelons of Wall Street,” as a businessman.

In 2006, Street became Orange County’s elected treasurer. According to reporting from the L.A. Times, he ended his plans for reelection after accusations that he had mismanaged a private trust years before.

In 2010, a federal judge ruled against Street in that case, awarding damages of $7 million. He unsuccessfully appealed that ruling twice before winning a malpractice suit against his lawyer. The federal judge’s original ruling against Street has not been overturned. 

Three years ago, Street moved back to Shasta County to help care for his aging parents. His return coincided with the COVID pandemic and local political upheaval. But Street says he hasn’t taken part in those political debates and he intends to keep it that way. 

“I didn’t shoot John and I don’t know his wife Jane,” Street said, using a metaphor to explain that he’s had nothing to do with local controversies. “I wasn’t even registered to vote here, so I didn’t take sides and wasn’t part of the issues . . .”

Asked what term he’d use to describe himself politically, Street declined to choose one.

“I’m not a good person to label,” he said. “I’m pretty focused on my issue. My issue is that I think the world can run much more efficiently and much more effectively.”

“I plan to be the guy that runs the machinery of government,” Street continued, “and we’re going to have a policy not to be political.”

Not being political would be a significant change for Street, who’s currently Vice President of a political movement known as New California, that hopes to see California separate into two states in the future.

If appointed as Shasta County’s CEO, Street plans to leave his New California position. But it’s clear that he hopes to lead Shasta County towards a future that he anticipates will include both what he describes as an “Old California” and a “New California.”

He sees recent bank failures as an indication that California’s economy, long built on the tech industry and Silicon Valley, is crashing.

And he calls March 10, 2023 (the date that the Silicon Valley Bank was taken over by federal regulators) Shasta County’s “launch code,” the end of an economic cycle “dominated by the forty miles along California’s coast.”

The North State can capitalize on those economic shifts in power, he says, to become the “Future Queen of the North” — the hub of a manufacturing, industrial, and agricultural renaissance in the New California. 

By leaning into its rural strengths and building new dams for “sustainable” power infrastructure, he believes Shasta County can become a leader not only in California, but in the nation.

“I think you need to have a New California movement,” Street explained, “I think people need to understand that for the good of both New California and Old California you need to have a new business model that succeeds . . . and I don’t see any other way to do it.” 

“The old California has massive pension liabilities,” he explained, ”they’re going to buy our cheap power and water, mark it up, and use it to pay off their pension liabilities.”

But Street also emphasizes that he’s not a secessionist. The New California will form, he says, not because those in the North State choose to leave the Old California’s current political structure to make their own, but because economic and industry changes will make the New California an obviously good idea.

“Secessionist means you’re going to secede from the nation,” Street said. “I’m not for that. This is a Constitutional movement.”

“The economic, existential financial crisis going on right now means something dramatic and new must happen,“ Street continued. “And that’s both houses of the legislature at the state and federal levels voting to have a new state.”

Asked if he sees himself as a futurist, he laughs. “I’m not a futurist,” he said, “I’m a ‘presentist.’ I think this is happening right now.” 

Street was unfailingly positive in his statements about Shasta County and his expressions of belief in the local community.

He says when he returned to the area three years ago, what most impressed him was the caring and volunteering nature of the local community.

And he also believes most County residents are ready to move on from the politicking that has dominated the last three years.

“If ten percent of the County want to keep fighting,” Street suggests, let’s let them, while the other ninety percent creates “the most successful community . . . in California and the country.”

“(That) will be a lot more fun,” Street continues. “We’ve had a hard time (in Shasta County) and people have suffered. I think we’re ready to move on.” 

He wants to make sure that Shasta County’s local government is known and respected not for political fights, he says, but for high wages and excellent performance.

“I want us to be meaningful,” Street said, “I want people here to have $45/hour jobs. I want the government to be respected as the first and the best.”

If appointed as CEO, Street says he will also focus on increasing trust in government by offering the public more access to information, especially finances. He also wants to release Board agendas ten days before meetings, instead of just three.

He also wants to shrink the number of items included in the Board’s consent calendar, a section of the agenda which allows multiple items of business to be conducted with a single vote.

Increasing communication with local media is also one of his central priorities, he says.

“I’m going to make an effort to be transparent,” he emphasized, “so you get the story early enough so you can understand it and communicate it. Giving the press bad news out of nowhere is where you get this nasty political environment . . .  No more secrets.”

Do you have a correction to this story? You can submit it here. Do you have information to share? Email us: editor@shastascout.org

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