Huntington Beach has overturned their bag ban – “the citizens of Huntington Beach are adults and deserve to be treated like adults who can make their own choice”

22 Apr

I think people in Huntington Beach California hit on an important point here – we are adults, and deserve to be treated like adults who can think for ourselves. The bag ban was “heavy handed government,” and not based on hard science, but on the hysteria of a few environmental zealots. Here’s an article from last January, when Huntington Beach council began the process of overturning their ban. Like Chico, they’d had a turnover in their November election, the councilors who’d strong-armed the ban onto the public were ousted. 

http://fighttheplasticbagban.com/2015/01/22/huntington-beach-city-council-votes-to-repeal-plastic-bag-ban/

The bag ban was clearly behavioral modification, and that’s not what we need out of our government. When God scratches, “thou shalt not use plastic film bags…” on a rock, and throws it through the windshield of my car, I’ll pay attention.

Yeah, now I’m wondering about Sorensen and his posse. We’ll have to see what happens in 2016 when the state bag ban ban goes up to the people. For a change.

No wonder the county behavioral health department can’t recruit people

22 Apr

I noticed this ad in the online Chico Enterprise Record. Butte County is looking for Behavioral Health workers. The Behavioral Health department is responsible for collecting “people who are a danger to themselves or the public” from Enloe Hospital when they are brought there by Chico PD, and transporting them to the mental health facility on Rio Lindo.   The county has three open positions:

Supervisor, Behavioral health clinician – $51,981 – $69,660 annually

Behavioral Health Clinician III – $49,476 – 66,304 annually

Behavioral health clinician II – $47,092 – 63,108 annually

You’ll find descriptions of duties here:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/ventura/default.cfm?action=specbulletin&ClassSpecID=731127

http://www.mindspringshealth.org/careers/clinician-iii/

Please note – hirees are expected to deal, hands on, with “people who are a danger to themselves or the public.” Are they serious with these salaries – our city clerk makes over $135,000/year, plus benefits and pension, but they expect these employees to deal with “people who are a danger to themselves or the public” for less than $70,000 a year?

I did some investigating online – look what I found – an ad posted two years ago! same position!

http://www.counties.org/job-opportunity/behavioral-health-clinician-iii

Is it really surprising the county can’t fill these positions? A couple of years back they received a million dollar grant, most of which went to two salaries, one of them for a guy who doesn’t even set foot in Butte County – he supervises the other employees online? I think the supervisors need to pull their heads out of their frackasses on this one.

Chico PD has long complained about having to deal with “crazy” people. They are trained for a week at Butte College, that’s it. With that training they are expected to be able to tell the difference between the mentally ill and the consummate bullshitter. Would they know if they had a case of diabetes shock or multiple sclerosis on their hands? Not sure.  I know they’ve used this ill-placed responsibility to demand more money every time the contracts come around the pike. 

Let me point out – Chico PD officers are required very little college, paid average salaries over $100,000, plus overtime, benefits and pension at 90 percent of their highest year’s pay, at age 50. Oh yeah, and then there’s the gun.

Mayor Sorensen, I never said you got any money from the cops, I said they spent money electing you, and all it takes is one look at the reports to see the truth

20 Apr

 

Letter: ‘Police department money’ not a factor in election
Juanita Sumner’s reference to thousands of dollars of “police department money” influencing the 2014 Chico City Council campaign is simply false.In truth the Chico Police Officers Association (CPOA) spent a whopping $100.50 in the 2014 election to pay to rent the Council Chambers for a candidate forum which was open to the public.

In my 2014 campaign I received exactly $0 from the CPOA; $0 from Chico police officers, past or present; $0 from labor unions; and received $0 “police department money.”As for the independent expenditure committee (which had a former police chief as a figurehead and the issues of rising crime and dwindling police staffing among its concerns), it received exactly $0 from the CPOA; $0 from Chico police officers, past or present; $0 from labor unions; and $0 “police department money.” As always, all of the documentation is public record and is posted on the city website.

— Mark Sorensen, Chico

Here’s my letter Mark, read it again, LIAR!

 I was shocked by Chico councilwoman Reanette Fillmer’s ill-conceived and insensitive remark about approving another $1.46 million to Chico PD. She said, “you get what you pay for.”

Fillmer is mistaken – she gets what the taxpayers pay for.   Fillmer’s 2014 campaign was the run with 10’s of thousands in police department money. Now she, Sorensen and Coolidge, also the beneficiaries of generous donations from the police, have approved a new contract that allows more pay increases over the coming years. 
This is a clear conflict of interest, as pointed out by former city council candidate and one-time administrative law judge Joe Montes.  Montes dropped out of the 2014 campaign under mysterious circumstances, something about some other, unnamed people convincing him not to run. His charges of conflict of interest were never taken seriously. 
Fillmer is rude and insensitive to the taxpayers, obviously  knowing who  butters her bread. Will we get any accountability out of a council beholden to  public employee unions? I don’t think so.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Here’s the link to the clerk’s campaign reports:

http://www.chico.ca.us/city_clerk/campaign_disclosure_files/currentyearcds.asp

Here’s the link to ex police chief Mike Maloney’s PAC reports:

http://www.chico.ca.us/city_clerk/campaign_disclosure_files/documents/ChicoCitizensCampaignDisclosureForms_Redacted.pdf

Here’s what it says right at the top of Form 496:

Chico Citizens for Accountable Government, supporting the election of Fillmer, Sorensen and Coolidge for Chico City council 2014

Mike Maloney is a retired cop who sits on a pension of over $100,000/year, plus health insurance and COLA. He ran the PAC that spent the most money electing Sorensen, more than Sorensen spent on himself! And Sorensen, our Mayor, who is supposed to be a beacon of morality, like Scott Gruendl and Mary Flynn before him, plays it exactly right! It’s true, he received no money from these PACs. What he forgets to mention, is that they spent money on him

Kinda reminiscent of Donald Sterling and his whore, isn’t it?  Well, get used to it, cause this is what you can expect from your “leaders” over the next four or so years.

I’m not going back to the newspaper to argue with Sorensen – judging from remarks posted on my letter, there are other people who’ve been watching local government for a long time who agree with me. Rick Clements disagrees with me, so that should prove I’m right :)

Meanwhile, I received a note recently saying the Nature Center hasn’t made one payment on their loan since the meeting where Sorensen told me  “That’s enough!” when I asked them for their books. Not to mention, the city just wrote off a few hundred thousand in bad loans given to home buyers through the low-income loan program. 

Ain’t it great to have Fiscal Conservative Mark Sorensen watching the cookie jar!

CARD will run a phone campaign to talk public into paying for $10-18 million aquatic center

17 Apr

Last night the Chico Area Recreation District Board of Directors voted (Sneed, Malowney, and Ellis, Lando and Worley absent) to spend $25-30,000 on a consultant to run a phone campaign to get support for their proposed aquatic  center. 

Early estimates for a trio of designs ranged from $10 – 18 million. As former board member Ed Seagle said, these facilities never pay for themselves, the whole wad will have to come from the taxpayers in the form of a bond or assessment on our homes.  

I don’t know the exact boundaries of the district, but it includes Forest Ranch.

The task ahead will be to inform the voters about CARD’s sketchy history, their budget, their excessive salaries and benefits, the revolving door they seem to have on their directors, and pattern of poor spending decisions. Most recently they voted to spend over $150,000 on a rose garden instead of fixing the two existing swimming pools, scheduled to be closed in 2016 after years of neglect.

 

 

CARD board meeting tonight, Lakeside Pavilion, 7 pm – there will be a report from the Aquatic Facility Advisory Committee

16 Apr

Again, a meeting is taking my day. I say, it takes my whole day because I have to plan and rearrange to make room for it. And, it’s not the meeting I’ve been trying to get into – that’s the Aquatic Facility Advisory Committee, and you’ve read here the runaround I’ve got from CARD staffers Steve Visconti, Jennifer Marciales and now, Robert Hinderer, about being notified of those committee meetings so I could attend. Just last week they blew me off for a meeting, Hinderer making some bullshit excuse about my name not being on the right mailing list. 

Rob, this is why you don’t have any friends.

I’ll try to attend, because if you don’t play the game they try to say you’re not serious and dump you out of the loop. Even though this meeting is warmed over hash compared to what goes on in the committee meetings and the private conversations, I will try to attend, just to show face. There’s a lot of ridiculous face-showing in this business, it’s worse than a game of No Limit Holdem.

I have finally got some other people watching, and I want them to know I wasn’t just yanking their chain.

I wish more people would attend these board meetings though. I’ll say, they’re prompt, start at 7 pm, and usually over by 8:30, even 8:00. For me, the drive out to Lakeside Pavilion is onerous, but after seeing Maureen Kirk running all over the county, night meetings in Forest Ranch, then another night meeting in Chico, I feel lame for complaining about driving to a meeting. Hope to see a few new faces, the board seems to be malleable to public scrutiny. 

I would like somebody to stand up during the public comment period and ask about plans to salvage Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools- as far as I know, they plan to shutter these pools and hand them back to  the school district after the 2015 swim season. They’ve neglected those pools for years, it’s in the books. Now, instead of bringing those much used facilities back up to par,  they throw over $150,000 at a rose garden?

CARD is a recreation district, but they have gutted their funds with exorbitant salaries and benefits and pensions for which the employees pay NOTHING. You might have noticed, city and county workers pay a percentage, the cops have raised their share to 12 percent.  But CARD employees still enjoy 70 percent of their highest year’s salary at 55 for NOTHING.  Director Steve Visconti retired last year at about $112,000/year – do the math – that’s about $77,000 a year, with COLA, to do NOTHNG. CARD hired a new manager at about $117,000, but he left within six months because of a disagreement over the aquatic facility discussion – I think he wanted to put that to bed, tried to tell them it was crazy given their budget – and there he went. Now Visconti is back in – does he get an interim salary in addition to retirement pay? Now there’s another question you could ask during the public comment period! Get in there! 

A year or so ago they bottomed out their general fund making a $400,000 “side fund payoff” to CalPERS. Their general fund is still pretty tanked, they’ve had to let off most of their part time staff.  Now they try desperately to raise funds to keep the doors open – and the CalPERS payments made – with a rose garden wedding chapel? That’s why they said they were spending over $1 million on Lakeside Pavilion. They’re trying to compete with private industry, when they’re supposed to be providing low-cost recreation activities. All for the salaries, benefits and pensions of about 33 management employees, who are quickly running out of underlings to do the actual work. 

They expect volunteers to run the Junior Giants program, while they all get salaries in excess of $50,000 a year, plus fully-paid benefits and pension. The Giants, by the way, foot all the expenses for Junior Giants, they even train the volunteer coaches. They just need somebody to advertise the program locally, so CARD steps in like a wolf in the sheep pen.

Have you ever seen a sheep get pissed off? Here’s a guy we could all learn a lesson from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdX4JobRCUc

 

 

 

 

Clean and Safe starting a sales tax increase campaign?

15 Apr

Happy April 15 Taxpayers!

Do you know that you are paying for the use of City Plaza every Tuesday from 11 am to 1 pm? Have you been down there to enjoy your tax dollars at work?

Clean and Safe, an organization spawned out of the Downtown Business Association and the Chico Chamber, holds a “picnic in the plaza” every Tuesday from 11 – 1. They bring in various local food trucks and commercial vendors for “some fundraising and educational elements for the Downtown Chico Clean & Safe Campaign as well as the City of Chico Parks Division.”

I guess a lot of people would say that’s okay, but I’m saying, this is the beginning of a sales tax increase campaign.

This morning I looked at the city website to see if “Clean and Safe” has registered as a PAC – nothing yet. I’m guessing the clerk would not put it up right away, she’s woefully behind in her job. When I checked the county website, the page was down – the county website is unreliable, poorly run. As usual, I had to send a note to Elections and cc Candace Grubbs and Maureen Kirk, I’ll see what I get back.

I have heard from friends that Clean and Safe is advocating a sales tax increase “for public safety.” We’ll see how long they run it under the radar. Right now they are enjoying free use of City Plaza – here’s the rate schedule:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/documents/Schedule80-All.pdf

First you pay the reservation fee – based on expected attendance – $11 per 100 people – minimum $150. If you are going to have more than 100 attendees, you also have to purchase liability insurance. There are two damage deposits  – $180 for an “intensive  use area” – I’m guessing the Plaza is considered “intensive use”. For more than 200 people attending a Plaza event, there is a $95 restroom fee.

Only $100 of that damage deposit is refundable, and that’s up to the Parks Division. So, for a “partial day” event of 4 hours or less, with folks allowed to roam freely within the perimeter whether or not they attend or contribute to your event, would cost you a minimum of $345.

A park employee told me this was decided at a Bidwell Parks and Playground commission meeting. Let me remind all of us – we don’t elect the park commissioners, these are spoils positions.

California Water Commission meeting – the water discussion is loaded, watch your step, or you will be left high and dry

14 Apr
I would have been comforted by this room full of people but I found out most of  them were there under false pretenses.

I would have been comforted by this room full of people but I found out most of them were there under false pretenses.

Busy little bees – my husband and I went out last night to the California Water Commission hearing on their “Water Storage Investment Program” – or, more suitably, “How should we divvy up the Prop 1 pie?

Dammit, I told you  guys to vote NO! on Prop 1 – who got us into this $7.5 billion hornswaggle?  Well, I do remember District 4 Senator Jim Nielsen and Assembly District 3 representative James Gallagher being strong proponents of this tax grab, as well as strong proponents of the Sites Reservoir. When I read the proposition, I didn’t see any guarantees how the money would be spent, even directly on water. As was driven home by board representatives last night, “before bond dollars from Proposition 1 can be disbursed for actual projects, each state agency tasked with administering a competitive grant or loan process must develop and finalize guidelines for soliciting and evaluating project proposals.”

So, they haven’t even ironed out the guidelines by which they will divvy up the money, much less made any promises. Nielsen and Gallagher said they’d asked all of us down there last night, as Gallagher put it, “to ensure we have water for our future…”  Nielsen insisted that “This bond was clearly represented to be  about water storage…” Well, while that’s what he and Gallagher said when they were selling it to the voters, I never saw that in the text of the proposition. 

How soon we forget – about four years ago we were all screaming for FLOOD CONTROL. There’s roads in Glenn County that are never paved because they routinely wash out, truckloads of gravel being brought in once the water goes down to connect rural families back to civilization. In Tehama County last year, a whole subdivision was turned into a chain of islands and children were stranded on a school bus when their driver rightfully balked at the flooded roads. Now Nielsen and Gallagher say the words “flood control” as though it’s some plot to steal our money. They also act as though the Sites Reservoir will directly benefit the residents of our area, of Chico even. Nielsen said such a reservoir at Sites would “take pressure off Folsom Lake…” for water transfers. What does that have to do with Chico? And yeah, as Nielsen said, it will take pressure off Folsom Lake – with our Sacramento River water.

The discussion was loaded in the wrong direction. Nielsen and Gallagher got a huge crowd, dozens and dozens of farmers from towns like Gerber and Orland and Arbuckle, all over the region, riled them up to believe they were being ripped off, and Sites was the way to secure “our” water. The exact opposite is true – Sites is the very mechanism by which they steal “our” water, and we’ll pay, as Prop 1 specified, 50 percent of the cost of rounding it up and transporting it south.  Here’s the map showing how they will use the existing Glenn/Tehama canal to take water from Red Bluff diversion dam to the proposed  Sites reservoir, cutting out farmers and other users all the way down the Sac River. 

http://www.water.ca.gov/storage/docs/NODOS%20Project%20Docs/Project%20Map&Features.pdf

One user is City of Chico. We use the river to discharge our sewer water. Several times in past, changes in the river flow, particularly M&T Ranch taking huge volumes of water for irrigation, have left the Chico sewer pipes high and dry, dumping “treated” sewer water right on the beach. They are supposed to be located, like leach lines, on the bottom of the river.  It’s cost Chico millions each time to fix, and there’s no permanent solution, it happens every time there’s a change in the flow of the river.   How will Sites Reservoir, with it’s emphasis on “securing municipal water supplies”, affect the Chico Sewer plant operations? 

The whole  hearing was a real disappointment – they were not prepared for any kind of turnout, didn’t put out enough chairs, big snafu getting the crowd of 300 or so into the huge and perfectly capable building. They set this thing up as though they didn’t want us to come. 

This board, by the way, is made up, essentially, of developers, legal insiders, a water district shill, and a couple of corporate farmers from the Fresno area. There are no representatives from North of Sacramento. 

I’m sorry I don’t have a better report, we left when we realized the presentation covered stuff I’d already read about on their website, and the public would not be allowed to comment until the last 45 minutes of a three hour presentation. We had already realized, by attending, we gave the impression that we support Jim Nielsen, James Gallagher, and the Sites Reservoir. 

Of course I was really happy to see my county supervisor Maureen Kirk present, as well as Dist 4 super Larry Wahl, Mayor Mark Sorensen, Vice Mayor Sean Morgan, planning commissioner Bob Evans, and others. I will also say, Maureen stood in line with everybody else to get in and she sat in the audience talking to people while waiting for the start of the program. 

 

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