Stephan Farris, you need to do your homework Sweetie

4 Jul
I wrote a letter to the Enterprise Record about the new budget. I’ve been going to meetings and reading documents for years now, I’ve watched the budget very closely, I’ve watched the agendas. Every year they throw out a budget, but it’s a joke – through “appropriations” they manage to raise spending millions over budget, all they have to do is file an “appropriation.” 

Appropriate” means “take,” by the way.

City salaries rise and council won’t control it

The taxpayers must be asleep when city staff more than doubles the budget from $43 million to $109 million, giving themselves all generous salaries and paying the lion’s share of their own benefits out of the public till.

City staff has done very well for itself. Meanwhile, the park looks terrible, with liability issues such as rotting tree limbs, pot-holed roads and gopher-pitted trails. Our neighborhood streets are also a liability issue.

Our city staffers are making as much as five times the median income, but complain they can’t serve us. City Manager Mark Orme takes over $200,000 in salary, pays less than 10 percent of his own pension and benefits, but complains he needs an assistant. At that kind of salary, I’d expect Superman, but Orme complains he can’t do his job. That’s become a pattern of late — he justified his salary raise saying he had a big job to do, gutted staff to save the money to give himself that raise, but now complains he needs help.

And our “fiscal conservative council” — don’t make me laugh. They approved the budget and the salary increases, now they will ask us to raise the sales tax rate to pay for these outrageous salaries and pensions. They will promise us a stadium, a new swim center, smiling cops on every corner — but all we’ll get out of it are more overfed bluejays to screech and squawk for more money, more money, more money.

— Juanita Sumner, Chico

I hate writing to the ER because they allow Topix. Topix requires membership with Facebook or Twitter or another one of the social networks, to which I do not subscribe. I can’t stand Tweeters, I’m sorry, get a life. Sounds waaaay too much like Tweaker, anyway.  So, Topix users are able to say whatever they want about a letter, and I can’t respond. Here’s a comment that is just flatly insulting and uninformed.

“You need to do your homework… The total budget approved for 2013/2014 was $110,519,079. The total budget approved for 2014/2015 was $120,449,882. The approved budget for 2015/2016 is $109,700,000 (rounded) which is a significant reduction from last year and small reduction from the prior year.”

Mr. Farris, you do your homework, Jackass. I think you actually know the truth, but you spread misinformation to further your bottom line, whatever that is. Wife a public worker? You might want to attend a few meetings, read a few documents Mr. Farris before you tell somebody else they don’t know what they’re talking about. 

And, of course, the old budgets have been taken down from the city website. Oh well – this is it folks, either you believe me or you don’t. Ask yourself – who’s been going to meetings all these years, and who’s just been jerking their wad on Topix? 


Here’s the real story behind Brian Nakamura’s sudden departure from Rancho Cordova

2 Jul

The article in today’s ER didn’t really tell the whole story. Here is a recent piece from Sacramento Ch 10 and a piece from last October, KCRA Ch 3.

You get what you accept – Chico, you need to raise your standards!

1 Jul

Yesterday  was the last day to turn in you Utility Tax Rebate application. I wonder how many people applied for that this year.  When I go in to collect my rebate, I feel like I’m making some attempt to hold city council and staff accountable for the mess they’ve got us in. But you can’t hold these people responsible, they just wiggle out. They’re insane – one minute they’re telling us they’re too broke to keep the library open and the next minute they’re more than doubling the city budget  to accommodate their pensions.

I’ll tell you what else is insane – Scott Gruendl has got a new job! He’s been hired as the Assistant Director of Behavioral Health Services for the County of San Mateo. There’s just no accountability for these people. Gruendl just retired from Glenn County Health and Human Services split hairs ahead of being fired for substance abuse. He just got his hat handed to him in the last Chico city election, having led the city on a drug-influenced spending binge for 12 years. 

And now, read back over the stories about his 100 mph+ speeding ticket, and look at all the lies. The guy has got a serious problem with The Truth – it doesn’t fit in his mouth!

Go ahead, have a good laugh at your own expense – this is the guy who kept insisting that Chico was his “hometown” all these years. If you look at his Twitter account here, you’ll see just how sincere that was as he talks about the spendy new homes he’s looking at in the Bay Area.

“The winner is: Candidate 1 – Upper Market/Castro Home – welcome to the new home of Scott and Nicholas Gruendl..”

Excuse me – barf!  I just can’t stand this kind of carpet bagger.  I knew he was a fake, and there it is. And you won’t hear any of his former friends down at Democratic Headquarters making any excuses for him, they’re pissed at him too. He used to brag to me about having dinner with little Janey-bob MulDolan and her friends – I’m guessing Bob Mulholland wouldn’t admit knowing Gruendl at this point.

My question, and I don’t know where to get a straight answer on this – how does he retire from one public agency and then take a job with another? Will he collect a salary and pension simultaneously? This is a question that needs answering, I just don’t know where to get that answer.

Speaking of crime, Rose wrote a thoughtful note to the ER letters section, encouraging people to take notice of suspicious activity around them and say something to the cops. But, I don’t know how seriously the cops would take my reports.

There was the conversation I overheard at the Mangrove Safeway. We always park our bike near the entrance, where there’s oftentimes a little group of, well, I’ll say it – ne’er do wells – hanging around. I think they’ve been warned not to panhandle, but if they get your eye they’ll start a little conversation – “wow, great bike!” – and the next thing you know they’re asking you for one thing or another. We try not to make eye contact, play deaf, just smile and turn away.  The other day one guy was talking about having beaten up another man who said something he didn’t like – “that’s when I head-butted him!”. I wondered, where did this take place? Here at my grocery store? I kind of doubt it, the Safeway management keeps a tight lid on these guys. A few days later I heard about a stabbing at One Mile.  I realized suddenly how unsafe the park really is. 

Yesterday morning we were driving our car across town to get it serviced, and I noticed, at the corner of 4th and Pine, somebody had raked together a little pile of tree debris and burned it like a camp fire right in the middle of the lane, just north of the intersection. I guess they thought that would be safer than a fire in their side yard? Or maybe they don’t have a side yard? How would somebody get away with this in a town where the cops were doing their job?

When we went Downtown later yesterday afternoon, we found the usual little encampments at City Hall and The Plaza. Some creeps were jumping their BMX bikes off the stage at the plaza, right in the middle of the day. Earlier yesterday they had that “Picnic in the Plaza” nonsense – what a laugh!  That is just a fundraiser for the sales tax increase campaign the city will be running by next Spring.

When we drove by the CARD center I again saw why the CARD board decided to move most of their business sessions out to Cal  Park Pavilion – there is a regular little encampment on the back patio of the CARD center. I’m guessing that a closer inspection would find they are smoking and drinking alcohol and that’s not permitted there. 

People are allowed to gather, but they’re not allowed to loiter. The cops are supposed to have a very clear legal understanding of the difference between those two words. Frankly, all you have to do to get rid of a lot of these people is put on a uniform and talk to them regularly. It makes the creepy ones uncomfortable, you know – like shining light on a cockroach. I don’t have a uniform, or a taser, or even a can of hairspray to protect myself. I don’t get $70,000+ a year to spend my time moving creeps along. I don’t get what amounts to a hand-out for the rest of my life either. I want to see Chico PD doing their job


The problem with the online reporting mechanism is, for me, if the crime is important enough to take my time to report it’s important enough to talk to a cop. Having these people tell us, they don’t have time to take reports – that’s the essence of their job. When they tell us they don’t have time to do their job, my mind goes straight to a picture of a pig wearing a cop uniform, stuffing a doughnut into his face.  What else? I sure don’t see them racing through town  catching perps red-handed.  For every little victory you read about in the paper  – oftentimes citizen action or just plain stupidity on the part of the criminal – how many crimes go uncovered and unpunished and will happen again and again? Meanwhile they demand more and more money. 

Whenever we pick up our lunch at Chico Locker, the place is full of Chico public safety workers. They won’t make eye contact, they act nervous and suspicious, like little children whose Momma just discovered a discrepancy in the cookie jar.  It’s GUILT.

This is our fault. We don’t hold these people accountable. Lie in your dirty bed Chico, it’s the bed of your own making.






How far will people be pushed in this drought?

29 Jun

ER letter writer Daniel Courtice of Chico complained recently that even though his household had used less than their budgeted water amount, they got no “credit” in their “water bank.” He reports, “We put buckets in our shower, tubs in our sink, flush our toilets much less, take navy showers and our lawn is half dead” but received no kudos in their subsequent bill.

“I contacted Cal Water to discuss this discrepancy and was told that during the first month no one was getting credits for the water bank.” 

He asks “We all need to do our part in this drought crisis but how is this right that Cal Water is not living up to the agreement that was promised at the community water meeting?”

I had seen in my notice, they wouldn’t be giving that credit up until the July bill. My husband called it – use all you can until the end of May, or they’ll cut you off that much more next year. He was right.

I wonder if Courtice knows about WRAM – the “water rate adjustment mechanism” by which water companies manipulate the price of water each month to cover costs. If we use too little water, they are allowed to charge more to cover their salaries, pensions and benefits – “fixed costs”.  They explained exactly how much they needed to fund their salaries and pensions – hundreds of thousands of dollars a year –  in the first notice  I received, I think, three years ago?

  I can’t fault Courtice, Cal Water sends so many of these GD notices, who in their right mind is able to keep up with all the twists and turns. 

I am on pins and needles waiting for my next water bill. It better be good, is all I’m saying. We already led a pretty water wise existence, but we’ve cut back further. For one thing, we filled our Intex pool every June, and now that’s gone. We’ll see if that even makes a blip on the radar. 

It’s always frustrating to see how far people will be pushed before they get mad about something that’s not right. Cal Water posted big profits this year.

According to Yahoo Finance in the April 29, 2015 article, “California Water Service Group Holding (CWT) on Wednesday reported first-quarter net income of $1.6 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.”

Furthermore, “The San Jose, California-based company said it had profit of 3 cents per share.  The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 2 cents per share.”

How can they post a profit and still collect a WRAM charge every month? How can we let a for-profit corporation control our water?


Koyaanisqatsi – life is out of balance around here

24 Jun

I get a report from Word Press about how people get to my site – what search terms they use.  Lately there has been a lot of curiosity about various members of city council and  staff.

Of course Sean Morgan and his wife have been a subject of interest, since Morgan complained that his wife got a parking ticket Downtown recently. He admitted she’d violated her parking meter, and that her front license plate was missing, but he complained that the parking enforcement “specialist” hired by Downtown merchants are being overzealous. 

My husband wonders how Morgan could be so stupid as to make such a complaint publicly. I told him, you just have to come to a meeting, this behavior would not surprise you if you’d been watching the guy. He’s a total idiot. He thinks being elected to public office gives a person some sort of deference, a special privilege above and  beyond the rights of the common and ordinary Joe and Jane Citizen. He’s very demanding, like a spoiled  child. 

At least Morgan is stupid enough to let himself out of the bag – you know they all feel that way. Something about the recycled air in the city chamber just gets to their brains, something about those fancy chairs gives them a pair of brass cojones. At a time when the people need to lead, we sit in the peanut gallery, throwing tomatoes at these clowns.  Koyaanisqatsi.

Then there’s Chris Constantin, spelled various ways. Whenever I get a lot of searches for a person like that, it seems they are looking for a new job, but that’s just my past experience. To think what that guy has accomplished since he got here – cutting staff down to a skeleton crew, rearranging our finances to accommodate unprecedented salaries for himself and his cronies, making the 9 percent employee share of pension cost look like some kind of taxpayer victory, and taking a $43 million budget to $109 million over the course of a year, at the same time telling us around every corner we’re in a precarious financial condition.

Where did he get another $50 million for this new budget? Koyaanisqatsi.

Another common search is “plastic bag ban,” “single use bag ban”, etc. I know that’s not just Bob, people are pissed off one way or the other on that issue – we’ll see who’s got enough piss and vinegar to tip the boat one way or the other. I won’t say I’ve gotten over it, but I don’t have much energy to put into it – like Bob, I am pretty sure the ban will hold up. The overwhelming propaganda – the island the size of Texas made up of shopping bags, blah, blah – added to the average Californian’s poor education and lack of motivation,  will hammer the last nail in that coffin. 

But who knows – 35 years ago environmentalists were likening the use of tree pulp in making shopping bags to The Holocaust, now you see them flowing out of the grocery stores just like the old days, and it’s okay because they cost 10 cents a piece. Koyaanisqatsi. 

CARD finally found a solution to Obamacare – outsource labor costs to a consultant (long time public contractor Greg Melton) who can keep his staff small enough that he does not fall under the Obamacare laws. Over a year ago, the CARD board voted to cut part time workers’ hours to 28 hours or less to avoid having to pay healthcare under Obama’s new 30 hours is full time ruling. Meanwhile, some 30-odd full time employees enjoy full benefits and pension, for which they pay nothing out of their own salaries. Koyaanisqatsi. 







CARD chooses new general manager (Ann Willman), cuts her salary to $100,000/year – really?

20 Jun
This article from the Enterprise Record says new CARD General Manager Ann Willmann’s salary will only be $100,000/year, but also says Hayne’s salary was only $105,000. Why is the state controllers office reporting a salary of $124,000/year, plus benefits?

Sorry, I haven’t been going to these meetings, this report is from a month ago. I’m still waiting for CARD to get back to me with some questions I’ve had about the Aquatic Center Advisory Committee, I’ll try to get to the July board meeting.

CARD picks new manager, approves bocce ball

Chico >> A new general manager, a restructuring on hold, and a tentative go-ahead on bocce ball at the Dorothy Johnson Center all made it through the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board’s approval in less than an hour.

During the Thursday night meeting, the board came out of closed session to announce that Ann Willmann of Chico had been hired as CARD’s new general manager. Willmann previously worked at CARD, but left in 2013 to become the general manger at Feather River Recreation and Park District in Oroville.

Willmann joined CARD in 2006 as a recreation supervisor, then left to take on the FRRPD top position. She will start with CARD on July 6 at an annual salary of $100,000, plus benefits. Board members, some of whom had worked with Willmann previously, congratulated her and welcomed her back.

“Welcome,” said interim General Manager Steve Visconti, who spent 15 years as GM before his retirement and worked closely with Willmann.

“It’s like coming home,” she told the board.

Visconti will return to his retirement, which he started in July, then interrupted to serve as GM after previous General Manager Jerry Haynes resigned in February, citing differences with the board. Haynes was hired at $105,000 annually.

With the permanent general manager coming on in a little over a month, the board tabled the idea of restructuring until Willmann was on board. The board seemed to support Visconti’s suggestion of doing away with a vacant position of superintendent of parks and facilities to create a new manager over both the parks and recreation programs. Willmann said she was good with the idea of an assistant general manager or the new position, but wanted to examine the structure a little more.

The board unanimously approved the concept of a professional service agreement with Melton Design Group, and directed Visconti and board attorney Jeff Carter to draw up the agreement. CARD would tap Melton Design Group when additional services were needed by the special district. Visconti noted that Melton was already working on the proposed rose garden and had helped with the proposed aquatic center.

Bocce ball supporter Debra Cannon got tentative approval for her citizens group to look into putting two bocce ball courts at the Dorothy F. Johnson Center on East 16th Street, which CARD owns. However, the board directed that the Chapman neighborhood be asked for input on the courts through a public meeting or hearing before giving final approval. Representing a group of citizens supporting bocce ball, Cannon said the group was good with using the Johnson center lawn, and asked for approval of a shade structure over the courts, with lighting for the courts that would not disturb the neighbors.

While CARD offered the location, the bocce group will have to raise money to put in and maintain the courts. They estimated construction at about $100,000.

The game is similar to bowling on a sand court.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

Orme should have to hire his own assistant and pay for it out of his own salary

18 Jun

Mark Orme says he has been working without an administrative assistant and wants to hire one. 

He can’t seem to afford a babysitter either – in all the years I’ve been attending these meetings and all the single mothers I know who work for the city, Orme is the first employee I’ve seen bring his kid to work. The wife was out of town with the other kid, he said, so he had to leave work to pick up kid Number 2 at school before he could make a Local Gov Committee meeting. The boy was perfectly well behaved, but needed his dad’s attention now and then – wouldn’t you? I think it’s inappropriate for a guy who makes that kind of money to bring a little distraction to work with him, but that’s my point of view. 

Here’s my other point of view – this guy is part of the team that fired all the lower level employees – you know, the workers? – to give himself and several other suits big, BIG raises.  He’s making almost $200,000/year in salary alone, I think he should have to be his own secretary. I mean, come on, you’d expect a guy that makes that kind of money to come with a couple of clones.  For what we pay that guy, we should really get at least 2 and a half people. The least he can do, is take his own notes, answer his own phones, pick up his own lunch.

Or, he can hire somebody out of his own salary, and pay that person himself. 



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