Butte County GOP needs to step up to the plate – let them know how you feel about the city’s districting sham – (530) 876 – 4191

25 Jan

Butte County GOP staffers like to talk smack, but I wonder if they are willing to sue the city of Chico over the highly questionable voting districts? 

I think they need a little shove – you can call them at 530-876-4191 – I’ve tried email and they don’t respond. Let them know you are also outraged by this obvious grab for power, and want them to put their money where their mouth is. I mean, if out-of-towners like Jim Nielsen and Doug LaMalfa expect us to take them seriously, they better get their donors together and make some waves on our behalf.

Come on Doug, if you are truly “One of Us”, get out there and start pounding your mau-mau stick! 

Butte County GOP staff are supposed to have a monthly public meeting at the Oxford Suites motel, but a friend of mine says they don’t always show up. At the last meeting he attended, they announced that Chico Area Recreation District will be at their next meeting (currently scheduled for February 13 at 6pm) to ask GOP to endorse parcel tax Measure A. Last election, GOP staffers endorsed Terry Clelland for CARD board, and he is fully on board with Measure A. We have to make sure GOP staffers know there are Measure A opponents who will be glad to vote their poorly chosen candidates back to the stone age. 

I will call to confirm next week. Their last meeting was a reschedule, my friend having shown up at their regularly scheduled meeting to find a note on the door.  

I’ll keep you posted. 

NO on state Prop 13 AND CARD parcel tax measure A – as the voters keep passing tax increases on themselves, the publicly employed pigs will keep eating more and more of our economy

22 Jan

Lately I feel like the legendary Dutch Boy – I only have 10 fingers, but the local dikes are full of holes. Yes, I think this whole city districts thing stinks to high heaven. “Citizens for a Safe Chico”? Who is hiding behind that generic moniker? Dog houses for poor people – whacko!

I know other people here are similarly concerned – the two top searches for this week were “money given to the city of chico to house transients” and “why are pacs bad” .

I’ll try to answer those searches – 

  1. How much money has the city received to “house transients”?  The city of Chico declared a “shelter crisis designation” in 2018 and received $4.9 million in state grants. If you want to comb through the budget to look where that went, be my  guest – I’ll guess, it went to salaries/benefits, and the pension/benefits liabilities. Maybe they spent $100,000 on the warming tent, but I’d bet my last $5 most of it went to salaries and benefits. They got another $4 million or so for their plan (not yet realized) to “consolidate” homeless services at the Silver Dollar fairgrounds. In order to make room for adults who cannot seem to behave as adults, the city evicted a group who had put a lot of work and money into a kids’ public BMX track.  This did not surprise me – I’ll say, as a mom of two kids born and raised here, Chico has never been a child-friendly town. 
  2. Why are pacs bad? In my opinion they have way more rights than the rest of the voters, and therefore way too much influence on elections. The biggest donors in every Chico election are the public employee unions – specifically, Chico Police Officers Association (CPOA), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). You can find those reports at the  city of Chico website. But, every election brings up another pac, this year it’s “Citizens for a Safe Chico,” fronted by local businesswoman Teri Dubose. You will have to look at their campaign filings to find out who is really behind this group, and who they intend to foist into the arena. And, here’s what stinks – their last report isn’t due until after the election. That’s usually when the unions file their reports, after the fact. 

The good news is, we have until November to worry about the council elections. Right now, the March 3 election is rolling right up on us, and I believe the most important items on that ballot are California State Proposition 13 (Education finance: school facilities: Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020) and Chico Area Recreation District Measure A (parcel tax). 

I believe the proponents of Prop 13 purposely chose 13 to confuse voters, make them think they might be renewing or strengthening the original Prop 13. No, this measure essentially overturns the protections guaranteed in the original Prop 13, allowing the legislature to float bonds that we are not allowed to vote on. This in addition to bonds passed by our own school district. From Ballotpedia:

A “yes” vote supports this measure to authorize $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges.

Voters just approved the $126 million Chico Unified School District Measure K in 2016. At that time, Dave Howell wrote this in a letter to the Enterprise Record:

“Just four years ago voters approved a $78 million bond for Chico Unified School District. Now CUSD wants another $126 million for the same things the $78 million bond was supposed to fund. This despite declining enrollment and CUSD deferring maintenance on its facilities.”

Look at the history of STATE bonds at Ballotpedia – “Californians last voted on a school facilities bond measure in 2016, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. The bond measure, titled Proposition 51, issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges. Between 1998 and 2019, voters approved five bond measures for school facilities—Proposition 1A (1998), Proposition 47 (2002), Proposition 55 (2004), Proposition 1D (2006), and Proposition 51 (2016).”

Remember, you pay these in addition to the bonds our school district issues. Wake UP!

Meanwhile, Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) has a parcel tax on the March 3 ballot – a tax that will start at $110/year and go up with the cost of living index – roughly 1.9 – 2% PER YEAR. What CARD doesn’t say in the ballot information is that they will use the proceeds from this parcel tax to issue bonds, creating a downward spiral of debt that your grandchildren will be saddled with. And they have the nerve to say, it’s all about the kids! Like the  city of Chico, CARD has been funneling hundreds of thousands toward their $2 million +++ pension liability. The funds from this parcel tax are not restricted to maintenance or capital projects, but will go to the General Fund to be spent at the discretion of the board and staff. 

What does CARD have in common with the school district? They both admit to having deferred maintenance while paying millions toward their pension deficit. Read a four year old piece by Dan Walters when he was still with the Sacramento Bee.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article111932412.html#storylink=cpy

“School districts and other local governments often neglect maintenance of their facilities to meet demands for other spending, particularly pressure from unions for increases in pay and fringe benefits. Then, after the deferred maintenance results in deterioration that can no longer be ignored, officials draw up bond issues to make repairs that could have been avoided with proper maintenance.”

And here’s the proof that these monies are not really used “for the kids” –  a note I received from CUSD finance officer Kevin Bultema just months after the passage of Measure K.

The increase PERS and STRS [pension] costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.” 

See, right there he admits – they take money from the “district operations budget” to pay their pensions, and he furthermore admits that they will take more money to pay their pensions, at the cost of “CUSD’s program expenditures” – meaning, the kids!

Just six months later I read this in the Chico Enterprise Record: ““The board also voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Chico Unified Teachers Association. That agreement will collapse the salary schedule, reducing the years of service necessary for a teacher to reach their maximum salary.”

Raises in salary mean raises in pensions which means an increase in the pension deficit, since this agreement did not result in the teachers paying more of their share. School district employees, like CARD, still pay less than 10% of their pension cost. 

So, as long as the voters keep passing tax increases on themselves, the publicly employed pigs will keep eating more and more of our economy. 

Are you sick of being a cash cow for these entitled bastards? Well SPEAK UP! Just say NO on tax measures, starting with California Prop 13 and CARD Measure A. 

 

 

 

Letter to Editor: 87% of this year’s $135 million budget will go to administrative costs

19 Jan

The City of Chico has a bad case of neglect when it comes to its 300 miles of roadways.  It is estimated that 43% of Chico’s roads are in poor condition, or approximately 130 miles of dilapidated streets that feel like a washboard when driving on them, with the frequent thump of a bass drum when you hit a pothole.

The cost of upgrading 130 miles of city streets is beyond the city’s budget. Chico has very little discretionary money because of poor stewardship of the city’s resources: public funded salaries, benefits and pensions are disproportionate with the average Chicoan’s income. 87% of this year’s $135M budget will go to administrative costs. So much for fixing them roads.

At $35 to $50 per pothole, repairing what we’ve all seen and felt will overwhelm the city’s road and maintenance budget. The $800,000 annual franchise fees from waste management was earmarked for major road repair but is that happening?

The Beatles sing, “I read the news today, oh boy, four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire’ and though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all, now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.”

Or “I read the news today, oh boy, ten thousand potholes in Chico’s city streets, and though the holes were big and small, nobody really knows how much asphalt it will take to fill them all.”

A pothole exemplifies the erosion of a road’s foundation, and possibly the city’s as well.

— Roger Beadle, Chico

SEIU local 1021 has over $50 million in assets – see their Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax here

18 Jan

Against my better judgement I just watched “The Irishman”. It was weird watching actors play people I remembered from real life.

Jimmy Hoffa was a fixture of my childhood. I remember thinking he was a funny little guy, always punctuating his speeches with that pointed finger. Of course I remember seeing “Have you seen Jimmy Hoffa?” with a phone number, on bumpers everywhere. Probably one out of four cars had that bumper sticker, along with “Welcome to California, now lower your expectations…”

I had already read Frank Sheeran’s story about what happened, I knew it down to the details. That stuff doesn’t really shock me anymore. I read an abridged version of “Serpico” in the Reader’s Digest when I was 13 or 14 years old. I read “The Godfather” when I was about 15. I read the newspapers since I was a tiny child. It was all right there – the world can be ugly, corrupt, and there is no Lone Ranger. 

I was not shocked at Sheeran’s allegations that management union figures got huge salaries and pensions and lived like kings. If you think that’s fiction or ancient history, you might look at the IRS forms filed by California unions.

This link takes you to the Opt-out Now website, to a page about one specific SEIU group in the Bay Area. Go to the bottom “frequently asked questions”, click on “how does the union spend my money”

SEIU 1021

You will find this page:

https://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/205/205893698/205893698_201712_990O.pdf

this is the 2017 Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax – oh yeah, unions are exempt from income tax. 

Scroll down to page 10 – you see the salaries paid out by this organization. You see how little they actually spend on member services – the members who receive the services are the union employees. These people are not elected by their co-workers, they are hired by the union, and paid out of the dues collected from people who actually work for a living. 

Well, some of them, anyway. 

This is why Jim Parrott of Chico Police Officers Association has signed the Argument in Favor of Measure A, the parcel tax that Chico Area Recreation District has placed on the March 2020 ballot. He’d probably tell you it’s because he’s been involved in the Chico Area Swim Association, an affiliate of CARD, but we know the real reason.  These union members network to make sure the pensions are paid. Of course he will also endorse the city of Chico’s upcoming sales tax increase for the same reason.

Don’t drink the Kool Aid. No matter what they tell you about services, the biggest service agencies like CARD provide is to their union member employees. 

Opt Out Today: California Teachers Association collected over $178 million in dues in just one year – how does that affect our elections?

17 Jan

 

I went to optouttoday.com, where public employees can get more information about opting out of union dues, and maybe get a refund of illegally collected dues. You can look up the union that owes you money at their website:

California

Since we’ve been talking about the teachers’ union, I looked at CTA – California Teacher’s Association, who collected over $178 million in dues in just one year. The site also tells you where the money goes – some of these union employees get paid more than $400,000/year in salary – just think what the pension deficit for this agency looks like. 

California Teachers Association

Public employee unions are private organizations with minimal obligations to disclose financial information to members. The lack of accountability makes it easy for unions to take advantage of the easy income.

However, the IRS requires unions’ 990 tax returns to be publicly available, and these can be found online at sites like Guidestar.org. CTA reports using the Employer Identification Number (EIN) 94-0362310.

CTA’s form 990 for 2016 shows it collected $178.4 million in dues and fees from public employees that year. CTA’s highest-paid employee, associate executive director Emma Leheny, was paid $480,529. Former CTA executive director Carolyn Dogget was paid $370,610 in 2016, even though she performed no work on behalf of the union. At least 11 other CTA executives are paid hefty six-figure salaries. The union even loaned CTA president Eric Heins nearly $50,000 to finance a new car.

A portion of the funds CTA collects are forwarded to the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C.

Reports NEA must file annually with the U.S. Department of Labor indicate it collected $373.6 million in the 2017-18 school year and had a paid staff of around 700.

  • $26.7 million was spent by NEA on divisive political candidates, causes and lobbying.
  • $108 million was paid or contributed to ideological organizations and political advocacy groups.
  • The highest-paid NEA international employee, president Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, was paid $414,824 in 2018.
  • Nearly 400 NEA employees were paid six-figures in 2018.

NEA’s 2018 LM-2 report is available here.
NEA’s 2017 LM-2 report is available here.
NEA’s 2016 LM-2 report is available here.

On the unions’ annual “Hudson Notice” breaking out how much was spent on core union services, CTA reported that $55 million (29.7 percent) was not used for workplace services. Likewise, the NEA reported that $192 million (58 percent) was not used for workplace services.

Kathie Moloney: If you are frustrated with how your union dues are spent and/or unhappy with the direction our state and taxes, it’s time to stop giving these unions millions of dollars to push their political agenda

16 Jan

Given what I’ve learned over the past 10 years about the public pension system, it has been hard for me to keep any kind of respect for public employees. I’ll admit – I think anybody who would go along with the system is a creep, and doesn’t deserve any of my consideration. Especially school teachers – I went to public school, it kills all your trust and respect for adults.

But every now and then I meet a public employee who is not a total scumbag. Once a woman followed me out of a meeting at Chico City Hall, said she hadn’t wanted to talk to me in front of her coworkers, but  didn’t explain. She told me not all public workers enjoyed the kind of Gravy Train management was on. Then she took my hand and looked directly into my eyes and said she liked my letters – “keep doing what you’re doing”, she told me, and she slipped out of sight down a hallway. 

Looking at publicpay.com, you can see, not all city employees are considered equal – the “classified” staff don’t make nearly the salaries bestowed on management, who are like some kind of royalty compared to the people who actually do the work. 

Then a county worker called me, didn’t want to identify himself, but told me county workers are not all paid that great. He also explained to me that your union rep isn’t some popular co-worker elected by his peers – the county hires the union rep, he makes a management salary, and he bargains for his own salary separately from the workers he supposedly represents. Unions are a lot more “On The Waterfront” than “Norma Rae” these days. 

So I wondered how these people felt about forced conscription into a union that does not necessarily represent your interests – or your political beliefs. Then I heard about Janus vs AFSCME – the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that forcing employees to pay union dues is ILLEGAL. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janus_v._AFSCME

 “The Supreme Court ruled that such union fees in the public sector violate the First Amendment right to free speech…”

And, they ruled that employees who had opted out of the union but still been forced to pay dues (the city of Chico collected union dues from all their paychecks) would be eligible for REFUNDS.  But I’ve been left wondering how many employees would actually ask for the refunds.

Finally today I saw a letter in the Enterprise Record from a woman who describes herself as a retired teacher and says she was forced to pay union dues. She reports that she was never even told she could opt out of the portion used for political purposes – that was the law even before Janus vs AFSCME.   I bet a lot of union employees were unaware they were being ripped off. 

Unfortunately, I think she made a very pertinent grammatical error in her letter – I think she meant to say, “CTA used a portion of these dues to fund politicians and political campaigns that I did [NOT?] support” but left out the “not”. I think the ER is a piece of shit – that’s what editors are supposed to do. It’s an obvious mistake, but the ER staff didn’t think to contact this woman?

But, Mike Wolcott contacted my husband again and again about a letter my husband had sent, telling him he had to rewrite it extensively because Wolcott didn’t like the use of the words “shack” or “dumpster diving” regarding the Simplicity Village proposal. Wolcott’s not a journalist, he’s not even a very good editor. 

Here’s the letter from Kathie Moloney, you decide for yourself what she’s trying to say. 

And I’ll apologize now for thinking all public school teachers are money-grubbing kid-haters. 

 

I am a retired educator of 34 years and was required to pay dues to CTA each month in order to work. CTA used a portion of these dues to fund politicians and political campaigns that I did support nor give money to. CTA usually endorsed liberal politicians and their agendas.

While I often appreciated my local unions representation, I was never told I had the right to opt out of a portion of my dues CTA sent to political campaigns until late in my career. Educators are getting notices in the mail on how to opt out and possibly get a refund thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court decision. Go to http://www.OptOutToday.com for more information. This website indicates this ruling applies to all public employees who are mandated to pay union dues in order to have a job.

If you are frustrated with how your union dues are spent and/or unhappy with the direction our state and taxes, it’s time to stop giving these unions millions of dollars to push their political agenda.

— Kathie Moloney, Orland

 

Dan Walters documents a history of promises broken by state legislators – the same applies to our local legislators

14 Jan

As we watch “the homeless” overwhelm our parks and public areas, and Chico PD arrests more and more transients for burglary and assault,  the Chico city council is actually thinking about rescinding the “sit-and-lie” ordinance soon. I watched a video of county supervisor candidate Sue Hilderbrand claiming that transients should be allowed to do anything in public places that the rest of us do in our homes. The state is considering forcing the mentally ill into treatment. Gavin Newsom wants to penalize cities that are not, in his opinion, doing enough to house the homeless.

Meanwhile, according to Dan Walters,

https://www.marinij.com/2020/01/05/dan-walters-promises-made-but-not-kept-in-push-to-fund-criminal-rehab-programs/

billions of dollars meant to reduce repeat criminal activity by improving local jails and probation services were siphoned off for other purposes.”

You know what other purposes – “the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) was pressuring local governments to contribute more money to offset the system’s investment losses during the Great Recession, and to pay for pension benefit increases.”

Walters reports that CalMatters published a similar article about the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which was meant “to depopulate the state’s mental hospitals, curb involuntary commitments and divert the mentally ill into local treatment programs. 

“However, the promises of the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short act to create a network of easily accessible local mental health services were never kept. The money that had been saved from closing mental hospitals was swallowed up in state budgets approved by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and his successors from both parties.”

And those promises continue to be ignored, you can look at the Butte County Behavioral Department website for yourself:

https://www.buttecounty.net/behavioralhealth/

For one department – one department in a county of less than 300,000 people – with nearly a $100 million budget, I’m not impressed. I don’t see any directory of mental health professionals. I do see a number you can call if you’re experiencing a crisis, but I don’t see any programs – like AA – that can help a person avoid crisis. And while they’ve promised a “street crisis team,” I have yet to see county workers walking the parks or other public areas in Chico to counsel anybody toward getting off the street.

Look here – you can see where the Behavioral Health Budget goes.

https://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Counties/County.aspx?entityid=4&year=2014

You see the highest paid employee in Butte County, with a salary of almost $290,000/year and a benefits package of almost $50,000, is the Behavioral Health Director. Two BCBH employees make over $200,000/year, just in salary. If you search “Behavioral Health”, you find 66 pages of salaries – including the lower paid interns and “extra help” who actually work with the patients.

The funding they “saved” by not providing hospitalization for people in mental crisis has gone to management salaries, benefits, and, the county pension deficit.

Like Walters says, “We should keep the 1967 mental health law, the Local Control Funding Formula and realignment in mind the next time the state’s politicians tell us they are enacting a transformative solution to a pressing problem.” And, the next time our city or county leaders tell us they need more revenue to solve a problem, we should say NO! and vote them all out of office.