Daugherty still refuses to either print my letter or do her own investigating

6 Dec

I offered to change my letter for Melissa Daugherty  – I offered to pose my charges to the school district as questions. That’s called “opinion,” but Daugherty charges I am spreading “fake news,” and would not print my letter without editing it by about half.

She wouldn’t even look at the stuff I’d found online, nor would she do her own investigating.  JB called it right on the nose in his comment to my last post, so I stole  his words and wrote a new letter.

Chico Unified issued $126 million in school bonds between 1998 and 2012, built new facilities at both high schools, but the questionable portables are still standing.  Why is the editor surprised? As claimed in this latest bond campaign, Chico schools still contain asbestos and are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.  The district promised to upgrade computer labs  back in 2012, claims made again in the 2016 campaign.  

Last year  CUSD spent roughly a million dollars suing Chico State to keep the college from making public  e-mails sent through the college server by Chico Unified staff and board members. What were they hiding? I suspect the district is hiding information from the public, but the editor would neither investigate the evidence for herself nor let me include it in my letter. 

The News and Review has launched a “foundation” to ask funding from the community  ” to inform, engage and empower citizens”.   Apparently the editor believes that is a special category of journalism that her publication doesn’t have the time or wherewithal to pursue, so she throws up her hands and endorses the bond.

I got the boldface remark from JB – thanks JB, you nailed it. We have no real journalists in this town, we have propagandists. 

 

And then there’s our local media…

30 Nov

I hate to cry sour grapes, but I am confounded at the passage of Measure K (Chico Unified school bond) because of the lies, lack of information, and general disinterest of the public in  finding out the truth.  I found out a lot of distressing stuff about the school district – not the least of it, “about a million dollars” spent on a lawsuit against Chico State last year to keep the college from handing over secret e-mails sent between Chico Unified board members, staff, and the district’s attorney.

I got that information almost by accident – I was perusing the county superior court website to see how many times Chico Unified had been sued, I was just curious. There it was – Chico Unified sued Chico State.  When I began digging into the lawsuit, I found invoices for the attorneys – thousands of dollars just in one bill – for advising Chico Unified board members and employees about dumping e-mails requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. I saw an e-mail from the district’s attorney telling Bob Feaster’s secretary that she didn’t have to give up e-mails from her computer trash bin – wink wink!

I re-read the stories about the district’s near failure in 2008, when the state threatened a takeover because of poor record keeping, major deficit spending, closures of schools due to an $8 million deficit. I couldn’t believe neither local newspaper reminded the voters of any of this mismanagement over the course of this latest election, instead they actually ran favorable pieces about how the district had supposedly been spending the bond money. Alot of the new sports field and new building they built at the high schools was done with separate grant funding, that had to be matched  dollar for dollar out of the budget that was supposed to be going toward removing asbestos and bringing the schools up to par.  

A week or so ago, the News and Review, which endorsed  Measure K, ran a snide editorial saying since this latest bond had passed, it was time the district made good on replacing the portables.

I read about the portables too. The district promised to get rid of them in bond campaign ’98, again in bond  campaign 2012. In the Measure K campaign, they admitted they still had asbestos in the schools and they aren’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Yeah,  they’ve had almost 30 years to get the schools compliant with federal and state law, passed $126 million in  bonds, but still aren’t compliant.

So, I had to respond to the News and Review. Why hadn’t they made that criticism before the election? 

Chico Unified issued $126 million in school bonds between 1998 and 2012, built new facilities at both high schools, but the poorly ventilated portables long ago acknowledged to contain carcinogens are still standing.  Why is the editor surprised? As claimed in this latest bond campaign, Chico schools still contain asbestos and are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.  The district promised to upgrade computer labs for the kids  back in 2012, claims made again in the 2016 campaign.  

Last year  CUSD spent roughly a million dollars suing Chico State to keep the college from making public  e-mails sent through the college server by Chico Unified staff and board members. What were they hiding? E-mails sent between Chico Unified superintendents advising their staff to destroy records requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. Enrollment projections showing the district lied about overcrowding in 1998 and again in 2012.  Documents proving the district knew they would not be able to build on the Schmidbauer property when they promised that site to the voters in 1998. 

This newspaper endorsed Measure K so I expect to see a reporter at every board meeting. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I was surprised how quickly editor Melissa Daugherty got back to me:

Hi, Juanita,

I am having trouble fact-checking everything in your letter. If you can
provide links to documentation, that would be helpful. I will have to
hold off on printing this until I can verify your claims.

-Melissa

She had less than three hours to do any fact-checking, I don’t believe she did squat. For one thing, I got a lot of my information from past issues of her newspaper. Everything I told her could be checked out online. She could have asked district finance superintendent Kevin  Bultema for the pricetag on that lawsuit – I have, and I still don’t have anything from him besides promises he’ll get back to me.  She could also get enrollment figures from the district. 

I suggested she do her own digging – since when does an opinion come with footnotes? She responded again within minutes:

I’m happy to print a response on the portables editorial, but I cannot publish what you’ve written without fact-checking your claims. And, after digging around, I cannot find many of the specifics you mention, especially in the latter part of the letter.

-MD

Wow, to think this woman calls herself a journalist, but she can’t do a little research? Lazy, lazy girl.

So I sent her some clues.  A lot of the stuff I found didn’t have a direct link – like the court case. You just have to go to the index and search  for it, and you will find different stuff every time.  I also had found e-mails that I couldn’t forward, and most of them won’t cut-and-paste – hey, I don’t get paid to do this, I don’t get paid to take courses in Tech-BS, I do the best I can. Read it from the bottom.

 Done. Mkki Gillett, Director of lnformation Technology Willett@mail.chie CHICO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 1163 E. 7th St, Chico, CA 90928-5999 5301891-3000, ext 150 From: Ray Quinto Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 B:2G AM To: VikkiGillett Subject FW: Block – Jeff Sloan FYI Fro m : Robert Wilcox [mailto : rwilcox@ bcoe.org] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:28 pM To: Ray Quinto Subject: RE: Block – Jeff Sloan Hi Ray, I have added this email address to a black hole. Let me know if you need anything else. Robert Wilcox Network and Operations Manager Butte Coung Office of Education 530-s32-5770 From : Ray Quinto [mailto : rquinto@mail,chicousd.org] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:25 pM To: Robert Wilcox Subject FW: Block – Jeff Stoan Can you black hole this one for us? Ray

They’re talking about cleaning their computers of anything requested by former Marsh Junior High principal Jeff Sloan and his attorney. “Block – Jeff Sloan“? How obvious does this stuff have to be to get the attention of Snoop Daugherty? 

But, I realize, she had a point. I was “stating facts not in evidence,” which is allowed in court, but see, I’m not a lawyer. So I asked her, could I make my “claims” in the form of questions? Would that suit her?

We’ll see if she even bothers to respond. 

Even if voters try to be informed, getting information out of local agencies is pretty sketchy

27 Nov

Here’s something I found in the minutes from the August 18, 2016  Chico Area Recreation District board meeting. They don’t post minutes up to date so this has only recently  become available.

I wonder how many people would have voted for Lando, Worley or Hughes if they’d known about this.

Senate Bill 628- Enhance Financing Districts Jerry Hughes addressed the Board and encouraged the Board to lead the discussion regarding including Special Districts in the Enhanced Financing Districts legislation. He suggested that CARD contact agencies such as the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), California Parks & Recreation Society (CPRS) and California Association of Recreation and Park Districts (CARPD) and request that the topic be added to these agencies Board meetings for consideration and support. He stated that it is important that a good plan be developed to present to other agencies. Director Lando stated that he feels we need to get more information from legal Counsel.

M/S/C/ (Directors Lando/Worley) that the Board of Directors directs staff to prepare a letter requesting that Special Districts be allowed to create Enhanced Financing Districts and work with other agencies to gain support.

The vote was as follows: Ayes carried Ayes: Malowney, Ellis, Sneed, Lando, Worley Noes: None Abstain: None Absent: None

Senate Bill 628, passed without a whimper in 2014, allowed CARD to tax us with 55 percent of the vote.

SB 628, Beall. Enhanced infrastructure financing districts.

Existing law authorizes a legislative body of a city, defined to mean a city or a city and county, to establish an infrastructure financing district, adopt an infrastructure financing plan, and issue bonds, for which only the district is liable, to finance specified public facilities upon approval by 2/3 of the voters.

Existing law authorizes an infrastructure financing district to fund infrastructure projects through tax increment financing, pursuant to the infrastructure financing plan and the agreement of affected taxing entities, as defined.

Existing law requires an infrastructure financing plan to include the date on which an infrastructure financing district will cease to exist, that may not be more than 30 years from the date on which the ordinance forming the district is adopted.

This bill would additionally authorize the legislative body of a city or a county, defined to include a city and county, to establish an enhanced infrastructure financing district, adopt an infrastructure financing plan, and issue bonds, for which only the district is liable, upon approval by 55% of the voters; to finance public capital facilities or other specified projects of communitywide significance, including, but not limited to, brownfield restoration and other environmental mitigation; the development of projects on a former military base; the repayment of the transfer of funds to a military base reuse authority; the acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of housing for persons of low and moderate income for rent or purchase; the acquisition, construction, or repair of industrial structures for private use; transit priority projects; and projects to implement a sustainable communities strategy.

The bill would also authorize an enhanced infrastructure financing district to utilize any powers under the Polanco Redevelopment Act.

This bill would require the legislative body to establish a public financing authority, defined as the governing board of the enhanced infrastructure financing authority, comprised of members of the legislative body of the participating entities and of the public, prior to the adoption of a resolution to form an enhanced infrastructure district and infrastructure financing plan.
This bill would require proceedings for the establishment of a district to be instituted by the adoption of a resolution of intention that, among other things, states the boundaries of the district, the type of public facilities and development proposed to be financed or assisted by the district, and the need for the district and the goals the district proposes to achieve.
If the resolution is adopted by the legislative body after a public hearing, the bill would prohibit the public financing authority from implementing the infrastructure financing plan until specified events occur.
This bill would authorize the public financing authority to initiate proceedings to issue bonds, and would require the proposal to issue bonds to be submitted to qualified electors of the proposed district, as specified. By requiring electors to make specified declarations on ballots under penalty of perjury, this bill would expand circumstances under which a person may be convicted of a crime and thereby, would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would authorize an enhanced infrastructure financing district to fund infrastructure projects through tax increment financing, pursuant to the infrastructure financing plan and the agreement of affected taxing entities, as defined. This bill would authorize the creation of an infrastructure financing district for up to 45 years from the date on which the issuance of bonds is approved, as specified. This bill would require an infrastructure financing district to contract for the performance of an independent financial and performance audit every 2 years, as specified.
This bill would authorize a city, county, or special district that contains territory within the boundaries of an infrastructure financing district, upon approval of its governing body, to loan moneys to the infrastructure financing district to fund the activities described in the infrastructure financing plan, as specified.
This bill would authorize an enhanced infrastructure financing district to finance a project or portion of a project that is located in, or overlaps with, a redevelopment project area or former redevelopment project area, as specified.
This bill would prohibit a city or county that created a redevelopment agency from creating a district until specified conditions related to the wind down of the former redevelopment agency have been satisfied. This bill would provide that any debt or obligation of an enhanced infrastructure financing district is subordinate to an enforceable obligation of a former redevelopment agency. This bill would additionally authorize the legislative body of the city forming an enhanced infrastructure financing district to choose to dedicate any portion of its net available revenue, as defined, to the enhanced infrastructure financing district through the infrastructure financing plan, as specified.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

 

School district hiding “about a million dollar” lawsuit from the public, who knows what else they got rattling around in their closets

23 Nov

I found out so much weird stuff about the school district during the Measure K campaign – what a can of worms! 

For example, when I looked at the Butte County Superior Court website, I saw a lot of lawsuits involving Chico Unified

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0

Wow, on the first  page – “10 of 61 items”

I found one lawsuit the district pressed against Chico  State last year. They sued to stop CSUC from handing over  a batch of e-mails district staff and board members sent through the CSUC server instead of using their own district e-mail accounts. They won, but I’ve heard it cost the taxpayers a pretty penny to protect staffers from the consequences of their illegal activities. 

This scenario should sound familiar, cause  similar actions just took down Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  Clinton sent e-mails through her staff’s accounts, and all we hear is that she was trying to hide something. She’s been investigated by the FBI – why hasn’t the FBI investigated Chico Unified?

Why hasn’t Mike Ramsey done anything? 

What is Kelly Staley trying to hide?  What is the board trying to hide? They spent “about a million dollars” protecting themselves, not the children. Reminds me of the end scene from “Dead  Zone”.

Questions, soooo many questions.

I have asked around and have received a lot of information from past and present school employees, including estimates of the expense of last year’s lawsuit  – “about a million” – “over a million” – “a million dollars” –  but I wanted to get the exact dollar figure from district finance officer Kevin Bultema.  I got a note from Bultema yesterday:

Good afternoon Ms Sumner,

As a follow-up to your email request for the total expense related to the CSUC lawsuit, we have requested a  report from our attorney to make sure all invoices specific to this case are presented.  With the Thanksgiving Holiday, we expect to receive this information early next week and I’ll provide you the information as soon as it is received.  I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving

Well, thank you very much Mr. Bultema. I have to wonder, how much $taff time will go into my request? He could have just given me a dollar figure, I know he knows – he’s supposed to know, he’s the district’s finance superintendent.  

The voters get what the voters demand.  And so far, the voters are too busy trying to stuff a mouse in a teapot to see what’s going on right in front of them. 

CARD consultant ready to convince Chico voters they want to pay another bond, parcel tax, or assessment

18 Nov

Last night Chico Area Recreation District board and staff heard from Ruth Bernstein of EMC, a consultant that does the groundwork for agencies who want to pass bonds, parcel taxes or assessments. 

CARD manager Ann Willmann had been asked by the board at a previous meeting to find a local consultant but said there are no such companies in Chico – board members had mentioned Chico State, but I don’t know if Willmann checked into using CSUC resources.  She instead chose EMC because they did the groundwork for the recently passed school bond.

Bernstein had been scheduled to  give her presentation after the Nature Center report, but explained she had to drive all the way back to San Francisco, so requested her presentation be moved up. I couldn’t help but notice Nature Center manager Caitlin was kinda peeved  about that. She was pretty bitchy in the hallway outside the meeting,  seemed impatient. I’d be mad too – like Caitlin’s time doesn’t mean anything, just because she wasn’t hired from San Francisco?  

And then I have to wonder – despite Bernstein’s assurances that her mother-in-law lives in Chico and she “is familiar with this community,” she sure burned rubber getting out of the room when she finished her spiel. Yeah, a four hour drive, much of it through pitch blackness.  My husband and I left at the same time Bernstein did, and we waited at the bike rack to make sure she was well out of the parking lot before we ventured out on our old tandem.  She might be “familiar” with our community but care? I don’t think so.

Bernstein described her agencies services – “we do polling,” which she describes as figuring out  “how to actually communicate with the public…” Her task is to “build community support for your vision,” she told the board.

She means, talk the public into paying for it.

On their website, EMC claims “Professional interviewers can ensure quality control by probing and following up incomplete or invalid responses”

invalid responses”? They mean, what the district doesn’t want to hear.  They are offering to lead respondents to say what the district wants to hear. 

They admit that  “Results can be impacted by the human interaction and quality of the interviewer”

Two ways Bernstein admitted EMC misleads respondents 

  • cost of projects proposed will not mentioned in the survey
  • CARD will not be mentioned in the survey

Bernstein explained, “Building community support is difficult.” First, she says, you must learn what the community wants, “then you know what to say about yourself.”

She means, find out resident’s deepest desires, no matter how far-fetched or Taj Majal, and that’s what you promise in your tax measure.  They don’t really have to keep their promises, we found that out with the school district.

Chico Unified promised a third high school back in 1998, when they floated Measure A out on the turd pond. Trouble was, the fish and game department had already told them the land they promised to use was not usable, that they would never be able to build out there by Old Raleys. The district went ahead and promised that specific spot, promised to build a third high school they really never intended to build, and got the voters to swallow it, hook, line and stinker.

Bernstein says her company will phone landlines and cell  phones, looking for 400 respondents. Really? In a district of over 90,000, she’s looking for 400 people to tell her what the rest of us want? 

And of course, respondents are chosen from the voter’s rolls,we know demographics,” says Bernstein.

Wow, so that’s how they skew the results – she mentioned several times that a “conservative” town might not pass a bond. So, her company picks and chooses respondents to create the notion this bond is supportable. I love the way she just admits that right up front.

We might use some slight weighting, but only a little bit…” Weighting essentially means, providing responses for the respondent, they don’t get to use their own words. This makes it easier for the surveyor to get the kind of responses they want instead of having to analyze a person’s actual  thoughts. 

It’s also called “leading”.  They act as though it’s just for convenience but it’s totally skews the survey in the direction they want it to go.

Bernstein bragged about her company’s success rate in terms of how many of her clients had passed bonds. That’s what they do – they don’t help agencies figure out what the taxpayers really want, they help these agencies convince the taxpayers what they want. 

Phone surveys have other flaws. “Caller ID is annoying,” says Bernstein. She admits people don’t like surveys, don’t want to participate, and don’t pick up when they see it’s a survey company. She said they program their phones with a local  area code (!) but don’t leave messages because “people don’t call  back.” So they repeat dial the same numbers over and over, from morning till night (“we quit by 9pm”), for about a week, until they get 400 responses they like.

The board asked when she would time the survey. Tom Lando was worried that information gather in Winter 2017 would be “stale” by election 2018, and Bernstein agreed, suggesting another survey directly before the ballot.

So, is Lando proposing a bond measure to be put on the 2018 ballot? Because it looks to me like the rest of the board wants to go the sneaky route with mailed assessment ballots. We’ll see.

Michael Worley was concerned that “the students” would have an opportunity to participate, and Bernstein said the survey could be timed for after they come back from winter break. But, she also opined that students only vote in presidential elections, so why bother to include them in the survey for a non-presidential election?  Again, it sounds like they are planning a bond measure on the 2018 ballot, but they never talked directly about that.

Lando also argued that he wanted to finish work on CARD’s Master Plan – currently being concocted  behind closed doors in ad hoc committee. Ann Willmann argued that they need survey  results to finish the master plan. She won. The board voted 4 – 1 to pay EMC $28,000 to run a survey in January or February. They will be working, again in ad hoc, to come up with the questions they want on the survey.

Willmann says she wants the public to “define ‘quality of life'”. Board chair Bob Malowney wants to know, “what is the public perception of this agency.” Two distinctly  different questions. Willmann is asking the public for their dreams, Malowney is asking them what they actually think of CARD.   We’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile, board members Jan Sneed and Tom  Lando,  who seemed to be getting a little testy with each other over the timing of the survey, announced they agree on one thing – CARD should have control over all of Bidwell Park. 

 

Grubbs claims 20,000 uncounted ballots will not affect election results

12 Nov

A couple of weeks after telling me she resented my asking questions about missing ballots, Candace Grubbs tells the Enterprise Record she’s got over 20,000 un-tabulated ballots, but she’s sure they won’t affect the results she announced on election night.  

Early vote- by- mail ballots tend to be different than votes at the polling place, but the county clerk said even with about 18,000 mail- in ballots dropped off at polling places yet to count and another 4,000 provisional ballots still to be counted, she doesn’t expect to see much change in results percentages.

‘ Ones turned in at the polls mirror the poll vote,’ she said. ‘Usually.’

She also claims to be calling people when there’s a problem with their ballot, giving them a chance to fix it. This is the first I’ve ever heard of that. 

Grubbs told the ER, “ We’re trying to get done by Thanksgiving because the staff is tired…We’re ready for a break.”

This is the woman who told me she resented my asking questions. She also refused my invitation to appear at the library to speak to the voters when she ran in 2014, saying she didn’t want to drive to Chico on her “family day” (Sunday was the only day I could do the meetings).  I hope she gets her wish for “a break” – I hope somebody runs against her in 2018 and sends her running home to her family. 

 

Yes Virginia – a bond is a tax – a turd by any other name, will still stink

7 Nov

 

I have to laugh when I realize, some people do not consider a bond a tax.  They don’t see how much it adds to their cost of living.

Measure K asks $60 for every $100,000 of property valuation – with today’s home prices and the assessor jacking up evaluations for permitted work, the average house in Chico is valuated at over $300,000.  We put new siding and a new roof on our old crapper and the assessor added about $100,000 to our evaluation. 

So, that’s an average of $240 a year for the homeowner. 

The district will tell you that’s chump change, but at my house, it’s a lot of groceries. For other people, it’s trips to  restaurants and movie theaters, shopping trips to the mall. If there’s 40,000 households in the city of Chico, that would add up to a little over $9 million in discretionary spending that is about to be sponged up by the school district.

https://noonmeasurekchico.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/cato-institute-bonds-dont-magically-make-these-spending-projects-free-are-the-voters-really-dumb-enough-to-think-bonds-arent-taxes/