As a “last minute effort to house” people, the Torres Shelter is handing out tents

2 Dec

Chico Enterprise Record 12/2/21

CHICO — A program assisting unhoused people with shelter access ended earlier than expected causing 36 people occupying 26 rooms at the Town House Motel to be evicted by Nov. 30. Five of the parties could not find shelter within their 15-day eviction notice, and were given tents as last minute effort to house them by local shelters.

The program to which this story refers used to be called Project Room Key. Local shelters worked with local motels to get rooms for “unhoused” persons whenever the local shelters could not house them, for whatever reason. Here they insinuate COVID is the reason.

The Butte United Shelter Program was created in July 2021 by United Way of California and True North Shelter Team to protect unhoused people who have no option to self-quarantine by providing them temporary shelter and access to housing resources.

In years past, the program, with very little supervision, was a disaster. I think they were taking advantage of local motels to dump drug users that the shelters wouldn’t take, but that’s just a guess. Rooms at motels were trashed, other guests were harassed, and the troublemakers refused to leave the premises when asked. Last year, in a very candid phone conversation, my district rep Kasey Reynolds told me, “I hate Project Room Key.”

Well, does she advocate giving them tents and sending them to Bidwell Park or other city owned land?

It seems to me there is a more sensible option than just putting them out. These people need proper supervision. This is why churches stopped participating – none of the agencies or groups that advocate for the “unhoused” would provide supervision, or clean up the mess left next morning.

City manager Mark Orme created a new position in 2020 – Homeless Coordinator – and hired his friend Joy Amaro, with a salary over $100,000/year. Amaro apparently found some conflict in the job, and almost immediately quit to head over to a “non-profit” called True North Housing Alliance. True North is now running Torres Shelter, and have administered and now closed the motel program. They boast a “19% success rate.” What?

The Torres Shelter sits on city land and gets public funding from both the city and the county. The shelter director gets a salary – at last I checked, when Brad Montgomery ran the place, it was about $65,000, plus benefits. They also routinely have empty beds but still turn folks away.

I don’t know what kind of person would brag of any kind of “success” here. I don’t know what kind of idiot would give a transient an tent and send them on their way. Furthermore, what kind of public official would condone this arrangement? And ask yourself – who keeps voting these people into office?

30 Nov

You know how it goes – you hear about things on the news, but it doesn’t hit you until it’s right under your nose. Until you can smell it.

For years now I’ve been talking about the illegal camping, the defecating, the urinating, the trash, the crime – the smell of Chico. I’ll have to admit, it’s driven me out of Bidwell Park and other “public” areas of town, I avoid non-food shopping, and local restaurants, I don’t attend public meetings anymore – I’ve lost my appetite for Chico. I don’t even like to bike or drive around town anymore.

But when we heard about the problems with the Chico ice rink – lack of “access”, vandalism – my husband got so curious we made a side-trip through Downtown on our way out to run errands the other day. I was shocked. It’s true what that woman said in her letter to the editor – they’ve blocked off all the parking spaces at the plaza with the kind of ugly chain-link fencing you see at construction sites and toxic waste dumps. They’ve installed a fence around the actual rink, and I’m not sure where “observers” are allowed to stand, but if you want to get into that rink, it’s 12 bucks.

But, apparently, it’s free to camp alongside the fence, in the street, we saw the little makeshift tents propped right up against the chain link. It’s free to camp in Bidwell Park, Commanche Creek, the Devil’s Triangle, and any patch of city-owned property around town. We’d been hearing all kinds of news about Commanche Creek – including news of one notorious transient kicked out, by other residents of CC, for sexual assault. So we wound our way over to see what’s become of that mess – wow, just when you think something’s bad, it gets worse. I happen to know some “street people,” and the news isn’t reporting everything that goes on at Commanche Creek, most notably, the rapes. Anybody who takes the time to listen to an “unhoused” person knows that rape is a problem in camps all over town.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind various council decisions, including the redeclaration of the Shelter Crisis Designation. I do know city manager Mark Orme is motivated by money to pay the outrageous pension deficit he and other employees have racked up through unrealistic pension contributions. Council members, some of them also pensioners, are motivated by the money they get from the unions at election time. The unions know the transients not only generate a lot of money in state and federal funding, but they keep the rest of us scared, ready to shell out any amount of money to keep them from pitching their tents in our front yards. Mark Orme reminds me of the Nazi soldier who demands that Sophie make her choice.

Then we have people like Patrick Newman, and people he has misled into believing that the city of Chico has any responsibility for housing anybody. A recent letter Newman penned, blaming anybody who isn’t destitute for the problem, really pissed me off. Newman reminds me of the lady from Dr. Zhivago – “all this house, for just ONE family?!”

She scolds Zhivago for living in a house that could house 13 families – yeah, in conditions no intelligent, hard working person would live in. You work your ass off, build your own place, and the leeches just start marching in. If you have ANYTHING, these people act as though you are the criminal. Having an entitled, soft-handed little perp like Newman tell me I have to give the fruits of my labor to support dead beats, that was just over the top. I wrote a pissed off letter and sent it to Wolcott.

Here’s a story from Aesop:

“One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and begged for a bite to eat.

What!’ cried the Ants in surprise, ‘haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?’

‘I didn’t have time to store up any food,’ whined the Grasshopper; ‘I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.’

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.

Making music, were you?’ they cried. ‘Very well; now dance!’ And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.”

Fellow human Patrick Newman likes to take up his fiddle, damning those of us “housed” individuals for our “materialism”. Well, winter is coming Mr. Newman, it’s time to put down your tiny violin, and get to work.

I have to ask – who wouldn’t have known that Commanche Creek would flood as soon as it started to rain? With rain coming next week, and shanties propped in flood zones all over Chico, our city staff and council are caught with their Shelter Crisis Designation hanging around their ankles.

Old Yiddish Proverb: When the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish. Our Chico fish has eight stinking heads – council and manager Mark Orme.

Something certainly stinks around here.

27 Nov

Well, this has been a week of “Firsts” for me – I went grocery shopping on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and then I participated in Black Friday.

Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. What a stupid holiday. I am a thankful person every day, I don’t need a holiday. I don’t need my significant others to get out on the freeway, or swarm to an airport, to show their gratitude. Every year, watching the news footage of idiots sitting on their luggage at the airport, now sporting face diapers, is embarrassing. On Monday they’ll tell us how many people died on the highways. And, the most important detail – how much did the average family spend? (they never mention the debt load created at this time of year)

Cause that’s all it’s about. In my husband’s culture, they call it “Potlatch”. Psychologists have come up with a diagnosis – “conspicuous consumption”. And that’s what I’d call a little old grandma juggling a gi-normous tv on a shopping cart screaming “I got it! I GOT IT!

I won’t lie – I buy stuff, and I like to think of myself as a smart shopper. One rule I have is, don’t participate in mob behavior, because you never know when the mob will turn on you. I’ll never forget the Black Friday my family was in the Bay Area, so we went shopping at a huge mall. I had my hands on a pair of pants for my husband, standing shoulder to shoulder with women who didn’t even have the decency to acknowledge my presence as they nudged and squashed, when another woman reached out and literally stripped those pants out of my hands and took them.

What did I learn? Stay the fuck out of the Bay Area.

Even the grocery store is dicey after Tuesday. Hey, have you ever seen a flock of turkeys? Go to the grocery store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you find yourself, as I did, staring into an empty fridge on Tuesday night, make your list and get out at the crack. By 11 am it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. Checkers get frazzled, it’s like working the front lines. So be early and be nice. And get the hell out.

I like to buy Christmas gifts – candy and Christmas ornaments (and underwear/socks for the family). This year I picked up some hand-made hum-dingers at a crafts fair, including this ginchee crocheted necklace for my friend, as well as some one-of-a-kind ornaments. And Monday I’ll probably hit Joy Lyn’s candies in Paradise – they have a very nice variety of candies that are safe to ship, and you don’t have to worry about parking or stepping in bum turds.

I’ll leave you with this trailer from one of my favorite movies – “What Would Jesus Buy?” Made by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who made “Super Size Me” – another movie about America’s fascination with over-consumption. WWJB is a light-hearted look at America’s addiction. Bill Talen is an “actor-activist”, he’s got a good sense of humor, trying to make a serious point – “America, you got a problem...”

Reynolds and Brown, and I think, O’Brien, are up in 2022, let them know what you think of the tax measure they endorsed for the 2022 ballot

25 Nov

Well, as I was trying to decide whether or not to renew this blog, it automatically renewed itself. So here we are for another year, fellow taxpayers!

What’s on the menu? Well, all I got in my sights is the sales tax increase measure that the city of Chico has announced for the 2022 ballot. Mayor Andrew Coolidge says the revenues from this sales tax increase would be used to secure a bond. He’s talked about “road bonds” but has not come forward with the details.

Talk is cheap, you have to watch what these people actually do. Earlier this year, council, led by Staff, tried to get an illegal Pension Obligation Bond approved by the courts. They had to be threatened with a lawsuit from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, even after then-council member Kami Denlay correctly stated that instituting a tax without voter approval is against the law.

It seems clear to me that Chico City Staffers are desperate to get money to pay down their pension deficit. That’s why they finally persuaded council members to put forward a general tax measure, with no restrictions on spending, and only 51% voter approval to pass it.

And what the badge bunnies don’t understand is that the revenues will go to public safety alright – cops and fire are responsible for over half the pension deficit. That’s what you get when you allow somebody making over $100,000/year to pitch in $15,000/year for a $90,000/year pension. Plus benies, with Cost Of Living Increase. If you can’t see how unsustainable that is, you need to go back to Mr. Shipplehoute’s math class.

And, just as I predicted over a year ago, Mark Orme brought in a consultant to put up a skating rink, as suggested by an earlier consultant. $400,000+ in taxpayer money, needed so badly to fix streets and tweak infrastructure. Orme cries poormouth when it comes to the streets and services, but he’s willing to bring in a $100,000 consultant to spend $300,000 putting up an ice rink. Here’s why – the earlier consultant said his firm had used a skating rink to pitch a sales tax measure in the Tahoe area, and it worked.

So here we are, we got our work cut out for us between now and the next election. Do you want to pay more taxes? For a small class of privileged elites to have their Downtown party? Well, start writing those letters. Start telling your friends who are registered to vote in Chico.

Don’t forget to drop a quick note to council members Alex Brown and Kasey Reynolds, whose terms are up in 2022. I think Mike O’Brien is up as well, having been named to replace Scott Huber. Let them know, that if they plan to run, they better not be stupid enough to back a tax measure. Don’t forget to tell them what you think of them ILLEGALLY using tax money to run it.

Frankly, I don’t think council had any business appointing anybody (certainly not a pensioner). Furthermore, Reynolds and Brown have had their run, and need to be shown the door. But, if by some miracle, they all three reversed their vote to run this measure, I’d be willing to think about supporting their candidacy. I’d have to think pretty hard on it.

The Comprehensive Annual Finance Report shows that the city’s only major debt is pensions and benefits, and despite increasing payments siphoned from city funds, it’s still going up astronomically

21 Nov

From the Governmental Accounting Standards Board:

What is OPEB? Other Postemployment Benefits (or OPEB) are benefits (other than pensions) that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include life insurance, disability, legal and other services.”

Wow, the Gravy Train just keeps rolling. But who feeds the horses and picks up all the shit? That would be you, The Taxpayer. Like the pensions, the post-employment benefits are only partially paid, through unrealistic “contributions” from the city and the employee. This leaves the same type of deficit that is racking up on the pensions.

So how much does the city owe toward benefits given to retired employees? It’s hard to find that information, you have to know what to search. There are book keeping tricks to keep you from finding out. “Some liabilities are not due and payable in the current period and therefore are not reported in the funds.

Dave Howell tipped me to the “Comprehensive Annual Finance Report” required of the city of Chico. Thanks Dave!

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/1_cafr_final_with_letter_with_table_of_contents_links_0.pdf?1613159785

Here’s how I read these reports – I use the F-search to find “OPEB” and “Other Postemployment Benefits.” Next I’ll punch in “deficit” and “unfunded actuarial liability“, or UAL. You find more damning information with every search.

Governmental activities” means payroll. “Deferred outcome” means money owed on the deficit, that hasn’t been paid yet. “

Deferred Outflows of Resources. This classification balance, although similar to “assets,” is set apart because these
items do not meet the technical definition of being a City asset on the date of these financial statements. In other
words, these amounts are not available to pay liabilities in the way assets are available. When all the recognition
criteria are met, the deferred outflow of resources will become an expense

These amounts are not available to pay liabilities – meaning, the costs generally associated with running a city, like street or sewer or park maintenance. The pensions and postemployment benefits are eating the budget. It’s like watching Lowell George go after a pizza.

The report details how our employee expenses keep increasing. Employee expenses include not only their salary and benefits, but the interest on the deficit. The city makes annual payments toward the deficit, to which the employees contribute NOTHING. On page 8 of the report, you see that these payments just keep going up. “The City has reported deferred outflows of resources for pension contributions and differences between actual and estimated earnings of pension plan investments totaling $16,571,533 and deferred outflows for contributions of $135,463 for OPEB for governmental activities at June 30, 2020.”

That’s odd because finance director Scott Dowell only reported a $11.5 million payment toward the UAL. And he rarely talks about the OPEB payments. And then there’s the interest owed on both. It’s just rabbit math.

I’m on vacation right now, and the rest of the family wants to go have some fun. So I’ll leave you with this – it’s like eating shit, you have to take a few bites, digest, walk away from the table and barf…

Watching the city of Chico is like a watching a slasher movie – we keep screaming, “NO!” but they open the door anyway

19 Nov

Every now and then my husband and I have to GTFO. So we hit the road for Oregon and the tax free shopping.

I’ll never forget trying to explain sales tax to my 10-year-old. He was outraged! “Why should we pay a tax to buy something?” he asked me. I was dumbfounded. Kids will do that to you – their minds haven’t been polluted with the illogic that goes for everyday business in the adult world.

When I didn’t have an answer for my kids I said, “I don’t know.” Now I would say, “because they can.” Sales tax is just a taking, you know, like that kid that used to stand at the schoolyard gate, head and shoulders bigger than you, and threaten to punch you really hard in the arm if you didn’t give up your lunch/lunch money. That kid grew up and went to work for the California Franchise Tax Board. My kid moved to Oregon.

So the city of Chico management, desperate to defuse their Pension Time Bomb, has announced they are putting a sales tax increase measure on the 2022 ballot. Because they can. They’ve also announced a business tax, a rental tax, and even a cannabis tax, if they ever get around to approving a local dispensary.

Not all of these are on the ballot, and I’m no lawyer, but I’ve read that at least the cannabis tax is supposed to go before the voters. I would think any tax would have to go before the voters, but you know these guys – they already made an attempt at getting a Pension Obligation Bond over on us without putting it on the ballot. You really have to watch that Mark Orme, he’s a weasel. And council goes along with whatever he says, like a pack of stupid kids. It’s like watching a slasher movie – I keep screaming, “No, don’t open that door!” But they just open it right up anyway.

So, I needed a break. I’m sitting in my motel room in Oregon, waiting for the Walmart next door to open. And then Target, and Big 5, and wow, they have a Lowe’s here too.

It’s my way of retroactively kicking that bully right in the junk.

Should the city of Chico be using taxpayer money to run their tax measure?

18 Nov

According to the California Constitution, state law prohibits local agencies to use public funds, public employees, or public resources to expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a ballot measure. While the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has said they have limited jurisdiction over this matter, county district attorneys can take on an agency that violates this law.

Unfortunately our district attorney has a very poor record of upholding the laws that protect the people. Fortunately for the taxpayers, there’s the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. HJTA uses funding provided by members like you and me to take on the agencies that buck the law. But they need taxpayers like us to be on alert to these illegal activities. When the city of Chico tried to get “judicial validation” of a Pension Obligation Bond instead of putting it on the ballot, concerned Chicoans contacted HJTA – we sent a Bat Signal! – and their attorneys went into action, filing a Cease and Desist Order with a threat to sue if Chico Staffers continued on that track. I kind of held my breath, expecting City of Chico to call HJTA’s bluff and proceed. So far they seem to have abandoned that action. I realize, Chico knows that action was illegal, and the chances are very good that they would spend a bunch of money to lose in court.

Locally, HJTA has taken on both Yuba County and the Hamilton Branch Fire Protection District (near Chester) over deceptive and illegally-funded tax measure campaigns. In Yuba County, 2018, voters were asked to approve Measure K, a 1% sales tax increase for “public safety/essential services.” The language of the measure listed exclusive special purposes, and followed all code requirements for a special tax. HJTA advised the county that it was a special tax requiring a two-thirds vote, but the county ignored the law and declared it a general tax. It barely passed with 54% of the vote. The trial court sided with HJTA, declaring Measure K invalid. Unfortunately the appeals court reversed that decision and Yuba County was allowed to go on collecting their illegal tax.

In 2020, Hamilton Fire Protection District proposed Measure A, a $175 increase in the local special tax. Run as a two-thirds measure, it failed. A year later, they brought the same proposal back to the ballot. It passed with 74% of the vote. But here’s where city of Chico residents need to pay attention – the district illegally used taxpayer money to run their campaign. Their Facebook page, as well as full-page glossy color photo brochures urging voters to “please Vote YES on Measure A“, declaring it “well worth the peace of mind!

That is patently illegal. HJTA filed suit against Hamilton Branch Fire District. And like the city of Chico, the tiny district realized they were had and asked for terms of settlement. Among other points, HJTA asked for “adoption of an official written policy that would prevent such abuse in the future”.

The city of Chico is running a tax measure, it would seem logical they have to use city funds. So far they’ve hired a consultant to run the campaign.

https://chico.ca.us/request-proposalsqualifications

RFP- Revenue Measure & Communications Consultant 
The City of Chico is seeking to obtain proposals from qualified firms to advise the City Council and City staff on developing appropriate ballot language for a proposed 1% general sales tax to appear on the 2022 November general election. Additionally, consultation will be necessary on how best to educate voters on the proposed 1% general sales tax measure and the development of materials and other outreach efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information related to the ballot measure.  The City will accept proposals until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 5, 2021. Please click on “Projects to Bid” on the right to view the RFP within Public Purchase. 

This seems illegal to me but I’m no lawyer. “how best to educate voters… efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information…” There’s the important point – just exactly how do they intend to “educate” the voters? CARD’s “educational” process was deceptive. Director Ann Willmann held “public information sessions,” during which one taxpayer caught her saying the district had no debt – despite their $128 million pension deficit. The board approved the use of taxpayer money to print glossy brochures extoling their virtues, leaving out important facts about the measure, including the bond they intended to secure with the revenues. So I’ll contact HJTA to put them on alert to the city’s tax measure, if they aren’t already aware.

And I’ll add, you can be a member of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for as little as $15. Your money goes to efforts like these. They have a small legal staff to go up against huge public agencies. They could use some back-up.

Did you know, city council members get salary and benefits from Chico taxpayers? How about their pension debt?

13 Nov

A reader sent me information that has had me doing a lot of research the past week. For years I’ve known that city council members receive salaries and benefits, but according to Transparent California, several members have somehow racked up pension deficits.

A pension deficit is created when an agency promises pensions but only makes partial payments toward the premiums. City of Chico has paid less than 50% of cost, with most employees contributing less than 15%. CalPERS claimed they could cover those deficits with stock market investments, but their investments have paid poorly, partly due to corruption such as taking bribes to buy bad stocks. One investments director, a Chinese national, was found to be making investments in his own holdings in China.

Staff’s strategy to bang down (or at least look like they are banging down) the deficit has been to siphon money from every city fund to make their “side fund” or “extra” payments. While employees pay a 9 – 15% share of the “regular” payments, they pay nothing toward the “extra” payments. So at present, CalPERS is demanding over $140 million in “deficit”, and our lovely council and Staff expect us to pony up.

Are council benefits part of that deficit? According to Transparent California, as of 2019, Council member and former mayor Sean R. Morgan, who receives about $20,000 in benefits, had about a $22,000 deficit. Wow, Ann Schwab is reported at about $43,000! Coolidge and Reynolds also have deficits listed. How could this happen?

Scroll down for Sean R. Morgan, city council

Transparent California, run by Nevada Policy Research Institute, gets its figures from the public agencies on which it reports. So I contacted city of Chico Human Resources Department.

The staffer I contacted was pleasant and seemed helpful, but when I confronted her with the links, she told me she believed, ” the data on the website (that the City of Chico does not maintain or control) is not fully accurate.

She also offered, “ some Councilmembers may have public-sector jobs which may be covered by CalPERS…and thus possibly some overlap of data? “

Obviously she didn’t look at the site – as you can see at the above link, Morgan’s salary and benefits as an employee of CSU Chico are listed separately. So are Schwab’s.

So I went to the Secretary of State’s website, publicpay.gov

I like Transparent California better because they list names, which is less confusing. As you see, publicpay.com just lists positions. And, publicpay.com has a notice – “This city [CHICO] does not include payments toward the unfunded liability of the employer sponsored retirement plan.”

As I dug deeper into information about TC, I found out they “prorate cost of pension debt payments made by the agency“, because the agencies won’t give that information. So what does that mean?

The HR Staffer told me the city pays the mayor a flat salary of $720/month and council members get $600. They are allowed to choose their benefits package. They are offered a range of plans, here’s the chart she sent.

She highlights the cheapest plan, just for example – see the city’s contribution for an EPO for an employee + spouse (and several of these people have children so it’s more) is over $1200/month. The employee, for a plan that covers their spouse, pays only $188 a month.

Judging from the figures we see on publicpay.gov, these people are being pretty generous with themselves. The 2020 benefits figure for Coolidge as Mayor is over $17,000.

According to city charter, if the employee has another job at which they have a better plan, they can choose to opt out of the city’s plan and take cash instead!

According to state law, if city council members are offered benefits packages, whatever the pay split, the entire cost must be paid. I’m not sure how that works, and I’m wondering – is the city paying the entire premiums? Or letting them ride with CalPERS investments? Why else would there be deficits for sitting council members?

I cc’d my representative Kasey Reynolds in the conversation because she’s listed as having a debt:

Of course Reynolds didn’t respond. But here’s what I think. I think the city is letting the benefits ride on the stock market just like the pensions. Otherwise, why would they have a separate deficit, “Other Post Employment Benefits,” or OPEB?

I’ll have to get back to you with that, next time, on This Old Lady Goes to Town.

Downtown ice rink raises some hackles – really?!

10 Nov

This letter appeared in the Chico Enterprise Record yesterday (11/9/21)

“Today the weather was beautiful, and I went downtown to shop. I was stopped short by the sight of an ugly cyclone fence around my Plaza Park. It blocked off 40 parking spaces. It stopped me from parking where I usually do. I found a parking spot a block away.  That fence was such a depressing sight that I walked back to talk to a courteous young woman who was cleaning litter that had blown against the fence. She answered my questions to the best of her ability; her job title is Ambassador and she works for an association of downtown property owners. Not the city, not the chamber.

She said the public would be kept out for about three weeks while the contractors prepared for the ice rink. I asked if the fence would be taken down then, but she answered that the fence would remain until the rink shut down in January. I asked if the general public (except for those paying to skate) was going to be shut out of our park for two and a half months. She said she believed that once construction was finished, a corner of the fence would be opened slightly so we could squeeze in and sit on the grass.

Really?! Really?!

You are going to take away 40 prime parking spaces during the Christmas shopping season? And why is our downtown public restroom blocked off? Is that even legal?”

Catherine Riley, Chico

I don’t know if any of this is true so looked at the city website, had to search for it, but found this blurb.

Chico Plaza Ice Rink – City of Chico

Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza

Coming this November!

Open from November 19, 2021 through January 9, 2022, the Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza will feature ice skating sessions, private party events, special events, and more! This joint effort with the Downtown Chico Business Association will be adjacent to our City Hall and located in an area of over 425 diverse businesses.

I’ve also seen pictures of ice rinks in other towns, like Sacramento, and yeah, the public is excluded. What I saw was a more attractive fence, but it was a fence that restricted the public from a public park.

Blocking the parking spaces is a shocker, Downtown parking has always been a hot-button issue. But we’ve seen recent actions – such as expansions of restaurants onto sidewalks, and the bike-lane experiment that blocked parking spaces – that show how little consideration city staffers have for the general public. City employees and council members seem to think Downtown Chico is their own private playground.

I’ll admit though, I never go Downtown anymore. What’s there to buy Downtown? Corporate Sacramento-owned restaurants? Over-priced thrift stores? Doo-dads? Evening wear for college girls? Who can afford to shop at Colliers anymore? All of whom raised their prices to cover the Downtown Business Association fees and other expenses “special” to operating Downtown.

Let me ask you – how “special” do you feel dodging human excrement, panhandlers, and car break-ins as you are paying extra to shop Downtown?

But don’t forget – your money goes into this thing. Ask Kasey Reynolds how much she expects to profit, with a business a block away from this boondoggle. Ask if her business will sponsor the rink, and if she will be allowed to put a concession stand there.

9 Nov

Recent History: how soon Council would like us to forget their illegal attempt at a Pension Obligation Bond

A reader sent me this Action News Chico article from last April, thank you. This is fun to read, because it’s all turned out to be a pack of lies. Since this article was written, the city of Chico was threatened with a lawsuit from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which forced them to drop their illegal Pension Obligation Bond. A bond is a tax, and it’s illegal to institute a new tax without the consent of the voters.

But no mention of that dilemma from the media – “At its meeting Monday, the council directed city staff to initiate a court validation process which is required in order for the city to issue pension obligation bonds in the future.” As if it’s perfectly okay.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.actionnewsnow.com/templates/AMP%3fcontentID=574295841

There are a lot of clues in this article. First of all, Sean Morgan points directly at the pension deficit as the city’s main problem. He also admits that CalPERS “has invested poorly” and they “need you to contribute more.” Who does he mean by “you,” is the question.

City of Chico exploring new options to cut the threat of possible bankruptcy

As pension debt grows, the city is looking at considering at least one pension bond. This could potentially help the city refinance its outstanding debt.Posted: Apr 27, 2021 5:56 PMUpdated: Apr 27, 2021 5:56 PMPosted By: Dani Masten 

CHICO, Calif. The City of Chico has been working with CalPERS, the pension government program for many years.

Councilmember Sean Morgan said he believes the program has invested poorly over the past year and now the city is feeling the consequences.

What they do when they do bad investing is they go back to the municipalities and say we don’t have enough money, we need you to contribute more,” said Morgan.

The city has $150 million of unfunded pension liability. This includes an increase of $51 million over seven years with payments at $9 million yearly, which could reach over $14 million by 2030.

“So we have $150 million of unfunded pension liability,” said Morgan. “That is how much the whole is. Now, we have to pay CalPERS 7%.”

There it is – we – no mention of raising the employee share. They raised the shares for public safety members last week, but only after giving them a raise bigger than their new shares.

Right now, the city said it is trying to get a bond to cover the pensions they have stacked up. If they are able to get the bond, the city claims it will be able to repair roads in Chico and Chico Fire will be able to hire more firefighters.

Enter Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association with their Cease and Desist Order, which is not a legal binder in itself, as Rob Berry claims, but threat of a lawsuit if the city proceeded. The city wisely realized they couldn’t afford a lawsuit and pulled their request for court validation.

The following comments from Morgan are total BS. This guy is no financial wizard, it’s all over his head, but he tries to pretend he understands it.

“It takes that $150 million and you can re-finance that over here, issue a bond and pay somewhere between three and four and a half percent on it,” said Morgan.

What a huckster. He should try out for the next local production of “The Music Man”. He can’t guarantee the interest rate – have you watched the market lately? And he’s forgetting – the bond has to be paid back AHEAD OF EVERY OTHER EXPENSE BEFORE THE CITY. If the bond does poorly on the market (and why would Morgan think they can make better investments than CalPERS?), the city would have to dip into the General Fund to pay the service on the bond. The consultants said other cities had laid off public safety personnel when their investments tanked, and paid the service out of their General Fund and other city funds, like sewer and streets.

The next paragraph shows that the average voter is aware of the problems we’re facing, but easily fooled by council’s insinuation that the tax/bond money would go toward public services. And the press does nothing to inform them otherwise.

Some people in Chico were happy to hear the city is working to find a way to pay off its debt while still being able to care for the community.

“Yea, I think a bond would be helpful,” said Chico resident, Jeff Boone. “We got a lot of infrastructures that need help around here.”

“The roads in Chico need to be repaired because every time I go down a certain road it is all bumpy and messed up,” said Chico resident, Markus Boone.

And here Morgan tries to tell us, but not really, that the bond will “help the city with it’s cash flow to help fix the roads…” What is that? Sounds pretty non-commital to me, just like they told us they’d use the Garbage Tax proceeds to “fix the roads…” That’s their bullshit mantra, “we’ll fix the roads...”

Morgan said this bond will help the city with its cash flow to help fix roads in Chico shortterm.

And the rest is history.

At its meeting Monday, the council directed city staff to initiate a court validation process which is required in order for the city to issue pension obligation bonds in the future.

Directed Staff to take an illegal action toward stealing money from the taxpayers to feather the nests of people who make 3, 4, 5 times the median income.

Hey, you want to hear something even funnier – stay tuned.