I have endorsed incumbent Randall Stone in the District 5 race.  Of the three candidates in that District 5 race, I feel he is the better. 

Coolidge had his run, and decided to put a nail in our city coffin by going along with the fringe and declaring a “Shelter Crisis Designation” for Chico. At the time he said he did it for the roughly $4 million in grants from the state. That’s his price? $4 million to turn our town into a designated bum camp?

Kohler has made it clear she wants to turn Chico into another hub on the transient highway. I can’t support her goals, including a “come as you are” (wiped out wasted, who cares about the kids) shelter. 

So, despite having criticized Stone in the past, I figure, neither of his challengers will be any better, why change horses in the middle of a race? Especially when it’s a race against bankruptcy?

So I asked Stone the question, would he be willing to ask employees to pay higher shares toward the UAL/pension deficit. His response, unedited:

“Yes, I have and continue to do the same.  There needs to be *at least* parity between Employee and Employer Paid Pension Obligations.  Our employee costs are going up 7-8% per year, ceteris paribus of any CalPERS Discount Rate changes (largely due to Workers Compensation in California — the other behemoth in the employee cost equation.”

“I could go on and on in this particular discussion.  Suffice to say, I serve on the League of California Cities’ Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations Committee that addresses pension legislation by almost exclusively elected officials (“management”) to address (among other things) municipal pension challenges.  I’m at least tangentially cognizant of this critical problem.  But since Chico is an equity-immigrant community, having a sizable number of public pensioners impacted by a post-receivership, non-COLA pension of, on average, 63% of original would be a sudden shock that Chico would do well to avoid.  But not at the expense of all CalPERS cities.  Increases to our General Fund payments should be committed by the future pensioners such that at least parity of payments exists.”

I know, this is why a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with Stone – he’s a little ostentatious!  You could all try harder – pick up a dictionary, and let’s see what we can do with the above.

Essentially Mr. Stone is saying, he and council have been working on increasing employee shares, believing there needs to be a fair split between employee and employer.  He’s telling us employee costs are going up, even without CalPERS additional demands, and he blames Workers Compensation, largely, for that. 

Then he’s warning us that these employees and pensioners are a large part of our population, and if we cut their gravy train they’ll stop buying big houses and big cars and other bling and our economy might crash. 

And in his last sentence, I think he’s saying, that current employees need to pay a fair share. 

I’ll say, Stone and council need to try harder to rein in management and public safety costs. Stone ignores the salary increases – they’re all in denial about the salaries being excessive. He also forgets we just hired two, completely new, full-time employees at salaries in excess of $100,000.  Workers comp just follows your salary increases and your new hires.

As for employees floating our town economically, then why is our town in such a mess economically? I don’t believe they are spending their overgenerous salaries in our town – I happen to know, they own houses elsewhere. Some of them live OUTSIDE the city limits and pay no property taxes in Chico. They are also free to buy that bling elsewhere, and they do. So that argument doesn’t float. 

We need better jobs and fewer transients here. I’d like to hear more about that from ALL the candidates.

But I also happened to ask Stone, since he has made hay about his “low-income” constituents, if he’d be willing to lower the UT. I’ll get back to you with that conversation.