Local Government Committee offering free city sewer lines to county dwellers, talking about hiring a homeless coordinator to bring in federal funding, and how to cover Station 42 – May 3, City Hall, 3:30 pm

27 Apr

One of the best meetings to  attend, to get an overview of both city and county business and stuff that will be on future council and supervisor agendas is the Local Governments Committee. These are held four times a year and cover issues that will affect your lifestyle.

The next meeting is Wednesday, May 3, here’s the agenda:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/Local%20government%20commission/5-3-17LGCAgendaPacket.pdf

Attached to Wednesday’s agenda you will also find the minutes from the February meeting, be sure to read those. Having attended these meetings and then read the minutes taken by the clerk and approved by the board, I find attendance is better – the minutes are often lacking, don’t tell everything.  But they’re better than nothing. 

You’ll find, the city is laying free sewer pipe for a new subdivision in the county.  That’s inappropriate, as far as I’m concerned, but they’re desperate to get people to hook up to sewer since they expanded the sewer plant.

Yeah, I was wrong about the sewer plant being at capacity. That was several years ago, I found notes for a more recent meeting.  Yes, according to the sewer plant manager and ass city manager Chris Constantin, the city spent millions expanding the sewer plant and then the economy took a dump. This was December 2015. The economy has  rebounded somewhat, but the sewer plant is still starving. The plant director urged the city to come up with new fees to pay for this stuff, while the city works manager is hooking people up to sewer as fast as he can. They laid free sewer pipe all over the city, and now they’re moving into the county.

But in my neighborhood, a neighbor whose house burned down is being held from rebuilding – they want him to pay the entire cost of having a sewer line laid down the easement alongside his house.  That seems weird – county dwellers in brand new houses get free sewer, but my long-time neighbor has to spend 10’s of thousands bringing the city sewer down an annexed driveway? 

That’s the kind of stuff you find out about when you attend these meetings.

Pay Attention!

 

Your public servants will give you the service you deserve

26 Apr

I always wonder if people read their utility bills when they pay them.  I wonder how many people know the city of Chico collects 5 percent in “utility users tax,” added to our bills.

Chico residents who get PG&E, Cal Water service, or still have “land lines” for telephone, computer or FAX service pay an extra 5 percent tacked onto their monthly bill. Only 5 percent, you say? Well, look at your bill. And you have to look on every page – it’s not listed on the front. PG&E, for example, lists separate amounts for each billing period, and separate amounts for gas and electric. I’m going to guess the average total UUT per month for PG&E  is between $10 and $20. 

Then look at the city of Chico budget, here:

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/2016-17CityAnnualFINALBudget.pdf

Wade in there, go to the budget projections chart – you’ll see that UUT, at about $6.2 million,  is the city’s third highest source of revenue, after sales tax and property tax. 

Now ask yourself – which of those is most likely to keep going up, damn the torpedoes, no matter what? When have utility rates ever gone down? I’ve seen past budgets where those three revenue streams have jumped their beds and changed places back and forth – UUT remains consistent while the other two are at the mercy of our BOOM and BUST economy.  In fact, for the 2018-19 fiscal year, $taff predicts UUT revenues will be over $7 million. They predict those other revenues will  go up too – good luck with that, I smell BUST around the corner.  

Now ask yourself – what service does the city provide to earn that $6.2 – $7 million? That’s the question voters asked themselves back in 2012, when the city floated an ordinance that would have made it legal to tax your cell phone bill.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2012/09/17/no-on-measure-j-no-cell-phone-tax/

The answer the voters came back with was, “Nothing-not a thing-not anything-zip-zilch-zero-nil-nada-naught-diddly squat.”

And they were quite correct. The city would not even file a formal protest in either the Cal Water or PG&E rate increases. They have no power over these agencies, except to pass an ordinance that requires these agencies to collect UUT from us, and hand it over to the city. BTW, any costs associated there are passed by the utility company onto the ratepayers.

But, the law also says the city must refund UUT collected from ratepayers who fall under certain financial thresholds. A family of four making less than $47,000, for example, is entitled to a rebate of most of their utility tax over the previous year. 

I think that’s a lot of families in Chico –  I know my family comes in way ahead of the requirements, and I know a lot of people who live on roughly the same income we do. So I was surprised when I asked city management a few years ago how many applications they  get a year, and the answer was “about 100 households.” 

As you might guess, the city does not advertise this program in any way. The rebate application period starts May 1 and ends June 30.  As of yesterday, April 25, I looked at the city website, and there’s nothing. I searched it, and got the application for 2011. You should be sure to get the latest application, the requirements change. They not only have income requirements, but limit the amount you can get back. So I e-mailed the city finance department, asking where I could find it. The $taffer got back to me with an attached copy that I could print for myself, but said the application would not be on the city website until next week.

Yeah, I know – don’t be such a putz Juanita! Of course they don’t want people to get this rebate!

I just can’t believe the low to which our public employees have stooped these days. I had to ask the clerk’s office for a cut and pastable version of this report below three times before they actually delivered.  Excuses, excuses. “The Adobe program is not letting me convert this document to OCR text.   I was able to save it in Word.  The document is attached,” says the $taffer who gets more than $100,000 a year in salary, pension and health benefits. 

Why do I bitch about this stuff? Because the whole reason I do this blog is to get the information out there. Do you know what a pain in the ass it is to type from a different screen? Oh yeah, I could get it on my cell phone screen, and type it from that… No, I demand the staffer do the job she’s supposed to do so I can cut-and-paste it with the swipe of a couple of keys. Unlike little miss high-heels,  I don’t get paid to do this.

(From the April 19, 2017 meeting of the Oversight Board for the RDA Successor Agency)  “At June 30, 2016 the Successor Agency to the Chico Redevelopment Agency had long-term bond obligations totaling over $89,000,000 bearing interest rates from 4.0% to 5.13%. “

Gee, can you figure why they don’t want me sharing this information with just any Tom, Dick or Sally? City Finangler $cott Dowell says he  can get these refinanced at a lower rate. All I see is that great big “89” followed by all those zeroes. Times like this I feel like Roy Scheider.

What ya gonna do?

22 Apr

Today, at 9 am, my husband and I encountered a man at Mangrove Safeway who was so intoxicated he was trying to enter the “EXIT ONLY” door. He just stood there with his nose to the glass, pressing at the door with his chest, pushing the concrete with his feet. His face was red with alcohol poisoning.

When we’d entered the parking lot via the back alley, we saw him laying in a fetal position behind Kwando, two wine bottles laying nearby.  We were surprised to see him lumbering up to the front door of Safeway a few minutes later. He looked to be in his late 20’s, long hair, unshaven, but weirdly clean. He was wearing new clothes – a t-shirt and what appeared to be medical scrubs for pants, and bright aqua blue sneakers. 

When I was young I worked at a retail store on a busy boulevard in Sacramento.  The entry had an old brick planter with an awning over the front, to shade the store from the intense afternoon sun. We’d long since given up trying to plant anything in the planter box, the bums would sit on it all night, drinking cheap booze and watching the cars go by, it would be full  of empty bottles and other junk the next morning.

The boss would schedule a team of two to open the store – one big, mean looking guy to deal with the front entrance, and another person to run the cash registers and get the store going. The planter and awning created a neat little shelter.  Most mornings there would be at least one human body blocking the front door, and the ground would be sticky with urine, spilled drinks, food trash, and sometimes a pile of human poop.

The front door guy was given a janitorial style mop bucket on wheels, a jug of bleach, a push broom, and a big, yellow fat hose, with a key to open the spigot on the side of the store. Of course that had to be locked up good – we’d actually  had transients who’d found a way to get on the roof, set up a neat little camp, with a hose running down to that spigot for fresh water! Ginchee!

One morning my co-worker came into the store to say he thought the old man on the front steps might be dead. His own face had a tint of green – the old man had thrown up blood and booze all over the entrance, and he wouldn’t respond to my friend’s prodding and pleading.

These people drove us nuts. We were open late at night and they were always trying to  get into the store. If they made it past the front cash register we’d have a hell of a time getting them out, and the cops wouldn’t help us. I think the oldest one of my co-workers was about 24 years old, we’d all grown up in the suburbs, the worst thing we’d seen was our dad with a hangover.

So my  friend and I were both really scared this guy was dead. It wasn’t exactly sympathy, but we had never seen a dead guy before. We went into the back of the store to call the cops and – you guessed it – when we came back the old bastard had picked himself up and wandered out into the busy street, swearing and swinging his fists at the early morning traffic.  And then he was gone, but not quite forgotten…

Nothing left to do but call the cops off and clean the front entry. Yeeeeeeccccchhhhh!

So I don’t know what to do when I see these people flocking all over the Mangrove Plaza. As could have been predicted, the warm weather is bringing them in droves.

I don’t know what to do about the general atmosphere of “Who gives a shit” that seems to be overcoming our town.  Worse – so many people are in point blank denial – today the park is packed with people participating in that paint run – are they blind to the condition of the park? There are pot holes with white spray paint circles around them in the park road  – Hello!?! 

The other day my husband and I went up to walk our dogs along Humboldt Road. Wow, what a mess that’s become, but if you watch out for broken glass there are a few nice hikes.  We found a place along the road that’s become a couch dump – even a big screen tv. Wandering along a little creek, we came upon a trashed car we hadn’t seen before, so we guessed it’s been dumped within the last month or so. The trunk, hood, doors were wide open, stuff was torn out all over the place. A faded note held in place by a window wiper said the car had not been abandoned, please leave it alone. 

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Anybody recognize this car?

It sure looked “unused, disused, neglected, idledeserted, unoccupied, uninhabited, empty” to me.  I always wonder if these cars have been stolen and are in the process of being stripped. 

Even though this is within the city limits and jurisdiction of Chico PD – a city work crew was up there, dumping slobbers in pot holes – I don’t even know who to report it to. When I reported a very much inhabited campsite we found down there,  Chico PD acted as though I was just being a pill.  I can’t believe the city road crew didn’t see all that stuff from the cab of their big bulldozer. The county has known about it for years.

I sent a picture I took of the homeless camp out front of Home Depot to the Enterprise Records’ “Hotshots,” we’ll see if they print it.  I don’t know how else to draw attention to this issue when so many people just don’t want to hear or do anything about it. 

Cost of pumping your septic tank will roughly double under new county deal – city of Chico refuses our septage while laying plans to run a sewer pipe from Paradise

19 Apr

Well, I found out why the county treated my questions about their new septage deal  like poison ivy – they’re about to double the cost of pumping a septic tank in Butte County.

Butte County is taxpayer and citizen hostile. I can’t believe how they handled two simple questions I posed to our once casual and friendly county CAO, Paul Hahn – “could you give us an idea of what it will cost to pump out  tank once the septage ponds are closed and the transfer station is sending our septage to Lincoln?” and “where exactly in Lincoln?”

I also asked Hahn in conversation, why isn’t our septage going to the Chico wastewater treatment plant.

Well, you saw Hahn’s response. It was huffy –  county counsel, Bruce Alpert, was positively hostile. He lectured me about the public relations act.

“The public records act does not require a public agency to provide responses to questions…”

Wow. I wish I could ask him, how is a citizen supposed to get public information without asking a question, but he threatened to charge me next time! 

I can’t post the letter cause it was loaded in such a way that it can’t be cut and paste, but maybe I’ll take a picture of it later or load it in with my scanner. I can’t believe how nasty Alpert got over two simple pieces of public information.

This information was all discussed at public meetings by the board of supervisors, I asked Hahn if he could direct me to the conversation. I couldn’t find any reports regarding shipping our septage to the Chico wastewater treatment plant – apparently there has been no real conversation about that. Sounds like the city is just flat refusing to take our septage, while making a deal with Paradise to run a sewer pipe all the way to the river to accommodate their sewage.

The city is “concerned that the biological strength of septage waste may upset their treatment system…” Wow, so Paradise’ poop is cleaner than ours? What?

So, the county has walked away from discussions with the city of Chico and contacted a firm in Lincoln – Invirotec Facility. 

And now we know why they were so touchy about answering my questions – all this is going to double the cost of pumping your tank – the current disposal fee at Neal Road dump is 15 cents a gallon, the new deal will raise it to a minimum of 24 cents a gallon but a maximum of 32 cents a gallon. The cost of a truck load will go from $211 to $450. Depending on the size of your tank, you could be paying an increase of $34/per year, and that’s if you follow staff’s recommendation and only get your tank pumped every 7 years. That’s staff’s  analysis – most experts say you should pump your tank every three to six years, depending on the size of your household. 

I believe they want to force Chicoans on sewer. I had thought that was crazy because the wastewater treatment plant was at capacity a few years ago. I found some notes from an old meeting, I’ll talk about that next time.

But I’ll say, the county of Butte is hostile to the citizens. This information request was just that – a citizen’s right to know. Hahn and Alpert treated me like a  rat in their pantry.   My supervisor, Maureen Kirk, sat through the whole conversation with her thumb up her ass. Kirk is a staff shill, she’s completely dependent on staff, makes no decisions of her own. She didn’t answer my questions because she couldn’t – it’s in one ear, vote, and out the other ear with Kirk.

Kirk should step down for 2018, give somebody else a chance to do a better job. 

 

CARD to discuss PR campaign for revenue measure at tomorrow’s board meeting

19 Apr

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170418/card-to-discuss-marketing-campaign-budget

The meeting will be at the CARD center on Vallombrosa, starts promptly at 7pm, and may very well be over by 8pm, so don’t be late.

 

Liberty Tour VI — learn about Oroville Dam, California Voter Fraud, Cal Exit vs State of Jefferson, and the Declaration of Independence

18 Apr

Liberty Tour VI

Saturday April 22, 8 am – 3 pm

Church of Glad Tidings

1179 Eager Road

Live Oak, CA 95953

$20 at the door

As Lou Binninger says in this week’s Territorial Dispatch,  “You’re more likely to see a spotted owl than get accurate information on these topics elsewhere.”

http://territorialdispatch.biz/component/edocman/?task=document.viewdoc&id=325&Itemid=0

That’s actually true – when Doug LaMalfa came to Oroville last night to talk about the dam crisis, the “community meeting” was completely derailed by – get a load of this – outside agitators from Grass Valley. 

I notice whenever I see one of those “pussy” hats there’s a fascist under it, ready to tell you what you should be doing and thinking. 

https://www.pussyhatproject.com/

They shouted down speakers as LaMalfa and other local officials tried to answer questions about the Oroville Dam crisis – apparently they don’t care too much about women living in the path of a gazillion cubic feet of water, held back by a 50’s era dam that, if it’s built the same as the spillway, has no rebar or modern concrete standards, and is about as safe as a day-old egg.

The pussy hat people wanted to talk about Sanctuary City, but I bet  they aren’t talking about undocumented aliens being  registered to vote as citizens. 

Given our slanted media, we either get the liberal rant on most of these issues or we hear nothing at all. While Liberty Tour speakers also have their slant, it’s a good idea to hear both sides, find something rational somewhere in the middle.

I’m sorry they charge so much for this engagement – $15 ahead, $20 at the door. If they were really anxious to inform the public, they could wave the charge or make it more reasonable. But, if you have the dough and time to drive up Hwy 99 to Live Oak, you might learn something.

If you don’t make it, keep an eye on the Territorial Dispatch, Lou may have a recap of at least some of the speakers.

 

Business Hostile Chico has different standards for different parts of town

18 Apr

Today the Chico Chamber and Police Department are holding a “public safety” meeting at the CARD Center on Vallombrosa. A news reporter was standing out in front of the center in pitch blackness this morning to pitch it on tv. The cops and chamber are desperate to put up a front – they want the public to think they’re on top of the situation. 

This is at least the second meeting they’ve held in the “Mangrove Business Corridor.” While the chamber is supposed to represent businesses (members) all over town, the main focus always seems to be Downtown and the surrounding retail centers, the campus area, and once in a while the Nord Avenue corridor. I’ve never heard of a meeting being held in south or north Chico.

Meanwhile, there are other areas of concern, and it seems neither Chico PD nor the chamber are too worried about it.

0416170917a

This building at 2560 S. Whitman sits vacant for months now between Home Depot and TJ Maxx.

I reported a de-facto transient shelter at a vacant building next door to Home Depot, located on South Whitman next to Hwy 99.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2017/03/29/bum-friendly-business-hostile/

My husband complained about the transients to a staffer at Home Depot, who indicated the problem was ongoing. (“Again?!”)   When my husband returned a few days later, the transients and much of the larger trash had been removed.  When we went back yesterday we found even more elaborate housing.

0416170918cr

It looks like somebody has been living out of this cardboard box for at least a few days. There’s another “shelter” behind this one. Neither were occupied at the time, but note the knife on the ground.

From the looks of that knife, I’d say, don’t wander too close to this building after dark. Home Depot is open until 10 pm, well after dark. There to the upper left you can see the corner of the HD nursery – our truck  was parked right out front of this building. I wouldn’t park that close at night.

TJ Maxx is open until 9:30 pm, and I’ve seen a lot of women and kids coming and going from that store, some of them parking over toward the abandoned building. Not  that men should have to put up with this stuff either, but having been a mom with tiny tots in tow, I felt particularly vulnerable to these kind of creeps. 

I got other pictures but don’t have time to post now – suffice to say, the trash meanders well into the parking lot, and lines the side of the TJ Maxx building. 

Leo DePaola, the head of Chico “building services” just had a special meeting for Downtown business owners who are angered at having to pay a $150 permit fee to repair vandalized windows.  DePaola, a cranky bastard, stood steadfast on that fee, saying it pays employee costs. He ain’t lying – the city has a pension deficit of nearly  $100 million, you know they got costs! 

The owner of the bra store says she won’t repair her windows if they don’t dump the fee. I wonder is she’s been out to TJ Maxx lately, got a good look at what the city of Chico allows in the fringe zones. I think the city’s attentions toward Downtown are a double-edge sword – I’m pretty sure some Downtown merchants would say they are put under unfair scrutiny.

While others don’t seem to get any scrutiny at all.