Archive | February, 2012

The Pension Bomb is ticking – Chico Taxpayers Assoc meeting this Sunday, 11:30am, Chico Library

29 Feb

Tom Lando is being quiet about his tax proposal – that doesn’t mean he’s given up. Currently he’s conducting a “survey”, supposedly in order to gauge public support, but more likely intended to mold his proposal into something the public will support. He’s just trying to find out what rainbows he needs to promise in order to get it past the uninformed.

That’s why I’ve tried to keep people informed to what’s really going on here – the city is broke after 10 years or more of absolutely reckless and irresponsible spending and Lando has been tapped (because he doesn’t have an elected position at stake) to sell the voters  a tax increase. 

Last night council wasted another two hours on a rambling bullshit session regarding the budget.  It wasn’t a “work” session like you’d see if you attended a city council meeting in Red Bluff or Gridley. In those towns they actually fix streets and get money for school projects.Here they sit and babble for hours and come up with NO SOLUTIONS.

They’ve got to start cutting the upper level staffers. Dave Burkland should not be allowed to retire at 50 years of age, taking over $130,000 a year in pension.  He should be told that he’s going to get a 50 percent salary cut and if he doesn’t like it, there’s the door. Same for Assistant City Manger John Rucker, who is instead getting ready to insert himself as Police Chief, and I’m guessing his new salary will be within $5,000 of the big 2-0-0-0-0-0! Same for at least 20 upper level employees, and those are just the cockroaches you can see.

Ann Schwab won’t fight the union – she IS the union.  She works for the university – SEIU.   Same with Holcombe, Gruendl and Flynn-Golom.  These people are loyal first and last to their benefactor, the union. They know boat rockers get the pitch overboard.

They don’t want to “fix” the budget, they want more money to pay the pensions, including their own. They want a higher state sales tax, and they want a higher local sales tax, you can bet on that.

When I spoke to Ann Schwab at her “Meet the Mayor” event Saturday at the library, she assured me she would not support a sales tax “for a ballfield.” That was it. She won’t support a ballfield? Well, at the regular city council meeting last week she said she’d dip into the reserve fund to hire new people. She ‘s already used the RDA like a credit card to pay salaries and pension payments, that’s bad enough. Hiring new hires without getting your finances in order is like putting out a fire with gasoline.  Or in this case, putting out the Pension Bomb by throwing some more flaming pensions at it.

If you’ve already written a letter to council, I’d certainly like to post it here. Sometimes it helps if they see the conversation going public, makes it harder to ignore us. You can also post your thoughts here anonymously, as long as they are on subject (Chico sales tax increase) and within the legal boundaries (don’t knowingly spread misinformation, and if you make a mistake, please be sure to retract quickly). Just click the “leave a comment” icon at the bottom left of each post.

Also, don’t forget, Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting this Sunday, 11:30, at the Chico library. We have the room for about an hour before the next group comes in.

Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting, this Sunday, 3/4, 11:30 am, Chico library

27 Feb

I hope we can get a few people to join us at the library this Sunday at 11:30  to discuss the latest news on local tax increases, including Tom Lando’s proposal to raise local sales tax.

I’ll try to bring along a little video I made of my conversation with our Mayor Ann Schwab, regarding the proposed sales tax increase. She was at the library this weekend, putting her campaign into full gear.

Please write those letters to council asking them to agendize a discussion regarding how a sales tax increase gets on the local ballot. Will the council shove it on there with a “super majority” (5-2) ? Or will they require Lando and Associates to gather 10 percent of the registered voters’ signatures, as was the case with Measure A?

There are other questions, such as, who will pay for the $taff time that goes into writing the measure? Our city attorney’s time is paid out at about $126/ hour, and that does not include her $taff, or her benefits/pension.

The best way to avoid problems is to be proactive. Write early, and write often. Don’t ramble, stick to the point – tell them you won’t support a sales tax increase, and demand that Lando be made to bring in the petitions.

And, I hate to say this, but if you’re nice about it, there’s more of a chance they’ll finish reading your letter. Elected officials aren’t bound to take abuse, if you start out lobbing shit your letter is going to get round-filed.  Try to keep it short and, hmmm, if not sweet, then not dripping with  acid either.

I think you will be surprised how well this tactic works, if we apply it in force. Please join us in making it clear that Chico will not support an increase in sales tax.

How we got into this financial mess

25 Feb

Looking for information about Chico sales tax revenues, I came across a 13 year old article from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy – “a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land.”

Using Chico as one of his illustrative models,  Arizona professor Jeffrey L. Chapman discusses “the effects of fiscal stress on local governments in California as they attempt to maintain their autonomy…”  In other words, how cities finance their operations without being taken over by the state.  It’s interesting to read this little prelude to our current predicament.

You can read the whole thing here:  http://www.lincolninst.edu/subcenters/property-valuation-and-taxation-library/dl/chapman_2.pdf

In his opening notes Chapman acknowledges the input and cooperation of then city manager Tom Lando.

In 1999, new housing development was in full swing in Chico.  Hammers were swinging, people were moving to Chico to take advantage of the relatively cheap housing, and construction workers were enjoying a newfound wealth.  The economy was on the way up, and the mule was the construction boom. So, an enterprising Lando decided to milk it for what he could get – he talked council into raising developer fees dramatically.

According to Chapman, “Over time, fees on new development have moved from basically non-existent to now very high. ”

By “very high”, Chapman meant, “Prior to the increases, they were about $2,000 per dwelling unit (for sewer connections) to now about $18,000 per dwelling unit.” This might sound like alot, until you consider “they cover everything from streets, parks police facilities, and bike paths.”

Some people pointed out at the time that this essentially added $16,000 to the price of a new house – I  have to laugh now – that’s chump change compared to the amount houses went up – a house just east of mine sold for $90,000 in 1998. In 2005, a  house just the other side of mine, with one more bedroom and bath, but  on the same size lot, went for over $500,000.

The housing binge provided another revenue opportunity for the city of Chico – increased property taxes.  The housing inventory was increasing as the price was going through the roof. The city was swimming in developer fees and property taxes, not to mention a surging increase in the utility and sales taxes. “If you build it, they will come…” … people were flocking to Chico. Meanwhile, the city was annexing “county pockets” all around the core, dragging in more property taxes, utility taxes and  sales taxes.

At some point in the late 1990’s, Lando had swung a deal to annex Courtesy Motors. Just Courtesy Motors. They wanted an expansion, and a  sewer hook-up, Lando told them they’d have to agree to annex. I’ll never forget the way he grinned as he talked about the sales tax revenues the city would be taking at a Finance Committee meeting. As an added bonus, this annexation created a county pocket of the neighborhood just to the west of Courtesy, which was annexed despite the protests of many of the residents a few years later.

So, if that was the picture in 1999, you might ask, what the hell happened by 2007 that led Lando’s protege and immediate successor Greg Jones to declare we were teetering on the brink of bankrupcty? Where in the heck did all that money go?

It’s funny, already in 1999, Chapman says, “services are increasing, but not in proportion to the population growth, so therefore, slight deterioration.” Meaning, services weren’t keeping up with the burgeoning population.

But why not? Chapman reported, having got his information from Lando,  that development was paying for itself – “Processing fees for new development utilize full cost accounting and include indirect costs. Enterprise funds are fully self-supporting and also include indirect costs. Thus, the fees set by the funds for homeowners are including these indirect costs.” Meaning, the cost of extra cops, street sweepers, more employees Downtown?

No, apparently not. Chapman lists “the police department no longer investigates traffic accidents if there are no injuries…” among other  city policies changes, such as, “The City used to trim trees every 7-10 years; now it will be trimming trees every 27-30 years.”

What can account for a city cutting services just as it is enjoying a boom in revenues? In 2003, the city of Chico, at the direction of City Manager Tom Lando, signed a memo of understanding with it’s employee unions that attached city salaries to revenue increases but NOT decreases.  Is that starting to make sense to everybody yet? Lando’s own salary went from the $90,000 range to over $180,000.  They took huge raises, 14, 19, 22 percent, raising the upper level salaries so quickly that they even created a pretty sizeable disparity between management and workforce. Soon, over 100 employees Downtown  made over $100,000 a year, but the folks that kept the records, tended the public, mowed the ballfields, repaired the sidewalks, paved the streets and collected the parking meter money were still in the $22 – 35,000 range.

Now, at this time, would you believe, we only owed about $120,000,000 on the RDA. I know, “only,” isn’t that a hoot? But now that we how hundreds and hundreds of millions, $120 million seems almost reasonable.

“The first redevelopment project,” reports Chapman, ” started in 1980. Today used quite a bit as is important source of funds. Together, the redevelopment money, the fees and charges from enterprise funds, and the capital funds take a $20 million General Fund budget and turn it into a $50 million city budget.”

Gee, sounds rosy – but get a load of this – “over time, the City Manager predicts that redevelopment may have become less important, since much of the service provision burden is being shifted to new development.”

There’s a glitch. What happened to Lando’s prediction that development was going to “pay for itself”?

Yes, that would be the little matter of the MOU attaching city salaries to revenue increases but not revenue decreases.

Now we find, not only did Lando NOT stop relying so heavily on the RDA as he said he would, but  he started at some point after 2000 paying salaries and benefits out of the RDA.

To me, this article, with the information provided by Lando himself, chronicles Lando’s gutting of our city finances to pay the huge salaries, including his own. I’d call that embezzlement – “the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property entrusted to your care but actually owned by someone else.” Wouldn’t you?

But now this character, with help from at least a few of our city council and, who else but $taff, is trying to shove a sales tax increase up our butts. For what purpose? To pay off the millions in pension promises he made to his $taff – to stave off the Pension Bomb. Cause see, when the Pension Bomb goes off, Lando and all his friends will just stop getting checks. They will have to get lawyers and sue a turnip for their paychecks. I think that’s going to happen anyway, but Lando is trying to hold it off as long as he can, because as former city manager, his name will be on on the poop end of  a few of those lawsuits.

Let’s not forget where the money went:

Name Employer Warrant Amount Annual
ALEXANDER, THOMAS E CHICO $8,947.23 $107,366.76
BAPTISTE, ANTOINE G CHICO $10,409.65 $124,915.80
BEARDSLEY, DENNIS D CHICO $8,510.23 $102,122.76
BROWN, JOHN S CHICO $17,210.38 $206,524.56
CARRILLO, JOHN A CHICO $10,398.98 $124,787.76
DAVIS, FRED CHICO $12,467.78 $149,613.36
DUNLAP, PATRICIA CHICO $10,632.10 $127,585.20
FELL, JOHN G CHICO $9,209.35 $110,512.20
FRANK, DAVID R CHICO $14,830.05 $177,960.60
GARRISON, FRANK W CHICO $8,933.56 $107,202.72
JACK, JAMES F CHICO $9,095.09 $109,141.08
KOCH, ROBERT E CHICO $9,983.23 $119,798.76
LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48 $134,837.76
MCENESPY, BARBARA L CHICO $12,573.40 $150,880.80
PIERCE, CYNTHIA CHICO $9,390.30 $112,683.60
ROSS, EARNEST C CHICO $9,496.60 $113,959.20
SCHOLAR, GARY P CHICO $8,755.69 $105,068.28
SELLERS, CLIFFORD R CHICO $9,511.11 $114,133.32
VONDERHAAR, JOHN F CHICO $8,488.07 $101,856.84
VORIS, TIMOTHY M CHICO $8,433.90 $101,206.80
WEBER, MICHAEL C CHICO $11,321.93 $135,863.16
Please write to Chico City Council and ask them to agendize a discussion of how a tax increase can get on the city ballot.
And don’t forget – Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting, Sunday March 4 at 11:30, Chico branch of the Butte County library. 

There’s nobody driving the train.

22 Feb

I don’t know how many of you watch Chico City Council meetings on tv or over the internet, but last night’s meeting brought us to a new low.  Ann Schwab, Andy Holcombe and their liberal friends are completely out of touch in regards to our financial situation. These folks, particularly Schwab and Holcombe, seem determined to SPEND their way out of fiscal insolvency.

Yes, I know, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. When my family got a bad diagnosis on our old stationwagon, we sold it to a refurbisher for the best price we could get, and then we went down to Wittmeier and got the best deal we could get on a new car. Yes, the old battle wagon was a gas hog, and every repair was a major expense, so we really started saving money as soon as we drove off the lot. It hurt, taking so much money out of our savings, but yeah, you got to take risks sometimes.  Not having a car is not an option for a working family.

I met a guy on Topix, who brags about not having a car. But one day there he was on Topix, asking if somebody could give him a ride somewhere. Tim Bousquet also used to brag about not owning a car  – but he sure enjoyed the ride to O-ville in my station wagon, and called me often.

So you can call my family, Risk Takers.  But, if we hadn’t saved that money years previous, it wouldn’t have been there in our time of crisis. Frankly, I think a working family with no working car is far more of a crisis than a city who can’t meet their payroll. I had to SPEND to get out of my crisis, no two ways about it.  But the city needs to cut, and there’s no two ways about that.  Here’s the easy answer – lay people off. That’s what they been doing, but they haven’t been aggressive enough – they still have over 100 people Downtown who make over $100,000 a year.

See, they been laying off the wrong people. They been laying off the workers who we can afford, and keeping the stuffed shirts that DON’T DO ANYTHING.

Did you know, you can get about four to six workers for the price of  a stuffed shirt? At leeeeeeaaaast!

But neither Ann nor Andy would admit it’s the salaries that are the problem. In fact, they kept saying, we need to SPEND our way out of this crisis! Ann even said, she’d use reserve money to HIRE NEW PEOPLE.

Here’s the analogy: We’re on a train. We the people are all sitting on fruit boxes, breathing soot through open windows.  The next car up is made of gold, lined with  plush furnishings and all the modern conveniences. It’s full of Chico’s elite – the mayor and all her fancy friends, like Bob Linscheid, Chris Friedland, Jon Gregory, and Rory Rottchalk. They’re wining and dining, while we huddle on our fruit crates over our scraps.

When we notice the train is swerving dangerously fast around curves,  we make our way to the engine car, where we find, the mayor has fired the crew in order to pay for caviar! Oh Shit! The train is heading for that precipice! And nobody’s driving!

There’s your analogy. Now write a letter to the mayor and tell her to agendize our discussion regarding how a tax increase can get on the ballot.

“Hostile” City of Chico mismanages the airport

20 Feb

For a few years now (since 2008) an item has popped up so regularly on the city council “closed session” agendas that I have come to recognize it without knowing anything about it.

2.1. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL — EXISTING LITIGATION: The City Attorney will review
the following: Danford A. Jay and Sandra R. Jay v. City of Chico, et al., Butte County Superior Court
Cases 145202 and 145203, pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(a).

It started to pique my curiosity, but I didn’t know how to find out about it. I figured, since it’s on the closed session item, they wouldn’t be exactly eager to discuss it with me, and you know, I get tired of being led a merry chase down at the City of Chico.

So, I finally stumbled onto the info, you know, casual conversation with some parent at a playground, that’s how I find out stuff around town.  I mean, it’s just amazing the people you find yourself chatting with, about what.

It seems this all relates to Chico’s abysmal reputation for being “hostile” toward business.

I’ve sat in at least two different Economic Development meetings in which the main topic of discussion was the airport. At one meeting, a couple of consultants complained that the airport does not offer consistent enough “service” for corporate types to fly to Chico to snoop out our job-ability. They didn’t explain it, they just said, these big-wigs want to be able to fly in and out at their convenience, and that’s not doable at Chico airport.

At another more recent meeting, a spokesman from Build.com said the airport needs a big commercial carrier. He seems to think we can turn our airport into the same kind of behemoth  as the Sacramento Airport, bring in TWA – wowsers! He mentioned regular flights to Disneyland as his main concern – what does Disneyland have to do with bringing job-makers into Chico?

No, no, no. It’s not lack of a commercial carrier, it’s lack of somewhere for really important people to land their own jets. I got news for Mr. Build.com – real employers don’t stand in lines to take a commercial carrier, they fly in with their own plane at 10 am and they fly out at 4pm. The don’t use giant, overrun airports, they use little executive airports unconstrained by heavy traffic and avoiding major accidents involving housing tracts. Chico Airport should be perfect for exactly this use.

Yes, it should be. Chico Airport is equipped with a special landing strip with a gated terminal, just for really important people. You might remember, Oprah landed at that gate. She was whisked away to Oroville to meet and interview a local beauty queen, and then within a couple of hours, there she went.

But, for some reason, when Governor Schwarzenegger came to town a few years ago, nobody came to open the gate to the terminal. Schwarzenegger was left outside a locked gate. This was sufficient to  make a laughingstock out of Chico Airport.  It’s happened more than once, and it’s apparently turned away big execs looking for prime employment territory.

The special terminal is owned by a local couple, Chris and Maria Rock, who have a special contract with the city of Chico to operate the terminal and an airplane fueling station. When a “special” visitor is headed for the airport, they are supposed to contact the Rocks, who are supposed to have that terminal open and functioning. Apparently the Rocks are pretty lackadaisical about their duties and more than one person has arrived to find a gate locked.

Enter Danford Jay.  Mr. Jay wants to be licensed to operate such a terminal himself. He operates a business out of the airport and his livelihood depends on the airport running efficiently. Apparently Mr. Jay is tired of watching the Rocks run business away from Chico.

But the City of Chico protects the Rocks’ contract for some reason, they won’t let Mr. Jay have a permit to operate his own terminal and fueling station. According to my source, this drives people to the airports at Redding and Oroville. My friend is himself considering moving his business and the 25 people it employs to the Redding airport.

This friend has been to meeting after meeting, in Chico, in Oroville, in Redding. He uses the word “hostile” to describe the city of Chico, and particularly, Dave Burkland.

Dave Burkland is not only our city manager, he’s the airport manager.  That’s why his salary is so  high – I’ve seen the breakdown – he gets separate salaries for all these jobs that should just be handed to different, hopefully more competent people. This is how the city “saves money.” And this is how Burkland will retire at over $120,000 a year soon.

And this is why our airport drives jobs away from Chico.

Meanwhile the city’s little protection racket racks up the bucks in court:

http://www.buttecourt.ca.gov/online_index/CMSCaseDisplay.cfm?ucn=145202&sx=1088450740381968

Blowing money out their patoot, Part II

18 Feb

I am a woman of many moods. People who’ve known me a long time say they’ve watched me turn from a liberal to a conservative. I hate labels – those feelings have been mixed up inside of me for years, and I’ve followed one party or another because I thought they were expressing the same feelings. Over the years, I’ve realized, you can’t trust any big political party, and the bigger politics get, the less effect the common person will have.

So when Planning Commissioner and long-time gadfly Jon Luvass brought forward a “discussion” of “corporate personhood,” I was conflicted. Yes, I think “corporate personhood,” as explained to me by Ralph Nader about 1993, is bad.

“Corporate personhood” came from a legislative decision made decades ago – about 100 years ago? –  that gave corporations “human rights.”  Boiled down, this means, they can scream “harrassment” if you go after them for say, coloring the stream that runs through your town with toxic waste, or turning the air over your city into soot soup. It gives them all kinds of protections they don’t deserve, and it’s caused us a lot of problems in holding them to the laws that you and I must obey.

If you want a better explanation about this, go to www.nader.org/ – Ralph has been hashing issues like this for years, that’s why I have voted for him in every presidential election ever since 1992. 

Meanwhile, Jon Luvass has supported MoveOn.org and the Democratic Party. Hmmmm.

What Luvass, prodded forward by Ann Schwab and Linda Furr and who knows who else,  brought to the Internal Affairs Committee last week was not a discussion about “corporate personhood” but their own hypocritical diatribe on campaign spending

Our election process, he says, are being “swung” by “big big money.”

This is where I find Luvass disingenuous. This is a guy who has supported MoveOn.org since it was created, going to the first MoveOn convention and then holding a party at his co-housing community to spread the word. Luvass has also long been one of the stinking heads of the Esplanade League stinking fish, the Super PAC of the liberals. He’s closely connected to Dave Guzzetti’s “Chico Democrats,” which by the way, has nothing to do with Democracy.

Luvass had the nerve to ramble on about how these evil PACS – not his, see – are ruining Democracy. “This is a matter of money speaking louder than the mouths of human beings…” but, “I’m not talking about corporations in general (like the Esplanade League), but ‘MAJOR’ corporations…”

Well, that’s real pretty Jon, but it doesn’t carry much weight coming from a guy who bought his way onto the Planning Commission with the single largest donation allowed in a Chico City Council race.  Yep, Luvass gave Maureen Kirk $950, just short of the $1000 maximum, in the campaign directly leading to her appointing him as Planning Commissioner. 

Yes Jon, that looks really bad, especially given the fact that you had no qualifications whatsoever and didn’t even read the city code until I pointed that out to you a good eight months into the job.

Luvass acts as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but he and his friends are also quick to call in their big guns when they really need money  – the California nurses union and the SEIU were the biggest contributors to the campaign against Measure A, and they both waited until the last quarter to donate so they wouldn’t have to disclose until AFTER THE ELECTION. Same with the Esplanade League, which also refuses to disclose just  exactly where it’s money comes from.

I saw Nancy Pelosi on PBS’s MacNeil Report the other night, railing about how the Republicans’ Super PACS are just ruining life as we know it. Reporter Judy Woodruff pointed out that Obama will be going with a Super PAC. Pelosi, looking like one of those apple-head puppets, croaked back that Obama’s money is DIFFERENT!  He discloses! Yeah, just like the Chico Democrats and the Esplanade League – we won’t find out whose fist is up Obama’s ass until he’s already made his inaugural address.

So, Jon, Ann, Linda – you can save your bullshit for those ignoramuses who would listen to you.  Nobody believes you are sincere in limiting campaign money, and this “corporate personhood” discussion is just more of your whitewash.

Meanwhile, council turns a deaf ear to my request to agendize a discussion of how a tax increase measure can get on the ballot WITHOUT one shred of support from the community.  Yes, five of them can contrive to shove it on the ballot without a petition. 

Please write to council and ask them to agendize my request for a public discussion of how a tax increase measure gets on our local ballot. I’ve written a formal request to the clerk’s office, and already one member of council has answered back that he won’t discuss it until Lando comes forward with his proposal. I told this council member, I’M NOT ASKING FOR A DISCUSSION OF LANDO’S PROPOSAL. I’m asking for a discussion of HOW ANY TAX INCREASE PROPOSAL CAN GET ON THE LOCAL BALLOT. 

If they can sit around for two hours masturbating themselves with this kind of crap, they can agendize my request.

Fun and games on your dime

15 Feb

You may have read that the City of Chico Internal Affairs committee yesterday refused to recommend a Downtown smoking ban.  What you didn’t read was that they spent almost an hour and a half  leading the cancer folks on as though they might consider it.

An hour and a half of $taff time, mulling over almost identical $taff reports regarding two almost identical items (see my previous post):

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/sitting-with-the-circle-of-jerks-down-at-city-hall/

The room was packed with supporters of two proposed smoking bans – one a comprehensive ban of smoking almost anywhere Downtown. The other, a redundant ban that also includes all of Bidwell Park.  There was not a full committee present – Holcombe already seems to be making his way toward the exit.

Chair Jim Walker and third leg Bob Evans made it clear from the get-go that they would probably not recommend either ban. One of the proponents actually said they already knew they wouldn’t get Item A, and most had come to address Item B. But, Walker proceeded to ask for comments regarding Item A, and took up a good half hour on it.  At one point Walker actually used the words “convince me,” even though he had made it clear that he thought the Downtown ban was an attack on civil liberties, motivated by  a simple dislike of smokers. Regardless of his opening remarks, he continued to lead this group on for an hour and 25 minutes, telling me at one point, “I think this is the best use of public salaries…” .

This pandering  is an incredible waste of $taff time. I tried to point that out but  Walker kept interrupting me. Well, let’s do the math kids. At the table sat John Rucker, at over $165,000 a year, playing secretary to the committee. Next to him sat city attorney Lori Barker, at over $190,000. Then two members of the clerk’s staff (writing the reports that Rucker will read verbatim at the next meeting), the head of the parks department, one of his rangers, and a guy from CARD.  Want a grand total on those salaries – all of which YOU pay?  Well, I don’t have the current figures in front of me, but I’ll make a shot at the general ballpark  – we’re talking almost three quarters of a million dollars in horseflesh, sitting in one room, babbling two identical items that have  already received hours of $taff time in various reports and meetings. And that’s just the salaries, don’t forget we tote their benefits and pensions.

Feel like a pack-mule? Well you should – a blind pack mule headed for a precipitous drop.

These meetings aren’t video-taped,  and the minutes are questionable – it depends on who’s taking minutes how complete they are. The clerk or her assistant tapes the meetings, but only for their own use. I’ve been to meetings that went all over town, voices were raised, huge arguments were had, and then read the minutes: a list of the items discussed and sometimes the names of any people who spoke, but nothing about what they said. Sometimes the minutes make note of whether a speaker supported or opposed an item, but that’s it. The committee members are allowed to read the minutes and ask for things to be stricken, even if they are true. The council does not allow verbatim minutes of any meeting. You figure that out.

I think these committees should all be thrown out. The reason behind committees is supposed to be airing these matters WITH THE PUBLIC.  Let me ask a stupid question: how many of you are available for an 8am meeting, Downtown?

I have been to these meetings for years. I may not have a paid job, but it’s not like I don’t have other things to do. I used to take my kids, as young as four years old, and was proud how well behaved they were and how they’d always pay attention and make the most adroit observations afterward. But frankly, intelligent humans that they are, they got sick of going – it will wear you down morally, if you don’t have enough experience to put it in perspective.

So now, I go in by myself.  Yesterday I got up at 5 in the morning in order to get my  morning chores done – I get sick of coming home at 10:30 in the morning, feeling like I’ve been running behind somebody’s truck, and find myself two to three hours behind in my day. So, by 4:00 in the afternoon, I feel pretty shagged out, but take a nap? No, I work for a living. When I don’t work, I don’t eat.

And I’ll complain here: Jim Walker treated me like shit. He doesn’t like me, and he doesn’t like what I have to say. When I tried to ask the woman from the Lung Association just how she intended to enforce this rule, Walker interrupted me and  told me I was out of line. I told him this was part of the conversation, that Bob Evans had already brought it up. He asked the Lung Association woman if she was “comfortable” being asked questions by me, and she said no,  so Walker told me to shut up, essentially.

The Lung Association bitch had made this statement: “We don’t expect business owners to enforce it (a ban on smoking in doorways Downtown)  – the public will enforce it.” Her exact words. When I tried to ask her just exactly how far she expected public citizens to go in enforcing this ban, she wouldn’t answer me. She didn’t want to say, “I don’t care if you get the front of your head knocked out, I want you to attack smokers wherever you see them.”

Evans and Walker had already said they believed the Downtown ban was excessive, that 25 feet was onerous, and Evans had already questioned whether it was enforceable. As soon as Walker told me to shut up, Katie Simmons from the Chico Chamber spoke up saying exactly what I said – neither the Chamber nor the DCBA will support this ban because, not only is it not supported by their membership,  it’s unenforceable. Several other speakers followed with the same concern, including a guy who had earlier spoken on behalf of the ban.  But Walker told me to shut up. I’m so sick of that little dick, next January will not come soon enough for me. I wish I could throw that screen door at his ass myself, the self-righteous little prick. Out with bad rubbish!

Walker did make some interesting statements. This is why I question the hour and 25 minutes of $taff time that was taken for this issue. Walker said, right off the bat, “we mix up health issues with annoyance issues…things we just don’t like.” He went on several times to say that he believed the advocates were “just trying to make smoking so inconvenient” nobody could smoke anymore. He made it clear he wouldn’t support it. But, 20 minutes later, he asked for more comments from the audience, saying, “convince me…” It went on like that for an hour and 25 minutes of a two hour meeting with another item still waiting on the agenda.

These committee meetings rationalize millions in $taff costs, for questionable results. They do not make these conversations any more accessible to the public. They instead give the impression that the public has had input when they most certainly have not. It’s just a total scam, and we pay for it.

I’ll get back to Jon Luvass’s little rant later (Item C), but right now I got things to do.