Archive | February, 2012

Chico Taxpayer Association meeting – We are not alone!

5 Feb

I’d like to thank the folks who came to the library today, thanks very much.  We had a good “think tank” session and I feel like I have more direction with this effort. The meetings I’ve been having lately have made me feel good about  this.  I found out there are others,  I’m not the only one who doesn’t like this tax increase idea, and I’m not the only one who is willing to do something about it. And how!

We’ll have another meeting March 4, same place, same time. Thanks to Casey Aplanalp for setting that up with the library folks. Casey is right, we need to get ourselves organized, dole out chores and responsibilities.

In the meantime, I will ask Debbie Presson if this measure can be placed on the ballot without a petition. This is an important question, I’ll get on it and have a report asap.

But the first wave of defense in an effort like this is e-mails and letters, saying we will NOT support this tax.  I hope people will write to council. Write early and write often.

Thanks everybody, this is going to turn into something.

 

 

Make them carry a petition

4 Feb

In an e-mail I received January 30, ex-Chico city manager and sales tax increase proponent Tom Lando told me, “yes, we are funding a community survey.”

The question is, is this survey intended to “test the water” and tell him whether or not he wants to spend the money to float a petition, or will he try to use this survey to get council to go over the collective public head and place the issue on the ballot without a petition?   City Council makes that choice.

A typical survey, such as the General Plan survey conducted on behalf of the city of Chico, contacts between 400 and 600 residents, by phone, supposedly chosen randomly by “experts”.  A survey depends on the skill of the person(s) making the phone calls – the dialog and the questions are often times leading.  There have been complaints about the recent “business climate” survey conducted fairly loosely by the city, saying some of the questions were leading and inappropriate.   The Diversity Action survey was just “brainstormed” by a $taff member and a group of volunteers, including ME, and they used that survey to shove through items like mandatory diversity training for $taff and board members.

Council is also allowed to simply ignore the results they don’t like or agree with – such as an overwhelming finding in the General Plan survey that residents want big lots – the council chose to ignore this finding in favor of high density.  Council outrightly ridiculed a survey brought forward by the group Concerned Citizens of Chico,  even though CCC used students from the same department at Chico State that the city uses do to alot of their surveys. Council is allowed to interpret a survey any way they want, and use it to validate their vote whichever way they go.

Petitions, on the other hand, are required to be signed by a certain portion of the fixed population – in Chico that amounts to over 6500 signatures, I’m not sure of the exact number.  Petitions are approved by the city clerk, so that people are allowed to know what they’re signing and whether it’s legal.  Petitions are not subjective – it’s  a legal matter of math.

I’d like to believe Mr. Lando is just testing the water before he spends as much as $50,000 on a petition. That seems intelligent and prudent.  We need to let him know that.

I’d say, contact Mr. Lando, and ask him how you can participate in his survey. Ask him who is conducting this survey.

And then let him know, that regardless of the results of his survey, you will expect him to carry a petition and get the required number of signatures.

That’s Tom Lando, at Lando and Associates, 111 Mission Ranch Blvd, Chico, 95928, or tlando@landoandassociates.com

E-mail is convenient, but don’t forget to write those letters, get them in the mail. There’s something about snail mail that says, “I mean it, dammit.”

Katy Sweeny at the Enterprise Record is also conducting a simple poll – you can contact her at Twitter@KatySweeny or ksweeny@chicoer.com

And don’t forget – tomorrow at the Chico library, 11:30, hope to see you there.

Tell them you won’t pay for their greed and incompetence

3 Feb

I’m looking forward to seeing like-minded people at the library this weekend – that’s Sunday Feb. 5th at 11:30 am, Chico public library at the corner of First and Sherman Avenues.   I’ll have a sheet of contact information and hopefully we can come up with some ideas that will wither this tax on the vine.

But don’t wait to make those contacts, write early and write often.

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/please-contact-your-council-with-your-opposition-to-the-proposed-tax-increase/

Ex-city manager and tax increase proponent Tom Lando said to me in a recent e-mail, “I believe that the funds could truly help our community.”

According to Enterprise Record reporter Katy Sweeny, “Lando and (Jim) Stevens of Northstar Engineering have met with dozens of people in the community. They have talked about using the money for 15 additional police officers, a police station, a fire station, filling potholes, aiding the Chico library, Bidwell Mansion, the Veterans Hall, high school sports, theater arts and industrial arts, an aquatic center, a baseball  or football stadium with meeting facilities, local non-profits, Bidwell Park maintenance, and maintenance for some of the facilities.”

I’m sorry, but this wish list does not seem to have the slightest foundation in reality. It’s just a bunch of promises to get what they want. Lando has said he hopes this tax increase will raise $12 million a year. The police station alone was projected at about $40 million, but that was 10 years ago. Now they say it will run closer to $65 million, and that figure’s already got dust on it.

“A” fire station? You mean, one? Where? After the building binge this city permitted, you’d think we needed a few new stations, but given the price tag on the new cop shop I’m afraid to ask what a fancy new station house like the spectacle on Manzanita is going to cost. This town can’t build something practical, within it’s means – they have to go Taj Majal on everything.

These are the kind of projects that put us in trouble. When $taff  decided to pay off  the bonds for the old “new” parking lot on Second Street so they could pursue new money for the upcoming remodel, they bottomed out the entire Downtown traffic fund, every last frigging penny. They’re paying for the Downtown remodel with some grants and with RDA money they were able to squeeze out before that little gravy train ran off the tracks. Oh yeah, don’t forget – YOU PAY $3 FOR EVERY $RDA YOU GET.

Did you know, we’re still paying for the “new” city hall? As well as the remodel of the perfectly good “old” building that had been deserted in favor of the “new” building. You will pay for that city hall building for the rest of your natural life. Your grandkids will pay for it. How often do you find yourself in that big fancy building with all the huge  windows and artwork? Everything all swishy and new, the HVAC running 40 hours a week, damn the financial torpedoes!

Well, guess what, there’s 76 less employees in that building lately, and counting down. They’ve just let go or early retired 76 employees, including cop positions they have left empty, and Lando is telling us he will hire 15 new cops and provide them with a spiffy new building. It just doesn’t make sense.

Lando is certainly aware how expensive a cop is – salary starting around $50,000 and ranging up to $120,000, plus benefits and retirement. Overtime is written into the contracts so many cops double their agreed-upon salary and use this overtime to spike their  retirement. See,  cops retire at 90 percent their biggest year of salary they made over the last few years before retirement, so the older ones just start spiking their ass off.

And, Jennifer Hennessey says, the cops collect too much workman’s comp, putting us over budget on that fund year after year after year.

This brings us to the point: why is our city in trouble? Well, I’ll tell you what, it ain’t because you and me are not paying enough taxes.

We’ve got over 100 employees making regular salaries over $100,000 a year. We pay their benefits and their pensions.  Where does this leave us?

http://www.fixpensionsfirst.com/calpers-database/?first_name=&last_name=&employer=CHICO

I have the worst suspicions, this tax increase money will not go to some Pollyanna scheme to save the library or high school sports.

Please write those e-mails now, let them know, save Lando some time, trouble and money.  We will not be taxed more to save them from their own greed and incompetence.

Please contact your council with your opposition to the proposed tax increase

2 Feb
CONTACT:

TOM LANDO  – tlando@landoandassociates.com

CHICO CITY COUNCIL – as a group, dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us. Individually – aschwab@ci.chico.ca.us; aholcombe (same), mgoloff, bevans, msorensen, sgruendl, jwalker. This might be a good tack – some people are distrustful of a “form letter” sent to a whole group.  Remember, Schwab and Evans are up for re-election, but it’s worth your time contacting the others as well, they’ll all vote on it.

KATY SWEENY at the Chico Enterprise Record – Ms. Sweeny is doing her own survey, you can contact her on Twitter@KatySweeny, or ksweeny@chicoer.com

KATIE SIMMONS, interim director of Chico Chamber of Commerce – katie@chicochamber.com – please ask Ms. Simmons for her support in opposing this measure that will leave you with less money to spread around town. That’s not good for her clients. 

HEATHER KEAG, director of the Downtown Chico Business Association – heather@downtownchico.com –  ask Ms. Keag for her support in opposing this tax increase. Most of the businesses Downtown collect sales tax, and they’re going to be hurting if this increase goes through.