Archive | May, 2012

Too late to vote by mail – take your ballots to Oroville, or to any polling place on Election Day

30 May

 

This Saturday, June 2,  the election office at 25 County Center Drive in Oroville, Suite 110, will be open to the public for voting from 8am to 5pm.

It is too late to mail your ballot securely, so be sure to turn it in at the election office this Saturday, or during business hours Monday or Tuesday. You can also take your ballot to ANY polling place on Tuesday by 8pm.

Can you believe it – Election Day is on us already.  I sent my mail-in ballot about a week ago, having hem-hawed around about a couple of items. Including, which candidate stands a rat’s patoot of a chance at beating Dianne Feinstein.  Sheesh – maybe we should just throw a bucket of water on her and see what happens! Although, we have to get by those flying monkeys…

I voted for Ron Paul for Prez. No, I have no illusions about Paul actually being elected, I got any notions of real Democracy  throttled out of me about six months ago.  But,  Romney wouldn’t say he’d repeal Obamacare, and that was the single most important issue to me in this election. I couldn’t vote for Obama, he SUCH an ASS!  So,  I simply stepped out of his way – four more years of Obama, and people will be running after Rand Paul like he was driving an ice cream truck. Gosh sakes, maybe even an Impeachment!  There’s more than one way to get your piggy over that stile, Bessie May.

Although I talked to some nice candidates for these positions, I stuck with Logue and Lamalfa. I just trust those guys, sorry about that. Logue is a straight talker, and LaMalfa has the Northern California mindset. Locally, voting is a gut thing. I like to vote for guys with big guts, shoot me. 

And then there were the measures. I’m not going to talk about the measures. Nobody is going to be happy with the results of those measures, and there’s nothing to be gained by fighting about it.

I’m sorry if none of my opinions are of help to you. I am not here to tell people how to vote. But, I would like to remind you TO VOTE, at all. Get those ballots turned in, Baby!  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beat the Heat! Chico Taxpayers Association will meet at 9am next Sunday, Chico library

27 May

Next week we’ve moved our June 3 Chico Taxpayers Assoc. meeting to 9am.  I’ve asked Mark Sorensen to come in and give us his take on the phone tax and some other items before council. He asked that we get together a little earlier, so I notified the library and we have the room from 9 – 10.  

We want to get our facts straight regarding the phone tax so we can start writing letters. I want to remind everybody, it’s good to write to the council and the newspapers, but you might also be telling everybody you know who lives within the city limits. 

How do your friends react when y0u try to talk politics? I know, some of you might only have politically minded friends who stay well-informed. That isn’t always the case. A lot of our friends are busy in their lives, with their jobs, their kids, etc.  “The Real World,” where, if you don’t mind your business, your life ends up in a ditch.  Whenever I bring these “political”  issues up in the groups I swing with, I get almost exactly the same angry response every time: “When am I supposed to go to these meetings? I have a ( job/business) all day, and then when I get the chance, I’m at (one of my kids’ various activities).” One weekend I watched a kids’ sports tournament with a couple whose elderly father lay on his deathbed in Chico – they were chatting with him on the cell phone, it was heartbreaking. How do you bring up these issues when people are trying to live their lives? 

But, just recently, the father of one of my kid’s playmates came over to tell me, he reads my blog, and he writes letters to council. This is a man who does a job we all depend on, who has recently been transferred in his job to Oroville when he lives in Chico, and who has two active teenagers. His wife works too. But still they find time to stay on top of the issues. I really appreciate that – it’s like having somebody say, “I got your back Juanita!” 

We must all watch each others’ backs on these tax issues.  I think you can write a letter to the council or the newspaper in less than 30 minutes, or give a friend a simple explanation,  if you know what you want to say. Know the facts, and it’s easy to be prepared in a conversation. Please come in on Sunday and we will be going over the facts on this phone tax – just the facts, Ma’am. We need to keep it sweet and simple, let people know exactly what this tax will do. We have until November to let people know the truth. I  think we can do it. 

Mark will also try to explain to us what’s going on with this missing $255,000 that will be discussed Downtown Tuesday night. I’m not sure, but I think that’s still alot of money to misplace, and I’d like to watch $taff squiggle and scramble to explain this. Mark will try to give us the background. 

That’s Sunday, June 3, 9 – 10 am, Chico library at First and Sherman Avenues. Come on down! 

Sleep with your hand on your wallet/purse strap

25 May

I would certainly like to think we just landed a house on a witch, but I got another think coming.

“Self-imposed Chico tax supporters take a break”

Well, I’ll tell you right away, I got a problem with that headline. Lando and friends were not imposing a tax just on themselves, they were imposing a tax on all the rest of us as well. What’s with the ER, always trying to make this thing look so magnificent – those magnificent tax paying bastards!  They’re so community spirited!  Anybody who doesn’t want to pay this tax is just, well, NOT community spirited! Damn us!

Now, please note, Lando, who sent this article to Urseny as a press release – that’s some news reporting!  – Mr. Lando uses the word “hiatus”. That means, he isn’t quitting, he’s just taking a “break, or a pause, in a sequence, series or process…”

“We think it’s best to wait for another round of elections,” he says. Well, duh!

He can’t float this turd in the same pond in which his colleague Bob Evans must make his swim for re-election. I am afraid Evans might support this tax if he thought he could get away with it. Mr. Evans told me early on that he would not agendize a discussion of this tax because there was, as far as he saw it, nothing to discuss. He said he hadn’t seen any proposal and therefore didn’t want to talk about it. But come to find out, he’s been meeting with Lando over at the Chamber of Commerce, where both are longtime members, and the topic on the agenda has been the sales tax increase. So, Evans has heard something, and I’m afraid he’s not being completely honest about what he knows or what he intends.

I certainly don’t trust Ann Schwab. She’ll play it safe for now, sure. She’s already busted a bottle of bubbly on that leaky phone tax vessel – a sales tax increase would sink her battleship, and she knows it. When I asked her if she’d put this stinker on the ballot, she referred to Lando’s early proposal for a ballpark, and indicated she wouldn’t support a sales tax “for a ballpark,” that’s all she’d say. She wouldn’t say, “I won’t support a sales tax increase,” she qualified herself – she won’t support a ball park.  She just wants to distance herself from this thing until she can get her butt back in that chair, and then you’re going to see the biggest turn-around since George H. W. Bush told you to read his lips.

I fear either of these two would support a special election for November 2013, when they could put this sales tax increase measure on the ballot with a 5-2 majority, without any immediate retribution from the voters. Ah, how the voters forget!

Well, I’m a vindictive bitch, I never forget.  What I’d like to hear from Evans before I can support him in November is that he will not vote to put a sales tax increase on the ballot without the required number of signatures on a legal petition.

I’d want a petition because I want to know that a sufficient number of voters support an election. As we were told when we presented the legally required signatures for Measure A, a special election is expensive, and there’s absolutely no basis at this time on which to justify that kind of expenditure – I remember hearing estimates as high as $120,000.  They made the Measure A proponents spend over $50,000 gathering signatures, I will feel completely had if they do not require signatures of Lando and his friends.
This issue is not going away, in fact, I don’t think they will even slow down. They have a lot of money to raise to run their campaign, and lots of lies to spread to try to get it passed. We have to keep our ear to the ground, and be ready to pick up after the phone tax fight and go at it again.
Here in Chico, you must sleep with your hand on your wallet/purse strap.

These city committees have no accountability to the public

22 May

Yesterday I wrote a post about a Sustainability Task Force meeting that had been scheduled for yesterday afternoon. This special meeting had been scheduled at the May 7 meeting and noticed to me and others on the e-mail list May 14. I received the agenda for this meeting on May 16th.

Yesterday at 4:12, I received an e-mail stating that the 5:30 meeting had been cancelled due to an expected lack of quorum. $taff  liaison Linda Herman had waited until just a few hours before the meeting to notice  the e-mail list.

Well, for Pete’s sake. She could not get enough people, from a list of fifteen members of this committee, to make a quorum for a meeting that had been noticed at the last full meeting, three weeks previous? And she didn’t know this until an hour and fifteen minutes before the meeting?

When I called her on it, Linda responded: “I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused for you.  This was a second extra meeting that was scheduled for this month and not the regular monthly meeting. That meeting was held on Monday May 7, 2012.  Yes, I did poll the members when I sent the agenda out on May 16 and sent an email at 8 am yesterday to reconfirm and left phone messages. Unfortunately things came up for some of the members that they didn’t plan on (flights and travel delayed, illness etc.). We are large committee so we need 8 members for a forum.  I was waiting on phone messages to hear back before I could cancel the meeting.”

Well, I’m on the list, but did not get the e-mails she mentions – nobody ever told me that this meeting was in question. And I’m on the mailing list – she didn’t post the cancellation on the website until after 4pm either, maybe later, I didn’t check. So, a member of the public who wanted to attend would have made their arrangements, for a dinnertime meeting, and then shown up — at what inconvenience who knows? — to find a locked door.

This morning when I arrived at 8am for the Finance Committee meeting, the Sustainability Task Force notice was still on the wall, as if the meeting actually happened.

The agenda for this meeting was further discussion of the “Sustainability Indicators Report.” This report has been drawn up by $taff, printed out with color illustrations and photos, and will be considered by council at a future meeting. But here, having a further chance to vet it before the public, this self-appointed “task force” can’t even come up with eight members. This is a recurring problem. When I attended a regular STF meeting regarding the plastic bag ban, two of the members skipped out at some point during the lengthy discussion, again leaving the group without a quorum. So,  the matter was scheduled again for a second meeting.

Here’s the commitee:  Ann Schwab, Chair; Dwight Aitkens;  BT Chapman; Robyn DiFalco; Tom DiGiovanni; Ken Grossman; Jon Luvaas; Jim Pushnik; Valerie Reddemann;  Toni Scott; Jon Stallman; Krystle Tonga; Tammy Wichman; Scott Wolf;  Julian Zener.

Ann Schwab and BT Chapman are the only members I have seen without fail at every meeting I have attended. I have never seen a couple of these people, at any meeting I’ve attended, but I’ll say, I don’t go to ALL the meetings.

Some of these people listed above actually get paid to sit in at these meetings, it’s part of their public job.

Finally I’ll say, the people I see at the ad hoc meetings, including PG&E and garbage company employees, are not on this list. The ad hoc committee meetings are where the real plotting and planning is done, these regular meetings are just the rubber stamp committee. If you really want to know what this “task force” is up to, you have to go to the ad hoc meetings, which are scheduled at any time the various attendees can agree to get together – sometimes with less than 72 hours notice.  These ad hoc meetings do not appear on the agendas list.

I feel most of the people listed on the committee are just there to get their name on the list. They want it for their various resumes, their company image.  But, the  ones who aren’t named on the above list who actually do all the work are doing it for their own benefit, not for Mother Earth. For example, the garbage haulers are vying for enterprise zones and the county dump wants a guarantee that all haulers will take their loads to  Neal Road instead of heading for lower tipping fees in Yuba City. PG&E has got the city running a program to install Real Time meters in people’s homes. Of course these companies pay their employees to sit in on these meetings.

And no wonder neither Ann Schwab nor $taffer Linda Herman is too concerned about our attendance.

Searching for accountability in local government – Good Luck!

21 May

At city meetings over the last few years, I have sat  through one after another “power point presentation” regarding the city budget mess. It’s like a kindergarten-level slide show, designed more to distract and confuse than inform. They always turn the lights down to make you sleepy. It’s maddening to sit through this insulting and condescending babble – I don’t even want to think about the hours of my life these people have stolen, in addition to my tax dollars.

These stupid reports and “PPP’s” add up to hours of $taff time and related expenses – the computer programs to produce this junk, and the paper and ink to print it for a cavalcade of $taffers and council. They say it’s for us, for our information – hah! What they could have done in a page and a half report, in plain language, they turn into a marketing extravaganza, complete with graphs, charts, little cartoons – color glossy photos!  I remember one whole page illustration, showing a sad, rather obese  man, looking quizzically at his surroundings, tentatively holding out his umbrella to a darkening, sinister sky. At the bottom of the graphic, the caption read, “How did we get here?” 

Oh here, let me field that question. As if it isn’t obvious – you people Downtown spend money like you were printing it in the basement, alongside all these glossy pamphlets and newsletters you hand around among yourselves. Not only do we have to pay your ridiculous salaries, we have to pay for something to keep you busy. 

I got an interesting e-mail newsletter from Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, who was kind enough to address our Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting a few months ago. He says, Recent independent reports suggest that state government agencies and departments routinely spend on programs and projects with little accountability to taxpayers, failing to consider what is the most efficient and effective way to stretch tax dollars to the fullest. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in state government is essential to our efforts to solve California’s long-term budget problems once and for all.”

I think you could substitute “Chico” for “state”, and “California” throughout that passage.  An example of a program on which the city of Chico routinely spends with little accountability to taxpayers is the Sustainability Task Force. Talk about your “color glossy photos” – get a load of this pamphlet recently produced by  city $taff  as a “Sustainability Indicators Report”:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/5-21-12STFAgendawreports.pdf

Yes, this is how they present a “report” to council – what the hell? I hate to see what they will do with anything REALLY important.

Hey, did you see the slick glossy pamphlet they produced to report about all the jobs they been bringing into town? TRICK QUESTION DAWG! You know they have not been bringing any jobs into town, look alive there!

This pamphlet mentions only two employers. They again mention Build.com, which has been here a few years now, as if they just got here and are hiring in droves.  B.c claims to “support” over 400 people, but I’m not sure if that means employees, or includes whole families. Also, I don’t know where their employees came from – did they move here to take these jobs? Placing more strain on everything from housing to groceries to roads and schools? And I realized – Build.com competes directly with Lowe’s, Home Depot, and a half dozen or so other small, locally owned hardware stores and suppliers. Sure they can sell goods outside Chico, but they will sell them inside Chico too, taking business away from other employers. I wonder if city $taff takes this into consideration when they write these “reports.” 

The only other business mentioned in the pamphlet is Springboard Biodiesel. The city apparently helped this developing company secure a $758,000 grant to start building it’s facility, but doesn’t say when they’ll start hiring people. I don’t know what “assisted in a grant submittal” means either – a lot of times, it means the city had to put up a certain amount of money to secure the grant. Nor any mention of who gave the grant – but I’ll guess, The Taxpayer! Thank Me Very Much! 

The $taffer who produced this report makes over $100,000 a year in salary with a $50,000 benefits package. You got to keep a guy like that occupied. 

At 5:30 this evening, Mayor Marie AnnShwabnette will be convening her court, the Sustainability Task Force, to give this “report” one last look-see before they present it to council on June 5.  Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend these meetings – Schwab and her committees are what my friend Casey refers to as “time vampires” – they will steal your life with their incessant clatter, suck your brain drier than a biscotti, and leave you thinking you participated in something. Something.

You don’t have to attend these meetings to keep up on them. Send an e-mail to  Linda Herman  at   lherman@ci.chico.ca.us  and ask her to put you on the e-mail list, not only for the regular meetings but ALL the ad hoc committees. At least you’ll see the agendas – you will have to attend these ad hoc meetings if you want to know what’s really going on, and let me tell you, you’ll get an earful. 

We will, by the way, be having a meeting of the Chico Taxpayers Association on Sunday June 3 – WE MAY DO IT EARLIER THIS TIME, I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED! Our agenda will be a discussion of the phone tax facts and also some background on the $255,000 hole in the city budget. Geez, let’s hope it doesn’t get any bigger before then! 

POST-IT-NOTEAt 4:12, about an hour and 15 minutes before the meeting was to convene, I got a note from STF $taff liason Linda Herman.   “After polling members, today’s the Sustainability Task Force meeting has been cancelled due to a lack of a quorum.”

Well, that’s the way to keep the public out of your meetings – have them at inconveniently inconsistent times,  with little or no notice, and then cancel them at  the last minute! 

Chula Vistans beat the phone tax – now they’re suing to get back the money their city collected illegally!

16 May

Last night Ann Schwab, Mary Goloff, Andy Holcombe and Jim Walker moved forward with a resolution to tax “all forms of electronic communication imaginable, now or in the future…”

Lori Barker, who plays an attorney on TV,  defended her resolution, saying “it is impossible to include an exhaustive list of taxable services because we might leave something out…” Then they wouldn’t be able to tax that service too! So, she opted to leave an open-ended “description” that  any future Finance Director can add to without any input from the taxpayers.

Then she cited a word limit in the law – she is only allowed to use 77 words, and she was up to 75. Well, two more words would have fit – the words “texting” and “paging” – two services that will be taxed under this resolution but that Barker just couldn’t shoehorn in there! 

I think this dawg should be easy to put down – why would people vote to tax themselves when they don’t even know what they will be taxed on or how much they will pay? Barker wouldn’t answer that question either – she keeps insisting that this turkey will be “revenue neutral.” What? She’s adding cell phones that have never been taxed before, and she’s trying to tell us, the city won’t be making any extra money and we won’t be paying any more? 

This whole campaign is built on LIES.  We can and will defeat this tax.

This scenario has already played out in the little town of Chula Vista. I spent a Christmas in Chula Vista, when my dad was working on the freeway in San Diego. It was beautiful, 70 – 80 degrees.  We stayed in a motel with my dad’s coworkers and their families, and for Christmas dinner,  one of the moms made tamales in the motel kitchenette – what a scream, in that hot little kitchen!  I have never forgotten Chula Vista, and I never will. They are the town that stood up to the Utility Tax, and won.

In 2010, the city of Chula Vista put a similar proposition before their voters – making all the same lame threats about public safety, etc. The voters of Chula Vista not only put that resolution soundly in the toilet, there is currently an effort among Chula Vistans to SUE THE CITY! 

From the San Diego Metro Daily Business Report, Feb. 23, 2012:

Trial Date Set for Utility Tax Issue in Chula Vista

A trial date has been set for a class action suit seeking millions of dollars in restitution for allegedly illegal utility taxes levied by the city of Chula Vista on cell phone users within its boundaries. This follows a ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Strauss dismissing a challenge brought by the city. The lawsuit stems from a now outdated tax — levied on users of telephones, electricity and other utilities — that was introduced in 1970 and generates more than $9 million in revenue for the city each year. An attempt by the city to amend the law with Proposition H in 2010 was defeated by voters. According to Thomas Penfield, a partner with San Diego-based Casey Gerry and co-lead counsel, the city of Chula Vista recently filed a legal objection to the suit.  “The city cited its local ordinance which said you cannot file a class action for a tax refund,” said Penfield. Penfield and co-counsel James Capretz of Orange County-based Capretz & Associates argued that municipalities are not permitted to enact their own patchwork means of claiming tax refunds. “The judge agreed with our argument and ruled in our favor – stating that state procedure overrules the local ordinance,” Penfield said. The case is now set to go to trial Jan. 18, 2013.

We’ve got some work ahead of us, but we must follow Chula Vista’s example and fight this tax.

New police contract up for review tonight – I smell PORK!

15 May

Tonight there are a couple of troublesome items on the council agenda. Besides the phone tax, Chico Police Departments contracts are up and open for discussion.

The materials they provided in the agenda are, as usual, convoluted and dense, but this deal looks bad to me. It looks like the cops are offering to give up pay increases for the next two years, but deeper into the paperwork, they ask for an across the board 5 percent increase. It’s very clear they are asking to pay LESS toward their pension and benefits – they want a MAXIMUM of 9 percent, and they’re only paying 4.5 percent now.  According to the city manager, their offer to pass up pay increases will only save about $500,000 over the next three years, but  the PERS contributions will cost the city over $900,000?  No, thank you, I’d like to see a better contract. 

Chico PD gets over half the city budget. They like to brag about being under budget – well, they’re OVER BUDGET ON WORKMAN’S COMP,  for about the third or fourth year in a row. Read the studies – too much overtime causes injuries. So, we the taxpayers get the double whammy of overtime-spiked pensions and a lifetime of disability payments.

Scuse me folks, but I guess that’s why they call them PIGS.