Ask a simple question.

3 Dec

We had another great meeting over at the library yesterday, and I was so happy to see, despite the ominous weather, a cheerful group showed up for a lively discussion. 

We crowed momentarily over the defeat of Measure J. Casey Aplanalp pointed out that we should consider it an important victory, and proof that a small group can make a difference.  Sue said we should remind other people, even if our voices are a little drowned out on the national level, we can make a more noticeable difference on the local level – it’s a matter of getting involved. We talked for awhile – what’s the best way to get people to be more involved in their local government? 

We could ask Stephanie Taber what motivates her to be so involved – attending meetings several times a week, writing notes back and forth to staffers, asking questions that get kicked all over the city building for as long as Stephanie is persistent in getting the answers. Stephanie combs over the reports and find the discrepancies, and asks the questions that need to be asked. We need more people willing to go to the meetings, morning, afternoon and evening, and ask the same kind of questions. And, go back time and time again, e-mail again and again, and get the answers. 

I’m just too easy – when I asked Jennifer Hennessy about the annual amount the city pays out in pension premiums, she told me about $7 million, and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Stephanie was not able to attend, or she probably would have caught it. Mark Sorensen caught it, and asked Hennessy about it later. He had some other figures that added up to more like $11 million. Hennessy sent me a note today – her figure is $10.1 million

Whoa. And here I was, thinking $7 million was a lot of samolians! What a dupe I am!

$1.9 million of that total is the “employer paid member contributions” – there’s that confusing terminology again – they mean, the “employee’s share” of the premium that is paid by the employer

Stephanie Taber pointed out, that $1.9 million would pay for a lot of police officers. 

Here’s the breakdown of how much the city currently spends annually paying the employee share of pension premiums:

Bargaining Unit  FY10-11 Amount  # of Members FY10-11 EPMC% Current EPMC %
Chico Employees Association  $      128,340.54 79 4% 2%
SEIU – Trades & Craft  $      179,805.62 68 5% 5%
Confidentials  $        12,295.11 10 4% 0%
Management  $      216,952.12 56 4% 4%
Public Safety Management  $      119,193.35 9 9% 9%
CPSA  $      175,646.81 44 8% 8%
CPOA  $      727,452.38 91 9% 9%
IAFF  $      425,517.02 69 7% 7%
 $    1,985,202.95 426

The police and fire employees  complain that safety is at jeopardy due to budget cuts, but read the chart. You see,  if they’d pay the “employee share” of their pension premium, we could save those officers and that 2/3’s of a fire station that Nakamura is threatening because of the failure of Measure J. The police department alone gets well beyond the $900,000 that Nakamura is claiming the city will lose if they can’t tax our cell phones.

Look at their salaries – it would certainly be no skin off their nose to pay their own damned pensions. And, it would leave the city the revenues to hire the extra personnel they’ve been screaming for. And then we could stop paying overtime, and there would be money to hire almost as many more.

I got these figures because I rode my bicycle to an 8am meeting and asked a simple question.  

 

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