Archive | February, 2013

Nakamura announces a $50 million dollar deficit but still won’t make the cops or fire pay their own way. When will Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan pull their “fiscally conservative” thumbs out of their asses and do something?

23 Feb

My husband and I both laughed out loud the other night when Brian Nakamura announced our city is about $50 million in deficit. Not that we thought it was funny, it was more of a nervous reaction.   I had to hear him say it a couple of times before the smile slid off my face. 

Then he offered up his puny little reorganization plan that might shave, heavy on the ‘might” – $1 million a year. He’s firing people across the board, and it’s only saving, again, “might” save, $1 million a year. According to the budget figures, that would still leave us in deficit. Has he got some other plans?

His first plan, to land himself a job at $217,000 a year, with a sweeeet benefits package, including a full year’s salary in severance pay, was a roaring success. According to a human resources “wiki” I read, it is customary to give an executive employee a severance of a month’s pay for every year served – Nakamura has not served us six months, yet has a promise of a full year’s salary if we have to let him go for any reason short of homicide or red-handed embezzlement. Thank you again,  Mark Sorensen, proxy dupe, and Tom Lando, puppet master. Boy, wouldn’t you like to get a look at Sorensen’s contract as Biggs city manager, or the contract Lando just got as interim rec manager out in O-ville?

And now these overfed blue jays are the ‘thin blue line” between the city and BANKRUPTCY. They are currently negotiating contracts with Chico Police and Fire Departments.  According to an article in the paper the other day, I was right,  the police alone take over $22 mil, or about half our $43 million a year budget. According to that article, they spend over a million a year on campus, messing with the college kids. 

Let’s face it, it didn’t cost them $100 to arrest that pervert that’s been over there raping who knows how many young women for who knows how long. They claim to spend more than $1 million a year patrolling the college area. Why? There’s a college police department. Why not force the campus police to take over? Why do we have to pay more in taxes for a special “C Team”? Can they get Leslie Nielsen for that kind of money? 

Chico PD just wants more money, more money, more money. They can’t help themselves, they’re pigs. They demand all kinds of perks and benies out of the city – they don’t even pay to purchase or clean their own uniforms – meanwhile, they tell us, they are too short of staff to actually do the job. They don’t prevent crime, they come along afterward and make a report about it so they can ask for a bigger budget the following year. They still haven’t solved the “clown bandit” capers, or those robberies that occurred every summer, again and again the same victims, including the hair stylist over on East Avenue who had her plate glass window smashed out at least twice and her cash register stolen. 

Right now they’re replacing their vehicles – they get new vehicles every five to six years, wouldn’t you like to live like that? Well you ought to, you pay for it!  Go on, go over to Wittmeier, and when they send you into Jackie’s office, you just tell her to call Brian Nakamura, he’s got a little voucher over there for you. She will laugh that jersey girl laugh and say, “No, really Hon, how you gonna pay for this?” 

Yes, the cops get new vehicles, they get a uniform allowance, they get paid to exercise, they get paid to go to their third cousin twice-removed’s funeral. A bunch of them got paid yesterday, along with Brian Nakamura, to stand around and yak it up over a guy who was killed 75 years ago. 

Yes, Officer Carlton Bruce. I didn’t know him, I’m sure he was a wonderful man, 75 years ago. But if I were his wife, I’d still be pissed at him for walking into getting his face blown off. I think Bruce made a number of classic mistakes, and up until now, nobody thought it was worthy of an annual ceremony. Where’s the ceremony for Rod O’Hern? O’Hern was shot in the face and permanently blinded by the accomplice of a suspect back in 1995. He subsequently left the force and moved out of the area. I don’t know if his family still lives here, but at the time of the shooting, he had a six year old and a pregnant wife. These folks could probably use a little comfort for what they went through, but I guess you have to be dead to get any respect out of Chico PD.

I remember that incident, and the problems that caused it have not been solved. Just this past holiday shopping season, only a short walk from the scene of the O’Hern shooting, two women and a ten year old girl were maced and their purses stolen at the MacDonalds on East Ave.  That crime has not been solved.  Our police department continues to take without really giving us anything.  Now they want bigger salaries for their management positions, because they are so jealous and greedy they need to see $$$$ before they will do their jobs. 

Please write to your council – at – and tell them the police and fire need to pay their own pension premiums. Currently the police PAY NOTHING and fire only two percent, toward  pensions representing 90 percent of their highest year’s pay available at age 50. Our city is over $50 million dollars in deficit on these crazy contracts, and we will soon be forced to pay more toward the premiums. That either means new taxes, or it means the cops and fire need to step up and do the right thing. 

Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan ran as “fiscal conservatives.” Somebody should write them a letter and tell them, “that means, you’re supposed to be saving money!”  Somebody might ask them what they’re doing taking  salary and benefits for their council position when both of them have very nice salaries and benefits from their publicly-paid day jobs.

Write to Brian Nakamura at, and while you’re asking him to bring the cops and fire to the table, ask him to pay his own pension share as well – he currently pays only 4%. 

Stephanie Taber – Citizen at Large: What is “compaction”?

18 Feb

The city is currently in contract talks with various employee groups, and this week’s council agenda includes a little snatch of the cops’ contract.

Under the terms’ of Council’s request to sunshine employee group proposals, the Council has received
the first proposal from Public Safety Management (PSM) for consideration. The fiscal impact of PSMs
proposal is approximately $10,367 per year in order to rectify an on-going compaction issue. The city’s
proposal consists of administrative changes and has no financial impact.

I’ve been reading these agendas for years now, and I still need to bust out my dictionary and do a lot of research online just to figure out what’s going on. “Fiscal impact” means, the new contract is going to cost us money, I got that much.  But, what’s “compaction?”  Long time council watcher Stephanie Taber wrote this note to staff:

Could you have someone in PSM define the word “compaction” as it is used in the “Fix Compaction for Police Management”.  It’s apparently the salary spread, or lack of it, between a sergeant and a lieutenant pay scale which is normally 5% but because at the lieutenant level they no longer get overtime it is obviously more advantageous to a promotable employee to stay at the sergeant level.  Is that the crux of the argument?

Also, what will be included in the benefit package offered to the newly created department directors.  I am particularly interested in whether they will pay their full share of their pension plan and if they will have a special severance package and if so what that would be.  They appear to be salaried position and increases will be based on merit???  A little more info would help.

Thank you.


I think Stephanie is right – I just saw an episode about this on “The Office.” Dunder-Mifflin has just been bought out by Saber, and Michael and Jim find themselves vying for the office manager position. Then Oscar explains that sales staffers make more money because of commission, so they both change their minds and want to be salesmen.  

Yes, Chico PD and Fire often double their salaries with overtime. They agree to $60,000 salaries and end up taking as much as $120,000.  So,  I can certainly see this “compaction” business to be a problem, especially when you’re dealing with people who routinely put  their own interests ahead of the community. 

You’ll have to follow this link to get the report, and then scroll all the way to the bottom – Debbie Presson and staff purposely load these reports in such a way that they cannot be cut and paste. Even Mark Sorensen has complained about this – I feel it’s Presson’s way of keeping the public out, but you think whatever you want: 

Click to access 2-19-13CityCouncilAgendaPacket.pdf

I will also post any response Stephanie gets from staff, but don’t hold your breath, she usually has to yank their chain a few times, Goddess bless her! 


I’d like to get a discussion going on this subject, so I’ll lead with a few snippets from the report. Now remember, I have to go between two screens and hand-type this stuff, thanks to city clerk Debbie Presson, so pardon me if I tend to get a little beee-chee.

The report leads off:

“Historically the compaction issue for the Police Department was masked by merit pay. Once merit pay was eliminated (2008) it exposed several structural problems.  The first structural issue relates to compaction. The second to internal promotions.”

“The police manager to police supervisor pay ratio immediately experience compaction when two lieutenants were promoted from the sargeant ranks. This compaction was never remedied, and eventually led to a personnel grievance filed by these two lieutenants.” 

(The spelling error there, by the way, belongs to our “quality employees”  – it’s sergeant, not sargeant)

There you have it. Two of our police department employees, lieutenants,  are complaining they don’t get paid enough. That’s the kind of “quality” employees we attract with these salaries. I have a salary sheet from 2010, listing four lieutenants – their salaries range between $108,000 and $126,000/year.  They’re complaining about salaries like that? And on top of that, they pay NOTHING toward their own pensions and benefits. They are eligible to receive 90 percent of their highest year’s pay at age 50. 

One of those Lieutenants listed on that salary sheet is Linda Dye, who recently invited me to get the hell out of the secret meeting I stumbled into one day Downtown.  Here’s something weird, maybe somebody can explain this to me – in addition to her $109,000 salary as Lieutenant, she received $11,557 in “special pay,” $3,619 in “other pay,” and $939 in “overtime.” Well, gee, I thought that was the problem, that Lieutenants don’t receive overtime? 

It says, right in the agenda report, “As a lieutenant, you are not eligible for overtime, are on call, and serve as ‘at will’ employees.”   

I’ll have to ask somebody about that and get back to you. 

UPDATE: Stephanie Taber reports she has had no answer to her e-mail question, nor was she able to get an answer at Tuesday’s meeting. They don’t discuss the cop contracts in front of the public, the item was included because by law they are supposed to show us the contracts before they sign them. Supposed to. They signed Kirk Trostle’s contract without showing it to the public – it was signed on Tuesday, and when I asked for it on the following Friday it still wasn’t available to the public. That just shows you how the city of Chico respects the rules. 

40 people have so far applied for their Measure J refunds – don’t forget, time is limited on these refunds

12 Feb

I wrote to Frank Fields over in the city Finance office and asked him how many people have applied for refunds so far – he says,  40 people.

I want to be happy about that, but when I figure, how many people get AT&T, which is the most popular carrier, and when I think about how many people voted against Measure J, I just figure there ought to be more people applying for this refund.

But, it’s a real pain in the ass to get all your bills together – or, as Jim pointed out – PRINT THEM ONTO PAPER, if you get electronic billing – then, either carry them in during business hours (yes, your work hours), OR, stuff all that tree pulp into an envelope and mail them in, yadda, yadda, yadda. 

So, I wrote back to Frank, and I cc’d Brian Nakamura and Mary Goloff, asking for that electronic application that Jim and Rick came up with at our last meeting:

well great, we must be getting to people. I’ll do everything I can to get the information out there and we’ll see if we can get 100, maybe more. Thousands of people voted against Measure J, and I’m guessing thousands in town get AT&T, which we know to have collected the tax. According to my research, AT&T is the most popular carrier.  There’s been a lot of money collected improperly here over the years, so, I hope the city will go further in noticing this refund and returning as much of this money as possible, it’s really the right thing to do. 

I think we need to allow electronic applications. I have friends who get all their bills electronically, that’s the new fad,  – save the planet, right?  I think a lot of people do it. My friend Jim keeps his billing in a folder on his desktop – he could send this in with an e-mail application, paper-free, no trees harmed in the processing of the application. It does seem silly for people who have used electronic billing to have to print out all those bills to get the refund, or their UT rebate, for that matter. 
I think this is how we should do all Utility Tax refund/rebate applications in future, so I’m forwarding this message along to Brian Nakamura and council members. 

thanks for your work in this matter Frank, Juanita Sumner

I neglected to ask Frank, what was the average refund amount, but I’ll get back to him later and also ask again how many refund applications. I don’t mean to be a nuisance, but judging from the number of searches I get regarding this refund, I think plenty of other people are interested too.  Here’s that application link again:

New urban builder wants high-density housing on public-owned Downtown parking lots – you pay! Sounds like Chico!

12 Feb


This week I will hit the ground running in my attempt to keep my New Year’s resolutions – two meetings in two days.  

Tonight at dinnertime I will go to the Airport Commission meeting. I had so much trouble getting on the notification list for this committee, I just have to find out why. These meetings are only held four times a year, which I find odd, for something as important to the economic vitality of your town as an airport. I’ve heard bad things about how our airport is run, I’ve heard the airports at O-ville, Willows and Redding are fun far better, and I’ve read reports about the workings of those airports that leave me wondering, “why not Chico?”

While Redding is looking into providing more aircraft parking for private jet owners who are able and willing to pay, Chico looks into raising car parking fees for people who have to leave their cars at the airport while they fly out of town. 

Are you tired of being treated like a cash cow? Poke, prod, yank, squuuueeeeezzzze!” Me too. I’m going to try to find out what the heck is going wrong at the airport. 

And then, the next morning, I’m going Downtown to the 8am Internal Affairs meeting. There’s an item on that agenda that I have been watching float around town like a bad turd for years – Tom DiGiovanni wants a “public/private partnership,” which he managed to worm into the General Plan, to develop Downtown parking lots into high-density “live-work units.”  This guy is a leech – he doesn’t really build anything, he just goes about getting the plans approved and selling them to other developers. He got Meriam Park, a “city within a city” approved, then sold the low-income portion to a Fresno based developer for $7 million. The $7 million came from our RDA fund, given to the Fresno developer to route to DiGiovanni. 

Have you seen a shovel of dirt turned over at Merriam Park? No, but you’re looking at a gazillion dollar freeway widening that was necessitated by the approval of Meriam Park, forced by the threat of a lawsuit from CalTrans.  That freeway widening was also paid for out of the RDA – it was part of the lawsuit, Cal Trans demanded that Chico “dedicate” money for that widening, so Tom Lando handed them some cookies out of his RDA cookie jar.  Now we, well, really, our grandchildren, will pay $3 for every dollar spent on that low-income housing and on that freeway widening.

Not to mention, DiGiovanni and his high-density new urban spree have bottomed out the new housing and rental markets, and you see the results. And now DiGiovanni wants public money again, so he can sell the plans and walk away with his pockets full of money? 

Oh, and by the way, whatever happened to that parking crisis that caused a $1 million…oh, excuse me, $3 million Downtown makeover? This whole thing just stinks to high heaven.

So, I will be there at 8:00 in the morning, and I’ll keep you posted. 



No, big spending doesn’t guarantee election success – CTA kicked ass with $330 – have a glass of turnip juice, it’s on me!

8 Feb

I’ve been so disappointed in the Enterprise Record lately, I wish I could stop reading it, but for Chico news, that’s all there is.  It’s not really news, but it’s a good indicator of what they want us to think is going on around here.

I was just reading an editorial by David Little, where he just gushes all over Tom Lando. That’s good to know.  Remember what Madame Web said – “Keep your enemies even closer.” 

This story below, which details some of the spending in last November’s local election, ignores Measure J completely. Wouldn’t you like to know what the city spent on Measure J?   I’ll tell you what I spent – $330, and some change. That bought 100 “No on Measure J” signs, and we didn’t even get all of those out. But we won, go figure.

We followed Tami Ritter’s advice – we ran an effective campaign, not a costly one.  Although, I will say, for a family like mine, who live on about half of what Sean Morgan spent on his campaign, $330 is a lot of money. It would have gone most of the way paying for my kid’s class at Butte College. Luckily, the CTA came through, everybody chipped in. We found out – an individual can spend almost $1000 without creating a PAC or having to fill out paperwork. On whatever they like. We chose signs.

Ritter talks about giving money to charity. She should know – I wonder if she’s ever had a salary that did not get squeezed out of the public teat. She acts like she spent nothing – $15,000 is chump change to these people.  We kicked the crap out of Measure J with roughly two percent of what she spent.

 I call that, damn good turnip squeezin!

And here’s that application link again:

Click to access CellPhoneRefundApplication_011713.pdf

Big spending doesn’t guarantee Chico election success

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer
Posted:   02/05/2013 12:21:45 AM PST
Click photo to enlarge

Chico City Council candidate Dave Donnan removes his election signs along the Skyway on Nov. 7,…

CHICO — Spending big bucks in the Chico City Council race was not a guarantee to secure a seat at the dais last year, with two out of three top spenders failing to get elected, the latest finance filings show.Finance reports released this month for Oct. 31 to Dec. 31 show that Sean Morgan spent and received the most in 2012, at $40,928 and $41,081, respectively. He was the third-highest vote getter for one of four available seats.

But two candidates who raised the second- and third- highest sums of money and also spent large amounts during their campaigns did not get elected.

Andrew Coolidge spent $36,822 and came in fifth place. Bob Evans spent $27,636.92 and received the seventh-highest amount of votes.

First-time councilor Morgan thinks the money and effort spent on his campaign was worth it, but more importantly, he said, he hopes citizens who supported him got what they wanted.

“The deal was you contributed because you believed in my message — a safe place to raise a family, an ideal location for business, and a premier place to live,” he said. “And that is what we are working on.”

The three other candidates to be elected were Ann Schwab, who spent $27,342, followed by Randall Stone at $25,072 and Tami Ritter at $15,919. They received the first-, fourth- and second-highest vote totals, respectively.

In both spending and contributions, Ritter ranked seventh among the 10 candidates. She said she credits getting elected to an effective campaign,  not a costly one.”I made a commitment early, in terms of the amount of money I was going to spend,” Ritter said. “There is an awful lot of money that goes into the campaign process and for me that was a real challenge. Being as tied in as I am to the social services community, I see how much good those dollars could be doing.”

She devoted much of her energy to walking door-to-door, enlisting volunteers and utilizing free social media.

She invested what she did spend on well-planned advertising, using a targeted approach instead of blanketing the community, she said.

In total, last year’s campaign spending by the 10 candidates who accepted contributions totaled $224,680.41. Campaign donations totaled $236,220.87.

Some candidates spent more than some citizens’ annual incomes, Ritter said, but at the other end of the spectrum was candidate Lisa Duarte, who pledged to not accept any money and encouraged people to donate to community causes instead.

“I would love it if that were the norm for a campaign because clearly I can think of multiple organizations around Chico that can benefit from the $15,000 I spent,” Ritter said.

Yet, Duarte received only 3.26 percent of votes, a fraction of those tallied for candidates who amassed thousands of dollars in contributions and invested heavily in their campaigns.

Both Ritter and Morgan said spending money seems to be an inevitable part of campaigning.

“The neat thing about a city council race is you can still meet a lot of people. You can go door-to-door and meet people and say hi,” Morgan said. “But can you knock on 10,000 doors? Probably not. You need money to get that message out there.”

As a newcomer to political races, he did everything he could to reach out to strangers and people he’s known for decades.

“What I didn’t want to happen is for it to get to be the last week and not win because we missed one mailer or one ad,” he said.

Morgan pointed out the campaign finance reports show only what candidates raised and spent, not what was raised or spent in support of them by other individuals or political action committees.

“Somebody else could have had twice that spent on them, and no one looks at it because it is outside,” he said.

Something funny going on out at the airport again?

6 Feb

This year I’ve made a New Years Resolution to stay on top of the committees Downtown and try to attend more meetings.   And this year, instead of focusing on the Sustainability Task Force – which had so many ad hoc committees I could hardly keep up – I am going to try to get to some other meetings.  So, about three weeks ago, I started e-mailing the city clerk, requesting to be put on notifications lists for the various committees – Finance, Economic Development, Internal Affairs and Airport – so I don’t have to worry about missing meetings that I was interested in attending. I can’t always attend anyway, but it’s nice to have a three day heads up to think about it.

In past I’ve been on these lists, but for some reason, I’ve just been dropped after a while. I thought at first it was just because Lynda Cameron, the staffer who had been sending the notifications, was retired. Then I thought it was because I didn’t attend every single meeting. See, it’s not an onerous task to type in an e-mail address on a list-serve, but  it takes a physical act to remove somebody from one of those lists after they’ve been placed on it. I just don’t get why they keep dumping me from these lists.

And, this time, I don’t understand why it took me three weeks and a trail of e-mails to get put back on. In fact, I had to rattle chains down there constantly to get any response, and while I’ve finally managed to get confirmation on the Finance, Economic, and Internal Affairs lists, I’m still waiting to get on the Airport Commission list.

I originally asked to be put on that list January 17. I had to ask twice, and the second time, Debbie Presson tried to tell me she hadn’t received my first request . I let that one pass – I didn’t say, “Sorry Debbie Baby, the computer doesn’t lie!” She said she was forwarding my request to Debbie Collins, the staffer attached to the Airport Commission. I had to ask Presson because Collin’s contact info is not available on the city website.

Well, I have yet to get anything back on that. Since I made that request, the meeting scheduled for January 29 has been cancelled and rescheduled for February 12. I should be receiving some sort of notice of the Feb 12 meeting by Feb 8, but I’m not holding my breath.

Yes, I know, I could get up every morning and faithfully check the agendas schedule. That takes my time, people, and as you know, I don’t get paid for that time nor do I get it refunded at the end of the fiscal year. 

They have a notifications process, I’m asking to participate, somebody’s holding me out by the forehead.

Word press blogs come with stats pages. They tell you how many visitors you have every day and what they looked at.  Somebody, or bodies,  have been hitting the heck out of those posts I made about the airport, how badly it’s run, etc. And, the same somebodies? have also been searching the heck out of BT Chapman. BT was a member of the Sustainability Task Force, and I’ve criticized his actions on that committee. Now he’s been named to the Airport Commission. Is he trying to keep me out of those Airport Commission meetings because I’ve criticized him, or because I’ve criticized the airport? I’m just asking.

Hurry up and get those refund applications turned in – they will only give back your stolen money a year previous to your application

5 Feb

I been so busy lately, I am spun. I keep walking into rooms and finding some half-done job – – half-made bed, half-done dishes, half-folded laundry, half-eaten lunch, etc.  Right now I’m about half-way through boiling a half dozen eggs.

It is hard to keep up with city business, which of course, is everybody’s business. They move those nutshells fast down there, because they don’t want us to get ahold of that pea!

So, at this past Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting, I asked if we could make this blog more of a “newsletter,” an information site, somewhere to go when you’re looking for something. Lately I have had a lot of searches and hits on the information and links regarding the cell phone tax refund. I’ve been posting the link, but when I tried to talk about the rules for the refund this morning, I realized, I didn’t know!  I frankly had a hard time figuring out, what do they mean, one year? Etc. But, I had a bunch of other junk to do, so I had to put it aside.

Stephanie Taber went to the city website and cut it right out for us, read below. 

There it is –  “Refunds may be claimed for City of Chico utility users’ tax paid for cell phone or VOIP services within 12 months prior to the application date”.  

Think what that means – the longer you wait the less money you will be able to claim.  Every month you wait, you lose another month’s tax, money you paid involuntarily, money they took illegally.  Of course, I have to ask – if you apply for your refund before they stop taking the tax from your bills, will you be able to reapply for those bills that came after you applied for your first refund? Oh people, there are so many questions here, and so few willing to ask.

 Thanks again to Stephanie Taber, who is out there asking questions and getting answers.
Location: 411 Main Street, Chico
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3420, Chico, CA 95927
Phone: (530) 879-7320
TELEPHONE (Cellular Phone or Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
1. Refunds may be claimed for City of Chico utility users’ tax paid for cell phone or
VOIP services within 12 months prior to the application date (i.e., applications filed
in Feb 2013 would cover billing periods Feb 2012-Jan 2013).
2. You may not claim a refund for amounts previously refunded through the City’s
Utility Tax Refund program.
3. Refunds will be issued beginning February 21, 2013.
4. Refunds will be mailed to the name and address on the bill(s).
5. Refund application and copies of bills may be submitted to:
a. The City’s P.O. Box as listed above; or
b. Dropped off on the first floor of City Hall located at 411 Main Street.
Items Required:
1. Copies of phone bills showing utility tax paid. Please note that the bills must show
an address within the Chico city limits.
2. Completed and signed application.
Name on bill: Street Address on bill:
Zip Code on bill: Contact number:
Mailing Address if different than on bill:
TELEPHONE USERS’ TAX PAID (Only List Actual Tax Paid)
Month Year
Provider/Acct Provider/Acct Provider/Acct Provider/Acct
January $ $ $ $
February $ $ $ $
March $ $ $ $
April $ $ $ $
May $ $ $ $
June $ $ $ $
July $ $ $ $
August $ $ $ $
September $ $ $ $
October $ $ $ $
November $ $ $ $
December $ $ $ $
Total $ $ $ $
1. I certify that the information supplied is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
2. I understand that any person required to sign and verify any report under the provisions of the City of Chico Municipal
Code, who makes any false or fraudulent request with intent to defeat or evade the determination of any amount, is
guilty of a misdemeanor (City Municipal Code 3.56.160).
Applicant Name: _____________________________________ Date: ____________________
Internal Use Only: Verified no previous cell phone refund Verified not paid via UUT refund process
Check # issued ____________

Happy Anniversary Baby, I got taxes on my mind!

4 Feb

Yesterday was the anniversary of our first Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting. I’d say we’ve had a great year, but that’s just me bragging. 

I had a busy day lined up yesterday, but took time out for a quick  meeting.  Consistency is a strength.  We had a couple of members unable to attend, so just discussed “old business” – mainly, the city is giving us the business regarding Measure J.

As a group we wondered aloud, how many people have applied for the cell phone tax refund, and how many have actually been paid?  I know one thing – every day I get searches regarding refunds directed to the blog, and at least a couple of people a day hitting that link to the application.   We are also curious as to the progress of staff to notify those cell phone companies currently collecting the tax that they must stop. Members agreed to make those inquiries of city staff.

Rick and Jim had a great idea – we need to ask the city to make it possible for people to apply electronically. Jim said he gets his phone bills electronically, and keeps them in a folder on his computer. Couldn’t he just attach that folder to an e-mail application form and send it in to the Finance Department? Here’s a guy who gets billed by computer to save the planet, but to get his refund, he has to print out all those five page phone bills (the tax is scattered throughout the bill), stuff it all into an envelope (more dead trees), stick at least two postage stamps on there, and mail it in? Or, take time off his job during the day to deliver it at Jennifer Hennessy’s convenience? 

You know they make it onerous on purpose. They don’t want us to get our refunds. They want to keep our stolen money. The year deadline is ridiculous – like Casey Aplanalp said in his (thanks Casey) letter to the editor, they stole that money, they shouldn’t be allowed to hold us off by the forehead with their little rules.

But, short of hiring a lawyer, there is not a lot we can do. It would be good if other people made these inquiries to staff and council – especially that idea about electronic applications. That ought to be the standard for all Utility Tax rebates too.   I will have to write a note when I get back to my desk later today. I hope more of you will write also. Go after that cow people. 

Thanks all, and see you next meeting, March 3!