Archive | April, 2013

Why sales tax on internet sales will not save local retail

30 Apr

Remember that Yahoo! commercial about the family living in the Alaskan bush, all sitting around their igloo, depressed? And then Dad gets on the computer and buys them a hot tub? Ya-HOOOOO! Etc.

I thought that was a cute commercial, but I never dreamed I’d be buying anything online. The first thing I considered was shipping charges, the second thing, what if it doesn’t fit/doesn’t work/just plain doesn’t show up? 

Well, whattya know, fast forward to the year 2013, and I am buying just about everything but groceries on the computer. Even shoes, and they FIT!

The main reason? Chico doesn’t have what I want, at a price I can afford. I can afford WalMart, but Walmart shoes suck, okay? I buy shoes that would sell for probably $60, online for about $40. Frankly, Chico doesn’t have a decent shoe store. Big 5 is okay, but it’s very limited, especially for women.  That’s the main reason I shop online – the retail scene in Chico is very poor. 

While I have found some online vendors who don’t charge sales tax, I shop alot through Amazon.com and also through various California vendors that do take the tax. And if not, it’s a really simple matter to pay the rest on my California Franchise tax form. I think the grand whopping total this year was $49 – that’s seven orders from Lucky Vitamin, where I get most of my household goods.  That’s nothing compared to what I saved by buying through Lucky Vitamin – for example, I get a 21 ounce bottle of my fave mouthwash for the same price I’d pay for the 14 ounce bottle at Raley’s here in town.  A bar of soap that costs almost $5 at Raley’s goes for $2.41. And, like I’ve raved before – they have bigger sizes, more “flavors”, and more choices all the way around. It’s BETTER shopping online.

The local stores and vendors are screwing themselves by gouging. They have too much overhead, and that’s not my fault.  It’s not just the “brick and mortar” that costs them money – again, it’s the salaries, pensions and benefits. I know a guy who works at Raley’s, and I’m tired of paying for his medical and dental when I can’t afford my own. I shop at WalMart because I know those people aren’t living any better or worse than I am.

Last night on MacNeil News Hour, Judy interviewed a guy from e-bay and a lady from the retailers’ association. When Judy asked the lady if she knew how much retail goes over the internet, the lady flustered and blustered and said, “I don’t have that figure, but I know it’s going to double…” Well, e-bay guy had the figure – 6 percent. Big fucking deal, my fine Aztec warriors! Oh no! It might double to 12 percent! Call out the Marines! 

In a story on the network news, they equated shopping online out of state with TAX EVASION!

Of course, these people just assume we don’t pay. Like they assume we cheat on our taxes all the way around. 

Well, one thing I know, the states can go after sales tax, but the city of Chico hasn’t got the wherewithall to pay their own bills, much less, hire a (real) lawyer and go after every online vendor in the greater 48. I will pay my California sales tax, but I will be cutting the city of Chico out of the deal. That, and the ridiculous savings I get online, are good enough for me.

 

 

 

 

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Get your Utility Tax Rebate form here!

27 Apr

It’s time again to get those utility bills out and apply for your Utility User’s Tax rebate. The city finance department will start accepting those applications on May 1, so I looked at the city website to see if the applications are available – no luck.

I wrote a quick e-mail to the finance department and city manager Brian Nakamura, asking about the application.  As if they had anticipated my need, I checked my snail mail box just a couple of hours later,  and found a little surprise – a letter from the city informing me that rebates would soon be available. Enclosed was the 2012-13 rebate application.

Ask and ye shall receive.

We may have received this letter because my family has applied for and received the UUT rebate for a good five or more years now, can’t remember how long. We’re on The List. I might be wrong though – this may be a new effort on the part of our staffers to get people in there for their rebates!

Yeah, stop it.

At any rate, it’s a questionable use of staff time and postage. Wouldn’t you think, if I had applied so many times before, I’d be a little more likely to be onto it?  In fact, I just posted a blog about it a couple of weeks ago.  Unless they are mailing these notices out to each and every city resident and utility customer, it’s just wasteful.

How should they publicize this rebate? In your phone, PG&E and water bills, wouldn’t you think?  In fact, the cell phone carriers who were taking UUT out of your phone bill should also have been asked to notify their customers they  can get that refunded as well. It is a simple matter to put notices in utility bills, all the city has to do is ask these providers for some help in notifying customers they may be eligible for these programs.

At any rate, they should have that application available on the website by next week, probably by May 1.

I hate to be an ingrate and a nag, but, they could also make it possible for folks to apply electronically, via e-mail.  That just seems like a no-brainer to me, given all their posturing of “Sustainability”.  My friend Jim said he gets his utility bills electronically in an effort to, if not save the Earth, at least lessen his personal impact on our great planet.  Why would he want to print those out, on dead tree flesh! and drag them Downtown? Or worse, shove them into an envelope, glue on a gob of half-dollar stamps,  and add them to the mail stream?!

He should be able to keep them in a folder on his computer, and when the time comes for rebates, attach said folder to an e-mail, along with an application that he was able to fill out on his computer as well, and send it directly to the Finance Department. No trees harmed in the application for this rebate!

I’ve asked for this a few times, but they haven’t even responded. I just asked again yesterday, as if I have some predilection for banging my head on the backs of people’s soft and manicured hands. I realize now, I have to make a formal request of the Internal Affairs Committee. I’ll do that, and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Below I have posted the eligibility requirements and the application. Click on them and you can print them out on your dead tree flesh and take them in for your rebate. 

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UPDATE:  Frank Fields over in the Finance Department tells me that application form should be available on the city website today (Monday, April 29), but I still haven’t heard back on my request to make this rebate available via e-mail. 

Watch your step Downtown!

26 Apr
Wow, I better take one or two of these before I head out to another city committee meeting.

Wow, I better take one or two of these before I head out to another city committee meeting.

The most exciting thing I have to report about Wednesday’s Economic Development meeting is, I made it! Early! Sat for 10 minutes.

This is big news to me cause lately I been so busy I have had to leave post it notes here and there to tell me what to do and where to do it, what time, and who’s going to be there. All day I reminded myself – don’t forget that 4:00 meeting!  

I got there to find Laura Urseny and CARD recreation supervisor Ann Willman chatting away like two old school chums. This is why Laura Urseny does not write hard news, she’s too friendly with everybody. Her stories always tell you whatever the subject of the story wanted you to know. She covered the CARD meeting the other night, and all she wrote about was the dog park memorial plaque. CARD is broke, they spent all their reserve funding on their own pensions, they’re trying to attach a bond to our property taxes like some kind of nit,  and all this “reporter” has to talk about is a memorial plaque?  Tsk, tsk.

They finally got everybody in there and the meeting started about 4:04 with a quick introduction of the man from Wizard Manufacturing. I didn’t catch his name, but $taffer Shawn Tillman introduced him as “a significant employer,” and “one of our top 25 sales tax providers!”

Let’s talk about that right there. An “employer” is something for us, the citizens. An employer provides jobs! But sales taxes are for the suits Downtown, to pay their salaries, and especially, their pensions. Tillman makes over $120,000 a year to pound his own phlegmatic chest. He takes his salary out of the supposedly dismantled RDA. All he thinks about around the clock is how to get more money in here for salaries and pensions.

Mr. Wizard told us he’d bought the business, which fabricates machinery like hullers for farm operations,  only 6 years ago, intending to move it to Woodland, lock, stock and barrel. He and his family are from Woodland, many generations in Yolo County.  But, then he went on about how friendly this area is. Oh oh,  I thought, and my Bullshit Detecter started to go off like a fire alarm.

He wanted to impress the c0mmittee with how much sales tax he hauls into Butte County and Chico.  He said that while he does most of his business out of the country (60 percent of his machines are sold in Chile and Mexico) he “writes up” his sales so that the sales tax goes to Butte County/Chico. Wow, is that legal?

He showed us an aerial photo of his factory and described the property – adding that part of the property is still on septic and needs sewer – OH, THERE IT IS! He’s milking the city for a cheap or even free sewer hook-up, and who knows what other fees he wants to get around. He also mentioned, part of his property is zoned residential and he wants to develop it. Now, I get it, Mr. Wizard. 

He said he employs “40 plus” people here, so  I had to ask him, “where do your workers live?”   He said, without missing a beat, “10 percent Durham, 30 percent Paradise, the rest in Chico proper.”  I don’t know what he means by “Chico proper” – do they live within the city limits, or halfway to Durham? Just this side of the Oroville city limits? Maybe just this side of Dairyville? But I was not allowed to question any further – Mr. Wizard looked at the crowd – a bigger audience than usual because of the grant funding discussion – and admitted he was not expecting to “be written about in the paper.” He started to act real rabitty, which offended me, frankly. I don’t like people who are offended at  being asked a few simple questions. This guy tried to act like it wasn’t public business. 

Furthermore, he warned the committee to keep wages down here. Yeah, we see – that’s why he really located here, the wages are lower than the Sacramento/Woodland area. Woodland is a booming little town, you stop at a gas station, you can tell – the people around you are EMPLOYED. Chico is a sleepy little unemployed town, and the kids coming out of the high school are pretty desperate for jobs alright. There aren’t any! So, this man has hooked up with the high schools to train his employees. That’s just great, but he can only provide 40 jobs? 

I asked him where his workers live because a few years ago, in that same room, I listened to outgoing Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Goodwin tell the committee that manufacturing isn’t coming to Chico because our housing is too expensive. I didn’t get a chance to bring this up at the meeting – we need either better wages, or cheaper housing, that’s the bottom line. We’ve already tried to develop “cheap starter housing for families,” but somehow, that just raised the price of housing in town, along with everything else.  Chico is an expensive town.  If manufacturing comes to Chico, those jobs will just fill up with people from Gridley, Live Oak, Palermo, Tehama and other cheaper places to live within commuting distance. We who have to live and eat in Chico can’t afford to take Mr. Wizard’s wages. 

All I did was ask a simple question and busily scribble down his answer, but Mr. Wizard got really uncomfortable at this point, gathered up his stuff, thanked the committee, and left. I couldn’t help but notice – he has what we used to call in Princeton/Butte  City, ‘truck butt”.  That’s what a white farmer gets from driving his truck around all day supervising his Mexicans.  I thanked him for sponsoring the hockey rink, but he still looked at me like a snake. Well, snakes have some rights too, buddy, especially in their own dooryard.

I wish he had stayed for the rest of the meeting. He would have heard what the arts crowd thinks of real jobs – for gawdsake Man! It’s the arts that bring people here to spend money in our restaurants! Boy, Debra Lucero gets NASTY when you cut her salary – that’s where all the money goes, to pay HER. For Artoberfest? Look at the picture in today’s paper – look at that “crowd.” Come on!   And then Ann Willman, from CARD, making her pathetic ploy for $2,000 for 4th of July – Ann, take a hat around the CARD office, ask Steve Visconti to pitch in! You people suck up all the money with your salaries and perks, come up with that $2,000 from among yourselves! 

I love 4th of July too, but I wouldn’t go near One Mile because it’s a cluster jam of the kind of people who go to the park like twice a year. The next day there’s still garbage to pick up, and the place looks like it’s been had over by a herd of buffalo.  It’s just a “be seen” event where you can’t even have a decent conversation for the mayhem all around your ears. 

Nakamura cut these two entities off cold but still handed the Chamber /DCBA over $100,000.  Katy Simmons from the Chamber offered to help both Lucero and Willman but Lucero went bitch on her. Lucero is a bitch, she whines long and loud about “working” – look Debra, sitting in meetings and carping about how hard you work is not “working.” A

Ann Willman, who admitted she is leaving CARD shortly for a job with Feather River Parks and Rec, seemed to be receptive to Simmon’s offer. But again, she’s leaving soon for another job and we’ll see what they get in her place.  As Urseny reported in the paper, there was a lot of kidding around about putting Nakamura in a dunk tank to raise money for CARD. I offered to go in the tank, but when I got home and thought it over, there’s no way I’m going to help CARD. They need to come clean about their salaries and pensions, and pay their own benefits, before they’re going to get anything more out of me or my family. I’d also like to know Willman’s real reason for switching jobs – she’ll have to commute to Oroville, so I’m guessing, there’s more pay being offered. 

The whole idea that these entities bring tourists to town is a fantasy. The events and marketing campaigns they undertake are attended by them and their friends and hangers on. These entities are formed to suck up grants and other public funding to pay their own salaries. That’s all they do, pander for money for themselves. They don’t serve anybody. Look at Downtown, and ask yourself, what is the Chamber/DCBA doing with that $100,000?

John Moorlach for Governor?

24 Apr

I should get a good book, but instead I find myself sitting on the computer in the early morning, reading about public pensions and how they are destroying the economy.

You might have seen my letter in this morning’s Enterprise Record:

Letter: CARD pensions a drain on funding

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted:   04/24/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

At Thursday’s Chico Area Recreation and Park District board meeting, General Manager Steve Visconti said the results from the recent survey should be available at the May 16 meeting.

Regarding the survey, board chair Ed Seagle wondered, “Do we really want to push an aquatic center? Sounds like too much …”

The conversation turned to the “side fund payoff” recently made to CalPERS to cover employee pensions — $400,000. This payment, they said, had saved them a 7 percent interest penalty on their pension premiums. But it completely drained their capital projects fund and put them over budget.

Earlier in the meeting, a staffer had requested a supplemental budget allocation for more “coverage” for neighborhood parks. Apparently parks are being vandalized during broad daylight, and they need more supervision. They’ve closed the skateboard park repeatedly. These workers are part-time, and receive no benefits for cleaning up the parks and repairing damage from vandals. Subject to rules from CalPERS, they are not allowed to work over 30 hours.

The board did not approve this request.

CARD is management top-heavy. The administrators receive full benefits and pension for supervising the part-timers who do the actual work. They pay less than 10 percent of their premiums, and want us to pay the rest. They keep using “aquatic center” as a carrot, but here the board chair admits this is unrealistic and the real purpose of a bond or assessment is to pay pension premiums.

— Juanita Sumner, Chico

I signed that letter “Chico Taxpayers Association,” but editor David Little always drops that reference from my name. I don’t know what his problem is with our group – oh yeah, we opposed a tax measure that he supported, how could I forget Measure J!

I don’t have a subscription to the ER, so I look through the green screen at the titles of the letters, and then I google them. They pop up for free in the O-ville Mercury Register, what’s with that? Why do we have to pay to read a rag like the Enterprise Record when it’s all for free in the O-ville paper, right online? They don’t seem to be thinking too straight down at the ER these days.

This morning, when I saw that headline, I forgot I’d written a letter, and I thought, “oh boy! Somebody else is writing about the CARD bullshit!” So I googled it.

Wow, did I ever get a google-full.   All these articles from all over the United States about how public pensions are ruining our economy.

http://www.op-f.org/Information/ViewNews.aspx?Id=545

In Ohio, the cops and fire only pay 10 percent, their contribution is being raised to twelve percent, but the city’s contribution is being raised to 24 percent. 

http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/government-and-politics/quinn-pension-mess-may-drain-higher-education-funding/article_a6ca8e5a-e5af-11e1-a430-0019bb2963f4.html

In Illinois, they’re cutting education funding by a few hundred million to meet their pension payments.

http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Florida_public_pensions

Florida has the third largest retirement fund in the US, with NO EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS.

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_23071123/calpers-5-7-million-end-san-jose-council

In San Jose, CalPERS demands $5.7 million to dump city council pensions. What? 

We need to dump the collective bargaining laws.  Instead, Jerry Brown signed legislation in 2011 putting more onerous burdens on local governments in bargaining salaries and benefits, giving public employee unions more advantage in the contract talks.  

http://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/california-governor-signs-new-collective-bargaining-law-requiring-fact

Meanwhile, the California Republicans fight among themselves – the Republican party is split in California – Jack Lee and his friends have formed a “Conservative Republican Party,” or something like that. They don’t like “RINO’s”, so they all filed along and voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. That doesn’t make sense to me.  It’s a  pissing match, and we’re all the losers. 

We can elect a new governor in 2014. I’m looking at John Moorlach, a Republican who currently serves on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. I’ve read about Moorlach before – he correctly predicted bankruptcy for Orange County, one of the first government entities to go bankrupt in the US and the largest bankruptcy in US history, back in 1994. Moorlach then took the job as Treasurer/Tax Collector and presided over the next 12 years of returning economic health for Orange County.  After that he  got over 70 percent of the vote for supervisor.  We need a guy like Moorlach to fix what Jerry Brown and his friends have done to our state. Apparently he’s thinking about running. At 58, he’s prime, and he’s got a lot of fiscal experience under his belt. 

But, it would be good to find out more about this guy, by digging into the records in Orange County. I’ll start working on that. 

Time for some economic development – Wednesday 4/24, City Chambers, 4pm, Conf. Rm 1

23 Apr

Tomorrow I am planning to attend the monthly Economic Development meeting, if for no other reason than I can. I been busy lately, and all these meetings seem to hit at once, like some kind of blitzkrieg. The ED committee meets at 4pm on a Wednesday, usually a good day and time for me. 

And I’d say, right now, this committee should be doing something!

The agenda says there will be a presentation from Wizard Manufacturing – I know them! They sponsor my kids’ hockey rink out in Ham City, where the rice is green and the girls are pretty. I know from the big ad they have rinkside, they make agricultural equipment – that’s all good with me too, my grandpa was a rice and nut farmer. Furthermore, they are located in Chico, and provide jobs – I will have to ask how many. Here’s their website:

http://www.wizardmanufacturing.com/

An informative video on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeF8KDYX7VA

Then we will hear about silly manager Brian Nakamura’s recommendations for hand-outs to organizations that supposedly promote economic development and tourism. The biggest snout here is the Chico Chamber, which, through it’s various octopus arms, will get almost $100,000 of the total $113,000 allocation. 

The really “excuse me – what?!?” news here is, he’s not recommending any funding for Artoberfest.  That sounds crazy, maybe I’m wrong, I’ll have to find out and get back to you on that. 

Then we’re going to get an update from Shawn Tillman about our Economic Development Plan. We have one, you know. Stop that, I’m trying to keep a straight face!

Here’s the agenda, see for yourself:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/4-24-13EDAgenda-Full.pdf

I’ll give you my perspective when I get back.

 

Still paying that phone tax? Here’s the info you need to get your refund, and contact addresses to complain about the taking

22 Apr

It’s only been a couple of weeks since I last rattled chains down at  the Finance Department to see how many  cell phone tax refunds they been giving out – at that time, there had been 147 refunds given out, an average of “$50.81,” according to employee Frank Fields. 

Mr. Fields wanted to point out, and I’ll let him, that six of those refunds were for businesses. Since businesses have bigger phone bills and bigger refunds, he felt that skewed the results somehow. I don’t think so. What about families with many members, kids in colleges around and about, relatives overseas? It doesn’t matter to me how you ran that bill up, a refund is a refund. Plus, only six businesses out of 157 refunds, and he says that skewers the numbers?  The Measure J proponents can rationalize all they want – they were stealing money from people’s phone bills, and people want their money back. And the average isn’t the paltry $25 Scott Gruendl still mentions whenever he gets a microphone in his face, but at least twice that much. 

I don’t want to bother the Finance Department again right away, but this last week or so, this blog and my worldofjuanita blog have been hammered with searches for the phone tax refund information. Here’s the link to the application:

http://www.chico.ca.us/documents/CellPhoneRefundApplication_011713.pdf

As far as I know, there is at least one cell phone company – AT&T – that is still collecting the tax. Check your bills. If you still see that tax collected out of your April bill, I’d let somebody know, maybe our new city manager, Brian Nakamura, at  bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us

I don’t have contact information for our new Finance Misdirector, but you could reach him through the clerk’s office at dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us

Write to the council too – including Gruendl – through Presson, again, that’s dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us

When your cow gets out of the barn, whether you left the door open or somebody else pried it open, you aren’t going to get your cow back until you go get it for yourself. Ask Joe Mondragon.

CARD board of directors and staff plan “community” letter writing campaign to respond to my comments about their budget, bond campaign

20 Apr

My husband and I have been concerned over all these tax and rate increase proposals lately, so we’ve been attending meetings. Thursday night we attended the regular monthly meeting of the Chico Area Recreation District board of directors to see what we could find out about their plans to put a bond or assessment on our property taxes. They sent a survey out a few weeks ago, testing the waters. Here’s a scanned image of the one my family received:

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I also posted a spreadsheet from their budget report:

http://worldofjuanita.com/2013/03/31/card-2012-13-budget/

I wrote letters to both papers trying to get people to look at the budget because I didn’t feel CARD was being honest about why they are asking for this money. A look at their budget shows, instead of the aquatic center and other fantabulous projects they’re dangling like candied carrots, they really want the money to cover a sudden “side fund pay-out” demanded by CalPERS for their own pensions. You can see they drained the capital projects fund of over $350,000, and went over budget making that $400,000  “side fund pay-out.”

Regular board meetings are held over at the CARD center on Vallombrosa Ave, on a Thursday mid-month, in a little office room off the lobby. They start at 7 pm, pretty good time, gives a person a chance to get home and get some kind of dinner and clear the dishes aside. The agendas are available on the website under “CARD resources”.

I assume these meetings are usually attended by the board members – Ed Seagle, Jan Sneed, Herman Ellis, Michael Worley and Tom Lando – and various staffers, led by Steve Visconti, General Manager.  Lando was absent from this meeting,  but the other board members were present, along with Visconti and about half dozen staffers. Another half dozen folks sat in the audience, including Laura Urseny from the Chico Enterprise Record, and a head umpire from the baseball program, there to give a report.

These meetings are a refreshing change from city council meetings – well run, no dumb ceremonies or proclamations, just straight business. We wanted to be there for the Finance Committee report and the  “New Business” portion of the meeting, hoping to skip the mundane stuff in the beginning. We came in just in time to hear that Ann Willman, senior recreation supervisor for CARD, is leaving for a new job at Feather River Parks and Rec – gooshy best wishes all around – she’s taking the job Lando has been filling, how cozy.  Then we heard the umpire’s report – eight year old girl ejected for cussing out an ump – I was waiting for Amy Poehler to step through the door at this point. The brief and comical veteran’s and dog park memorial conversations were something that could have taken place on NBC”s “Parks and Rec.” But I will say, it has to be handled one way or another, and this group moves right along.

But you have to pay attention at these meetings. I come to find out about one thing, and I always hear some other interesting stuff. Oftentimes, it helps me to make sense of something else. When a Park Division manager got up to make a request for more workers, I found out, many of the people who do the work to maintain our parks are only part-time workers. These workers are limited in the number of hours they can work by CalPERS, because if they work too many hours, they qualify as full-time and therefore must get benefits. The Parks Division is the actual maintenance branch of CARD. They mow the lawns, stripe the ball fields, take away the trash, and fix damage like graffiti. This fellow was saying, the parks are extra busy over those fair weather months of March through October, and that they take a pretty sound beating, with folks leaving picnic tables and garbage cans piled with trash, and vandals regularly targeting spots like the skateboard park. He wants to hire some additional seasonal employees, part timers, whose positions would be “largely customer service and education.”  He added that maintenance like removing trash and cleaning tables was “difficult” to perform while people were in the park, he just wanted employees to direct the public to do the right thing, keep an eye on things. 

He called this “coverage.” What I was hearing from this man was, we need some kind of park supervisors, you know, like RANGERS, duh.  I’ve long felt the neighborhood parks, particularly playgrounds like Caper Acres and the skate board park, should have one or more trained supervisors, like the high school and college age kids who watch over the swimming pools. Even if just to say, “You’re not allowed to do that…” and call 911 when they do it anyway. Would they think of leaving the swimming pool gate open, free access to anybody, no life guards, use at your own risk? Why in the hell would they think that’s okay with a skate board park or a play ground?  Besides, it would provide good jobs for young people coming out of the Butte College and Chico State Recreation management department. Like life guards at Sycamore, Pleasant Valley, and Shapiro pools, these employees would be part-timers with small salaries and little or no health benefits, but they’d be getting good job experience and a solid reference for their resumes. 

Extra workers in Summer, when kids are out of school and a lot of parents are working in other towns,  and on Summer weekends, when more people are bbq’ing and picnic’ing, seems like a no-brainer to me. But the board seemed unconvinced, Ed Seagle asked for more information, and tabled it for the future. Seagle remarked, “With the funds we have, we need to be as judicial as we can.” I think he meant “judicious“, but I’m no editor. 

That was a good segway to the Finance report, which was over in 60 seconds or less – Jan Sneed announced she’d looked over the books and everything looked okay to her and the board accepted that report. I will have to attend the monthly Finance Committee meeting if I’m going to find out anything there. It seemed to me they’d be talking about their budget alot, but I’m new to these meetings. 

Board member Herman Ellis, appointed last year to fill a vacancy, reported on his park tour with staff, and of course had glowing reviews. “Everyone should do it,” he said, but didn’t elaborate much. He’s a pleasant man but not one to ramble on. 

It was just after 8pm. I didn’t have the agenda in front of me, but I thought we were getting pretty near the end of the meeting, so started to put away my notebook and slip into my sweater. That’s when General Manager Steve Visconti brought up the survey – I immediately grabbed my notebook out of my bag, having almost forgotten this was why I had come to the meeting anyway. He said the survey should be ready for the next meeting! Well Great! Good timing! Then Ed Seagle began a discussion about the bond/assessment campaign, saying, “Do we really want to push the aquatic center? It sounds like too much…”  Seeming to feel that an aquatic center is an unrealistic option, Seagle wondered if they should be shooting for more practical projects like fixing a gym floor somewhere.

The other board members muttered it over, and then Visconti announced, “We need to discuss whether we’re going to have some effort to get some community members to respond to Juanita Sumner’s letter to the paper…” 

Of course this caught my ear, I was already scribbling in my notebook as fast as I could. I was floored by Seagle saying, after they’d already planted this aquatic center bullshit in people’s heads, he didn’t think it was really going to happen. Well duh. But to hear Visconti organizing an effort to what? undermine my credibility? dispute the facts in my letter with nonsense?  is just unbelievable to me. We pay these people to sit around plotting against us. 

Not once did they say there was anything untrue in my letters, they just seemed to be as mad as a hive of bees that I had outed their budget to the public. They made that $400,000 side fund pay-off, sure, but wanted everybody to know, “we saved 7% percent by making that payment!” Yeah, 7% off the employees’ pension premiums, for pensions they will collect regardless of what the economy holds for the rest of  us.  Pensions we guarantee with bonds or assessments against our property taxes, no matter what happens.

This after hearing Seagle declare they can’t hire more part time workers to care for our neighborhood parks because “With the funds we have, we need to be as judicial as we can…” Yeah, right Ed.  

They are mad about my letters to both the ER and the N&R, but they can’t respond as a public entity or as individuals because they’re too chickenshit to take a stand that might jeopardize any of their positions. So, they’re cooking up a plot to have their friends, relatives, people in the programs, etc, write letters. We’ve seen this kind of campaign before, it will be interesting to see what they come up with. They already have a management staffer who devotes her time to stuff like setting up Facebook accounts – her report was a hoot – “we went up from 1,000 to 1,300 fans!” 

Laura Urseny sat right through the whole meeting, including the part about the survey,  and all she reported in today’s paper was the conversation about the dog park memorial. 

UPDATE:  Somebody has been searching terms “income for Juanita Sumner Chico Ca” and “Juanita Sumner credit”. Who could be interested in that? How low do you think these people will stoop? How personal do you think they’ll take it? How long do they think they can outlast an old turtle in a mud wrestle? Time will tell.