Chico Taxpayers Association meeting, Sunday June 2, 9am, Chico library – city finance discussion led by our guest, council member Randall Stone

30 May

I am really looking forward to our meeting Sunday. Council member Randall Stone is planning to attend and will try to answer our questions regarding the budget crisis.

Stone is a member of the Finance Committee and sat through the Horrible Truth report from Chris Constantin last Tuesday. He will give us his take – I know I missed stuff while my brain was screaming.

I read Tom Gascoyne’s story in today’s News and Review and it jogged loose a lot of details I forgot, like the Downtown parking discussion. They were talking about  raising fees, and the subject of parking fines Downtown got a little hot. Like Brian Nakamura said, there is a divide  between people who don’t want parking enforcement because they say it drives away business, and those who do want parking enforcement because a lack of it is driving away  business.  Now, there’s a dilemma! Let’s just cut that baby in half and see how they like it!

That is the problem all over town. People in Chico can’t agree on what government is supposed to do. We can’t get a collective voice, because we all want different stuff. Alot of our wants are contradictory.  I will give Scott Gruendl credit for having asked this question before – what level of “service” do we want? But he never asked, “what is a reasonable price to pay for it.” With Gruendl it’s  My Way or the Highway.

In the real world it’s a bargaining session, and all the “stakeholders” have a voice. If you don’t like the price of eggs at one store, you find another, and the first store will either be throwing eggs in the dumpster or they will lower their price. The public sector doesn’t want to have a public discussion. They’ve kept the contract talks and the entire discussion of how much they get paid and payment of the “employee share” completely behind closed doors. They don’t want to hear what the public thinks, and even more so – they don’t want the people whose kids go to school with their kids, or the people who clean their teeth down at the dentist’s office, or the people who stand on a concrete floor all day at the grocery store to know what they make or how much of their benefits are taken out of our paychecks.

They’ve kept it behind closed doors with the help of council.  I once asked then-councilor  Larry Wahl if I could get in on those talks, and he actually tried to get me in.  But the other council members – including Sheriff Billy Bob Bertagna – wouldn’t go for it. Mary Flynn Goloff made it loud and clear from the dais – if I wanted to be in on the contract talks I could run for city council. Evita speaks! Bertagna, bless his heart for his fresh ground pepper honesty,  told me they couldn’t let the public in because they needed secrecy. He explained to me without shame – they play the various employee groups – especially the cops and fire – against each other, and they need a cone of silence to pull that off.

The stuff that goes on down there, please!

This dialogue with Randall Stone is what we need, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate him having the balls to come down to our meeting. I hope we can get more members of council and staff to come in. I’d like to invite Police Chief Trostle and Fire Chief Beery in another time to explain why their employees can’t pay their own share of benefits – there is actually some legal explanation for that, and I’d like to hear it.

So, come on down to the Chico Library,  Sunday morning, I’ll have the doors open by 9am. 

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