Archive | May, 2013

Sorensen and Gruendl: city spending trend has to stop! Right after we raise management salaries!

8 May

I read a pair of letter in the News and Review, the first from fellow gadfly Emily Alma, and the next a response to Alma from Scott Gruendl and Mark Sorensen.

As you can read below, Alma is basically complaining about Brian Nakamura’s questionable management style. Gruendl and Sorensen, who hired him, are defending themselves. 

I don’t agree with everything Alma says – what “spirit of warmth and respect” is she talking about? Hah! The City of Chico has always been a snake pit. I’ve been approached by people who wouldn’t give me their name, but told me, in almost these exact words, “I work for the city of Chico, and I want you to keep doing what you’re doing.” I’ve  been handed documents by others who remained nameless, and told me things like, “if anybody asks where you got this, tell them you paid for it!”  I was approached once physically by a city employee and another time called at my private phone number by a county employee, both of whom explained to me the disparity between the lower paid workers and management.  The woman from the city approached me in the breezeway between the administration building and the chambers, looking over her shoulder constantly, whispering, acting in terror for her life. I couldn’t help but notice, she wasn’t dressed half as nice as the staffers I see regularly in meetings.  I call them, “the swishy people“, cause their expensive clothes swish when they walk. 

Not to be confused with “The Swish,” Nick Swisher.

The classified staffers at both the city and county pay their full share. Meanwhile, I don’t know what county management pays, but city management still pay less than half of that 9 percent “share”. And, the “employee share” is less than a third of the total premium, which goes up yearly. Right now it’s around 26 percent of the total cost of the pension, it’s going up to 31 percent next year. The total cost of each pension being 70 – 90 percent of that employee’s highest year’s salary. 

Of course, I’m not talking about new hires. Mark Sorensen keeps reminding me, new hires will pay 50 percent share. “New hire” means, you are coming into the California system for the first time. Sorensen knows damned good and well they hire most of these people from other towns in California. Until Mealy Mouth Sorensen and the rest of the fist puppets on council stand up on their hind legs and make ALL of the current employees pay their full share, we will be headed toward bankruptcy. Instead, Brian Nakamura directs staff in looking  for new sources of revenue. 

Did you know, the city is  in the process of eminent domaining a family over near Hwy 99, in order to get a grant? Yes, Tom Varga admitted that they need the Douglas family’s property because they can’t get the grants they’re after unless the bike trail is contiguous, meaning, they have to take it right across the Douglas’ side yard instead of simply routing it on neighborhood streets, like they did over in my neighborhood. These grants aren’t used on the projects for which they are specified – are you kidding? You think it  costs $100,000 to pave a strip of dirt down the side of the freeway? No, it’s to pay Varga’s salary and benefits, duh.   If you start paying attention to the agendas for these meetings Downtown, you’ll see all the grant proposals flying out. They are desperate for money. 

NOTE: I have heard from a third party that this eminent domain was denied in closed session, but I don’t have any staff report to that effect. I do however have the e-mail in which Varga admits the action was necessary to secure grants. I’ll keep you posted.

So, why is Nakamura raising department head salaries? In my opinion, given his record of moving from one public entity to another over the last 5 – 10 years, I believe he is just enriching himself and his friends, and will move on to the next entity as soon as he sees the curtains falling on this operation. Go read the Hemet newspaper – what a mess!  

Meanwhile, Team Nakamura Head Cheerleaders Scott Gruendl and Mark Sorensen are still trying to  tell us, this guy is doing us a favor, a $217,000/year plus benefits kind of favor. 

The say, “The city has been spending more than it receives for many years, and that trend had to stop.”   Well, pray tell, when is THAT going to happen? Right after this latest supplemental budget appropriation to pay the newly inflated salaries/benefits? 

You voters realize, Scott and Mark are both in the trough themselves. Gruendl is a health officer over in Glenn County. I’ve read more than once in the minutes of the Glenn County Supes meetings, Gruendl getting reprimanded first by another department head and then more recently by a county supervisor for constantly trying to manipulate other departments into his control and asking for a salary increase for doing so. The department head had planned on retiring, but when Gruendl made a play to take over his department, the man changed his mind and stayed, claiming that Gruendl was just out for more salary. Duh! 

Sorensen meanwhile took a favor from ex-Chico-City Manager Tom Lando, who got Sorensen the city manager position in Biggs. Sorensen makes around $90,000/ year there – hey, anybody ever seen the town of Biggs? I’ve seen the sign, but I look around and all that’s there is orchards! But he gets about $90,000 to manage that. And benefits. In addition to the $21,000/year package we pay for him as city councilor. 

These two are in no position to rock the boat. They’re with Lando – essentially, these people are employees of CalPERS, and what’s good for CalPERS is good for them. It’s true what Emily Alma is saying – council isn’t running our city, Brian Nakamura is running our city. 

We really need to come up with some candidates for council in 2014 that work for us instead of $taff and CalPERS.  Or, how about, we change the charter to dump council and elect the city manager and other management staffers? It’s done in other towns, including Police and Fire chiefs. 

You tell me what we should do. Below are the letters I’ve mentioned above. 

Is the council losing control? – N&R April 25

Re “Money man: Chico’s new finance director takes his seat” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, April 18):

Since Brian Nakamura’s appointment as Chico’s city manager, it seems that control of the city is slipping away from our elected City Council. We have two instances of long time, beloved employees leaving their posts without explanation, the loss of Jennifer Hennessy as finance director, major restructuring of departments, city employees nervous about losing their jobs, and Councilwoman Ann Schwab expressing disapproval at how the shakeup has been handled.

I understand that changes are needed for the city to be managed more efficiently, but the way this is coming down feels like an aggressive attack rather than a thoughtful approach to reorganization.

Now the hiring of another person from outside the area at another inflated salary, someone with a questionable history involving hostile relations with employees, adds another layer of concern. It seems that we have an increasingly toxic environment in the city offices.

I’m disappointed that Ann Schwab’s objections were not discussed at the last council meeting, and urge the remaining council members to take these warning flags seriously.

It is the City Council’s responsibility to oversee the dynamics of this major transition. I’m sure there are ways to reorganize without losing the spirit of warmth and respect that has characterized the city of Chico. I hope it’s not too late.

Emily Alma
Chico

Editor’s note: Ms. Alma sent her letter to the members of the City Council, two of whom chose to respond to it as follows:

A unanimous council very deliberately appointed Mr. Nakamura as city manager, and a council supermajority continues to support Mr. Nakamura’s new direction for the city.

In contrast to the subversive whisper campaign emanating from City Hall against Mr. Nakamura and Ms. Alma’s unfounded accusations about “control” or a lack of a “thoughtful approach to reorganization” in City Hall, the opposite is true. The path to positive changes has been laid out for nine months, well communicated and methodically executed.

Reorganization has not resulted in layoffs, and department heads know they may be reclassified but remain employed. Salaries correlate to new responsibilities under a leaner administration.

Ms. Alma is mistaken that city management is slipping from the council. Council is exercising its authority by restoring the “public service” focus to the organization and installing the expertise necessary to lead the city out of financial crisis.

The city has been spending more than it receives for many years, and that trend had to stop.

The city employees we speak with support the change in direction, and recognize that challenges remain ahead.

As we work through the process, far higher levels of transparency and communication are being demanded and achieved.

Vice Mayor Scott Gruendl

Councilman Mark Sorensen 
Chico

Nakamura “reorganizes” city departments, still no full-time management at the airport

7 May

I didn’t get to the Airport Commission meeting last week. I want to attend these, but the time is bad for me. I missed the meeting where Maria Rock stood up and blamed the loss of 130 planes (with owners who paid to park at the airport) over  the last year on “aging pilots.” And, I missed the conversation over allowing the hanger that used to house the airport’s biggest client, Aero Union, to be leased to a group for a museum, for free.

Aero Union left a few years ago, lured away by MacClellan in Sacramento. And then, as a result of policies they practiced while operating in Chico, they were involved in a huge scandal and subsequently went out of business. But not before relocating to MacClellan. They made the usual excuses that tenants make – we need a bigger place! But from what I heard, they got some kind of sweetheart offer from MacClellan that Chico Airport wastn’ offering.

Apparently, MacClellan, once a huge US Air Force base and giant employer and ginormous chunk of Sacramento’s economy, having been declared a Superfund clean-up site and closed in the 1990’s, is trying to transform itself into a business park.  It’s still an “uncontrolled airfield,” meaning,  n0 control tower, but navigational infrastructure for small aircraft. In order to revitalize an entire part of Sacramento, MacClellan Park is offering all kinds of perks and benies to any business that will locate there. The key words I heard are “build ready.”  This means, the landlord/property owner provides all the infrastructure – streets, sidewalks, sewer hook-ups, electric lines, etc.

The Chico Airport, owned by the city of Chico,  doesn’t do anything for you. Instead they roll out a list of stuff you have to do in order to locate there. As a friend of mine who owns an airport business told me, “they think anybody who wants to start a business must be some kind of Sugar Daddy.”

It doesn’t take much to see that there’s no management at the airport. “Airport Manager” is one of the “hats” left by Dave Burkland to Brian Nakamura. That’s all it is to them – a side job.  And it’s obvious – look at the aerial map of Chico Airport – it screams “BLIGHT!”  Empty lots scattered among the crappy old buildings, never having been cleaned up since the last business – what? burned down? Entire sections of the airport look abandoned.

I had to laugh when I read the conversation with the museum people. They want the hulking old Aero Union building. Now we find out what kind of landlord the city of Chico is – the building is condemnable. Only about two years since Aero Union vacated, and the roof is about ready to fall in. That’s just for starters. The whole building is a mess.  See what you get if you let your residential rentals get into that kind of condition – a tenant can withhold rent over a leaky faucet.  But when the city of Chico rents a building, they walk away – “it’s your baby now!”

The building needs about $200,000 worth of work on the roof, just the roof. Nakamura remarked that they might not have the money to do the roof right now – but at tonight’s council meeting, he’s asking for a supplemental budget allocation of over $500,000 to cover the new salaries approved for his departmental reorganization.

Now we know why Aero Union left, but that’s old history. Another large business tenant that has relocated more recently is Build.com, which was moved to Otterson Drive lock, stock and barrel. They said they wanted a bigger building, having had to use two separate buildings at the airport to accommodate their phone bank. I’m not really sure, but the new building they’re in at 402 Otterson is shared with other businesses, I’m not sure how much more space they’re getting.   Nor could I get any info on how much they’re paying.

Chances are, given the business properties available right now, Build.com is paying more per square foot in their new location. It looks like the average in the real world is about $1/sq ft.  The airport is offering Build.com’s old space for 75 cents a sq ft. I was at a meeting where $taff discussed renting space in the old Municipal building, and I remember, they offered that space below market too.

First of all, I see this as using taxpayer subsidized property to undercut the rental market, and that’s bad. Second, I see what they’re doing. They rent cheap, so they can be slumlords. They don’t do anything for their tenants, even maintain the building. They’re letting a group move into the old Muni building right now at a really cheap rent, giving them carte blanche to remodel. Sure, that seems great, but when they move out, we are stuck with whatever they do.

I don’t think the city should be in the real estate business. I don’t think the city should be in the airport business either. At the very least, we need a full-time manager out there. But, look at Nakamura’s reorganization – the airport is left within the city manager’s department. Just an extra hat?

Rick Clements: The council should manage city operations and finances as duly elected representatives

5 May

As much as I’d like to forget the city’s “plastic bag ban,” it won’t go away. The latest news is, the city has stalled their decision on this ordinance because of a threatened lawsuit by a group called, “The Plastic Bag Coalition.”

No, I do not make this stuff up.

There has been an enormous amount of $taff time wasted on this ordinance. Sometimes I wish they’d just passed it when they first brought it up, years ago, or even better – let the bag ban the state has passed go into effect, and that would be the end of it! Instead, $taff, always looking for ways to beef up their paychecks, have dragged this poor dead horse around the block about 150 times, like some sick palio.

Here’s a letter, below, from Rick Clements, who reminds us, this decision is being made without any real support from the public. Sure, you’ve seen the same tired little mob of less than two dozen make their way to the podium again and again during the discussions, you’ve seen less than a dozen letters to the papers in support of this ban, but when I asked Sustainability Task Force $taffer Linda Herman who requested this discussion, she gave me one name – a woman named Leslie Johnson,  who works for the Butte County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Rick also reminds us, this discussion has cost the city an undisclosed amount in $taff time – Linda Herman’s time alone is worth over $100,000 a year. Then there’s the city attorney, at over $200,000 a year. The city clerk, at about $135,000 plus benies.  Etc.

All for politics. The ACLU is basically an arm of the Chico Democrats, Johnson is just another toady. I find it ironic that this woman, who fronts an organization that is supposed to care about the individual’s “rights”, is pushing an ordinance that disproportionately affects the lower income citizen.  Thanks for nothing Leslie!

And thanks for this letter Rick, I hope we can get some good discussion out of it.

Regarding your story “Avoiding a Lawsuit”.

We have all heard the pros and cons of the plastic bag ban. That’s not what’s at issue here. The council members should manage the city operations and finances as duly elected representatives.

The majority did not elect or authorize their political correctness. to impede upon the arenas of “personal freedom” and “the individual’s right to choose”. If five political philosophies restrict the constitutionally protected right to decide at the ballot box; refusing the 70,000+ voters whose lives will be affected to vote for or against a ban that places restrictions on personal freedoms of choice, then that’s communism.

During the 70’s, the liberals below made this same argument. They demanded ballot box democracy against a conservative council’s decisions constantly. Those liberals were clearly correct then; but today’s council; its left wing majority, they are wrong. They are clearly afraid that the ballot box might weaken or nullify their misused powers. That’s why they never offered up the ban decision for a public vote. Talk about a hypocritical slap in the face to people like Jane Dolan, Bob Mulholland, Karl Ory, and Kelly Meager. Their coalitions fought for guaranteeing everyone’s personal right to voice their ballot box opinion on issues that affected everyone. The Green Line and Bidwell Ranch! So whose power hungry now?

Rick Clements

Paradise

City Council Tuesday night: Nakamura requests supplemental budget appropriation to cover the increased salaries for the positions he gave to his cronies

4 May

This Tuesday city manager Brian Nakamura will ask for a supplemental budget appropriation to cover the new department reorganization approved by council a few meetings ago.

This might be confusing to those of you who were paying attention when Nakamura told us this reorganization would SAVE the city money, unless you happened to notice the part where the reorganization, again, approved by council, raised the salaries of the remaining department heads by about $30,000, each. Not only did the salary increases eat any saving made by consolidating departments under single leadership and laying people off, but, along with the resulting increase in benefits and pension, they took us over budget. So, we have this request for a supplemental appropriation.

Here’s the link to the report:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=388

2.3.

APPROVAL OF SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION NO. 12-13 04 FOR NEW DEPARTMENT POSITIONS ADOPTED AS PART OF THE NEW CITY DEPARTMENTAL STRUCTURE – Both the City Council and Successor Agency will be convened for approval of Supplemental Appropriation No. 12-13 04  Approve – The Council is being asked to approve supplemental appropriations related to new department positions adopted as part of new City departmental structure. The Finance Director recommends approval.

Take a good look – for one thing, please note, this appropriation will come out of the RDA, every dollar of which will cost us three, “in the long run”.  Look really good. See where the development fund is in parentheses – that means, IN THE HOLE. The development fund is $9 million IN THE HOLE.  City staff took that money – collected off new housing, and paid, not by their developer friends, but by new home buyers -to pay their salaries and make their side fund pay off to CalPERS.

People, we have a huge problem. City staff is ripping us blind to enrich themselves while our idiot city council – afraid to rock their own pension boats – stand by with the fingers in their noses. Mark Sorensen has told me repeatedly, he has faith in Nakamura’s leadership. Oh yeah, he admits, “it will get ugly,” whatever the hell that means, and he predicts things will come to a boil either later this month or early in June. Whatever that means – as usual, Sorensen is being very close mouthed, just handing out enough titillating details to keep us glued to our seats.

The legal definition of “appropriation”, from Wikipedia,   “from Latin appropriare, ‘to make one’s own’ (later ‘to set aside‘), is the act of setting apart something for its application to a particular usage, to the exclusion of all other uses.”  In other words, to take somebody else’s stuff for yourself –  I think that’s pretty clear here.

It seems outrageously clear that Nakamura is enriching himself and his friends.

UPDATE:   I had to fix the link on this report because it wasn’t working – please try it again, and read the reports!

Chico Taxpayers Association meets tomorrow, Sunday May 5, Chico Library on Sherman Ave, 9am

4 May

I hope we can get a good discussion going on the local efforts to raise taxes, all inspired by CalPERS recent demands for “side fund payoffs” of pension premiums.

What CalPERS is after, is money to keep their pension payments flowing, so people like Tom Lando don’t sue them. And then there’s the CalPERS salaries – about a dozen top execs, making between $350 – 500,000 a year, plus, yeah, FULL BENEFITS!

How stupid are we? Let’s talk about that – tomorrow, Chico branch library, 9am.  The public is welcome.

Chula Vistans win cell phone tax lawsuit – $8 million in rebates and refunds, plus legal fees

3 May

I’m sure as hell glad we didn’t have to go this route, but three cheers for the 100 or so Chula Vistans who had the gagnas to take on their corrupt city council. Yes, corrupt. The city knew what they were doing. And our city was smart enough to go with the tide – the city of Chula Vista fought it out til the end, totaling up who knows how much in their own legal fees in addition to the settlement they’ve been ordered to pay. 

Are the Chula Vistans the winners, or the losers? You tell me.  Maybe they should go forward with a lawsuit against the city council members and  city staff management for mismanagement of city finances. 

Here’s the article from the Voice of San Diego, thank you very much reporter Will Carless!

Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013 3:46 pm | Updated: 4:33 pm, Thu May 2, 2013.

at http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/article_0f3d0c2c-b37a-11e2-b34a-001a4bcf887a.html

The city of Chula Vista just settled a class action lawsuit brought by cell phone users who said they were illegally taxed by the city for years.

Under the settlement, which was approved by a San Diego court, the city must pay $8 million in rebates and refunds to cell phone users who were taxed, plus legal fees.

The city of Chula Vista maintains that the tax is legal.

“We disagree that certain aspects of the tax are unlawful, but, because the issues are complex and continued litigation would be expensive, the city believes it is in the best interest of its citizens to settle the case,” said Anne Steinberger, a spokeswoman for the city.

Residents of Chula Vista have been mailed notifications this week that will tell them how to claim a cash refund from the settlement, said Jeremy Robinson, one of the lawyers who sued the city.

Recipients will have to fill out a claim form to prove they’re eligible for a repayment. If so, they have the choice of a $35 flat rebate; a $50 payment for every year they paid the tax, up to $150, (if they can prove they paid it) or an estimated full refund from the period April 2010 to April 2013.

Claims must be made in the next 90 days. More information about making a claim can be found here.

We’ve been following this issue ever since we wrote a series of stories on Chula Vista back in early 2011. Last year we checked up on the tax after a group of cell phone users brought a suit. Here’s a snippet from that post describing the charges in dispute:

The tax, introduced in 1970, charges a small fee on users of telephones, electricity and other utilities within the South Bay city. As cell phones came into popular use, Chula Vista started allowing phone companies to tax cell phone calls too, and for years it collected and spent that tax money.

The tax on cell phone calls was always on rather shaky ground. It was loosely based on Internal Revenue Service rules governing what can and can’t be taxed. But in the mid-2000s, the IRS lost a number of court cases over whether it could tax cell phone calls and, in 2006, a cell phone carrier wrote to the city of Chula Vista saying it didn’t think it still needed to collect the taxes.

But Chula Vista didn’t stop taking the tax money. The city argues that the tax is legal, though in recent years it’s been carefully stashing away the proceeds from the cell phone taxes in case it loses in court one day.

Steinberger said the city has enough money stashed away to pay the full $8 million if necessary.

Robinson said the amount the city has to pay will depend on the number of claimants.

“Right now, our goal is to get as many people as possible to make claims,” he said.

On top of whatever it has to pay out in claims, the city will also have to pay the attorney’s fees for the case. The full payout won’t be known until after the 90-day claim period has expired.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

CARD and the income gap: How public agencies perpetuate poverty and disparity in the pay scale

3 May

For a long time now I’ve complained about the disparity in the salaries Downtown and at Oroville. The management make 10’s of thousands more in salary and pay less than half their “share” of benefits and pensions premiums, while the lower paid staffers pay the whole share. You must realize, living in the same town on a $35,000 salary with people making over $100,000 is difficult, and I think that’s an understatement. They drive up the price of everything from housing to daycare to gas to a dozen eggs. 

And then there’s the problems the medical benefits packages cause. Our mayor receives a package valued at about $21,000 a year. That’s more than $1500/month. How much does your health care package cost? My family can’t afford $1500/month, that’s for sure. So, when we go to the doctor, we are competing with these benefits packages we pay for – isn’t that ironic?  You can pay your premiums for years, and then when you need help, you find the ER does not accept your insurance. 

Believe it or not, a lot of public employees are in almost the same boat as their private industry counterparts. Sure, they get a nice package, but they don’t get the same packages their bosses get, and they pay more. 

I know I’ve bitched alot about city salaries and benies, but recently I started taking a hard look at other agencies, “special districts,” “quasi-public” – like the Chico Recreation and Parks District, who is fishing around for a property tax bond or assessment to pay off their CalPERS “side fund payoff”. 

The first thing that gripes me about CARD is how they tried to insinuate they would use the bond proceeds to build a new aquatic center, when they’d just bottomed out their capital projects fund to make that CalPERS payoff. They LIED  to get people to go along with this bond crap.  They knew damned good and well, as board president Ed Seagle admitted at last month’s meeting, an aquatic center is unrealistic at this time. They have ZERO money in their capital projects fund, having spent the $350,000 or so they had on their side fund payoff.  But they went ahead and printed those surveys and sent them out, and Ed didn’t say anything until after the fact. Thanks for nothing, Ed.

Ed Seagle needs to get his story straight. He also told me and my husband, when he accosted us at that CARD meeting, that CARD employees pay their full share. Either he’s an ignoramus or a big stinking liar. Which is it Ed? 

Because when I asked Finance Director Scott Dowell about salaries and employee shares, all I got was a notice that he’s out of his office until May 6. When I asked General Manager Steve Visconti for the information he sent me to the State Controller’s website – no link, no notes, just “go to the State Controller’s website…” So, I did. Here’s the link to the “special district” page for Chico Area Recreation and Parks District:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?fiscalyear=2011&entityid=1875

You’ll note that General Manager Steve Visconti does not pay his own share.  We pay not only a $12,704 “employer share”, but another $7,462 of his “employee share.” That’s the “EPMC”, or “employer paid member contribution”. That they even bother to call it the “employee share” is insulting to me.   Then another $10,000 plus for vision and dental!  Add that to his $115,000+ salary, and this man is getting over $150,000 a year to run a parks district into the ground. Not only did they tap their capital projects fund making  benefits and pension payments, they went so far over budget they can’t afford to hire enough part timers to do the actual work.  

And let’s talk about the workers. CARD employs about 33 people full time, including Visconti. These people all make over $40,000 a year, with 15 of them making over $50,000/year, four of those making over $70,000/year. Just in salary. These folks all get the same deal as Visconti – we pay the lion’s share of their benefits and pension premiums. Their packages range from Visconti’s $30,000+ down to about a $16,000 package for a maintenance super.

Meanwhile, check out the salaries of the people who actually work in the afterschool programs, supervising our kids, that’s on page 2.  $38,000 for an instructor, $29,000 for a recreation supervisor. Steve Visconti makes over $150,000 a year to sit in meetings, but the people who are in charge of the kids are paid less than $50,000 a year. That’s why I quit taking my kid to CARD programs, it was pretty clear they don’t spend the big bucks to attract talent to hang out all day with your kids. 

That’s the excuse Seagle gave us when we asked him about the pensions and benefits – he said they were trying to attract “quality employees.” Oh sure – $38,000 is enough to pay somebody to spend all day with your kids, but we need the big bucks to get the right kind of stuffed shirt to pilfer and embezzle.

 And don’t forget the lowest paid, non-benefitted, non-pensioned employees – the guys who go out in whatever weather to mow, pick up garbage, clean up vandalism, stripe the ballfields, etc. I see these guys when I go out in the wee morning with my dogs. We like to go out along that levee next to the ball fields, roust some quail, see if we can spot a big rattler in the morning sun. We see young men in their 20’s, wearing poor clothing, looking poorly coiffed and underfed – they do all the real work. They get the ballfields ready for the fee-paying leagues. See, we pay for those ballfields, but we aren’t allowed to use them – I’ve been kicked off with my kids, when there wasn’t a game scheduled THAT DAY. “Field reserved,” we’re told. But we’re still expected to pay those bonds and assessments. 

For what? These salaries? 

$8,592
$8,584
$8,573

Yes, that is a year’s salary there. Please note, those columns to the right – that’s where the benefits and pension contributions would be, but these people don’t get benefits or pension.

I wonder if these people can even afford to live in Chico. They’re not high school kids who live at home with mom and dad – I’ve seen them, they’re well over 21. They’re part of our economy.  Like a ball is part of a ball and chain.

CARD and other public agencies create this disparity, and we pay for it, in more ways than you are thinking.