Archive | June, 2013

Chico Taxpayers welcomes city manager Brian Nakamura for a Q&A meeting Sunday July 7, 9am, Chico Library

29 Jun

I like Brian Nakamura because no matter how I argue with him and even accuse him of stuff, he’s always nice to me. I appreciate his agreeing to come in to our meeting next Sunday to answer our Mom and Pop questions about what’s going on Downtown.

I don’t intend to be a bitch, but I want to be able to ask dumb questions without being told I’m off subject, or off the agenda. We gave up agendas at our meeting about the third meeting – it’s too hard to predict what people want to talk about, and where a simple question or bit of information will lead a conversation.  Our meetings are dynamic, and I think we like it that way. 

Our meeting with Randall Stone was like a good loaf of bread – unique, nutritious, good to the last crumb. Councilor Stone explained the employee bargaining process to us, and shared our opinion that city employees need to pay their own share of pensions. He’s since been attacked by CPOA Peter Durfee for mentioning the combined total of salary and overtime enjoyed by the public safety employees. While I roundly disagree with Stone on other subjects, I sure appreciate his taking a strong stand on the pensions, publicly, opening himself to the usual trash talk that passes for discussion down at the cop shop.

I’m guessing our conversation with Brian Nakamura will be another productive meeting, I’m looking forward to seeing a nice group around the table July 7, 9am, Chico library on Sherman Avenue.

Oh geeshy sakes – corruption in Temecula!?

28 Jun

I gotta ask – who ever heard of Temecula before Jennifer Hennessy got a job there? Yes, it’s one of those new cities, created late 1980’s, by a bunch of pencil-neck bureaucrats who sniffed an opportunity to slide their snout into a new trough.

I would have forgotten about it by now, but I see in my statistic bar, people are interested in that town for whatever reason, so I check into it every now and then. I found out, they just fired their old city manager and finance director, that’s why Jennifer got the job.  Yesterday, I found a couple of  articles with more information – one from last fall, shortly after their termination, and one from just a couple of months ago.

It looks like Johnson and Wilson were canned because they tried to tell the public about the pension deals the city had been swinging. For example, Johnson’s predecessor in this little tiny town was making over $300,000, in salary alone, plus this benefits package, described below as “confusing to Spencer, Wilson, Johnson, and the state agency that administers public pensions.”

How does this outrageous stuff happen? Listen people, what do you expect when you don’t pay attention? I know, I try to look for the good in people – but I also try not to be stupid.  I hate to say this, but I will – sometimes the victim was 50 percent of his own problem.  It’s like those scary movies – you find yourself throwing popcorn at the screen – NO! DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!  But they do anyway, don’t they? And do you really feel sorry for them when they get it?

I hear alot of calls for the public to “step up” to this crisis. Well, I will say, it would be nice if we could get a couple of hardy souls to announce their intentions to run against Mary Goloff and Scott Gruendl in the 2014 council race. That’s something we should start  talking ab0ut.

For now, the unfolding story below ought to be a wake up call to all of us that we need to pay more attention to what’s going on Downtown. 





Differing ‘Philosophy’ Cited in Dismissal of Temecula City Manager, CFO

Temecula city officials have been tight-lipped since giving walking orders to City Manager Bob Johnson on Nov. 13 and Chief Financial Officer Genie Wilson on Nov. 14.

Posted by Maggie Avants (Editor),November 20, 2012 at 04:15 am

Two high-level city of Temecula employees were placed on administrative leave due to “differences in management philosophy and goals,” said the city attorney.

City officials have been tight-lipped since giving walking orders to City Manager Bob Johnson on Nov. 13 and Chief Financial Officer Genie Wilson on Nov. 14.

“The City Council and City Staff will not discuss (their) placement…on administrative leave as these are personnel actions involving the employees and we will respect the privacy rights of the employees,” said Temecula City Attorney Peter Thorson, in a statement emailed to Patch.

“At the request of their legal counsel, I will confirm that these actions were based on differences in management philosophy and goals.”

A large number of Temecula city employees belong to Teamsters Local 911, the president of which told The Press-Enterprise late last week that Johnson’s and Wilson’s management styles may have been causing a stressful work environment.

There was “considerable displeasure with (Johnson’s) management style,” Chester Mordasini, president of Teamsters Local 911 told the newspaper.

Shortly after Johnson assumed the role of city manager in January—replacing long-time City Manager Shawn Nelson—there was a reorganization of sorts, The Californian reported in a May article about the state of the city’s budget.

Johnson’s permanent dismissal was set to be voted on during city council’s regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 27.

Until then, Community Services Director Aaron Adams has been appointed acting city manager.

In an email response Monday to Patch, Adams said no interim or acting CFO has been officially appointed since Wilson was placed on leave.

“I have assigned coverage/responsibilities to existing managers as a result of this vacancy,” Adams wrote. “This will assure proper coverage of all responsibilities.”

The chief financial officer—under the city’s organizational chart—oversees administrative services. These include accounting and purchasing, strategic budgeting and operations, human resources, support services and information technology.

Wilson earned an annual salary of $180,466 including benefits as of 2010, according to the latest public salary information available from the California State Controller’s website.

Johnson’s contracted salary was $215,000. If terminated, the contract specifies he is entitled to six months’ salary in severance pay, as well as insurance benefits during those six months, according to city documents. However, if termination is the result of being charged or convicted of a felony, or engaging in corrupt or willful misconduct in office, his benefits would not be paid.

The specifics of Wilson’s terms of employment were not readily accessible.

Neither Johnson nor Wilson were present during a Nov. 13 city council meeting at which Thorson announced Johnson had been placed on administrative leave.

The similar action taken against Wilson was confirmed by Adams Friday, after initial responses from city officials stating they would not comment on personnel-related matters.


Friday, March 29th, 2013
Issue 13, Volume 17.
Tim O’Leary
Staff Writer

A pair of fired Temecula executives, through a spouse and a mutual friend, has revealed behind-the-scenes discord over city pension and finance issues that played out prior to their abrupt dismissals late last year.

The details surface as new twists in the only upper-echelon purge that has publicly unfolded in Temecula since the affluent, fast-growing community became a city in December 1989. They also sharpen the focus on the salary and benefits that are still being paid to Shawn Nelson, who formally stepped down as Temecula city manager in December 2011.

In a cover letter to the local media, Scott Spencer in early February declared that “…it’s time for the press to honestly expose the corruption at Temecula City Hall.” Spencer describes himself as a business owner and a 20-year resident of the Temecula Valley who is a confidant of Bob Johnson and Genie Wilson, two city administrators who were fired late last year.

Johnson’s wife, Maryann, later e-mailed reporters a four-page account she said points to a “fascinating conspiracy that had obviously been orchestrated behind the scenes for several months.” She warned that rising city pension obligations “will someday seriously compromise” Temecula’s ability to repair and maintain its public buildings and other infrastructure.

The pair of documents – which at times alternate between questions and accusations – netted a mixed response from Johnson’s replacement, two City Council members and Nelson.

The city’s current mayor, Mike Naggar, shrugged off many of the issues raised in the communications from Spencer and Maryann Johnson. Councilwoman Maryann Edwards, who was mayor when Nelson’s contract was amended in July 2009, responded in a similar manner.

“Everything’s above board and transparent,” Edwards said in a mid-February interview. She then referred any further questions to the city attorney.

Interim City Manager Aaron Adams has steered clear of the personnel issues surrounding the dismissals of Johnson and Wilson. But Adams countered that there has been plenty of disclosure and ample public records that detail city finances as well as Nelson’s contract terms and his continuing retirement pay and benefits.

“It’s no secret,” Adams said following a recent council meeting.

Nelson has echoed that perspective.

“It’s very clear what the (employment) contract says,” Nelson said in a telephone interview. “It’s very transparent.”

Nelson said he is proud of his service to Temecula and his retirement package simply reflects the benefits and unpaid leave, unused vacation days and other time off that were in place or had accrued over his approximately 21 years as community services manager, interim city manager and then city manager.

Nelson declined to respond to the questions and allegations that have been raised following the dismissals of Johnson and Wilson. He broke off a sentence during the recent telephone interview after saying: “It’s just disgruntled…”

The layered dispute has unfolded as Nelson’s next career step has led to him simultaneously being paid by both Temecula and Menifee for providing similar services to the two cities.

Together the two municipalities will pay Nelson more than $417,000 over the next 12 months. And due to the terms of Nelson’s Temecula contract, that city will continue to pay his health care, pension, vacation and leave benefits over that period.

Nelson’s contract and the July 2009 changes were a key focus of an eight-page analysis that Spencer provided to local reporters. The sharply-worded analysis was accompanied by attachments that examine Nelson’s various pension scenarios as well as a spread sheet that details the city’s rising pension costs for all its employees.

The analysis refers to city officials or their actions with such biting phrases as “misrepresented,” “problematic past practices” and “did not always fully or transparently disclose.” It also questions whether the council’s authorization of so-called seniority leave for Nelson “may have been something called a gift of public funds.”

The analysis ends with a joint statement from Johnson and Wilson that calls upon the city to be more open and change the way it operates.

“There is an absolute requirement for transparency when it comes to public employee and elected official compensation and benefits,” Johnson and Wilson wrote in the statement. “After all, we are fully accountable to the public in how we are spending their money. We are confident that we provided current Temecula’s leadership with the information they needed to assure that more transparent and responsible management practices, goals and philosophies are being implemented now and into the future. 

We are also hopeful that the information being provided to the public will allow current and future city leaders everywhere to view their fiduciary responsibilities through an entirely new paradigm.”

Naggar, who said he has read Spencer’s materials, indicated that they appeared to be addressed more toward the media than the city. Naggar said he did not see any benefit in sitting down with a reporter to respond to Spencer’s analysis in detail.

The separate dismissals of Johnson, Temecula’s city manager, and Wilson, the city’s finance director, played out during a string of public meetings that began Nov. 14.

Naggar has attributed the terminations to a difference in management philosophy.

“It doesn’t go deeper than that,” he said.

Johnson, whose government service has spanned nearly four decades, worked as a Temecula assistant manager for nearly five years before he was tapped for the city’s top post. He worked as the city manager for less than a year prior to his dismissal. Wilson was a longtime employee who was hired shortly after Temecula became a city.

Johnson was just the fourth person to hold the post of permanent manager since Temecula became a city. His predecessor, Nelson, has been the subject of newspaper headlines since he retired from Temecula, shifted his focus to a nonprofit group formed after the death of his son, and was recently hired by Menifee as a management and strategic planning consultant.

In mid-February, a San Diego-based newspaper group printed a story headlined: “Former city manager’s pension payment focus of dispute.”

That story – done by a reporter for the merged Union-Tribune and Californian – examined the terms of Nelson’s contract and indicate he had had about 2½ years of administrative, sick time and other leave on the books prior to his Temecula retirement. The contract, according to that story and Temecula records, note that Nelson’s contract calls for him to remain an employee on Temecula payroll and be paid $11,214 every two weeks through March 2014.

Nelson’s current position with Temecula, according to budget information, is listed as “advisor to the city manager.” Newspaper coverage leading to Menifee’s decision to hire Nelson as an “executive consultant” also delved into his Temecula contract.

A Feb. 18 news story in The Press-Enterprise contained the headline: “Expensive year in leadership for Menifee, Temecula.” That story noted that, under the terms of Nelson’s contracts with Menifee and Temecula, the municipal administrator would together be grossing nearly $35,000 per month plus benefits for a year.

The newspaper story went on to say that, because of management upheavals in the separate jurisdictions, Temecula would pay about $600,000 in administrative payouts during the current fiscal year and Menifee’s costs would total more than $400,000 in the same period.

The Menifee City Council approved its one-year contract with Shawn Nelson consulting on Feb. 19, records show. That contract calls for Menifee to pay Nelson $126,000 for one year to do strategic planning, staff training, economic development and succession planning work. At the same meeting, Menifee council members cemented an agreement with its interim city manager. Menifee’s interim city manager will be paid $160,000 annually for his work.

The accounts that Spencer and Maryann Johnson provided to newspaper reporters delve deeper into the behind-the-scenes debates that occurred after Nelson retired from Temecula.

Spencer said his lengthy analysis was released to the media with the “full knowledge and consent” of Johnson and Wilson and the “assistance” of Johnson’s wife. In separate e-mails, Johnson and Wilson subsequently acknowledged their involvement. Spencer said all of the information contained in his analysis can be obtained through city records.

Spencer divided his analysis into sections that include “escalating payroll costs,” “the pension spin,” “audits reveal city’s generosity” and “transparency and accountability at City Hall.” Spencer delves into a clash between a city union representative and Bob Johnson. It states that the financial terms of Nelson’s “complex employment contract” were confusing to Spencer, Wilson, Johnson, and the state agency that administers public pensions.

Spencer’s analysis also lists five concerns he said Johnson and Wilson presented to Temecula council members “in the months and weeks prior to their termination.” Spencer’s analysis also includes a call to action by city leaders.

“Mr. Johnson and Ms. Wilson recommended an independent audit of specifically identified fiscal issues to the City Council prior to their terminations and strongly advocate that an independent auditor conduct a full investigation into these matters in the near future.”

Yes, I’m sorry for disagreeing with Nakamura – let’s dump the Economic Development committee altogether

27 Jun

I went to yesterday’s Economic Development meeting yesterday with concern over a suggestion to cut the meeting schedule down from monthly to quarterly meetings. I thought it was another attempt to shut the public out – and that well may be. But, I after yesterday’s meeting I might be ready to admit we don’t need an Economic Development Committee, or the $88,000/year staffer who facilitates it. 

One surprising fact I learned was that these meetings are NOT recorded.  As of the department reorganization, Nancy Kelly is no longer there to take notes or make the reports that we have been able to access on the city website. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t remember seeing Tillman or anybody else taking any kind of notes yesterday, so I’m guessing, there will no longer be any record of the discussions or the comments or questions made by the public at these meetings. 

Tillman is there to give reports. That’s so funny to me. They’ve had Nancy Kelly in there, playing kind of a secretary to Tillman and the three-councilor committee, sending out the agendas to the send list, taking notes and posting minutes/reports on the website, making contacts, etc – $72,000 in pay last year. AND, Shawn Tillman – at $88,000/year,  just to give high school style reports on his activities of the last month.  Yes, that’s outrageous – that’s the kind of stupid duplicity that led us right here today. But, when the time comes to belt tighten, they “re-purpose” the woman who served the public, and keep the lump of lard that serves himself.  Tillman mentioned that Kelly will be staying with the city of Chico, at least for now, but she’s been moved to another job, I’m assuming at a lesser salary. And, again – the meetings will no longer be recorded.

And then there were Tillman’s reports. Tillman works with a group of local “economic development experts” in a venture called “Team Chico”. This group consists of representatives from Chico Chamber, Butte College, SCORE, Innovate North State, Butte County, CSU Chico, DCBA, and the Alliance for Workforce Development. These are agencies who provide “business outreach.” They provide everything from advice to “seed money” and even bigger financing. What “Team Chico” was set up for was to network these agencies with the city to inform Chico businesses of “services they didn’t even know existed.”    Meaning, their services.

I’m trying not to make this sound evil. Yes, these people provide services that some businesses might want and profit from. And those businesses should pay a fair fee for these services. How does the city fit into this picture? The city, through Team Chico, provides the hub of this network. And, the city provides money  based on the premise that these businesses provide a service from which the whole town benefits – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT!

Unfortunately, I’ve been sitting in on these meetings since they started this committee, and I have yet to see anything come out of the city’s part of it.  There are less  jobs in Chico than there were when my kids were tots – whole companies have left, big employers like Caribou and Fleetwood. Public entities, like the city, the county, the hospital and the school district, are our main employers.  Our local planners keep holding onto this pipe dream of  “tech jobs” – what “tech jobs” are hiring in massive numbers? You  can operate a 3D printer on a high school education with a good streak of work ethic. 

Work ethic isn’t something that runs in streaks in this town.

Tillman reports the city has facilitated recruiting campaigns for Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as a phone bank insurance company. I have to say it – I’m sorry, a retail job won’t pay the mortgage, and those call center jobs have a turnover resembling a hot air popcorn machine. Those aren’t the kind of jobs we want for our kids, and they aren’t the kind of jobs that are going to save our local bacon. 

The experts are saying one of our main problems across the US is CRAPPY LOW PAYING JOBS. People are under-employed, they’re working 29 hours a week so their employer doesn’t have to pay benefits, and their barely able to pay the rent. These are the jobs Tillman is toot-tooting about bringing to Chico. Ann Schwab has also toot-tooted. She needs to sit on that horn, those jobs are just wrecking our local economy.

And housing just keeps getting more unattainable to the working class person. You need an income of at least $80,000 in this town to even consider buying a house, and most of the private sector is living well below $40,000. Working people can’t afford to live in Chico anymore – like many of the employees at Wizard Manufacturing, they come in from towns like Oroville and Paradise, and that’s where they do their shopping.  Without decent priced housing to keep them in town, these employees only detract from our economy. 

But the conversation didn’t even go there. Team Chico is about helping the businesses hand picked by Tillman and Team Chico. Tillman said they have meetings at which they decide which business neighborhoods they will walk out into, going door to door, telling these chosen businesses about the services offered by these consultants.  Tillman describes this as “improvement in businesses’ perception of the City’s business climate…” Well, isn’t that the Chamber and the DCBA’s job? Why are we paying Tillman $88,000/year just to tag along with these consultants, drumming up business for them? 

Tillman also gave what I’d call a “non-report” on this business survey the city and Tri Counties Bank and some other “shareholders” have been running. You may have participated in the online survey about your shopping habits and wants. There were also some workshops with business owners and community members, not sure when. He is not divulging the results of the survey, just wanted to say, IT’S COMING!

I don’t know what the city kicked in on this study, but it’s a repeat of a similar study done a couple of years ago that didn’t go anywhere. Tillman remains hopeful, telling us yesterday that we will soon know everything we need to know to revitalize Chico’s economy through selling stuff. Retail will save our day, yadda fucking yadda.

I’m sorry, retail is not an anchor of your economy. That’s like whip cream and fruit with no waffle. You need manufacturing, period. You need to PRODUCE something that people want outside your community, to bring money into your community from the outside. Here, we have money suckers coming in from the outside, in the form of public workers, who surf from town to town, taking a little more salary here, a better severance package there, wreaking havoc with the locals, and then, they walk on down the hall! to their next job. And eventually they take a pension in the form of 70  percent of their highest year’s pay.  In the old days, they carried little suitcases made of soft fabric stretched over a metal frame – carpet bags. 

So, hey, I’m all for dumping the Economic Development Committee altogether. The Finance Committee can have a rapport with these groups, and ask them in for presentations – they do that at least once or twice a year when these same folks come in to apply for community grant funding. If they do actually perform a service that benefits our community as a whole and is therefore worthy of a hand-out of tax dollars, then they can make that case at a public meeting before the Finance Committee and then again the full council, like they always have. We don’t need Tillman playing along, pretending to do something to earn that 88 grand. 

City of Chico is one of top five employers – only one private company in the top five

26 Jun

Today there’s an Economic Development Committee meeting Downtown, and one item on the agenda is, having less of these meetings.

This item caught my attention because, I know, I’ve complained about going to these meetings. The Sustainability Task Force was ridiculous. A bunch of people sitting around with a fully paid and benefitted staffer, making up problems to solve, the solutions of which caused more problems than they supposedly solved. 

But, I always considered the Finance, Internal Affairs, and Economic Development committees to be working committees that took up issues for more study, to be reported back to council at a later date. Most important to me, these committee meetings offer the opportunity for citizens to actually participate, instead of those stoooopid council meetings where you listen to the talking heads drivel on for hours kissing their own asses while  the Queen of Hearts can cut you off with however many seconds she allows and treat you like warmed over poop in a Dixie cup.

Scuse me, THAT was a run-on sentence. Sometimes I just get so excited.

So, I’m objecting to this plan, offered up by Brian Nakamura with assurance of saving money. Oh yeah, right – two hours a month of $taff time, that was what was putting us over the edge into bankruptcy! These people are like over-priced hookers!

He acts as if, these discussions wouldn’t be taking place anyway. Like what, when the meetings aren’t in session, the sidewalks just roll up and everybody goes home? The building goes to sleep, like my computer monitor? No, they’re all down there, swinging deals they’d rather not cut us in on.

There will also be reports about our employment situation. Did you know  the city of Chico if the fifth top employer in Chico? In fact, four of the top five are public entities, including the school district, the college, and Enloe Hospital. The only private business on the list is Sierra Nevada, at number 4. 

This is the kind of information they’d rather not be discussing in front of a public audience. Be there or be a mole rat. 

UPDATE:  Today committee member Scott Gruendl was unable to make the meeting, and had requested that the item regarding a quarterly meeting schedule be tabled until next meeting, in July.  I’ll have a recap of the meeting in another post.


Last week to get your Utility Tax Rebate – let them know what you think of a sales tax increase while you’re at it

22 Jun

Friday is the last day you can take in your Utility Tax rebate application. I will have to check in with the Finance Department and see what the totals were, once the dirt settles.  Even if you won’t get much back, it’s good to go down and let them know you don’t want them to have the money.

I can’t get over how desperate city council and $taff are to drum up revenues, any way possible, whilst holding us all off  by the forehead on the subject of paying their own share. Between the seven of them, council receives over $130,000 in health benefits, for which they pay two percent of their salaries – about $1,000. Yes, all of them split that $1,000, and walk away with health insurance packages ranging from $8,000 in value to over $21,000. Staff meanwhile spends about $2 million a year, of our money, just on the “employee’s share” of their pension premiums. The full cost of their benefits and pensions, according to a hastily departing Jennifer Hennessy, is over $10 million a year

Brian Nakamura says we have to cut about $7 million from out budget. Well, I see the solution right in front of his face – PAY YOUR OWN SHARE BRIAN! 

Brian Nakamura, with a $217,000/year salary, pays 4 percent of the premium on his 70 percent pension, and we pay the rest of his share, plus another 20-something percent (this figure goes up every two years or so), and then the other 70 or so percent rides the stock market. That hasn’t been working out lately – CalPERS needs a 7 percent return on their investment and they have been lucky to get 1 percent. So, they keep sending letters upping  the contribution for employers. They don’t care how much of that contribution comes from employees. 

It’s council’s job to determine how much the employee’s should pay of their pension premium. The current 9 percent “employee share,” which, of course, they don’t really pay, is “only a suggestion.” Our city council could ask the employees to pay the entire share demanded by CalPERS. Instead, they take the full 9 percent only from the lower-paid classified staffers, while management types who make upwards of $100,000/year get away with paying 4 percent and neither cops nor fire pay anything. 

But Mary Goloff has the nerve to stand up in front of the public, after what we heard about the misappropriation and outright mismanagement that’s been going on for the last six to eight years, and ask us to pay an increased sales tax? 

Is she on the hooch again? 

And then there’s Tom Lando, who walked unelected into a  board position at Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) because nobody else ran. Lando has made the rounds of many public agencies, oftentimes receiving a pretty nice “consulting fee” for serving as interim director of agencies like Feather River Recreation District. But what I see him doing, really, is networking these agencies – like the Chico Chamber, Enloe Hospital, CARD –  in support of raising taxes on the public to pay off the ever mounting pension debt at CalPERS.  His $143,000/year pension depends on keeping CalPERS afloat. (See Jan 30, 2012 “Here’s why Lando wants to raise your sales tax!”)

So, he keeps bringing up this sales tax increase idea at CARD, at every meeting we’ve attended. I don’t know if CARD can put a sales tax increase measure on the ballot, but a group of like-minded agencies could approach the city about it, and then run a pretty expensive campaign to pass it. 

We need to let them know, we will oppose it. We need to show them we’re ready to take out our wallets to fight it, just like Measure J. And we need to let them know, we’re ready to take our wallets to Paradise, Red Bluff and Oroville, Redding and Sacramento, to spend our sales taxes elsewhere. And, we’ll be shopping online. When we shop online, we may pay California sales tax, but Chico gets nothing, and Chico retailers suffer. 

So, write those letters, please. Write to the papers, but write to the players too –

  •  Mayor Mary Goloff at
  • Tom Lando at

If this campaign starts to pick up there are other people we should write to – including the full council, the chamber of commerce, DCBA, and CARD. We can’t just sit here while they run their propaganda machines against us. Get busy writing those letters. 





We need some better local leadership

17 Jun

I hate to criticize, really, but here’s an article from that says exactly what Brian Nakamura is afraid to tell us – the lukewarm measures he’s suggested for solving our city’s deficit will  take DECADES to have any effect. 

It just doesn’t seem sincere anyway. They say Chico PD hasn’t had raises since 2007? Well the lieutenants just got  raises, what do you call that? And while they make big whoop about these 53 lay-offs, they turn around and hire back more than half of them, and create a new position for Economic Development manager.

We need real reform, now. We need the public employees to pay for their own benefits, all of the them. We need to sue to roll back pensions of already retired employees – they didn’t make that deal with us, so why should we respect it? This is already being considered in other US cities. 

We need some leadership. 


Post-crisis reforms make pensions sustainable?

Written by Ed Mendel – March 12 2013 – from

 Originally posted at

A nationwide study, including CalPERS and CalSTRS, projects that huge pension fund losses during the financial crisis will be offset over three decades by a wave of recently enacted cost-cutting reforms — but only if several things happen.

–Pension fund earnings forecasts must hit their target. Critics say the forecasts, 7.5 percent a year for the two California funds, are overly optimistic and conceal massive debt.

–Government employers must make their actuarially required contribution to the pension fund each year. CalPERS has the power to demand full payment. CalSTRS contributions, frozen by legislation, are $4.5 billion a year short of the required amount.

–The cost-cutting reforms must not be rolled back. A state worker pension cut under former Gov. Pete Wilson in 1991 was followed by a major retroactive pension increase under former Gov. Gray Davis, the trendsetting SB 400 in 1999.

San Bernardino citizens’ group recalls mayor and council, even city attorney

17 Jun


I don’t think you have to be a vindictive person to be thinking “recall” right now. We have a majority of dummies on council who just seem to be digging us deeper into our grave. At least three of them – Scott Gruendl, Ann Schwab, and Mary Goloff – have been around long enough to see where we were headed, but mulishly denied there was any problem whatsover.

I’ll tell you what – at least a mule can walk the talk, mules being able to traverse long distances with neither food nor water. If a mule gets you into something, he will very likely be your best chance out.  Not these churlish whiners – they immediately set their heels right in their tracks,  blame us and our wanton desire to receive the services for which we’ve paid, and clack their brass balls at us wanting MORE MONEY.

But I’ve had experience with recalls – the first thing I remember, is how the state required the recall papers to be printed in seven different languages. I also vividly remember walking the recall petition – you really see the downside of your community when you seek out support for a political cause – even if many people agree with you, you get the thinnest, most pathetic excuses for non-participation, it’s just sickening. That experience was a real downer, not worth the trouble.

What we need to be throwing our energy into is finding two candidates for November 2014 to put Mary Goloff and Scott Gruendl out to pasture. We need to really vet people, find out exactly how they feel about such issues as pension reform and tax increases.  And then we need to get ready, physically, mentally and financially, to mount a campaign to get our candidates into office.




By Dan Oney — 03 May 2013 – from

San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government has notified all the members of the City Council as well as the City’s Mayor and City Attorney that they intend to throw them all out of office. The announcement, via press release, press conference, and the notices of intent to circulate a recall petition are the first steps in forcing a November 5 election to remove everyone from office.

“The City’s elected leaders must be held accountable for the current dismal condition of the City,” said Scott Beard, the responsible officer for the committee. “The Recall will lead to a more expedient exit from bankruptcy while paving the way for much needed reforms. San Bernardino needs new and cohesive leadership if residents are to see real economic revitalization.”

According to the group’s website, “[San Bernardino’s] elected leaders have failed to protect city residents and businesses, resulting in painful consequences. Dysfunction and infighting have paralyzed city hall while crime rates soar, businesses leave, and city services suffer. The City needs cohesive leadership to move forward and create economic revitalization.”

The consequences mentioned are detailed on the website as a veritable laundry list of grievances:

14.5% unemployment rate
$45 million budget shortfall
50% increase in homicides last year
Home values declined more than any other large city in the U.S., 2007 to 2011
Second only to Detroit as the poorest large city in the nation (Census Bureau)
A reduction in the availability and effectiveness of city services
Reductions in police and fire personnel
Delinquency in pension payments to CalPERS
City bond ratings cut
Longer police response times
Increased number of unfixed potholes and streetlights
Parks and public spaces filled with trash, graffiti and nuisance crimes

In order to qualify the recall for the Mayor and City Attorney, the group must collect signatures from15 percent of registered voters Citywide . To recall each council member, the group must collect 25 percent of registered voters from their respective wards.

Those targeted for recall are gearing up for the fight, with Councilman John Valdivia saying the group can, “Bring it on. Exclamation mark, exclamation mark.”

City Attorney James Penman said the recall group is funded by out-of-town interests and members of former councils who helped drive the City to bankruptcy.

Read more about the recall at the Group’s website, and more about responses from within San Bernardino at the San Bernardino Sun.


Denial, Anger – is this Bargaining?

15 Jun

I noticed people are reading an almost year-old old post, “Mary Goloff and Jim Walker gang jump Mark Sorensen on the dias”, and I gave it a read myself. How funny – Mark Sorensen trying, very gently I thought, to tell the rest of the nit-wits on council how he thought we’d overspent on salaries for various  programs and over-priced land for  housing projects, and Mary Goloff coming at him like a bull at a toreador.  Jim Walker was nasty too, showing his true personality – catty, insulting, trash talking.  They took turns sparring at Sorensen, pelting him with questions only to interrupt him as soon as he started giving an intelligent answer. It was like a junior high gang jump – “hey Bitch, whatchoo doin’ hangin’ round Jimmee? Whatchoo mean, you don’t like Jimmee? What the helz wrong with Jimmee you stuck up Bitch?!”

But now, look at Mary Goloff – she’s stepping and fetching to show us how fiscally responsible she is. See her playing all hard-ass with the Chico Certified Farmer’s Market, kicking them out of their almost-free location on Second Street and moving them to Downtown Plaza, where they will pay more for one day than they currently pay for a year at the parking lot on Second Street.   And, in the same agenda, renting Bidwell Park out to a for-profit outfit for an obstacle course foot race that is supposed to attract some 950 or more people to the neighborhoods along Lower Bidwell Park. 

What next – I’m afraid to say anything, even tongue in cheek. But I won’t forget how she kicked and screamed to throw the conversation off the tracks every time it got down to brass tacks. She denied we had any financial problems, getting angry whenever somebody tried to broach the subject of  trimming some fat.  

Now she’s the first one in line with a plate when it comes to BBQ’ing sacred cows like the Saturday Market and Bidwell Park. 

We need to come up with something better for 2014.

FROM JULY 3 2012 – “Mary Goloff and Jim Walker gang jump Mark Sorensen on the dais…”

I’m sitting here in disbelief of the attack I just watched Mary Goloff and Jim Walker wage on Mark Sorensen at city council tonight. I couldn’t make the meeting, so I have been watching it via computer. 

Sorensen had been challenged by a smarmy Jim Walker to list what changes he would make to balance the budget. Sorensen carefully began to explain that city funds had been depleted by millions over the last few years, with escalating costs leaving revenues in the dirt. He also explained that the lion’s share of our expenses are “operating costs,” meaning, salaries. He also carefully explained that there were programs we simply could not afford anymore, meaning, salaries. 

Mary Goloff could be heard heckling him off microphone. If you or I did what she was doing we’d be asked to leave the room, possibly with police escort. But Mayor Schwab just sat there looking at Goloff, saying nothing.  Goloff  finally got on mike, interrupted Sorensen, and asked him to be specific. So, Sorensen offered housing, saying it had been a mistake to undertake so many housing projects, and he also specified the arts programs – such as the requirement that any capital project include one percent of the total cost of that project be added for art. 

At this point Goloff began to interrupt Sorensen. She started heckling him about how “we all agree” that the arts are important, yadda, yadda. She just kept at Sorensen, not allowing him to answer any of her out-there questions, until Sorensen asked her to stop interrupting him. 

After a quick exchange Walker butted in to attack Sorensen. Out of nowhere, Walker bashed Sorensen about wanting to spend more money on the police department, asking Sorensen where he would get the money to hire more police. This question was off base, Sorensen hadn’t even gotten that far before Goloff had completely derailed him.

 Jim  Walker is just sitting out his time, he seems to be enjoying himself at all of our expense. He, like so many “public servants,” seems to think he is elected to do what he wants, what seems like “the right thing” in his fairy tale mind,  instead of carry out the law. 

Mary Goloff seems to think she has been anointed Queen in some farcical aquatic ceremony to lead us all in the light of her cough syrup-induced wisdom.  She seems to love the sound of her own voice, while here at my house, it sets off the hounds for blocks. 

My computer started failing at this point, and I was unable to watch the rest of the meeting. I am going on vacation tomorrow, I’ll see you folks on the flip flop.  

Surprise Surprise! City’s not really laying off 53 people – get ready for a major sales tax pitch

14 Jun

Oh gee, isn’t that just ginchee! The city won’t have to lay off these folks after all – they “care so much about this community” that they will be given lesser positions. At lesser wages? That isn’t spelled out, I wouldn’t assume anything. It looks to me like they were really after only 18, and now that  they got rid of those, the others will take little or no pay cut. And, they’ll still get their EPMC, just watch.

This was just a ploy to make all of us feel bad about these poor employees – pobrecitos! – who’ve sacrificed so much!  I’m sorry, stop shoveling bullshit onto my plate, I’m not eating it.

Get ready for an intensive sales tax increase pitch, and get ready to be surprised who else is behind it.



Many pink-slipped employees to stay with city of Chico

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

Posted:   06/14/2013 12:06:27 AM PDT

CHICO — All but three employees issued pink slips last week by the city of Chico who have bumping rights have elected to use them to retain jobs.

Assistant City Manager Mark Orme said Thursday that of the 53 employees who received layoff notices last week, 35 had the option of using displacement rights to continue working for the city in a different capacity. Of those, one person elected to retire and two others will accept the layoff.

Employees had until Wednesday to notify the city of their decision.

“What is going to happen is we are going to go through the process of determining where these people can bump to and where they will end up,” Orme said.

To close a $4.8 million budget deficit, at least 40 full-time equivalent positions are slated for elimination in next year’s budget proposal, with cuts affecting every city department. Some positions are already vacant or upcoming retirements.

Any employees who could have potentially been affected by a bump were also issued layoff notices as a precaution, to be “comprehensive and fair with everybody from the start,” Orme said.

The city brought in the Employment Development Department and Unemployment Insurance for career counseling Thursday, and a presentation on the employee assistance program was Wednesday.

“They’ve had the opportunity to sit down and listen to these folks, they can ask questions, they can receive help if they need it and understand the entirety of the situation they are facing,”

Orme said.

“It was the most compassionate approach the city could take to make sure employees had every option available at this time.”

The number of employees who wish to stay with the city is a positive indicator, Orme said.

“What we’ve seen is the employees that care so much about this community and have dedicated so much time to the city of Chico that regardless of the position they find themselves in as this progresses forward, they are still ready and willing to serve the public in whatever capacity that might be,” he said.

Eighteen people who were issued pink slips did not have bumping rights. Any layoffs are contingent upon approval by the City Council, which will be discussing the 2013-14 budget Tuesday during an all-day study session.

My guess: Mary Goloff is kicking the farmers off the parking lot so she can sell a parking lot to Tom DiGiovanni

13 Jun

I got some freaked out e-mails, and then I read the story in the paper this morning – Mary Gol0ff is calling for an end to the Farmer’s Market agreement? Wow, what got up her ass? 

At first I thought she was just desperate to raise revenues, desperate enough to nickel and dime the Farmer’s Market? 

No, that’s not it – compared to our current deficit, the annual fees for every Saturday morning at the plaza wouldn’t amount to a drop in the bucket. I’m going to throw this out there – they want to surplus a parking lot – maybe even THAT parking lot – and they want the CCFM offa there.   Whether they are planning to sell that lot the farmers are on now, or whether they just want to free up Saturday morning parking on paper so they can surplus that other lot over on Salem, I don’t know. I do know, Tom DiGiovanni has proposed major developments –  “live-work” units –  for both of those sites, as well as other Downtown lots. 

The Downtown parking discussion has been, like the farmer’s market discussion, a political football. The Friends of Downtown and many people from the Certified Farmer’s Market have added nothing to the discussion, raising an hysterical howl that blots out any intelligent conversation on the matter. I’m tired of hearing about the merits of the farmer’s market – that’s not the real issue here.   It’s been impossible to get anybody Downtown, except ex-mayor Carl Ory, to admit there are plans being discussed to put residential development on city-owned parking lots. Tom DiGiovanni has been pushing this plan for years.

A view of the creekside promenade envisioned as part of New Urban Builders’ proposed East First Street project, circa 2005.IMAGE COURTESY OF ENVISION DESIGN, BERKELEY

This picture above is the plan for the old Wascomat building currently occupied by businesses like Solutions Cubed and the Little Red Hen. Retail on the bottom, offices on the second floor, small high-end apartments on top. And cement right up to the creek, with a small public walkway. The plan includes NO PARKING. None of New Urban’s plans call for parking.  They will bring residents Downtown without providing for their cars. 

I know, I’ve said, there is currently no lack of parking Downtown. I mean, there are plenty of spaces to accommodate the folks who currently go Downtown, even if they can’t expect to pull right up to the  front door of the business they are patronizing.  

But I realize, that’s during the week day.  At night, when restaurants are busy, or when the Thursday Market has streets shut down, and on weekends when people drive in, those precious out-of-town shopper we are losing hand-over-fist, there is a parking shortage. Try patronizing a restaurant – you have to drop the family off on the curb at go look for a spot. Try picking up to-go food – thank god my kids have gotten old enough to drive, that’s another two man job – drop one person off at the curb and circle the block waiting for them to appear with the bag. 

No, I don’t feel any need at present for a parking structure – not unless Downtown property owners will pay for it. I won’t have a bond put on my property taxes to pay for something that benefits a small portion of the city. They need to come up with the money from assessments of Downtown  property owners. Why should Raley’s pay property taxes on their parking lot to subsidize Downtown businesses? 

But neither am I interested in surplussing lots. That’s desperation on Goloff’s part. She’s freaking out. She’s just realized why they let her be the mayor. 

When we had the surplus parking lot discussion Downtown a month or so ago, Brian Nakamura put the kybosh on any talk of what the parking lots would be used for when they are surplussed. He’s no dummy, he knows the idea of live-work units is not going over good, and he doesn’t want it to muck up the conversation about selling the lots. He’s just desperate to raise revenues right now, he doesn’t want some community roaring up his ass. 

Well, back to work, I want to get my dinner made by noon, so I don’t have to work in a hot kitchen later.