Staff has hit a beehive with a rock – they better run!

7 Jul

It’s Sunday and I’m feeling religious – THANK YOU GOD for bringing Abigail Lopez to our meeting this morning. Actually, truth be told, thanks to Jim in Chico for contacting Abigail and telling her about our meeting. Jim also has the power to move things, make things happen. 

Abigail brought us an update on her efforts to stop the closure of Caper Acres – here’s the letter she sent to the Enterprise Record:

One-Mile and Caper Acres are among the most visited attractions in Chico. Caper Acres is arguably the best park in town, and most certainly the one that offers the most shade and security. Generations of children have grown up playing there, and to cut park hours so that homemakers or parents who work non-traditional hours are unable to bring their children there is unfair and unconscionable. It makes no sense to close one of the best free sources of entertainment for children on weekdays during the height of summer.

In addition, closing restrooms that are needed by scores of visitors is short-sighted and will only result in increased maintenance costs when less scrupulous visitors elect to use the bushes as a toilet. It is also unfair to children, the elderly, and those with disabilities, as many have conditions that make it difficult to hold their bladders for any length of time.

Closing Caper Acres and several restrooms is a poor choice for Chico. I believe we can find a way via volunteers and donations to keep the park open in its current capacity. The citizens of Chico need to know exactly what would be required to maintain the park’s current availability. I have created a Facebook group called Caper Acres Volunteers to address this and will be contacting city officials to find out exactly what we as a community can do to keep our park the way it is.

— Tanya “Abigail” Lopez, Chico

I’m thrilled to have new people in the conversation. Abigail even read the budget to get ready for this conversation, that’s determination. I’m so glad to get new people involved in this discussion, but it’s so much better to talk to somebody who cared enough to read the documents and even  call various staffers to get explanations. Thanks so much Abigail for bringing something to the table. 

Of course, the meeting went all over the place. I read my notes later and think, “What the hell!?!” But mostly we talked about the real reasons for our fiscal distress – salaries, benefits and pensions. We talked about the employee contracts, which are only good through December, and will therefore be up for discussion from here on in.

We need to keep on top of this discussion, as best we can, being held off by the forehead by council and staff. The two sides, by way of negotiator Brian Nakamura and a human relations firm hired by the city, will each make their offers, chew them up, and spit them out with demands both ways. It’s just like you’d imagine – a total Repo-Man grab, with pushing and shoving, nose-twisting, shin kicking, and best of all – threats from unions to bring out their big wallets at election time to punish or reward councilors who vote the right or wrong way. 

The biggest issue in the contracts, for me, the simplest, clearest issue, is the payment of the benefits and pensions premiums. Right now, most city employees pay little or nothing toward their packages. Only the lowest paid, “classified staff” pay their full 9 percent share. Management pays 4 percent, which is less than half the suggested “employee share”, the fire dept pays 2 percent, and the  cops PAY NOTHING toward pensions of 90 percent of their highest year’s pay available at age 50. 

Just the “employee’s share” costs the city over $2 million a year. Nakamura is only trying to shave about $5 million from the budget right now, that $2 million would go a little ways toward his goal, wouldn’t it?

Right now we have one city councilor, Randall Stone, who has come to a CTA meeting and said he’ll press employees to pay their suggested 9 percent share, all of them. Stone has been taking heat from the fire department for being honest – we need to support him with more letters to the editor and also to council.

Scott Gruendl has also made comments to the Enterprise Record indicating he’d like to see the employees pay their share. Gruendl is up for re-election in November 2014, so we need to hold those remarks to his butt like a torch. 

We also need to remind him, he approved those contracts, as well as the MOU that linked salaries to revenue increases but not decreases. Mary Goloff also signed the contracts that gave public safety workers their incredibly generous benefits and pensions packages for little or nothing out of their own pockets. Mary actually went on and on about how great the contracts were at that time, thanking staff up and down for doing her job for her. I’m guessing she never even read the damned things. Jim Walker admitted same, almost like, “duh – who reads that stuff?

We need to tell these folks that the closure of a playground is not going to come out as they intended. I think they expected to throw a rock at a beehive, and those mad bees would all say, “hey Chico, you need to pay more taxes to keep our playground open!” After I met Abigail today, I think the bees are going to turn on the rock throwers. 


2 Responses to “Staff has hit a beehive with a rock – they better run!”

  1. Sue July 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    It’s great to see young people like Abigail taking an interest in city politics. We need more young people to get involved. Maybe this Caper Acres issue will bring them out.

    • Juanita Sumner July 9, 2013 at 4:36 am #

      I hope so too. When I went over to the park today and saw they’d gone so far as to lock up the parking lot at One Mile, I got really mad. This is illegal. We need to take this right up their asses with a picket protest at the city building.

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