Archive | December, 2013

What happens to the revelers after they are arrested Downtown? How about some accountability for the $60,000 spent over four days of Halloween?

20 Dec

A month or so ago I read an article (posted below) in the Enterprise Record regarding the dollar total for police enforcement over Halloween weekend. Over a four day stretch the cops reportedly rang up over $60,000 in regular hours and overtime, it’s all spelled out down there, thank you Almendra Carpizo. 

Lately I’ve been looking over arrest reports – something I found a few years back when I was researching potential tenants. I try to keep an eye on those, which are available online – I just google “Chico police arrest reports,” and usually the most recent ones pop right up. I’ve never kept notes, or tried to make any long term study. What I’ve been doing lately is checking the names on the arrest logs over at the Butte County Superior Court website. I realize, it may take some time to update the court website.  I haven’t been doing this too long, but I will start writing down names and dates on the drunk in public stuff, and then I’ll try to check back to see how many of these drunk in public arrests actually make their way to court.

I’ve been told, Ramsey won’t prosecute, his office is understaffed and overbooked, yadda yadda.  Not to mention, he seems to have been carrying at least one staffer with perpetual hangover the last few years. Whatever the reason, the fact remains – the city of Chico is spending millions of dollars a year on cops who arrest people who are never formally charged with a crime, never prosecuted, and therefore, never tapped for their share of the cost. 

I asked Chief Trostle about it.

Sent to Chief Trostle, Dec 3 2013:  I have a question about arrests made over Halloween, St. Patricks and other high enforcement “holidays”. I was not sure who to ask, so I have sent to you four.  I’ve cc’d the news folks because I thought they’d be interested, or maybe they know something that can shed light here. 

 

My question: what happens to these arrestees? How many are charged formally? How many convictions, generally speaking? How much is collected in fines from these people? If you do the math for this recent Halloween, it cost about $600 per person to make there arrests, how will that money be retrieved? 

 

Thanks, at your convenience, for either answering my questions or forwarding me to someone who can  – Juanita Sumner, Chico

Response rec’d Dec 4 2013:

Ms. Sumner,

I received your email and questions regarding arrests, convictions, and fines.  I wish I had access to that type of information, but unfortunately it doesn’t exist.  I can tell you that during the special events (ie Halloween, St. Patrick’s day, etc.), everyone we arrest is booked into the county jail and charged.  This is different than most of the rest of the year.  For most of the year, people arrested for things such as drunk in public, are not formally charged.  This is mostly due to the workload of the District Attorney’s Office.

 

We do not receive a report from the DA’s Office regarding convictions or fines.  When a case is adjudicated by the courts, we do not receive any notice of the final outcome.  That is also true with potential fines.  It is possible to go to the court’s website and research cases by name, but that is a very time consuming process which we have never had the staff to complete.  Sorry I don’t have more information for you.

 

Ford Porter

Captain

Chico Police Department

I had to thank Captain Porter for his response, but I find it very frustrating, and unacceptable. Here they hold their hand out for more money every Halloween – not to mention, Cesar Chavez Day?  But they don’t have any kind of figures on what becomes of their arrests? That’s just inexcusable un-accountability.  

Again I will quote that old Yiddish saying – When the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish that stinks!  Here we have a many-headed fish, a monster sporting the heads of Scott Gruendl, Mark Sorensen – the whole council, in fact – along with Brian Nakamura and Kirk Trostle. This is why we have elections folks. It’s time to wrap up some fish and huck it into the bin. 

Chico Police Department reveals salary costs of patrolling Halloween weekend

By ALMENDRA CARPIZO-Staff Writer

POSTED:   12/03/2013 12:00:00 AM PST

CHICO — The Chico Police Department spent more than $60,000 to patrol downtown and the area south of the Chico State University campus from 6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 6 a.m. Nov. 3, according to the department.Chico police used about 1,380 staff hours during that period, mostly due to regular shifts or shift adjustments, according to a press release prepared by Chico Police Lt. George Laver.

“Numerous officers (including detectives) had their shifts adjusted to work Halloween night in an attempt to alleviate overtime,” he stated.

The police chief, captains, lieutenants, detectives, other sworn staff and dispatchers who would normally work during the day were required to work the three nights to help with the event, Laver told the Enterprise-Record on the phone.

The only exceptions were for personnel working a day shift — about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and a few other officers.

The amount of staff that worked is what would be expected, because “unfortunately” that’s what the department has had to do for the last 20 years, Laver said.

“It’s one of the days or events that we have circled in the books and everyone knows that there’s no vacations … A ‘don’t even bother’ type of thing,” he said.

The costs of the extra staffing were just over $42,000 in regular wages and an extra $20,000 for overtime, according to Laver, who oversaw the Halloween operation.

Those wages reflect the people who were pulled from their assignments to work specifically on Halloween weekend and were dedicated to the campus area and downtown, Laver said. There were two teams that were on duty to patrol the rest of Chico, but the amount of money to staff those teams was not included as to not skew the data.

Halloween 2012 took $53,000 out of the department’s overtime pay, and it was expecting to spend about $70,000 to $75,000 in total this year.

Although the figure was smaller than first thought, Halloween weekend costs the department two training days to accommodate for the event and stay on budget.

Typically, the Chico Police Department trains once a month with the department splitting in half and alternating months, Laver said. Training days scheduled for November and January had to be canceled in order to save on overtime.

If the Police Department wouldn’t have done that, overtime costs would be over or comparable to last year, Laver said.

Laver said that during the Halloween weekend there appeared to be fewer arrests than years prior, but he’s unsure why. There were 99 arrests, 84 alcohol-related, according to police.

People may say not to worry and let people have their fun and only respond if there’s a problem, Laver said. However, a situation can quickly become a crowd-control issue and the Police Department won’t be able to muster enough resources to handle it.

Outside agencies like the Butte, Glenn and Tehama County sheriff’s offices, several Butte County police departments, and the Butte County Probation Department donated 686 staff hours to help Chico police during Halloween weekend, according to Laver. The AVOID the 8 DUI Task Force provided an additional 64 hours of enforcement.

“It’s a tremendous help to have those agencies here,” he said.

Laver said he’d like for things to get back to where the Chico Police Department could staff Halloween weekend with its regular shifts or just one extra team.

All the money saved could be used for increased staffing for the remainder of the year, he said. He recalled 1989 as the last year the Police Department had its regular staffing out for the event.

Government reports show a gap between public and private sector salaries in Chico – public salaries still way ahead

19 Dec

Thanks Kelly for sending me that link to State Controller John Chiang’s website:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/Cities.aspx

There I found some of the latest statistics on the city of Chico, it’s residents, and it’s  employees:

Chico

Residents: 87,671

Employees: 471

Residents per employee: 186

Average wages: $67,645

Average retirement & health cost: $31,940

Total wages: $31,860,950

Total retirement & health cost: $15,043,727

I also like to look at the US Census “Quick Facts” website, here’s the page for Chico:

 

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06/0613014.html

There you’ll see, it looks like the latest figure for median household income has actually gone up since the last time I checked – it used to be around $38,000, now they have it listed at about $42,000. Well, whoop – eee.  Above you see the “average” wage for a city of Chico worker listed at $67,645.

I know, “median,” and “average” are two different things. “Median” is funny – you stack up the numbers – which may be wildly different from each other, or may be very much the same – from most to least, and then you pick the number that is physically dead center in the middle. What does that mean? And “average” – you add up a stack of numbers, which, again, may be very similar or may be wildly different, and then you divide by the number of numbers. Again, what does that mean? 

Excuse me, I don’t even want to get started on “mean.”

Anyway, when I researched this matter, I found a salary study that showed “average” and “median” salary figures for Phoenix, Arizona. These figures were within a few dollars of each other. Don’t ask me how that works. But, I’m going to assume that the figures are similar here, and I’m going to compare the “average” salary I got for public workers with the “median” salary I got for the general public. There’s a gap of about $25,000. 

At this moment, I’d like to make it known to any of you city of Chico workers out there, I’m available for lunch most weekdays.  I have very inexpensive tastes – I like restaurants on wheels. In fact, since you’ll be paying, I could be persuaded to come out to the Farmer’s Market some Saturday morning for a quick tamale. 

I can’t be bought, but I could be adopted. 

You can put a dress on a pig, but you don’t fool us – it’s a GARBAGE TAX!

16 Dec

At tomorrow’s city council meeting, there’s a vague item on the agenda regarding a $100,000 budget appropriation from the not-so-aptly-named “Emergency Fund” for another consultant. If you didn’t read the item you might not know, it’s about the garbage franchise zones that Brian Nakamura is trying to flop on us. He’s lied all the way through on this one, telling us alternately, it would get trucks off our streets, bring in fees to fix streets, that it would give us more control over the haulers so they couldn’t use “their old trucks” here, among other accusations, and finally, that the companies would have to perform “free” services, such as street sweeping and emptying the cans in our public parks. 

On that last note, I’d like to point out, Park Staff used to empty the trash cans in the park. This involved one or two guys wearing appropriate clothing and gloves, lifting 33 gallon trash bags out of the stationery cans, picking up any errant trash, and tossing it all into the back of a city pick-up truck. Now we have a gi-normous WM truck trolling through the park. They come in on days when the gates are closed, so the driver must have a key to the gate, or a staffer who goes over and lets the truck in and out, I don’t know. The cans are off the road, so the driver can’t get them with the truck – I’ve seen him at 5 Mile. He has to park the truck and walk over to take the bag from the can. I’ve never seen a WM driver pick trash up off the ground, he’s just walked right by it on his way from can to can. I don’t blame them at what they get paid, they shouldn’t have to bend and stoop to pick up trash off the ground. 

I’m guessing it’s cheaper to have WM do the parks because their drivers don’t get a fraction of the pay that our park workers got, and they only get the nominal worker’s comp, no benefits or pension. But, the trucks are literally “trashing” the park road, just like they trash streets all over town, and the smell of exhaust hangs in the air for a good 10 minutes after the truck has left. 

As for Nakamura’s claim that people have complained there are too many trash trucks on the street, I’ve asked him for those letters, e-mails, transcripts of phone calls – all of which are part of the public record. He has never even answered those requests. I don’t believe he has any such complaints, because as soon as I came at him with that question, he started saying the new fees from the Franchise Agreement would go to fix the streets. Like the Castaways said, “Liar!” The city already gets about $20,000 a year in license fees from the haulers, and this money disappears into salaries and benefits, along with the receipts from the Gas Tax. 

Another claim Nakamura made was that our haulers “dump” their old trucks here, bringing in old trucks from the bigger cities, where Nakamura claims the air quality restrictions are higher? Some people will feed you anything, don’t leave your mouth open too long. I wasn’t the only one to call BULLSHIT! here – Joe Matz, from Recology was pretty offended by these accusations, but kept a cool head in reminding us that ALL California has the same air quality and safety restrictions on any motor vehicle, and those accusations were just pulled right out of Brian Nakamura’s ass.

So now Nakamura is desperately trying to tell us that with a FA, he can “make” the haulers do extra chores, like street sweeping, park clean-ups, community clean-ups. No, we will all pay the haulers do that stuff, when we are already paying city staff to do that stuff. We pay for all of that in our property taxes, even those of us who don’t dump our backyard leaves in the street, even those of us who don’t leave trash in the park, even those of us who don’t throw garbage on the  ground, but pick up the trash of others and dispose of it in our own garbage cans at home.

Please write letters to council and the newspapers rejecting this garbage franchise. It’s just a sneaky way of getting the ratepayers to pay more taxes to pay for Nakamura’s sweet pension.

Sustainability Task Force meeting a lesson on “open meetings” law

14 Dec

Well, I’m so glad I attended Thursday nights Sustainability Task Force meeting, it was very enlightening.  In swearing in this new committee, Debbie Presson gave a very informative presentation on the Brown Act.

I will say, Mark Stemen is very businesslike, can run these meetings without the sickening banter and chit-chat that added hours. But, I will ask committee member Mike Rubio to pay attention. At 5:30 staffer Brandon Vieg noted that two members had not arrived, one of whom, Bill Loker, had notified staff that he would not be able to make it. Vieg suggested the group wait a few more minutes for Rubio.  After a few minutes, committee member Cheri Chastain pulled out her cell phone and called Rubio. She opened the conversation with the usual casual greeting banter, then asked, “Got anything special going on tonight?” Then a pause, then a snicker, and she hung up the phone. From the conversation, I got the distinct impression that Mr. Rubio was sitting in front of his boob tube, but I could be wrong. He said he was only a couple of blocks away, and would make haste in getting to the meeting.

Excuse me for all the cusswords I wrote in my notes regarding Mr. Rubio, but the agenda for this meeting, as Vieg repeated several times, was very simple, and the meeting should have been over pretty quick.  I was counting on getting home in time for the beginning of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” – one of the top ten greatest sci-fi movies ever made, and the last time I’d seen it offered on broadcast tv I was about 8 years old.  It’s one of my fave’s but I don’t have time to sit around collecting videos, so when I heard it was going to be on tv, I cemented my plans, damn the jumbling incompetency of committee members.

I’ll give Rubio this much – he was there within 10 minutes, and the meeting was called to order at 5:40. But this precedent doesn’t set well with me – like so many of these feel-good committee members, Rubio  is completely oblivious to what 10 minutes of staff time can cost.  And,  Vieg was there as a substitute, after his day should have been done, and it’s just disrespectful, okay Mike?  Presson acts like she doesn’t mind, but she makes a remark here and there that says otherwise, you know, like your friend’s mom, when she doesn’t have the nerve to tell you to go home.

Let’s just take a time out here, think about this.  I just wrote two posts regarding the Finance Committee meeting I attended earlier this week.  The whole time I sat in on that cost allocation conversation I wondered how much these meetings cost. I had heard a figure of $10,000 tossed onto the STF a couple of years ago at a council meeting – and I and some others present knew that figure was not right, because staffer Linda Herman was making over $80,000/year just in salary, primarily attending to the activities of the STF. I knew the STF cost more than $10,000 a year, give me a break. Well, Debbie Presson answered my question the other night – “In 2006, we ID’d over $750,000 [in staff time] going into boards and commissions…”  That, of course, would include her time, at $134,000/year salary plus benies and 96 percent of her pension cost. Plus the cost of lights and sewer to her office while she was actually working on those reports.

Presson, at that point in her presentation, was explaining why the meetings were stopped as of March this year, and a whole new committee was formed. Frankly, I think they were really overthrowing Schwab, who has become somewhat of a pariah on council these days. But, why argue after a purge, just get to the business of rounding up the disembodied heads and cleaning up the blood stains.

So, the meeting was called to order and Debbie Presson swore in the group  – wouldn’t it be funny, if they just had to stand there while this pretty, petite lady laid into them with a bunch of tawdry language? No, it was nothing like that – but I enjoyed it. They promised to protect the US and California constitutions, which I find highly amusing since everything about their dumb plans seems more like an assault on those constitutions.  

But it got good when Presson launched into a great presentation on the  Brown Act. Excuse me, I love this stuff, I wish I had popcorn. All these years I’ve been suspicious about various activities Downtown, and yeah, I had every right to be. The stories Presson told – here’s my fave: after she gave this presentation to a past council, one member said, “the best meetings we’ve had have been at Duffy’s.”  In Presson’s words relating that story, “I almost had a heart attack.” She didn’t tell us how she handled that one, suffice to say, I’ve heard her warn these people on various occasions, and apparently, she’s got to be constantly on watch. Which is impossible, let’s face it. That story told me, these people are only as good as we expect them to be. I’m sure, I know alot of people, several members of my own chat group, who seem to think it’s okay to violate the rules, if it’s your group that’s doing it!  Silly old rules!

The basic premise of the Brown Act, according to Presson, is that “it was designed to ensure the public has a chance to participate…to hear your deliberations…”  In other words, the public needs to know what or who influenced the decisions that are being made by our public boards and commissions. She went on, “a small group behind closed doors precludes the chances of the public being able to participate…”

Here I would like to say, these poorly noticed, badly attended meetings, by her definition, should be considered a violation of the Brown Act. It’s just so subjective, and Staff gets to make the determination when there’s been a violation. If you complain to the Fair Political Practices Commission, it’s your word against an officer of the court, great, that’s going to fly. 

Years ago, a group of connected conservatives came up with the “RDA Citizens Oversight Commitee,” which was taken in under the umbrella of city commissions. But, the city wouldn’t give them a staffer, just allowed them to have meetings, including e-mail chat sessions, without any notification process, no minutes or agendas, and no staffer attached to keep records of their conversations. But, these people were expected to be allowed to make recommendations to council regarding the spending of our then flush RDA fund. It was like a group of people found a big bag of cocaine, and thought, “wow, this is the greatest stuff I have ever had, I better spread it around my selected friends…” They just went nuts. One member of the group successfully lobbied for the use of funds to help Enloe with it’s expansion, another member unsuccessfully lobbied for an $8 million aquatic center. 

I tried to monitor these conversations, all the while screaming that it was in violation of the Brown Act. I was right, the RDA COC was eventually canned, in a very heated discussion, during which council member Dan Herbert made it very clear they had to have a staffer to be legal, and the city could not afford to appoint a staffer at that time. I was mad because they wouldn’t appoint a staffer, but I had to agree with Herbert. What the RDA COC actually amounted to was a completely inappropriate favoritism of certain members of the public. You know, like the Park Commission is run by the Friends of the Park, but at least it’s all in the record. 

The Brown Act is very simple, and Presson was very clear the other night. For example,  no majority (half or more of  the members) of a commission is allowed to have these casual conversations regarding “business that is before the committee or commission or task force” without making every formal effort to include the public. The meetings have to be at a standard time, noticed within 72 hours to the public, etc. The rules are very strict. Check this out – these are instances of violations. I’ll use the example of a 7 member committee, like the STF, with a majority of 4. 

  • Daisy Chain: Member A calls Member B to discuss business before the group. Then Member B calls Member C – at this point they are okay. But then, Member C calls Member D, and there you have it – BUSTED!
  • Hub and Spoke: A staffer (hub) calls one member of the group (spoke), that member calls another – if this conversation goes to a third member of the committee, it constitutes a majority – BUSTED!

I think these two examples illustrate how careful a board member must be, and should be. Think about it – this is how the Esplanade League tried to control the filling of the late Colleen Jarvis’ seat. They lobbied  members of council via e-mail – Scott Gruendl, Dan Nguyen-Tan, and Maureen Kirk – and got those members’ “guarantee” that they would vote to place Michael Stauffer in Jarvis’ seat. That is illegal. When I came forward with the e-mail in which they announced their clandestine activities, it caused a ruckus that resulted in Jarvis’ seat remaining empty until the next election. It should have resulted in FPPC fines for the three councilors involved, but I didn’t know I could do that at the time.  It takes a pile of paperwork, the FPPC is not exactly user friendly. But when Larry Wahl made some decisions as a Planning Commissioner without announcing that he’d taken campaign contributions from some of the principals in those actions, he was fined about $12,000.

Presson reported that at the very least, a violation could result in the invalidation of the action taken out of the illegal discussion.

She tried to assure the commissioners – it’s not a violation to have coffee together, attend an event together – as long as they don’t discuss “business before the board.”

Here’s the slippery slope for me – harken back to the Duffy’s story. You know damn well these people have inappropriate conversations, not only among themselves, but with PACS like the Esplanade League and the Friends of the Park, etc. You know damned well neither Presson nor the public at large could possibly ferret out every inappropriate conversation these people have, and I’ll add  – you know damned well issues are deliberated and decisions are made behind our backs every fucking day.

Right now I have major concerns about the Economic Development Committee. These meetings went underground sometime last fall, with talk of alternating the regular meetings, held at city hall, with every other month a meeting at a local business. When I pressed them, they assured me that those meetings would be public and noticed, but they weren’t convincing. How could the public be invited, at large, into a private business? Then staffer Shawn Tillman expressed doubt about noticing these meetings – what business owner was going to agree to that? The committee assured me I’d be noticed, but I never was. Finally, after some carping, I got this e-mail from Brian Nakamura way back on November 21:

 I wanted to let you know that due to the holidays and recent departure of Mr. Tillman we are scheduling the next EDC meeting for Wednesday December 18 and will not have the November meeting.

As of now, there is no listing on the agendas page. Of course, Presson noted the 72 hours law, and also implied that at the city of  Chico, Saturday is considered a “business” day. That only matters for deadlines, meaning, when you have an appeal to the city, you have to count Saturdays in that “15 days” you have to get your paperwork in. And it means, Presson doesn’t have to post the council agenda til Saturday before a meeting if she doesn’t feel like it. She reminded us the other night, it’s a nice thing she does sending out the agenda the previous Wednesday, she doesn’t have to.   So, I guess I have to wait until Monday to be formally noticed for this Economic Development meeting. We’ll see what happens.

Now, sorry if you were waiting to hear all about Sustainability – you actually did. See, we have to figure out – are  these Sustainability Task Force meetings sustainable?

Finance Committee meeting, Part 2: here’s how the Capital Projects fund ends up over $3 million in the red

14 Dec

I was in such a hurry to flop out that post yesterday, I didn’t explain what made me so mad about that Finance Committee meeting. 

They were talking about the cost allocation study recently completed by a consultant. A cost allocation study is a breakdown of the costs related to doing business with each department in the city – everything from salaries and benefits of department employees  to that department’s share of the muni building water bill on the day they were working on a project.    Not only is this good information to know when council is making decisions on various projects, but it’s necessary to receive payment for those employees when they work on any project funded by a federal grant. 

Because we don’t have this study, we have gone seriously into the red doing these federal projects. The Capitol Projects fund is over by more than $3 million dollars as they’ve tapped it to pay the salaries of the employees who’ve been involved, in the tiniest way, in these projects. They wouldn’t tell me which projects, and I’m not going into the research, but I’ll use a state-funded project as an example.

For several years staff worked toward this Downtown remodel – the stupid roundabouts and re-striping, etc, etc, a project that has at last report already gone at least a million over budget. They racked up hours and hours on that project, and all those hours, along with the air-conditioning bill, were supposed to be paid by that project.   Staff will tell you, that project was paid for with state grants – as though, that’s not our tax money too? Well, don’t forget – for any grant, we have to match funds out of the city coffers, so stop letting them act like these grants are free manna from Heaven.

In the case of state grants, staff tells us, we are able to charge staff costs to the grant. But, I’m going to guess, without this cost allocation crap, we weren’t able to recoup as much money as we should have. And, don’t forget, a lot of it gets paid out of the matching funds.  Furthermore, in the case of projects done with federal grants, we are not allowed to even charge for the employees. We pay them and all the bills related to keeping them in a building right out of the Capital Projects Fund. That’s why that fund is over $3 million in the red. 

The problem here is still our stupid council. They have approved these projects, millions and millions of red dollars, without any concern for what they would actually do to our budget. If they didn’t know this stuff, they should have – they tell us, especially those fucking idiots Goloff and  Morgan, that we elected them to make decisions for us, we’re supposed to sit back and trust them to know what the hell they’re doing. 

That, my friends, is the joke, and unfortunately it is on us. 

Finance Committee meeting, Part 1: Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop, nobody knows…

13 Dec

This week I went to a couple of meetings, Finance and Sustainability Task Force. 

Go ahead, call me simplistic, but so many others, particularly bureaucrats, like to spend their time making things more complicated than they really are. These finance committee meetings are starting to blur together on me, they are so repetitive. Essentially, Chris Constantin tells the committee the city is over budget, real bad. But here’s the problem – some people, like Mark Sorensen, want to sit around wasting time on the WHY instead of getting their asses in gear and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. One more consultant slide show, and I swear to God, I’m going to dance on the table like Pee Wee Herman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArMLPpkb7UQ

Frankly, Pee Wee had a better crowd.

If the city of Chico were a “household” right now, they’d be standing on their lawn watching burly guys dump their furniture on the sidewalk. Here’s that bit from Michael’s Moore’s “Roger and Me” that superimposes the GM Christmas party over the eviction of a young woman and her kids from their home. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjHQnX8KMnc

But I sit in these meetings with these people wearing nice clothes, carrying expensive electronic devices – they will all continue to get their salaries, even as the city moves further into deficit and jobs and services are cut. Every meeting, the same old same old – we’re over-budget, and we have to quit spending!  Meeting after meeting, they trot out the same figures – right now, they can identify over $15,000,000 in missing funds. Well, not missing exactly – SPENT!  Spent on the salaries and benefits of city employees, many of whom are now collecting unemployment. 

I have sat through at least two meetings lately during which finance director Chris Constantin told the council, one very large problem is they don’t have a “cost allocation plan.” A cost allocation plan says exactly how much each employee costs, how much each department spends on everything from employee compensation to their share of PG&E. This seems like a no-brainer, but they haven’t done one since 2001. I know why – because corrupt and incompetent people were running out town – duh, how many times do we have to hash that? 

Mark Sorensen always wants to ask the question, “why haven’t we done this study since 2001?” Well, let me venture Mark – because council hasn’t asked for it, and Dave Burkland sure as hell wasn’t going to volunteer it. Now I must ask Mark, are you toying with the idea of going after Burkland, Hennessy, and whoever else may be complicit in this affair – like the entire city staff and, let’s not forget, the council members who sat through it all like they were passing around a can of nitrous oxide?  Because, if not, shut the fuck up Mark. I’m tired of talking about “why did they do this” – I want to talk about what you intend to do about it.

Constantin outlined a simple plan to start filling in the deficits, now that Brian Nakamura has eliminated so many staffers. This will be a long slow road. I can’t help but ask, and did – please negotiate better contracts in this round of contract talks, which are simply not being talked about before the public. The commiteee, Stone and Sorensen, with Gruendl missing, just stared back at me and voted to “accept” Constantin’s report. With that the meeting was over at about 9am.

It’s like we’re in a sinking boat, and every time they lower the bucket in there to bail out water, they make the hole bigger. 

I’ll get back to the STF meeting later – a really interesting session regarding the Brown Act.

Meet the Taskmaster!

11 Dec

Just when you forgot how pissed you were about the bag ban and the Climate Action Plan (CAP) and all those ridiculous edicts out of the appropriately named “Sustainability Task Force,” here they come again. But there’s been a long-awaited shake-up on the STF. If you thought Ann Schwab was a tight-assed little fascist, just wait til you get a load of new chair Mark Stemen. For years Stemen complained that the STF had no teeth, wasn’t quick enough to mandate human behavior change, and that Chico was going to perish as a result of our inaction regarding global warming. I like Mark, I think his heart is oftentimes in the right place, but he’s way too quick to place himself above the law and try to mandate the behavior of others.

Tomorrow Stemen and the other members of the task force will be sworn in, read their rights and responsibilities, and given a quick overview of the Climate Action Plan and how the city has moved, or not moved in Stemen’s opinion, to implement this plan. 

Honestly, I haven’t read the plan for over a year. It was offensive to me,  but I can’t remember the particulars. Of course, some of this stuff makes perfect sense – cut electrical usage in public buildings by implementing agreed upon efficiency standards – a no brainer, as far as I’m concerned. But, I could never understand why they still ran the air conditioning at City Hall until everybody was forced to carry a sweater. That’s changed now, but only because we’re facing bankruptcy and they can’t afford the rates they helped PG&E jack up. The whole thing has always seemed completely stupid and hypocritical to me. And now we’ve got Stemen, who’s ready to force us to do what he thinks is for our own good!

That’s the Sustainability Task Force, 5:30 pm, tomorrow (Thursday December 12) in conference room 1, at City Hall.