Archive | January, 2014

Right now we actually have a chance to get our legislators to listen to us about water rate increase, WRAM – please write an e-mail to Assemblyman Rendon

30 Jan

I have joined efforts with Marysville and Oroville for Reasonable Water Rates, along with people from other nearby towns that are being hit with water rate increases, to get the word out to other folks up and down the state – we don’t have to take this TAKING laying down. Cal Water and other private providers will tell you they need the money to serve us!  Take one of these right now!

My mom gave me these.

My mom gave me these. She had a built-in Bullshit Detector, but figured I might need a supplement.

Here, Cal Water is requesting a 38 percent rate increase to cover their “operating costs”. My notice said:

Cal Water is proposing this change in rates due to  the following factors:

  • Cal Water is requesting $556,000 to retain the same level of employee health care, pensions, and retiree health care benefits for General Office personnel, the costs of which have increased faster than inflation.
  • Cal Water is requesting $423,000 to retain for district personnel the same level of employee benefits described above
  • Cal Water is requesting $415,000 for the allocation of General Office operation expenses
  • Cal Water is requesting $395,000 to retain quality employees in the district
  • Cal Water is requesting $163,000 for water infrastructure improvements between 2013 and 2016

Another problem with our water billing is WRAM – the Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism. This allows Cal Water and other private water companies to manipulate our rates monthly without hearings or CPUC approval.  Municipal water companies do not have WRAM. Look at your bills, it’s there.

So, I have been trying to write to papers around the state, telling people what we’re doing – write to Assemblyman Anthony Rendon at Assemblymember.Rendon@asm.ca.gov  

This is not a lost effort.  Mr. Rendon’s staff has responded to other writers that there will be a hearing regarding water rates and how they affect the ratepayers at the state capital on February 3, 3pm, Room 437. I know that’s short notice, but you can still e-mail Rendon and tell you him you’re concerned about how water rates will affect your life.  At least you know it’s something they’re discussing, your comments will have a better chance of having some effect. Be short and to the point, hopefully he will have a lot of e-mails on this subject.

I always feel weird writing to papers in other towns, but what the heck – it’s one of the only ways to network with the more general public. Sure you could look for other groups – that’s called, “preaching to the choir,” Hon. I prefer to launch myself out there, God(dess) save me, and see what I can find. Sometimes I find a closed door, and a long dark walk home. Other times I find somebody – like the other day at the garbage meeting – who says, “Wow, I have been trying to find out how to get in touch with you!”  Or, “Hey, that pisses me off too!” Zowie! That really turns my wheels.

I was reading through an online paper in the little town of Downey California, the Downey Patriot. I came across this letter, posted January 23.

Dear Editor:
On early morning walks it’s interesting to observe how we irrigate our property.
Sometimes sprinkler heads are broken and water gushes up like Old Faithful and then cascades into the gutter, or sprinkler heads are directing water onto sidewalks and streets. We, including this writer, waste our precious supply of fresh water big time. We think it’s an infinite supply, that it never will be depleted, that it will always be there for us. Not true. We constantly strive for a beautiful lawn in our semiarid, desert-like environment.
Some scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography predict a 50 percent probability that Lake Mead will be completely dry by 2021 because of climate change, unsustainable overuse of the Colorado River and population increase. Lake Mead, a huge reservoir of Colorado River water supplying Arizona, Nevada, California and Northern Mexico is dropping to a level not seen since it was first being filled in the 1930s.
We have been in an 11-year ongoing drought. Many of our large water reservoirs are down 50 percent or more. Look at hills that haven’t burned and notice how brown they are. That is how Southern California would look in its natural state without large amounts of imported water.
We continue sticking our heads in the sand by not immediately taking steps to radically save our diminishing water supply. This writer and his family have spent many happy days on Lake Powell, Mead, Mohave and Lake Havasu boating, swimming, fishing, skiing and camping. It’s amazing to watch the mighty Colorado flow by and know how vital it is for those of us who live in the Western U.S.
It is amazing to see all the water behind these giant dams and now some experts believe that in the future, lack of water may make it necessary to close either Boulder Dam or Glen Canyon Dam.
Byron Dillon
Downey

Zowie! I had to answer Mr. Dillon.

 I read Bryon Dillon’s letter (Jan 23) and, like him, I am concerned about our water supply. Conservation seems obvious, but private water companies are undermining our conservation efforts with a process in our water bills by which we are essentially penalized for saving water. It’s called WRAM – “Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism” – and you will find it on your private company water bill.
 

I live in the Northern California town of Chico. I have a group of friends, Chico Taxpayers Association, who have been networking with a growing number of people in Butte, Sutter, Lake and Glenn Counties who are concerned about the way private water companies are billing consumers.   

 

WRAM comes into your bill when your water usage falls below what your private provider determines is necessary to cover their expenses for that month. Over the past year this has added anywhere from $8 to $20 to my monthly bill, while I’ve been replacing plumbing and killing sections of landscaping.

 

Here in Chico, Cal Water’s “expenses” included over $1.7 million to provide fully-paid pensions and health benefits, cover “general office operation expenses” and new salaries, but only $163,000 for infrastructural maintenance. WRAM allows them to manipulate rates at will, monthly, without any public hearing or CPUC process.

 

My friends and I are asking legislators to suspend WRAM for full investigation. You can contact me at https://chicotaxpayers.com/  You can also contact Assemblyman Anthony Rendon,  Assemblymember.Rendon@asm.ca.gov, who sits on the committee that oversees water issues, and ask him to call for the suspension of WRAM.  

I’m hoping the Patriot will run my letter, and that at least some readers will either contact Rendon or come on over to our website and get more information. I work incrementally. Every little contact breeds other little contacts, until an idea gets out there to the general public. I think that’s the way to make a difference, I hope you will join me and give a few minutes of your time to this effort.

Thanks Bob Evans and a WONDERFUL CROWD! for a great conversation – next up, Maureen Kirk, 3rd District Supervisor – February 16, noon to one pm, Chico library

27 Jan
Come on in!

Come on in!

Again I was really gratified to get a wonderful crowd for our visit with Butte County District 3 candidate Bob Evans. I was also thrilled to have three other candidates who take the voters seriously – Alan Petersen, candidate for County Assessor, Maureen Kirk, incumbent Dist. 3 supervisor, and Ryan Schohr, who wants to replace termed out Dan Logue in Assembly District 3.  It’s essential that we engage the people who want to fill these important positions, not only to find out where they stand on various issues, but to communicate to them the issues we feel are important and where we stand.

Sorry the light is bad here, I'm no photographer. There's Alan Petersen over to the right, thanks for coming in to help out Al!

Sorry the light is bad here, I’m no photographer. Bob really took charge of the room, he’s a good speaker.  There’s Alan Petersen over to the right, thanks for coming in to help out Al!

Evans led off with a quick bio, including his life with the U.S. Air Force, his involvement with Life Touch (at one time of Chico’s biggest employers), retirement, and his subsequent interest in a public service position. After running for and serving a couple of years on Chico City council, it was hard, he said, to just forget about community involvement. He talked about his position on the Alliance for California Business, a group that addresses issues relative to California’s business climate. Evans feels over-regulation is a huge issue for the entire state, keeping businesses from moving to California, and putting undue pressure on already existing businesses. “They are regulating us as if we are L.A,” he says, when our air quality here is no where near as poor or warranting of such measures.

He also talked about the “ag mitigation ordinance” that requires what he feels are onerous mitigation requirements for businesses that want to build new on open land – treating all land as agriculturally viable.

Bob’s a good speaker, he’s comfortable with people and listens well, answering questions directly, even if he had to say, “I don’t know!”  He was quick to admit when he didn’t have enough information to have a solid opinion, like on the subject of global warming. But, he reminded us, he’s learning, this was his first speaking engagement, and that he wants to know what people are concerned about. 

I can't say enough how I appreciate people showing up for this speaking tour, including Maureen Kirk, who showed up early and took good notes.

I can’t say enough how I appreciate people showing up for this speaking tour, including Maureen Kirk, who came early and took good notes. That’s Assembly candidate Ryan Shohr to the left of Maureen in the plaid shirt.  This means they care what you think, that’s what it’s all about.

On the subject of the State of Jefferson, Bob said he feels we must have better representation in Northern California. “This is a rural vs urban issue,” he opined, and he’s right, the bigger cities are down South, and get more attention and more tax money than the rest of us. Evans said he feels a serious conversation about “separation” (secession means, from the U.S. entirely) would “get their attention.” And, “if they just laugh at us, we’ll already be down the road [toward legal separation].”  

When asked what unique qualification he had for the job, Bob answered that he gets along well with people, and looks for compromise.  The next question followed the same line – how does he expect to get along with county staff? He said he’d been meeting with staff, and found they’re really ready to share information. Another person asked him about the general health of the county, and expressed concern about “true unemployment.” Bob said he’s making jobs a priority, but this conversation wandered off – we didn’t get to talk about ways we could bring jobs, or what kind of jobs we’d want. Sorry I did not pursue this, I was so busy trying to take notes, I didn’t think to ask many questions.

Bob did talk about conditions he feels are keeping jobs out of the North State – again, over-regulation, mostly from California Air Resources Board and “environmental groups” that are pursuing what Evans feels are onerous land mitigation laws. At this point he was asked what he thought of the whole global warming issue. He answered with my feelings – who do you trust on this issue? There are two camps, 180 degrees apart, equally more informed than the general public – who do you believe? Evans says he believes in conserving resources, but again mentioned, our air and water here in Northern California are still very good, and we should not be held to the onerous regulations necessary in bigger more industrialized urban areas. 

Of course the marijuana discussion came up, a curious audience member wondering what Evans thought of the new ordinance. Citing concern that young people are smoking too much pot these days, Evans praised the pot ordinance and congratulated Maureen Kirk and the Board of Supervisors for a “good job.” He also mentioned he’d been on ride-alongs with the sheriff’s department and seen areas of the county that he felt were  being degraded by pot gardens, both environmentally and civilly.

I had to laugh as he talked about the ride-alongs  – he described my house right here in Chico! He said he’d seen fences and locked gates, with dogs! Well Bob, I will say here – do not approach my gate. You will see a lock, you will see signs that threaten trespassers with physical humiliation, and you will be greeted by a snarling cur. And then there’s the dogs! I’ll also say, I’m looking for a supervisor that values my property rights. I don’t see any, I’m still looking.  

Bob has been all excited about his idea to use Chico Fire Department employees to “patrol troubled areas of town,” meaning, areas where transients are a “problem.” This idea did not go over with our group. One member of the audience described himself as a retired fire chief, retired here from the Bay Area. He tried to offer his knowledge of fire vs police training, saying fire personnel are trained to do physical first aid, but not mental. They are not trained to deal with the mentally ill. Other audience members agreed. 

Al Petersen asked a good question – what’s the overall health of the county budget? Here Evans told us what many already know – both the sheriff’s department and the behavioral health department are very undermanned. Then he talked about an issue that I had been trying to figure out how to bring up – when police or sheriff have to arrest a person who is “unsafe to themselves or the public,” including transients, they often have nowhere to take them but Enloe Hospital. I’ve heard this reported in Police Advisory Board meetings, and, when I had a friend who had to be taken to the ER, this is what I’ve seen – especially on weekends, the Enloe ER is turned into a psycho ward. And here’s the hilarious part – these people are dumped by police or sheriff, and then staff has no right to detain them or demand payment of the bill. This is where Enloe gets the figures for much of the loss they write off to the government every year. 

The county has a special psychological unit, a trained team, that is supposed to meet law enforcement at the hospital and transport these “patients” to the county mental health facility. But they are undermanned, Bob says. This is what I’ve heard from both representatives of Chico PD and Enloe Hospital. I think this is just unacceptable. I’ve seen the payroll for the behavioral health department – the director is a low-paid ($58,000/year) revolving door position, and the “staff” is made up of interns who get less than $10,000 a year, some of them as little as $1,000. I can’t believe some college kid is qualified to transport a mental patient. 

I’ll tell a story here, from the days I lived in Sacramento. I took public transportation all over, and you changed buses Downtown. I would walk up the K Street mall every morning, with a regular herd of bus commuters, to catch the crosstown lines. There I would see regularly a guy dressed in a big white bed sheet, walking calmly along with an insane smile on his blank face. We called him “Jesus,” but his name was Jerry Paddy. He spent his days strolling and occasionally begging up and down K Street, visiting the various parks, the Capitol Rose Garden, Sutter’s Fort, etc.  Nobody ever thought a thing of him, some people even regarded him with affection.

One day, a fellow walking over to visit a patient at Sutter Hospital noticed a man and woman struggling in some bushes at Sutter’s Fort. Thinking it was a sexual assault, the man confronted the pair, only to be stabbed right through the gut with a 12 inch knife. The culprit turned out to be Jerry Paddy, who explained he was having consensual sex with the woman, and when he’d been confronted, he admittedly pulled a 12 inch kitchen knife out of the sleeve of his sheet garment, and ran the man through. The man had died on the sidewalk before passersby could even react. 

This is what we’re dealing with on the streets of Chico – what, you think mentally competent people sleep in a bundle of dirty rags on the ground? It’s been discussed ad infinitum – we have a problem with mentally ill people wandering our streets. I’ve started to see them wandering my residential neighborhood, thanks to the efforts of “Our Town” to shove them out of Downtown with no regard for the consequences to surrounding neighborhoods. Without proper staffing at the behavioral health department, these people are just riding a Ferris wheel back and forth, being taken to Enloe, then waiting for the cops to leave so they can just wander off and end up in the same pile of slop a week or so later. 

I think this is a major issue in Chico. Talk about a job killer. If I was the parent of a new college student, I would not send my kid to Chico. In fact, I’m making plans to send mine out of town right now. The county and the city need to get together on this issue. I don’t want to hear one more report from one more cop who spent a week in a psychology class at Butte College, I want to hear plans to fully fund the behavioral health department and get a real director in there. Look at the salaries for the city of Chico – but the county only offers about $60,000 a year for somebody to run the mental health department? That is literally CRAZY.

Well, the meeting had to come to a close at this point, there was another group waiting at the door.  Bob Evans thanked the crowd and left us with this comment: “According to statistics, 14 percent of the electorate is engaged and educated…that includes you!” He promised, “my goal is to see as many groups as I can.” 

I had to ask Bob privately for his opinion on Cal Water’s rate hike, and I will give you that in my next installment, I got to take Biscuit for a walk. 

Do our “public safety” unions exert inappropriate influence over our city council? See for yourself.

25 Jan

Thanks Michael Jones for all the digging you’ve been doing regarding city election campaign contribution reports. I’ve seen contributions in past that I thought were inappropriate, and I still remember most of a discussion here in town, years back, to limit single contributions. These efforts were undermined by laws that allow Political Action Committees, such as the Chico Police Officers Association, and the International Fire Fighters Association, to donate much more than citizens. In past elections, the CPOA has been the biggest single donor, followed closely by the IFFA, donating or spending thousands to skew our elections in their favor, making sure to promote people who will carry their agenda of higher salaries and fully paid benefits and pension, like Scott Gruendl, Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan.

Below Michael Jones has sent us a guest commentary regarding his findings. Thanks Michael! 

 

Previous Chico City Councilors felt that receiving political donations in excess of $500 for an election might lead “a contributor [to gain] disproportionate access to or influence” over the City Council.  They felt so strongly they banned contributions over $500, and they required that smaller donations to be publicly reported.  (Municipal Code 1.30) 

Supreme Court decisions disallow limits on independent efforts to elect particular candidates. These independent expenditures cannot be coordinated with the candidate’s campaign.  They also must be publicly reported. 

An effort by Councilor Dan Nguyen-Tan in 2003 would have required an announcement at the Council meeting when a major contributor had business before the Council.  This proposal did not pass.  But in the spirit of his concerns, and in harmony with the Municipal Code, we can make those public disclosures. 

Chico Police Officers Association (CPOA) has business before the Council this month.  That business is the negotiations of the union’s contract with the city.  Their contract for fiscal year 2013-14 is for $18,302,883 in wages and benefits, or $143,000 per police employee0.   

Previous Councilors put into the Municipal Code that disproportionate influence might be had for over $500 for an election.  The Supreme Court said the union (or anyone) could contribute more for the election as long as the candidate did not control it. 

CPOA expended $5000.001 for the 2012 election of Sean Morgan. 

CPOA expended $2709.212 for the 2006 election of Scott Gruendl. 

CPOA expended $2709.213 for the 2006 election of Mark Sorenson. 

These Councilors are now in negotiations across the table from CPOA.  It is their job to represent the interests of the people of Chico, not the interests of CPOA. 

0  2013-14 budget p 149, p 253 

1  $500 contribution, $4500 independent expenditure 

2  $2709.21 independent expenditure 

3   $2709.21 independent expenditure 

Note:  CPOA in 2008 expended $8000 for television ads for undisclosed purposes 

by Michael Jones  1/24/14

Calling all roustabouts – come on down and help me set up chairs for Bob Evans, candidate, Butte County Dist 3

23 Jan

A reminder that Bob Evans will be our guest this Sunday, Jan. 26, at NOON, at the Chico library. Come on down – the library opens at one o’clock, so you will be right on deck. 

I am hoping Bob will talk about the issues facing Butte County, with a special light on District 3, which encompasses a large chunk of Eastern Chico, as well as hill communities Cohasset and Forest Ranch.

Right now, Maureen Kirk is our Dist. 3 supervisor.   She will be our guest on  CORRECTION Feb 16, also at noon.  I have another tentative for March but I haven’t had a hard confirmation on that. I also have a tentative for May. I’ll try to find somebody for April. I have contacted Bill Connelly, who has filed papers to run against Al Petersen for Assessor, and he had promised he’d speak as soon as he filed, but now he’s not getting back to me.  I’ll keep poking him in the ass with what a good time we had with Al. He really has some explaining to do, we’ll see if I can nag him in. 

I’m hoping to get a good crowd out to reward these people for their time. I want a good conversation, and some answers to our questions about county business. They just spent a lot of time on a highly publicized marijuana ordinance. Meanwhile, they’re transferring water to Southern California subdivisions, while allowing Cal Water to use Chicoans like a herd of cash cows. That’s just the issue  that’s on my mind this morning – look at these agendas, meetings that go on all day – there’s some serious business going on in Oroville, and we need to know more about it. There’s also the trash franchise zones and problems in the district attorney’s office. They also do the same kind of “budget adjustments” and “supplemental budget increases” that are done in Chico. 

So, read over an agenda or two, watch a meeting, and find yourself a question, or at least be ready to understand the issues. If you are handy with the issues yourself, it’s harder for somebody to feed you a line of horse puckey.

http://www.buttecounty.net/boardofsupervisors/BoardMeetings.aspx

Whimsies

23 Jan

I attended last night’s Chico City Council meeting last night, on a whim, for a short while. It’s good to make yourself physically attend one of these meetings now and then, like cod liver oil, it’s good for your constitution. 

The items I was interested in had been held to the end of the agenda –  the new employee contracts. The big news is, city employees are being asked to pay their full share of their pension premiums. Whoop-de-fucking-do!  That’s only nine percent of the cost of pensions worth 70 – 90 percent of the highest year’s salary, available at age 50 – 60 years.  Life expectancy in the United States, according to Wikipedia, is about 78 and a half. So, on average, we will pay these folks almost a full salary,  for DOING NOTHING,  for an average of 28 and a half years. And yeah, we pay their health benefits and their rest home insurance too.

Sure they will make new hires pay 50 percent. Another can of worms hits the floor. First of all, how would you feel toward your co-workers knowing fully well you pay 50 percent of your pension and they only pay nine? Come on – I feel that is setting up a hostile work environment, how could anybody be so stupid or insensitive to think something like this is okay?  Well, I guess the same folks who think it’s okay for Todd Booth to carry a gun and represent the city of Chico, there’s your answer.

Second, this plan will only work if they fire all existing employees and hire new ones. Fat chance. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay for that issue, so I’d written an e-mail to council ahead, telling them they needed to make the contracts only good for year, and then we need a financial report about how much money was actually “saved.”  I also wanted to thank Michael Jones for the wonderful chart he had made with friends, showing how out of whack our salaries are when compared with other, some of them very spendy, California towns. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera.  He’d had a beautiful banner made, displaying it on the back of the council chamber. He’d also had postcards made up, already stamped and addressed to each council member. He was handing those out, asking people to sign and send them. He gave me a set, which I sent. 

Here's one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

Here’s one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

When I see that kind of determination, I feel, well, you know:

Michael Jones has been active in Chico for a long time, he could give you a pretty good historical perspective on most of the business before council today. I remember stuff too, and it’s funny to listen to what they say now.

 I sat through the annexation conversation, which was interesting because I happen to know a lot of the background on that conversation, I remember when it all happened. I’ve watched it because I’d owned rentals with septic tanks in parts of the county that Tom Lando systematically turned into “county islands” so he could annex them later. For example, at one point, the city just annexed Courtesy Motors, who wanted to expand onto their sewer. Wow, all the sudden, we were in a county pocket, boundaried by a car dealership? In a morning meeting, Lando crowed about the sales tax receipts he’d just stolen from the county!

And Colleen Jarvis was honest at the time – she let everybody know, they were annexing for the property taxes, and they wanted people on sewer to pay for an expansion at the sewer plant, as well as problems with river flow and accidental poop releases  that they are still having today.

When I complained about annexation of my properties, they said, “Oh Juanita, you’re going to get all these city services, and you can vote in council elections!”   Boy, talk about rainbow promises – here’s a funny example: We were living in a house on Palmetto, and the county had started a makeover that was supposed to be completed by the city, an agreement made over the annexing of the neighborhood. The county started the job, and everything went smoothly – they stripped and resurfaced it, it still looks great! But, on the day that the job was handed over to the city for completion, work came to a halt. Oh oh, we thought, our driveway was still suspended about a foot up in the air, and we’d been cutting across the neighbor’s side yard (with their permission) and exiting by way of their front yard, because it was lower than either driveway. There were three households off our driveway, we’d turned that one neighbor’s yard into a mud slick. It was the rainy season, so the mud went all over the place, all the way up our shared driveway, and out into the construction zone.  It made for slippery driving, and forget pedestrian access. A week or so went by and the city just didn’t show up. One night our old neighbor lady had a stoke – and the ambulance could not figure out how to get into our driveway. It was a disaster, all of us were out there trying to get that ambulance across that mud slick, and they didn’t want to come. Finally they got the poor woman out of there, but she didn’t last very long afterward, and I can’t believe the ambulance delay helped her in any way.  The next day I called the city, told them what happened – oh, many apologies – but they still didn’t send a crew until the next week.

And now I live on Filbert – we are proud of our potholes, we call them, “vernal pools.” (sarcasm alert)  There’s a chronic pot hole near the corner of Filbert and Downing – about 12 years ago, it voided the warranty on my tires – excessive road hazard.   They annexed our neighborhood here over five years ago, and you can still look out there and see that same pothole – I call it, “Mooooby Dick! Ye dam-ned whale!”

Oh, but you say, I can vote in city elections! Yeah, that was tasty two years ago, when we kicked the shit out of Measure J, but, over the long run, it’s been a total downer. I voted for Scott Gruendl, Mary Flynn, Tom Nickell, Mark Sorensen, Sean Morgan, Mitt Romney (?!) and some others my brain is protecting me from by forgetting. The only votes I feel good about today are the ones I threw away on Nader – thanks for that Ralph.  I am starting to hate voting, I may quit altogether. That carrot has gone sour.

So, this controversy over the annexation of much of Chapmantown, one of the oldest contiguous sections of the city of Chico, has many biting heads. No, I don’t feel any better about being annexed myself. When I lived in the county, I had the sheriff and Station 42. The sheriff’s employees we encountered were great. We also got alot of support from CHP in those days – they came to help a couple of my old neighbors shut down a party house, that was a-may-zing. CHP did that, because we were in the county, now we can’t get them, they tell us to call the Chico PD. Hah!

The fine volunteers of Station 42 put out two fires in my neighborhood within minutes, saved both houses, one of was already burning on the roof. The other fire involved a car parked right next to the house, which left a huge scorch mark but never “engaged” the house. Because Station 42 is there within five minutes, we timed them. When I had an experience with the city, it was more like 10 minutes, and the house was fully engaged and ended up being a total loss. I believe if it hadn’t been for the fast actions of my neighbors, I would have lost my garage that day.

So, when Scott Gruendl protests that he has received “a lot” of comments from Chapmantown residents that they don’t want to be annexed, I say, “who could blame them.” Well, I have to think again.

I owned a house just this side of the city limit in Chapmantown. I had great sewer, great drainage, high curbs, etc. My house was protected. Blocks over, the houses sit in swamps, no sidewalks – one lady came to a meeting to describe the system of planks she has to lay out during rainy weather to get from her front door to her driveway. This also means, raw sewage floating up out of old long untended septic tanks. I’m sure, some of the septic tanks in that part of town are sub-code.  And, it’s been documented – the water pipes are leaking toxins into the groundwater over there, and toxins are getting into the drinking water. This I know because friends of mine living on 20th Street received  notice that drycleaning fluids had contaminated the city water, and they shouldn’t even shower in it until further notice. Last I heard, the city is making some progress on this issue – but they are waiting for lawsuits against the old businesses to play out, or for grants and funds  from the feds and state. In the meantime, they’ve been deferring developer fees, that fund being bottomed out. That’s who is supposed to pay for the sewers and the plumbing for development, the developers. Instead, the city has been giving them a free ride for years, and now they want the taxpayers to foot the bill for clean-up required by poor infrastructural management.

So, yes, in this case – one of the oldest urban areas of town, not an almond orchard dotted neighborhood five miles north of town – I’m for annexation.  And I think most of the residents would say so too, given the proper background info and an election to make it respectable. Instead, we get vague reports from Scott Gruendl about residents he’s talked to that don’t want to be annexed. These nameless residents who can’t seem to put comments in writing with a signature, these shadow-puppets, are saying, they like their rural charm! But no names, no phone numbers, no evidence. Just Scott Gruendl’s word.  Like they’ll tell you if you try to report something – anecdotal evidence is not acceptable, let’s hear some names, let’s see some e-mails or phone memos Scott.

And excuse the ramble, but then there’s Sorensen. He says we can’t afford to annex Chapmantown? Oh, but we can annex all over North Chico, they’re just chomping at the bit to get out there where the properties are bigger and generate more taxes, but everybody is on a new septic tank, and their houses are not close enough together to warrant sidewalks, so this would be pure profit for the city. They’d be taking in all those expensive properties (prop tax and utility tax) but they wouldn’t have to offer any services. They certainly wouldn’t have to clean up the mess they’ve allowed Chapmantown to become over all these years.

Dan Nguyen-tan was one who told me my services would get better after annexation. Within a couple of years, Nguyen-tan was complaining that the annexed areas had become a drain on Chico, and – GET ALOAD OF THIS! – he and Gruendl and Dave Burkland tried to blame our burgeoning fiscal problems on the annexations! And at the meeting the other night, Ruben Martinez reminded us, our short-lived City Mangler Greg $190,000/year Jones (who retired at 70 percent of that salary having paid only 4 percent toward the pension premiums) tried to tell us that we’d annexed these areas “without any visible means of support.”

That just doesn’t add up to me. Oh sure, you annex millions in property taxes, millions more in sales tax, but the annexed neighborhoods are still looking like third world countries 10 years later? Drive that neighborhood along the freeway, behind East Avenue McDonalds. Go in the daytime, they’ve had strong-arm robberies there during the day.  Look at the streets, look at the filth, and ask yourself – “am I in America?” Yeah you are, you’re in the City of Chico.  Alabama? Nope, California. Tom Lando’s California. Dave Guzzetti’s California. Jane Dolan’s California.

I mention Lando because he was the puppeteer, but I also mention Guzzetti and Dolan because they’ve been the official face of efforts to stop the annexation of Chapmantown. Dolan even threatened to sue at one point. Schwab and Gruendl both brought her up, but for some reason, refused to mention her name. She was the “county supervisor from that district…”, even though, both Schwab and Gruendl, by his own admission to me, have had dinner many times with Jane and husband Bob in their home.

Oh well, enough of this. This is a  ramble. I went to a meeting, so I felt the need to talk about it. Go to a meeting and tell me what you saw.

Did I say going to one of these meetings is good for your constitution? Well, it is. As soon as you get home you are going to want to take a big dump. Works better than poke berries. 

Sheesh I’m glad we got Mark Sorense watching our bacon!

20 Jan

Tomorrow night council will probably pass the employee contracts. There are improvements,  but only because we are at rock bottom now, would what they are doing look the slightest bit good. It’s not good enough.

Oh Geeshy! The cops and fire are being asked to pay (gasp!) nine whopping percent of their own pensions.  Yeah, they will receive 90 percent of their highest year’s salary – most of them taking home $90,000 to $100,000, some even more, for RETIRING. For not coming to work. Wow, that’s just a gobstopper.

I will predict that Gruendl and Sorensen will lead the kudos team with exclamations about how much money they’ve saved!

Let me put this in perspective. Imagine, you are out in the ocean in a disabled boat,  a week’s float from civilization. You have the city staff in the boat, and exactly enough water to meet their dire need for the exact amount of time it will take to reach land. But, of course, passengers start bickering –  the cops and fire employees feel they should have more water than others, because they can’t stand their own body odor.  Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan take over the boat and announce they will  give the cops and fire employees more water, cause they need to shower, so the cops and fire start using up all the water. A few days later, Sorensen, under pressure, decides that the cops and fire need to cut their showering by 50 percent. Then he takes a shower to celebrate – “look at all the water we’ll be saving!

Plug this into our scenario – Sorensen’s shower is the $21,000 health insurance package he takes off he taxpayers, for which he pays a Jesus H. Whopping amount of two percent of his council salary – less than $200 a year for a $21,000 health insurance package. He also gets a package from the city of Biggs. I’ve asked him again and again, why does he need us to pay for that $21,000 package? On his FPPC Form 700, he claims his satellite tv business yanks in over $100,000 a year. What’s he need the taxpayers to pay his healthcare bills for? But he won’t answer. He’s a weird bird – if you ask him a question that suits his propaganda, he’ll yak all day. But if you ask him the wrong question, it gets so quiet you can hear a cricket fart.

Maybe we should ask him how much money he’s been taking from the “public safety” unions. I’ll tell you what – you won’t pull that out of him with a tractor. And, as of a minute or so ago, it’s not on the city website either. After all that bitching I did about the minutes not being up to date, I’ve let them get – are you ready for this – YEARS behind on the campaign reports. The clerk doesn’t even have the reports for the last election – and I’m sorry, I know it’s on purpose. They were there and they were taken. Gone. Kaput!

I sent an e-mail to Clerk Presson, City Manager Nakamura, as well as Mark Sorensen …. oh excuse me, that must be “Sorense,” because he’s dropped that last ‘n’ from his e-mail. You know he’s CRAFTY!

He’s TRICKY!

That’s Mark Sorensen at msorense@chico.ca.us. Wait! That’s mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov   – see Mary’s comment below, I had forgot about that.   I asked very nicely why the reports aren’t on the website, and where can I find them. We’ll see what we get. 

Trying to get more candidates for our forum – sign up for our contact list

17 Jan

I’ve been busy lately with this project I’ve undertaken to get as many local candidates as I can down to the Chico library before the election. I’m trying not to get panicky, but every once in a while I realize how many seats are up between the city and the county, and how there’s only about nine months before the election.

But today my momentum came to a screech when a lady who’s running for a county seat reminded me – she would hate to prepare for a presentation and drive from her home elsewhere in the county, on a Sunday, to talk to an empty room.

I don’t know how to convince her that people will come.  I don’t know how to convince myself, I worry before every meeting.  No, the room was not packed to overflowing for Al Petersen’s chat, but the conversation was rich and genuine, and everybody there was engaged. I don’t want to make light of this person’s personal time, but I feel, this is the way you generate interest – talk to a small group, and send them out to talk to others. It’s easier to engage a small group, look everybody in the face.  But, I still see her point.  So, I’m asking people to start yakking up this series, talk to me, send me a note here (either click on the comments button on this post or go to “Contact Us Here!” at the upper right hand corner of the blog), and let me know if you’re interested in being on the notice list for this series. I  think if I could tell prospective candidates that I have a notice list of serious citizens, they would be more likely to sign up.

This list would only pertain to this speaker series, and I would be careful to keep it confidential. I always send to myself with the list on bcc. It’s also a good idea to tune into the blog, I will post the notices here too. And help me out, tell your friends. We have the opportunity to hire the people that run the county, not political offices but practical positions that directly affect our lives. We should get to know what these positions entail, and get to know the people that will be filling them.

Don’t forget, Bob Evans, Jan. 26, noon to one pm, Chico library.