Chico, you deserve what you vote for, and what you are willing to put up with from your elected officials

15 Feb

I noticed an item in Tuesday’s council agenda that waives the Sunshine period for the employee contracts. There is also a provision allowing employees to tack their Employer Paid Member Contribution onto their salary as compensation so it’s added to their pension when they retire.



Item 4.2 contains a typo? In the item they describe it as “special compensation.” Legally, there’s a difference, but I only caught that just now. I immediately wrote a note to council regarding Item 4.1:

I can’t believe you’re talking about waiving the sunshining period for the contracts.


Although, I realize, you folks don’t have any consideration for what the public thinks about  these contracts anyway. You approve them for your own reasons.


Mark, Sean, and Scott, it looks very much like you approve these contracts because the police and fire departments have contributed to your campaigns, and nobody who pays attention needed Michael Jones to tell them that.

The sunshine period needs to stand. I’m writing because I find it onerous to attend the council meetings. I speak to people all the time, at the grocery store, the library, the tractor store, the butcher shop – people say there is no use in attending council meetings. When I recently went to the reference desk at the library, I got into a pretty lively conversation (in the library!) in which several women told me, they feel intimidated out of speaking because oftentimes you folks make nasty remarks about people as they walk away (they mentioned Mark and Mary specifically), and nobody ever gets a chance to answer back to the snide remarks or inaccurate statements you often make from that dais (here they mentioned you Scott). One woman said she attended a hearing where Mary decided to limit remarks to a minute and a half. That’s really controversial, people can’t believe they’d come down to be heard and get treated like that.  It’s like wearing this little button I have, maybe I can get copies for each of you. It says simply, “I’m not really listening to you.” At least you people could be honest. You’re not a representative government, everybody knows that.  You act like the Ruling Class. 


As I pedaled through the absolutely disgraceful looking Bidwell Park on my way to yesterday’s Internal Affairs Committee meeting, I passed an old neighbor walking his dog. I told him I was going to a meeting DT, and he said, “yeah? well give them a ration of s–t for me, would ya?” 


That is how you are perceived by the general public.  Waiving the sunshine period on the employee contracts will just look like more of same from a deceitful council. 


But go ahead and do whatever you want, like you always do – Juanita Sumner

I also wrote to Finance Director Chris Constantin about Item 4.2, asking for explanation. 

Hello Juanita,

The items on the agenda are to eliminate or reduce the EPMC, which is the PERs payments that CalPERs indicates is the employee share of their retirement benefits.  In the past, the City picked up the EPMC for employees (up to 8% for non-public safety and up to 9% for public safety) rather than employees paying for it.  Special compensation is a second piece which would allow amount the City pays for the employee share to be considered additional compensation for the employee, as thus, pensionable.

What does this mean? The scenarios below is the best way to explain this with a non-public safety employee.  There are three pieces to follow: taxable wages, who pays what for the employee share, and the ultimate salary that is used of paying out a pension.


Scenario #1: Employee pays their share of retirement

Employee making $100,000, the employee’s share of the retirement contribution is $8,000.  The employee pays for their $8,000 retirement contribution, thus, the employee would have taxable income of $92,000 (the retirement contribution is paid pretax).  For the purpose of retirement, the employee made $100,000.


Scenario #2: City pays for the employee’s share of retirement

Employee making $100,000, the employee’s share of the retirement contribution is $8,000.  The City pays for the employee’s $8,000 retirement contribution, thus, the employee would have a taxable income of $100,000.  For the purpose of retirement, the employee made $100,000.


Scenario #3: City pays for the employee’s share of retirement and City allows that share to be treated as “special” compensation

Employee making $100,000, the employee’s share of the retirement contribution is $8,000.  The City pays for the employee’s $8,000 retirement contribution, thus, the employee would have a taxable income of $100,000.  Special compensation treats the city’s payment of the employee share as pensionable wages, so for the purpose of retirement, the employee made $108,000.


Hope this helps.



As Constantin describes above, the amount we pay toward the employee’s pension becomes part of their wages, and part of their pension – but, they don’t pay taxes on it as salary. It becomes part of their salary when they retire. Then they’ll pay income taxes on it, as they receive it.

So, this is why, I’m guessing, they needed to waive the sunshine period – people like me are starting to ask questions about the contracts. 

I was surprised when Constantin also responded to my letter to the council. He actually wanted to talk to me by phone, asking for my phone number. RED ALERT JUANITA! Whenever somebody wants to talk to me on the phone, they want to talk OFF THE RECORD, and that usually means, they’re going to say something I ain’t going to like, and they figure the general public ain’t going to like it either, so they don’t want any written record of what they will say, like an e-mail. I went ahead and sent him my phone number, not knowing how to refuse, but I got in my car 15 minutes later and headed to Sugar Bowl. The snow was great! They call it “corn,” and the slopes were like Surf City USA all morning. Good luck getting ahold of me up there.

So here’s his e-mail explanation:

Hello Juanita,


I received your comments regarding the City Council’s agenda items for employee contracts.  Some of the items you outlined below related to the employee contracts we discussed this morning.  I hope my response provided the clarity you were looking for.  As for the sunshining and adoption of employee contracts, the City Council may elect to only sunshine the items and adopt them at the next meeting.  It was at my recommendation to the city management team that the city staff propose the agenda item with the ability to adopt at the same time we sunshine, and this is why. 


The contracts being considered involve significant reductions in both pension and compensation costs to the City.  Employees will by paying their EPMC (all 9% for CPOA over 1 year and all 8% for CPSA over 2 years) where they were not before as well as reducing any monthly health trust payments to the CPOA.  The City will also remove any special compensation for these EPMC payments which will reduce the pensionable pay for most employees.  Employees will not be receiving increases in any cash compensation.  Given that the City did not receive comments on the previous contracts that were sunshined, the City would delay reducing sworn and non-sworn police compensation and benefits reductions with a high likelihood of little comment.


The City Council and management highly value public comment, input and perspective, so we appreciate giving the public that opportunity on employee contracts – especially when the city provides employees increases in pay and benefits. However, in this case, it is important to give the City Council the opportunity to immediately reduce employee pay and benefits if there is no public input that would require more time for the public to evaluate the contracts.  As such, the City Council at least has the option to approve them Tuesday.  If there is more need for discussion, the City Council can consider just to sunshine Tuesday and approve at the next meeting.




Basically, he’s saying, they want to rush it through, but he doesn’t explain why.  Then he says, if the council receives public comment Tuesday, they can reopen the sunshine period. What I’m getting is, they’re asking me to withdraw my comment so they can jam this thing through. 

Scott Gruendl also responded, a couple of times, he’s such a spazz.

I can also take some time before executing the agreements on behalf of the City if any member of the public indicated that more time was needed to gain any further explanation of any items of concern that have been discovered, but not fully [here his first e-mail ended]

Scott’s second e-mail: 

… investigated. 

Sorry, I pushed send before I finished since this was sent from my tax free phone that has a tiny screen and my thumb is simply too fat to work it well. Thanks. 

Scott Gruendl is weird. Why does he need to make a big deal about using his “tax free phone”? His “tax free phone”? Is he referring to the device we pay for? Is he complaining about it? Why doesn’t he use the cute little computer we gave him instead of struggling with his fat fingers with that “tiny screen”? Well, I’ll tell you what, he can’t blame us for his fat fingers. 

Gruendl is saying, the public hasn’t commented. Well, I for one have commented, several times, directly to him and other council members, about what is wrong with these contracts. I have to wonder, how many other comments have been made that just haven’t been put in the public record (Debbie Presson could but won’t answer that one.) They are just trying to ignore us. Here they are trying to set a precedent – get rid of the sunshine period certain members of the public have worked hard to get. 

Well, I’ll tell you what Chico – you deserve what you put up with. And I’ll be glad to throw salt on it. 

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