CARD has allowed our public swimming pools to sink into disgrace while they paid their own benefits, now propose a fantabulous gazillion dollar aquatic center

24 Mar

CARD is still promoting the idea of a gazillion dollar aquatic center, and they’ve got “news” reporter Laura Urseny running their propaganda.

I get a kick out of Urseny – when I don’t attend the meetings, it takes her a couple of days to get the story in the paper, but when she sees me there, she posts that story the night of! If I accomplish nothing more that putting a match to the seat of her oversize drawers, that’s enough for me.

Too bad I can’t make a real news reporter out of her. She’s a propaganda hag, at best. The story she popped into the paper might as well have been dictated to her by aquatic center committee chair Jan Sneed.  Urseny posted two stories last week about what rotten shape Shapiro Pool is in, without once  telling us why. As if, rust just happens, things just fall apart, there’s no stopping expensive equipment from deteriorating. For at least 20 years the staff at CARD has neglected the equipment at the two public swimming pools in town, and now it’s rusted and falling apart, leaking like a sieve. In fact, the pool at Pleasant Valley (next to Bidwell Junior High) has been leaking for about 20 years. I sat listening to a pool company rep telling a life guard it would cost about $2500 to fix it, but the CARD board rejected his bid and watched Aqua Jets go to In Motion Fitness as a result. 

For the last 20 years CARD has been nothing more than a salary trough. The Board of Directors is nothing but a “look at me!” position, these people don’t really run the agency. The director runs the agency, along with the Finance Director, and they’ve both managed to shovel themselves some pretty good bling – salaries in excess of $90,000 and $110,000 plus fully paid benefits packages. CARD employees do not pay ANYTHING toward their own pensions, but still collect 70 percent at age 55 like other public employees. Steve Visconti will retire soon, on 70 percent of $112,000/year, having paid NOTHING toward his own retirement or benefits. 

Urseny saw me at the meeting, so she tells her readers “[Maintenance Director Jake] Preston added that CARD doesn’t have the money to fix Shapiro or build an aquatics facility, although it looked at a tax measure but backed off the idea.”  Preston whined a lot about the Americans with Disabilities act, but it became clear, they’ve used that as an excuse not to update the pools at all.  The showers at Shapiro are not only not ADA compliant, they’re disgusting, get in there with some Comet and a scrub brush Jake.  The bathroom at PV only had one toilet stall for all those kids, and they’d use it to change their clothes. The line would back up to the front gate. 

CARD gets over $2.5 million a year, just from the county, our property taxes. Where does that money go? Well, last year they took $400,000 out of their General Fund and made a back-payment on their own pensions because CalPERS was threatening them with higher fees. That’s where the money has gone. 

And let’s not forget – both pools are owned by the school district, which has allowed CARD to run them into the ground. Here they’ve built all kinds of junk on the campuses with that Measure A money (promised to build a third high school), but not one word about the swimming pools they’ve allowed to rot. 

Laura Urseny is not interested in the truth, she’s just interested in keeping her byline. According to the aquatic center committee spokesman, they have not got any sponsors yet, all these months and they’re still “identifying partners.”   And, according to Preston, Shapiro Pool has been operating at a loss for years. It’s been a mess since my kids were little, we went once and never went back. 20 years ago it looked like they’d abandoned it. It was a popular target for vandalism. Most of the kids in both pools were there as participants in CARD daycare programs.  Maybe they should realize – the public doesn’t support the pools we have now, CARD does not maintain them – what will change if we invest millions into a fancy new aquatic center that will be dedicated to the use of a private club? 

I’ll try to keep an eye on this, I  can’t believe they’ve given up on floating a bond or assessment. The survey they floated last year should prove they are willing to lie and distort to get our money. 

2 Responses to “CARD has allowed our public swimming pools to sink into disgrace while they paid their own benefits, now propose a fantabulous gazillion dollar aquatic center”

  1. Jim March 31, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    It seems clear to me that they allowed the pool to fall into disrepair, so they could use bond money to build an new one.

    • Juanita Sumner March 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      That’s exactly what I’ve seen as a parent trying to use CARD – actually, all of CARD has done a slow slide downhill for the last 15 – 20 years. I remember really loving their programs when my older son was small, but by the time my younger one was ready to participate, everything had started to go bad. They started contracting out to local businesses, and then, just about anybody, to do their programs. For example – they had a “rock wall climbing class” at Cal Skate. We paid $35 for our then 6 year old to attend. He got to use the wall ONCE. Every other class was cancelled, at first because the high school kid who taught the class was “sick,” and later because the wall was “broken.” I could tell, the “teacher” just didn’t have what it took to be with small children for more than five minutes, he acted as though he was being punished. And it wasn’t like he was overrun with The Hun – my kid was the only kid in the class, and he was a quiet well behaved friendly little boy. I’m guessing the owner, an insincere old lump, told his grandson or whoever the teenager was, oh well, there’s only one kid in the class – $35 isn’t even enough to pay you, we’ll just cancel and keep their lousy 35 bucks. I should have been angry that they expected me to turn my kid over to a guy who had NO TRAINING with small children, but we took the handful of Chuck E. Cheese tokens we were offered in return for our $35 and left. CARD doesn’t give refunds after the first day of the programs, that’s a Monday, and my kids’ class was offered on Tuesdays, so they wouldn’t give us a refund, even though the classes were cancelled.

      At that time I was a young housewife, trained in early childhood education – I had no grasp of these government entities. My understanding of local government could be summed up as “Mayberry RFD”, which was where I grew up in rural Glenn County. Everybody knew each other, and these were positions of trust. If you blew the public trust when I was a kid, you better move out of town, or at least, your wife better start shopping out of town. People there at that time didn’t put up with carpet baggers, like the people who have taken over CARD. I didn’t understand how these people like Jerry Hughes and Ed Seagle make a living surfing the trough, perpetuating these agencies by which they dip their salaries out of taxpayer money, not to mention, sweeeeet pensions! These guys, like Tom Lando, another CARD board member, are just there to perpetuate the system by which they still draw their pensions.

      People should be outraged, at the school district too, that they’ve continued to feather their nests at our expense, these huge salaries and pensions for life, Kelly Staley’s medical treatment and time off for her horseback riding injury, stuff like that – but they let our facilities fall to waste and rot. People should be mad as hell.

      They should, at the very least, be interested in hearing from our next candidate, for assessor, Diane Brown. Al Petersen has already introduced us to the function of the assessor’s office, and I’ve really enjoyed the lively conversations you’ve been having with Al over various tax statutes, like the idea that we should relax Prop 13 for retirees who move here. We need to dish this stuff, and Al and Diane are eager to oblige.

      Jim I really value your opinion because I know you are intelligent and informed. Thanks for helping to keep the conversation going with our speakers, I know those people are nervous, and they always warm right up to you. I see they are always relieved when they start talking to our audience – like, OMG! Intelligent people! It must be scary for them to come down, but they always leave smiling. They have all thanked me up and down, and I have to thank you and the others for coming in making them feel so welcome.

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