Archive | March, 2014

Mark Sorensen – did you sign contracts that raised the EPMC from $6.5 million to $14 million?

4 Mar

Kelly sent me a link to State Controller John Chiang’s website regarding public salaries – it’s got the data for every county and city in California. I looked at years 2009 – 2012, and I saw something for the first time – from 2010 to 2011, when the city first started shedding employees due to the impending bankruptcy, the amount of employee “share” paid by the city of Chico went from $6.5 million to $14 million. 

I had to ask Mark Sorensen, who was elected to council in 2010, how that happened.

Now, here’s something I just noticed yesterday – did you sign contracts in 2011 that raised the amount of pensions and benefits paid by the city from about $6.5 million to over $14 million? That would have been just before I started understanding all that pension time bomb stuff, I was not watching. At the same time we were getting rid of employees, our pension/benefits cost more than doubled, how did that happen? I remember you talking about  this in your blog – 

http://www.norcalblogs.com/bored/2011/02/04/chico-firefighters-agreement/

 

It looks like you were advocating paying 80 – 90 percent of employee costs, but saying we’d save money?  – am I getting that right? Please explain – thanks, Juanita

I think I hit a nerve, cause it took him almost a week to get back to me. I know he’s busy, but when he wants to talk, you can get him just about any time. Now all the sudden he didn’t want to talk. And when he did answer me, he accused me of making it up.

“…contracts in 2011 that raised the amount of pensions and benefits paid by the city from about $6.5 million to over $14 million?” 

I don’t know how you dream this stuff up.  It just confuses an already confusing pile of information. 

What’s with the defensive tone? I asked him a question, he comes back telling me I make stuff up?  He accuses me of confusing the issue with too many questions – aha! Now we know who’s really behind the new rules for committee meetings – Mark Sorensen and Brian Nakamura are running the city while Scott Gruendl is out road-raging over his sister’s death. They want the public OUT! Because he knows the curtains are getting pretty thin, and pretty soon everybody is going to know what’s really going on Downtown, and who is really pulling all the strings. 

And then he throws down the toothpicks with this confusing ramble – with all the different type faces and font sizes – this is what I get for asking a simple question of a man with red hands:

Pension costs alone have been at about $10-11 million per year for many years (employer contribution rates were increasing slightly, while the number of employees was decreasing). Take a look at the Calpers annual valuation reports for the city of Chico’s two pension plans. Those reports contain the exact pension cost numbers. Though, you must manually add the EPMC (employer paid member contribution), which has been around $1.8 million per year, and now rapidly going down to $0.0 per year. Other benefits costs have not changed much in recent years. 

 

There were no new city of Chico labor contracts beginning in 2011. All were set to expire in 2012. 

 

My blog entry that you mentioned references a modification by way of a “letter agreement” to one contract. That being with the IAFF. 

 

The primary impact of that letter agreement was to STOP a 4% raise to the firefighters as was scheduled the 2007 contract. That contract was being modified in order to halt the 4% raise.  

 

The history of pay and benefit increases can be found in the following document, beginning at page 7.  

 

http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/Summary_of_Benefits.pdf

 

This year will register very significant decreases. Is it enough? No, but it is about as much as could be obtained if necessary from the California Public Employee Relations Board. 

 

It took many years to build this financial debacle, it will take years to re calibrate it, but particularly take a good look at what occurred between 1997 and 2002. 

What?  So I asked him that:

I got it off Chiang’s website Mark, I didn’t dream anything up.  Look for  yourself – benefits paid by the city doubled from 2010 – 2011. I know CalPERS started demanding more, I guess I should ask – why weren’t the employees asked to pay it? Why did you folks continue to approve contracts that required the taxpayers to foot the bill for these outrageous pensions and benefits agreements? They’ve still continued to get  raises, by the way, we’re not blind. 

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

 
It doesn’t look good that six of you are on public salaries with packages of your own to protect. 
 
You’re accusing me of confusing this mess by asking questions?  These contracts are written purposely to confuse anybody who hasn’t been to law school.  Nothing you say makes sense – 
 

(Mark said) Pension costs alone have been at about $10-11 million per year for many years (employer contribution rates were increasing slightly, while the number of employees was decreasing). Take a look at the Calpers annual valuation reports for the city of Chico’s two pension plans. Those reports contain the exact pension cost numbers. Though, you must manually add the EPMC (employer paid member contribution), which has been around $1.8 million per year, and now rapidly going down to $0.0 per year. Other benefits costs have not changed much in recent years.  

 

What ?  Why would I go through those calisthenics when I have Chiang’s numbers?  You didn’t answer my question – did you sign contracts that raised the amount of EPMC from $6.5 million to $14 million? –  JS

We’ll see if he answers, but I think I got an earful already. 

Candidate Speaker Series – next Sunday, March 9, Dist 2 supervisor Larry Wahl – and don’t forget, Spring Ahead!

2 Mar

Next Sunday is Spring Ahead, make note of that. We have Dist 2 supervisor Larry Wahl coming into the Chico library at noon to talk to us about his concerns and answer questions about ours. 

These sessions are very casual and you can ask what you’d like.  Issues we’ve discussed so far include State of Jefferson, marijuana initiative, global warming, staffing in various county offices, and an elected offical’s due diligence to their constituents. 

I don’t think everybody realizes, the June primary will be the end of it for a lot of these county and state offices, and it’s already March. Don’t dawdle, get informed. And, here’s your chance to inform these people what you find to be important. 

Please come on in, I’ll be there at 11:30 to set up chairs. 

1 Mar

 

I got this notice today.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it, I’ll try to find out more about it. I’m just happy there are people who are working to encourage the voters to educate themselves  about the issues surrounding the upcoming election. I’m hoping this event will be well intended, show these people some appreciation for their efforts.