Chico Area Recreation District needs more public scrutiny

28 Jun

I’ve become so busy in my personal life, I’ve had trouble staying afloat of all the discussions. I’m sorry, I’ve let myself become distracted with conversations that don’t really matter, except from the point of view that we pay for this stuff with public dollars. 

Colleen Jarvis made a good point with me one time, I guess I should tie a string around one finger to remind myself – pick your issues, and stick with them. You can’t fight everything.

I got frustrated with CARD because they so easily pushed me off by the forehead. I repeatedly asked to be noticed of aquatic center board meetings, and I repeatedly got left off the notice list, even though Steve Visconti cheerfully thanked me for my interest. At one point he even told me they hadn’t had any meetings yet, even though the agenda for that week’s board meeting listed a report from a meeting of the committee. He just looks you right in the face and denies stuff, he’s incredible.

You might also have read, he’s retired.  On 70 percent of his $117,000/year salary, with fully paid benefits and pension. Incredible. CARD employees pay NOTHING toward their own retirement, not even the 9% currently required of city and county employees. 

I got frustrated because nobody else seems to give a rat’s diddly, except maybe the aquatic center nazi’s who’ve been stalking the blog.   There were about 30 people at the last committee meeting I attended – Aqua Jets parents, school district employees, and the manager of Aqua Jets. These people made it clear they want the public to pay.  Oh yeah – their kids’ private swim club has a PUBLIC benefit! Former CARD manager Jerry Hughes gave them a quick informational lecture on some bills that were headed for the state legislature that would lower the voting requirements for passing bonds from 2/3’s to 55, even 51 percent. I tried  to keep tabs on those bills, it was just about impossible. I’m sure one or more of them passed in one form or another, and we’re going to be hit with multiple tax measures on the 2016 ballot.

Something CARD is not publicizing is that three of their board members are up for re-election this year – hey, did you know you elect your CARD board? I can’t find any information about that, except that Jan Sneed, Ed Seagle  and Herman Ellis’s terms are all up this year, with Lando and Worley up in 2016. This is the board that okays these management salaries and allows CARD employees to get away paying NOTHING toward their own health benefits and retirement. 30 full-time employees suck up a $5 million+ budget, with most of the real work being done by seasonal employees who make less than  $10,000/year, no benefits what-so-ever.

A highly placed city employee told me recently, Tom Lando still runs a lot of stuff around town. Lando has made it plain he wants a sales tax increase on the 2016 ballot and he’s got more people banging that drum. As far as I can tell, all public employees/retired public employees, like ex-county worker Patrick Newman. Of course they watch out for their own benefit, what else is new. 

I once thought of running for CARD board, but I’d have to see a lot more people showing interest in turning that agency around. Completely, upside down, shake all the junk out of it’s deep pockets, get our rec scene back on track. There’s no excuse for the way CARD has mis-managed OUR resources to line their own pockets. 

CARD board meetings are usually held around the middle of the month, on a Thursday, I think 7:30. It would be great if people would show up or write letters to the board and tell them they need to use the opportunity presented by Visconti’s retirement to wangle a new contract for the District Manager position, make all the management employees pay their own  benefits and pensions. 

Here’s the link:

8 Responses to “Chico Area Recreation District needs more public scrutiny”

  1. Michael Jones June 28, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Lando’s in for a fight if he tries to increase sales tax for more public safety employees. I am not fond of him, I am not fond of sales tax (the most regressive tax), and I am not fond of paying public safety over 150K in wages and benefits ($156K for CPOA in 2012, $188K for IAFF in 2012, me as a Medi-Cal dental provider UCSF graduate $102K in 2012)

    • Juanita Sumner June 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      I hope we can mobilize people against local tax increases. A friend of mine wondered how much public workers affect our vote in Chico. I also hear people who don’t really know what’s going on saying, “Oh well, we want public safety don’t we?”

      Thanks for taking on the public safety contracts at Chico Politics Michael!

    • mike richards July 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      II have just herd the the new hire Robert Hinderer has stated to a former employee of card that card is a corporation and that employees cannot talk to each other about their pay rates. Is the possible? any info? thanks Mike

      • Juanita Sumner July 25, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

        I’m so sorry, I have not been watching CARD closely lately.

        I do know, this is a policy that is allowed. When my sister worked for the state of California Teacher’s Fund, she was “disciplined” for talking about her salary in the bathroom with a co-worker. She lost permanent status, was demoted to a 9-month a year job in the state fair parking lot. I’ve also seen some weird memos from the city of Chico, warning employees about what they talk about among themselves. Weird, but hey, that’s what unions have done for us!

        This would be a good question to bring up at a CARD board meeting. They are usually held on a Thursday – schedule and agendas available here:

        Latest meeting was just last night. They flopped out their budget, up about a million from last year, even though they’ve been whining about losing funding and facing Obamacare, bums chasing away renters at the CARD center, cuts in property tax funding, loss of RDA funding, and other disasters. I’m almost done with my summer break, I’ll get back to attending those CARD meetings. I’m hoping to find a couple of candidates to run for two open positions on the board, yak that up among your friends and please get back to me.

        If you are interested in CARD, or interested in a pretty easy public service position, a CARD board position might be for you. The meetings are quick and well-run, it’s not that onerous.

  2. Jim July 4, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    CARD wasn’t competent enough to properly maintain the old pool, why should we trust them with a new pool?
    Just fix the old pool and save the taxpayers millions.

    • Juanita Sumner July 5, 2014 at 5:27 am #

      Yes, I think we need to demand they upgrade and maintain the old pools. But get ready for them to tell you, they need a bond or assessment to do that.

      The real issue here is the money. I don’t care what they build, they need to do it with the money they already get. They get $3,000,000 a year in property taxes, just to start. They have a budget over $5,000,000 a year, and most of it goes to salaries and benefits for about 33 people. About half those people almost never leave the office on Vallombrosa. The real workers get paid less than $10,000 a year, no benefits – meaning, they’re on welfare the rest of the year. Meanwhile the maintenance director complains he doesn’t have enough people to properly maintain facilities, like the skate park, that keeps getting closed.

      I’m looking for somebody to run for CARD who has a more down-to-earth philosophy on public compensation. Sneed, Seagle, and Ellis are up, and if nobody runs against them, they either stay in their seat, or, Lando gets to appoint whomever he pleases.

  3. Roy L Bishop July 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Last time Tom Lando brought this up I told him that if Chico instituted a sale tax increase I would switch purchasing for my business to outside Chico wherever possible. He said it would be “up to the people” – aye right as we say in Scotland – manipulated by the campaign to increase it / those who would benefit from it
    Since then the proposal disappeared because of the State doing a sale tax increase – but it will no doubt be back.
    We need to make the pay and benefits of these “public servants” realistic and comparable to the private sector, and make the benefits / pensions affordable, not tax the rest of us who don’t get the same benefits more to pay for those that do.

    • Juanita Sumner July 6, 2014 at 5:33 am #

      You said it – a local sales tax increase will drive more people to shop elsewhere, and not just for spite. I’ll say, since Lando brought this up, I’ve found online shopping, and I like it. I buy almost all my household goods online now, most of my clothes, even shoes, and some of my food. That’s your fault Tom, I never would have felt the need if you hadn’t made a grab on the city pie. People are struggling right now, everybody but the publicly employed are feeling the pinch. The nerve of these people – I feel like a carcass, and they’re moving in with their forks and knives.

      I guess it’s good for my health. I’ve lost 14 pounds. I’m back to what I weighed in high school. Dammit, I had bought stretch pants, and now my pants are all too big. Oh well.

      Thanks so much for your support on this issue Dr. Bishop. If we had five more like Roy Bishop, we’d have a group that could make a difference.

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