Archive | December, 2014

Mike and Laurie Maloney suing the City of Chico?

29 Dec

Can anybody explain this?

Case Information
Case Number: 159887
Filing Date: 06/24/13

Name Type Attorney

Where’s the accountability? Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Peevey, criticized for inappropriate relations with utilities companies, leaves the commission with $80,000 ratepayer-funded pension

24 Dec

There is just no accountability anymore. The fox is not only in charge of the hen house, he’s in charge of the entire farmyard nowadays. There’s nobody for the public citizen to call when they are having their pockets turned inside out by corrupt government and quasi-government agencies, like the utility companies. 

The utility companies are supposed to be supervised by the California Public Utilities Commission, but if you’ve been following the conversation here you know that is a Pollyanna fantasy. Those who have been following the CPUC longer than I have point to Governor Gray Davis’ 1999 – 2003 term as the beginning of a general takeover of the commission by Davis’ utility company cronies, starting with the installment of Southern California Edison president Michael Peevey to the very commission that was supposed to keep people like him in check. This all happened right under our noses, but I think we were probably busy watching The Simpsons. 

What a bizarre period of history that was – ending with a Hollywood takeover of the Governor’s mansion. It may well have been an episode of The Simpsons, but it really happened. Davis was in thick with the utility companies, with representatives from all the major providers within his cabinet of consultants. He floated in contributions from the utility companies. When his friends manipulated the market to raise prices, laughing about it all along in those famous taped phone  calls, Davis called for ratepayers to conserve! Sound familiar?

Davis left under recall, but his cronies like Peevey stayed on in various appointed positions.  Gubernor Schwarzenegger didn’t do anything to change things, I’m guessing the utilities became more powerful over his administration, I haven’t researched it. Current governor Jerry Brown also took quatloos of dough from the utility companies, returning PG&E’s campaign contributions for this latest election only after “inappropriate” e-mails and phone calls between his office, PG&E, and employees of the CPUC were made public.

That is the scandal that finally took Peevey out of office, at 75, into a plush retirement, but didn’t part a hair on the Moonbeam’s head. Here we are, stuck with him another four years. 

I can’t really celebrate Peevey’s departure, I’ve looked at the credentials of the other commissioners and it’s all the same – former employees of utility companies, whether directly employed or worked for them as employees of lawyers and other consultants. And then there’s Peevey’s retirement – I think he should have got a suit of tar and feathers, but he’ll get $80,000/year salary, along with complete health care and long-term care, and don’t forget the Cost of Living Adjustment, which is based on a percentage of their pension. The rich get richer a lot faster than the poor under these pensions. 

Here’s a piece about Peevey’s last meeting with the CPUP.

A bizarre send-off, for a very bizarre man, in a very bizarre situation. I can only hope Senator Jerry Hill is right when he says this will be a new start for the CPUC, but Peevey’s replacement will be chosen by Governor Brown.

CARD finally announces plans to pursue a tax measure to pay for Aqua Jets’ swim center

22 Dec

Here we are, days ahead of Christmas  – I really don’t feel like  talking about CARD – but that’s what they want, isn’t it? That’s why they waited until December 17, when so many people are busy, even out of town, to start talking publicly about their plans to put an assessment on our homes to build  an aquatic center for “a swim association”.

I didn’t make the meeting because I had to go out of town. We had already postponed that trip, and time is getting tight – I hate to be a lemming, but people, especially the very young and the very old, need tradition.  They need routine, they need to be able to depend on something. Traditions build family. Sometimes I have to turn my back on this stuff so I can  be sure I have something to go home to when the meetings are over.

I had to depend on ER reporter Laura Urseny to tell me what went on at the meeting – that’s okay, because I’ve been to these meetings before, and I know what she’s not saying. But she is leaving details out, which doesn’t surprise me. “a swim association”? You mean Aqua Jets, Laura Honey.

I feel Urseny has done her best to float this aquatic center in a positive light, while leaving out a lot of pertinent details, like how they want to fund it. She’s been at the same meetings I’ve been at, heard their plans about waiting until legislative changes were made in the assessment process, waiting until the voter threshold was lowered from 2/3’s to 51 percent. Jerry Hughes gave a presentation about that at one meeting, saying they needed to wait until all that legislation had passed  before they tried to pass a tax here. Laura Urseny was at that meeting, but not one word of Hughes speech was in her following write-up.
She also fails to report that about 99.9 percent of the CARD subcommittee is made up of parents and friends of Aqua Jets, including their general manager.

What shocked me was Lando’s questioning of the whole thing – asking, “is this more important than other projects?” How about, paying your employees and giving them  decent benefits?  At a meeting earlier this year, the board was told they needed to dump staff and cut the remaining workers to 28 hours or less, to avoid paying Obamacare.  Manager Monica Jameson complained she didn’t have enough staff to run popular programs, and was going to have to cut hundreds of kids from programs like “Junior Giants.” She only had a couple of people to supervise 300 or more kids.

But, like the city of Chico, CARD continues to spend – they laid out somewhere between $30,000 and $60,000 – Urseny doesn’t give an exact figure – to Melton Design Group for three designs for this center, and are now going to hire another consultant(s) to tell them how to get the public to pay for it. A couple of years ago they spent $40,000 on a survey that came back negative – the majority of respondents said NO, we do not want to pay for your Taj Majal swim club – but now  they will try again.
Laura Urseny never discusses the CARD budget, how much of the money goes into the salaries of the top three managers and their benefits and pension. She never told the public how they bottomed out their budget one year making a $400,000 payment on their pensions.
After Christmas I’ll go after the newest information – they’ve had a management turnover with the retirement of director Steve Visconti, who was making about $112,000/year plus benies. Finance director Scott Dowell has left to go  to the city of Chico. He was making $96,000 a year with CARD. So, I’m guessing the new hirees have gotten raises over those employees, we’ll see what the new budget looks like after Christmas.
What I don’t have time to discuss right now is the rose garden issue, which I find  hilarious. Read that yourself, below.  I will say, at the meeting I attended on this subject, the fence wasn’t about deer, it was about homeless people and vandals. 
Swim center, rose garden looking different

Chico >> The Chico Area Recreation and Park District board is moving ahead on two projects, but not quite in the same direction as before.

On Thursday, suggestions about a proposed aquatic center and community rose garden veered off their previous courses, pushed along by financial concerns and the CARD board’s objections.

A proposed aquatic center is part of CARD’s master plan and has been discussed for more than a year. For this meeting, several plans with different attributes were going to be discussed, with costs ranging from $10.8 million to $18 million.

A CARD subcommittee of board members and the public hoped to trigger large contributions from the community, but it looks like CARD will have to take the issue to the voters for a tax measure to pay for the facility.

The board happily accepted an offer from members of the subcommittee, including a swim association, to pay for a feasibility study on the center.

General Manager Jerry Haynes suggested and the board agreed to bring in consultants to talk to the board about ways to proceed financially with a center’s development. As far as mounting a successful public education campaign, that should be up to the swim group and its supporters, the board agreed.

The board did not take a position on the three center designs included in the agenda.

Director Tom Lando noted CARD’s master plan was done in the “golden age” when development and revenue were easier to come by, and that the master plan priorities should be reviewed.

While he said he supported the aquatic center, he asked, “Is this more important than other projects” mentioned in the plan.

Later, in a separate discussion, the board agreed to review the master plan next year, to see if priorities were appropriate.

In regarding to the rose garden, a design that came in with preliminary construction estimates beyond earlier discussions hit the wall. Estimates ranged from $403,227.72 to $473,267.57.

“I won’t vote for this,” Lando said.

Lando and other directors noted the project was to be phased in construction, and liked early estimates of under $200,000.

The board agreed to match long-time resident Marilyn Warrens contribution of $125,000, making the first phase a $250,000 project. The board asked Haynes to come back with a first-phase design that met that budget. Likely CARD will face prevailing wage costs in the construction.

Warrens herself voiced surprise over the higher price.

“I can’t bring any more money to this.”

Warrens has tried for more than a decade to create a public rose garden, committing time and money, and getting involved in the project’s design. The Butte Rose Society has agreed to help as well.

Directors were shown a design that would replace the grassy area between the Chico Community Center — CARD’s home — and Big Chico Creek. It had a main stage for weddings and other events, rows of roses and seating. In adopting the project, CARD noted that the project could help bring in more revenue and better use the area.

The plan also included a 7-foot-high wrought iron fence surrounding the area and attaching to CARD buildings to protect the rose garden from deer, Haynes said.

The design addressed concerns voiced by the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission. CARD leases the property from the city, which is actually part of Bidwell Park.

Warrens agreed with board members who thought that once the first phase was under construction, other contributions to finish the project would surface.

The garden’s new design will come back to the board for discussion. Director Michael Worley noted that there should be some presentation of the design to make sure that the public is not surprised by the design as was the case in the City Plaza redesign.

It’s Christmas, and Chico Area Recreation District has got their hand in your stocking!

17 Dec

Busy busy Christmas time – I wonder if anybody is paying attention to what CARD is doing.

I will be out of town Thursday night for a family affair, but the newly installed CARD board will finally be having a truly public discussion about putting a tax on the 2016 ballot to build an aquatic center for Chico Aqua Jets. That is, if the public bothers to show up.’

The alternative is, fix Shapiro Pool, which has suffered from just plain neglect for years. They’ve let Shapiro turn into a shit hole so nobody will care when they close it and take all our money to build their Taj Majal aquatic center.  So  far CARD has paid my kids’ old hockey coach (and you sucked as coach Greg) an undisclosed amount (somewhere, they say, between $10,000 and $18,000 per design) for three designs. They used money from their budget – at a meeting last year they said their budget was so overimpacted they had to lay people off and cut employee’s hours to avoid paying health benefits, but now they come up with somewhere between $30,000 and $60,000 to draw some sketches for an aquatic center that hasn’t been approved? 

I’m sorry, but if Melton’s designs are anything like his “commitment” as a coach, they aren’t worth the paper they’ve  been printed on.

See, this is the utter malfeasance that is Chico Area Recreation and Tax Sucking District. Nine thousand of you approved of this by voting for longtime incumbent Jan Sneed, so just suck it up and get out your own checkbooks, I ain’t paying. 

They say it will serve the public – I sat through earlier discussions, when the 30 or so people behind this move discussed how they would get the public to approve of such a tax. The lion’s share of this building will go to Aqua Jets, but the center will offer classes to children and the elderly. This will bring in some revenue, but longtime board member and former chair Ed Seagle admitted the center will “never pay for itself.” 

Legislative changes in the tax assessment process have made it easier to get these taxes passed – lowering the voter threshold from two-thirds to 51 %. Now 51 % of the public can shove a tax up the asses of the other 49 – wow, that’s not Democracy, that’s mob rule. That’s a G-Snatch! 

When I wrote a letter to the ER a couple of years back, talking about this discussion, former CARD director Steve Visconti actually brought my letter up at a meeting, right in front of me, and told the group they had to do something to counter my letter! He wanted to get a letter writing campaign going to discredit me, but I never found out where that went. It certainly didn’t make it into the newspaper. You’ll note that there has never been any real popular support for this center, only people with kids in Aqua Jets.

That’s the pattern of late – tax the poor to pay for fancy crap for the rich. Take note of the cop contracts – public safety workers are the new One Percent, with their lesser court made up of other public workers. Public workers who collect big salaries to “manage” – the manager of the local mosquito abatement district makes over $100,000/year, and pays less than 5 percent of his own pension and benefits. He just “managed” to put a open-ended assessment on your house – when was the last time you had any notice from Butte County Mosquito Abatement, that they would be doing any work in your neighborhood? Never? But look at your property tax bill – there it is. 

See, there’s this scam – if you could collect $1 from everybody in Chico, that would be over $80,000.  That’s twice the median, or normal, income, but it doesn’t seem like much when it’s just a dollar from each person, does it?  That’s how it works for all these agencies, CARD, BCMVCD, CUSD – they don’t do anything for most of us, but they can put a tax on your home to pay their salaries and benefits. And it’s a lot more than a dollar a year. 




Rand Paul supports Right to Work legislation – “I believe that workers should not be forced to pay dues just to keep a job…”

12 Dec

From This Week in News for Senator Rand Paul:

Dr. Rand Paul Supports Right to Work Effort in Warren County

I issued a statement on Thursday following the Warren County Fiscal Court’s granting preliminary approval to a country Right to Work ordinance.

I support efforts on the federal level to promote Right to Work laws. I am excited that the local leaders in my hometown of Bowling Green have taken the initiative to push for this common sense change to the law.

Local leaders will be able to attract and keep good quality jobs in the community while preserving the freedom to contract for employees and employers. I believe that workers should not be forced to pay dues just to keep a job let alone pay them to organizations that spend hundreds of millions of dollars electing candidates that so many of their members oppose.

I am pleased to support your efforts, congratulate you on your leadership, and I am proud that my own hometown will be the first to take this dramatic step for the creation of jobs, and the protection of individual liberties. I want to thank Judge Executive Buchanon for his leadership in promoting Right to Work for the people of Kentucky. I also would like to thank the Warren County Fiscal Court.

More here:

Guest Post: ER letter writer finds better shopping outside Butte County

12 Dec

Every now and then I check the letters section of the Enterprise Record to see what other people are talking about – this morning I found a somewhat like-minded person.

Letter: Butte County sales leaking over to Glenn County

Butte County sales leaking over to Glenn County

I used to live in Willows and drive to Chico to shop. Now I live in Chico and drive to Willows to shop.

There’s a big difference in the size and offerings at the Walmart in Willows as well as less traffic and parking hassles. Another plus is that you don’t have to stand in line for 20-plus minutes to return an item.

While I am in Glenn County, not only do I end up buying groceries as well as other items at Walmart, I have dinner at the Black Bear Diner and I often make a stop at CVS, Dollar General and/or The Dollar Tree. 

— Maxine Rodgers, Chico

Ms. Rodgers says she shops in Willows to avoid the lines and parking hassles – that’s true. I think she’s talking about Walmart mostly, but it’s always interesting to check out the rest of the scene – there are some interesting specialty shops in both Willows and Orland, and there’s good Mexican meat markets and bakeries, for example.

Ms. Rodgers may not be aware, there is a movement in Chico to raise sales tax to pay for stuff Downtown. That is a good reason to shop in Glenn County too.  Please save your receipts and send them to Chico City Council.

Don’t forget to stop at the gas station  in Ham City before you cross the river – send that receipt to the council too!

Read the CPOA proposal here

11 Dec

On next Tuesday’s agenda we again find the council in closed door conference with Chico Police, but no “sunshine” on the discussion. The last thing we have is the CPOA proposal from the October 21 agenda:

Council has been in closed door conference with the CPOA at every meeting since October 21, but that’s all we know. I have not seen any kind of proposal from the city, only the demands listed by the CPOA.

Read it yourself – right off the top, they want 5 percent raises, more holiday and overtime pay, and they want the city to pay benefits recently surrendered by management employees, like FICA. Here we pay 91 percent of their pension and benefits – on a pension worth 90 percent of their highest year’s salary, available at 50 years of age –  but they still expect us to pay their workman’s comp. 

The cops already get about half the budget – over $20 million out of about $43 million total budget. Yes, we have crime here, but Chico Police get paid on par with cities like San Francisco – that hardly seems legitimate. More people have been killed here by the cops than cops have been killed, that’s a brutal fact, Ma’am. 

We hear threats they will leave if we don’t pay them enough – I can’t believe our council folds to that, and expects us to fold too. That is the kind of extortion we can count on from these people – none of them are fit to wear a badge, to serve in a position of trust. The idea that a cop would threaten the citizens – what are you people thinking, putting up with a bag dog?

Bad dog, bad bad dog!








Stockton Chapter 9 proceedings result in retiree’s “giving up” $550 million in benefits

7 Dec


I’ve been trying to follow the proceedings in Stockton, where the city is currently negotiating a Chapter 9 bankruptcy with the court.  I found the court reporter’s word-for-word report of the most recent October 30 hearing, it’s really interesting:

On page 13, the judge acknowledges that significant changes were made to Stockton’s employee contracts, regarding the payment of “employee share”. He doesn’t offer all the details, but on page 16 or so he says it amounts to around $550 million in “unsecured claims” that retirees will now pay themselves. 

As with Vallejo, the cops were the biggest problem, but he says they’ve now reached agreement with the city. We’ll have to keep an eye on that, Chico will very likely be headed in a similar direction within the next two to four years. 



Center for Individual Rights: “Collective bargaining is inherently political”

3 Dec

Here is a more recent article – from November 18 – about that lawsuit against the California Teachers Association, from the website of the firm that is representing the teachers:

Again, this lawsuit asks the court to overrule its precedent that allows states to mandate union dues – the law that allows employers and unions to exclude – refuse to hire – workers  who do not wish to be members or pay dues. Simply put, they are suing for the individual’s right to work.  The Center for Individual Rights, representing 10 California teachers, is taking it to the Supreme Court because they say this is the only court that has the authority  to grant them “relief” from involuntary union conscription.

Here’s an excerpt that sort of addresses a question we had on an earlier post:

Collective Bargaining is inherently political

Typically, California teacher union dues cost upwards of a $1,000 per year. Although California law allows teachers to opt-out of the thirty percent or so of their dues devoted to overt political lobbying, they may not opt out of the sixty to seventy percent of their dues the union determines is devoted to collective bargaining. This type of forced-payment scheme assumes that collective bargaining is “non-political.”  But bargaining with local governments is inherently political.  Whether the union is negotiating for specific class sizes or pressing a local government to spend tax dollars on teacher pensions rather than on building parks, the union’s negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial.

A reader had mentioned a possible provision for donating to charity – I doubt that’s still in the contracts,  but here they claim they will exempt 30 percent of your dues they say they spend on political causes. 

I agree with the lawyers who are representing the teachers – the union is political and everything they do is political. This 30-60 split is  preposterous – for one thing, I want to see the CTA’s books, all the way around.  They should have to make those public, on an easily accessible website, I’ll have to keep nosing around.

I’m assuming other  unions have the same exemption, am I assuming too much?  Every dime the CPOA PAC gets goes to political causes – where does the money go that is not used for the PAC? I’d like to see that fund  – should I ask CPOA president Peter Durfee? He couldn’t even get his campaign paperwork filed on time, complaining, essentially, “Dammit, I’m a COP, not an accountant!”  So, I have to wonder – who keeps the CPOA’s regular books, and where do I find them? 

I’d say, having to pay dues to an organization that pushes an agenda you don’t agree with is a shakedown. 

A real union is made of a group of people who agree to work together for a common cause, whether it is a temporary or permanent relationship.  You talk and vote among yourselves, with people who have the same gripes or needs, and you have to agree on your action, or it isn’t going to come off. If one person can’t get a big enough group to agree on an action, then that suggestion should die. If you are unhappy in your job, but you can’t get your fellow workers to agree with you, then you should find another job. 

With modern unions, the decisions are made by people who aren’t even employees, full-time “arbitrators” who get salaries bigger than working members, people who use intimidation, harassment and threats to get members to go along with the party line. 

sheesh – sounds like Chico!

Here’s how it works – you’ll be having coffee quietly somewhere, minding your own business, and some person you had considered too good to talk to you suddenly pulls up the chair across the table and makes friendly greetings in a low voice. They have lots of flattery for you – still in a low voice – but they wonder – are you really using your energies/talents to a good purpose? This actually happened to me at an “envelope stuffing party”, where I was sitting folding letters for Maureen Kirk, who was running for city council at the time. A very powerful liberal sat down and told me I should let her and others who know more about what they are doing write my letters!  She thought all I cared about was getting my name in the paper, and I’d be glad to let somebody else do all the onerous work of having the opinion. I can laugh now, but if she sat across the table from me today I’d land my size 8 right in her junk. 

I don’t hang out in coffee shops, so it happens to me more often via e-mail,  when one of them gets ahold of my e-mail under false pretenses. One well known liberal approached me this way, telling me, I had a “charming way with words,” and he loved my “feisty character,”  but by the third e-mail he was telling me I was “pissing into the wind” with my letters to the editor, “nobody listens to you.” 

This is, by the way, cyber bullying.  Like those women who are accusing Bill Cosby – if I told you who this old mummy was, you’d laugh your ass off. But I know he’s done it to other people.  The conservatives do it too – they also have an old mummy they take out of the cotton batting to annoy anybody who tries to raise their head up and say something that doesn’t jibe with  the party line. 

It’s as simple as that – they put you down, make you feel uncomfortable in your ability to express yourself. I’ve got a guy now, a member of the teachers’  union, who just keeps coming around and telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about. 

No, this doesn’t work on me, because my parents  put the mark on me when I was too young to realize – they told me I would be stubborn, they told me I would always think I was right. Your parents just know. 

But other people were raised by bullies, and they fall for bullying. It always blows my mind when I get those anonymous notes from people saying, “please don’t print my outrageous remark, I don’t want to get in trouble…”  But I know what they’re talking about, and I don’t have the heart to poke them about it, I know their fears are warranted.  

No, you do not have the “right” to a job in California.








Wow, here’s some news we haven’t seen in the Enterprise Record – a group of California teachers have mounted a lawsuit against paying mandatory union dues

1 Dec

A group of 10 California public school teachers is fighting the California Teacher’s Union for the right to work – they currently have the case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, I don’t have any news more recent than a month ago.

Of course the CTA says this is an “anti-union” move. It seems, the only way you can be perceived as “pro-union” is sit down, shut up, and do what you’re told. Oh, and don’t forget to FORK OVER!