Archive | February, 2015

Unbridled greed seems to be in vogue this season!

26 Feb

I was sorry to see the Butte County Supervisors vote to raise salaries at the sheriff’s department by 5 percent. They had to eliminate four positions to do it, at the same time they are implementing Measure A. They say they want to make the job more attractive to new recruits, but cut positions. 

You know the old saying – “If it smells like horse puckey, it probably is…”

I’ve long heard, from people I know in the sheriff’s department, that they’ve had a gripe with Chico PD, whose salaries have been a lot higher for years. Instead of joining the movement to bring police salaries, and benefits and pensions, back into a reasonable range, the sheriff’s department has jumped on the chuck wagon. They’ve been eating steak, believe me – now they want caviar. 

Meanwhile, Chico PD fights to get their salaries even higher. They also are asking for five percent raises, and I’m guessing they will get them. Along with plenty of other perks and benies. Alot of benies.

They’ve mounted their typical campaign – “Crime is on the rise in Chico!” This is the same dog and pony show they trot out every time their contracts are on the table. Recognize the pattern here?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFX-cMdR3o4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6TweSKJ59E

Get your yard ready, we will have to mount a campaign against the sales tax increase that will be proposed for the 2016 ballot. It will be interesting to see who brings it up. 

 

Weird twist – just hours before scheduled CPOA contract negotiation, clerk announces “closed session” is open to public?

26 Feb

I got this notice from Dani Brinkley while I was out running errands yesterday afternoon, after I’d received a first notice the day before.  In this notice you see they are allowing the public in?

1.1. Special Council Meeting – 5:00 p.m.

1.2. Call to Order – 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 421 Main Street

1.3. Receive Public Comment – The public may provide comments regarding Items on the Closed Session Agenda

1.4. Adjourn to Closed Session in Conference Room 2, 421 Main Street

2. CLOSED SESSION

2.1. Roll Call

2.2. Staff Present

2.3. CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR (Gov. Code §54957.6.)

Negotiator: Mark Orme, City Manager and Timothy Davis, Burke, Williams & Sorensen

Employee Organizations: CPOA

3. ADJOURNMENT – Reconvene to an Open Session in the Council Chamber immediately following the Closed Session for any announcement, and adjourn to a regular Closed Session on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 in Conference Room 2 at 6:00 p.m., followed by a Joint Meeting between Council and the Airport Commission at 6:30 p.m., followed by a regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber.

She didn’t send this out until after 12:30, for a 5:00 meeting. I’ve seen nothing about it in today’s paper, but I probably read yesterday’s edition. Is this what they call sunshine? Here’s the one I got the day previous.

1.1. CLOSED SESSION – 5:00 p.m.

1.2. Call to Order – 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber Building, Conference Room 2, 421 Main Street

1.3. Roll Call

1.4. Staff Present

2. CLOSED SESSION

2.1. CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR (Gov. Code §54957.6.)

Negotiator: Mark Orme, City Manager and Timothy Davis, Burke, Williams & Sorensen

Employee Organizations: CPOA

3. ADJOURNMENT – Adjourn to an adjourned regular Closed Session on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 in Conference Room 2 at 6:00 p.m., followed by a Joint Meeting between Council and the Airport Commission at 6:30 p.m., followed by a regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber.

I’ll keep trying to get information, but it’s like digging through a pile of manure.

UPDATE: A friend of mine contacted the city clerk’s office, asking about the open/closed session meeting between council and labor negotiators, and got this answer, in tiny blue writing: 

“Yes, all Closed Sessions are required to be noticed pursuant to the Brown Act.  The meeting was called to order in Open Session (in the Chamber) and then the meeting  recessed to Closed Session.  One matter was discussed, no action taken, with nothing further to report.

 

The reporting out on this matter will occur under Closed Session Announcements at next week’s meeting. I hope that helps clarify the process.”

Well, no, not really. Something was discussed, and we’d like  to know what, but city management continues to hold us out of this discussion by the forehead. Try to find the proposals, which are supposed to be somewhere on the website for everybody to see. I could give you a hint but am unsure myself. They were buried in the agendas, then one disappeared and was replaced by a new proposal. Good luck.

Scuse me while I wash these sticky fingerprints off my forehead.

Jerry Haynes resigns as CARD General Manager, cites differences with the board

25 Feb

When I read the story in the ER, my first thought was “don’t let the screen door hit you on the rear end Mr. Haynes.”

Haynes is the guy who yelled at me – should I say raised his voice? – over the phone when I called CARD one day to ask about the assessment process. First he denied any assessment plans, said CARD hadn’t even talked about putting an assessment on our property taxes. That was frustrating to me because I’d sat in meetings hearing about how they wanted to do just that, and articles have appeared in the paper.

I let that go, and asked if I could be put on the notice list for the Aquatic Center Advisory Adhoc Committee. He angrily denied there was any such committee. When I read to him  the agenda item about Bob Malowney being named to that very committee, he admitted there was a committee but denied they were planning to have any future meetings. He denied there was a notification list, but wanted my e-mail? He was so mad I didn’t feel comfortable giving it to him, telling him I’d contact CARD via the website. As I was saying ‘thank you’ he hung up, without so much as “excuse me I have to go to the can.

Urseny reports that Mr. Haynes cited “significant disagreement between myself and the board that I can’t work out,” as his reason for leaving.  I can see that. The board disagrees within itself, and one of the major disagreements seems to be the aquatic center. Board members Ed Seagle and Tom Lando have expressed doubts that the agency should be pursuing a big project like this at a time when they can’t even seem to pay their employees. Over the last couple of years they’ve cut their part time staffers, the people who actually do the work, cutting their hours back to 28 or less a week so they don’t have to pay healthcare. At that time the recreation director said she had to drop about 200 kids from an understaffed program. Lando pointed out that these people were paying customers. Nobody cared – they’d just made an unscheduled $400,000 payment on their CalPERS retirement fund, for the 33 management employees that are actually covered with benefits.  

Seagle has since lost the election and been replaced by aquatic center proponent Bob Malowney.  I’m sure it was the aquatic center proponents who whooshed both Malowney and aquatic center proponent Jan Sneed into their chairs. If everybody who voted for Sneed would write a check for $100, they’d have quite a bit of money  toward their project, but the board has made it clear they intend to go for a property tax of some sort to pay for their Taj Majal dreams.

Seagle and Lando are right – CARD can’t even pay it’s bills. How would they build and manage an aquatic center? I don’t even believe they intend to build it, I think they want an assessment to pay off their CalPERS and other employee compensation obligations. Here’s an article Laura Urseny wrote about a year and a half ago. 

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

Posted:   07/12/2013 12:28:50 AM PDT

 

CHICO — Like walking a tightrope, there is little wiggle room when it comes to the 2013-14 budget of Chico Area Recreation and Park District.During a budget workshop Thursday, General Manager Steve Visconti said the numbers in the preliminary budget are balanced as they stand.

Visconti estimated CARD’s projected revenue will be down by $250,000 to $270,000 less than this year’s because of anticipated declines in property tax revenue and program revenue because of a staffing shortage.The preliminary budget shows total general fund revenue of $6,310,970, and expenses of $6,180,970.

“We feel the property tax revenue will be shy. It’s still in downturn, flat,” Visconti said.

The program revenue decline is a product of adjusting for the extra cost of the Affordable Care Act, which provides medical coverage to full-time employees.

The act changed the definition of a full-time employee from 40 hours weekly, to 30 hours. Because the act would force CARD to provide medical coverage to more employees, employee hours were further reduced.

Less staff hours means reduced program availability.

Director Ed Seagle noted some of the staffing gaps might be covered by interns from Chico State University, who wouldn’t have to be paid.

But Director Jan Sneed noted having staff train interns would take away more time from their overloaded duties.

Seagle noted college part-timers may stick around for a couple of years, so the training would be worthwhile.

Visconti said there was room in the budget to hire part-time temporary employees as long as they were truly part-time and temporary.

Director Tom Lando said he had a “philosophical difference” about using part-time workers rather than offering a full-time position with a “liveable wage.”

“To fill one (more) full-time position, we’d have to pull it out of reserves,” Visconti said.

The board talked about the Affordable Care Act and its impact in light of the recent federal announcement to delay implementation for a year.

Business manager Scott Dowell noted it would only give CARD about a six-month reprieve. Dowell said it costs CARD $10,000 a year per position to provide medical coverage.

Board members talked about having part-time workers put in more hours until the Affordable Care Act kicks in, an option that will further discussed at the next meeting, July 18.

BACKGROUND: The Chico Area Recreation and Park District is dealing with less projected revenue in its 2013-14 budget.

WHAT’S NEW: Because of the federal Affordable Care Act, CARD has been working to balance revenue and costs.

WHAT’S NEXT: CARD will take public comments at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. July 18 at Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

There, Lando mentions a “liveable wage” – CARD employees something like 300 employees, and only the 30 or so management employees have any kind of coverage.  And, $10,000 per employee is an average – here’s the link to the State Controllers website:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?fiscalyear=2013&entityid=1875

I guess Urseny’s article is over a year old, so that $10,000 figure is off. Way off. There’s only three management employees who get less than $10,000 worth of pensions and benefits. Look at those figures again.  CARD management employees, according to former finance director Scott Dowell (now with the city of Chico), pay nothing toward their benefits or pensions. We pay the figure you see, and then the rest floats on the stock market. CalPERS demanded that $300,000 “side payment,” saying they’d forgive penalties. They are demanding more money all the time, these public agencies have been taking huge pensions out of the fund without paying up front. That is the giant “pension liability” that is hanging over the head of every California taxpayer like the sword of Damocles. 

The city just handed them Sycamore Pool. They’ve neglected Pleasant Valley and Shapiro pools into disrepair and threaten to close them next year. 

I don’t know what Jerry Haynes’ problem is with the CARD board, but I know there’s definitely something funky going on at CARD. Want to find out? Invite me to a meeting. 

 

 

 

City Council to meet with labor negotiators in closed session tomorrow (Feb. 25), discuss CPOA contract

24 Feb

https://blu170.mail.live.com/mail/ViewOfficePreview.aspx?messageid=mgWAStOoC85BGp9QAjfePyuA2&folderid=flinbox&attindex=0&cp=-1&attdepth=0&n=42055397

I don’t know if there are any new proposals from either the city or the union, all I have is what I’ve posted previously.

Well, FINALLY! Clerk posts CPOA filings, rec’d Feb. 20 – over two weeks late

24 Feb

http://www.chico.ca.us/city_clerk/campaign_disclosure_files/documents/POAForm4602ndSemi-Annual_Redacted.pdf

She must have posted them yesterday, I looked over the weekend and they weren’t there.  Nothing exciting, just two pages – two pages that were required by law to be in the clerk’s office by January 31.

I don’t know if she fined them the suggested ($5 or $10?) a day. If you want to know, you can contact the clerk’s office at debbie.presson@chicoca.gov; heather.kavanaugh@chicoca.gov; dani.brinkley@chicoca.gov

Presson has two assistants, not just one as I had believed. What’s the problem down there? Health issues? After the week I’ve had, I don’t want to hear about your health issues.

We are less than two years from another election. If you are interested in helping out with ideas let me know. Tell me if you don’t want your comment posted.  I’ve been getting a lot of feed back from people who feel it is risky to talk publicly about the cops or fire department.  

That’s a sad commentary – our police union makes us afraid. 

Still no CPOA report on city website – is the clerk incompetent, or just won’t do her job?

19 Feb

Here it is, February 19, and still no campaign final report from the Chico Police Officers Association, which were due January 31. I don’t know if the clerk has the reports, but she hasn’t posted them on the website.

The City Clerk’s Office will post copies of all current election campaign statements as soon as possible after receipt.  Addresses of individual contributors have been omitted as required under the Public Records Act for internet posting.  Please note that a prima facie review of the documents has not been done prior to posting, and amendments may be requested of the candidates or committees.

“…as soon as possible after receipt...” without “prima facie review”, which should mean it gets posted as soon as they get their hands on it. 

No, I’m not going to her office. That’s what the website is for.  The idea that we have to interrupt our work day to go to her office to ask for documents that are supposed to be readily available to the public  is another reason we need to get somebody else in this job. The city clerk should be elected, she is supposed to answer to the public. She runs our elections, she can actually make candidates or pacs do stuff, or not, at her discretion. Right now, because of an ordinance passed in the 2012 election, she is answerable to the council with whom she can  choose to be helpful, or not, during an election. You know, don’t bite the hand that makes the campaign rules – mess with Debbie Presson, and you might find her a harsh taskmaster at re-election time.  I’m pretty sure that’s a conflict of interest, but I’m not a lawyer. 

I’m guessing what she is doing right now is perfectly OK with the council majority. Three of them were elected with money from the CCAG, and I’m guessing, CPOA spent most of their money on Sorensen, Coolidge and Fillmer as well. Why they are dragging their feet with their final report is the  question – why can’t the cops obey the law? 

At any rate, we will only get as good as we demand. 

Why PAC’s are BAD

17 Feb

There’s not much surprising in the reports that were just posted from former police chief Mike Maloney’s PAC – Chico Citizens for Accountability. Shocking, yes, disturbing, yes – surprising? No. 

Maloney raised around $50,000 – I didn’t do a formal tally – and spent it on mailers, billboards, radio ads and other support of candidates  Sorensen, Coolidge and Fillmer, as well as a pretty damning mailer with a picture of Scott Gruendl with the UNIVERSAL NO! over his face. I already knew that. I already knew alot of his donors – mostly realtors and construction people. 

What really disgusts me about these reports, beyond the fact that Maloney was allowed to be five days late in filing without being fined, is the amounts single donors are allowed to contribute to PAC’s – way beyond the city’s $900 limit for a single person.  For example, local realtor and developer Doug Guillon gave at least $5,000 in this last campaign. As an individual, like you and me, he would have been limited to $900.

Guillon has always been a big donor to the conservatives, and always gets a lot of consideration from them when he has a project. Years ago, conservatives led by realtor Dan Herbert were going to push forward an extension of Otterson Drive, in Guillon’s business park, meaning, put it ahead of other slated public projects, do it with public money, instead of making Guillon pay for it. People gathered signatures against it, and the council had to reconsider – the project ended up being scrapped. It was so obviously a spoils project for a big donor. 

You got to wonder, what will they try to give Guillon now? 

PACs are bad. We either need a resolution that severely limits PACs, or we need to kick them out of local elections. 

We do have a city clerk, Debbie Presson, who is supposed to keep these PAC’s honest – she has the discretion to fine them when they turn their paperwork in late – $5 a day – but has chosen not to do so, even though the CPOA has been late for a number of filings. It’s a pattern with those guys, and Presson lets them get away with it. The CCAG was five days late, according to the date stamp – I guess that’s  why she wasn’t posting that filing on line, she didn’t want people bitching about it. Well, I am. And the CPOA has yet to file, but she hasn’t fined them either.

We need to change the city charter to elect the city clerk. I know this hasn’t worked out perfect at the county, but I think it helps keep Candy Grubbs honest.  Presson is supposed to be an officer of the public, but she seems to work for the police union instead.