If you attended the dog and pony show without attending the AFAC meeting, you are being misled

29 Oct

Ann Willmann dropped a little bomb yesterday as she started the Aquatic Facility committee meeting – she announced there would be a public meeting at 7pm last night!   She had noticed me of the AFAC meeting, yesterday, 4pm, but didn’t think I’d be interested in the public meeting held later that evening? Apparently she advertised it somewhere, I’m guessing, about a 4 x 4 ad buried in the back pages of the ER. She announced she’d had 12 e-mail responses – I’m going to throw out another guess here – those were from the people she personally noticed, none of which was me.

Willmann is doing everything she can to shove this aquatic center past the voter’s nose and down our throats. Of course, in the mindless chatter that accompanies all these meetings, she said her son is on a swim team that hopes to use the facility. That’s what this is all about – a pack of dogs making demands for a bigger share of meat for themselves.

If you were not at yesterday’s AFAC meeting, you are being misled. The consultants are here to try and make us believe we need to build a pool for Chico Swim Association.  But, I notice, they are also trying to reel this committee into a more reasonable project – I believe Dennis from Aquatics Design Group was trying to tell them it would be more reasonable and rational to repair the two existing pools. Of course, he is all about getting the taxpayers to float some sort of bond or sales tax increase, but at least he’s trying to calm these people into accepting a more rational end figure.

He told a story about a group he worked with in Walnut Grove. When they handed him a Christmas list of goodies, he handed them back a $29 million price tag. They were shocked. He told them, like he was trying  to tell this group of dummies yesterday, “why don’t you find out what you can afford and give me a call…” They came up with $12 million. 

This group wants all the bells and whistles. At one point, members were discussing the different pool temperatures required for different activities – toddler swim lessons and therapy activities need about 10 degrees warmer water than competition practice. Tom Lando asked, exasperated, “is there no innovative technology to heat water?!”  The sky is the limit for Lando, who makes almost $150,000/year IN PENSION. Both the consultant and committee member Haley Cope rolled their eyes and said “yes, but it’s reeeeeaaaaallllly expensive.”  

Lando is really pushing this project, but I don’t believe he is sincere when he says it’s for the good of the community. He has to keep the money rolling into CalPERS to pay his own pension, I think that’s his biggest motivator. $150,000/year – that’s more than $10,000/month! Where does it all go Tom? Care to throw down $100,000 to pay for the consultants we’ve had in on this thing?

Former CARD directors, past board members, and current pension obligations Ed Seagle and Jerry Hughes both reminded us that CARD ran a survey a couple of years ago that came back negative – Jerry said  it – Chico taxpayers are not willing to pay for this project. Seagle also reminded everybody, these projects never pay for themselves, ever. The consultants told them again and again – at best, they could hope for a “35 – 45% return” from users of this facility, they kept repeating – this pig will have to be subsidized by the voters.

Loren from “Sports Management Group” said the taxpayers have to pay for it – “the community has to make a decision about things worth having…” She said, “you can find a bazillion partners who want to use it, but they don’t bring anything of material value…” Meaning, they don’t want to raise money for funding, and then they don’t want to pay fees based on actual cost. She reminded the group – it’s about “price sensitivity…if you make it cheap enough, everybody will want to use it, and then it’s not big enough…” 

So, let’s face it, this project is a money pit, and here she’s admitting, the users will never pay for it. At one point, citing a job they did in the city of El Paso, Texas, Dennis reported, it was determined that only about 15 percent of the total population would even use the facility. 

Yes, we need swimming pools here. We have two that have been steadily used for years, while meeting the needs of the community, that have been neglected into dysfunction. I used those pools for about 10 years when my kids were small, they were always well attended, but never so crowded that we had to wait in line for anything. Sometimes Shapiro would get kind of hoppin’, and the diving board would get backed up.

In the beginning the pools were clean, the staff was nice and eager to please, they knew the kids by name, played games, mandated “Time Outs”. But, by the time my younger son was in lessons, snot hung in the pool (now we find out the filter at Shapiro has not functioned properly for years), the decks were littered with trash from forbidden food, and the staff would stand around in a circle with their backs to the swimmers and chatter gossip. If you asked them for something they acted like you were standing on their junk. 

When I read the report given by a local pool company, I was shocked to see that CARD, who has been responsible for the pools and their finances for years, had not even kept the pools up to code. Nevermind the ADA – that’s the Americans With Disabilities Act – I’m talking about the health and safety code.


There are trip hazards on the deck at Shapiro, for example – some created by the improper removal of the popular diving board.  

Chico is a city of over 80,000. I can’t believe CARD would so badly mismanage our pools. In the meantime, they’ve continued to pay 100 percent of their management pensions, with a $1.7 million pension liability hanging like a wrecking ball. As I sat in that room yesterday, I looked around at four pension liabilities sitting right in front of me – Seagle, Hughes, Lando and Willman – none of whom pay or paid a penny toward their own retirement.

Just imagine getting a check for $10,000/month, for nothing.  Wow, wouldn’t you think a guy like Tom Lando, who is so quick to put a sales tax increase to the rest of us, would yank out his checkbook and cut a quick one for $10,000? Hey, how about $100,000 Tom? 

The whole meeting yesterday was insulting and outrageous. Yes, Aqua Jets was the only organization represented – none of the other “users”, as Loren speculated, are bringing anything to the table. Aqua Jets has done no fundraising for this project. Yes, they expect all the bells and whistles and the public to pay for it. 

When I get a chance, I’ll sit down and work off my notes, but right now I’m afraid having to hash it all over again would ruin my day. Committee members Haley Cope and Jackie Santos made some really insulting remarks – they wouldn’t have made those remarks in a public meeting, I’ll tell you that right now. 

UPDATE: Here’s the “public notice” Willmann ran with help from her pet news reporter Laura Urseny – notice the date and time this article was posted – 11am, the day of. No wonder only 25 participants – Willmann needs to go. 

CARD seeking pool-related comments at Oct. 28 meeting

Chico >> Chico residents will have a chance to comment about a proposed aquatics facility through the Chico Area Recreation and Park District.

A consultant hired by CARD will be taking input starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

There is no specific design in mind, but this workshop will help CARD decide what the facility should look like and what activities need to be considered.

CARD’s board has agreed to pay Aquatics Design Group of Carlsbad $50,000, plus $10,000 contingent for the feasibility study.

Willmann says there will be a short program, and then people will be asked to offer their ideas and desires.

CARD hopes to have preliminary information and a broad — not defined — design before Christmas. It will take from five to six months for a finished product to come from the consultants, Willmann said.

During the two-day visit this month, the consultants will also be sitting down one-on-one with stakeholders like competitive and recreational swim groups to get a feel for the swim and water communities, as well as CARD’s aquatics subcommittee.

But the open house is especially designed for the general public.

“It would be nice to have people like parents or grandparents, and to hear what the community wants,” Willmann said.

Willmann said she would ask the community “If there was a different type of pool, what would encourage me to use it?”

Information gathered from previous meetings will be shared with the consultant as well, she said.

The consultants will also be weighing-in on the existing pools CARD uses, which are the ones by Bidwell and Chico junior highs.

At its last board meeting, CARD directors agreed to keep Chico Junior’s Shapiro Pool open through March. Because of its age and amount of maintenance it takes, CARD was going to discontinue its lease of the pool. Both public pools are owned by the Chico Unified School District, which has not been interested in taking over their operation from CARD.

Willmann said one benefit the consultant will bring is the ability to see how much revenue will be brought to CARD depending on the design and size of the proposed facility.

There is no designated budget for the project yet, other than what the consultant will be getting.

Those who can’t make the meeting can write emails or letters to Willmann through annw@chicorec.com or CARD, 545 Vallombrosa Ave., Chico 95926.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

9 Responses to “If you attended the dog and pony show without attending the AFAC meeting, you are being misled”

  1. Chuck October 30, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    Juanita, did you see the letter from Mike Liddell (ex Butte College coach)? Another public salaried, public pensioned individual telling the rest of us, making private sector salaries while we pay for their ridiculous comp packages, to buck up and shell out the dough for his pipe dream.

    Where do these people get their sense of entitlement?

    • Juanita Sumner October 30, 2015 at 5:45 am #

      Yes, I saw that, the beginning of the bullshit barrage by Chico Aqua Jets.

      Liddell says, “What’s wrong with assessing a small designated tax to support development of a sports fund that could grow over a few years to fund all the athletic needs of the high schools and community?”

      Yes, another public salaried employee telling the rest of us to buck up and chip in. We already pay taxes to support these programs, embezzled to pay outrageous management salaries like Liddell’s. I’ll tell you what – if these snout noses got together, they could easily privately fund the renovations necessary at Shapiro.

      Liddell says our pools are “inoperable” – we need to talk about how they got that way while we were shoveling over $6 million a year into CARD. I don’t think Liddell can answer that – he’s an overfed hog, I don’t know if he could clear his palate long enough to make a response. Maybe he’s really after the same end as Lando – keep CalPERS above water so he will get his pension.

      He also claims, “If well designed, a sports complex would bring a variety of teams, parents and supporters to Chico all year long with significant revenue to Chico businesses.” This claim is made repeatedly by the Aqua Jets organization and supporters, but they have no receipts. Jackie Santos and other members claimed they spent hundreds of dollars when they went out of town for swim meets, insinuating that other teams would come here and do same. Well, if that’s true, then any spending we have here is almost completely negated with our townspeople going to tournaments out of town and spending money in those towns.

      I’ll tell you the truth, my kid was in a sports league like this, and all that spending is bullshit. When we had tournaments, our guests were ripped off at a Chico motel, so word got around fast – they started staying at the casino at Corning. They ate there too, with maybe one trip to Sierra Nevada. They bought gas there.

      The league would try to set up hotel deals in the towns were we played, but the hotels don’t give discounts, the league is expected to reward those who stay in hotels with a discount on their playing fee. This only works out for the hotel, which is usually the spendiest place in town. Our team had three families with motorhomes. The playing facilities allowed motorhomes in the parking lot because it gave a festive atmosphere. The teams also offered bbq’s and other food fundraisers, so people didn’t have to go to restaurants. And everybody brought a giant cooler full of snacks and drinks.

      So, like the consultants said again and again, “these facilities aren’t the cash cow people think…”

    • bob October 30, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

      According to transparent california Liddell pulls down a six figure pension. Could be more as they don’t list additional benefits. (I’m guessing he gets some kind of medical supplemental coverage, possibly dental, too, that is not listed.)

      • Juanita Sumner October 31, 2015 at 6:06 am #

        Thanks, I couldn’t find his position – “Commissioner of the Big 8” community college sports programs. I knew that as former Butte College football coach and athletic director, he is part of the pension liability.

        Just think, every time a parent pays their kid’s Butte College tuition, Mike Liddell takes a cut off the top! Liddell is one reason why college is unaffordable for a lot of people. But he thinks it’s okay to ask the rest of us to pay for his pool. Stop it!

  2. bob October 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    Wow, wouldn’t you think a guy like Tom Lando, who is so quick to put a sales tax increase to the rest of us, would yank out his checkbook and cut a quick one for $10,000?

    Or how about a thousand? These trough feeders have pensions worth millions, they could afford to write big checks. Lando gets a pension in excess of 100K a year and while pulling down this pension he has other income coming in from the taxpayers, for example his consulting or temporary employment such as when he was employed by the city of Biggs. Meanwhile the median household income in Chico is about 42K.

    To these trough feeders we are the feast!

    The word taxpayer is a synonym for tax sucker.

  3. bob October 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    The other thing that really ticks me off about this is that the city can’t even maintain the infrastructure it already has. It is not just irresponsible, but insane to add more infrastructure until the city can afford to maintain what it already has.

    Mark my word, if a tax increase or bond measure passes for this facility and it gets built there will be another tax increase or bond measure down the road for funding its maintenance.

    • Juanita Sumner October 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      That’s what the consultant was saying, these things never pay for themselves, there will be an annual “subsidy.”

      Ann Willman said CARD already “subsidizes” Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools – meaning, they don’t take in enough revenue to pay for operation. I think that’s bullshit, I think they use cost allocation to add $$$$$ to pool expenses, for salaries for people like Willman who don’t really do anything to maintain the pools. And “subsidize” – that’s a funny word. The connotation is “charity”, when CARD is supposed to be responsible for those pools.

      I asked Willman for those “subsidy” figures and also asked her where I could look at the budgets for pool maintenance the last few years – it’s not itemized in the budget available at their website, and certainly should be. The Durham Rec Dist. Budget, available on their website, spells out everything, including the exact amount paid for employee pensions. Their total budget, including their pool and all their facilities, is under a million dollars. CARD’s budget is about $6 million last I looked.

      Willman told me she’d get back to me with those figures, I’ll keep you posted. .

      • bob October 30, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

        Willman told me she’d get back to me with those figures, I’ll keep you posted.

        Thank you. I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting those figures. I bet getting them will be like pulling teeth.

        These people live in a fantasy world. I would really like to see them face the realities that ordinary people have to face. For instance, I just got a 5% rent increase. This on top of rent increases for the last 4 years in a row. My health insurance went up 25% and the cost of my deductible and co-insurance went up 20% and 10%. For the last two years my health insurance has gone up much more than the two years before that. (Thanks Obammie.) Yesterday in the store I noticed the price of the shaving cream I buy went up 20%. Groceries are going up in price and the containers are shrinking. For instance, orange juice is now in 59oz containers instead of 64. Yet our lying government tells us there is no inflation. I guess when you are getting a six figure pension plus milking the tax suckers for even more through cronyism…er…consulting you don’t need to care about such things.

        And the insidious thing about taxes like sales tax is that when the prices go up the government gets even more of our money automatically. But that’s not enough for trough feeders like Lando, they want to stick it to us even more and of course no matter how much they take from us it’s never enough so we get stuck with huge debt such as their unfunded pension liabilities.

        They are vile creatures and they make me sick to my stomach. We need a revolution in the country!

      • Juanita Sumner October 31, 2015 at 6:03 am #

        I know, it took her a couple of days just to respond, saying, she’s working on it. Working? Oh, come on Ann… I’m sorry, when somebody makes over $100,000/year, they should have to move faster.

        Yes, these people not only live in the fantasy bubble world created by all the zeros in their salaries, but I always wonder, all those medical benefits – how many of these idiots are looped out on prescriptions?

        Yes, we need some sort of revolution that gets rid of these lice without wrecking the furniture. How do we wake up the rest of the voters/taxpayers? “To arms, to arms, the taxes are coming, the taxes are coming!”

        In Argentina they have grocery riots, craziest shit you ever saw. I watched a video of a bunch of well-dressed housewives trash a grocery store – over crazy price increases – just TAKE EVERYTHING. Looks like “I Love Lucy” run amok, some of them have small children in hand and everything. Less than a half hour later the place is empty, shelves bare, floor covered with ruined merchandise. A few years ago when threatened with another round of rioting, one store owner said he’s wasn’t locking the doors because they just bust out the windows to get in.

        Wow, reading about the Argentine crisis (which lasted years over the 90’s and into the 2000’s and is still probably going on somewhat) makes me scared – at one point about 15 years ago, the government shut down the banks because of their “debt” of billions, and people just couldn’t get their own money. One lady describes feeding her three grandkids on macaroni and margarine because the bank is closed and she can’t get her $200 pension check. And at that time, people like her were not only looting grocery stores, they were rioting and looting in wealthy suburban neighborhoods, breaking into the homes of the people who had run their government and finances into the sewer.

        Now, that would be a revolution.

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