Archive | November, 2015

No Kidding – our city is headed for deep doo-doo

29 Nov

I sent the letter below last Saturday, I had to resend, although Dave Little excused himself – “just a lot of letters in the queue”  Sure, okay, at least he printed it before this item goes to council.

There’s another Finance Committee meeting scheduled this coming week. They will pick up the conversation they left in the “workshop” I’m speaking of below. This time they will talk about how developers have got off without paying sewer fees, and how the sewer fund has been in arrears for years. From the staff report, available here:

“For over a year, City staff have highlighted the impact of reduced revenues received from development for sewer capacity fees. As a result, the City’s general sewer operating account has picked up the significant annual loan obligations required to pay the state for the capacity expansion made to the sewer treatment plant.”

Yeah, I’ve been following this conversation – what they don’t mention is, like the Private Development Fund, the Sewer Fund has been dipped into to pay salaries, benefits and pensions for people who have never even been in the neighborhood (where property owners complain they are being eaten by flies from the poorly managed plant, staff admitting they dump raw sewage in the Sac River during heavy rainstorms…)  They don’t mention the constant tug-o-war going on between the sewer operation and M&T Ranch – both suck water out of the river for operations, which has left City of Chico leach lines “on the rocks” on several occasions, leading to millions in repairs paid by taxpayers.

Our sewer plant is a disaster, but city of Chico keeps trying to hook more people up, cause they want those fees to pay – you got it – the Pension Liability.  Now they are holding a carrot out to Paradise? Wow, this is just getting surreal. 

So, I’m just glad Little finally decided to run my last letter, I already feel another one forming in the old Brain Pan.  I wish you folks would write too. Our biggest question being – all these years you been letting the developers off, you been charging private homeowners by frontage – meaning, the length of your property that meets the street. Developers pay a flat rate – why not homeowners? Here we been subsidizing development for years, and the fund is still RED.  

$taff has been embezzling. I realize, the developers have been getting a better deal than we have, but we all been taking a screwing from $taff. 

My letter, run this morning:

A consultant’s report given to the city Finance Committee says homeowners pay about 130 percent of the true cost of building permits while for-profit developers pay less than the cost of services they receive  from the city. But this is not the entire reason for a $9 million deficit in the private development fund. 

Consultant Chad Wolford explained, while we cut our workforce heavily, we failed to cut “overhead” – that is, the management positions that take most of our budget. 

Next door, the Internal Affairs committee tackled the subject of civility as I watched our mayor attack a local developer who came to the podium to question the allocation of a $6 million pension deficit on the private development fund. Mayor Mark Sorensen listed two other options – “keep moving in your direction…racking up a million dollars a year in debt…” he told Pete Giampoli.  Sorensen’s other option was to take the money out of the General Fund, already empty because of such transfers. 

The unspoken option is  cut management positions. One recently hired finance department employee, salary over $100,000, attended the meeting for no apparent reason.  He gave no report, sat in the audience, and left the building several times during the meeting. 

This is why we’re in trouble – we have too many redundant positions, getting over $100,000 in salary and paying little toward their benefits. Most of our management employees are longtime CalPERS participants who pay less than 10 percent of their pension premiums. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico

Cal Water being generous with ratepayers’ money

29 Nov

From today’s Enterprise Record:

Water provider brings blessings to families

On behalf of the families who are living and changing their lives at our Esplanade House Program, the Community Action Agency would like to express its appreciation to California Water Service for its generous donation of $3,000. Because of their commitment to community, our families get the opportunity to receive holiday food baskets.

Many of our families have been separated from their extended families during the holiday season. The joy brought by simply providing a holiday meal is immense. Our families are amazing as they work to overcome poverty, addiction and mental health issues while increasing their self- sufficiency and bonding with their children.

Thanks again to Cal Water for blessing our families over the holidays.

— Thomas Tenorio, Chico

Tom Tenorio is with Esplanade House. As much as I feel we need Esplanade House, I have not liked the management for a long time. I think they squander money on salaries that could get more families in, but that’s difficult to assess since they don’t post their salaries and they get very defensive when you ask.

I’ve seen Tenorio at meetings. At the Local Governments Committee meeting he made a little speech that didn’t say anything, just made the meeting longer, about what a great community we live in.

Does he have any idea what he’s talking about? Does he realize, that $3,000 came out of our bills? Does he pay his own water bill? Does he have any idea what the Esplanade House pays for water?  Does he think for 30 seconds what water rates are doing to families right now? The utility companies are impoverishing whole communities to pay pensions for people who make salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Having met Tenorio on various occasions, I’d say, he’s carrying a bowl of jello between his ears.  He’s another one of those snout-nosed trough dwellers who gets a salary for “caring” about the poor, but doesn’t have any concern for the people who pay for all this generosity until they end up on the street. 

28 Nov
Here's a good tip for a Winter cold - throw some lemon sections in a cup, add a teaspoon of honey and some hot water.

Here’s a good tip for a Winter cold – throw some lemon sections in a cup, add a teaspoon of honey and some hot water.

 I am stuck inside with a cold today so thought I might go over this “Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2016.”

I’m not a lawyer, but this is mostly plain English. A little repetitive – gotta cover all the bases. I see a limit of 25 percent profit over “costs” and a demand for refunds to patients who are found to pay more than 25 percent over “costs”. The operative word here being, “costs.”  We have to trust the hospital to tell us the true cost of their services?

What I like about this bill is “Public Availability of Charge Setting Methodology.” 

“Public Availability of Charge Setting Methodology. (a) Within 210 days of the end of a hospital’s fiscal year ending on or after January 1, 2018, a hospital shall report the following information to the department: (1) Total patient care expenses; (2) Total private payer patient care expenses: (3) Actual qualifying losses: (4) Qualifying expenses: (5) Reasonable and allowable costs in each of the categories set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (k) of Section 1339.616; (6) Qualifying reimbursements; (7) Revenues received in each of the categories reflected n paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of subdivision (l) of Section 1339.616; (8) Total charges; and (9) Any refund made pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 1339.611. (b) The department shall make the information provided pursuant to subdivision (a) available to the public upon request.”

Now we already have the Patient’s Bill of Rights, which is supposed to be posted in plain sight of any patient who is brought into the hospital. It says, among other things, you can ask what the services are going to cost you – their price – and they have to tell you. That’s how I found out a room at Enloe was about $7,500/day when my husband was sick. I wondered, at what they pay nurses these days, how they could justify that.


I found out, prices are already available on the State of California website:

The Chargemaster is a list of services and prices charged at a hospital. Just type in “Enloe” and you will find information dating back to 2005. Don’t be intimidated – I was confused as to the descriptions given the various services. I just had to look until I saw something I understood. “Boarder” or “Room” obviously refers to a room charge, with different charges for different levels of care.  A “CCU” or “Critical Care Unit” – is listed at $12,883. That’s per day. And that does not include a lot of stuff – read on – some of these charges are per minute.

I did see an item I recognized – a special kind of baby bottle called a Haberman Feeder. The nipple is made to mimic the function of the human nipple, and is supposed to be easier for new babies, particularly those born with any kind of mouth issues or general weakness, to get their nourishment. They also claim to keep babies from swallowing too much air and suffering colic.  I found these bottles on line, priced between $27 and $36. Playtex has similar bottles and sells “starter kits” with five bottles each for about $22.

The hospital charges $66 for one Haberman Feeder.  That’s almost 100 percent mark-up – more if you get the sale price, or say, buy them by gross, like Enloe does. And why not Playtex? Playtex has been making these specialty bottles since before I was born, and offers all kinds of choices ranging in price. Why the spendier bottle, and why nearly 100 percent mark-up? 

This is why we need some legislation to control the prices hospitals are charging. I’ll have to finish reading the whole measure, but so far I like what I’m seeing. 




Can we save Enloe Hospital? Interesting new measure, “Fair Hospital Pricing Act,” heads for 2016 ballot

28 Nov

I know it’s not even Christmas yet but Election 2016 is coming around fast.  Because of low turnout in the last couple  of elections, fewer signatures are required on petitions, and we might expect a record number of measures up for our approval or disapproval.

Reading Dan Walther’s column recently I found this measure posted – “The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2016.”

What a mind-blower – State data reflect that private hospitals operating in this State, on average, charge patients 325 percent above the actual cost of providing health care, and some private hospitals charge more than 800 percent above the actual cost of the care provided.” 

Furthermore, “patients who are uninsured and underinsured often pay far more than insurers and health care service plans. The result is that unreasonably high hospital charges disproportionately affect uninsured and underinsured individuals and families.”   Yes, contrary to many liberal claims, the uninsured are not leeches, but end up paying more than the insured. 

The first question that enters my mind is, where does Enloe stand here? Closer to the 325 or the 800? 

What I know about Enloe is that 10 years ago they were charging $7,000/hour for ER treatment, and charging for entire hours instead of real time – meaning, if you came in at 11:30 and left at 12:15 you paid for two hours. Rooms were $7500/day, and that’s for half the room, private rooms were more.  I have that ER charge on paper, a total of $15,000 in charges for about a 55 minute visit to the ER.  I got the room charge from a woman in the billing department – I remember how she had a hard time spitting it out, I could tell she was shocked by the price herself. 

That was 10 years ago, I can’t find that information now. You have to go down there, they don’t have a phone number you can call and you won’t find anything on their website. They are very evasive about their pricing, that is, until you wake up from surgery and there’s a hospital rep sitting next to your bed, telling you he or she is there to “help you” figure out how you will pay your bill. A friend of mine is hooked for life – told he had cancer, what could he do? They attached his house, now he will pay that half-million dollar hospital bill on his mortgage for the rest of his life, after having paid his mortgage down to less than $30,000 before the incident. I don’t want to ask him if he feels lucky to be alive as he hauls it out to go to work at 6am, 8 – 10  hours on ladders, pushing 60 years old, knowing he has nothing to leave his kids but bills.

Another friend of mine got a call at work out of town that his father was ill and being taken to Enloe. He was at the hospital within four hours – his dad already owed $17,000 and had not even got a diagnosis of any kind.  The old man wanted to go home, the doctors told my friend they couldn’t tell him anything unless the old man  stayed the night. Whammo – $35,000 by noon the next day.

My husband racked up almost $80,000 in charges over a weekend.

Yeah, I know – anecdotes. Well, I bet you could get similar “anecdotes” from just about anybody who has two dimes to rub together to pay for a doctor. Thanks to Obamacare, my family is no longer welcome at the hospital, we don’t have insurance. There is no more “deal” – in past, if you could pay 10 percent within 30 days, that was it. That’s what the insurance companies pay, but they get a lot longer than 30 days. Now you must have insurance or you can be refused service. You  can’t even get into Immediate Care without your SSN, I don’t care if you’re waving a fistful of hundred dollar bills.  Obamacare is a disaster for the working class.

Here we call it “Covered California,” which is a crack-up after the report I read recently that says nobody is signing up, so California is hardly “covered.” My family was hit for $800/month, with a $12,000 deductible – who would buy that?  We could actually have taken a subsidized plan – The Bronze Plan, which I like to call “The Mr. Shit Plan.” That plan will not even get a person into Enloe, I’d say, you better head for O-ville, stat!

A friend of mine who worked at Enloe Hospital in a higher level position told me CEO Mike Wiltermood, whom he knew personally,  “makes about a million dollars.” He wasn’t exaggerating, that’s the normal compensation package for these people who do nothing to serve the patient. For years I tried to get Wiltermood to tell us his salary – he would not answer, instead attacking my credibility, telling people, “consider the source…“, meaning, me.  Consider the source? Of a question? Why can’t he answer? Cause  he does make “about a million dollars,” that’s not uncommon in a business where the customer is typically charged 325 to 800 percent of the cost of service. That gross overcharge pays Wiltermood’s salary, benefits and pension.  

I have not finished reading “The Fair Pricing Act,” but I will study it. These measures are tricky, it’s essential to read this stuff. It’s also a good idea to check out the people behind it. 

All I could find on Roberta B. Johansen, the woman who sent the initiative to the Attorney General for review, is that she backed “The Economic Recovery Tax Relief Act” in 2005, which, among other things, sought to eliminate tax loop holes for wealthy people and lower state sales tax. I have no idea whether this measure made the ballot, or,  if so, how it did, but that’s something we know about Roberta B. Johansen. She’s also a generous donor to UCSF hospital. 

This will take more snooping, but I think it’s worth it. Like the measure says, “Excessive hospital charges are a leading cause of bankruptcy and financial distress among uninsured and underinsured individuals and families. “

The poor management of Enloe Hospital undermines the health of our community, physically, financially, and spiritually.  We need to take our hospital back, maybe this is one way to do it. 

In loving memory of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Chiapella.







City of Chico discusses filing for ‘Party’ status in Cal Water rate increase case; let’s encourage them to go all the way and file for ‘Intervenor’ status

25 Nov

The agenda for next week’s city council meeting (Dec. 1) includes a proposal for the city to file for “Party Status” in the rate increase case filed by Cal Water last July.  Here is an excerpt from the report:

California Water Service Company (Application No. 15-07-015) California Water Service Company (“Cal Water”) filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission to increase rates and consolidate the Chico district into a proposed “Northern Region.” This memorandum seeks City Council authority to become a party in the pending application.

Cal Water provides water service to the City and its residents. Cal Water is requesting water rate increases for years 2017, 2018 and 2019. The proposed increases are 19.1%, 1.6%, and 2.8% respectively.

The proposed rate increases would impose a significant burden on the City, as a customer of Cal Water. The rate increases would also impose an undue hardship on City residents. As a Cal Water customer and on behalf of its residents residing in the Chico district, the City has an interest in minimizing the proposed rate increases.

In addition, Cal Water is seeking to consolidate its Chico, Oroville, Marysville and Willows districts as the proposed “Northern Region.” The proposed consolidation affects City and its residents because the City is one of the districts to be consolidated. If consolidation is granted, Cal Water requests rate increases of 20.3%, 1.7% and 2.4% for years 2017,2018 and 2019 respectively, for the combined Chico and Oroville districts within the Northern Region. lf consolidation is granted, the City, as well as Oroville residents, will shoulder an even higher burden than that which is requested in Cal Water’s general rate increase.

Although Butte County has joined as a party, the City’s specific interests are not adequately represented. The City’s participation will be relevant and beneficial to the proceeding.

CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATION It is recommended the City Council direct staff to file a Motion of City of Chico to Become a Party

“Party Status,” unfortunately, just means the city, along with the county, are on the notice list of events in the eventual raising of our rates. In order to make a formal protest, they must file as “Intervenors,” but I can’t seem to convince them of that.

Please write to council and the supervisors and ask them to take that further step. Be nice – you get more flies with honey than vinegar. 

Chico City council can be reached by way of the clerk’s website –

Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk was the first one to respond to my request, she went through a really onerous and ridiculous filing system to get on the Party List right away. Then she asked the board to do so.  She even went to a Chico city council meeting and sat there waiting through a long agenda to make a case for the city to do something.  I sat at home in my snuggies that night, yelling “Go Maureen! Yeeeee-haw!” into my computer screen.  

The CPUC rep that contacted Supervisor Kirk even admitted it would be good to have a lawyer’s assistance in filing the paperwork. I don’t even know if an individual can file for Intervenor status, that’s really a job for the entire board of supervisors. 

Reach them here:

Nextdoor: interesting news source, seems to be working for some people

24 Nov

Nextdoor, described as the “private social network for neighborhoods,” is an interesting news source. Since I joined a few weeks ago, I’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff that hasn’t shown up in the newspaper.

First there was the “bnb” conversation – “Airbnb” is a website through which you can rent your home out like a hotel. One woman brought up her concerns for her mid-Chico neighborhood, but was quickly struck down by other “neighbors” who turned out to be renting their own homes through Airbnb.  In the course of that quick but “snarky” conversation, I noticed, people seem to have forgotten past conversations about making it illegal to rent out second units in certain neighborhoods, a “disorderly events” ordinance, and most recently, the “social host” ordinance, which allows Chico PD and Fire Dept to assign “response” charges to the owner of a property at which an out-of-control  party took place. Those conversations got downright nasty at times – all stemming from neighbor complaints about rentals.

It is actually illegal to rent a second unit in the neighborhood directly surrounding the college without owner occupation of the property – the city made that ordinance a few years back. Not long after the “bnb” conversation, a woman complained on Nextdoor that the second unit next to her was being “rented illegally,” but she couldn’t get any response from city code enforcement. 

Here’s what’s creepy – within a couple of days, another neighbor posted a response to that woman, saying three code enforcement officers had been over to check out her rental, and found everything was perfectly legal. She gave her name and contact information, encouraging the plaintiff to contact her with future concerns. 

The second unit owner was very nice about it, I think the first woman was way out of line.  This is what Nextdoor has been criticized for – the Big Brother thing. Some neighbor groups have actually been accused of racial profiling and harassment. 

What also caught my attention about that post was – three code enforcement officers? City code enforcement?  Responding to a complaint about a rental? But we have a homeless camp at the median between Park Avenue and Cypress/Pine Streets that goes unattended for weeks. When they finally clear it out, the bums just move farther down the creek bank, you can see the piles of garbage as you motor over the bridge. 

Well, here’s an interesting post from Nextdoor, just posted yesterday, by a man named Ron from the “North  Chapman neighborhood”:

Today, over 300 pounds of trash and metal were removed from a former transient camp right in the middle of our residential neighborhood. The camp was on a vine-covered vacant lot and was first noticed about three months ago. With the help of many neighbors, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, and the Butte County Code Enforcement Division, the transient residents were encouraged to move on. When the camp was cleared numerous bicycle parts were recovered, confirming our suspicion that the site was being used to ‘recycle’ stolen bicycles.

This is posted to encourage others with unwelcome transients camping/squatting in their neighborhood to use the resources available and fight back. I am not unsympathetic to the homeless issue here in Chico; however, a residential neighborhood with children and families is not a suitable destination for those who steal, exchange stolen property, and use illegal drugs.

Thank you to all the North Chapman Neighbors who supported our effort.

Looking at the map provided by Nextdoor, I see the area is in the county, technically, but right in the middle of urban Chico. It’s a part of town the city of Chico has tried to ignore for years, manufacturing a phony story about neighbors who don’t want to be annexed, but never being able to provide any written proof of that assertion. The police seem to think they can’t cross the creek to enforce the law. And it takes the sheriff three months to do anything but “encourage”.

I’ve been on Nextdoor for almost a month, and this is the first I’ve heard of this situation. I don’t know if Ron’s group is working offline, what he’s been through trying to get law enforcement to pay attention to this matter. But, I know there’s homeless camps in the park right alongside my neighborhood, and despite a short-lived high-profile fling at One-Mile, the cops aren’t doing anything about it.

We do see them roust bums at the CARD center once in a while – CARD board member Tom Lando has made requests of the city to pay special attention to the CARD center. That center is used for community classes, children’s and other programs, and people are finding human land mines and garbage piled up around the buildings.  They complain of passed out drunks on the lawn and portico, even sprawled out on benches. Nobody seems to rent that building for private affairs like weddings anymore – in years past, you’d see it decked out almost every good weather  weekend.  The CARD board now has most meetings at their new headquarters at California Park. This is the reason behind the new rose garden – it will have a fence and locking gate, and only be available for paid events, in an attempt to keep bums, as well as the general public, off the CARD property. Because Chico PD  could not enforce the vagrancy laws, despite salaries averaging $100,000 with 88% of their benefits paid by the taxpayer.

Chico PD monitors Nextdoor, and it seems they are responding to certain complaints, even those made casually in conversation. I also find it a good news source – even if there isn’t much chatter in my neighborhood. A lot of my immediate neighbors have joined, but I haven’t seen crimes mentioned. There’s a gal who will watch your pets for $15/day. There’s a lady looking for a plumber, another woman selling a ceiling light. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the woman bitching about her neighbor’s rental – that is to be expected on a site like this. The Airbnb conversation got kind of rude, and I recognized a guy who has come to this blog in past under an alias and tried to bully me. I  felt he was bullying the woman, and she ended up “closing” the conversation. If it were me, I’d have charged right back at him, but the lady was polite and felt the conversation had run it’s course.

I haven’t seen any of these stories on the tv or print media, but I’m guessing there’s at least one reporter lurking in the shadows. You have to give personal information to sign up – I was asked for my social security number or a credit card to verify my address. I refused and was allowed to request a post card be sent to my house with a secret code number. This supposedly proves I’m really a “neighbor.” Unfortunately they mis-addressed it.  The way they sent it, there are five neighbors who could claim my identity if my mailman hadn’t figured it out. So much for security, but at least I didn’t have to compromise my SSN or my credit card. 

We’ll see when the local media finally picks up on this. I notice the Ch 12/24 news shamelessly cherry-picks the daily newspaper, using the same whole phrases from the newspaper stories. 






Enterprise Record running the tax increase campaign? I thought newspapers were supposed to be objective

23 Nov

It seems  the Enterprise Record is running the campaign for a local tax increase – read Laura Urseny’s “Biz Bits” column for Sunday:

“Former Chico airport commissioner Karl Ory certainly brought a surprise to last week’s City Council meeting. During the public comment period over the AvPORTS proposal to manage the Chico airport, Ory suggested that airport improvements might warrant a bond measure.”

I know Ory has been beating this horse, can’t figure out what his interest is. Maybe somebody out there can fill me in. 

“AvPORTS — and others — have suggested that the terminal at the Chico airport is too small, given airline industry trends toward larger planes to carry more people. Sky-West used to fly in with a 30- seater, but nowadays the planes that might come to Chico — if commercial service ever returns — could be in the 100- seat size. AvPORTS suggested a larger terminal with a larger area for the Transportation Security Administration processing is needed.”

Chico couldn’t even fill the 30-seater, is the reason Sky-West is gone. Why in the hell would they send in a bigger plane? 

“One criticism was that Chico has no way to pay for the improvements. A counter was that no airline was going to come to Chico without those improvements.  Ory suggested Chico could turn to a bond for a public vote to pay for capital projects at the airport. Ory is a retired Chico airport commissioner and retired city councilman.”

Here she forgets to mention, the airline wants a subsidy to cover their losses when they can’t fill the planes – like $200,000/year!

Then she seems to be playing the Devil’s Advocate. “But this is one of those suggestions that raised eyebrows. We wonder if the community would vote to tax themselves for airport improvements, when a smaller group wouldn’t even fly out of Chico to help support commercial air service here.”

But here she comes again with that bond stuff.

“Since then, I’ve heard from another airport advocate who didn’t automatically dismiss the idea of a bond.”

She’s talking about Tom Lando, I’d bet my last $5.  Maybe Lando is finally getting a thin-skin about being tagged with this tax increase.

“Why such a thing might warrant community support, he explained, was because the airport benefits many in Chico. Benefits include the transportation for residents and businesses, as well as jobs. The advocate pointed out that large companies in considering a new location would consider getting in and out of Chico via commercial service important.”

Lando is also a member of the CARD board, as well as member of the Aquatic Facility committee. He listened to the consultant say that not having an airport was a bad indicator for the success of the Olympic style swim center CARD is pushing.  If we can’t support an airport, how could we support this aquatic facility? Lando and friends are even proposing a sports stadium for Chico, all to be built with a bond.

What neither Urseny nor Lando is talking about is how big of trouble every public entity around here is in over their unpaid CalPERS liability. You just read here, the city has assigned $6 million in pension debt to the Private Development Fund – that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  That’s what a bond would really be about, and then, in a couple of years, like Chico Unified, they’d be telling us they need yet another bond to actually improve the airport. Same old story. I hope you kids are paying attention.

Recently I’ve noticed our local media has fallen to yellow journalism. We don’t really have a newspaper in this town. I know, I’m just a blogger – internet gossip monger? But these people are supposed to uphold some sort of journalistic integrity. They are supposed to work for the public at large, not the government, or the corporations. 

Aside from the rather loose rules set before me by Word Press (for one, you have to publish, something, somewhat regularly, or they will take your blog away!) , I am free of corporate and government influences. I will continue to work in 2016 to inform you and be a tack on the chair of the Overlords. 

POST SCRIPT: And today (11/25/15) Dave Little has foisted an editorial – he’s actually mad because Chico isn’t “stepping up” to “save the airport”

Mr. Little, you need to step aside, and let a real journalist save the newspaper