Editor playing coy on swimming pool tax

27 Mar

I sent my swimming pool letter to the Enterprise Record, and I got a note back from the editor.

“Reading your letter today (sorry, there’s a long queue), I think we need to change “will” to “may” in the first sentence. The board has not voted on any revenue measure.. They’re still weighing a set per-parcel tax or a ‘benefits assessment” tax on property owners based on property valuation. They were leaning more toward the assessment because they didn’t think they could get their act together for the November ballot for a question on the parcel tax. The benefit assessment would allow them to send out a mailed ballot to property owners on their own time schedule. Regardless, though, that decision hasn’t been made.

Unless you know something we don’t …”

 

Being as I have no confidence with vernacular in these tax deals, I submitted to the editor’s opinion and allowed him to make the change, and then I changed the ending to, “Please contact your CARD board now and tell them you do not want to be assessed for poor management.”

But I had to ask the editor, since he seems to know so much, had he attended a meeting?

 
“thanks, I was unsure what word to use. “may” is good.

 

I think they had plenty of time to make the November ballot – at the meeting I attended, Lando expressed concern about the city putting a sales tax initiative on the ballot, as well as the school district, and he thought the voters would be overwhelmed with all those taxes.  

 

so, did you actually attend a meeting?”

 

His answer surprised me, but not really.  “No, we had a reporter there. I was not.” 

 

This is a guy who has refused to print letters in which I’ve used direct quotes, telling me he did not believe the person actually said that, even though he was nowhere near the meeting, and there was no recording. He refused to take my word for stuff, but I am expected to take his second hand crap.

 

And then he wrote the following, really misinformed – actually uninformed editorial.  I’ve added my commentary in blue, cause it’s Easter and all.

Difficult to say how much pool will be missed

Thinking ahead to Chico’s sweltering summer days, it’s hard to imagine this community having one less swimming pool for cooling off.

It’s hard to imagine that the newspaper editor would be surprised the local pool is crapped out after years of neglect. 

But that will be the reality, with the Chico Area Recreation and Park District’s decision last week to shut down Shapiro Pool.

An antique that was built in 1956, the pool next to Chico Junior High School has had plenty of problems dragging it down.

The filtering system has been limping along for several years, with problems from overuse to age. Old equipment has been babied, patched, repaired and patched again. Steps to bring the pool in line with Americans With Disabilities Act laws have lagged, and there have been other safety issues.

“babied, patched, repaired and patched again…” – that’s exactly what’s happened, but no mention of that $400,000 pension payment. “Steps to bring the pool in line with ADA...” Oh come on, Mr. News Reporter – there haven’t been any steps to bring the pool up to ADA.

Knowing the pool’s role in the community, CARD directors even asked if Shapiro could be dragged through 2016. The answer was no because of public safety concerns.

“public safety concerns” that the board has been well aware of, since at least 2009. Still they let the public use a pool that was below sanitary standards and had other “concerns,” like tripping hazards. Tripping hazards at a swimming pool? 

While the pool will not be open, CARD will still hold on to the lease that has no cost to the district other than non- operation maintenance costs.

What would Little define as a “non-operation maintenance cost”? Is this guy an  idiot? Everything you do to maintain a pool is an “operation cost.” A pool should not be operated if filtering and safety are not maintained, but CARD ran Shapiro at sub-standard levels for at least six years. Oh, but now the pool has to be closed!  

We guess there still is hope that CARD might find a way to resurrect the pool at some future time, but that has not been officially said.

As a matter of fact, an aquatic center consultant recommended against trying to rebuild Shapiro, saying it would cost about $2.5 million.

But no mention of that 2009 report. 

Strange to us is that the pool owner, Chico Unified School District, has not made any effort to help CARD with the pool. The school district has made it clear that it’s not interested in operating swimming pools, even though some of its schools have P.E. swim programs or competitive swim teams.

Strange to you, and the mouse in your pocket, because you don’t know anything?  Mr. Little, the school made the same deal with CARD that the city made over Humboldt Skate Park. CARD agreed to take on maintenance and supervision of these facilities, but did not. It’s interesting to note, that CARD wanted to close the skate park altogether, but is allowing a private group to raise money and make plans for a remodel. Meanwhile they plan to raise taxes to build a center for Aqua Jets. Read further.

It’s hard to know how much Shapiro will be missed. We know there will be an impact. Already CARD has rescheduled Shapiro’s programs to its other pool, Pleasant Valley, next to Bidwell Junior High, including part of the Aqua Jets youth swim program, CARD swim lessons, and recreational swimming.

The only public use listed in the paragraph above is rec swimming, the rest are programs run for profit by CARD and Aqua Jets. And, the public still has to pay to get into rec swim, there’s no “low-income” scale or waiver. 

That means a busier swim season for Pleasant Valley.

Which CARD has also reported is in trouble and they are looking at closing it within the next few years. That conversation has not been mentioned by either Urseny or Little. They know how pissed off the public would be if CARD announced they were closing both pools. 

In the past, Shapiro has been busy with activity from residents trying to cool off, have fun and get exercise.

I’m pretty sure the editor is not speaking first hand – he has a backyard pool. Shapiro has been in terrible decline, has been badly vandalized by the public that is supposed to love it, and according to reports on CARD’s website, attendance and revenues have been down for a couple of years.

Swimmers may shift to PV, or find relief in local creeks, including Sycamore Pool in Bidwell Park. They may seek out the community’s privately owned pools, like those at sports clubs, or could head up to Redding, which has a water park.

CARD would love to have another choice for swimmers, and has been talking about a community aquatic center, but no funding has been identified. Maybe one reason for hanging on to the lease is to see what a year will bring.

Little plays coy here – I think he knows otherwise. Although, he just admitted to me the other day, he hasn’t attended any of the meetings, he gets his information second hand. I’m guessing he has regular conversations with Tom Lando, but that’s just my speculation.  

There hasn’t been a huge outcry to keep the pool open. It was built at a time when not so many residents had backyard pools, but that has changed.

Speaking for himself, again.

This time next year, CARD may be ready to give up the lease or will have a better understanding of what the next step should be.

Maybe one reason for hanging on to the lease is to see what a year will bring.

What a journalist. 

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4 Responses to “Editor playing coy on swimming pool tax”

  1. bob March 27, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    It is frustrating reading what LIttle and his reporters write.

    They just write what the politicians and bureaucrats tell them. They hardly ever dig deeper to get the real story.

    And they don’t question the priorities of CARD. How can Chico afford a new palatial facility when it can’t even maintain Shapiro and when the city parks are falling apart? They can’t even afford to keep a kiddie park open without non-government volunteers and donations.

    And the 800 pound gorilla in the room is not mentioned: the ever increasing CARD pension liabilities, as well as those of all the city employees and of course the overall compensation packages. If they get their property tax increase and even a sales tax increase that won’t be enough to fund what they are talking about and meet the pension and other obligations the taxpayers are stuck with.

    In any event, the politicians and bureaucrats just expect the public to pay ever increasing taxes and Little and his scribes dutifully write it all up.

    It’s maddening.

    • Juanita Sumner March 27, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

      It’s the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and the taxpayers are getting stuffed in the teapot.

  2. bob March 27, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    There hasn’t been a huge outcry to keep the pool open. It was built at a time when not so many residents had backyard pools, but that has changed.

    This shows how out of touch Little is with the community. The average household income in Chico is around 42k, nearly a third lower than the state average, hardly enough to afford a house with a pool.

    • Juanita Sumner March 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      What I get is this insinuation that if you can’t afford to pay for this kind of crap, you can pull of stakes and head for Hamilton City.

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