Why pay public salaries for a job done better for yourself?

5 Jul


I’ll get out early for a pancake breakfast, and I’m not alone. I’ve noticed,  the annual 4th of July pancake breakfast is one of the best attended events in Chico.


Held near Sycamore Field at One Mile, this event brings so many people, I would advise you to get yourself down there by the first flip at 7:30. Or take a folding chair and a snack.


At about 8:20, this was the line up for the syrup station. You can see the pancake trailer to the right there, where Bob and his flapjack flipping fanatics were flinging them out furiously.


This is why this event requires a big, open venue. They just kept coming and coming. For every pancake that hit a paper plate, I would estimate, another 5 people got out of their cars and started wandering in.  There’s the line for the pancake wagon snaking out around the baseball field, Bob and the crew are holed up in the trailer. I wonder if any of them are making the “Jaws” joke – “I think we need a bigger griddle…”   My husband took pictures of the line to send around to our procrastinating friends.


My husband kept leading me toward Sycamore Field, showing me how the line went all the way out to the road.


As we came over from the Vallombrosa side, we walked with an enthusiastic crowd. They greeted friends they hadn’t seen since last year, talked about driving in from all parts of Butte County and beyond, for an event they wouldn’t miss “for the world,” according to one woman.

The smell of syrup and sausages was just about maddening.


We saw that all the bike racks were full, there’s our old tandem added to the pile. We could see people walking in from the surrounding neighborhoods, some of them extended groups. As we rode our bike home about 8:45, we saw more people headed up through the park, some of whom asked us if we saved them any pancakes.

It occurred to me, I sure hope Bob had plenty of batter!

My family has always lived within an easy bike ride of Bidwell Park, we’ve used it alot over the years, and whenever there’s an event we try to check it out. This is without doubt one of the top five most attended, if not the most attended event. The only one we could think of that compares is the annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day. We also remember well-attended Endangered Species Fairs at Cedar Grove, but have not noticed the same size crowds at that event in recent years.

These events beat the Bidwell Park Centennial last year, easily. Neither the city nor CARD were very enthusiastic in their presentation of that event, which could easily have been a week long affair complete with a parade, bike fair, maybe even some mention of the 1939 Robin Hood production, scenes for which were filmed at different sites in the park. I was shocked the park department didn’t put more into the centennial of one of our town’s biggest tourist attractions and public treasures.

Meanwhile CARD budgets for two movie nights a year, showing such masterpieces as “Grease” and “Bees.” They actually showed “Robin Hood” a few years, but for some reason fail to make an annual event of it.  They pay for a film association license to be able to rent and show these movies to the public.  The rental is expensive – more for more popular movies – and the rules for fund raising are very strict. I think the licensee is only allowed to charge an attendance fee that covers the cost of the film, and then have to give the film association a cut of any money made.

I’ve attended a few of these, and while I’ve enjoyed the showing, on a screen set up at Sycamore Field, I’ve counted the crowd – there’s never been even 100 people at the movie showings I’ve attended, including a “Robin Hood” showing. I’d question the expenditure for their license and the rental, I don’t think it pays. It’s just a fad, outdoor movies, but there are too many others who do a better job, and get a lot more attendees.

CARD used to sponsor the 4th of July pancake breakfast, putting up the money to pay Bob and provide the services of Work Training Center employees for clean-up – about $3,000. This year they cited a tight budget and announced they did not have the money to sponsor the event, that it would be cancelled. Chico Running Club quickly rushed in to host the event.

I wrote a letter to the Enterprise Record when I heard about it.

Chico Area Recreation District will no longer host the city Fourth of July celebration because they don’t have $3,000?


This on the heels of news they will close iconic Shapiro Pool, having neglected maintenance for years. 

According to budgets available on their website, CARD will receive about $6.9 million in revenue this year, almost $4 million of that from property taxes and assessments.  Salaries and benefits eat over $5 million.  Of over 300 employees, about 33 management take just over half the salaries, another $700,000-plus going toward their pensions and health insurance.  They pay more toward their pensions every year as they continue to cut programs, even the popular “Junior Giants” baseball, turning children away because they say they can’t afford staff adequate to supervise them.

CARD has over $1.7 million in pension liability while management pay nothing toward their pensions. The current director makes  over $100,000 a year and gets a $28,000 benefits package.  The households in the district have median income of about $42,000.

CARD management complain they need more money to fulfill their mission.  Meanwhile, non-profit, mostly volunteer-run agencies, like Westside Little League, Chico Running Club,  North Valley Hockey, and several soccer leagues continue to pick up the slack. 


Has CARD failed in it’s mission to provide affordable recreation for Chico? Do we really need CARD anymore?

Yes,  CARD has failed in it’s mission. No we don’t need CARD anymore.

As we rode our bikes off into the park that is paid for with taxpayer dollars, my husband and I listened to the band warming up, strains of “Oh say can you see…”



4 Responses to “Why pay public salaries for a job done better for yourself?”

  1. bob July 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    Interesting…I didn’t even know this pancake event happened.

    Did Art Hatley get back to you?

    • Juanita Sumner July 10, 2016 at 4:36 am #

      I did some more research on Mr. Hatley, I’m not sure if he’s the contact I want. In discussions, he said he’d support a specific use sales tax, because it takes 2/3’s of the voters to approve it, and that would mean the taxpayers support it. I don’t agree – with the low turnout we’ve had at the polls, it would take less than a third of the population to put a tax on the rest of us. Hatley actually believes the taxpayers need to pay more, so I doubt he will run any kind of opposition, he was just talking strategy. I’m sure he’ll be happy if the tax passes, he doesn’t seem to have any problem with the taxpayers paying the salaries and pensions.

      Right now I have not found any opposition to the O-ville sales tax.

      • bob July 10, 2016 at 11:18 am #

        Do you have any contacts with the Butte County GOP http://buttegop.com or the Butte County Libertarian Party http://buttelibertarians.com ?

        If one of their members lives in Oroville and opposes this tax increase I would think they could write or at least sign an argument against.

      • Juanita Sumner July 11, 2016 at 6:20 am #

        Thanks Bob great advice I’m away from my computer a lot lately but I’m learning to use my phone still need to figure out punctuation love the way text anticipates the words I will contact hatley when I get back to my computer

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