And then there’s our local media…

30 Nov

I hate to cry sour grapes, but I am confounded at the passage of Measure K (Chico Unified school bond) because of the lies, lack of information, and general disinterest of the public in  finding out the truth.  I found out a lot of distressing stuff about the school district – not the least of it, “about a million dollars” spent on a lawsuit against Chico State last year to keep the college from handing over secret e-mails sent between Chico Unified board members, staff, and the district’s attorney.

I got that information almost by accident – I was perusing the county superior court website to see how many times Chico Unified had been sued, I was just curious. There it was – Chico Unified sued Chico State.  When I began digging into the lawsuit, I found invoices for the attorneys – thousands of dollars just in one bill – for advising Chico Unified board members and employees about dumping e-mails requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. I saw an e-mail from the district’s attorney telling Bob Feaster’s secretary that she didn’t have to give up e-mails from her computer trash bin – wink wink!

I re-read the stories about the district’s near failure in 2008, when the state threatened a takeover because of poor record keeping, major deficit spending, closures of schools due to an $8 million deficit. I couldn’t believe neither local newspaper reminded the voters of any of this mismanagement over the course of this latest election, instead they actually ran favorable pieces about how the district had supposedly been spending the bond money. Alot of the new sports field and new building they built at the high schools was done with separate grant funding, that had to be matched  dollar for dollar out of the budget that was supposed to be going toward removing asbestos and bringing the schools up to par.  

A week or so ago, the News and Review, which endorsed  Measure K, ran a snide editorial saying since this latest bond had passed, it was time the district made good on replacing the portables.

I read about the portables too. The district promised to get rid of them in bond campaign ’98, again in bond  campaign 2012. In the Measure K campaign, they admitted they still had asbestos in the schools and they aren’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Yeah,  they’ve had almost 30 years to get the schools compliant with federal and state law, passed $126 million in  bonds, but still aren’t compliant.

So, I had to respond to the News and Review. Why hadn’t they made that criticism before the election? 

Chico Unified issued $126 million in school bonds between 1998 and 2012, built new facilities at both high schools, but the poorly ventilated portables long ago acknowledged to contain carcinogens are still standing.  Why is the editor surprised? As claimed in this latest bond campaign, Chico schools still contain asbestos and are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.  The district promised to upgrade computer labs for the kids  back in 2012, claims made again in the 2016 campaign.  

Last year  CUSD spent roughly a million dollars suing Chico State to keep the college from making public  e-mails sent through the college server by Chico Unified staff and board members. What were they hiding? E-mails sent between Chico Unified superintendents advising their staff to destroy records requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. Enrollment projections showing the district lied about overcrowding in 1998 and again in 2012.  Documents proving the district knew they would not be able to build on the Schmidbauer property when they promised that site to the voters in 1998. 

This newspaper endorsed Measure K so I expect to see a reporter at every board meeting. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I was surprised how quickly editor Melissa Daugherty got back to me:

Hi, Juanita,

I am having trouble fact-checking everything in your letter. If you can
provide links to documentation, that would be helpful. I will have to
hold off on printing this until I can verify your claims.


She had less than three hours to do any fact-checking, I don’t believe she did squat. For one thing, I got a lot of my information from past issues of her newspaper. Everything I told her could be checked out online. She could have asked district finance superintendent Kevin  Bultema for the pricetag on that lawsuit – I have, and I still don’t have anything from him besides promises he’ll get back to me.  She could also get enrollment figures from the district. 

I suggested she do her own digging – since when does an opinion come with footnotes? She responded again within minutes:

I’m happy to print a response on the portables editorial, but I cannot publish what you’ve written without fact-checking your claims. And, after digging around, I cannot find many of the specifics you mention, especially in the latter part of the letter.


Wow, to think this woman calls herself a journalist, but she can’t do a little research? Lazy, lazy girl.

So I sent her some clues.  A lot of the stuff I found didn’t have a direct link – like the court case. You just have to go to the index and search  for it, and you will find different stuff every time.  I also had found e-mails that I couldn’t forward, and most of them won’t cut-and-paste – hey, I don’t get paid to do this, I don’t get paid to take courses in Tech-BS, I do the best I can. Read it from the bottom.

 Done. Mkki Gillett, Director of lnformation Technology Willett@mail.chie CHICO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 1163 E. 7th St, Chico, CA 90928-5999 5301891-3000, ext 150 From: Ray Quinto Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 B:2G AM To: VikkiGillett Subject FW: Block – Jeff Sloan FYI Fro m : Robert Wilcox [mailto : rwilcox@] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:28 pM To: Ray Quinto Subject: RE: Block – Jeff Sloan Hi Ray, I have added this email address to a black hole. Let me know if you need anything else. Robert Wilcox Network and Operations Manager Butte Coung Office of Education 530-s32-5770 From : Ray Quinto [mailto : rquinto@mail,] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:25 pM To: Robert Wilcox Subject FW: Block – Jeff Stoan Can you black hole this one for us? Ray

They’re talking about cleaning their computers of anything requested by former Marsh Junior High principal Jeff Sloan and his attorney. “Block – Jeff Sloan“? How obvious does this stuff have to be to get the attention of Snoop Daugherty? 

But, I realize, she had a point. I was “stating facts not in evidence,” which is allowed in court, but see, I’m not a lawyer. So I asked her, could I make my “claims” in the form of questions? Would that suit her?

We’ll see if she even bothers to respond. 

7 Responses to “And then there’s our local media…”

  1. bob November 30, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    I wouldn’t hold my breath on Bultema. And if he does get back to you I doubt his response will answer your question. It will probably only create more questions.

    I would be surprised if the CNR prints any of what you wrote or if it does I bet it leaves out much of it.

    To expose the incompetence and corruption right now would make the CNR look awfully bad considering all the shilling it did for the bond measure that will cost home owners over a quarter of a billion dollars.

    Plus, the media around here and all the local politicians seem to believe that we are all supposed to keep shovelling more and more money into CUSD regardless of what the past has taught us (or should teach us).

    They don’t want to be informed of all the mismanagement and corruption. Breaking the illusions they have would be too painful for them.

    CUSD seems to be an opaque entity that the local media and the local politicians have no interest in looking into.

    • Juanita Sumner December 1, 2016 at 6:11 am #

      You called it! He got back to me but I don’t think he’s included all the money. I don’t think I asked the question correctly – I think his figures only include money the district spent defending itself, I don’t know if he included the payouts to the other parties’ lawyers. The court ruled the school district had to pay court costs for some of them, and one bill was at least $200,000.

      You know, I don’t think the voters want to know either. “Keep me stupid so I’m not responsible for any of the mess,” is the general attitude.

      Thanks for caring Bob!

  2. bob December 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    The next time the local politicians want a sales tax increase, bond measure, assessment on your home, new fee or any other grab for you wallet remember this…but don’t worry. If they just increase your household taxes by $93,000 everything will just be peachy…well, maybe not but at least the pensions will be funded…at least temporarily.

    Stanford Study Reveals California Pensions Underfunded By $1 Trillion Or $93k Per Household

    • Juanita Sumner December 4, 2016 at 6:44 am #

      Thanks Bob, this is an article that should be in the Enterprise Record or the News and Review. I wish we could get a per capita analysis on the city and county pension deficit – how about the school district? So many questions, too few journalists.

      Meanwhile, Snoop Dogtree writes an editorial about “fake news”. Newsflash! Pot calls Kettle “black”!

      • bob December 4, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        I remember seeing some numbers somewhere years back…I think they were uncovered by Michael Jones who just seemed to fall off the face of the earth. Anyway, maybe it was his site but maybe it was somewhere else.

        So I did a quick google search and found a couple of things that you will never read in the Snooze and Review or the Enterprise Wretched. The so called journalists at these papers are no more than scribes who write what the local authorities tell them hence their support of the bond measures.

        In any event here’s some info from last year which shows that the city of Chico has the 18th worst pension burden in the state

        This is why we had a bond measure. This is why we will have a sales tax increase measure on the next ballot. And the politicians will not mention any of this but will scream bloody murder that we must raise taxes for “essential services.” Yes, you will be serviced good and hard.

        California Cities Seek Record Tax Hikes as Pension Costs Mount

        “Retirement costs are a major reason for rising expenses. Among the cities with tax-increase measures, almost four dozen are expected to see double-digit percentage jumps in their annual pension bills by 2020, according to data compiled by Marc Joffe, research director at the California Policy Center, a nonprofit that has criticized public pensions. That’s assuming the state’s investments return 7.5 percent annually, a target it hasn’t hit in the past two years.”

        The problem with the article above is that it does not mention that these public employees are getting 70-90+% of their highest years’ pay for life plus medical and these people are going to live another 20 to 30 years. (And many of these “public servants” already get six figure compensation packages.) There is nothing in the private sector like that. The fact is the private sector cannot afford pensions.

        If the private sector can’t afford pensions how can it afford to pay such generous pensions for the public sector? After all, the private sector is the tax base.

        But you will not hear a word about this from the local media or from the local politicians such as Sorensen, Kirk, Morgan, Schwab or any of the other rascals. After all, they are all trough feeders who are getting government pensions or other benefits of some kind!

      • JB December 4, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

        Let’s remember that not so long ago, said editor got involved with a “foundation” to which citizens could contribute to fund “an investigative reporter” position at their “newspaper,” to allow it to actually do some investigative reporting in the city of Chico (not to deny that under her editorship, the paper has done some creditable investigative reporting at times). Apparently she believes that is a special category of journalism that her publication simply doesn’t have the time or wherewithal to pursue. Longtime readers of all Chico publications (including the Chico News & Review under prior editors) know otherwise. How disappointing.

      • Juanita Sumner December 5, 2016 at 5:25 am #

        You nailed it JB. She acts as though a newspaper exists for the fun of the staff – “keep Chico weird!” “15 Minutes (with people we approve of…)” – and the advertising. Actual news reporting is some sort of EXTRA! EXTRA!

        The News and Review used to be a good paper with founding editor George Thurlow. Each successive editor has taking it downhill a little more, now it’s sunk to an incredible low. I predict they will either get a new editor soon or go under. The ad sections are getting sleazier every week, they are very dependent on non-local advertising, especially sex-related ads, which are sickening. We had guests over Thanksgiving and I was wrapping some trash with a section of the N&R, and the sex ad – a really demeaning picture of a young woman – that popped up in front of my guests made me embarrassed. I feel weird having a picture(s!) like that in my house, I don’t know how Daugherty can take money to run them without being disgusted. She seems to think she’s above her advertising, when she’s nothing but a barker or a pimp.

        So, I decided it’s time to quit picking it up – FREE! – even to wrap trash. There’s the ad circulars at the grocery store, they fit the purpose, and I don’t have to worry about what’s waiting for me with every turn of the page.

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