Archive | September, 2017

More agencies scrambling out of CalPERS

18 Sep

Here’s another interesting article I found regarding cities/agencies leaving CalPERS, from the Sacramento Bee:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article172960601.html

“Trinity County Waterworks District No. 1 west of Redding and Niland Sanitary District from Imperial County are in line to become the third and fourth government agencies to break with CalPERS over the past 12 months in a manner that shortchanges their retirees.”

“shortchanges their retirees”?  No, I think, maybe the employees expected to get something for nothing, and that’s always a risky proposition.  These deals were cut behind the taxpayers’ backs – pensioneers can take it up with their labor negotiators, their city managers, their CalPERS board, but shouldn’t look at me.

“Trinity Waterworks is not in financial trouble, its district manager said. It voted to leave CalPERS in 2015 as it shifted its business model to one that relied on a contractor, meaning it did not have new public employees.

It has set aside money for CalPERS, but it does not have the full amount the pension fund wants.”

Trinity was wise to get out – CalPERS gambles funds on the market, in high risk investments. When an agency opts out, if they pay their liability, they are put in a “low-risk fund.”

“To fully fund their workers’ pensions, the two districts would have to muster up hefty termination fees. CalPERS asks for that money up front, and then moves the separating agency to a low-risk fund called the terminated agency pool.”

That’s the whole problem, CalPERS has continued to take gambles that have led their agency into near bankruptcy, they’ve had to be bailed out twice by the California legislature, that I know of. 

I don’t blame agencies for not paying their liabilities either – those employee contracts weren’t made on the level.  Let’s the employees come out and ask the rest of us for that kind of deal – they won’t, because they know it’s a rip. They do it behind closed doors, with “collective bargaining” and “binding arbitration.”  They pay their unions to pay off our legislature to uphold the laws keeping the public away from the bargaining table. 

Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of the end – 

“Three other small departments, including the Herald Fire District near Galt, have filed notices to separate from CalPERS.

The Herald Fire District voted unanimously in January to withdraw from the pension fund, citing a preference to expand its volunteer firefighter program. It’s not clear yet how much money it would have to pay CalPERS to find pensions for five former workers.”

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Trinity County Waterworks District, near Redding, cuts ties with CalPERS, pensions are “slashed”

17 Sep

Thank you, anonymous tipster, for sending me this article from Zero Hedge. 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-13/calpers-slashes-pension-payments-retirees-two-more-california-towns-90

People have criticized Zero Hedge, so here’s an article from Sacramento:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article172960601.html

It looks like other towns/agencies are walking away from CalPERS, willing to make the final pay-off, or not. It looks like they’ve just let their old employees take a cut.

Promises, promises – who promised these insane pensions, anyway? And who would take such a promise – a person who is either an idiot or a leech.

The Zero Hedge author calls the CalPERS system what it is – a Ponzi Scheme. Now they are trying to leave the taxpayers holding the bag. 

I’m going to start sending these links to the city council and county board of supervisors – you do same. Write a little note, include your favorite sections of these articles and your thoughts, because my guess is, most of them won’t open the link. Whether they read it or not, it becomes part of the “official record.” 

What was it Arlo Guthrie said? “One guy is crazy, two guys are [politically incorrect],  but three guys, that’s a movement!”

 

I made a simple request of my new garbage hauler… only I was smart enough to cc WM rep and my city mangler…

15 Sep

Did you get your postcard?

Last week Recology sent postcards to all their soon-to-be former customers here in Chico, handing us over to the city’s new designated residential waste hauler, Waste Management.

Two weeks ahead of “Live” date, the public is finally properly noticed of this deal. But there’s nothing in this post card about pending rate hikes.

“Your new service provider will be Waste Management. They will communicate any potential service day changes, if applicable. Please continue to use your current containers for weekly service until your new provider is able to exchange them. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact your local WM office at cssacramento@wm.com “

So, now Sacramento is our “local WM office”?

I wanted to get a leg up on this thing, because I already got a sniff of the new rates – I have friends who live in Paradise, where a similar deal was cut years ago with their local hauler, Northern California Recycling and Waste. Right now, my 96 gallon Recology bin, shared by two families, costs me about $26 a month. I think this is a reasonable rate for weekly pick-up. In Paradise, my friends pay about same for a 35 gallon bin.

So I expect Chico rates to go up similarly, now that the precedent has been set. I wanted to switch to a smaller bin, and I wanted get a leg up, knowing how people are – some people are already aware, and they will also be queueing up for service changes. And, when the rest of the lemmings get their first bill, I predict a general landslide of service change requests.

Over the weekend I e-mailed the address on the postcard, but here’s the thing: I cc’d Chico City manager Mark Orme, mark.orme@chicoca.gov, and the Chico WM rep who has been attending the franchise meetings, Ryan West – rwest1@wm.com

I also asked to opt out of the yard waste bin – which the agreement says is required, and which will be an extra charge.  

I’ve been having a “live” conversation with  Orme and West for a few months now, and West told me I could opt out of the yard waste bin.

“Exemptions will be allowed for customers residing in an HOA, Mobile Home Park or other maintained community where yard waste service is already provided or where lack of room at the residence does not allow space for the third cart.  These customers may choose not to participate in yard waste service and receive a $5.79  reduction in their monthly rate.”

We  share property and trash service, for which we pay,  with our tenants. My husband and I have always provided landscape and trash service for our rentals because that’s just the best way to make sure your properties are maintained.  We have bigger yards, compared to the new standard, with lots of trees and shrubberies. One morning’s work would stuff their little 56 gallon yard bin so full I wouldn’t be able to get it down the driveway.  We mulch the small stuff and take the bigger stuff to the city-owned compost facility on Cohasset. I think it’s about $5 – 8 a pick-up truck load, and we go a few times a year. Why would we want one of their pathetic little bins? Why would I want a third truck stopping in front of my house – I thought the whole idea was to get some of these trucks off our streets?

Besides, Neal Road Landfill manager Bill Mannell once told a gathering of the city Sustainability Task Force that customers typically use their yard waste and recycling bins as back up trash bins. I don’t know if that ‘s true, and I don’t want to find out.

I mailed off my simple request, on Sunday, and was shocked to get an almost immediate response from Orme.

Ms. Sumner,

Thank you for your e-mail.  You’ve included WM on this e-mail, which is the correct recipient and who will follow-up with you on this request.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday. 

Sincerely,

Mark

I had to answer him that he’d been cc’d to keep him in the conversation, no need to respond on Sunday. He responded again to tell me he understood – I worry about this guy, he should be spending more time with that little boy he brings to meetings on occasion.

But I thanked him, telling him, “we’ll see how long it  takes Waste Management to respond…”

Well, Ryan West got back to me the next day,

“Thank you for your email.  We will be happy to make the requested adjustments to your account before we create it.  Can I ask you to verify the service address in question?”

His response was followed up by a staffer who wanted to “clarify” the information I had given him.  I felt confident my needs would be met, absolutely spoiled with all the attention!

And then I got another e-mail on Wednesday. It cut-and-paste weird.

Hello Juanita,

Thank you for contacting Waste Management about your account. Certainly, once the account is switched over automatically after 10/1/2017, please contact us so we can update the changes you requested.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reply to this email or contact us through Waste Management live chat at http://www.wm.com.

Thank you again for contacting Waste Management. We truly appreciate your business and allowing us to meet your waste service needs.

Jose Luis

Waste Management Customer Service

So, there’s my official response from Waste Management, from the address all the other customers were given – “once the account is switched over…”

So here’s my advice – any problems you have with Waste Management, even simple requests,  cc mark.orme@chicoca.gov and Ryan West at rwest1@wm.com

And remember, the Early Bird who cc’s the appropriate people will get the worm.

City to form ad-hoc committee with CARD to “pursue cooperative development of facilities…such as sports and aquatic complexes…”

15 Sep

At next week’s council meeting, city mangler Mark Orme will suggest an Ad hoc committee with Chico Area Recreation District. A lot of items on his proposed agenda seem innocuous – discussions of various park and playgrounds and who will own and be responsible for them.

Near the end of the item we find this notation:

Cooperative Development. CITY and CARD agree to pursue cooperative
development of facilities that could enhance economic development, such as sports
and aquatic complexes.

The group “Every Body Health Body” has been fronting the sports/aquatics complex conversation eversince CARD gave up trying to convince the public they should pay a bond to support such a venture. Now CARD is going for a general bond, and EBHB has taken up the campaign to get us to pay for this thing.

I attended an event these people hosted at Cal Park Pavilion last year, and the first person I ran into was Mark Orme. Invites had been given to all the council members and board of supervisors, as well as key staffers. 

Orme told me he was there out of “personal interest,” that the city had no involvement.

Oh yeah? 

 

Who’s the criminals here?

14 Sep

Monday I got up at 5 am so I could get a loaf of bread baked and finish my day’s chores around the rentals in time make it to a 4 pm Chico Internal Affairs Committee meeting.

You know, Fall is going to come down hard this year, mark my words – get your gutters clean and take a tube of caulk around your eaves and windows. We swept the siding too, looks like it just got a fresh coat of paint.  That’s always a good way to see stuff that needs attention, like bubbling paint, or rotten spots.

The bread turned out great, BTW.  S’cuse me – that should be ‘BLT’.  Our garden is finally putting out tomatoes now that the heat has let up.

And I made that 4 pm meeting.  No Stephanie Taber!?! I thought she attended allllllll the meetings!

Maybe she didn’t think it was that important – committee member Ann Schwab did not make it either.  I went, even though there was only one item on the agenda – a report on the status of Downtown public restrooms

In January the city decided to try leaving Downtown restrooms open 24 hours, in an attempt to curb (ha ha) public defecation and urination. This has been an increasing problem over the last five or more years.  My old buddy ;), Downtown business owner Lon Glazner, used to post pictures of human poop he routinely found outside his back door.

Committee member Reanette Fillmer got a lot of laughs from liberals at a meeting when she described her disgust at having stepped in human poop on a trip to San Francisco. I looked at the shoes she wore to this meeting – ever see those commercials for “Shoedazzle!” – and I can understand her disgust. I would never wear open toed shoes out of the house, although, I  can see the reason for her outrageous heels – throughout history, people have worn high  shoes in an attempt to keep their feet out of urban filth. She should really invest in a good pair of sneakers, that can either be washed in bleach or thrown away.  When I go Downtown, I wear my work shoes, the same shoes I wear when I pick up dog crap around my yard.

Committee members Fillmer and Coolidge were on hand, as well as $taffers Mark Orme Debbie Presson, and Public Works Directors Eric Gustafson, who was scheduled to give the report.

For some reason, city financial officer Scott Dowell slinked in at the beginning of the meeting – he was not scheduled to give a report. I can’t help but believe these  $taffers use these meetings as an  excuse to get out of work.

There were a couple of county behavioral health interns, and three other people, the only one I recognized was homeless advocate Patrick Newman.  The other men spoke as though they were also homeless advocates, but I don’t know who they were.

Gustafson reported that in a three month trial that ended in March, 24 hour bathrooms were a disaster (my word for the multitude of problems he described).  He said vandalism was “unsustainable” (his word).  I know what he’s talking about – when I went to the Plaza one morning to help set up for an event, we found the toilet had been stuffed full of paper, and was blocked to over flowing. It was a disgusting mess, it was Saturday, and we expected hundreds of attendees.

The fellow who was “in charge” called city $taff, and about an hour later, a very grumpy man showed up with the usual tools (plunger, mop and bucket).  He went in and dealt with the plug and made a cursory cleaning.  The bathroom was still disgusting by my standards, and I never saw any of the event attendees enter it.

Let’s face it, those restrooms are for the transients, so they will  stop  bothering Downtown businesses.  Gustafson reported that since the restrooms were no longer open 24 hours, instead opening at  7 am and closing at 9 pm, Starbucks has complained that they open their doors  at 5 am to a “line waiting to use their restrooms.”

Anybody remember Sal Corona? Malvina’s Caffe?  Ever happen to be in there on  a busy night when somebody tried to sneak in and use the bathroom without buying a meal?  Sal would put down his spatula and wipe his hands,  come out into the busy dining room in his apron and confront them loudly.  He’d have a grin on his face that said, “I’m gonna eat you!” He’d humiliate them out the door, even young women. God, I miss that man. He was the real mayor of Chico, for years, and Downtown died when he hung up his apron.

Gustafson said it costs $13,000 a year, just to clean the restrooms, and city staff puts about 3 hours a day into “emergencies” – vandalism. He says Rangel Park restroom is vandalized almost every day.  The Downtown Business Association pays $10,000 of the janitorial costs, but “$taff time” is left to the taxpayers.

Gustafson mentioned right away that he wanted Portland Loo.  Committee members received a written report – I wonder if Gustafson mentioned all the problems and cost overruns that have plagued cities who have bought and installed Portland Loo?

The main problems have been increased crime in the direct vicinity and the tab for cleaning. In one year Portland spent $99,000 cleaning two Loo’s, and the city was successfully sued by water and sewer rate payers for spending  ratepayer money on the Loo’s. Prostitution and drug use increased so much in Seattle and San Diego that they removed their expensive Loo’s – over $500,000 total cost of purchase and installation for each unit. Seattle- I’ll give them credit for creative thinking – ended up offering theirs on E-bay for about $2500 a pop.

These units  have to be hooked up to sewer and water. I didn’t see any mention of the specific costs there – what’s the water bill for one of these babies?  Can they be broken in such a way that they leak constantly?

Gustafson didn’t talk about any of that stuff, and  I didn’t ask questions because I wanted to get home and get back to my life. It’s better to ask these people for answers in writing, anyway. The clerk doesn’t record the whole conversation.

Well, here’s the real problem – a bunch of bums have taken over, not only Downtown, but all our public spaces.  The county brings them here for the revenues, but the money never seems to be enough to deal with the problems they create. We have a police force that is understandably frustrated because the county DA won’t prosecute any of these criminals, who are processed in O’ville and released back onto the streets.

We are told we have to cater to these people, with free food, shelter, and 24 hour bathrooms for them to trash.

Here’s why – San Diego is currently having an out-of-control Hepatitis A outbreak.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/13/550674476/san-diego-washing-streets-with-bleach-to-combat-hepatitis-a-outbreak

In a report on our local Channel 7 news, they said five people are dead. NPR reports 15 dead and 400 infected.

Hepatitis A is spread, mainly, through the ingestion of fecal matter, but can also spread through urine, blood, semen and spit. Just like e-coli – infected people spread it by way of dirty hands. They touch surfaces, they poop and pee in the street, it spreads all over town.

What about Downtown food service and coffee businesses? What about Enloe Hospital?  What about Butte County jail? What about the various homeless shelters?

Wasn’t it just last year that Torres Shelter had a bedbug problem? And one of the dorms at Chico State was infested. Yes, bedbugs bite, and they can spread any disease that is transmitted by way of blood.

Will Portland Loo solve this problem? No, it will just be another boondoggle – will we sell our  old units on E-Bay?  Will Starbucks start hosing out their bathrooms with bleach and water?

E-mail your county supervisor and tell them to stop bringing these people into our area. Write to your city council and tell them we want enforcement of the laws, we want people prosecuted for these so-called “quality of life” crimes.

Tell these people you will hold them directly and personally responsible for a Hepatitis A outbreak in this area.

Mike Ramsey needs to get a bitch slap in 2018.  Like, don’t let the screendoor hit you on the ass, Mr. Ramsey.

Not only the transients, but public employees are stealing our quality of life, and that’s a crime.

 

Chico Public Works Director: 24 hour restrooms are needed! But vandalism is “unsustainable…”

12 Sep

Yesterday I attended the City of Chico Internal Affairs committee meeting and heard a report from Public Works Chief Eric Gustafson regarding “unsustainable vandalism” in public restrooms Downtown.  Here’s the letter I wrote to the ER this morning:

Chico Public Works Director Eric Gustafson reported to Chico Internal Affairs Committee (9/11/17)  that Downtown public restrooms are suffering “unsustainable vandalism”.  He suggested the city invest in Portland Loo. 

Portland Loo is a toilet designed to keep criminal activities – including prostitution and drug sales – out of public restrooms. With slats at top and bottom so police (and everybody else) can see inside, they are coated with vandalism resistant paint and made in such a way that they can be routinely hosed out by janitorial staff. They must be connected to water and sewer but can provide  their own lighting. They are supposedly tamper-proof.

The manufacturer lists a price around $250,000, but other cities, including Portland, have found initial costs can exceed $500,000 per unit. Both the city of Portland and the city of San Diego have installed and later removed these devices because of increased crime in the immediate area. In Portland, costs for cleaning the devices were so high – $99,000/year for two units – that water ratepayers sued the city for  $617,588  spent on marketing and maintaining their Loo’s,  the cost attached to city sewer and water bills. 

Why do city staff continue to placate transient criminals? Gustafson is the staffer who told me transients have Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to sleep in Bidwell Park. What about the taxpayers’ rights? 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Citizens and ratepayers of Portland won their lawsuit – here’s the links:

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/02/portland_loos_not_core_to_sewe.html

While the Portland Loos are front and center in a lawsuit over questionable spending of water and sewer ratepayer money, those ubiquitous public restrooms may not be such a target going forward.

City leaders continue to play hot potato with the Loos, and the latest funding plan would shift operation and maintenance costs away from utility ratepayers and onto the city’s general fund.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/03/judge_portland_city_council_ov.html

Bushong also concluded that the Portland Loo outdoor public restroom program was essentially a $618,000 business venture gone bad. Before Bushong’s decision, city officials had conceded that the Loos weren’t a core utility serviceand have proposed paying for them with general fund money in the future.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/11/judge_delivers_split_decision.html

As part of the 2014 decision, [Judge] Bushong blessed utility relocation efforts tied to light-rail projects and acquiring land for stormwater purposes, which totaled about $10.4 million. But he rejected about $1.2 million spent on outdoor public restrooms and publicly financed political campaigns.

Time to ring their phones “off the hook” about the trash deal – city manager’s office, (530) 896 – 7200. Ask them why this rate increase wasn’t handled like PG&E and Cal Water rate increases.

11 Sep

I followed the advice of my fellows, Jim and Bob, and wrote the following e-mail to City Mangler Mark Orme and my 3rd District Supervisor Maureen Kirk, and cc’d city attorney Vince Ewing cause I have some questions of a legal nature. 

Good Monday Morning Mr. Orme,   Supervisor Kirk, and Mr. Ewing,

Have either of you seen this Chicoosity Facebook page? (linked  below) Scroll down to the garbage franchise conversation.

Like I told both of you, the public needed to be better informed of this city trash deal, given the lesson that should have been learned when the county rolled their deal out.  Remember what Mr. Hahn said – “phones rang off the hook with complaints for two weeks…”  I see people are just as mad about the city deal – wait until they get their new bills!

Something I realized recently – when PG&E and Cal Water raise rates, they put notices in their bills, a year ahead, and there are public hearings.  Why wasn’t that done with this trash deal? Why didn’t Recology or Waste Management make any attempt to notice customers more than two weeks ahead of roll-out? I just got my postcard on Friday (9/8/17). Why didn’t the city notice customers and hold public hearings?

Those are not  rhetorical questions, so I cc’d Mr. Ewing, maybe he can answer. 

Here’s the link to that facebook page – thanks, at your convenience, for an answer to my questions.  — Juanita Sumner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicoosity/

As I was reading that over, I realized, people called the county. You can reach city manager Mark Orme’s office at (530) 896 – 7200.  Be really polite, his underlings don’t get paid as much as he does. He won’t answer your call, but he’ll know about it. 

Make those phone lines dance People!