Archive | January, 2018

That’s $343,287.67 for the chamber remodel and it came from Comcast ratepayers

31 Jan

I  received the following response to my inquiry about the money for the city chambers remodel from city clerk Debbie Presson:

Hi Juanita,

 The technology upgrade project currently underway will cost $343,287.67 and is funded solely by PEG fees.  PEG (Public Education and Government) fees are paid by Comcast, our current cable provider, as required by their franchise agreement. The City is responsible for ensuring that the general public has access to the Public Access Channel (Channel 11) which is used for educational and local government programming, including City Council and Commission meetings.  The PEG fees are restricted funds and can only be used for equipment purchases, upgrades, or a capital project such as this current project.  Staff costs or department operational costs are strictly prohibited from being paid for by these fees.

Debbie Presson

Wow, she speaks as though it’s money from Heaven, FREE MONEY!

Double Wow, $343,287.67 – let me put that into perspective for you – a brand new three bedroom house on my street just went on the market for $360,000 this week. An entire, brand new house.

And just in case you aren’t seeing it, let me put a cup of coffee under your nose – Comcast isn’t paying for this, Comcast ratepayers are paying for this. 

Listen Pollyanna, you don’t think Comcast is a charity, do you? No, they pass the franchise fee on to the customers, just like Waste Management passes their city franchise fee on to the customers.  PG&E, Cal Water and any other utilities who want to operate here pay franchise fees too – excuse me – YOU pay it, in addition to the Utility Tax you see on your bill. They should have to spell that out on the bill, but who will demand that? Your legislators? Don’t wait up. 

I also wrote a note to the folks at Ch 7 news – they reported the chambers hadn’t been remodeled in over 40 years. I won’t say “lie”, but that’s misinformation – my husband put carpet in those chambers roughly 25 years ago, and they got new IT including a new big screen tv for the council to watch themselves during the meetings, only about 10 years ago.  I’m guessing the record would show, they’ve put thousands a year into gadgets for the chambers. 

But our local media is lazy and stupid and believes whatever  $taff tells them. 

City cries poor mouth while spending a couple hundred thousand remodeling council chambers

30 Jan

Do you wonder if the Right Hand knows what the Left Hand is doing at the City of Chico?

Our Chamber of Commerce shill, Katie Simmons, says we’re broke and need money – but at the same time the city is spending $350,000 on a makeover for city chambers?

New seats? There was nothing wrong with the old seats, Folks. New carpet? And claims that we couldn’t see the meetings adequately from our computers? That’s all melarkey as far as I’m concerned – I’ve attended meetings recently in that chamber, I’ve watched on my computer, even with my poor computer service, the meetings are perfectly watchable on the computer. 

The story says the grant was for $350,000, but the job will cost $175 – 225,000? And it comes from an “public education grant”. So I e-mailed staff and asked them, how much total money was received and exactly where it came from. We’ll see what response I get. 

I’m guessing there was plenty of money in that grant for greasing a few palms.



League of Women Voters to hold disaster preparedness forum – TONIGHT, First Baptist Church on Palmetto. Bring a dish.

30 Jan

The League of Women Voters of Butte County invites citizens and representatives of organizations to an informational forum on being prepared for a catastrophic emergency or evacuation in Chico similar to the 2017 Santa Rosa Fire Evacuation and the Oroville Evacuation.

The event will be in the Fellowship Hall of the First Baptist Church, 850 Palmetto in Chico on Tuesday, January 30 at 7:00pm. A potluck dinner will be available at 6:30.

Each of the panelists will discuss their agency or department role during an emergency or disaster. The four panelists who will address the public:

· Lt. James Bell, Butte County Sheriff’s office

· Capt. Aaron Lowe, Chico Fire Department

· Cindi Dunsmoor, Butte County Emergency Service Manager

· Bob Kiuttu, Enloe Hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Manager

Topics will include

· What citizens can do to prepare for evacuation or a disaster

· How the public will be made aware of the scope of the emergency

· How citizens may help with an evacuation

· What to take to take to a shelter

· What is needed to shelter in place

· What to do if separated from family members

· Physical items to have prepared in case of evacuations (important documents, personal items, medications, etc.)

Chico Chamber says if we want usable roads and responsible cops we need to shake down with a revenue measure

28 Jan

Biscuit snoops out another homeless camp in Bidwell Park.  If my husband were a member of Chico PD he’d get extra salary for Biscuit.

My husband and I noticed the bums vacated the park during the inclement weather, but predicted, correctly, they’d be back as soon as the rain stopped.


There in the front of the trash pile you can see some scorched items – my husband said it was a partially burned pillow and what looked like clothing or bedding.

As soon as I saw this, I thought of the people who were fatally burned in their tent, just a block from my house, on a chilly winter morning a few years ago. They’d been drinking heavily, fell asleep, and the camp fire they had made inside their tent had caught their bedding and immolated them.


This abandoned hobo camp is just off the main trail. in a well-worn path.

It’s also alarming because it’s within a mile of my house, in a heavily overgrown section of the park, easily prone to fire. This isn’t the first time my husband has come across the remains of a camp fire gone out of control – once we encountered a burned section of grass, at least 12 by 12 feet, right off the entrance to the park from our neighborhood.

The Ponderosa Fire this past Summer was started by a transient who was living illegally at a campground.

The City of Chico has essentially deputized park rangers, given them guns, in fact, required them to carry guns.  Critics predicted that the rangers would become part of the police force and be given other tasks around town. I don’t know if this is true, but I have yet to see or hear about the kind of sweeps they conduct regularly in Redding.

This section of park was cleaned not a month ago by a community group. That is not a solution, it’s enabling behavior. There is too much enabling behavior here. Just recently I saw a piece on the tv news about Salvation Army offering a liaison service for people who need social services. Wake UP! We already spend more than half our county budget on the social services departments, with a $63 million budget for Behavioral Health, and we still need to fund these private agencies (yes SA gets public funding) to act as liaison?

I don’t report the camps anymore – they just send the feel-good volunteer group – complete with $100,000/year staffer – to clean it up, and use it as another example of why the city needs more money. The Chamber of Commerce has launched their anticipated campaign for a sales tax increase – why would I want to give them more ammo?

What we need is a dedicated group to fight the propaganda blitz with facts.  Get your tennis rackets ready, and maybe get that old garbage bag suit you made for the Gallagher show.



Gas tax petition gaining momentum – time to defund the special interest programs that are ruining our state

24 Jan

I’m glad I went to that meeting yesterday, because it relates to some other stuff I’ve been reading in the news. 

First of all, Dude sent me this article over a week ago:

“Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.”

I’ll buy that, because that’s what I’m seeing all around me – more than 1 in 5 of my friends are having money problems, and few of them have been living fast or fancy – they’re having a hard time paying their new PG&E, Cal Water, and Waste Management rates, which are going up hell-bent-for-leather compared to their wages. My kids are working jobs at reduced hours because their employers cannot afford to pay the still-required health care premiums for employees working 28 hours or more a week. 

While you might want to blame welfare recipients, read on:

“Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.”

And then there’s the pressure on the middle income families who have to drive to work – The Moonbeam’s answer to poverty was higher taxes on cars and gas.  There’s no limit when you are spending other people’s money. Luckily a group has come up with a gas tax repeal petition:

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

“We need to stop the car and gas tax hikes because, number one, it’s hurting working families,” said Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council and now a talk radio host who has helped spearhead the repeal. “Secondly, the money is being diverted time and time again from road repairs and road expansion to any special interest project the politicians have.”


Yes, any special interest project – like a busline to Sacramento that  takes an hour longer than driving your car, that will still cost $24 round trip (and screw you if you miss that 4:55 bus), and will still have to be 60 percent subsidized by the taxpayers, even if they get the ridership required by the grant program. 

Read this again, “With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy.”

Including the staffers at BCAG, SRTA, SJJPD, and a bunch of other special districts around the state. BCAG has a $1.5 million dollar payroll to meet, for 12 staffers – whipping out my handy calculator, I see that’s $125,000 per staffer. 

Public compensation drives up the cost of everything, from housing to food to gas to daycare to medical care and so on.  The private sector family living on $40,000 or less has to compete with these people for homes, groceries, everything – in a town with so many publicly employed residents as Chico, the seller or merchant is able to charge top dollar for everything.

This is how these stupid special projects affect our quality of life. Tell your county supervisor you don’t want to participate in this bus line to nowhere, it’s not too late, the grant applications haven’t been accepted yet. 

BCAG proposes spending millions for bus lines that are predicted to have a 40 percent return on fares – how about fixing our streets?

23 Jan

For some reason I have been placed on the notice list for the Intercity Transit Ad Hoc committee. I had not heard anything about this committee, and of course Ad Hoc committees raise my hackles, so I made time to attend this morning. The meeting started at 9:30, which gave me time to get a leg up on my chores before I left the house. It was an absolutely fabulous day to be on a bicycle, and I was able to throw in a few errands on the way home. 

I did miss a trip to the dump, and you know how I love to go to the dump, dammit. 

But I try to stay on top of how the suits spend our money, and I wish more people would pay attention – if more people could see what’s going on, I think we would have a revolution. What I got out of this meeting is, there are many “special districts” that are formed just to spend the ocean of tax money siphoned off the people of California and the rest of the nation. This morning I heard proposals from three special districts –  Butte County Association of Governments,  Shasta Regional Transit Agency, and  San Joaquin Joint Powers District – regarding a trial bus program that will essentially fulfill requirements for all three districts to get millions in state and federal grants.

BCAG’s proposal is a bus line running from Chico to Sacramento, with stops in Oroville and Marysville. Jon Clark, BCAG director, claims “we kept getting requests for commuter service to Sacramento,” but I didn’t see any of those requests or hear any names, and none of those people seemed concerned enough to attend a 9:30 am meeting, so I’m skeptical there.  I don’t see the demand. Clark presented numbers he’d got from the latest US Census – apparently, about 3,000 people commute from Chico every day to jobs in Sacramento County. 

Let me ask – would they all be served by two buses that leave by 6 am, with no returning buses until after 4 pm, arriving in Chico after 6 pm? Clark says the goal for the three year pilot program would be a result of 79 passenger trips per day – which would result in 40 percent of the cost being recouped by fares – even with fares at $12 one way, $24 round trip. Meaning, the taxpayers would be on the hook for 60 percent of the cost. And that’s what Clark would call “successful”, because that’s all that’s demanded by the grant programs. 

BCAG has made two grant applications.

  • $3.5 million from the Transit Intercity Rail Capital Program (The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) was created by Senate Bill (SB) 862 (Chapter 36, Statutes of 2014) and modified by Senate Bill 9 (Chapter 710, Statutes of 2015) to provide grants from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to fund transformative capital improvements that will modernize California’s  intercity, commuter, and urban rail systems, and bus and ferry transit systems to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by reducing congestion and vehicle miles traveled throughout California.)
  • $1.9 million from the Low Carbon Transit Operating Program (The Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) is one of several programs that are part of the Transit, Affordable Housing, and Sustainable Communities Program established by the California Legislature in 2014 by Senate Bill 862. For more information on the Transit, Affordable Housing, and Sustainable Communities Program. The LCTOP was created to provide operating and capital assistance for transit agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emission and improve mobility, with a priority on serving disadvantaged communities.)

These are state agencies too, so if you pay taxes in California, that’s your money. Do you have any need for a commuter bus to Sack-o-tomatoes at 5:55 am? If you do, you will pay twice – once in your tax bill, and again every time you board the bus – $12 one way!?! For a three hour ride through the countryside? 

Clark insisted that these buses would be “high-end”, with plush reclining seats, WIFI, and bathrooms. This in response to my question about the 40 percent recoup via fares. I just asked him to reaffirm that number for me, and he immediately got defensive. These busses, all brand new, purchased with the $3.5 million from the TIRCP, would not be like the buses that trundle around Chico, they would be very nice, attracting commuters who could afford that kind of stuff. But, the taxpayers will still be on the hook for 60 percent of the cost of those plush new seats, etc. People who have to drive around Chico, where the streets defy your padded seats and your expensive tires, will be paying for this. 

But what we’re really paying for, is the salaries and benefits at these agencies. I was looking at BCAG’s budget, here

Click to access 2016-17%20FINAL%20OWP.pdf

and I see, they lost a lot of revenues/funding between 2015 and 2017, their budget went from $20 million to about $6 million. But they still paid out $10,000 more in salaries – what?

You see a lot of that kind of stuff when you go to the meetings. Have you heard our city management crying poormouth? Can’t take care of the streets or the park, crime out of control, cause they don’t have enough money? Well, can I ask, why are they spending a bunch of money remodeling city chambers?

Look at all that new paneling – $$$$$$!

Here in Chico, we have streets that will void the warranty on your tires, but BCAG is chasing grants for buses to Sacramento. 

I was glad to see the local news reporters at the meeting, although, I can’t imagine what spin either of them will put on the story. 

From left to right, Hayley Skene of Ch 12 news, Greg Fisher of the Chico Airport Commission, Laura Urseny from Chico Enterprise Record, and BT Chapman, another airport commissioner.

Both airport commissioners seemed more than a little miffed that Chico Airport had been left completely out of the conversation. Chapman asked a good question – are these grants one time, or on-going?

Clark tried to dodge that question, even though Chapman asked it twice, and chairman Karl Ory let him do it. When I raised my hand, having asked another question already, Ory was a little terse with me – they act as though you are only allowed one question in these meetings, but I told him – Clark had not answered Chapman’s question. So, Clark had to admit – these are one time revenues, and furthermore, the very recent legislation that created the second program (the one that would pay toward three years of operating costs) “could be repealed tomorrow and then we’d get nothing.” 

Furthermore, if we got the first grant but failed to get the second grant, we’d be stuck with these new “high-end” buses and have to come up with other funds to operate them – you know, hire drivers and pay their salaries and benefits. 

It’s all pretty sketchy, is what I’m saying. 

Which is how Chico City councilman and ad hoc committee member Randy Stone summed it up, in his own words: “this proposal is dizzing…the inoperability of all these transit systems…” Because the other systems (San Joaquin rail and Shasta bus) are depending on Butte County to cooperate with their programs so they can get other grants, millions and millions in taxpayer money up for grabs, but they have to cooperate to get it. 

Meanwhile Glenn County and Yuba County have their own successful transit lines and are apparently worried that Butte County will steal from them. It’s all about the grant money –  they all want it, bad, but if they don’t cooperate, they’re competing. Reminds me of an old story.

Image result for images from original little black sambo book


Who is going to pay for all that butter? 




Reanette, you know what your problem is? You have no game…

17 Jan

To think I was going  to attend a council meeting last night, I was so excited about the agendized conversation about our CalPERS costs. I’m so glad I decided to watch it on the box instead – fast forward to Item 4.4

The report itself was a  barn burner. Right now we pay almost 50 percent, and within the next couple of years, the taxpayers will be on the hook for over 55 percent of the pensions, while the employees still pay their pathetic 4 – 12 percent.  For pensions of 70 – 90 percent of their highest year’s earnings.  Within a few more years, we’ll essentially be paying these people twice.

So  Reanette Fillmer, who needs to be put out on the street in November, says there’s nothing “we” can do about it, short of suing CalPERS. And that, she says, costs a LOT of money.  That, and a couple of cheap cracks from Mark Sorasssen and Randy Stone were the end of the conversation. Wow, some discussion!

Well, I don’t know who Fillmer means by “we”, but there is something “we” the voters and taxpayers can do. Sorensen, Fillmer and Coolidge are up in November, and we need to turn them out. Sorensen has insinuated he is not running again. We also have a pile of turds who want to run – including Scott Huber, who lives in Forest Ranch, according to the column he writes for the Forest Ranch newsletter. We’ve got to start vetting some real creeps, and most of all, see where they stand on the pensions issue.

Fillmer is a waster of time, with absolutely no game whatsoever.

Yes, there is injustice in Chico – let’s make some positive changes in 2018

14 Jan

This morning I received a note from the father of Tyler Rushing, the man who was shot by a security guard and finally killed by Chico police when he was found inside a Downtown business late at night. 

“There has been 28 fatal “Officer Involved Shootings” during the years Michael Ramsey has been the Butte County DA and he and his team have likely spent thousands of hours, at taxpayer expense, to investigate these fatal shootings. Three killings in 2017, including my son. The DA will be assigning his team to respond to any legal challenge. It seems that the DA is extremely cavalier with his use of taxpayer dollars.

Chico Police Department Sergeant Scott Ruppel, has chosen to retire, announced in December, 2017, with a very lucrative pension, rather than cooperate with an Internal Affairs Investigation for strangling a restrained suspect in August, 2017. The taxpayer will have to pay this substantial pension to an officer, age 51, for the rest of his life.”

I wasn’t there, and the video footage I saw on the news was confusing and useless, so I don’t know what happened that night. I only know, Scott Ruppel actually did retire abruptly when faced with an internal investigation, and is currently being charged with assault for another incident that happened while he was still with the force.

According to a story from North State Public Radio, “The [assault] charge was filed Wednesday [Dec. 20, 2017] against Sgt. Scott Ruppel by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Ruppel served for 20 years on the force, prior to his abrupt retirement Sept. 14. Ruppel was scheduled to appear before internal affairs investigators the same day. [for the shooting of Rushing]

Wow, I had no idea these investigations were voluntary, and I also wonder why Ruppel was still on the force to strangle a guy in December when he had retired “abruptly” in September. 

There’s things I’ve witnessed that made me want to confront members of Chico PD or even Butte County sheriff, but my husband always says, “you want to end up like Ellen Burstyn in ‘Requiem for a Dream”?



So you ask me how I feel about these incidents, I don’t know what to say. We have horrible cops, and a piece of crap DA – Ramsey once used county money to have a calendar made for his office, in which he and his staff dressed as the Elliot Ness gang and posed with antique cars. You think he gives a crap about the taxpayers’ money?

But here’s the thing – he keeps getting elected. So do the same trolls that hire our police chief. Whose fault is that?

I’m sorry for Tyler Rushing’s family. I’m sorry for the Phillips. It makes me sick what happened to their kids.  But aside from an open war against the cops, the only resolution I see is elect better people, get more citizens involved in government, and push for better behavioral health services. 

Right now, we have too many people collecting salaries for doing nothing, and too many citizens who believe they don’t have time to do anything about it.  Apathy is a sickness, and it spreads like the flu.

I swear, if I could just get five more Chicoans to attend meetings of various agencies, pay close attention, write more letters to the editors of the paper and comment on this blog about what is actually going on instead of what they think is going on, things would change around here. 

Don’t wait until it’s your kid.


The last thing we want is for “pension reform” to turn into “leave the taxpayers holding the bag”

12 Jan

 Dude sent me this article from Bloomberg:

“[Jerry] Brown said he has a ‘hunch’ the courts would ‘modify’ the so-called California rule, which holds that benefits promised to public employees can’t be rolled back. The state’s Supreme Court is set to hear a case in which lower courts ruled that reductions to pensions are permissible if the payments remain ‘reasonable’ for workers.”

Before getting all his/her hopes up, the cagey  taxpayer would immediately ask, “so, what’s ‘reasonable’?”  And then, “who gets to decide what’s ‘reasonable’?” Remember, judges get pensions too.

As I was pondering that, I got next week’s council agenda from the clerk – I’m on the clerk’s notice list, which is just a matter of e-mailing and giving her your e-mail address. You can ask for notifications of any and all committee meetings too, stay on top of this stuff instead of bitching about it 10 years after.

Oh look – Reanette Fillmer is still advancing her discussion about city of Chico pensions! She asked council, months ago, to agendize a discussion of our employer [taxpayer] -paid benefits and how they compare to other cities in California.  

I’m not sure how helpful that would be, knowing that most of California is in trouble over pensions right now, but it’s damn sure interesting – see here:


I have never seen this information before, I’ve only heard bits and snatches at meetings – the rest of my knowledge is based on “facts not in evidence” – making guesses from other stuff I hear and watching the expressions on their faces. The last figures I saw showed the city of Chico paying about 26 percent of the pensions – now look! 46 percent! To the employees’ same old 12 percent or less. 

That is how we got into this mess, and  so far, the city of Chico is just digging us deeper into it. 

I don’t know what Fillmer’s agenda is, but we all need to pay attention right now.  The last thing we want is for “pension reform” to turn into “leave the taxpayers holding the bag,” which is what the unions want.

And let council members know how you feel

While you’re at it, send them a couple of pictures of the street in front of your house.






Here’s what we’re not hearing about “Trump’s Budget Plan” – $150 million worth of cuts to federal retirement plans over 10 years

9 Jan

Did you know the federal government has over $3.5 TRILLION in pension debt? If you add in the deficits of state and local governments across the country, the total amounts to about $7 TRILLION. According to Moody’s, that’s about 40 percent of our Gross Domestic Product.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest quantitative measure of a nation’s total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s geographic borders over a specified period of time.”

Read that a couple of times and your scalp will crawl – we are spending 40 percent of our income on pensions. 

Think of that as you work away at your private sector job – you’re feathering somebody else’s nest, but who is feathering yours? Get ready for a hard, cold nest folks. 

I don’t know what you think of Donald Trump, but his budget plan has got my attention. Especially this proposal:

  • An increase in employee contributions by 1 percent each year for the next six years (until they equal the government’s contribution),
  • An elimination of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for current and future Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) participants and cutting the COLA by 0.5 percent for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) participants of what the typical formula currently allows,
  • Basing future retirement benefits on the average of an employee’s highest five years of salary, and,
  • Eliminate supplemental payments to employees who retire before age 62.

Nobody in the media is talking about the pensions – why? They want us to fixate on their claim that this plan will raise taxes on the middle class. Well, ask yourself this – are you middle class? Look at your paycheck – are you making more than $10,000 a month? Because that’s the middle class these days folks, the public workers. Trump is asking them to pay more income taxes – that’s good for the rest of us who live on an average of $40,000/year.

No, I don’t like Trump, but I like his tax plan.