Archive | January, 2018

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.

 

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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:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-10/california-s-brown-raises-prospect-of-pension-cuts-in-downturn

“[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 debbie.presson@chicoca.gov 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:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=280&meta_id=57592

 

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

sean.morgan@chicoca.gov

reanette.fillmer@chicoca.gov

mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov

ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

karl.ory@chicoca.gov

randall.stone@chicoca.gov

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. 

 

Why do people ignore a problem until it’s too late to do much about it, then expect to complain? Trash deal has been in the works since 2012 – now people want to bitch about it?

5 Jan

I just got my new 2018 Waste Management bill for three months (32 gallons) of $59.70, up about 55 percent from previous bills of $38.55. I realize there is always a bit of inflation but 55 percent? By chance, did the city hire the negotiator from the Pentagon’s F35 program for the Waste Management contract?

I also read that pot was legal in California in 2018 but our City Council decided that a retail pot store was not appropriate for our fair city. How am I supposed to relieve the anxiety of opening my Waste Management garbage bill? I’m very unhappy with our City Council.

— Geoff Bartels, Chico

You know how I love to say “I told you so.”   

That’s not really true – it drives me nuts, trying to get people to pay attention to an issue when there’s still time to stop the bulldozers, but they give me that same old tired bullshit – I’m sorry, I have a life! Why don’t you get one Juanita?

But of course, later, they  get to whine and complain about it.

Somebody read one of my old posts on the subject yesterday, from 2014. At that time, Joe Matz of Recology was saying rates would triple, and the city was looking at requiring service for everybody. If you wanted to haul your own trash they wanted to inspect your vehicle, etc, which was tantamount to requiring a hauler’s permit.

When Juanita raised her scrawny little fist and said, “If you require service the city will have to provide a low-income subsidy…” 

To which the consultant answered, “She’s right.”  He smiled at me across the room. It wasn’t the consultant’s fault, he was very truthful about the whole thing.

OOO! The bulldozers had to stop and listen! You’ll notice, service is not required under this deal, and you can still take your trash to the dump without a hauler’s permit. Which means, neighbors/relatives/friends can still share cans to save money.

Just think if there was four more Juanitas.  Or at least four more people who went to these meetings and raised a scrawny little fist?

And here’s what I’ll  tell Geoff – read the Waste Management website – you can opt out of yard waste service and save almost $6 bucks a month. My family, who share service with our tenants, also opted for a smaller bin. Our son has moved away to college and our tenants don’t have much trash either – we realized we didn’t need that 96 gallon bin anymore.

Once I made those changes in our account, the rate is still about $5 more per month. No, I’m not happy about that. But I wish people who complain would educate themselves – the real problem at this point is the city wants to use the new revenue to pay down their pension deficit instead of fixing the streets like they said they would. That’s where we need to hit them, and hard.

In fact, public works director Brendon Ottoboni says the road/streets fund is tapped, and they are almost 10 years behind on necessary projects. When developer Bill Webb asked at a recent public meeting how a person could get their street on the projects list, Ottoboni again said there’s no money for fixing any more streets.

thumbnail_20171129_095754

This is the “pedestrian right-of-way” down my street. Every now and then I look in that pothole, make sure there isn’t an old lady or a jogger with a stroller stuck down in there…

Want to have some fun? Write to council member Randy Stone, who recently declared the deal was working cause we have less trucks on the streets.

randall.stone@Chicoca.gov

Really Randy? On Wednesday I have a Recology truck on my street, servicing the “commercial enterprise” known as the Evangelical Free Church. On Thursday my bins  are picked up by Waste Management. On Friday Waste Management picks up the bins on the street that intersects my street. So, I get a minimum of seven trucks a week running up and down the street in front of my house.

How about another picture.

thumbnail_20171129_095932

The asphalt is almost completely separated from the base here.

But here’s another funny fact – my street is not considered a  “feeder” by the city of Chico, because there is no new subdivision on my street, so my street will never be on the “projects” list – ask Ottoboni about that.

brendan.ottoboni@Chicoca.gov

Letters to the editor of a newspaper that reaches less than a third of local residents isn’t going to cut it. A few months ago council member Ann Schwab suggested a complaint line for garbage customers so they wouldn’t have to write to the mayor. Why not write to the mayor?  He approved this deal too.

sean.morgan@Chicoca.gov

Don’t forget the chief engineer – city mangler Mark Orme

mark.orme@Chicoca.gov

If you’re going to complain, make it count. 

 

 

Oroville cops and fire take another pay cut while Chico employees take another raise

4 Jan

Tuesday night Chico City Council unanimously approved a new contract for “public safety employees” including what city mangler Mark Orme described as “cost neutral” raises all around. 

Meanwhile, Oroville is considering pay cuts for their police and fire employees, having already cut their wages in August.

http://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Pay-cuts-imminent-for-Oroville-police-and-fire-467771233.html

Chico and Oroville wages and benefits are similar, but Oroville has a lot more lower paid cops. 

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=81&fiscalyear=2016#P67b0cb8dccef403c9b8499e9b58196e4_13_oHit0

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=79&fiscalyear=2016#P69e1c5a3b77e4c65ba7e84bfa668398e_6_oHit0

In fact, Chico cops’ wages are on par with the city of Sacramento.

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=365&fiscalyear=2016

Oroville and Sacramento both have more violent crime than Chico – scroll down for crime statistics, and then look at the “per thousand” numbers and the index number at the bottom. Look at robberies and assaults. 

http://www.city-data.com/city/Chico-California.html

http://www.city-data.com/city/Oroville-California.html

http://www.city-data.com/city/Sacramento-California.html

Finally, here’s Chico’s latest budget – try to find street repairs for your neighborhood in there somewhere.

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/2016-17CityAnnualFINALBudget.pdf

thumbnail_20171129_095932

Does the street in front of your house look like this? Thank a police officer!

Ralph Nader: “If you don’t turn on to politics, politics will turn on you” – let’s put the “public” back in “public meetings”!

2 Jan

Well Happy New Year to you!

Here’s a resolution for you – attend a public meeting this year – make that TWO!

Here is the agendas page for City of Chico meetings:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas.asp

There are three kinds of “committees” – those made up of elected officials, those made up of official appointees (spoils committees) and there’s one that’s made up of staffers – the Maps Committee. That’s a fairly new committee – I’m guessing, they either got in trouble for making these decisions behind closed doors or some rule changed and now they have to make these meetings public. 

Let’s face it – these meetings are only “public” if the “public” attends.

Chico Area Recreation District has a whole new website – you  gotta wonder, why? Their old website was fine, everything was available from the home page – now I had to search for information about the board, and I had to e-mail manager Ann Willmann to ask where to find the agendas. 

You also  gotta wonder, how much did the new website cost? 

Take a good look – this website is going to cost you a new bond or assessment on your home in 2018.

http://www.chicorec.com/board-of-directors

In 2018 let’s put the “public” back in “public information,” “public meetings” and “public participation.” 

UPDATE:  I was kind of shocked to receive this response when I e-mailed CARD manager Ann Willmann yesterday (1/2/18) about agendas for upcoming meetings:

 Sorry I missed you. I am currently out of the office until Monday, January 8th. The CARD office is  closed 12/25-1/5/18. I will be checking email occasionally during the break and will respond to emails as needed. Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season. Ann 

 

So, does this mean, parks and playgrounds are going unattended? Are CARD workers currently laid off, being designated “part time,” and living through the holidays without pay?  Or does it mean, the actual workers have to work while management gets two weeks off, with pay?  Either way it’s costing us. 

Willmann e-mailed me later yesterday, from wherever. 

Hi Juanita, agendas for our regular meetings are posted 72 hours prior to the meeting date. I’m sorry you are not finding the new website more user friendly, thank you for the feedback. I did make a few adjustments to better communicate when the agendas will be posted.  Thank you, Ann

And yes, she’d made that notation on the website. I’m not allowed to ask too many questions at a time, or I would have asked, “One meeting a month – don’t you think you could get those agendas up more than three days ahead?”