Archive | May, 2018

Phil’s truck got rummaged!!

31 May

 

Well, after the run-in I had with the bum who was stealing out of recycling bins up and down my street last week, I heard from my good neighbor Phil today that his pick up truck had been “rummaged.” Parked in his driveway, more than 90 feet off the public street onto his property, surrounded by security lights. He said it must have been late in the night, because he and his wife like to sit out in their backyard until at least 11 pm. 

Allowing these freaks to walk through our neighborhoods on trash day, going through our stuff –  like I said before, it doesn’t stop with our trash/recycling bins, it leads to our cars and our sheds and right into our homes. They watch and learn, they know who goes to bed early, and who gets up early. They know when we got to work, and when our kids go to school. They know who is gone all day.  They know more about us than our neighbors. They know we leave what amounts to money in our recycling bins, and that Waste Management doesn’t pick them up until after noon. In my neighborhood it’s about 2:30 pm. Mayor Morgan told me they don’t get his recycling bin until after 3 pm. 

Here’s a solution for those who have created the problem – Waste Management needs to switch the pick-ups – start picking up recycling first, come back in the afternoon for the trash. I take my bins out by 8 am, the trash truck comes by 9:30. After the trucks have got everybody’s trash bins, they head back to Chico as recycling trucks. I’m not asking WM to buy more trucks – although that would have seemed reasonable given they were more than doubling their customer base. I’m just asking, pick up the recycling first, you are causing a crime problem. 

Recology had separate trucks, and both my bins were empty by 11:30. Make that 11:27 – I saw them, every week, and you could set your clock by the recycling truck. 

The mayor expressed his total lack of concern, telling me he liked the late pick-up because sometimes he forgot to put his bins out in the morning. 

Sean Morgan should get a button on his mouth, with a 5 second delay and a  team of experts that get to decide whether each remark should be uttered or flushed. He’s his own worst enemy – actually, his mouth, which seems to be completely disconnected from his brain, is his own worst enemy.

It’s frustrating talking to a person so entitled and yet so stupid. I would like to ask him – “Sean, how far would a bum make it up your street? At all? Before Peter Durfee or some other member of Chico PD was right up his/her ass?”  But he’s got a short attention span – he launched into an attack on Mark Herrera without answering the questions I’d already asked him. 

They come through my neighborhood by way of the city bike trail, the road to Bumville – also known as Bidwell Park. 

They’re also being allowed to camp at the “parklet” there where Pine and Cypress turn into Mulberry, at Little Chico Creek. People laying with all their garbage on the (finally) mowed grass. The garbage piles again line the creek, right behind the new low-income housing facing on Olive. Just a few blocks down, at Mulberry and 20th, there sits the old Victor building, site of a neat little landscape business, with freshly painted over tags every day, windows smashed out and boarded, weeds growing waste high all the way around. Up and down 20th and on toward Park, you see bums camped out between bushes all along the sidewalks. Garbage everywhere. Where’s code enforcement? 

But if a bum scratches a tag into the window of your Downtown business and you don’t get it replaced fast enough, Chico code enforcement chief of flatulence Leo DePaola will hit you with $180 fine. Where do those fines go? Right into DePaola’s back pocket? I’m just asking. 

Where’s the plan here? Who the hell is in charge? 

Ask a bum.

 

 

 

 

It’s all about the pensions – just say NO! to tax increases

30 May

By the time you’re reading this, SCI, a consulting group, will have held two sessions at the Municipal Auditorium to convince Oroville residents how wonderful and profitable the marijuana industry will be for our city. That remains to be seen.

This is what we do know. Five Oroville city councilors took the vote on this issue out of the people’s hands. They are paying a consulting firm to stage an event so they can pretend they are listening to you and care what you think. The city is aggressively putting two tax measures on the November ballot, a sales tax and a marijuana tax. Leading up to the vote you will hear cries of insolvency, bankruptcy and public safety concerns. These are meant to nudge you into voting “yes” on both tax measures.

If the truth is to be known, this city’s No. 1 problem is the unaffordable mismanaged CalPERS retirement obligation. City councils cannot propose enough tax revenue to erase decades of unbridled incompetence by CalPERS managers or previous city councils who overpromised with no regard for taxpayer dollars.

The question is, should we give them more of our money, which at best, will only postpone the inevitable? Oroville city voters can choose to tax themselves once, twice or not at all. We get to decide if the city is overreaching once again.

— Lorraine Christensen, Oroville

This is why we don’t have a sales tax increase on the upcoming Chico ballot – because Tom Lando is too busy trying to push this measure through in O-ville. He’s tricky, but it’s tough to be in two places at one time. He’s hoping to shove through as many local tax increases as he can so we won’t be able to drive out to shop somewhere else. 

Well here’s how I voted – let’s see if you can do better!

29 May

Election just one week away – I already mailed in my ballot. If you haven’t mailed your ballot yet I’d recommend turning it in manually at your precinct or at the county clerk’s office in O-ville. 

I don’t like to tell people how to vote, so I’ll tell you how I voted and make predictions. 

In the District 2 Supervisors’ race I think Debra Lucero will mop the floor with Larry Wahl – Wahl has hardly made any campaign. Lucero is determined to  get that $64,000/year salary plus benefits, don’t get in her way. She’s going to be a disaster for Butte County, but sitting here I can’t think of anything good Wahl accomplished during his tenure. Easy come, easy go.

In District 3, I don’t think Ritter has a rat’s ass of a chance, I think there will be a run-off between Rosene and Evans. I don’t think Rosene has enough experience. I’m not crazy about Evan’s pro-developer attitude, but he’s a nice guy, you can walk up to him at Safeway and have a real conversation. Rosene doesn’t have anything but “public safety!” What the hell does that mean? 

 The other race that concerns me is Butte County Assessor – in a nutshell, Diane Brown has the experience, she’s worked at the assessor’s office for years, and she’s approachable. She also lowered assessments on over-valued properties when she could legally do so, which helped families all over Butte County hold onto their homes. Stone claims he’s been on the appeals board, helping people fight over assessment? Let’s see the records, they’re supposed to be public, but I sure can’t find any evidence of Stone’s claims.

Stone is also claiming to be Hispanic? What?

Have I missed anybody? Neither Mike Ramsey nor Candace Grubbs are being challenged for their long-term positions. We need term limits on these people. 

As for the state ballot – I voted for John Chiang for Governor, even though he doesn’t have an ice cube’s chance against Newsome (who in my family we call The Joker). Chiang is the guy who got us the publicpay.gov site, he’s the guy who told us about the pensions. 

The other state office I am concerned about is US Senate – how can we convince Dianne Feinstein to fold up her legs and go home? She’s had her run, and it’s been bad for the rest of us. But you know, once people get that kind of money and power it’s a wrestling match getting it away from them. Knowing nothing about most of her challengers, I tried to figure out, who had the best chance of beating her, at least drag it out to November. My husband and I both held our noses and voted for Democrat Kevin Deleon. No, I don’t really want him for senate, but he’s the best crack we have at taking votes from Feinstein. Aside from landing a house on her ugly old ass.

As for the propositions:

NO on 68, the bond act. These vaguely written bonds have got to stop, there are so many loopholes it’s like a sieve.

As for 69, YES, these taxes have been enacted and until we are able to appeal in November we want these assholes to be spending whatever money on actual road repairs. But “improving transit” is still a loophole – they can use these funds for stuff like that stupid “experimental” bike lane recently installed Downtown.  Let’s work hard to get that repeal passed in November. 

70 was confusing, I hate cap and trade, but it seems like this bill would control the spending. I voted YES.

NO on 71 – read it. They want to delay the results of the election. Carl Demaio pointed out, this would mean, even if we repeal the  gas taxes, they would continue to be collected until the vote has  been “certified” – they can hold out on that, and we continue to pay! What a scam.

YES on 72 was a no brainer for me – I’ve spent considerable time rigging “water capture” systems to keep the base of my house from rotting out from under me. To think Randall Stone could come over and reassess my house for more on the basis of rain barrels is ridiculous. 

I have got so discouraged lately, I almost didn’t vote. In fact, after  last election, all that bullshit out of the clerk’s office about lost ballots, I was considering telling Grubbs to take my name off the rolls. But I woke up – you can’t bitch about it if you don’t vote. And I like to bitch about stuff.

Chamber Special Report: $3 million for more cops, $90 million to fix roads – $130 million for the pension deficit?

24 May

Chico Chamber started marketing their proposed sales tax increase measure five years ago. Below is the link to their “Special Report,” the product of five years of committees, task forces, clandestine surveys, and other ploys recommended by various consultants. 

Below is the link to their “Special Report”.

They list four “priorities for Chico – “police, roads, pensions and fire.” Don’t let the order in which they are listed fool you – that’s not indicative of priority. $3 million for the cops, $90 million for roads, and $130 million for pensions

The report summary says the Chamber would like to get the public involved in the discussion, but given the way Katie Simmons has scheduled the “community meetings,” there really hasn’t been much public participation – mostly Chamber and City officials. 

The Chamber wants a sales tax increase to pay for all this stuff. Do you really want to pay for the pensions? You’ve already paid more than the employees. 

Read that “special” report here:

Click to access CC_January_Special_Report_FINAL.pdf

Chico Chamber ramps up sales tax increase campaign – And when you ask them, “How much should we give?” Ooh, they only answer “More! More! More!”

24 May

This press release below was made yesterday by the California Chamber of Commerce and forwarded by Chico Chamber of Commerce. Time to watch the county and city clerk’s office for a ballot measure. 

What this release doesn’t tell us is that Tom Lando is one of Chico’s biggest pension hogs – especially when you consider he never paid anything toward his pension. Current City Mangler Mark Orme pays less than 10%, and he’s been given a pay raise every time he’s agreed to pay a percent or two more. That’s like throwing gas on a fire – every time you raise his salary you raise his pension.

Here’s an old link – make note, at the time I ran this post, Lando was getting about $135,000, just in pension, it doesn’t include his health, vision, life insurance, etc. Look at that – $11,000/month. There are families in this town living on $19,000/year. 

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2012/01/30/heres-why-lando-wants-to-raise-your-sales-tax/

That information is from 2012 – do you realize, pensions go up every year – “cost of living adjustment” – based on a percentage of the already gross amount. So, I’ll opine – he’s getting around $150,000 a year in cash and benefits. On top of that, Lando runs a consulting firm, the city has paid him consulting fees for various tasks. 

But now Piggy wants more! Read on!

From Michelle Woods at Chico Chamber:

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Chamber of Commerce honored business executives from Chico and Torrance today with its 2018 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award, recognizing them for outstanding advocacy on behalf of small businesses.

The CalChamber announced the awards in Sacramento before more than 200 attendees at the CalChamber Capitol Summit.

The 2018 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recipients are:

  • Mark Francis, president and CEO, Golden Valley Bank, Chico;
  • Tom Lando, principal, Tom Lando Consulting, Chico; and
  • Michael Shafer, owner, The Depot Restaurant, Torrance.

 

Mark Francis and Tom Lando

Lando was chairman of the board of directors for the Chico Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center in 2011 and currently chairs the chamber’s Legislative Action Committee. Francis was chairman in 2015 and spearheaded the chamber’s Community Vision, which not only guides local policy decisions, but has become a sought-after model for chamber advocacy throughout the nation.

At the direction of the Chico Chamber Board in early 2017, Mark and Tom spearheaded the effort to better understand how business priorities like a safer community and improved roads are indelibly linked to changing city finances.

Together, Lando and Francis co-chaired the groundbreaking Task Force on City Revenues and Expenditures, the first of its kind in the Chico Chamber’s 110-year history, which resulted in the publication of a special report and call to action. The task force investigated the solvency of Chico’s finances—past, present and projected—and delivered a bold and forceful recommendation that the City Council consider a revenue measure to fund business priorities outlined in the Community Vision.

The City of Chico is one of 11 cities its size in California to maintain a baseline sales tax rate of 7.25%. The region is largely tax averse.

The task force worked throughout 2017 to study four key areas affecting city finances—pension, fire, police and roads—and outlined needs, expectations and costs. Lando and Francis hosted several task force meetings with city officials to gain a deep understanding of the city’s financial status and met weekly to follow statewide news on pension reform, sales tax policy, the gas tax and other impacts, always weighing local opportunities and challenges.

Task force findings were communicated to the public via the chamber’s most recent state of the city address and through a publication entitled Special Report. A call to action was made directly to the Chico City Council to consider a revenue measure to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Chico, a risky yet pivotal move by a chamber of commerce in a tax-averse region.

In nominating Francis and Lando for the CalChamber award, Katie Simmons, president and CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, wrote: “Mark and Tom deserve to be recognized equally for their tremendous insight, influence and service to the Chico Chamber of Commerce. This pivotal community conversation would not happen without the knowledge, dedication and time Mark and Tom give to the chamber and our community. Their work is relevant across all communities in California struggling with the very same issues.”

No on 68

23 May

As I’ve been keeping track of Revenue measures coming toward the ballot, I see Chico Area Recreation District board of directors is endorsing proposition 68, a bond that promises  just about everything under the rainbow.

4.1 billion dollars for “state and local parks, environmental protection projects, water infrastructure projects, and flood protection projects.” Wow Dorothy, pennies from Heaven to solve all our problems!

I assume the CARD board expects to get money from this bond. Like most public agencies, CARD is in deep pension doo doo and needs every dime they can get. An agency with less than 35 full-time employees of their total 400, CARD, like other public agencies, has managed to rack up almost 2 million dollars in pension deficit. Management pays only 2% of her pension. Other staffers pay only 6%. Yet these people, like other public employees, expect to get 70 to 90% of their highest years earning in retirement. How would they possibly expect a scheme like that to work? They expect the taxpayers to pay for it, that’s how.

So, while they plot to put their own local revenue measure either on the ballot in a special election or in your mailbox as an assessment vote for property owners, they also endorse a state measure, hoping to cover all their bases? Yeah wouldn’t it be nice if they could pass both measures!

Opponents of the measure remind us that this bond is essentially a loan and your grandchildren will be paying the interest on it.

Don’t be a sucker, vote no on proposition 68.

 

 

 

Want the bums out of your recycling cans/sheds/garages/cars? Stop putting CRV in your bins, donate it to the Work Training Center

20 May

I was working in my tenant’s yard the other day, waiting for the Waste Management trucks to pick up our bins so I could bring them off the street. I don’t like to look at garbage cans, I wish my neighbors would bring theirs in more promptly.

As I was pulling weeds and cleaning up stickers and tree trash, I heard the jangling of glass coming from across the driveway at my neighbor’s house. I looked up to see a car, engine running, stopped in front of her house, and a disheveled man was standing over her open recycling bin with a ban, routing out her CRV containers.

Busted, he tries the friendly approach. That didn’t last long.

This is illegal, and it’s disgusting – as I watched him, I realized why there’s always a fine layer of litter up and down the streets of our town – he was spraying loose trash all over the place as he routed out her valuable recyclables.

Whenever I see something like that, I try to get a picture. Oftentimes that’s all it takes to make the person stop what they’re doing and leave. The man stopped and waved at me – “Hi”, he says, all friendly.

“What are you doing?” I asked, although it seemed stupid to ask. He answered me that he was trying to make a living the best way he could. I told him it was illegal to steal out of recycling cans – that’s when he started cursing, calling me a “bitch” and assuring me that many people thanked him – might even offer him a sandwich! Or a few bucks!

As he went on about how hard it is to make a living these days, I  thought of my sons, both minimally employed at tedious manual jobs, bosses unable to afford to give them more than 28 hours a week because of Obamacare and California Covered. I think of my husband, and all the years he worked on his hands and knees to support the family, saving what we could because we knew there would be no pension.

And I kept taking pictures, my hands shaking hilariously as this man called me “bitch” and asked me “what you gonna do about it?”  I told him I would call the police, and I kept my camera on him.

That’s when he got in his crappy little car, revved the engine, throwing gravel at my neighbor’s fence, and started moving toward me as I stood behind my garbage bins with my cellphone to my face.

Here he’s got his car headed straight for me, as I stand next to my garbage bins. There were pedestrians up and down the street, including a woman with two small dogs.

He made a pretty lame attempt to threaten me with his car, but it was a threat none the less.

I had an applicant for one of my apartments, I had to turn her down when I saw that she was at the time being charged with trying to run over her boyfriend with her car. That’s called “intent to commit great bodily harm,” and she was arrested and charged. I thought she would be a threat to my neighbors and other tenants, and maybe myself or my husband or kids, so I sent her on her way.  

The man swerved out into the street after he’d crossed the end of my driveway, drove a couple of doors down, screeched to a stop in the street, got out of the car and gave me the double birdy before he jumped back into the driver’s seat and took off. I had to laugh – he sure as hell didn’t stop anywhere to rifle anymore cans. I’m going to guess the car was neither his nor registered.

But I’m sick of this type of creep in my town. They are following the garbage trucks, in broad daylight, rifling through recycling bins. How does that make you feel about putting all those bank offers and credit card offers with your name on them in your garbage can?

In my neighborhood I can think of five different incidents of break-ins and petty thefts from neighbors over the last year. My kid’s girlfriend’s car was broken into, parking change stolen, garbage left in it, and then the perp took a big dump right next to the car in my private driveway, at least 100 yards off the public street.

So, I happened to have the phone number of a garbage company employee who’s been trying to help me straighten out my account (so I won’t complain about that, not now anyway…) and I called him. He asked me how it was going and I told him about the incident. He seemed concerned too – he said recycling theft is a big problem – it’s a free service, essentially, so they need the CRV to make it pay for itself. I’ve heard the garbage companies complain about this for years. Years ago, at meetings of the Sustainability Task Force, garbage company employees lobbied the city to make it mandatory for apartment complexes to have locking recycling containers.

Aside from that, he also acknowledged the problems of trash being left on the street and petty crimes increasing with the presence of the bin routers.

When I asked him what could be done about it, he suggested I report it to the cops. But, he also said, it could take them all day to come, and what good is that? I thought about reporting it online, but the website is ridiculous – you have to set up an account!

So, in total frustration, I sat down yesterday morning to e-mail Chico Mayor Sean Morgan. Morgan had just had a big public fight with local gadfly Mark Herrera  over the homeless issue, so I thought I’d find a sympathetic ear.

I told him what happened, and made two suggestions. First, Waste Management doesn’t pick up recycling in my neighborhood until after 2 pm. They are out to pick up trash around 9 am. Why not switch it the other way? Second, why can’t Chico PD pay more attention to the garbage routes on trash days – they would probably solve some “quality of life” crimes while they were at it.

Morgan, who voted along with the rest of council to impose this deal on the residents of Chico told me,

“Waste haulers pick up 5 days a week and it takes them all day to get everyone.  My bins don’t get picked up until about 3:00 (which is nice when I forget to take them down the driveway).”

Here the mayor admits that promises made by council in imposing this deal were LIES. They told us we’d have less trucks on the streets – that’s not true.  I have Waste Management trucks in my neighborhood two days in a row – they pick up my trash one day and then they get the other side of the street the next. And then Recology comes another day to deal with the church across the street.

See, the real problem is, Waste Management took the franchise knowing they didn’t have enough trucks to serve the entire town, and the city let them do that.  They have to haul the trash first, and then come back for recycling. Recology had both my bins by noon, but I am forced to deal with Waste Management.

And Morgan admits, they can’t  give us the service we had from Recology. That’s not the tune he was playing when he shoved this deal down the public’s throat.

I also suggested the police could pay more attention to the routes on pick-up days. His answer,

“Finally, next week PD team normally assigned to South Campus area is heading into the parks.  There’s only so much they can do but hopefully some of the service resistant are made to move so many times they chose another town.  California has tied our hands.  The PD can’t do much.  The DA won’t (because it’s fruitless) and the jail is full of people that should be in State prison.”

Chico PD gets over half the city budget, but they never seem to have enough officers to do anything.  That’s the sales tax increase pitch folks, don’t fall for it. No matter how much they get they just threaten to cut services if they don’t get more. 

I haven’t answered  the mayor – he went into a  ramble about his conversation with Herrera that bothered me too.  Morgan’s a fun guy to talk to sometimes, but he’s made a mockery of the office of mayor. 

Given the response I got from both Waste Management and the mayor, I’ve come up with another solution – I will be asking my tenants, and making the same suggestion to my friends and neighbors – DON’T PUT CRV IN YOUR RECYCLING BINS. If you want to make a positive difference, save it in an old bucket and take it to the Work Training Center – you can donate it, and they’ll be glad to get it. 

 

 

 

City exploring pre-funding of pensions – do they ever do anything Downtown besides figure out ways to pay themselves?

16 May

Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, May 23, 2018 – 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Council Chamber Building, Conference Room 1

Committee members – Councilmembers Morgan (sean.morgan@chicoca.gov), Stone (randall.stone@chicoca.gov) and Chair Sorensen (mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov)

Next Wednesday the committee will hear reports regarding a fairly new scheme for skimming money off the taxpayers to fund employee pensions. Below is an article from Public Agency Retirement Services (another public retirement agency?) describing the benefits of this program. 

http://www.pars.org/2016/03/a-new-tool-for-pension-budgeting/

With our maturing public pension plans, we know that we should expect greater fluctuations in required contributions from year to year. And since we know big fluctuations are coming, our actuaries are warning employers to plan for it in order to ease the burden when big contribution increases do arrive. But how exactly does one do that? It’s not like big portions of your annual budget are discretionary spending.

If you’ve been in the position of sitting on extra cash, you will have quickly learned that there’s little you can do with that money to “prepare” your agency for fluctuating contribution requirements. If you give that extra money to CalPERS, CalPERS will apply it toward your unfunded liabilities, and it will probably make only a small dent in your annual required contributions due to their amortization rules. While paying down unfunded liabilities is always worthwhile, it won’t help you manage future year-to-year changes in required contributions. You could stash some cash in a rainy day fund, but that has its drawbacks as well. The good news is: we’ve got an answer for you. Duh, dah, dah, duh…. The Section 115 trust!

Here’s something funny – “ If you give that extra money to CalPERS, CalPERS will apply it toward your unfunded liabilities, and it will probably make only a small dent in your annual required contributions due to their amortization rules.”

Current city finance wizard Scott Dowell worked for Chico Area Rec Dist before he got the job with the city. He made those “small dent” payments toward their pension deficit – a “side fund payment” as he described it, of $400,000 in one year. That money could have gone toward badly needed repairs at Shapiro Pool – a consultant said the pool could have been brought up to code for less than $500,000 – but Dowell told me the agency saved a lot of money! by making that side fund payment instead. That’s like making interest only payments on your credit card.

This man gets paid almost $200,000/year, in salary alone, to make decisions like this. And when they’re bad decisions, well, gee, he just changes his MO!  And gets a raise and more for his benefits package.

So you have almost a week to write to the fellows on this committee – that’s Seanny, Randy, and Mark-e-Mark – and tell them what you think of Dowell’s little schemes to fund his own pension. 

Esplanade House Background: the letter Webb and Incaudo sent to the CAA board back in October 2017

12 May

Here is a copy of the letter Gary Incaudo and Greg Webb submitted to the CAA board on 23 October, 2017.

Dear CAA Board Members,

It is with sadness and regret that we write this letter to members of the CAA Board of Directors concerning our contingent decision to withdraw our financial support for the Esplanade House.

Some of you may know that we, along with the help of Lynne Bussey, were the founders of The Esplanade House. It was over 26 years ago, in 1991, that we formulated this vision, teamed up with CAA, and opened our first 12 room shelter at a motel on The Esplanade. CAA had lacked the funding to develop a rehabilitation program for parents, and provide a safe place for children residing there. Consequently, we raised funds from the private sector to provide those services, hiring CSUC Professor Art Sanchez to do research, design, and development that is the foundation for the program today.

Unfortunately, our funds raised were misspent under CAA CEO Peter Kochaphum, so we incorporated our own 501 (c) 3 non-profit to safeguard monies that were earmarked for specific purposes, and the Esplanade House Children’s Fund was born.

By 1999, when we had three families waiting for every one family residing at Esplanade House, we embarked on an expansion project to fill the community need. Greg Webb purchased the current 60-unit property where the Esplanade House resides today, provided the building plans and construction, then sold it to CAA at cost. When neighbors insisted Esplanade House needed a permit to operate the program there, and tried to thwart our efforts, our Children’s Board and volunteers battled through the planning commission, and three special Chico City Council meetings that were packed with an angry “NIMBY” contingent. Thankfully, we prevailed.

Along with expanding the physical size of Esplanade House, our organization took on expanding the depth of the program with regard to a reasonable length of stay for families, work training, drug abuse counseling, GED programs, and parenting classes. CAA never seemed to have enough money for the critical programs that were needed if parents were to successfully break the cycle of welfare dependence and drug addiction.

As a Pediatrician, Gary worked with psychologists, professors at CSUC, public health officials, pediatricians, nursing students and graduate students to elevate the daycare center to a truly exceptional Child Development Center that housed over 100 children. He spoke at Churches, Rotary Clubs, Soroptimists, Exchange Clubs…every organization in Butte County. Lynne did annual fundraisers at the fairgrounds, golf tournaments, church dinners, car shows, dinner dances, holiday parties and countless newsletters and direct mail campaigns.

We have continued, throughout our 26 years, to solicit donations and services from our community, and when added to our personal donations now average over $150,000.00 a year. During that time, mostly through Greg’s efforts, we have established an endowment fund for homeless children as a community resource that currently exceeds $825,000. Greg has also been personally supporting the maintenance of the facility since its inception. This would include building the facility, directing general maintenance, providing repairs to appliances/cabinets and roofs, and recently getting the wall removal permit for the children’s center without architectural costs.

During the most recent “Housing First” generated funding crisis, when The Esplanade House was looking at closing its doors, we actively helped the administration seek funding alternatives. We offered our endowment fund as a means of continuing operations until another funding stream could be found. Gary has been networking with a national coalition of family and youth homeless programs and has testified twice in front of the California State Senate supporting bills that promote family homeless shelter funding. Through information provided by this networking, Gary suggested we look to the Butte County DESS for financial support in return for services since we often care for the same families. He then facilitated a relationship that provided a new source of funding and saved the EH from exhausting our endowment fund and closing. Gary continues to work with DESS to ensure they are getting the results they need to maintain this vital financial relationship. Gary is also working actively with a national coalition of family homeless programs and Congressman LaMalfa to re-establish a Federal funding stream for our facility. Meetings to mitigate this funding crisis are scheduled this month in Washington DC with HUD officials, Congressman LaMalfa’s staff and a coalition representative.

Other areas we are funding and currently in progress with:

• Most recently, we were the key players in the staffing and re-opening of our Children’s center that was briefly lost during the funding crisis. Greg spearheaded the new contract with Super Luper Kids.

• We have been funding 1/3 of a case manager and the child advocate for several years, and have committed to fund an additional case manager necessary to improve our rehabilitation program.

• As a Pediatrician, Gary realized the unique parenting challenges that formerly homeless children pose that are not addressed by the standard classes provided by the County. Through networking with local psychologists, he arranged with Butte College to provide the service at the Esplanade House at no cost. Now twice weekly parenting classes, designed specifically for parents whose children have experienced separation anxiety and homelessness, are available.

• We initiated a volunteer based health screening clinic for our families. With on campus access to health care professionals, our families will now get additional assistance for their children to treat any developmental and social/emotional problems not otherwise supported by the County.

• The Children’s fund board, in conjunction with the Site Supervisor, has also been the driving force behind the resurrection of a more comprehensive computer lab, computer services, computer access and computer training for both adults and children. Our board is providing additional computers, software, laptops, and Chrome Books for our families to advance their education.

• Most recently, we have begun networking with local churches to provide a volunteer coordinator, a men’s support group coordinator, and to initiate regular monthly donations of food, clothing, household goods and dollars to help our families.

• Our future plans included funding and support for psychological testing and therapy for our children not available through the County.

• We have served as the conduit for integrating volunteers from the community and working with professional’s from CSUC.

Except for the leadership provided by Tom Dearmore and Tim Hawkins, we have become increasingly frustrated with the quality of the CAA administration at The Esplanade House. The Esplanade House has experienced years and years of repetitive turnover of key personnel, including two site supervisors, who all tell us after leaving that the administrative atmosphere was a key reason and sometimes the only reason for their departure.

What we want to see happen by December 1, 2017

a. Establish a separate board to manage the EH program and personnel, preferably with another non-profit organization. 

b. All day-to-day operational and personnel decisions are to be made by the Program Manager who reports to the Chief Programs officer.

c. The Chief Executive officer will no longer be involved in any of these decisions.

d. A decision was made long ago to sacrifice one of our apartments for a food storage area and, therefore deny critical services to a family with children. This was done to provide the Chief Executive officer with a large office and sitting area. This decision is in direct violation of the bank loan agreement, as identified by the recent bank inspection, and jeopardizes the integrity of that loan. This apartment must be immediately returned to its original purpose of providing shelter and aid to a homeless family as outlined in the loan agreement.

e. CAA is to physically remove their offices from the Esplanade House to another site.

f. Since the Chief Executive Officer delayed signing the operational agreement for the children’s center, the center was late opening and missed a vital window to enroll children this summer. We agree to support the Children’s Center operational deficit until they can enroll sufficient children to cover their expenses.

We have come to a crossroad. If we can’t work out an acceptable partnership with CAA and/or find a new non-profit partner to help us run the program by December 1, 2017, we will be compelled to withdraw all our support for the Esplanade House and notify our donors that we no longer have confidence in CAA as a managing partner. Consequently, the Children’s Fund will start redirecting our funding and volunteer efforts to other programs that address family and childhood poverty and homelessness in Butte County.

Sincerely,

Gary A. Incaudo, MD Greg Webb

Here’s why there’s no accountability – people like Greg Einhorn

11 May

I’ve supported the Esplanade House, a transitional housing facility, since it was in a motel on Esplanade years ago. I was very happy when the facility was moved to a new building down the road. When “neighbors” protested, I wrote letters in support. My family made a $200 contribution to help them move – that’s a lot for a working family with one breadwinner. When it was time to build my husband put the floors in. He was paid by his employer, Towne Carpet, who donated the labor. But he didn’t have to do the job, there was plenty more lucrative work in the private sector at the time. He was proud to do it, and I was proud for him to be involved.

Things change. As the original founders of the Esplanade House deferred a public agency, The Community Action Agency, I started hearing complaints. I  remember a friend of mine whose daughter was volunteering at the facility describing what I would call a hostile atmosphere – volunteers being told to shut up and do what they were told.

One day several years ago I went to an inter-agency meeting Downtown, called by then new city councilor Reanette Fillmer. Fillmer was hearing complaints that the city of Chico was hostile toward the homeless,  and she wanted to have a public discussion about it.

Tom Tenorio was invited to speak. He’s a windbag, the kind of guy that inflates like a balloon when other people are looking at him. It was at the meeting I realized the Community Action Agency was just another salary trough, and Tenorio was just another mouth on the teat.

Now Tenorio is under fire for being too extravagant with his personal expenses. Well, duh. People like him are attracted to the public sector because there’s no accountability.

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20180427/NEWS/180429728

A report released by the state earlier this month revealed no significant findings in an audit of the Community Action Agency of Butte County launched in response to accusations of mismanagement of funds and noncompliance.

The California Department of Community Services and Development completed the audit April 20, and issued what the CAA described in a press release as a “favorable” report.

The department in February began investigating the agency for alleged mismanagement of funds and noncompliance with grant requirements after founders of the CAA-managed Esplanade House took their concerns about the agency, provides transitional housing and other services for formerly homeless families, to the state.

But here’s the conflict in that report:

The audit team did not conduct an in-depth review of the agency’s use of the Esplanade house as it is beyond the state’s scope of authority. Daily operations of the CAA, unless there is concern about Community Services and Development programs, are not subject to review by the state agency.

The state did find procedures that could use the agency’s attention to evidence best financial practices, such as ensuring a board member signs and dates the CEO’S timesheets as required by CAA policy.

The audit acknowledged some negative trends related to the loss of federal and state funding, but found the organization’s financials to be adequate and show little debt. It stated, however that decreasing revenues and a higher concentration of federal and state funds could put the agency’s fiscal health at risk.

Why would it be okay for an agency that is “at risk” financially to allow extravagant travel expenses for their board members?

Furthermore, the agency continues to fight public scrutiny, according to David Little’s recent editorial from the Chico Enterprise Record. Little received a complaint from short-lived District 3 Supervisor Maureen Kirk.

“’I am writing to let you know that I am becoming increasingly concerned with the lack of transparency of the Community Action Agency board of directors,’ she wrote. ‘Any agency that receives millions in state and federal funding should be following all open public record laws, and local citizens should not have to hire an attorney to force the issue.’”

LIttle explains, “In this case, though, she was talking about three founders of the Esplanade House, which falls under the Community Action Agency umbrella. They hired an attorney to try to get Tenorio and the CAA board of directors to comply with the state’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, as well as the California Public Records Act.

That should be standard, right?

Well, the CAA seems to be working hard to keep the public away from its meetings.

Kirk asked the board to adopt a policy that it would comply with the Brown Act and Public Records Act. Kirk requested that it be discussed at the CAA’s April 24 meeting.

It didn’t help matters when she arrived at the meeting at the CAA office in Chico only to find out the meeting had been moved to Oroville without anybody knowing.

None of this surprises the three people — Lynne Bussey, Greg Webb and Gary Incaudo — who had to hire the attorney to try to force open meetings.

Their attorney, based in San Francisco, laid out the reasons why the CAA should comply with a Public Records Act request and with the Brown Act in a three-page, well-documented letter.

The CAA’s attorney said, nope, we don’t need to comply.'”

Little describes his experience with the CAA.

“Anyway, we’ve tried the nonlitigious approach with the CAA. Back on Feb. 12, I sent an email to Tenorio requesting emailed notices of all meetings at least 72 hours in advance, as required by the Brown Act.

“’Also,’ I wrote, ‘can you tell me where the meetings are publicly noticed now? I see nothing on the CAA website.’

Tenorio wrote back to politely say the CAA does not fall under the Brown Act. He also said the meeting notices are posted at their offices in Chico and Oroville.”

I’ve had the same fight with the city of Chico clerk’s office and CARD.  Little has a little more clout than I do, and a newspaper to bitch about it in.

LIttle continues, “I argued back that, no, they were a ‘local body created by state or federal law’ and were subject to the Brown Act.

Nearly two weeks later, their attorney, Greg Einhorn, responded to me and said no, the Community Action Agency board is not a ‘legislative body.'”

Little opines  that either the CAA should comply with the Brown Act or lose public funding. Great, I agree.

But something else caught my eye there  –  CAA’s attorney, Greg Einhorn, is the same guy who represented Chico Unified School District in their fight to hide documents and evidence related to the phony allegations former superintendent, Scott Brown, initiated against Marsh Junior High School years ago.  Documents were eventually found showing that CUSD employees were told to destroy e-mails pertaining to the case. The Grand Jury eventually blasted CUSD, Einhorn was eventually replaced after documents were found showing he knew his clients had falsified documents and allegations.   Under Einhorn’s direction, the district spent millions dollars fighting to keep public information from being made public.

And now he’s working for Tom Tenorio and the Community Action Agency, fighting to keep public information from being made public. 

I believe Tenorio needs to step down, and the CAA needs to get their affairs together or be dissolved as a body. The county may need to take over the Esplanade House. They certainly should not receive public funds until they have a full board that better represents the public interest. And the credit cards and expense accounts need to go – they’ve turned a facility that was built to help the poor into a slush fund built to help themselves.

And here are some questions Maureen Kirk and the board of supervisors might want to ask Greg Einhorn:  

  • In your previous work as a lawyer representing Chico Unified School District, did you ever have knowledge that records were being withheld, hidden, destroyed, or answers to requests falsified?
  • Have you instructed any members of the board or staffers of the Community Action Agency to withhold, hide, or destroy records or falsify answers to requests?
  • Do you have knowledge of the CAA withholding, hiding or destroying records or falsifying answers to requests? 

Little is right. Withholding of public information by these agencies is an pattern, as evidenced by Einhorn’s participation, and this CAA case might be bigger than we think.