Chico needs better management

11 Aug

I’m sick of hearing idiots blame the rash of fires burning around our state on Global Warming. The problem is, Cal Fire relinquished responsibility for fire prevention about 11 years ago, leaving it up to local entities like the city of Chico and county of Butte. So far, neither of those agencies have stepped up to the plate.

The city of Chico has allowed Bidwell Park to fall dangerously into neglect. Dead trees and other vegetation through out the park are a  huge fire risk for our entire town. While City management continues to enjoy salary increases and only pays a small portion of their own pension obligation, We are told they need more money to maintain the park.

Mark Sorensen and his cronies have suggested a revenue measure in the form of a bond on our homes, for street improvements. I think they abandoned the sales tax increase measure because it’s not as sure  a thing as a bond. They say they will dedicate it to Street improvements because then they only need 51% of the vote to pass it.

The problem with dedicated funds is they can be allocated to other funds and used for whatever purpose Council and staff agree to use it. Dedicated funds also free up other money that was not restricted . The whole concept of dedicated funds is a lie they use to get us to pass these Revenue measures.

I first heard of the concept of “failure maintenance” from former city of Chico Public Works manager Ruben Martinez. Martinez reported that city buildings and other public facilities were in serious need of repair, but as usual, he complained about lack of money, while collecting a salary of over a hundred thousand a year. I guess we’ve all gotten used to hearing people who collect a salary telling us they don’t have enough money to do anything.

Ironically, I was sitting in a morning meeting with Martinez present, when a woman tried to come into the room, finding the door knob was broken. Martinez, a handy enough guy, fixed it with his Leatherman Tool.

I was sad to see Martinez go in the first round of firings under Nakamura. I have the feeling Martinez was too open with the public about the financial problems downtown. He was apologetic, while current works manager Erik Gustafsson is completely the opposite. Gustafson is constantly taking projects off the Nexus, complaining there is not enough money for anything but his $200,000 per year compensation package.

Parks manager Linda Herman does same, collecting over a hundred fifty thousand a year in compensation while telling us she does not have any money for maintenance of the park.

Ever been on a farm when the farmer’s brought out the slops bucket? Ever seen a mama pig nursing a litter  of shoats get up and run for that slops bucket, babies flying and bouncing  in every direction? That’s city of Chico employees for you, they don’t really care about the citizens, they’re just after that slops bucket.

We’ve got Mutiny on the Bounty here in the city of Chico. We’ve got a bad captain and he’s steering our ship onto the rocks just to coerce us into paying more money. I frankly believe that if we got rid of Mark Orme and his first mate Chris Constantine, and hired better management for our city, things would turn around here.

I wrote the following letter out of a serious fear that it might be too late.

Could Chico have a catastrophic fire? In fact, a fire that started in Upper Park in July threatened a subdivision in East Chico and nearly jumped Hwy 32, coming within 100 feet of  a house near the Peregrine Point disc golf course. Fire investigators told the neighbor the source of the fire was an illegal campsite.

Only days before that fire, I emailed park staff to alert them to Illegal campers using campfires at the disc golf course. On August 2  I reported another illegal camper at that spot – as of today (8/7) he is still there. The city has closed the course but failed to remove or lock the portable toilet, creating a de-facto campsite.

We’ve watched Bidwell Park deteriorate into what is defined by Cal Fire as a “Fire Hazard Severity Zone”, with fuel,  weather, and  slope for a catastrophic fire that could easily destroy hundreds of homes through Chico. The Park Director, who has expressed support for a revenue measure, has closed an unprecedented area of Bidwell Park, complaining she doesn’t have funds to remediate the damage from the recent fire.

For years city staff has practiced deferred, or “failure” maintenance, while emptying one fund after another to pay an increasing share of the CalPERS obligation. Now they are holding our park, our roads, and our quality of life hostage for a revenue measure. The results are going to be disastrous.

Chico citizens deserve better leadership and better service. Don’t buy staff threats – demand new city management.

Juanita Sumner




6 Responses to “Chico needs better management”

  1. bob August 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    You are right that the politicians and bureaucrats blame these disasters on ‘Global Warming’ instead of using common sense. Anyone with even half a brain knows that if you let these areas get overrun with dead vegetation and homeless with matches you are bound to have disaster.

    But the politicians instead blame ‘Global Warming’ because that lets them advance their political agendas.

    And these bureaucrats certainly have no incentive to do what’s right.

    After all, if disaster does happen no one will be fired or held accountable in any way.

    Instead, they will get even more money to ‘prevent’ the disaster from happening again and that money will eventually be siphoned off for pensions and raises.

    That’s what nearly always happen.

    Just look at DWR. No one fired over the enormously expensive Oroville Dam(n) fiasco.

    • bob August 11, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      “But the politicians instead blame ‘Global Warming’ because that lets them advance their political agendas.”

      And that means higher taxes for us peons and that money goes into the pockets of special interests.

      Just one example, do you know that California’s Cap and Trade (carbon tax) increases the price of gas by 14 cents a gallon? No one ever includes this when they talk about the taxes the state puts on gas.

      And that carbon tax gets applied to many other products besides gas.

      And most of the working surfs paying for this don’t even know about it.

  2. bob August 11, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

    “Mark Sorensen and his cronies have suggested a revenue measure in the form of a bond on our homes, for street improvements. I think they abandoned the sales tax increase measure because it’s not as sure a thing as a bond. They say they will dedicate it to Street improvements because then they only need 51% of the vote to pass it.”

    Thankfully, it looks like Ory’s sales tax increase is going no where at least for this year. But a bond is even worse than a sales tax increase, although they are both terrible and not needed if sanity was brought to city employee compensation, especially the pensions and especially for the bureaucrats, police and fire. But these are the most powerful special interests in this corrupt little city.

    A bond is worse because half the money will disappear into the black hole of interest and fees and will never be used for fixing the roads. So it is very irresponsible of Sorensen to propose a bond measure.

    It just proves that no matter what these jokers call themselves, conservatives, progressives, whatever…they are just out to enrich the special interests and screw us peons.

  3. bob August 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm #

    And did anyone see this?

    “Butte wages in bottom 10th of nation”

    If Ory, Sorensen and let’s not forget the progressive idiots on the Oroville City Council…if these people really represent the people of this area why do they want to raise taxes on people making the 10th lowest wages in the NATION?

    That’s right, NOT just California but the ENTIRE NATION!

    These politicians are just criminal scammers out to enrich special interests at the cost of poor people!

    • Juanita Sumner August 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

      We have to spread the word

      • bob August 11, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

        Did you see this?

        You have mentioned this kind of thing before.

        It’s now common for local officials seeking tax increases or bond issues from voters to hire campaign consultants on the fiction that they will provide unbiased information to the voting public.

        These consultants conduct polling to determine which angles of proposals are most attractive to voters, write the measures to stress those popular features and then produce literature and ads to trumpet those selling points.

        Little ran some of Walters’ editorials in the past. I wonder if he will run this one.

        It is timely as it is just what the crooks on the Oroville City Council are doing right now. And of course what CARD has done.

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