Archive | January, 2019

Newsome wants to withhold SB 1 road/street repair funding until cities meet his housing goals – city council meets Saturday to “set goals”

30 Jan

I love to say “I told you so…

From The Desert Sun out of Coachella Valley:

“in his first proposed budget, Governor Gavin Newsom said his administration would discuss “linking” transportation funds like these [SB 1] to state housing goals meant to encourage new homebuilding. Newsom framed the proposal more bluntly in a Jan. 10 presentation unveiling the budget proposal.

“’With all this new SB 1 money, if you’re not hitting your goals, I don’t know why you get the money,’ Newsom said.”

Furthermore, Newsome wants to set our housing goals for us.

According to Planetizen editor Melanie Curry, “In his budget speech on Thursday [Jan. 10], Newsom said that the state, presumably the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), will come up with a new way to estimate and allocate housing needs that is more ‘realistic and nuanced’ than the current system wherein each region defines its own regional housing needs and allocates them to cities, frequently based on not much more than local preference,” 

Oh no! Local people deciding how they want to live – GEESHY SAKES! We can’t have that!

” In 2016, 97 percent of the state’s cities and counties had not fully met their state-mandated requirement to provide both affordable and above moderate income, or market-rate housing, according to HCD.”

So, unless we agree to their demands for sardine housing for more people to move here to escape cities full of sardine housing, we won’t get back the money they tacked onto our gas prices. Our neighborhood streets are already so bad they’re causing damage to cars. Just yesterday I noticed a new, huge pothole on my street. People are driving into oncoming traffic to avoid potholes – that’s got to be a huge cause of the uptick in accidents reported by city staff.

I’m sorry I don’t have a solution right now. I’ve written to our local legislators about this problem (Gallagher and LaMalfa) and all I’ve got is list serve mailings about being sure to turn in my ROE. 

Here’s something interesting. Yesterday I also got a notice of a special meeting for Chico City Council. A special meeting at the Cal Park Lakeside Pavilion, this Saturday Feb 2, to discuss “goal setting”. It looks like an all-day meeting, starting at 8:30 am, with a recess  for lunch. The public is invited to attend and may make comments. Here’s an opportunity to let them know what you think of bringing more low-income people here from cities all over California, shoving them into high density housing, and allowing our neighborhood streets to deteriorate while they continue to get outrageous salaries and pay less than 10% of their own retirement cost.


PLUNDER! “those who work in government have manipulated the system to enrich themselves… they write and manipulate the rules for their own advantage…”

28 Jan

Having discussed the effect public employee pensions have had on our economy, Steven Greenhut attacks the arguments the unions have used again and again to justify the salaries and benefits. 

Public Choice Theory” is the public sector’s “childish defense used to protect their outsized pay and benefits.”  And we’ve been drowning in it around here eversince the Camp Fire. 

Who do you really think is paying for those “Thank You First Responders!” billboards? The signs on bus shelters saying “Awesome Dads Have First Responders!” A very slick advertising campaign – anybody care to call the billboard companies and ask them who paid for it?

Because that’s “Public Choice Theory” – “We put our lives on the line every day to protect you. We are doing the public good. You need us to provide these essential services.” 

I’m not saying we don’t need government, but we do need to put these people back in their proper place. Which, according to the statistics, is Number 12.

According Bureau of Labor Statistics, at the time this book was written (published 2009), law enforcement was the 12th most dangerous job in the US, with fisherman and logger Numbers 1 and 2, and garbage collector Number 11. Even taxicab driver and farmer came in ahead of law enforcement.

Why? Here’s a statistic – a cop hasn’t been killed in the line of duty in Chico since the 1930’s. Every year the chief of Chico PD and his top brass take the day off, PAID, to have a little ceremony for the man. They trot his relatives in from out of town. This is what Greenhut is talking about, pretty shameless and blatant self-promotion. 

My husband was a construction worker for over 20 years – also ahead of law enforcement on the list. When he was working on a job at an apartment complex, he looked out a window just in time to see a stucco worker fall  from a second story scaffold, land on the concrete below with a muffled thump. He’d stumbled over his own feet, those scaffolds are not even as wide as a public sidewalk. 

Our electrician friend was doing a job on an old building when the roof collapsed and he fell two stories to the floor of the building. He was injured so badly he had to retire – without the plush public pension. He was lucky to get an insurance settlement to cover his hospital bills. He now survives on disability and his wife’s wages at a sandwich shop.

Greenhut opines, “Everybody who provides productive labor in society is ‘doing the public good.'” He’s right. My husband and his friends provided housing – something the local government is always saying we need more of. My husband worked on every type of housing from high end “custom” homes to low-income housing. He put the floors in the Jesus Center, the Esplanade House, and the old folks housing complex there on Park Avenue. 

My husband worked 40 plus hour weeks, but got no overtime. When he worked on public jobs he had to pay his helper prevailing wage, but as a contractor my husband’s salary was whatever he walked away with after a job. He also had to provide all the materials beyond the actual flooring material – glue, nails, carpet strip, all of that. We paid for his vehicle and all the expenses that went with it. 

Meanwhile, cops get an allowance for everything from their uniform to their gym membership, added to their pay. We give them new cars regularly, fitted like tanks. They get free health insurance, life insurance, and long term care insurance. And when they die, their spouse gets their pension until their own death. Aside from free uniforms and gym memberships, the rest of Chico city employees get all the same goodies.

The argument that public workers “are public spirited folks” falls apart when you realize what they’re doing to our economy. Greenhut reminds us, “enrichment of certain members of government workers is coming at a high price of higher taxes, unsustainable debt, and decreased services.” 

All of which has  been threatened increasingly in Chico and Butte County. 

Here’s an article the Enterprise Record ran a couple of weeks ago – if this isn’t a tax pitch, I’m a monkey’s uncle.

Every time a member of city management gets a chance, they hit the local media to run a pro-tax pitch. As Greenhut says, “those who work in government have manipulated the system to enrich themselves… they write and manipulate the rules for their own advantage…”

“Shelter Crisis Designation” has brought in more than $8 million to city of Chico coffers

27 Jan

It looks like the area known as “Devil’s Triangle” (at the intersection of 12th and Mulberry Streets) is filling up with illegal campers again. The camp disappeared when the Red Cross set up their Camp Fire evacuation shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, but now that Red Cross is pulling out, the little tents and trash piles are starting to appear around town again.

It was no secret that for the last few weeks, maybe more, there have been more transients than evacuees at the Red Cross Shelter. Within days of the evacuation a Norovirus outbreak was announced, but we won’t know how many people became sick.  There was also at least one death  – a 62 year old Magalia woman became ill at the shelter earlier this month, and “was rushed to the hospital”. She later died, the cause was released to be pneumonia. Pneumonia is a killer, highly contagious, and spreads readily in sub-par conditions, like a dirty overcrowded shelter full of transients.

Karl Ory, a member of the local Red Cross board, indicated as much in a recent letter to the News and Review.

Apparently, our mayor Randy Stone has been trash talking on Butte County Fires and Accidents website, saying that anybody who doesn’t support the establishment of shelters for these transient criminals and druggies is a “homeless hater”. What a change of heart Stone has undergone in the last few years since he used a gun to chase a transient out of his house in the middle of the night, firing two shots into the air in his crowded Chico neighborhood.

A juvenile high on drugs crawled through Stone’s dog door and woke Stone and his wife in their bed. Stone chased him out of the house and then fired a couple of warning shots? When my friend did that the cops showed up and told him it was called “negligent discharge,” and don’t do it again. 

In 2015 Stone told me he kept a gun, using it to patrol his neighborhood at all hours with his neighbors. He used Nextdoor and his position in the community to get help from then police chief Mike Dunbaugh.

“I created our neighborhood on after discussing NextDoor’s benefits with then-Interim Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh.  I’ve always respected and appreciated Chief Dunbaugh and after he indicated he’s used NextDoor for some time I knew it could be beneficial if correctly constructed.  I started on the effort gently in January of this year.  That kicked up quickly once we realized (ironically through NextDoor) that there was a serial tire slasher operating in the early morning hours.  Our efforts through NextDoor helped focus safety efforts and pool our data and resources.  Last Summer we coordinated bicycle and walking patrols (really just eyes and ears on the street) in the middle of the night.  I was out with neighbors on our streets sending the message that we were done with riffraff in our community.  I was with neighbors when we thwarted a few petty crimes and ran off other n’er-do-wells.”

Oh yeah, in 2015 they were riffraff and n’er-do-wells.. If we say that now we’re “homeless haters”.

So forgive me if I find Stone’s sudden concern for transients and drug addicts to be insincere. He just wants the funds that come in with “Shelter Crisis Designation.” In the last year the city has received over $8 million in grants related to the shelter crisis designation and the consolidation of services at the fairgrounds.



PLUNDER! Greenhut describes “the kind of society we’re creating… government elite… special  pay… benefits… privileges… and exemptions – the rest of us pay for these excesses!”

26 Jan

In his book “PLUNDER!” Steven Greenhut makes it immediately clear he has no love for the public sector or government workers, opining, “Many, if not most of them, perform jobs that should either be eliminated or handled by the private sector…”

He goes on to describe the “Public Employee Smorgasbord” by which “public servants” receive special privileges and enjoy salaries and benefits “50% more than private sector employees doing similar jobs.” 

Yeah, I’ve seen this in the contracts and rules. I just read a cop contract from last year that allowed them to go to the  gym during their shift, already having been paid to “don and doff” – shower and dress at the beginning and/or end of each shift. They also get “mandatory overtime” – that’s not the city demanding that they work longer hours but the cops demanding to get paid a minimum amount of overtime each year. 

Our city employees, including city council members, are “indemnified” – they  can’t be sued for bad decisions, like those made in the early 2000’s that brought our city down the road to Bankruptcy. Scott Gruendl and Mary Flynn left in a cloud of disgrace over alcohol and drug problems – after having sat for years in whatever kind of condition making decisions that tanked our local economy. But they’re Teflon-coated, we can’t sue them. 

This book was written in 2009, when I was just becoming aware of the pensions and the burgeoning deficit. Greenhut reminds me of the days when they were still trying to hide the deficit. I remember going to a morning meeting back in the early 2000’s, at which Mayor Gruendl, probably reeling from a hangover or higher than a kite on pills, tried to pussy-foot around the problem. He wanted a revenue measure but was afraid to tell the public why. He had one of those oversize drawing pads on an eisle, with Sharpees of various colors, he tried to sketch out the situation. At one point he put down the red pen saying, “ooops! We don’t want to scare anybody!”

Well, since then, we found out, we were sitting at the edge of a precipice, in a junked out car, teetering on the brink of disaster, and here was Gruendl, not wanting to scare anybody!

Brian Nakamura, bless his black little heart, came in as City Manager in 2012. He had been hired to tell the public what was going on, and he made it very clear, announcing a pension deficit of about $189 million. He also mentioned a “benefits deficit,” but that has never been seriously discussed. 

Nakamura explained pension deficit, or liability, and chastised us for not passing Measure J – a cell phone tax that he said would have produced about $900,000 a year. That sounded pretty ridiculous, in the face of a $189 million problem. 

Our leaders hired this man, gave him an unprecedented salary, and signed a contract that promised him a full year’s salary if terminated. When he left within a year to take a job in Rancho Cordova, they all stood there with their mouths hanging open.

Why are our elected officials so dumb? Why do they agree to this stuff? Greenhut nails it – “Elected officials are generous … they buy labor peace and political support… letting future taxpayers deal with the growing debt…”

Yeah, where’s Scott Gruendl today? He’s sitting in a lucrative job with San Mateo County, Behavioral Health Director. The guy who left his job with Glenn County Behavioral Health just ahead of a tar and feathers party at which he was going to be fired. Instead of holding Gruendl liable for his behavior and incompetence, the Glenn County Board of Stupes  let him resign, meaning he gets full retirement.

With this kind of leadership it is not surprising to find ourselves in the situation we’re in. Our elected officials have been playing fast and loose with the cookie jar, especially in regards to “public safety workers.” Greenhut explains the “3% at 50” rule  – cops and fire get 90% of their highest year’s salary after 30 years of service. Get aload of this – if they claim disability they not only get year’s off with pay, but they protect half their retirement from taxes!

Anything is a job-related disability if you’re a cop or firefighter. Diabetes, heart condition, high blood pressure. Many claim bad back or bad knees. One Chico police officer came out of retirement to work a big student riot back in the late 80’s. When he died just a few years ago, I read in his obit that he blew out his knee that night, and ended up getting disability payments in addition to retirement! Gotta love that kind of initiative!

All this leads to the section entitled “Vallejo”. Remember Vallejo? And then Stockton went, and other cities in California started flirting with bankruptcy. Greenhut talks about “the kind of society we’re creating… government elite… special  pay… benefits… privileges… and exemptions – the rest of us pay for these excesses!”

I left off at “The $100,000 Pension Club” – I had to chuckle. Since Greenhut wrote this book, it’s become the “$200,000 Pension Club.” While “safety workers” enjoy 90% at age 50, the others get 70% at age 55. As salaries have climbed higher and higher for management, so have pensions. 

Our city manager, Mark Orme, made $212,000 a year in salary – the last time I looked! It’s probably more now. I’ll guess he’s been in the CalPERS system at least 15 or 20 years – in 10 or so more years, with one raise after another, he’ll be retiring at over $200,000 a year, with cost of living increases and all kinds of health benefits. 

As management, Orme didn’t pay anything toward his own pension/benefits until a few years ago, when public outrage pushed it to 4 percent. He may pay 9% now. And we pay the rest. As I explained in a recent blog – we pay 30 percent or more each month, and then we make a $7.5 million (and growing) annual payment on top of that. CalPERS wants more – as bankruptcy circles our town like a pack of wolves moving in on a church picnic.

I left off as Greenhut was  describing what I began to notice about Chico 10 or more years ago – “a two tier society where government elite live far better than the public.”

I’ll add, they raise the price of everything from housing to groceries to daycare. Those of us who  can’t afford the elite prices are left to live in crime-ridden neighborhoods with shredded streets while the newer subdivisions in which these people live are “clean, safe and attractive!” Imagine what it’s like to live in Chapmantown with kids, or as an old person.

Yesterday my husband and I were driving up Mulberry while running errands. I noticed the cars ahead of us pulling into oncoming traffic to avoid something – as we came along I was shocked to see a very old lady on one of those little electric wheelchairs, barely visible over the hood of our truck, making her way between parked and moving cars. I wondered, why is she in the street? And then I noticed – the curbs are all high on Mulberry Street, she couldn’t get onto the sidewalk. 


Book In Common: PLUNDER! How Public Employees are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation, by Steven Greenhut.

25 Jan

I’d been waiting over a week for a book I’d ordered online that should have been delivered within a couple of days. I kept checking my PO box, by this past Monday, I worried it had got lost. Yesterday it finally arrived – well, I got it yesterday. I’m guessing it arrived at Chico post office about a week ago.

It was too big for my PO box, I know the routine – they put a key in your box that goes with one of the big boxes in front of the annex. I retrieved the package from the big box and immediately noticed – a postal worker had scrawled a box number in big black letters across the front of the package, unfortunately, it wasn’t my box number. My correct box number was listed in the address box on the front of the package, neat and tidy.  Postal worker transposed the numbers, in big black writing, so the key went to somebody else’s box.

Here’s where human decency comes in. Somebody else got my package, saw it wasn’t for them, and put it back in the stream. They may even be the same person who wrote the correct number above the transposed number. 

When this happened at my house, my neighbors got my packages. Both packages were clearly marked with the correct address, but mail man delivered them to my neighbors. Neither neighbor bothered to return the package to my clearly marked box on the street, both opened the packages, even though they were addressed to someone else. We got the packages back because my husband went door-to-door. 

Neither neighbor apologized for opening our packages, we let it go and stopped having stuff shipped to our home. 

Of course Christmas is a horrible time to get or send packages, we all know that. But I order a lot of household goods from an online seller in Vermont, and I had to have some stuff delivered in the first weeks of December. Right in the middle of the flood of evacuees driven out by the Camp Fire. But my package had a tracking number, I watched it move slowly across the US, and then I saw it had been delivered to Chico Post Office on Vallombrosa. But it wasn’t in my PO box, I kept waiting. Finally I went in very early one morning to ask for it. The man who called me up to the counter wouldn’t take the tracking number I’d written down, or look at the message on my phone that said the package had been delivered. He turned and disappeared into the back – which was a mess of packages laying all over the floor – and when he came back 15 minutes later he said there was no package. 

I looked him in the eye and shoved the tracking number at him and said real nice but firm, “please check the tracking number.”

He was huffy but he took the slip of paper. This time he was gone for 10 minutes, but by Gumm, he brought me my package. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind but the line behind me was starting to go out the door, so I said Thank You! with a big shit-eating grin and got the hell out. 

My family has received Christmas packages that have been ripped open, stolen from, and taped back together, so I  guess I was lucky to get my package intact.

Now the book, mis-marked by a post office employee. I’m getting sick and tired of the level of service we get from public workers. We bought a house in Paradise in exchange for an old rental we sold in Chico. My son was living in it at the time of the fire, luckily he had gone to work before the fire had hit town, and was safe. I’m thankful for that, but dealing with the county in the aftermath hasn’t been the least of our worries.

We were quick to send in our ROE – Right of Entry – so the county could get going with the clean-up. I understand the clean-up will take a long time, but when we didn’t hear anything about our ROE, I e-mailed them asking if it had been received. A fellow named Matt called my husband a few days later in response to the e-mail, saying we needed to submit a new insurance declaration from our policy, the old one we sent had expired when our policy turned over recently. They knew that for over a month, but didn’t contact us until we inquired about it. Is that going on all over Paradise?

And then yesterday we received a packet, sent in a custom “Butte Recovers” envelope, with  custom stationery inside, a letter telling us how important it was to complete the ROE form. They had included the entire form, over half a dozen pages. The letter was not addressed to us, it was a form letter, so I’m guessing they sent one to each and every address that had burned in the fire. 

How much did that cost? At 50 cents a letter? I’m guessing at least a few thousand bucks. Not to mention the custom printed stationery. How about $taff time, folding all those papers and shoving them in those envelopes, then running them through the stamp machine?

Here’s the irony I’ll leave you with – the book I ordered – PLUNDER! How Public Employees are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation, by Steven Greenhut.

Think the post office workers knew what was in my package? 

I’ll describe Greenhut as a government watchdog, journalist, and public advocate. His articles have appeared in papers like the Orange County Register, LA Times, San Diego Union Tribune. This book was written in 2009 – before I started blogging about what’s going on in Chico, before I ever even heard of the pensions. So, it’s history for me, finding out exactly how public employees garnered their power and position. 

I’m calling this our BOOK IN COMMON, if you’d like to get a  copy, I bought mine used for 99 cents, cost $3.99 to ship. It’s in great condition, and so far I’ve enjoyed reading the forwards by Congressman Tom McClintock and Mark Bucher, who co-authored a late-nineties attempt at requiring unions to “at least ask members before using their money for politics…”

So come on along, learn some recent history, maybe find out what needs to be done to turn back the tide of entitlement that is drowning our state.

Harris plays the race/gender card but she’s just another member of the Good Old Boys Network

23 Jan

I try to keep this blog local but every now and then I see things in my stats that tell me what other people are talking about. Over the last year, the Number One search that has brought people to my blog has been “Kamala Harris sucks.” A close second has been “Kamala Harris corruption…” 

The other day when she announced her candidacy for President the stats went through the roof. These searches have brought people to an old post I did a couple of years ago, when Harris was still California Attorney General, and making hints about running for senate. On the day she made her presidential announcement, 105 people read that post.

This woman has no game plan other than the race/gender card. She’s a total flake.  She didn’t even finish her full term as AG before she leap-frogged into the senate. She didn’t do anything important as AG – she completely dropped the ball with the CPUC/Michael Peevey investigation.

When criminal investigators with the California Attorney General’s Office searched the home of a former top utility regulator early last year, they uncovered evidence that upended a story state officials and a major electric utility had been telling consumers about the deal to pay for the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

This was big. And Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, was hailed by consumer activists for her aggressive investigation.’

Yes, it looked like they had Peevey red-handed. “Investigators found handwritten notes that showed Peevey had met secretly with an Edison executive in Poland after the nuclear power plant sprang a radioactive leak and had to be closed. There, they came up with a framework for a San Onofre settlement that closely resembled the final public deal. “

According to the San Diego Reader, there they “sketched out” a document “that would have ratepayers choking up $3.3 billion, or 70 percent, of the $4.7 billion decommissioning costs of the shuttering of the San Onofre nuclear plant.” A subsequent investigation found the San Onofre leak and shut down were due to SCE mismanagement, and a lawsuit settled in 2016 resulted in more than $750 million in rate adjustments. But because of Harris’ mis-handling of the case, Peevey not only walked away from charges, he was given a lavish retirement dinner.

From the San Diego Reader, During the firestorm, the attorney general’s office raided Peevey’s home, looking for criminal violations. Investigator found documents such as his handwritten notes sketching out the ratepayer rape. But the statute of limitations ran out, leading to whispers that then-Attorney General Kamala Harris let evidence sit, She was then running for U.S. Senate, needing the support of Gov. Jerry Brown, a longtime friend of Peevey’s. She won the election and now some pols and scribes are talking about her running for president in 2020.”

Yeah, not only Jerry Brown but his sister Kathy were heavily involved with Peevey, So Cal Edison, and other members of the CPUC.

I don’t think Harris is incompetent, I believe she let Peevey go and dropped the investigation because she wanted to run not only for senate but, as you see now, she wants to be the first “black” woman president. And she knew she needed Jerry Brown on her side. 

So a vote for Harris is a vote for what we call here in the Golden State, “The Good Old Boy  Network”. 




Don’t be fooled – City of Chico’s proposed tax measure is all about the pensions

21 Jan

The city of Chico is ramping up their tax increase campaign, with city staffers soliciting the news paper for stories about funding shortages, and lately, using the Camp Fire as an excuse to seek a revenue measure.

No mention of the dramatic uptick in home sales and how the outrageous price increases will affect property tax valuations. No mention of the effect that 29,000 people swooping down on your retail sector is going to have on sales tax revenues. No mention of what full capacity motels will contribute in “Transient Occupancy” or “bed tax”. Property, sales, and TOT are three of the four biggest revenues our city receives. The fourth is Utility Tax, and that’s going up with increases in PG&E rates. It’s a win-win all the way around for City of Chico, but they cry poormouth and want a revenue measure.

Stand up people, and let them know what you think of this attempt to embezzle more taxpayer money into their own pockets. I sent the following letter to the Enterprise Record this morning. 

City staff says traffic congestion and accidents are up in Chico and asks more money for road improvements, police and fire staffing. Despite an unprecedented increase in property tax valuations, sales tax receipts and TOT due  to Camp Fire evacuees, council has directed staff to look into putting a revenue measure on an upcoming ballot.

Dan Walters opines most local revenue measures are “all about the pensions.” I agree. The mayor of Capitola admitted, “ if we put a measure across for pensions it would be doomed for failure immediately”, so their November ballot measure read “to help fund youth programs, protect parks, beaches and open space, and support local businesses.”

Pension liability is the difference between what is paid into the California Public Employee Retirement System, and what employees expect to get in retirement. City of Chico employees pay less than 10 percent of their pension cost, while the taxpayers pay roughly 30 percent. That leaves the city an unfunded liability of over $129 million.

In 2018 city staff made a $7,598,561 annual payment toward their pension liability. Part of that money is allocated from each department fund, based on total department compensation. The rest of the annual payment is allocated from the General Fund.  Council approved allocations are how they transfer money from one fund to another in order to avoid spending restrictions – like spending public safety or road funding on their unfunded pension liability.

Despite any promises to the contrary,  the city’s proposed revenue measure is all about the pensions.

Juanita Sumner, Chico


Spending taxpayer money to promote tax increases is illegal

18 Jan

You meet the nicest people online. I met Connie through the Marysville water rates protest group, and she’s always kind enough to send me any news she has from her neck of the woods.

Latest news – “Juanita, Lou Binninger received a letter today from the FPPC saying they need more time to sift thru everything that was sent to them. The letter was from the Chief of Enforcement Division FPPC. A court date will be set soon for the litigation to nullify Measure K.”

Wow, looks like the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Yuba County gadfly Lou Binninger sent in a complaint about taxpayer money being spent on a campaign to raise taxes – yes, Virginia, that’s illegal!

Binninger was originally told that he had to send evidence of such spending. No, the FPPC does not investigate, they just contemplate. It’s you and I and the rest of the taxpayers that have to  dig up the dirt on our public officials. So Binninger turned to other citizens of Yuba County, who brought in a crap ton of evidence. 

I’ll tell you what, though, I still haven’t heard exactly what constitutes evidence. I bet I have another crap ton of such evidence in my blog and my notes, and it’s all over the agendas and minutes of meetings. And don’t forget the budgets – they have to tell us if they spend money on consultants.

What I’d like to know is, does $taff Time count? Cause it seems city of Chico  staff has been spending an inordinate amount of time lately telling us we need to pay more taxes.

I just saw city mangler Mark Orme on the news recently saying the Paradise evacuation was causing us so much expense (even though the city hasn’t done Jack Crap for the evacuees, sending them down the road to Gridley). Then a story in the paper in which public works staffer Brendan Ottoboni was complaining about not having enough money to mitigate all the new traffic.  The city just completed a traffic study – wow, that couldn’t have anything to do with that “street maintenance” bond they are pitching to the public.

So I’ll be watching Binninger’s complaint – thanks for the head’s up Connie!

Here’s how the city hides payments toward the pension deficit

18 Jan

I got the agenda for next Wednesday’s City of Chico Finance Committee meeting – if you want to know how your money is being spent, these are worth a read:

Click to access 1.23.19FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

The agenda includes the Finance Department’s monthly report – make yourself read through the gobblety-gook of numbers and acronyms, it gets easier to pick things out. Use Google search for any term (including acronyms) that you don’t understand. 

I like to scan down and look for certain things – I like to see where revenues come from, I like to see where they’re spent. They move this money like peas under nut shells – certain funds are restricted to certain uses, but somehow they manager to “allocate” money from one fund to another, and then they can spend it the way they please.

You need to remember this when the city starts talking about their revenue measure. Right now the talking heads – including members of the public that have too much influence over council – are arguing between a sales tax increase measure and a bond. Whichever way they  go, they will need to decide between a “special” tax and a “general” tax. Currently, a “special” tax requires 2/3’s voter approval, while a “general” tax only requires a simple 51 percent. 

But it doesn’t really matter in the end, because once they get the money, they can “allocate” it right into their own pockets. 

Look at the report and watch for the word “pension”. Right away I find “CalPERS UAL payment” – that’s for the unfunded pension liability – the difference between what public employees have paid for their retirement and what they expect to get. Last May city Finance Director Scott Dowell informed the Finance Committee that the city’s UAL is over $129 million. 

The UAL payment is made once a year. This payment is separate from the regular pension payments made monthly – those are mushed in with salaries and benefits, you’d have to ask Dowell exactly what the city pays per month. 

The 2018 pay out for the UAL is $7,598,561. That’s seven million, five hundred and ninety-eight thousand, five hundred and sixty-one dollars. Say it out loud a few times, you pay for it.

Because this money doesn’t come from the employees. They pay anywhere from two percent to nine percent of their monthly pension costs. The taxpayers float another 25 – 30 percent. The rest makes up the floating liability. Here’s how the city of Chico transfers this liability onto the backs of the taxpayers.

When I asked Scott Dowell where the money for these payments comes from I got the following answer:

Fund 903 has two inflows:

1.       Each City fund that has payroll is charged a percentage of payroll for the applicable share of the estimated annual unfunded liability payment.  That amount is transferred to Fund 903 from each applicable fund.  These transfers are used to pay the annual unfunded liability payment to CalPERS out of Fund 903.

2.       The second inflow is a direct transfer from the General Fund to the Fund 903 approved by the City Council.  There was an initial transfer from the General Fund to Fund 903 of $541,455 for the year ending June 30, 2017.

Let’s look at that.

1.        this is how they hide the payment – “transfers” – they take payroll money. Look at the budget, you see “salaries and benefits” in each department’s expenditures, nothing about paying down the UAL.

2.        and there it is – “a direct transfer from the General Fund  to the Fund 903 approved by the City Council.”

The General Fund is a cookie jar with no restrictions. I’ve sat at meetings and watched money being transferred from other, restricted funds, into the GF, so they can spend the money the way they want. This is “allocation.” 

So when they tell you a  tax measure will be devoted to “street maintenance” or “public safety,” here’s what that means. 

  • CalPERS unfunded pension liability payment for 2018 – $7,598,561.00
  • Roughly half goes to “Safety” (cops and fire) – $3,660,240.00
  • An increase over last year ($6,547,673) of $1,055,888.00


This is why Janus vs ASFSME is important – see how Chico Firefighters Legislative Action Group spends it’s members’ (and non-members’!) dues (our fire department seems to have a drinking problem…)

15 Jan

I went down the rabbit hole in search of the campaign contributions reports. The link didn’t work, I e-mailed the clerk, she sent me a link that didn’t work – I spend hours trying to get information that should be available at the click of a button.

Here’s what I found out – Net File is more PAC friendly than it is Voter friendly.  It’s just another sneaky way for them to hide the contributions. 

I told the clerk I’d typed in “Chico Police Officers Association” on the Net File search engine and it didn’t work. She told me to type in “Chico” and all the PAC’s with “Chico” in their name would pop up. That finally worked, and I found the police reports.

I found out – they give all their money to “Chico Citizens For Acountable Government”

Chico Citizens for Accountable Government” poured 10’s of thousands of misplaced dollars into the campaigns of Andrew Coolidge and Matt Galloway. They also supported Councilwoman Kasey Reynolds – that’s why I didn’t vote for her – I agree with her on some things, but I knew she was a badge bunny and a developer whore. 

What P-Q’s my curiosity is why the CPOA is running their money  through CCfAG – in past they’ve just donated to their candidates up front. Are they starting to feel the sting of accusations that they run city council via campaign contributions? 

Let’s face it – “Chico Citizens for Accountable Government” sounds a lot more grass roots than “Chico Police Officers Association”

I accidentally hit the button for “Chico Firefighters Legislative Action Group”. That’s a good read – 


$1894.82 for “meetings” at locations like Riley’s, The Pour House, The Banshee, Park Avenue Pub, etc.

Starr Liquors $242 for “fundraising events”

That’s not for everybody, that’s for union officers. 

What a bunch of drunks!