Dave Howell: Do they take us for fools?

29 Aug

I’ve seen some interesting letters to the Enterprise Record lately. A lady wrote the other day saying Chico streets are in such horrible condition she hates driving her car around Chico. I hear that – we just traded our son our F-150 for his tiny Chevy Cavalier. The F-150 sat higher off the ground, I could see the potholes but I didn’t feel them so keenly. The little Chevy feels like a Radio Flyer headed off Dead Man’s Hill, every crack in the road goes right through the seat covers, and sometimes there’s the sound of metal on asphalt as we hit a particularly bad hole. 

And of course, my 1956 Raleigh Superbe has seen her days, those skinny tires tooling along the park and neighborhood streets. I hit a pothole Downtown one day coming home from a meeting – ha ha, I was looking at another pothole instead of watching the street in front of my wheels – and CRASH! My bike basket flipped off the mounts and landed in the street. My feet slid off the pedals, which caught me right across the shins. And my bike seat stuck me one right in the small of my back. God I was so pissed off. 

There’s potholes on my street that look big enough to eat a stroller, complete with attached mom. But if you want to see something that looks like a third world country, head over to the neighborhood bordering the freeway off East Avenue, behind the old McDonalds and the abandoned For Kid’s Only Store. Check out the South Campus neighborhood, imagine out-of-town college parents seeing that for the first time.  

Sure everybody knows Chico streets are a mess – but do they know why? The city is going to tell everybody, in their campaign for a sales tax increase, that the streets are horrible because there aren’t enough revenues. But you know, if you go to meetings and listen to Constantin and Orme, they’ll admit that maintenance has been purposely deferred, while the city has been making, as CARD’s Ann Willmann likes to call them, “aggressive payments” on their pension deficit. 

So it’s good to hear from letter writer Dave Howell, who has it right – it’s the pensions. 

Howell asks, “will the people be fooled?” Well, he seems to be doing his best to prevent that. And thanks for the shout out Dave, I appreciate it.

Hats off to Juanita Sumner for shedding light on CARD’s tax increase measure. CARD has been considering a tax increase for years and has spent over $100,000 of our tax dollars on high priced consulting firms in an effort to get a tax increase measure on the ballot.  One consulting firm they paid openly brags about its ability to help get tax increases passed.  Yet CARD’s attorney claims these consulting firms are merely involved in informational surveys.  Only a fool would believe that.

The fact is that CARD, like the rest of local government, has made unsustainable compensation promises to its employees, especially regarding pensions. These promises are devouring money that should be going for infrastructure.  Like CARD, the City Council has used our tax dollars to hire a high priced consulting firm for a proposed tax increase.  The push for tax increases from our local government is all about unfunded liabilities that are unsustainable.

Without true reform we will face endless rounds of tax increases in a futile effort to fund unsustainable liabilities.  Scores of cities and counties raised taxes in the last several years and not one has solved their unfunded liabilities problem.  All passage of the latest round of proposed tax increases will do is kick the can down the road a couple of election cycles, but our local politicians and bureaucrats will never admit this.

Will the people be fooled?  We will find out next March when CARD’s tax increase will be on the ballot.

Dave Howell, Chico

9 Responses to “Dave Howell: Do they take us for fools?”

  1. bob August 30, 2019 at 2:42 pm #

    I find it fascinating that the Chico First people have not commented on this letter.

    Chico first or tax increases for unsustainable pensions first?

    • Juanita Sumner August 30, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

      Thanks for saying, it’s frustrating trying to get a real conversation going on the pensions. The recall is the hot news, but whether it succeeds or fails I don’t know if anything will change. Chico politics have always been kinda nasty, and as power swings with every election, so swing the days of our lives…

      • bob August 30, 2019 at 4:33 pm #

        I am very disappointed that Michelle and Nicole have not answered my questions regarding the tax increases and our county being the dumping ground for mentally ill transients thanks to Butte County Behavioral Health.

        These are vital issues to the people of Chico. Why would a group called Chico First not be eager to address them?

      • Juanita Sumner August 30, 2019 at 6:58 pm #

        I’m afraid they are too embedded.

      • bob August 30, 2019 at 8:37 pm #

        There are too few political organizations that represent the average person, certainly no politicians do. Most political organizations represent some special interest or groups of special interests.

        If Chico First really did represent the average person who lives in Chico you can bet they’d be talking about the pensions, the tax increases and our city being a dumping ground for mentally ill transients.

      • Juanita Sumner August 31, 2019 at 5:46 am #

        You know, I wonder who the average Chicoan is anymore – a public employee with a 6 figure salary and deferred benefits package? Ya think?

  2. Suzanne Wong September 14, 2019 at 11:11 am #

    Bob,

    First, let me mention that Nicole is the primary behind the One Chico group, although still participates in the Chico First group. Not sure which Michelle you refer to but…the recall of Stone & Ory are significant issues that they are very involved with as well as crime, safety and families in Chico.

    Not every group can fight EVERY fight and as you know there are many on the docket. If that were to be attempted, the efforts would be overly fragmented and make it difficult to target certain problems.

    Re: “…a dumping ground for mentally ill transients….”,
    as part of the debates and drive to get council members to prioritize the wishes and needs of Chico citizens local crime and safety is one of the things that Chico First is fighting for as well as against hypodermic needle distribution and the development of cannabis free-for-all. Not sure how you might’ve missed those…

    If you are not happy with the efforts and progress being made in the Chico First group, consider starting your own that suits your own personal requirements or at the very least read the “About” file on the Chico First homepage where you will see that public safety and quality of life are the group’s focus.

    • Juanita Sumner September 15, 2019 at 5:38 am #

      Hi Suzanne, sorry it took me so long to post your comment. For some reason, comments don’t always route through my mail box, I have to check the comments queue every few days to make sure I haven’t missed any.

      You are missing the point Suzanne – the criminals are coming in through the county. That’s the problem, and that’s where it needs to be stopped, at the source. We didn’t miss your efforts to stop the needle exchange, but that’s not going to the source. The county supervisors are the source, and they need to be told we are sick of Chico being a dumping ground just for money to pay down the county’s pension deficit.

      You people are fighting the symptoms, we need to fight the disease. The disease is the pensions.

      By the way, Chico Taxpayers Association has been busy since 2012 – search the archives, maybe you missed something.

    • bob September 15, 2019 at 5:40 pm #

      Hi Suzanne,

      Until there is reform that addresses the City’s pension liability there will never be enough money to fix the city’s infrastructure including the roads and enough money for other government services that Chico First and One Chico wants.

      As long as Butte County is a dumping ground for mentally ill and drug addicted transients there will always be crime problems and hypodermic needles in the parks.

      No organization, including Chico First and One Chico, can succeed without addressing the root causes of the problems it is trying to solve. Chico First and One Chico must address these root causes to succeed.

      Why is this so difficult for you to understand?

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