letter to editor: recent city survey misleading

28 Oct

I try to read the Enterprise Record at least a few times a week. Not that it’s a great paper, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what kind of BS they are floating. I usually read the print edition – my husband picks it up a couple of times a week, when he stops at the neighborhood market  for a 6 pack. But last time he came home with a 6 pack and a candy bar. “3 Musketeers is cheaper than the paper,” he said, “and it does more for you mood.” Then he told me the paper had gone up 50 cents, and screw that. So, I’ve been snooping it out online since then, but get cut off pretty frequently, having read my fill of free junk. It’s like going to the county fair, and eating too much Fiddle-Faddle.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Mike Wolcott for a get-together at the ER with other “frequent letter writers.” He said we’d all get a free online subscription, 4 months paid by him, just for standing around the old do-nut box and being civil to each other. So I went, spent about an hour in a little conference room trying to be polite with people like Irv Schiffman, and then I had to get back to work. So here I sit, waiting for my free subscription.

The down side to that would be waking up every morning to find the digital version of a cat box liner in my email. I’m starting to think I might have made a mistake.  The Enterprise Record isn’t a newspaper, it’s newspeak.  They don’t investigate, they regurgitate.  When you read a story in the ER, you must always look elsewhere for further information, don’t just believe what they print. They toe the line set by whichever mob is in charge, and right now, it’s the tax happy mob. Expecting the Enterprise Record to do anything resembling investigative journalism is like expecting the government to investigate itself. Today, the media is part of The Establishment, and they aren’t going to rock the boat now that they have got themselves into it.

So we have to read stuff for ourselves, we can’t take a reporter’s word for anything. The story the ER posted about the city’s recent survey might have just as well been a city press release.  I posted the EMC survey this morning


because I knew it wouldn’t be in the paper. In fact, Dave Howell had to request it from the city clerk. Let’s make it worth Dave’s while having to deal with the bureaucratic jello mould.  Judging from the word press stats for today, people are at least looking at it.

I hope we can get others to take a look, maybe get a conversation going about how blatantly leading that survey was. Not to mention,  misleading. So I wrote a letter to the ER.

NOTE: Here’s a link to the ER story I mention in the letter, thanks again to Dave Howell for that, as well:

Chico one of top cities for public employee compensation

My letter sent to Chico ER 10/28/19

Tax campaign consultant EMC, after a very misleading survey of only 400 carefully chosen Chico residents, declares 70% support for a one cent sales tax increase. That’s more than the 2/3’s voter threshold required for a special tax that could be dedicated to public safety or roads, the top concerns listed by those 400 respondents. Why then does Staff insist on running a simple majority measure requiring only 51%?

Because, as the assistant city manager told council, a 2/3’s measure would have to be spent as the voters dictate.  A simple measure goes into the General Fund, available for any whim of council or staff, including the pension liability.

Just last year, another city consultant, Chad Wolford, told the Finance Committee city expenses were up because of “More people, more payroll, more allocations… salaries and benefits have gone up, operating budgets are up…”   In 2015 Wolford told council the city was spending too much money on “overhead,” which he defined as “administrative salaries and benefits.” The same year, Chico had the top compensated employees in California, as reported by the Enterprise Record 12/10/2015.

The EMC survey told respondents “The City has done everything it can to cut expenses…”  That is not true. As Wolford said, the city is management top heavy and staff continues to get salary increases, which increase benefits, and increase the pension deficit. Employees pay less than a third of their pension costs.

The survey was blatantly misleading. See the full survey and join the conversation at chicotaxpayers.com

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA



6 Responses to “letter to editor: recent city survey misleading”

  1. Dave October 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm #

    If you go here https://california-auditor.connect.socrata.com/ you can see that out of 471 cities in California Chico was ranked the 50th worst for financial health.

    See this article


    It states that over half of California cities face fiscal risk. For cities having problems this suggestion is made:

    The Bay Area’s most financially secure city was Lafayette, which was ranked 469th out of 471. Lafayette is a tony Contra Costa County city with a median home value of $1.55 million.
    But East Palo Alto — a much lower-income city once known as the murder capital of the nation — scored one of the state’s lowest risk rates at 455th out of 471, thanks to factors like a relatively low debt burden and pension obligations, along with positive revenue trends. The state’s smaller, less-flush cities should be studying it as an example for their own long-range financial planning.

    50th worst out of 471 proves Chico has been mismanaged. Instead of trying to find answers like the one mentioned above our corrupt and incompetent city council wants to raise our taxes and take on hundreds of millions in new debt! This in spite of tax revenues growing at 30% over the last four years.

    Where is the outrage?

    • Juanita Sumner October 30, 2019 at 3:42 pm #

      People are reading the survey, according to the stats.

  2. Jim October 30, 2019 at 7:54 am #

    PG&E cut back on maintenance to pay big bonuses to management. Really much the same as what is going on at the city, who cut back street maintenance to pay lucrative pensions. It happens because most folks tolerate it. The voters have the power of change if we use it.

    • Juanita Sumner October 30, 2019 at 8:01 am #

      Right on Jim!

    • bob October 30, 2019 at 11:39 am #

      Based on the survey the majority of the people who will vote are ignorant and you can bet that’s just what the local government here wants.

      • Juanita Sumner October 30, 2019 at 3:39 pm #

        Reading the survey I see the consultants are trying to “educate” people in favor of the tax increase, it’s pretty blatant. We have to get more people to look at this stuff.

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