Archive | November, 2019

Dave Howell: Chico ranks 50th worst financial risk out of 471 California cities

14 Nov

Dave Howell has been telling us about the CAFR – a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, a set of U.S. government financial statements comprising the financial report of a state, municipal or other governmental entity. Out of 471 cities of similar population, Chico was ranked 40th worst financially. 

Read more about CAFR here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_annual_financial_report

Thanks for writing Dave, and I hope more people will chime in.

Of 471 cities, the state auditor ranked Chico 50th worst for financial risk. Chico is at high risk in four pension and OPEB categories. The most recently available CAFR indicates Chico has over $200 million in liabilities, most of that for CalPERs which assumes an unrealistic 7% discount rate.  Chico has runaway employee costs that must be reformed.Instead, council member Scott Huber criticizes council member Sean Morgan for not supporting a tax increase. Yet Morgan like the rest of the city council voted to move the sales tax increase forward. Tax increases will not solve runaway unfunded liabilities. The city council knows this which is why they will use the revenue from the sales tax to take on hundreds of millions in new debt resulting in future tax increase demands. Of course the PR firm the city is paying our hard-earned tax dollars to didn’t mention any of this to the registered voters they contacted for their survey used to word the ballot measure.

Instead of reforming runaway city employee costs, Huber, Morgan and the rest of the city council put us on a path of ruinous debt and future tax increases. This in a county with a 21% poverty rate where bureaucrats and other city employees can retire in their fifties with multi-million dollar pensions.

This is what happens when a clueless citizenry doesn’t hold an incompetent and corrupt city council accountable and is yet another example of how democracy is failing in our country.

Dave Howell, Chico 

Airport Commissioner trying to sell us a bag of rainbows, lollipops and bull puckey

12 Nov

Does Chico really need air service? I don’t think so, and this letter from Airport Commissioner B.T. Chapman is full of holes. 

Your “miss” comments on November 2 about the initiative to rename the airport certainly does nothing to help the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to return air service to Chico.

First of all, I’d like to ask Chapman, how “many“?  Because most of the meetings on this subject are held at a private location, by a small private group, without notice of the public, without oversight by city staffers, and without any notes or videos available for review. I’m not a lawyer or I’d raise a Brown Act question, instead I’ll just say, it seems the public is being held out of this conversation by the forehead.

(NOTE: In fact, about a year ago, Chapman put his name on a letter sent to the Enterprise Record, but I found out it was actually written by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. See the link at the end of this post.)

Chapman continues, “If you had participated in the research done by the 2-member committee appointed by the airport commission you would understand the proven marketing value of an effectively named airport. We’re not playing games here nor chasing a far-fetched “dream.”

 

A “2-member committee” – that answers my question – a 2 member, self appointed committee that already had an agenda. That’s not research, it’s rationalization.

 

Renaming the airport is not designed to attract an airline. We already have strong indicators there is interest in returning to Chico. Further, the JetChico attraction committee already has proven business support to return air service.

No, the renaming of the airport is not designed to attract an airline. Yes, the airport manager claims there are airlines with some interest in reestablishing air service to Chico. But, these airlines have made it clear they will not do so unless the city guarantees hundreds of thousands in revenues to the airline. What renaming the airport is supposed to do is get the taxpayers all on board, happy to put down tax dollars to subsidize (and that’s the word they use) a service that will only be used by a small portion of the population.

Returning air service is serious business with significant economic benefits to our city and convenience to our citizens and those in the counties that border Butte.

In  your dreams B.T. – if air service is so important to local citizens, why wasn’t it even mentioned, even in passing, in that $25,000 survey the city just ran?

— B T Chapman, Chico

Okay, that’s a point blank lie. We’ve never had reliable air service in Chico, people were constantly left stranded, either in Chico, or in San Francisco. Furthermore, the airlines refused to refund tickets when this happened, leaving people to pay for hotel rooms and then re-purchase tickets, or call for a ride home from San Francisco. This happened to my family and plenty of others.

Chapman is grasping at straws to convince us to pay for something from which most of us will never receive any benefit.

Get on the bandwagon…”? Here’s a good quote from vocabulary.com: “bandwagon is a trend that is so cool everyone wants to get in on it. If you start wearing a flowerpot on your head because everyone else is, you’ve jumped on a strange fashion bandwagon. Originally, a bandwagon was a large wagon that did indeed carry a band. Now it’s an idea — people jump on the bandwagon when they hop on a trend.”

This reminds me of the suggestion made by a $200,000 consultant hired by the city at the suggestion of JetChico a few years back. He suggested city staffers get pilot and stewardess costumes (paid for by the taxpayers), and then stroll around town, at public events like Saturday Market, trying to convince the public that it is, indeed, fun to fly!

This is the kind of bullshit our tax dollars are used for. This is what a new sales tax increase would pay for. Write a letter to the airport commission via sherry.miller@Chicoca.gov
NOTE: You might ask Miller if Chapman did indeed write this letter.  Here’s the post I did last year about another letter signed by B.T. Chapman, but actually authored by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. Ask yourself, is it okay for a public official to sign a letter that was written by somebody else? Who is really running the airport commission? 

What I’ve learned from my dog – don’t take a screwing without a fight

10 Nov

Almost four years ago, my dog got so sick we thought she was a goner. We stayed up nights plying her with water and rice paste, going to various vets to find out what was trying to kill my dog.

Eventually we learned, she’d got pancreatitis, somehow, and was diabetic. After working for months to get her health back, we got her onto a medical routine that has been the center of our life ever since. We have good vets, and they continue to work with us to keep her healthy without driving us into the poor house. 

My husband said right at the get go – when the quality of her life is gone, we’re done. It’s been almost four years, and while she’s slowed down almost to a stop, she’ll still bite the hell out of you if you try to take a soft ball away from her. As long as she’s a bitch, she’s stayin’. 

And that’s what I’ve learned – don’t take a screwing without a fight. Death came at my dog like a big bully, and we put his ass dooooowwwn!

Of course every day is a new day, up and down, up and down. She gets up happily to eat, so wobbly, wagging her tail almost knocks her off her feet, but don’t get your hands in that food dish. She takes her shot with a grimace, and then she just keeps shoveling in the kibble. She demands a good walk, a chance to sniff the smells, take a good dump. This has been good for my husband and I too – we’ve found many good trails around Chico and in the hills above town, we walk a few miles most mornings. 

Then we go back to the house and she lays in bed for hours. At about 10:45 am, she shambles out of her bed, sniffing for her midday treat. I can put my hands right into her mouth with a bit of chicken and she takes it as gently at a baby.  A quick walk out to pee, and she’s back in her bed, or situated in a bright spot in the yard.

At about 4 pm, she wakes up and gets weirdly frisky. Ever play catch with a blind dog? Watch your fingers! It’s pretty amazing how fast she can react when she thinks somebody is trying to take something from her. 

And that’s what I’ll say about myself – watch your fingers, especially if you are planning to put them in my purse.  The tax measures coming to the Chico ballot in March 2020 – a sales tax increase from the city and a parcel tax from Chico Area Recreation District –  are nothing but stealing. We’ve paid taxes for years, and $taff has diverted our money into their own pockets. Time to call them on their filching. Time to nip some fingers. 

You’d be surprised how much power is contained in the word NO.

Anthony Watts: Chico will buy make-believe “clean” electricity at a premium

5 Nov

This headline from the Enterprise Record is misleading:

Chico City Council to commemorate Camp Fire anniversary, consider alternatives to PG&E

Read the article for yourself, see where Robin Epley says, “In such an agreement, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. would continue with transmission and distribution of energy.”

How is that “an alternative” to PG&E? And no, a CCA does not guarantee lower power, especially when legislators and staffers will set the rates. They may even buy it from PG&E, and then resell it to us? 

Here’s the DEAL KILLER – PG&E can shut down power at any time, and the city of Chico would have nothing to say about it.

I was glad to see Anthony Watts put the whammy down: 

Two far-left city councilors, Karl Ory and Alex Brown have introduced a “Chico Green New Deal” patterned after the one Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made up.

One of the bullet points is: 100% clean electricity powering the City grid by 2030

This is impossible for two reasons.

1. There’s not enough growth in renewables in California to achieve that goal by that time. The state goal is 50% by 2030.

If passed, what will most likely happen is that Chico will buy make-believe “clean” electricity at a premium.

From the New York Times: “Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that PG&E could save $2.2 billion a year by renegotiating renewable power contracts down to current market prices.”

PG&E spends over $2 billion yearly for overpriced liberal pie-in-the-sky electricity schemes, while the utility cannot afford even to inspect and repair their 100,000 miles of power lines. PG&E claims that inspecting the lines alone would require quadrupling their rates.

You think your electric bill is high now? Just wait.

If Ory’s and Brown’s plan passes, the City of Chico will be running straight towards this overpriced eco-madness for the sake of virtue signaling, with no net effect but to drain city coffers and wallets.

References: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/pge-says-it-might-have-to-quintuple-rates-if-forced-to-clear-trees.html

— Anthony Watts, Chico

You can read more from Anthony and friends at his super blog,  What’s Up With That?  Here’s an interesting post from last year:

US EIA: Coal is Still King

Joe Azzarito: It’s very easy to vote ‘yes’ when somebody else will pay the bill

2 Nov
I’ve been hoping more people would get involved and speak up – here’s Joe Azzarito, a guy who went to those CARD “informational” meetings and asked questions, and now he’s writing a letter to the editor about it.

CARD programs should pay  for themselves. Remember Off The Wall Soccer? A local business that was driven out by CARD, using tax dollars to undercut OTW’s fees. One day we have a business that’s filling a need and paying taxes, and the next minute they are replaced by an agency that devours tax dollars. You figure it out.

Why should the public pay for programs that don’t serve the entire district? Pickle ball? We pay for that. Corn hole? We pay for that. Participants in CARD programs should pay the true cost of these programs – the outrageous salaries and benefits at CARD. Then we’d find out how many people are truly willing to support this agency.

Thanks Joe, great letter! 

John Dennison’s letter on CARD’s parcel tax is spot on. At one of the listening meetings, I told Ann Willimann nearly the same point — users only should be the ones paying, although John suggests all should pay.  It’s very easy to vote “yes” when someone else will pay the bill.

My suggestion was to price a user utility fee so that those using a facility pay its cost.  My current year’s property tax bill shows $802.02 in voter approved special assessments, due predominately to bonds passed in 1998, 2002, 2012 and 2016.  Where will it end? This new one will indeed be tied to a CPI and, therefore, always adjusting mostly upwards and, to make matters worse, it will be permanent unless voted out — most unlikely.

Add this proposal to the city’s sales tax measure and you are asking for economic trouble.

Both government entities are pitching their proposals to the least educated, most vulnerable and most easily brainwashed amongst us. Hold these folks accountable and vote “no” on both when presented.

— Joe Azzarito, Chico

LA Daily News, OC Register – “blame the state for high gas prices”

1 Nov

I think Gavin Newsome’s angst over gas prices in California is FAKE. He knows California residents are really angry over gas prices, and how they raise the prices of EVERYTHING, and he’s trying to pass the booger onto the gas companies. 

The NO on PROP 6 voters have themselves to blame, they let themselves be duped – but I’ll also blame the Attorney General for the misleading ballot language, and then allowing the state to spend money spreading the lies. All voters had to do was read the language on the ballot, and ask questions,  but they were lazy? Stupid? Not sure. Let’s not make that mistake with the upcoming election.

Blame the state for our high gas prices

Here’s a similar piece from last April, Orange County Register.

‘Mystery surcharge’ and gas taxes boost California gasoline prices by about $1.26 per gallon