Archive | January, 2020

Thanks Joe Azzarito for a great letter to the editor! NO ON A!

31 Jan

From yesterday’s Chico News and Review:

As a member of Sons and Daughters of Italy Vincenzo Bellini Lodge 2519, I believe playing bocce ball is an important activity for Italians. At a Chico Area Recreation and Park District meeting, the topic of adding courts to a local park was discussed. Measure A, foisted on Chico by CARD, could provide this but at what cost?! The parcel tax, to be on our March 3 primary, is not the solution.

CARD gives lip service to what the public wants or thinks it needs. The recreation department, like all forms of government, feeds itself first of any and all funds, then cries wolf when it comes to everyone else.

They’ll tell you: We need more money to do stuff for you! We promise to keep our word and spend only on you. From the news comes word of potential revenue—most of it will go for debt service. That’s loan interest, folks! They are in hock up to their ears in pension deficits. It is easy to see why they always need more; they can’t pass up an expense for themselves and, therefore, they are broke, were it not for this proposed biased, ever-increasing, perpetual tax borne by homeowners and businesses.

Remember no on A.

Joe Azzarito

Chico

Harm Reduction? That would be funny if it weren’t such a tragedy

31 Jan

https://www.eterritorial.com/76-local-news/yuba-sutter-news/16350-movie-star-arrested-for-residential-burglary

Shaun Weiss in booking mug, left, and as a child actor in “The Mighty Ducks,” right.  This man is now only 39 years old. 

I hate to jump on this poor guy, but wanted to show the effects that drugs, booze and a life on the street have had on this person. 

I see people like him around Chico, and I always wonder – how does this happen? Of course that is a rhetorical question – I know how it happens. It’s not a disease that you can catch innocently from a mosquito, it’s not mental illness, it’s drug and alcohol addiction.

Of course this man has made his own decisions, but there is a culture that encourages his behavior – including the North Valley Harm Reduction Coalition,  Safe Space, and other agencies that want to offer no barrier shelters and other for-transients-only services in our town. Do these “well-meaning” idiots realize that they are just enabling drug and alcohol users to continue on a self- and society- destructive life path? 

I went to the needle exchange that NVHRC holds in the park and talked to the mostly young people that are handing out the needles. They are without any medical training – oh, I suppose they’ve been taught how to administer NARCON, just like tiny school children used to be taught how to crawl under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack.

They have no clue what they are doing, they’ve been told they are doing the right thing. 

No, look at the picture above – that’s what they’re doing.

How to write a letter to the editor

29 Jan

I’m working on my election letter to the Enterprise Record. My English 1A professor called this a “thought flow”

  • Chico Area Recreation District Measure A is a parcel tax 
  • This tax will start at $85/year, per parcel, but will increase annually with the Cost of Living Index (roughly 2% currently, this number goes up every year)
  • This tax has no sunset date
  • This tax will be administered equally between giant corporate properties and small residences. In other words, you will pay the same tax on your Chapmantown crapper that Ken Grossman pays for all that bling over on 20th Street.
  • You will also pay the same tax as giant apartment houses full of 100’s of people – renters probably won’t even notice it, but homeowners will.
  • CARD gets about $5 million a year in tax revenues, including a little over a million in “RDA passthrough” and another $3 million from county prop tax receipts, and then another $200,000 in neighborhood assessments collected from homeowners and park development funds from developer fees. 
  • what is RDA Passthrough? CARD manager Ann Willmann  tries to deny that this is tax money. The Redevelopment Act was set up in 1945, mostly to fund schools. It is funded from the annual increase in your property taxes.  From a study conducted by Sonoma County schools a few years ago – “Simply put, tax increment is the annual increase in property tax revenues in a redevelopment project area above a base year amount.”  They put that money in a fund and divvy it out to various public agencies. How can she say that’s not tax money? 
  • CARD only gets about $3.6 million from program fees and facility rentals.
  • CARD spends over $5 million on salaries and benefits. 
  • CARD spends less than $2 million on “services and supplies”. That figure includes everything from maintenance costs to supplies for office parties. 
  • CARD also makes “side payments” toward the pension deficit out of a “Pension Stabilization Trust”. The trust is funded with money from the General Fund. 
  • The 2017-18 budget shows the Capital Projects fund is $340,376 in the negative. 
  • While this parcel tax will not go into the General Fund, it will free up all the General Fund for paying the pensions. f

The above amounts to over 400 words, but yeah, it can be cut down to 250 pretty easily, I’ll work on that later. The first thing I will do is eliminate repetition, then use contractions for stuff like “it is” – that actually really cuts down a letter, saying “it’s”, etc. Then I will look for unnecessary words. 

Later we’ll have some fun with math – here’s a word problem – what percentage of CARD revenues go to salaries and benefits? Just regular payroll – I have not had time to add up all their “side fund payments” to CalPERS, but I know they’ve put over a $1 million into the Pension Stabilization Trust in just the last year. 

Feel free to use these points in your letter to the editor – you can look at the 2017-18 CARD budget for yourself here:

https://www.chicorec.com/files/405d0464e/2017-18+Budget+-+Version+2.pdf

POST SCRIPT: A very important point I left out:

  • CARD employees pay only 5.5 – 8% of the agency cost of their pensions – that’s next time!

Butte County GOP needs to step up to the plate – let them know how you feel about the city’s districting sham – (530) 876 – 4191

25 Jan

Butte County GOP staffers like to talk smack, but I wonder if they are willing to sue the city of Chico over the highly questionable voting districts? 

I think they need a little shove – you can call them at 530-876-4191 – I’ve tried email and they don’t respond. Let them know you are also outraged by this obvious grab for power, and want them to put their money where their mouth is. I mean, if out-of-towners like Jim Nielsen and Doug LaMalfa expect us to take them seriously, they better get their donors together and make some waves on our behalf.

Come on Doug, if you are truly “One of Us”, get out there and start pounding your mau-mau stick! 

Butte County GOP staff are supposed to have a monthly public meeting at the Oxford Suites motel, but a friend of mine says they don’t always show up. At the last meeting he attended, they announced that Chico Area Recreation District will be at their next meeting (currently scheduled for February 13 at 6pm) to ask GOP to endorse parcel tax Measure A. Last election, GOP staffers endorsed Terry Clelland for CARD board, and he is fully on board with Measure A. We have to make sure GOP staffers know there are Measure A opponents who will be glad to vote their poorly chosen candidates back to the stone age. 

I will call to confirm next week. Their last meeting was a reschedule, my friend having shown up at their regularly scheduled meeting to find a note on the door.  

I’ll keep you posted. 

NO on state Prop 13 AND CARD parcel tax measure A – as the voters keep passing tax increases on themselves, the publicly employed pigs will keep eating more and more of our economy

22 Jan

Lately I feel like the legendary Dutch Boy – I only have 10 fingers, but the local dikes are full of holes. Yes, I think this whole city districts thing stinks to high heaven. “Citizens for a Safe Chico”? Who is hiding behind that generic moniker? Dog houses for poor people – whacko!

I know other people here are similarly concerned – the two top searches for this week were “money given to the city of chico to house transients” and “why are pacs bad” .

I’ll try to answer those searches – 

  1. How much money has the city received to “house transients”?  The city of Chico declared a “shelter crisis designation” in 2018 and received $4.9 million in state grants. If you want to comb through the budget to look where that went, be my  guest – I’ll guess, it went to salaries/benefits, and the pension/benefits liabilities. Maybe they spent $100,000 on the warming tent, but I’d bet my last $5 most of it went to salaries and benefits. They got another $4 million or so for their plan (not yet realized) to “consolidate” homeless services at the Silver Dollar fairgrounds. In order to make room for adults who cannot seem to behave as adults, the city evicted a group who had put a lot of work and money into a kids’ public BMX track.  This did not surprise me – I’ll say, as a mom of two kids born and raised here, Chico has never been a child-friendly town. 
  2. Why are pacs bad? In my opinion they have way more rights than the rest of the voters, and therefore way too much influence on elections. The biggest donors in every Chico election are the public employee unions – specifically, Chico Police Officers Association (CPOA), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). You can find those reports at the  city of Chico website. But, every election brings up another pac, this year it’s “Citizens for a Safe Chico,” fronted by local businesswoman Teri Dubose. You will have to look at their campaign filings to find out who is really behind this group, and who they intend to foist into the arena. And, here’s what stinks – their last report isn’t due until after the election. That’s usually when the unions file their reports, after the fact. 

The good news is, we have until November to worry about the council elections. Right now, the March 3 election is rolling right up on us, and I believe the most important items on that ballot are California State Proposition 13 (Education finance: school facilities: Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020) and Chico Area Recreation District Measure A (parcel tax). 

I believe the proponents of Prop 13 purposely chose 13 to confuse voters, make them think they might be renewing or strengthening the original Prop 13. No, this measure essentially overturns the protections guaranteed in the original Prop 13, allowing the legislature to float bonds that we are not allowed to vote on. This in addition to bonds passed by our own school district. From Ballotpedia:

A “yes” vote supports this measure to authorize $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facilities, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges.

Voters just approved the $126 million Chico Unified School District Measure K in 2016. At that time, Dave Howell wrote this in a letter to the Enterprise Record:

“Just four years ago voters approved a $78 million bond for Chico Unified School District. Now CUSD wants another $126 million for the same things the $78 million bond was supposed to fund. This despite declining enrollment and CUSD deferring maintenance on its facilities.”

Look at the history of STATE bonds at Ballotpedia – “Californians last voted on a school facilities bond measure in 2016, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. The bond measure, titled Proposition 51, issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges. Between 1998 and 2019, voters approved five bond measures for school facilities—Proposition 1A (1998), Proposition 47 (2002), Proposition 55 (2004), Proposition 1D (2006), and Proposition 51 (2016).”

Remember, you pay these in addition to the bonds our school district issues. Wake UP!

Meanwhile, Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) has a parcel tax on the March 3 ballot – a tax that will start at $110/year and go up with the cost of living index – roughly 1.9 – 2% PER YEAR. What CARD doesn’t say in the ballot information is that they will use the proceeds from this parcel tax to issue bonds, creating a downward spiral of debt that your grandchildren will be saddled with. And they have the nerve to say, it’s all about the kids! Like the  city of Chico, CARD has been funneling hundreds of thousands toward their $2 million +++ pension liability. The funds from this parcel tax are not restricted to maintenance or capital projects, but will go to the General Fund to be spent at the discretion of the board and staff. 

What does CARD have in common with the school district? They both admit to having deferred maintenance while paying millions toward their pension deficit. Read a four year old piece by Dan Walters when he was still with the Sacramento Bee.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article111932412.html#storylink=cpy

“School districts and other local governments often neglect maintenance of their facilities to meet demands for other spending, particularly pressure from unions for increases in pay and fringe benefits. Then, after the deferred maintenance results in deterioration that can no longer be ignored, officials draw up bond issues to make repairs that could have been avoided with proper maintenance.”

And here’s the proof that these monies are not really used “for the kids” –  a note I received from CUSD finance officer Kevin Bultema just months after the passage of Measure K.

The increase PERS and STRS [pension] costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.” 

See, right there he admits – they take money from the “district operations budget” to pay their pensions, and he furthermore admits that they will take more money to pay their pensions, at the cost of “CUSD’s program expenditures” – meaning, the kids!

Just six months later I read this in the Chico Enterprise Record: ““The board also voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Chico Unified Teachers Association. That agreement will collapse the salary schedule, reducing the years of service necessary for a teacher to reach their maximum salary.”

Raises in salary mean raises in pensions which means an increase in the pension deficit, since this agreement did not result in the teachers paying more of their share. School district employees, like CARD, still pay less than 10% of their pension cost. 

So, as long as the voters keep passing tax increases on themselves, the publicly employed pigs will keep eating more and more of our economy. 

Are you sick of being a cash cow for these entitled bastards? Well SPEAK UP! Just say NO on tax measures, starting with California Prop 13 and CARD Measure A. 

 

 

 

Letter to Editor: 87% of this year’s $135 million budget will go to administrative costs

19 Jan

The City of Chico has a bad case of neglect when it comes to its 300 miles of roadways.  It is estimated that 43% of Chico’s roads are in poor condition, or approximately 130 miles of dilapidated streets that feel like a washboard when driving on them, with the frequent thump of a bass drum when you hit a pothole.

The cost of upgrading 130 miles of city streets is beyond the city’s budget. Chico has very little discretionary money because of poor stewardship of the city’s resources: public funded salaries, benefits and pensions are disproportionate with the average Chicoan’s income. 87% of this year’s $135M budget will go to administrative costs. So much for fixing them roads.

At $35 to $50 per pothole, repairing what we’ve all seen and felt will overwhelm the city’s road and maintenance budget. The $800,000 annual franchise fees from waste management was earmarked for major road repair but is that happening?

The Beatles sing, “I read the news today, oh boy, four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire’ and though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all, now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.”

Or “I read the news today, oh boy, ten thousand potholes in Chico’s city streets, and though the holes were big and small, nobody really knows how much asphalt it will take to fill them all.”

A pothole exemplifies the erosion of a road’s foundation, and possibly the city’s as well.

— Roger Beadle, Chico

SEIU local 1021 has over $50 million in assets – see their Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax here

18 Jan

Against my better judgement I just watched “The Irishman”. It was weird watching actors play people I remembered from real life.

Jimmy Hoffa was a fixture of my childhood. I remember thinking he was a funny little guy, always punctuating his speeches with that pointed finger. Of course I remember seeing “Have you seen Jimmy Hoffa?” with a phone number, on bumpers everywhere. Probably one out of four cars had that bumper sticker, along with “Welcome to California, now lower your expectations…”

I had already read Frank Sheeran’s story about what happened, I knew it down to the details. That stuff doesn’t really shock me anymore. I read an abridged version of “Serpico” in the Reader’s Digest when I was 13 or 14 years old. I read “The Godfather” when I was about 15. I read the newspapers since I was a tiny child. It was all right there – the world can be ugly, corrupt, and there is no Lone Ranger. 

I was not shocked at Sheeran’s allegations that management union figures got huge salaries and pensions and lived like kings. If you think that’s fiction or ancient history, you might look at the IRS forms filed by California unions.

This link takes you to the Opt-out Now website, to a page about one specific SEIU group in the Bay Area. Go to the bottom “frequently asked questions”, click on “how does the union spend my money”

SEIU 1021

You will find this page:

https://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/205/205893698/205893698_201712_990O.pdf

this is the 2017 Form 990 – Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax – oh yeah, unions are exempt from income tax. 

Scroll down to page 10 – you see the salaries paid out by this organization. You see how little they actually spend on member services – the members who receive the services are the union employees. These people are not elected by their co-workers, they are hired by the union, and paid out of the dues collected from people who actually work for a living. 

Well, some of them, anyway. 

This is why Jim Parrott of Chico Police Officers Association has signed the Argument in Favor of Measure A, the parcel tax that Chico Area Recreation District has placed on the March 2020 ballot. He’d probably tell you it’s because he’s been involved in the Chico Area Swim Association, an affiliate of CARD, but we know the real reason.  These union members network to make sure the pensions are paid. Of course he will also endorse the city of Chico’s upcoming sales tax increase for the same reason.

Don’t drink the Kool Aid. No matter what they tell you about services, the biggest service agencies like CARD provide is to their union member employees.