Time to tell council you will not support a tax measure

27 Mar

Okay folks, the ramen shelves are fully stocked, please limit yourself to one case per person…

This coronavirus thing didn’t really hit me until about a week ago when we went to Winco and the ramen shelves were completely barren. I almost had a stroke. It’s one of my favorite snack foods, it’s so versatile. 

So when we went out early this morning on a hunt/gather mission, I braced myself for disappointment. When I saw the shelves were all restocked again, I had to restrain myself from skipping across the aisle like a goon, shouting OH MY GOD HONEY THERE’S RAMEN!” 

I’ll tell you what’s really  funny – when I went last week, they had tons of beef ramen. Screw that, I like chicken.  Apparently I am not alone. 

Yeah there was a limit posted – in fact, I saw little signs throughout the store, asking people to limit themselves to however many of each item, even soap and tooth paste. 

When we rounded the corner into the paper products area, we saw the shelves were still pretty sparse – like the stands at a late season Giants game – but Holy Shit! There was TP! Again, I had to restrain myself – I have plenty of TP at home, and I’m guessing the supply chain is going to come around pretty soon, but my palms itched to grab a 4 pack. Then we remember – our son was down to half a roll – so we grabbed one and scurried toward the check out. 

When we got to my son’s apartment, I wanted to say, “Okay, your friends  get THREE SHEETS, that’s IT!” but I, again, restrained myself.

At least Winco is not raising prices, that I can see. In my experience, whenever prices go up during a panic like this, they don’t really go down again. Like Cal Water rates during the DROUGHT! panic, and housing prices after the Camp Fire. 

So yeah, we’ve been hit again and again. Enterprise Record editor Mike Wolcott (and I’m trying to be nice to the poor guy, cause every time I write how I feel about his paper some schmuck sends him a screen shot of my blog) wrote the other day that this is a bad time for the city to put a sales tax measure on the ballot. 

“The Chico City Council has been leaning towards putting a sales tax hike on the November ballot. We’d suggest they hit the pause button.

That’s because of the coronavirus. The economic effects of businesses closing and people losing their jobs are rippling though the nation, although the ripples are more like a tsunami. Economic experts say we’re already in a recession, one that could last well into 2021.

In this environment, the likelihood that voters would approve another shot to their wallet is dropping rapidly.”

While that is reassuring for now, it sounds like Wolcott would support a tax if the economy were in better shape. The problem being, the economy rises and  falls. When it’s high, the sky is the limit, spend-spend-spend! When it’s down, overspending comes home to roost. We’ve gone from BOOM to BUST but every cycle brings city finances closer to the bone.  The cycle has to end – the city has got to change the overspending before I would even consider any revenue measure.  

I don’t know if the city will listen to Wolcott. See, it has nothing to do with coronavirus.  Chico is already in a bottomless pit of debt, funds in the negative, and still CalPERS at the door, demanding more and more. Staff doesn’t want this tax to fix the streets or sewers or the park, they want it to make the annual payments on their unfunded pension liability. 

What do we have to lose if we don’t pass a tax? You mean, what do Mark Orme and Chris Constantin have to lose if we don’t pass a tax measure. They stand to lose their pensions – 70% of salaries over and approaching $200,000/year. That kind of money is like cocaine, you get used to it, you get dependent on it, you way overspend and your lifestyle becomes very high maintenance. And you get desperate to keep it.

Like a cokehead starved for his candy, they’ll threaten us. No more street maintenance! Close Upper Bidwell Park! Higher sewer fees! Higher Crime! 

If you have lived in Chico for more than 10 years, you have seen the cycle of promises and  threats, every two years with elections. But if you look at the budgets, you see – revenues increase, even if just a little, every year, year after year. Gee, this year they found an extra $3,050,000 laying around the office. 

The only “loss” comes from the salaries and benefits – contrary to their claims, noooo-body at the city of Chico has taken any cut in pay.  The only employees who have sacrificed are the ones who were summarily fired after Brian Nakamura and Mark Orme took over city management. Those firings did not result in any savings, because Orme and his management staff quickly ate any gains. While Orme can boast that he has not  taken a salary increase for the last couple of years, he doesn’t mention his Fund 457 – a special 401K for public employees, into which the city puts a flat $9,000/year plus a percentage of his salary. If that’s not a raise, I don’t know what to call it. “Compensation” is “compensation,” and Mark Orme, at $212,000/year, plus “extra pay”, plus his 457, plus his pension and benefits package, is very generously compensated. He is a pig that could afford to give back a few pounds of bacon. 

Now Orme hides behind coronavirus, suspending the rules. Judging from that “special” meeting the other night, he means alllll the rules! I’m no lawyer, but I’d say the Brown Act took a good flummoxing the other night. As long as this “state of emergency” lasts, they will use the opportunity to advance the sales tax measure as far as they can without any public oversight. 

But, the website is still up, the agendas, reports and budgets for the last 5 or 6 years are all there for you to study. Look at the pattern of misspending and poor decisions, and look at the appropriations from funds that don’t even have any money into the Pension Stabilization Trust. 

And you  can still email your council and tell them to stop spending taxpayer money on their tax measure, because you not only won’t support it, you will work actively to defeat it. 

You can send those to debbie.presson@chicoca.gov





8 Responses to “Time to tell council you will not support a tax measure”

  1. bob March 28, 2020 at 1:58 pm #

    I’ve seen prices on some things up in the last few weeks but as the old saying goes you ain’t seen nothin’, yet.

    The Fed has dumped trillions into the system and now the federal government is spending 2 trillion more and this is just the beginning. That’s going to result in inflation much worse than the ’70s. As is so often the case, government makes a crisis much worse.

    • Juanita Sumner March 28, 2020 at 2:04 pm #

      So you’re saying that $1200 check I’m supposed to be getting is a bad thing?

      • bob March 28, 2020 at 3:28 pm #

        I’m saying in a year or so it will buy a lot less than what $1200 bought last month.

      • Juanita Sumner March 28, 2020 at 3:30 pm #

        Oh, shit!

      • bob March 28, 2020 at 3:38 pm #

        Over time, the inflation generated by all this money that they are “printing” will cost you a lot more than the $1200 they give you now.

        And the debt your kids and grand kids will have to deal with is unconscionable.

  2. bob March 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm #

    And while you get $1200, companies that spent billions buying back their stock so CEOs could inflate their ludicrous stock options are getting bailed out at your expense. Instead, those companies should have been investing in their businesses and saving for a rainy day and if they didn’t do that they should go bankrupt and their CEOs sued. Instead the fat cats get fatter. Just like 2008.

    Believe me, what the politicians in the District of Criminals did last week is going to cost you a lot more down the road than the $1200 they give you today.

    • Juanita Sumner March 30, 2020 at 3:33 pm #

      You know, I really had to think hard about how this actually affects my family. We haven’t paid federal taxes since we retired, we pay state and county taxes. So, money from the feds has seemed free to me. But, I realize, a lot of the programs I depend on – like the post office, roads, parks – are federally funded. So, in the sense that many of those programs are underfunded because of the pensions, yeah, I am paying.

  3. Scott Rushing March 30, 2020 at 11:45 am #


    On Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 4:29 PM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: ” This coronavirus thing didn’t really hit me until > about a week ago when we went to Winco and the ramen shelves were > completely barren. I almost had a stroke. It’s one of my favorite snack > foods, it’s so versatile. So when we went out early this mo” >

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