Archive | October, 2020

Dear Chico Unified Teachers: you can’t have your cake and eat it too

30 Oct

Well, you know how I just LOVE to say “I TOLD YOU SO.” and here it is:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/cusd-enrollment-down-home-schooling-spikes-since-covid-19-campus-shutdown/ar-BB1awxip

“Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) closed all public schools in the Chico Unified School District (CUSD) to in-person instruction and transitioned to at-home online learning, 581 students have left the district. “

And who could blame them – I’ve tried to use Zoom to attend meetings, it sucks. For one thing, if you don’t have perfect internet and top-of-the-line computer crap you are left out. And, I’m sorry – since when is it okay for kids to stare at a screen for more than 30 minutes?

“The decrease could affect future CUSD budgets since each student accounts for approximately $10,000 in state and federal funding each year. Given the current declines that would mean nearly a $6 million shortfall.”

All for teachers who want to get paid for sitting at home. I think they just caught the seats of their pants with their own pitchfork.

And you realize what they’re saying – the fewer kids they have, the more money they need? What? How come when enrollment goes down, they still need the money from those kids that left? Because they, like the city of Chico and many other public agencies, have given over-generous salaries and benefits, and have a huge pension deficit. Get ready for a bond measure to pop up on your 2022 ballot.

My congratulations and best wishes to you brave individuals who have opted to Home School. Don’t be discouraged – I Home Schooled both my kids, and we’ve never regretted it. Contact me here and let me know how you’re doing.

 

 

Letter to the Editor: City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share

28 Oct

Dave was reminding me the other day (thanks Dave), elections come and go, but the suits are always working on  tax increases. It’s true, elected officials are here today, gone tomorrow, but The Song Remains the Same – City of Chico Staff is always trying to  find a way to  get us to pay their outrageous salaries and  benefits, without providing us with any services. 

I thought BC really wrapped it up good when he said, “Chico taxpayers… are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.”

So, I wrote a letter to the editor about it! I borrowed generously from BC’s remarks made a week or so ago here, I hope that’s okay BC! I did change your comment about “average income” to “median family income” because that’s the only statistic I could verify. Still works. 

At my blog, chicotaxpayers.com, we’re discussing the Pension Obligation Bond currently being considered in closed door meetings Downtown.

CalPERS promises to fund the pensions with a 7% investment return, but have not met that target, forcing city of Chico to dip into the General Fund to make increasing payments. That’s right – Chico taxpayers, with a median family income of $43,000/yr, are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.

A Pension Obligation Bond must  be paid ahead of everything else, at the expense of city services. In the event of a bad return, the bond holders can take our entire General Fund. 

To use a credit card analogy: The City has run up so much credit card (pension) debt, they can’t even make the minimum payment. So while they keep spending at the same or greater rate (hiring three new management positions this year), they mortgage the house to pay down the credit cards. They can’t afford to keep the house up (deteriorating municipal facilities, parks and public areas), can’t fix the driveway (deteriorating streets), can’t afford a security system (fire and police), and eventually can’t afford to put food on the table for the family (homeless).

City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share.

Tell Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab what you think, at ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

POST SCRIPT:  I’d also like to see Mark Orme fired, but maybe if we apply enough heat to the seat of his pants we can just make him quit. 

 

Contact Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab and tell her what you think of Mark Orme’s snake oil scheme to put his pension debt on the taxpayers

28 Oct

I got a great comment from Emily this morning. It was good to hear from somebody, besides me, and Dave, and BC, who is worried about the city’s intentions to foist a Pension Obligation Bond on the taxpayers, currently being discussed in closed meetings.

“Thanks for publishing all of this. I live in District 3 and asked both Denlay and Schwab (I do not consider Breedlove a serious candidate) about their plan to deal with Chico’s unfunded pension liability. Schwab emailed me back immediately with the same response she said she had already sent to you: best way is to make sure businesses can thrive here by improving infrastructure etc, state’s payment requirements are unrealistic and Chico is advocating for change, city has a pension stabilization trust w which to grow its payment funds, and city is considering a pension obligation bond though there’s “some debate” whether those are beneficial.

Thank you again Emily, for taking time to engage the candidates. I had a discussion with Ann, and tried to contact Denlay, who never got back to me.

I’ll give Ann credit – she responds, and she’s honest. But I have to differ with her statement that the state’s requirements are unrealistic. Schwab and her full council signed contracts allowing over-generous salaries and unrealistic employee contributions, and now she says it’s CalPERS’ fault?

Furthermore, she admits there is “some debate” over POB’s being “beneficial“. That’s an understatement, given the warnings the consultant made about the volatility of such bonds. Why would these investments fare any better than CalPERS’ investments, which have been coming in at half or less than their projections? The consultant made it clear – poor returns, which he also said repeatedly are very likely, would be a disaster for the city. The bond holders would take our entire General Fund. That’s about all we have left, besides the already established “Pension Stabilization Slush Fund”.

And, I don’t think the consultants were being fully honest about the streets leasing deal, I think that’s even more risky than they are willing to admit at this stage.

Denlay’s response to Emily was worse.

“I had to follow up with Denlay, who did respond with her ‘instincts’ about how to deal with this problem: get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years, but that Chico has ‘many pressing issues even beyond pension liabilities,’ including illegal encampments, needle handout programs, and the state of City Plaza.”

That’s what I’ve been saying about Denlay – she is way over her head. She doesn’t understand that the pension deficit is the biggest debt the city faces, that it is being paid by the taxpayers at the expense of all our city services, and if we don’t do something about it, we’re in for BANKRUPTCY. Worse, she obviously didn’t watch the consultant’s presentation, which is just plain LAZY, girlfriend. The first thing I look for in a candidate is their knowledge of the committees. I’m going to guess she doesn’t even know what committees or who is sitting on them.

But she has been tutored about the POB, because a reader sent me the response he got out of her. That’s what she’s talking about when she says “get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years.” The operative word here is “stakeholders” – is she including the taxpayers? Because the consultant also made it very clear that this bond will not go to the ballot, meaning the taxpayers are out of the conversation.

Emily added, “I’m at a bit of a loss bc I can’t believe Schwab is even considering the pension obligation bond, but it doesn’t look like Denlay understands the issues very well.

Thank you Emily, you put it in a nutshell.

But, I’ll still say, at least Schwab is honest, and she responded more clearly. I’ll also tell you something else about Schwab – she wants to get re-elected, I believe she wants to hold onto her seat until she is termed out, so I believe she listens to criticism better than most.

So, it’s time to contact Schwab – she’s not just the District 3 candidate she’s your mayor, and a member of the Finance Committee that is forwarding a recommendation to Council. Tell her what you think of this insane idea.

Tell her you know the sneaky, dirty truth that Mark Orme doesn’t want us to know. This isn’t the kind of bond that shows up on your property tax bill. It’s the kind of bond that drains city finances, written to be paid ahead of any of our other debt and ahead of financing services. This POB will show up in the form of PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICE CUTS, UNMAINTAINED STREETS, A FILTHY PARK, AND HIGHER SEWER FEES.

And there’s the next thing that will show up on the horizon – another tax proposal. They’ll let the streets go to crap, the park will remain a giant hobo camp, and you will continue to see “quality of life crimes” without any response from the cops. When they think we’re about up to here with it, they’ll offer another tax increase. They’ll tell us it’s for the streets and public safety. Oh yeah, remember – just like they told us the Trash Tax would go to the Street Fund. The truth is, they’ve voted year after year to put it in the General Fund, out of which they make their 7-8-9-10-and now 11 million dollar UAL “catch up” payments.

So tell Ann you’re hip to those kind of tricks. Yes, we need to address the pension deficit, head on. Meaning, THE EMPLOYEES, ESPECIALLY MANAGEMENT, NEED TO PAY MORE. And they need to do it without the raises council has given them every time they’ve agreed to pay more of their pension – how asinine is that?

That’s ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

And here’s why I voted for Matt Tennis, CUSD board

25 Oct

I’m glad to see so much interest in the school board election, but to tell the truth, there is only one candidate that I really feel good about – Matt Tennis.

The single most important issue to me right now is getting the schools back open for in-person instruction. I have a friend who is a board member in another small local district, and like he says – kids are not learning to read right now, they’re getting behind, and the farther behind they get, the less likely they are to catch up.

Sitting in front of a computer screen for a couple of hours a day is not an acceptable substitute. They’d be better off watching Sesame Street. 

I’m tired of hearing about teachers who expect to get paid for NOT WORKING, or who are using COVID to muscle more money out of school boards. I think that’s a sad indication of the kind of people we have in the schools today.  Afraid of germs? How about conjunctivitis? When was the last time a school was shut down for a case of pink-eye? How about MRSA? Remember the hysteria over MRSA? I knew two kids who got it, but their school was not shut down, even though nobody could tell them exactly how they got it, and the only thing they had in common was the school they attended for 6+ hours a day.

So hey teachers, get out there and get your COVID shot, and get your whiney asses back in the classroom. Cause you realize, there are going to be parents that like homeschooling, because they don’t have to deal with jerks like you. Every time you pull some bullshit like this you will lose students.  And that’s going to take a big whack at your ADA.

So here’s what Matt Tennis has to say about opening the schools. I’m glad I voted for him. But, we’ll see how much I like him when the subject of teachers’ contracts and district financing comes around. It’s hard to pick a perfect candidate, but I’m pretty sure he’s the best of this litter. 

An endorsement I’m sure of – Donald Trump for President

23 Oct

 

Thanks Jenna for this pic from a recent Trump rally in Nevada.  He looks very presidential, and that’s one reason I support him – he’s a leader, a motivator, not a tyrant or a taskmaster. 

I voted for Trump because I like the job he’s  done.  I like his immigration policies, his judicial appointments, and the trade tariffs. I think he’s handled COVID well enough, and if he’s elected the country will open faster and the hysteria will give in to better public health policies. The bottom line for me is, my family has just done better in the last four years under Trump/Pence than we did under Obama/Biden.  

Biden and Harris are horrible. Now Biden admits Obamacare is flawed? He wants to fix it? Bidencare? Change police policy? Investigate the Kremlin?  Like Trump pointed out very well last night, Biden had 8 years to correct the flaws in Obamacare, he had 8 years to bring about change in police policies, he had 8 years to investigate outside influence in our elections, but did nothing.

Obamacare is a disgrace, having made the insurance companies rich while failing to provide better, or even affordable, health care. COVID has shown us the flaws in the so-called “Affordable Care Act”.  Our health care system was in poor shape before Trump came along.

As for police policy, Obama actually signed an order allowing police to shoot a subject without prosecution if they said they feared for their lives. This has been called “the policeman’s bill of rights”. Obama and Biden also support the “no knock warrant”, while Trump has said it should not be allowed. 

The conversation and fear-mongering regarding outside influence in elections didn’t start until Trump had already won the 2016 election. 

So the Democrats, led by Biden, threw investigations and impeachment at the president, then COVID, then the California wildfires – what else will the Biden campaign blame on Trump? How much will we suffer in the meantime? 

Harris, as Attorney General of California, failed to prosecute Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey when he had obviously been taking bribes from energy providers and utility districts. She was slow to investigate, finally citing Statute of Limitations. So, people all over California, including low income households, are overpaying for their power and water because of corruption of oversight.  As AG and then as Senator, she failed to investigate cases of obvious corruption at the California Public Employees Retirement System, despite three scandals involving bribes or insider trading in the last 5 years. 

As San Francisco city attorney, she allowed the lawlessness of illegal immigration and transients camping in public areas, pushing for “sanctuary city”. Her policies helped turn the entire state into a sanctuary for the lawless individuals who predate on the rest of us. 

Another big difference I would note between the two campaigns is that Biden and Harris are determined to use divisiveness while Trump, who calls himself a cheerleader for America, tries to bring Americans together. I shudder at the thought of a Biden/Harris victory – I can’t believe they wouldn’t “punish” those cities, counties and states that support Trump. 

I think Biden’s overall health and mental condition are also important considerations – the thought of a Harris and Pelosi essentially taking over our country puts chills up my spine. 

Trump has been a good president the last four years and I’d like to stick with him and see what he can achieve in the next four. 

 

 

 

What will become of $30 million city surplus?

18 Oct

Dave Howell sent this right-on analysis of the Sept 23 Finance Committee Meeting:

That finance meeting WAS PACKED with crazy and outrageous information. And the local media DIDN’T MENTION ANY OF IT!

Here are some key takeaways the local media should have covered:

Last year at this time we thought the unfunded pension liability we were on the hook for was $128 million. Well, this year the bureaucrats and consultants say $146 million. AND NOW THEY TELL US WE OWE ANOTHER $140 MILLION IN INTEREST! But these numbers are low because they don’t include the 4.7% under performance from last year and also the prior year’s under performance. IT IS OBSCENE! WHERE THE HELL IS THE LOCAL MEDIA ON THIS?

UAL for CalPERs is 146.3 million which is a 43% increase over the last 5 years. UAL payments are now 9.9 million in 2021 and will grow to 13.2 in 2026. And remember this is assuming an unrealistic 7% CalPERs return. In all likelihood this number will be even worse as over the last 20 years CalPERs hasn’t come close to 7%. CalPERs return has only been 5.5%.

The City’s pensions are only 67% funded.

In addition to leasing the streets Morgan talked about the possibility of leasing the airport! WHAT A SCAMMER!

What was just as revealing was after the snake oil consultants left the meeting. Dowell went into the June and August financial statements. (What happened to July?) The city’s cash flow is up OVER $30 MILLION from last year resulting in an $8.8 million surplus! (You would think with a 30 million increase in cash flow the surplus would be even more.) And it sounds like these numbers will probably increase over the next few months. It turns out that despite the doom we were told the COVID crisis would have on the City’s finance, the crisis has generated a huge windfall for the City, similar to the Camp Fire situation.

Naturally, they didn’t even think of giving any of the surplus back to the taxpayers or using it to fix the streets. They are pigs at the trough and will take everything they can get, so even with millions in surplus you can bet they will be talking tax and fee increases next year! It just shows that no matter how much money they take, all of it and more will be devoured by pensions, other post employment benefits and raises. These people are parasites and they will bleed the people of this community dry! DON’T LET THEM DO THIS TO YOU!

Here was an interesting letter to the editor. How did the letter writer know about the surplus? I didn’t see it reported in any of the local media. Did the letter reader watch the video?

City budget surplus? How to help ALL city dwellers? Pave the streets and upgrade shoulders to sidewalks. Smooth pavement and safe routes help everyone. People can get moving: on foot, by bike, on skates or boards. Even in the car, the experience of quietly gliding over newly paved roads is a stress-reducer. Come on, council! Do what it takes: set money aside, get grants, and do it. Please!
— Kristi Ayars, Chico

Quiz: How much do you know about Chico’s pension deficit?

18 Oct

Here’s Part 1 of the quiz I was promising. These questions are all from the first 10 or 15 minutes of the video presentation posted here:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/10/09/heres-the-video-from-that-sept-23-finance-comm-meeting-ever-wonder-what-people-are-saying-about-your-money-behind-your-back/

If you feel like it, send this video to your district representative/candidate, see how many of these questions he/she can answer.

  1. What is the city’s current Unfunded Actuarial Liability (aka “pension deficit”), not including interest?
  2. How much has that figure grown in the last 5 years?
  3. What are the two types of payments the city currently makes to CalPERS?
  4. How much are those payments projected to increase over the next 5 years?
  5. What is CalPERS investment return target, and what have they been averaging over the last 20 years?

Well, that ought to give you something to chew on, I’ll get more questions when I have a minute.

Mailed/delivered your ballot yet? You can check the status of your ballot at this link

17 Oct

Sorry to be a flake – have not had time to write that quiz, but yeah, it’s coming.

What I do have for you today is a link to check the status of your ballot – has it been received? Rejected or accepted?

https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/

Be patient, I had to try it twice, because I have crappy internet. Follow the prompts, there’s a couple of pages to fill out. You’ll need your CDL and SSN, they ask for the last four digits of each. First they will confirm your status as a voter, then they will check for your ballot. When I checked for mine, they said it had been “accepted.”

My husband and I have voted by mail for about 20 years. The county clerk has always had some sort of mechanism by which to check ballot status, each ballot is recorded “received” electronically as her staff processes it. One year, when the online mechanism didn’t work, I contacted her staff and they checked it for me manually.

We mailed our ballots in within days of receiving them. We had already studied the voter pamphlet and done research at ballotpedia.com, we were ready to fill them out and get them back in.

I really don’t understand this push to allow people a longer period to register and vote. I think it’s desperation on the part of the Democratic party. I expect legitimate charges of fraud in this election, all the way around.

So whatever your preference for delivery, give it a week and check your ballot status. We have to be our own watchdogs folks, there’s a lot of weird stuff going on right now.

No on Measure E; and there will be a quiz later today about that Finance Committe meeting!

16 Oct

Wow, who would have guessed Measure E – city council districts – would be such a hot topic. Looking at the stats the last week or so, that’s what people have been hitting – “Measure E – Divide and Conquer”.

In the music business, they would call that a “throwaway piece.” I was just annoyed and frustrated over the response I got from the city clerk when I asked about this measure. The clerk is like a sphinx, you could know her 30 years, and I almost have, and never know what’s on her mind. She states the facts, she answers a question as you ask it. Never opines. But, this time she seemed genuinely confused – it’s a stupid measure. And it makes a person think, council pulled a fast one – like the cell phone tax they collected illegally for years – and they need the public to approve it.

I hope that’s what other people are thinking, and I hope it fails. Districts are not only unnecessary, they are a ploy by both the liberals and the conservatives, who both seem to think they can manipulate this system.

Prepare to be manipulated!

And if somebody feels like emailing city finance man Scott Dowell, scott.dowell@chicoca.gov, they could ask him how much it is going to cost to REDRAW THE DISTRICTS after the upcoming CENSUS.

I’m also shocked to see how interested people are in the school board race. I’m sure glad, and I’m sorry I don’t have anything better to offer than “vote for people who aren’t/haven’t ever been school district employees”, but that’s my story, and I’m standing by it.

But I’m sincerely grateful to those of you who have downloaded and watched the video I posted –

https://gofile.io/d/zqp5BI

with big THANKS to DAVE for that link. Since I posted that last Friday, almost 100 people have seen it, and, as committee member Sean Morgan agreed, that’s a helluva lot more people than actually attend those meetings.

So, after I finish my chores this morning, I’m going to make a QUIZ! We all love a quiz, don’t we? I’ll try to make it good and tough. And yeah, I’ll probably allow cheating. The teachers I learned the most from were the ones who allowed open book/notes tests. And that’s the point here, I want more people to see how the city operates behind closed doors.

SCOTUS appointments are like a dead fish left under the back seat – we need term limits on Supreme Court justices

13 Oct

I thought I should tune in to the senate hearings on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. As you get older, it’s good to challenge yourself with something beyond America’s Test Kitchen. This political stuff really makes me think.

What I think this time is, we need to get rid of the Supreme Court. Or at least give it a major overhaul.

The first problem that should seem obvious with all the stuff we’ve been hearing in this conversation is that a president with good luck can pack the court. So much for a non-partisan court.

And then those appointments can last forever, affecting generations. Like Emperor Palpatine. At least presidents get termed out. But SCOTUS appointments are like a dead fish left under the back seat of our collective car – the smell of these decisions may haunt us for the rest of our lives! We can’t get rid of these people once they get in there, look at Ginsberg. She reminds me of a really funny episode of “Tales from the Darkside” – “A Case of the Stubborns”. Pelosi and Feinstein too, watch it sometime.

SCOTUS also has too much power, especially for an unelected body. These people don’t represent us, they represent the major political parties. If you don’t believe me, watch the hearings for a half hour.

But eliminating the federal judicial branch of government is about as likely as the elimination of the Electoral College.

How would I fix it? For one thing, I’d establish term limits for these people. No more clinging to power with your cold, dead hand. I think that would lead to the appointments being more spread out, so no one president/senate/party could determine history for the next 30 or 40 years.

That said, I’ll add that probably the worst part is watching what amounts to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with every appointment. I just suffered through Amy Klobuchar – this woman wanted to be president! She was completely unprofessional, accusing Barrett of being a partisan puppet, without any basis in fact. And I thought Barrett handled Klobuchar very well, keeping her tone very even and her words on point, as Klobuchar’s voice rose to a hysterical rasp, and she struggled to re-word her questions to get the answer she wanted. I kept waiting for somebody to stuff Klobuchar in the tea pot but had to turn it off to take down the washing.

The Democrats are desperate, it’s almost frightening. Yes, I expect voter fraud. I already see and hear irrational behavior here in town. This week, some Democrat volunteers came down my driveway, 90 feet off the street, to leave a really disturbing flyer on my tenant’s door step. My tenants had thrown it in the trash, but described it to me. I saw it on this post at Chico First:

What disturbed me most about the flyer was that they had included a picture of a private home here in town, with an arrow pointing to the house, captioned, “Satan-worshipping pedophiles…”

Anyone with a good knowledge of Chico could identify that house. This seems like a case of defamation to me, but I’m not a lawyer. It also seems as though they’re trying to encourage people to do bad things to these people. Whether or not it’s legal, civilly or personally, I find it really cheap, dirty, and low.

That’s nothing new for Chico Democrats, who have paid FPPC fines in many local elections for illegal mailers. If you don’t believe me, go to the Butte County Superior Court case index and type in “Meagher, Kelly”, “Guzzetti, Dave,” and “Worley, Michael”.

Don’t even get me started on the illegal signs, I give up there. I contacted two candidates who posted signs illegally at Bruce and 32. One school board candidate told me she got permission from Cal TRANS, which is a lie, and the other woman, the head of a local PAC, just thanked me for my “input.” All over town signs flap in the public right-of-way, looking like garbage, but both sides are guilty here, so why bring it up?

One final note, slightly related – yesterday I saw two stories on the news that should have been linked, but weren’t. The first story was about ruined ballots – “a handful” of voters in Sacramento County brought in ballots that had been washed with hand sanitizer. The Sacramento Voter Registrar was very adamant – the virus can’t be spread that way, she said.

“Voters do not need to be wary of covid-19 exposure on their ballot paper or any of the contents inside their mailed envelope,” said Haynes. “Not only is the risk of exposure on a paper surface low, the ballot paper inside your mailer has been untouched for at least a week from the time it was stuffed, taken to USPS, and in transit to your mailbox.”

Just hours later, another story – a study shows that the COVID virus can live on a surface up to 28 days.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/10/12/study-covid-19-coronavirus-may-survive-for-28-days-on-these-surfaces/#57ea35dc2237

” A study just published in the Virology Journal found that the Covid-19 coronavirus can survive on common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel, and money for up to 28 days.

This I mention because of the absurdity of this “crisis” we’ve been enduring. A bureaucrat tells us the virus can’t be transmitted on our ballots because they’ve been in the envelope for “at least a week,” while a public health institute tells us the virus can survive for 28 days on paper money?

Just saying.