Archive | January, 2021

Jerry Olenyn: Oroville considers contracting Cal Fire for protection, CALPERS savings plays key role

29 Jan

Here’s the answer to Staffers who tell us we “can’t get out of CalPERS…”

We need to dump CalPERS – and the first employee we need to throw out is City Manager Mark Orme

29 Jan

I’m not the only person who is anxious about the Pension Obligation Bond currently being shoved through the process by Chico City Manager Mark Orme. Here’s a note from Joe Azzarito: 

With that said, I wish to concentrate on something much closer to home – Chico city counsel’s effort to “restructure our city’s debt” with a much disclaimed process – that being pension obligation bonds, without people’s consent to boot.. 

To put this complicated action to address Chico’s unfunded pension debt of some $146 million and growing in perspective, a comparison can be made to refinancing one’s residence and using the funds to invest in the stock market, with the hope of making a killing. Financial planners will tell you to never do this. The risk of losing both the invested capital and one’s home is enormous. This is what city counselors hope to do to satisfy a need that should never have happened in the first place. Compelled to honor a salary structure and benefits to the detriment of all, except the few, is unconscionable. Contracts can be rewritten to right past wrongs. No one in a city our size needs the excessive compensation when so many more compelling needs are ongoing in this pandemic economy. Strongly urge all city employees to offer, if not forced, either pay cuts or submit to benefit payment increases as a means of paying their own way to the promised land of retirement. 

Joe is right – these contracts can be rewritten, they come up before council for consideration every year. Council has the right, under contract, to either adjust agreements with consent of employees or terminate the contract and hire somebody else.

Here’s a letter to the Marin Independent Journal that reminds us how risky these POB’s are.

(January 28, 2021 at 12:12 p.m.)

Corte Madera plan gambles taxpayer money

I am writing in regard to the article published Jan. 21 with the headline, “Corte Madera moves to refinance pension obligation.” Town Manager Todd Cusimano is incorrect by stating the issuance of pension obligation bonds is like refinancing a 20-year mortgage at 7% with a 3% rate and the difference being “savings.”

In substance, Corte Madera is gambling with taxpayer money in the stock market using margin (leverage). On Wall Street this is called the “carry trade” and is a rudimentary form of arbitrage. On Main Street, it is akin to taking out a home equity line of credit and buying stocks.

The entire reason Corte Madera has an unfunded pension liability is because CalPERS uses extremely aggressive assumed plan returns. If CalPERS fails to earn 7% going forward, then Corte Madera’s debt will grow and the forecast “savings” will evaporate.

Until citizens force pension reform, debt will continue to accumulate quietly in the background and encumber the next generation.

The past is literally devouring the future.

— Ken Broad, Mill Valley

That’s right, CalPERS assumes a high rate of return on their investments, despite years of poor returns. Read this article from Bloomberg that attempts to explain why CalPERS ends up on the shit-end of the stick, along with retirement systems all over the United States.

Because of an overcompetitive market, “pension funds will struggle to find assets that generate sufficient cash flows to fulfil their obligations to retirees.”

This article leaves me feeling that gambling retirement assets on the market is just an unacceptable practice. But Mark Orme continues to tell us we can’t get out of CalPERS. 

It wouldn’t be so bad if the employees were willing to share in the risks, but they expect their pensions no matter what, while making completely unrealistic contributions on their end.  Public employees expect the taxpayers to double-pay them – they expect their overgenerous salary, and then they expect it again as retirees, without chipping in Jack Shit. Like Joe says, “Compelled to honor a salary structure and benefits to the detriment of all, except the few, is unconscionable.”

The first contract that needs to be thrown out and rewritten is Mark Orme’s. 

Who’s really in charge here?

28 Jan

Last week I received an agenda for another closed Finance Committee meeting, the first since last September, when the FC heard a consultant’s pitch for a Pension Obligation Bond. 

These meetings have always been held during the work day, when the average person has no chance to attend, and they’ve never been recorded. About 8 years ago, with a lot of smack about Jennifer “Loosey Goosey” Hennessy, recently departed finance manager Chris Constantin instituted a new policy of giving detailed finance reports at every meeting. Those reports were always available with the agenda of the meeting, they still are. 

But here’s the thing – the conversations get pretty far-reaching, and darned frank. At one meeting I attended a couple of years ago, local banker Marc Francis took Constantin out into the hallway to have a private conversation about a sales tax measure. I think that’s inappropriate, and a lot of that goes on at these meetings. But who would know – it’s not only not recorded, the clerk takes very minimal notes. 

I guess Zoom is an improvement, but you have to have good internet, and you need to sign in at least a half hour early to work out the glitches. And it’s the same as a live meeting – who’s available to watch a city committee meeting from 8 – 10 am on a work day?

I used to go to a lot of trouble to attend these meetings, putting aside my day’s work and lining up outside the door in whatever kind of weather. Why? Because it’s toe-to-toe in there, you can actually look your “representatives” right in the eye and tell them what you think, including what you think of what they think. There’s a lot of give and take, and oftentimes, they’ve backed down  from bad ideas just because they know somebody is watching.

So yes, I believe those meetings should all be videotaped, and the public should be able to get a copy for viewing at home. Holding meetings when people can’t attend and refusing to tape them is obviously just their way of keeping the public from knowing what the hell is  going on. 

And who makes that decision? Not your duly elected “representatives”, but Mark Orme. Remember, last March, at the onset of the shut down, our lovely council passed the mantel to Orme – he’s our un-elected Boss Man now, and he’s running our town into the toilet.

Take this item from next week’s council agenda. 


The City’s Homeless Solutions Coordinator continues to evaluate options to mitigate the impacts of homelessness on the community and to help find ways for service providers to forge a responsible and sustainable continuum of care for Chico’s unsheltered populations.  This report provides options to build partnerships for the establishment of a legal camping environment, potential outdoor shelter environment, a non-congregate shelter collaboration, and a potential Park-n-Ride safe parking site.

Recommendation : The City Manager recommends the City Council consider the following:

I think this is outrageous – what happened to our “conservative” council who told us it is not the city’s responsibility to house anybody, it’s the county’s responsibility? Here they are going to take a piece of land from a group that promoted outdoor activities for children and give it to a group of transients to shit all over.

Authorize the use of city owned land at 2352 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to establish an outdoor shelter (legal camping environment).

This is currently the location of the BMX track, formerly rented by a non-profit group that was evicted to  fulfill certain people’s agendas.

Direct staff to return to the March 2, 2021 meeting, should the fund-raising efforts to raise $600,000, to fulfill the relocation of the current lessee, not be achieved.

If CHAT can’t fulfill their promise, we should pay?

Authorize staff to use $282,933 of Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funding in relation to issues of homelessness and to take steps necessary to implement its use.

This money should be going to people who have actually been affected by the COVID shut down, including small businesses.

Authorize the use of $250,000 in general fund dollars to support the efforts of the Chico Housing Action Team to secure a long-term lease for a non-congregate shelter site which will contribute to the advanced program engagement options for unsheltered populations.

$250,000 +

Consider the use of $400,000 in general fund dollars to support the hard costs (one-time costs) required to implement the outdoor shelter environment should funding from the Continuum of Care for alternative sheltering options not be available in the next 60 days.

$400,000 +

Consider the use of $200,000 in general fund dollars to support the operational costs required to begin operating the outdoor shelter environment should funding from the Continuum of Care for alternative sheltering options not be available in the next 30 days.

$200,000 = a grand total of $850,000 out of the General Fund. This is an important example of how they can do anything with money that is deposited in the General Fund.

Evaluate and provide direction on any other information contained herein as it relates to identifying sheltering options for the unhoused population, to include the safe parking proposal.

As stated in the introduction, this has something to do with a Park and Ride facility. You can read the full report for yourself, here:

And then be sure to comment at Engaged Chico when Staff decides to load the agenda there:  

None of this stuff has been discussed at any Finance Committee meeting. It’s been discussed at Homeless Task Force “Ad Hoc” meetings. Ad Hoc meetings require no notice of the public and no record.  But the biggest point I’d like to make here is that this is all on the recommendation of City Manager Mark Orme. 

I had already sent in the following letter when I received the agenda, so I’ll be sure to write a follow-up.  Why letters to the editor? Well, I also wrote to my city representative Kasey Reynolds, twice since December, asking her direct questions about the “Shelter Crisis Designation” But she so far has failed to respond. So I write to the Enterprise Record. I believe Mark Orme is at the center of the problem, and he needs to go.

In 2012 Chico voters passed Measure L, calling for city council to appoint the city clerk.. Proponents claimed Measure L would make the clerk answerable  to city council.  But, with the COVID shutdown, council abdicated all leadership responsibilities to city manager Mark Orme. 

Since March 2020, Orme has created three new positions, appointed a new police chief and given him a raise.  Orme has continued to close meetings to the public, while bringing forward tax measures for discussion without public participation.

When a friend asked the clerk’s office if a closed meeting would be recorded for public scrutiny, Staff replied, “The City does not have a policy that requires staff to record Finance Committee meetings, and does not plan to do so.” When asked why, Staff deferred to Orme.  “My supervisor is the City Clerk, Debbie Presson.  However, she is out of the office on extended leave.  The City Manager, Mark Orme, is my supervisor in her absence.”

Two Shasta County supervisors recently opened their meeting to citizens. Supervisor Les Baugh said, “We did not receive a letter from the state of California asking us to close down our board meetings…” 

In Chico the meetings are closed under order of City Manager Mark Orme because he doesn’t want public scrutiny for his proposed Pension Obligation Bond. This bond would formally shift the pension burden from city employees, who expect to receive 70 – 90% of their highest year’s salary, to the backs of the taxpayers. At the cost of roads, parks and infrastructure. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico, CA






One man’s story tells the story of Chico

16 Jan

I recently noticed a story in the ER that essentially details what has happened to our town.

This man was sentenced recently for vandalism and “hate crimes” for painting a swastika.  Just now? After running the streets of Chico for 15 years, arrested multiple times for crimes that escalated in violence. Here’s the first case in his Butte County Superior Court File, from 2006 – possession of a deadly weapon.

He was fined and sentenced for charges including failure to appear, but only after this case made it’s way through the court for TWO YEARS. In the meantime, he was charged three more times in 2007, and three times in 2008, for possession of drugs, failure to appear, vandalism, and “willful disobedience of court order...”

Willful disobedience to the court means to me this person is not willing to live within the law, and that should mean he needs to be institutionalized. Instead, the judge released him to go on to a felony weapon possession in 2009, for which he was acquitted? But two more arrests in 2010 result in a felony conviction for “negligent discharge of a firearm...”

Of course he was right back out on the streets in 2012, this time arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse…

His sheet goes on like this until 2019, when he FINALLY comes up for psychiatric evaluation – after the vandalism bender that included the swastika. The court determined he was competent to stand trial, and gave him 6 years for a “hate crime“.

15 years with a record like that, but they finally send him up for 6 years over “hate crimes”. Toward whom? His residence in Chico seems to me one long, extended orgy of hatred toward humankind.

Why does “hate” have to be directed at a certain kind of people before it is a crime? Twice this guy was arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse“, but no conviction? I’m going to guess the victim had no family, felt intimidated, and dropped the charges. I can see the first time being a wash, but what was Ramsey thinking when this guy was brought in a second time for a charge like that? But he gets six years for scrawling a symbol he doesn’t even understand on a wall. There’s ugly, nasty, threatening vandalism all over town. In one night someone busted out car windows at the Enloe parking lot while the owners worked diligently inside to save people’s lives. That is hateful – why aren’t we seeing more arrests and convictions? 

Oh, but gee golly, they are finally clearing the camps at One Mile, I guess we’re supposed to give them a basket of kudos for that! 

Here’s one of my favorite lines,  from Yeats, by way of Didion, by way of Me – “What rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward Chico to be born?” 

Waste Management has raised rates 19% over the past year – why isn’t that money being spent on the street in front of your house?

14 Jan

Every three months I open my garbage bill and get pissed off. 

First of all, it took me the first 5 years to get Waste Management to stop charging me for the yard waste bin. In the very beginning of this forced deal, I told them I wanted to opt out of the $6+ charge for a yard waste bin that I don’t need. They agreed, but I kept seeing the charge on the bill. Rather than beating my head against the wall trying to contact them via their website or phone, I just scribbled a correction on the bill and made the check out for the correct amount. For five years. That finally worked, and as of January, 2020, they finally got it right, I stopped seeing that charge. 

But I also noticed, they were raising the rates slowly but surely, every bill seemed different. So when I sat down to pay my January 2021 bill, I dug out the January 2020 bill, and yes, rates are up. A 32 gal trash bin has gone from $52.89/quarter to $62.79/quarter, just over the past year. That’s an increase of 19%. 

Which led me to  do more math. I looked at my old Recology bills. We had Recology for 10 years, and they NEVER raised their rates. In fact, they had a fuel surcharge that fluctuated with the price of gas – meaning, it actually went down occasionally. Their average charge per quarter was about $82, for a 96 gallon trash bin, or about $27/month. Now I pay $20+ for a 32 gallon bin? 

In fact, my total bill, for a 32 gal and a 64 gal, is $134/quarter, or $45/month. Pay attention – I used to get a 96 gal bin for $27/month, now I pay $45/month for two bins totaling same. That is a 60% increase.

I’ve been talking about the franchise fee the city gets from the haulers – as of fiscal year June 2020,  $1,980,313. That’s almost $2 million dollars, of YOUR MONEY. You paid that in extra fees. For what? Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who remembers staff and council telling us the money would go to  fix our neighborhood streets. Former City Manager Brian Nakamura told us “too many” trash trucks were destroying our streets, and that he felt they should pay for that.  He led us to believe the money would be dedicated to the streets, and council members, including Andrew Coolidge, sat by and let him do it.

The first year the money was used on the section of Cohasset Road leading to the airport. Every year since, it’s been dumped into the General Fund, where it is used at the whim of council. Can you imagine what $1,980,313 would look like on the street in front of your house? Or maybe give Vallombrosa more than a patch job? Maybe upgrade the streets around the college beyond Third World Country? 

You know, the city also gave Waste Management a contract to empty the trash cans in the park, so they run those behemoths around the park roads once a week – a job that used to be done by a city employee with a pick-up truck. So maybe council should use some of that franchise money to fix South Park Drive before it falls into the creek. Ya think? 

Let’s write to council and tell them that Waste Hauler Franchise Fee needs to be spent on neighborhood streets. Let’s start with our new mayor, Andrew Coolidge – that’s

While you’re at it, tell him what he can do with his “roads bond” and his sales tax increase.

Shasta County opens meetings – when will our “conservative majority” reopen council meetings? After they’ve already implemented the POB?

11 Jan

Almost a month ago, on December 13, I contacted my Chico city council representative Kasey Reynolds to ask her about the progress in removing transient camps in public spaces around town. We’d been having a conversation about the situation, and I forwarded her a conversation between Rob Berry and Chico PD officer Scott Zuchin regarding the DA’s unwillingness to prosecute City of Chico Municipal Code violations.

She responded, same day, “I will take a look at it for sure. However our City Attorney was meeting with the County and DA on Friday to talk about our newly passed resolution and the prosecution/enforcing aspect of it. I have not talked to the Atty since the meeting so not sure the outcome.  I’ll find out and let you know.”

I waited until the 22nd, then, realizing it was nearly Christmas, I wrote her again. I asked about the Shelter Crisis Designation, asking “1) if that’s still in effect, 2) if we are still receiving a grant for that designation, and 3) if so, where does the money go (into the General Fund?). I’ll add, 4) do we still get a grant for consolidating services at the fair grounds?” 

I also reminded her that she had previously promised to get back to me regarding the conversation our city attorney had with the county DA. 

As of today, 1/11/21, I have had no response from Reynolds. I know she’s busy – you realize, candy and ice cream are considered an “essential business”, so her shop is open.

We’re open and ready to scoop your favorite flavors and pack your favorite candies! Stop by the shop until 10:00pm to pick up your favorite sweet treat and see all the new renovations 🎉🍨🍫  We will now be open regular hours, Monday through Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-10pm

Well, isn’t that just nice!

But the same woman thinks it’s okay for council chambers to be CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC? You can run out and grab yourself a SCOOP OF DIABETES, but forget about participating in your local government, especially when they are discussing a tax measure that does not require voter approval. 

So, instead of trying to contact my “representative” again, I wrote a letter to the newspaper. Hope you will do same.

On January 5, while Chico City Council prepared for another closed meeting, Shasta County Supervisors Les Baugh and Pat Jones opened their meeting to the public. Residents were invited inside to redress their grievances, no mask required.

Meanwhile, Chico City Council and Staff continue to hold the public out while they discuss their Pension Obligation Bond. It’s hard to believe we have a “conservative” majority on our council – 5 people voting unanimously to raise taxes? Without voter approval?

That’s right, the consultant reports this bond requires no voter approval. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation”, a purely administrative process. In fact, the consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.”

Staff reports the UAL has grown 43% over 5 years, even while making bigger payments toward the deficit every year, this year over $11 million. Staff blames poor CalPERS investment returns, but the real reason is drastically unrealistic employee shares,  just 9 – 15%, for pensions of 70 – 90% of salary. The situation is exacerbated by incredibly generous salaries, including three new hires in the last year at salaries over $100,000. 

The payments for both CalPERS and the bond service will be appropriated by percentage from all city funds. But POB revenues are restricted to paying the UAL, because, as finance director Scott Dowell has said, “otherwise we’d be tempted to spend it on needed things…”  He means, infrastructure maintenance and public safety – the needs of the citizens.

Employee demands have officially superseded the rights and needs of the public.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA



Newsom recall gaining speed: LET’S DO IT!

11 Jan

Apparently the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom is picking up some speed. Proponents claim they’re 70% there, with nearly a million and a half signatures, and roughly half million more needed.

Here’s an interesting read on WHY:

The author opines that the recall attempt received a new breath of life because of COVID shutdowns, and has recently received a huge boost from the recent “French Laundry Scandal”. “If the deadline hadn’t been delayed [due to the shutdown], there wouldn’t have been time for recall backers to capitalize on Newsom’s blundering into the French Laundry on Nov. 6. And that’s what generated steam for the recall.”

The writer is obviously Democrat-friendly – “blundered“? Let’s face it – this is Newsom’s lifestyle, he’s one of the elite one percent who is completely oblivious to his own entitlement. He didn’t blunder in, he does stuff like this all the time – some reporter blundered in, is what happened. Oftentimes, people will take the little things, internalize, internalize, keep feeding that ulcer, screaming the spouse into a divorce, waiting for that inevitable stroke – but you wave something like the French Laundry in their face, and they suddenly blow.

Frankly, the French Laundry scandal is petty compared to the EDD scandal.

And here Dan Walters opines that Newsom’s recent promise of “pandemic relief” is a panic reaction to this sudden surge in recall signatures:

At any rate, whatever the cause, there seems to be a new intensity to this recal, and I hope more people will jump in. Here’s the link to download, sign and send your own petition:

And here are some local businesses that have petitions for you to sign or will mail in your petition for you:

I think it’s interesting that so many small local businesses are helping out with this effort, I think that says it all. Thanks to those of you who have stood up. Let’s do it!

Shasta County opens Supervisor meetings – Chico council, still hiding under cover of COnVid, pushes Pension Obligation Bond forward

9 Jan

On Tuesday, as Chicoans got ready for another “virtual” (closed) city council meeting, two Shasta County Supervisors held an open meeting, allowing citizens to come into the chambers and speak freely about how they’ve suffered under the COnVID shut down.

REDDING, Calif. – On Tuesday, a crowd of people gathered inside the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers. People passionately pleading to county leaders lift coronavirus restrictions and resume in-person meetings.

Inside the chambers, many people stood together, with only very few wearing masks.

The virtual meeting opened to the crowd that gathered outside, demanding to have their voices heard in person.

One by one each person spoke their three minutes.

Thank you Les Baugh and Pat Jones for doing the right thing, while the rest of the board cowered at their keyboards.

Supervisor Les Baugh and Jones were the only two to sit inside the chambers with the crowd. While Supervisors Rickert, Chimenti, Moty, and other county staff remained online.

Here in Chico, council and staff are trying to use the shut-down to shove as many tax measures through the system as they can, hand over fist. In addition to the Pension Obligation Bond already on the table, our new mayor Andrew Coolidge has proposed another bond, “for streets”, and a sales tax increase measure. 

The Pension Obligation Bond presentation, same as the presentation given in September 2020, elicited almost no discussion from council, who voted unanimously to give the consultant more money to set up the “validation process“. In September, the consultant told the Finance Committee one of the best things about a POB is that it “does not require validation...” He meant, by the voters. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation“, a purely administrative process, with absolutely no input from the public.  

The consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.” 

After the presentation, Coolidge asked Scott Dowell for a list of costs, and then Kasey Reynolds asked the consultant if there would be any “public informational meetings”. The consultant told her that is up to council, that they could do “small groups” if that was what council would like. And, I’m guessing, that would cost extra. 

It’s obvious Reynolds just wants to be able to say the public was informed about this bomb before it got dropped. What a bitch.

I was also shocked to see so few comments on Chico Engaged, but I noticed, all nine, including mine, were negative.  The clerk referred council to the comments without reading names. The clerk already quit reading the comments because they became abusive, and now she’s quit reading the names because nobody should have to read fakes names like “Harry Gonads.” Council spent less than a minute reading before they advised staff and the consultant to bring more information.  

Meanwhile, I wanted people to know how much money flows through this city, directly out of the pockets of city residents. You know you pay a gas tax, right? Got any idea how much of that the city of Chico  gets? Or what they use it for? Have you seen $5,997,251 going into the streets or roads near your house? How about the garbage tax, cleverly titled, “Waste Hauler Franchise Fee” – $1,980,318 added to our garbage bills. And if you get cable tv, you paid into a total of $969,124, received as of June 30, 2020. 

Here’s a double whammy – you not only pay a franchise on your PG&E bill, you pay “Utility Tax”. You also pay UT on your water bill, and if you have a landline you pay UT on that too. 

Of course, I assume everybody knows about property taxes and sales tax, but I’m probably wrong – a lot of people have their property taxes paid by their mortgage company, so they can sail through life without a care in the world?

Here’s the totals for those revenues, as of June 2020. Roughly $60 million in revenues, just from these sources. But our fair city never seems to have enough money to fix or maintain anything? I don’t think it’s a no-brainer that these funds should be available for street/road maintenance. The city used almost half a million in cable tv fees to remodel council chambers a couple of years back, with Andrew Coolidge telling me those funds “had to be used for that…they couldn’t be used for street maintenance…”

Gas Tax $5,997,251 
Waste Hauler franchise fees $1,980,313 
Cable tv franchise fees $969,124
PG&E franchise fees $787,861
utility tax $7,317,103
prop tax $18,621,070
sales tax  $24,434,686

During the same period, over $11,000,000 was paid to CalPERS through the Pensions Stabilization Trust and another fund called the “CalPERS Liability Reserve”. Both of these funds are filled by siphoning money out of all the other funds on a percentage of payroll. Most of the budgets of all these departments consists of salaries and monthly benefits payments, and many are in the red because of the further allocations for the UAL payments.

Scott Dowell reported our UAL has grown 43% over the last 5 years, but he didn’t say why. The reason is the unrealistically low employee contributions of 9 – 15%. In fact, management and public safety only started paying ANYTHING  in 2012, when the UAL  was already over $125,000,000.  When City Manager Mark Orme and other management agreed to pay an additional 3% share, council gave them a raise to cover that percentage. Furthermore, Orme got himself a 457 Plan – a special 401K for public management. We pay over $20,000 a year into that 457, while Orme brags again and again that he has not received a raise for almost 5 years. That’s bullshit, what a stinking liar.

All this shoved through under the guise of public health and safety. Are we just stupid, lame, weak? Before you condemn the rioters in DC, take a look at yourself, and then read the US Constitution again. 

And Best Wishes to Shasta County, I hope this is the beginning of the end.