Archive | February, 2022

Chico Sales Tax Measure, Step 2: A heavily-led survey that will tell the consultant how to pitch this piece of crap right back at you

28 Feb

Last Wednesday, City of Chico Finance Committee listened the city’s $91,000 consultant lay out their tax measure campaign. First, the private meetings with stakeholders (they listed Enloe, the Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce). Next, a mailer with a survey. Finally, they will craft a series of videos to spread out on social media, telling us what they think we want to hear, based on answers to the survey.

The city needs to spend whatever taxpayer money on this venture that they can before they actually submit their ballot to the county clerk in June. Once the ballot is given a letter designation by the county clerk, the city is no longer allowed to spend taxpayer money. The plan you see above will cost at least $91,000 of our money, money that should be going to infrastructure and services.

This should all be familiar to you – this was the same strategy used to Chico Area Recreation District consultants when they rolled out the ill-fated Measure A in March 2020. CARD consultants used the same game plan – early mailers to get people thinking positive about CARD, then a survey, then videos and more mailers based on what they thought they found out from the surveys.

They decided to do a phone survey toward the end – that’s the easiest way to lead people to the conclusion you want, if they bother to pick up, that is. I remember the CARD consultant discussed the difficulties of phone surveys, starting with the reluctance people have to answer an unfamiliar number. They’d get around that, she said, by using a local number to do the calling – from Oakland. They still gathered responses from less than 1% of the local population, and the questions were heavily led, with a prompter on the other end of the phone to “interpret” the responses.

Measure A, which cost the district over $100,000 still failed, with only 47% of participating voters willing to support it. CARD staff and board all lamented the decision to make it a 2/3’s measure, but you see there, they couldn’t even get a full 51% of the voters to support it.

The board had been misled by the consultants as to the results of the survey. The consultants interpreted huge support in the community. This is how they use these surveys – here they are discussing the effectiveness of different arguments used in convincing respondents to pass this dud.

CARD did several surveys over the years leading up to Measure A. Each time, the consultant reported a positive, supportive response from the public. Come on, that’s how they make their money. The consultants that said it wouldn’t pass were never invited back, I sat through that for several years. While the board spent money on a conga-line of consultants, studies, surveys and mailers, they closed Shapiro Pool due to lack of maintenance and made the community hold fundraisers to fix their skateboard park.

We could still nip this in the bud if we just pushed back hard enough. First of all, don’t participate in any survey. They will turn your participation into “support” for the measure, and council will go forward based on that advice. Instead, contact the council NOW and let them know you will NOT support this sales tax increase. Tell them how much your utility bills have gone up over the past few years, tell them how much groceries have gone up. Tell them how disappointed you are in their “leadership” and their spending priorities. Tell them you’re tired of paying the lion’s share of Staff benefits.

The consultant predicted push back. “We’ll get a lot of cranky folks. But we’ll get folks who think this has been done out in the open…” I love that. If you question this little scam, you’re just “cranky“. Wow, interesting choice of words Mr. Sheister – “folks who think this has been done out in the open…” That’s what they have to convince people of, that this whole thing is all sunshine and lollipops and done for the good of the taxpayers. That’s the line of bullshit they’re casting out across Chico, don’t bite on it.

Chico Sales Tax Measure, Step 1: private meetings with “stakeholders” – and that’s not YOU

25 Feb

Wednesday (2/23/22) I attended a presentation from Clifford Moss, the city’s tax increase measure consultants. They laid out their strategy for getting us to raise our own taxes.

Rollout” will begin in March with “a series of stakeholder meetings…” Google offers two simple definitions for “stakeholder” – are you a “stakeholder“?

  1. (in gambling) an independent party with whom each of those who make a wager deposits the money or counters wagered.
  2. a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.

But Project Management, a software/consulting firm, defines four types of stakeholders – “Users, Governance, Influencers, and Providers”. They are defining these terms in the setting of sales and business management, but they fit here – the “project” here is selling the public a tax measure.

https://pmtips.net/article/4-types-of-stakeholders-in-project-management

Generally speaking, “Stakeholders are individuals or organizations who are invested in a particular project and who are affected by this project in some way, and also their input has a direct impact on the project’s upshot.”

Are you a “stakeholder”? Let’s see – are you a “user”?

“Users are the stakeholder-type of people who will use the products of your project or program. They are the beneficiaries of the outputs.

Will you, the taxpayer, benefit from this project? Proponents of this tax measure have insinuated that proceeds will go toward infrastructure and services, meanwhile they are allocating funds out of every department budget to pay Staff’s pension deficit. Do you believe words or actions? Given past actions of council, “users“, or benefactors of this measure, are going to be Staff.

Are you “governance”? “These are people or groups of people who have an interest in how things are managed on the project or program. For example, management boards or steering groups would fall into this category, as they usually have the job to monitor the quality of the project as it develops and to provide advice and guidance throughout its course.”

There has been no mention of any kind of “steering” or “oversight” committee for this tax measure. We’re supposed to count on our council and Staff to make sure we’re not getting screwed. Stop laughing, dammit!

Do you feel particularly influential in this town? “Influencers are the people who have the power to influence decisions and the ability to change the direction of a certain project or program.” I wish I could believe that the taxpayers/voters have any “influence” beyond selecting council members that later turn on them. These folks instead “belong to trade unions and lobby groups as they are known for having the capability to impact a project’s track and protect and improve the outcome.” That would be the employee unions, who are known to bring a lot of money to the table, and money = influence around here.

Finally, “Providers” – As you would expect, suppliers and vendors fall into this category. More specifically, a supplier’s job is to supply a company. In addition, the group of providers can cover a larger number of profiles also including business partners, temporary contractors, catering staff, and anyone else who provides resources to the project or program.”

A person might think that the taxpayers would fall in as “Providers”, because we’re going to “provide” the money. But I believe this would be the local businesses who fall in and collect the tax for the city.

Clifford Moss listed stakeholders in their presentation – the Chico Chamber of Commerce, The Farm Bureau, and Enloe Hospital. The Chamber seems like a no-brainer. If businesses don’t support this measure, it’s dead.

Enloe is also a sales tax collector, a big one. Sales tax proponents will tell you medicines and medical services are exempt from sales tax – that is not completely true, read this:

The Farm Bureau is essentially a marketing agency for farmers/growers/distributors, so they would also be a tax collector.

So, I’m going to guess, we’re not invited to the “stakeholder” meetings. We’re not considered “stakeholders,” we’re just considered “spectators”.

Between now and June, when Staff must submit their sales tax increase measure, the $91,000 consultant will be working with those “stakeholders” to get them on board. Don’t be left out – contact your district representative, Enloe, the Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce. Let them know what you think about this measure, be a part of this conversation.

Farm Bureau – (530) 533-1473 ; PO Box 360 Durham, CA 95938

Chico Chamber – (530) 891-5556; 180 E 4th St Suite 120, Chico, CA 95927

Mike Wiltermood, Enloe CEO – 1531 Esplanade, Chico, California, 95926

Koyaanisqatsi – went to a public meeting in an insane asylum yesterday… yes, that chain-link fence is still around the plaza

24 Feb

Well, I went to that Finance Committee meeting Downtown yesterday. It was very strange – I haven’t been to a meeting in about two years, coming up this March. In fact, I haven’t really gone out much at all, making grocery or hardware store runs when necessary, but staying home most of the time. I do almost all my non-food shopping online now, every day stuff like deodorant and shampoo, other household items. My husband and I also drive out to other towns to shop – towns where we don’t have to worry about our car being broken into, where we don’t have to pay increased sales tax to support stuff like skating rinks and warming tents.

My life has changed dramatically, but it wasn’t COVID, it was the shut-down.

And COVID isn’t what has kept me out of Downtown Chico. Wow, yesterday was like walking in an insane asylum at the dump. I took a picture of the rambling hobo camp at City Hall – there was a tent with a big sign on it – “Ur mom should of swallowed u... ”

This is what you encounter if you try to attend a meeting Downtown these days.

I stared at that sign as I waited for my husband to pick me up after the meeting – no, I don’t ride my bike in town anymore, there’s no secure place to leave it, even locked up.

Ironically, I went to the Butte County Dump later yesterday, and it was a lot cleaner, a lot more organized, and I felt a lot safer. As I stood on the curb outside city hall, I heard cursing and threatening coming from the tents. A woman took her little dog and walked up the steps to the entrance of City Hall, let it poop on the sidewalk, and wandered off.

The cement outside the building is littered with trash and stains, the grass around the building is trampled, the shrubberies beaten and splattered with trash. The lobby is dirty and dingy, a disgusting and suspicous stain right in the middle of the rug – this was the site of a nearly $400,000 remodel just four years ago.

Look at the photos I posted – the rug is now stained, the walls are bare of any artwork, the lobby looks shabbier than it did before the $345,000 remodel.

That’s why I was there, because for years I’ve watched the city of Chico, under various elected councils, spend our money like they printed it in the basement. But I have a long day ahead of me, so I’ll leave you there, and I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about the meeting.

Next time, on “This Old Lady Goes to Town...”

Chico Finance Committee will have an OPEN MEETING tomorrow – sewer rate increase, sales tax increase, CalPERS pension debt update

22 Feb

Wow – tomorrow the city of Chico is having an OPEN MEETING! I feel like I’m waking up from a bad dream. Just last week I sent a note to my district representative, Worthless Reynolds, asking her why she had agreed to chair a CLOSED Internal Affairs Commission meeting AFTER THE STATE MANDATE HAD BEEN DROPPED. She never got back to me.

So gee, it was a big surprise to get this agenda from the clerk.

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/2.23.22_fc_agenda_packet.pdf?1645208231

And wow, here it is: “The agenda is also attached.  Please note this meeting is being held in person at the Council Chamber Building… ” I just about crapped myself with glee.

And just in time for some stuff that needs to be discussed with the public in attendance – a sewer rate analysis, a presentation from the consultant who is going to run the tax increase campaign, and a “CalPERS costs update”.

The sewer rate analysis is the beginning of a rate increase(s) for those of you on sewer. The city has been eeking up the sewer rates eversince Dan Nguyen-tan, Scott Gruendl, and Colleen Jarvis were on council. Staff complains they don’t get enough money to properly maintain the sewer – actually, the problem, according to people like former city council member Mark Sorensen, is that the sewer fund has been “dipped into” to pay salaries and pensions that don’t have anything to do with the sewer system. That’s called “allocation” – just type that, or “Chad Wolford”, into the search bar at the upper right of the blog and you’ll see I’ve written a lot about that here.

They’re going to tell us it’s because the sewer is over-whelmed – that is a lie. During the Paradise evacuation, they told us the sewer was running at less than half capacity, but still tried to say the evacuees were overwhelming it. Keep an eye on this conversation, it’s going to be full of shit.

Then we’ll hear from consultants Clifford Moss about their “PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY” regarding the sales tax increase measure. Meaning, the pitch they will give us to make us want to raise our own taxes. Please note – this is being done with $91,000 in taxpayer money. The irony is so rich it’s giving me the farts.

And then, the piece de resistance – finance department staffer Barbara Martin will give us the most recent “actuarial report released by CalPERS, the results of the recent Asset Liability Management (ALM) process CalPERS completed and steps that have been taken to manage costs.” This is important, because this is the reason for both the sewer rate and sales tax rate increases. Here’s the report from CalPERS. There are several videos here, if you really want to see why Chico is turning into a total shithole, watch this. There will be a quiz.

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/page/about/organization/facts-at-a-glance/asset-liability-management

Roger Beadle is right, “The city’s swelling pension debt isn’t being addressed” – the question remaining, how should we address it?

18 Feb

I was glad to see this letter in the Enterprise Record questioning the intentions behind the sales tax increase measure.

The sales tax proposed by city council begs the question: what are their plans for spending it?  Yes, city manager Mark Orme laid out how it would be disbursed, but only in generalities.  The council moved to enter into agreement with Clifford Moss, an Oakland-based firm specializing in election planning, to “sell” the tax to voters; their fee could reach $91,000.

The city manager expects close to $800 million in expenditures over a ten-year period; no details about the city’s targeted project expenditures.  He estimates $255 million in sales taxes over ten years; less than half of his projected $545 million budget for Capital Projects, which are what, fixing existing streets, or building new roadways for mid to high-end housing developments?

Orme said the city received about $2.2 million in its current fiscal year from the state’s gas tax that is “meant” to be allocated to road repair projects.  Well, has it?  The City Budget line-item Gas Tax still shows a Fund Balance of $2,213,762. The city has budgeted $2 million in Waste Hauler Franchise Fees, which were supposed to be for road maintenance.  Promise kept? The $2.8 million transient occupancy tax revenue is sucked up by the general fund, not reinvested in marketing to increase tourism, which I’ll write about at another time.

The city’s swelling pension debt isn’t being addressed.  Maybe the police could start issuing red light violations at 8th, 9th, Main and Broadway.  That alone would start to cover the city manager’s seven-figure pension fund debt.

Roger S. Beadle

There are so many issues here, it’s hard to decide what pisses me off the most. Yes, council has approved spending up to $91,000 of TAXPAYER MONEY on a tax increase campaign. Add that to the $400,000 already spent on an ice skating rink. Yes, the ice rink, proposed a few years ago by another tax consultant, was nothing but a carrot. But this isn’t the kind of spending that has put us where we are. Wait for it.

Beadle goes on to ask if the funds will actually be used to fix existing streets. As we know, the gas tax and the garbage tax are both dumped into the General Fund every year. Given the amount we have received from those two sources, we should be seeing major improvements in the older neighborhoods around town, instead Staff recommends funneling the money into the General Fund. Last year it was spent on raises for public safety employees, this year it went to raises for SEIU employees. The Transient Occupancy Tax, rather than being re-invested in tourism or even protecting visitors, is dumped into the General Fund.

The new sales tax proceeds would also be dumped into the General Fund – it’s a simple measure. If council and Staff were serious about fixing streets, etc, they’d have put up a 2/3’s measure. Sean Morgan specifically objected on the grounds that a 2/3’s measure would be restricted to specific spending.

Beadle hits the problem at the end of his letter – “The city’s swelling pension debt isn’t being addressed.

Here’s the funny thing – as far as Staff and Council are concerned, the pension deficit is being addressed. They’re addressing it with our money, and they are proposing to take more of our money to address it even more!

So I responded to Beadle’s letter. I want to expand the conversation into why the deficit is there at all, and why no tax increase will suffice as long as Council continues to agree to unreasonable employee contracts that lay all the debt on the taxpayers.

Thanks Roger Beadle for asking, what are Council and Staff’s plans for spending revenues from their proposed sales tax increase? Proponents of this tax increase measure have mentioned public safety and infrastructure improvements, but they are putting a “simple” measure on the ballot. A simple measure is not dedicated to any specific use and goes into the General Fund to be spent at any whim of Council and Staff.

Chicoans want parks and creeks cleaned up, city streets repaired, and more law enforcement. But, looking at past actions, it seems clear that Staff and Council want to pay down the pension deficit they have created through unrealistic contributions to CalPERS. Employees pay between 10.5 and 22.7 percent of their pension cost, leaving the rest, including interest fees, to be picked up by the taxpayers.

Compounding the issue is a recently approved 9% raise for SEIU employees. The report from Staff indicates a “total cost” of $967,000. Does that figure include increased pension costs?

Every year, Staff funnels more taxpayer money from the General Fund into the Pension Stabilization Trust, to make annual “extra” payments to CalPERS. Clifford Moss consultants estimate the payments will reach $18 million/yr by 2025, because the city is not controlling “overhead”(management) costs. The city manager, with a base salary of $207,000/yr, only pays 14%, which results in his seven digit pension deficit, just for one position.

This is the rabbit hole down which all the money is going. Put a cork in it, vote NO.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

After that last post went viral, and I got some nasty bullies in my comments section, what do you know – all the sudden the science has changed!

14 Feb

That post from last week went “viral”, and as you can see, I got some nasty comments, both here and on the NewsBreak site. Oh well – here’s what’s happened since then.

Here’s how a classroom in Nevada received the news that the mask mandate was over:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/watch-nevada-students-cheer-after-news-of-mask-mandate-repeal

Just when you think kids don’t get it.

Here’s a funny interview in which Dr. Leana Wen, a practicing physician and former medical analyst for CNN, says the science regarding masking has “changed” and we should make our own decision as to whether or not to wear them. “Wen said that data showed individuals who were vaccinated were well protected against the omicron variant of the virus, the most dominant variant in the U.S., and that people who chose to wear a high-quality mask were also receiving additional protection even if the people around them were not wearing masks.”

https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-medical-analyst-changes-tune-covid-restrictions-science-changed

How does science change? We’ve known since early on that masks are not created equally, the expensive and elusive N95’s being the only masks that were proven to stop the spread of spittle-bourne virus. What’s changed is that people are finally realizing they’ve been lied to for two years. Like Wen says, the media, the government, and even the medical community have lost credibility. The jig is up, folks.

A friend of mine has opined that this is the beginning of a push to vax. A California lawmaker has proposed a “vaccination passport”.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/11/california-covid-workplace-vaccine-mandate-00008045

Despite court rulings that these mandates are unconstitutional, the mask-and-vax contingency is still determined to run America into the ground. Here’s why – Big Pharma is making a shit-ton of money off these mandates, and they run the media.

https://www.infowars.com/posts/this-is-information-warfare-dr-malone-exposes-top-owner-of-spotify-also-top-owner-of-moderna/

I haven’t felt this let-down by a musician since Bruce Springsteen married a super model.

We’ve thrown out the mask mandate, we have to keep pushing on the vax mandate. They told us we’d only have to vax once, then twice, then a booster? Let’s make the science change some more – PUSH BACK!

Again, I’m not telling you not to mask, or not to vax, I’m telling you to make your own decisions. Don’t let somebody else do your thinking, and don’t try to tell others what to do either.

Have you been asked to mask up by a retailer? Take your money somewhere else.

5 Feb
I love these red, white and blue potatoes, they look just like the morning sky outside my kitchen window.

I read a letter in the paper yesterday from a woman who complained about being “forced” to mask up at Costco. I had a similar, very weird experience at a chain store I patronize, and I was so pissed about it, I told my husband I wasn’t going to shop there anymore.

I shop at a restaurant supply store on Mangrove because the prices are good and they have items that aren’t available everywhere else. For example, they carry a 10 lb bag of brown basmati rice that is better than any rice I’ve ever had, and a lot more reasonably priced than the local stuff. They have good produce in bigger quantities – such as the lovely fingerling potatoes featured up top – and their lettuce and berries and even bagged apples are consistently better or at least comparable to those I find at discount grocery stores. They even have house-hold goods at cheaper prices – got a broom $2 cheaper than Home Depot. I find you have to shop around if you want to be able to afford the Chico lifestyle.

When we started shopping there a few years ago, we immediately encountered a checker who had an “in-your-face” personality. I understand – you work all day with strangers, it’s nice to have some banter to keep you on your feet. But this guy is too pushy. My husband is annoyed with inane chatter, but I try to be nice, I try to steer the conversation gently back to my purchases. This guy has always been a challenge, but as long as he was friendly I tried to oblige him with some friendly chatter.

I don’t mask, not only because it’s a fact that not all masks are equal, and I can’t afford the good ones, but because Newsom’s mandates are not consistent – San Francisco, one of California’s most determined shitholes, does not have to mask, because Newsom has too many rich friends, and even his own business to protect there. He knows the mandate is bad for business – let’s face it, he’s obviously playing favorites with counties that have supported him politically. He’s punishing the shit out of any county he perceives to be conservative.

I’ve been walking in and out of this store without masking for over a year now, and while the employees have masked, they have never asked me to do so. There’s a sign on the door, but there are the same signs all over town and not once have I been stopped and told to mask or get out. But last week, my checker buddy, I’ll call him “Kurt”, cause that’s him name, handed me a plastic bagged surgical mask and told me he wouldn’t check my groceries if I didn’t put it on.

Let me set the tone: “Kurt” was wearing an old, homemade cloth mask with his out-of-control beard hanging out the bottom. I had to squelch an impulse to gag. I should have told him, “okay, listen, can you hold these for me, I’ll be back after the mandate...” But I didn’t think that fast, I just wanted to get my food and get out. So I put on the mask with some minor protest, I paid for my stuff, and I left.

My husband thought this was weird because all the times we’ve been in that store, together, “Kurt” has never said a word about putting on a mask. He doesn’t even always wear a mask. But the first time I come into the store by myself, he jumps my ass and refuses to take my money?

A week later we needed something we usually only buy there, so my husband says, let’s try it together. We walk in the store – no “Kurt”, good sign. We gather our purchases, and we head for checkout. The employees all mask, and I don’t begrudge them – they’re with the public, 8+ hours a day, they should protect themselves as they see fit. But not one of them aside from “Kurt” made any fuss over our bare faces, the checker happily checked our stuff without a mention of masks.

I can’t help but be reminded of an old episode of an old show, King of the Hill. When a hurricane hits the little town of Arlen, Hank’s otherwise dysfunctional friend Bill, a member of the National Guard, is named warden of the shelter. He goes on a power trip that ends up with Hank in jail, as flood waters bear down on the town.

That’s the kind of hysteria that has taken over California – the COVID shut down. No matter what it does to the economy, the fascists behind the shutdown will never admit they are wrong, that masks don’t help, the vaccine is a bust, and here’s the biggest truth – COVID is just another strain of the flu. Sure, the flu is tough, and risky for unhealthy people, but it’s a normal part of the human function.

I’ll say, two years in a row during the early 2000’s, I had the flu so bad, I had to hold onto furniture to get to the bathroom for a week. I couldn’t even read a book or watch tv without getting a headache. It worked it way through my whole family over the course of a month. When we finally got out and about again, we heard it had worked it’s way through most of our friends and the staff of S&S Market. It happened again the following year, both times in February, within weeks of the start of school. We realized our son was bringing it home from Butte College, he was the first one to get sick both times.

Long story short, we dealt with it. Friends of ours admitted they had to keep their school age kid at home after he’d beat it so he could take care of them!

The Talking Heads in Washington and Sacramento won’t admit, it’s all about funding the pharmaceutical companies, people are getting rich off this shutdown. Read this article about Fauci and his wife, federal employees worth millions – please note, the asshole is part owner of a San Francisco restaurant!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2022/01/15/disclosures-released-dr-fauci-household-profits-exceeded-17-million-in-2020–included-income-royalties-travel-perks-and-investment-gains/?sh=6d3289a67d5f

The pharmaceutical companies are swimming in profits, here’s an article from November:

https://www.npr.org/2021/11/24/1059041725/covid-vaccines-are-set-to-be-among-the-most-lucrative-pharmaceutical-products-ev

So, next time “Kurt” tells you to mask up or he won’t take your money, snap your purse shut and tell him you’ll be back for your purchases after the mandate is over.

Next time I’ll have to tell you about fabulous deals I’ve found SHOPPING ONLINE, for everyday purchases. Next time, on This Old Lady Gives COVID, Dr. Fauci, Newsom and Biden the Bird!

Recipe for a pension deficit

3 Feb

Employer Share Employee Base Share Employee Cost Sharing Total Employee Contribution  “Classic”                                               “Pepra” – employees hired after 2013
CME 7.54% 8% + 6% = 14.00%         CME 7.54% 7.50% + 6% = 13.50%CPSA 7.54% 8% + 6% = 14.00%        CPSA 7.54% 7.50% + 6% = 13.50%CNF 10.54% 8% + 3% = 11.00%        CNF 10.54% 7.50% + 3% = 10.50%DIR 10.54% 8% + 3% = 11.00%         DIR 10.54% 7.50% + 3% = 10.50%L39 10.54% 8% + 3% = 11.00%         L39 10.54% 7.50% + 3% = 10.50%SEIU 10.54% 8% + 3% = 11.00%       SEIU 10.54% 7.50% + 3% = 10.50%UPEC 6.86% 8% + 6.68% = 14.68% UPEC 6.86% 7.50% + 6.68% = 14.18%

CalPERS SAFETY – Classic                  CalPERS SAFETY – PEPRAEmployer Share Employee Base Share Employee Cost Sharing Total Employee ContributionCFSM 19.42% 9% + 3% = 12.00%      CFSM 19.42% 13.75% + 3% = 16.75%CPM 19.42% 9% + 3% = 12.00%        CPM 19.42% 13.75% + 3% = 16.75%CPOA* 13.42% 9% + 9% = 18.00%    CPOA* 13.42% 13.75% + 9% = 22.75%IAFF 19.42% 9% + 3% = 12.00%         IAFF 19.42% 13.75% + 3% = 16.75%

Gee, scuse me, but this above is what an answer from City of Chico Human Resources staff looks like. I asked the HR staffer for the most recent figures on the shares employees pay toward their own benefits, and she sent me a spread sheet. I’m not accusing her of anything, but it’s just about impossible to cut-and-paste a spread sheet. First she tried to pretend she didn’t understand the question, it took me a couple of days, asking the same question over and over until she sent me this chart. I guess she thought she was throwing toothpicks at a vampire.

So, here, let’s sort that mess out.

Let’s take the management unit, CME – meaning, Mark Orme and other department heads (public safety management, as you see further down, is separate). The chart is divided between “Classic” and “PEPRA” employees – Classic being, employees hired before 2013.

“Classic” Employer Share – 7.54%

Employee “base” share – 8%

Employee Cost Sharing – 6% – this is the amount of the former “Employer Share” that the employees have agreed to pay.

See there – the total “contribution” for management staff, some of the highest paid city employees – Employer + Employee contributions – is only 21.54%. For salaries in excess of $100,000/yr. Orme makes over $200,000, and only pays 14%, or $28,000/year. The taxpayers add another $15,080. For a pension of 70% of his highest year’s salary, or $140,000. Plus Cost of Living Increase. Plus benefits.

That kids, is why we have a pension deficit. Orme’s personal deficit is about $70,000. He’s been working for Chico since 2013. He started at a salary of about $189,000, increasing to his current “base pay” of $207,000/yr. He started out paying NOTHING toward his pension or benefits. That’s right, until the last few years, MANAGEMENT PAID NOTHING. Pressure from groups like ours led to tiny incremental increases, but the damage was done. A guy with a $189,000 starting salary, paying nothing, but expecting 70% of his highest year’s salary in pension – how can that be sustainable? And he knew exactly what he was doing, they all do.

While Orme keeps crowing that he and other employees now pay more of the “employers” share, they’re also getting salary increases that more than cover their increased shares. Of course that raises the debt, and the taxpayers are still on the hook for as much as 80% of the total cost.

Here’s a note for you “defund the cops” folks – the cops and fire department pay more than anybody. Look at the chart.

CPOA* Classic: Employer Share -13.42%; Employee base share – 13.75%; + Employee Cost Share – 9% = Total employee contribution – 22.75% The total contribution is almost 36%. Of course, that still creates a deficit. And again – the “employer share” is deceiving, we, “the employers” are on the hook for the deficit too. Including interest. And Cost of Living Increase.

So, if all this is confusing, let me give you a picture: You’re in an 8 foot hole on the beach, and the sand is crumbling in around your head. You shovel and scrape as fast as you can, but the sand is quickly building around your ankles. Suddenly you notice a person – Mark Orme – on top, shoveling sand right in on you. Faster and faster. You notice a group of seven others – that would be council – shoveling right along with him. That’s the pension deficit folks, and we can’t wait for Orme to bring us a ladder.

The tax measure he’s bringing us is just more sand.