They keep us in the dark and feed us on bullshit – namely, the lie that Mark Orme has not had a raise “in years”…

22 Mar

My mom used to have a sign over her desk – “They must think I’m a mushroom – they keep me in the dark and feed me bullshit.” It was a crude reproduction of a reproduction of a reproduction – before we had forwards, we had the Xerox machine.

I have felt same lately. The city of Chico has gone completely off the radar since the COVID shutdown. Masks are off and meetings are open again, but they are doing stuff behind closed doors, using “special meetings”. A special meeting is not publicly noticed, unless you have signed up for notifications from the clerk, or you happen to check the front door of City Hall every day by 5 pm. I’ve been signed up for years.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a notice for a meeting scheduled for 5:00* (see post script) tomorrow afternoon, with the attached agenda, which reads:

SPECIAL AGENDA – Pursuant to Government Code § 54954.3(a), the City Council is prohibited by law from considering any other business at this meeting.
2.2. CLOSED SESSION – Council will recess to Closed Session in Conference Room 1
2.3. PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE EVALUATION: (Gov. Code section 54957(b).)
Title: City Manager

Government Code 549543(a) says “Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision.”

What a mouthful. What they are saying, put simply, is that they have to give the public an opportunity to speak on this subject. What’s the subject? Mark Orme. It’s his performance review.

The first question I have is, what’s the emergency worthy of a special meeting? Special meetings are supposed to be reserved for emergencies, like lawsuits against the city, or pending bankruptcy. Both of which are common problems facing the city of Chico. This is a perfunctory employee review. I never understood why these reviews, which should be a matter of public information, are closed. And now they’re held in special meetings, without real notice of the public. I know it says they are not supposed to discuss anything that’s not on the agenda, but things come up in these conversations, and who is there to report it?

I have an opinion on Mark Orme’s performance – I think he’s lied to the public. For one thing, he is constantly reporting that no member of management has received a raise for years – what about his 457 Plan?

CalPERS deferred compensation plans include the 457 Plan and Supplemental Contributions Plan. ” Yes, Orme receives “supplemental contributions”, in addition to the usual employer-paid contribution toward his pension, plus the catch-up payments, he gets a special kind of 401K into which the city contributes most of the money. He received this 457 Plan for agreeing to pay a part of the “employer share” of his pension. So Orme pays 14% of his cost, and gets the 457 Plan, into which the city puts over $20,000/year. This is how they try to deceive the public into believing the employees are paying more. Orme has not had a raise? But he gets an additional $20,000 in a secret bank account? Liar, liar, liar – don’t stand too close to this guy, the seat of his pants is likely to spontaneously combust. (You Repo Man fans know that can happen, but did you know why?)

Hey, do you have an opinion on the city manager’s performance that you’d like to share? Well, share it – send your opinions directly to council.

*Here’s a post script – they rescheduled the meeting to 6:30, due to a scheduling problem with one or another members of council. That gives you an extra hour and a half to contact council.

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