Let’s just call it “The Pallet Shelter Tax”

16 Apr

I was shocked when I went Downtown the other day and saw Downtown Plaza was still fenced off. And then I saw this story on the news:


City workers have been focusing on other projects in Chico like the micro shelter site, but they want the plaza to be open by the end of the month for all the upcoming events in downtown.

This is more of their ploy to raise our sales tax – a subtle hint that the city is understaffed. Yeah, ever since 2013, when then city manager Brian Nakamura and his little toady Mark Orme gutted all the lower level staff positions – the worker bees! – and went about raising their own salaries and benefits. The archives (see right) are full of that, dig in and learn some Chico history! I’ve attended two meetings at which consultant Chad Wolford told successive councils city staff was getting “management top-heavy,” had “too much overhead“, and this was driving up costs while they were cutting services left and right.

We also see here the burden the city has taken on with their badly thought-out “plan to end homelessness”. Staff has been so busy – six-figure staffers by the way – putting up the pallet shelters, which were supposed to be put up by volunteers, that they don’t have time to do their jobs. They’ve allowed the plaza to fall into such a state of disrepair that they had to close it. They cite vandalism – how the hell was anybody able to commit vandalism while the damned thing was fenced off? For Pete’s sake, it’s right there, the cops can’t see vandalism going on through a chain link fence?

This is dereliction of duty, but they try to turn it around saying we don’t pay enough fucking taxes? Get the hell out!

Local gadfly Rob Berry opines that this is where the sales tax revenues will go, down the Homeless Industrial Complex drain.

For those of you who doubt it, and the many who have said it, expect the City to support the outyears for the Pallet project from the new sales tax. This from the explanation of what this tax can be used for: ‘• ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS: Providing solutions to address homelessness in Chico.‘”

You’re such a dummass Rob, you don’t see the real rabbit hole – the pensions. Who cares if they are working on pallet shelters or the streets, the sales tax revenues will be used to secure bonds that will be funneled into the Pension Stabilization Trust.

But the city knows people are pissed off about the illegal camps, and the filth and crime everywhere, and they will use it as a wedge to get us to approve their sales tax measure. Don’t buy it. Tell them they need to do their fucking jobs and pay a rational share of their own pensions and benefits.

Of course the city will continue to use taxpayer funding to forward this measure, and that is legal right up until June, when the county clerk will give it a letter designation. What letter should it get?

How about ‘P,’ for pallets and pensions?

10 Responses to “Let’s just call it “The Pallet Shelter Tax””

  1. Scott Rushing April 16, 2022 at 1:40 pm #

    Add “Police” to your “P’s”…the council says there is money for “more” military weapons, the maintenance of them, and the hiring and training of more officers to further militarize the department. This adds to pension costs and increased salary expenses… for what? Chico already has armed guards on contract, armed park rangers, and mutual aid from BCSO, CHP, Oroville PD, Paradise PD, Gridley PD, and Chico State Univ Police, plus a militarized CPD.

    • Juanita Sumner April 17, 2022 at 6:27 am #

      I agree on many of those points Scott, but MORE POLICE is one of the arguments proponents will use to pass this measure – a lot of people here think they would be safer with more police. I think that’s an ignorant stance, but ignorant people are easier to scare. When you look out at our parks, Downtown, shopping centers, yeah, it’s easy to be scared. A lot of reactionaries would say that’s a reason for more cops, they don’t understand the true problem. I’m not anti-police, and I think that’s an ignorant attitude too. I want them to be better trained, and feel safe in their jobs, and that costs money. But no, I don’t want more positions, I want better people in those positions, and I want them to be paid adequately but not excessively, and I want them to pick up their own pension costs.

      Madden is an idiot. The statement he made about not wanting the city manager job because the pension isn’t high enough really points out a lot of the problem. Greedy pigs, is what we got here. We need more humans in the cop shop.


  2. Taft April 17, 2022 at 12:03 pm #

    Well done Juanita…I wish more people in Chico would pay attention to your column. Truth is coming.

    • Juanita Sumner April 18, 2022 at 6:16 am #

      I hope you and others will contact council and tell them you won’t support the sales tax measure.

  3. BC April 18, 2022 at 10:44 am #

    There are many cities in California that have significant unfunded pension debts that cannot be paid. They are just further along the continuum than Chico. Its like looking in the crystal ball of Chico’s future. One recurring term that you see used is “Service Insolvency”. The term refers to a situation where the City cannot provide services at even a minimal level, because the funding does not exist. The funding does not exist, because available funds are diverted away from services and into paying pension liability (funded and unfunded.)

    Pension liability consists of: (1) current year contributions, (2) paying off the unfunded liability $150,000,000? (3) Annual growth on the unfunded liability $10,000,000/year, (4) Other Post Retirement Benefits (unfunded)

    By the way-the investment markets are correcting. This lowers the value of the pool of assets that will pay pensions-which increases Chico’s liability. In addition, count on municipal employees to demand pay increases due to inflation at the next renegotiation. The pension bill is set to explode!

    Municipal Budgeting 101: There are Pensions, and there is everything else. And there will never be enough funding to solve Chico’s very meaningful problems, until the pension item is addressed.

    • Juanita Sumner April 18, 2022 at 11:32 am #

      I agree. I want employees to start paying a share of the “catch up” payments. I’d also like to see the Asst Mgr position eliminated, and similar positions cut in every department. I also think employees should be ready to negotiate their pensions down and take reasonable retirement.

      And thanks for reminding us about “OPEB” – other post retirement benefits – those need to be handled the same way.

      No more financing this stuff on the market, that hayride needs to be over. We need to raise the contributions from employees and lower the benefits across the board, not just for new employees, but for old, dried out fuckers like Tom Lando and Paul Hahn.

  4. Scott Rushing April 19, 2022 at 12:16 pm #

    The pension benefit and city police budget will only balloon when the city council approves the blank check purchase of additional military weapons that will necessitate new police hires who will be trained on how to use the weapons on suspects, maintain the weapons, and when to purchase additional weapons… with no civilian oversight.

    • Juanita Sumner April 19, 2022 at 1:56 pm #

      Scott, have you ever tried to attend a Police Advisory Board meeting? I’ve heard Madden has taken those off the radar – is that true?

      • Scott Rushing April 19, 2022 at 2:18 pm #

        I reside in Ventura and have not been invited to the PAB but my understanding is that Chief Madden has dissolved the PAB.

      • Juanita Sumner April 20, 2022 at 2:46 pm #

        That’s what I suspected, having been unable to find any agendas or minutes, which used to be provided on the city website. This is a bad indication of the direction the city is taking.

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