Sorensen and Morgan would very much like us to forget their complicity in the slow degradation of Chico – don’t do it!

9 Jul

I’m still puzzling over remarks made by Chico councilman Sean Morgan in an interview with Ch 7 KRCR. First he made cryptic remarks about who is responsible for Chico’s abysmal situation, as if he had nothing to do with it. He praised Sorensen, who as past mayor and councilman, knew the situation Chico was in and why the city was in that situation but only made decisions that deepened the abyss, hiring new employees at outrageously high salaries without asking them to pay a rational share of their pension and benefits costs.

Morgan continued to emphasize Sorensen’s long track record in the City of Chico and said that the city needs a strong leader as officials, like the chief of police, retire and the city faces challenges with administrative staffing.” He mentions that the chief just retired without mentioning that Madden was only chief for about a year and a half before his recent retirement announcement. “challenges with administrative staffing“?

I’ll guess he’s going to say we need to offer bigger salaries “to attract talent”. That is the argument by which they continue to spiral the salaries up and out of reason. And it’s a lie – they gave Madden a raise, which increased his pension and his deficit, and you see how long he stayed – a year and a half, just long enough to spike his pension.

And then, another cryptic remark about “A lot more people will get away with a lot less,” Morgan continued. “I think that some of the decision-making methods [in city administration] were handled loosely and people were given reigns that shouldn’t have been given reigns. I think Mark will do a better job of focusing on ‘that’s your job’ or ‘‘that isn’t your job’”. What is he talking about? Who is he talking about?

I’ll remind us all – Sorensen took office in 2010 and Morgan took office in 2012. Sorensen hired Nakamura and agreed to a $40,000 salary increase for the city manager position with NO CONTRIBUTION toward pension or benefits. Both Sorensen and Morgan hired Mark Orme and both voted to promote him to city manager when Nakamura left, again, requiring NO CONTRIBUTION toward pension or benefits. As elected officials, both Sorensen and Morgan were included in the “decision-making methods“, both of them were handed the “reigns” as Mayor and both also served as Vice Mayor. Yet Morgan refuses to take any responsibility for our current situation, nor does he assign any to Sorensen.

Sorensen’s appointment is obviously supposed to comfort us and convince us that the city will make wise use of the extra revenues if we will just approve the new tax they’ve placed on the ballot. And here, Morgan is very clearly threatening us with more cuts to services if we don’t pass a general tax with no restrictions on spending.

“Morgan said the move is important at a time when the city is facing a number of issues. ‘The most important thing for the city is finances,’ he finished. ‘if we don’t have the finances, we don’t have the police, we don’t have the fire, we don’t have the public works. The city has gotten much cleaner and we need to keep that happening. We need a clean, safe city for business to prosper.'”

Oh sure, we can trust Old Mark! Oh please, let’s not forget, Sorensen served with a “conservative” majority, unfettered by the “liberals”, but still made painfully bad staffing decisions that drove the city deeper into debt. He also agreed to the increasing “side fund” or “catch up” payments to CalPERS, which at first seemed sensible. The deficit went down in the beginning, from about $168 million to about $130 million. But we found out – that was at a huge cost to services – Nakamura gutted staff with Sorensen’s blessing, eliminating the lower level “worker” positions in the Public Works and Parks Departments. This was the beginning of the city’s attack on the tax payers by attrition, “the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.”

So how do our pension costs keep going up? Look at the 2020-21 Comprehensive Finance Report, page 70 – be sure to sit down. Our total pension deficit is a lot more than they’ve been telling us.

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/1_2021_chico_city_acfr_-_signed.pdf?1641834874

You see that while they were getting rid of the city’s actual workforce, council agreed to increasing management salaries without demanding employees pay any more toward their pension or benefits costs. It wasn’t until Orme was city manager and agreed to a measly 3%, then 6%, then 9% – for 70% of his highest year’s salary at retirement. That’s about $25,000 a year, and for that Morgan agreed to raise “the Skipper’s” salary to a base of $207,000/yr.

Hey, don’t you have to wonder – what was Sorensen thinking when he agreed to raise the city manager salary to $220,000 for Nakamura? Think he knew he’d be Chico city manager someday?

Another ass-backwards attempt to get us to approve this tax is Kasey Reynold’s limp-wristed initiative to “hold council responsible” for ” quality of life” issues. Another waste of very expensive city attorney time. Let’s pick that up another time.

2 Responses to “Sorensen and Morgan would very much like us to forget their complicity in the slow degradation of Chico – don’t do it!”

  1. Mindy July 12, 2022 at 11:22 pm #

    Thank you for posting these statements. As an east coast transplant to northern CA I think this state is gorgeous. But I am appalled at the continuous lack of infrastructure and maintenance. You’d never see this east of the Mississippi in any town with an economy. There’s seriously no comparison to the misuse of county funds and taxes. I love the beauty of this state but I don’t know how folks have been able to put up with this neglect all their lives. Greedy politicians are ruining the state.

    • Juanita Sumner July 13, 2022 at 6:00 am #

      Thanks Mindy, your comment reminds me of the time my neighbor’s son came out to visit her from their home state of Louisiana. After touring Chico, he asked his mother, “does your town have a planning department?” That’s another problem with Chico, the plans change with every election, we haven’t had a consistent plan for building or maintenance in my adult memory.

      Yes, it’s greed – our public employee unions all over the state are breaking the bank with their tireless demands for bigger salaries and more benefits, and the politicians know they better butter their bread on the right side or they won’t get elected.

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