Archive | August, 2022

Taxpayer Singalong! If you’re overtaxed and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

14 Aug

Summer is winding down, and the urge to hibernate is strong. But Friday the county clerk posted her notice of measures coming up on the November ballot. I didn’t see it, so I don’t even know what letter designation the clerk gave the city of Chico sales tax increase measure. But I have had three people contact me to tell me they are ready to push back.

For now we’ll just call it, Tax Measure ?

Three people – that’s the magic number folks. See, one guy is crazy, two guys are [politically incorrect], but THREE GUYS is a MOVEMENT! (let me extend my sincere apologies to Arlo Guthrie).

Arlo says you can join the movement, if you just sing along. In this case, we need you to start writing those letters. Tell your friends. Sing it! Just say NO!

If you’re overtaxed and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

Yesterday morning the tv pundits were all talking about inflation – food and energy prices are leading the charge, two commodities that most of us civilized taxpayers think of as necessities. If you’re sick of watching your grocery receipt and your PG&E and gas bills keep going up, SING ALONG!

If you’re feeling gouged and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

Furthermore, you’re looking around yourself, your streets are trashed, your parks are trashed, there are encampments full of sex offenders along the trail your child takes to school – you want to know where is all the money going? SING ALONG!

If you’re sick of the excuses, and the questionable money uses, then you have to find your spine and JUST SAY NO!

A lady contacted me recently and asked me if I was going to do any “demonstrations”. People want to jump on a noisy bandwagon, wave signs, drive their cars around City Hall beeping their horns ($$$$$!), but I find those are mostly hot air and run out of gas pretty quickly. And sometimes people get to pushing and shoving and annoying little old ladies get butt-slammed by big jerk faces.

Here’s a gentle suggestion – sing this song for your council or your council representative. Tell them you’re going to vote NO on Tax Measure ?, cause you know what, as of today, there’s still THREE DAYS left on the election calendar for them to take this dud OFF THE BALLOT.

Do you know somebody who wants to/is running for city council? Tell us about it!

4 Aug

Well, I got my first election mailer today – Chico Democrats. I don’t like mailers because they clog my mailbox and trash can, but they’re always interesting. It seems the Demos are calling out the council “conservatives” on various charges, from DUI’s to bad staffing decisions to lawsuits, it runs the gamut. It’s pretty poorly done, the kind of juvenile trash talk that I’m sure will make a lot of local Democrats cringe. But it’s the first smack in the mouth, and I think we can expect at least ten rounds this year.

“Conservative” Kasey Reynolds announced she will run for reelection, which was no surprise. I believe this “Quality of Life” measure she’s trying to get approved for the ballot tonight is the first salvo in her campaign. I think she was talked into this BS by her guru Rob Berry, and I’m sorry, it was poor judgement on her part. The people already have plenty of mechanisms to take their grievances to council, and the best one is, throw them out on their asses at election time.

This is the third strike for Old Kasey as far as I’m concerned. The first was her vote to approve the Shelter Crisis Designation in 2020. The second was the rental registration tax she was trying to push forward for the city. And now, Strike Three – she uses staff time to forward her campaign, not only to get herself re-elected, but to pass the tax measure. That’s corrupt. While I may feel forced to vote for her based on what rough beast slouches forward to take the district, I will certainly not endorse or support her. She hasn’t done anything I can get behind, she just keeps shoving the city farther down the Road to Perdition.

Here we are, another election, forced to choose the lesser of two evils. I have only lately found out what district I’m in, it was difficult given the maps they presented. At one point we found ourselves in Deepika Tandon’s District, but only recently they updated the maps and we are back in Reynold’s district – but all our neighbors are cut out, the line runs right down the street in front of our house and around the first corner. I can see why people scream “gerrymandering!”, the process looks pretty sketchy.

At this point the new districts are making it hard to figure out who’s running for what, and few candidates have come forward to give any information about their intentions. A local developer and frequent contributor to the letters section and various social media sites, Tom Vanoverbeek is running in District 6, on the southeast end of town. I have no idea who he’s running against. TV, as I’m going to call him, actually wanted the city to approve a Pension Obligation Bond, writing a letter to the paper about it, without ever mentioning that the constitution requires bonds to go on the ballot.

The City of Chico currently has a $147 Million unfunded pension liability to the CalPers retirement system for city employees that it is contractually obligated to pay. CalPers is currently charging the the city 7% annually on the $147M.  By restructuring this debt with a Pension Obligation Bond (POB) the city can satisfy this $147M debt at interest rate of 3.5% to 4% instead of 7% saving the city millions of dollars. A Pension Obligation Bond is NOT new debt, it is exchanging one form of debt for another at a much lower interest rate and is why over 30 other California cities such as  Riverside, Pasadena, Pomona and Grass Valley have issued POBs.

The CalPers system is a defined benefit program which means that the payout to employees at retirement is fixed. CalPers is funded by contributions from employees, employers (the city) and returns from the investments made by CalPers. The unfunded liability exists because CalPers has failed to meet its’ investment return goals, currently 7%. CalPers’ 20-year average rate of return is 5.5% compared to the S&P 500 index of 7.5%.  Under the agreement between CalPers and the city, the taxpayers, you and me, are on the hook for the $147M shortfall.

It was an appallingly bad decision for the City of Chico to join CalPers 20 years ago but that doesn’t change the reality that we owe them $147M.  Think of this like refinancing your home mortgage, if you can pay 3.5% why would you pay 7%?

TV uses the argument that tells me, he doesn’t really understand, he’s just repeating what the consultants said: “Think of this like refinancing your home mortgage, if you can pay 3.5% why would you pay 7%?” That is a child’s mis-understanding of pension bonds, and that’s the kind of judgment that’s already got us into the pot of doodoo we find ourselves.

I wish these people would take their job more seriously, and maybe read the California Constitution, read the city charter, but they depend way too much on staff. And then yeah, blame staff when the stuff hits the fan. I hope we see some serious, better informed candidates come forward, but it’s tough given the pot of money it takes to run these days. If you think you have a candidate that is worth supporting, tell us about it HERE.

Contact council – there is still time for them to renege and pull that tax measure off the ballot

2 Aug

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and came home without two long-time staples from my shopping list – they were too expensive. I’ve watched prices go up all my life, but lately it’s been a little crazy.

I’ve been using Noxema since I was a child, it’s a good face wash, and it’s good for taking care of skin conditions like sunburn and chapping. Suddenly the price has jumped from about $3.50/jar to almost $5.00. Let’s do the math – $1.50 increase divided by the original price = 42% increase.

For Noxema?

Another item I’ve been buying for years is honey. I use it in my tea, it’s comforting. I used to buy it from a local distributor but switched to more generic brands as the price went up. I was paying $7.11 for a 32 oz bottle, and I was comfortable enough with that, even though it was starting to feel like a luxury. Yesterday the tag on the shelf said almost $11.

So I walked out of the store without two items I’ve been purchasing for years. Downsizing. I make my own skin scrub with coconut oil and sugar, I’ll just have to add some menthol oil – the key ingredient in Noxzema – and use that on my face. I already buy essential oils online for pennies per use.

We also noticed the price of our canned dogfood has gone up, again and again. Every time we buy it lately, it’s nudged up another dollar. He needs meat with his kibble, but I realized I was buying the commercial food for convenience. So, we bought a pack of chicken on sale at Raley’s and I cooked it up for him instead. I realize, now we know exactly what’s in his food, the canned stuff was always kind of a mystery. Chicken goes on sale regularly enough – and we eat it ourselves.

Like I say, I’ve watched prices go up all my life, but not usually like this. The last time I remember inflation like that was back in the early 2000’s – that’s when I stopped buying local honey, switched to generic crap brands from wherever. I had watched the local honey go up a couple of dollars over the last year, and I couldn’t see any rationale behind it. They try to tell us it’s “supply chain issues” – no it’s not, it’s gouging, and it’s permanent. We won’t see prices go down when the crisis is over – well, they’ll just manufacture another crisis anyway.

The other common thing I notice now – price of housing is going up like crazy. I remember that started happening in about 2003, and by 2008, we had foreclosure signs all over Chico. The city kept saying we needed more “starter” housing for young families, but the prices just kept going up. We all found out – it was the building industry that was demanding more housing, the unions.

That’s exactly what’s happening now – the trade unions are bitching for more building in California – they say we need “more affordable” housing, but that’s not what they’re producing.

Just making observations. The only answer I see is self-inflicted attrition. Cut your expenses, stop buying stuff you don’t need, become more self-reliant like Doug LaMalfa has been saying. And write to your city council to tell them you will not support the sales tax increase measure. There is still actually time for council to renege and pull that measure off the ballot.

Next time I’d like to go over recent budgets – the city has been forecasting doom and gloom, but our revenues are up steadily and there’s really no excuse for a tax measure.