10 years of political activism in Chico – it hasn’t always been fruitful, but it’s been educational

28 Dec

Well, I’ve been doing this blog for over 10 years now, and let me tell you, it’s been an education. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that the community has to get involved, real people have to do most of the heavy lifting if we want to achieve anything. And, those people have to be convinced that their actions will have merit and they will make progress toward the goals that are important to them personally.

Frankly, sometimes it’s hard to convince myself any of that is true. But it is, and let me tell you about it.

When I started this blog in 2012, the city had put a cell phone tax measure on the ballot – a tax on the privilege of owning a cell phone. Like many people observed, the city has nothing to do with our cell phone service, they don’t even guarantee that the companies they license to operate here will provide the service we pay for. But they were trying to get a tax on our phone bills, because the city was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and they were desperate. They already collect the maximum 5% on our PG&E, water, and landline bills, but if you’ve paid attention as long as I have, you see they never have enough money.

The main reason for Chico’s fiscal insolvency, to this day, is their ever-increasing pension deficit. When I started this blog, city management paid absolutely NOTHING toward their pensions, and other staffers paid very little, less than 5%. Our former city manager Tom Lando, now collecting over $160,000 in salary at Paradise Irrigation District, paid nothing toward his $150,000/year pension. Yes, Tom Lando gets $150,000/year plus cost of living adjustments, when he never paid a dime for it. The taxpayers are paying for that, which amounts to paying him twice for a job done once, and not very well.

Once the public found out about the sweet pension deal, they applied some pressure, and council began slowly correcting the imbalance – shifting a tiny amount of the pension cost onto the employees. Today, the biggest employee share is 15% – for pensions of 70 – 90% percent of their highest year’s salary. And, here’s the problem – that’s 15% of what is paid, not what’s owed. CalPERS is tanking and our cities along with it because the system allows public agencies to accrue these huge deficits on the belief that either the stock market or the beleaguered taxpayers will pay it off. They refuse to ask the employees to pay a rational share, or accept lesser benefits.

As you can see, the public has a lot more pushing to do if we will ever right this ship. As it stands, the city is tanking under the pension deficit, and the demands for more taxes have only begun with the new sales tax increase.

Last year Andrew Coolidge tried to convince council to institute a Pension Obligation Bond. That would have been new debt, and it would mean the taxpayers would be on the hook for the pensions forever. That’s why such a bond would have to go to the ballot. One council member tried to tell the others they needed to go to the ballot, but the other six decided to try to shove it in through illegally. Only when they received a cease-and-desist order from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc, did they pull their illegal request. I think that’s a good thing to know about people – Andrew Coolidge, Kasey Reynolds and Sean Morgan, just to name a few, were ready to do something illegal to get us to pay down their pension deficit. What do you think they’ll pull next?

Well, don’t look down, buy they’re pulling it out of your toilet – a sewer tax. Rate increase notice mailed out in the days before Christmas – gee, that doesn’t look suspicious, does it?

I’ve posted information about that increase and the steps we need to take to throw it down in previous posts. I’ve written letters to the paper. But I don’t know if anybody is listening, because, as city council knows, it’s Christmas and New Years and a lot of Chico sewer customers are just plain out of town.

The notice is very plain and deceptively junk maily – it should say SEWER RATE INCREASE NOTICE in boldface on the outside of the envelope, but it doesn’t. But if recipients of those notices don’t reply with a formal written opposition by January 17, they will change the mechanism by which they figure your monthly rate, and then continue to raise it annually without any notice or opportunity to object.

People have got the wrong attitude these days – “it’s none of my business”. Yes it is. And your neighbors’ business, at least when it affects your business, is also your business. Yes, it’s okay to knock on your neighbors’ door and ask, “did you receive a sewer rate increase notice?” If they say yes, ask them if they’d like to talk about it. If they say no, write down their name and address and ask the city of Chico why you received a notice and this or that neighbor did not.

And below is a link to a junior high level article about getting involved in your community. Give it a read, there might be a quiz later. Or you could just go back to bed. Be sure to lay on your stomach, makes it easier for them to give you a good screwing. I don’t care if you’re offended by that, especially if you voted YES on Measure H.


6 Responses to “10 years of political activism in Chico – it hasn’t always been fruitful, but it’s been educational”

  1. bob December 28, 2022 at 6:46 am #

    Coolidge is nothing but a corrupt tool of the special interests. The only thing he cares about is kicking the pension problem down the road so the special interests who back him can continue to feed off the taxpayers. That’s why he pushed through the sales tax and now he’s pushing through other tax increases. This city is hopelessly corrupt because of politicians like Coolidge.

    • Juanita Sumner December 28, 2022 at 7:42 am #

      I agree. The media is no help – Mike Wolcott doesn’t live in Chico, he didn’t receive a sewer notice, so it’s not news. So it’s up to us Bob!

      • bob December 28, 2022 at 7:53 am #

        Wolcott knows what’s best for everyone, don’t you know? Even though he doesn’t even live in Chico.

        According to Wolcott we “had no choice” but to vote for a tax increase. An offer you can’t refuse.

        Wolcott is just another cog, another mouthpiece, in the corrupt system that governs this corrupt little city.

      • Juanita Sumner December 28, 2022 at 8:03 am #

        Ha ha, I saw a funny letter to the editor today – quoting Harry Shearer, who most of us know as Rev. Lovejoy – “If you’re looking for morals in politics you’re looking for bananas in the cheese section…”

  2. Scott Rushing December 28, 2022 at 10:31 pm #

    You have made a difference Juanita. You are correct in calling out Mike Wolcott as a public relations employee of your city/county government, particularly the Chico police department and the elderly Butte County DA, who are rarely questioned or criticized. Dysfunction, denial, and debt are what I see in your little town and county government.

    • Juanita Sumner December 29, 2022 at 8:13 am #

      Scott, you keep me running, thanks for your support – Juanita

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