Archive | March, 2023

In the city of Chico, rules were made to be broken. One minute they tell us there’s a General Plan and a building code, the next day they allow a developer to violate everything in said General Plan and building code. You want to know why? Read the campaign contribution reports.

22 Mar

Yes, I asked for rain, I admit it. You don’t always get what you wish for, but when you do, watch out.

I see the organizers of the referendum to stop the proposed Valley’s Edge development have got what they wished for. And now I’ll ask, what next? The city of Chico can either pull approval and send this “city within a city” back to the drawing board, or they can hold a special election to let the voters decide. Sean Morgan complains this will cost about $100,000 – do you notice, Council and Staff always cry poormouth when it’s something the voters want, but they sure throw that American Rescue Plan money around like it’s just manna from Heaven.

I’ll note that this is just what I was saying in my last post – the city of Chico, like most California public agencies, wants to be able to do whatever they want without any fuss from the voters/taxpayers, or, for that matter, laws they made themselves.

I think the main thing I don’t like about Valley’s Edge, is that they are trying to change the General Plan to shoehorn this mess in, while telling us that Brouhard and his partners had stuck with the process and adhered to the General Plan. Let me tell you something about the General Plan – it’s completely worthless. They change it whenever they want, holding a public meeting here and there to make it look like the public was involved, and then they let a developer (Tom DiGiovanni) write a “parallel code” that allows all the stuff developers want to do that DOESN’T fit the General Plan. In other words, the General Plan isn’t worth the digits it’s written in, it’s a hoax.

Yes, we have a “parallel” code that allows variances to everything in the General Plan and the building code, including setbacks. In my neighborhood, it meant houses built right out to the property line to increase square footage ($$$). One day you have a big back yard, a year later, you have windows staring down from your neighbor’s McMansion, right into your house. They offer to buy you new curtains, but that’s about it.

You also heard about the Golden Rule – he who has the gold, makes the rules. Dan Walters wrote an interesting piece about that here:

Walters describes the “pay-to-play” system, which of course is how it works in Chico. The public employee unions, of course, have always been big contributors. But look at the campaign contribution reports, printed in the paper and available from the clerk’s office – local developers and their cronies also contribute heavily. In fact, in Chico, where an individual donor is limited to $500 per campaign, a relatively new PAC called “Citizens for Safe Chico” provided most of the funding. These folks are supposed to provide reports regarding how much money they collected and from whom, but state law allows them to file with the secretary of state, which makes it hard for voters to look at the reports. For one thing, you have to know EXACTLY how the group is listed, what acronym they chose, etc, or you won’t find the report, and nobody is going to help you. CSC organizer Teri Dubose is very secretive about her reports, and she was the biggest donor in the last election.

Walters explains that “The new law went into effect on Jan. 1 (2023), essentially prohibiting contributions of more than $250 to any local elected official from anyone seeking contracts, permits or licenses from the board or council on which the official serves. It would be retroactive, requiring the official who received such contributions in the past to give the money back.

Yeah, like Ethan Edwards said repeatedly, “that’ll be the day…” Don’t expect any forthcoming investigation into Bill Brouhard’s or Doug Guillon’s or any local developer’s campaign contributions. It’s the voters who need to enforce the rules, by doing their homework, and then rejecting candidates that are supported by these big money investors.

Here’s who opposes the TPGAA – the California Special Districts Association wants public agencies to be able to tax us at will for whatever they want

20 Mar

I love the URL for this article – yes, it’s about limiting the voters’ rights. A lot of government agencies seem to think the voters have too many rights. Tsk. Tsk.

The purported “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” a statewide initiative measure to amend the California Constitution sponsored by the California Business Roundtable (“CBRT”), is the most consequential proposal to limit the ability of the state and local governments to enact, modify, or expand taxes, assessments, fees, and property-related charges since the passage of Proposition 218 (1996) and Proposition 26 (2010). If enacted, public agencies would face a drastic rise in litigation that could severely restrict their ability to meet essential services and infrastructure needs.

That last line isn’t a fact, it’s a threat. If we pass this measure, government agencies around California are saying they’ll cut services again. They won’t cut their salaries, or their outrageous benefits, they won’t pare down their management heavy staff – they’ll turn and bite the hand that feeds them. Just like the French public workers, faced with a later retirement age (65), they are burning garbage in the streets of Paris. We already have that here, so what’s to lose?

On February 1, 2023, California Secretary of State Shirly Weber issued a memo to all county clerks/registrars of voters announcing that proponents of Initiative 21-0042A1, or Initiative 1935 as now numbered by the Secretary of State, had filed the necessary number of valid signatures to make it eligible for the November 5, 2024 General Election ballot. Proponents now have until June 27, 2024 to consider withdrawing the initiative before the Secretary of State officially certifies it for the ballot.

And here they are asking other agencies, like the City of Chico, to join them. Mark Sorensen carried this invitation to Chico City Council two weeks ago but they threw it out for reasons undisclosed.

CSDA has joined a coalition of local government leaders in adopting an Oppose position on Initiative 21-0042A1 and encourages all special districts, partners, and community leaders to join the coalition by passing a board resolution. Once approved, please email your resolution to and consider issuing a press release to local media. Individuals may also register their opposition with the growing coalition by emailing their name, title, and organization.

This is the kind of stuff that is carried on behind our backs constantly. Sorensen brought this “resolution” forward on the Consent Agenda, hoping for no conversation in front of the public. Kasey Reynolds, on the advice of her mentor James Gallagher, pulled the plug on it, asking to table it. Last week the city clerk informed me that Sorensen would no longer be pursuing the resolution. Just like that.

Here’s the opposition’s argument against the TPGAA:

Ballot Initiative 21-0042A1 would result in the loss of billions of dollars annually in critical state and local funding, restricting the ability of local agencies and the State of California to fund services and infrastructure by:

1) Adopting new and stricter rules for raising taxes, fees, assessments, and property-related fees. 2)Amending the State Constitution, including portions of Propositions 13, 218, and 26 among other provisions, to the advantage of the initiative’s proponents and plaintiffs; creating new grounds to challenge these funding sources and disrupting fiscal certainty. 3)Restricting the ability of local governments to issue fines and penalties to corporations and property owners that violate local environmental, water quality, public health, public safety, fair housing, nuisance and other laws and ordinances.

The initiative includes provisions that would retroactively void all state and local taxes or fees adopted after January 1, 2022 if they did not align with the provisions of this initiative. This may also affect indexed fees that adjust over time for inflation or other factors. Effectively, it would allow voters throughout California to invalidate the prior actions of local voters, undermining local control and voter-approved decisions about investments needed in their communities.

would result in the loss of billions of dollars annually in critical state and local funding – the only funding that is threatened are revenues from taxes that were passed without a full two-thirds voter approval. Two-thirds approval was mandated by the voters under Prop 13, but the legislature, behind our backs, went to cutting it out over the past few years. The only funding they will lose is funding they took illegally. In the case of the city of Chico, we hounded them for a 2/3’s measure – here’s the news – I was ready to support a 2/3’s measure! But they went the illegal route, they should have known better.

1) Adopting new and stricter rules for raising taxes, fees, assessments, and property-related fees. The 2/3’s rule is NOT NEW. Yes, it’s stricter than the loosey goosey rules the legislature put in place of voter mandated minimums, and that’s a good thing. See the way they twist the truth? Here’s a pretty blatant lie – ” Amending the State Constitution, including portions of Propositions 13, 218, and 26 among other provisions, to the advantage of the initiative’s proponents and plaintiffs..”

The TPGAA DOES NOT AMEND Prop 13, 218, or 26, it RESTORES provisions removed by the legislature without the approval of the voters. The opponents go on to insinuate that it’s a bad thing for the voters to challenge these illegal taxes. Oh Sweet Paul Revere.

I don’t know where they got #3 – sounds like something they pulled out of their ass to attract the environmentalists – don’t fall for it.

That last paragraph is a mouthful of hooey. Yes, this measure would void those taxes initiated without 2/3s approval – whether local or state legislature – after January 2022. This statement is absurd: Effectively, it would allow voters throughout California to invalidate the prior actions of local voters, undermining local control and voter-approved decisions about investments needed in their communities.

That is just not true. This measure would allow agencies to bring an illegal tax back as a ballot measure, and give the voters a chance to give it full approval instead of sliding it under the wire with 50% + 1 vote. A “simple” majority isn’t democracy, it’s arm-twisting, mob rule, and usually to the benefit of public employees, who get all the money.

Chico City Council knew when they were crafting Measure H and putting it on the ballot as a simple measure that they couldn’t get full voter approval. Why would they want a tax that doesn’t have full voter approval? Remember: a 2/3’s measure is also restricted to certain uses, and they didn’t want to be restricted in their spending. It’s a pay-to-play environment they’ve created Downtown and they like it that way.

For further reading, here’s a piece by Dan Walters that explains a lot about how they do business Downtown.

In the City of Chico, the squeaky wheel gets the slobbers

17 Mar

As I predicted, City of Chico management does not have any real plan to address residential city street repairs/maintenance, just kind of a squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease kind of approach. Apparently, the neighborhood that complains the loudest will get their potholes fixed.

By Lauren Cooper, Mar 16, 2023

CHICO, Calif. – The Chico City Council has made a change to the summer road repair schedule set to fix streets such as North Cedar Street.

Other roadways, such as East Lassen Avenue, El Paso Way, E. East Avenue and Upper Park Road, are also scheduled to be fixed.

Originally the Amber Grove area was on the list as well, but was bumped after receiving more than two dozen complaints. Mayor Andrew Coolidge says that it just doesn’t look good to fix one of the better neighborhoods when there are worse areas in need.

“Yeah, it’s very noticeable. Everyone really complains about it that I talk to when I show them the street I live on,” a Chico resident said. “It’s just everyday it’s put a little bit of damage on my car especially since I don’t have a super expensive car. I really try to maintain it so the potholes have really made one of my tires kind of more flat than before on any other street I’ve lived on.”

Some told Action News Now that there are even more roads that need work.

“They should fix all the streets. I mean you can see right now. There’s a bunch of nasty roads all right, here it’s pretty turfed,” Keith Elliott said. “Also I kind of don’t want them to cause the housing is pretty cheap over here so I do kind of feel like if they fix it the price will go up.”

Action News Now reached out to Chico Public Works to see if they have any ideas for what roads will replace Amber Grove area, but they have not responded.

Amber Grove? A less than 30 year old neighborhood with houses worth over half a million? I knew it – they will ignore the older neighborhoods until all they are so crapped out they qualify for eminent domain and redevelopment under blight laws. I see that’s what they intended to do, until they got “dozens of complaints”.

And here’s what else I predicted – they will do band-aid patches – pot hole filling. That is a laugh – the older streets they’re talking about are so crapped out I don’t know if they’ll take a patch – you can hear the broken surface under your tires like old crockery. The potholes pictured in the news story aren’t even potholes – they’re voids in the street surface.

Furthermore, filling potholes in old neighborhoods is just their way of cleaning the asphalt trucks after they’ve been surfacing streets in new neighborhoods all day – getting rid of “slobbers” – leftover asphalt. Other wise it’s toxic waste, they can’t just hose the trucks out when they get back to the yard. So they scrape them out with shovels and dump them in older hoods between the yard and the jobsite. Pat-pat-pat – within hours, it will be all over the bottoms of cars.

The older streets need to be completely scraped down and resurfaced, like they just did on Mulberry Street. They only did that because they got grants, because they’re 50 years behind the Americans With Disabilities Act. Think – how’d you like to have to get around your neighborhood in a wheelchair? My neighborhood – annexed 20 years ago – doesn’t even have sidewalks or drainage.

If folks in older neighborhoods want sidewalks or drainage, they have to pay for it based on “frontage”, or the length of the street side of their property. Or wait for the city to get another grant.

And then there’s the sewer – they’ve announced they will have to tear up Downtown to replace sewer pipes over 100 years old – how about the rest of town? How does that figure in to their street repair plans?

I know, I hate being right all the time.

UPDATE: illegal garbage tax would require a lawsuit to overturn; council rejects Sorensen’s suggestion to oppose Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

16 Mar

Well, I’ve been preoccupied with the weather lately – there’s a lot of big trees in my neighborhood, and I could sit hypnotized all day by the swaying canopy outside my apartment windows. It’s like a juke joint out there, but you can’t hear the music over the 40+ mph winds.

But I’ve also tried to keep up with various issues that are on my radar because they affect the cost of living for my family and my tenants – the garbage tax, and the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.

The Garbage Tax: The “trash franchise” that was instituted in Chico back about 2013 was determined to be illegal in an August 2022 decision by the CA Supreme Court in the case of Zolly v. City of Oakland. What I finally realized the last time I studied the court’s decision (no, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just an old lady with Google) – the decision will not result in an immediate overturn of these franchises, it looks like each city, including Chico, would have to be sued by a citizen/citizen’s group to enforce the decision. Any takers?

Laura Dougherty, council for Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, suggested that we inform our city leaders of this case and hope they’ll be rational – meaning, either abandon the franchise, or put it on a ballot measure. My attempts to take this conversation to council have ended with the city clerk, who says I have to come to a meeting and tell them during Business from the Floor. I know they already know about the decision – Chico is a member of the California League of Cities, and the CLC is flying pissed about the decision, having written numerous articles in their various newsletters. The court was pretty clear – one justice used the word “collusion” to describe the deal Oakland had made with their waste hauler.

Why do I care? Because after years of the same reasonable rate from my old hauler, I was forced into a deal with another hauler that has doubled what I pay, even though I have switched to smaller bins. And they are making increasing demands – for goddsake, don’t let them find wet cardboard in your recycling bins! And this whole composting bullshit – that’s another blog post.

But that’s where it’s at – we would have to sue those shits on city council to get them to fess up – just like Measure J, the cell phone tax. I don’t have that kind of moolah, so I will just continue to bitch about it.

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act. Yeah, what a mouthful – what does it mean? The TPGAA will be on the ballot in 2024. It would change the voter threshold for tax measures back to 2/3’s. The legislature, behind our backs, dumped the 2/3’s requirement that we approved with Prop 13 – yeah, you have to watch those fuckers, they’re up to no good around the clock in Sacramento.

And you have to watch your local leaders – our council and staff put a simple tax measure – H – on last November’s ballot, knowing it couldn’t get 2/3’s approval, and more importantly – not wanting to go with a 2/3’s measure because it would have meant the money had to be restricted to a specific purpose. They didn’t have the nerve to float a Pension Obligation Bond, even though that’s what will happen to most of the money – a simple measure goes into the General Fund, and the General Fund goes mostly toward the pensions. Don’t take my word for it, read the budget yourself.

Measure H barely made it under the wire, with less than 53% approval. Under the TPGAA, any measure passed after January 2022 without 2/3’s approval is overturned. Yep. That’s why Mark Sorensen was worried – he said we stand to lose $24 million a year in Measure H revenues if the TPGAA passes.

Well, so what. The $5-6 million he’s announced for street work is all going to superficial “slurry coatings” on non-residential streets, like the roundabout in front of the Taj Mahal fire station #5. They have admitted they will not be resurfacing any of our beat up and sub-code residential streets, even as they pay to put new streets in new subdivisions on the outer edges of town. Over the years preceeding their tax campaign, staffers said the real cost of repairing Chico streets would be in the hundreds of millions – they aren’t going to do that, they’re going to make a few superficial, highly public repairs now, and by next year H receipts will be pouring right in to the General Fund, and from there to the Pension Stabilization Trust.

But Sorensen asked council to join the California League of Cities in opposing the TPGAA, because he knows it would overturn Measure H. Luckily, the reporter from Ch 7, Muna Sadek, did a story about it, and all the sudden James Gallagher’s office is telling Kasey Reynolds to drop the opposition. Council voted unanimously last week to table their resolution to oppose the measure. The city clerk informed me that Mark Sorensen has told her he won’t be bringing it back. I wondered, what did Assyman Gallagher’s office tell them about this measure? So I emailed Gallagher’s staff and will share any information they send me.

The good news is, the TPGAA will be on the 2024 ballot and we will be able to support it. And, this measure includes a provision that overturns measures like H that were approved by a simple majority after January, 2022.

Well, that’s where it’s at for now – join me next time on This Old Lady!

Is our city council too dependent on “staff” to make their decisions? Ask your rep if they read the Taxpayer Protection Act and if they understand it (you might want to read it yourself first… )

11 Mar

When I watched last week’s city council meeting on video, I realized, Mark Sorensen is trying to shove his resolution to oppose the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act right through, with as little transparency as possible. The Consent Agenda?

I am shocked. Years ago, when they discussed a sales tax increase with Sorensen as a council member, he and Sean Morgan both opined loudly that it should be a 2/3’s measure, with Morgan mumbling something about wanting the voters to make the decision so he wouldn’t be on the hook for it later. Sorensen stood firm for a 2/3’s measure, but it didn’t materialize on his watch.

And I was also shocked, after he lost his last bid for council, that Sorensen drank the Kool Aid, taking the job as City Manager for Biggs. He sold his interest in his cable satellite company and took that job from his next door neighbor Pete Carr, who was leaving that position for a manager position in Orland.

Then last year, when Council gave Mark Orme the door, Mark Sorensen was waiting right behind it, taking an unprecedented salary of $211,000/yr. He pays only 9% of the cost of his pension, adding to the bottomless pit of CalPERS debt. As a former council member he knows very well the situation with CalPERS, but he doesn’t seem to be too worried about our bottom line anymore, just his.

That’s why he’s freaking out over the TPGAA – he worked hard to shove Measure H past the voters on a 50+1 vote, now it’s “in jeopardy” alright – if the TPGAA passes, Measure H is null and void and has to go back to the ballot for 2/3’s of the vote.

Here’s a question that just popped into my mind – if they start collecting on that tax on April 1, and the TPGAA passes, will they have to give back all the money collected under that tax? Here’s the answer – NO. When we rejected Measure J, they’d been illegally collecting the cell phone tax for over 20 years. The offered a refund, but required hard copies of phone bills, and only for a year back.

It’s obvious to see why Sorensen opposes the TPGAA, and I expected council to roll right in with him, so I was surprised when Kasey Reynolds offered this: “it seems like there’s a lot of conflicting information… it sounds like it could affect our measure H…” She suggested tabling it for discussion at another meeting. She seemed nervous – yeah Kasey, everybody in town knows you voted on the Warren case and then said you didn’t understand it and you wanted a do-over. Good for you.

Sean Morgan commented that information presented by “staff” conflicts with information he received from Assemblyman James Gallagher’s office, but did not elaborate. Is he accusing who of lying? He sulked, “I don’t trust the League of California Cities at all…” The League is a major opponent of the TPGAA, and also supported the legislature in gutting the voter requirements set forth in Prop 13. The city of Chico is a dues paying member. ( The League of California Cities is a publicly funded nonprofit organization, funding provided by dues paying cities like Chico CA ) It was the League who in 2013 issued a report suggesting that cities should start deferring maintenance and make larger payments to CalPERS.

From that report: “City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and (3) Cities have few options to address growing pension liabilities.

“Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services: Many cities have already consolidated and cut local services during the Great Recession and have not been able to restore those service levels. Often, revenue growth from the improved economy has been absorbed by pension costs. The next round of service cuts will be even harder.” 

As far as The League is concerned, the taxpayers need to pay down the pension deficit brought about by years of unrealistic employee contributions. As far as The League is concerned, Prop 13 is Enemy No 1. So, while I’m glad Mr. Morgan has a healthy distrust of that quasi-public agency, I’d suggest both he and Reynolds read the text of the actual ballot measure instead of depending on city of Chico or Gallagher’s staffers, all of whom are CalPERS members. Yes, it “threatens our Measure H…” it sure does. Read for yourself:

I find it really annoying that city council members depend on staff to tell them about stuff when they could just read about it themselves. Sometimes I wonder if Reynolds is qualified to hold office.

But at least they passed a motion to table it for “another meeting” – approved 7-0. Dummies – none of them read the measure, did they? I’m a landlady, and every time I get a new tenant I ask them if they read the documents I sent them and if they have questions. I use big print and a “lease for dummies”, you know, so I can understand it. I’ll never forget the two guys who ran a local non-profit – when I asked if they’d read it, they both got big eyes, held their hands out for a copy, and walked to opposite sides of the driveway. But they damned sure read it, and I asked them specific questions before we all signed. Maybe we should ask ourselves if our council members are able to read and understand at a high school level before we vote them into office. Can they use a dictionary? How about Google? Dummies – they think running for council is a popularity contest.

Hey, want to have some fun? Read the Taxpayers Protection and Government Accountability Act ballot measure posted above and we’ll have a quiz. You can send same questions to your council rep, see how much they know about the damned thing.

This morning I sent a note to the clerk’s office, asked, when and where will the conversation continue? I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I wrote a letter to the editor about this situation,

On the advice of city manager and former Councilman Mark Sorensen, Chico City Council is considering a resolution opposing The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, slated for the 2024 ballot. According to Sorensen, “The [TPGAA] would make it more difficult for voters to pass measures needed to fund local services and projects, and would put initiatives passed by voters after January 2022, such as Measure H passed by Chico voters in November 2022, in jeopardy. “

“make it more difficult for voters”? No, it will make it harder for public agencies to pass taxes without full voter approval. Since when is that a bad thing? And yes, it would jeopardize Measure H, a full cent sales tax that squeaked by with less than 53% of the vote last November.

If the TPGAA passes, it will reinstate the 2/3’s voter threshold to pass taxes, approved overwhelmingly by California voters under Prop 13, stripped later by the legislature without a ballot measure. If you think housing is unaffordable now, imagine a world without Prop 13 – home ownership becomes a privilege of the ultra rich. This measure would also reinstate rules for campaign “transparency”. Why would Sorensen want council to oppose transparency?

Sorensen’s resolution would mean the city would be added to the “No coalition” – does that involve taxpayer money? Staff time has already been used on this resolution.

I’m glad council tabled this discussion for another meeting. Contact your representative and ask them why they’d oppose a law that protects taxpayers.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Mark Sorensen asked council to stand up and declare they don’t want to protect the taxpayers, or be accountable for the taxes they pass, and council said, “wait a minute here…”

9 Mar

Welcome to Dr. Juanita’s office – see, ever since my husband and I got kicked off Cal Covered for not making enough money, we’ve had to take care of ourselves. Recently, when I started to feel like I couldn’t raise my arms, I sat down at my laptop with a heating pad and started googling “sore arms”. It seems that with all this weather and the raking, shoveling and general pick-up around my house and yard, I have “hyperextended” my arms – you all remember the milk commercial in which the old man grabs his wheelbarrow and his arms fall off… OMG! that can really happen!

Wow, I like that word – hyperextended – you could use it for a million different occasions. Chico, for example, is pretty “hyperextended” right now. At least my problem is from overwork instead of overspending.

I don’t like painkillers, cause they don’t like me. Taking an ibuprofen or even an aspirin is like shoving a whole roll of Mentos into a liter bottle of Mr. Pibb. You don’t want to be there. Chico uses band-aids – for example, grants – grants are a form of instant gratification that comes with interest.

So I did some homework – here’s the advice you get for hyperextended arms – “stop doing whatever you’re doing…” I get that, but does the city of Chico get it?

This morning I finally got a chance to watch the Tuesday (3/7) Chico City Council meeting. Wow, what a show – I could tell Debbie Presson was kind of annoyed, in her nice way, I think she wanted to put somebody over her knee. Council acts like tiny children sometimes and Ms. Presson seems to feel that is a direct reflection on her skills at keeping meetings in order. Let’s give her a taser! How about a stick?

But what I was after was the discussion about opposing the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, item 2.2 in the Consent Agenda. I guess-tulated that was Sorensen’s Baby, I think I was right. Kasey Reynolds immediately complained that she wasn’t sure she understood the measure or the discussion and she wanted to table it for another meeting. Morgan fell right in with her. The rest of council agreed and tabled it.

I’ve watched these guys discussing the sales tax measure for about 5 years now, and they always have problems standing publicly and declaring they support any tax. In one Finance Committee meeting, former council member Mark Sorensen, along with current council member Morgan, both declared they wanted a 2/3’s tax measure because they wanted “the voters” to be responsible for the decision – they didn’t want that albatross hung around their necks, and they still don’t. They’re afraid they’ll lose their next bid for re-election, and yeah, that’s always a possibility. What has happened to change Mark Sorensen’s tune? Well, since he left City Council he has sold his private business and take a job in the public sector – first as city manager of Biggs, now he’s getting $211,000 + benefits to run the City of Chico into the ground.

Now Sorensen wants council members to stand up and declare they don’t want to protect the taxpayers, or be accountable for the taxes they pass. Boy, do they wish they could meet and make these decisions in private, like they hold most of their discussions, with staff and other “stakeholders”. But now there’s scrutiny, the COVID farce is over, people are attending meetings and paying attention.

I’ll have to hand it Reynolds – at least she admitted she didn’t understand something BEFORE she voted on it for a change. I’ll guess she and the others did a double-take because of the extra scrutiny put on this action – thank you Muna Sadek at Ch 7 for choosing to cover this story. I hope Muna will stay with us a while, she’s a real journalist.

I’m not sure what will happen to this proposed resolution, I’ll watch for it in committee agendas. I don’t know why they spend staff time on stupid stuff like resolutions, and this one is especially vexing because it’s an attack on the sunshine/transparency laws. Yes, the city of Chico is hyperextended, they need to get off their spending bender and start making some new policies that save money instead of strongarming working people to pick of the tab for overgenerous employee contracts and irrational spending policies.

Here’s the link to the meeting video –

When you get a chance, take a look at the business from the floor segment – Robyn Engel gives a good rundown on some pretty questionable uses of Chico taxpayer money, right out of the budget. I think we’re on the verge of some sort of rumble, I just don’t know exactly where it’s going to come from.

KRCR News: Chico City Council to vote on resolution AGAINST taxpayer protection ballot measure – this measure would overturn Measure H, the Chico sales tax increase

7 Mar

by Muna Sadek Monday, Mar. 6, 2023

CHICO, Calif. — Next November, California voters will have the chance to vote on a ballot measure that aims to make it a little tougher to pass taxes.

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, spearheaded by the California Business Roundtable, would set new rules at both the state and local levels. It would require state legislation that imposes any new taxes or tax increases to be approved first by a majority of California voters. Secondly, proponents say it would close a loophole at the local level by requiring that special taxes only be passed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Chico city officials are set to vote on a resolution against the measure Tuesday. According to a staff report from City Manager Mark Sorensen, the recently-passed Measure H is at stake because the ballot measure is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022. Measure H was passed with 52% voter support.

Longtime Chico resident and owner of Juanita Sumner says she felt beat down after the passage of Measure H but believes the Taxpayer Protection Act could offer local taxpayers reprieve.

“If you can’t get two-thirds of the people to support a tax, why would you put it out there?” Sumner says. “It just about divides our town between the haves and the have-nots and the have-nots could use a little pick up.”

Meanwhile, Sorensen cautions that the city stands to lose about $24 million that would otherwise be generated by the Measure H sales tax for road repair projects and other infrastructure needs. The tax is set to go into effect April 1.

An upcoming California ballot measure would raise the voter threshold for tax measures – and overturn Measure H (think that’s why city mangler Mark Sorensen is pressing council to mount formal opposition?) (using your tax dollars?)

6 Mar

Well, you know me – I have a hard time “letting it go…” I’m still mad about the city of Chico’s simple tax measure and their dirty and underhanded – and I’ll say some of it was illegal – campaign to pass that one-cent sales tax.

Here’s a good question – why is a 2/3’s measure better than 50% +1 or “simple” measure? Here’s my simpleton theory – in Chico, the public sector outweighs the private sector at the ballot box. They have a stake in tax measures, and they are very well informed by their unions. Meanwhile, city officials, elected and hired, do everything they can to keep the rest of us out of the conversation, including a new effort by our city manager Mark Sorensen to undermine the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.

The TPGAA would not only increase the threshold for passage of tax measures back to 2/3’s, it addresses transparency and what’s legal during the campaign. Read about it here:

And HERE’S THE STINGER: It’s retroactive to January 2022. Yes, MEASURE H WOULD BE OVERTURNED.

Oh, somebody stop me… I think I’m going to bust a gut. This is the best news I’ve heard since November 8, 2022.

But HERE’S THE QUESTION: If the TPGAA passes, will the city be reasonable and overturn the measure? No, they’re opposing the measure, formally, with City Manager Sorensen calling for that resolution to oppose this measure.

You know, I don’t really think it’s the city’s job to tell us how to vote. Of course they would oppose this measure. How many other taxes you think this measure would overturn? I think we might be able to apply it to the trash tax, and wow, maybe it would even cover the sewer tax. Ya think? Let’s find out, next time, on “This Old Lady Really Wants to Put Her Boot Up Mark Sorensen’s Ass”.

Note: Thanks Muna!

Everybody repeat after me: when the people lead, the leaders will follow

4 Mar

My husband and I travel a lot these days, gotta keep up with the kids and the relatives. I always know I’m in Chico when I wake up to the train whistle. We have a friend who likes to take the train from her home town in SoCal up to see her kids in Portland, it goes right through Chico, about 4:30 am, without stopping. Amtrak has a bus that will take you from LA to Chico, a 12 hour hell trip that leaves you standing at the Chico Depot at 9:25 pm. $70.50, one way. Two transfers – they kick you off the first bus in Bakersfield, then again in Stockton.

Having rode Greyhound as a kid, here’s my advice – don’t move an inch from the station, just get your bag and get the hell to that next bus. If you miss that transfer you’ll be waiting for hours, in a seat that will compel you to throw away your pants. No, I don’t know if there’s a bathroom on the bus, but I sure as hell wouldn’t use the one at the station if I were you.

Here’s where you end up in Chico – “Amtrak Train Station ChicoCA has a platform only, no shelter, without Wi-Fi, with parking, with accessible platform and no wheelchair available.” Sounds cozy! But no, I wouldn’t leave my car parked in that neighborhood – at all – and since there’s no busses at that time, and you’d be an idiot to ride a bike in this town at 9:30 pm, crazy to walk, you better have a ride lined up. I’ve heard Uber is expensive, and we’ve all heard the stories about who is driving. I don’t even know if you can get a taxi in Chico anymore. Don’t call me because I’ll be asleep.

So talk of a train directly to North Sacramento, where you can catch an express bus to the Sacramento International Airport, caught my attention. It also raises some questions in my mind – first of all, how will Chico pay for a new depot? You know they will have to put tax money forward to get this deal, just like the millions in “guarantee” money they are paying to get an airline. Second, what will this mean to the Chico Airport? More money to prop up an airport that can’t get air service without millions in guarantee money, just so people will be taking the train to a much better airport with more services and flights in Sac-o-tomatoes?

None of this interests me personally because I travel with my dog. Not to mention every horrible plane and train crash I’ve ever heard of. Just think if they hadn’t stopped the Amtrak passenger train in time when the Edgar Slough trestle was set on fire a while back. People most certainly would have been injured. And I just heard a story about turbulence over Appalachia that made me renew my vow to never fly again. All that particulate vomit spraying around – and I got a good look at the food they serve – HARD NO!

For years now I’ve sat in on various conversations about funding public transportation, but most importantly, getting people to use it. See, they want the grant funding to pay salaries and benefits for agencies like BCAG – Butte County Association of Governments. In order to pay the bureaucrat salaries and benefits, they’ve hitched their wagons to grants. It’s like cocaine – grants have to be matched, and if the agency doesn’t have that money on hand, it’s a loan, and there’s interest. Think about everything you’ve tried to teach your kids about debt, and then look at your government.

They want us on public transportation so they can mainline grant money. Cars are unpopular now, especially in California. So they continue to ignore the roads, knowing people get frustrated with traffic back-ups. They think they can force us into public transportation – one ride on public transportation and most people wish they were sitting in their car in a traffic jam.

I’ll say, while my friend from SoCal enjoys the more scenic parts of her train ride (starting about Redding), she doesn’t enjoy the various bus transfers she has to endure in the south, leaving her miles from home with a late night drive. She only does it because the nearly 24 hour car drive is too onerous for one person. It’s an “either or” situation. I believe California could do better, but you know, it really matters who is in charge. And at this point, CalPERS is in charge, and the people who make the decisions are beholden to CalPERS.

It’s a “dick in a mousetrap” situation, I say, snap that sucka!