Despite the jubilant headlines, the city’s ice rink lost $29,000 in 2021 – how much did it lose in 2022?

30 Apr

I haven’t had much time to think politics lately, because I been pulling weeds. It’s just amazing what a little rain at the right time of year will do. This year we got a bumper crop, all the best stickers, so we’re out there a few times a week. My husband gets behind the mower and the weed whip, then I move in on the flower beds and trees to pull the remainder by hand. I always tell my husband – you can’t mow everything, true weeds love a mower, makes them grow bigger and spread out flatter. Worse, if you hit them after they head up, you got weeds everywhere next spring.

Somebody has to keep the order in Dodge City, or at least in my yard, which is my retreat from what’s happening to the rest of Chico.

Meanwhile, council moves along in their weed bed – Downtown – trying to decide what to do, what to do. One trendy fad after another – ice rink, lateral parking, parklets, allow booze outside, and now “signage” to declare Downtown a “historic district”. As if Downtown is the only “historic” part of town?

The ice rink, by the way, continues to lose money. Last year, the first year in operation, they spent $376,000 building and operating the rink, and only took in $347,000 – $116,000 of which was from “sponsors”. That’s a $29,000 LOSS, a tab that had to be picked up out of the General Fund, or as Staff likes to call it, “The Cookie Jar”.

As usual the local media tried to put a positive spin on things – “takes in more than $347,000” Wow!

Frankly, I believe these are not news stories but press releases with a headline. You have to read the entire article to see there was a loss. Just think, $29,000 a year is what some people live on.

This year the media didn’t say anything, because the city didn’t send them a press release? Nothing to brag about, is what. At the recent Finance Committee meeting, an employee reported that the city’s “Recreation Fund” is not “on track” – meaning short. If you look at the report you see they spent over $250,000 of that fund, on what? Yeah, the ice rink, there’s no other Chico recreation – that’s CARD’s gig.

Revenues? They don’t say where the funding for the “Recreation Fund” comes from. There are no matching revenues anywhere in the report, no figures on sponsors, or the volunteer time from local contractors like Slater Construction. The staffer said she had not completed the analysis. I assume she’ll bring it back at next month’s meeting. But from what I could hear of the discussion (they all seemed to be reluctant to talk in front of me), the staffer is telling council they need to “make a decision.” To which committee member, Mayor Andrew Coolidge responded, in a very low voice, while squirming in his chair, “well, it’s Good Will …” You could hear a question mark in his voice, as if he was pleading.

A lot of people in town – the well-heeled anyway – live in a rose-colored fish bowl. They want the rink to work out, it’s part of their fantasy picture of Chico. They want Downtown to look prosperous again, because Downtown is in serious trouble. What they fail to realize – that means, you have to make it attractive to almost everybody in town, not just those who can afford $15 for a ticket and a pair of rented ice skates. These people live in their own mind, you can’t expect them to understand – or care about – the trials and tribulations of the average working family. They just want us to shut our pie holes and keep paying a higher cost of living – the cost of their lifestyle. Here we have a pack of Robin Hoods who steal from the poor and working class to feather the nests of the elite.

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act will be on the ballot in 2024, that’s a long time to wait, but plenty of time to tell your friends. This measure will raise the voter approval requirement for tax measures back to 2/3’s, and overturn Measure H, the city of Chico’s 50%+1 tax measure. If a government agency can’t get at least 2/3’s support for a tax measure, it shouldn’t be on the ballot. People like city manager and former councilman Mark Sorensen, along with Coolidge, Kasey Reynolds, and Sean Morgan, knew not only that this measure would never achieve 2/3’s approval, but that a simple 50%+1 measure could be spent on any whim of council, like a skating rink, and parklets for bars, subdivisions built “for the right people”, and signs that designate some parts of town as better than others.

I worked hard to tell people about Measure H, but I was out-gunned about 50-1 by people who stood to gain from that measure. This time I’m going to up my game a little, I want the TPGAA to pass, and this time there will be statewide supporters with money to back it up. If you want to join in the fun, contact me here, I won’t post your comment.

2 Responses to “Despite the jubilant headlines, the city’s ice rink lost $29,000 in 2021 – how much did it lose in 2022?”

  1. Scott Rushing April 30, 2023 at 8:13 pm #

    Dear Juanita: Another excellent article. You are speaking truth to power with no help from the local media. I still argue that the police costs, in different prongs, are sucking the city dry. Consider your knowledge of the pension costs, the overtime, the high salaries, and now Cheif Billy has been given a blank check to purchase more weaponry, military-style or similar, to combat the lawlessness in Chico.

    You read the police blotter, as do I. The overarching theme in the blotter is investigating crime, taking reports, and responding to illegal activities* AFTER* they occur. I ask you, how many crimes has CPD PREVENTED? Virtually ZERO. You revealed the overtime scam, but have you had any traction?* NO.* The city has an overpaid cabal of law enforcement employees that control the council and budget. Having a big, expensive, and lethal group of purportedly highly trained men cruising around the city in fancy SUVs makes people feel safe.. but that is illusory…and costly. You can also argue that the CPD is dysfunctional…just look at viral videos of officers confronting citizens during First Amendment audits, newly hired baby-faced cops who are charged with domestic violence for beating their children and wives, and cops who kill civilians refer to their victims as “pieces of crap”… and on it goes. Chico** is a college town and needs quality, not quantity cops. I say the city taxpayers need to act to keep the money from being wasted on never-ending law enforcement expenses. The money is better spent on improving infrastructure, but the taxpayers need to be seen and heard.

    The council and media are afraid of looking soft on crime, so they bend to the will of the DA, County Sheriff, Chico police union, and whatever chief is in power. There has been a lot of turnover in the CPD Chief position. You know the history is to move the men up, raise the salary, and let them retire young at a generous pension. Thank you for your efforts to get the taxpayer advocacy groups involved…local citizens are cowed by the police state…except for you. Scott Rushing

    • Juanita Sumner May 1, 2023 at 5:45 am #

      You know, I wrote a letter to the editor about police benefits, particularly overtime, and the president of CPOA responded – “False”, trying to make it sound as though I had made it all up. Ha ha – if I hadn’t been on to something he wouldn’t have bothered. So, I sent another letter pointing out sections of the contracts, included a link to the contracts, etc. I had to send that letter twice , even though Rainey’s letter had appeared exactly two days after my first letter. That was a perfect opportunity for other folks to chime in, I hope to see a letter from you and hopefully members of your group.

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