Archive | May, 2023

Harvey Holland: “Undergirding the homeless movement is an entitlement mentality, one that avails itself to the benefits of a free society, yet does not obey the laws that safeguard those rights.”

28 May

I don’t subscribe to the Enterprise Record but every now and then I read the letters section online – I find that the most interesting section of the paper, which has gone to mostly ads and propaganda. Most times I am able to read it before the wall comes up, today all I got was the following, with a quick glimpse at the name of the author – Harvey Holland. I didn’t get to read the whole letter, but I liked the opening quote.

Undergirding the homeless movement is an entitlement mentality, one that avails itself to the benefits of a free society, yet does not obey the laws that safeguard those rights.”

That really nails it for me – I can’t stand people who scream for their rights without accepting any responsibility for their actions. I’ve dealt with friends and family members who’ve adopted that philosophy – I call it, “The Me, Myself and Irene” syndrome. “Irene” representing methamphetamine, heroin, and/or waaaaay too much alcohol.

Yep, that’s the reality of Chico these days, entitled drug addicts and criminals. They know they won’t be held responsible for taking stuff out of your yard, taking your daughter’s bike or your 11 year old’s BMX from the garage. That used to be called “stealing”, but these days it’s just a fact of life – if you don’t lock your stuff up – even that curious looking doodad hanging from your porch eaves – they will take it and nobody’s going to do anything about it.

Even locking stuff up isn’t always the answer. Car thefts are just a fact of life, and if your car is older and worth less than $10,000 they’re not even going to attempt to find it, much less get it back. My friend Dave’s locked car was stolen from the parking lot at his apartment complex. When he finally got it back, there was over 1,000 new miles on it, it had been stripped of valuable parts like the catalytic converter, was full of garbage including chits from casinos and used syringes, and was in the possession of a woman with warrants on her. That’s the only reason he got it back – she had to abandon it when the cops arrested her, and the tow truck got it before the transients got ahold of it again. I don’t believe anyone was ever charged, they acted as though Dave should be lucky to get his car back at all, completely destroyed and nothing but trash.

The cops and Mike Ramsey saw Dave’s car as an old junker, but Dave knew it as a car he had copiously maintained for years and his only source of transportation. This is life in Chico – watch your ass.

Or, demand more from your local police force. The police department gets over half the budget to tell us they can’t do anything about crime – tell your city rep the cops need to pay more of their own pensions, that’s getting down to their bottom line. Demand more from your DA – write a letter to the editor asking who will run against Ramsey and offer your support. And demand more from your city representative – my rep, Kasey Reynolds, tells me they need to offer these crazy $100,000+ salaries to “attract good people”. Let your rep know, that’s now working for us, and tell them you’re ready to fund and vote for anybody wo runs against them. I supported Morgan Kennedy in the last race, and you know what – she made a pretty good showing, and if she ran again she’d probably do better. I know she had Kasey worried – Reynolds’ PAC, “Citizens for Safe Chico” set a new funding record for the city council race.

The real problem is, it’s not just the transients and criminals who have a stake here – our ruling class is really entitled, they don’t care about our experience, they’re looking out for the One Percent. Look at Mark Sorensen’s little stucco compound over on Manzanita – you think he’s really worried about what you’re experiencing? Stand up and say something, or YOU have become the problem.

The rich will play while the taxpayers pay – the skating rink lost $113,835?

27 May

As I was looking over the budget report from this past week’s Finance Committee meeting, a few things caught my eye – figures that just seem to appear out of nowhere. It’s called the Hokey Allocation Pokey – they just take money from one fund to another, like peas under walnut shells. The hand is quicker than the eye!

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/5.24.23_fc_agenda_packet.pdf?1684428185

Yes, as they promised, they have a special fund for Measure H revenues, but here’s the thing that caught my eye – there’s already $4 million in there, and it’s in parentheses. That means, deficit. They haven’t collected $4 million in revenues, cause they only started collecting the tax April 1. So they just took the money – allocated it – from somewhere else. It’s in parentheses because they will have to pay it back, I would hope. I’m going to guess I missed the meeting where they said where that money came from, and it’s not in the report. It just materialized.

That is exactly the figure that Mark Sorensen pledged to “fix” our streets, with slobbers patches and slurry. That was a mini-drama – at first the city announced they would be applying new slurry (a coating made from old asphalt and oil) on streets in newer neighborhoods, some of them less than 10 years old. That riled people in older neighborhoods who hadn’t seen service in 20 or more years – how about the Guynn Avenue bridge, closed years ago because it’s falling off it’s mounts, restricting the residents’ egress and ingress from their homes. Tijuana quality service in a town with a budget over $200 million a year. Our City Manager’s salary of $211,000.year (+benefits) is more than they spent on the streets last year, you figure it out.

So our idiot mayor, Andrew Coolidge, quickly called the press to declare that was a mistake, and they changed the schedule to include neighborhoods with streets so badly damaged and neglected that the slurry won’t last 6 months. Mark my words, Folks, mark ’em down. I been right so far.

Hey Becca, I’m going to guess, you’re still waiting for sewer service down your street – remember, Becca was telling us the city has run sewer lines within a block of her house but she’s still sitting on a dysfunctional septic tank waiting for that last section of trunk line.

Where the hell does the money go? Well, drive Downtown, you see everybody who wanted them got their parklets – that was paid for out of the American Rescue Plan money that was intended to help businesses get over the effects of the pandemic, a shutdown ordered by the city. But was it really intended to help businesses expand onto public property to make more profits than ever before? I don’t believe it was, I think our council members are just listening to the squeaky wheels.

Right now, Downtown is tanking, so the Downtown merchants are squeaking like an old wagon. They were the principal proponents of the skating rink, claiming their receipts went up during the season – really? But who paid for it? The city budget, on page 115, shows that the city manager recommended budget projections of $115,000 in sponsorships and $250,000 in admissions? But I see they allocated $300,000 from the General Fund anyway. Does that money get paid back or what? We never know.

Of course, those figures are all speculated, “adopted” by council at the city manager’s recommendation. At this past week’s Finance Committee meeting (5/24), the report showed the “actuals”. For one thing, staff reported for April, “Description: Salaries & Employee Benefits Analysis: This category is tracking behind due to additional staff working on ice rink. Action Plan: Finance is taking a supplemental to Council to adjust budget to align with actual costs.” Followed by a second note – “Description: Non-Recurring Operating Analysis: Additional costs for operating the Chico Ice Rink. Action Plan: Finance is taking a supplemental to Council to adjust budget to align with actual costs.

That was the report for April. As of May, two more supplemental allocation requests: “Item #3 Description: Non-Recurring Operating Analysis: Additional costs for operating the Chico Ice Rink. Action Plan: Finance is taking a supplemental to Council to adjust budget to align with actual costs.

Item #6 Location: City Recreation Expenditure Category: 876-610-4000 Description: Salaries & Employee Benefits Analysis: This category is tracking behind due to additional staff working on ice rink. Action Plan: Finance is taking a supplemental to Council to adjust budget to align with actual costs.

Yes, they went over budget, they’re asking more money be appropriated for the skating rink costs. Obviously, staff time for the rink cost more than they predicted. Staff out of public works – those employees that are supposed to fix our streets, all Downtown working overtime on the skating rink.

On page 111 of the report for April, the word “Over” is written in red ink eight times, including “professional services” (contractor for the rink), “non-recurring/operating” and “advertising” – the rink. This sounds trite but it’s true – only the government is allowed to go “over” budget without an intervention.

And then there’s a page that I can’t get an image of, and it didn’t turn up under my F-Search, I don’t know how they load this stuff, but you’ll have to look for it yourself. On page “2 of 316” of the March report, staff lists the “actuals”. Under Fund 876, “City Recreation”, they’ve got a negative fund balance of ($113,835) for 22/23. As of March 31 2023, only $6500 in sponsorships has come in against Sorensen’s projected $115,000.

Let’s just admit it – the skating rink is a wash. When staff gave the Finance Committee that news at the April meeting, Mayor Idiot slumped in his chair like a second grader being called out for bad behavior, mumbling into his own chest, “well…it’s good will…

Good will for whom? Delivered at whose expense? As usual, the taxpayers pick up the bill for the excesses of the elite.

Joe Azzarito on Measure H: How can they continue to push this obvious lie?

24 May

Well, you know what I love about my friend Joe Azzarito – he can’t just watch a pile of bullshit get up and walk down the street, he has to say, “Hey, that’s BULLSHIT!” So here’s what he has to say about Measure H. Thanks Joe and keep it coming.

Read this week’s articles and the supposed  $24,000,000 in Chico’s budget proposals, as a result of Proposition H. How in hell can they continue to push this obvious lie? Can the Merlins in city hall staffing/and or council members explain their math? Maybe the espoused dyed in the wool Trump hater, Scott Paulo can help them. $24,000,000 in new receipts based on an added 1% comes from $2.4 billion (8 zeros) in taxable sales. That works out to $80,000 in taxable sales for every 4 person family or $20,000 from every man, women and child in Chico. With a total median family income at less than $80,000 and much of what they buy as non-taxable, how do they arrive at these ginormous tax receipts?

And don’t get me started on road repair – full repaving not just slurry and oil on nearly three-quarters of our streets are needed. I just incurred major tire replacements on our cars. Would Chico like to repay me for my automobile destruction due to their roadways being in third world condition?

Fraud, misinformation, disinformation is not limited to our federal government. It is rampant throughout our country. “Deep states” are real! They exist everywhere and are cancers that must be eradicated, if we are to survive as a country.

Joe Azzarito, Chico CA

According to Oxford, “Deep State is a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy.

There has always been talk of a group of manipulators running the country – a real story was the Bank of Crooks and Criminals, with members like Jimmy Carter. “Also known as, ‘The Bank of Credit and Commerce’… Police and intelligence experts nicknamed BCCI the “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International” for its penchant for catering to customers who dealt in arms, drugs, and hot money.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2011/09/28/fast-and-furious-just-might-be-president-obamas-watergate/?sh=10244e1f752a

Were these people involved in Barack Obama’s “Fast and Furious” operation? Ask Sonny Bono. The government operates secretly, we find out years later from some reporter trying to make a name for themself, but there’s never any accountability. In Chico, the “Deep State” is made up of local businessmen and developers – Marc Francis, Bill Brouhard and others have manipulated every council as long as I can remember. Franklin Construction is one of the biggest donors at election time. Then there’s the employee unions – CPOA, IFFA and SEIU contributing thousands of dollars in every election.

Here’s a little anecdote for you – when Chico Area Rec Dist was discussing putting an aquatic center on Bill Brouhard’s friend’s south Chico property, former county supe Jane Dolan and her “activist” husband Bob Mulhullond appeared before the board to discuss environmental restrictions. Mulhullond was visibly upset about the project, and Dolan said it needed a full EIR. Bill Brouhard immediately invited Jane out into the hallway for a private discussion, and out she went. They sat in the hallway through the rest of the meeting, and since then, neither Dolan nor Mulhullond have mentioned that project again – now known as Valley’s Edge.

Yes, we have a “Deep State” – in Chico and throughout the country, it’s not just some “fringe” theory. Thanks for that letter Joe.

Chico: The squeaky wheel gets the grease – start squeakin’!

20 May

My husband and I were running errands the other day that took us past Depot Park. Wow. What a fucking mess. I know a lot of college students are forced to live in that neighborhood – it’s cheap and they don’t know any better. There are also plenty of families that live in there, single moms and little kids all over the place.

Depot Park is also the train station. No, the train doesn’t stop, but you can catch a bus there at about 4:30 am to connect with trains elsewhere. I’m guessing the train won’t stop there anymore because Chico is well-known as a transient town, Amtrak has complained about people blocking the tracks with garbage, fires, and their own bodies. A friend of ours was on her way to Portland when bums burned the trestle at Edgar Slough and the train was delayed for hours waiting for busses.

Wow – when I realized all our friend sees of Chico when she blast through town is Depot Park, it made me embarrassed. Why is this happening? Yesterday they reported 43 beds at Torres Shelter and 15 pallets open. But they need to build a new site on Cohasset? For folks that just won’t agree to the rules at the established shelters?

Welcome to the State of Lawlessness, brought to you by Chico City Council. These idiots probably can’t balance their own check books, and here they are fucking with our lives. Drug overdoses, car thefts and general mayhem in every direction, and Chico PD has the balls to declare crime is down in Chico? I’m going to guess – they’ve just stopped arresting people. Car thefts are not down, but it depends on the age and perceived value of the car as to whether or not it’s a “crime”. Drug arrests are still a regular event, and there have been three fatal overdoses reported in Chico just this week, but “crime” is down?

And again, town looks like shit for Chico State graduation ceremonies – ever wonder why enrollment has gone down 22% in the last five years? From over 16,000 students to about 12,000. That might help explain so many empty store fronts Downtown?

Not enough housing? You’ve got to be kidding. They build and they build, but rent keeps going up! New and refurbished apartment complexes all over town, but rent per person averages about $600/month. And the city has almost eliminated parking requirements for new housing, meaning, you have nowhere to securely park your car. They are requiring half a parking space per unit, even units with more than one bedroom.

Looking at rentals online, I see there are usually neighborhood ratings as to “connectivity”. Most neighborhoods in Chico receive a low rating here, because there’s nowhere residents can walk out and shop. But Chico continues to sprawl up and out, into areas of town with no services. They think a bike bridge over the freeway is going to correct this situation – how about fixing sidewalks and bringing commercial areas up to grade? Chico is still 30 years behind the Americans with Disabilities Act – many neighborhoods HAVE NO SIDEWALKS. Businesses families need are leaving Chico, the small shopping centers are dilapidated and neglected. Who’s moving here? Smoke shops and liquor stores. What’s “family friendly” about extending liquor service to parks and sidewalks Downtown?

A good title for Chico City Council would be “The Blind Leading the Morons”. They chase the bums from camp site to camp site like Keystone Cops. They refuse to admit we have a major crime problem. They refuse to admit businesses are leaving town because they have to follow their customers. You really think those parking kiosks are there to make the customer happy?

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/news/downtown-chico-business-owners-frustrated-over-parking-kiosks/article_56e4fb4c-f5e7-11ed-94af-737d9bb5a4e4.html#:~:text=CHICO%2C%20Calif.,since%20these%20kiosks%20went%20in.

According to Van Overbeek, the parking kiosks went into place to increase parking in downtown Chico and that the kiosks are more cost effective than building a new parking structure. He says the kiosks help create more parking enforcement with the time limits when it comes to people inputting their license plate number.”

No, they’re there because humans can’t issue parking tickets fast enough, the machines make a parking ticket automatic. They’re also equipped to track your car as you move around town, along with the license plate readers we just bought for Chico PD, they will be able to track your movements and send you advertising based on your habits, via that app you have to load on your cell phone. I didn’t guess that, or make it up – they talked about it in meetings, even in the newspaper.

So no Leann, I’m not coming Downtown to buy your overpriced slave labor crap, and not just because of the kiosks. Hey, Kalen, you’re charging twice as much for a deli sandwich as Spiteri’s and The Locker, just because you’re located in Downtown Chico – don’t try to pass that off on me. There are no businesses Downtown that carry stuff I need for prices I can afford. It was funny to read the owners of North Rim Adventures Sports complain that Downtown landlords are the problem – who can afford to shop at North Rim? Chico Chamber CEO Katy Thoma asked me recently if I ever shopped at Colliers – no, they charge too much for stuff I can get at the box stores south of town, or even online, for much cheaper. Really silly stuff, like a drain stop for my tenant’s bath tub, or a new shower head, or maybe some screws to fix whatever. Those nickels and dimes add up to a rent increase, Landlady ain’t a charity operation.

We quit Northern Star Mills after we found our brand of dog food online for about half the price. I shopped in those stores since I was too small to see over the counter, but I won’t be gouged by somebody who’s being gouged by the City of Chico to pay their salaries and benefits.

So yes, I can see why Downtown, why all of Chico, is in trouble. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pensions. That’s all they think about when they make decisions, like the recent decision to halt work on the Bruce Road widening – because they can’t find a contractor to do the work for $23 million? No, I’m going to guess they’ve already “allocated” (dipped into) that funding and there’s not even $23 million left. They promised us new streets when they marketed Measure H, now we get pothole patches and slurry. What next? Parcel tax for the widening of one stretch of road that should have come out of developer fees? According to Mark Sorensen, the developers who gave us the Fogarty and Doe Mill/Merriam Park subdivisions have never paid street/road fees.

Think about that next time you’re sitting in your car trying to get to work or the store. Then write a letter to council about it. The squeaky wheel seems to get the grease around here.

This Tuesday Council will ponder taking more taxpayer money from various road projects to complete the Bum Bridge to Nowhere – ponder that while you’re sitting in gridlock trying to get to your job

14 May

So many big issues before council these days, people are missing the important stuff. Tuesday night, Chico Council is being advised by Staff to appropriate over $4 million from other road projects, to fill “an approximately $5 million funding gap” for the proposed 20th Street bum bridge. That allocation includes $400,000 from the unfinished Eaton Road southbound freeway onramp.

We are requesting the transfer of $400,000.00 from CIP #50488- SR99 / Eaton Rd Southbound ramp
improvements, using TOA funding (Fund 212).

The project will construct a Class I path, completing the final gap of Bikeway 99, including a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over 20th Street.” Yep, complete with “art treatments” that are supposed to “to incorporate the history, culture and overall atmosphere of Chico.” Here is the “artist’s rendering

Rendering of the proposed bridge design.

How exactly does this generic crap represent the history or culture of Chico? What it represents to me are similar “pedestrian” pathways established all around Sacramento during the 60’s and 70’s. One immediate problem was rocks being thrown or dropped off these overpasses onto moving cars. This story was common when I was living in Sacramento. Here’s a recent incident, and I’m guessing it’s just the one I found with a quick search.

https://www.kcra.com/article/chp-car-hit-by-rock-thrown-from-hwy-50-overpass-in-sacramento/22145940

A disturbing incident near Denver CO resulted in at least one death.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/teens-accused-deadly-rock-throwing-spree-formally-charged/story?id=99053570

The other, more obvious issue here, is the blatant lie – “The current lack of a safe and direct pedestrian/bike path discourages residents from walking or biking to local schools, job centers, commercial areas, and public services.”

There are pedestrian walkways on both sides of the existing bridge that traverse the freeway at 20th Street. There are pedestrian walkways over the freeway at Skyway, and along every city street that goes under the freeway. There’s a pedestrian/bike only tunnel on Humboldt that connects two bike paths. At present, pedestrians have more access around the freeway than do car drivers.

This project was undertaken to get state and federal grants to pay salaries and benefits Downtown. You really think it costs $45 million (it started at $30 million) to build a bridge over the freeway? That’s roughly the figure that Chris Constantin said it would cost to resurface/rebuild unmaintained and badly neglected streets and bridges all over Chico.

Speaking of which, don’t worry folks – your slurry is on the way! Here’s another item from this Tuesday night’s council agenda:

CONSIDERATION OF APPROVAL OF A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION/BUDGET MODIFICATION NO. 2023-PWE-008 

The Public Works Engineering Director requests consideration and approval of a Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification to the FY 2022-23 Budget reallocating unused transportation funding from capital project Lower Park Road Rehab to the newly established Upper Park Road Treatment to better align with City needs as well as request to allocate $4,000,000 in Measure H funds to FY 22/23 paving projects.  (Report – Brendan Ottoboni, Public Works Director-Engineering)

Based on the timing of this allocation, a slurry seal treatment is the best use of funding to make an immediate impact. [meaning, it’s just for looks] Slurry seal treatments can be done with minimal design work, so that staff can get a project out to bid and complete the improvements in calendar year 2023, barring any unforeseen changes.” In other words, it’s just a hack job to get the public off their back.

Minimal design? How much “design” is required to spray ” a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion, aggregate (very small crushed rock), and additives to an existing asphalt pavement surface“? A quarter inch of coating over your broken street surface? Of course they’ll throw some slobbers on your pot holes and pound them in by hand before they apply the slurry. But let’s face it – that’s like putting a sheet over a bed of nails.

Judging from the work they did on Vallombrosa a few years ago, it won’t last six months. So there goes $4 million in Measure H money, on a bullshit hack job.

So that’s how your council determines your future by the spending of your money. The criminals will move freely in your town while you sit in gridlock trying to get to your job.

Utility User Tax Rebate time – a good opportunity to let the city know you’re tired of subsidizing bad decisions

10 May

I notice people are reading the old posts I made about Measure J – the cell phone tax attempted by the city of Chico back in 2012. That reminded me of the city’s annual “Utility Users Tax Refund Program”, available starting May 1. Here’s a link to print a copy of this year’s form. due anytime between now and June 30.

https://chico.ca.us/post/utility-users-tax-uut-refund-program

What catches me by the short hairs right away is the title – see that? The city, which has absolutely nothing to do with providing our water, power, or landline, taxes us for using utilities! What a shakedown!

Okay, that outburst aside – they don’t just hand you back the money. There are income qualifications, and you have to have paper copies of all your utility bills attached to your application. No, they won’t allow electronic transfer, even though the utility companies have been encouraging customers to “go paperless” for the last 15 or 20 years. You can either take time from your work day to deliver them at the Finance window at City Hall, or you can pay the postage to mail a year’s worth of utility bills. What, you think they’re going to make it easy for you? As I explain below, it’s one of the city’s top revenue sources.

Okay, another outburst – you realize, they also add “Franchise Fees” to our PG&E and landline bills, right? As well as your Comcast bill, if you get cable tv. Those are not refundable.

I don’t know if people really look at their bills – the franchise fees are not listed. The Utility Tax is listed under “Local Taxes” on Cal Water and PG&E bills. It’s not penny-anny – 5 percent of the total bill.

In the 2021-22 fiscal year, City of Chico added $8,119,022 in UUT to our utility bills. That was over half million more than their projection of $7,485,219. Of course it goes up with utility rate increases and development, neither of which the city of Chico has ever protested. The UUT falls behind only Property Tax and Sales Tax as the city’s third largest source of revenue.

Right now, the tax rate is at 5%, which is the highest allowed by city charter. Back in the 90’s it was 3%, but council, always desperate for more revenues, voted unanimously to raise it to the full 5. I think they could be persuaded to cut the tax, but it might take a legal petition.

In the meantime, why not get your rebate? If you’re a young single person or the average working head of household, you probably qualify. Especially single parents. At least look over your bills and add up your total UUT – I would guess you’ll get a good trip to the grocery store out of it at the very least.

And there’s another thing – I’m a landlady, I save napkins with figures on them, I save every bill, every scrappy receipt, so of course I have my utility bills. Apparently not everybody does that, so here’s the thing – get ready for next year, start saving your PG&E, Cal Water, and landline bills right now.

The constitution guarantees us the right to redress our grievances to our government, but first you have to get their attention. Sometimes it takes a while, a slow build-up, with no retreat. I remember asking Mark Orme years ago for the total rebate figure, and I think it was just about $111. So I looked at the most current city budget and I see the city refunded $2499. That’s $101 more than the previous year’s figure of $2398. Given my family of three’s average annual rebate of $90, that’s at least one more household added to the dogpile.

So make your voice be heard – attach a note to Council detailing your concerns – and take back some of your hard-earned dough at the same time.