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Mark Orme’s personal pension deficit is over $70,000 – hey little Piggy! Pay it yourself!

16 Oct

Dave (thanks Dave) put the numbers on the 1% sales tax measure proposed by Staff and Council –

That 180 million is going to cost us over a quarter billion. In other words, we will have to pay over 73 million in interest to get 180 million. In other words, the interest will cost us over 40% of the bond.”

That’s over 73 million that won’t go to roads, won’t even go for cops or fire or even the crazy pensions. It goes right to Wall Street. And not the Wall Street in Chico.

Dave added later, “One of those consulting firms the last city council hired said for an average family of four the 1% tax increase would cost them $800 in additional tax a year.

I’ll add, at the present time, the city has no other real debt except the pension deficit, also known as, the Unfunded Actuarial Liability (UAL). They have leases on equipment and vehicles, but nothing approaching the UAL. Last time I asked the Finance Dept for that figure, it was over $145 million. And growing, despite increasing “stabilization” payments.

Those “stabilization” payments are funded by “allocations” from every department, a percentage of payroll. The last payment was over $11.5 million, and the Finance Dept. and various consultants have said that payment will keep going up, projecting $18 million by 2026.

Staff has brought in paid consultants to talk about a Pension Obligation Bond, leasing city infrastructure such as streets – Sean Morgan wanted to lease the airport. They’ve discussed every jackass notion that skitters across their shallow brain pans, but they refuse to discuss raising the employee contributions.

Here are the topics that need further discussion: The California Rule, and Defined Contributions vs Defined Benefits.

The California Rule states that our public employees have been guaranteed certain benefits, and that we can’t go back on those agreements. But here’s the thing – the California Rule doesn’t say we can’t require higher contributions out of employees.

Defined Benefits are the current agreement. That means, no matter what happens with our city finances, we have to pay the pensions – 70-90% of the employees’ highest year’s earnings. A good laywer could easily make the argument that WE didn’t promise these benefits, CalPERS did. They told us they’d make enough on the market to cover the insane pensions. Instead, we keep getting reports of malfeasance and mismanagement – including bribe taking and self-serving investments. They’ve failed to make their target year after year, and raised the city’s contributions as a consequence. Right now, the taxpayers are footing over 30% of the pensions, with the employees limping along at 15% or less. Management, with the highest salaries, pays only 9%.

Defined Contributions – that is what it sounds like. That’s what private sector employees get – if anything. That means, wthe employer (us) promises to contribute a set amount, based on a percentage of their salary. And then they can contribute as much as they want. That’s how 401K’s work.

They have special 401K’s for public employees, called a 457 Plan. Are you ready to be pissed off? In addition to his CalPERS pension, our city manager Mark Orme has negotiated himself a 457 Plan. According to publicpay.ca.gov , in 2020, the city put over $18,000 into Orme’s 457, in addition to over $22,000 toward his CalPERS pension. According to Transparent California, even with Orme’s 9% contribution to CalPERS, that leaves a deficit, just for Orme, of over $70,000. Plus interest fees.

I feel Orme owns that deficit, and should pay it. Or just take less in benefits. With a total salary of over $220,000/year, and a $62,000 benefits package, this guy is greedy pig.

Which will be the subject of my next letter to the editor, stay tuned.

Stop a train wreck before it happens – email Chico City Council and tell them you won’t support a new tax measure until we have a conversation about the employee contributions

12 Oct

I was actually surprised to see this letter from former city councilor Karl Ory. I’m not surprised that Ory is still active with the local Democrats, but I’m kind of surprised he’d attack a sales tax increase measure that he himself proposed while on council. Sure, it’s partisanship – whenever we have a change in the council majority the losers sit along the sidelines throwing eggs.

Letter: Conservatives have bled the city dry

The council proposal for a general sales tax increase is DOA. Conservatives have bled the city dry for a decade and will oppose any tax increase. Just ask Juanita Sumner and the Chico Taxpayers Assoc. But worse, this council has alienated nearly every moderate voice in the city. On their agenda is denying climate change, steamrolling a 1,448 acre development, doing away with the Greenline, and generally kowtowing to their developer benefactors.

Councilmember Morgan’s KPAY broadcasts show he intends to ride liberal bashing all the way to Sacramento. Tax revenues will be used for salaries and benefits; no assurances any will go for roads and creekways. This is just a sham to make them look good.  Afterward they’ll wring their hands and say they tried. Maybe blame the loss on the previous council.

Karl Ory, Chico

Yeah, we all know, the liberals have done plenty of bleeding in their day. They’ve voted right along with the conservatives to approve every new subdivision that’s come before them. They’ve also unanimously approved the employee contracts with overgenerous salary and benefits and unrealistic employee contributions toward the UAL. They all get money from the unions at election time, and many of them continue to take donations from power players like PG&E and Franklin Construction. But Ory is spot on when he says, “Tax revenues will be used for salaries and benefits; no assurances any will go for roads and creekways. This is just a sham to make them look good.  Afterward they’ll wring their hands and say they tried.

Of course the liberals would do same if they had the majority, Ory himself proposed a 1-cent general sales tax increase when he was on council. If you haven’t noticed this pattern before, you just moved here, or you’re deaf, dumb and blind. But I’m not going to squabble over that – when the liberals get the majority again I’ll criticize their poor management. The common thread here is that the money is not going to the roads or any public services, it’s going to service a bond(s). Remember this bit from the 9/21/21 council staff report:

General Obligation Bond
If the City were to pass a general sales tax, the Council could also consider issuing bonds to fund infrastructure, facilities, and equipment. The debt would be repaid over time with anticipated increased
revenues. A general obligation bond would require a two-thirds vote of the electorate to pass.
If the electorate were to pass a bond for infrastructure in the amount of $180,000,000 with interest at a
rate of 3.5 percent over a twenty (20) year period, the annual payment would be $12,664,994
.”

They want to use the sales tax increase revenues to get us deeper into debt. Think about that – not only will they NOT be using the sales tax money toward infrastructure as Coolidge keeps saying, they will be taking another 12 and a half million dollars away from infrastructure to pay off the bonds.

And yes, “bonds”, plural. They want money to pay the pension deficit, having failed in their attempt to make an end-run around the voters with their proposed Pension Obligation Bond.

Read the reports people, don’t just allow yourself to be mesmerized by their moving lips. They are liars, and they will lie to get what they want. Coolidge is one of the most bald-faced liars I’ve ever heard. And the local media just eats it up without question.

I can’t just sit by and watch the insanity, I had to respond to Ory’s letter.

Karl Ory is right, (10/9/21) “Tax revenues will be used for salaries and benefits; no assurances any will go for roads and creekways.” Correct, council has approved a general sales tax increase measure, meaning revenues will go to the General Fund and be spent as council determines.

Ory, a two-time council member, knows that the pension deficit (Unfunded Actuarial Liability) is the city’s only real debt, created by unrealistically high salaries/benefits and unreasonably low employee contributions. He knows that council directed staff to establish a “Pension Stabilization Trust,” into which money is purloined from each department – money that should go toward city services – to pay down the UAL. Recently, council and Staff tried to establish a “Pension Obligation Bond” without voter approval, only the threat of a lawsuit from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association stopped them. They told us they’d spend the garbage tax on the roads, but as Ory has also pointed out, the money has gone to the General Fund every year, spent on salaries, benefits, and new positions.

Look at the city budget – the city’s biggest expense is staff, taking almost the entire budget. Where are the services? Last year over $11.5 million went to the pension deficit. But the deficit keeps going up, because council keeps approving unsustainable contracts. Mark Orme created three new positions last year, at salaries over $100,000.

Until we have a real conversation about who owns the UAL, Chico Taxpayers Association will definitely oppose any new tax increases.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Here’s another blurb from that 9/21 report:

  • there will be costs associated with educating the public on the proposed measure (hiring a consultant to conduct such work) and costs associated with placing the measure on the 2022 ballot (such costs will be estimated by the City Clerk in working with the County Elections Office)
  • Yes, the rules for using taxpayer money to run political campaigns are foggy, the FPPC seems to be standing down on this. So, they will be going up your ass with your own money. Let’s try to stop this taxpayer-funded train wreck before it gets out of the station – email your district rep, and tell them not only will you not support this tax measure, but you might just be voting for somebody else when the time comes.

    Council to reconsider Shelter Crisis Designation

    5 Oct

    Tonight Chico City Council will discuss reinstatement of the Shelter Crisis Designation. Remarks made to me by Sean Morgan indicate the SCD will allow the city to suspend general health and safety code and allow “the unsheltered” to occupy just about any city property.

    So, you thought the “Occupy” movement was dead?

    While Morgan denies the SCD will come with new revenues to help deal with this problem, I don’t see anything about that in the report.

    Here’s what I suspect: Morgan and friends are going to set up camp at Commanche Creek and Teichert Ponds. And the report says they can make up their own health and safety code – “please shit in a bag and put it in the trash…” ?

    I feel this crisis has been created by the county and, in some part, by the city of Chico. And they continue to mishandle it. The airport resting site was a joke, and I think several council members knew that, and meant it that way. Jesus Center and Torres Shelter won’t cooperate and the city won’t make them cooperate. Consequently, there are empty beds at taxpayer supported shelters while these people are allowed to defile our public lands. Despite the fact that the city and county both give financial support to these shelters, these agencies refuse to hold the shelters up to their true purpose, which is “getting people off the street”.

    Many of these people have drug or mental health problems. Drugs and drug use are illegal. But Chico PD claim they can’t arrest because Sheriff Kory Honea won’t hold arrestees, claiming the jail is overcrowded. Consequently, DA Mike Ramsey won’t prosecute, and these people are released on their own recognizance into our community. Even those convicted are not supervised – the “failure to appear” charges just stack up.

    This is kind of a fucked up mess. There are a lot of things wrong here. The simple solution is that Chico is not responsible for this problem – no city is required to provide social services.

    I don’t go to meetings anymore, I don’t go to Downtown Chico for ANYTHING anymore. What a shit hole they’ve made of our town. But, the clerk has left Engaged up and you can still join the conversation there. They only allow 500 characters – that’s not words, that’s letters, and even spaces! But I squeezed in the following comment, and I hope you’ll join me.

    https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/369-10-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/6154f373f2b6705afb000624-5-dot-3-declaration-of-shelter-crisis-pursuant

    Butte County collects almost $100 million/year in fees for transfers of mental patients and jail/prison releases from other counties. Mental patients are held for 45 days and then released into our community. The jailer claims overcrowding and releases inmates. The county provides no follow up services or supervision of these people. Failure to Appear charges are ignored. County mental health service centers are only open M-F, 11:30 – 4:30. The county needs to do more, the city is not liable.

    Dan Walters: here’s the truth about Biden’s “infrastructure bill”

    3 Oct

    Sorry, the link loaded twice, but this is a good read. President Joe Biden wants us to believe his $3.5 TRILLION “infrastructure” package is about improving roads, utilities and quality of life for millions of people, but it’s really about undoing one of the good things Donald Trump did. In 2017, Trump got legislation passed that lowered taxes on working and middle income people while lowering deductions and therefore raised taxes on “the rich”.

    As the nation’s most populous state, California obviously has a major stake in what the ultimate package will contain, if there is one. But the state has another, less obvious stake in how it’s financed because of something called SALT.

    It stands for “state and local taxes” and four years ago, a Republican-controlled Congress and GOP President Donald Trump, as part of a major tax overhaul, imposed a $10,000 limit on how much SALT could be deducted on personal income tax forms.

    In a tradeoff, the 2017 tax legislation doubled the standard deduction. The two actions had the effect of increasing federal taxes on high-income residents of high-tax states such as California while lowering the federal bite on low- and middle-income taxpayers.

    The effect – “In California, that meant San Francisco and other Bay Area communities such as Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. In Santa Clara, for instance, the average tax return with itemized deductions reported outlays of $46,817.53 in state and local taxes, but could deduct just $8,931.28 due to the SALT limit.

    As you’d expect, “Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California have been trying ever since 2017 to undo the SALT limit, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom has publicly supported repeal. That’s why California has a big stake in how Biden’s “human infrastructure” package would be financed.

    But how? Politically, it’s a tricky issue for Democrats, who want to change the limit without appearing to provide a windfall to the wealthy.

    Putnam Wealth Management has published a monologue on the potential ways the SALT limit could be modified or repealed, one of which would place an income limit on restoring deductibility so that those with the highest incomes would not benefit. Other alternatives include doubling or tripling the limit or changing the Alternative Minimum Tax.

    While singing “Eat the Rich,” they are actually planning to put the working and middle income population on the spit. Yet another reminder of The Road.

    Yeah, Lemmy is God.

    15 Sep

    Some guy named Ryan came to the blog yesterday and said Sean Morgan is about to get us sued again. I can only guess – he’s talking about the city’s absolutely ridiculous handling of the bum situation. I know, they really blew that. Why do we need to set up a “resting site” on a piece of baking hot asphalt miles from town when we have shelters that are accepting tax money but turning people away when they have empty beds?

    A while back, I said the city should sue the county. If you read county board agendas, you see the transfers they accept, along with cash for each transfer. You will also see that most of it goes to cover law enforcement salaries, benefits and pension deficit.

    Ever tried checking in to the Torres Shelter?

    https://torresshelter.org/contact

    COVID-19 UPDATE: We are accepting new and returning guests who have a negative COVID-19 test. Please bring a copy of your negative test results with you to the shelter.

    • New guests: Please arrive between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to check in.
    • Returning guests: If you are seeking services and have stayed at the shelter before, please make an appointment with your case manager.

    The Torres Community Shelter is open for guests 24 hours a day. Guests leaving for the day can check back in prior to 3 p.m. Otherwise, check-in is between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. nightly for returning guests. New guests may check in at 2 p.m. to complete an intake. Please call and get prior approval for an alternate check-in time. If you are a guest, please review the shelter guidelines under services.

    Read their website further – the requirements are onerous, they aren’t getting people off the street, they’re sending them out to camp in the park and other public areas. You have to make an appointment just to be considered as a “guest”. You have to have a recent negative COVID test – whether or not you’ve been vax’d. The wait time for the results is approaching three days, during which time you could easily be exposed. And, while you wait for your test results and your appointment to be considered for a bed, where are you supposed to go? Self-quarantine at Commanche Creek? Teichert Ponds? Even though the Torres has empty beds?

    Meanwhile, the Jesus Center boasts a lot of different programs and shelters for various individuals, but is only housing about 60 people at this time. In fact, they only have one overnight shelter for men, and all their housing requires sobriety, enforced by drug testing.

    Anybody who is familiar with the local homeless population knows it’s over 50 percent drug addicted males. These shelters take money from the city and county (Torres is located on city land) but they cater to a fraction of the people that are living on Chico streets.

    You might remember “Project Room Key”, a program that handed out motel vouchers good at participating motels. That dried up when those motels would no longer take the vouchers because the guests were not properly vetted, were not supervised, and ended up trashing motel rooms, molesting other guests, and refusing to leave when their time was up. Nobody at Project Room Key would take responsibility. The county also tries to get local landlords to rent to these people – former BCBH staffer Dorian Kittrell wanted them to “make sure their tenants are being respectful and taking their meds…” Here’s what came of that.

    Ramsey said in the release that the assault victim was a 59-year-old CSUC science professor who had rented a room in his home to Muscat as a favor to a friend who was an employer of Muscat. The professor had begun to evict Muscat for his alcohol and drug use when Muscat attacked him during the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2017. The professor suffered severe and permanently disabling injuries to his face, shoulder and brain.

    The County of Butte, City of Chico, Torres Shelter and Jesus Center get millions a year to “serve the homeless“, but anybody with a set of eyes can see they aren’t doing anything but paying 6-digit salaries and bringing more transients in for the money.

    Let me say it – most of the “homeless” belong in jails or mental hospitals. But, like I said, the money that comes with the transfers of prisoners and mental patients is spent on salaries, benefits and pension deficit. The highest salaries at Butte County are in Behavioral Health – shouldn’t that mean we shouldn’t be having this problem?

    But we have the Happy Wanderers, the folks who say we need to provide shelter other than jail or a mental hospital for these individuals. Until you have housed an indigent druggie under your roof, with your family, or spent a week living with them in your tent at Commanche Creek or Teichert Ponds, don’t even talk to me.

    Do you feel like a turnip? Our public agencies are in it for whatever they can get, and they’re willing to squeeze us hard to get it

    16 Aug

    Yesterday was the worst day I’ve had all summer. A hundred and WHAT?!! And unbreathable air, it’s like being a cockroach. I grew up here People, and this is Bad.

    I have the nicest neighbors, an older couple who moved out here from the mid west to be closer to their adult children, all over whom live out here on the coast. They’re really beautiful people, very easy-going, always cheerful. Well, I ran into them Friday as they hastily threw their travel gear into their car. They were disheveled and dis-coordinated, actually snapping at each other. The woman told me they had tried to stay in their tiny house, sitting under the air conditioner, for three days straight, and they started to go out of their minds. And, they realized, if this kept up, they would be getting a power bill and a half, as they were forced to run the ac night and day. So they were headed out to stay with friends in Southern California. “Anything for a change of scenery… ” she said, as they continued to load supplies into the hatchback.

    We had our summer trip, even made it to the coast, but the money started to add up, so we came home.

    I try to stay productive, but what is there to do? Feeling the cabin fever, I put on my last N-95 and go outside to rake up dead stuff, prune back dying shrubberies – it’s already fall at my house, stuff is dying fast. The water bill is frightening. I can’t cook because the house is too hot.

    Our Australian cattle dog lays on his back with all four paws in the air, like road kill. His old mate is in her last days, and boy, would this ever suck for your last days. She spends the day arranging herself in front of this ginchee portable fan we found at Harbor Freight Tools. I swear, she holds her pee because it’s so nasty outside – we literally have to pick her up and drag her out. As soon as she’s out the door she stops, gives us “The Look”, and tries to turn back inside. Once she’s certain we’re not taking her back inside until she pees, she lets loose a yellow river that leaves a washout in the gravel. Then she turns around and full steam back to the house. For an old, saggy, bag of bones, she’s strong and determined.

    So, when we feel like the walls are closing in, we load the dogs into the truck, ac blaring, Ron Woodward on the radio, and drive out to look for fruit stands. The Chico Farmer’s Market is too expensive – not to mention, HOT! – so we head out down Hwy 5 or 99, whichever way looks good. Last trip we ended up all the way past Williams. On Hwy 20 headed for the coast, we found a great stand with the best melons and corn we’ve had for a while. Corn is a good price indicator – 4 ears for a dollar is pretty good. And, get a load of this – CLEAN BATHROOM! Anybody seen a clean public toilet in Chico lately?

    It’s the little things, don’t you agree?

    It’s the little things that will drive you nuts, too. My friend’s car got stolen a week or so ago, and life has been pretty sucky for him. Just imagine being stuck on your bike right now, lugging your groceries home in three-digits and crap air quality. Chico PD have offered him no solace, even though they actually made contact with his car and the thieves inside. They chose not to pursue my friend’s car – we saw all this on BCFAC Facebook. Thanks for nothing, Chico PD. I felt his frustration, and dropped a note to my district supervisor, Kasey Reynolds. I asked her what she could do about this – it’s not just my friend, Chico has one of the highest car theft rates in the nation. Look at the police reports, also available on BCFAC, and you’ll see car theft is a common, every day occurrence in our nasty little town.

    She told me to call her. I hate phone calls. Let me tell you something about talking to Kasey Reynolds on the phone – she won’t answer a direct question, talks rapid fire about everything under the sun except your questions, and then tells you she’ll get back to you with those answers, but never does. I’ve got a mailbox full of inquiries to her that were never answered.

    She did tell me that she thought giving our new Chief Madden a higher salary than his predecessor was the only way they can “attract and keep talent”. But gee, crime continues to go up in Chico, how does that work?

    Our public safety agencies are in it for what they can get, and it’s obvious to me, they’re willing to squeeze us pretty hard to get it.

    Chico Unified Recall: Petition signing event Aug 4, 4pm, at PV High

    27 Jul

    Chico Parents for In-person Learning report they are still receiving support and gathering signatures for the recall of four members of the Chico Unified School District Board – Kathy Kaiser, Elaine Robinson, Tom Lando and Caitlin Dalby.

    https://www.chicoparents.org/

    You can download and print your own petition and send it in, but I personally prefer to sign in person. There will be a signature gathering event at 4pm on August 4 at Pleasant Valley (PV) High School. You can get more information at their facebook site.

    These four shut Chico schools down for a year of instruction, putting children behind in their studies, and leaving parents struggling between childcare and work. They hurt our community and our economy. All the while, teachers continued to get paid. The straw that broke my back was back in April, when the district divvied up almost two and a half MILLION in COVID relief funding in bonuses to those teachers. For what?

    Of course, as you may have seen, my letters to the editor were answered by a shower of arrows from local union operatives, attacking figures I got out of a CUSD agenda. That speaks volumes about the need for this recall. All four recall candidates are union members, which I find a little lopsided. I’d like to see more parents of various backgrounds on the board, but with union support these people had the advantage and the insider edge. If you read those letters, you see what the union is all about – bullying.

    So I hope you will support this effort made, not only on behalf of Chico’s kids, but Chico’s future. Do you want to live under the Union Thumb? Do you want your children to live under that type of fascism?

    Will HJTA’s C&D be the end of the POB? Wait and see!

    25 Jun

    I heard about “Pension Obligation Bonds” years ago, and the name seemed to be pretty clear – a bond that obligates the taxpayers to pay the pensions.

    When I started this blog in 2012, we had just got a new city manager, Brian Nakamura. As I recall, he was the first person to mention the pension deficit – Unfunded Actuarial Liability – in front of the public. At that time, he gave two figures – one about $168 million, another about $193 million. I think the second figure included something else Nakamura brought up briefly – the benefits deficit, or “Other Post Employment Benefits”.

    Nakamura didn’t stay long, he brought in his former assistant manager from Hemet CA, Mark Orme, and another co-worker from Hemet, Chris Constantin, to replace departing Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy. Nakamura was obviously setting us up for his quick departure to his next job in the town of Rancho Cordova, CA. When Nakamura left, Orme became City Manager, and promoted his friend Chris Constantin to Asst City mgr. Scott Dowell moved over from Chico Area Recreation District to take up the job of Finance Director, now called, “Administrative Services Director.”

    These three immediately embarked on a plan to pay down the UAL with “allocations” from every fund in the city treasury. They brought in a consultant, Chad Wolford, who explained the process by which they could legally embezzle money from the streets, parks, sewer, and other infrastructure funds, to pay their own pensions. Allocations were institutionalized, with nothing more than a rubber stamp from council. A percentage of each department payroll is taken into the new “Pension Stabilization Trust,” from which Dowell makes investments, and then once a year, an increasing payment to CalPERS. At one point, they’d beaten the UAL down to about $138 million.

    So, how has the UAL actually increased to $146 million? Plus another $140 million interest? Here’s how – Orme is not controlling employee costs. Instead he’s handing out raises, to himself and other management employees. Furthermore he’s added new management positions, three in the last year, at over $100,000 in salary.

    Furthermore, management employees are only paying 9% of the cost of their own pensions. Do the math on that – 70% of their highest year’s salary at retirement, for a contribution of 9%? Meanwhile, Orme and several others have wangled themselves a special 401K fund for public employees – a 457 Fund. The city (the taxpayers) put $20,000 a year into that fund. Were you asked to rubberstamp this? Nobody was – I found it in his contract. People, you have to read stuff. I love it when the union lovers and the badge bunnies call me a liar but you ask and NO, they haven’t read shit.

    Under this kind of strain, the PST is not supporting the payments. Dowell’s investments are coming in at less than 3%. Every month Dowell has to ask council to rubberstamp more allocations to meet CalPERS’ demands – look at the agendas before you call me names, okay? The annual payment gets bigger every year – this year, $11.5 million. Dowell says we’ll be paying $13 million within a few years. So, how, oh how, does that UAL figure keep getting bigger?

    I’m glad to say, people are starting to ask questions. Staff wants to bury the whole thing, like it never happened. So, very quietly, behind closed doors (latest Finance Committee cancelled until August), Staff and council have been pushing forward with a tax measure they don’t want to put on the ballot – the Pension Obligation Bond. This bond will take front and center – the payments on this bond must be made ahead of all the city’s other obligations.

    What are the city’s other obligations? Your streets, your sewer, your cops and firefighters, your park. All that has, as you can see, gone along the wayside while Staff has stuffed our money, hand over fist, into their own pockets.

    Some people, including myself, believe a tax is a tax, and it needs to go to the ballot. Since this POB would be a “special” tax dedicated to the purpose of stuffing employees’ pockets (or whatever they want to call it), it’s a 2/3’s measure. When this point was brought up, Staff closed down the meetings and the planned “work shop” and went underground with it.

    A local gadfly told me, “the POB is dead.” He cited the “cease and desist” order filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the cancellation of the workshop. I’m afraid that’s not true. A quick search on “cease and desist order” told me what I already suspected. The city can ignore it, and HJTA has to SUE. The filing date is this coming Monday, June 28. If nobody challenges the POB at Butte Superior Court, it will be approved automatically, cease and desist order be damned. A cease and desist order is just a line in the dirt, if the city steps over it and HJTA doesn’t do anything, it’s done.

    If I had a lawyer, I’d file it myself, but I’ll have to wait and see what HJTA will do.

    CUSD Board Recall: if every parent whose family has been negatively affected by school closures would sign the petition, it would be a slam dunk

    15 Jun

    I would still like to remind folks to sign the recall petitions for CUSD board members Kathy Kaiser, Eileen Robinson, Caitlin Dalby and Tom Lando. Chico Parents For In-Person Learning need about 11,000 signatures, and remember, you have to sign a separate petition for each board member. Get a petition at their website here:

    https://www.chicoparents.org/recall-petitions

    I outlined the reasons I was supporting this recall in a recent letter to the editor. I read the agenda and reports for the May 19 board meeting at which the four in question voted to dole out $2.5 million in bonuses to district employees who never missed a paycheck during the shut down. I got my teachers’ average salary figure right from the horse’s mouth – the agenda reports. But a few local union gadflies are trying to talk me down in letters to the ER. They should really read the reports first, available here:

    Here’s my response, below, sent to the ER today. I wish those of you who have already signed the petition would write to the ER and outline the reasons you are supporting the recall.

    Letter writers have questioned a figure I cited in a recent letter to the editor.

    I got the average pay for a CUSD teacher from the 5/19/21 Chico Unified board agenda report. The lowest fulltime Chico teacher’s salary I saw on Transparent California was over $69,000/year. Benefits packages ranged from about $10,000 to $35,000. The average also includes a wide variety of miscellaneous part-time positions paid less than $1,000/year.

    Chico teachers are very well compensated. They were fully paid through the school closures, even receiving bonuses, while working parents scrambled to find child care or stayed home from work, left to navigate the unemployment system.

    My main concern with the CUSD board is that four of five positions are held by union members. While I agree that school employees are entitled to fair representation, that is a lopsided. Especially when you consider that members have a paid union arbitrator to represent them before the board. In fact, at least two of the four vote on contracts that directly benefit them. That is an obvious conflict of interest.

    These four have kept the schools closed – dereliction of duty, the shameful failure to fulfill one’s obligations. These people are abusing a position of trust, with no regard for the community. They’ve ignored the concerns of parents and the welfare of the children.

    If every parent whose family has been negatively affected by the school closures signed the petitions, it would be a slam dunk.

    Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

    Butte County board puts the pensions first, the Camp Fire victims, well, we’ll get around to them later…

    12 Jun

    Been Busy, Busy, Busy this week, and I really appreciate this note from Dave Howell about a phone call he made to his district stupe regarding the Camp Fire money the Butte County Board just dumped into the pension fund.

    I spoke to Supervisor Kimmelshue this week. The good news is that he confirmed there will be no POB. The bad news is the supervisors are going to use $20 million from the PG&E settlement to “smooth out” the pension liability. I told him that amount won’t even pay for the increase in the liability from the prior fiscal year which was $30 million. I told him they were just dumping money into a black hole because the pensions are unsustainable. The day of reckoning will come and $20 million sure won’t change that. And besides, why should settlement money for a horrific tragedy like that go to pension liability?

    He listened to all the points I’ve made here before so I appreciated that. But if I am being completely honest, I don’t think he’s going to do anything that will make a difference in reforming the pensions and OPEB liability. I hope he proves me wrong and I will even help him do so. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    He asked me twice what it would take for me to support a tax increase. I tried to explain that taxes are already too high in California and taking more money from people is a bad idea, especially in a county with a 21% poverty rate before COVID. And it’s clear the supervisors will continue to dump more of our money down the pension and OPEB black hole. Who the Hell wants to pay more taxes for that?

    To be honest, I don’t see any political leadership capable of solving this county’s financial problems which include over half a billion dollars in bonded debt AND the inexorably growing monstrous pension and OPEB liability. If I had to bet, I would bet the supervisors will go the route of higher taxes and more debt to appease the special interests and kick the financial problems down the road as far as they can. And why not? That’s what all the other politicians in this state have done and continue to do. None of them have solved the most important financial problems local governments face and that’s not going to change.

    Thanks Dave, Kimmelshue sounds clueless. I emailed the board and had a response from Dist 1 Supervisor Bill Connolly that was equally frustrating. They seem to think, as does Sean Morgan, that their job is just to smooth over the voters, assure them that staff has everything under control… just lay back and think of Mother England, and take your screwing.

    My district stupe Tami Ritter did not even bother to respond to my email. Bill was the only one who bothered. He tried to tell me they need to pay the pensions to attract quality employees. I asked him when we’d see some quality employees, and that was the end of the conversation.

    These people are egocentric asses who don’t have the qualifications to do the job they have run for, they are at the complete mercy of $taff. To think, Connolly, a roofing contractor by trade, actually had the balls of brass to run for county assessor against longtime assessor’s office employee Diane Brown. He’d helped raise the salary to new heights, and then he tried to take the job. His daddy must have been a glass maker, cause I can see right through that old redneck.

    I’ll remind people, that if you are unhappy with the jobs your elected officials do, it’s your responsibility to call them on it. Write those emails, write letters to the editor, and send any response you get here and I will run it.

    And I’d like to thank Dave Howell again for taking the time to do this.