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Coolidge’s tax increase proposals are the grist they need for their pension obligation bond. Chico cost of living will increase while quality of living will decrease.

28 Feb

This Tuesday Chico City council has an over-full agenda. I notice a lot of the remarks on Engaged Chico question the timing of some of the items, with meetings closed to the public. It seems like they’ve packed the agenda with stupid crap like a Downtown card room, after promising us they’d only discuss “essential business” during the shutdown. 

Nichole Nava sums it up, “This topic and a couple of others should be tabled until the E[xecutive] O[rder] has ended and FULL public participation resumes. Continuing to place items such as this one on the agenda while still under the PHE is not the responsible course of action.”

Hidden deep in this mystery meat agenda are two tax proposals from Andrew Coolidge. Coolidge is proposing not only a sales tax increase for “police and fire,” but a bond for “road improvements.” I feel this agenda has been packed for a reason – they want to distract us from the tax increase proposals they are trying to run under the wire. 

If you read the financial reports attached at the end of the agenda, you see that the city is collecting more revenues every year, and paying more toward the UAL every year. This year they paid out $11.4 million, just in “catch-up” payments, That doesn’t include the regular payroll payments they allocate out of each department budget. But Coolidge wants these measures to guarantee the POB that comes up later in the agenda. All the while the UAL is growing out of control because council has failed to control employee costs.

Hidden even more deeply in the casserole – Item 5.12 – is a request from City Manager Mark Orme (“Staff”) to move forward the Pension Obligation validation process. 

 “Staff is requesting approval to continue exploring the CalPERS Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL)…”

Well, that’s interesting – “staff is requesting approval…” Meaning, Mark Orme. Orme knows they need that POB before CalPERS ups the ante again. And, he knows they need the sales tax increase and a bond to cover the payments on the POB. This is a desperate scheme, and we’re the ones who will be left holding the bag for this bond. If we don’t approve the sales tax increase and Coolidge’s bond, the POB payments will bottom out our budget. But even if we do approve those new taxes, we will not get street/road repairs, we will not see more police, but the cops and the rest of the employees will be guaranteed their overgenerous pensions. 

Right now the city is bargaining with the Chico Police Officers Association for a new contract. Instead of asking them to pay more toward their generous pensions and benefits, council is turning the stick on the rest of us. The public safety groups – CPOA and the International Firefighters – only pay 15% toward pensions of 90% of salaries exceeding $100,000/year. That’s ridiculous – $15 for every $100 they expect to collect for sitting on their asses in retirement. But here’s the funny thing – they also pay more than any other bargaining group. Management, with the highest salaries, pay the least – 9%. They expect us to pay their salaries now, and then pay them again, with Cost of Living Increase!  

If you haven’t already commented on Engaged Chico

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/354-2-slash-16-slash-21-city-council-meeting-continued-to-march-2-2020/agenda_items/6036bf36f2b6700d2c00a1ad-5-dot-12-pension-obligation-bonds-this-item-added-t

please do. This bond will tank our budget. The sales tax increase and (yet another!) bond on our homes will raise the cost of living in Chico even further, just in case things are expensive enough for you already. 

They raised the cost of our trash service 19% – have you seen any improvement in the street in front of your house? Coolidge is bullshitting us again, just say NO. 

One man’s story tells the story of Chico

16 Jan

I recently noticed a story in the ER that essentially details what has happened to our town.

This man was sentenced recently for vandalism and “hate crimes” for painting a swastika.  Just now? After running the streets of Chico for 15 years, arrested multiple times for crimes that escalated in violence. Here’s the first case in his Butte County Superior Court File, from 2006 – possession of a deadly weapon.

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0

He was fined and sentenced for charges including failure to appear, but only after this case made it’s way through the court for TWO YEARS. In the meantime, he was charged three more times in 2007, and three times in 2008, for possession of drugs, failure to appear, vandalism, and “willful disobedience of court order...”

Willful disobedience to the court means to me this person is not willing to live within the law, and that should mean he needs to be institutionalized. Instead, the judge released him to go on to a felony weapon possession in 2009, for which he was acquitted? But two more arrests in 2010 result in a felony conviction for “negligent discharge of a firearm...”

Of course he was right back out on the streets in 2012, this time arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse…

His sheet goes on like this until 2019, when he FINALLY comes up for psychiatric evaluation – after the vandalism bender that included the swastika. The court determined he was competent to stand trial, and gave him 6 years for a “hate crime“.

15 years with a record like that, but they finally send him up for 6 years over “hate crimes”. Toward whom? His residence in Chico seems to me one long, extended orgy of hatred toward humankind.

Why does “hate” have to be directed at a certain kind of people before it is a crime? Twice this guy was arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse“, but no conviction? I’m going to guess the victim had no family, felt intimidated, and dropped the charges. I can see the first time being a wash, but what was Ramsey thinking when this guy was brought in a second time for a charge like that? But he gets six years for scrawling a symbol he doesn’t even understand on a wall. There’s ugly, nasty, threatening vandalism all over town. In one night someone busted out car windows at the Enloe parking lot while the owners worked diligently inside to save people’s lives. That is hateful – why aren’t we seeing more arrests and convictions? 

Oh, but gee golly, they are finally clearing the camps at One Mile, I guess we’re supposed to give them a basket of kudos for that! 

Here’s one of my favorite lines,  from Yeats, by way of Didion, by way of Me – “What rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward Chico to be born?” 

Waste Management has raised rates 19% over the past year – why isn’t that money being spent on the street in front of your house?

14 Jan

Every three months I open my garbage bill and get pissed off. 

First of all, it took me the first 5 years to get Waste Management to stop charging me for the yard waste bin. In the very beginning of this forced deal, I told them I wanted to opt out of the $6+ charge for a yard waste bin that I don’t need. They agreed, but I kept seeing the charge on the bill. Rather than beating my head against the wall trying to contact them via their website or phone, I just scribbled a correction on the bill and made the check out for the correct amount. For five years. That finally worked, and as of January, 2020, they finally got it right, I stopped seeing that charge. 

But I also noticed, they were raising the rates slowly but surely, every bill seemed different. So when I sat down to pay my January 2021 bill, I dug out the January 2020 bill, and yes, rates are up. A 32 gal trash bin has gone from $52.89/quarter to $62.79/quarter, just over the past year. That’s an increase of 19%. 

Which led me to  do more math. I looked at my old Recology bills. We had Recology for 10 years, and they NEVER raised their rates. In fact, they had a fuel surcharge that fluctuated with the price of gas – meaning, it actually went down occasionally. Their average charge per quarter was about $82, for a 96 gallon trash bin, or about $27/month. Now I pay $20+ for a 32 gallon bin? 

In fact, my total bill, for a 32 gal and a 64 gal, is $134/quarter, or $45/month. Pay attention – I used to get a 96 gal bin for $27/month, now I pay $45/month for two bins totaling same. That is a 60% increase.

I’ve been talking about the franchise fee the city gets from the haulers – as of fiscal year June 2020,  $1,980,313. That’s almost $2 million dollars, of YOUR MONEY. You paid that in extra fees. For what? Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who remembers staff and council telling us the money would go to  fix our neighborhood streets. Former City Manager Brian Nakamura told us “too many” trash trucks were destroying our streets, and that he felt they should pay for that.  He led us to believe the money would be dedicated to the streets, and council members, including Andrew Coolidge, sat by and let him do it.

The first year the money was used on the section of Cohasset Road leading to the airport. Every year since, it’s been dumped into the General Fund, where it is used at the whim of council. Can you imagine what $1,980,313 would look like on the street in front of your house? Or maybe give Vallombrosa more than a patch job? Maybe upgrade the streets around the college beyond Third World Country? 

You know, the city also gave Waste Management a contract to empty the trash cans in the park, so they run those behemoths around the park roads once a week – a job that used to be done by a city employee with a pick-up truck. So maybe council should use some of that franchise money to fix South Park Drive before it falls into the creek. Ya think? 

Let’s write to council and tell them that Waste Hauler Franchise Fee needs to be spent on neighborhood streets. Let’s start with our new mayor, Andrew Coolidge – that’s andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

While you’re at it, tell him what he can do with his “roads bond” and his sales tax increase.

Shasta County opens meetings – when will our “conservative majority” reopen council meetings? After they’ve already implemented the POB?

11 Jan

Almost a month ago, on December 13, I contacted my Chico city council representative Kasey Reynolds to ask her about the progress in removing transient camps in public spaces around town. We’d been having a conversation about the situation, and I forwarded her a conversation between Rob Berry and Chico PD officer Scott Zuchin regarding the DA’s unwillingness to prosecute City of Chico Municipal Code violations.

She responded, same day, “I will take a look at it for sure. However our City Attorney was meeting with the County and DA on Friday to talk about our newly passed resolution and the prosecution/enforcing aspect of it. I have not talked to the Atty since the meeting so not sure the outcome.  I’ll find out and let you know.”

I waited until the 22nd, then, realizing it was nearly Christmas, I wrote her again. I asked about the Shelter Crisis Designation, asking “1) if that’s still in effect, 2) if we are still receiving a grant for that designation, and 3) if so, where does the money go (into the General Fund?). I’ll add, 4) do we still get a grant for consolidating services at the fair grounds?” 

I also reminded her that she had previously promised to get back to me regarding the conversation our city attorney had with the county DA. 

As of today, 1/11/21, I have had no response from Reynolds. I know she’s busy – you realize, candy and ice cream are considered an “essential business”, so her shop is open.  

https://www.facebook.com/ShubertsIceCreamChicoCA/

We’re open and ready to scoop your favorite flavors and pack your favorite candies! Stop by the shop until 10:00pm to pick up your favorite sweet treat and see all the new renovations 🎉🍨🍫  We will now be open regular hours, Monday through Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-10pm

Well, isn’t that just nice!

But the same woman thinks it’s okay for council chambers to be CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC? You can run out and grab yourself a SCOOP OF DIABETES, but forget about participating in your local government, especially when they are discussing a tax measure that does not require voter approval. 

So, instead of trying to contact my “representative” again, I wrote a letter to the newspaper. Hope you will do same.

On January 5, while Chico City Council prepared for another closed meeting, Shasta County Supervisors Les Baugh and Pat Jones opened their meeting to the public. Residents were invited inside to redress their grievances, no mask required.

Meanwhile, Chico City Council and Staff continue to hold the public out while they discuss their Pension Obligation Bond. It’s hard to believe we have a “conservative” majority on our council – 5 people voting unanimously to raise taxes? Without voter approval?

That’s right, the consultant reports this bond requires no voter approval. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation”, a purely administrative process. In fact, the consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.”

Staff reports the UAL has grown 43% over 5 years, even while making bigger payments toward the deficit every year, this year over $11 million. Staff blames poor CalPERS investment returns, but the real reason is drastically unrealistic employee shares,  just 9 – 15%, for pensions of 70 – 90% of salary. The situation is exacerbated by incredibly generous salaries, including three new hires in the last year at salaries over $100,000. 

The payments for both CalPERS and the bond service will be appropriated by percentage from all city funds. But POB revenues are restricted to paying the UAL, because, as finance director Scott Dowell has said, “otherwise we’d be tempted to spend it on needed things…”  He means, infrastructure maintenance and public safety – the needs of the citizens.

Employee demands have officially superseded the rights and needs of the public.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

 

Shasta County opens Supervisor meetings – Chico council, still hiding under cover of COnVid, pushes Pension Obligation Bond forward

9 Jan

On Tuesday, as Chicoans got ready for another “virtual” (closed) city council meeting, two Shasta County Supervisors held an open meeting, allowing citizens to come into the chambers and speak freely about how they’ve suffered under the COnVID shut down.

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Crowd-of-people-speak-inside-Shasta-County-Board-of-Supervisors-chambers-573536611.html

REDDING, Calif. – On Tuesday, a crowd of people gathered inside the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers. People passionately pleading to county leaders lift coronavirus restrictions and resume in-person meetings.

Inside the chambers, many people stood together, with only very few wearing masks.

The virtual meeting opened to the crowd that gathered outside, demanding to have their voices heard in person.

One by one each person spoke their three minutes.

Thank you Les Baugh and Pat Jones for doing the right thing, while the rest of the board cowered at their keyboards.

Supervisor Les Baugh and Jones were the only two to sit inside the chambers with the crowd. While Supervisors Rickert, Chimenti, Moty, and other county staff remained online.

Here in Chico, council and staff are trying to use the shut-down to shove as many tax measures through the system as they can, hand over fist. In addition to the Pension Obligation Bond already on the table, our new mayor Andrew Coolidge has proposed another bond, “for streets”, and a sales tax increase measure. 

The Pension Obligation Bond presentation, same as the presentation given in September 2020, elicited almost no discussion from council, who voted unanimously to give the consultant more money to set up the “validation process“. In September, the consultant told the Finance Committee one of the best things about a POB is that it “does not require validation...” He meant, by the voters. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation“, a purely administrative process, with absolutely no input from the public.  

The consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.” 

After the presentation, Coolidge asked Scott Dowell for a list of costs, and then Kasey Reynolds asked the consultant if there would be any “public informational meetings”. The consultant told her that is up to council, that they could do “small groups” if that was what council would like. And, I’m guessing, that would cost extra. 

It’s obvious Reynolds just wants to be able to say the public was informed about this bomb before it got dropped. What a bitch.

I was also shocked to see so few comments on Chico Engaged, but I noticed, all nine, including mine, were negative.  The clerk referred council to the comments without reading names. The clerk already quit reading the comments because they became abusive, and now she’s quit reading the names because nobody should have to read fakes names like “Harry Gonads.” Council spent less than a minute reading before they advised staff and the consultant to bring more information.  

Meanwhile, I wanted people to know how much money flows through this city, directly out of the pockets of city residents. You know you pay a gas tax, right? Got any idea how much of that the city of Chico  gets? Or what they use it for? Have you seen $5,997,251 going into the streets or roads near your house? How about the garbage tax, cleverly titled, “Waste Hauler Franchise Fee” – $1,980,318 added to our garbage bills. And if you get cable tv, you paid into a total of $969,124, received as of June 30, 2020. 

Here’s a double whammy – you not only pay a franchise on your PG&E bill, you pay “Utility Tax”. You also pay UT on your water bill, and if you have a landline you pay UT on that too. 

Of course, I assume everybody knows about property taxes and sales tax, but I’m probably wrong – a lot of people have their property taxes paid by their mortgage company, so they can sail through life without a care in the world?

Here’s the totals for those revenues, as of June 2020. Roughly $60 million in revenues, just from these sources. But our fair city never seems to have enough money to fix or maintain anything? I don’t think it’s a no-brainer that these funds should be available for street/road maintenance. The city used almost half a million in cable tv fees to remodel council chambers a couple of years back, with Andrew Coolidge telling me those funds “had to be used for that…they couldn’t be used for street maintenance…”

Gas Tax $5,997,251 
Waste Hauler franchise fees $1,980,313 
Cable tv franchise fees $969,124
PG&E franchise fees $787,861
utility tax $7,317,103
prop tax $18,621,070
sales tax  $24,434,686

During the same period, over $11,000,000 was paid to CalPERS through the Pensions Stabilization Trust and another fund called the “CalPERS Liability Reserve”. Both of these funds are filled by siphoning money out of all the other funds on a percentage of payroll. Most of the budgets of all these departments consists of salaries and monthly benefits payments, and many are in the red because of the further allocations for the UAL payments.

Scott Dowell reported our UAL has grown 43% over the last 5 years, but he didn’t say why. The reason is the unrealistically low employee contributions of 9 – 15%. In fact, management and public safety only started paying ANYTHING  in 2012, when the UAL  was already over $125,000,000.  When City Manager Mark Orme and other management agreed to pay an additional 3% share, council gave them a raise to cover that percentage. Furthermore, Orme got himself a 457 Plan – a special 401K for public management. We pay over $20,000 a year into that 457, while Orme brags again and again that he has not received a raise for almost 5 years. That’s bullshit, what a stinking liar.

All this shoved through under the guise of public health and safety. Are we just stupid, lame, weak? Before you condemn the rioters in DC, take a look at yourself, and then read the US Constitution again. 

And Best Wishes to Shasta County, I hope this is the beginning of the end. 

 

Staff trying to get their pensions bond under the wire by end of January

31 Dec

Next Tuesday city council will hear a presentation on a Pension Obligation Bond. They are trying to slide it under the wire as “restructuring debt,” which is really deceptive – they don’t mention the part where they take on millions in NEW DEBT.  This is really dirty and sneaky, and you need to let your council members know, you know what they’re up to. You can contact them directly through the clerk’s office – debbie.presson@chicoca.gov – or you can go to Chico Engaged. I’d recommend both.

Here’s the link to the agenda:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items

And here’s the POB presentation:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e0f395e716e400a434-5-dot-1-calpers-pension-costs-and-ual-restructuring-p

I also wrote a letter to the editor. Staff is trying to  get this thing done within the next two meetings, let’s stop it in it’s  tracks. 

Also, get a load of Coolidge’s request for a “streets bond”! 

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e1f395e716e400a439-5-dot-6-mayor-coolidge-request-bond-for-improvement

Here’s my letter about the POB:

January 5, Chico City Council will consider Pension Obligation Bonds. Staff calls it “restructuring pension debt/Unfunded Actuarial Liability”, but it’s really millions in new debt. A new twist on the old Shell Game, Staff will invest borrowed money in the stock market, hoping to make enough to pay both the pension debt and the new debt. If their investments fail,  the taxpayers will be forced to pay not only the pension debt but the new bond debt, at the expense of city infrastructure and basic services.

Over the last couple of years,  surveys, letters to the editor, and comments on social media have demonstrated two main concerns: lack of law and order, and lack of maintenance to public infrastructure.  While Staff has claimed they don’t have enough money for either, they’ve continued to appropriate more money each year from city departments into the Pension Stabilization Trust – this year, $11.4 million, roughly 20% of tax revenue.  

Furthermore, even with 10’s of millions a year paid through payroll and the PST, the UAL has still grown, up from $126,000,000 only a few years ago to $146,000,000. Staff has recently revealed another $140,000,000  interest. This is the result of insufficient  contributions from employees, and poor returns from CalPERS investments. 

The Government Finance Officers Association says POBs are dangerous without a plan to manage pension costs. Instead, our city has increased pension costs through new hires and overly-generous salaries, without demanding more from Staff. 

The GFOA also determined POBs were the cause of bankruptcy in San Bernardino and Stockton. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

David Crane: “POBs are meritless products deliberately misnamed by bankers in search of fees. Just say no.”

7 Dec

Thank Dave for sending me this “5 minute read” on Pension Obligation Bonds from David Crane. It’s certainly worth more discussion.

https://davidgcrane.medium.com/pobs-bankers-as-pushers-f0963bf853b8

David Crane

David Crane

LecturerLecturer in Public Policy

About

David Crane is a lecturer in Public Policy at Stanford University and president of Govern for California. From 2004-2010 he served as a special adviser to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and from 1979-2003 he was a partner at Babcock & Brown, a financial services company. Crane also serves on the board of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California and formerly served on the University of California Board of Regents and as a director of the California State Teachers Retirement System, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Volcker-Ravitch Task Force on the State Budget Crisis.

While I have no formal background in finance, I think it’s obvious that POB’s are a scam that is only going to benefit pensioners and bond holders. But maybe people would rather hear it from a guy with many degrees and respectable credentials. Crane puts it very simply, “Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs) do NOT reduce pension obligations.”

“POBs would be a truthful title if the bonds actually reduced pension obligations. But they don’t. All they do is increase pension assets, which produces an accounting benefit (more assets — the same liabilities = a lower unfunded liability). Economically, a POB is no more than a “carry trade,” which is borrowing at a low rate to bet on hopefully-higher-yielding assets (e.g. stocks, private equity, hedge funds, etc). Not surprisingly, Wall Street also sells and manages those products.”

And here’s an important point – these bonds are SOLD to public agencies by bond managers, people who make a lot of money selling and managing these bonds. Read on. 

“When the smoke clears, a POB issuer has (i) the same pension obligations it had before, (ii) more debt, (iii) paid investment banking fees, and (iv) gambled the proceeds on products that beget even more fees for bankers.”

That seems pretty clear to me, even a housewife can see what’s going on here. You must wonder, are there kickbacks to city staffers? 

Crane concludes, “POBs are meritless products deliberately misnamed by bankers in search of fees. Just say no.”

That’s right, say it loud, and say it now. Besides sending emails to your newly elected “fiscally conservative” council, you can comment in the consent agenda at Chico Engaged:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/349-12-slash-1-slash-20-postponed-to-12-slash-8-slash-20-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fbdb04ff395e7fe1d013e64-2-consent-agenda-all-matters-listed-under-the

And, Mike Wolcott is looking for “Pro vs Con” writers to argue issues like this – you can reach him at mwolcott@chicoer.com

While our town struggles with financial insolvency and sagging infrastructure, the staffers responsible skip off to another town, at a higher salary, with their pensions intact

3 Dec

A few points I’d like to make clear about POBs:

  1. amount to millions in new debt, with interest
  2. success dependent on the stock market, just like CalPERS investments
  3. don’t need voter approval but the voters/taxpayers will be on the hook for the payment
  4. POBs are guaranteed – that means, the payments come out of the General Fund at the expense of infrastructure and services
  5. without true pension reform POBs will lead to insolvency and bankruptcy – as was the case in Stockton and San Bernardino

Here’s a shocking article about San Bernardino, 

San Bernardino deficits grow after bankruptcy

What I get from this article, is that the police unions are the biggest threat to financial solvency facing California cities. They demand higher salaries and refuse to pay a sustainable share of their pensions costs. Instead of asking for concessions from the highest paid public employees in the state, “Stockton said from the outset pensions are necessary to be competitive in the job market, particularly for police.”  Vallejo backed down from pension reform after being threatened by CalPERS. 

Chico City Council has done same. When I asked my district rep Kasey Reynolds why such a high salary for the new police chief (higher than the departing chief), she responded, “ I just looked at other communities that are like size and their Chiefs are 20-40k higher.”  I sent her the publicpay.gov records for Chico and Sacramento – yeah, Sacramento salaries are a little higher, but city of Chico pays more of the pensions. If we are going to continue to offer these crazy salaries, Chico cops need to pay more toward their pensions. I never got any response from Reynolds.  They hired the chief above the old salary and just recently approved a new contract for CPOA without asking any concessions. 

So, letter writer Steve Wolfe is correct – our elected officials are complicit with our city employees in driving our town into the financial abyss. He’s right again when he predicts the city will pursue a new revenue scheme.  A POB would be just the vehicle to take us down! Here’s my response. 

Steve Wolfe is right – the city is seeking a new revenue measure. At the Finance Committee meeting September 23, a consultant was asked to pitch Pension Obligation Bonds to the full Chico City council. Staff said the bond could be implemented as early as January 2021 because POBs don’t require voter approval. 

POBs are a way of borrowing money to pay bills, while hoping to re-invest the borrowed money, producing a profit used not only to service the bond but to pay off the pension liability. If this outright gamble doesn’t work out, the taxpayers are on the hook not only for the unfunded pension liability, but the additional bond debt. POBs put Stockton and San Bernardino into bankruptcy.

This bond will not appear on your property taxes, it appears in the form of sagging infrastructure and service cuts – these bonds are guaranteed, bond holders take priority over our streets, our parks, our sewers and even public safety needs. 

Instead of taking on new debt, we must reduce the long-term cost of public pensions for future employees. That’s not happening.  With emergency powers, the city manager hired three new positions this year at $100,000+ salaries. New hires are paid more than predecessors.  There’s no accountability for these decisions.  While our town struggles with financial insolvency and sagging infrastructure, the staffers responsible skip off to another town, at a higher salary, with their pensions intact. 

Contact your new, “fiscally conservative” council super majority, and tell them what you think. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen the new CPOA proposal?

17 Nov

Tonight is the last meeting of the current city council. The next meeting will begin the new “conservative” SUPER MAJORITY. I just like writing that in all caps, because I don’t know if people realize what it means.

Simply put, it means the five “conservatives” can do whatever they agree to among themselves, and the new “infinitesimal minority” of Brown and Huber will have to sit on their thumbs the next couple of years.

Of course I expect Huber to ingratiate himself with the conservatives.

But tonight, the last “elected at large” council will be discussing new contracts for Chico Police Officers Association, the old contract set to expire in December. I’ve been trying to look over the proposals since last week when I got the agenda, but they are onerously huge files that I can’t open with my dinky little internet connection. Why they aren’t displayed at the Human Resources page alongside the expired agreement is beyond me – well, no it’s not, they obviously don’t want us to see it. So, I have not seen the new proposal that will be discussed, in closed session, at tonight’s closed council meeting. 

Have you?  Cause if you go to the city website and direct yourself to the “minutes and agendas” page, look at tonight’s agenda, and then scroll down and open the reports and hit the links, here are some specific items I wish you would look for:

  1. Mandatory overtime
  2. STO
  3. CTO

And then go to this link, below, and re-read this post, because I don’t have time to go over all this again.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/07/10/take-a-cup-of-ot-and-add-a-cup-and-a-half-of-cto-pour-in-some-sto-and-you-get-an-iou/

I tried to have this conversation with my district rep, Kasey Reynolds, but she played dumb. I just wrote the following note to the city clerk and asked her to forward it to the full council:

Dani, I know how hard you work, but I can’t download or even preview these documents. 

This is a problem – the public obviously isn’t let in on this conversation. Most people in town don’t have time to look at this stuff – I got it late Thursday, and staff was out of office by Friday noon.  Most people probably wouldn’t understand it if they did read it – they are purposely written in onerous language. I always wonder how many council members really read or understand these contracts. I’m a landlady, I know people just sign stuff without reading it, I often wonder how many council members do that. 

But council continues to agree to stuff like “CTO”, and “STO”, and all the other perks and benies that make these people outrageously over paid. According to Scott Dowell, public safety, especially CPOA, make up over half our UAL. And only pay 12 – 15% toward pensions of 90% of salaries over $100,000, plus perks like getting paid for not working (CTO, STO).

I’m including Mike Wolcott in this email because I’d like to see more about the contracts in the newspaper. This is why our town is tanking. And Staff’s only solution is to put our town over our heads in debt with a Pension Obligation Bond.

Other towns are talking about switching to 401K’s – Chico has already given Orme a 457 Plan in addition to his pension, an extra $20,000 year, while Orme claims no employees have had raises? Orme also got a raise when he agreed to pay his own “employee share,” previously paid in full by the taxpayers. 

Meanwhile, our park is a wreck, our streets are shredded, and crime is outrageous. This is on the “conversative” majority. You guys can’t blame this wreck on the liberals anymore. If you approve the CPOA contracts without any concessions from the union you are putting another nail in our town coffin. 

Good question Bob: Why do we need to replace Constantin with anyone?

14 Nov

One last word on the departure of Chris Constantin – from a comment Bob left the other day:

Why do we need to replace Constantin with anyone? The truth is the City is over its head in debt and we can’t afford a replacement.

Besides, why should we continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for a bureaucrat who does nothing but scheme how to raise our taxes and get us deeper in debt with things like POBs while letting our streets and everything else fall apart.

Wow, good question Bob! So I wrote a letter to the ER about it.

When departing Chico administrator Chris Constantin was hired in 2013, he spoke to the Tea Party. He said our previous finance director was “Loosey Goosey”, bragging about his qualifications to “straighten out the mess” she’d left. He told us, once he fixed things, “you can hire someone cheaper, with less initials behind their name.”

Seven years later, I see a bigger mess. Constantin himself has told us, staff deferred maintenance on streets and other infrastructure while they continued to make bigger payments toward their pension liability (UAL) – this year $11,000,000. But the UAL continues to increase –  this year, the city manager created three new management positions with $100,000+ salaries.

When Brian Nakamura was hired, he went on a firing spree, gutting lower level staffers and bringing his own friends in for management positions – Mark Orme and then Constantin. Since then the assistant manager’s salary has gone from $142,652 to over $189,000/year. Orme and Constantin have also garnered themselves 457 Plans worth an additional $20,000/year each.

From a 2018 report to the California League of Cities: “City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels.” Their first suggestion – make more aggressive payments to CalPERS. Meanwhile, “Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services.” Meaning, squeeze the taxpayers for more money.

Top heavy management and perpetual demands for higher salaries and more benefits has our city upside-down. Constantin’s position should be eliminated, along with other unnecessary management positions, so we can hire the lower-paid workers we need to get this town “straightened out.” 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA