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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

Chico since Nakamura, Orme and Constantin – do you feel “healed”? Or “heeled”?

12 Nov

Chico disaster timeline – rough montage of the last 8 years of city management, or, mismanagement?

Sept 2012 – Nakamura hired from Hemet – Hemet was shocked, said Nakamura had not told them he was looking for another job

Jan 15 2013 – Asst City Manager John Rucker’s “sudden departure” https://www.newsreview.com/chico/content/sudden-departure/8827217/

Mar 7 2013 – Nakamura hires his former asst mgr from Hemet Mark Orme – from the above article – “This week the Chico Enterprise-Record reported the story and also published in its classified section an ad for the position. The ad says the salary offered for assistant manager is $142,652 per year with the potential to reach $172,382 based on performance. The ad refers to the city website for more information.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: 7 years later, as of his resignation, Constantin was making $189,000+ as Asst City Mgr. Let’s see what council intends to pay his replacement]

Mar-Apr ? 2013 – Jennifer Hennessy resigns as finance director – “As the city’s finances worsened, Hennessy was often the target of sharp criticism from some council members and agenda-driven citizens. ” CN&R article link below

April 16 2013 – Nakamura hires former Hemet employee Chris Constantin from an auditor position in San Diego “

“In an interview prior to the council meeting, the 37-year-old Constantin talked about his decision and the controversies he is escaping in San Diego, where he’s served as assistant auditor since 2010.”

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/content/money-man/9619285/

“I made a three-year commitment in San Diego that was up in February,” he said. “At about that point I wasn’t really happy because I wasn’t feeling appreciated.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the N&R article – Constantin left San Diego with a shit storm at his heels.]

May 28, 2014 – Nakamura leaves https://www.newsreview.com/chico/content/so-long-nakamura/13622217/

““It caught us a little bit off guard,” said Mayor Scott Gruendl, who received Nakamura’s resignation letter last Wednesday (May 28) during a breakfast meeting.”

“When Nakamura arrived in September 2012, the city was in a bad place financially and it was his job to fix it. About six months into his time in Chico, Nakamura laid out his three-part plan to Gruendl. Part one was to identify the problems. Part two was to put a team in place to remedy those problems. Part three was to step back and allow the town to heal.

“He pulled the covers back on stuff, and also came up with responses on how to deal with it,” Gruendl said. “That meant a lot of layoffs, unfortunately. What was devastating for a lot of people is how many people we had to let go. Each time, it was more seasoned and experienced people, and it got harder. There was no good way to reconcile that.”

“He’s the lightning rod for the hard decisions that were made—the significant number of layoffs that we did, the collapse of 11 departments into five, the actual moving out of key management people who, for no better explanation, blatantly fucked up,” Gruendl said. “We had people who had good intentions but really didn’t know what they were doing. Brian dealt with it.”

“But the drastic reorganization of city departments has certainly left some with a bad taste in their mouths. Layoffs included many employees who had dedicated years—decades, even—to the organization, and key positions were eliminated, leaving things like the city’s trees untended.”

June 3 2014 – Orme appointed interim city manager

Same article – “Looking forward, Mark Orme—who was promoted from assistant to interim city manager at the City Council meeting Tuesday (June 3)—said he’s excited to work with Chico to begin the healing process.

“There’s been a lot of pain and heartache. That takes time to heal,” Orme said. “There are also external challenges. There’s been a lot of impact on the community financially as it relates to community organizations and a lot of the norms Chico was used to.”

[EDITORS NOTE: “the norms Chico was used to…” What the hell did he mean by that? If you lived here before 2013, let me ask – do you feel “healed”, or “heeled”?

Dear San Dimas – here’s a few things Chris Constantin probably doesn’t want to talk about

10 Nov

This is an old website, now defunct. But, the woman who put it up did a lot of research about Chris Constantin’s history before he was hired by the City of Chico in 2013. She quotes news sources from San Diego, so you might be interested in seeing what he was up to – including harassment of employees who complained about him.

http://savechiconow.weebly.com/constantin.html

Thanks Jessica, I’m glad your research will go to some good end.

SURPRISE! Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin seeking a manager position in San Dimas CA – $220,000/year!

8 Nov

Dear Chris Constantin,

So you are off to San Dimas? I heard it through the Grapevine. (ha ha, get it? Through the Grapevine? Old trucker joke)

It seems like just yesterday you bragged to a Tea Party gathering about all he “initials” after your name. You bragged about the consulting positions you held with agencies all over the state. You told the assemblage that our town was in a terrible financial shape, because our former Finance Director was “Loosey Goosey”. But you bragged about your credentials and promised that you would fix everything, adding, “then you’ll be able to hire somebody cheaper, with fewer initials behind their name…”

Wow, looking around myself, I don’t see that. I see our town is a bigger mess than it was when you got here, while you’ve done very nicely for yourself. You’ve garnered almost $200,000/year in salary and about a $50,000 package. You paid little to nothing for not only a 70% pension but a $20,000/year 457 Plan (special 401K for public workers). Now you’ve used Chico to step along to an “Annual salary of $220,000” as city manager in a rich Southern California town.

I realize you’ve paid the price. I remember when you bragged and bragged about your gorgeous young wife, showing her off around town like a trick pony. Then you left her at home to pop out kids like a popcorn machine.   When you told me about your first child, I told you, “Quit your job, or you’ll miss the best years of your life.”  You should have listened to me Bud. Instead you made an ass of yourself at the podium, whining like a bitch about our town causing your divorce?

That’s on you! Jesus Christ Chris, look what YOU’VE done to our town! 

Good Bye, and Good Riddance Chris Constantin, and please, don’t let the screen door hit you on your ass on your way to San Dimas. It’s already had enough abuse.  

To the people of San Dimas – GOOD FUCKING LUCK with this guy. Here’s what you can depend on – your town is about to get more expensive!

Juanita Sumner

FROM THE SAN DIMAS CITY COUNCIL AGENDA FOR THIS TUESDAY

CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 10th, 2020 7:00 P. M.
SAN DIMAS COUNCIL CHAMBER
245 EAST BONITA AVENUE

a. Consideration of Appointment of Chris Constantin as City Manager, with a start date of January 4, 2021, and approval of City Manager Employment Agreement

RESOLUTION 2020-61, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF SAN DIMAS, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, APPOINTING CHRIS
CONSTANTIN AS CITY MANAGER AND APPROVING A CITY MANAGER
EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt Resolution 2020-62, Appointing Chris Constantin as
City Manager and Approving the City Manager Employment Agreement.

Who will pay the unfunded liability? Taxpayers living on a median income of $43,000/year, or well-paid, well-heeled, entitled public employees making over $100,000/year?

5 Nov

It’s been said, the campaign begins the day after an election.  I like to hit the ground running. Here’s a letter I just sent to the ER. 

Butte County, like the city of Chico, is considering a Pension Obligation Bond.

POBs are a financing scheme that allows state and local governments to get the taxpayers to pay unfunded pension liabilities by issuing a bond guaranteed by tax revenues. Like CalPERS, POB proponents claim investments will pay for both the bond and the retirement fund. According to Oregon PERS manager Mike Cleary, “Some people call this arbitrage, but it’s not, it’s really an investment gamble.”

In fact, in 2013, Stockton and San Bernardino went bankrupt. According to the court, “Generous pensions awkwardly propped up with ill-timed POBs contributed to both debacles.”

In recent years, returns on POBs have often fallen below the interest rate paid by agencies to borrow the money, digging the liability hole even deeper. Nonetheless, they remain popular because they are instant money without voter approval.

Chico’s Unfunded Pension Liability has grown enormously over the past year – from $123,000,000 to $140,000,000, with another $146,000,000 interest – because of unrealistic employee contributions. Chico employees pay, at most, 15% for pensions that run from 70 – 90% percent of hundred-thousand-plus salaries. Meanwhile, taxpayers not only contribute a payroll share, but the annual “catch-up” payments come at the expense of city services – this year $11,000,000.

Who will pay the unfunded liability? Taxpayers living on a median income of $43,000/year, or well-paid, well-heeled, entitled public employees making over $100,000/year?

Let your elected representative know what you think of this scheme to leave the taxpayers holding the Pension Deficit Bag.

Juanita Sumner, Chico

Letter to the Editor: City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share

28 Oct

Dave was reminding me the other day (thanks Dave), elections come and go, but the suits are always working on  tax increases. It’s true, elected officials are here today, gone tomorrow, but The Song Remains the Same – City of Chico Staff is always trying to  find a way to  get us to pay their outrageous salaries and  benefits, without providing us with any services. 

I thought BC really wrapped it up good when he said, “Chico taxpayers… are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.”

So, I wrote a letter to the editor about it! I borrowed generously from BC’s remarks made a week or so ago here, I hope that’s okay BC! I did change your comment about “average income” to “median family income” because that’s the only statistic I could verify. Still works. 

At my blog, chicotaxpayers.com, we’re discussing the Pension Obligation Bond currently being considered in closed door meetings Downtown.

CalPERS promises to fund the pensions with a 7% investment return, but have not met that target, forcing city of Chico to dip into the General Fund to make increasing payments. That’s right – Chico taxpayers, with a median family income of $43,000/yr, are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.

A Pension Obligation Bond must  be paid ahead of everything else, at the expense of city services. In the event of a bad return, the bond holders can take our entire General Fund. 

To use a credit card analogy: The City has run up so much credit card (pension) debt, they can’t even make the minimum payment. So while they keep spending at the same or greater rate (hiring three new management positions this year), they mortgage the house to pay down the credit cards. They can’t afford to keep the house up (deteriorating municipal facilities, parks and public areas), can’t fix the driveway (deteriorating streets), can’t afford a security system (fire and police), and eventually can’t afford to put food on the table for the family (homeless).

City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share.

Tell Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab what you think, at ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

POST SCRIPT:  I’d also like to see Mark Orme fired, but maybe if we apply enough heat to the seat of his pants we can just make him quit. 

 

Contact Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab and tell her what you think of Mark Orme’s snake oil scheme to put his pension debt on the taxpayers

28 Oct

I got a great comment from Emily this morning. It was good to hear from somebody, besides me, and Dave, and BC, who is worried about the city’s intentions to foist a Pension Obligation Bond on the taxpayers, currently being discussed in closed meetings.

“Thanks for publishing all of this. I live in District 3 and asked both Denlay and Schwab (I do not consider Breedlove a serious candidate) about their plan to deal with Chico’s unfunded pension liability. Schwab emailed me back immediately with the same response she said she had already sent to you: best way is to make sure businesses can thrive here by improving infrastructure etc, state’s payment requirements are unrealistic and Chico is advocating for change, city has a pension stabilization trust w which to grow its payment funds, and city is considering a pension obligation bond though there’s “some debate” whether those are beneficial.

Thank you again Emily, for taking time to engage the candidates. I had a discussion with Ann, and tried to contact Denlay, who never got back to me.

I’ll give Ann credit – she responds, and she’s honest. But I have to differ with her statement that the state’s requirements are unrealistic. Schwab and her full council signed contracts allowing over-generous salaries and unrealistic employee contributions, and now she says it’s CalPERS’ fault?

Furthermore, she admits there is “some debate” over POB’s being “beneficial“. That’s an understatement, given the warnings the consultant made about the volatility of such bonds. Why would these investments fare any better than CalPERS’ investments, which have been coming in at half or less than their projections? The consultant made it clear – poor returns, which he also said repeatedly are very likely, would be a disaster for the city. The bond holders would take our entire General Fund. That’s about all we have left, besides the already established “Pension Stabilization Slush Fund”.

And, I don’t think the consultants were being fully honest about the streets leasing deal, I think that’s even more risky than they are willing to admit at this stage.

Denlay’s response to Emily was worse.

“I had to follow up with Denlay, who did respond with her ‘instincts’ about how to deal with this problem: get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years, but that Chico has ‘many pressing issues even beyond pension liabilities,’ including illegal encampments, needle handout programs, and the state of City Plaza.”

That’s what I’ve been saying about Denlay – she is way over her head. She doesn’t understand that the pension deficit is the biggest debt the city faces, that it is being paid by the taxpayers at the expense of all our city services, and if we don’t do something about it, we’re in for BANKRUPTCY. Worse, she obviously didn’t watch the consultant’s presentation, which is just plain LAZY, girlfriend. The first thing I look for in a candidate is their knowledge of the committees. I’m going to guess she doesn’t even know what committees or who is sitting on them.

But she has been tutored about the POB, because a reader sent me the response he got out of her. That’s what she’s talking about when she says “get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years.” The operative word here is “stakeholders” – is she including the taxpayers? Because the consultant also made it very clear that this bond will not go to the ballot, meaning the taxpayers are out of the conversation.

Emily added, “I’m at a bit of a loss bc I can’t believe Schwab is even considering the pension obligation bond, but it doesn’t look like Denlay understands the issues very well.

Thank you Emily, you put it in a nutshell.

But, I’ll still say, at least Schwab is honest, and she responded more clearly. I’ll also tell you something else about Schwab – she wants to get re-elected, I believe she wants to hold onto her seat until she is termed out, so I believe she listens to criticism better than most.

So, it’s time to contact Schwab – she’s not just the District 3 candidate she’s your mayor, and a member of the Finance Committee that is forwarding a recommendation to Council. Tell her what you think of this insane idea.

Tell her you know the sneaky, dirty truth that Mark Orme doesn’t want us to know. This isn’t the kind of bond that shows up on your property tax bill. It’s the kind of bond that drains city finances, written to be paid ahead of any of our other debt and ahead of financing services. This POB will show up in the form of PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICE CUTS, UNMAINTAINED STREETS, A FILTHY PARK, AND HIGHER SEWER FEES.

And there’s the next thing that will show up on the horizon – another tax proposal. They’ll let the streets go to crap, the park will remain a giant hobo camp, and you will continue to see “quality of life crimes” without any response from the cops. When they think we’re about up to here with it, they’ll offer another tax increase. They’ll tell us it’s for the streets and public safety. Oh yeah, remember – just like they told us the Trash Tax would go to the Street Fund. The truth is, they’ve voted year after year to put it in the General Fund, out of which they make their 7-8-9-10-and now 11 million dollar UAL “catch up” payments.

So tell Ann you’re hip to those kind of tricks. Yes, we need to address the pension deficit, head on. Meaning, THE EMPLOYEES, ESPECIALLY MANAGEMENT, NEED TO PAY MORE. And they need to do it without the raises council has given them every time they’ve agreed to pay more of their pension – how asinine is that?

That’s ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

And here’s why I voted for Matt Tennis, CUSD board

25 Oct

I’m glad to see so much interest in the school board election, but to tell the truth, there is only one candidate that I really feel good about – Matt Tennis.

The single most important issue to me right now is getting the schools back open for in-person instruction. I have a friend who is a board member in another small local district, and like he says – kids are not learning to read right now, they’re getting behind, and the farther behind they get, the less likely they are to catch up.

Sitting in front of a computer screen for a couple of hours a day is not an acceptable substitute. They’d be better off watching Sesame Street. 

I’m tired of hearing about teachers who expect to get paid for NOT WORKING, or who are using COVID to muscle more money out of school boards. I think that’s a sad indication of the kind of people we have in the schools today.  Afraid of germs? How about conjunctivitis? When was the last time a school was shut down for a case of pink-eye? How about MRSA? Remember the hysteria over MRSA? I knew two kids who got it, but their school was not shut down, even though nobody could tell them exactly how they got it, and the only thing they had in common was the school they attended for 6+ hours a day.

So hey teachers, get out there and get your COVID shot, and get your whiney asses back in the classroom. Cause you realize, there are going to be parents that like homeschooling, because they don’t have to deal with jerks like you. Every time you pull some bullshit like this you will lose students.  And that’s going to take a big whack at your ADA.

So here’s what Matt Tennis has to say about opening the schools. I’m glad I voted for him. But, we’ll see how much I like him when the subject of teachers’ contracts and district financing comes around. It’s hard to pick a perfect candidate, but I’m pretty sure he’s the best of this litter. 

What will become of $30 million city surplus?

18 Oct

Dave Howell sent this right-on analysis of the Sept 23 Finance Committee Meeting:

That finance meeting WAS PACKED with crazy and outrageous information. And the local media DIDN’T MENTION ANY OF IT!

Here are some key takeaways the local media should have covered:

Last year at this time we thought the unfunded pension liability we were on the hook for was $128 million. Well, this year the bureaucrats and consultants say $146 million. AND NOW THEY TELL US WE OWE ANOTHER $140 MILLION IN INTEREST! But these numbers are low because they don’t include the 4.7% under performance from last year and also the prior year’s under performance. IT IS OBSCENE! WHERE THE HELL IS THE LOCAL MEDIA ON THIS?

UAL for CalPERs is 146.3 million which is a 43% increase over the last 5 years. UAL payments are now 9.9 million in 2021 and will grow to 13.2 in 2026. And remember this is assuming an unrealistic 7% CalPERs return. In all likelihood this number will be even worse as over the last 20 years CalPERs hasn’t come close to 7%. CalPERs return has only been 5.5%.

The City’s pensions are only 67% funded.

In addition to leasing the streets Morgan talked about the possibility of leasing the airport! WHAT A SCAMMER!

What was just as revealing was after the snake oil consultants left the meeting. Dowell went into the June and August financial statements. (What happened to July?) The city’s cash flow is up OVER $30 MILLION from last year resulting in an $8.8 million surplus! (You would think with a 30 million increase in cash flow the surplus would be even more.) And it sounds like these numbers will probably increase over the next few months. It turns out that despite the doom we were told the COVID crisis would have on the City’s finance, the crisis has generated a huge windfall for the City, similar to the Camp Fire situation.

Naturally, they didn’t even think of giving any of the surplus back to the taxpayers or using it to fix the streets. They are pigs at the trough and will take everything they can get, so even with millions in surplus you can bet they will be talking tax and fee increases next year! It just shows that no matter how much money they take, all of it and more will be devoured by pensions, other post employment benefits and raises. These people are parasites and they will bleed the people of this community dry! DON’T LET THEM DO THIS TO YOU!

Here was an interesting letter to the editor. How did the letter writer know about the surplus? I didn’t see it reported in any of the local media. Did the letter reader watch the video?

City budget surplus? How to help ALL city dwellers? Pave the streets and upgrade shoulders to sidewalks. Smooth pavement and safe routes help everyone. People can get moving: on foot, by bike, on skates or boards. Even in the car, the experience of quietly gliding over newly paved roads is a stress-reducer. Come on, council! Do what it takes: set money aside, get grants, and do it. Please!
— Kristi Ayars, Chico