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Mutiny! City $taff decides they don’t have to answer questions

14 Nov

I’ve been distracted by city of Chico improprieties lately – I have two requests for information that are being point-blank ignored by $taff.

Last week the clerk’s office posted the city council agenda with an item regarding the current Chico Police contract negotiations. The agenda report referred to a document – 

“Section 1. That an amendment to the contract between the City Council of the City of Chico and the Board of Administration, California Public Employees’ Retirement System is hereby authorized, a copy of said amendment being attached hereto, marked Exhibit. and by such reference made a part hereof as though herein set out in full.”

that was not attached to the agenda. I had to ask for it. The clerk sent me the document later in the day – it turns out, last March, council signed a release, indemnifying CalPERS from any harm caused to the city by that agency.

The document clerk sent was not cut-and-paste and she did not provide me a link through which I could share it. 

This is the second time I’ve had to ask for a document that was supposed to be attached to a  report on an agenda.  So, I wrote an e-mail to city $taff, asking why the document wasn’t attached to the agenda, as was described. They just aren’t responding. 

Here’s an article Dude sent that might shed some light – thanks Dude!

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article184235683.html

Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for airport commission $taffer Sherry Miller to post the video of the “special” airport commission meeting held last week. She had been posting notices of the meeting for about a month, saying, “As I noted in an earlier email, the meeting will be videoed and a link posted to the Airport Commission web page.”

I would have attended that meeting, but about half an hour previous, the heavens opened up for a dumper, and I thought, “well, she did say the video would be posted…”  I was born here, I know – you think twice before you go out in a storm. I’ll never forget the time I went to an evening meeting, it was storming, public works hadn’t cleared drains, and not only the city building parking lot and courtyard but two businesses across the street flooded. I remember standing inside the lobby with a group of people, including then assistant city manager John Rucker, telling Rucker I had to walk on curbs to get in from the parking lot.

Miller also said, “In addition, the City Council Chambers are not under construction so the meeting will be held in the usual location at 421 Main Street in the City Council Chambers.  This works out better for viewing the presentation.”

But the agendas page still posts the meeting at the old Municipal Building, “441 Main Street, upstairs…”  In red.

So, if the meeting was held in the council chambers, why did she later claim that the video is not in the right format for posting or sharing? That’s the same chambers the council holds meetings in twice a month, and those videos are available the next day, almost without fail. 

So, I’ve been asking her when that video will be available, and she’s just not answering. 

Mutiny on the Good Ship Lollipop?

 

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City has no financial emergency policy, $taff suggests a policy for revenue measures

25 Sep

The report I got is not cut-and-pastable, you can read it for yourself here.

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket-9-27-17.pdf

I’ve again asked the city clerk’s office to send me a cut-and-pastable copy, there’s stuff in this report that needs to be discussed publicly. 

Those of us who paid attention watched council first deny and then flub their way through near-bankruptcy.  They hired an out-of-town gun to “fix” things, he gutted $taff and walked away having established unprecedented salaries for management and a policy that allowed management to pay less than 10 percent of their own pensions.

So yeah, we need a emergency plan, but what I see here is a plan to pay down their pensions. 

“pay down scheduled debt payments…” 

The city’s biggest debt schedule is the $185 million-plus they owe on the pensions. $taff is currently paying $500,000/year on that debt, but payments will go up to $1.5 million within the next few years. 

How will they find the money?

“This policy authorizes the city manager…to investigate…enhanced revenue sources…including…tax increase proposals…”

I don’t have time to re-type the whole report, and our $100,000-plus clerk $taff screwed up sending me the report – as I’ve established with Presson and Brinkley, the reports are supposed to be loaded in such a way that they cut-and-paste, but Stina Cooley, recently promoted to the position, apparently does not know this. Or is just trying to put one over, I don’t know. 

Read it for yourself. 

UPDATE: Sorry to be so testy when I posted the above from my phone, but I get so sick and tired of $taff. Stina Cooley has been with the city for a while now, recently took on some clerk duties, and ignored me when I asked her to resend the reports in “cut-and-paste” format. 

I know people don’t hit the links – Word Press puts eyes in the back of my head. I know a lot of people read the posts without hitting the links, and I use cut-and-paste to quote sections of the reports so they will see, in exactly so many words, what $taff is up to. 

So today I resent my request, and done as I should have done in the first place – cc’d Cooley’s supervisor Dani Rogers. I cc’d Mark Orme because I want to keep him abreast of his $taff’s performance. 

And of course Rogers responded very quickly that the reports would be converted to text, and then she sent me the link. 

These people get paid a lot of money to have some old landlady tell them how to do their job. 

Loyalton Calif cuts pensions – why can’t Chico do same?

27 Aug

Thanks to Jim for picking up this article, from the Los Angeles Times, about a little town not far from Chico.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-loyalton-calpers-pension-problems-20170806-htmlstory.html

I think we have a similar situation here. Early in the 2000’s, a city council including current county supervisors Maureen Kirk and Larry Wahl, at the behest of then city manager Tom Lando, signed an MOU with city employees, attaching salaries “to revenue increases, but not decreases…”  

Staff then went on a permits binge, permitting development all over town, houses piled into Grandma’s back yard, raising city revenues and salaries along with them. Staff got 14, 19, 22 percent raises over a very short period.  Lando’s own salary went from around $65,000 a year to over $120,000 a year within a very short time. 

When this scam was figured out by the public, they stopped it, but started paying the “employer paid member contribution” –  the city started paying most, even all of the employee’s pension share.

We’ve been screeching about that, so lately they just  raise the employee’s salary to cover their new pension share – they are determined that the taxpayer will foot the bill for these pensions (the following list is from 2012, remember, these people get cost of living increases) :

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2012/01/30/heres-why-lando-wants-to-raise-your-sales-tax/

Tom Lando hasn’t been pumping the sales tax increase lately, but I’m sure he’s behind it. Lately, in his position as Chico Area Recreation District Board member, he’s been pushing for a bond on our homes. It doesn’t matter which agency gets the money, as long as they pay their CalPERS deficit with it. 

Loyalton only had four employees – can we do the same thing? I think we can sue the city for the outrageous raises given these pensioneers – spiking – right before they retired, like Lando. But I’m not a lawyer. 

What do you think? 

Sales Tax Increase Anyone?

30 Jul
 

The headline read, “Chico government can’t be trusted with tax increase.” The letter implied current city management is deceitful in its handling of city finances. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the letter writer attended monthly Finance Committee meetings, any accusation of supposed mishandling of taxpayer monies could be explained. I know, I attend those meetings.

Since our new management staff (Mark Orme, city manager, Chris Constantin, assistant city manager, Scott Dowell, administrative services director, and Barbara Martin, deputy director-finance) took office many positive changes in financial reporting have taken place. Detailed financial reports are presented at both the committee meeting and at City Council meetings. Those reports are published online for all to see and pick apart if the public chooses. I cannot recall the letter writer coming forward with a question, comment, or criticism this entire year.

Most of the letter seemed focused on past majority driven ultra-liberal councils (2004-2012) and the old management team that was either unwilling or incapable of controlling their spending. Things have changed dramatically. All it took was one conservative council member and the Grand Jury report of May 2013 to shed light on the mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.

I have no misgivings in suggesting that the city raise sale tax by one-quarter of 1 percent (7.25 percent to 7.50 percent) equaling $4-$4.5 million annually. I will gladly pay that extra 12 cents on a $50 purchase if that meant we could repair/replace our hazardous city streets in this century.

— Stephanie L. Taber, Chico

 

My response to Taber, e-mailed 7/29/17 (we’ll see if this is printed, ER staff removed similar comments I made on Taber’s letter )
We have been assured that all Chico’s financial problems have been put to bed under our “new” staff.  
Former finance director and current assistant city manager Chris Constantin instituted the policy by which whenever a fund is in deficit money is “administratively” transferred from other funds. For example, the gas tax, which most people believe is dedicated to road repairs and improvements is routinely “allocated” for  salaries, pensions and benefits, just like when Jennifer Hennessy was our finance director.
Current administrative services (finance) director Scott Dowell was with Chico Area Recreation District when they failed to make recommended repairs to Shapiro Pool, instead spending $400,000 on a “side fund payoff” to CalPERS.   When he left that agency CARD had over $1.7 million in pension deficit for less than 35 employees, despite spending over $300,000/year in regular payments.

The city’s pension and benefits liability is now over $180 million, and the state is demanding an escalating payment scale. Meanwhile, we continue to pay the majority of our employee benefits, giving them raises to cover their increased shares.  We will never get out of our financial morass until our management staff agrees to pay 50 percent of their own pensions and benefits without corresponding salary increases to cover it.

A quarter cent sales tax increase would be spit on a griddle.

Juanita Sumner, Chico

JetChico presentation tonight – small airports cannot support themselves, will need heavy subsidization from taxpayers

25 Jul

Yesterday I received this agenda for an Airport Commission meeting tonight:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/Agenda20170725finala.pdf

I’ve signed up to received these agendas for various meetings Downtown, they’re usually sent out the Friday before the meeting. Why only a day ahead? Probably because city staff doesn’t  really don’t want the public to get wind of what they’re talking about with JetChico, the group that is working to get taxpayers to subsidize commercial air service at Chico Airport.

jetchico.org

Wanna be Turlock?”?   Really?  Ooooo! Trash talk!  

This group is shady, they don’t say who they are – you have to attend their meetings – at a winery? – to find out what they’re up to. Or you can attend tonight, or you can watch it online.

 

I hope you will – I cannot attend, I’d already committed myself to a work week out of town by the time I got the notice.

Or you can read JetChico’s reports – it’s all there. I read their financing reports, and what I see is, they expect to get most of their money from grants and bonds – tax money.  The reports are pretty damning, and make it pretty clear – small airports cannot support themselves, they need over 50 % subsidization from the tax payers, most of whom will never fly.