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Mark Orme’s sales tax increase measure: With salaries well in excess of $100,000/year, the people who really make and implement these decisions are well-insulated from any negative impacts. In fact, they directly benefit from any increase in taxes

6 Jan

Here’s another letter writer who does not support the city’s sales tax increase measure. From the Chico Enterprise Record:

Don’t trust this council with more money

As a current taxpayer in Chico,, I do not support the proposed sales tax put forth by the city council’s conservatives. They already can’t manage the current city budget, what makes them think they can take on more responsibility? For example, millions of dollars are spent on Chico PD “overtime” pay and for Chico Firefighter’s “disability claims” right before they retire. They need to do a better job of examining loopholes and the exploitation of city funds by these groups.

This city does not need more money: what we need are people who know how to manage city funds in ways that actually support the community and address issues such as homelessness, poverty, climate change, etc. — Alicia Trider, Chico CA

I’m so glad this person is familiar with the police and fire contracts. People need to read this stuff, we are on the hook for it. The cop and fire contracts are very generous, I’ve written here about it many times. Here are a couple of posts from last year that proved very enlightening:

CTO = “compensated time off”
Look at the calisthenics these people go through to spike their last year’s earnings and, subsequently, their pensions.

I don’t know if Trider actually read the contracts, as I have many times, but if she did, she’d find all kinds of stuff that just raises the cost of public safety for no other reason than PURE GREED.

Trider goes on to list her priorities, which put her at 180 degrees from previous letter writers. So, this sales tax measure has already raised hackles on both sides of the aisle, as I expected. The skating rink also raised hackles on both sides of the aisle, as did using taxpayer money to hire a consultant to push the measure. So far, Staff and Council seem to be putting their foot in their own doo-doo at every turn. In fact, I’d say, Council keeps stepping in Mark Orme’s doo-doo.

A tax increase is a negative for everybody – business owners and consumers are connected at the hip. Businesses need healthy consumers, and consumers need healthy businesses. Raising taxes eats people’s “disposable income,” and that means less money to spend to support local businesses. I’m not threatening to leave – think you’re gonna get rid of me that easily? I’ll just take my business elsewhere. In 2012, when disgraced ex-city-manager Brian Nakamura and despicable ex-city-manager Tom Lando initiated this conversation, I discovered online shopping, and I love it. I also enjoy a trip to Oregon now and then, where they have NO SALES TAX.

Well, I should say, this measure would be a negative for almost everybody. With salaries well in excess of $100,000/year, the people who really make and implement these decisions are well-insulated from any negative impacts. In fact, they directly benefit from any increase in taxes.

Write to your district rep, include the whole council, ask them to pull out of this dive before it’s too late.

Something stinks at the airport again

23 Sep

Airport Commissioner BT Chapman signed this letter which ran in the Enterprise Record last week.

Just a quick update on the effort to bring back airline service to Chico. The grassroots group, JetChico, has been meeting monthly, and is working hard to develop the ingredients necessary to attract an airline to Chico. Community forums are being planned to move forward with the effort and educate the public.

Redding’s recent addition of a route to Los Angeles demonstrates that airlines are returning routes to small communities, and the situation is improving for cities like Chico to re-establish service. What is needed is community support, and vision from local government and business leaders.

The upside of returning airline service to Chico and Butte County is huge. We have lost businesses and jobs because of the lack of service. Our major institutions such as Enloe Medical Center and Chico State University have trouble recruiting the best people because of our lack of connectivity. Right now, the city of Chico loses $1 million per year in Airport Improvement Fund and Passenger Facility Charges because we don’t have commercial air service. That is tax money that goes straight to other communities, but not to us.

Please stay tuned for more information, and support the effort whenever possible. Everyone is welcome to join the JetChico effort and participate in the monthly meetings, which are held in the Chico Municipal Airport conference room on the second Thursday of the month, at 6 pm.

— B.T. Chapman, Chico

But he didn’t write it. When I wrote to airport manager and commission liaison Sherry Miller asking her to forward some questions I had to Chapman, she responded,

Norm – please see the below email.

Juanita – Norm is the original author of the letter so I’m forwarding on to him.

“Norm” being Norm Rosene. Rosene isn’t even a member of the commission.

I wondered why the deception, and when I got Rosene’s response later that day, I realized – Rosene is a founder of JetChico, the “non-profit” group that is trying to convince the city we should pay a million dollars a year to guarantee air service for the benefit of less than 15 percent of the population. People might wonder how he got on the commission, a guy with a personal agenda. 

They just kicked Steve Breedlove off the airport commission for grinding his personal agenda when he was supposed have the general welfare of the town as his first priority. I don’t see any difference here, and after my conversation with Rosene, I wonder if he should be removed from the commission as well.

It all started with the letter, and these two questions:

  • Please provide names of businesses that have specifically listed lack of Air Service as their reason for not locating in Chico
  • As to your claim that Chico State and Enloe Hospital have trouble recruiting employees because of lack of Air Service, have these agencies been asked to put up the $250,000 guarantee money for the airlines?

At first Rosene was eager to talk, thanked me for my interest.

Hi Juanita-

Thanks for your interest in JetChico and bringing back commercial air service to Chico. As one of the JetChico founders, I often am the one to respond to inquiries and put out information.
We started JetChico almost four years ago after Chico lost airline service. Our goal is to bring back reliable and modern commercial air service. We are not affiliated with the City, though Sherry attends our meetings. Everything we do is volunteer, and have not cost the City any money. We periodically report to the Chico Airport Commission, and also the City Council so that everyone is aware of where we are in the process. Our meetings are open to everyone, have been advertised several times in the newspaper, and are held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the airport conference room. We created a website to post relevant articles and information.
Regarding your questions, two examples of businesses that left Chico in part because of the lack of air service were Google and Facebook. Google was running it’s “Loon” project at the Chico Municipal Airport, in a hangar at the north end of the field. I was fairly involved with their project, having facilitated their coming to Chico and using the hangar. Prior to Chico losing air service, one of their team leads told me that if we lost airline service, they would likely find another airport to do their testing. We lost airline service in December, and they stopped their operations at Chico the following Spring. The Facebook distribution center is another example. Facebook was using the Mach 1 building as a highly secure location to store and distribute laptop computers and cell phones. When they left, one of the reasons they stated for leaving was the lack of commercial air service. 
As to Enloe Hospital and Chico State recruiting faculty and staff, both institutions would tell you that it would be easier to recruit if we (Chico) were more accessible and had direct flights to Chico. Young professionals look at connectivity and ease of travel as one of the many items they consider when taking a job in a new location. Neither has been asked to donate any money towards the revenue guarantee program, but both have supported our efforts so far. The Chico State Construction Management program provided a cost analysis of a new terminal building, and a construction schedule and calendar. You can view the conceptual design on our website ( All of the design work was donated.
We will be holding public forums in a few months to educate the public about what needs to be done to bring back air service  and the rationale for doing so. No dates have been set, and as an all-volunteer organization, we tend to move slower than I would like. However, we have good expertise and knowledge in the group, and are steadily working towards a challenging goal.
Again, thanks for your interest.
Best regards,
Norm Rosene


There you see, he signs himself, not as an airport commissioner, but as a representative of JetChico.  At the time that didn’t bother me as much as a couple of things he claimed in his e-mail, so I asked him a few more questions.

Hi Mr. Rosene,

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply.  I have more questions that aren’t answered on your website, I hope you don’t mine. 

  • How many people did Google and Facebook hire in Chico to work at their airport operations, and what was their local payroll?
  • Where do you think you might get funding for the $250,000 guarantee the airlines are asking for?

Lastly, I feel it necessary to point out that Sherry Miller is a salaried city employee and her attendance at your meetings as a liaison to the city is paid for by the city taxpayers. 

Thanks for your anticipated response, at your convenience, Juanita Sumner

I asked the first question because this town needs jobs, good jobs. I asked the second question because I’d seen that $250,000 figure in a recent push piece by Enterprise Record shill Laura Urseny. Rosene responded, 

Hi Juanita-

I am unsure of how many people were part of the Facebook group. I toured the building after they left and I would estimate the number of work stations, and offices at 30 to 50. I do know they were well paid jobs, and that Facebook spent a lot of money in the remodel of the building. I have no idea of their payroll.

The Google Loon project used to send ten to 25 people up (from the Bay Area) for a week at a time. They stayed in local motels and ate at local restaurants. For a time they were speaking with the City about building their own hangar. I helped facilitate their meeting with Brian Nakamura, who was City Manager at the time. When we lost airline service, their interest waned, and they then went away.

The revenue guarantee fund number that we will be looking to achieve will be one million dollars. That is the standard amount that small communities must fund in order to get the attention of an airline. Many communities have done exactly the same thing that we are attempting to do, and one million seems to be the magic number. 

We expect local businesses and residents to contribute to the fund. That is what other communities have done. There is also grant money to apply for which can be utilized to attract air service. None of the above is unusual, but is actually quite typical to attract air service. Redding has used a similar strategy to increase their routes.

Thank you for pointing out that Sherry is “on the clock” for the City at our once per month meetings. As attracting air service was one of the goals when the City hired her, I think that the time is well utilized, especially since JetChico volunteers have probably donated tens of thousands of dollars in time and effort. Just the conceptual drawings for the terminal would normally cost several thousands of dollars. So, the City has been more than compensated for the hour she spends with us every month.

Please feel free to e-mail with more questions.

Best regards,

Unsure? But you helped these people establish their businesses? Based your estimates on empty work stations, but you can’t remember whether there were 30 or 50 – that’s a big difference of 20 less people employed.

And I’m guessing none of them were hired locally – “The Google Loon project used to send ten to 25 people up (from the Bay Area) for a week at a time.” 

But they stayed in local motels and ate at local restaurants? So that’s the kind of jobs we’ll get out of air service? Build their own hangar and import more employees who will likely keep their homes in the Bay Area rather than live and pay property taxes here. 

And then he floored me with “The revenue guarantee fund number that we will be looking to achieve will be one million dollars. That is the standard amount that small communities must fund in order to get the attention of an airline. Many communities have done exactly the same thing that we are attempting to do, and one million seems to be the magic number.”

I read a report on the JetChico website earlier this year that indicated airports in towns of our size will never pay for themselves. The million dollar figure will go up every year.

And here’s where he puts the bite on the taxpayers. “We expect local businesses and residents to contribute to the fund.”  

And then he goes on a ramble about how much money he and his rich friends have put into this venture, as if the city hasn’t spent anything. I’ll have to remind him, in my next reply, that the city has spent about $500,000 on dead-end studies over the past four years, for suggestions like, put city staffers in pilot and stewardess uniforms and have them prowl the Saturday Farmer’s Market and other Downtown events.  I can’t begin to relate how insulting that particular suggestion was, but I will say, it’s deceptive, just like Rosene writing a letter and having somebody else sign it. 

This persistent pressure from a small entitled group has cost the city more than money and staff time ( same thing!), it’s taken the focus of the airport commission away from properly managing the airport. The airport continues to be in the red because of pilfering to pay salaries and benefits Downtown. We’ve lost federal funding because the city didn’t take proper care of the runways or the required water towers. We lost the fire planes for the same reasons. 

Furthermore, the city is a bad landlord.  I know people who own small businesses located at the airport, they employ dozens of people, and they’ve been unhappy with management of the airport for many years. The airport has lost big tenants – moved to Doug Guillon’s business park on the other side of town.  It seems to the tenants that all the effort is going into attracting air service for a miniscule and entitled segment of the population (as well as outsiders who don’t provide any jobs here), while the needs of the airport tenants are being ignored. A recent decision by these same commissioners has tenants really pissed off – they rent these crapped out buildings from the city, make the necessary improvements on their own dime, and then when the lease is up the city can just take all the improvements the tenant has made without any compensation. You can’t pull that kind of  crap in the private sector – SLUM LORD – but here the city gets away with it. People are pissed about that out at the airport.

They should also be pissed about the airport commission’s constant attempts to charge for parking at the airport without providing security of any kind for cars left out there at night. It’s all about getting money to keep the airport open, at all. 

This demand for air service is just a windmill tilt, at the expense of roads and other needed city services. 

I’ll post my further conversation with Rosene when he gets back to me. 

Lastly, I wrote to David Little as soon as I got the response from Miller, which I sent him. According to Little, you are not allowed to sign your name to somebody else’s letter.  A few years ago my husband felt strongly enough about something that he wanted to write a letter to the editor, but he’s a hunt and peck typist. I typed professionally, even typeset newspapers, so I volunteered my skills at keyboarding and spelling whiz. Little recognized the e-mail address and, without even bothering to call or e-mail us about it, round-filed the letter.

When it didn’t appear, I contacted him, and he admitted that he thought I’d written the letter myself and signed my husband’s name, so he threw it out.  I harangued him into running it, I shamed him into it, I asked him, “what, you think a carpet layer is illiterate?” Let’s see Dave Little pass the contractors board exam, for ANYTHING.

No response, and then this morning I see Laura Urseny’s piece, yakking up BT CHAPMAN’S LETTER! What a couple of shills!

Yeah, I’m mad. So should you be, Sucka.

Go ahead and laugh, you’re paying for it

17 Dec

I was spreading an old issue of the Chico Enterprise Record under my dog dishes and I noticed a story I had missed.

The Butte County Association of Governments – BCAG – runs the B-Line.

When I looked at the schedules for the B-Line, I was reminded how riding the bus really sucks. Have some fun – use those schedules to get yourself to the airport, in less than an hour. Because you can drive there in less than 20 minutes from just about anywhere in town, and then you have your car for whenever you want to leave. Please note – there are hours long blocks without service in the middle of the day and then only two buses leaving the airport at the end of the work day. And no stops – it’s an EXPRESS line. You get on Downtown – which means, you have to get Downtown.

Which leaves the use of the bus to catch a plane almost out of the equation – because the buses aren’t for the airline passengers, they’re for employees of airport located businesses. The story says they need at least 64 people a day to pay for this line, and so far they’ve managed to convince about 30 to ride.   Until then, the taxpayers will subsidize this line while BCAG tries to convince employers to buy monthly passes. 

Do you have a car?” is one of the first questions most employers ask. “Missed the bus” is the last excuse you want to pitch at your boss – sounds made up. Until you see the schedules, one misstep and you will be left for an hour. That’s not your boss’ problem, unless he’s Ken Beerman or Dan Got-t-shirts, who are also pitching the New Urban Life Without a Car. Of course, Ken Beerman lives in Forest Ranch, on a private road. Gonzales lives Downtown – if you can get picture of him boarding B-line I will give you a crisp five-spot.

The story is a push piece – thank you Laura Embedded Reporter! The reporter actually tries to tell us employees should take the bus to avoid road damage to their cars. 

“While there is no precise data on the cost of wear and tear on vehicles encountering potholes on Cohasset Road, AAA has determine that nationally potholes cost drivers about $3 billion annually.

Hitting potholes and deep cracks can damage tires, rims, struts, steering and suspension, according to AAA, but what may be worse is that the damage may not be immediately noticeable and deepen as travel continues.”

But the city has no immediate plans to do anything about the road, despite the current jingle for commercial air service.  

“While the city will be improving Cohasset Road in 2018, repair stops short of the airport.

“‘Yes, we are working on the design for road rehabilitation on Cohasset Road from about East Avenue to Eaton Road. This will not do anything to widen or improve Cohasset to the airport from Eaton Road,’ Chico Public Works Director/Engineering Brendan Ottobani wrote this publication on Wednesday.”

That’s interesting. You will not find that kind of information in any story about the city streets, the garbage franchise, or the pensions. But here she uses it to try to get people to ride the bus. 

You really think it costs $250,000 to run one bus half a dozen times a day out to the airport and back? No. BCAG wants  that money for salaries and pensions for themselves. The director of this agency is compensated at over $200,000 year.  Eleven employees – not counting board members – are paid over $777,000/year in wages and another $350,000 in pensions and health benefits.

The board is made up of other salaried individuals, including two county supervisors and council members from every town in Butte County, as well as representatives of other public agencies like CARD. Yes, CARD director Ann Willmann, for example, gets paid over $100,000/year plus pension and health insurance to sit in these meetings, facilitating the looting.

According to various sources online, the average transit bus driver in California makes between $30,000 and $40,000/year. I didn’t see anything about benefits. I don’t know where to look to see what they spend on the buses but I’m going to guess that’s less than they spend on the driver. So that leaves a couple of hundred thousand a year to go into the coffers, to pay those management salaries and benefits, or pay down BCAG’s pension deficit.  

These government entities – of which there are far too many – drum up a confusing babble, they seem to contradict each other around every corner. Here the county is pushing a bus line that nobody really wants, while the city won’t fix the road. Why don’t they just use the grant funding to fix the road? 

How ’bout Urseny’s little pitch about air quality – “Buses also help curb air pollution from vehicles.”  That’s bullshit – buses are not only gross polluters, they grind the roads to a pulp. All to carry 33 passengers a day – what’s that, five passengers or less per trip? All the way across  town? 

The airport is a viable business park, many businesses there are tenants of the city of Chico. But their landlord won’t maintain the road in. Meanwhile a group is using city funding – yes, the city paid $15,000 for that last consultant – trying to re-establish commercial air service – but they don’t think the airlines pay attention to stuff like this? 

Go ahead and laugh – you’re paying for it.



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!

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?


Oroville council, cops, take 10 percent salary cuts in face of bankruptcy – meanwhile, raises all around for Chico management!

6 Oct

We were just talking about Oroville’s financial problems  – here’s their action plan:

As you know, Chico City Council just approved sweet new raises for city management, more than enough to cover their slightly increased PERS shares. With over $180 million in unfunded pension liabilities, the city’s mandated extra “side fund” payments are now over $500,000 a year and expected to increase to $1.5 million within the next couple of years. And come on – at that  rate, we’ll never get rid of the pension bomb.  

Did you know our city council get salaries? Last I heard, their salaries are roughly the same as reported for O-ville, although, I think, a little more. In the article, it says Oroville councilors can also opt for a health benefits package – in Chico, those packages have cost anywhere between $8,000/year and $21,000/year. When I last checked, Ann Schwab and Mark Sorensen were taking the most expensive packages available. Here’s the scam – they pay 2 percent of their council salaries – less than $1,000 a year, do the math – for these packages. 

What kind of package do you have? How much do you pay for it? 

In Hemet, which was left in ashes by Brian Nakamura, Mark Orme, and Chris Constantin, the local Taxpayers Association put an ordinance on the 2010 ballot that ended health benefits for city council members. The voters passed it with over 75% of the vote. It cost the HTA about $7,000 to float two ordinances – the second, term limits for city councilors, also flew through with about 75% of the vote.

The city shall not pay for, fund, or otherwise contribute to, the premiums, charges, fees or other costs of health benefits made available by the city to elected city officials either during their term or after their term of office.

Just something to think about, as the city of Chico plunges further into debt and continues to cut services, cut services, cut services…



Short Attention Span Theater – we have the government we deserve in Chico

18 Jun

I’ve just been having a frustrating conversation with a friend about public participation. 

Sorry if I have been rude, Friend.

Friend tried to explain to me how overwhelmed most people are in their lives, they can’t pay attention.

That just got my skivvies in a bunch. I pay attention, and let me tell you, I got stuff going on.  I won’t bore you with my epic problems of the past months, but through it all, my close friends have been annoyed with my constant complaining about what the city and county and various local agencies are doing. My husband keeps telling me the government stuff is stressing me out, I should concentrate more on what’s going on at home. At least we can do something about our private problems, he says.

I have a hard time keeping it all under my hat.  Every morning, when I give my dog her insulin shot, I have to mentally prepare – “don’t think bad thoughts, don’t think bad thoughts…” as I skewer that needle into a lump of flesh behind her collar.   She lays on the floor behind me as I read the paper, read e-mails, she can hear me grumbling about stuff. I have to be careful or she’ll slip into the bedroom and stick her head under my husband’s side of the bed. I can feel the tension in her neck, makes it hard to get loose skin, sometimes she lets out a yelp and a half.

What bugs me is how people are so quick to use any excuse to stick their head in the sand, but they still expect to be allowed to complain when something finally gets under their skin.  I won’t mention names, but I’ve watched the local gadflies make big stinks about stuff, after a few months, the stink dies down, and the problem still exists.  All that blab about volunteers for the park – the park still looks like shit. The work they did at the One Mile parking lot last year has become completely overgrown with non-native invasive plants again. An area they did earlier this year is also going back to a mess.   Whole sections of the park are sub-code – if it was your yard, you’d get a notice to clean it up or pay the city to do it. 

And this conversation about keeping public restrooms open has been going on for two years now. Meanwhile, the million dollar One Mile restroom is pretty hit and miss – here’s the conundrum – if it is open, will it be usable? 

Short Attention Span Theater.

I’m going to tell you Esplanade lovers – don’t go back to sleep! Isn’t it pretty obvious, they’ve shelved the roundabouts until after the election? I’m hoping Cheryl King and friends are quietly looking for somebody to run for council, but I’m not going to bank on it.  

I’d like to see somebody run for CARD. Why don’t I do it? I would if I had some support – I ain’t going into those meetings without a posse anymore.  If they pass their bond, it means the people of Chico are completely gone fishing.

Tony St Amant said it in this morning’s paper – we have the government we deserve.



Stay Awake – there are a lot of issues to watch these next few months

8 Jan

What a week. I’ve been busy trying to stay on top of 2016.

People are still angry about the shooting in Paradise, judging from the searches I’m seeing, they want criminal charges for Feaster.  We’ll see where that goes, but it looks like the DA is just going to fall on the ball and lay there.

There are also a lot of searches and hits on information about city contracts, pension deals, etc. People finally seem to be paying attention to the CalPERS disaster, we’ll see if they come to the polls in June and November to do something about it.  If there’s one thing I’d like to see out of 2016 it would be four new faces on city council – four new faces that are not beholden to public employees. I’d like to see Sorensen, Coolidge and Fillmer sitting on that dais with their thumbs up their asses, getting voted down on everything, that’s what I’d like to see.

Did you read David Little’s editorial this morning? Sorry, I still read the Enterprise Record compulsively, it’s like the back of the cereal box, it’s just there.  This morning I was treated to a huge surprise – Editor Little taking on his old buddy Mark Sorensen over the hike in room fees at city hall. Ooooo, do I sense a little rub between the conservative factions? Little seems to be sticking up for League of Women Voters – which is weird, they’ve always been a little to the left, and I had thought Little was such a staunch conservative. Is his wife a member of the League? He acted the same way about Country Day School when his kids were students there – one word against Country Day and Little would go ape.  The guy has no objectivity if he’s got a dog in the fight.

I got a notice from CARD director Ann Willman about an upcoming Aquatic Facility Committee meeting, next Thursday, Jan. 14, 6pm, at Lakeside Pavilion. She also informed me they’d posted the consultant’s presentations for the previous two meetings on the website. Of course she didn’t give me a link I had to search the website.

I have to wonder why these meetings aren’t noticed on the usual page with the Board and Finance Committee meetings, but Willmann won’t answer me  on that. She’s determined to run this AFAC thing under the table. You won’t find any information about who attended or any remarks made by attendees. But, the consultant’s report is pretty damning – over 60 percent of the cost of this boondoggle will be salaries and benefits, and they will never come close to recovering costs through fees. This monstrosity will have to be almost entirely taxpayer supported, by people who will never even drive by the facility. You can see both of the consultant’s presentations here, but these aren’t “reports.”

I’ve probably missed some important stuff here, things are busy, busy, busy.   Other issues I’ve tried to keep track of are the school district’s plans to put a bond on the ballot, the city’s airport management discussion,  the city garbage deal, and the changes at the county dump, but that will take more nose to the grindstone, I’ll keep you posted. 



Strap yourself in, 2016 may be a rough ride!

2 Jan

I feel overwhelmed by tv and print news stories about “the year in review.”   I don’t like letting the media tell me what were their most important stories, it smacks of tail-wagging-dog.

I let the readers tell me what were the most important stories of the year.  Looking over my statistics for the past year, I found one of my most hit posts was the recent one about Paradise Police officer Patrick Feaster being related to former Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan. I’m still getting searches for those names and also “recall Ramsey”. We’ll have to see where that sad story goes in 2016. 

I don’t watch county politics as much as city politics, that story about Feaster was sent by a friend.  I see the posts that usually generate the most traffic here are those related to City of Chico management, or mismanagement, whichever way you look at it.  That’s the way it’s always been, pretty much.  This blog really reached a peak under the liberals, when the general feeling around town was, “why would we want to pay more taxes when our city council buys stuff like ‘Spirit Flags’?!”   We thought it would be different under a group of “conservatives” – boy, when will we learn – they all tell us whatever we want to hear, we’re just too damned easy!

People are slowly figuring that out, and “Brown Act” has become one of the most common searches.   I haven’t covered the city’s – really, Mark Sorensen’s – skirmish with Jessica Allen over the Brown Act, because I don’t understand it. The Brown Act seems toothless to me, really, because it depends on the honesty of the elected people, and the diligence of the voters. Excuse me – guffaw – that is a hoot.  I hooted my way through Sorensen’s assertion that they’re not doing anything wrong, just go back to minding your own business people.

People are also coming here to find out about tax increases, in general, but “sales tax increase” and “assessment” are probably the most common search phrases. Posts about CARD’s proposed aquatic center are specifically the most hit.

I think Bob and Jim speak for everybody when they express concern about the upcoming tax measure tsunami headed our way this year. It’s like, knowing the Dark Forces are massing, somewhere out there beyond the stars, trying to go on with your life with one ear pricked up to the sky, one eye turned to the horizon. 

2016 will be a hostile year for the Taxpayer. We have to figure out whether we are going to sit here and be milked like a herd of shackled bovine or whether we will mount counter campaigns and demand the public employees start paying down their own pension deficit, out of the salaries they currently enjoy. 

As always, I will have one ear pricked to the skies and one eye on the horizon, and a megaphone to my mouth to squeal like a pig as soon as I see the rough beast coming ’round at last. You do same!



Enterprise Record running the tax increase campaign? I thought newspapers were supposed to be objective

23 Nov

It seems  the Enterprise Record is running the campaign for a local tax increase – read Laura Urseny’s “Biz Bits” column for Sunday:

“Former Chico airport commissioner Karl Ory certainly brought a surprise to last week’s City Council meeting. During the public comment period over the AvPORTS proposal to manage the Chico airport, Ory suggested that airport improvements might warrant a bond measure.”

I know Ory has been beating this horse, can’t figure out what his interest is. Maybe somebody out there can fill me in. 

“AvPORTS — and others — have suggested that the terminal at the Chico airport is too small, given airline industry trends toward larger planes to carry more people. Sky-West used to fly in with a 30- seater, but nowadays the planes that might come to Chico — if commercial service ever returns — could be in the 100- seat size. AvPORTS suggested a larger terminal with a larger area for the Transportation Security Administration processing is needed.”

Chico couldn’t even fill the 30-seater, is the reason Sky-West is gone. Why in the hell would they send in a bigger plane? 

“One criticism was that Chico has no way to pay for the improvements. A counter was that no airline was going to come to Chico without those improvements.  Ory suggested Chico could turn to a bond for a public vote to pay for capital projects at the airport. Ory is a retired Chico airport commissioner and retired city councilman.”

Here she forgets to mention, the airline wants a subsidy to cover their losses when they can’t fill the planes – like $200,000/year!

Then she seems to be playing the Devil’s Advocate. “But this is one of those suggestions that raised eyebrows. We wonder if the community would vote to tax themselves for airport improvements, when a smaller group wouldn’t even fly out of Chico to help support commercial air service here.”

But here she comes again with that bond stuff.

“Since then, I’ve heard from another airport advocate who didn’t automatically dismiss the idea of a bond.”

She’s talking about Tom Lando, I’d bet my last $5.  Maybe Lando is finally getting a thin-skin about being tagged with this tax increase.

“Why such a thing might warrant community support, he explained, was because the airport benefits many in Chico. Benefits include the transportation for residents and businesses, as well as jobs. The advocate pointed out that large companies in considering a new location would consider getting in and out of Chico via commercial service important.”

Lando is also a member of the CARD board, as well as member of the Aquatic Facility committee. He listened to the consultant say that not having an airport was a bad indicator for the success of the Olympic style swim center CARD is pushing.  If we can’t support an airport, how could we support this aquatic facility? Lando and friends are even proposing a sports stadium for Chico, all to be built with a bond.

What neither Urseny nor Lando is talking about is how big of trouble every public entity around here is in over their unpaid CalPERS liability. You just read here, the city has assigned $6 million in pension debt to the Private Development Fund – that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  That’s what a bond would really be about, and then, in a couple of years, like Chico Unified, they’d be telling us they need yet another bond to actually improve the airport. Same old story. I hope you kids are paying attention.

Recently I’ve noticed our local media has fallen to yellow journalism. We don’t really have a newspaper in this town. I know, I’m just a blogger – internet gossip monger? But these people are supposed to uphold some sort of journalistic integrity. They are supposed to work for the public at large, not the government, or the corporations. 

Aside from the rather loose rules set before me by Word Press (for one, you have to publish, something, somewhat regularly, or they will take your blog away!) , I am free of corporate and government influences. I will continue to work in 2016 to inform you and be a tack on the chair of the Overlords. 

POST SCRIPT: And today (11/25/15) Dave Little has foisted an editorial – he’s actually mad because Chico isn’t “stepping up” to “save the airport”

Mr. Little, you need to step aside, and let a real journalist save the newspaper

Commercial air service is dead in Chico – when will the city start paying attention to the real airport users, the tenants?

15 Nov

Laura Urseny’s story on the airport in today’s ER was no surprise for anybody. While she tried to insert “a glimmer of hope”, she had to admit, it looks like the end for commercial service in Chico. 

I have to give her some credit – she actually sought out a couple of airline executives and put the question to them, and the second guy took her seriously enough to give her a good answer.

Last week I chatted with Jude Bricker, senior vice president of planning for Allegiant.

He said there’s not much interest in Chico. Actually, none.

Bricker went through issue after issue that Chico faces. Airlines are flying bigger planes, roughly in the 150- seat capacity, for cost efficiency. Chico would be hard pressed to fill that, even once a week, he said. Chico had issues filling the 30- seater that SkyWest flew in three times a week. “ We’re not in active negotiations (with Chico) and have no plans for service,” he told me.

What could we do to interest an airlines, I asked. A subsidy program or other incentive was the first thing he mentioned, and then some way to assure the airlines that passengers would come.

He mentioned Sacramento’s closeness as a hefty black mark against Chico.”

There it is – they’re using bigger planes now, just like I’ve said. Those planes not only need 150 passengers to fill them, they need a bigger runway to fly out of here. Chico has not updated their runway like Redding did only a few years ago. That’s how Redding stayed in the game. Chico was busy pilfering the now-red airport fund to pay down the pension deficit. 

And then there it is, these giant corporations want a subsidy to locate here.  Yes, the taxpayers would have to pay these airlines to come here to serve less than 20 percent of the population.  Even then, they only offer service once a week, and there we are again – if they don’t meet the needs of the public the public will go to Sacramento. 

Yes, there is an international airport an hour and a half down the road – Hellllloooooo!

Why Urseny or anybody would continue to pursue commercial air service out of Chico is beyond me. Selfish? Just plain stubborn? Desperate?  Yes, there is an elite little crowd here who expect the taxpayers to foot their luxury bills. 

Urseny keeps trying to prop up this horse cadaver, at first telling the reader about “a glimmer of hope”. In the end she admits, “wouldn’t it have made a great column for me to announce some positive airline news?”  So, now she’s making up news to make herself happy? How about reporting on what’s really going on at the airport – the tenants are complaining that the city is giving them poor leases. These are the people who keep the airport there at all, and the city has treated them poorly for years, giving them crap buildings, forcing them to make their own repairs, but giving them no assurance they won’t be kicked out for higher-paying tenants or have rent raised on themselves when they undertake those repairs. 

How many people would rent a house that needs a new roof, when the landlord told them they’d need to fix the roof themselves? I don’t think that’s legal. But the city let the Aero Union building fall to complete crap – one reason they left – and now the city will have the museum people raising the $200,000 necessary to fix the roof. 

Hey, have a good time out at the Air Museum, but I wouldn’t linger in there too long.