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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.

 

 

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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.”  

http://www.chicorec.com/About-Card/Aquatic-Study/index.html

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.