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Dan Walters documents a history of promises broken by state legislators – the same applies to our local legislators

14 Jan

As we watch “the homeless” overwhelm our parks and public areas, and Chico PD arrests more and more transients for burglary and assault,  the Chico city council is actually thinking about rescinding the “sit-and-lie” ordinance soon. I watched a video of county supervisor candidate Sue Hilderbrand claiming that transients should be allowed to do anything in public places that the rest of us do in our homes. The state is considering forcing the mentally ill into treatment. Gavin Newsom wants to penalize cities that are not, in his opinion, doing enough to house the homeless.

Meanwhile, according to Dan Walters,

billions of dollars meant to reduce repeat criminal activity by improving local jails and probation services were siphoned off for other purposes.”

You know what other purposes – “the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) was pressuring local governments to contribute more money to offset the system’s investment losses during the Great Recession, and to pay for pension benefit increases.”

Walters reports that CalMatters published a similar article about the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which was meant “to depopulate the state’s mental hospitals, curb involuntary commitments and divert the mentally ill into local treatment programs. 

“However, the promises of the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short act to create a network of easily accessible local mental health services were never kept. The money that had been saved from closing mental hospitals was swallowed up in state budgets approved by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and his successors from both parties.”

And those promises continue to be ignored, you can look at the Butte County Behavioral Department website for yourself:

For one department – one department in a county of less than 300,000 people – with nearly a $100 million budget, I’m not impressed. I don’t see any directory of mental health professionals. I do see a number you can call if you’re experiencing a crisis, but I don’t see any programs – like AA – that can help a person avoid crisis. And while they’ve promised a “street crisis team,” I have yet to see county workers walking the parks or other public areas in Chico to counsel anybody toward getting off the street.

Look here – you can see where the Behavioral Health Budget goes.

You see the highest paid employee in Butte County, with a salary of almost $290,000/year and a benefits package of almost $50,000, is the Behavioral Health Director. Two BCBH employees make over $200,000/year, just in salary. If you search “Behavioral Health”, you find 66 pages of salaries – including the lower paid interns and “extra help” who actually work with the patients.

The funding they “saved” by not providing hospitalization for people in mental crisis has gone to management salaries, benefits, and, the county pension deficit.

Like Walters says, “We should keep the 1967 mental health law, the Local Control Funding Formula and realignment in mind the next time the state’s politicians tell us they are enacting a transformative solution to a pressing problem.” And, the next time our city or county leaders tell us they need more revenue to solve a problem, we should say NO! and vote them all out of office.

“Fungibility” – moving peas under walnut shells

14 Dec

My husband constantly reminds me that the new revenues brought in by tax increases just free up existing funds to be spent on pensions and benefits. Dan Walters has a word for this deception – “fungibility” – “If a city’s voters can be persuaded to raise their taxes for parks and recreation, for example, it effectively frees up more money to pay its pension bills without acknowledging that motive.”

Walters calls this a bait-and-switch approach to getting voters to raise taxes on themselves – they offer you a carrot – oh yeah, ice rink – to take your eyes off their pension deficit. The city of Chico, for example, has been taking money out of various funds and placing it in the General Fund, from which they can transfer it anywhere they want. And they’ve established TWO pension “trust” funds – “CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund (903) and the Pension Stabilization Trust (904).

From budget policies 2019-20

“CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund (903)
Fund 903 has been established to accumulate funds for the annual payment of the CalPERS unfunded liability payment for the City. The targeted reserve amount is equal to the estimated unfunded liability payment for the subsequent year due to CalPERS. In accordance with GASB 54, this fund balance is committed.”

“Beginning in FY2017-18, each department will set aside a set percentage of payroll costs to fund the annual payment of the CalPERS unfunded liability. A target reserve of 10% of the annual unfunded liability expenditure will be retained in the fund.”

From 2019-20 draft budget – page FS 75, Attachment A, Fund Summaries CALPERS UNFUNDED LIABILITY RSV FUND

In fiscal year 2017-18 they moved $7,323,978 into the Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund – $3.9 million from the miscellaneous employees payroll, and $3.2 million from public safety funds.  In 2018-19 they took $8,358,417.  The city manager’s recommendation for 2019-20 is $9,615,778. 

The Pension Stabilization Trust is a separate fund – The City Council established a Pension Stabilization Trust under Internal Revenue Code
Section 115 on June 19, 2018. The irrevocable trust is restricted for use to pay future CalPERS retirement contributions. The investment model strategy for the Trust is conservative. A conservative investment model is defined as a strategy that does not exceed an investment allocation over 20% in equity securities with the remainder investment allocation in fixed income securities. The model strategy may only be modified by the City Manager with City Council approval.

Fund 904 – Pension Stabilization Trust shall account for the financial activity of the Trust. Trust accounting will be provided at least quarterly as part of the monthly monitoring reports provided to City Council.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I see is not only a fund through which they take from other funds to pay down their deficit, but another, separate fund that also takes money from other funds – to be invested on behalf of the pensioneers. 

Here’s something scary I ran across in the budget policy documents – the city manager can approve up to $100,000 transfers without council approval.

Transfers Between Council Approved Capital Projects (Different Years – Rescheduling Projects) – Projects are approved over a ten-year period by Council. Each budgeted project has been appropriated an amount that may include funding from multiple City Funds. Appropriation transfers between capital projects scheduled in different years requires approval of the City Manager and City Council based the following authorization amounts:

• Up to $100,000 – City Manager;
• Over $100,000 – City Manager and City Council

Now, ask yourself Pollyanna – why are the road, sewer and park funds bottomed out? 

Because, as Walters reports, pension costs, especially for public safety employees, “are rising especially fast. They now average about 50% of payroll and are projected in the new report to top 55% by the mid-2020s. A few cities are already nearing or reaching 100%.”  And, city management, as you see above, is allowed to dip into funds as they wish, transferring the garbage tax money from the Road Fund to the General Fund last year, as noted in the budget. From the General Fund they can transfer as much as they want into the Unfunded Liability Reserve or the Pension Stabilization Trust, as long as it’s in increments less than $100,000.

When Brian Nakamura came on as City Manager in 2012, he reported two deficit figures – one about $168,000,000, the other around $194,000,000. I think the  first figure was the pension deficit figure, and the second was the total deficit for pensions AND benefits. Today the city finance manglers report a total deficit of around $130,000,000. How do you think they paid that down so fast? 

Here’s Walters on the subject:

Dan Walters: It’s a bait and switch on the state’s public pensions

Local officials, particularly those in California’s 400-plus cities, have been complaining loudly in recent years about pension costs, raising the specter of insolvency if they continue their rapid increase.

Last year, the League of California Cities issued a report declaring that “pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels.”

The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) confirms that projection in a new report.

The report reveals that mandatory “employer contributions,” including those from the state and school districts, as well as local governments, rose from $12 billion in 2016-17 to $20 billion a year later.

It also warns that the payments will continue to rise well into the next decade as the giant trust fund tries to recover from dramatic investment losses in the Great Recession, adjusts to lower earnings projections and handles a surge of baby boomer generation retirees claiming benefits.

“The greatest risk to the system continues to be the ability of employers to make their required contributions,” the new report declares, adding, “It is difficult to assess just how much strain current contribution levels are putting on employers. However, evidence such as collections activities, requests for extensions to amortization schedules and information regarding termination procedures indicate that some public agencies are under significant strain.”

Pension costs for “safety employees,” police officers and firefighters mostly, are rising especially fast. They now average about 50% of payroll and are projected in the new report to top 55% by the mid-2020s. A few cities are already nearing or reaching 100%.

However, as much as they complain about CalPERS forever dunning them, California’s local officials are largely unwilling to directly ask their voters for more taxes to pay pension bills.

Hundreds of local tax increase measures were placed on the ballot last year and hundreds more are likely to be proposed next year, but almost universally they are billed as improving popular local services, such as “public safety” or parks.

It’s where the concept of “fungibility” kicks in. If a city’s voters can be persuaded to raise their taxes for parks and recreation, for example, it effectively frees up more money to pay its pension bills without acknowledging that motive.

We saw a wonderful example of fungibility last year in Sacramento, where voters were persuaded to raise local sales taxes on the promise of civic improvements by an amount that closely matched increases in the city’s obligations to CalPERS.

We may be seeing another in Oakland next year.

The Oakland City Council is placing a “parcel tax” — a form of property tax — on the March ballot to improve parks, recreational and homeless services and stormwater drainage. The tax, $148 annually per real estate parcel, would generate an estimated $20 million a year.

As it happens, however, the most recent CalPERS report on Oakland’s pension obligations reveals that they will increase from $194 million in 2020-21 to $226 million by 2025-26, which would more than consume the revenue from the parcel tax.

So why don’t city officials just own up and publicly acknowledge that pension costs are driving their budgets into red ink and ask voters for more tax money to cover them?

They — and the unions that finance tax increase campaigns — clearly fear that being candid would backfire. If voters knew they would be paying more taxes to support pension benefits for city workers that are probably much better than they have themselves, they might refuse to go along.

Bait and switch is more politically expedient.

Airport Commissioner trying to sell us a bag of rainbows, lollipops and bull puckey

12 Nov

Does Chico really need air service? I don’t think so, and this letter from Airport Commissioner B.T. Chapman is full of holes. 

Your “miss” comments on November 2 about the initiative to rename the airport certainly does nothing to help the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to return air service to Chico.

First of all, I’d like to ask Chapman, how “many“?  Because most of the meetings on this subject are held at a private location, by a small private group, without notice of the public, without oversight by city staffers, and without any notes or videos available for review. I’m not a lawyer or I’d raise a Brown Act question, instead I’ll just say, it seems the public is being held out of this conversation by the forehead.

(NOTE: In fact, about a year ago, Chapman put his name on a letter sent to the Enterprise Record, but I found out it was actually written by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. See the link at the end of this post.)

Chapman continues, “If you had participated in the research done by the 2-member committee appointed by the airport commission you would understand the proven marketing value of an effectively named airport. We’re not playing games here nor chasing a far-fetched “dream.”


A “2-member committee” – that answers my question – a 2 member, self appointed committee that already had an agenda. That’s not research, it’s rationalization.


Renaming the airport is not designed to attract an airline. We already have strong indicators there is interest in returning to Chico. Further, the JetChico attraction committee already has proven business support to return air service.

No, the renaming of the airport is not designed to attract an airline. Yes, the airport manager claims there are airlines with some interest in reestablishing air service to Chico. But, these airlines have made it clear they will not do so unless the city guarantees hundreds of thousands in revenues to the airline. What renaming the airport is supposed to do is get the taxpayers all on board, happy to put down tax dollars to subsidize (and that’s the word they use) a service that will only be used by a small portion of the population.

Returning air service is serious business with significant economic benefits to our city and convenience to our citizens and those in the counties that border Butte.

In  your dreams B.T. – if air service is so important to local citizens, why wasn’t it even mentioned, even in passing, in that $25,000 survey the city just ran?

— B T Chapman, Chico

Okay, that’s a point blank lie. We’ve never had reliable air service in Chico, people were constantly left stranded, either in Chico, or in San Francisco. Furthermore, the airlines refused to refund tickets when this happened, leaving people to pay for hotel rooms and then re-purchase tickets, or call for a ride home from San Francisco. This happened to my family and plenty of others.

Chapman is grasping at straws to convince us to pay for something from which most of us will never receive any benefit.

Get on the bandwagon…”? Here’s a good quote from “bandwagon is a trend that is so cool everyone wants to get in on it. If you start wearing a flowerpot on your head because everyone else is, you’ve jumped on a strange fashion bandwagon. Originally, a bandwagon was a large wagon that did indeed carry a band. Now it’s an idea — people jump on the bandwagon when they hop on a trend.”

This reminds me of the suggestion made by a $200,000 consultant hired by the city at the suggestion of JetChico a few years back. He suggested city staffers get pilot and stewardess costumes (paid for by the taxpayers), and then stroll around town, at public events like Saturday Market, trying to convince the public that it is, indeed, fun to fly!

This is the kind of bullshit our tax dollars are used for. This is what a new sales tax increase would pay for. Write a letter to the airport commission via
NOTE: You might ask Miller if Chapman did indeed write this letter.  Here’s the post I did last year about another letter signed by B.T. Chapman, but actually authored by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. Ask yourself, is it okay for a public official to sign a letter that was written by somebody else? Who is really running the airport commission? 

What I’ve learned from my dog – don’t take a screwing without a fight

10 Nov

Almost four years ago, my dog got so sick we thought she was a goner. We stayed up nights plying her with water and rice paste, going to various vets to find out what was trying to kill my dog.

Eventually we learned, she’d got pancreatitis, somehow, and was diabetic. After working for months to get her health back, we got her onto a medical routine that has been the center of our life ever since. We have good vets, and they continue to work with us to keep her healthy without driving us into the poor house. 

My husband said right at the get go – when the quality of her life is gone, we’re done. It’s been almost four years, and while she’s slowed down almost to a stop, she’ll still bite the hell out of you if you try to take a soft ball away from her. As long as she’s a bitch, she’s stayin’. 

And that’s what I’ve learned – don’t take a screwing without a fight. Death came at my dog like a big bully, and we put his ass dooooowwwn!

Of course every day is a new day, up and down, up and down. She gets up happily to eat, so wobbly, wagging her tail almost knocks her off her feet, but don’t get your hands in that food dish. She takes her shot with a grimace, and then she just keeps shoveling in the kibble. She demands a good walk, a chance to sniff the smells, take a good dump. This has been good for my husband and I too – we’ve found many good trails around Chico and in the hills above town, we walk a few miles most mornings. 

Then we go back to the house and she lays in bed for hours. At about 10:45 am, she shambles out of her bed, sniffing for her midday treat. I can put my hands right into her mouth with a bit of chicken and she takes it as gently at a baby.  A quick walk out to pee, and she’s back in her bed, or situated in a bright spot in the yard.

At about 4 pm, she wakes up and gets weirdly frisky. Ever play catch with a blind dog? Watch your fingers! It’s pretty amazing how fast she can react when she thinks somebody is trying to take something from her. 

And that’s what I’ll say about myself – watch your fingers, especially if you are planning to put them in my purse.  The tax measures coming to the Chico ballot in March 2020 – a sales tax increase from the city and a parcel tax from Chico Area Recreation District –  are nothing but stealing. We’ve paid taxes for years, and $taff has diverted our money into their own pockets. Time to call them on their filching. Time to nip some fingers. 

You’d be surprised how much power is contained in the word NO.

Dave Howell: If a public or private entity provided worsening service would you favor them taking even more of your money?

30 Oct

Dave Howell wrote another great letter to the ER the other day. He sent me the survey, and I posted it here:

I’m still working on making it more readable, but it’s there, please take the time to look it over and join the conversation. And write those letters!

From Dave Howell:

EMC Research conducted a survey for the city council that found half the respondents thought the city was headed in the wrong direction. Only thirty percent thought the city was headed in the right direction. Paradoxically seventy percent favored the city taking more of their hard earned money via a tax increase. If a public or private entity provided worsening service would you favor them taking even more of your money?

For the respondents who answered in the affirmative how do you think they would have answered if they were told that for well over a decade the city council has siphoned off huge amounts of money that should have gone for infrastructure maintenance and other vital programs to pay for unsustainable employee costs such as pensions and that the city council will use the money from the tax increase to add hundreds of millions of dollars of new debt so this can continue? Do you think EMC mentioned that? Not a chance as that would require integrity, a foreign concept to vile EMC. The city council is giving EMC our tax dollars for one purpose only and that is to make sure the tax increase passes. The purpose of the survey is to help determine how to word the ballot measure so it is most likely to pass.

Remember that next year when our incompetent and corrupt city council and the masters of deception at EMC begin their propaganda campaign, euphemistically called education.

Dave Howell, Chico, CA

letter to editor: recent city survey misleading

28 Oct

I try to read the Enterprise Record at least a few times a week. Not that it’s a great paper, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what kind of BS they are floating. I usually read the print edition – my husband picks it up a couple of times a week, when he stops at the neighborhood market  for a 6 pack. But last time he came home with a 6 pack and a candy bar. “3 Musketeers is cheaper than the paper,” he said, “and it does more for you mood.” Then he told me the paper had gone up 50 cents, and screw that. So, I’ve been snooping it out online since then, but get cut off pretty frequently, having read my fill of free junk. It’s like going to the county fair, and eating too much Fiddle-Faddle.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Mike Wolcott for a get-together at the ER with other “frequent letter writers.” He said we’d all get a free online subscription, 4 months paid by him, just for standing around the old do-nut box and being civil to each other. So I went, spent about an hour in a little conference room trying to be polite with people like Irv Schiffman, and then I had to get back to work. So here I sit, waiting for my free subscription.

The down side to that would be waking up every morning to find the digital version of a cat box liner in my email. I’m starting to think I might have made a mistake.  The Enterprise Record isn’t a newspaper, it’s newspeak.  They don’t investigate, they regurgitate.  When you read a story in the ER, you must always look elsewhere for further information, don’t just believe what they print. They toe the line set by whichever mob is in charge, and right now, it’s the tax happy mob. Expecting the Enterprise Record to do anything resembling investigative journalism is like expecting the government to investigate itself. Today, the media is part of The Establishment, and they aren’t going to rock the boat now that they have got themselves into it.

So we have to read stuff for ourselves, we can’t take a reporter’s word for anything. The story the ER posted about the city’s recent survey might have just as well been a city press release.  I posted the EMC survey this morning

because I knew it wouldn’t be in the paper. In fact, Dave Howell had to request it from the city clerk. Let’s make it worth Dave’s while having to deal with the bureaucratic jello mould.  Judging from the word press stats for today, people are at least looking at it.

I hope we can get others to take a look, maybe get a conversation going about how blatantly leading that survey was. Not to mention,  misleading. So I wrote a letter to the ER.

NOTE: Here’s a link to the ER story I mention in the letter, thanks again to Dave Howell for that, as well:

Chico one of top cities for public employee compensation

My letter sent to Chico ER 10/28/19

Tax campaign consultant EMC, after a very misleading survey of only 400 carefully chosen Chico residents, declares 70% support for a one cent sales tax increase. That’s more than the 2/3’s voter threshold required for a special tax that could be dedicated to public safety or roads, the top concerns listed by those 400 respondents. Why then does Staff insist on running a simple majority measure requiring only 51%?

Because, as the assistant city manager told council, a 2/3’s measure would have to be spent as the voters dictate.  A simple measure goes into the General Fund, available for any whim of council or staff, including the pension liability.

Just last year, another city consultant, Chad Wolford, told the Finance Committee city expenses were up because of “More people, more payroll, more allocations… salaries and benefits have gone up, operating budgets are up…”   In 2015 Wolford told council the city was spending too much money on “overhead,” which he defined as “administrative salaries and benefits.” The same year, Chico had the top compensated employees in California, as reported by the Enterprise Record 12/10/2015.

The EMC survey told respondents “The City has done everything it can to cut expenses…”  That is not true. As Wolford said, the city is management top heavy and staff continues to get salary increases, which increase benefits, and increase the pension deficit. Employees pay less than a third of their pension costs.

The survey was blatantly misleading. See the full survey and join the conversation at

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA



EMC survey of 400 carefully chosen city of Chico residents

28 Oct

Thanks Dave Howell, for sending me the EMC survey paid for by the city of Chico (meaning, you taxpayers). 

It cut and paste into a big blob, I have spaced the first three pages so you can read them more easily, and I’ve added my own remarks and highlights in red, but I haven’t changed one word or number of the information. Unfortunately, I only made it to page 4 this morning, I’ll have to get back later to fix the rest. That stuff is still readable, but it takes some looking, everything is all crammed together.

This survey is very leading, read it for yourself, and let me know what you think. I’d really love to hear from somebody who was actually contacted by EMC.

Hybrid Telephone/Email-to-Webi Survey of Likely November 2020 Voters
City of Chico, California
Conducted September 19- 30, 2019
n=400; Margin of Error +4.9 percentage points
EMC Research #19-7241

All numbers in this document represent percentage (%) values, unless otherwise noted.
Please note that due to rounding, percentages may not add up to exactly 100%.

GREETING: Hello, my name is ________, may I speak with (NAME ON LIST)?

INTERVIEWER: NOL ONLY  NOTICE: They have carefully chosen respondents and will only interview the person they’ve targeted, no other household members.

INTRO: Hello, my name is ________, and I’m conducting a survey for __________ to find out how people feel
about issues in Chico. We are not trying to sell anything, and are collecting this information on a scientific
and completely confidential basis.

Male 47
Female 53

2. Are you registered to vote in Chico?
Yes 100

No/(Don’t Know/Refused)  TERMINATE –

3. What would you say are the chances that you will vote in the November 2020 general election for
President, Congress, and other local measures—are you almost certain to vote, will you probably
vote, are the chances fifty-fifty, or do you think that you will not vote?
Almost Certain/(Definitely)  CONTINUE 92
Probably  CONTINUE 7
50/50 Chance  CONTINUE 1
Will not vote/(Don’t Know/Refused)  TERMINATE –

4. Do you feel that things in the Chico area are going in the right direction or do you feel things are off
on the wrong track?
Right Direction 30
Wrong Track 50
(Don’t Know/Refused) 20

NOTE: Here they admit that they have not recorded responses verbatim (word for word) 

i Telephone language shown in these topline results, adapted slightly for web version

EMC Research #19-7241 – Page 2-

5. What do you think is the most important problem facing Chico today? (OPEN END, RECORD

Homelessness/Poverty/Transients/Drugs 37
High cost of housing/living 17
Crime 10
Poor condition of roads/Infrastructure/Traffic 9
Public safety/Safety/Need more police 6
Political issues 5
Overdevelopment/Overpopulation 4
Issues due to the Camp fire 3
Climate change/pollution 2
Other 4
Don’t Know/Refused 1
NA/None 2

6. Would you say that the City of Chico has a great need for more money, some need for more money,
little need for more money, or no real need for more money?

Great need 38
Some need 39
Little need 8
No real need 5
(Don’t know/Refused) 10

EMC Research #19-7241 – Page 3-

7INT. Using a scale of excellent, good, only fair, or poor, please rate each of the following regarding the City
of Chico.

SCALE: Excellent Good Only Fair Poor  (Don’t Know/Refused)

7. The overall quality of life in Chico
(E)10 (G)50 (OF)29 (P)9 (DK/R)1

8. The overall quality of city services
(E)5 (G)47 (OF)32 (P)12 (DK/R)4

9. The quality of police services
(E)15 (G)47 (OF)22 (P)11 (DK/R)5

10. The job the city government is doing  
(E)3 (G)33 (OF)29 (P)27 (DK/R)8

11. The job the city does managing taxpayer dollars
(E)2 (G)26 (OF)32 (P)25 (DK/R)15

12. The city’s fire and disaster management efforts
(E)22 (G)55 (OF)12 (P)5 (DK/R)6


13A. Next I’m going to read you a measure that may appear on the ballot in the future.
Shall an ordinance to fund essential city services such as preserving the number of on-duty police
officers and fire fighters, protecting 911 emergency response times, maintaining and repairing
streets, sidewalks and Bidwell Park, and funding othe  r general services and essential activity, by
establishing a 1 percent sales tax, providing approximately $18,000,000 annually until ended by
voters, subject to annual audits, with all funds staying local, be adopted?

This is reminiscent of Yuba County’s Measure K. Notice the emphasis on public safety and roads? But they add that sentence about “general services and essential activity,” so they can call it a general measure. I think this is misleading, and so did the judge that overturned Measure K. 

If the election were held today, would you vote yes to approve or no to reject this measure?

Yes 65 →70

(Lean Yes) 5

No 26 →27

(Lean No) 1

(Undecided/Don’t Know/Not Sure) 3

EMC Research #19-7241 – Page 4-

The next question gives a scale of 1 – 7. I typed the scale in () next to the answers.

14INT. I’m going to read you a list of items that could be funded with a revenue measure for Chico. After
each one, please rate how important that item is to you, using a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 means not at all
important, and 7 means extremely important.

(1) – Not at all important  to  (7) – Extremely important;  (Don’t Know/Refuse)

SCALE: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (DK/R) Mean


14. Protecting rapid 911 emergency response times                                  
(1) 2 (2) 2 (3) 3 (4) 7 (5) 13 (6) 23 (7) 50 (DK/R) 1   (Mean 5.13)

15. Preserving the number of on-duty firefighters
(1) 2 (2) 2 (3) 3 (4) 7 (5) 14 (6) 26 (7) 46 (DK/R) 1     (Mean 5.14)

16. Preserving the number of on-duty police officers
(1) 4 (2) 2 (3) 2 (4) 11 (5) 14 (6) 23 (7) 44 (DK/R) 1   (Mean 5.04)

Notice the numbers are very similar on the first three questions involving public safety, with over 40 percent placing it at 7 (most important).

17. Maintaining and improving neighborhood parks
(1) 3 (2) 3 (3) 6  (4)18 (5) 25 (6) 24 (7) 22 (DK/R) 0    (Mean 4.83)

18. Maintaining and improving Bidwell Park
(1) 3 (2) 3 (3) 5 (4) 12 (5) 25 (6) 22 (7) 29 (DK/R) 1     (Mean 4.87)

Notice the numbers are back up for street maintenance, especially fixing potholes.

19. Maintaining and repairing streets, storm drains and sidewalks
(1) 1 (2) 0 (3) 2 (4) 8 (5) 20 (6) 31 (7) 38 (DK/R) 0   (Mean 5.30)

20. Fixing potholes
(1) 1 (2) 1 (3) 3 (4) 10 (5) 17 (6) 26 (7) 41 (DK/R) 1   (Mean 5.10)

Notice how the responses for #1 (least important) start climbing here. This is notable because these are the subjects that are taking most of Council and $taff‘s time – global warming, and hand-out programs for transients and drug addicts.   

21. Maintaining street trees and city trees
(1) 2 (2) 2 (3) 5 (4) 14 (5) 25 (6) 21 (7) 30 (DK/R) 1  (Mean 4.87)

22. Making energy and water conservation upgrades to city facilities
(1) 5 (2) 5 (3) 5 (4) 13 (5) 19 (6) 25 (7) 26 (DK/R) 1   (Mean 4.77)

23. Supporting efforts to build housing for homeless and low-income residents
(1) 15 (2) 5 (3) 5 (4) 9 (5) 13 (6) 18 (7) 33  (DK/R) 2    (Mean 4.66)

24. Supporting efforts to build housing for all residents
(1) 9 (2) 6 (3) 5 (4) 10 (5) 14 (6) 22 (7) 34 (DK/R) 1   (Mean 4.75)

25. Lowering Chico’s carbon footprint
(1) 17 (2) 5 (3) 6 (4) 9 (5) 16 (6) 16 (7) 28 (DK/R) 3   (Mean 4.61)

Meanwhile, nothing about pot dispensaries, teenage vaping, or our “community drinking problem”? 


EMC Research #19-7241 -Page 5-

26INT. Next, I’d like to read you statements from people who SUPPORT the Chico City Services Measure.
After each one, please tell me how convincing that statement is as a reason to vote FOR the measure—very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing.
SCALE:  Very convincing; Somewhat convincing; Not too convincing; Not at all convincing; Don’t Know; Total; Conv.Total; Unconv. Total


26. The devastating Camp Fire of 2018 destroyed thousands of homes, and has resulted in a surge in Chico’s population. We need to pass this measure to make sure city services can keep up with the increase in population, keeping us all safe and protecting our quality of life.

(VC) 42 (SC) 39 [NTC) 10 [NC) 8 (DK)1 (CT) 81 (UCT) 18

27. Chico is facing a budget shortfall. The City has done everything it can to cut expenses and has
maximized what is possible with current revenue. This measure is the next necessary step to balance
the budget and protect vital city services.

(VC) 20 (SC) 40 (NTC) 18 (NC) 18 (DK) 4 (CT) 59 (UCT) 36

28. In the last year, the number of traffic accidents has increased dramatically in Chico – a direct result of
higher congestion and over-crowding of our road infrastructure. This measure will bring much
needed revenue for road upgrades and repairs that will save lives.

(VC) 36 (SC) 41 (NTC) 11 (NC) 10 (DK) 2 (CT) 77 (UCT) 21

29. When you dial 911, every second counts. This measure will protect the safety of Chico residents by
ensuring that our firefighters and police officers are ready to help when you need them the most.

(VC) 37 (SC) 42 (NTC) 13 (NC) 6 (DK) 2 (CT) 79 (NC) 19

30. By law, revenue from this measure cannot be taken by the State or County, ensuring our tax dollars
stay local for the benefit of Chico residents.

(VC) 39 (SC) 40 (NTC) 8 (NC) 8 (DK) 3 (CT) 80 (NC) 17

31. Homelessness has surged in Chico, with people living in illegal camps, and it has resulted in
community concerns about Chico’s quality of life. Revenue from this measure will support our work
with regional partners in finding local solutions that help get people off the streets.

(VC) 36 (SC) 36 (NTC) 11 (NC) 15 (DK) 3 (CT) 71 (NC) 26

32. A sales tax is the best way to increase city revenue to ensure City services become more proactive,
because visitors pay their fair share and reduce the burden on Chico residents.   (There really should have been a choice of “TB” or Total Bullshit for this question!) 

(VC) 19 (SC) 40 (NTC) 21 (NC) 17 (DK) 4 (CT) 59 (NC) 38

33. By law, essential purchases like groceries and medicine are exempt from the sales tax.

(VC) 41 (SC) 34 (NTC) 10 (NC) 11 (DK) 3 (CT) 75 (NC) 21


EMC Research #19-7241 – Page 6-

34A. Given what you’ve heard, I’d like to ask you about the measure again:
Shall an ordinance to fund essential city services such as preserving the number of on-duty police officers and fire fighters, protecting 911 emergency response times, maintaining and repairing streets, sidewalks and Bidwell Park, and funding other general services and essential activity, by establishing a 1 percent sales tax, providing approximately $18,000,000 annually until ended by
voters, subject to annual audits, with all funds staying local, be adopted?

If the election were held today, would you vote yes to approve or no to reject this measure?

Yes 71 →74 (Including “Lean Yes” listed below)

(Lean Yes) 3

No 23 →24 (Including “Lean No”)

(Lean No) 1

(Undecided/Don’t Know/Not Sure) 2

35INT. Next, I’d like to read you statements from people who OPPOSE the Chico City Services Measure. After each one, please tell me how convincing that statement is as a reason to vote AGAINST the measure—very
convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, or not at all convincing.

SCALE: Very convincing; Somewhat convincing; Not too convincing; Not at all convincing; (Don’t Know)   Total Conv.  Total Unconv.

35. There are no guarantees with this measure on how funds will be spent. The money just goes into the City’s general fund where the City Council can use it for whatever they want.
(VC) 38 (SC) 33 (NTC) 17 (NC) 9 (DK) 3     (Total C)71    (Total NC)  26

36. Chico doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. A new tax ignores the reality that the City spends too much on government employee salaries, benefits and pensions.
(VC) 29 (SC) 33 (NTC) 17 (NC) 17 (DK) 4      (Total C) 62     (Total NC) 34

37. A sales tax is regressive and hurts those who can least afford it, including low-income families and seniors living on fixed-incomes.
(VC) 27 (SC) 37 (NTC) 21 (NC) 12 (DK) 2      (Total C) 65      (Total NC) 33

38. There are already too many taxes in Chico and this measure will cost the average resident more than one hundred dollars in additional taxes per year. That’s just too much.
(VC) 19 (SC) 28 (NTC) 27 (NC) 23 (DK) 3       (Total C) 47      (Total NC)  50

39. Most tax measures have an expiration date, but this measure has no end date. That means we’ll continue getting taxed, even if the funding is no longer needed.
(VC) 33 (SC) 32 (NTC) 17 (NC) 15 (DK) 3       (Total C)  65      (Total NC) 32


EMC Research #19-7241 – Page 7-
40A. Now given everything you’ve heard, if the election were held today would you vote yes to approve or
no to reject a 1 percent sales tax measure for Chico?
Yes 64 →67
(Lean Yes) 3
No 31 →32
(Lean No) 1
(Undecided/Don’t Know/Not Sure) 1
41A. And what if the proposed sales tax were set to expire after 9 years, would you vote yes to approve or
no to reject a 1 percent sales tax measure for Chico?
Yes 63 →66
(Lean Yes) 3
No 32 →33
(Lean No) 1
(Undecided/Don’t Know/Not Sure) 1
DEMO. Now, I’d like to ask you a few questions for statistical purposes only.
42. Do you have any children under the age of 18 living in your home?
Yes 26
No 69
(Don’t Know/Refused) 5
43. In what year were you born?
18-29 (1990-2001) 20
30-39 (1980-1989) 15
40-49 (1970-1979) 16
50-64 (1955-1969) 22
65 or over (1954 or earlier) 26
(Refused) 1
44. What is the last grade you completed in school?
Some grade school 0
Some high school 0
Graduated High School 6
Technical/Vocational 5
Some College/Less than 4-year degree 29
Graduated College/4-year degree (BA, Bachelor) 34
Graduate/Professional (MA, Master, PhD, MBA, Doctorate) 19
(Don’t Know/Refused) 6

Page 8

And here you see the demographics they used to very carefully choose respondents – they knew this information when they made the calls.

EMC Research #19-7241 -8-
95926 (Central) 39
95928 (Southeast) 31
95973 (Northwest) 30
VOTE HISTORY (FROM SAMPLE) (Nov ’18, June ’18, Nov’16, June ’16, Nov ’14, June ’14)
Voted 0-3/6 Elections 47
Voted 4-5/6 Elections 29
Voted 6/6 Elections 24
Democrat 44
Republican 28
NPP/ Other 28