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As the city of Chico moves forward with a sales tax increase and a sewer tax, the state Supreme Court throws a shadow on trash franchise deals

14 Jan

I don’t join many clubs, but I’m happy to be a member of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association because they take their job more seriously than our elected leaders take theirs.

For a donation of as little as $15 you can help HJTA spread the word about taxpayer rights and use their legal muscle to hold public agencies accountable. When concerned Chicoans contacted them about Council and Staff’s illegal attempt at a Pension Obligation Bond, HJTA quickly filed a Cease and Desist order, threatening to sue the city of Chico if they moved forward without putting a bond measure on the ballot.

I just received their free newsletter, a story about trash franchise fees caught my eye. It looks like the franchise fee the city added to our trash bills is illegal. The California Supreme Court upheld that decision in “Zolly vs the City of Oakland. The franchise fees were found to be a tax, and needed to be put into a ballot measure.

When the city made that deal, Brian Nakamura said it was about “getting all these trucks off our streets” by eliminating consumer choice. Then he told us the franchise fees would go toward repairing the damage done by the trucks. Neither of those promises were kept – every year the franchise fees are dumped into the General Fund and used for whatever whim of council.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see a total resurfacing of my street – a major “feeder” to many neighborhoods, overdue foe 30 years – than a stupid ass skating rink for the use of the priveleged few.

But you know, it’s the privileged few who run our town and make the rules to their advantage.

According to HJTA legal council Laura Dougherty, we can challenge our city’s franchise fee. In fact, during that first conversation back in 2012, our new city manager Mark Sorensen, then a council member, said this: “Let’s call it what it is, a trash tax.” Looks like Sorensen knows it’s illegal, but now that he’s yanking a $211,000/yr salary out of the city coffers, he’s keeping his trap shut.

So I’ll do some research as to how we would submit a protest to the trash franchise. Laura Dougherty says, “Hopefully all a ratepayer needs to do now is send a copy of the Zolly decision to their city…” I’ll get back to you with whatever I find out.

Note to Council: $275,000 for another study, really? You got your tax increase – how about just fixing stuff for a change?

12 Nov

Yes, the election is over, we have a new one-cent sales tax measure – now’s the time to pay attention. You don’t have to be a CPA to see how the city of Chico mismanages money. Here’s a good example – I just sent the editor a letter about it.

A recent discussion about turning Downtown parking spaces into restaurant dining areas brought up some interesting problems.

Staff reported that the original allocation of $300,000 in American Rescue Plan funding would not be sufficient – seven parklets penciled out at over $978,000.

The city having already spent $25,000 on parklet designs, Internal Affairs Committee recommends the remaining $275,000 be used for a parking study. The goal – showing that Downtown has sufficient street parking to allow conversions to parklets, but is still in need of another parking structure – Pretzel Logic 101.

At that point in the conversation, Committee Chair Kasey Reynolds announced that Downtown streets will have to be torn up soon to replace sewer pipes dating from 1908. Remember the Downtown business whose toilet had been mistakenly hooked up to the storm drain, creating a septage pond in Little Chico Creek? I wonder how many other problems are lurking beneath Downtown streets, while council discusses another superficial remodel.

Reynolds also announced, “we have a lot of empty buildings Downtown right now…” Gee, could it be the failing sewers, dilapidated sidewalks, disappearing parking spaces? Remember when the sidewalk in front of Kona’s collapsed, and the city denied responsibility for months? Kona’s moved to Nord Avenue. Sports LTD moved to Safeway Plaza. How many other businesses have left Downtown because of lack of parking and services?

Note to Council: $275,000 for another study, really? You got your tax increase – how about just fixing stuff for a change?

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Democracy needs you! Get your ballots turned in at one of these secure locations, and then check your ballot status with the Secretary of State’s website

6 Nov

Election in two days – I’ve heard people are holding on to their ballots, with less than 20% already returned in Butte County. I’ve seen some chatter on social media, people who are distrustful of the post office, planning to turn them in by hand. I think, at this point, if you haven’t mailed your ballot, you might want to go to a drop-off location. I mailed mine just a couple of days after I received it. A few weeks later, I checked the secretary of state’s website and saw it had been received and accepted.

Here’s that link – thanks Dave –

I’m glad I voted early, but if you didn’t, you should probably head for one of these convenient drop-off locations in Chico. These secure drop-off boxes are available 24 hours a day as of October 10, until election day. I had previously posted that “polls” close at 5pm – I think that means the county clerk’s office is closed, but the boxes should be available until 8pm.

Butte County Library – Chico, 1108 Sherman Avenue
Chapman Elementary School, 1071 16th Street
Chico City Hall, 411 Main Street
Chico State BMU, W. 2nd & Chestnut Street
Department of Employment & Social Services (DESS), 765 East Avenue

Please vote. I care what you think, and Democracy is depending on you.

I hate to mention it, but you realize, the real work begins AFTER the election…

3 Nov

I can’t wait for this election to be over and I’m expecting people to take down their campaign signs. I think this was a new high for illegally posted signs, with Tom Lando Jr coming in first – his little signs are flapping along sidewalks, road medians, parks, and other public spaces. No, no, no Tom, you were supposed to get your supporters to post them in front yards. Jessica Gianola comes in at a close second, with signs at commercial centers and along public sidewalks. Same for all of those candidates who posted at Bruce and 32 – that’s illegal, and it’s not a good sign of your character. It looks like a trash truck blew up there, thanks for caring!

Same with the flyers – I know they’re legal, but I don’t think they’re very nice. First there’s the content – which is absurd, blaming the challengers when it’s been Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds and the rest of the so-called “conservative” council who’ve been making all the bad decisions. Reynolds and her pac – Citizens for Safe Chico – has been loading my mailbox full, addressing their little shitbirds to both me and my husband. Reynolds has robo-called my son in Oregon – I don’t get that, he’s never even been registered to vote in Chico. They are pulling out all the stops, spending all that union money – guess why – they’re worried.

And they should be. Let them know why they should be worried. Tell them exactly why you’re unhappy and what they need to do about it. This is the only time they’re listening, or even pretending to listen.

What we also need to remember, is that this election is not the end of anything. No matter who gets elected or what passes, we’ll all wake up the next day to the same problems – our parks and public areas full of transient tents and trash, our roads still crumbling, and the ticker continuing upward on the pension deficit.

I like to ride my old bike around town, and that’s when I really get it – skinny tires pick up every bump in the road. You can hear the pavement jangling loose, it’s like riding on broken crockery. And if you watched me from behind you might think I been hitting the bottle – it’s a 70 year old bike, I try to avoid the big potholes, and that can be a challenge. Yesterday I jogged over to avoid a pothole about the size of a toaster oven – you could see dirt in the bottom. I also realized I need a better bra.

As I rode toward Upper Bidwell Park recently, I noticed a section of South Park Drive has been falling into the creek for years now, still falling. And you must ask yourself – are those houses along the south side of the park on septic or sewer? We went to a park in Sacramento years back where they’d allowed septic tanks from houses on either side to pollute the little creek running through the park, and had finally got the GRANT FUNDING to fix it. You could smell shit, and the water looked awful. They’d let it go all those years, waiting for the state to pick up the tab, while they spent those people’s property taxes on, oh, probably their own salaries and pensions.

And there’s those pensions – the herd of elephants that are crapping all over our living room rug. Here’s what you need to remember – they pay more every year, at the expense of our infrastructure and services, but the pensions deficit does not go away – it actually increases.

And here’s one reason why – besides the fact that employees pay unrealistic shares – in the past two years, city management has added three new positions (that I know of) at over $100,000/year. Council has also approved raises for both the fire and police departments, as well as the management unit, without asking them to pay more toward their own pensions. Employees pay less than 20% of their payroll costs and NOTHING toward the deficit created by those unrealistic shares.

So remember this – when I started this blog in 2012, most employees paid nothing toward their benefits. Former city manager Tom Lando, for example, PAID NOTHING toward one of the biggest pensions currently carried by the city of Chico. They only started paying when we discovered their scam, and only in tiny increments. We’ve had to beat their asses for every dime since then. They expect us to pay them twice – once for actually doing their job, and then another 70 – 90% in retirement. So the $100,000 salary we see really costs hundreds of thousands more in pension, benefits, perks like life insurance, burial insurance, and the interest accrued on the debt.

So, we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2023.

Joe Azzarito: will the city be borrowing annually the $24,000,000 using realizable tax receipts, along with other general fund monies, to pay for the borrowed funds, both principle and interest? We need to know this!

27 Oct

Regular contributor Joe Azzarito had some thoughts that wouldn’t conform to the Enterprise Record’s format:

Chico citizens are being asked to approve our city council’s decision to increase the rate of sales tax charged on numerous goods and services in this coming November’s election. Known as Proposition H, an add on local sales tax of 1% will, if passed, become law, unless repealed by citizens effective January 1, 2023. This will restate Chico’s sales tax rate and raise the combined tax rate to 8.25% from its current 7.25%.

Proponents of this increase have publicly, through mailers, as well as articles in this paper, argued that the increase is necessary, but more importantly, the only way our streets will be repaved, our citizens’ safety will be ensured and, lastly, housing for both the un-housed and those of limited means will be provided for.

To justify this increase, to remain locally and not shared with the rest of the state, they have released such information that on the surface would seem to justify this increase. They have told us that only a handful of cities, the size of Chico do not have a local sales tax. They have told us that Chico’s General Fund budget is one of the lowest in the state on a per capita basis. They have further told us, that without more revenue, not much can be done with the money it has. They have appealed to our decency, with a promise, but not a commitment, to address these stated needs.

Have they been totally honest with us? By authoring a simple majority proposition, with no sunset clause, they have not. Oh, of course, it is said, by repealing this rate increase in a future election, it can, by defacto, contain a sunset clause. Have you ever known of a tax increase to be temporary?

These are just the tip of the iceberg facts surrounding this proposed increase. There are many more facts, that proponents have conveniently refused to present, in an honest and forthright manner, so that we voters can make a discernible decision. To speak bluntly, proponents have not been entirely transparent. Why? Because, with all the facts, the proposition would be rejected handily. For those old enough to remember radio personality Paul Harvey and his news broadcast, he would end his show with ”the rest of the story” This is precisely what we need – the rest of the story.

Here are some, maybe not all, of the “rest of the story” voters need to hear and understand to be able to make a truly informed decision on this proposal. Without these facts, all we are doing is blindly, unquestioning, agreeing to tax ourselves more without so much as a whimper.

One of these unstated facts is the revenue expected to be received – the additional $24,000,000 each year. Mathematically, it will take $2,400,000,000 (2.4 billion in annual sales) to achieve the above $24 million in extra revenue. Proponents offer a few of the items not taxed as proof of its fairness. Have they told us which items will be taxed? No, they have not! Can it be shown that our city spends $2.4 billion in taxable sales each and every year? I thought our average or median income was near, if not under, $50,000 per year! Even if higher income families are included, can we reach this plateau? Ask yourself!

The next fact that has not been discussed, with honesty, do proponents expect such revenues to come about by encumbering debt with realizable tax receipts as collateral. In other words, will the city be borrowing annually the $24,000,000 using realizable tax receipts, along with other general fund monies to pay for the borrowed funds, both principle and interest. We need to know this!

Another fact to be factored into our collective vote – the reliability, since a promise is not contractual, that infrastructure, safety and housing will in fact be where this fictitious money will be spent . The quietly not discussed “elephant in the room” – the extremely large and growing UAL, known as the unfunded actuarial liability or pensions and other perks of staff could very well siphon off all of any tax receipts. It’s a fact that each year, the city disburses to CALPERS millions of dollars, both in current contributions, as well as catch up ones, for a bloated pension obligation. City staffs pay some, but not nearly enough of their “golden parachute” pension costs. Why should so few, a mere 2-3 thousand, at best, reap fantastic benefits at our expense. It’s truly Robin Hood in Reverse (take from the poor to give to the rich) I have many times brought the issue of “The California Rule” section found in the State’s constitution, wherein it is supposed to state that no benefit accorded state employees be taken away without replacing it with an equal valued one. That seems to be the major stumbling block from abrogating our pension contracts and replacing them with a more reasonable one given current circumstances. This topic, asked by me and others, never gets an honest evaluation. Why is that? If private employers can abrogate their pension obligations, in bad times, why can’t public employers do the same? It’s as if government says, the public be damned, we’ll take care of our own at your expense.

The editor of the local daily asks readers to vote yes on H, because it’s the only viable alternative. I say, NO, it’s not! So much more could be done to release funds for the three stated Third Rail items mentioned above, if only they wanted to. Council is not being entirely honest and forthcoming with us in not presenting ALL OF THE FACTS. LET me end with this pithy statement: NEVER HAS A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE BEEN AGAINST RAISING TAXES, AS THAT IS THE SOURCE OF THEIRS, NOT YOUR, INCOME. We need to play hard ball with this government, demand they own up to current, but more importantly past bad decisions, find every possible area in government inappropriate changeable spending and reduce it, abrogate salary contracts to restructure employee contributions, stop raiding every department’s funds to support the UAL, admit to their culpability in deceiving us of real funding sources and ultimately cancel the Proposition H, effectively shooting themselves in the foot. Short of that we, the citizens of Chico must rise to the occasion, educate ourselves, demand true accountability, throw off the yokes of complicity and VOTE NO with our ballots on H. We can do better, if we demand government do better!

Joe Azzarito, Concerned long time resident of Chico, CA

New group comes out against Measure H: Chico Says No

2 Oct


Why Should You Vote No On the Chico City Council’s Measure H Sales Tax Increase?

  • There is No Guarantee How the Money Will Be Spent

The measure contains a long list of possible uses for the money (many vague) but no details, dollar amounts or completion dates are assigned to anything.  Instead of necessities like street maintenance, the money can be spent on unsustainable employee costs, boondoggles and possibly hundreds of millions in new bonds (debt)! Remember, the money from the garbage tax was supposed to be spent for street maintenance but was siphoned off for the pensions. And that is only one example of our money being mismanaged!

  • There is No Citizen Oversight Council

Our city councils have proven over and over they can’t be trusted to spend our money wisely.

  • The Tax is PERMANENT Despite What The City Says

The ballot measure deceitfully says the tax will be in effect until “ended by voters.” Do you think the City will ever put a repeal on the ballot?  Of course NOT!  So it will require professional signature gathers to collect in excess of 12,000 signatures to get a repeal on the ballot and that will cost thousands of dollars.  Who is going to pay for that?  No one!  You will NEVER get a chance to repeal this tax.

  • The Tax is REGRESSIVE

Working people, poor people and those on fixed incomes will pay a disproportionate amount of their incomes and savings for this tax. In 2019 a City consultant said the per capita cost would be about $200 a year and that’s before the worst inflation in forty years.

  • This Is No Time for Another Tax Increase

Inflation at a 40 year high, looming recession, 22.4% of Chicoans living in poverty, record debt, taxes and the cost of living are already too high, etc.  And the City just passed a 67% sewer rate increase! Among other taxes, the City already taxes us 5% on gas, electric, telecom, water and has “franchise fees” of 2% on gas and electric and 10% on garbage. We have enough taxes!

  • The City’s Revenue Has Been Growing for Years

The City has never had more money to spend and the streets and the rest of the City’s infrastructure have never been worse.  The City’s revenue is up 40% FY15-16 through FY20-21 and when the audited financial reports come out for last fiscal year revenue will be up again. (As usual, the City doesn’t publish the audit financials until 6 months after the FY closes!)

  • The City Has a Spending Problem, Not a Revenue Problem

For many years money that should have been spent for essential programs like infrastructure maintenance has been siphoned off for massive unfunded liabilities which continue to grow anyway.  These liabilities are unsustainable. A tax increase will NOT solve this problem but only enables the City to delay taking action resulting in more tax increases later.

Instead of voting for a tax increase, demand the City Council reform these unsustainable liabilities so they are not passed down to your kids and grandkids! Download this flyer here and distribute it to everyone you know! Thank you!

Don’t let the heat make you stupid – don’t fall for the threats, Vote NO on H

10 Sep

Are you worried that you’re going a little, well, CRAZY? You got that right – it’s Dog Days, and that’s when people and dogs go crazy. Go outside about 5am, there he is, Orion the Hunter, setting out across the sky, followed by his faithful dogs. I believe that’s where dogs go when they die, they follow Orion across the sky. At this time of year, Orion and his dogs are walking in the hot daylight, and you know what heat does to your brains. It makes you stupid and crazy.

Most people like to think they’re intelligent. But your intelligence is subject to many variables – alcohol comes to mind, but there are other factors that aren’t under our control. Like the weather. My two worst times of year are Dog Days and the first days of January, because the weather is bleak, and it ain’t going away. Late summer in NorCal is like this – 105, 106, 109, 112, 112, 112… Once the temps get up that high, it’s hard to get them down. Like your temper, they just keep getting hotter. I do stupid stuff, like online shopping. The other day my husband stopped me just short of ordering a troll doll.

Troll doll, close-up

Justin Taylor / Creative Commons – I had one of these when I was a kid, but my dog ate it.

In January, the cold gets in my bones, and the darkness gets in my mind, like a Stephen King story – I get sad, and I can’t explain it except that it’s cold and dark outside. I do stupid stuff, like make a whole cake and eat it. Frankly, I know it’s inevitable, so I plan for it – this year I’m going to make a chocolate souffle and eat that.

Unfortunately this is an election year, and you know, they’re ugly anyway. Add record heat, unbelievably bad air quality, and wow – what a circus.

Here’s a letter from unsuccessful council candidate and former park commissioner Jeffrey Glatz.

I was present back in 2019 when former City Ass Mangler Chris Constantin went to all the commissions and made his pitch for a sales tax measure. Glatz was in attendance when Constantin spoke to the Park Commission. Of course Constantin wailed on that the city was in dire straights, blamed the Camp Fire Refugees, and claimed a 220,000 post fire population that only turned out to be about 210,000. That Census, by the way, was done in the days immediately following the fire, alot of refugees who were living here temporarily have left, but Constantin used that tragedy to further his ends. Of course, Glatz bought the pitch, swallowed it hook, line and sinker, without ever looking at the city budget. If he had, he would see, the city is flush with funds, including a recent gift of $12.2 million in disaster relief money. He brushes off the CalPERS debt like a guy who doesn’t have the faintest notion what the hell he’s talking about.

This guy is a good example of why the commissions and boards should be eliminated. They are spoils positions, given to those who support the council members who appoint them, oftentimes financially. We don’t even get to elect these people, they’re not qualified for the positions, they’re just tools of staff.

Glatz is simply repeating, regurgitating, what he’s been told. He uses the same argument – the city is desperately poor, and taxpayers will only suffer more attrition if they don’t pass the tax.

Are you sick of the threats? Are you sick of willful subordination? Vote NO on Measure H.

Taxpayer Singalong! If you’re overtaxed and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

14 Aug

Summer is winding down, and the urge to hibernate is strong. But Friday the county clerk posted her notice of measures coming up on the November ballot. I didn’t see it, so I don’t even know what letter designation the clerk gave the city of Chico sales tax increase measure. But I have had three people contact me to tell me they are ready to push back.

For now we’ll just call it, Tax Measure ?

Three people – that’s the magic number folks. See, one guy is crazy, two guys are [politically incorrect], but THREE GUYS is a MOVEMENT! (let me extend my sincere apologies to Arlo Guthrie).

Arlo says you can join the movement, if you just sing along. In this case, we need you to start writing those letters. Tell your friends. Sing it! Just say NO!

If you’re overtaxed and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

Yesterday morning the tv pundits were all talking about inflation – food and energy prices are leading the charge, two commodities that most of us civilized taxpayers think of as necessities. If you’re sick of watching your grocery receipt and your PG&E and gas bills keep going up, SING ALONG!

If you’re feeling gouged and you don’t like it, JUST SAY NO!

Furthermore, you’re looking around yourself, your streets are trashed, your parks are trashed, there are encampments full of sex offenders along the trail your child takes to school – you want to know where is all the money going? SING ALONG!

If you’re sick of the excuses, and the questionable money uses, then you have to find your spine and JUST SAY NO!

A lady contacted me recently and asked me if I was going to do any “demonstrations”. People want to jump on a noisy bandwagon, wave signs, drive their cars around City Hall beeping their horns ($$$$$!), but I find those are mostly hot air and run out of gas pretty quickly. And sometimes people get to pushing and shoving and annoying little old ladies get butt-slammed by big jerk faces.

Here’s a gentle suggestion – sing this song for your council or your council representative. Tell them you’re going to vote NO on Tax Measure ?, cause you know what, as of today, there’s still THREE DAYS left on the election calendar for them to take this dud OFF THE BALLOT.

Do you know somebody who wants to/is running for city council? Tell us about it!

4 Aug

Well, I got my first election mailer today – Chico Democrats. I don’t like mailers because they clog my mailbox and trash can, but they’re always interesting. It seems the Demos are calling out the council “conservatives” on various charges, from DUI’s to bad staffing decisions to lawsuits, it runs the gamut. It’s pretty poorly done, the kind of juvenile trash talk that I’m sure will make a lot of local Democrats cringe. But it’s the first smack in the mouth, and I think we can expect at least ten rounds this year.

“Conservative” Kasey Reynolds announced she will run for reelection, which was no surprise. I believe this “Quality of Life” measure she’s trying to get approved for the ballot tonight is the first salvo in her campaign. I think she was talked into this BS by her guru Rob Berry, and I’m sorry, it was poor judgement on her part. The people already have plenty of mechanisms to take their grievances to council, and the best one is, throw them out on their asses at election time.

This is the third strike for Old Kasey as far as I’m concerned. The first was her vote to approve the Shelter Crisis Designation in 2020. The second was the rental registration tax she was trying to push forward for the city. And now, Strike Three – she uses staff time to forward her campaign, not only to get herself re-elected, but to pass the tax measure. That’s corrupt. While I may feel forced to vote for her based on what rough beast slouches forward to take the district, I will certainly not endorse or support her. She hasn’t done anything I can get behind, she just keeps shoving the city farther down the Road to Perdition.

Here we are, another election, forced to choose the lesser of two evils. I have only lately found out what district I’m in, it was difficult given the maps they presented. At one point we found ourselves in Deepika Tandon’s District, but only recently they updated the maps and we are back in Reynold’s district – but all our neighbors are cut out, the line runs right down the street in front of our house and around the first corner. I can see why people scream “gerrymandering!”, the process looks pretty sketchy.

At this point the new districts are making it hard to figure out who’s running for what, and few candidates have come forward to give any information about their intentions. A local developer and frequent contributor to the letters section and various social media sites, Tom Vanoverbeek is running in District 6, on the southeast end of town. I have no idea who he’s running against. TV, as I’m going to call him, actually wanted the city to approve a Pension Obligation Bond, writing a letter to the paper about it, without ever mentioning that the constitution requires bonds to go on the ballot.

The City of Chico currently has a $147 Million unfunded pension liability to the CalPers retirement system for city employees that it is contractually obligated to pay. CalPers is currently charging the the city 7% annually on the $147M.  By restructuring this debt with a Pension Obligation Bond (POB) the city can satisfy this $147M debt at interest rate of 3.5% to 4% instead of 7% saving the city millions of dollars. A Pension Obligation Bond is NOT new debt, it is exchanging one form of debt for another at a much lower interest rate and is why over 30 other California cities such as  Riverside, Pasadena, Pomona and Grass Valley have issued POBs.

The CalPers system is a defined benefit program which means that the payout to employees at retirement is fixed. CalPers is funded by contributions from employees, employers (the city) and returns from the investments made by CalPers. The unfunded liability exists because CalPers has failed to meet its’ investment return goals, currently 7%. CalPers’ 20-year average rate of return is 5.5% compared to the S&P 500 index of 7.5%.  Under the agreement between CalPers and the city, the taxpayers, you and me, are on the hook for the $147M shortfall.

It was an appallingly bad decision for the City of Chico to join CalPers 20 years ago but that doesn’t change the reality that we owe them $147M.  Think of this like refinancing your home mortgage, if you can pay 3.5% why would you pay 7%?

TV uses the argument that tells me, he doesn’t really understand, he’s just repeating what the consultants said: “Think of this like refinancing your home mortgage, if you can pay 3.5% why would you pay 7%?” That is a child’s mis-understanding of pension bonds, and that’s the kind of judgment that’s already got us into the pot of doodoo we find ourselves.

I wish these people would take their job more seriously, and maybe read the California Constitution, read the city charter, but they depend way too much on staff. And then yeah, blame staff when the stuff hits the fan. I hope we see some serious, better informed candidates come forward, but it’s tough given the pot of money it takes to run these days. If you think you have a candidate that is worth supporting, tell us about it HERE.

Contact council – there is still time for them to renege and pull that tax measure off the ballot

2 Aug

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and came home without two long-time staples from my shopping list – they were too expensive. I’ve watched prices go up all my life, but lately it’s been a little crazy.

I’ve been using Noxema since I was a child, it’s a good face wash, and it’s good for taking care of skin conditions like sunburn and chapping. Suddenly the price has jumped from about $3.50/jar to almost $5.00. Let’s do the math – $1.50 increase divided by the original price = 42% increase.

For Noxema?

Another item I’ve been buying for years is honey. I use it in my tea, it’s comforting. I used to buy it from a local distributor but switched to more generic brands as the price went up. I was paying $7.11 for a 32 oz bottle, and I was comfortable enough with that, even though it was starting to feel like a luxury. Yesterday the tag on the shelf said almost $11.

So I walked out of the store without two items I’ve been purchasing for years. Downsizing. I make my own skin scrub with coconut oil and sugar, I’ll just have to add some menthol oil – the key ingredient in Noxzema – and use that on my face. I already buy essential oils online for pennies per use.

We also noticed the price of our canned dogfood has gone up, again and again. Every time we buy it lately, it’s nudged up another dollar. He needs meat with his kibble, but I realized I was buying the commercial food for convenience. So, we bought a pack of chicken on sale at Raley’s and I cooked it up for him instead. I realize, now we know exactly what’s in his food, the canned stuff was always kind of a mystery. Chicken goes on sale regularly enough – and we eat it ourselves.

Like I say, I’ve watched prices go up all my life, but not usually like this. The last time I remember inflation like that was back in the early 2000’s – that’s when I stopped buying local honey, switched to generic crap brands from wherever. I had watched the local honey go up a couple of dollars over the last year, and I couldn’t see any rationale behind it. They try to tell us it’s “supply chain issues” – no it’s not, it’s gouging, and it’s permanent. We won’t see prices go down when the crisis is over – well, they’ll just manufacture another crisis anyway.

The other common thing I notice now – price of housing is going up like crazy. I remember that started happening in about 2003, and by 2008, we had foreclosure signs all over Chico. The city kept saying we needed more “starter” housing for young families, but the prices just kept going up. We all found out – it was the building industry that was demanding more housing, the unions.

That’s exactly what’s happening now – the trade unions are bitching for more building in California – they say we need “more affordable” housing, but that’s not what they’re producing.

Just making observations. The only answer I see is self-inflicted attrition. Cut your expenses, stop buying stuff you don’t need, become more self-reliant like Doug LaMalfa has been saying. And write to your city council to tell them you will not support the sales tax increase measure. There is still actually time for council to renege and pull that measure off the ballot.

Next time I’d like to go over recent budgets – the city has been forecasting doom and gloom, but our revenues are up steadily and there’s really no excuse for a tax measure.