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Is Andrew Coolidge stupid or a liar?

10 Mar

I know, Chico First is a more fun website. I know, Rob Berry is more the action type, chasing Scott Huber around with a camera. Unfortunately, that circus is distracting people from something they should be paying attention to – that boring old Pension Obligation Bond that Mark Orme is currently trying to end-run around Chico voters/taxpayers. 

Luckily there are other eyes on council right now, folks who are educated and number-savvy and also hip to this scam. A friend of mine recently contacted council to discuss his concerns about the POB, and he got a response from his district representative, Mayor Andrew Coolidge. My friend told me I could use Coolidge’s response for a letter to the editor, so I did. Coolidge is either stupid or a liar – you decide.

Chico Staffers are asking council to implement a Pension Obligation Bond.  Recently a friend expressed his concerns to Mayor Andrew Coolidge, who responded, “That bond is basically financing the city’s obligation (around $147 million to cal pers) at a lower interest rate so it can be paid off over the long term, rather than on Cal Pers rollercoaster payback schedule.”

That is not true. A POB is new debt. The consultant explained, the city would invest the borrowed money in the stock market, hoping for  return enough to pay both the bond debt and the CalPERS debt. The consultant speculated an interest rate of 3 – 4% on the POB, compared to 7% paid to CalPERS. But, the consultant was clear – if investments don’t do well, then we still owe CalPERS, and we also owe the bond holders.

Government Finance Officers Association says POBs are not worth the risk. But Coolidge, without really understanding what he is talking about, says, “I do believe faced with this huge burden the city may wish to pay it through a bank with minimal interest rather than to a state fund (cal pers) with an awful history of robbing from taxpayers.”

That is not how a POB works,  we will still have to pay CalPERS. I don’t think any member of council really understands POBs, they are trusting Staff, who have everything to  gain. Meanwhile, the taxpayers, who will be permanently on the hook for the pensions, are left out of the conversation.

Contact Coolidge, and your district representative.

Yes, Charlie Harper was an idiot – are we idiots too?

6 Mar

Sorry to be a broken record these days, but I can’t emphasize enough that this Pension Obligation Bond that Staff is trying to force through will tank our town. While there is a complicated mess going on in our town right now, all related to poor management, the POB is the worst thing coming at us right now. I’ll repeat – this bond would cement the taxpayers into paying the pension deficit created by Staff. Meaning, all our resources would be drained into paying the deficit by way of the bonds – not to mention, a proposed sales tax increase. The POB comes before any other “obligations” – like roads, park, sewer and other infrastructure. And, as the economy tanks, the revenues will turn into debt, the biggest debt the city has ever taken on. Don’t be a dupe – the sales tax measure and the “roads” bond are just part of the exhaustive scheme to finance the POB.

Our biggest financial problem is Staff and their unsustainable salaries and benefits. Instead of trying to control employee costs, City Manager Mark Orme and Financial Services Director Scott Dowell have convinced council that we can just put it all under the rug with a POB. 

I’ll guess I’ve done more research on this topic than any member of council. I’ve tried to share what I’ve found – here’s an article I sent to Kasey Reynolds and Sean Morgan. I chose them because I’ve had a pretty good rapport with them in past, and the other night when they voted YES on the sales tax increase and the “roads” bond, they at least tried to fake wanting to vote NO. So, I think they are malleable – you know, like metal – if you put enough heat on it and beat it with a hammer, you might get what you want. 

A recent article from municipalbonds.com, 2/17/21

https://www.municipalbonds.com/education/pension-obligation-bonds-can-it-be-a-prudent-investment/

“In the recent years, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) came out with a stern advisory for local and state governments to NOT issue pension obligation bonds (POBs) to meet their unfunded liabilities and made a case for them being ‘complex instruments that carry considerable risk.’ It’s also important to note that some of the large municipalities that filed for bankruptcies in the United States had some exposure to pension obligation debt – including the City of Stockton and City of San Bernardino – in the years leading up to their insolvencies.”

Here’s an important point I want to come back to later – 

“Primarily, these pension liabilities are based on a few factors: retirement age, mortality, projected salary increases attributed to inflation, across-the-board raises and merit raises, increases in retirement benefits, cost-of-living adjustments, valuation of current assets, investment return and other matters.”

For now I’d like to look at how exactly these bonds work and why the risk isn’t worth it for Chico.

Right now Staffers, especially Mark Orme and Scott Dowell, are trying to mislead council as to the risk of this scheme. 

“One of the biggest challenges and largest variables in the aforementioned list of factors is the investment return on the pension portfolio; this single variable is also responsible for creating the large unfunded liabilities for many of the local governments.”

This is the risk that was ignored in the late 1990’s, when CalPERS said they could fund the outrageous pensions by playing the stock market, and here’s what happened:

“For example: a pension fund assumes an investment return of 7% for the year and bases its actuarial pension obligations for local cities and counties; however, the financial markets had a terrible year and the pension fund only generated 2% returns – this means that the 5% gets added to the unfunded liabilities portion for cities and counties – because that money, originally expected to be generated through investment returns, is still needed to fully meet the pension obligation for city and counties.”

On the one end, CalPERS was making bad investments – we see now, many of those were based on bribery and personal gain. On the other end, CalPERS kept promising better returns, and cities, counties and other local entities all over California started making unsustainable agreements with employees, giving across the board salary increases and overgenerous benefits packages. Even as CalPERS has failed again and again, government agencies like City of Chico have ignored the crisis, continuing to agree to over-generous salaries and perks, even lately creating three new management positions, with salaries over $100,000/year.

Here’s an older article (2013) that details “CalPERS’s three-decade-long transformation from a prudently managed steward of workers’ pensions into a highly politicized advocate for special interests.”

https://www.city-journal.org/html/pension-fund-ate-california-13528.html

It was at long before that – early 2000’s – when former city manager Tom Lando made an MOU (memo of understanding) for Chico employees (including himself) that “attached salaries to increases in revenues, but not decreases…”  That MOU resulted in Lando’s salary going from about $65,000/year to over $130,000/year. In retirement, he is now making about $155,000 (that’s where the COLA comes in). 

The gentleman mentioned in that article, Alfred Villalobos, committed suicide about a year later over allegations that he had been bribing/accepting bribes to unload bad stocks. Just a year ago, another scandal led to the forced resignation of Chief Investments Advisor Ben Meng.  Meng resigned Aug. 2019 after questions arose about why he did not recuse himself from decisions by CalPERS to invest in private equity funds in which he was holding stock!  CalPERS made a more than $1 billion investment in April 2019 in a Blackstone fundMeng owned stock in, and Meng never recused himself.

Meng’s successor, Henry Jones, was also asked to resign, critics accusing him of concealing ethics violations made by Meng. Jones denied everything, saying, “CalPERS has known about questions regarding Ben’s Fair Political Practices [Commission] disclosure filings...”

So there it is – Meng disclosed his investments in those private equity funds, but the board still not only appointed him Chief Investments Advisor, but approved a $1 billion investment in those same equity funds.

So, CalPERS is a total disaster of fraud and corruption, and everybody’s known it for at least six years,,  but the city of Chico didn’t change a thing, just kept doling out higher salaries and refusing to raise the employees’ share of the cost to a sustainable level. 

Let’s go back to that first article – “Primarily, these pension liabilities are based on a few factors: retirement age, mortality, projected salary increases attributed to inflation, across-the-board raises and merit raises, increases in retirement benefits, cost-of-living adjustments, valuation of current assets, investment return and other matters.”

Chico makes all of the above mistakes, failing to manage employee costs. I like to refer to this bit from “Two and a Half Men” – 

 

Yes, Charlie is an idiot. Get what I’m  saying? 

This is how the city of Chico spends money. New Public Information Officer? Homeless Coordinator? Another management position for Public Works? Complete with inappropriate shoes? All three positions created – not filled, created – in the last year, by Mark Orme, at salaries over $100.000/year. 

Does this sound like prudent management to you? Frankly, I think the first thing we need to do, is get rid of Orme, and send his buddy Dowell right out the door behind him. 

And then, in 2022, we should probably dump Reynolds and Huber. Because they just signed on to the sales tax increase and the “roads” bond. Coolidge already alluded to those revenues being used to service the POB. Another note from municipalbonds.com:

“Furthermore, the taxable form of pension debt is often secured by some sort of revenue sources, like sales tax or property tax, which means that the issuance of this debt cuts into a municipality’s debt capacity that could be used for other purposes. Issuing taxable debt to fund the pension’s liability increases the jurisdiction’s bonded debt burden, and potentially uses up debt capacity that could be used for other purposes. Also, the taxable form of debt is often issued without a call option, which makes it hard for a municipality to refund the debt at a lower interest rate in the future.”

Remember what Coolidge said at Tuesday’s meeting – “it’s open for discussion… what size bond and what percentage of that sales tax would go for a road bond…”

Orme, Dowell, and Coolidge, are knowingly trying to dupe us into thinking that sales tax increase would be for public safety, and the “roads” bond would be for roads. “Special” taxes, oh yeah! 

Don’t be a dupe, tell them you’re not buying it. 

 

Waste Management has raised rates 19% over the past year – why isn’t that money being spent on the street in front of your house?

14 Jan

Every three months I open my garbage bill and get pissed off. 

First of all, it took me the first 5 years to get Waste Management to stop charging me for the yard waste bin. In the very beginning of this forced deal, I told them I wanted to opt out of the $6+ charge for a yard waste bin that I don’t need. They agreed, but I kept seeing the charge on the bill. Rather than beating my head against the wall trying to contact them via their website or phone, I just scribbled a correction on the bill and made the check out for the correct amount. For five years. That finally worked, and as of January, 2020, they finally got it right, I stopped seeing that charge. 

But I also noticed, they were raising the rates slowly but surely, every bill seemed different. So when I sat down to pay my January 2021 bill, I dug out the January 2020 bill, and yes, rates are up. A 32 gal trash bin has gone from $52.89/quarter to $62.79/quarter, just over the past year. That’s an increase of 19%. 

Which led me to  do more math. I looked at my old Recology bills. We had Recology for 10 years, and they NEVER raised their rates. In fact, they had a fuel surcharge that fluctuated with the price of gas – meaning, it actually went down occasionally. Their average charge per quarter was about $82, for a 96 gallon trash bin, or about $27/month. Now I pay $20+ for a 32 gallon bin? 

In fact, my total bill, for a 32 gal and a 64 gal, is $134/quarter, or $45/month. Pay attention – I used to get a 96 gal bin for $27/month, now I pay $45/month for two bins totaling same. That is a 60% increase.

I’ve been talking about the franchise fee the city gets from the haulers – as of fiscal year June 2020,  $1,980,313. That’s almost $2 million dollars, of YOUR MONEY. You paid that in extra fees. For what? Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who remembers staff and council telling us the money would go to  fix our neighborhood streets. Former City Manager Brian Nakamura told us “too many” trash trucks were destroying our streets, and that he felt they should pay for that.  He led us to believe the money would be dedicated to the streets, and council members, including Andrew Coolidge, sat by and let him do it.

The first year the money was used on the section of Cohasset Road leading to the airport. Every year since, it’s been dumped into the General Fund, where it is used at the whim of council. Can you imagine what $1,980,313 would look like on the street in front of your house? Or maybe give Vallombrosa more than a patch job? Maybe upgrade the streets around the college beyond Third World Country? 

You know, the city also gave Waste Management a contract to empty the trash cans in the park, so they run those behemoths around the park roads once a week – a job that used to be done by a city employee with a pick-up truck. So maybe council should use some of that franchise money to fix South Park Drive before it falls into the creek. Ya think? 

Let’s write to council and tell them that Waste Hauler Franchise Fee needs to be spent on neighborhood streets. Let’s start with our new mayor, Andrew Coolidge – that’s andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

While you’re at it, tell him what he can do with his “roads bond” and his sales tax increase.

Shasta County opens meetings – when will our “conservative majority” reopen council meetings? After they’ve already implemented the POB?

11 Jan

Almost a month ago, on December 13, I contacted my Chico city council representative Kasey Reynolds to ask her about the progress in removing transient camps in public spaces around town. We’d been having a conversation about the situation, and I forwarded her a conversation between Rob Berry and Chico PD officer Scott Zuchin regarding the DA’s unwillingness to prosecute City of Chico Municipal Code violations.

She responded, same day, “I will take a look at it for sure. However our City Attorney was meeting with the County and DA on Friday to talk about our newly passed resolution and the prosecution/enforcing aspect of it. I have not talked to the Atty since the meeting so not sure the outcome.  I’ll find out and let you know.”

I waited until the 22nd, then, realizing it was nearly Christmas, I wrote her again. I asked about the Shelter Crisis Designation, asking “1) if that’s still in effect, 2) if we are still receiving a grant for that designation, and 3) if so, where does the money go (into the General Fund?). I’ll add, 4) do we still get a grant for consolidating services at the fair grounds?” 

I also reminded her that she had previously promised to get back to me regarding the conversation our city attorney had with the county DA. 

As of today, 1/11/21, I have had no response from Reynolds. I know she’s busy – you realize, candy and ice cream are considered an “essential business”, so her shop is open.  

https://www.facebook.com/ShubertsIceCreamChicoCA/

We’re open and ready to scoop your favorite flavors and pack your favorite candies! Stop by the shop until 10:00pm to pick up your favorite sweet treat and see all the new renovations 🎉🍨🍫  We will now be open regular hours, Monday through Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-10pm

Well, isn’t that just nice!

But the same woman thinks it’s okay for council chambers to be CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC? You can run out and grab yourself a SCOOP OF DIABETES, but forget about participating in your local government, especially when they are discussing a tax measure that does not require voter approval. 

So, instead of trying to contact my “representative” again, I wrote a letter to the newspaper. Hope you will do same.

On January 5, while Chico City Council prepared for another closed meeting, Shasta County Supervisors Les Baugh and Pat Jones opened their meeting to the public. Residents were invited inside to redress their grievances, no mask required.

Meanwhile, Chico City Council and Staff continue to hold the public out while they discuss their Pension Obligation Bond. It’s hard to believe we have a “conservative” majority on our council – 5 people voting unanimously to raise taxes? Without voter approval?

That’s right, the consultant reports this bond requires no voter approval. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation”, a purely administrative process. In fact, the consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.”

Staff reports the UAL has grown 43% over 5 years, even while making bigger payments toward the deficit every year, this year over $11 million. Staff blames poor CalPERS investment returns, but the real reason is drastically unrealistic employee shares,  just 9 – 15%, for pensions of 70 – 90% of salary. The situation is exacerbated by incredibly generous salaries, including three new hires in the last year at salaries over $100,000. 

The payments for both CalPERS and the bond service will be appropriated by percentage from all city funds. But POB revenues are restricted to paying the UAL, because, as finance director Scott Dowell has said, “otherwise we’d be tempted to spend it on needed things…”  He means, infrastructure maintenance and public safety – the needs of the citizens.

Employee demands have officially superseded the rights and needs of the public.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

 

Shasta County opens Supervisor meetings – Chico council, still hiding under cover of COnVid, pushes Pension Obligation Bond forward

9 Jan

On Tuesday, as Chicoans got ready for another “virtual” (closed) city council meeting, two Shasta County Supervisors held an open meeting, allowing citizens to come into the chambers and speak freely about how they’ve suffered under the COnVID shut down.

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Crowd-of-people-speak-inside-Shasta-County-Board-of-Supervisors-chambers-573536611.html

REDDING, Calif. – On Tuesday, a crowd of people gathered inside the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers. People passionately pleading to county leaders lift coronavirus restrictions and resume in-person meetings.

Inside the chambers, many people stood together, with only very few wearing masks.

The virtual meeting opened to the crowd that gathered outside, demanding to have their voices heard in person.

One by one each person spoke their three minutes.

Thank you Les Baugh and Pat Jones for doing the right thing, while the rest of the board cowered at their keyboards.

Supervisor Les Baugh and Jones were the only two to sit inside the chambers with the crowd. While Supervisors Rickert, Chimenti, Moty, and other county staff remained online.

Here in Chico, council and staff are trying to use the shut-down to shove as many tax measures through the system as they can, hand over fist. In addition to the Pension Obligation Bond already on the table, our new mayor Andrew Coolidge has proposed another bond, “for streets”, and a sales tax increase measure. 

The Pension Obligation Bond presentation, same as the presentation given in September 2020, elicited almost no discussion from council, who voted unanimously to give the consultant more money to set up the “validation process“. In September, the consultant told the Finance Committee one of the best things about a POB is that it “does not require validation...” He meant, by the voters. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation“, a purely administrative process, with absolutely no input from the public.  

The consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.” 

After the presentation, Coolidge asked Scott Dowell for a list of costs, and then Kasey Reynolds asked the consultant if there would be any “public informational meetings”. The consultant told her that is up to council, that they could do “small groups” if that was what council would like. And, I’m guessing, that would cost extra. 

It’s obvious Reynolds just wants to be able to say the public was informed about this bomb before it got dropped. What a bitch.

I was also shocked to see so few comments on Chico Engaged, but I noticed, all nine, including mine, were negative.  The clerk referred council to the comments without reading names. The clerk already quit reading the comments because they became abusive, and now she’s quit reading the names because nobody should have to read fakes names like “Harry Gonads.” Council spent less than a minute reading before they advised staff and the consultant to bring more information.  

Meanwhile, I wanted people to know how much money flows through this city, directly out of the pockets of city residents. You know you pay a gas tax, right? Got any idea how much of that the city of Chico  gets? Or what they use it for? Have you seen $5,997,251 going into the streets or roads near your house? How about the garbage tax, cleverly titled, “Waste Hauler Franchise Fee” – $1,980,318 added to our garbage bills. And if you get cable tv, you paid into a total of $969,124, received as of June 30, 2020. 

Here’s a double whammy – you not only pay a franchise on your PG&E bill, you pay “Utility Tax”. You also pay UT on your water bill, and if you have a landline you pay UT on that too. 

Of course, I assume everybody knows about property taxes and sales tax, but I’m probably wrong – a lot of people have their property taxes paid by their mortgage company, so they can sail through life without a care in the world?

Here’s the totals for those revenues, as of June 2020. Roughly $60 million in revenues, just from these sources. But our fair city never seems to have enough money to fix or maintain anything? I don’t think it’s a no-brainer that these funds should be available for street/road maintenance. The city used almost half a million in cable tv fees to remodel council chambers a couple of years back, with Andrew Coolidge telling me those funds “had to be used for that…they couldn’t be used for street maintenance…”

Gas Tax $5,997,251 
Waste Hauler franchise fees $1,980,313 
Cable tv franchise fees $969,124
PG&E franchise fees $787,861
utility tax $7,317,103
prop tax $18,621,070
sales tax  $24,434,686

During the same period, over $11,000,000 was paid to CalPERS through the Pensions Stabilization Trust and another fund called the “CalPERS Liability Reserve”. Both of these funds are filled by siphoning money out of all the other funds on a percentage of payroll. Most of the budgets of all these departments consists of salaries and monthly benefits payments, and many are in the red because of the further allocations for the UAL payments.

Scott Dowell reported our UAL has grown 43% over the last 5 years, but he didn’t say why. The reason is the unrealistically low employee contributions of 9 – 15%. In fact, management and public safety only started paying ANYTHING  in 2012, when the UAL  was already over $125,000,000.  When City Manager Mark Orme and other management agreed to pay an additional 3% share, council gave them a raise to cover that percentage. Furthermore, Orme got himself a 457 Plan – a special 401K for public management. We pay over $20,000 a year into that 457, while Orme brags again and again that he has not received a raise for almost 5 years. That’s bullshit, what a stinking liar.

All this shoved through under the guise of public health and safety. Are we just stupid, lame, weak? Before you condemn the rioters in DC, take a look at yourself, and then read the US Constitution again. 

And Best Wishes to Shasta County, I hope this is the beginning of the end. 

 

Staff trying to get their pensions bond under the wire by end of January

31 Dec

Next Tuesday city council will hear a presentation on a Pension Obligation Bond. They are trying to slide it under the wire as “restructuring debt,” which is really deceptive – they don’t mention the part where they take on millions in NEW DEBT.  This is really dirty and sneaky, and you need to let your council members know, you know what they’re up to. You can contact them directly through the clerk’s office – debbie.presson@chicoca.gov – or you can go to Chico Engaged. I’d recommend both.

Here’s the link to the agenda:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items

And here’s the POB presentation:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e0f395e716e400a434-5-dot-1-calpers-pension-costs-and-ual-restructuring-p

I also wrote a letter to the editor. Staff is trying to  get this thing done within the next two meetings, let’s stop it in it’s  tracks. 

Also, get a load of Coolidge’s request for a “streets bond”! 

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e1f395e716e400a439-5-dot-6-mayor-coolidge-request-bond-for-improvement

Here’s my letter about the POB:

January 5, Chico City Council will consider Pension Obligation Bonds. Staff calls it “restructuring pension debt/Unfunded Actuarial Liability”, but it’s really millions in new debt. A new twist on the old Shell Game, Staff will invest borrowed money in the stock market, hoping to make enough to pay both the pension debt and the new debt. If their investments fail,  the taxpayers will be forced to pay not only the pension debt but the new bond debt, at the expense of city infrastructure and basic services.

Over the last couple of years,  surveys, letters to the editor, and comments on social media have demonstrated two main concerns: lack of law and order, and lack of maintenance to public infrastructure.  While Staff has claimed they don’t have enough money for either, they’ve continued to appropriate more money each year from city departments into the Pension Stabilization Trust – this year, $11.4 million, roughly 20% of tax revenue.  

Furthermore, even with 10’s of millions a year paid through payroll and the PST, the UAL has still grown, up from $126,000,000 only a few years ago to $146,000,000. Staff has recently revealed another $140,000,000  interest. This is the result of insufficient  contributions from employees, and poor returns from CalPERS investments. 

The Government Finance Officers Association says POBs are dangerous without a plan to manage pension costs. Instead, our city has increased pension costs through new hires and overly-generous salaries, without demanding more from Staff. 

The GFOA also determined POBs were the cause of bankruptcy in San Bernardino and Stockton. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

Have you seen the new CPOA proposal?

17 Nov

Tonight is the last meeting of the current city council. The next meeting will begin the new “conservative” SUPER MAJORITY. I just like writing that in all caps, because I don’t know if people realize what it means.

Simply put, it means the five “conservatives” can do whatever they agree to among themselves, and the new “infinitesimal minority” of Brown and Huber will have to sit on their thumbs the next couple of years.

Of course I expect Huber to ingratiate himself with the conservatives.

But tonight, the last “elected at large” council will be discussing new contracts for Chico Police Officers Association, the old contract set to expire in December. I’ve been trying to look over the proposals since last week when I got the agenda, but they are onerously huge files that I can’t open with my dinky little internet connection. Why they aren’t displayed at the Human Resources page alongside the expired agreement is beyond me – well, no it’s not, they obviously don’t want us to see it. So, I have not seen the new proposal that will be discussed, in closed session, at tonight’s closed council meeting. 

Have you?  Cause if you go to the city website and direct yourself to the “minutes and agendas” page, look at tonight’s agenda, and then scroll down and open the reports and hit the links, here are some specific items I wish you would look for:

  1. Mandatory overtime
  2. STO
  3. CTO

And then go to this link, below, and re-read this post, because I don’t have time to go over all this again.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/07/10/take-a-cup-of-ot-and-add-a-cup-and-a-half-of-cto-pour-in-some-sto-and-you-get-an-iou/

I tried to have this conversation with my district rep, Kasey Reynolds, but she played dumb. I just wrote the following note to the city clerk and asked her to forward it to the full council:

Dani, I know how hard you work, but I can’t download or even preview these documents. 

This is a problem – the public obviously isn’t let in on this conversation. Most people in town don’t have time to look at this stuff – I got it late Thursday, and staff was out of office by Friday noon.  Most people probably wouldn’t understand it if they did read it – they are purposely written in onerous language. I always wonder how many council members really read or understand these contracts. I’m a landlady, I know people just sign stuff without reading it, I often wonder how many council members do that. 

But council continues to agree to stuff like “CTO”, and “STO”, and all the other perks and benies that make these people outrageously over paid. According to Scott Dowell, public safety, especially CPOA, make up over half our UAL. And only pay 12 – 15% toward pensions of 90% of salaries over $100,000, plus perks like getting paid for not working (CTO, STO).

I’m including Mike Wolcott in this email because I’d like to see more about the contracts in the newspaper. This is why our town is tanking. And Staff’s only solution is to put our town over our heads in debt with a Pension Obligation Bond.

Other towns are talking about switching to 401K’s – Chico has already given Orme a 457 Plan in addition to his pension, an extra $20,000 year, while Orme claims no employees have had raises? Orme also got a raise when he agreed to pay his own “employee share,” previously paid in full by the taxpayers. 

Meanwhile, our park is a wreck, our streets are shredded, and crime is outrageous. This is on the “conversative” majority. You guys can’t blame this wreck on the liberals anymore. If you approve the CPOA contracts without any concessions from the union you are putting another nail in our town coffin. 

Good question Bob: Why do we need to replace Constantin with anyone?

14 Nov

One last word on the departure of Chris Constantin – from a comment Bob left the other day:

Why do we need to replace Constantin with anyone? The truth is the City is over its head in debt and we can’t afford a replacement.

Besides, why should we continue to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for a bureaucrat who does nothing but scheme how to raise our taxes and get us deeper in debt with things like POBs while letting our streets and everything else fall apart.

Wow, good question Bob! So I wrote a letter to the ER about it.

When departing Chico administrator Chris Constantin was hired in 2013, he spoke to the Tea Party. He said our previous finance director was “Loosey Goosey”, bragging about his qualifications to “straighten out the mess” she’d left. He told us, once he fixed things, “you can hire someone cheaper, with less initials behind their name.”

Seven years later, I see a bigger mess. Constantin himself has told us, staff deferred maintenance on streets and other infrastructure while they continued to make bigger payments toward their pension liability (UAL) – this year $11,000,000. But the UAL continues to increase –  this year, the city manager created three new management positions with $100,000+ salaries.

When Brian Nakamura was hired, he went on a firing spree, gutting lower level staffers and bringing his own friends in for management positions – Mark Orme and then Constantin. Since then the assistant manager’s salary has gone from $142,652 to over $189,000/year. Orme and Constantin have also garnered themselves 457 Plans worth an additional $20,000/year each.

From a 2018 report to the California League of Cities: “City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels.” Their first suggestion – make more aggressive payments to CalPERS. Meanwhile, “Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services.” Meaning, squeeze the taxpayers for more money.

Top heavy management and perpetual demands for higher salaries and more benefits has our city upside-down. Constantin’s position should be eliminated, along with other unnecessary management positions, so we can hire the lower-paid workers we need to get this town “straightened out.” 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

SURPRISE! Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin seeking a manager position in San Dimas CA – $220,000/year!

8 Nov

Dear Chris Constantin,

So you are off to San Dimas? I heard it through the Grapevine. (ha ha, get it? Through the Grapevine? Old trucker joke)

It seems like just yesterday you bragged to a Tea Party gathering about all he “initials” after your name. You bragged about the consulting positions you held with agencies all over the state. You told the assemblage that our town was in a terrible financial shape, because our former Finance Director was “Loosey Goosey”. But you bragged about your credentials and promised that you would fix everything, adding, “then you’ll be able to hire somebody cheaper, with fewer initials behind their name…”

Wow, looking around myself, I don’t see that. I see our town is a bigger mess than it was when you got here, while you’ve done very nicely for yourself. You’ve garnered almost $200,000/year in salary and about a $50,000 package. You paid little to nothing for not only a 70% pension but a $20,000/year 457 Plan (special 401K for public workers). Now you’ve used Chico to step along to an “Annual salary of $220,000” as city manager in a rich Southern California town.

I realize you’ve paid the price. I remember when you bragged and bragged about your gorgeous young wife, showing her off around town like a trick pony. Then you left her at home to pop out kids like a popcorn machine.   When you told me about your first child, I told you, “Quit your job, or you’ll miss the best years of your life.”  You should have listened to me Bud. Instead you made an ass of yourself at the podium, whining like a bitch about our town causing your divorce?

That’s on you! Jesus Christ Chris, look what YOU’VE done to our town! 

Good Bye, and Good Riddance Chris Constantin, and please, don’t let the screen door hit you on your ass on your way to San Dimas. It’s already had enough abuse.  

To the people of San Dimas – GOOD FUCKING LUCK with this guy. Here’s what you can depend on – your town is about to get more expensive!

Juanita Sumner

FROM THE SAN DIMAS CITY COUNCIL AGENDA FOR THIS TUESDAY

CITY COUNCIL MEETING AGENDA
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 10th, 2020 7:00 P. M.
SAN DIMAS COUNCIL CHAMBER
245 EAST BONITA AVENUE

a. Consideration of Appointment of Chris Constantin as City Manager, with a start date of January 4, 2021, and approval of City Manager Employment Agreement

RESOLUTION 2020-61, A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF SAN DIMAS, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, APPOINTING CHRIS
CONSTANTIN AS CITY MANAGER AND APPROVING A CITY MANAGER
EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt Resolution 2020-62, Appointing Chris Constantin as
City Manager and Approving the City Manager Employment Agreement.

Who will pay the unfunded liability? Taxpayers living on a median income of $43,000/year, or well-paid, well-heeled, entitled public employees making over $100,000/year?

5 Nov

It’s been said, the campaign begins the day after an election.  I like to hit the ground running. Here’s a letter I just sent to the ER. 

Butte County, like the city of Chico, is considering a Pension Obligation Bond.

POBs are a financing scheme that allows state and local governments to get the taxpayers to pay unfunded pension liabilities by issuing a bond guaranteed by tax revenues. Like CalPERS, POB proponents claim investments will pay for both the bond and the retirement fund. According to Oregon PERS manager Mike Cleary, “Some people call this arbitrage, but it’s not, it’s really an investment gamble.”

In fact, in 2013, Stockton and San Bernardino went bankrupt. According to the court, “Generous pensions awkwardly propped up with ill-timed POBs contributed to both debacles.”

In recent years, returns on POBs have often fallen below the interest rate paid by agencies to borrow the money, digging the liability hole even deeper. Nonetheless, they remain popular because they are instant money without voter approval.

Chico’s Unfunded Pension Liability has grown enormously over the past year – from $123,000,000 to $140,000,000, with another $146,000,000 interest – because of unrealistic employee contributions. Chico employees pay, at most, 15% for pensions that run from 70 – 90% percent of hundred-thousand-plus salaries. Meanwhile, taxpayers not only contribute a payroll share, but the annual “catch-up” payments come at the expense of city services – this year $11,000,000.

Who will pay the unfunded liability? Taxpayers living on a median income of $43,000/year, or well-paid, well-heeled, entitled public employees making over $100,000/year?

Let your elected representative know what you think of this scheme to leave the taxpayers holding the Pension Deficit Bag.

Juanita Sumner, Chico