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Chico Unified: we want more money or we hurt the kids…

8 Feb

A couple of weeks ago we read an article in the Sacramento Bee detailing the failure of the California State Teachers Retirement Fund – CalSTRS. Here’s the latest from Cal Watchdog:

http://calwatchdog.com/2017/02/03/pension-funding-catastrophe-threatens-california-schools/

Yes, as Chico Unified School District finance director Kevin Bultema told me, ” The increase PERS and STRS costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.”

I hear “we want more money or we’ll hurt the kids…” What do you hear? 

No, Measure K was not “about the kids”

1 Feb

I forwarded the article from the Sacramento Bee that I posted here yesterday

http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article128942009.html

to Chico Unified School District Finance Director Kevin Bultema, asking how the failure of California Teachers Retirement System would affect our school district. He responded,

Good afternoon Ms. Sumner,

This has been one of the key budget issues facing CUSD.  The recent downward adjustments in CalSTRS estimated investment earnings is adding additional pressure to employer contribution rates in future years.  Employees did have a small increase in their contribution rate in 2015-16 from 10% to 10.25%.  The employer contribution rate has increased since 2015-16 and is projected to increase each year through 2020-21.  We discuss the financial impact of the projected PERS and STRS rates at every budget presentation.  Below is a slide we include in all of our budget presentations to keep our board and the community informed of this issue.  I hope this helps answer your question.  Have a great evening. 

Bultema ran the Measure K campaign, but gee Beav, none of this stuff came up in his Argument For, nor in the rebuttal to my argument, where he and Mark Sorensen chastised me for not getting it. 

Maureen Kirk told me she was supporting Measure K because “The more I looked into it, I came to the conclusion that the schools really need our help and support. This does not support retirement and benefits and directly helps the students.”

I wrote to Kirk and Sorensen and chastised them for their support of Measure K, forwarding Bultema’s e-mail with the link to the Sac Bee. I hope you will do same:

mkirk@buttecounty.net

mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov

The rebuttal to my argument against Measure K claimed I didn’t “get it.” Well, do you get it now Mark?  Here Kevin Bultema admits, CalSTRS has been failing, but nobody mentioned that during the Measure K campaign.  It’s all about the kids, huh Maureen?  Just in case you don’t read The Bee, I included a link to the article I had referenced to Bultema, although I know Mark already knows exactly what’s going on.  Sincerely disgusted, Juanita

Kirk and Sorensen are both up in 2018.  Where can we find suitable replacements? 

Meanwhile, another thing to remember, Chico Area Recreation District has hired the same consultant to run their bond/assessment campaign, so be ready for LIES LIES LIES.

Thank a Teacher! California taxpayers will pay $153 million more a year for school district pensions

30 Jan

Thanks Bob for this article from the Sacramento Bee.

“CalSTRS will consider lowering its official investment forecast in a move expected to require higher contributions from state taxpayers once again for the teachers’ pension fund. The cost to the state could be an additional $153 million starting with the next fiscal year.”

 

I didn’t know this was legal:

Three years ago, the Legislature agreed to raise contributions to CalSTRS by billions of dollars a year. Assembly Bill 1469 affected the state, local school districts and teachers themselves. For example, the annual contributions from school districts is growing from $2 billion to $6 billion, although the increases are being phased in over several years.

The 2014 law does give CalSTRS some latitude to impose higher rates on state taxpayers without going back to the Legislature for permission. According to the staff report, Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for the new fiscal year includes an additional $153 million for CalSTRS, bringing the annual contribution to $2.8 billion.

No matter what Chico Unified said about crumbling classrooms, rot, mold, asbestos, old computers – it’s the pensions folks, it always has been.

Cut the pensions

3 Jan

Thanks Rob, for this link to yesterday’s Dan Walter’s column.

Walters opines, “If it’s not economically or politically possible to finance the pension promises made to state and local government employees, the system’s only hope for solvency may lie in reducing those promises.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article123886739.html#storylink=cpy

We must ask ourselves, who made these promises in the first place?

  • Jerry Brown – with contributions of $50,000 – 100,000 from just about every employee’s union in the state of California  (   https://votesmart.org/candidate/campaign-finance/69557/jerry-brown-jr#.WGu0MvkrKUk   )
  • Third District Butte County Supervisor Maureen Kirk.    As a council member Kirk signed the “Memo of Understanding” that attached city employee salaries to “increases in revenues but not decreases…”   She also signed one contract after another requiring the city to pick up the lion’s share of city employee benefit expenses –  not only the much larger “employer share” of pensions and benefits but all or most of the “employee share” – the “employer paid member contribution”. For years under Mayor Kirk “public safety employees” paid nothing toward their own pensions, while management employees were allowed to get away with 4 percent. Now she rubber stamps raises for the county, as well as anything the Behavioral Health Department wants.
  • Second District Supervisor Larry Wahl – Wahl signed on to all of the above as a council member and added a step-increase system for the police department that essentially means automatic promotions and raises. As supervisor Wahl has voted to fully fund every request made by the Behavioral Health Department.
  • Don’t look now, but your former and current mayor are public employees who collect their own pensions. Don’t expect either Mark Sorensen or Sean Morgan to turn down any raises or require higher contributions, especially for cops or fire. They’ll dump lower level employees to feather the public safety nest, which is why our streets are shredded and our park is a disgrace.
  • Your vice mayor is a former employee of CalPERS. When we asked Reanette Fillmer during her 2014 campaign if she is eligible for a public pension, she said she didn’t know.  Don’t expect a straight answer about anything from that little minx. 

Do you feel responsible for these pensions? Do you get a pension? If so, who pays for it? 

Our public employees are like junkies – they’re high on ENTITLEMENT, the notion that they are better than us because they are a member of the racket, and we aren’t. They are high on the notion that we will foot the bill for their ridiculous lifestyle.

Remember what Nancy Reagan told you – JUST SAY NO!

 

This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the California Department of Finance

23 Dec

Bob sent this link, a must read for those of you who  don’t understand “The Pension Bomb”.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-pension-crisis-davis-deal/

As Jack Dolan reports, “It was a deal that wasn’t supposed to cost taxpayers an extra dime. Now the state’s annual tab is in the billions, and the cost keeps climbing.”

“This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined.”

Agencies like CARD and Chico Unified School District make promises to build new facilities and replace mold, rot and asbestos, upgrade to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, but this is what they really want the money for.

 

Chico Unified lost the lawsuit and was ordered to make the e-mails public – but now the link doesn’t work? What is Chico Unified trying to hide?

13 Dec

Here’s a story from Chico Enterprise Record regarding the lawsuit Chico Unified pressed against Chico State last year:

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20150929/NEWS/150929702#disqus_thread

Most of the details are there, and a link is included so that the public can view the e-mails that were the subject of the lawsuit – unfortunately the link doesn’t work.  

Look at the comments below – at one point lawyer Paul Boylan says the district removed the link. Olson responds to him that a new link has been provided. Geez, that link doesn’t work either!

I sent an e-mail to ER staffer Ryan Olson, we’ll see if he can help us out.

Looks like the school district is still trying to hide something.

And then there’s our local media…

30 Nov

I hate to cry sour grapes, but I am confounded at the passage of Measure K (Chico Unified school bond) because of the lies, lack of information, and general disinterest of the public in  finding out the truth.  I found out a lot of distressing stuff about the school district – not the least of it, “about a million dollars” spent on a lawsuit against Chico State last year to keep the college from handing over secret e-mails sent between Chico Unified board members, staff, and the district’s attorney.

I got that information almost by accident – I was perusing the county superior court website to see how many times Chico Unified had been sued, I was just curious. There it was – Chico Unified sued Chico State.  When I began digging into the lawsuit, I found invoices for the attorneys – thousands of dollars just in one bill – for advising Chico Unified board members and employees about dumping e-mails requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. I saw an e-mail from the district’s attorney telling Bob Feaster’s secretary that she didn’t have to give up e-mails from her computer trash bin – wink wink!

I re-read the stories about the district’s near failure in 2008, when the state threatened a takeover because of poor record keeping, major deficit spending, closures of schools due to an $8 million deficit. I couldn’t believe neither local newspaper reminded the voters of any of this mismanagement over the course of this latest election, instead they actually ran favorable pieces about how the district had supposedly been spending the bond money. Alot of the new sports field and new building they built at the high schools was done with separate grant funding, that had to be matched  dollar for dollar out of the budget that was supposed to be going toward removing asbestos and bringing the schools up to par.  

A week or so ago, the News and Review, which endorsed  Measure K, ran a snide editorial saying since this latest bond had passed, it was time the district made good on replacing the portables.

I read about the portables too. The district promised to get rid of them in bond campaign ’98, again in bond  campaign 2012. In the Measure K campaign, they admitted they still had asbestos in the schools and they aren’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Yeah,  they’ve had almost 30 years to get the schools compliant with federal and state law, passed $126 million in  bonds, but still aren’t compliant.

So, I had to respond to the News and Review. Why hadn’t they made that criticism before the election? 

Chico Unified issued $126 million in school bonds between 1998 and 2012, built new facilities at both high schools, but the poorly ventilated portables long ago acknowledged to contain carcinogens are still standing.  Why is the editor surprised? As claimed in this latest bond campaign, Chico schools still contain asbestos and are non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990.  The district promised to upgrade computer labs for the kids  back in 2012, claims made again in the 2016 campaign.  

Last year  CUSD spent roughly a million dollars suing Chico State to keep the college from making public  e-mails sent through the college server by Chico Unified staff and board members. What were they hiding? E-mails sent between Chico Unified superintendents advising their staff to destroy records requested by the Grand Jury and other individuals. Enrollment projections showing the district lied about overcrowding in 1998 and again in 2012.  Documents proving the district knew they would not be able to build on the Schmidbauer property when they promised that site to the voters in 1998. 

This newspaper endorsed Measure K so I expect to see a reporter at every board meeting. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I was surprised how quickly editor Melissa Daugherty got back to me:

Hi, Juanita,

I am having trouble fact-checking everything in your letter. If you can
provide links to documentation, that would be helpful. I will have to
hold off on printing this until I can verify your claims.

-Melissa

She had less than three hours to do any fact-checking, I don’t believe she did squat. For one thing, I got a lot of my information from past issues of her newspaper. Everything I told her could be checked out online. She could have asked district finance superintendent Kevin  Bultema for the pricetag on that lawsuit – I have, and I still don’t have anything from him besides promises he’ll get back to me.  She could also get enrollment figures from the district. 

I suggested she do her own digging – since when does an opinion come with footnotes? She responded again within minutes:

I’m happy to print a response on the portables editorial, but I cannot publish what you’ve written without fact-checking your claims. And, after digging around, I cannot find many of the specifics you mention, especially in the latter part of the letter.

-MD

Wow, to think this woman calls herself a journalist, but she can’t do a little research? Lazy, lazy girl.

So I sent her some clues.  A lot of the stuff I found didn’t have a direct link – like the court case. You just have to go to the index and search  for it, and you will find different stuff every time.  I also had found e-mails that I couldn’t forward, and most of them won’t cut-and-paste – hey, I don’t get paid to do this, I don’t get paid to take courses in Tech-BS, I do the best I can. Read it from the bottom.

 Done. Mkki Gillett, Director of lnformation Technology Willett@mail.chie CHICO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 1163 E. 7th St, Chico, CA 90928-5999 5301891-3000, ext 150 From: Ray Quinto Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 B:2G AM To: VikkiGillett Subject FW: Block – Jeff Sloan FYI Fro m : Robert Wilcox [mailto : rwilcox@ bcoe.org] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:28 pM To: Ray Quinto Subject: RE: Block – Jeff Sloan Hi Ray, I have added this email address to a black hole. Let me know if you need anything else. Robert Wilcox Network and Operations Manager Butte Coung Office of Education 530-s32-5770 From : Ray Quinto [mailto : rquinto@mail,chicousd.org] Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 3:25 pM To: Robert Wilcox Subject FW: Block – Jeff Stoan Can you black hole this one for us? Ray

They’re talking about cleaning their computers of anything requested by former Marsh Junior High principal Jeff Sloan and his attorney. “Block – Jeff Sloan“? How obvious does this stuff have to be to get the attention of Snoop Daugherty? 

But, I realize, she had a point. I was “stating facts not in evidence,” which is allowed in court, but see, I’m not a lawyer. So I asked her, could I make my “claims” in the form of questions? Would that suit her?

We’ll see if she even bothers to respond.