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Gas tax petition gaining momentum – time to defund the special interest programs that are ruining our state

24 Jan

I’m glad I went to that meeting yesterday, because it relates to some other stuff I’ve been reading in the news. 

First of all, Dude sent me this article over a week ago:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jackson-california-poverty-20180114-story.html

“Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.”

I’ll buy that, because that’s what I’m seeing all around me – more than 1 in 5 of my friends are having money problems, and few of them have been living fast or fancy – they’re having a hard time paying their new PG&E, Cal Water, and Waste Management rates, which are going up hell-bent-for-leather compared to their wages. My kids are working jobs at reduced hours because their employers cannot afford to pay the still-required health care premiums for employees working 28 hours or more a week. 

While you might want to blame welfare recipients, read on:

“Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.”

And then there’s the pressure on the middle income families who have to drive to work – The Moonbeam’s answer to poverty was higher taxes on cars and gas.  There’s no limit when you are spending other people’s money. Luckily a group has come up with a gas tax repeal petition:

http://act.reformcalifornia.org/petitions/cartax/html/gen/

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/sd-fi-gastax-repeal-20171127-story.html

“We need to stop the car and gas tax hikes because, number one, it’s hurting working families,” said Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council and now a talk radio host who has helped spearhead the repeal. “Secondly, the money is being diverted time and time again from road repairs and road expansion to any special interest project the politicians have.”

 

Yes, any special interest project – like a busline to Sacramento that  takes an hour longer than driving your car, that will still cost $24 round trip (and screw you if you miss that 4:55 bus), and will still have to be 60 percent subsidized by the taxpayers, even if they get the ridership required by the grant program. 

Read this again, “With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy.”

Including the staffers at BCAG, SRTA, SJJPD, and a bunch of other special districts around the state. BCAG has a $1.5 million dollar payroll to meet, for 12 staffers – whipping out my handy calculator, I see that’s $125,000 per staffer. 

Public compensation drives up the cost of everything, from housing to food to gas to daycare to medical care and so on.  The private sector family living on $40,000 or less has to compete with these people for homes, groceries, everything – in a town with so many publicly employed residents as Chico, the seller or merchant is able to charge top dollar for everything.

This is how these stupid special projects affect our quality of life. Tell your county supervisor you don’t want to participate in this bus line to nowhere, it’s not too late, the grant applications haven’t been accepted yet. 

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Time to ring their phones “off the hook” about the trash deal – city manager’s office, (530) 896 – 7200. Ask them why this rate increase wasn’t handled like PG&E and Cal Water rate increases.

11 Sep

I followed the advice of my fellows, Jim and Bob, and wrote the following e-mail to City Mangler Mark Orme and my 3rd District Supervisor Maureen Kirk, and cc’d city attorney Vince Ewing cause I have some questions of a legal nature. 

Good Monday Morning Mr. Orme,   Supervisor Kirk, and Mr. Ewing,

Have either of you seen this Chicoosity Facebook page? (linked  below) Scroll down to the garbage franchise conversation.

Like I told both of you, the public needed to be better informed of this city trash deal, given the lesson that should have been learned when the county rolled their deal out.  Remember what Mr. Hahn said – “phones rang off the hook with complaints for two weeks…”  I see people are just as mad about the city deal – wait until they get their new bills!

Something I realized recently – when PG&E and Cal Water raise rates, they put notices in their bills, a year ahead, and there are public hearings.  Why wasn’t that done with this trash deal? Why didn’t Recology or Waste Management make any attempt to notice customers more than two weeks ahead of roll-out? I just got my postcard on Friday (9/8/17). Why didn’t the city notice customers and hold public hearings?

Those are not  rhetorical questions, so I cc’d Mr. Ewing, maybe he can answer. 

Here’s the link to that facebook page – thanks, at your convenience, for an answer to my questions.  — Juanita Sumner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicoosity/

As I was reading that over, I realized, people called the county. You can reach city manager Mark Orme’s office at (530) 896 – 7200.  Be really polite, his underlings don’t get paid as much as he does. He won’t answer your call, but he’ll know about it. 

Make those phone lines dance People!

 

City manager Mark Orme, Assistant City Manager Chris Constantin behind the chatter for a sales tax increase

23 Jun

I’ve been trying to engage our city “leaders” regarding the trash tax –  according to City Manager Mark Orme, “the Muni Code Ordinance (which is on Tuesday’s [June 20] Council meeting) is going forward for final reading.  This allows for the City to entertain the Franchise Agreements (Ordinances) which will come back on August 1st – originally they were anticipated to return in July, but due to the Council’s, yours, and other members of the public’s feedback/input we are negotiating further to ensure clarity and that the best deal is had, under the circumstances.  Therefore, the action for Tuesday will lead to further discussion and approval or disapproval of the new franchises in August.”

I have a lot of problems with this “franchise agreement”, the main problem being that it is a tax in disguise. We all know the city is standing in front of a pension shitstorm with a tennis racket – their tennis racket appears to be a quarter cent sales tax increase.  At the May 16 city council meeting – at about 1:14:44 – local government shill Stephanie Taber got up to the podium and told council we need to raise taxes. Here’s the link – 

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=673

I was not surprised,  but since Taber used to be a regular attendee of the old Chico Taxpayers Association meetings, I had to ask her what the hell she was thinking.

“Wow, what a tiger you are! Raise Taxes! 

I got a better idea Steph – why don’t you just get out YOUR own checkbook, donate all the money you want to the salaries and benefits, and leave the rest of us out of it.

Thank you! Juanita”

She replied, 

“First off, let me say that I would, along with other Chico residence have to “open my checkbook” and pay whether the city did this as a sales tax or GO bonds that would affect property taxes..either way I’d have to pay too.

The city would only raise 4 to 4.5 million per year if they increased the sales tax by a quarter cent.  Many of the city streets now utterly failing (there is a list in the 17/18 budget and discussed at Finance) would cost at least that much to now totally dig up and replace because of lack of maintenance during the Schwab years.  That is when millions of gas tax money was diverted to maintain S&B for city employees and to keep her in office along with Holcomb, Gruendl, Walker, Nickel, Flynn and that whole regressive crew.

The sales and/or GO Bonds that I think we must look at would be only used for infrastructure.  The funds coming in would be ear marked and put into a separate account that could be verified and restricted.  We’ve seen this new administration’s (Chris Constantin in particular) ability and willingness to do that and as long as we have fellow concerned citizens willing to spend a bit of time following the income and expenditures in a particular account I don’t see a problem.  Problems arise when administrations lie and hide as our state government is doing with the gas tax increase that the voters had no opportunity to weigh in on.

I’m a bit surprised that this is seen as a “Republican” /”Democrat” issue … there is no ideology involved in this.. it is simply a recommendation that we raise revenue (tax or GO Bonds) for a specific problem, infrastructure, that would benefit the entire city.   Today we are currently short 14 to 16 million and that figure will only go up if we sit and do nothing..to me that is not an option.”

Signed, “st

She always blames everything on the liberals, even now that the conservatives have been in power for almost two years. She also seems to forget all those meetings we sat at over the years, watching money transferred out of whatever restricted fund and into the General Fund. She even mentions the gas tax, which went entirely to salaries and benefits through “allocation” – a process Chris Constantin formalized as the rule of law almost as soon as he got hired here.  It’s now policy to keep funds balanced through transfers, any time a fund is low it’s city policy to take money from other funds to balance it, restrictions my ass.   At least before we saw when funds went into the red, now they just cover up with “allocations”. There’s a budget “appropriation” – that means “taking” – in almost every fucking agenda.

“Today we are currently short 14 to 16 million and that figure will only go up if we sit and do nothing…”

Who the Hell is “we”? I think the word we’re looking for here is “them,” or how about, “embezzlers…

I will say, she’s got a point – “Problems arise when administrations lie and hide as our state government is doing with the gas tax increase that the voters had no opportunity to weigh in on…” you mean, like the garbage tax Steph?

But there you see the puppet master – “The funds coming in would be ear marked and put into a separate account that could be verified and restricted.  We’ve seen this new administration’s (Chris Constantin in particular) ability and willingness to do that…”

I’ve known this woman for some years now, I’ve watched  her face light up every time Chris Constantin or Mark Orme paid her special attention. One day Mark Orme just put his arms around here after a meeting and gave her a big squeeze. These guys have her in their back pocket. It’s their work she’s at now. 

I heard it from a little shill…

Wake up with Lou!

6 May

Here’s a fun Saturday morning radio show – Live with Lou, at KMYC, Yuba City.

http://www.kmycradio.com/

9 am to noon, every Saturday, Marysville/Yuba City businessman Lou Binninger rants, rambles – says it like it is!  You go to the website at 9am and hit the link to the upper right. 

Right now he’s rolling along on one of his favorite topics – waste and fraud from our public employees.  “If you work for the government it’s like giving everybody in your soccer club a participation trophy…some of those people have just been sucking their assets for their whole career…this whole concept of draining the swamp…”

Yes, Lou is very conservative, he really lays into the Democrats. I’m sorry he doesn’t turn his pokey stick on the Republicans too, but I still enjoy listening to him. Right now he’s haranguing Maxine Waters for being a hypocrite. I have to agree.  Waters is getting out of touch, she really has become everything she told us was wrong when she was a young politician – entrenched power. 

Now he’s talking about the new sales tax that was passed in Marysville a couple of years ago – more money for fire and police. “They said they wouldn’t be able to respond to 9-11 calls anymore if they didn’t get this tax…”  But the money was not dedicated – that would require a two thirds vote of the public. Instead the council opted to go for a General Fund tax, which only requires about 51%. “The first thing they did with the new tax money – 1 percent on all sales in Marysville – was to raise the wages of all the employees of the city…  

Binninger says this is “bait and switchthey use a fear tactic, if you don’t vote for this, all hell is going to break loose in the city…”  And of course, once they get the money, they do whatever they want.

Here we have Chico Area Rec District and their proposed “revenue measure.” We don’t know which tack they will try – a bond on the general ballot or an assessment ballot mailed only to property owners. Most people don’t know the difference – I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with the rules. 

CARD has made many rainbow promises – switching back and forth from the Taj Majal aquatic center to claims that their facilities all over town  are suffering because they don’t have enough money or staff to maintain them. They say they want money to improve the existing skate board park, a longtime hobo jungle that has been closed more than it’s been open, due to vandalism and neighbor complaints.  CARD took it from the city about 10 years ago and one maintenance supervisor after another has thrown up his hands and walked on down the hall.

Remember that – bait and switch. CARD is already having problems deciding which story line to use – they don’t believe either story themselves, and that makes it hard to pitch. 

The real story is the $1.7 million pension deficit that  their Matson and Isom audit team said will grow incrementally as long as their employees continue to pay only 2 – 6 percent out of their own paychecks. Right now it grows by over $57,000 a year, and that will grow  – you know how to do “rabbit math,” don’t you? As their salaries and therefore their benefits packages grow, the deficit will grow. Whenever CalPERS makes demands, they will take money out of their General Fund to pay it down. In 2012, they ignored a consultant’s report regarding repairs at Shapiro Pool, they made a $400,000 “side fund pay-off” to CalPERS, in addition to the roughly $500,000 a year they already pay. 

Excuse me – we pay.

But I’ll say here, Binninger doesn’t get it either. He tells us we should be sitting at home, “bathing your kids and driving them to school,” we should be able to trust our politicians?

Wake up Lou! We should all make more of an effort to watch these people. Everybody should go to at least one public meeting a year, even just one would make a difference. If the public would start attending these public meetings, it would be like shining a flashlight on a rat. 

Furthermore, I have faith in the public – I know they are asleep now, they don’t know what’s going on in these meetings. One meeting folks, listen, really listen. Once you know what’s going on, you can’t forget, you can’t not be disgusted.

The answer is more public scrutiny, not sitting at home trusting your elected officials. Wake up!

CARD to discuss PR campaign for revenue measure at tomorrow’s board meeting

19 Apr

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170418/card-to-discuss-marketing-campaign-budget

The meeting will be at the CARD center on Vallombrosa, starts promptly at 7pm, and may very well be over by 8pm, so don’t be late.

 

Bums putting the pressure on long time local businesses, meanwhile, $215,000/year city manager demands $63,000/year park rangers carry guns, make arrests

6 Apr

Yesterday I went to Safeway on Mangrove to pick up some groceries, and I had to ask myself – am I shrinking, or are these carry baskets getting bigger? 

So I couldn’t resist, when my checker made the usual small talk, I asked him about it. He didn’t seem too eager to talk at first,  saying the baskets were sent by a contract distributor, that Safeway didn’t really have anything to do with it. 

I said, “That makes sense, I notice there’s usually advertising on them.” I figured, the baskets are probably  free or very cheap to Safeway because of the advertising.  But the word “advertising” loosened my checker’s tongue, he said, “yeah, but with the transients stealing them and leaving them laying all over town, it was becoming bad advertising for Safeway…”  So now they are just plain brown baskets, they don’t even have the Safeway logo on them anymore.

Oooooo! I get it! I actually found one of the old ones in front of my house on Palmetto. I watched it scoot along the gutter for a couple of days before I picked it up and took it back to Safeway. I just walked right in with it and dumped it in the stack by the door as I grabbed a wheeled cart.  I figured a neighborhood kid had stolen it for a prank, and never mentioned it to anybody. 

According to my checker, these baskets were being found in and along Chico Creek, particularly near One Mile. Well, again, that makes sense. The creeks and the park have become illegal campgrounds. 

Yesterday walking my dog in middle park, I noticed another new trail, heading right into a dense tangle of blackberry and other non-native overgrowth. 

Meanwhile, the city of Chico discusses arming park rangers.

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170405/chico-park-rangers-could-become-armed-sworn-officers

“The city is facing increased “criminal behavior” in its parks and public spaces, O’Brien said. Park rangers are encountering a criminal element with “much greater frequency” than in the past.

“’We want both the public enjoying our parks and our park staff to be as safe as possible,’ O’Brien said. ‘The issues in the park include a more sophisticated criminal element, not simply kids trying to sneak alcohol into Bear Hole or people letting their dogs off leash as in years past.’”

When I asked the checker at Safeway if they’d reported their problems to the city or the police, he frowned and shook his head. A sour “yes” was his verbal answer. I offered, “but they don’t do anything?” A sour look and a shake of the head was the answer to that.

If you look at the city’s salaries, available here:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=79&fiscalyear=2015

The first pages, sorted by salary, are full of police and fire employees, with salaries over $100,000/year,  plus packages starting at $35,000, as high as $65,000/year. 

Park ranger appears pages later, with a salary of about $63,000/year and a much smaller package.

The story in the paper says rangers have been told they have 15 months to make a decision – do they want to carry a “firearm” and make arrests in the park? Or get another job. 

“On top of that, Orme ($215,000 in salary with an $80,000 benefits package) said there is no dramatic increase in revenue projected that would allow for more city employees, and resources are already limited.”

Look at the government compensation charts for the last few years – police and fire salaries have been going up-up-up.  The city manager’s salary has increased by over $10,000 in the last five or six years. 

I think Mark Orme should have to go out in the park and roust the bums. 

 

Randall Stone takes responsibility for phony election mailer, says it was legal

24 Mar
1027161440a

City of Chico Elections?

When I found this post card in my mailbox, I did a double take – it looked like an official city of Chico mailer, but I realized – there is no “City of Chico Elections” department.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/11/03/looks-like-neither-karl-ory-ann-schwab-randall-stone-nor-tami-ritter-have-any-respect-for-the-voters-or-the-rules/

A couple of readers asked me to follow up on this post – so I sent an e-mail to the county and city clerks’ offices, and cc-d Karl Ory and Randall Stone. I left Ann Schwab off by mistake, but intentionally ignored Tami Ritter because she seems to have to have done a Rumpelstiltskin since losing to Karl Ory, her running mate.

I got an immediate response from Randall Stone, who was able to retain his seat in the election. 

“1) I knew about it.  It is (in part) my mailing and I authorized it (as is indicated on the envelope…that’s not counterfeit).
2) I sent it (in part).  I paid for it (in part).  Both of these details are part of my campaign disclosures.
3) I’m sorry you find it misleading.
4) It is legal (and not uncommon).
5) I don’t know who you should ask and for what purpose.  But if you believe something about it is untoward, I would encourage you to ask anyone you feel appropriate – up to and including the FPPC.
Sorry I can’t be of more help than that.  We get a lot of accusations of violations about any number of things (you wouldn’t believe some of the wild charges that have been levied in the past), including requests for us to file accusations against our “opponents” or detractors.  Generally, I leave these types of requests for others to address.  I haven’t got the time.

Randall”

The city clerk’s office is responsible for accepting filings from candidates and groups who want to place items on the ballot, but she told me, “I do not have any authority over mailer content and format.”

The city clerk had forwarded my inquiry to the county clerk, who asked me if I wanted to come in to her office to talk about it? What? Why can’t you just give somebody a straight answer Candy Baby? 

She’s still pissed at me over this:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/11/02/grubbs-resents-my-asking-questions-about-missing-ballots-thrown-out-ballots-undeliverable-ballots/

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/11/07/turn-those-ballots-in-according-to-butte-county-clerk-less-than-a-third-of-mail-in-ballots-had-been-received-by-october-29-with-1789-of-them-undeliverable/

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/11/12/grubbs-claims-20000-uncounted-ballots-will-not-affect-election-results/

So, there’s election accountability in Chico and Butte County – two women who just won’t do their jobs, and candidates who do whatever they want. And then there’s the voters, who apparently couldn’t care less.