Archive | government shennanigans RSS feed for this section

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.

CARD cut employee hours in 2013 to avoid paying for their healthcare

21 Mar

I’ve been cleaning through my drafts file, and here’s an article from 2013 that reports CARD cut a number of employees’ hours so they won’t have to pay Obamacare for those people.  Urseny is so embedded – she didn’t even ask how many people would be cut to 28 hours. She didn’t even bother to talk to those employees about how they would manage. She has never done a follow-up to this story.

Meanwhile, management pays between 2 and 6 percent for benefits packages which range from $25,000 to  $30,000/year.   CARD spends about $500,000/year on management benefits for employees who make as much as $120,000/year in salary. 

Chico Area Recreation and Park District hears about impact of Obamacare

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/30/2013 12:01:24 AM PDT
 
 

CHICO — Like many getting acquainted with the federal Affordable Care Act, there are a lot of question marks for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board and staff.Some of those were answered by Rose Krepelka of CARD’s insurance provider, InterWest Insurance Inc. of Chico.

“I can go for 15 minutes or for four days,” Krepelka told the board last week when she asked how deeply they wanted to delve into the Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare.

She acknowledged there’s a lot of confusion about the new regulations, especially since some affecting businesses have been delayed to 2015.

CARD already provides medical coverage to full-time employees, but more employees will be eligible for medical insurance in 2015 with the new definition of full time.

Obamacare’s definition of full time is working 30 or more hours weekly on a regular basis.

At CARD there are 32 full-time employees, and part-timers vary from 120 to 180, depending on the time of the year and recreational offerings. The full-time-equivalent is 85, according to General Manager Steve Visconti.

Medical care coverage per full-time employee currently costs CARD about $10,000 yearly. With the new definition, CARD was forced to adjust schedules of some employees to keep them part time. Visconti said CARD’s budget couldn’t afford to provide coverage to more employees.

Individuals without medical coverage can start shopping in October, with the coverage launching in January. Individuals without insurance are subject to tax penalties at $95 per adult $47.50 per child. That jumps to $325 adult, $165.50 child penalties in 2015.

CARD’s part-time employees can find insurance from California’s health exchange, called Covered California, or from Medi-Cal, she noted.

Employees will be getting information on obtaining insurance through letters from companies like hers. In addition to that, Krepelka noted there will be “navigators and enrollers” who are trained and certified to help Californians understand Obamacare. Residents might run into them outside a big-box store or at a mall.

Krepelka said the jury’s out on how successful Obamacare will be. People who have been unable to get medical coverage because of their conditions will now be part of the system — and an expense.

Krepelka said the balance built into Obamacare is that young people, who don’t need much in the way of health care, will pay for the older people who are greater users of services.

Likely, existing insurance rates will increase for those already covered as well, she said.

“There’s information coming out weekly,” she noted, including a Californian’s ability to sign up for insurance that starts in October.

Covered California’s website address is www.coveredca.com. The exchange is also on Facebook and Twitter.

In other news, the CARD board approved the 2013-14 budget unanimously and with no discussion, but directors Jan Sneed and Herman Ellis were not at the meeting.

Time to stand up – contact CARD and ask for a copy of the survey

21 Mar

I have been too busy in my personal life to keep up much chatter here, but I’m hoping to post more about the CARD survey next week.

I am also hoping that people will call the CARD office (895-4711) or e-mail director Ann Willmann and ask for a copy of the survey presented to the board on March 16.  The public is entitled to a copy of anything given to the board, so don’t pay for it. 

Once you’ve read it over, be sure to call back and ask questions. I was relieved to see the League of Women Voter’s observer at the meeting last week, she asked pertinent questions  about the survey. One thing she got out of  the consultant was that respondents were chosen on the basis of where they lived.  

Random eh?

We need more people like Margaret Bomberg in our community. Stand up people, or be had.