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Chico Council plays Sophie’s Choice with city services in mailed survey; meanwhile, “CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund” takes 10% of the UAL from every city fund

22 Apr

I’m thrilled to see some pushback against the city of Chico’s sales tax measure. For example, yesterday and today there were letters from names I haven’t seen in the letters section before, both calling the mailed “survey” into question. I’ve seen similar remarks, some of them very angry, on various social media sites, including Newsbreak.com

There has also been a city employee named Jeremy Lazarus, who has been trolling my posts and trying to deny that the city of Chico’s biggest debt is the pensions. He’s told me I don’t understand, and I should “get a clue”. Ironically, Transparent California reports that when Lazarus was hired by the city of Chico in 2019, he already had a personal pension debt of $24,305.22, created by his abysmally low employee contributions in Glenn County. The little trough skipper.

https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/2019/chico/jeremy-lazarus/

Hey, you think Lazarus and other city employees have been told to troll the social media sites to spread the hype? While I have no evidence of that locally, I can relate that my son, when employed by a West Coast city for a short internship, was told to engage people regarding any negative information he heard about his employer, and set them straight. So I know it happens, and I won’t be surprised when I find out City of Chico employees are told same about the tax measure.

One letter writer brought up a point that also troubled me – the survey lists services that are all important, that every city needs to supply, or why be in the business of being a city? They tell us to rank these services – that’s bullshit folks, they are trying to Sophie’s Choice our asses. In the 1979 novel, later made into a very popular movie with Meryl Streep, Sophie is told she must choose between her two small children, one or the other, and that the one she doesn’t choose will be summarily executed.

The city’s survey says we must choose between essential services – “Public Safety, Addressing Homelessness*, Road Maintenance, Parks, Conservation*, and Economic Vibrancy*”. This isn’t really a choice, it’s a threat to cut one or all of these services if we don’t pony up a sales tax increase. (* These ridiculously specious terms deserve their own blog post)

Here’s what they left out – I just opened the city’s 2021-22 budget, here:

https://chico.ca.us/city-budget

I did a routine F-search with words like “pension stabilization trust”, or just “pension”, and here’s something new I found – “CALPERS UNFUNDED LIABILITY RSV FUND” – that’s Fund 903, page 115. That is separate from the “PENSION STABILIZATION TRUST FUND”, Fund 904, page 116. I knew about the PST, and so should you, cause I’ve mentioned it here about 365 times. But wow, another fund I haven’t heard of, with a 2021-22 balance of over $11.6 million. These bastards are finding new nutshells to hide their peas under every time I turn around!

Revenue sources for this fund include transfers from the General Fund. The description for this fund – “Fund to account for annual payments of CalPERS Unfunded Liability.” Apparently, they use this fund to provide revenues for the “Pension Stabilization Fund,” out of which they make the payments to CalPERS. See what I mean about nutshells?

And how is it funded? “Each department will set aside a set percentage of payroll costs to fund the annual payment of the CalPERS unfunded liability. A target reserve of 10 percent of the annual unfunded liability expenditure will be retained in the fund.

There it is – they’ve been TAKING 10 percent of the liability – now over $150 million – siphoned from existing funds – the road fund, the park fund, the sewer fund, etc. That’s why the street in front of your house looks like something from Downtown Kyiv right now, and the city is talking about taxing you based on the volume of water you get from Cal Water.

I guess I should thank Jeremy Lazarus for challenging me to prove this. He’s been calling me out, telling me to “get a clue.” Well, thanks, you Idiot, I got it, I got it good.

Orme is lying when he says city employees have not received raises since 2013 – management salaries have gone up while worker salaries remain stagnant

9 Dec

Fighting a lying machine like Mark Orme is tough. You know what they say – liars never sleep. Over the last few days, we’ve been hearing about a group of Chico Public Works employees who went before council the other night to expose the disparity of pay in the PW Department. I’ve always noticed that the lower-level workers get paid squat compared to management. Here’s the story from Action News in Chico:

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/City-of-Chico-Public-Works-employees-express-concerns-at-the-City-Council-meeting-tonight-575880811.html

CHICO, Calif. – Dozens of City of Chico Public Works employees were at the City Council meeting tonight sharing their concern with low wages and lack of workers to the council. 

The story quotes one senior worker who makes the usual complaints about losing employees and difficulty in recruiting due to low wages. We’ve all seen the result – just drive around town. So I looked at the secty of state’s website, publicpay.gov, as well as Transparent California. Both sites depend on information given by the agencies, and most agencies aren’t too anxious to hand over this information. So you see some discrepancies, mostly due to how they list the figures. Let’s take a look at Erik Gustafson, who is listed under “Operations and Maintenance Director”, or by his original title, “Public Works Director”.

https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/search/?q=Erik+Gustafson

https://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/PositionDetail.aspx?employeeid=27693769

On both sites you’ll see that his salary has gone up every year. Contrary to claims made by City Manager Mark Orme. In an interview with Chico Enterprise Record, Orme claimed city employees haven’t had raises for years.

Look at those two sites – they have slightly different figures, but both show a steady increase. According to TC, Gustafson’s salary has gone up every year, from total pay (which includes overtime and holiday pay but not benefits) of $132,623.06 in 2016, to total pay of $144,482.54 in 2019. Public Pay lists his 2020 salary at $147,925.

But look at the “workers” salaries. You need a name to search TC, but here’s the page from publicpay.gov that shows the disparity.

Three “supervisors” in the $90,000 range, then a sudden drop to $68,000/year for the highest paid “senior worker”. Also note the disparity in the benefits packages – hey, guess what, management pays the least contribution at 9% of cost. You also see another problem with Chico – top-heavy management. Two managers? One of those positions was just created by Orme earlier this year. Both making in excess of $100,000 to sit in the office buffing their fingernails? While the guys who drive the heavy equipment and man the shovels are living on less than $70,000/year? In Chico? No. I wasn’t surprised to hear their union rep say they can’t even afford to live in town.

So here’s the rest of that piece from Chico Action News. There’s another article in the ER, linked above. I wish the workers would point out what I just pointed out, but you know, they’re afraid to push too hard, might get fired. But Orme is obviously trying to use workers’ complaints to insinuate that the taxpayers are the problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if Orme is behind this grandstanding. Don’t buy it.

“Ultimately, we wanted to point out to them that we have a serious situation with our wages and we’re trying to gain their support and trying to do that through educating them on what we do and what we bring to the city, what we bring to the table. Hopefully they got the message,” said senior maintenance worker James Erven. 

Erven tells Action News Now they have lost 12 people in the last four years to higher paying jobs and have several people who are constantly looking for new positions.

“We have positions that starting wage is beneath minimum wage, that’s a problem. We have a hard time recruiting qualified candidates,” said Erven

There was not an agenda item topic regarding this issue, but public works employees shared these issues to the council during the business on the floor portion of the meeting. 

Three employees shared their concerns, then they all left the meeting. City Council heard their concerns. Our reporter reached out to council members, but was unable to get a statement from them regarding these issues

The area director for the union representing public works, Del Mallory tells me these employees have not received a pay raise in 11 – 12 years and several can’t afford to live in the city. He says they are finally putting their foot down and addressing this issue.

“We finally reached this breaking point where folks are fed up and they’re ready to fight. That’s why we’re here because we need to engage our city council into this conversation so they know that we’re serious and that we need them to bargain with us in good faith,” said Mallory. 

He says their next bargaining meeting is tomorrow, and that they are determined to get what they need.

“We will bargain with the intent to get a deal, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to get a good deal,” said Mallory. 

City Council also directed the City Attorney’s Office to analyze the cannabis ordinance, so they can revisit the topic in a future meeting. The council was also introduced to ARDA Demographics tonight as their representative said there will be two public hearings regarding redistricting before any maps are created.

Watching the city of Chico is like a watching a slasher movie – we keep screaming, “NO!” but they open the door anyway

19 Nov

Every now and then my husband and I have to GTFO. So we hit the road for Oregon and the tax free shopping.

I’ll never forget trying to explain sales tax to my 10-year-old. He was outraged! “Why should we pay a tax to buy something?” he asked me. I was dumbfounded. Kids will do that to you – their minds haven’t been polluted with the illogic that goes for everyday business in the adult world.

When I didn’t have an answer for my kids I said, “I don’t know.” Now I would say, “because they can.” Sales tax is just a taking, you know, like that kid that used to stand at the schoolyard gate, head and shoulders bigger than you, and threaten to punch you really hard in the arm if you didn’t give up your lunch/lunch money. That kid grew up and went to work for the California Franchise Tax Board. My kid moved to Oregon.

So the city of Chico management, desperate to defuse their Pension Time Bomb, has announced they are putting a sales tax increase measure on the 2022 ballot. Because they can. They’ve also announced a business tax, a rental tax, and even a cannabis tax, if they ever get around to approving a local dispensary.

Not all of these are on the ballot, and I’m no lawyer, but I’ve read that at least the cannabis tax is supposed to go before the voters. I would think any tax would have to go before the voters, but you know these guys – they already made an attempt at getting a Pension Obligation Bond over on us without putting it on the ballot. You really have to watch that Mark Orme, he’s a weasel. And council goes along with whatever he says, like a pack of stupid kids. It’s like watching a slasher movie – I keep screaming, “No, don’t open that door!” But they just open it right up anyway.

So, I needed a break. I’m sitting in my motel room in Oregon, waiting for the Walmart next door to open. And then Target, and Big 5, and wow, they have a Lowe’s here too.

It’s my way of retroactively kicking that bully right in the junk.

Should the city of Chico be using taxpayer money to run their tax measure?

18 Nov

According to the California Constitution, state law prohibits local agencies to use public funds, public employees, or public resources to expressly advocate the approval or rejection of a ballot measure. While the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has said they have limited jurisdiction over this matter, county district attorneys can take on an agency that violates this law.

Unfortunately our district attorney has a very poor record of upholding the laws that protect the people. Fortunately for the taxpayers, there’s the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. HJTA uses funding provided by members like you and me to take on the agencies that buck the law. But they need taxpayers like us to be on alert to these illegal activities. When the city of Chico tried to get “judicial validation” of a Pension Obligation Bond instead of putting it on the ballot, concerned Chicoans contacted HJTA – we sent a Bat Signal! – and their attorneys went into action, filing a Cease and Desist Order with a threat to sue if Chico Staffers continued on that track. I kind of held my breath, expecting City of Chico to call HJTA’s bluff and proceed. So far they seem to have abandoned that action. I realize, Chico knows that action was illegal, and the chances are very good that they would spend a bunch of money to lose in court.

Locally, HJTA has taken on both Yuba County and the Hamilton Branch Fire Protection District (near Chester) over deceptive and illegally-funded tax measure campaigns. In Yuba County, 2018, voters were asked to approve Measure K, a 1% sales tax increase for “public safety/essential services.” The language of the measure listed exclusive special purposes, and followed all code requirements for a special tax. HJTA advised the county that it was a special tax requiring a two-thirds vote, but the county ignored the law and declared it a general tax. It barely passed with 54% of the vote. The trial court sided with HJTA, declaring Measure K invalid. Unfortunately the appeals court reversed that decision and Yuba County was allowed to go on collecting their illegal tax.

In 2020, Hamilton Fire Protection District proposed Measure A, a $175 increase in the local special tax. Run as a two-thirds measure, it failed. A year later, they brought the same proposal back to the ballot. It passed with 74% of the vote. But here’s where city of Chico residents need to pay attention – the district illegally used taxpayer money to run their campaign. Their Facebook page, as well as full-page glossy color photo brochures urging voters to “please Vote YES on Measure A“, declaring it “well worth the peace of mind!

That is patently illegal. HJTA filed suit against Hamilton Branch Fire District. And like the city of Chico, the tiny district realized they were had and asked for terms of settlement. Among other points, HJTA asked for “adoption of an official written policy that would prevent such abuse in the future”.

The city of Chico is running a tax measure, it would seem logical they have to use city funds. So far they’ve hired a consultant to run the campaign.

https://chico.ca.us/request-proposalsqualifications

RFP- Revenue Measure & Communications Consultant 
The City of Chico is seeking to obtain proposals from qualified firms to advise the City Council and City staff on developing appropriate ballot language for a proposed 1% general sales tax to appear on the 2022 November general election. Additionally, consultation will be necessary on how best to educate voters on the proposed 1% general sales tax measure and the development of materials and other outreach efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information related to the ballot measure.  The City will accept proposals until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 5, 2021. Please click on “Projects to Bid” on the right to view the RFP within Public Purchase. 

This seems illegal to me but I’m no lawyer. “how best to educate voters… efforts to ensure citizens receive objective and accurate information…” There’s the important point – just exactly how do they intend to “educate” the voters? CARD’s “educational” process was deceptive. Director Ann Willmann held “public information sessions,” during which one taxpayer caught her saying the district had no debt – despite their $128 million pension deficit. The board approved the use of taxpayer money to print glossy brochures extoling their virtues, leaving out important facts about the measure, including the bond they intended to secure with the revenues. So I’ll contact HJTA to put them on alert to the city’s tax measure, if they aren’t already aware.

And I’ll add, you can be a member of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for as little as $15. Your money goes to efforts like these. They have a small legal staff to go up against huge public agencies. They could use some back-up.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has successfully sued at least twice to stop POBs on the grounds that they must have voter approval

29 May
This article from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sheds some legal doubts on the whole POB scam.

On a tip from a reader, I found this article, originally printed in January 2020. Jon Coupal begins with statewide bond measures, but picks up with a warning about Pension Obligation Bonds. “...at the local level, taxpayers need to be aware of a recent resurgence in the use of pension obligation bonds, a risky financing method that fell out of favor during the recession but is now making a comeback.”

Coupal analogizes, “A POB is basically paying your Visa bill with your MasterCard,” adding, “Pension obligation bonds (POBs) are bonds issued to fund, in whole or in part, the unfunded portion of public pension liabilities by the creation of new debt.

Council members Andrew Coolidge and Sean Morgan, and other proponents of POBs, are denying that a POB is new debt, they chant it like a mantra, because they think they can hypnotize us into believing it.

Coupal continues, “The use of POBs relies on an assumption that the bond proceeds, when invested with pension assets in higher-yielding assets, will be able to achieve a rate of return that is greater than the interest rate owed over the term of the bonds.

Even Staffer Scott Dowell has used the word, “gamble“, even while he and city manager Mark Orme have pressed forward with this scheme. Council has given them permission to send this bond for judicial approval. The consultant told council and staff that this type of bond does not require voter approval. They said it would only take approval from a judge, which should only take a few months. The expect to implement this thing within the next few months.

If this seems odd to you, you’re not alone, the HJTA is on your side.

Back in 2003, the state of California attempted to float a statewide pension obligation bond without voter approval.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sued to invalidate the bonds and prevailed in court.

That’s not the only lawsuit HJTA has pursued against POBs. The reader who tipped me to all this sent me the story of HJTA vs the city of Simi Valley.

The Simi Valley City Council voted 5-0 on April 6, 2020, to rescind a December 2019 resolution authorizing a $150 million pension obligation bond and future similar bonds, thanking the Ventura County Taxpayers Association for working with the City in avoiding what could have been a lengthy battle over legally questionable bonds. The rescission was part of a settlement agreement with the VCTA and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Apparently, the city asked for validation from the Ventura County Superior Court. HJTA and the Ventura County Taxpayers Association then “answered” the suit. And the city backed down, but I’m not really sure why.

“In settling, the Simi Valley City Council recognized the constitutional concern in the VCTA/HJTA answer to the City’s lawsuit — whether the California Constitution requires two-thirds voter approval of any such bond. Agreeing to wait for legal clarity, and with each side bearing its own costs, the City agreed to dismiss its lawsuit with prejudice, and rescind the bond authorization resolution.

recognized the constitutional concern” ? ” Agreeing to wait for legal clarity” ? I’m not sure what has happened since then – has the court given any further ruling on these bonds? Any legal clarity? I’ll have to look into that. But I think that’s a good question for Staff at that POB forum.

DAY: Tuesday, June 8, 2021
TIME: 2:00 P.M.
PLACE: City Council Chamber – 421 Main Street

CANCELLED: City hosting an interactive forum to discuss POBs

27 May

I got this notice from Dave – thanks Dave!

I also got the cancellation notice from Dave – thanks again Dave!

DAY: Tuesday, June 8, 2021
TIME: 2:00 P.M.
PLACE: City Council Chamber – 421 Main Street


The City of Chico’s employees and retirees participate in the CalPERS retirement system. CalPERS has
determined that the City has an unfunded accrued liability (UAL) of over $140,000,000 which carries an
interest rate of 7%. As such, the City Council is researching all options on reducing this liability. One
possibility is to issue pension obligation bonds (POBs) at a lower interest rate than 7% and use the
proceeds to pay down the CalPERS UAL.


The City is hosting an interactive forum to discuss POBs including the benefits and risks associated with
their issuance. The consulting firm of NHA Advisors will be conducting the forum on June 8th starting at
2:00 pm and concluding by 4:00pm. This forum will be interactive and participants are encouraged to ask
questions and provide feedback to the consultant. Attendees are encouraged to join in person at the City
Council Chambers or watch online. There is no cost to attend this educational forum.

It’s time for The Discussion: Who will pay for the pensions?

6 Apr

Last time we discussed a Defined Contribution Pension Plan offered by the city of Irvine California. The city of Chico uses a Defined Benefits Pension Plan. What’s the difference? Plenty. Here’s a good read from Investopedia:

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/032415/how-does-defined-benefit-pension-plan-differ-defined-contribution-plan.asp

The operative words here are “Benefits” and “Contribution”. Defined benefits means, whether or not business is good, the employee gets the pension they were promised. ” Defined-benefit plans provide eligible employees guaranteed income for life when they retire. Employers guarantee a specific retirement benefit amount for each participant that is based on factors such as the employee’s salary and years of service.

In California, the state retirement systems made “guarantees” they couldn’t keep – 70 – 90% of highest years’ pay with minimal to no contribution from the employee. ” Employees are not expected to contribute to the plan, and they do not have individual accounts. Their right is not to an account, but to a stream of payments.

In the beginning, CalPERS even told employers they didn’t have to contribute much of anything – CalPERS said they would make wise investments, and that would pay for these crazy pensions. That didn’t work out, so the employers – cities, counties, and public agencies all over the state – are on the hook for the pensions. And they are turning to the taxpayers like Mack the Knife. See, the contribution was never defined in this plan, so it’s whatever CalPERS demands. Like a junky on the street corner, they want it NOW!

On the other hand, the most common kind of Defined Contribution Pension Plan is a 401K. “Defined-contribution plans are funded primarily by the employee. But many employers make matching contributions to a certain amount .”

In Irvine, the city put up a little over 12% of salary. The employee is allowed to contribute whatever they want, and to control the investments. An interesting notation in that agreement is that the employee must wait 5 years before they are “100% vested” in the plan, meaning, they don’t get a full pension until they’ve proven to be a good and loyal employee.

And a DCPP is less risk for the employer. “As the employer has no obligation toward the account’s performance after the funds are deposited, these plans require little work, are low risk to the employer, and cost less to administer. The employee is responsible for making the contributions and choosing investments offered by the plan. Contributions are typically invested in select mutual funds, which contain a basket of stocks or securities, and money market funds, but the investment menu can also include annuities and individual stocks.

Both set-ups are risky for the employee. If CalPERS fails, and that’s looking more likely all the time, pensioners GET NOTHING. With a DCPP, the employee makes their own investments, if they aren’t market savvy, they stand to lose there too. But, given CalPERS’ track record, I can see where an employee would be wise to opt for a DCPP.

Why hasn’t the city of Chico (or the county of Butte, or any of the local gov agencies…) offered a DCPP? I think that’s a no brainer. The DBPP is more lucrative, as long as they can keep propping up the failing CalPERS. The most popular form of prop these days is the Pension Obligation Bond.

It’s time for The Discussion about who will pay for these outrageous pensions. Will the employees step up to the plate and do the right thing, or will council allow Staff to force the taxpayers to the wheel with new debt and higher taxes?

Next time, on This Old Lady and the POBs!

Joe Azzarito: Council needs to “serve notice to all city employees that as of a determinable date they will be paying the full cost of their ‘silver spoon’ pensions”

30 Mar

Joe Azzarito is a retired accountant who lives in Chico. Here’s a letter he recently sent to the city of Chico regarding the Tax-a-rama council has embarked upon since a “conservative” Super Majority took over in January. Thanks Joe, I hope this email inspires other people to express their outrage with this obvious ploy to leave the taxpayers holding the Pension Deficit Bag.

To all Chico city councilors and Senior City Staff:

The topics of municipal revenue enhancements, namely a sales tax increase and pension obligation bonds keep surfacing in the course of discourse and analysis by concerned citizens such as myself

Now why would that be? Could it be that you all are not listening to your constituents demands that these disastrously wrong ill conceived options, for funding the massive unfunded pension obligations that this city has forced upon its citizens, be abandoned? Whenever I read or hear about these plans of enduring us to untold costs to fund city staff’s, be they unionized or not, exorbitant salaries and pensions, it makes my blood boil. Your dark of the night surreptitious intents, without transparency, to enact either of these programs is a dereliction of duty, maybe not to your sponsors, the unions, or your fellow colleagues, but certainly to your constituents – the people that pay your salary through taxes. 

I have heard that programs such as these can be implemented, without the consent of the voters. How dare you! It is not enough to seek input from us but for us to approve of these wild schemes fraught with danger. Given that the ruling class of Chico earns far and away much more than the median income of the people of Chico, you have the gall to push these down our throats.

 For those on the council, recently elected and those previously, you are not conservatives, in the slightest sense fiscally. You all seem to some how, symbiotically, look after each other’s tail. Unions give you campaign funds so that you can win elected office. In turn, you fulfill their needs by ensuring their members are well paid. Wherein do the citizens fit into your scenario? Oh, yes, we are to fill the city coffers with the funds you promised your benefactors. Our needs lay at the bottom of a very deep hole, somehow they are only minimally attended to. It shouldn’t be that way! We should come first as it is our sweat and toil that makes it all possible. 

I have spoken many times of the badly written about California Rule that keeps you from “doing the right thing” – that being to serve notice to all city employees that as of a determinable date they will be paying the full cost of their “silver spoon” pensions and that salary structures must be revised, downward, to allow the city to adequately meets its obligations to its citizens, first. Promises, previously made in prior eras when economic conditions were much more rosier than now, need to be upended. It would necessitate that pay scales, merit raises, benefits, including pensions, be approved by a body, inclusive of a citizenry board, and not by the likes of City Manager, his staff and/or City Council. To keep the decision making in their hands alone is why these financial problems came about in the first place. Those that pay the salaries should be the ones deciding, not so now. To have city staff analyzing, recommending and being on the receiving end of the decisions made is tantamount to “conflict of interest. 

At the very least a referendum should be devised and agreed to by vote of the electorate on all of the above. The unfunded elephant in the room must be sequestered and controlled. CALPERS should be informed of any changes and any separations be established. The pensions of all covered city employees would need to be renegotiated, with the stipulation that staff would be paying the full load of costs.  Any conflict with current law needs to be assessed and corrected. It is high time that city pay the piper his due!

 Respectfully, Joe Azzarito  

Dave Howell calls out the imposters on city council – Morgan, Reynolds, Coolidge, Denlay and Tandon all ran on “conservative” platforms but now we find they are just a bunch of union toadies

23 Mar

Thanks Dave, for writing a letter to the editor about the Pension Obligation Bonds the city is considering.

No, there are no “conservatives” on council – maybe they’re “conservative” with their own money, but they treat the collective pot like a big cookie jar. They rode into office on money from public employee unions, and now they are trying to pay back their benefactors by roping the taxpayers into paying for the overgenerous pensions and “post employment benefits“.

Here’s Dave’s letter – take his example, and start writing your own letters and emails folks. 

Conservatives are supposed to stand for low taxes and fiscal
responsibility.  We are told we now have a conservative majority on the
city council.  But what we actually have is a council of impostors. They
plan to use the revenue from their proposed sales tax increase to take
on hundreds of millions in new debt. They also plan to take on an
additional hundreds of millions in new debt in the form of a pension
obligation bond.  It’s a dangerous gamble.  And on the off chance it
pays off, it WON’T make the pensions sustainable.  And if it doesn’t pay
off it could bankrupt the city.

Combined pension and other post employment benefit liabilities plus
interest are over a quarter billion dollars and growing.  It can never
be paid.  But our local politicians will raise our taxes and bury us in 
debt to keep the gravy train rolling a few more election cycles.  After
all, bureaucrats and other city employees must continue to receive
unaffordable compensation packages, including multi-million dollar
pensions.  And this in a county with a 21% poverty rate BEFORE COVID.
It’s unconscionable, especially at a time when so many businesses and
working people struggle to make ends meet.  But it is to be expected
when our local politicians are tools of special interests.

These politicians don’t represent hard working taxpayers and never will.
  Voters should remember this in the next election and defeat the sales
tax increase and those council members responsible for it.

Dave Howell, Chico

No, these people DON’T represent the average Chico resident, they represent the public employee unions. It’s time to start thinking about replacements. Kasey Reynolds, Scott Huber and Alex Brown are out in 2022, let’s find some decent hardworking taxpayers to fill their seats. Reynolds is the worst kind of faker, running as a “conservative” and then bringing in not one, not two, but THREE TAX MEASURES. And Huber and Brown pose as protectors of the poor – BULLSHIT people! At a time like this, they want to raise taxes? Tell them HELL NO! 

These people are all beholden to the union PACs. The employee unions are the worst kind of communist plot – the enrichment of the few, paid for by the many. Don’t fall for it, demand council bring employees back to the table to pay more of their own benefits, or throw these IMPOSTERS to the curb in 2022 and 2024. 

Why we need to dump collective bargaining – to end the union domination of California – and Chico! – politics

17 Mar

Thanks Dave, for this great article from David Crane:

https://www.hoover.org/research/bipartisan-opportunism-blame-californias-high-tax-rate

Crane gives us the history of collective bargaining in California, “which endowed police and other local personnel with the power to bargain collectively with the governments that employed them, handing political power over local budgets to government employees who were the principal beneficiaries of those budgets…”

Established by Ronald Reagan in 1968, this agreement “created a piggy bank to help finance GOP legislators.” But of course, it works for whichever party is in power, son when he became governor in 1975, Jerry Brown extended this agreement to school teachers and employees. This has resulted in elections controlled not by the Russians or the Iranians but by the public employee unions.

In Chico the biggest contributors in every election are the SEIU (management) and the CPOA (cops), with the IFFA (firefighters) coming in a close third.

In my opinion, this relationship is completely inappropriate – council approves hires, salaries, and benefits, sets staffing levels, and then accepts huge campaign contributions from the very people who benefit from their actions. I can’t believe the voters don’t see the conflict of interest in this system, but I’m guessing, most people don’t know. Everybody’s got their panties in a knot over the notion that Russia and Iran have influenced elections, but they don’t see corruption that is as plain as the nose on their faces. 

So City of Chico and County of Butte, both of whom have outrageous pension deficits, are considering Pension Obligation Bonds. This action would forever place the burden of the pension deficit – created by the ridiculous salaries, overly-generous benefits, and completely unrealistically low employee contributions approved by our “local leaders” – on the backs of the taxpayers. 

Instead, I suggest we dump collective bargaining – this could be done by city ordinance, and could be accomplished by a petition of citizens. Another option would be a city ordinance that cut the union PAC donations down to the same level as individual donations – about $1,000 per candidate. 

Crane agrees on point #1 – “The antidotes are to repeal collective bargaining rights for government employees or to offset these voters’ power with persistent support of our political parties from donors who care about the general interest (full disclosure: Govern for California provides such support), not to whine about one-party dominance.

Right now, as Doug Ose has said, “we are going backwards” as a state. Over-taxation has made housing too expensive, while infrastructure all over the state is failing. Chico Mayor Andrew Coolidge acknowledges the poor condition of streets in Chico, but advocates a POB, which would suck all the money out of the General Fund, which is made from allocations out of all the other funds – the streets fund, the park fund, the sewer fund, etc. You get the picture every time you drive or bike around town, or open your new sewer bill. Did you get the picture last night when council voted to INSTITUTE A FEE FOR USE OF UPPER PARK? 

Wake the hell up Chico, and write a note to your mayor – that’s andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov