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You have to read the agendas

30 Jul

I haven’t been hitting the public meetings lately folks – when I realized this the other day, it was like waking up at the wheel of a moving car.

You know, Butte County public works manager is threatening to close the poo ponds at the dump, he says this will double the cost of having your septic tank pumped (!), and our local government officials are sitting around with their thumbs up their asses cause most of them are on sewer.

I just realized, my supervisor is on sewer. She represents two of the hill-billiest communities around here, Forest Ranch and Cohasset, and a district full  of septic tanks in Chico, and she doesn’t have a clue about septic tanks. Does she think the residents of Cohasset will pay twice as much to pump their tanks? No, when their tanks fail, they will call “Midnight Septic Service” and neither the county nor the city will be the wiser.

I told Maureen about the new soda machine at the Cohasset Store. Within a week somebody had shot it full of holes, leaving a note: “What? No Budweiser?!”  

Maureen is over her head, I don’t think she knew what she was getting into with that district. When the county made their trash franchise deal, County Administrative Officer Paul Hahn said his office’s phones “rang off the hook for two weeks with complaints.” I’d say, he was lucky people used their phones.

Maureen’s constituents had been blind-sided. She’d offered up a little public meeting at the Forest Ranch store, but didn’t notice it properly, and nobody came. When the deal rolled out and rates were increased while service was cut,  they were really pissed. I made a point to make sure they all knew who was responsible – most of my neighbors in Forest Ranch did not even know what district they were in, much less who was their Supe. Now they sure as hell know. 

Did Maureen learn anything? I don’t think so, this poo ponds thing has been kicking around in meetings for the better part of a year, and she has not notified her constituents. She has an office, and a staff, paid for by us, and she could get a list of her district addresses from Candy Grubbs, send regular notices as to what’s happening – especially stuff like, “the cost of pumping your septic tank is about to double…” – but she chooses not to.  She could have a website, but does not. 

So, I will have to attend the “Local Goverments” committee meeting next week, how exciting. I’ll try to keep you awake.

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/LGC-8-3-16-AgendawithAttachments.pdf

Actually those meetings are full of interesting topics. At the same time they are discussing screwing septic tank owners all over Chico, they will give us an update about how they are trying to force more people onto city sewer. They will also discuss an accusation made by the Grandiose Jury that Chico does not spend enough “local taxpayer dollars” on the homeless. I’m sure some of you might have something to say about that. 

Of course there’s nothing on this agenda or any other I’ve received about pending rate increases from PG&E and Cal Water.  Nor is there an update on the trash franchise deal.

Does anybody pay attention to this stuff? No, at least half the residents of Chico are butt in air, head in gopher hole. That is a position that leaves a person is prime position for a good screwing.

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How will you celebrate “The Fourth”? Try acting like an American

4 Jul

I always wonder, how many Americans have even read the US constitution? How many of you have read the California constitution? The city charter?

Good homework for “The Fourth.”  

I’ve been reading up on the laws regarding tax measures, how they are enacted, and how the public citizen can resist an avaricious government.

First, we must “Watch the skies!”   Actually, we have to watch the agendas. That is where the initial discussion of putting a tax measure on the ballot is supposed to happen.  We all know it actually happens in private meetings, but, legally, it has to pass through a public discussion before it can be handed to the county clerk, so there’s a place for the observer to begin. I’ve been watching agendas not only for council meetings and county supervisor meetings but the smaller committee meetings in between.

I have to admit, I’ve been distracted with Chico Area Recreation District, trying to figure out whether their tax grab will appear on the November ballot or whether they will go the slimy way and deliver assessment ballots by mail.  Assessment elections aren’t the same as regular elections – they are rigged with bigger property owners getting more votes, the “weight” of each property owner’s vote being determined by the very board that is asking for the tax. These shouldn’t be legal – that’s our fault. We need to try to get rid of the entities that can attach us this way, starting with CARD, and including the Butte County Mosquito and Vector District.

I haven’t heard an elected official at either the city of Chico or Butte County mention a sales tax increase, but with municipalities all around us seeking, and in some cases, getting a sales tax increase out of the voters, I’m worried. Ex-city mangler Tom Lando, the guy who came up with the MOU that attached city salaries “to revenue increases but not decreases,” has been stumping for a sales tax increase for a few years now, saying he wants this and that amenity for the public, as well as better paid cops and fire fighters. 

Wow, what’s better than a base pay of $62,000/year with automatic step increases and mandated overtime that can as much as double that base salary? Not to mention paying only 12 percent toward a retirement of 90 percent of your highest year’s pay at age 50? What the helllllll could be better than that? 

Ask Lando, a guy who is in the regular habit of dropping a C-note for lunch.

I don’t believe Lando is worried about the public, I think he is worried about his $12,000/month pension payments.  Can you imagine living on $134,000/year, without having to work? Just getting a check for the rest of your life.  Ask Barbara McEnepsy – how’s life out on Keefer Road Hon? I don’t even know what Barbara McEnepsy did for the city, but she receives an even higher pension than Lando. 

Here’s the real stinker – these two individuals retired before the rules were changed to make employees “pay their own share” – neither Lando nor McEnepsy paid a dime toward their pensions.

If you are not outraged about paying these pensions, I’ll say – you’re not an American.

 

Short Attention Span Theater – we have the government we deserve in Chico

18 Jun

I’ve just been having a frustrating conversation with a friend about public participation. 

Sorry if I have been rude, Friend.

Friend tried to explain to me how overwhelmed most people are in their lives, they can’t pay attention.

That just got my skivvies in a bunch. I pay attention, and let me tell you, I got stuff going on.  I won’t bore you with my epic problems of the past months, but through it all, my close friends have been annoyed with my constant complaining about what the city and county and various local agencies are doing. My husband keeps telling me the government stuff is stressing me out, I should concentrate more on what’s going on at home. At least we can do something about our private problems, he says.

I have a hard time keeping it all under my hat.  Every morning, when I give my dog her insulin shot, I have to mentally prepare – “don’t think bad thoughts, don’t think bad thoughts…” as I skewer that needle into a lump of flesh behind her collar.   She lays on the floor behind me as I read the paper, read e-mails, she can hear me grumbling about stuff. I have to be careful or she’ll slip into the bedroom and stick her head under my husband’s side of the bed. I can feel the tension in her neck, makes it hard to get loose skin, sometimes she lets out a yelp and a half.

What bugs me is how people are so quick to use any excuse to stick their head in the sand, but they still expect to be allowed to complain when something finally gets under their skin.  I won’t mention names, but I’ve watched the local gadflies make big stinks about stuff, after a few months, the stink dies down, and the problem still exists.  All that blab about volunteers for the park – the park still looks like shit. The work they did at the One Mile parking lot last year has become completely overgrown with non-native invasive plants again. An area they did earlier this year is also going back to a mess.   Whole sections of the park are sub-code – if it was your yard, you’d get a notice to clean it up or pay the city to do it. 

And this conversation about keeping public restrooms open has been going on for two years now. Meanwhile, the million dollar One Mile restroom is pretty hit and miss – here’s the conundrum – if it is open, will it be usable? 

Short Attention Span Theater.

I’m going to tell you Esplanade lovers – don’t go back to sleep! Isn’t it pretty obvious, they’ve shelved the roundabouts until after the election? I’m hoping Cheryl King and friends are quietly looking for somebody to run for council, but I’m not going to bank on it.  

I’d like to see somebody run for CARD. Why don’t I do it? I would if I had some support – I ain’t going into those meetings without a posse anymore.  If they pass their bond, it means the people of Chico are completely gone fishing.

Tony St Amant said it in this morning’s paper – we have the government we deserve.

 

 

Taxpayers pay about three times the “employee” share of benefits and pension

5 Jun

What a week! I’ll ask  you a question people around here have asked for ages – is it hot enough for you?

I bet you’ve been thinking about your electric bill.   A couple of months ago, I got a notice from California Public Utilities shill Cody Naylor, inviting me to a sort of private (not noticed to the public) meeting regarding implementation of “time of use” rates, for everybody, starting in 2018.  “Time of use” means, the price of your electricity rides the stock market all day, between 10 am and 7 pm. Meaning, you pay whatever electricity is selling for, at  that moment.  Right now you can volunteer for time of use, and PG&E will give you reduced rates the rest of the day. But forget about using any of your major appliances during the day – like local Fascist Mark Stemen once sniggered at me – “get used to doing your laundry in the middle of the night Juanita!” 

Well, what about my refrigerator Mark? Where’s the social equity, Mark, when people like you, on a public salary, are able to run their air conditioner all day, damn the torpedoes, while those of living on normal salaries are balancing our PG&E with our food bills? Don’t cook in the house!

Naylor had sent me the notice, telling me he hoped I’d spread the word!  What a liar – they didn’t want people to come, are you kidding. When I complained that they weren’t running ads in the paper or sending notices in bills, Naylor’s co-shill, Claudia Portillo (Office of the Rat-out Advocate) just handed me a pile of limp excuses.  She said the utilities (this was shoved into a Cal Water rate increase meeting) missed their printing deadline and the CPUC doesn’t have the money (!?!)

The utility was originally supposed to send the public hearing notice as a bill insert. However, they were unable to meet their printing deadline to include it with customer bills. Normally the customer notice is sent only once as either a bill insert (most common), or a separate mailer (used by Cal Water for these PPHs). Unfortunately, TV and radio ads are not used because of the high costs which are allowed to be passed on to ratepayers. This is also the reason notices are usually only sent once. The CPUC keeps the costs and their passing through to ratepayers in mind when working with the utility company on customer notifications.

As a government agency, the CPUC has a very limited budget and usually cannot afford to pay for ads. However, it is customary for the CPUC’s media office to write and distribute press releases regarding these types of public hearings to various media outlets. This is done in the hopes that a media outlet will be interested and pass along the information to its audience voluntarily, at no cost to the CPUC or ratepayers.

They don’t want to pass the costs of noticing on to the ratepayers? What kind of bullshit is that? Can you believe she eats with that mouth?

Well, nevermind all that – did you get the notice for the next rate increase proposal from PG&E? This isn’t about “real time pricing,” this is just another rate increase, period.  I got the notice in my most recent bill – “operate, maintain and upgrade” systems, bs bs bs.  They mean, pay off their pension debt.

When I asked Ms. Portillo and Mr. Naylor about their pensions, Portillo sent me some interesting links.

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/

There I found this pdf – “Facts at a Glance”

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/docs/forms-publications/facts-at-a-glance.pdf

The first fact that caught my glance was there at the bottom – taxpayers (“employers”)  pay about three times what the employees pay for their own benefits. 

I  know I’ve been bitching alot about the homeless and the crimes they commit. Here we have a whole class of people who are ripping us off, and we’re just sitting here allowing it. 

This is why taxpayers get cranky

5 Apr

Where have I been? Where have you been?

I’m still waiting to hear back from Enterprise Record editor David Little regarding the disparity between the public salaries he reports in his “newspaper” and the figures reported by the state controller. For example, Laura Urseny reported that CARD director Ann Willman makes $111,000 a year, the state controller reports $124,000 – just in salary.  I wrote the editor the usual polite note, and he promised to check into it and get back to me.

And the crickets chirped.

I am also waiting to hear back from my Third District supervisor Maureen Kirk regarding a joint Cal Water and PG&E “hearing” scheduled by the CPUC for April 26. Maureen sent me the notice, and I asked her what the county’s strategy is for opposing these rate hikes. 

And the crickets chirped.

I’m still waiting to hear the outrage of the public over all these rate hikes and tax increases, but, again, chirping crickets.

What is wrong with people in this town? I think it’s that everybody sits in their little houses, hiding, telling themselves it’s more important to watch American Idol. 

PG&E tells us they want to put us on “time of use” rates. That means, if you use power between 10am and 7pm, you pay whatever electricity is selling for on “the market.” Think back, think hard, think ENRON.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_scandal

Hey, here’s something I never knew – CalPERs current situation has a lot to do with questionable deals they made with Enron (from Wikipedia):

In 1993, Enron established a joint venture in energy investments with CalPERS, the California state pension fund, called the Joint Energy Development Investments (JEDI).[28] In 1997, Skilling, serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO), asked CalPERS to join Enron in a separate investment. CalPERS was interested in the idea, but only if it could be terminated as a partner in JEDI.[29] However, Enron did not want to show any debt from assuming CalPERS’ stake in JEDI on its balance sheet. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fastow developed the special purpose entity Chewco Investments limited partnership (L.P.) which raised debt guaranteed by Enron and was used to acquire CalPERS’s joint venture stake for $383 million.[26] Because of Fastow’s organization of Chewco, JEDI’s losses were kept off of Enron’s balance sheet.

In autumn 2001, CalPERS and Enron’s arrangement was discovered, which required the discontinuation of Enron’s prior accounting method for Chewco and JEDI. This disqualification revealed that Enron’s reported earnings from 1997 to mid-2001 would need to be reduced by $405 million and that the company’s indebtedness would increase by $628 million.

The wheeling, and the dealing – it’s enough to give you motion sickness, doesn’t it just make you want to barf? Here’s what the whole thing was really about;

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-traders-caught-on-tape/

And who do we have to protect us? The CPUC? It was CPUC judge Jeanne McKinney who made the decision to consolidate a PG&E hearing with a Cal Water hearing for later this month. She also decided to consolidate the  Cal Water hearings for Chico, Marysville, Oroville and Willows on the same night, here in Chico.   Write her a note, and ask her why she would expect people from these towns to drive to Chico for a 6pm meeting.  Ask her why the PG&E hearing was scheduled for the same night.  While you are at it, ask her for her salary and how much of her own benefits she pays. There’s a phone number, if you find that more convenient.

Jeanne M. McKinney

Administrative Law Judge

California Public Utilities Commission

jmo@cpuc.ca.gov

(the address on the e-mail exchange was  jeanne.mckinney@cpuc.ca.gov  – I would use both )

Or give her a call at   (415) 703-2550 

 

Where will the taxpayer find shelter?

29 Mar

At 3:22, I found myself too awake to lay in bed, but not quite awake enough to do anything.  I got up and followed the glow of light to my coffee maker, and I pushed the little button. I always set myself up a cup of coffee for these mornings when I wake up ahead of Me.

The moon was hanging so bright outside – not even full, but lighting up my driveway like a flashlight. The wind has scoured the sky very clean, the planets and stars look very bright too. 

As I wandered around the house in the dark, I could hear the 3:20 train, a few minutes late, screaming it’s way across town – GET THE HELL OFF THE TRACKS!  

I have a couple of things screaming their way across my head, I guess that’s why I can’t sleep. 

First are the rate increase notices I’ve got – not from Cal Water or PG&E, but from the California Public Utilities Commission. CPUC is having a hearing for both rate increases in April, on the same night, giving the public one hour to discuss the PG&E hike and then opening the floor to ratepayers from Willows to Marysville regarding the Cal Water hike. 

CPUC does not work for the ratepayers, they work for the utility companies. This is not really a “hearing,” it’s a “telling.” Our CPUC judge will explain to us that in 2018, PG&E will switch all ratepayers to “time of use” rates – meaning, your smart meter will keep track of the market price on the hour, and as you go along using your electricity through the day, you will be charged whatever power is selling for on the open market at that very moment. 

After the PG&E “telling” the judge will explain to us that Cal Water is merging Willows, Oroville, Chico, and Marysville into one district so Chicoans can help pay for “improvements” in those towns. When Cal Water asked for rate increases in those towns to cover the cost of long-neglected repairs to their infrastructure, CPUC said the increases were not reasonable. So, CPUC sat down with Cal Water to work out a system by which the costs for those districts will be handed over to Chicoans. 

Here’s the thing – those towns have all suffered from a lack of development. Here in Chico, we have development out the ass, so we get a lot of new water stuff. Right now Cal Water is getting ready to put a new water tower in at Fogarty’s new subdivision on Hwy 32, held up arguing over who will pay for it. Meanwhile, Willows, O-ville and Marysville (named for a survivor of the Donner Party, omigosh!) have been sidestepped by prosperity, and their local governments have not held Cal Water up to any standard, so their infrastructure is substandard. I’m guessing those towns have pipes dating back to the time when lead poisoning was considered a fact of life.

What will the ratepayer do?

Meanwhile, I’m being harangued by the director of a local homeless shelter because I criticize the way he runs the shelter and efforts he’s making to get more funding out of the city of Chico. When I said he already gets county funding by way of other agencies that share staffers with him, he really got pissed off. He denies getting public money – I keep explaining, he gets it by way of other agencies. He admitted he shares the staffer position I found, but now denies that agency gets public money. I got sick of arguing with him, but he keeps coming over  to argue, saying the same crap over and over.  

County Admin Officer Paul Hahn says the county spends over half it’s budget on “indigent” services, “including homeless services.” They fund agencies like the Catholic Relief Services, so does the city of Chico. These agencies spend that money on staffers who work at both the Torres Shelter and the Jesus Center. 

We have definitely become a magnet for criminals who use “homeless” like a shield. Just the other day, I read about a couple of guys who were found standing over a sleeping man in his apartment in the middle of the night. They were later found by the cops in the stolen vehicle the victim had described, with not only stolen articles but drugs. When I typed their names into the superior court index, they both came up, multiple arrests over the years, including robbery. 

Again and again, these people are released “OR” – own recognizance – back into the community to commit the same crimes over and over. They seem to disproportionately attack the campus neighborhoods, breaking in even when people are in their homes, stealing electronic items and any other valuables they can grab. They steal cars, they steal from cars.  And they commit strong-arm robberies, using knives and beating their victims.

I believe the services offered by our city and county attract these people. They know they will find sympathy here, they will find people who will shield  them from the law.  We have way too many people that enable the behavior – cries to build “little tiny houses” for the “homeless,” people who clean up their encampments just so they can move back in, etc.  We have too many public salaried voices screaming about the “criminalization of homelessness.”  So we have a regular army of people who don’t have fixed addresses, who wander out of the supervision of the law and turn up six months or a year later, arrested for the same crime or worse.

I have studied the operation of the Torres Shelter, and I feel they attract the criminal element without doing anything to control them. The director admitted that they have strict rules for who they will let in – but when they get turned out, they are only told to leave the immediate property. Right out front of the center you will find a little camp in the street. Then there’s the area between Park Ave and Fair Street known as “The Wedge” – a de facto homeless camp, sprawled out there behind the old Victor toxic Superfund site.

From the Chico Chamber of Commerce “Team Chico” report:

VICTOR SITE Redevelopment of the Victor Site, which is under a state consent decree overseen by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), has been recognized by all interested parties as a key to successful redevelopment of the Wedge. To promote that effort, EPA agreed to allow grant monies to be utilized to hire a local design firm to develop a range of development scenarios for the site that in turn will be used to develop a conceptual cleanup plan for approval by DTSC. This process is involved and the outcome uncertain, but it is intended to lay the framework for the purchase and redevelopment of the property by a viable interested party. The City, DTSC, and local development interests are working together toward that end.

That site has been known to be toxic since the 1980’s or earlier. Here they received money from the EPA, and they used it to hire a design team? What? And now, added to whatever Victor pumped into the  ground, is the toxic mess left behind by these criminal campers – the usual garbage, feces, drug paraphernalia, etc. 

No, I don’t like the Torres, I think it’s run badly, I don’t like taxpayer money supporting it.  I am also sick of Team Chico masturbating our money away with their concepts.

Meanwhile, my tenants and I, working class slobs, trying to pay our bills, trying to keep a roof over ourselves so we don’t end up on the street, get no sympathy – the city, the school district and the rec district are all considering separate tax increases. 

Where’s the angst from all these bleeding hearts? Nobody to cry for the working people? Brad? 

On a positive note, The Wedge is also a great tune by Dick Dale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbonHS_mONo