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Mutiny! City $taff decides they don’t have to answer questions

14 Nov

I’ve been distracted by city of Chico improprieties lately – I have two requests for information that are being point-blank ignored by $taff.

Last week the clerk’s office posted the city council agenda with an item regarding the current Chico Police contract negotiations. The agenda report referred to a document – 

“Section 1. That an amendment to the contract between the City Council of the City of Chico and the Board of Administration, California Public Employees’ Retirement System is hereby authorized, a copy of said amendment being attached hereto, marked Exhibit. and by such reference made a part hereof as though herein set out in full.”

that was not attached to the agenda. I had to ask for it. The clerk sent me the document later in the day – it turns out, last March, council signed a release, indemnifying CalPERS from any harm caused to the city by that agency.

The document clerk sent was not cut-and-paste and she did not provide me a link through which I could share it. 

This is the second time I’ve had to ask for a document that was supposed to be attached to a  report on an agenda.  So, I wrote an e-mail to city $taff, asking why the document wasn’t attached to the agenda, as was described. They just aren’t responding. 

Here’s an article Dude sent that might shed some light – thanks Dude!

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article184235683.html

Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for airport commission $taffer Sherry Miller to post the video of the “special” airport commission meeting held last week. She had been posting notices of the meeting for about a month, saying, “As I noted in an earlier email, the meeting will be videoed and a link posted to the Airport Commission web page.”

I would have attended that meeting, but about half an hour previous, the heavens opened up for a dumper, and I thought, “well, she did say the video would be posted…”  I was born here, I know – you think twice before you go out in a storm. I’ll never forget the time I went to an evening meeting, it was storming, public works hadn’t cleared drains, and not only the city building parking lot and courtyard but two businesses across the street flooded. I remember standing inside the lobby with a group of people, including then assistant city manager John Rucker, telling Rucker I had to walk on curbs to get in from the parking lot.

Miller also said, “In addition, the City Council Chambers are not under construction so the meeting will be held in the usual location at 421 Main Street in the City Council Chambers.  This works out better for viewing the presentation.”

But the agendas page still posts the meeting at the old Municipal Building, “441 Main Street, upstairs…”  In red.

So, if the meeting was held in the council chambers, why did she later claim that the video is not in the right format for posting or sharing? That’s the same chambers the council holds meetings in twice a month, and those videos are available the next day, almost without fail. 

So, I’ve been asking her when that video will be available, and she’s just not answering. 

Mutiny on the Good Ship Lollipop?

 

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Chico PD make contract demands tonight, here’s a sampling

7 Nov

From tonight’s council agenda (I boldfaced stuff that sounded interesting to me):

Below are the proposals from the Chico Police Officers’ Association to the City of
Chico. MOU Article refer to the existing MOU.
1. Three-year MOU effective January 1, 2018 through December 31,
2020.
2. No COLA or other unit-wide salary increase for length of MOU.
3. Canine Pay. Article 5.10 and 5.7
a. Compensation: Add alternative assignment for Canine
Officer of 10% (Article 5.7D)
4. Specialty Assignments. Article 5.7
a. Traffic Sergeant: Add a Traffic Sergeant assignment at 10%.
(Currently no one is assigned to this position.)
b. FTO Sergeant: Add FTO Sergeant assignment at 5%. (This
assignment would only be paid when there is someone in
the program.)
5. CPOA Time Bank. Article 2.5(A).
a. Add an additional 100 hours to the Union Time Bank on the
city each year such that these hours are not backfilled.
6. Salary Schedule Correction. Article 5.1 and Exhibit B. Remove the
bottom pay step for Sergeant. (Step D or Step F depending on
when employee hired.)
7. Minimum Staffing on Patrol Teams with Mandatory Overtime.
Create a mandate for minimum staffing to protect citizens and
improve officer safety.
a. Mandatory Overtime to only cover sick leave, bereavement,
Administrative leave, and Training
i. A Days – Current Staff (8) Make minimum (6)
ii. A Swing – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
iii. A Graves – Current Staff (7) – Make Minimum (5)
iv. B Days – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
v. B Swing – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
vi. B Graves – Current Staff (7) – Make Minimum (5)
vii. C Swing – Current Staff (6) – Make Minimum (5)8. Holiday Hours. Article 6.1 and 6.2.
a. City shall provide hours towards the employee’s Holiday
Time Bank equivalent to the employee’s regular work shift.
9. Sick Leave Accrual Rate. Article 6.4(A)(2)
a. Employees shall accrue sick leave in the amount of ten CIo)
hours per month.
10.Alternative Assignment FTO Clarification. Article 5.7
a. An employee who is assigned on a temporary basis to Field
Training Officer shall receive 5% Alternative Assignment pay
for the time the employee worked such assignment.
11.Education Reimbursement. Article 6.8(1)
a. Provide up to $1,500 per fiscal year for reimbursement of
approved educational programs and training.
b. Cap of $15,000 per fiscal year.
12.Medical Insurance Opt Out. Article 6.3 and Exhibit C
a. Increase payment to employees opting out of City’s medical
insurance plan to $500 per month into the employee’s
medical flexible spending account or deferred compensation
account.
13. Fitness. Article 6.8(H)
a. Add language to MOU allowing employees to work out
during their regular work schedule at the CPD fitness facility
and while maintaining availability for service and subject to
supervisory approval.

CARD, city $taff agree on one thing – it’s time to run a revenue measure!

4 Nov

Yesterday [11/3/17] I went out early to attend a meeting of the ad hoc committee formed between Chico City Council and Chico Area Recreation District to divvy up local parks, including Bidwell Park. 

There’s a lot of funding involved in these parks, and this was essentially a grab by CARD to get some of those revenues. The last thing CARD director Ann Willmann asked before she left the meeting was when she would start seeing the $$$$ from the neighborhood parks they were about to take over.

Ad hoc meetings do not have to be noticed to the public, but for some reason the news ran a story saying this meeting would begin at 9 am. There was no agenda posted either on the CARD website or at the city website, so I had to trust the news. When I arrived at the city building just before 8:50 I was glad to see the agenda posted alongside the door – it said 9 am. I went to a lot of trouble to push though my chores and get down there on time, and hey, my time might not be worth $139,000/year plus benefits but it’s worth something.

The Enterprise Record reporter and another woman, who told me she was at the meeting to see “if I still have a job” were waiting at the door when I arrived. As time went by and nobody came to let us in, we began to speculate. 9:00 came and went, so the reporter went over to the city office to inquire about the meeting. At 9:10 we were told that the meeting notice was wrong, the meeting didn’t start until 9:30, and someone would be along to open the door for us. 

Later, when councilor and committee member Karl Ory walked in a few minutes after 9:30, he looked around at the gathering and said, “I thought we agreed on 9:30?” Committee members and staffers all laughed. 

Like Lawanda Page says in “Friday,” “Well…Fuck You!” The way they treat the public down there is just gob-stopping. Our inconvenience doesn’t mean Jack Shit to $taff.

I’m sorry to be coarse, but these people treat me like garbage, and I get sick of it. 

Let me cut to the chase – the meeting started at 9:30 and by 9:45 the words “tax”, “assessment” and “tax assessment” had been used by staff or CARD representatives three times. Two staffers, Linda Herman and Eric Gustafson, said in so many words they want the city to pursue a revenue measure, and Tom Lando, CARD board director, made it clear, again, that he also wants a revenue measure. 

Herman said at one point, “I believe we have a united front for a tax [measure]…that’s better than going at it from opposite sides…”

It sounded as though CARD has already decided on a mailed assessment, but hasn’t made the formal announcement. I’ll try to attend the next CARD board meeting, usually held around the 15th of each month, and get more clarification on that.

The rest of the meeting was a jawdropper, the way these people wheel and deal behind closed doors, the stuff they say. I can’t write that fast, but the notes I was able to get are stunning. 

These people are not out to protect our interests, that’s for sure. I’ll cover it more when I get another chance to sit down. 

 

 

Blast From The Past: 2013 article shows city is not really serious about dealing with our crime problem, just giving more money to the cops

18 Oct

Here’s an article from the Enterprise Record, February 2013 – except that MacPhail has retired, has anything changed?

Yes, the police budget has gotten bigger, we have hired more cops, and cops are making more money than ever. Our city council is finally talking about the pension crisis, but isn’t really doing anything about it.  Downtown Chico and Bidwell Park have become disgusting.

What next? We’ll see!

Chico police: Tallying up the cost of south-of-campus raucousness

By ALMENDRA CARPIZO-Staff Writer
Posted:   02/22/2013 01:06:44 AM PST
 

Click photo to enlarge

Chico police Capt. Lori MacPhailAll Chico E-R photos are available
 

CHICO — Out of the estimated 33 square miles of Chico, half of a square mile is receiving much of the attention of the police department.Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., an extra police shift is active, said Chico police Capt. Lori MacPhail. The C Team’s sole responsibility is to focus on south of Chico State University and downtown.

The C Team is made up of one sergeant and seven officers, she said. On those days, there is also an extra dispatcher on staff.

The cost of the C Team to patrol is between $1 million to $1.5 million a year, MacPhail said. Although the amount doesn’t seem too high, it’s important to note Chico police are assigning an entire patrol team to cover half a square mile.

The overall budget for the Chico Police Department is $22 million.

A high percentage of the calls and arrests that occur on weekends are alcohol-related — drunk in public, drunken driving or noise complaints.

From Jan. 12 to Feb. 11, there have been 59 alcohol-related arrests in downtown Chico and south of the university, according to police arrests records. Most of those — 42 — were for disorderly conduct, and the bulk occurred on weekends.

In 2012, there were 1,628 alcohol-related arrests, according to police records. That was a drop from 1,963 arrests in 2011 and 2,145 in 2010.

The Chico Fire Department doesn’t feel much of an economic hit when responding to the south of campus, said chief James Beery. However,

there’s clearly an impact just based on the amount of calls received compared to when students are out of town.Firefighters work two 24-hour shifts in a row, and that doesn’t change on the weekends, he said.

If calls happen to overlap, the department works on a “first-come, first served” basis, Beery said. The department can’t afford to have extra firefighters out there.

Fire Station 1, which covers the area south of the university, tends to respond to more alcohol, drug overdoses and assault calls, he said, but calls run the whole gamut.

There is another issue that police and fire are responding to more on weekends — fights.

When people get “all liquored-up,” there are fights, Beery said.

Some fights are occurring at parties, but officers also see them as people spill out of the bars, MacPhail said.

Although the parties are not getting bigger, they are becoming more violent, she said. People are stabbing each other and throwing things at officers.

Chico police do receive help if things get out of control, MacPhail said.

There’s a good relationship between it and the University Police Department, said Drew Calandrella, CSUC’s vice president for student affairs. University police serve as backup at times.

Costs are important, he said. Everyone is worried about costs — costs relating to assaults, residence halls having to deal with alcohol-related incidents.

However, the focus is on changing the behavior and culture of drinking. That’s an issue for the entire city, not just for south of campus.

MacPhail acknowledges this is not a police department problem, she said. Enforcement isn’t going to be the solution either. There needs to be an examination of the root causes and an open dialogue to find solutions.

Reach Almendra Carpizo at 896-7760, acarpizo@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @almendracarpizo.

Time to mau-mau the flakcatchers – trash deal isn’t rolling out the way they promised

13 Oct

Over the last week or so I’ve noticed people have come to my blog with searches for information about the new garbage franchise deal the city of Chico cut with Waste Management. 

You know, I’ve been bitching about this deal, here and in the newspaper, since 2012. But, as I predicted, General Public – the guy who always has something better to do than pay attention – has not heard a word about it until he got a card from Waste Management about a week ago.

Friends of mine just told me, as if they were the first ones to figure it out – did I know the city had changed their waste hauler without their permission?! 

I watch the agendas, available here:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas.asp

I wish more of you would do same, instead of waiting until the bad stuff happens, and then bitching about it after it’s too late  to do anything.

I also got a card from Recology, my old carrier, with whom I have been, rentals and all, since about 2000, when I told Waste Management to stay the hell off my property.   I had never signed up for Waste Management willingly – they took my account forcibly from a guy named Tom – remember Tom’s Dispose-All? For whatever reason, the county showed Tom the door, and gave all his accounts to WM – then known as Butte County Dispose-All.

This whole story stinks of racketeering and cronyism. Ask Butte County Landfill manager Bill Mannell what trash company he ran before he got the job at Neal Road dump. 

My service from Waste Management was horrible, so I switched to Recology, and I never had a single complaint in 17 years. As soon as Waste Management took over two weeks ago, I had problems. 

I could have set my watch by  Recology – they came at almost exactly the same time every week. Especially the garbage truck – every Friday, 11:27 am. At that time I knew my recycling bin had already been emptied and I could go out and get my cans off the street. I also knew I didn’t have to leave my cans out the night before because Recology never came to my house before 7am, I had plenty of time to  take the cans out in the morning.

Why is this important? Well I found out yesterday, when I came home from the grocery store at exactly 2pm to find a  transient, at least 4 full drawstring waste bags  hanging from his shoulders, making a move on my still-full recycling bin.

He had just finished taking stuff out of my neighbor’s bin. I pulled my car alongside my can and told him to “get the fuck out of there NOW!”  He immediately put his hands up and walked.  Smart man – I had my hand on that can of Whoop-Ass, and I was about to open it on him. I’m from Glenn County, where people don’t let their mouth write a check their ass can’t cash.

About 40 minutes later, the WM truck showed up and emptied my bin. 

I had a restless night, wondering what kind of town this was getting tobe. So, this morning I wrote a note to Ryan West at Waste Management – that’s rwest1@wm.com.  I cc’d city manager Mark Orme and my just-for-now county supervisor Maureen “I’m moving to a Del Webb retirement community” Kirk:

Hi Ryan,
 

Yesterday we put our bins out by 6am as instructed by our new hauler, but when I came home from a trip to the store at exactly 2pm yesterday I found my recycling bin had not yet been picked up. And here’s just what I’ve predicted – as I pulled along the street toward my driveway a man came along with at least 4 full drawstring bags over his shoulders, went through my neighbor’s recycling bin pulling items out, and then  walked over to my bin and started to raise the lid.  I pulled my car alongside the bin and told him to “get the ‘f’ out of there!” He held his hands out and left.

The recycling truck didn’t show up until after 2:30.

I’m not a paid law enforcement officer, I shouldn’t have to encounter people like that at the end of my driveway.  My husband was worried that I confronted the guy when I told him about it. He’s afraid this person might have attacked me. My kids  and my tenant’s kids and all my neighbor’s kids play in their front yards – we should not have to worry about people like that in our neighborhood.

I never noticed this kind of brazen behavior in my neighborhood before, and I’m going to lay it on Waste Management.  Recology had both our bins picked up by noon, 1 pm at latest. I’m not willing to accept lesser service because of this deal.  We’ve been told we could expect the same service and more!

I’ll tell you one thing, I won’t be putting my recycling bins out at 6am anymore, and I’ll be cleaning anything of “value” out of them before I put them on the street. I’m going to make sure there’s not so much as a plastic water bottle in there anymore. It’s just an invitation to the bums into our neighborhoods, and then they help themselves to anything that ain’t nailed down. 

Thank you for listening to my complaint, I hope it’s the last. I included Mark and Maureen to keep them up on the bum problem, and because they both advocated for the trash franchises. 

Juanita Sumner

But it doesn’t end there! This morning when  my husband took our dog for the usual walk in the park, he found bins all along the street leading to the park that had been put out for pick-up yesterday morning, but were still full. At exactly 2:38 this afternoon, I heard the trucks picking them up. So, those recycling cans were out there for two days, for the convenience of the little army of the night.

When I heard the trucks, I took out my cell phone (because I was outside doing chores in my tenant’s yard) and I wrote them another note.

Furthermore,  trash and recycling bins left out [in my neighborhood] for collection yesterday morning where still full this morning and I just saw the WM truck coming through to get the recycling bins 5 minutes ago at 2:38. 
 
This is not acceptable. 
Juanita Sumner
 

I’m sorry – am I a harpy? Well that’s what it takes. 

Our public employees have taken our fair market system and played it like a fiddle for their own personal gain. Management promised us they’d use the franchise money to fix the streets, but you saw how quickly city manager Mark Orme tried to talk council into using the money to pay down the pension deficit.  Listen – that didn’t happen because many of you squealed about it, and there’s an election coming next year. 

They promised us we’d get all kinds of new services – according to the WM website, all that extra stuff also costs extra.

They threaten us with fines if our can lids are “propped open” – you mean, left open by bums rifling through for valuables while our cans sit in the street for 12 – 48 hours, waiting for pick-up?

They say we have to pay for damaged cans – given the way the trucks handle the bins, and then leave them standing halfway out in the street? 

They say we are responsible for graffiti on the cans, when we are expected to leave them out before 6 am without any assurance they’ll be picked up quickly?

So, yeah, we’re allowed to complain, please do so. 

 

 

 

Oroville council, cops, take 10 percent salary cuts in face of bankruptcy – meanwhile, raises all around for Chico management!

6 Oct

We were just talking about Oroville’s financial problems  – here’s their action plan:

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20171005/oroville-city-council-takes-voluntary-10-percent-pay-cut

As you know, Chico City Council just approved sweet new raises for city management, more than enough to cover their slightly increased PERS shares. With over $180 million in unfunded pension liabilities, the city’s mandated extra “side fund” payments are now over $500,000 a year and expected to increase to $1.5 million within the next couple of years. And come on – at that  rate, we’ll never get rid of the pension bomb.  

Did you know our city council get salaries? Last I heard, their salaries are roughly the same as reported for O-ville, although, I think, a little more. In the article, it says Oroville councilors can also opt for a health benefits package – in Chico, those packages have cost anywhere between $8,000/year and $21,000/year. When I last checked, Ann Schwab and Mark Sorensen were taking the most expensive packages available. Here’s the scam – they pay 2 percent of their council salaries – less than $1,000 a year, do the math – for these packages. 

What kind of package do you have? How much do you pay for it? 

In Hemet, which was left in ashes by Brian Nakamura, Mark Orme, and Chris Constantin, the local Taxpayers Association put an ordinance on the 2010 ballot that ended health benefits for city council members. The voters passed it with over 75% of the vote. It cost the HTA about $7,000 to float two ordinances – the second, term limits for city councilors, also flew through with about 75% of the vote.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2014/04/19/hemet-taxpayers-association-eliminated-health-benefits-for-council-members-and-instituted-term-limits/

The city shall not pay for, fund, or otherwise contribute to, the premiums, charges, fees or other costs of health benefits made available by the city to elected city officials either during their term or after their term of office.

Just something to think about, as the city of Chico plunges further into debt and continues to cut services, cut services, cut services…

 

 

O-ville talking bankruptcy? Time for public employees to take a walk in “the real world”

30 Sep

Thanks again Dude, for this link – I’ve been too busy to read the papers lately, get a load of this story from the Oroville Mercury Register – Oroville going bankrupt?

http://www.orovillemr.com/article/NB/20170927/NEWS/170929752

“The city’s finance director Ruth Wright told the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) finance and administration committee last week that the word “bankruptcy” was being thrown around, though not at council meetings.”

Not at council meetings? Council still in denial? Well, here in Chico, we have a $186 million deficit, and council is fully aware. So they handed out raises to top management! Now that’s a plan!

“The city [Oroville] cut down its $1 million deficit to achieve a balanced budget this year but is not exactly thriving financially, operating with low staffing levels and recently negotiating a 10 percent pay cut for police, with more negotiations to come.”

A 10 percent pay cut for police? You could expect Chico PD to walk out on any such negotiations – they threaten to cut service – which is essentially a STRIKE – if they don’t get raises.

Oroville’s finance director Ruth Wright says CalPERS is the problem and CalPERS needs to fix it.

“’All cities and counties cannot keep up with the increases,’ she said. ‘I think it’s up to them (CalPERS). They need to do something. They need to do a better job investing.’ The organization announced in December that discount rates would drop from 7.5 to 7 percent over the next three years in an effort to make the fund more stable, but with impacts to state and local governments.

“’CalPERS has a few levers to pull in dealing with pensions, having to do with discount rates,” said Wayne Davis, head of public affairs for the pension fund. “We’re very much aware of what lowering the discount rate means.’”

Well,  “we all” don’t know what he’s talking about – “lowering the discount rate…”

From CalPERS – straight from the horse’s ass –

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/page/newsroom/calpers-news/2016/calpers-lower-dis

“Lowering the discount rate, also known as the assumed rate of return, means employers that contract with CalPERS to administer their pension plans will see increases in their normal costs and unfunded actuarial liabilities. Active members hired after January 1, 2013, under the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act will also see their contribution rates rise. Normal cost is the cost of pension benefits for one year.”

Remember, I asked Chico Unified School District finance chief Kevin Bultema about this, right after the passage of Measure K in last November’s election, and he said the district would need to find more funding to pay pension costs or cut programs for the kids.

So, of course, this means a bigger deficit for Oroville, and don’t forget Chico.

“Oroville’s finance director said the number of city representatives coming to confront CalPERS has been growing. At the meeting last week, officials from cities such as Chico, Santa Rosa, Laguna Hills, Lodi, West Sacramento, Vallejo, Yuba City, Hayward, Manteca and Concord were there. A legislative representative for the League of California Cities also participated.”

Well, that’s funny – this hasn’t come up in the Chico paper, which is edited by the same David Little that edits the Mercury Register. Neither have we talked as a town about the $186 million deficit, or the $500,000/year “side payments” (in addition to the regular premium payments), which will balloon to over $1.5 million/year within the next three years.

And the sky is the limit, since our elected morons – both Chico and Butte County – keep giving out raises as though everything’s just rainbows and lollipops. They’ve acknowledged the mess we’re in – because they want us to pay more taxes.

The reporter finally talked to Chico finance mangler Scott Dowell – formerly with Chico Area Recreation District, which has a $1.7 million deficit for less than 35 employees. Dowell doesn’t think Chico will go into bankruptcy, but has been trying to work with CalPERS.

“Dowell was hoping the pension fund representatives would do some research on the possibility of freezing cost-of-living adjustments, meaning retirees would receive a flat rate every year. They would no longer receive additional money — currently up to 2 percent of their annual salaries — to account for changing inflation.

The other concept was switching all employees onto the same kind of pension plan as employees who started after Jan. 1, 2013. The Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act went into effect then, offering fewer benefits to new employees. That could mean the difference between retiring at 55 and 62, Dowell said.”

Both no-brainers as far as I’m concerned, and “the way it works in the real world”.