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Chico Chamber ramps up sales tax increase campaign – And when you ask them, “How much should we give?” Ooh, they only answer “More! More! More!”

24 May

This press release below was made yesterday by the California Chamber of Commerce and forwarded by Chico Chamber of Commerce. Time to watch the county and city clerk’s office for a ballot measure. 

What this release doesn’t tell us is that Tom Lando is one of Chico’s biggest pension hogs – especially when you consider he never paid anything toward his pension. Current City Mangler Mark Orme pays less than 10%, and he’s been given a pay raise every time he’s agreed to pay a percent or two more. That’s like throwing gas on a fire – every time you raise his salary you raise his pension.

Here’s an old link – make note, at the time I ran this post, Lando was getting about $135,000, just in pension, it doesn’t include his health, vision, life insurance, etc. Look at that – $11,000/month. There are families in this town living on $19,000/year. 

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2012/01/30/heres-why-lando-wants-to-raise-your-sales-tax/

That information is from 2012 – do you realize, pensions go up every year – “cost of living adjustment” – based on a percentage of the already gross amount. So, I’ll opine – he’s getting around $150,000 a year in cash and benefits. On top of that, Lando runs a consulting firm, the city has paid him consulting fees for various tasks. 

But now Piggy wants more! Read on!

From Michelle Woods at Chico Chamber:

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Chamber of Commerce honored business executives from Chico and Torrance today with its 2018 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award, recognizing them for outstanding advocacy on behalf of small businesses.

The CalChamber announced the awards in Sacramento before more than 200 attendees at the CalChamber Capitol Summit.

The 2018 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recipients are:

  • Mark Francis, president and CEO, Golden Valley Bank, Chico;
  • Tom Lando, principal, Tom Lando Consulting, Chico; and
  • Michael Shafer, owner, The Depot Restaurant, Torrance.

 

Mark Francis and Tom Lando

Lando was chairman of the board of directors for the Chico Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center in 2011 and currently chairs the chamber’s Legislative Action Committee. Francis was chairman in 2015 and spearheaded the chamber’s Community Vision, which not only guides local policy decisions, but has become a sought-after model for chamber advocacy throughout the nation.

At the direction of the Chico Chamber Board in early 2017, Mark and Tom spearheaded the effort to better understand how business priorities like a safer community and improved roads are indelibly linked to changing city finances.

Together, Lando and Francis co-chaired the groundbreaking Task Force on City Revenues and Expenditures, the first of its kind in the Chico Chamber’s 110-year history, which resulted in the publication of a special report and call to action. The task force investigated the solvency of Chico’s finances—past, present and projected—and delivered a bold and forceful recommendation that the City Council consider a revenue measure to fund business priorities outlined in the Community Vision.

The City of Chico is one of 11 cities its size in California to maintain a baseline sales tax rate of 7.25%. The region is largely tax averse.

The task force worked throughout 2017 to study four key areas affecting city finances—pension, fire, police and roads—and outlined needs, expectations and costs. Lando and Francis hosted several task force meetings with city officials to gain a deep understanding of the city’s financial status and met weekly to follow statewide news on pension reform, sales tax policy, the gas tax and other impacts, always weighing local opportunities and challenges.

Task force findings were communicated to the public via the chamber’s most recent state of the city address and through a publication entitled Special Report. A call to action was made directly to the Chico City Council to consider a revenue measure to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Chico, a risky yet pivotal move by a chamber of commerce in a tax-averse region.

In nominating Francis and Lando for the CalChamber award, Katie Simmons, president and CEO of the Chico Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, wrote: “Mark and Tom deserve to be recognized equally for their tremendous insight, influence and service to the Chico Chamber of Commerce. This pivotal community conversation would not happen without the knowledge, dedication and time Mark and Tom give to the chamber and our community. Their work is relevant across all communities in California struggling with the very same issues.”

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City consultant: “more people, more payroll, more allocations” – this is how city of Chico management siphons money from the road fund into their own wallets

1 Mar

Thursday March 8,  City of Chico finance mangler Scott Dowell will give a dog-and-pony presentation about how the city spends money. That ought to be a gas, but instead, I attended yesterday’s (2/28/18) Finance Committee meeting to hear a consultant explain the process of “cost allocation”.

Dowell is disingenuous – who does he really expect to show up on a Thursday at 10 am? Oh yeah, I’ll just ask my boss if I can come in early and take two hours off at lunch, everybody does that! 

You know, I might have had bosses who would go for that, but only once. And you wouldn’t be allowed to discuss it at the work place, that’s a pretty standard rule of getting along with fellow employees  – leave your politics in the parking lot. So, in this way, Dowell is very pointedly leaving out the working class who would have to support the sales tax increase he is going to be selling at his “workshop”.

But, when you have limited time, you use it wisely. Who wants to hear a spin from the Fox in Charge of the Henhouse, when you can listen to a visiting watch dog? That’s how I see consultant Chad Wolford, eversince 2015 when he told council they were spending too much money on “overhead” – administrative salaries and benefits.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2017/12/21/no-kidding-our-city-is-headed-for-deep-doo-doo-2/

As the consultant describes it, cost allocation means, “central administration cost (also referred to as “overhead”) spread down to departments as operating costs.”  Just repeat that a few times, and remind yourself, “operating” means “actual work,” such as fixing the streets, or maintaining the sewer plant. 

Cost allocation is the process by which these ridiculous management salaries are cherry picked from all the departments. Makes it look legal and fair, but it’s really the same old system of moving peas under walnuts shells. Money is moved between restricted and non-restricted funds to pay for stuff that money was not originally earmarked for. 

What’s the use of restricting funds (to their original purpose, such as street maintenance) if you can just transfer them wherever you want to pay for whatever you want? This is the process by which administrators like Orme, Constantin and Dowell take grant money that was originally intended to fix streets and pad it into their wallets. 

The consultant is a nice man, he admitted to me, “this is a very complicated process.”  I replied, “No kidding!” That’s why  I had tagged him into the lobby of the building when he finished his presentation, I had to ask some additional questions. 

Well here’s something that he made pretty clear – the “changes”  (increases) in the allocations are based on staff and salary increases. “More people, more payroll, more allocations,” Wolford said. “Salaries and benefits have gone up, operating budgets are up…” 

So, I don’t think I’ll be bothered with Dowell’s dog and pony show Saturday – ‘scuse me, that’s Thursday March 8 – I already heard how the city of Chico spends it’s money. 

CalPERS nears insolvency – meanwhile city of Chico uses “cost allocation” to rationalize fund pilfering to pay pension costs

27 Feb

Thanks Dude, for this recent article regarding CalPERS insolvency. Former CalPERS board member and erstwhile gubernatorial candidate (2006?) Steve Westly has been speaking up about CalPERS growing pension deficit, warning the agency will collapse if it is not bailed out or “reformed.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-24/former-calpers-board-members-shocking-admission-calpers-near-insolvency-it-needs

I don’t know what he means by “reform” – to me, this would mean, no more 70 – 90 percent of highest year’s salary at age 50 – 65, cut employer contributions to 10 percent (based on merit and years employed), and make the employees pay their own retirement package. 

Here’s an article from last year that chronicles this mess we’re in from the beginning.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-pension-crisis-davis-deal/

Of course now everybody is screaming for “reform” because they know the system is about to collapse and they won’t get their dough.  Most of these “reformers” mean, taxpayers pay more. That’s what the city of Chico is up to at tomorrow’s Finance Committee Meeting.

Chris Constantin first introduced the concept of “cost allocation” a couple of years ago. It is a process by which they transfer money out of the general fund to pay salaries, benefits and pensions for city employees. It’s very confusing, unless you are the consultant who is hired to explain it every year. That would be Chad Wolford. 

Two years ago, Wolford told us we were “spending too much money on overhead” – meaning, management salaries, and particularly, management pensions.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2015/11/29/no-kidding-our-city-is-headed-for-deep-doo-doo/

In response, the city raised pension shares but made adjustments to ensure employees would not have to pay. Mark Orme and Chris Constantin accepted what amounts to 401K plans, which they report will not add to our pensions costs – wrong again Chris! They still got salary increases, and we will have to pay them that deferred compensation, it just routes CalPERS. To me, this is just greed. Look at their salaries:

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20171002/NEWS/171009943

http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/OrmeEmploymentAgreement10-2017.pdf

Orme demands over $200,000 in base salary, but expects us to believe he has our best interests at heart? 

Tomorrow, at an 8:30 am Finance Committee meeting, they will go about “allocating” their fancy lifestyles onto the backs of the taxpayers, taking money that should be providing street maintenance, sewer plant updates and other services for those of us who pay for them, and putting it toward their 70 – 90 percent (do the math on Orme’s salary) pensions. Read the report here:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/2-28-18FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

This is sneaky stealing, if you ask me. The taxpayers are never privvy to this stuff – wonder why they hold these meetings at 8:30 in the morning while you are rushing to work? 

 

Janus vs AFSCME – “the worker bees” are rising against their oppressors! Go bees!

27 Feb

Yesterday the Supreme Court was scheduled to take up the case of Janus vs AFSCME ( American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). The center of this case is what unions call “fair share fees” – fees conscripted from workers who do not wish to be members of a union. This practice (which reminds me of the kid who positions himself on a corner near the school and bullies others out of their lunch money) is protected by “collective bargaining agreement”.  Both the city of Chico and the county of Butte have made such an agreement with the unions. This is what used to be referred to as a “closed shop” so a lot of proponents of Janus vs AFSCME are calling for “right to work” legislation.

The plaintiff in the case, an Illinois public employee named Mark Janus, does not want  to pay into the unions. According to  CBS News, “Janus has painted his complaint as a free speech issue. ‘I’m definitely not anti-union. Unions have their place and many people like them… I was never given a choice…'”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-case-that-could-change-the-face-of-unions-comes-to-supreme-court/

The media is warping this issue – journalism isn’t what it used to be. Notice the use of the word “painted“, as though Janus is being deceptive. That’s not news, it’s opinion. The appropriate way to say it would have been, “Janus says…” or even “Janus claims…”,  but the use of the word “painted” is obvious slant. In the past week I don’t think I’ve seen or heard one straight news story on this issue. Today I added a category to the blog – “Our News Media Sucks”.

Opponents say  the case “could fundamentally change the workplace for public employees nationwide. A court ruling against the union, an outcome many believe likely, could seriously dent public unions’ coffers by depriving them of a major source of these so-called ‘fair share’ fees.”   Yeah, unions are scared, because “Without fair-share fees, many unions could lose a large share of their funding. Across the border from Illinois, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 enjoys an overwhelming 83 percent support among covered workers — but only 29 percent of those workers are dues-paying members.”

What does that say to you? People are forced to pay, but still won’t join? Won’t add their voice? Why?

When my father was forced to pay union dues to get jobs as owner/operator of his 18-wheeler, he was very bitter, saying they took more than he spent on gas, tires, and other maintenance. He had it worked out to the per hour charge, it pissed him off so much. We’d ask him what the union did for him, and he said that was the joke – his employers were mostly small businessmen, friends of his, he didn’t need a union. But, highway construction is publicly financed, and the state required them to pay union dues.

Years after my dad died, Teamsters forced the company for whom he had worked many years out of business.  Here’s a related story – Teamsters bragging about putting employers out of business.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-port-trucker-settlement-20160714-snap-story.html

Again the slant is pro-union – “the latest victory,” as though private business and the jobs it creates are bad for California.  My dad drove  truck for nearly 50 years, and he never complained about his employers in front of us kids, neither did his co-workers, but they bitched about Teamsters over lunch, over beers, even over their CB radios. 

Remembering those days in the cab of my dad’s Peterbilt, it offends me  that some of these public employees even describe themselves as “workers”.  Soft-handed pussies.

Here’s a very interesting point: “The result of weaker unions is often less money for workers — whether unionized or not. After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker restricted public-employee unions in the state, the rate of unionization fell by 6 percentage points and teachers’ salaries dropped by an average of $10,000. “

And they’re saying, that’s bad? Cause I’m saying, public employees have been overcompensated for the last 10 or more years, and it’s driving the economy into the dirt. If getting rid of collective bargaining and “fair share” theft is what we need to do to get rid of these over-fed blue jays, then let’s go for it!

The unions are trying to tell us this is bad for “workers” when it’s ” workers” who are pulling the rug out from under them.

 

The Buck Stops Here – sign the gas tax petition

11 Feb

I printed out a copy of the gas tax repeal petition, signed it, and mailed it in Thursday, I hope you will do same.

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

I am not contributing money to the effort but figure two more signatures – including my husband’s – will not hurt. 

Reform California is trying to get the tax measure onto the November ballot. Of course that’s a crap-shoot – what if the voters, heavily bent with public employees, pass it? Ever wonder what proportion of our population is public workers who  benefit from tax increases? Just ask Google!

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/public-workforce-salaries/states-most-government-workers-public-employees-by-job-type.html

This data is from the 2014 Census figures. Read the intro – education employees are separated out, the first number you see – 883,408 – is just state, county, and city workers. Scroll down to “Public Employment by Job Classification” to see school workers by state – select California. That’s another 633,301 for a total of over 1.5 million full time, pensioned public workers. 

Also according to the US Census Bureau, the population of California was between 37 and 39 million in 2014, and about 23 percent of those people were under 18, unable to vote. Last year the LA Times reported 18.2 million registered voters in California.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-there-are-now-more-registered-voters-in-1475694802-htmlstory.html

So, 1.5 million voters in that pool does not sound like much, until you take into account – how many voting dependents/relatives do these people have? 

It’s hard trying to predict what the voters will do. Will they even vote, is the question. 

I hate sitting back and waiting, so I try to act. Signing the petition made me feel empowered, as if I was doing something. I think others will act too, if they feel the effort will lead to something bigger. Overturning the gas tax is not only good for our wallets, it’s a strike against the outrageous and dangerous overspending that has become Business as Usual for California and much of the nation. 

My dad had a hat he liked to wear – it said, “The Buck Stops Here.” 

 

 

Gas tax opponents hold special petition signings around state

8 Feb

I missed the recent signature gathering event here in Chico – LaMalfa and Nielsen held another rally at Sinclair’s gas station over on Forest Avenue.

http://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Local-Reps-push-to-repeal-gas-tax-471369534.html

Apparently, local Democratic wag Bob Mulhullond was on hand with protesters to tell us we need to shut up and pay. Mulhullond is not above using fascist tactics to shut down his opponents, even sending in pro-abortion protesters. This is not democracy, it’s more like Gangs of New York. 

Mulhullond would like us to believe he cares about highway deaths, but he’s really worried about his wife’s and other public pensions getting paid. 

Luckily the effort in Southern California seems to be going well enough without us.

http://www.kusi.com/83184-2/

I wanted to sign the petition so contacted the website, asking where I could sign – they told me to download the petition, print it, sign it, gather any other signatures I  could, and send it in. 

And I  got this note from organizer Carl Demaio:

Two great developments on the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative to share with you:

First, yesterday we hosted two signature drives at gas stations where people could fill up for as little as $1.99 per gallon, got coverage on every TV station in the area, and created gas lines with as much as a 3-hour wait! We got over 3000 signatures on the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative alone from the events.

Well good for that. 

Here’s my message Chico, Butte County and state of California public workers – I’m going to shut down your  gravy train, and spend it on the roads. 

Holiday, stop whining about your salary. 

Here’s what we’re not hearing about “Trump’s Budget Plan” – $150 million worth of cuts to federal retirement plans over 10 years

9 Jan

Did you know the federal government has over $3.5 TRILLION in pension debt? If you add in the deficits of state and local governments across the country, the total amounts to about $7 TRILLION. According to Moody’s, that’s about 40 percent of our Gross Domestic Product.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest quantitative measure of a nation’s total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s geographic borders over a specified period of time.”

Read that a couple of times and your scalp will crawl – we are spending 40 percent of our income on pensions. 

Think of that as you work away at your private sector job – you’re feathering somebody else’s nest, but who is feathering yours? Get ready for a hard, cold nest folks. 

I don’t know what you think of Donald Trump, but his budget plan has got my attention. Especially this proposal:

  • An increase in employee contributions by 1 percent each year for the next six years (until they equal the government’s contribution),
  • An elimination of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for current and future Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) participants and cutting the COLA by 0.5 percent for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) participants of what the typical formula currently allows,
  • Basing future retirement benefits on the average of an employee’s highest five years of salary, and,
  • Eliminate supplemental payments to employees who retire before age 62.

Nobody in the media is talking about the pensions – why? They want us to fixate on their claim that this plan will raise taxes on the middle class. Well, ask yourself this – are you middle class? Look at your paycheck – are you making more than $10,000 a month? Because that’s the middle class these days folks, the public workers. Trump is asking them to pay more income taxes – that’s good for the rest of us who live on an average of $40,000/year.

No, I don’t like Trump, but I like his tax plan.