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Airport Commissioner trying to sell us a bag of rainbows, lollipops and bull puckey

12 Nov

Does Chico really need air service? I don’t think so, and this letter from Airport Commissioner B.T. Chapman is full of holes. 

Your “miss” comments on November 2 about the initiative to rename the airport certainly does nothing to help the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes to return air service to Chico.

First of all, I’d like to ask Chapman, how “many“?  Because most of the meetings on this subject are held at a private location, by a small private group, without notice of the public, without oversight by city staffers, and without any notes or videos available for review. I’m not a lawyer or I’d raise a Brown Act question, instead I’ll just say, it seems the public is being held out of this conversation by the forehead.

(NOTE: In fact, about a year ago, Chapman put his name on a letter sent to the Enterprise Record, but I found out it was actually written by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. See the link at the end of this post.)

Chapman continues, “If you had participated in the research done by the 2-member committee appointed by the airport commission you would understand the proven marketing value of an effectively named airport. We’re not playing games here nor chasing a far-fetched “dream.”

 

A “2-member committee” – that answers my question – a 2 member, self appointed committee that already had an agenda. That’s not research, it’s rationalization.

 

Renaming the airport is not designed to attract an airline. We already have strong indicators there is interest in returning to Chico. Further, the JetChico attraction committee already has proven business support to return air service.

No, the renaming of the airport is not designed to attract an airline. Yes, the airport manager claims there are airlines with some interest in reestablishing air service to Chico. But, these airlines have made it clear they will not do so unless the city guarantees hundreds of thousands in revenues to the airline. What renaming the airport is supposed to do is get the taxpayers all on board, happy to put down tax dollars to subsidize (and that’s the word they use) a service that will only be used by a small portion of the population.

Returning air service is serious business with significant economic benefits to our city and convenience to our citizens and those in the counties that border Butte.

In  your dreams B.T. – if air service is so important to local citizens, why wasn’t it even mentioned, even in passing, in that $25,000 survey the city just ran?

— B T Chapman, Chico

Okay, that’s a point blank lie. We’ve never had reliable air service in Chico, people were constantly left stranded, either in Chico, or in San Francisco. Furthermore, the airlines refused to refund tickets when this happened, leaving people to pay for hotel rooms and then re-purchase tickets, or call for a ride home from San Francisco. This happened to my family and plenty of others.

Chapman is grasping at straws to convince us to pay for something from which most of us will never receive any benefit.

Get on the bandwagon…”? Here’s a good quote from vocabulary.com: “bandwagon is a trend that is so cool everyone wants to get in on it. If you start wearing a flowerpot on your head because everyone else is, you’ve jumped on a strange fashion bandwagon. Originally, a bandwagon was a large wagon that did indeed carry a band. Now it’s an idea — people jump on the bandwagon when they hop on a trend.”

This reminds me of the suggestion made by a $200,000 consultant hired by the city at the suggestion of JetChico a few years back. He suggested city staffers get pilot and stewardess costumes (paid for by the taxpayers), and then stroll around town, at public events like Saturday Market, trying to convince the public that it is, indeed, fun to fly!

This is the kind of bullshit our tax dollars are used for. This is what a new sales tax increase would pay for. Write a letter to the airport commission via sherry.miller@Chicoca.gov
NOTE: You might ask Miller if Chapman did indeed write this letter.  Here’s the post I did last year about another letter signed by B.T. Chapman, but actually authored by ChicoJet member Norm Rosene. Ask yourself, is it okay for a public official to sign a letter that was written by somebody else? Who is really running the airport commission? 

Anthony Watts: Chico will buy make-believe “clean” electricity at a premium

5 Nov

This headline from the Enterprise Record is misleading:

Chico City Council to commemorate Camp Fire anniversary, consider alternatives to PG&E

Read the article for yourself, see where Robin Epley says, “In such an agreement, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. would continue with transmission and distribution of energy.”

How is that “an alternative” to PG&E? And no, a CCA does not guarantee lower power, especially when legislators and staffers will set the rates. They may even buy it from PG&E, and then resell it to us? 

Here’s the DEAL KILLER – PG&E can shut down power at any time, and the city of Chico would have nothing to say about it.

I was glad to see Anthony Watts put the whammy down: 

Two far-left city councilors, Karl Ory and Alex Brown have introduced a “Chico Green New Deal” patterned after the one Alexandria Ocasio Cortez made up.

One of the bullet points is: 100% clean electricity powering the City grid by 2030

This is impossible for two reasons.

1. There’s not enough growth in renewables in California to achieve that goal by that time. The state goal is 50% by 2030.

If passed, what will most likely happen is that Chico will buy make-believe “clean” electricity at a premium.

From the New York Times: “Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that PG&E could save $2.2 billion a year by renegotiating renewable power contracts down to current market prices.”

PG&E spends over $2 billion yearly for overpriced liberal pie-in-the-sky electricity schemes, while the utility cannot afford even to inspect and repair their 100,000 miles of power lines. PG&E claims that inspecting the lines alone would require quadrupling their rates.

You think your electric bill is high now? Just wait.

If Ory’s and Brown’s plan passes, the City of Chico will be running straight towards this overpriced eco-madness for the sake of virtue signaling, with no net effect but to drain city coffers and wallets.

References: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/pge-says-it-might-have-to-quintuple-rates-if-forced-to-clear-trees.html

— Anthony Watts, Chico

You can read more from Anthony and friends at his super blog,  What’s Up With That?  Here’s an interesting post from last year:

US EIA: Coal is Still King

City, County proposing Joint Powers Authority to purchase power, the catch is, they have to use PG&E’s crapped out infrastructure

31 Oct

Furthermore, they will have no authority over shut-offs (or, as we used to call them, ROLLING BLACK-OUTS). 

And here’s what they want – a JPA has the authority to raise rates/taxes. And we don’t vote for the board, they are appointed by city and county “leaders”, with staff’s recommendation. 

See the agenda item below, I’ve requested past reports from the city clerk, we’ll see what she sends. 

5.2. CONSIDERATION OF A PROPOSED JOINT POWERS AGREEMENT TO FORM THE COMMUNITY
CHOICE AGGREGATION (CCA) BUTTE CHOICE ENERGY AUTHORITY

On 10/1/19, the Chico City Council adopted an ordinance authorizing the implementation of a Community
Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. Community Choice Aggregation allows cities and counties to
aggregate the electricity buying power (electrical load) of residential, commercial, and municipal customers
within a jurisdiction to purchase power and meet their electricity needs. The local Investor Owned Utility
(IOU) will continue with transmission and distribution of energy to utility users in the region. City of Chico
and Butte County staff (Staff) have been working together to draft a Joint Powers Agency (JPA) Agreement
with the City, Butte County, and other perspective City’s or County’s in the region to form a separate joint
exercise of power agency called Butte Choice Energy Authority (Authority). On 10/15/19, the Chico City
Council heard an initial presentation of the draft JPA. (Report – Erik Gustafson, Public Works Director
Operations & Maintenance)

Recommendation: The Public Works Director -Operations & Maintenance recommends the City Council:
1) approve the following resolution; and 2) nominate two regular Authority Board of Directors and two
alternates.

RESOLUTION APPROVING THE JOINT POWERS AUTHORITY AGREEMENT ESABLISHING THE
BUTTE CHOICE ENERGY AUTHORITY AND RELATED AUTHORIZATIONS

UPDATE: I got the a stack of staff reports on this from the clerk, but am now trying to figure out how to post them. Here’s something from the Butte County Feasibility Study – I’ll post more over the weekend. 

Benefits

Local Control 
 Set rates (potentially lower)  Yes, the unelected board gets to set your rates. Will this go through the CPUC?
 Promote economic  This would depend on pricing, which would depend on the unelected board
development 
 Energy source choice Depending on what’s available, at what price.
 Could create a local revenue
stream for future power  And there it is – a local revenue stream that can be transferred by way of fund allocation into the pension liability
projects
 Customization based on local  Based on whose local interests?
interests
 Cleaner energy  Again, based on what is available, at what price.

Risks

Power Charge Indifference
Adjustment (PCIA) surcharge
 “Exit fee” charged to CCA  But no dollar figure, and we won’t get that until we’re in it up to our necks
customers for exiting an IOU
 Cost could offset savings due   Like solar energy, there’s the question – will the savings offset the expense?
to lower electricity costs
 Customer participation  This is a pyramid scheme – you have to get other suckers to get on board before you will see any savings
 Power procurement risks  With PG&E’s involvement, this is a huge deal breaker
 Legislative climate  I’d add, changes in the make-up of our council, every two years they have a flip-flop and policy decisions are overturned

Let me quote the editor of the local daily: And with the huge and very obvious kinks in the PG&E system, it seems like a really good idea to have a local entity in place to look out for our people’s interest in the current and rising mess.

There he mentions the huge and obvious kinks in the PG&E system – the delivery system, which is a linchpin in this deal. Ever had a linchpin break on you? Right at a bad time? Like right when your town was on the verge of bankruptcy? And people and businesses were already leaving town? 

Let’s take a good look at this scheme.

letter to editor: recent city survey misleading

28 Oct

I try to read the Enterprise Record at least a few times a week. Not that it’s a great paper, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what kind of BS they are floating. I usually read the print edition – my husband picks it up a couple of times a week, when he stops at the neighborhood market  for a 6 pack. But last time he came home with a 6 pack and a candy bar. “3 Musketeers is cheaper than the paper,” he said, “and it does more for you mood.” Then he told me the paper had gone up 50 cents, and screw that. So, I’ve been snooping it out online since then, but get cut off pretty frequently, having read my fill of free junk. It’s like going to the county fair, and eating too much Fiddle-Faddle.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Mike Wolcott for a get-together at the ER with other “frequent letter writers.” He said we’d all get a free online subscription, 4 months paid by him, just for standing around the old do-nut box and being civil to each other. So I went, spent about an hour in a little conference room trying to be polite with people like Irv Schiffman, and then I had to get back to work. So here I sit, waiting for my free subscription.

The down side to that would be waking up every morning to find the digital version of a cat box liner in my email. I’m starting to think I might have made a mistake.  The Enterprise Record isn’t a newspaper, it’s newspeak.  They don’t investigate, they regurgitate.  When you read a story in the ER, you must always look elsewhere for further information, don’t just believe what they print. They toe the line set by whichever mob is in charge, and right now, it’s the tax happy mob. Expecting the Enterprise Record to do anything resembling investigative journalism is like expecting the government to investigate itself. Today, the media is part of The Establishment, and they aren’t going to rock the boat now that they have got themselves into it.

So we have to read stuff for ourselves, we can’t take a reporter’s word for anything. The story the ER posted about the city’s recent survey might have just as well been a city press release.  I posted the EMC survey this morning

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2019/10/28/emc-survey-of-400-carefully-chosen-city-of-chico-residents/

because I knew it wouldn’t be in the paper. In fact, Dave Howell had to request it from the city clerk. Let’s make it worth Dave’s while having to deal with the bureaucratic jello mould.  Judging from the word press stats for today, people are at least looking at it.

I hope we can get others to take a look, maybe get a conversation going about how blatantly leading that survey was. Not to mention,  misleading. So I wrote a letter to the ER.

NOTE: Here’s a link to the ER story I mention in the letter, thanks again to Dave Howell for that, as well:

Chico one of top cities for public employee compensation

My letter sent to Chico ER 10/28/19

Tax campaign consultant EMC, after a very misleading survey of only 400 carefully chosen Chico residents, declares 70% support for a one cent sales tax increase. That’s more than the 2/3’s voter threshold required for a special tax that could be dedicated to public safety or roads, the top concerns listed by those 400 respondents. Why then does Staff insist on running a simple majority measure requiring only 51%?

Because, as the assistant city manager told council, a 2/3’s measure would have to be spent as the voters dictate.  A simple measure goes into the General Fund, available for any whim of council or staff, including the pension liability.

Just last year, another city consultant, Chad Wolford, told the Finance Committee city expenses were up because of “More people, more payroll, more allocations… salaries and benefits have gone up, operating budgets are up…”   In 2015 Wolford told council the city was spending too much money on “overhead,” which he defined as “administrative salaries and benefits.” The same year, Chico had the top compensated employees in California, as reported by the Enterprise Record 12/10/2015.

The EMC survey told respondents “The City has done everything it can to cut expenses…”  That is not true. As Wolford said, the city is management top heavy and staff continues to get salary increases, which increase benefits, and increase the pension deficit. Employees pay less than a third of their pension costs.

The survey was blatantly misleading. See the full survey and join the conversation at chicotaxpayers.com

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

 

Letter to editor – staff can’t fix streets but they offer up a skating rink? If it sounds like a lie, it probably is

13 Oct

I couldn’t believe staffer Brendan Ottoboni had the nerve to propose a discussion about an ice skating rink on the city’s new comments mechanism “Chico Engaged!” He and other staffers told the assembled contractors, landlords and other concerned citizens that the city has no money to fix existing streets, or even maintain them properly. “Chico Engaged” is inappropriate – it’s a way for staffers and others with gain to be made to sprinkle little ideas in the public head – like rainbows and lollipops, and skating rinks. It also gives the public the idea that council is listening – oh yeah, they’re listening, they’re listening to the public being duped. 

I had to write a letter about the crazy contradiction between a city that has no money to fix streets or maintain the park but seems to have plenty of money to throw at gimmicks like “Chico Engaged” and ice skating rinks. 

At a morning meeting Downtown, Public Works staffer Brendan Ottoboni stated there is no more money to maintain or fix city streets. He said streets that had been on the repairs list for years were being taken off due to lack of funds. 

So why would Ottoboni propose an ice skating rink on “Chico Engaged!”?  

Look at the agenda for council’s 10/15 meeting – Council will discuss giving management employees a raise while  putting a one cent sales tax measure on the 11/2020 ballot. When  a city  doesn’t even have the money to perform the most basic of services, why even consider giving raises to people already making four times the median income? 

Chico has over $138 million in pension liability. Staff recently established the completely restricted “Pension Stabilization Trust”, and this year have transferred over $1.2 million from other funds into the PST. Employees pay 15% or less of “their share,” paying nothing toward the PST. The sales tax increase, a simple majority measure requiring only 51% voter approval, will go into the general fund, available for salaries, benefits, and the PST. 

Tax measures are being proposed all over California to fund pension packages that were never approved by voters, made by elected officials who receive donations and other political support from employee unions.  The taxpayers even pay for the consultants who guarantee to get the measure passed.

Coincidentally, a tax measure consultant told City of Chico Finance Committee, “We offered them (Heavenly Valley) a skating rink…” and the measure passed.

 

 

 

Chico Engages certain people, with certain opinions

13 Oct

It started so innocently, when the city clerk sent me the agenda for an upcoming council meeting, along with this notice:

“If you are unable to attend, you may now use the City’s “Engaged Chico” platform to submit your thoughts on items open for public comment at next week’s Council meeting.  Your comments are provided to the City Council and will become part of the official public record.  While not required in order to comment, if you set up an account in this online program… you will automatically be notified each time a Council agenda gets uploaded into the system.

Here’s the link to access the programhttps://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings  “

Although, I prefer to make my comments in the letters section of the newspaper, I thought I’d better take a look at this new gadget. It looks like people are wading in with lots of suggestions – they must not have heard, our city is so broke it can’t fix streets or maintain the park. 

One interesting suggestion was an ice skating rink at City Plaza. I don’t know if you’ll be able to find it – I saw it on the site this morning (10/13) but while I was looking at other “ideas” the skating rink discussion just f-ing disappeared. I’ll ask the clerk what happened to it tomorrow.

That’s just funny, because I attended a morning meeting a couple of years ago, at which a consultant who had successfully passed tax measures for towns in the Tahoe area, suggested the city needed to bait their hook. “We offered the public an ice skating rink”  – and the measure passed. 

So I thought it was funny that this skating rink idea just popped up on the “Engaged Chico” site. I didn’t see a name attached, so I asked the clerk who suggested this idea. 

She responded, “It was Brendan Ottoboni’s department (Public Works Engineering).  I believe they were approached by an outside vendor about the idea right after the Paradise fire.  It’s only at discussion stages at this time which was why it was included on the civic engagement site so that staff could hear from the citizens.”

Nobody responded, but there it was, and now that I asked the clerk about it, it’s gone. Hmmmm.

And here’s another think I’ll have to ask the clerk about – the notice said we could comment without creating an account, but when I tried to comment, it wouldn’t post. My comment was in regards to the raises council is considering for management staffers, on the same agenda with a tax increase discussion. Disaparecido!

Meanwhile, the Chico Housing Action Team has hit the site with demands for Stuplicity Village. This is creating inappropriate influence with council.

I’m going to check a solid NO vote on Chico Engaged. 

Rent Control to be tossed around at Internal Affairs committee meeting, Monday, Oct. 7, 4 – 6 pm

3 Oct

I’ve always heard an old saying, “evil never sleeps”. When I look at the agendas for various City of Chico committees, commissions, etc, I get it.

At next week’s Internal Affairs Committee meeting – Monday, 10/7, 4 – 6 pm – Council members Huber, Ory and Brown will discuss rent control. So  far, they’ve spent at least three months kicking around an illegal ordinance requiring landlords to give 120 days notice before terminating a tenancy, brought forth not by the public as Staff had claimed, but by the North Valley Property Owners Association (dominated by corporate landlords) and the Sierra North Valley Realtors (what?). 

  1. For any rental agreement or lease terminating after December 6, 2019, the landlord or
    owner of any residential rental unit on a property with 2 or fewer units shall provide tenant
    written notice of non-renewal of such lease or rental agreement at least 120 days prior to
    the date landlord intends such lease or rental agreement to terminate.
    2. Any lease or rental agreement of a residential property entered into after August 6, 2019
    shall include a requirement that the owner shall provide tenant at least a 120-day notice of
    owner’s intent to terminate such lease or rental agreement.
    3. Notice requirements shall only apply to landlord or owner of property; nothing in this
    ordinance shall require a tenant or lessee to provide any additional notice beyond what is
    required by state law or pursuant to their rental agreement or lease.

A quick search of the internet would have told them their ordinance was entirely illegal, but they paid $taff and the city attorney to research it anyway. Their report to council at the August 6 regular council meeting:

Upon legal review by the City Attorney’s office, it was found that the feasibility of moving forward
with the proposed language was problematic due to similar enhanced notice language being
adjudicated as pre-empted by state law in 1986.

Ha ha. I wonder how many staffers were not even born yet in 1986.  “pre-empted by state law” means illegal. The law also states legal reasons for eviction or termination of tenancy as follows:

• Termination of month-to-month tenancy (Tenant living at residence less than one year): 30-
Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
• Termination of month-to-month tenancy (Tenant living at residence more than one year): 60-
Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
• Termination of Section 8 Tenancy (For Cause): 60-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
with cause specified
• Non-Payment of Rent: 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
• Curable Breach of Rental Agreement (other than rent): 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenants
or Quit
• Non-curable Breach of Rental Agreement: 3-Day Notice to Quit
• Termination of Section 8 Tenancy (No Cause): 90-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy

In fact, something the city has confused in their reports are the legal terms “Termination of Tenancy” and “Eviction.” A termination means the lease has come to it’s end and either the landlord or the tenant does not wish to renew it. With 30 days notice (or 60 if the tenant has lived in the rental for more than a year) a landlord can terminate a lease without any reason except that they do not wish to continue the agreement. 

An eviction is a legal proceeding resulting from things like failure to pay rent, damages that were not covered by the deposit, or refusal to vacate the premises when in violation of the lease. Eviction, or “unlawful detainer”, ends up on the court records.  That is something prospective landlords can and do use to turn down applicants, and it screws up a person’s credit. 

It was tough to watch another meeting chaired by Randy Stone – when will this guy learn how to chair a meeting? The discussion was supposed to be about the ordinance, but strayed all over the place. Huber kept wanting to talk about his September “housing conference”, which is about the general availability of housing in Chico, having more to do with how to clear hurdles for developers than anything about protecting renters. Other members of council went off topic with Huber. Meanwhile, Schwab kept trying to bring the conversation back to renter protection because that’s going to be the basis of her 2020 reelection campaign. 

Maybe Scott Huber should tell all of us how, as a realtor, he “flipped” my old neighbor’s house. Huber signed an agreement to sell this man’s house, then bought it himself one morning, selling it later that afternoon at a tidy profit. That is how the cost of housing really gets inflated – GREEDY REALTORS.  What a hypocrite that guy is, the nerve he has to talk about this issue without even disclosing the fact that he is a realtor. 

None of these people gives a rat’s ass about the tenant.

When members of the public came forward to speak on this issue at the August 2 council meeting

https://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=857&meta_id=67128

they complained that they had not been brought into the conversation in the beginning, that it was all done in day meetings between staff, NVPOA and SNVR. They were right, I received a notice of those meetings. One other group curiously left out of the invitation were “Mom and Pop” landlords, even though the language of the proposed ordinance most certainly did include them.  “the landlord or owner of any residential rental unit on a property with 2 or fewer units…”

The most common complaint speakers at the August 2 meeting had was not being told why they were being kicked out. That is something that was not addressed either in the first proposal, nor discussed at the Aug 2 meeting.  Nor raised in any of the actions staff recommended researching at that meeting. Orme reported, “Though an ordinance increasing the notice period for a termination of tenancy may not be valid due to pre-emption, courts have upheld ordinances addressing other aspects of the rental market issues addressed during the July 2 Council meeting:

• Rent control (albeit with limited effect pursuant to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act).
• Limit increases of security deposits.
• Requiring one-year leases.
• Prohibition of no-fault evictions of families with children and educators during the school
year

Before the public was even allowed to speak,the matter was directed to the Internal Affairs committee, and agendized for Monday afternoon over two months later). I wonder if any of the disgruntled speakers were even noticed of the IA meeting, or will attend. Here’s the agenda item.

B. LANDLORD/PROPERTY OWNER 120-DAY NOTICING PROPOSAL
At its meeting of 7/2/19, the Council engaged in a discussion to further protect residents impacted by rental
housing market pressures exacerbated by the secondary impacts of the Camp Fire. The City Council
directed City staff to research and develop an ordinance aligned with a proposal presented by the North
Valley Property Owners Association (NVPOA) and the Sierra North Valley Realtors (SNVR), to mandate a
120-day notice when the property owner intends to terminate tenancy. After meeting with representatives of
both entities and further researching the prospects of such an ordinance, research showed that an
ordinance requiring 120-day notice provision for residential rental leases is pre-empted by state law
governing timing of notices for tenancy terminations. At its meeting of 8/6/19 the Council referred the item
to the Internal Affairs Committee for further discussion. (Report – Mark Orme, City Manager and Deputy
City Attorney Andrew Jared)

I received another notice a couple of hours later, the staffer said to discard the previous agenda she’d sent.

B. DISCSUSION [sic] OF TENANT PROTECTIONS
At its meeting of 7/2/19, the Council engaged in a discussion to further protect residents impacted by rental
housing market pressures exacerbated by the secondary impacts of the Camp Fire. The City Council
directed City staff to research and develop an ordinance aligned with a proposal presented by the North
Valley Property Owners Association (NVPOA) and the Sierra North Valley Realtors (SNVR), to mandate a
120-day notice when the property owner intends to terminate tenancy. After meeting with representatives of
both entities and further researching the prospects of such an ordinance, research showed that an
ordinance requiring 120-day notice provision for residential rental leases is pre-empted by state law
governing timing of notices for tenancy terminations. At its meeting of 8/6/19 the Council referred the item
to the Internal Affairs Committee for further discussion with a specific focus on tenant protections.

You see the title has been changed, I’m guessing they knew the reference to an illegal act was going to piss people off. And, she had to add, “with a specific focus on tenant protections,” because the discussion at the Aug 2 meeting went all over town and back.  So the staffer had to change it, and then resend the e-mail. That’s what we call “$taff Time” and this council seems to burn through it like toilet paper.