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To vax or not to vax: at least read up on it before you decide

28 Jul

When will the madness end? According to the LA Times, “The CDC on Tuesday issued new guidance that vaccinated people should return to wearing masks indoors in public settings in parts of the country where the coronavirus is widely spreading.” As of yesterday Yolo County brought back their mask mandate.

Here in Butte County the mask mandate is being handled differently by different agencies. City of Chico meeting agendas no longer have any notice whatsoever about COVID, and meetings are open to the public again.

“The public is encouraged to participate in the City’s decision-making process and is invited to attend City Council meetings or view them live on Channel 11 or via streaming video here.  If you can’t attend a meeting, you can always submit your comments at Civic Engaged.j

Butte County Board of Supervisors still has a notice, but apparently, they will be operating on the Honor System.

Board of Supervisors meetings are open to the public. Pursuant to CDPH guidelines, face masks are not required for individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  Entering the meeting without a mask will be considered a self-attestation that an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Chico Unified School District is still pondering the mask mandate. Recall supporters are asking that it be dropped. We’ll see where that goes as Parents for In-Person Learning continue to gather signatures on their petitions. Frankly, I’ve had kids, and I’ve known a lot of kids, and kids can’t even take care of their jacket or shoes half the time. I hate to think how dirty and disgusting a kid’s mask gets. Is the teacher going to be responsible for that? I’m just glad, so very grateful, that I don’t have kids in CUSD.

Last I heard, Chico State will require vaccination if you want to get a degree. If it were me, I’d definitely go to a better school.

My kids got the shot for their jobs, and they got very sick afterwards. Who calls these reactions “mild side effects”:

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Well, the Mayo Clinic, for one. These are symptoms that can keep a person in bed, unable to care for themselves, and out of work, as Mayo also states, for one to three days. That’s hardly “mild”. My kids were totally KO-d for two days.

The information just gets worse as you read along. Blood clots. Heart problems, especially in young people? If you are considering this vaccination, you better read up on it:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vaccine/art-20484859#side-effects

And before you go, remember to stock up on simple foods like instant soup, easy to eat stuff like crackers, apples, bananas. You might want to get some bottled water to have next to your bed. Get some cold packs, or just frozen vegies – they make a nice cold pack, and they’re nice to eat when you have a fever. Make sure your bed is clean and comfortable and your laundry is caught up. If you have children, arrange for somebody else to take care of them for maybe three days.

Good luck!

Chico Unified Recall: Petition signing event Aug 4, 4pm, at PV High

27 Jul

Chico Parents for In-person Learning report they are still receiving support and gathering signatures for the recall of four members of the Chico Unified School District Board – Kathy Kaiser, Elaine Robinson, Tom Lando and Caitlin Dalby.

https://www.chicoparents.org/

You can download and print your own petition and send it in, but I personally prefer to sign in person. There will be a signature gathering event at 4pm on August 4 at Pleasant Valley (PV) High School. You can get more information at their facebook site.

These four shut Chico schools down for a year of instruction, putting children behind in their studies, and leaving parents struggling between childcare and work. They hurt our community and our economy. All the while, teachers continued to get paid. The straw that broke my back was back in April, when the district divvied up almost two and a half MILLION in COVID relief funding in bonuses to those teachers. For what?

Of course, as you may have seen, my letters to the editor were answered by a shower of arrows from local union operatives, attacking figures I got out of a CUSD agenda. That speaks volumes about the need for this recall. All four recall candidates are union members, which I find a little lopsided. I’d like to see more parents of various backgrounds on the board, but with union support these people had the advantage and the insider edge. If you read those letters, you see what the union is all about – bullying.

So I hope you will support this effort made, not only on behalf of Chico’s kids, but Chico’s future. Do you want to live under the Union Thumb? Do you want your children to live under that type of fascism?

Did PG&E start the Dixie Fire? Have they even done the clearance ordered after the Camp Fire?

18 Jul

Did PG&E start the Dixie Fire? Well, according to Cal Fire, the fire originated under the same, crumbling PG&E lines that started the Camp Fire.

If you drive into the foothills, it’s obvious that PG&E is not doing the clearance they were ordered to do, at least one federal judge has already called them on it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-judge-slams-pg-e-efforts-to-trim-trees-near-power-lines-to-prevent-wildfires-11582149085

A judge has actually called for more power shut-offs for safety, saying the trees have not been adequately cleared.

https://www.marinij.com/2021/03/23/judge-mulls-requiring-pge-to-turn-off-power-more-frequently/

My family owns a piece of property in the foothills that was threatened by the Camp Fire. PG&E has sent three different contractors over the last three years, they’ve marked trees on our property that are near our neighbors’ power lines with three different colors of spray paint. They’ve noticed us each time of a specific date that they would be coming onto our property to cut those trees. We’ve driven up to our property and stayed for days with the gate open, but they’ve never shown up. We do our own clean-up, but are not able to cut trees towering over power lines.

So, if you have a good enough imagination, you should drive up Hwy 32 toward Chester, and just imagine every tree along the road fully engulfed. That’s what people experienced escaping Paradise three years ago. You saw the cars with plastic fixtures and paint melted off all over Chico for weeks.

Butte County should also be doing work, all along county roads, the brush is thick under the power lines. Garland Road was a major evacuation route during both the 2008 Paradise fire and the Camp Fire. The brush sticks out so far along the side of that road, right under power lines, trees towering above, it scrapes the side of our truck in many places. Folks we know who live along that road have also been contacted multiple times by various PG&E contractors who never showed up to do the work.

I sent this information, with pictures, to former Enterprise Reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Hanson but she never responded. Our local media is just crap. I saw this story, a three part series, on the Ch 10 news out of Sacramento – Fire, Power, Money.

Our governor is also to blame. Here we read that Newsome and other California politicians continued to take campaign contributions from PG&E even after the convictions for 84 deaths in Paradise and don’t forget those people incinerated in their homes in San Bruno. The Sonoma Fire. The Zogg Fire. I can’t remember all the fires PG&E has started or people they’ve killed.

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/politics/california-politicians-campaigns-2-million-pge/103-4161feb9-1591-4ffc-9fda-d9c49d7173b8

I wonder, but don’t have time to look it up – how much money has PG&E given Newsome to fight the recall?

Oroville is rethinking fire department management – Chico needs to do same

13 Jul

I got this video from a reader, and I got such a kick out of it, I had to post it.

Yes, there’s crude language, I’m sorry if you find that offensive. But I’ve had conversations like this with members of Chico Fire, including a guy who told me, “wait until your fat husband has a stroke… we won’t be there to carry his fat ass to the amubulance…”

As this video points out, firefighters don’t even make the Top Ten Most Dangerous Jobs list. You can google that yourself, I found several different lists that put even landscape maintenance workers ahead of fire department employees in terms of risk, injuries, and deaths on the job.

A firefighter hasn’t died in Chico since the 1970’s. The biggest issue we’ve had here was the mold at Station 5.

In fact, if you look at the report the city puts out every year, you find the average Chico Fire employee spends more time escorting ambulances – that don’t pay – than they do putting out fires.

Look, I know we need them, but do we need them to be working 48 hour shifts, getting paid to sleep, shower, eat, and do their grocery shopping in the ladder truck? We need to rethink our fire management, like Oroville is doing right now.

It’s a better time than ever to pay attention

11 Jul

We have a super-aggressive hummingbird in our yard this year. I call him Mighty Max, because he’s about the same size as that classic toy, and feisty as heck. Whenever I water the plants that he feeds from, he buzzes my head, like a warning volley. I put up with him, because he eats at least his weight in mosquitoes. And I like his attitude – just because you’re small, doesn’t mean you have to let yourself be kicked around.

While it’s good to stand your own ground when you need to, its also good to have a big friend, like Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Yes, On Friday June 25, HJTA filed an Answer in response to city of Chico’s request for validation of their Pension Obligation Bond in the Butte Superior Court. An Answer is the threat to sue if the city were to go forward with the validation process. The city, according to a spokeswoman from HJTA, decided to dismiss their request for validation, but, they have not formally rescinded, as explained below.

HJTA filed an Answer to the City’s validation action, but it is hopefully a mere cautionary exercise. The City indicated it will be dismissing the validation action, and rescinding its resolution to pass the pension obligation bond. Because the City could technically dismiss the action and then not rescind the resolution, we filed our Answer to be sure it happens as promised. Only in the unlikely event that the resolution is not rescinded would we need to continue the court case.

So there’s another wait-and-see. While I can’t believe the city would take on a lawsuit at this point, they’ve shocked me before. I’d like to remind people, if you can make a $15 donation to HJTA, they make good use of the money.

Again I’ll say, I was sorry to see Kami Denlay go, because she was the only council member to vote No on the POB, reminding other council members that instituting a tax without voter approval is against the California Constitution. The rest of council went along with it, and I find that very disturbing.

I wasn’t sorry to see Scott Huber go – he has high expectations for the taxpayers, with low expectations for city services, and that’s just not logical. At one Finance Committee meeting he declared that “if Chico doesn’t want to pay more taxes then they won’t get services…” It seems obvious from a statement like that, Huber was out of touch with his constituents, very much at odds the general public. Instead of serving the taxpayers who pay for everything he seemed to want to punish us. That’s not the appropriate attitude for a public servant, we’re not here to pay for his fantasy land agenda.

I do find the circumstances of both their departures to be questionable, especially the ease with which they rolled over to the mobs, even after city clerk Debbie Presson cited the laws and said both were compliant. That’s what you get with a public position, it’s not a popularity contest like so many people think. This will just strengthen the bullies on both sides.

As for council appointments to fill their seats, well, that’s legal within the charter. Remember, council (majority in charge) writes and rewrites the charter with every change in the wind. This conversation has been had a few times since Colleen Jarvis abruptly died of cancer and the Esplanade League tried to shove her husband into her vacant seat. Council has gone over various options, including each council member naming their own replacement at the get-go. I lost track of what they finally decided to do.

But what I expect of the council sitting now is that it will be 4-1 on both appointments, as Coolidge and Morgan, with Reynold’s/Tandon’s blessing, fill both seats with their own friends. Meaning, people willing to go along with tax increases. I don’t think those four “conservatives” shed any tears over Denlay’s departure. While she was willing to go along with the exorbitant contracts, her conscience seemed to override taxation without voter approval.

So, I don’t know about you, but I will expect a shitstorm of tax measures coming around through the usual committee discussions. Or will they? Staff has learned that the less the public hears about tax measures, the easier it is to get council to put them on the ballot. I hope you’ll all join me in watching the committee agendas for these discussions. You might also want to contact your district representative, if you still have one, and just point blank ask them about the proposal for a sales tax measure and “road” bonds.

Ever vigilant folks, cause evil and greed never sleep.

Head over heels crazy – what will become of Chico?

6 Jul

I haven’t been blogging lately because, frankly, I can’t make heads or tails of what the hell is going on right now. Chico is a giant mess, people are just acting completely crazy. It’s a total breakdown of civilization, created by a government in mutiny.

If you think I’m over dramatizing, read a history book. Our elected officials and staff are not the first to turn on the public, abandon ship, and loot the treasury on their way out. That is what a Pension Obligation Bond does, it places the burden of the pensions on the taxpayers, forever.

Who you gonna call? Our elected officials are not interested in what we think, and when cornered, will say whatever they think we want to hear. Staff has holed behind Formal Requests For Information, transparency is over. I was just reading an article from Ted Siedle, in which he reports that California is among the worst states in financial transparency, especially of investments. And that’s exactly what I found when I asked city finance director Scott Dowell about the returns he’s been getting from the pension fund investments. He made me open an account and submit a formal request for the answer.

3Unfortunately, I haven’t had any news from Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association yet, but I sent another email today and frankly told them things are really bad in Chico right now and I would like to hear some good news! I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, I’m ignoring the Facebook sites, like I’d avoid public bathrooms these days.

Will HJTA’s C&D be the end of the POB? Wait and see!

25 Jun

I heard about “Pension Obligation Bonds” years ago, and the name seemed to be pretty clear – a bond that obligates the taxpayers to pay the pensions.

When I started this blog in 2012, we had just got a new city manager, Brian Nakamura. As I recall, he was the first person to mention the pension deficit – Unfunded Actuarial Liability – in front of the public. At that time, he gave two figures – one about $168 million, another about $193 million. I think the second figure included something else Nakamura brought up briefly – the benefits deficit, or “Other Post Employment Benefits”.

Nakamura didn’t stay long, he brought in his former assistant manager from Hemet CA, Mark Orme, and another co-worker from Hemet, Chris Constantin, to replace departing Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy. Nakamura was obviously setting us up for his quick departure to his next job in the town of Rancho Cordova, CA. When Nakamura left, Orme became City Manager, and promoted his friend Chris Constantin to Asst City mgr. Scott Dowell moved over from Chico Area Recreation District to take up the job of Finance Director, now called, “Administrative Services Director.”

These three immediately embarked on a plan to pay down the UAL with “allocations” from every fund in the city treasury. They brought in a consultant, Chad Wolford, who explained the process by which they could legally embezzle money from the streets, parks, sewer, and other infrastructure funds, to pay their own pensions. Allocations were institutionalized, with nothing more than a rubber stamp from council. A percentage of each department payroll is taken into the new “Pension Stabilization Trust,” from which Dowell makes investments, and then once a year, an increasing payment to CalPERS. At one point, they’d beaten the UAL down to about $138 million.

So, how has the UAL actually increased to $146 million? Plus another $140 million interest? Here’s how – Orme is not controlling employee costs. Instead he’s handing out raises, to himself and other management employees. Furthermore he’s added new management positions, three in the last year, at over $100,000 in salary.

Furthermore, management employees are only paying 9% of the cost of their own pensions. Do the math on that – 70% of their highest year’s salary at retirement, for a contribution of 9%? Meanwhile, Orme and several others have wangled themselves a special 401K fund for public employees – a 457 Fund. The city (the taxpayers) put $20,000 a year into that fund. Were you asked to rubberstamp this? Nobody was – I found it in his contract. People, you have to read stuff. I love it when the union lovers and the badge bunnies call me a liar but you ask and NO, they haven’t read shit.

Under this kind of strain, the PST is not supporting the payments. Dowell’s investments are coming in at less than 3%. Every month Dowell has to ask council to rubberstamp more allocations to meet CalPERS’ demands – look at the agendas before you call me names, okay? The annual payment gets bigger every year – this year, $11.5 million. Dowell says we’ll be paying $13 million within a few years. So, how, oh how, does that UAL figure keep getting bigger?

I’m glad to say, people are starting to ask questions. Staff wants to bury the whole thing, like it never happened. So, very quietly, behind closed doors (latest Finance Committee cancelled until August), Staff and council have been pushing forward with a tax measure they don’t want to put on the ballot – the Pension Obligation Bond. This bond will take front and center – the payments on this bond must be made ahead of all the city’s other obligations.

What are the city’s other obligations? Your streets, your sewer, your cops and firefighters, your park. All that has, as you can see, gone along the wayside while Staff has stuffed our money, hand over fist, into their own pockets.

Some people, including myself, believe a tax is a tax, and it needs to go to the ballot. Since this POB would be a “special” tax dedicated to the purpose of stuffing employees’ pockets (or whatever they want to call it), it’s a 2/3’s measure. When this point was brought up, Staff closed down the meetings and the planned “work shop” and went underground with it.

A local gadfly told me, “the POB is dead.” He cited the “cease and desist” order filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the cancellation of the workshop. I’m afraid that’s not true. A quick search on “cease and desist order” told me what I already suspected. The city can ignore it, and HJTA has to SUE. The filing date is this coming Monday, June 28. If nobody challenges the POB at Butte Superior Court, it will be approved automatically, cease and desist order be damned. A cease and desist order is just a line in the dirt, if the city steps over it and HJTA doesn’t do anything, it’s done.

If I had a lawyer, I’d file it myself, but I’ll have to wait and see what HJTA will do.

Remember, the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. Is this vaccine effective, is it safe, and do you really need it?

23 Jun

Somebody asked me recently if I’m an “anti-vaxxer”. That’s a can of worms there.

Vaccination has always been a hot topic. Most people have accepted standard vaccines like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, and whooping cough, because they’ve been used for years and most of us have never heard of any bad reactions. Those diseases also caused a lot of misery in recent history, so people were eager to protect their children. My dad remembered a whole family that died of diptheria, my mother-in-law was hospitalized for two years with polio as a child, and an aunt was left completely deaf after a bout with whooping cough. So as a society we’ve become pretty comfortable with the notion of letting somebody inject us with a tiny bit of a disease in the hopes that our body would learn how to handle it.

I started questioning vaccines after a bad reaction from a vaccination I had as a college student. My mom’s house had flooded and our vaccine records were lost, so Chico State made me take an MMR shot again. I got a weird rash and felt very run down for a few days, and thought that was it. But, about 5 years later, I got the same rash and got so weak I was in bed for almost three weeks, had to hold onto furniture to make it to the bathroom.

I assumed it was because I’d already had the shot. I went ahead and had my kids vaccinated – my midwife made a good point. Those diseases have been essentially eliminated in the US, but, she pointed out correctly, this area sees a lot of immigration from countries that don’t vaccinate, so those diseases can still come back. I got my kids the vaccinations I’d had as a child.

When the chickenpox vaccine came out, I resisted. When I was a child, if somebody in the neighborhood had chickenpox, you took your kids to their house to play. When my sister and I had chickenpox, my grandmother took us to a woman who wanted her 8 children exposed. She let us watch tv all day and eat Otter Pops. Both my kids had chickenpox, and I think it was good for them. Only later did they tell us – if you haven’t had a good case of chickenpox as a child, you have to live in fear of it the rest of your life because it’s much more severe in adults. If you vaccinate, it’s recommended that you have regular boosters throughout your adult life. I feel good about that decision.

We’ve also all had good cases of the flu, one year it was so bad we called it The Asskicker Flu. I feel good about that too – I believe having an illness gives your body the strength to resist. But I also saw a lot of things wrong with the flu vaccine. For one thing, the CDC admitted, there are so many different strains of the flu, they just plain GUESS which vaccine they should be doling out. According to their website, “The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.” And they also admitted, they haven’t always been right, and we’ve had bad flu seasons even when people have lined up out the door at Raleys to get the shots.

Then there was the case in 2019 of flu shots that turned out to be insulin.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/11/08/flu-shots-insulin-oklahoma-10-hospitalized/2529395001/

Insulin will kill you if you are not a diabetic. How are we supposed to trust the medical community when they make mistakes like this? We’ve also heard a lot of contradictions during this pandemic, too many to list here.

I don’t think it’s stupid or foolish to ask questions. It’s supposed to be our duty to stand up when we hear or see something that is completely out of line with logic and reason. I’m very uncomfortable with how eagerly some people have given up their civil rights over this COVID panic, and even more uncomfortable with how they’ve tried to bully others into compliance.

We’ve come a long way since 1776, but we may have been moving in a circle.

CUSD Board Recall: if every parent whose family has been negatively affected by school closures would sign the petition, it would be a slam dunk

15 Jun

I would still like to remind folks to sign the recall petitions for CUSD board members Kathy Kaiser, Eileen Robinson, Caitlin Dalby and Tom Lando. Chico Parents For In-Person Learning need about 11,000 signatures, and remember, you have to sign a separate petition for each board member. Get a petition at their website here:

https://www.chicoparents.org/recall-petitions

I outlined the reasons I was supporting this recall in a recent letter to the editor. I read the agenda and reports for the May 19 board meeting at which the four in question voted to dole out $2.5 million in bonuses to district employees who never missed a paycheck during the shut down. I got my teachers’ average salary figure right from the horse’s mouth – the agenda reports. But a few local union gadflies are trying to talk me down in letters to the ER. They should really read the reports first, available here:

Here’s my response, below, sent to the ER today. I wish those of you who have already signed the petition would write to the ER and outline the reasons you are supporting the recall.

Letter writers have questioned a figure I cited in a recent letter to the editor.

I got the average pay for a CUSD teacher from the 5/19/21 Chico Unified board agenda report. The lowest fulltime Chico teacher’s salary I saw on Transparent California was over $69,000/year. Benefits packages ranged from about $10,000 to $35,000. The average also includes a wide variety of miscellaneous part-time positions paid less than $1,000/year.

Chico teachers are very well compensated. They were fully paid through the school closures, even receiving bonuses, while working parents scrambled to find child care or stayed home from work, left to navigate the unemployment system.

My main concern with the CUSD board is that four of five positions are held by union members. While I agree that school employees are entitled to fair representation, that is a lopsided. Especially when you consider that members have a paid union arbitrator to represent them before the board. In fact, at least two of the four vote on contracts that directly benefit them. That is an obvious conflict of interest.

These four have kept the schools closed – dereliction of duty, the shameful failure to fulfill one’s obligations. These people are abusing a position of trust, with no regard for the community. They’ve ignored the concerns of parents and the welfare of the children.

If every parent whose family has been negatively affected by the school closures signed the petitions, it would be a slam dunk.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Butte County to use PG&E settlement funds to pay down employee pension deficit

5 Jun

I wrote to the county board of supervisors yesterday, sending them the links regarding Howard Jarvis Taxpayers litigating over the issue of Pension Obligation Bonds and their letter to the city of Chico. Meanwhile, Dave Howell got on the phone and called his district rep, Todd Kimmelshue, to get more information. Hold onto your seat, I was shocked to find out how the county plans to handle it’s pension deficit.

I spoke with Kimmelshue’s aid and was told the supervisors have decided not to pursue a POB. And apparently they made that decision not because a POB is very risky and an all around bad idea, but because they plan to dump money from the PG&E settlement into the pension UAL, so they don’t think a POB is “necessary” at this time. (They’re also going to use the money to go on a bureaucrat hiring spree but that’s another ridiculous story.)

Why should money from PG&E for the fire settlement go to the pensions? That money should go to fix the damage done by the fire and if it’s already been fixed it should go to prevent future fires or to fix the terrible roads or why not give it back to the county’s taxpayers who are also PG&E rate payers? After all, WHERE do they think PG&E got the money they have to give to the county? They got it from us, the rate payers!

But they are going to throw this money down the pension rat hole, just like they do with the money for the roads and so many other necessities.

Why oh why do we have such awful politicians???

I can’t answer that, but I will say, the politicians are only as good as we demand. Whenever I tell people to write to their elected officials I worry that nothing we do matters. But we’ve seen otherwise. So sit down and write those emails, make those phone calls. This is WRONG. People were burned out of their homes, some murdered, by a corporation’s blatant incompetence and greed, and now county staffers will dance on the graves of the dead while sharing the blood money among themselves?

I don’t think that’s over-dramatic.