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

4 Jul

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

Good homework for “The Fourth.”  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

18 Jun

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

Sorry if I have been rude, Friend.

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

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

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

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

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

Short Attention Span Theater.

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

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

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



Cal Water comes on strong with propaganda blitz in Visalia

29 Dec

I was not surprised that as soon as I found out about the city of Visalia’s plans to look into ownership of their own water system, I also found Cal Water has mounted a mis-information campaign.

Yesterday I posted Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen’s letter to the Visalia Times Delta, explaining why the city is thinking about buying out Cal Water. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it “thinking about buying out” – how much would any of us know about that? Call a realtor? What?

The city is making a very legitimate effort not only to learn the facts but to get the public involved in the discussion. Of course, Cal Water intends to put their foot in the middle of the facts and grind the conversation out like an old cigarette butt. Independent Thought Alarm!

The first volley is underhanded and sneaky. Letters to the newspaper, not from Cal Water employees, but from employees of a popularly unknown company that serves Cal Water and other utilities by manufacturing and installing the infrastructure by which these utilities “serve” us.

You’ve seen that episode of “Twilight Zone” and you’ve seen the parody on “The Simpsons”. You know what Cal Water means when they say they “serve” people.

After Mayor Nelsen’s letter appeared in late November, these two letters turned up December 11.

There’s no doubt in my mind that California’s tax-and-spend policies have burdened the middle class and driven business from our state. That’s one reason I chose to make Visalia my home; affordability when it comes to cost of living, and for the most part, responsibility when it comes to decisions made by our elected officials.

Unfortunately, recent actions by our local government could be construed as anything but responsible. Their move to start a takeover of our water system from Cal Water is not only reckless, but has also been done under the table and without public input. This is a mistake and it’s incredibly disappointing.

I will be opposing the water takeover and supporting Cal Water. I will also be thinking very carefully about how I vote when our elected officials are up on the ballot; any councilmember who supports this won’t be getting my check next to their name.

Dylan Byer


Wow, Mr. Byer, what a load of manure you’ve shoveled out here. You didn’t come to Visalia for the affordable cost of living, you came as an employee of Western Utilities Transformer Services. Glassdoor reports the average salary at WUTS in the mid $70,000 range, which is more than one and a half times the median income in Visalia. WUTS works for Cal Water and other utility companies, so it’s in their best interests to take public opposition out of the CPUC process. 

Please note that Mr. Byer does not offer any real information regarding this issue, but misinformation. He says this conversation has been had “under the table,” even though the mayor has written a letter to the newspaper about what’s going on a couple of weeks previous.

Here below is a letter from a woman whose husband is employed by WUTS. She threatens that just having a conversation and moving forward with a study is going to “indebt us for years to come.” 

Her grammar alone is enough to send anybody away screaming. How do you talk to people like this, with the childish threats? “water takeover”?

Ratepayers and taxpayers beware: The City of Visalia is about to make a grave mistake and we’ll be the ones who pay for it.

If City Council moves forward and conducts the study to take over our water system from Cal Water, it will indebt us for years to come.

In order to avoid poor service, higher rates and new taxes, join me and stand against the water takeover!

Rachel Telfer


Published a couple of weeks later was the following letter, supposedly signed by 57 Cal Water employees, including Utility Workers union shop steward Juan Cisneros:

Imagine for a moment that one morning there is a knock at your door. When you open the door, the people standing there tell you that they are from the IRS and that they are going to come in to determine how much your house and belongings are worth just in case they decide to seize them from you, but that you really don’t have anything to worry about.

Of course, their assurance that you don’t need to worry would fall on deaf ears, not only because it obviously isn’t true, but also because you probably wouldn’t have heard much after “we’re from the IRS.”This hypothetical scenario became all too real for the 61 local employees of Cal Water, which has been Visalia’s local water utility since 1926. On Nov. 5, Visalia’s City Attorney sent a cold, emotionless letter to Cal Water notifying it that the city was going to conduct an appraisal of Cal Water’s property and business in Visalia ahead of possibly trying to seize them through eminent domain. City staff told Cal Water that it really doesn’t have anything to worry about.

Does City Council not realize that Cal Water is as much a part of the Visalia community as anything else in our city?A few weeks later, Mayor Nelsen asked in these pages whether Visalia needs Cal Water, and laid out his case for taking over the water system. Worse, he accused each and every employee at Cal Water of being unconcerned about Visalia’s residents and the well-being of the community.

Does Mayor Nelsen not realize that we are residents of Visalia? That we shop at local businesses? That many of us grew up here? That our children go to school here? That we work tirelessly every single day to make sure that everyone in Visalia has safe, reliable and high quality water service?

And just a few days ago, the city issued a press release saying they were going to delay consideration of trying to put Cal Water out of business. The press release made it clear, though, that the city was still going to complete the appraisal of Cal Water’s property and business in Visalia. And Mayor Nelsen all but said that the city hasn’t taken the option of a government takeover off of the table, just that they are going to wait a little while before making a decision. Perhaps the city was just trying to tell us, again, that we really don’t have anything to worry about.

Do City Council and Mayor Nelsen not realize that they are playing political games with our jobs, families, and lives?

Just as you would be rightfully worried if the IRS showed up at your house one morning, we are worried that the City Council is trying to put Cal Water out of business and, in the process, steal our jobs and livelihoods.

We serve this community because it is what we love to do, and ensuring you and your family have safe, reliable water service is what we are here for. We’d normally never ask for anything extra in return. This Christmas, though, would you indulge us with one small gift: Please let City Council know that there are no circumstances under which you will support a government takeover of the water system and that it should stop playing political games with our lives.

We truly appreciate your support! From our families to yours, Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Juan Cisneros, a Cal Water employee since 2006 and secretary/shop steward of the Local 205 of the Utility Workers of America, signed this letter along with 56 other local Cal Water employees.

So now we have the official hysteria campaign from Cal Water. The hyperbole is going to get so thick, you will need a gas mask. 



The squeaky wheels still gets the grease – state regulators propose an end to The Moonbeam’s draconian water conservation policy

22 Dec

I found the story below on the Fox News website, picked up from Associated Press. A smaller, back page version ran in the Enterprise Record this morning. 

“The state’s overall water conservation target could drop to about 22 percent if all of the 411 eligible water agencies apply for adjustments, he said, adding that the moves come in response to some community leaders who complained that strict conservation targets assigned to individual communities are unfair.”

So what? you say, a drop from 25 to 22 percent. I don’t see that – I see a big old foot in the door. Mine, and yours, city council’s foot, Butte County Board of Supes foot, and other foots from all over the state. We got our foots in the door, and we’re pushing that door, and we ain’t quittin’ any time soon, Bruddah!

Chico cut water usage by about 43 percent right off the bat. But Cal Water set up unrealistic “budgets” – by end of summer, big trees all over town were dying. We kept watering our big trees, having seen our neighbor kill three large, 20 year old redwoods. Those redwoods stood dead next to my house for the entire summer – if they had caught fire, our house would have been a goner. The neighbor finally had them removed, it was sad to watch, and it cost him a pretty penny. 

One day I realized, the honeysuckle hedge that runs about 50 feet down our shared fence was dying because the new neighbor had turned off the drip line the previous owner had set up from his well. It wasn’t even Cal Water, but this neighbor was all on board with the restrictions and killed his yard pretty dead anyway. I realized, I wasn’t just losing a hedge, I was gaining a serious fire hazard, one that would cost money to remove just like the neighbor’s redwoods. I started watering it, regardless of Cal Water’s restrictions – I barely managed to save it. I kept my trees watered – mostly native oaks, but also the evergreens that have protected my house for 50 or 60 years. I was fined about $70 one month, our bill was over $100. 

We are not San Diego, who has no ground water but must depend on transfers from areas like ours, and steal ocean water. When will San Diego learn to live within their means? Southern California and the Bay Area – both with sketchy water supplies, dependent on transfers – flaunted the water restrictions, going over “budget” the entire time. Here in Chico, we were punished with onerous rates and fines even after we’d cut usage by 43 percent.

Fuck you Cal Water, my foot is in the door now, someday it is going to be in your rectum.

From Fox News:

California regulators on Monday proposed relaxing water conservation targets that have required communities statewide to cut use by 25 percent during historic drought.

Communities in hot inland regions and those using new sources, such as recycled water and recently built desalination plants, could be eligible for reduced conservation requirements, said Max Gomberg, climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board.

The state’s overall water conservation target could drop to about 22 percent if all of the 411 eligible water agencies apply for adjustments, he said, adding that the moves come in response to some community leaders who complained that strict conservation targets assigned to individual communities are unfair.

“For right now, drought conditions are persisting,” he said. “We’re proposing modest changes.”

California is in its driest four-year span on record, and officials anticipate a possible fifth year of drought. Weather forecasters say a strong El Nino weather system could drench the state, but one good year won’t be enough to rehydrate the parched landscape.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year required communities throughout the state to reduce water use by 25 percent. State water regulators set individual targets for local agencies to meet, varying between 4 and 36 percent compared with 2013, but those targets will expire in February.

Brown recently extended his executive order, giving regulators authority to enforce conservation measures through October 2016, if California still faces drought in January.

Local community leaders have criticized the individual targets as unfair and unrealistic. In Southern California, local governments argued state officials should acknowledge huge investments in new supplies to prepare for drought.

This year, the San Diego region completed a $1 billion seawater desalination plant, the largest in the Americas. Orange County recently expanded wastewater recycling to produce 100 million gallons of drinking water daily.

“It has been difficult to tell our ratepayers that their investments in local supply projects have not resulted in providing the buffer against drought as intended,” Halla Razak, the city of San Diego’s public utilities director, wrote state regulators this month.

Some environmental groups oppose giving local governments credit for new supplies, saying it might discourage conservation.

The state water board will take public comment on the proposed changes for roughly two weeks. Gomberg said the state water board could hold a public hearing Feb. 2.

Getting ready to finish my letter to the CPUC – have you written yours yet?

11 Oct

I’ve been working on my protest letter to the CPUC. I always start by gathering information, below is my notes mess.  I think I’ve got enough peanut butter and jelly, time to mash it all into a sandwich.

I was talking to an old friend, a guy who’s owned a popular business in town for years, and who bought an old apartment house for his home.  Sure he’s got a water bill. But he had no idea, expressed real shock – Cal Water pays dividends to their investors. In fact, their shares became so valuable back in about 2011 that they did what is known as a “stock split” – they divided their shares all in half, not only because they wanted to have more shares to sell, and therefore raise the price through demand, but because the individual share price was “ either too high or are beyond the price levels of similar companies in their sector.”  See below.

I was just looking over the list of Cal Water salaries – their “low” salaries are over $70,000/year. And, so far as I can tell – go ahead and chime in if I am wrong Jenny – Cal Water employees pay little or nothing toward their pensions or benefits. 

So, if Cal Water really needs money for infrastructure improvement, as they say, I would say it’s in the best interest of the investors and the employees if they both come together to find the money between themselves before they turn on the ratepayers again. They are about to kill their Golden Goose. Cities all over the state are talking about eminent domaining their water companies, including Marysville.

I’ll be working the notes below into a letter to the CPUC when I can  get to it. I’ll post it here when it’s done.

  • public advisor’s office
  • name and contact info, 
  • proceeding info,
  • grounds for protest
  • effect of application on protestants – higher rates for water lead to degradation landscaping, lowering of property values, onerous costs for removal of dead trees,  and higher energy bills
  1. despite lowering our consumption, our bills have doubled, even tripled. 
  2. degradation of landscaping and property values
  3. degradation of rental value 
  4. dying trees cause a safety hazard and will cost thousands of dollars to remove safely
  5. loss of protection from sun means higher energy bills for ourselves and our tenants
  • reasons why application may not be justified – employee costs and investor dividends are too high to justify increasing rates
  1. Employee costs.  Notice from 2013:  “Based on water usage patterns in your area that have decreased significantly since Cal Water’s last filing, if the CPUC approves Cal Water’s proposed application, rates would increase the typical residential customer’s monthly bill by $9.37, or 29.4%, in 2014; followed by additional increases of $1.76, or 4.3% in 2015; and $1.83, or 4.3%, in 2016. Most costs of operating the water system are fixed, regardless of the level of usage. With lower water usage in your area, rates then have to be increased to cover the fixed costs.”Cal Water is proposing this change in rates due to  the following factors:
    • Cal Water is requesting $556,000 to retain the same level of employee health care, pensions, and retiree health care benefits for General Office personnel, the costs of which have increased faster than inflation.
    • Cal Water is requesting $423,000 to retain for district personnel the same level of employee benefits described above
    • Cal Water is requesting $415,000 for the allocation of General Office operation expenses
    • Cal Water is requesting $395,000 to retain quality employees in the district
    • Cal Water is requesting $163,000 for water infrastructure improvements between 2013 and 2016

    “Approval of the proposed rates would allow Cal Water to continue to maintain the system of water supply sources, pipes , tanks, fire hydrants, and equipment needed to provide safe and reliable water service.”

  2. salaries –

California Water Service Salary

California Water Service average salary is $90,849, median salary is $88,004 with a salary range from $77,340 to $115,848.
California Water Service salaries are collected from government agencies and companies. Each salary is associated with a real job position. California Water Service salary statistics is not exclusive and is for reference only. They are presented “as is” and updated regularly.
3.    Dividends paid to investors. 

Lou Binninger: private water providers like Cal Water charge up to 80 percent more than municipal providers

8 Oct

Marysville Can’t Afford Cal Water By Lou Binninger

Territorial Dispatch, Oct. 7 2015

 Marysville households are in shock over their water bills. Olivehurst, Linda and Yuba City residents can use much more water, add their sewer fee and still pay far less than Marysville people spend just for water. And, many of those water bills are larger than what people owe for PG and E. 

Why? Marysville is controlled by California Water Service (CWS), a for-profit corporation. CWS is known for high water rates, big profits and generous dividends. The other water systems are municipal, owned by the people and have low rates.

CWS bills are steep enough to cause customers to move. Cheaper options are 5 minutes away, just outside Marysville city limits.

Most Marysville lawns and landscaping were brown prior to drought restrictions. People could not afford the price of water in 2012. The city looks like no one gives a damn. Properties look abandoned.

However, other cities found a solution. Create a public water company and purchase the infrastructure (pipes, wells, tanks etc.). The citizens of Marysville already own the water. CWS is paid to deliver that water to them.

Food & Water Watch (FWW), a nonprofit advocate for safe and affordable drinking water, helps communities move to public control. In 2009, FWW studied nearly 5,000 water utilities and 1,900 sewer utilities and concluded that private entities charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services.

CWS rates are much higher, 3-4 times higher.

In the current CWS rate case submitted to the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) more than half of the requested 25% increase goes to improving CWS operations in San Jose. Less than one mile of the more than 54 miles of Marysville water line is listed to be replaced. In the last rate case CWS wanted 47% (2013) more and before that they were awarded a 55.5% (2011) spike in rates.

In November 2002, CalAm (Cal-American Water Co), the City of Felton’s (pop 4057-yr 2010) water provider, proposed a 74% rate increase over three years. Felton residents formed Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW), and with legal help from Santa Cruz County, fought the rate increase. CPUC reduced it to 44%.

However, fearing future escalating costs, FLOW began working on a plan to buy the water system and turn it over to nearby San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD), a public utility. By 2005, FLOW enlisted the help of FWW and worked on a ballot initiative to raise the funds to buy the system.

They were successful. The ballot initiative won with nearly 75 percent of the vote. SLVWD then proposed to buy the system for $7.6 million. CalAm/RWE refused to sell. SLVWD pursued eminent domain to force a buyout. Just before the case was to go to jury trial, Cal-Am agreed to terms.

Today, with Felton now served by a public utility, the average resident’s bill has dropped by at least 50%. FLOW has calculated that even with using a property tax increase to pay off Cal-Am, most residents are already saving as much as $400 per year.

Citizens of Ojai (pop 7581-yr 2013), east of Santa Barbara, have been working on buying-out Golden State Water (GSW) and joining adjacent Casitas Municipal Water District. Casitas delivers water at one-third the price. In 2008, GSW hiked its water rates by 34.9%. In January 2011 they bumped rates again 26.2%.

On August 13, 2013, Measure V was put on the ballot to approve joining Casitas, issue bonds to buy GSW and make capital improvements. It passed with 87.4% of the vote.

Ojai customers expect 10-15% rate decreases the first year after purchase and for rates to remain stable. The typical customer would experience an annual savings of $141.00. They project that savings will increase to $1500.00 per year by 2025.

Though the court has ruled for Ojai FLOW / Casitas Water District to purchase Golden State, the legal wrangling continues. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in July 2015.

Marysville residents have been slapped with similar or greater rate increases as either Felton or Ojai. No wonder Appeal Democrat writer Harold Kruger believes Marysville leaders are soft on the issue. Maybe it’s time the residents take charge.

City council makes last minute agenda change, announces Cal Water presentation tonight

6 Oct

Added to the council agenda late yesterday, Cal Water is scheduled to make a “presentation” before tonight’s regular council meeting.

I have been asking Mayor Mark Sorensen to become an “Intervenor” and formally protest this rate hike. He has not responded to me in any way, but announced at a previous meeting he wanted to bring Cal Water in.  I’ve watched the agendas eversince, and when I checked the agenda that was mailed to me last week for tonight’s meeting, there was nothing about Cal Water.

Last night after I heard it on the news, I checked again – still nothing. My Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk e-mailed me to say she’d seen the news bit but had also checked the agenda and found nothing.

Oh, but now it’s suddenly on the agenda. The miracle of computers, eh?

It’s scheduled for the first part of the meeting, under “Presentations.” When I received the agenda last week, North Valley Ag was the only business listed there.

I know – it really doesn’t matter. I’m not planning to attend. I sent a list of questions to Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan:

I see the Cal Water presentation has been added to the agenda – it was not on the agenda I received last week, I looked for it.  I heard it on the news last night that Cal Water would be making this presentation.  Thanks for keeping me in the loop (sarcasm alert). 


I don’t know if the public will be allowed to ask questions, but looking at their presentation I see there’s nothing about employee expenses, pension liability, or how much employees pay toward their own  benefits and pension.


I hope one  or all of you will ask these questions. And, I’d also like to know – why hasn’t the infrastructure been maintained? Why all these repairs now? What projects do they have to show for the last three consecutive rate increases we’ve received over the last 5 years? One notice listed $384,000 for pensions, and only $164,000 for infrastructure. I still have that notice.

Thank you for your due diligence to this matter, Juanita Sumner

I’m going to hold my breath until after the meeting. The Marysville City Council also invited Cal Water in for a “presentation.” They listened politely, asked a few pointy questions, and then voted unanimously to become an “Intervenor” and formally protest the proposal. 

Maureen Kirk has got “party” status, meaning, CPUC sends her updates of what is happening with our case. I’ve asked and asked for the county to become an Intervenor, Maureen has told me she’s going to check again with county counsel Bruce Alpert to see if that’s happening. 

Imagine my surprise when I read this on the Marysville For Reasonable Water Rates:

Interestingly, Butte County is also seeking party status. It filed its motion in late August.

“With or without consolidation, the proposed rate increases would impose a significant burden on the county, as a customer of Cal Water. Further, the rate increases would affect an undue hardship on county residents in the Chico and Oroville districts, as many Cal Water customers in these areas are of limited means,” Butte County’s county counsel wrote. “The average income in the affected county areas is low to moderate, with many customers on fixed incomes and/or government assistance. Economic development in these areas is slow to regain footing, as the economy is slow to recover.”

Wow! That was hard-hitting stuff.

But there was more.

“The county, as a Cal Water customer and on behalf of its residents residing in the Chico and Oroville districts, has an interest in opposing consolidation and minimizing the proposed rate increases in the above-captioned application based on the direct burden to the county and the hardship of the affected county residents,” the county’s filing said.

Wow again!!

Butte County isn’t taking any guff from Cal Water. The gloves are off.

Well, that’s nice of the MFRWR to say, but I’m very disappointed that Butte County did not use Bruce Alpert’s very expensive time to pursue Intervenor status. 

I’m disappointed in myself somewhat, I wish I could muster up the motivation to file for at least party status, write up some sort of protest – but here’s the thing. I don’t like standing up like that, with nothing but a cold breeze blowing up the back of my skivvies.

We’ll have to see what our council decides to do.

search term of the week: “how to defeat a city sales tax increase…”

4 Oct

I’ve been busy – I got a splinter in my finger and whoa, it got infected. Having run the gamut with the local medical scene, I waited until it was swollen up like a basketball and then I got a new razor blade out of my husband’s tool box and I cut it.

BOOM! Bloody puss everywhere, what a mess. I had to cut it a couple more times to get all the junk out, squeezing it and dabbing at it with a Q-tip soaked in witch hazel. Then I took a pair of scissors we got from the vet, and I cut the rest of the blister off so it wouldn’t get full of puss again. At this point I started to see tadpoles swimming in my eyeballs so I had to quit.

I would have amputated the finger to avoid a trip to any of our filthy local medical establishments. I’m looking at it right now, poking it with my other finger and everything – I can’t believe it’s almost healed already. Feels brand new, except a stiff little scab on the tip of my finger. It’s shocking how an injury like that just takes all my concentration, even now I think about it every time I touch that finger to the keyboard.

It’s still hard to concentrate with all the stuff going on around here. It’s like one of those tv shows where the plot line is so complicated, if you miss one episode you might as well quit watching. And when I turn to fellow audience members to see what happened while I was in the bathroom, I get, “sorry, I missed that meeting…” or “oh, I don’t have time…”  

After a recent conversation with one of my elected representatives and staff regarding the homeless situation, crime, and the County Behavioral Health Department, I’m tempted to blow this whole Chico scene and go off grid.  Just say,  Fuck it,  like EVERY DAY.  But when I look at that sea of crap floating in here and all I got is this little dinghy, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “Man the battle stations!” There is nothing left but The Fight. I won’t give up everything I own here and hit the road like a dust bowl Oakie.  

So imagine my delight when I look at the search engine and see “how to defeat a city sales tax increase” hanging among the debris of the week? Somebody else is out there!  

I wonder what they found besides this blog. I type their search phrase into the computer.

I find out, right off the top, about two-and-a-half years ago, the voters of Los Angeles defeated a half-cent sales tax increase – $211 million/year “to prevent layoffs, fund the Los Angeles police and fire departments and improve city streets and sidewalks.”  Facing a $215 million deficit, 55% of voters just said “No!” to their city employees’ outrageous demands. Good for the people of Los Angeles. But that’s kind of a squeaker.

Next I read an interesting story from Park City, Kansas, a small town near Wichita, where a sales tax increase was placed on the 2008 ballot.   According to a pre-election article in  the Wichita Business Journal, ” a proposed one-cent sales-tax increase over 10 years — to be decided by voters Nov. 4 — to finance the construction of an $8 million recreation center is putting Park City’s pro-business reputation under fire.”

There are pictures of businesses around town with “Vote No” messages on their marquees – a sign at the local Spangles gives a phone number and encourages passersby to contact their  council members. “Park City business owners talk about the competitive disadvantage and how a higher sales tax rate would drive patrons to places outside the city with a cheaper sales tax.”

Good for Park City business owners, and good for the voters who turned out to trounce that measure by 88%.

In 2014, Wichita tried their own sales tax increase – to fix roads was all I could find on that – but the voters defeated that measure by 62%. There were three sales tax increase measures on the Sedgewick County  ballot that year, all defeated.

Kansas kicks ass. 

But, I can’t find very much about how they defeated these measures.  And there’s not much news for what happened afterwards. I found an article that threatened more highway fatalities because Missouri voters defeated a sales tax grab.

That’s all they have – threats. Here in Chico, our police department threatens not to do their job. Well, they already don’t do their job, so what do we have for perspective?

I find, I’m not the only person who thinks the government is a financial black hole, that our public employees are only interested in their personal finances, and that we the taxpayers have had enough. 




Kern County supervisors vote to formally oppose Cal Water rate hike – what are our local elected officials doing about it?

23 Sep
Kern County Supervisors voted unanimously today to actively oppose a water rate increase by the County’s largest water supplier, California Water Service (CWS).   The action allows the county to officially intervene in a proceeding before the California Public Utilities Commission, which is considering CWS’s request to raise water rates up to 19.2% in Bakersfield and 10.5% in the Kern River Valley.

Supervisors said they believe it is unfair to expect these residents to absorb such a large increase in their water budget, particularly since CWS has not offered sufficient financial justification for the rate increases.

“More than half of Cal Water’s Bakersfield and Kern River Valley residents have low to moderate incomes or are senior citizens living on fixed incomes,” Board of Supervisors Chairman David Couch said. “This rate increase would impose a significant hardship on these people.”

Supervisors said they have many questions regarding the need for rate increases that could send water bills for CWS customers in Bakersfield to an average of $1,176 per year and as high as $1,596 on average in the Kern River Valley. The rate increases would come on top of higher water rates approved in 2013.

CWS’ proposal would raise rates incrementally over three years (2017, 2018 and 2019). Its CPUC filing claims the increases are necessary to replace water lines and upgrade facilities in the region, but Supervisors question whether CWS has been providing responsive and effective water service in return for the rates it charges, and they expressed strong concerns about the affordability of the proposed increases.

“The EPA’s recommended affordability threshold for water and wastewater costs combined is 2.5% of income, and the California Department of Public Health sets affordability at 1.5% of income,” Supervisor Couch said. “Cal Water’s current rates in the Kern River Valley already far surpass the affordable level and would climb even higher under the current rate proposal. In Bakersfield, half of Cal Water’s customers have incomes below the federal poverty level, and their water bills will be nearly 50% higher than the affordable threshold if this is approved.”
Couch said county officials will provide formal testimony in opposition to the rate increase later this year.

Reader makes some good points

21 Sep

Reader James made a comment on

“I have read that with so many PG&E and other power company ratepayers going to solar to reduce their bills, the power companies are/will be faced with revenue shortfalls.”

I did a little checking and I wanted to clarify – PG&E actually makes money on solar.  They buy it from their customers for about 4 cents a kwh, then turn around and sell it for 16 – 33 cents (baseline to Tier 4).

James also reasoned “ there are legitimate costs for upkeep, repairs, replacement, upgrading etc, as well as salaries/benefits. “

That’s true. I’m asking anybody who sees PG&E or Cal Water engaged in any  of those activities in Chico to send me a photo.