Here’s a good read – how to recall a local politician

3 Jan

I know, it’s easy to shoot your mouth off, scream RECALL! every time you get sick of the politicians ruining your lives. But is it just hot air? Is a recall do-able?

Yes, it is. In fact, last June, opponents of SB1, the gas tax increase passed and enacted by California legislators in January 2017, successfully recalled a Southern California Senator who pushed the tax. 

https://reformcalifornia.org/reform-california-celebrates-victory-in-recall-of-sen-josh-newman/

Unfortunately, the gas tax repeal measure, Prop 6, was defeated in September,  because the Attorney General created a false and misleading title.

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary/misleading-title-hamstrings-gas-tax-repeal-measure/

I believe the Attorney General should be recalled too, but instead Reform California is now working on a measure that would take the duty of naming ballot measures away from elected politicians, who obviously have bias when it comes to legislation. 

But let’s talk about recalling local politicians who play loose and fast with the rules – like Karl Ory. I can’t believe I’m saying this – Thank Goodness for city clerk Debbie Presson, or the council would have violated the meetings laws and gone ahead with major changes to local building code without the required public noticing and discussion at last night’s meeting. It’s Presson’s duty to know and keep the rules of council meetings, and she had to tell Ory that he was out of line last night. 

But it’s really our duty as voters, citizens and taxpayers to know the rules, and our rights. Don’t be intimidated by the language – sit down with this “work book” regarding recalls, and I think you’ll realize, it’s do-able, People.

https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/recalls/procedure-recalling-state-and-local-officials/

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Karl Ory needs to go

3 Jan

Last night the new “liberal” council bit off more than they could chew, trying to shove second units into neighborhoods all over town. They also tried to overturn a rule that came out of nearly a year of arguing for owner-occupancy of homes with “accessory dwelling units” in the Chico State – Enloe neighborhood.  They even wanted to let developers off the hook for fees – even after the past two years of heated discussion over developers not paying enough in fees for roads and other city services.f

Here we go again, every time there’s a shift in council, they spend countless staff hours – $$$$$$! – trying to overturn decisions made by the previous council. 

What they don’t get is, those decisions were made because many citizens had come forward with complaints about developers, like Wayne Cook, who were being allowed to add third, fourth, even fifth “second units” without providing parking or street fees. What they were protesting were landlords who turned backyard, unplumbed sheds into “studio cottages” and allowed their tenants to cram onto a property, oftentimes causing neighborhood conflicts over parking across driveways, trespassing, and overflowing parties that brought the cops every weekend. 

And the new developer fees that took two or three years of arguing between the city and various developers just took effect. The city development fund has been, as Ann Schwab would put it, “in arrears” for years now, with other funds being kyped from to pay for stuff like sidewalks and other improvements that should have been paid for by developers.

And now the “liberrals,” led by Karl with a ‘K’ Ory, have found a way to allow higher density developers to skip paying for fees, by trying to get rid of fees for “accessory dwelling units” – second units by any other name would still stink!

Ory asked for an ad hoc committee to discuss this – meaning, no notice to the public of meetings, no agendas, no minutes. Last night Ory tried to pull stuff that wasn’t on the agenda, and he got called on it. And I’m guessing he didn’t like having to listen to so many people who didn’t agree with him – I was at a meeting chaired by Ory and he tried to tell me I’d already made a comment and didn’t get anymore! This guy isn’t a liberal, he’s a fucking fascist!

Ory also initiated the attack on the 20th Street Scrap Yard. Because? He wants to put low income housing on the property, like the CHIPS houses they’ve already shoved in. Right in the middle of a light industrial zone. 

Ory is business, citizen and taxpayer hostile, he’s a disaster for our town and needs to go. RECALL!

In 2019 I hope people will pay attention to their legislators and get more involved

2 Jan

The top search in my stats for months now has been “Kamala Harris sucks”, or variations thereof.  I get a lot of hits on an old  blog in which I chastised the current senator and former California Attorney General for letting former CPUC president Michael Peevey off the hook for inappropriate relations with various utility companies.

Coincidentally, the second biggest search I’ve had lately is about a bill being proposed  by  Southern California legislator Chris Holden that would allow PG&E to make customers pay the  fines for wildfires that have been found to be the result of poor maintenance of PG&E infrastructure.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2018/11/24/assemblyman-to-introduce-legislation-to-let-pge-off-the-hook-for-the-camp-fire-theyve-already-been-allowed-to-pass-the-santa-rosa-fires-off-onto-the-ratepayers/

Holden only filed his proposal a month or so ago, but I’m watching for it.  Which brings me to a new online source I’ve found that everybody should know about, the Calfornia Legislative Information site:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billStatusClient.xhtml

It’s easy to use – even if the bill has not received a number yet, all you need is the name of the legislator who proposed it, or you can try using key words for a search.

This morning I wanted to check the status of a bill proposed in 2017 that would have exempted school teachers from paying income tax. I would tell you what I think of such a proposal but it would be moot – when I  checked the bill status website I found it had “died” earlier this year. Without a whimper, apparently.

That bill had been mentioned on the tv news, as was Holden’s recent proposal. I try to keep my notebook handy when I’m watching the news, these blurbs run by like skittering mice and disappear just as quickly. The media seldom follows legislation, by the time they report something, it’s over.

I believe early intervention in legislation is essential  – that is, pay attention, and write to your legislators right away to let them know how you feel about this stuff. I’m going to guess the bill that would have let teachers skip on paying taxes went down because some legislators knew their constituents weren’t going to stand for it.

Of course, that was before the recent election, which has led to Democrats thinking they own the planet.  Get ready for some reeeealllly outrageous behavior in Sacramento – think “Philadelphia, NFC Championship 2018″. 

In 2019 I hope you will resolve to pay attention and get involved. No more bitching after it’s over.

 

Fair Political Practices Commission bringing government agencies to task over illegal use of taxpayer money to fund revenue measure campaigns

31 Dec

Thanks Bob, for this link:

https://www.presstelegram.com/2018/12/30/fppc-ups-the-ante-on-illegal-expenditures/

Over the last several years, this column has exposed multiple instances of government entities using taxpayer dollars for political advocacy, a practice that is illegal under both state and federal law.  Because progress in stopping these violations has been difficult, taxpayers will be pleased to hear that on December 20th, California’s campaign watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, conducted a hearing on illegal activity by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART).

The FPPC stated that BART used public funds to pay for a campaign of “YouTube videos, social media posts, and text messages to promote Measure RR, which authorized BART to issue $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds.” Under California law, spending money on a political campaign to pass the bond measure caused BART to qualify as an “independent expenditure committee” and required it to file campaign finance reports, but the transit agency ignored the requirement.

Sometimes I don’t think anybody takes me too seriously when I talk about this law. They ask, “how else is a government supposed to push a tax measure?” The answer is, they’re not. They can put a measure on the ballot, they can put an “Argument For…” on the ballot, but that’s it. They’re supposed to recruit “civic” organizations to do their campaigning for them. If they can’t, that ought to tell them it’s not going to pass. Instead, like Chico Unified Schools, they break the law, knowing the majority of voters and taxpayers are ignorant of the law.

Read the article and then get ready to watch City of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District use all the same illegal tactics to run their revenue measure campaigns. The school district sent out slick fliers for their last bond measure – who do you think paid for those? 

Do you think you should be on the hook for pensions of over $100,000/year?

29 Dec

In 2019 I resolve to keep local tax increases in the news. When I saw this story in the Yuba County based Territorial Dispatch I realized this is something Chicoans need to know about – yes, your elected officials and public staff will lie, cheat and steal for more money to pay their teetering pension deficits. I  don’t care what color lipstick they put on their pig – public safety, street maintenance, a baseball stadium! – it’s all about the pensions. 

Chico’s pension deficit, by the way, is now over $140 million. That’s why the city is looking to either raise the local sales tax or smack a bond on our homes. I think the employees should have to pay it – why should taxpayers making an average $43,000/year be on the hook for pensions of over $100,000/year? 

So, I wrote a letter to the Enterprise Record about it, write yours too!

On December 21 a Sacramento law firm filed an action on behalf of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and two other plaintiffs in Yuba County Superior Court to invalidate Measure K – the “Public Safety/Essential Services Protection Ordinance”. Measure K, a one cent sales tax increase, appeared on the November 6 ballot and received 54.1% of the vote. The suit contends the measure needed two-thirds voter approval as a “special tax”.

County officials deny Measure K is a “special tax”. The text of the measure begins, “To maintain and protect essential services such as 9-1-1 emergency medical/fire response; improving wildland fire containment; maintaining 24-hours sheriff’s patrol; attracting/ retaining jobs, businesses, and qualified sheriff deputies; and other essential services…” Read the ballot title again – how can Yuba County supervisors claim this measure was a general tax? 

Other critics have questioned the use of taxpayer money to promote the measure, which is illegal in California. Regardless, the city of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District are currently working with consultants behind closed doors to bring forward separate revenue measures for the 2020 ballot. Taxpayer money is being spent not only on consultants but on staff time devoted to raising our taxes. 

While CARD has yet to disclose the kind of measure they will pursue, city officials have suggested a bond or sales tax increase for street maintenance – that would constitute a “special tax,” and would require 2/3’s vote.  

Don’t just vote and turn your back – pay attention, know your rights, get ready to hold local officials accountable.

 

Make 2019 a better year for Chico: write your supervisor and tell them to stop bringing transients in from other counties

28 Dec

I’ve been enjoying a wonderful holiday with my husband and kids, trying to think positive, trying to look ahead to 2019 with bright eyes. 

Here’s a “maybe” – Maybe it will be better than 2018! 

Lately I see searches in my stats that indicate people are worried about Chico. “increasing crime in Chico” is one of my top searches. The police chief tells us crime is down, but we all know that’s not true. Look at the Chico Police Logs – every day, there are multiple crimes reported, burglaries, drunk driving in unregistered cars with no insurance, battery on others, weapons and drugs found on people who have warrants out for their arrest. A casual glance says most of the “perps” are  “transients,” “homeless,” or using a PO Box – even General Delivery – as an address. One guy lists his residence as “1297 TRANSIENT, Chico CA”  Some of these people list house addresses – I’m guessing their name is not on any lease.

I will say, at least Chico PD is arresting these people, but let’s see where it goes. I take a name and run it through the Butte County Superior Court case index, here:

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/Dashboard/29

The first name I keyed in didn’t produce anything – for an 18 year old arrested for breaking and entering. So I entered another name. This time I found a guy who had been a serial pain-in-the-ass since 2012, one arrest after another for drunk in public, resisting and obstructing police officers, and then failing to appear in court for his appointed trial, only to have charges dropped when he was forcibly dragged  before a judge.

That pisses me off. We pay big bucks for that. You should really sit in on the court sometime, I have, several times, including a short lived stint as a candidate for jury, another time when a friend of mine was having legal problems. It’s ridiculous, we have judges who are completely senile, and staffers who sit racking up six figure salaries for doing absolutely nothing all day. The lawyers are happy because it means more money for them. It’s a day with Alice and the Mad Hatter, I’ll tell you that. And the victims get stuffed in a teapot while the criminals skate out the door.

The perp in question was eventually arrested on felony charges involving concealed weapons. Look over those arrest logs, enter those names yourself – you will notice the same pattern again and again. They start out with “drunk and disorderly”, or driving a “borrowed car” with no registration or license, within a few years they’re standing over a startled college student in the middle of the night, holding his clock radio, cell phone, and other valuables. I didn’t make that incident up, I found it on the police logs. 

If you check Butte County Accidents and Fires Facebook page, you see there are car thefts reported there almost every day – and that’s usually the owner asking for help. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/butte.county.fires.accidents.crimes/

You see other  serial criminals there, arrested and released again and again, for crimes like taking a dump behind the counter of a fast food establishment while the pimply faced staff look on in horror. And it’s not late at night, transients have turned retail sectors into mad houses all day every day, harassing staff, customers, even threatening people with bodily harm. 

What could you do about it? Write an email to your Butte County Supervisor and ask them how much the county made from “transfers” to the Butte County Behavioral Health Department this year. You can check the budget for that information, but you should also let your supervisor know you don’t like it. These people are brought in for the $550/day, per person  (or more, that’s an old figure) transfer funding. We have to stop this practice, or Chico will be an insane asylum within a year. 

Here’s the most recent police log I found online, for late November:

http://www.chico.ca.us/police/documents/weeklyarrestquery.pdf

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association taking Yuba County to court over fraudulent tax revenue Measure K

27 Dec

In November the voters of Yuba County barely passed Measure K, a 1 cent/.01 sales tax increase. The measure read as follows:

To maintain and protect essential services such as 9-1-1 emergency medical/fire response; improving wildland fire containment; maintaining 24-hours sheriff’s patrol; attracting/ retaining jobs, businesses, and qualified sheriff deputies; and other essential services, shall the measure to establish a 1 cent sales tax for 10 years in unincorporated Yuba County, providing an estimated $4,300,000 annually requiring accountability, citizens’ oversight/ audits, and all revenue controlled locally, be adopted?”

California law currently requires a 2/3’s vote to pass a “special tax” for revenues that will be set aside for a specific purpose. But Yuba County ran Measure K as a general measure, only requiring 51% of the vote, even while telling the voters that the money would dedicated to public safety. You’ll note, they don’t mention services such as street maintenance or library funding, but specifically mention “emergency medical/fire response, wildland fire containment, and sheriff’s patrol…” 

There is a weird section about “retaining jobs, businesses…” – I’ll say, this measure was at the very least poorly written in a direct attempt to confuse the voters. But I think the specific mention of safety services should mean it requires 2/3’s voter passage. Of course I’m not a lawyer.

Luckily the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has plenty of lawyers on staff, and a couple of vigilant Yuba County businessmen were quick to ask for help. HJTA retained a Sacramento law firm to file an action against the County of Yuba to stop the implementation of the tax. 

From Lou Binninger, at the Territorial Dispatch in Yuba County:

https://www.eterritorial.com/47-guest-writers/lou-binninger/14419-measure-k-challenged

On Friday December 21, 2018, the Sacramento law firm of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk filed an action in Yuba County Superior Court to invalidate Measure K – the Public Safety/Essential Services Protection Ordinance that appeared on the November 6 ballot. Measure K received 54.1% of the vote. The suit contends that the measure needed a two-thirds voter approval to become law.

The suit’s plaintiffs are Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), a nonprofit public benefit corporation comprised of over 200,000 taxpayers, Charlie Mathews, a local rice farmer and businessman, and John Mistler, former Yuba County Supervisor and owner of the Territorial Dispatch weekly newspaper. Defendants are the County of Yuba, its Supervisors, and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

54.1% – no wonder the Yuba County Board of Supervisors  decided to cheat! They knew they could not get the required two/thirds. 

Binninger also raises the question of using public funds to run a tax measure campaign.

“The suit does not address the county’s biased media campaign or the use of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to sway voters. Measure K opponents argued that both were illegal. The California Fair Political Practices Commission has jurisdiction over where monies are derived and how they are used for a campaign.”

The city of Chico is currently using hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to mount a revenue measure campaign, not only in $taff time, but in consultants. The Chico Area Recreation District has already hired various consultants, spending over $100,000 that I know of, to put their own revenue measure on the ballot. The school district has run at least four bond campaigns using taxpayer money. 

We need to hold city of Chico and CARD staff up to the law. We need to be ready to make our own complaints to the FPPC and court. And we need to be ready to take it beyond Butte County, because the county of Butte is not likely to take such complaints seriously – they’re in the same boat with Chico!