CARD, city $taff agree on one thing – it’s time to run a revenue measure!

4 Nov

Yesterday [11/3/17] I went out early to attend a meeting of the ad hoc committee formed between Chico City Council and Chico Area Recreation District to divvy up local parks, including Bidwell Park. 

There’s a lot of funding involved in these parks, and this was essentially a grab by CARD to get some of those revenues. The last thing CARD director Ann Willmann asked before she left the meeting was when she would start seeing the $$$$ from the neighborhood parks they were about to take over.

Ad hoc meetings do not have to be noticed to the public, but for some reason the news ran a story saying this meeting would begin at 9 am. There was no agenda posted either on the CARD website or at the city website, so I had to trust the news. When I arrived at the city building just before 8:50 I was glad to see the agenda posted alongside the door – it said 9 am. I went to a lot of trouble to push though my chores and get down there on time, and hey, my time might not be worth $139,000/year plus benefits but it’s worth something.

The Enterprise Record reporter and another woman, who told me she was at the meeting to see “if I still have a job” were waiting at the door when I arrived. As time went by and nobody came to let us in, we began to speculate. 9:00 came and went, so the reporter went over to the city office to inquire about the meeting. At 9:10 we were told that the meeting notice was wrong, the meeting didn’t start until 9:30, and someone would be along to open the door for us. 

Later, when councilor and committee member Karl Ory walked in a few minutes after 9:30, he looked around at the gathering and said, “I thought we agreed on 9:30?” Committee members and staffers all laughed. 

Like Lawanda Page says in “Friday,” “Well…Fuck You!” The way they treat the public down there is just gob-stopping. Our inconvenience doesn’t mean Jack Shit to $taff.

I’m sorry to be coarse, but these people treat me like garbage, and I get sick of it. 

Let me cut to the chase – the meeting started at 9:30 and by 9:45 the words “tax”, “assessment” and “tax assessment” had been used by staff or CARD representatives three times. Two staffers, Linda Herman and Eric Gustafson, said in so many words they want the city to pursue a revenue measure, and Tom Lando, CARD board director, made it clear, again, that he also wants a revenue measure. 

Herman said at one point, “I believe we have a united front for a tax [measure]…that’s better than going at it from opposite sides…”

It sounded as though CARD has already decided on a mailed assessment, but hasn’t made the formal announcement. I’ll try to attend the next CARD board meeting, usually held around the 15th of each month, and get more clarification on that.

The rest of the meeting was a jawdropper, the way these people wheel and deal behind closed doors, the stuff they say. I can’t write that fast, but the notes I was able to get are stunning. 

These people are not out to protect our interests, that’s for sure. I’ll cover it more when I get another chance to sit down. 

 

 

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Again, the city fiddles while Chico burns

2 Nov

I got a notice yesterday about a “special meeting” Downtown, starting at 8 am today. A “special meeting” only has to be noticed 24 hours in advance, and as I have understood it, is supposed to be called only in the event of some sort of emergency, like a fiscal crisis, or some item that has to be executed within an immediate time frame.

The notice said only that it was a special meeting of the council and all the commissions – airport, art, architecture, planning and parks for a “Required Orientation Pursuant to AP&P 10-1”  This I only knew had something to do with the “code of conduct” for council members and commissioners.

My husband and I had a lot of work today, again – there’s going to be a storm tonight and tomorrow, and we wanted to be ready. But when my husband told me he needed to go out to Payless Lumber and Home Depot to get items to make repairs, I asked him to dump me off at the meeting, which was scheduled to run all day.  He said it shouldn’t take him more than an hour to do his errands, and I couldn’t really get away any longer than that, I had a lot of stuff to do today too. So I got cleaned up and hopped in the truck and he dumped me off at the old city municipal building.

It was a little after 10 am, the room was packed. Clerk Debbie Presson was about a third of the way through the presentation, telling the story of how Larry Wahl got nailed for $12,000 by the FPPC for violating some sort of rule when he was a planning commissioner.

This room, although very nicely restored, was not adequate for public participation in this meeting.

The staffers manning the door looked distressed as I approached – they couldn’t turn away a member of the public, but there we no more chairs. One of the clerks offered hers, and I was on it like white on rice. I wondered why they didn’t use council chambers, I’ve heard the repairs are finished over there. The “big room” at the old muni building isn’t nearly adequate for a joint meeting of council and all the commissioners, and still allow for members of the public or press.

The deputy clerk gave me a thick packet of more than 20 pages – a power point presentation for Board and Commission Orientation. Aside from the greetings and introductions, most of the information pertained to the Brown Act.

I’d seen clerk Presson do this presentation – complete with the same anecdotes – in about 45 minutes for the Sustainability Task Force a couple of years previous.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2013/12/14/sustainability-task-force-meeting-a-lesson-on-open-meetings-law/

Why was this an emergency?  At some point, looking at all these people around me, I realized – they must have known more than 24 hours ahead of this meeting, most of them are employed, and would have needed a little more wiggle on the schedule. I can’t imagine telling my boss, “I can’t come in tomorrow, I have an emergency meeting to become oriented with a post I was appointed to months ago…” I saw many who had held commission positions for years, how was this meeting so “special”?

I wonder if the last minute nature of this notice was because they suddenly realized they had to notice members of the public. And since they only had 24 hours, they decided to call it a “special” meeting?

Frankly, if I wanted to nit-pick, I’d say, they only sent the notice 23 and a half hours ahead, at 8:29 am yesterday.

But, I didn’t have time to ask questions, I wanted to get to the bank. So I hustled out the door and beat a path for Wells Fargo over on Memorial Way.

As I approached the building from the corner by Morning Thunder, I noticed something didn’t look right.

Windows covered with plywood and cardboard.

When I finished my transaction I asked my teller if they’d been vandalized, and he reported they’d come to work this morning to find those windows smashed out.  He said he and other employees suspected “them,” and indicated the stretch of lower Bidwell Park right across Vallombrosa from the bank.

Right down the street from the post office annex, which recently shortened hours.

When my husband pulled into the parking lot a few minutes later and I told him about the windows he immediately asked if our security had been compromised. I felt stupid – I hadn’t asked. We drove over to Safeway to pick up some groceries. A person stood yelling obscenities in the middle of the parking lot, and we watched the Safeway security guard walk out to see what was going on. The man immediately stopped yelling and stood conversing quietly with the security guard as we entered the store.

Chico is in trouble, we need to have a “special” meeting about that.

UPDATE:  Here’s clerk Dani Rogers’ explanation about the poor noticing of this meeting:

“The agenda was not posted on the Minutes and Agendas page because there was a problem with the program that we use (Contribute) that allows us to post on the City website.  The agenda was posted on the bulletin board at the Chamber Building, the City’s designated and required posting location, on 11/1/17 before 8 a.m.”

One day I’ll do a post with all the excuses this woman has sent me – over $100,000/year in salary and a sweet benefits package and she still can’t use the software. So, all you citizens out there – either walk around 24-7 with your hands over the seat of your pants, or drive down to City Hall every day to check that bulletin board. 

Geeshy sakes kids, Jerry’s ripping us off! Again!

31 Oct
thumbnail_20171030_142144

Great sign.

Yesterday I happened to be watching the news at noon when they announced a gas tax protest rally would be held at 2pm at Sinclair’s gas station (the one with the big green plastic dinosaur next to Walmart).

Hosted by the Butte County Taxpayers League! Well excuse me, but who the hell is that?

https://buttetaxpayerscom.wordpress.com/about-2/

Seems this group has only been around for about six months, fronted by a local lawyer. They have a faceblob page as well. What’s funny is, they hadn’t posted anything about this rally, in fact, there’s been nothing posted on either site since June.

I like the sentiment, but I wonder – why so exclusive?

So, I signed up for e-mail updates, and left a note, inviting this shadowy group to come over and chat on  the CTA blog, but I’m not holding my breath.

I did stop over at the rally, and I was happy to see a pretty good little mob, and more people arriving as we stood by.

thumbnail_20171030_141443

Jim Nielsen is a good speaker, natural, and he made it clear – Californians are being ripped off, the gas tax hasn’t been used to fix the roads.

I had a hard time getting a picture of Nielsen, he’s small and the guy in front of me kept shifting back and forth. Nielsen is worth listening to, he knows the facts. You might not agree with him on everything, but he’ll engage. He was our first speaker, back when we still had meetings at the library, and he has always taken my concerns seriously, responding personally to e-mails.

What nobody addressed was what the  state is actually doing with the gas tax money. Nobody has the nerve to talk about the pensions. Nielsen just went on and on about how we’re getting ripped off – I have to wonder, how much money goes into legislative salaries, including their well-heeled staffers.

How much money are they giving this lawyer to front their “taxpayers league”?

I was lucky to have just missed Gallagher’s little blab – that guy is all about himself. He’s going places alright, I’m just not sure I want to be holding onto his coattails.

When LaMalfa stepped up to the microphone I lost track of what he was jammering about and began to pay attention to the crowd. Some of them were obviously staffers and other government connected people, but there were others at the rally, including the hostile looking man who made the “Taxifornia” sign. He looked completely out of place – an old, disheveled man with tattoos on his hands, he looked like he had missed the turn into Walmart. But he held the sign, and let me take a picture of it, so he must be a believer.

I know the state steals from us. But I didn’t see anything in this rally but politicking. These guys are up for election again – the campaign starts the day after every election, remember? This rally, held long after the damage has already been done (the tax takes effect Wednesday), just didn’t seem very genuine.

Still think Agenda 21 is a big joke?

30 Oct

I don’t know how many people are aware of our city’s efforts to get “Green”.  For years I tried to cover Chico’s Sustainability Task Force, formed originally by then-Mayor and current city council member Ann Schwab.  When current chair Mark Stemen took over a few years ago, the committee went completely underground, ad hoc, no council members, no staffers to take notes – like former city staffer Mary Fitch once said, these ad hoc committees are just “an end-run around the Brown Act”.  

https://chicotaxpayers.com/?s=sustainability+task+force&submit=Search

A committee member is tasked to take “notes”, which appear every few months on an agenda, after they’ve been abridged and approved by the committee. Read those here:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/sustainability_task_force.asp

The STF gave us the bag ban. They also passed an ordinance by which we have to put new toilets, new shower heads, new light bulbs and do up to $800 worth of insulation and other weatherization in our house before we can sell it. Read through those agendas and “notes”, see what other short hairs they are grasping for.  But I still had to laugh at this video Dude sent me:

Recently, local developers were told they could pay lower fees for building smaller houses in new urban type neighborhoods.

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20171025/NEWS/171029818

What does the average family want? I don’t know, because the average family was neither invited to nor represented at the meeting, it was just a bunch of developers and suits. Oh yeah, and Ken Fleming, who likes to talk philosophy. Ken’s a nice guy, but he lives on some planet where everybody is on Valium.

They think the smaller houses will get us out of our cars, that’s so funny.  Read the following story and don’t forget to watch the video – note, the woman is driving a Prius – didn’t she see the Audi commercial? 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-28/prius-driving-ny-legislator-fakes-ptsd-panic-attack-get-out-minor-speeding-ticket-vi

Go on to her campaign speech below – she’s an urban planner! 

The Sustainability Task Force also gave us our trash deal, are you happy with that? Got your postcard, telling you all the things you can be fined for? Not so funny now, is it?

 

Thanks Dude, for sending those videos, and reminding us to keep an eye on the Sustainability Task Force.

Post office annex again shortens hours to deal with bum problems

29 Oct

My family got a post office box about 15 years ago because our mail service to our house was horrible. We had a mail carrier who didn’t believe she should have to suffer any kind of inconvenience in delivering the mail. She was already fighting with several of our neighbors – she wanted them to move their mailboxes from their front porch to the street, so she wouldn’t have to get out of her vehicle. She was driving onto my next door neighbor’s lawn to access her front porch, and my neighbor was understandably annoyed at the mud ruts that were forming across her lawn. 

Our problem was that the title company and recorder’s office had not recorded our address correctly and the mail carrier kept leaving notices saying she couldn’t deliver our mail because it wasn’t addressed correctly. We tried to  get the recorder and assessor to deal with it, but just his past year we found out it’s still a problem – when the house next door burned down, the building inspector’s office and the assessor both contacted us instead of the actual owners. But, we dealt with the mail problem – we got a PO box, and slowly directed all our important mail to that address. 

The post office annex is an easy bike ride through the park, right there next to Safeway Mangrove, so we can get groceries too. But as I’ve posted in past, this is Bum Central. In fact I just complained about the Vallombrosa post office earlier this month:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2017/10/08/please-stop-feeding-our-bums/

They’d broken the annex door, and I saw two different lock smiths working on it over a period of a week. Now this:

The old sign said 6 am to 10 pm. Before that the annex was open 24 hours.

This is disturbing. Another instance of my rights being abridged for the bums. 

 

 

PG&E seeks to charge ratepayers for fire fees

28 Oct

From the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/26/pge-pushes-for-ratepayers-to-pay-millions-in-california-wildfire-costs/

In a 30-minute meeting on Oct. 17, Meredith Allen, PG&E’s senior director of regulatory relations, told Travis Foss, an adviser to PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, that PG&E and other California utilities are in “an untenable situation,” according to a record of the meeting that PG&E sent to the PUC as required under state lobbying rules. PG&E should not have to pay “a disproportionate” share of the costs of wildfires because of the growing risk and a tough insurance market, Allen argued.

The utility companies want ratepayers to pay instead of their shareholders.

A share of PG&E stock is worth about $57 today, having reached a three year high of $70.63 a share just last month. Then the wildfires hit, and PG&E was found liable. 

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-cited-for-late-maintenance-work-more-often-12303697.php

California regulators auditing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s work in the field cited the company for late repairs and maintenance jobs far more frequently than any other electric utility in the state, according to documents made public in the wake of this month’s deadly Wine Country fires.

This isn’t the first time PG&E has been found to be negligent of their infrastructure. Up in the hills that means dead trees standing right under and alongside power lines, here in Chico it also means un-maintained gas lines. 

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/pge-emergency-repairs-underway-for-gas-leak-in-chico-dam/11441480

“Emergency repairs” for a leak they’d known about for a year?  Read this recent article from CNBC –  look at all the fires that have been caused by PG&E negligence, and the bills PG&E has received.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/13/pge-plunges-on-concern-its-power-lines-may-have-started-california-wildfires.html

Shareholders got nervous, causing the stock price to “plummet” to $57.  But, shares have risen steadily despite the “plummets”, worth $10 more than they were in 2013. Why are shareholders nervous? Because they’re afraid they will have to pay.

Of course, in the San Bruno deal shareholders were awarded $90 million? This article is confusing:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/21/court-oks-90-million-pge-san-bruno-explosion-settlement/

Why do we allow utilities to be publicly traded for profit? That seems to be the whole problem, one court declaring PG&E “placed profits ahead of safety…” the San Bruno disaster having been caused by ” a combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record-keeping and the PUC’s lazy oversight, according to an official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The utility companies should be run strictly for the benefit of the ratepayers. 

Recently I heard from a group in Silicon Valley that has “united in supporting non-partisan, bi-partisan legislative reforms in how consumer rates are set for investor-owned water utilities.”

They have recently put up a website:

https://www.waterratescoalition.com/

I’m glad to hear from these people, I’m glad somebody is still fighting these outrageous utility rate increases. I also find the Lucerne group is still having meetings.  Here’s their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/LucerneFLOW/

As you can see, we in Chico are not getting as badly screwed as other towns, but my bills continue to inch up, even though I’ve drastically reduced my water usage. 

It’s time to get on board and fight. 

 

Well, this is confusing! Are we paying to send them out or taking money to keep them here?

23 Oct

Here’s Item 3.1 on the Board of Supervisors Consent Agenda for tomorrow:

Agreement with BHC Heritage Oaks Hospital, Inc. for Inpatient Psychiatric Services- BHC Heritage
Oaks Hospital, Inc., provides inpatient psychiatric hospitalization services. The State mandates
contracting with managed care hospitals based on a county’s historical utilization. Butte County
Department of Behavioral Health (BCDBH) began drafting the managed care hospital agreements
in March but needed to wait for each “host county” (county in which the hospital exists), to
negotiate its rates with the hospital for the new fiscal year. Once negotiated, the contract must
be fully executed by the respective governing board. The State is notified by the host county of
the contracted rates, and all other counties who contract with the hospital utilize those rates per
the direction of the State. Due to these requirements, agreements with managed care hospitals
are typically approved later in the fiscal year. Approval is requested for an agreement with BHC
Heritage Oaks Hospital, Inc. to provide inpatient psychiatric services for clients referred by
BCDBH. The term of this agreement will be July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019. The maximum
financial obligation under this agreement shall not exceed $700,000 ($350,000 in fiscal year (FY)
2017-18 and $350,000 in FY 2018-19) – action requested – APPROVE AGREEMENT AND
AUTHORIZE THE CHAIR TO SIGN. (Behavioral Health)

Heritage Oaks is in Sacramento. I don’t understand the rhetoric about mandates, historical utilization, contracted rates, etc, but I do see, a lot of money is flowing into these psychiatric facilities, taxpayer money. 

Here’s Item 3.2 – an agreement to take patients from Shasta County:

Revenue Agreement with Shasta County for Provision of Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Care – Shasta
County wishes to enter into an agreement with Butte County Department of Behavioral Health
(BCDBH) for the provision of acute psychiatric inpatient care. Through this agreement, Shasta
County may refer clients to BCDBH’s Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) for services. Approval is
requested for a revenue agreement between Shasta County and BCDBH for inpatient psychiatric
services at the BCDBH’s PHF for Shasta County residents. The term of this agreement will be July
1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. The maximum revenue under this agreement shall not exceed
$37,000 – action requested – APPROVE AGREEMENT AND AUTHORIZE THE CHAIR TO SIGN.
(Behavioral Health)

And here they come –  “homeless advocates” would have us believe these people are “from Chico”.   I guess it doesn’t matter where they were born, but where they’ve been keeping themselves lately?