Tag Archives: Abigail Lopez Chico Ca

Park Commission needs to be completely “renovated”

27 Aug

Last night I had a dilemma – two meetings at the same time. I really wanted to get over and hear what Assemblyman Jim Nielsen and Senator Doug LaMalfa had to say about Obamacare last night, but I decided to go to the Park Commission meeting instead. I’m glad I did, because Laura Urseny’s report doesn’t tell the half of it.

Urseny’s report just sounds like a little groove fest – the meeting was actually pretty contentious.   For one thing, Dan Efseaff and Lise Smith-Peters kept trying to tell the commission that there is already a fund and a volunteer program in place, all the Caper Acres Volunteers need to do is come down and join in. But Caper Acres Volunteers seem to want more. Nobody is saying exactly what they want in this conversation, it just went around and around like a clogged toilet for an hour.

Commissioners Lisa Emmerich and Mary Brentwood kept bringing up the crucial point – if this group wants to collect money for the park, they need to establish themselves as a non-profit – form a 501C3 committee. I believe this is correct – I’ve looked into turning CTA into some sort of non-profit or PAC. You are not allowed just to collect people’s money unless you are going to file the proper paperwork, that’s basically the deal. Nobody would come right out and say it, but it was pretty clear to me – either the Caper Acres Volunteers must form a 501C3 or they just have to join Park Volunteers and do what they’re told by Lise Smith Peters and Dan Efseaf.

Caper Acres Volunteers representative Abigail Lopez indicated that she was willing to “look into” forming a 501C3, “if that’s necessary.” She said she’s already had offers of money donations as well as volunteers. The sticking point with these people is a good one – they are not too comfortable handing more money over to city staffers, without some rock-solid agreement that it will all be “spent on Caper Acres.” 

Well, grow up. What do you think that means? Dan Efseaf gets paid $93,000/year to oversee Caper Acres – his salary can come out of any such fund. See how that works? That’s how they’ve drained almost every fund Downtown to pay for their salaries and benefits when they are cutting services every day, locking up our parks, closing down community fixtures.

One man stood up to make a very important point, which “reporter” Laura Urseny point blank ignored – Chris Bolshazy (sp?) from the SEIU(!) came in to tell the commission, essentially, that they are derelict in their duty if they don’t complain about being left completely out of this decision to close the park.  Well, DUH! Why does this commission even exist – I ask myself that every time I attend one of these meetings. Bolshazy told the commission they need to read the city charter – good idea! This commission is just a discussion group, a “think tank”, they don’t DO anything. And, oftentimes, any recommendation they do make is overturned by city council. These commissioners are not elected, they do not represent the public – these positions are just political spoils. 

I mean, I like Mark Herrera, but when he said last night that the city “doesn’t have enough money to take care of the parks,” I wanted to slap him upside the head.  Here’s a guy who made a loud protest about trees being removed but not the couplets project that necessitated the removal.  He can’t get more pissed off about this? Where’s the real angst Mark? 

The Park Commission needs to be completely redone. The park is one of our most important assets in Chico – why is there no Parks Committee made up of our elected representatives on City Council? We have the Internal Affairs committees, Finance, and Economic Development. They have a “Mayor’s Business Advisory Board” with Scott Gruendl and Mark Sorensen that is not open to the public. They have a “local governments” committee made up of representatives from the city and county and various public entities. But no member of council sits on either the Parks Commission, or, get a load of this – the Airport Commission? Both of those entities are run by a bunch of feel-good  – sorry to say this – IDIOTS – who don’t have the slightest clue to the code or what they’re supposed to be doing. And even if they tried to do something, they are completely held off  by the forehead by $taff. Here we have the parks closed without any input from the “Parks Commission” and the airport fire station cut without any discussion by the “Airport Commission.”

These two commissions take up $taff time – last night Ruben Martinez, at his newly inflated salary of over $170,000/year, sat at that meeting with his usual stone-face posture, just sitting, staring, somewhat alert in case somebody asked him a question, but just sitting there. Next to him sat Dan Efseaf, at about $93,000 a year, and then little $62,000/year Lise Smith-Peters, who lists herself as “Mary” in the salary charts. There sat over $300,000 worth of staff beef, looking like they’d all rather be eating Dodger Dogs.

Efseaf and Smith-Peters were certainly “working”. They seemed to get a little exasperated toward the end – the whole conversation seems moot to me. Here it is: Caper Acres Volunteers wants to run Caper Acres, they want to have a fund “dedicated” to Caper Acres, but $taff wants them to join the existing volunteer group and hand any donations over to the existing fund.  CAV is understandably uncomfortable with that, but I’ll give them an ice cube’s chance in hell of starting their own non-profit.   We already have Tom Barrett, the guy who was dropped from the Park Commission because he had a nasty habit of sending rude e-mails to citizens, who has started his own non-profit, The Bidwell Park Foundation. I expect this to be as big a scam as the Bidwell Mansion Foundation. Barrett can even pay himself a salary – I’m guessing, that’s the whole reason behind his “foundation.” We’ll have to see. I don’t think Lopez has any such intentions, but I don’t know if she has any idea what she’d be getting into. You can really get into trouble with a non-profit if you don’t have good, salaried, legal advice. 

What I would suggest to Lopez and her friends is, stand up to city staff, and tell them to get their asses out there and do their fucking job or you’re going down to Home Depot to buy a good set of bolt cutters, In fact, that gate may be pretty easy to lift off the hinges, I’ll have to look into that. 

Staff has hit a beehive with a rock – they better run!

7 Jul

It’s Sunday and I’m feeling religious – THANK YOU GOD for bringing Abigail Lopez to our meeting this morning. Actually, truth be told, thanks to Jim in Chico for contacting Abigail and telling her about our meeting. Jim also has the power to move things, make things happen. 

Abigail brought us an update on her efforts to stop the closure of Caper Acres – here’s the letter she sent to the Enterprise Record:

One-Mile and Caper Acres are among the most visited attractions in Chico. Caper Acres is arguably the best park in town, and most certainly the one that offers the most shade and security. Generations of children have grown up playing there, and to cut park hours so that homemakers or parents who work non-traditional hours are unable to bring their children there is unfair and unconscionable. It makes no sense to close one of the best free sources of entertainment for children on weekdays during the height of summer.

In addition, closing restrooms that are needed by scores of visitors is short-sighted and will only result in increased maintenance costs when less scrupulous visitors elect to use the bushes as a toilet. It is also unfair to children, the elderly, and those with disabilities, as many have conditions that make it difficult to hold their bladders for any length of time.

Closing Caper Acres and several restrooms is a poor choice for Chico. I believe we can find a way via volunteers and donations to keep the park open in its current capacity. The citizens of Chico need to know exactly what would be required to maintain the park’s current availability. I have created a Facebook group called Caper Acres Volunteers to address this and will be contacting city officials to find out exactly what we as a community can do to keep our park the way it is.

— Tanya “Abigail” Lopez, Chico

I’m thrilled to have new people in the conversation. Abigail even read the budget to get ready for this conversation, that’s determination. I’m so glad to get new people involved in this discussion, but it’s so much better to talk to somebody who cared enough to read the documents and even  call various staffers to get explanations. Thanks so much Abigail for bringing something to the table. 

Of course, the meeting went all over the place. I read my notes later and think, “What the hell!?!” But mostly we talked about the real reasons for our fiscal distress – salaries, benefits and pensions. We talked about the employee contracts, which are only good through December, and will therefore be up for discussion from here on in.

We need to keep on top of this discussion, as best we can, being held off by the forehead by council and staff. The two sides, by way of negotiator Brian Nakamura and a human relations firm hired by the city, will each make their offers, chew them up, and spit them out with demands both ways. It’s just like you’d imagine – a total Repo-Man grab, with pushing and shoving, nose-twisting, shin kicking, and best of all – threats from unions to bring out their big wallets at election time to punish or reward councilors who vote the right or wrong way. 

The biggest issue in the contracts, for me, the simplest, clearest issue, is the payment of the benefits and pensions premiums. Right now, most city employees pay little or nothing toward their packages. Only the lowest paid, “classified staff” pay their full 9 percent share. Management pays 4 percent, which is less than half the suggested “employee share”, the fire dept pays 2 percent, and the  cops PAY NOTHING toward pensions of 90 percent of their highest year’s pay available at age 50. 

Just the “employee’s share” costs the city over $2 million a year. Nakamura is only trying to shave about $5 million from the budget right now, that $2 million would go a little ways toward his goal, wouldn’t it?

Right now we have one city councilor, Randall Stone, who has come to a CTA meeting and said he’ll press employees to pay their suggested 9 percent share, all of them. Stone has been taking heat from the fire department for being honest – we need to support him with more letters to the editor and also to council.

Scott Gruendl has also made comments to the Enterprise Record indicating he’d like to see the employees pay their share. Gruendl is up for re-election in November 2014, so we need to hold those remarks to his butt like a torch. 

We also need to remind him, he approved those contracts, as well as the MOU that linked salaries to revenue increases but not decreases. Mary Goloff also signed the contracts that gave public safety workers their incredibly generous benefits and pensions packages for little or nothing out of their own pockets. Mary actually went on and on about how great the contracts were at that time, thanking staff up and down for doing her job for her. I’m guessing she never even read the damned things. Jim Walker admitted same, almost like, “duh – who reads that stuff?

We need to tell these folks that the closure of a playground is not going to come out as they intended. I think they expected to throw a rock at a beehive, and those mad bees would all say, “hey Chico, you need to pay more taxes to keep our playground open!” After I met Abigail today, I think the bees are going to turn on the rock throwers.