Tag Archives: Brian Nakamura City of Chico

These new city contracts are a baby step – if we don’t do more to rein in employee compensation we’re still headed for the fiscal cliff

6 Jan

I will be out of town for a few days, going to Southern California to see The Folks, do a little boarding at Mammoth Snow Park.  I’m sorry I won’t be here for the council meeting, but you know I wouldn’t attend one of those anyway. I sent the e-mail below to council, I wish you would do same:

Dear Council,

 

These contracts you are looking at tomorrow night are a good start, but should only be offered for a year. As we all know, Cal PERS demands more every year for the pensions obligation. Next year, the employees need to pay more, and the year after that – more, until they bear most of their own benefits and pensions burden and the taxpayers only a small part. 

 

The cut for pensions should be more like, employee 90 percent, taxpayers 10 percent, stock market nothing.

 

Thanks, but we aren’t out of the woods yet, not by a long shot – Juanita Sumner

I should have made this point – I’m not talking about new hirees, I’m talking about current employees. I think it’s absolutely despicable to make new employees pay 50 percent while the old guard sits at 8 percent.   That’s Brian Nakamura and his too live crew looking out for their own shiny asses.   Yeah, Chris Constantin comes off like a real nice boy, but like I’ve said before, “Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side…” 

City of Chico meeting schedule for week of August 26, 2013

25 Aug

Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, Monday August 26, 6:30 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Council Chamber:  The only item on this agenda is commissioner Richard Ober’s request to agendize a discussion about creating a “public/private non-profit partnership” between the city of Chico and the Caper Acres Volunteers. This is total news to me. The Caper Acres Volunteers Facebook has not been updated for almost a month, there’s nothing on it about the meeting they had at the end of July, and I have yet to hear any news about this handful of moms starting a legal non-profit. I will try to make this meeting, I haven’t attended one of these for years. 

Here’s that link:    http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/bidwell_park_and_playground_commission/BPPC_Agendaandreports_13_0826.pdf

Finance Committee, Tuesday August 27, 8 – 10 am, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1: This meeting is chock full of interesting stuff – did you know the city takes in over a million dollars a year in Downtown parking revenues, and spends over $500,000 of it on salaries and benefits? Something tells me the fellows who service those parking meters are not taking in that kind of salary, I’m guessing, this is another fund that is being hit heavily for other than it’s intended purpose.  $taff is in fact requesting that this fund be opened up to all kinds of allowed expenditures, stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with securing you a parking space Downtown. 

Other items include a continuation of the user fee study, as well as the usual budget and finance department updates from Chris Constantin. If you can’t make the meeting, at least look over the agenda – over 100 pages, including a Downtown parking study and pages and pages of incriminating financial figures. 

Here’s that link:  http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/8-27-13FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

Economic Development Committee, Wednesday August 28, 4 – 6 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1:  THIS MEETING HAS BEEN ERRONEOUSLY POSTED AND NOTICED AS BEING SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY THE 27TH.  Sean Tillman sent out a blast of e-mail corrections that loaded my mail box like a diaper, but has not corrected the notice on the website yet. I keep waiting for his name to disappear from the $taff roster, and I keep being disappointed.

I had been looking forward to this meeting, because at the last meeting I attended, Tillman excitedly promised the results of the shopper’s survey undertaken earlier this year by Tri-Counties Bank, sponsored in part with our tax dollars.  Audrey Taylor from city consultant Chabin Concepts even mentioned having some sort of exciting “event”,  “in August”. But I don’t see anything about that on this agenda. Instead they will be continuing the conversation about merging this committee with the underground “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council,” which operates without public oversight. I’ve asked to attend MBAC events and been refused by $taff, as well as Ann Schwab and Mark Sorensen. Only Ann would even tell me who else is in this secret committee – PG&E? So, I don’t know if this is a good move. I’ve heard, at last week’s council meeting, they’ve re-opened the conversation about hiring a new Economic Development Director, also behind closed doors. I’m sick of all this sneaky business with the Chico Chamber, DCBA, and various consultants who come around at Community Block Grant Funding time. This issue needs more sunshine. 

There will be a “report” from “Team Chico” – another behind closed doors effort between the City of Chico, Chico Chamber, Downtown Chico Business Association, 3CORE and the Alliance for Workforce Development and who knows what other “stakeholders”. Their meetings are not noticed to the public, Tillman reports whatever he feels the public needs to know. These reports are all full of rainbows and lollipops, nothing substantial.  But, city money, in the form of Tillman’s salary and benefits, is being spent on these consultants, many of whom also get CBGF money. I read the slick report included in the agenda, and some of the information is no longer correct (Hwy 32 widening was KO’d the other night), a lot of it is just soap bubbles. 

Here’s that link:   http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/8-27-13EDCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

I wish more people would take time to attend these meetings, just once. I hate to think people just like to sit around complaining but doing nothing! 

Surprise Surprise! City’s not really laying off 53 people – get ready for a major sales tax pitch

14 Jun

Oh gee, isn’t that just ginchee! The city won’t have to lay off these folks after all – they “care so much about this community” that they will be given lesser positions. At lesser wages? That isn’t spelled out, I wouldn’t assume anything. It looks to me like they were really after only 18, and now that  they got rid of those, the others will take little or no pay cut. And, they’ll still get their EPMC, just watch.

This was just a ploy to make all of us feel bad about these poor employees – pobrecitos! – who’ve sacrificed so much!  I’m sorry, stop shoveling bullshit onto my plate, I’m not eating it.

Get ready for an intensive sales tax increase pitch, and get ready to be surprised who else is behind it.

 

 

Many pink-slipped employees to stay with city of Chico

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

Posted:   06/14/2013 12:06:27 AM PDT

CHICO — All but three employees issued pink slips last week by the city of Chico who have bumping rights have elected to use them to retain jobs.

Assistant City Manager Mark Orme said Thursday that of the 53 employees who received layoff notices last week, 35 had the option of using displacement rights to continue working for the city in a different capacity. Of those, one person elected to retire and two others will accept the layoff.

Employees had until Wednesday to notify the city of their decision.

“What is going to happen is we are going to go through the process of determining where these people can bump to and where they will end up,” Orme said.

To close a $4.8 million budget deficit, at least 40 full-time equivalent positions are slated for elimination in next year’s budget proposal, with cuts affecting every city department. Some positions are already vacant or upcoming retirements.

Any employees who could have potentially been affected by a bump were also issued layoff notices as a precaution, to be “comprehensive and fair with everybody from the start,” Orme said.

The city brought in the Employment Development Department and Unemployment Insurance for career counseling Thursday, and a presentation on the employee assistance program was Wednesday.

“They’ve had the opportunity to sit down and listen to these folks, they can ask questions, they can receive help if they need it and understand the entirety of the situation they are facing,”

Orme said.

“It was the most compassionate approach the city could take to make sure employees had every option available at this time.”

The number of employees who wish to stay with the city is a positive indicator, Orme said.

“What we’ve seen is the employees that care so much about this community and have dedicated so much time to the city of Chico that regardless of the position they find themselves in as this progresses forward, they are still ready and willing to serve the public in whatever capacity that might be,” he said.

Eighteen people who were issued pink slips did not have bumping rights. Any layoffs are contingent upon approval by the City Council, which will be discussing the 2013-14 budget Tuesday during an all-day study session.

City Manager Brian Nakamura has agreed to come down to our July 7 meeting to discuss the budget.

12 Jun

I didn’t get to attend last week’s “Budget 101” session with Chico Chamber and city staff, but I found Ashley Gebb’s write up pretty interesting. 

I really can’t wait to hear just what Jovanni Triceri wants citizens to “stand up” and do!

Gebb doesn’t identify the person who asked about sales tax, but Brian Nakamura’s answer doesn’t give me any comfort. ““We have to live within our means first.”  First, he says. Before what? 

While I was happy to hear Nakamura and his assistant Orme recently refuse the cops’ pay raise proposal, I’m still worried. They seem to be asking the employees to make little gestures, to improve ” the public’s  perception of public employees.” So what? So we’ll approve a sales tax increase? 

We will have to ask Brian Nakamura about that – he will be coming in to our next First Sunday meeting to discuss this and other city issues. We’re looking forward to a good discussion, hope you can make it. 

 

 

 

Budget 101′ forum details city finances to Chico citizens

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

Posted:   06/10/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — With questions about solving the city’s financial problems through a tax or aid of businesses, citizens took a course in “Budget 101” Friday from city officials.About 80 people gathered in the City Council Chambers to hear about how the city budget works, how millions of dollars in deficits accumulated and what will happen unless immediate action is taken.

Two days earlier, the city issued 53 layoff notices to employees in every city department as it attempts to close a $4.8 million general fund gap.

“People just really aren’t clear at what the challenges are, why they are impacting us now and where we go from here,” said Katie Simmons of the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

She helped organize the forum in hopes it would provide transparency, answer community questions and give city staff an opportunity to clarify some “gray areas,” she said.

In recent weeks, she has heard numerous questions from business owners and residents, many wanting real answers to rumors about what the impacts will be and what can be done. “Knowledge is power,” Simmons said.

After an hour-long presentation, several residents had questions. Some asked about where certain funding sources come from, what unfunded liabilities exist, and the potential of getting more help from the corporate community.

Jovanni Tricerri of the Chico Stewardship Network answered the latter question. “This is an opportunity for the citizens to stand up,” he said. “Citizens partnering with the

institution. Let’s find these solutions together. We are going to have to push citizens to take a bigger role in the governance of the city.”A final question inquired about the viability of implementing a tax to offset cuts.

“I’m not sure we have the trust to assure the public money will be spent as intended,” said City Manager Brian Nakamura. “We have to live within our means first.”

The City Council will have an all-day budget study session starting at 8:30 a.m. June 18 in the Council Chambers.

Time to chatter up 2014

13 Jan
Butte County Public Library, Chico Branch. Yes, it's humble, but public libraries are the silent guardians of Democracy.

Butte County Public Library, Chico Branch. Yes, it’s humble, but public libraries are the silent guardians of Democracy.

Today I think we had one of our most productive Chico Taxpayer’s meetings ever – thanks a lot to Bob Best for coming down to lead a very productive discussion about priorities for Election 2014.

A heavy frost greeted us at the library this morning, but thank goodness, the heater was on.

A heavy frost greeted us at the library this morning, but thank goodness, the heater was on.

We had a good turnout and everybody was up for a good discussion. We started with a brief update on Measure J – not much to talk about there, until the city gets around to allowing us to apply for our refunds. First they actually have to amend something in the charter to allow us to apply for our refunds directly from the city – the current ordinance says we have to try to get the money out of the cell phone carriers first. Yeah, that stinks, and all I can say is, they better slam-dunk that Tuesday night. I’m expecting a reply to that inquiry I sent to the Finance Dept. by Thursday.  I’ll keep you posted.

We spent the rest of the morning discussion the city’s “unfunded pension liabilities,”  comparing notes, and trying to come up with a plan of action.

‘unfunded pension liabilities,” is the money our council promised to pay our city employees in retirement but the city doesn’t  really have it. Council got talked into these crazy pensions (70 – 90% of highest year’s earnings, as early as age 50) by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), who promised that most of the money would come from the stock market.  In the beginning they let the city pay 18 percent of the total cost  (based on actual payroll).   Nine percent of that was deemed the “employer share,” and the other nine was supposed to be the employees’ share. In reality, the city pays most or all of the employee share. And now, CalPERS is raising the amount they want – currently the city is paying 26% and it’s going to go up to 31% within the next couple of years. Meanwhile, management (including $212,000/yr city manager Brian Nakamura) only pay 4%, the fire employees pay 2%,  and the POLICE PAY NOTHING. Only the classified staff – those making less than $100,000/yr, some of them in the $35,000 range, pay most or all of their share, at 8% – 9%.

The “employees’ share” paid by the city (“employer paid member contribution”) adds up to about $1.9 million a year.  Brian Nakamura has complained that the city lost about $900,000/yr with the defeat of Measure J.  He said that amounted to several cops, or a fire station. Just imagine (or get out your calculator) how many cops or firefighters you could hire with $1.9 million.

Bob Best reminded us that this budget deficit conversation has been going on for about ten years. I remember taking my son, now 17, to the morning meetings when he was about six years old. After one discussion he had asked me, if the city was in so much financial trouble, what was with all those brand new multi-colored Sharpie markers and that giant doodle pad Finance Committee member Scott Gruendl was waving around? Gruendl was trying to scribble his way through an explanation why a once-financially healthy city, with a budget surplus when Tom Lando took the helm back in the 90’s, had come teetering to the brink of bankruptcy. This conversation has gone on for all these years, and we are still poised on the brink of bankruptcy, with the same elected leaders who haven’t listened to us before. 

Today we talked about getting more people involved. So many times, people don’t hear about issues like the bag ban until they come before the council, and they’re already a done deal, one way or the other. The bag ban was in committee for a couple of years. The same tiny handful of people came time and time again, urging the committee members to forward a ban to council for approval, with the same little handful, including myself, knowing we represented a much larger group that was unable to attend these daytime meetings, but who weren’t going to like this ridiculous ban.  The meetings weren’t noticed, they weren’t covered by the newspapers, and they’re held at 8am on work days. So,  a lot of people, like the checker and bagger I talked to recently at Safeway, are only just now hearing anything about it. 

Jim mentioned today that a friend of his, hearing of the bag ban recently, asked how something like that could go by without a public vote. He had to remind his friend, she’d voted for the council members who’d said they would support the ban – hadn’t she done her homework?

Chico continues to elect leaders and then complain about the direction they are taking us, and then elect them again anyway. 

What motivates people to vote for a candidate? What issues are important to people? What are the issues that are important to you? We shouldn’t wait until Spring 2014 to sort our priorities out – we need to start thinking about this now. Bob also suggested we start finding the issues in which we share the strongest common interest,  try to focus our energy behind those goals, and get others to help us, spread the word.

What are your priorities for the 2014 election? What issues would you like to hear from the candidates on? Are you a candidate who is interested in running? Well, let’s hear about it. If you don’t want to use your real name or e-mail, don’t worry about it, just try to stay constructive.

Let’s start the chatter.