Tag Archives: Brian Nakamura

Brian Nakamura finally moving to push the public out of public meetings

20 Aug

Tonight Brian Nakamura will make drastic changes to the committee meeting schedule, eliminating most meetings, and scheduling any remaining committee meetings to run with council meetings.

I don’t expect a lot of you to understand why this is a bad move because you don’t bother to show up so you don’t know what will be missed if Nakamura eliminates these morning meetings. We all know issues are decided by the time they get to council. We also know how it is to attend and try to speak at a council meeting – wait all night, and then get three minutes and no response to bullshit they spout after you sit down. Or, you can wait til  the end of the meeting to talk while they’re putting on their coats, gathering up their junk, and chattering among themselves.

They want to have the committee meetings quarterly, and one suggestion has them scheduled right before city council meetings. Why? Staff is down there from 8 – 5, talking about stuff we should know about – how would it save money to cut the public out of the meetings?

One councilor I talked to about this tried to act sympathetic, but admitted to me, he thinks they can get more stuff done without the public.  Oh great, that’s what we want! These guys being allowed to swing all kinds of deals behind our back, like:

  • the sale of Downtown parking lots to a high density developer – when they tried to have this conversation in a meeting, Nakamura tried to keep the public from talking about the real reason behind “surplussing parking lots” by claiming it was a Brown Act violation
  • the franchise agreement with the garbage haulers – they finally admitted, they’re not doing this to please the customers, so why do they need the customers in the conversation?
  • alcohol zoning – I also got a councilor to admit to me, this effort is being limited to Downtown, just like I suspected. Downtown bar and restaurant owners should be mad because they’re being singled out for punishment, and establishments across town should be mad because they aren’t getting as much service from Chico PD as Downtown
  • the fund deficits – why are the maintenance districts that homeowners pay into EMPTY? This I found out at a morning meeting last January. The maintenance districts that homeowners pay into for stuff like keeping medians mowed and shrubberies watered and trimmed have been sucked dry – these districts have been funded out of the general fund for over a year now. Where did that money go? Are the homeowners not paying enough, or was that money inappropriately shifted to pay salaries and benefits, like the Gas Tax and so many other funds have been pilfered?

These are all issues I have found out about during those morning meetings, and that’s why Nakamura wants to cut off the committee meetings. He wants the public out, we ask too many questions.

The councilor I talked to also stupidly admitted to being able to yak at staff whenever he feels like it. He asked me if he should have recorded a recent conversation with Debbie Presson.

Well, yes. Debbie Presson is our city clerk, she gets paid about $135,000 a year, and complains that her staff has been cut! She says she doesn’t have enough staff to cover these meetings but I don’t really get that – there’s only one meeting at a time, that’s easy enough to make sure of – there are only three committees, and they meeting only once a month at different times. I’m clueless as to why Ms. Presson is allowed to enjoy 10 minutes of casual shit-shooting with a council member, or anybody, but can’t just sashay downstairs to a meeting and take the notes herself. The meetings have been recorded in past, I really don’t understand how NOT recording meetings saves money, but  that’s the kind of doublespeak we get from Nakamura, and Presson as well.

Presson should have to account for her time, who she talks to, and what they discuss in some kind of log, available for review by the public. She should also have to sit at a public desk, where I can sit there and listen to her conversations from the visitor’s area if I feel like it. E-mails going in and out of that office should be available on the city website for viewing by the public.

This councilor I talked to says he is all for sunshine, “moreso than most”. I’m sorry, but if he votes for this move, he’s not for sunshine, he’s for cutting the public out.

No volunteers, no donations – say it like Amy Winehouse – “NO, NO, NOOOOOO!”

13 Jul

I hate to be a naysayer, but you know me – when you’re good at something, you should run with it.

I’ve been trying to follow the discussion regarding the closure of Caper Acres. Facebook is a turn-off. I don’t have a Facebook account, and I don’t want one, capisce? Word Press is free and easy, anybody can get to it, anybody can contact me via the site, and if their comment is pertinent and non-offensive, I’ll print it. Hell, I’ll probably print it anyway.

Facebook is a way of excluding people, that’s hardly the way to get a community movement going.

That said, I was glad to see a new announcement today, apparently made by the monitor of the site:

The petition letter & “overview” received a face-lift today. Check it out. It doesn’t talk about ways to raise funds. It doesn’t talk about volunteers. It politely addresses the issue that a HUGE decision was made without taking into consideration the feelings or opinions or needs of the local constituents.

Well, I’m so happy to hear that. I don’t want to hear any more SHIT about volunteering or donating money.  Anybody who’s read the city budget should be marching Downtown to demand a fucking refund! 

We need to get a “take no prisoners” attitude here people. No more mamby-pamby, feel-good crap about helping out the poor city workers. Brian Nakamura is not doing a good thing, he’s trying to sweat us for more taxes.

And the Enterprise Record seems to be going right along with this little campaign – all the sudden, all these stories about crime and cops. As if, crime never happened here before?  No, it’s just never gotten the kind of coverage it’s getting these days from the Enterprise Record.

And don’t you love the way they’ve reported several assaults lately, but nothing about their proximity to some pretty well-established transient camps along Lindo Channel? Including yesterday’s attack at Verbena Fields, which has become a de-facto DUMP and homeless camp eversince it was installed as a dog-shitting area.   I think that’s odd.

Yes, camping on public  property is illegal. A lady who works at the county told me there’s been complaints about these camps, but the city says it’s the county’s jurisdiction, and the county comes right back at ’em with the same. There’s apparently been  some “rousting out” of these camps, but they just move a few hundred yards and wait for the cops to come back, maybe weeks later, after they’ve argued over whose job it is.

Right now there’s a pile of trash  behind S&S market, left by a camp that was plainly visible from the road, right there, big as life. They left due to some sort of harassment, but there sits the trash they managed to accumulate over the week or two they were there.  As far as I know, it’s sitting on city property, but I don’t have a map.  

“Volunteerism Could Work” says Little Pollyanna Daugherty over at the Chico News and Review.  Not given our city budget, it can’t.  Not given those salaries, benefits and pensions, it can’t. 

Brian Nakamura is inviting people who contact him about the park closures to the Bidwell Park Birthday Bash on July 20. This is an all-day fete, at locations around town. I plan to be at One Mile over the course of the day, handing out some information about the budget, the salaries, and the benefits and pensions. Please come on by, or get ahold of me and I’ll send you some information you can hand out yourself.  I’ll be posting it here too. 

Volunteerism could work

Plenty of people want to help keep the gates of Caper Acres open
This article was published by Chico News and Review on 07.11.13.
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Using volunteers to do cleanup at Caper Acres may not be the way to keep Bidwell Park’s fairytale playground open, but employing their help elsewhere to free up city staff to do that work has the potential to keep the gates open.

As reported in Newslines this week (see “Sacred acres,” by Tom Gascoyne), there is an effort afoot to organize a volunteer group. Bringing that effort from idea stage to execution will take some creativity over at City Hall, and also a dedicated pool of volunteers.

But it can be done.

Chicoans love Bidwell Park. Indeed, it’s one of the community’s biggest bragging points when touting the best things about living here. And parents of little kids are especially fond of Caper Acres, which is a one-of-a-kind play place.

Now is the time for everyone who enjoys the park to step up.

Volunteerism doesn’t address the layoffs of seven much-needed workers in the Street Trees and Parks divisions. That’s a separate issue altogether. The bottom line is that these workers are needed to keep the park operating smoothly, but their positions will remain unfilled until the city is financially solvent.

Using volunteers is certainly not a long-term solution. They shouldn’t be responsible indefinitely for helping sustain park services. But as a stopgap measure—until the city gets control of the budget—this could be the way to keep Caper Acres open more than just three days a week.

Measure J was just the test run for the sales tax increase

12 Mar

Brian Nakamura forwarded along Jennifer Hennessy’s answers to Stephanie Taber’s questions from last week’s city council meeting.

Stephanie’s questions, below in black, with Hennessy’s responses in blue, and my smart ass observations in green:

1) What/who is the source of information that is now being used to verify the $500 loss (or whatever the current figure is) in revenue due to the defeat of Measure J?  At the offset of the proposal there was no definitive way of separating how much revenue was received based solely of cell phone calls and texting and how much on land line costs.  At least that was my understanding.

Answer:  City staff will be able to determine Measure J’s impact over time, as Telecommunication companies stop collecting the tax on cell phones and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services.  Future UUT revenue will be compared to revenue collected prior to the notification to the companies to cease collection of this tax. 

Wait, this doesn’t sound right. For one thing, in December, Hennessy reported a loss of $500,000 to the General Fund, and blamed it directly, in so many words, by name, on “the loss of Measure J.” There was no doubt in her mind, our budget had been hit broadside to the tune of $500,000 by the petty taxpayers who defeated that ill-begot scheme. Now she tells us, she won’t know how much, til “over time”?   She’s our budget director, in charge of our financial “IN” and “OUT” boxes, and she doesn’t know where our money comes from? She gets checks all year from the phone companies, but she doesn’t keep track of how much? That answer sounds fishy to me on a number of levels. 

2) Are telephone tax collections a separate revenue line item that can be compared month-to-month and year to date?

Answer:  Yes, revenue collected for Utility Users Tax on telecommunication services is reflected in the City’s General Fund, under account 40492. 

And here she says the opposite – that the revenue collected is kept track of in the budget?  Month to month? I looked in the budget, available under “Finance Dept” on the city website.

Click to access 2012-13CityAnnualFINALBudget_000.pdf

Yes, under the General Fund summary, page FS-1, Fund 001, Utility Tax is separated out – gas, electric, telecom, and water – but only year to year. I wonder if she even read Stephanie’s question all the way through. The fund is there, but we don’t see how much is added and subtracted, just the balance. Like she says for Q #1, we would have to have all the budgets, and compare that number from year to year, and we’d have to know how much money had been taken from that fund in order to figure out how much had come in over any particular year. She knows that stuff, or she should – why she can’t give us a straight answer is beyond me, and it just makes me suspicious of everything they say Downtown.

What they continue to say Downtown, is that Measure J is to blame for all our fiscal difficulties. This even as they sign that new cop contract – raises, especially for lieutenants, fully-paid “employee share,” the whole nine yards. And did you see those new cruisers they bought, just to be “traditional”? They’ve also raised department head salaries about $25 – 30,000 each.  Oh, but $900,000, or uh, is it $600,000 – oh, just $500,000? Really? Well that’s still a TRAGEDY! QUE LASTIMA! You rotten, petty taxpayers! You’re so stingy! 

This is their foot in the door for that sales tax increase, you just watch. 

And don’t forget, Frank Fields said he’d have the UT rebate application on the website “in the next couple of  weeks,” so I’ll keep you posted there.

Nakamura announces a $50 million dollar deficit but still won’t make the cops or fire pay their own way. When will Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan pull their “fiscally conservative” thumbs out of their asses and do something?

23 Feb

My husband and I both laughed out loud the other night when Brian Nakamura announced our city is about $50 million in deficit. Not that we thought it was funny, it was more of a nervous reaction.   I had to hear him say it a couple of times before the smile slid off my face. 

Then he offered up his puny little reorganization plan that might shave, heavy on the ‘might” – $1 million a year. He’s firing people across the board, and it’s only saving, again, “might” save, $1 million a year. According to the budget figures, that would still leave us in deficit. Has he got some other plans?

His first plan, to land himself a job at $217,000 a year, with a sweeeet benefits package, including a full year’s salary in severance pay, was a roaring success. According to a human resources “wiki” I read, it is customary to give an executive employee a severance of a month’s pay for every year served – Nakamura has not served us six months, yet has a promise of a full year’s salary if we have to let him go for any reason short of homicide or red-handed embezzlement. Thank you again,  Mark Sorensen, proxy dupe, and Tom Lando, puppet master. Boy, wouldn’t you like to get a look at Sorensen’s contract as Biggs city manager, or the contract Lando just got as interim rec manager out in O-ville?

And now these overfed blue jays are the ‘thin blue line” between the city and BANKRUPTCY. They are currently negotiating contracts with Chico Police and Fire Departments.  According to an article in the paper the other day, I was right,  the police alone take over $22 mil, or about half our $43 million a year budget. According to that article, they spend over a million a year on campus, messing with the college kids. 

Let’s face it, it didn’t cost them $100 to arrest that pervert that’s been over there raping who knows how many young women for who knows how long. They claim to spend more than $1 million a year patrolling the college area. Why? There’s a college police department. Why not force the campus police to take over? Why do we have to pay more in taxes for a special “C Team”? Can they get Leslie Nielsen for that kind of money? 

Chico PD just wants more money, more money, more money. They can’t help themselves, they’re pigs. They demand all kinds of perks and benies out of the city – they don’t even pay to purchase or clean their own uniforms – meanwhile, they tell us, they are too short of staff to actually do the job. They don’t prevent crime, they come along afterward and make a report about it so they can ask for a bigger budget the following year. They still haven’t solved the “clown bandit” capers, or those robberies that occurred every summer, again and again the same victims, including the hair stylist over on East Avenue who had her plate glass window smashed out at least twice and her cash register stolen. 

Right now they’re replacing their vehicles – they get new vehicles every five to six years, wouldn’t you like to live like that? Well you ought to, you pay for it!  Go on, go over to Wittmeier, and when they send you into Jackie’s office, you just tell her to call Brian Nakamura, he’s got a little voucher over there for you. She will laugh that jersey girl laugh and say, “No, really Hon, how you gonna pay for this?” 

Yes, the cops get new vehicles, they get a uniform allowance, they get paid to exercise, they get paid to go to their third cousin twice-removed’s funeral. A bunch of them got paid yesterday, along with Brian Nakamura, to stand around and yak it up over a guy who was killed 75 years ago. 

Yes, Officer Carlton Bruce. I didn’t know him, I’m sure he was a wonderful man, 75 years ago. But if I were his wife, I’d still be pissed at him for walking into getting his face blown off. I think Bruce made a number of classic mistakes, and up until now, nobody thought it was worthy of an annual ceremony. Where’s the ceremony for Rod O’Hern? O’Hern was shot in the face and permanently blinded by the accomplice of a suspect back in 1995. He subsequently left the force and moved out of the area. I don’t know if his family still lives here, but at the time of the shooting, he had a six year old and a pregnant wife. These folks could probably use a little comfort for what they went through, but I guess you have to be dead to get any respect out of Chico PD.

I remember that incident, and the problems that caused it have not been solved. Just this past holiday shopping season, only a short walk from the scene of the O’Hern shooting, two women and a ten year old girl were maced and their purses stolen at the MacDonalds on East Ave.  That crime has not been solved.  Our police department continues to take without really giving us anything.  Now they want bigger salaries for their management positions, because they are so jealous and greedy they need to see $$$$ before they will do their jobs. 

Please write to your council – at dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us – and tell them the police and fire need to pay their own pension premiums. Currently the police PAY NOTHING and fire only two percent, toward  pensions representing 90 percent of their highest year’s pay available at age 50. Our city is over $50 million dollars in deficit on these crazy contracts, and we will soon be forced to pay more toward the premiums. That either means new taxes, or it means the cops and fire need to step up and do the right thing. 

Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan ran as “fiscal conservatives.” Somebody should write them a letter and tell them, “that means, you’re supposed to be saving money!”  Somebody might ask them what they’re doing taking  salary and benefits for their council position when both of them have very nice salaries and benefits from their publicly-paid day jobs.

Write to Brian Nakamura at bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us, and while you’re asking him to bring the cops and fire to the table, ask him to pay his own pension share as well – he currently pays only 4%. 

The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but that’s not all it’s going to take to shut her up.

21 Dec

Debbie Presson sent me a note to say she’d had the report for the November 27 Finance Committee meeting amended to reflect the other questions I asked at the meeting, and the answers from staff. You can see that here:

Click to access 2012Minutes.pdf

The minutes for that meeting are posted there at the end of 2012.  

I also got a note from Brian Nakamura, with attached documents regarding the city’s share of CalPERS costs – yeah, it’s bad alright. You have to write to your council, and ask them what made them promise these outrageous packages in those closed door bargaining sessions they’ve held us out of for so long. Now we’re allowed to look at the contracts, sure – like a condemned prisoner stares out the cell window at the gallows. These idiots have put us on the hook for MILLIONS of dollars, a YEAR, in pension payments, more than the employees pay. And then there’s the “unfunded obligations” – that is on the agendas for the next six months! Nakamura is trying to spoon-feed us that manure, and I don’t know about you, but I’m spitting it out. 

We need to shut this city down. 

Ask a simple question.

3 Dec

We had another great meeting over at the library yesterday, and I was so happy to see, despite the ominous weather, a cheerful group showed up for a lively discussion. 

We crowed momentarily over the defeat of Measure J. Casey Aplanalp pointed out that we should consider it an important victory, and proof that a small group can make a difference.  Sue said we should remind other people, even if our voices are a little drowned out on the national level, we can make a more noticeable difference on the local level – it’s a matter of getting involved. We talked for awhile – what’s the best way to get people to be more involved in their local government? 

We could ask Stephanie Taber what motivates her to be so involved – attending meetings several times a week, writing notes back and forth to staffers, asking questions that get kicked all over the city building for as long as Stephanie is persistent in getting the answers. Stephanie combs over the reports and find the discrepancies, and asks the questions that need to be asked. We need more people willing to go to the meetings, morning, afternoon and evening, and ask the same kind of questions. And, go back time and time again, e-mail again and again, and get the answers. 

I’m just too easy – when I asked Jennifer Hennessy about the annual amount the city pays out in pension premiums, she told me about $7 million, and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Stephanie was not able to attend, or she probably would have caught it. Mark Sorensen caught it, and asked Hennessy about it later. He had some other figures that added up to more like $11 million. Hennessy sent me a note today – her figure is $10.1 million

Whoa. And here I was, thinking $7 million was a lot of samolians! What a dupe I am!

$1.9 million of that total is the “employer paid member contributions” – there’s that confusing terminology again – they mean, the “employee’s share” of the premium that is paid by the employer

Stephanie Taber pointed out, that $1.9 million would pay for a lot of police officers. 

Here’s the breakdown of how much the city currently spends annually paying the employee share of pension premiums:

Bargaining Unit  FY10-11 Amount  # of Members FY10-11 EPMC% Current EPMC %
Chico Employees Association  $      128,340.54 79 4% 2%
SEIU – Trades & Craft  $      179,805.62 68 5% 5%
Confidentials  $        12,295.11 10 4% 0%
Management  $      216,952.12 56 4% 4%
Public Safety Management  $      119,193.35 9 9% 9%
CPSA  $      175,646.81 44 8% 8%
CPOA  $      727,452.38 91 9% 9%
IAFF  $      425,517.02 69 7% 7%
 $    1,985,202.95 426

The police and fire employees  complain that safety is at jeopardy due to budget cuts, but read the chart. You see,  if they’d pay the “employee share” of their pension premium, we could save those officers and that 2/3’s of a fire station that Nakamura is threatening because of the failure of Measure J. The police department alone gets well beyond the $900,000 that Nakamura is claiming the city will lose if they can’t tax our cell phones.

Look at their salaries – it would certainly be no skin off their nose to pay their own damned pensions. And, it would leave the city the revenues to hire the extra personnel they’ve been screaming for. And then we could stop paying overtime, and there would be money to hire almost as many more.

I got these figures because I rode my bicycle to an 8am meeting and asked a simple question.  

 

Finance Committee to take up Section 908 – will Jennifer Hennessy do her job? What does the new city manager think?

27 Aug

I don’t know how many people are available for an 8am meeting Downtown, but tomorrow morning the Finance Committee will take up the issue of Jennifer Hennessy not complying with Section 908 of the Chico City Code. 

908 says that the Finance Director is supposed to give a current update regarding our budget, just like you do every month with your check book. You see what you’ve taken in, and you see what’s gone out. It should all be there, so you don’t get in trouble with your finances! Heck! You wouldn’t want to write rubber checks – Mike Ramsey will slap you in jail for that! 

The city of Chico is in a deep amount of deficit-doo right now because Hennessy hasn’t been making these reports. The only reports she will make are “after the fact” – by the time she tells us anything, we’re already in trouble. And the reports she gives are never clear – she spends hours on these ridiculous “power point presentations,” with little cartoon figures and charts and graphs, without ever really telling us exactly how much money has come in and where it’s gone. We just see budgets – like Scott Gruendl said, “budgets are a fairy tale…”. They’re speculative, imagined, hoped-for,  but rarely achieved. And Hennessy announces so many budget changes due to “unexpected downturns” that it’s hardly worth the paper to even write the damned things. 

I’d frankly rather have a neat little accounting of what she’s taken in for each fund every month, and what’s  she’s spent. She won’t give us these details – leaving a suspicious person to speculate that she is doing something inappropriate with the money. 

The state parks department was funneling money into a secret fund that was being used to buy state worker’s unused vacation time. I’m sorry, but until Hennessy tells us what’s going on, I’m a suspicious person.

So, if you have the time tomorrow morning, that’s 8am, at City Hall, in the little conference room off the main chamber. There’s speculation that new city manager Brian Nakamura will make an appearance, I’ll keep you posted. I can only stay half an hour cause I got a dentist appointment. Yeah, I saw Marathon Man too, Stop It!