Tag Archives: Butte County Association of Governments

Gas tax petition gaining momentum – time to defund the special interest programs that are ruining our state

24 Jan

I’m glad I went to that meeting yesterday, because it relates to some other stuff I’ve been reading in the news. 

First of all, Dude sent me this article over a week ago:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jackson-california-poverty-20180114-story.html

“Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country? Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia, but California, where nearly one out of five residents is poor. That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which factors in the cost of housing, food, utilities and clothing, and which includes noncash government assistance as a form of income.”

I’ll buy that, because that’s what I’m seeing all around me – more than 1 in 5 of my friends are having money problems, and few of them have been living fast or fancy – they’re having a hard time paying their new PG&E, Cal Water, and Waste Management rates, which are going up hell-bent-for-leather compared to their wages. My kids are working jobs at reduced hours because their employers cannot afford to pay the still-required health care premiums for employees working 28 hours or more a week. 

While you might want to blame welfare recipients, read on:

“Self-interest in the social-services community may be at fault. As economist William A. Niskanen explained back in 1971, public agencies seek to maximize their budgets, through which they acquire increased power, status, comfort and security. To keep growing its budget, and hence its power, a welfare bureaucracy has an incentive to expand its “customer” base. With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy. Many work in social services, and many would lose their jobs if the typical welfare client were to move off the welfare rolls.”

And then there’s the pressure on the middle income families who have to drive to work – The Moonbeam’s answer to poverty was higher taxes on cars and gas.  There’s no limit when you are spending other people’s money. Luckily a group has come up with a gas tax repeal petition:

http://act.reformcalifornia.org/petitions/cartax/html/gen/

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/sd-fi-gastax-repeal-20171127-story.html

“We need to stop the car and gas tax hikes because, number one, it’s hurting working families,” said Carl DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council and now a talk radio host who has helped spearhead the repeal. “Secondly, the money is being diverted time and time again from road repairs and road expansion to any special interest project the politicians have.”

 

Yes, any special interest project – like a busline to Sacramento that  takes an hour longer than driving your car, that will still cost $24 round trip (and screw you if you miss that 4:55 bus), and will still have to be 60 percent subsidized by the taxpayers, even if they get the ridership required by the grant program. 

Read this again, “With 883,000 full-time-equivalent state and local employees in 2014, California has an enormous bureaucracy.”

Including the staffers at BCAG, SRTA, SJJPD, and a bunch of other special districts around the state. BCAG has a $1.5 million dollar payroll to meet, for 12 staffers – whipping out my handy calculator, I see that’s $125,000 per staffer. 

Public compensation drives up the cost of everything, from housing to food to gas to daycare to medical care and so on.  The private sector family living on $40,000 or less has to compete with these people for homes, groceries, everything – in a town with so many publicly employed residents as Chico, the seller or merchant is able to charge top dollar for everything.

This is how these stupid special projects affect our quality of life. Tell your county supervisor you don’t want to participate in this bus line to nowhere, it’s not too late, the grant applications haven’t been accepted yet. 

Go ahead and laugh, you’re paying for it

17 Dec

I was spreading an old issue of the Chico Enterprise Record under my dog dishes and I noticed a story I had missed.

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20170923/NEWS/170929854

The Butte County Association of Governments – BCAG – runs the B-Line.

http://www.blinetransit.com

When I looked at the schedules for the B-Line, I was reminded how riding the bus really sucks. Have some fun – use those schedules to get yourself to the airport, in less than an hour. Because you can drive there in less than 20 minutes from just about anywhere in town, and then you have your car for whenever you want to leave. Please note – there are hours long blocks without service in the middle of the day and then only two buses leaving the airport at the end of the work day. And no stops – it’s an EXPRESS line. You get on Downtown – which means, you have to get Downtown.

Which leaves the use of the bus to catch a plane almost out of the equation – because the buses aren’t for the airline passengers, they’re for employees of airport located businesses. The story says they need at least 64 people a day to pay for this line, and so far they’ve managed to convince about 30 to ride.   Until then, the taxpayers will subsidize this line while BCAG tries to convince employers to buy monthly passes. 

Do you have a car?” is one of the first questions most employers ask. “Missed the bus” is the last excuse you want to pitch at your boss – sounds made up. Until you see the schedules, one misstep and you will be left for an hour. That’s not your boss’ problem, unless he’s Ken Beerman or Dan Got-t-shirts, who are also pitching the New Urban Life Without a Car. Of course, Ken Beerman lives in Forest Ranch, on a private road. Gonzales lives Downtown – if you can get picture of him boarding B-line I will give you a crisp five-spot.

The story is a push piece – thank you Laura Embedded Reporter! The reporter actually tries to tell us employees should take the bus to avoid road damage to their cars. 

“While there is no precise data on the cost of wear and tear on vehicles encountering potholes on Cohasset Road, AAA has determine that nationally potholes cost drivers about $3 billion annually.

Hitting potholes and deep cracks can damage tires, rims, struts, steering and suspension, according to AAA, but what may be worse is that the damage may not be immediately noticeable and deepen as travel continues.”

But the city has no immediate plans to do anything about the road, despite the current jingle for commercial air service.  

“While the city will be improving Cohasset Road in 2018, repair stops short of the airport.

“‘Yes, we are working on the design for road rehabilitation on Cohasset Road from about East Avenue to Eaton Road. This will not do anything to widen or improve Cohasset to the airport from Eaton Road,’ Chico Public Works Director/Engineering Brendan Ottobani wrote this publication on Wednesday.”

That’s interesting. You will not find that kind of information in any story about the city streets, the garbage franchise, or the pensions. But here she uses it to try to get people to ride the bus. 

You really think it costs $250,000 to run one bus half a dozen times a day out to the airport and back? No. BCAG wants  that money for salaries and pensions for themselves. The director of this agency is compensated at over $200,000 year.  Eleven employees – not counting board members – are paid over $777,000/year in wages and another $350,000 in pensions and health benefits.

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?fiscalyear=2016&entityid=3468

The board is made up of other salaried individuals, including two county supervisors and council members from every town in Butte County, as well as representatives of other public agencies like CARD. Yes, CARD director Ann Willmann, for example, gets paid over $100,000/year plus pension and health insurance to sit in these meetings, facilitating the looting.

According to various sources online, the average transit bus driver in California makes between $30,000 and $40,000/year. I didn’t see anything about benefits. I don’t know where to look to see what they spend on the buses but I’m going to guess that’s less than they spend on the driver. So that leaves a couple of hundred thousand a year to go into the coffers, to pay those management salaries and benefits, or pay down BCAG’s pension deficit.  

These government entities – of which there are far too many – drum up a confusing babble, they seem to contradict each other around every corner. Here the county is pushing a bus line that nobody really wants, while the city won’t fix the road. Why don’t they just use the grant funding to fix the road? 

How ’bout Urseny’s little pitch about air quality – “Buses also help curb air pollution from vehicles.”  That’s bullshit – buses are not only gross polluters, they grind the roads to a pulp. All to carry 33 passengers a day – what’s that, five passengers or less per trip? All the way across  town? 

The airport is a viable business park, many businesses there are tenants of the city of Chico. But their landlord won’t maintain the road in. Meanwhile a group is using city funding – yes, the city paid $15,000 for that last consultant – trying to re-establish commercial air service – but they don’t think the airlines pay attention to stuff like this? 

Go ahead and laugh – you’re paying for it.