Tag Archives: CARD aquatic center

The public needs to press CARD about how they plan to fund the proposed aquatic center

8 Feb

I was so shocked by the response I got from CARD General Manager Jerry Haynes when I called to ask about the assessment process, I wrote a letter to the Enterprise Record. I’m glad they ran it, but I’m wondering if anything will come of it. I had filled out a website contact form, asking to be added to the Aquatic Center Advisory Ad-hoc Committee notice list, but haven’t had any response. I’m not surprised, actually – when I’ve made other requests via that website contact form, it’s taken weeks for a staffer to get back to me. I’m guessing nobody checks it very often.

I wish other people would call CARD, or attend a CARD board meetings sometime, and ask about this committee. Here’s the link:

http://www.chicorec.com/CARD-Resources/Board-of-Directors/index.html

Here’s my letter sent to the ER, run a couple of days ago:

On December 18, ER reporter Laura Urseny wrote, “A proposed aquatic center is part of CARD’s (Chico Area Recreation District’s) master plan and has been discussed for more than a year.”  

“A CARD subcommittee of board members and the public hoped to trigger large contributions from the community, but it looks like CARD will have to take the issue to the voters for a tax measure to pay for the facility.”  

“General Manager Jerry Haynes suggested and the board agreed to bring in consultants to talk to the board about ways to proceed financially with a center’s development.” 

I called the CARD center recently to find out more about this proposed tax measure. A man identifying himself as General Manager Jerry Haynes denied any mention of any assessment or tax in any news article. He further denied that the CARD board had any such plans, or had  even discussed it. 

When I asked him if I could be placed on the notice list for the Aquatic Center Advisory Ad-hoc committee mentioned in the January 21 board agenda, he first denied the existence of such a committee and said there were no such meetings planned. He finally admitted that new board member Bob Malowney had been named to this committee, but still denied there were any meetings planned.  

I am simply trying to learn more about the process by which CARD will “take the issue to the voters.” 

CARD still moving toward assessment for Aquajets swimming center

28 Jan

I’m sorry I have not been following the latest activities of Chico Area Recreation District – CARD.  This morning I’m noticing – Laura Urseny didn’t cover the last meeting either. I see I will have to get out that poker again.

The CARD board announced their intention to put out an assessment ballot. Last week they assigned board members to committees – including an aquatic center “ad-hoc” committtee – meaning, they don’t have to announce those meetings to the public, or keep particularly good notes. 

One thing I will do today is call the CARD office and ask them point blank about the assessment – how will it be done? 

I notice, Ed Seagle is out, replaced by Bob Malowney, owner of the yo-yo store Downtown. Seagle, unfortunately, was the only board member who seemed to have any sense of propriety on the aquatics center, being very honest about lack of support in the community, the cost of such a venture, and the sad fact that “these things never pay for themselves.” Malowney is pro-aquatic center, I think that’s why he ran. 

When my kid’s hockey league took off, they had to get sponsors. As the long-time owner of a successful local business, I’d like to see Bob Malowney take out his check book and fund the studies that are now being funded by CARD, but he has made no such offer. Jan Sneed, another aquatics supporter, is not poor either – she could easily afford to write a check for $10,000 or more. So could a lot of the proponents of this center, but they keep their purse shut, expecting us to foot the bill for their kids in Aquajets.

For that matter, why isn’t Aquajets doing more to fund this proposal? When I attended the early meetings, it was all Aquajets parents and grandparents, the Aquajets manager (who gets a paycheck), and some folks from the school district (the proposed pool will be on CUSD property, the existing pools are owned by CUSD but are supposed to be maintained by CARD). There is no support for this pool from the general community, but the Aquajets people are just standing there with their palms up. They don’t even have anything about it on their website.  When writing about this, Laura Urseny coquettishly refers to them as “a local swim organization.”

Meanwhile, Pleasant Valley and Shapiro pools have been neglected into the ground for years, while the money has gone into pensions and benefits for which CARD employees pay NOTHING. Only about 33 management employees get those fully-paid pensions and benefits – last year the board voted unanimously to cut the rest of the work force – the folks who actually provide the public with services – to 28 hours or less to avoid paying for Obamacare.  They had to cut programs as a result, the rec supervisor saying they’d cut 200 kids from one popular program, and were left with two part-time employees to supervise the other 300 kids. 

I’ll get back to you on the assessment procedure.

 

 

 

Chico Enterprise Record reporter Laura Urseny seems determined to pull the wool over the taxpayers’ eyes on CARD’s aquatic center boondoggle

18 May

Chico Enterprise Record, 5/16/2014:  “At Thursday night’s CARD board meeting, center representative and former CARD board member Jerry Hughes asked the CARD board to consider setting aside $30,000 for the aquatic center effort.  He said that money would be used to hire a consultant for a feasibility study.”

I find it really interesting that Enterprise Record “reporter” Laura Urseny, who covers CARD and attends all the meetings, chose not to tell us that CARD just put out money for a consultant for a “feasibility study”  – remember the little survey they floated last year?

I sat in on the consultant’s report – she said there was no support at that time for an aquatic center, and that CARD needed to “build support in the community.” That’s what this new consultant is all about – how will they convince us that we need to put a bond on our homes to pay for an aquatic center?

According to Director Steve Visconti, “There’s not enough to build an aquatic center; we’re talking millions. But we do have $30,000. We can do a conceptual plan or help with the process.”

What neither Visconti nor Urseny will ever  tell you is that CARD is on the hot seat for their unfunded pension liability.  Last year, in addition to $300,000 spent annually, they made a “one time” $400,000 paydown to avoid penalties from CalPERS. CARD employees pay nothing toward their own retirement – 70 percent of their highest year’s salary at age 55.    Visconti is set to retire soon on 70 percent of $112,000.

“Earlier in the week, an outreach meeting for potential partners and funding sources was held that attracted about 30 organizations that came together to hear about the proposed center. ” Really?  I signed up to be noticed of these meetings and they dumped me from the list. I have to ask, what 30 organizations, how about naming them? Why are CARD and Urseny so secretive about this whole aquatic center thing? Because they’re in those meetings talking about how they will get the public to pay for their pipe dreams.

Laura Urseny is not a news reporter – she’s nothing but a busybody. Oh yeah, I hear you – “look who’s talking…”  Well, it’s my purse they’re sticking their pudgy mitts into, and I’ll tell you what – they’re going to draw back a stump.