Tag Archives: CARD assessment

CARD aquatic center consultant discusses future of Shapiro Pool, aquatic center feasibility study – CARD Center, Oct. 28, 4pm

17 Oct
Here’s a letter I just sent off to the ER:
CARD Aquatic Facility committee  meets October 28, 4 pm, at the CARD Center on Vallombrosa to hear from the Aquatics Design company  currently conducting a $60,000 feasibility study for the proposed multi-million dollar aquatic center. 

CARD has discussed putting a bond before the voters to pay for a $10 million-plus facility that will be largely devoted to the use of the Chico Swim Association. They are also discussing the futures of Shapiro and Pleasant Valley Pools. Now that both have been badly neglected for years and a consultant is recommending roughly $500,000 in repairs just  for Shapiro, CARD wants to dump responsibility for these pools back on Chico Unified. Meanwhile, they’ve spent nearly $100,000 on studies for this multi-million dollar aquatic center. 
Senior CARD management, with salaries over $100,000 a year, pay nothing toward their own retirement. The most recent figure available on their pension liability – that’s the difference between what retired CARD employees will collect in pension and what they’ve paid into the system – was for June, 2014 – $1,700,721.     
Do you want a bond on your home to pay the outrageous expenses of an agency that doesn’t maintain it’s facilities? For employees who don’t pay anything toward their 70% pension out of their six figure salaries? What is the future for Shapiro and Pleasant Valley Pools? If you care, try to put aside an hour or two for Wednesday, October 28, 4pm, and tell this taxing entity what you think. 

At last, somebody is paying attention to CARD aquatic center discussion

23 Jul

At last somebody is paying attention to the CARD aquatic center discussion. Enterprise Record letter writer Sam Goepp raises the reality that CARD’s proposed aquatic center will never pay for itself – out going CARD board member Ed Seagle made that statement repeatedly in early discussions of this project, but the rest of the board didn’t listen.

Mr. Goepp hasn’t seen the proposals, because CARD hasn’t been public with this discussion. They are planning the amenities he’s listed below, with cost estimates up to about $20 million dollars. I think their estimates are low, this project will go millions in overrun. They’ve already more than  doubled the price on the feasibility study, from around $30,000 to $75,000. Tom Lando wants the city of Chico to take money out of the park fund to pay for it. 

Thanks to Sam Goepp for paying attention and taking the time to write a letter to the paper.

from Chico Enterprise Record:

CARD needs to admit to aquatic center realities

I cannot bite my tongue any longer after reading about CARD allocating more than $30,000 to pay for an aquatic consultant to tell them what they can learn through professionals for free. Simple facts about public pools: 90 percent of people want to be in water 3 feet or less while 10 percent of swimmers are competitive or lap swimmers.

So who do you build a pool for? The general public or a special-interest group that will be vocal about the economic benefits and their willingness to contribute? Then once the costs to operate exceed $750,000 annually, everyone will be in shock as to the expense to operate without any true revenue generated by the aquatic facility.

The comment that the city of Chico has $3.6 million in the park fund gives the impression they think city money belongs to CARD. Keep in mind that they will need triple that figure. No community can afford a true competitive 50-meter pool. Just ask the city of Long Beach. For the Olympic trials they built two temporary pools and once trials were over they sold them. Why? Too expensive to maintain.

Bottom line: If you are committed to build an aquatic facility, you need to realize 50-meter pools are expensive and cannot be used for the recreational swimmer as they are too large and deep to accommodate families. The general public will need splash pads, water slides, a lazy river, a zero-depth entry feature, children play structures and deck space for tables, chairs, umbrellas and concessions.

— Sam Goepp, Durham

CARD Aquatic Center Advisory Committee meeting to discuss bids from contractors – Monday, May 11, CARD center, 6:30 to 7:30 pm

8 May

I FINALLY got a notice from CARD staff that there will be an Aquatic Center Advisory Committee meeting, and gosh-golly-gee they will let me attend. Aw shucks – should I get a shave and a haircut? I feel like a debutante!

These meetings are open to the public, it’s just that, well, they don’t tell the public about them, when they are, who’s there, what they discuss. That is so legal, it’s sickening. So I’m telling you – CARD center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave, Monday May 11, from 6:30 to 7:30. They will be discussing the “Draft RFP”. I had to look this up online – ” The Draft RFP (DRFP) is not a formal solicitation tool, rather it is used to gather comments and suggestions from potential offerors.”

I’m going to guess – they’re taking bids? From design contractors? They’ve seen some design proposals, but those were informal. Now they want to take actual bids. It would be a very  good meeting to attend. They’ve put a time limit on it, so try to show up a few minutes before 6:30 so you don’t miss anything.

CARD approves hiring of consultant to vet aquatic center to public

28 Mar

Last week I attended CARD’s monthly board meeting to hear the agendized report regarding the aquatic center committee. I have been trying to get into the committee meetings, have been told I’d be noticed for any meetings scheduled, but they keep telling me there haven’t been any meetings. So, how do they come up with these reports on every agenda? That’s the beauty of “ad hoc” Folks – that’s Latin,  for “hide what you’re doing with public money from the public…”

The board received a report from Chico Aquajets manager Brad Geiss – “on behalf of [former CARD general manager] Jerry Hughes…”  It was more of a demand, really, that the board hire a consultant to sell the aquatic center to the public. This was supposed to be Aquajets’ job, but Geiss was very adamant – they want the board to spend $26,000 of the taxpayers’ money on a consultant to shove a tax assessment down the taxpayers’ throats.  The board voted unanimously to do so, even though Tom Lando tried his best to act disinterested.

At a previous meeting, the board said Aquajets would take care of selling this idea to the public. Have you heard a peep out of Aquajets? Laura Urseny won’t even use their name in connection to this bad dog, referring to them as a “local swim group.” There are no other local “swim groups.”   They’ve discussed the connotation at previous meetings, one Aquajets grandparent complaining that the public feels they will be paying for the privileges of others. Well, that’s the truth, isn’t it Grandpa? Aquajets doesn’t even have as many members as the Bocce Ball club, but they expect the taxpayers to lay out $10 million PLUS for a private swim center. 

I also found out they’ve been taking proposals, which haven’t been made public. I asked CARD employee Jennifer Marciales for various documents presented to the board, all of which are supposed to be available to the public at the meetings. It was like pulling teeth – they aren’t forthcoming, you have to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb to see what else they’ve been withholding, and ask for that too. When I asked her for too many documents she turned me over to Robert Hinderer, who sent me documents that can’t be cut-and-paste.

What he sent me are proposals for this job of coming up with a design and then telling the public how bad they want it. Here you go:

3-9-15 Jerry Hughes Document

The other documents he sent won’t post, I’ll work on it.  Or, you should write to Robert Hinderer at rhinderer@chicorec.com and ask for the information, which is supposed to be available to the public. These people are making plans for millions in taxpayer dollars, and they aren’t even being up front about it. 

They still won’t talk in front of the public about the assessment they are planning to pursue, not since that meeting I attended over a year ago at which Jerry Hughes told everybody they should wait until the legislature lowered the voting threshold for a tax assessment from 2/3’s to 51 percent. I think that’s insidious.

From “Future Community Aquatic Center Comments” – When we have a preliminary plan and cost estimates ( which is what you see above) we can start planning how we will promote the project to the community…The survey [which came back negative according to the consultant] suggested two methods to fund the project; Special Tax and Benefit Assessment. We will review those two methods at the meeting [this was when Hughes told the audience about the voting threshold being changed].”

This old man is sly like a fox. He is worming something past the taxpayers, and he knows it.  I just can’t figure out what his interest is – I’m sorry, I don’t think he really cares about children when he sits in on discussions about cutting kids’ programs to make pension payments. He gets a sweet pension out of CARD.

None of this has been discussed in public meetings, only at the privately noticed Aquatic Center Committee meetings – Brad and Jerry being the “ad hoc” committee. Brad Geiss also gets a salary, as Aquajets manager, and I’m guessing he dreams of being the manager of the new center. He sure drives a pricey little sports car! All off of a children’s swim team – this is the kind of person we are dealing with here, a man who looks out for his own interests. 

They have also changed their meetings from the CARD center right in mid-town to the Cal Park Lakeside Pavillion, which sits on the eastern boundary of their district. This might not be a Brown Act violation – meetings are to be held in the district – but they are certainly pushing it. The Pavillion is not what I’d call “available to the public,” located in a snooty subdivision with “No Trespassing” and “Residents Only” signs all over the place.

When I asked Marciales why the switch, she simply replied “the Board has requested that the Regular Board Meetings be held at Lakeside Pavilion.  However, there will still be times when Board Meetings will need to be held at the CARD Center.  The location of the meetings will be specified on the Agendas when they are posted.”  No reason, just the board wanted it. 

CARD moves meetings to Cal Park, moves ahead hiring consultant for proposed aquatic center

22 Mar

Thursday night I attended the regular Chico Area Recreation District Board meeting to see what I could find out about plans to build an aquatic center. What I saw and heard made me feel even more strongly that there’s a back room effort to get this project past the voters. The board voted unanimously to hire a consultant to come up with a proposal to sell to the taxpayers.

Jerry Haynes is out as CARD general manager and Steve Visconti has stepped back in to fill the interim while the board has (you guessed it!) hired a consultant to get a new director. They have had one director after another, Visconti “retiring’ last year only to be tapped to fill in again. One woman left citing “differences with the board” and the paper insinuated there was hostility. Now Haynes has left, citing same.  I don’t frankly know how anybody can get along with Board member Jan Sneed, who attacked me verbally and physically one night after a meeting. She’s hostile, I’ll tell you what, and I’m guessing you either do what she wants or you’re out of a job. CARD has an interesting staff history.

The General Manager of Chico swim team Aquajets was asked for a progress report on that committee that hasn’t been having any meetings. He said he was speaking on behalf of longtime CARD manager and board member Jerry Hughes, who has been the spokesperson for this effort from the beginning. I realize, they’ve taken everything into an “ad hoc” committee of Hughes and Brad, and therefore do not have to notice the meetings or include me in any way. But, Brad had a proposal for the board, they said they’d all received it. Despite Brown Act rules saying any document presented to the board must be available to the public, there were no copies. 

Brad told the board they needed to hire a consultant to design the new center, and the board voted to do so. End of conversation! 

I had to leave at that point, so I emailed the next morning asking for that proposal. CARD staffer Jennifer Marciales sent me a version that won’t cut and paste, but here’s the link:

3-9-15 Jerry Hughes Document

I noticed a little strain between the board and Brad. When he was done making his demand, Brad left with my husband and I, got into a very expensive little sports car, and zipped out. I really get a kick out of these people who come with their hand out for public money – same for the Cannons and their Bocce Ball request – they never come to these meetings, they don’t know ANYTHING about the CARD budget or the other programs, but they come in and demand money for something that serves less  than one percent of the city population.   But never any talk about how they will pay for it when they’re laying off workers to avoid paying Obamacare.

I noticed in this report that there have been three design proposals already submitted, but the only one I’ve seen is from local consultant Greg Melton, I posted that on this blog previously. So, I asked Marciales to send me the other two proposals,  but I haven’t heard back from her yet. 

Since I sat in on the Brown Act workshop with League of Women Voters, I’ve realized how little respect these  agencies have for the public.

I also asked Marciales why the meeting location was suddenly moved from the central CARD center on Vallombrosa to the very distant and removed Lakeside Pavillion. She answered, “the Board has requested that the Regular Board Meetings be held at Lakeside Pavilion”  That’s it, no explanation, just “let them eat cake…”

CARD responds! with updates

12 Feb

Hi Juanita,


I just wanted to let you know that based upon your conversation with our General Manager last week, you have already been placed on the notification list for upcoming Aquatic Facility Advisory Committee meetings.  At this time, there are no meetings scheduled.


If you have any questions, please let me know.


Thank you,


Jennifer Marciales
Executive Assistant
(530) 895-4711
Chico Area Recreation and Park District
545 Vallombrosa Avenue
Chico, CA 95926

Well, that’s funny, I hadn’t given Mr. Haynes my e-mail, I’d told him I’d send it. I sent it that day, in the automatic form they give you on the CARD website, because Mr. Haynes had not given me his e-mail either. It took this gal almost two weeks to get back to me – funny thing, after my letter had run in the paper, and on the very day I’d posted it on the blog. But oh well, at least she responded.

I did have a couple of questions, so sent her the following response:

Thank You,

I didn’t give Mr. Haynes my e-mail, thanks for the follow-up.  I’ve been asking to be on this committee notification list since it was formed, and reports have been given of meetings but I never received notices of those meetings. Now you’re saying, despite designs having been made for this proposed center and talk of an assessment on property owners, there are no more meetings scheduled? I’ll be looking forward to notification of any future meetings, but I’ll be watching the board agenda too.

One question I have right now is, I would like to ask you for an exact figure on the designs presented for the aquatic center by Melton Design Group – the newspaper gave a ballpark figure of “$30,000 to $60,000”, but I’m sure you can give me a more specific figure. 

I had originally called to ask Mr. Haynes about the assessment process, which he refused to discuss with me. Since that call I have found a copy of the engineers report dated fiscal year 2013-14, in which SCI Consultant Group give a detailed report regarding assessment of property owners. If I have any questions about that I’ll be sure to get back to you. 

I’ve cc-d the news editors because I have either spoken to them about this issue or sent letters to the papers about it.

Thanks again for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner

UPDATE 2/14/15

Did I not make myself clear in my request? “I would like to ask you for an exact figure on the designs presented for the aquatic center by Melton Design Group – the newspaper gave a ballpark figure of ‘$30,000 to $60,000’, but I’m sure you can give me a more specific figure…”

She sent me the actual design proposals, with price tags, but did not answer my question about the cost of the proposal. I had to write back to her. I try to be nice, but sometimes I feel like these people are just messing with me. 

UPDATE 2/18/15

Well, sometimes people aren’t messing with me! Although it took her several business days to respond, Jennifer Marciales finally got back to explain to me the figures I had seen in an article in the Enterprise Record. The $30-60,000 figure I saw was an estimate for the full designs, not the price for the proposals. She says the proposals were simply submitted by Melton Design Group, with prices tags for each proposal ranging from $30 – 60,000. I’m sorry, that makes sense now, but it didn’t make sense when the folks at CARD were acting so weird about sharing public  information.

Thanks Jennifer! 

 There is a CARD meeting tomorrow night, with some interesting items on the agenda:


You find these agendas at the CARD website, under “CARD resources”, “board of directors”.  I will not be able to attend tomorrow night, I have another meeting that is a one-shot, so I’m attending that. These CARD meetings are easy to attend, held at the CARD center on Vallombrosa, they start and  end very promptly, I’d say, over by 8:30, tops. Everybody who pays taxes in the greater Chico area should attend these meetings once in a while. 

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:


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 Area Recreation District needs more public scrutiny

28 Jun

I’ve become so busy in my personal life, I’ve had trouble staying afloat of all the discussions. I’m sorry, I’ve let myself become distracted with conversations that don’t really matter, except from the point of view that we pay for this stuff with public dollars. 

Colleen Jarvis made a good point with me one time, I guess I should tie a string around one finger to remind myself – pick your issues, and stick with them. You can’t fight everything.

I got frustrated with CARD because they so easily pushed me off by the forehead. I repeatedly asked to be noticed of aquatic center board meetings, and I repeatedly got left off the notice list, even though Steve Visconti cheerfully thanked me for my interest. At one point he even told me they hadn’t had any meetings yet, even though the agenda for that week’s board meeting listed a report from a meeting of the committee. He just looks you right in the face and denies stuff, he’s incredible.

You might also have read, he’s retired.  On 70 percent of his $117,000/year salary, with fully paid benefits and pension. Incredible. CARD employees pay NOTHING toward their own retirement, not even the 9% currently required of city and county employees. 

I got frustrated because nobody else seems to give a rat’s diddly, except maybe the aquatic center nazi’s who’ve been stalking the blog.   There were about 30 people at the last committee meeting I attended – Aqua Jets parents, school district employees, and the manager of Aqua Jets. These people made it clear they want the public to pay.  Oh yeah – their kids’ private swim club has a PUBLIC benefit! Former CARD manager Jerry Hughes gave them a quick informational lecture on some bills that were headed for the state legislature that would lower the voting requirements for passing bonds from 2/3’s to 55, even 51 percent. I tried  to keep tabs on those bills, it was just about impossible. I’m sure one or more of them passed in one form or another, and we’re going to be hit with multiple tax measures on the 2016 ballot.

Something CARD is not publicizing is that three of their board members are up for re-election this year – hey, did you know you elect your CARD board? I can’t find any information about that, except that Jan Sneed, Ed Seagle  and Herman Ellis’s terms are all up this year, with Lando and Worley up in 2016. This is the board that okays these management salaries and allows CARD employees to get away paying NOTHING toward their own health benefits and retirement. 30 full-time employees suck up a $5 million+ budget, with most of the real work being done by seasonal employees who make less than  $10,000/year, no benefits what-so-ever.

A highly placed city employee told me recently, Tom Lando still runs a lot of stuff around town. Lando has made it plain he wants a sales tax increase on the 2016 ballot and he’s got more people banging that drum. As far as I can tell, all public employees/retired public employees, like ex-county worker Patrick Newman. Of course they watch out for their own benefit, what else is new. 

I once thought of running for CARD board, but I’d have to see a lot more people showing interest in turning that agency around. Completely, upside down, shake all the junk out of it’s deep pockets, get our rec scene back on track. There’s no excuse for the way CARD has mis-managed OUR resources to line their own pockets. 

CARD board meetings are usually held around the middle of the month, on a Thursday, I think 7:30. It would be great if people would show up or write letters to the board and tell them they need to use the opportunity presented by Visconti’s retirement to wangle a new contract for the District Manager position, make all the management employees pay their own  benefits and pensions. 

Here’s the link: