Tag Archives: Chico aquatic center

Who wants to go to the CARD meeting with me tomorrow night?

16 Aug

When I ran into Mayor Sean Morgan at LaMalfa’s community meeting, he asked me, “Where have you been?!”

Morgan and I have kind of a Junior High School relationship – like many other members of our local government, he would like to put my head in a toilet, but in a light-hearted, good sported kind of way.

The guy loves to argue, but he’s never screamed “Bullshit” or “Shut Up!” at me. 

That said, as I told him, I almost never agree with anything he does. He voted with council to give Mark Orme a $9,000 raise to cover Orme’s new pension share, having heard the pension deficit is poised to send us into bankruptcy. 

I guess I should have answered him, “Where have you been? On another fucking planet?”

A planet where everybody has a public salary and a public pension, and money  grows on trees…

But given the spirit of LaMalfa’s meeting, I decided, us two old porch dogs should give the public an example of how to be civil to somebody you’d cross the street to avoid, but they happen to be standing between you and the exit.  

This does not affect my feelings that Morgan needs to go. He’s just a shill for the public employees. 

Where have I been? Well, I don’t get paid to go to meetings, I get paid to work. Sometimes I have to do a job that’s beyond a 58 year old woman, and I get a work related injury.  I have sprained my back, it feels like somebody kicked me right between my shoulder blades, really, really hard. It only hurts when I sit up, walk, reach my arms out, or breathe.

Actually, it hurts all the time, but who am I to complain – if you are in pain, you are still alive. That which does not kill you, will only make you stronger and bitchier.

CARD has a meeting tomorrow night. They will undoubtedly discuss their plans to put a bond on our homes. My husband can’t take me, and I can’t make it by myself. Any takers?

Why has CARD neglected Shapiro Pool? Why would Laura Urseny say “there’s not much hope” when it can be rebuilt for less than a million dollars?

27 Sep

Chico Area Recreation District board heard a report from local pool builder James Dougherty on the condition of Shapiro Pool.  Shapiro Pool was built on school district property at Chico Junior High, but has been run by CARD for the last 20 or so years, not sure when CARD took over.

This report is a story of neglect. The things Dougherty has listed are all items that should have been included on an annual maintenance schedule, and kept up to date. There are building code, public health violations that have been going on untended for about 25 years. They have done nothing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act – apparently most CARD facilities are not ADA compliant, they’ve only recently spent $60,000 on a consultant to tell them how to get ADA compliant. 

ADA was first passed in 1990. There is absolutely no excuse for a public recreation agency like CARD to ignore the law.

Worse – right in the beginning of his report, Dougherty casually mentions that he was handed another consultant’s report from 2009. This was all reported in 2009 and NOTHING was done. 

If you want to read the full report, you will have to ask Willman for a copy – she did not send me a copy I could share or a link. You can reach Ann Willman at annw@chicorec.com

The good news – and we all knew this –

  • the pool is big enough to accommodate local demand
  • the pool, deck, and surrounding grass areas are large enough to accommodate competitive swim meets

But here’s where everything goes downhill – 

  • the pool itself has features that are out-of-date and do not comply with current standards – such as gutters that make ” entry and exit difficult for children and mature adults.”  
  • the lights are inadequate for night swimming
  • the deck is cracked and that causes trip hazards – substandard patches have been made that exacerbate the situation
  • the pool plaster has deteriorated and there are sharp edges where metal has been exposed
  • they took out the diving board at some point but not properly, and now the remaining hardware “presents a trip hazard.”

Things were already going downhill 20 years ago when I took my kids to Shapiro Pool one day. The place was awful, the staff was awful, the kids there were out of control. The place got vandalized a  lot because it was obvious nobody cared about it, including CARD or the school district.

But here’s things I have only suspected:

1. The two pools have different loads during swim lessons, lap swimming and public swim sessions and CHSC and NISPS call for two separate recirculaüon and watertreatment systems. There is only one circulation system for both activity areas with equalizer lines connecting the two pools.

2.The pool re-circulation system is undersized to handle the flow per CHSC* FPSSR and FPSSA.

3. The bottom drains are undersized to meet current CHSC, FPSSA, and NISPS.

4. Thousands of gallons of heated, chlorinated, pH adjusted, alkalinity adjusted, calcium hardness flows through the gutters weekly, so the pool water level is normally kept below the gutter line and the code required skimming action is, for the most part, nonexistent. 

5. The chemical control is adequate, although staff reports some issues with tracking chlorine and maintaining desired chlorine levels, requiring frequent staff


6. The chlorine and acid feed pumps are of adequate size to handle the volume of the pool and the load.  The chemical feed lines are not double contained per current UFC ART 80 and OSHA standards

7. The chlorine and acid barrels are st01ed in such a way as to not meet current UFC and OSHA standards.

8. The steel high-rate sand filters keep up with the demand by patrons, however, is somewhat undersized to handle die six hour turnover flow rate called for by CHSC and NSIPS. In addition, this type of filter requires considerable backwashing time, using many more treated water gallons to clean the filter than do state-of-the-art sand filters. In addition, the backwash discharge plumbing does not have the CHCS and NSIPS “air gap clearance” above the backwash pit. 

9.  The heater is of conventional gas-fired, standard efficiency (75-78%)  It does not meet current “LowNox” air standards. 

Dougherty has included cost estimates. He says we could get Shapiro fixed up as good as new for about $568,000.  Compared to the millions they are asking to build their Taj Majal aquatic center, that’s peanuts. 

Here’s my guess – the CARD board isn’t really thinking about a swimming pool, they’re thinking they need to get a bond on our homes to pay down their pension obligation. 

Ann Willman has been telling the skateboard group she’s short of money and staff – well, that didn’t stop her from taking about a $10,000 increase over Steve Visconti’s salary.


Willman pays NOTHING toward her benefits and pension package, we pay $24,000/year to keep her in stretch pants for the rest of her life.

While you are at that website, look at Durham rec district, which has a budget of about $300,000/year, compared to CARD’s $5 million plus budget. They spend about $35,000 a year covering their employees, who must pay toward their own packages because the dollar amounts listed wouldn’t get you into Oroville Hospital.  Their pool – only one of their very nice amenities –  is in excellent condition, hosts swim meets. They even train lifeguards for CARD. Their director only makes $63,000 a year, and he has less employees to help do the work.  

People actually drive from Chico to swim at Durham’s pool. That’s called “leakage”. 

I’m going to ask Willman, what is CARD’s unmet pension liability? I’ll get back with her answer.




CARD: new aquatic center study doubles in price to $75,000 – rec district wants city of Chico to pay for it

18 Jul

According to Laura Urseny in the Enterprise Record,   

“Getting close to the end of their budget cycle, the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board agreed to tweak the preliminary budget numbers slightly on Thursday.

Board member Tom Lando asked for more money to be dedicated to the aquatic center study after learning that it will take more than what was allocated for a consultant to do a feasibility study.

Lando and board member Bob Malowney interviewed several consultants, and explained that applicants were excellent, but more expensive than anticipated.

The board had set aside $30,000, but Lando asked that be boosted to $75,000, pulling the extra out of CARD reserves.

At her first board meeting, General Manager Ann Willmann said she would adjust the preliminary budget to reflect the change before the board’s final discussion and adoption of the budget at their next meeting, 9 a.m. July 23 at the Chico Community Center.

Chair Jan Sneed called the extra funding “shocking” but did not object to the additional allocation, noting that it will be further discussed.

“The $30,000 is not enough for the study,” Lando said.

Lando said he hopes that CARD can tap the city’s park fund, which he said has about $3.6 million and could reimburse CARD for the aquatic center feasibility study. The center would be of community benefit and qualify for the fund.

Thursday was the public hearing for the preliminary budget, and only one person commented. Jim Gregg, who said his family is involved in AquaJets, lauded the board for pursuing the aquatic center. Mentioned in CARD’s master plan, the aquatic center has been discussed for years and is proposed on city-owned property near Marsh Junior High off Humboldt Road.”



So, if that’s the cost of the study, how will CARD ever be able to build the pool without a property tax assessment or bond?

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.



CARD has allowed our public swimming pools to sink into disgrace while they paid their own benefits, now propose a fantabulous gazillion dollar aquatic center

24 Mar

CARD is still promoting the idea of a gazillion dollar aquatic center, and they’ve got “news” reporter Laura Urseny running their propaganda.

I get a kick out of Urseny – when I don’t attend the meetings, it takes her a couple of days to get the story in the paper, but when she sees me there, she posts that story the night of! If I accomplish nothing more that putting a match to the seat of her oversize drawers, that’s enough for me.

Too bad I can’t make a real news reporter out of her. She’s a propaganda hag, at best. The story she popped into the paper might as well have been dictated to her by aquatic center committee chair Jan Sneed.  Urseny posted two stories last week about what rotten shape Shapiro Pool is in, without once  telling us why. As if, rust just happens, things just fall apart, there’s no stopping expensive equipment from deteriorating. For at least 20 years the staff at CARD has neglected the equipment at the two public swimming pools in town, and now it’s rusted and falling apart, leaking like a sieve. In fact, the pool at Pleasant Valley (next to Bidwell Junior High) has been leaking for about 20 years. I sat listening to a pool company rep telling a life guard it would cost about $2500 to fix it, but the CARD board rejected his bid and watched Aqua Jets go to In Motion Fitness as a result. 

For the last 20 years CARD has been nothing more than a salary trough. The Board of Directors is nothing but a “look at me!” position, these people don’t really run the agency. The director runs the agency, along with the Finance Director, and they’ve both managed to shovel themselves some pretty good bling – salaries in excess of $90,000 and $110,000 plus fully paid benefits packages. CARD employees do not pay ANYTHING toward their own pensions, but still collect 70 percent at age 55 like other public employees. Steve Visconti will retire soon, on 70 percent of $112,000/year, having paid NOTHING toward his own retirement or benefits. 

Urseny saw me at the meeting, so she tells her readers “[Maintenance Director Jake] Preston added that CARD doesn’t have the money to fix Shapiro or build an aquatics facility, although it looked at a tax measure but backed off the idea.”  Preston whined a lot about the Americans with Disabilities act, but it became clear, they’ve used that as an excuse not to update the pools at all.  The showers at Shapiro are not only not ADA compliant, they’re disgusting, get in there with some Comet and a scrub brush Jake.  The bathroom at PV only had one toilet stall for all those kids, and they’d use it to change their clothes. The line would back up to the front gate. 

CARD gets over $2.5 million a year, just from the county, our property taxes. Where does that money go? Well, last year they took $400,000 out of their General Fund and made a back-payment on their own pensions because CalPERS was threatening them with higher fees. That’s where the money has gone. 

And let’s not forget – both pools are owned by the school district, which has allowed CARD to run them into the ground. Here they’ve built all kinds of junk on the campuses with that Measure A money (promised to build a third high school), but not one word about the swimming pools they’ve allowed to rot. 

Laura Urseny is not interested in the truth, she’s just interested in keeping her byline. According to the aquatic center committee spokesman, they have not got any sponsors yet, all these months and they’re still “identifying partners.”   And, according to Preston, Shapiro Pool has been operating at a loss for years. It’s been a mess since my kids were little, we went once and never went back. 20 years ago it looked like they’d abandoned it. It was a popular target for vandalism. Most of the kids in both pools were there as participants in CARD daycare programs.  Maybe they should realize – the public doesn’t support the pools we have now, CARD does not maintain them – what will change if we invest millions into a fancy new aquatic center that will be dedicated to the use of a private club? 

I’ll try to keep an eye on this, I  can’t believe they’ve given up on floating a bond or assessment. The survey they floated last year should prove they are willing to lie and distort to get our money.