Tag Archives: Chico Area Recreation District

CARD consultant admits a tax measure might not succeed, will take lots of “education”

29 May

Chico Area Recreation District has hired a consultant, EMC, of Oakland, to help them put a new  tax measure on the 2020 spring ballot. EMC recently conducted a survey of 405 district “likely voters” (meaning, picked and chosen)  and brought the following conclusions to the CARD board at their May meeting.

Click to access Survey+Results+Presentation.pdf

“A parcel tax measure may be feasible for the March 2020 ballot but a bond measure would be a significant challenge.” Furthermore, “Initial support for a parcel tax for local parks and recreation is near the two thirds threshold needed to pass.”

Keep that word “initial” in mind, I’ll get back to that.

“Given the survey findings and the current community climate following the Camp Fire, we recommend that CARD begin an extensive public outreach and engagement effort before placing a measure on the ballot. Informational communications are essential to the community’s understanding of the need for revenue, particularly funds to maintain park programs and safety.”

You may have read that the majority of survey respondents indicated “public safety/safe parks and playgrounds” as their main concern. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media from disgruntled parents – a very common complaint is the play fields their kids’ sports  teams use are becoming illegal campsites, littered with trash, poop, and used needles. CARD has also complained about criminal activity and vandalism at various playgrounds, such as broken glass littering the skate park – bottles and trash thrown over the security fence after closing. 

In order of importance, survey respondents ranked “Reducing crime and homelessness in parks, providing clean, safe parks and recreational programs, and upgrading park safety features would be important components of a parcel tax measure.”  A graph on page 6 makes it very clear – of topics “Homelessness, Public safety, Housing, Street and roads, Public education, Jobs and the economy, Parks and recreation,” 63% of respondents ranked “Homelessness” (whatever that means…) as a “very high priority“, while only 22% ranked “Parks and recreation” as same.

Looking at that list, I only see one category that has anything to do with CARD, “Parks and recreation,” so, if you believe in the results of a survey of less than 5% of the population, carefully chosen to reflect the desired results, you would think very few people in this town give a rat’s patoot about CARD. Doing the math, I find that figure to be 89 people, which is a little more than 1% of the total population of Chico.

There’s doublespeak in this report. They start off saying there’s enough support to pass this tax, but here they reveal it will really take some convincing. They also remind the board, such a campaign needs to be “privately funded“. I love the words, “make sure the voters understand…” 

A parcel tax measure would be vulnerable to opposition. Therefore, a successful measure would likely require a well-coordinated, privately funded outreach effort to ensure that voters understand how additional funding would reduce crime and homelessness in parks, provide clean, safe parks and recreation for local residents, and help maintain the Chico area as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.”

And there you see them listing the priorities respondents chose from their carefully worded survey options, using what the people want to hear, just like Joseph Goebbels. That’s exactly the intention of these surveys – they aren’t out to get your true opinion, they’re out to get you to say what they want, and believe it’s your own idea.

What’s the anecdote to brain washing? 

These are good …

but the truth will set us free! On page 12 of the power point presentation, there’s a graph showing that initial support dropped off as respondents were given “information.” Parcel tax support went from 67% to 59% over the course of the interview, opposition went from 36% to 44%. It shows similar results for a bond. 

The survey questions are provided in the report, give it a read, see how they twist the “information” their way. On page 9, for example, they lead us to believe there would be ” NO money for salaries.”

That is true for a bond, which is restricted to use for facilities, not “operating costs (salaries and benefits)” But a parcel tax is different – they can spend the proceeds of a parcel tax any way they want. 

And here’s the thing – since 2013, CARD’s pension liability has almost doubled. Next post I’ll talk about WHY, and how much money has been diverted from “provid[ing] clean, safe parks and recreation for local residents, and help[ing] maintain the Chico area as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family”  toward staving off the pension tsunami.


Will 2018 finally be the year the public rises up and throws off the tax pigs?

5 Feb

Busy little bees.

How many agencies in Chico are planning to put revenue measures on the general ballot, or mailed assessment ballots? So far we’ve got Chico Chamber of Commerce/Tom Lando stumping for a sales tax increase as high as 3/4 of a cent. Then there’s Chico Area Recreation District – I haven’t found out yet whether they will put their measure on the general ballot or mail ballots to property owners. And of course, as I predicted with the passage of Measure K in 2016, Chico Unified School District has again been discussing a revenue measure.

And then there’s the shadowy “Everybody Healthy Body” group that is trying to raise money to purchase a giant property just south of the Chico City Limits, for a sports complex. So far they’ve only raised $2 million through private donors, but they keep saying they aren’t going to ask for public money. 

If you believe that I got a burn dump I’d like to sell you.

Remember, these junkies can never get enough. Within months of the passage of bond Measure K in November 2016, CUSD finance manager Kevin Bultema told me “The increase PERS and STRS costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.”

And how has the school board responded to the pension crisis? From the Enterprise Record, June 2017;

“The board also voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Chico Unified Teachers Association. That agreement will collapse the salary schedule, reducing the years of service necessary for a teacher to reach their maximum salary. The new salary schedule is more competitive compared to other districts and will allow Chico Unified to attract more teachers, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jim Hanlon said.”

Oh good, the teachers get more money, which raises the cost of their pension. Get ready for the hand to come out.

Both the city and CARD have also continued to hand out raises to staff. When will these pigs ever have enough?

So, we’re gassing up the old buggy and getting ready to oppose this stuff.  Helllllllooooooo?


Aquatic Center stand-off: nobody wants to take this dog to the taxpayers

4 Apr

Sorry I have not had a chance to finish my post about the CARD meeting. In fact, I was unable to attend the entire meeting. But I did hear an interesting conversation in the hallway between aquatic center proponent Jerry Hughes and design consultant Greg Melton.

Melton has done a lot of work for both the city of Chico and CARD over the past few years. He designed the traffic circles on Manzanita. He did design work at DeGarmo Park, although I don’t know if he’s responsible for the gaff they made that caused flooding and thousands of dollars in repair work within six months of the opening of that park. Melton has also been running “charettes” for the city and CARD, for the skate board park, Caper Acres remodel, etc. He takes in the community’s comments and turns them into money, most of which goes into his pocket.

Melton is the one who turned a $125,000 gift from Marilyn Warrens into a $475,000 bridal bower. When the board balked at that price and asked him to come back with something for $250,000, he balked, saying he couldn’t do anything for that price. He finally came up with a design for $306,000 that the board gushed all over, because it’s not their money paying for it. Melton even talked the donor into giving another $25,000. Oh gee, Greg Melton can make it rain money!

Melton is the only local designer who’s given a proposal for the aquatic center. 


The cheapest design he’s got there is over $10 million, with almost $2 million going into “design and management soft costs” – that’s Melton. Of course he puts up the $18 million design first – wow, $550,000 “design contingency”. 

But he knows how to play it – you should have seen him schmoozing Mrs Warrens – I kept hearing Debbie Harry shrieking “Call Me!” as I watched, it was sickening.   Melton has got himself a sweet hayride, and he knows how to milk a cow, that’s for sure. My milkshake tastes better than yours…

So when he took his moneymaker out into the hallway, I went along for a listen. Jerry Hughes is very frustrated with the board, and it sounds like he’s not getting a lot of cooperation out of Aquajets, either. In previous meetings, Aquajets has been told, they need to get out and engage the public, start drumming up support for this aquatic center. They haven’t done anything – look, it’s not even mentioned on their website:


Hughes had addressed the board at the beginning of the meeting, asking them why the aquatic center wasn’t on the agenda (they explained it was on the list that was not made available to the attendees) and asked if the board had received a communication he’d sent. They acted confused. He told them he’d been meeting with Brad Geiss of Aquajets, and they were working on getting proposals from various contractors and consultants. He said he wanted to schedule an aquatic center committee meeting before the next regular board meeting, and the board thought that would be great. Jan Sneed added that such a meeting needed to be noticed to the public, how big of her.

Hughes sat down and Sneed started the meeting. Visconti got up and provided what might be the “emergency” excuse – he said CARD’s “line of revolving credit” was about to expire, an emergency fund that is tapped into for emergencies, he said, using that word again. Visconti needed the boards’ approval to reapply. This was an emergency?  Visconti couldn’t bring this up at the last regular board meeting less than two weeks ago? 

I don’t know the Brown Act, I wish somebody with legal expertise would look into these meetings. I’m hoping to get Rose’s take on it.

As the board ran down the list, Melton made his presentation, then Hughes motioned for him to come out in the hall. Hughes wanted to assure Melton that his design was the only real proposal submitted, the most complete anyway, and that he was still in the running.  They both agreed, the board needs to make more of a commitment before any of the consultants will submit a serious proposal. Melton seemed to be fine with working with other agencies, there’s a lot of money in this project for lots of hogs. 

Melton asked  Hughes if they’d done any kind of public survey – Hughes said No. I don’t know why he didn’t mention the survey run a couple of years ago that came back negative, unless it’s because he’s in denial of the community’s rejection of this project. The consultant who ran the survey told the board they needed to get out and sell this project to the public, convince the taxpayers of the absolute need for this Taj Majal swim center when there are already two decrepit and neglected public pools under CARD’s lack of attention. There has been no such attempt. Nobody wants to take this pig out in traffic.  Jerry Hughes can’t even write a letter to the editor. There is no public support for this pool. Hughes was expressing his frustration that the project is not moving fast enough – well, look at this guy, he doesn’t have that much time left to wait. He’s desperate to do this project, and nobody really wants it as badly as he does, unless it’s Brad Geiss. Melton also mentioned, and Hughes agreed – they have to find some way to fund it.  They were sensitive to my presence, and wouldn’t say “tax” right in front of me, but Melton remarked that they needed to “get everybody involved.” I went back into the meeting, and Hughes came back in about a minute later.  Melton followed.

They board and staff were discussing other projects – unbelievable. One project they didn’t have on the list is the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t care how you feel about this law, it’s the law. If you were in a wheelchair I think you’d have some things to say about the number of CARD buildings and facilities that are NOT ADA compliant. At the board meeting last month they talked about spending $40,000 on a STUDY to find out how noncompliant they are! But here they were Thursday morning making an “emergency” out of deciding which Pollyanna projects they want to spend millions of dollars adding to their inventory of neglected facilities. 

I had to leave at 10am, I don’t get paid to sit in these meetings. I had to rely on Urseny’s story – which is bullshit. She says the subject of the aquatic center was “tabled” – no it wasn’t, they’re going to have a committee meeting and a report at the next regular board meeting, that’s not “tabling.” Urseny is embedded – how else would CARD have got a story in the ER with 24 hours notice of a meeting? You wouldn’t believe what the ER put me through trying to notice my CTA meetings – send the notice in 4 weeks in advance, and then they didn’t run it – this happened several times. I still have the e-mail apologies from David Little.

When I got a chance I looked at the Aquajets website for any mention, any pleas for money for this center, and all I find is cannibalism. That’s what I call it when an organization does not do any external fund raising, no public events, just expects it’s members to continually come up with money out of their own pockets. They do a yearly fundraiser, for which they sell the tickets to each other and their relatives (wouldn’t you hate to be the co-worker of one of these parents?). Then they do “Pizza Night” at Woodstocks. Woodstocks offers a program that is good for their own bottom line – they give your organization vouchers to turn in when they buy a pizza, and then Woodstocks makes a donation to your organization for every voucher. They allow your organization to have meetings, as long as pizza is being eaten. So, Aquajets turns all their meetings into Pizza Night. When I looked at their “news” page this was the only timely event listed. 

March PIZZA NIGHT is TOMORROW – Tuesday, March 31, at Woodstock’s starting at 6:00 pm. Please give a Woodstock’s coupon when ordering. Polar Bear prizes will be awarded, as well as Swimmer of the Month, and upcoming team info.

I think the biggest “fundraiser” is the fees these families pay to have their kids in this program. On most levels it’s just babysitting. There are coaches for the more motivated competitors. I don’t know if the coaches are paid but from what I’ve seen at tournaments they act like they are coaching Olympic hopefuls.   Geiss hits these people for money around every corner.  I can understand why they would scream for the taxpayers to pay if they were put to the wall, but I’m not sure how many of them actually feel any need for a new center. I’m guessing most of these families are in and out of the club in a few years, they use it for babysitting while they do their work-out at In Motion, there’s no reason for them to want to put up a wad for some new center that won’t be built before their kid goes off to college.

As a hockey mom I know how these fees pile up – most of it goes to pay for the facilities at which the tournaments are held.  Unlike Aquajets, our hockey league floated their own boat, and still does.  Our manager Jeff Novak is a volunteer and does a darned good job of rounding up big sponsors for our facility in Hamilton City (Chico wouldn’t permit it, so the league went to Glenn County, long story short). Our bookkeeper is a volunteer, there’s only one paid coach, most of the coaches are dads.  My husband and I managed our kid’s team, and that involved spending a few hours a month online, dealing with other clubs, filling out applications for tournaments and sending or handing over the check to the other league for their facilities. Sponsors keep the fees affordable, that’s for sure, my family couldn’t have done it if the players had to come up with all the money. 


See sponsors here, compare this to Aquajets sponsors:


Like I said, NVHSC manager Jeff Novak gets no salary, but puts hours and hours into raising money for the league. I’m pretty sure Aquajets General Manager Brad Geiss gets a salary, anybody’s guess, because this group does not have to answer questions like that. I don’t know how many hours he spends on fundraising.  I’m guessing Geiss is hoping to become a public worker, as manager of the new center. 

But right now, Hughes, Geiss, and the CARD board seem to be throwing that hot potato of public funding back and forth. Nobody wants to identify themselves with a tax measure. 

Rose was the only other member of the public I saw at this meeting. Everybody else at that meeting had a vested interest in being there. No city councilors, no county supervisor, the only member of the press Urseny, who as I’ve said, knocks herself out to shine a favorable light on CARD. 



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. 

Jerry Haynes resigns as CARD General Manager, cites differences with the board

25 Feb

When I read the story in the ER, my first thought was “don’t let the screen door hit you on the rear end Mr. Haynes.”

Haynes is the guy who yelled at me – should I say raised his voice? – over the phone when I called CARD one day to ask about the assessment process.


First he denied any assessment plans, said CARD hadn’t even talked about putting an assessment on our property taxes. That was frustrating to me because I’d sat in meetings hearing about how they wanted to do just that, and articles have appeared in the paper.

I let that go, and asked if I could be put on the notice list for the Aquatic Center Advisory Adhoc Committee. He angrily denied there was any such committee. When I read to him  the agenda item about Bob Malowney being named to that very committee, he admitted there was a committee but denied they were planning to have any future meetings. He denied there was a notification list, but wanted my e-mail? He was so mad I didn’t feel comfortable giving it to him, telling him I’d contact CARD via the website. As I was saying ‘thank you’ he hung up, without so much as “excuse me I have to go to the can.

Urseny reports that Mr. Haynes cited “significant disagreement between myself and the board that I can’t work out,” as his reason for leaving.  I can see that. The board disagrees within itself, and one of the major disagreements seems to be the aquatic center. Board members Ed Seagle and Tom Lando have expressed doubts that the agency should be pursuing a big project like this at a time when they can’t even seem to pay their employees. Over the last couple of years they’ve cut their part time staffers, the people who actually do the work, cutting their hours back to 28 or less a week so they don’t have to pay healthcare. At that time the recreation director said she had to drop about 200 kids from an understaffed program. Lando pointed out that these people were paying customers. Nobody cared – they’d just made an unscheduled $400,000 payment on their CalPERS retirement fund, for the 33 management employees that are actually covered with benefits.  

Seagle has since lost the election and been replaced by aquatic center proponent Bob Malowney.  I’m sure it was the aquatic center proponents who whooshed both Malowney and aquatic center proponent Jan Sneed into their chairs. If everybody who voted for Sneed would write a check for $100, they’d have quite a bit of money  toward their project, but the board has made it clear they intend to go for a property tax of some sort to pay for their Taj Majal dreams.

Seagle and Lando are right – CARD can’t even pay it’s bills. How would they build and manage an aquatic center? I don’t even believe they intend to build it, I think they want an assessment to pay off their CalPERS and other employee compensation obligations. Here’s an article Laura Urseny wrote about a year and a half ago. 

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

Posted:   07/12/2013 12:28:50 AM PDT


CHICO — Like walking a tightrope, there is little wiggle room when it comes to the 2013-14 budget of Chico Area Recreation and Park District.During a budget workshop Thursday, General Manager Steve Visconti said the numbers in the preliminary budget are balanced as they stand.

Visconti estimated CARD’s projected revenue will be down by $250,000 to $270,000 less than this year’s because of anticipated declines in property tax revenue and program revenue because of a staffing shortage.The preliminary budget shows total general fund revenue of $6,310,970, and expenses of $6,180,970.

“We feel the property tax revenue will be shy. It’s still in downturn, flat,” Visconti said.

The program revenue decline is a product of adjusting for the extra cost of the Affordable Care Act, which provides medical coverage to full-time employees.

The act changed the definition of a full-time employee from 40 hours weekly, to 30 hours. Because the act would force CARD to provide medical coverage to more employees, employee hours were further reduced.

Less staff hours means reduced program availability.

Director Ed Seagle noted some of the staffing gaps might be covered by interns from Chico State University, who wouldn’t have to be paid.

But Director Jan Sneed noted having staff train interns would take away more time from their overloaded duties.

Seagle noted college part-timers may stick around for a couple of years, so the training would be worthwhile.

Visconti said there was room in the budget to hire part-time temporary employees as long as they were truly part-time and temporary.

Director Tom Lando said he had a “philosophical difference” about using part-time workers rather than offering a full-time position with a “liveable wage.”

“To fill one (more) full-time position, we’d have to pull it out of reserves,” Visconti said.

The board talked about the Affordable Care Act and its impact in light of the recent federal announcement to delay implementation for a year.

Business manager Scott Dowell noted it would only give CARD about a six-month reprieve. Dowell said it costs CARD $10,000 a year per position to provide medical coverage.

Board members talked about having part-time workers put in more hours until the Affordable Care Act kicks in, an option that will further discussed at the next meeting, July 18.

BACKGROUND: The Chico Area Recreation and Park District is dealing with less projected revenue in its 2013-14 budget.

WHAT’S NEW: Because of the federal Affordable Care Act, CARD has been working to balance revenue and costs.

WHAT’S NEXT: CARD will take public comments at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. July 18 at Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

There, Lando mentions a “liveable wage” – CARD employees something like 300 employees, and only the 30 or so management employees have any kind of coverage.  And, $10,000 per employee is an average – here’s the link to the State Controllers website:


I guess Urseny’s article is over a year old, so that $10,000 figure is off. Way off. There’s only three management employees who get less than $10,000 worth of pensions and benefits. Look at those figures again.  CARD management employees, according to former finance director Scott Dowell (now with the city of Chico), pay nothing toward their benefits or pensions. We pay the figure you see, and then the rest floats on the stock market. CalPERS demanded that $300,000 “side payment,” saying they’d forgive penalties. They are demanding more money all the time, these public agencies have been taking huge pensions out of the fund without paying up front. That is the giant “pension liability” that is hanging over the head of every California taxpayer like the sword of Damocles. 

The city just handed them Sycamore Pool. They’ve neglected Pleasant Valley and Shapiro pools into disrepair and threaten to close them next year. 

I don’t know what Jerry Haynes’ problem is with the CARD board, but I know there’s definitely something funky going on at CARD. Want to find out? Invite me to a meeting. 




CARD Aquatic Center Design Cost Estimates

14 Feb

CARD Aquatic Center Cost Estimates (1)

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.” 

Why is CARD being so secretive about the aquatics center?

29 Jan

Today I called CARD, and simply asked, what is the process for putting an assessment on property taxes. The woman who answered the phone handed me over to new CARD director Jerry Haynes. Haynes replaces Steve Visconti.

Haynes immediately asked me where I’d heard about an assessment. Well, I’d been going to meetings the last couple of years, I told him, and they’d been talking about it in the Enterprise Record. 

Haynes doesn’t waste time – he got right in my face, telling me there was no such mention in any newspaper article. This guy is very aggressive.

So, I asked him about a consultant that had been discussed – he said the consultant was to help them update their general plan (see in the ER story below, he says the consultant will tell them how to proceed with financing the aquatic  center). 

Then I told him, I’d seen an item on last week’s agenda about appointing board members to the various committees – the first listed was the Aquatic Center Advisory Ad-hoc Committee. First he denied the existence of this committee, then he denied that they had been having or planned to have any meetings in future. I repeated my questions about the agenda item to him at least three times before he interrupted me, blurting out “Bob Malowney!” 

This is why I don’t make phone calls, but I get nowhere with CARD via e-mail. Steve Visconti told me again and again he’d put me on the notifications list, but later he also denied there were any meetings, even when there were reports of such meetings listed in the agendas. This whole thing is surreal.

Haynes got really agitated at this point. I told him I was also frustrated, it is so hard to get information about this aquatic center, but whenever I write letters to the paper about it I am accused of passing misinformation, even lying.  I told him, “but you see here how hard it is for me to get the right information…”  He started raising his voice, he said, “Please listen to me!” but his tone didn’t say “please,” it said, “look you little so-and-so!”. I responded that I’d e-mail him.  As I was saying Thank You, he flat hung up. 

If you don’t believe me, call CARD yourself and ask about the Aquatic Center Advisory Ad-hoc Committee. Be nice! Record your conversation, I wish I had. 

UPDATE:  Here’s an excerpt from a story the ER ran in December, full story here – look at the headline in the link. When I quoted this story to Jerry Haynes he denied everything in it:


A proposed aquatic center is part of CARD’s master plan and has been discussed for more than a year. For this meeting, several plans with different attributes were going to be discussed, with costs ranging from $10.8 million to $18 million.

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.

The board happily accepted an offer from members of the subcommittee, including a swim association, to pay for a feasibility study on the center.

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. As far as mounting a successful public education campaign, that should be up to the swim group and its supporters, the board agreed.

In a phone call yesterday, CARD director Jerry Haynes denied everything in that article. Maybe Laura Urseny needs to check her notes. 

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.