Tag Archives: Chico Ca

O-ville talking bankruptcy? Time for public employees to take a walk in “the real world”

30 Sep

Thanks again Dude, for this link – I’ve been too busy to read the papers lately, get a load of this story from the Oroville Mercury Register – Oroville going bankrupt?


“The city’s finance director Ruth Wright told the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) finance and administration committee last week that the word “bankruptcy” was being thrown around, though not at council meetings.”

Not at council meetings? Council still in denial? Well, here in Chico, we have a $186 million deficit, and council is fully aware. So they handed out raises to top management! Now that’s a plan!

“The city [Oroville] cut down its $1 million deficit to achieve a balanced budget this year but is not exactly thriving financially, operating with low staffing levels and recently negotiating a 10 percent pay cut for police, with more negotiations to come.”

A 10 percent pay cut for police? You could expect Chico PD to walk out on any such negotiations – they threaten to cut service – which is essentially a STRIKE – if they don’t get raises.

Oroville’s finance director Ruth Wright says CalPERS is the problem and CalPERS needs to fix it.

“’All cities and counties cannot keep up with the increases,’ she said. ‘I think it’s up to them (CalPERS). They need to do something. They need to do a better job investing.’ The organization announced in December that discount rates would drop from 7.5 to 7 percent over the next three years in an effort to make the fund more stable, but with impacts to state and local governments.

“’CalPERS has a few levers to pull in dealing with pensions, having to do with discount rates,” said Wayne Davis, head of public affairs for the pension fund. “We’re very much aware of what lowering the discount rate means.’”

Well,  “we all” don’t know what he’s talking about – “lowering the discount rate…”

From CalPERS – straight from the horse’s ass –


“Lowering the discount rate, also known as the assumed rate of return, means employers that contract with CalPERS to administer their pension plans will see increases in their normal costs and unfunded actuarial liabilities. Active members hired after January 1, 2013, under the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act will also see their contribution rates rise. Normal cost is the cost of pension benefits for one year.”

Remember, I asked Chico Unified School District finance chief Kevin Bultema about this, right after the passage of Measure K in last November’s election, and he said the district would need to find more funding to pay pension costs or cut programs for the kids.

So, of course, this means a bigger deficit for Oroville, and don’t forget Chico.

“Oroville’s finance director said the number of city representatives coming to confront CalPERS has been growing. At the meeting last week, officials from cities such as Chico, Santa Rosa, Laguna Hills, Lodi, West Sacramento, Vallejo, Yuba City, Hayward, Manteca and Concord were there. A legislative representative for the League of California Cities also participated.”

Well, that’s funny – this hasn’t come up in the Chico paper, which is edited by the same David Little that edits the Mercury Register. Neither have we talked as a town about the $186 million deficit, or the $500,000/year “side payments” (in addition to the regular premium payments), which will balloon to over $1.5 million/year within the next three years.

And the sky is the limit, since our elected morons – both Chico and Butte County – keep giving out raises as though everything’s just rainbows and lollipops. They’ve acknowledged the mess we’re in – because they want us to pay more taxes.

The reporter finally talked to Chico finance mangler Scott Dowell – formerly with Chico Area Recreation District, which has a $1.7 million deficit for less than 35 employees. Dowell doesn’t think Chico will go into bankruptcy, but has been trying to work with CalPERS.

“Dowell was hoping the pension fund representatives would do some research on the possibility of freezing cost-of-living adjustments, meaning retirees would receive a flat rate every year. They would no longer receive additional money — currently up to 2 percent of their annual salaries — to account for changing inflation.

The other concept was switching all employees onto the same kind of pension plan as employees who started after Jan. 1, 2013. The Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act went into effect then, offering fewer benefits to new employees. That could mean the difference between retiring at 55 and 62, Dowell said.”

Both no-brainers as far as I’m concerned, and “the way it works in the real world”.


Downtown Assessment is just another nail in the coffin

8 Jul

Last night my husband and I had a gift certificate for a new restaurant Downtown, and tired as we were, we decided to go for it, Restaurant Week be damned!  We’ve been working hard in the heat lately, we’d put out chicken for bbq but we couldn’t stomach the idea of standing over the grill in 112 degrees.

My patio, Friday, July 7, 2017, about 4 pm.

Luckily (?) for us, the chain place we’d been sent was almost empty, meanwhile, all the trendier places around were swamped with business, 45 minute to hour wait for tables. Oh well, this eatery had good air conditioning, and the meal was free. We ordered. Our server was a nice, professional person, things were clean. 

As we waited for our meal, we entertained ourselves by looking out the big windows, onto Main Street. People were meandering toward the Plaza for Friday Night Concert, some of them carrying lawn chairs. I wondered how these people felt about the bums who were threading along among them,  looking really dirty, and pretty drunk already. We’d seen a couple of cops trying to get a guy off the sidewalk on Second Street.  

A woman walked up with a bike and an enormous over-full back pack on her back.  she was carrying a plastic shopping bag full of other possessions. She hauled herself onto a cement bench sitting just outside the restaurant windows, and gave the phrase “take a load off” new meaning. 

Downtown business and property owner David Halimi came walking down the sidewalk from his Diamond W western wear store, toward the Plaza, looking like the cock of the walk. He’s a funny little guy – likes to wear cowboy boots and a big hat.  But yesterday he was wearing very sensible shoes, and he walked up a block or so and then turned back toward his store, as if he’d just been out for a jaunt. He, Budd Schwab and Bob Malowney (also CARD board of directors) were really pushing that Downtown assessment, and they got it. My husband wondered if Halimi was gloating, I didn’t see that. I saw him looking out at the bums and the filth on the sidewalks, and his eyes were very glazed, and the muscles were working in his jaws. 

As I gazed out on Main Street, my husband, with his back to the front of the restaurant, was watching the side street.  We were  describing the characters we were seeing to each other.  I watched an older woman with a wild mane of bleach-blonde hair cross the street in some pretty outrageous platform shoes, wearing this skimpy little jumpsuit outfit. My husband was watching a man walk along the side street, leaning on parking meters and garbage cans for support. 

And then I noticed the woman on the bench outside the window was changing her clothes. She was just pulling up a pair of underwear when I saw her. She’d been wearing a shirt and jeans, now she was wearing a very stylish looking sun dress.  She left the clothes she’d removed in a pile on the bench, and started gathering up her giant backpack and her other bag. She took her bike by the handlebars and left.

I couldn’t help but wonder where she’d got the dress, looked expensive, like from one of the trendy shops nearby. I’ve heard shoplifting is a problem Downtown, and I wondered – did she just steal that dress and change into it in full view of restaurant windows? Was she using the windows as a looking glass? What? 

She was already gone and the pile of old clothes was still sitting there on the bench. We’d finished our meal and were figuring the tip, cause the staff of this place was very attentive. Leaving the restaurant we realized the food had been pretty poor, cafeteria style, but we’d bolted it because we just wanted to get the hell out of there. We felt bad for the staffers – one cook had come out of the kitchen for his break, and was standing on the street looking at the ragged passersby with a look of disbelief. 

The Downtown assessment is just  the latest in band-aid ideas for Downtown. Yeah, let’s throw more money at it! But every time I go Downtown I see more empty store fronts, I don’t know who the property owners will have to pay their little tax before long. 


2016 – the Year of the Tax

4 May

The other day I read a pretty comical article in the Enterprise Record – “Caper Acres Users Mention Tax.”

Excuse me – what the hell kind of a headline is that? “Mention Tax“? Was this overheard in casual conversation? Was it just  whimsy?

To me this word play typifies the verbal gymnastics people will indulge in to get around talking directly about raising taxes, just trying to put the notion out there so we think we came up with it ourselves. I’m wondering how long it took the editorial staff to decide to call this a ‘tax‘ at all.  I don’t trust the ER anymore.

This “mention” of tax is actually part of former City of Chico manager Tom Lando’s slow and grinding efforts at getting us to foist a tax(es) on ourselves to cover his and other grandiose pensions. Here, read up on it:


A pension that’s not mentioned in that list is Pam Figge’s pension. Figge is the Chico State instructor who brought her class into a Park Commission meeting to “mention” a sales tax increase.  Pam Figge was also a city of Chico $taffer under Lando. She’s one of those perpetual revolving door trough dwellers, like Lando, who also teaches at Chico State. I don’t know how many pies old Figgy has her finger in, but Lando sits on various boards around the county, including Chico Area Recreation District. 

A few years back, Lando undertook a campaign to get a sales tax increase on the ballot. He and business associate Jim Stevens hired a company from out of town to run a survey testing the waters for a sales tax:


These companies always boast their ability to get voters to approve tax measures on themselves, so of course, it was leading, using scare tactics, leaving out the reasons the city got into this mess. I was also contacted by people, including Larry Wahl, who said Lando used their names as though they supported the tax, without even asking them. Read it yourself.

Back when he was still city mangler, Lando was behind the MOU that nailed us into our coffin – the one that linked city salaries “to increases in revenue increases but not decreases...”  His salary rocketed up about $100,000 over a few years, going from about $69,000 to over $160,000. When  we found out about that MOU, they dumped it, but wrote the “Employer Paid Member Contribution” into the employee contracts – the clause by which we pay their share of pensions and benefits.  I know I’m not the only one that bitched about that too, and now look, they’re pretending to dump it – but only for new hires.  Brian Nakamura, Mark Orme, Chris Constantin and their over-priced management friends only just agreed to pay 9 percent of their own pension – please join me in a solid chorus of “Big Fucking Whoopie, Fellas!”   

Sorensen and Nakamura expect us to eat lint out of their buttcracks, because they are making NEW HIRES pay their own benefits. Again, BFW Boys! What they don’t like to say is, that won’t happen until our existing workforce retires on 70 percent of their fat salaries and walks on down the hall. Mother…

And then, the new hires only pay if they come from outside the retirement system. For the entire United States. Most of our new hires are picked up from within the system, we hire very few newbies.

And then, the new hires only pay  50 percent. Imagine yourself sitting at the city picnic, over on the railroad tracks, eating your slice of community pie, and some cop comes over and takes half your pie and puts it on his plate next to his big fat piece, and walks away. Then a fireman comes over and takes half of what’s left, walking over to the opposite side of the room to glare at the cop while they eat your pie.  

Actually, this analogy isn’t right – Brian Nakamura got your pie while you were standing in line, sorry about that. 

These people just don’t get how big of pigs they are being – the pig is always the last one to know, right? Who, me?  Then most of them have the nerve to put on the “I’m just (sniffle) outraged!‘ act, like little Beth Vice over at Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control.  I hope she is able to pull her panties out of her ass, cause I’m the one who gets to be outraged this time. I’m sick of paying for people like her to sit in air conditioning waiting for the phone to ring, making $60,000+ but contributing NOTHING toward a pension that will pay them at least $50,000 a year (plus COLA) for the rest of their bloated life.

This is the common core behind all these little tax bombs that are headed our way over the next couple of years.  Gee, isn’t it just coinky-dinkal, that BCMVCD just lost the same amount in RDA money that they were splattering out on their own benefits? They say the cost of pesticides has increased – well that’s funny cause their budget shows they’ve spent $150,000 less on pesticides this year than they did three years ago. At the same time,  they’ve laid off employees, but wow, their pensions and benefits costs kept climbing anyway? What gives Beth?

Don’t forget the garbage tax. When I sat in on that conversation, the consultant said repeatedly (and I have this on tape) that the main reason for doing a franchise agreement was to “help the city with it’s financial condition…”  He even admitted, there will be a period during which there is no restriction over how many companies can operate, due to legalities in noticing the companies of the new regulations (5 years). He also admitted, that in order to get Recology and Waste Management to agree to go along with this deal, some of which is on shaky legal ground, the city must agree to close the bidding process to just those two haulers. This whole thing smells worse than Garbage Day.

Don’t forget CARD, who has  committee of  “shareholders” scheming behind closed doors to put an assessment or a bond on our homes to pay for Aquajets new Taj Majal swim facility. Oh yeah, don’t worry, you’ll be allowed to pay to get in, when Aquajets aren’t using it for one of their legendary swim meets. 

Let’s talk about assessments. For lack of a better adjective, I’ll say, assessments suck. This is a way by which these rent seeking agencies (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking  ) like BCMVCD and CARD stick it to us through our homes. Each property owner gets ONE vote. Did I say, each property owner? Well they count couples or families or groups of investment partners as an each, and they only get one vote among them. And, it doesn’t matter how many properties you own, how many assessments you will pay, what your total assessment would be – you and your spouse or partner(s) get ONE vote. Period. 

When I read into the text of the Caper Acres “users” story, I found the opposite was true – Figge’s class only polled people who came into Caper Acres with their kids.  I had to laugh – these college kids that Pam Figge rounded up and brought down to the playground (were they accompanied by a child under 13?) only “surveyed” people who use Caper Acres. They asked them, essentially, “would you like other people to pay more to secure your whimsy?”  Well, duh, 80 percent of them said “Yes!”  

And the demands – keep the Bunker Hill tunnels? Yeeeccchhh! My boys never wanted to go into those tunnels, and I was relieved. They have always stunk of pee, and I’ve long questioned the safety of tunnels in the dirt, come on.  Alot of Caper Acres should just be removed. Those structures were somebody’s silly fancy, nobody ever thought to ask – “how will we maintain these? How will we keep transients from camping out inside them, using drugs, leaving filth, etc?”  Time after time the city has faced liability issues over those crazy fixtures at Caper Acres. I once watched a woman and her kid fly off the end of that crooked slide and land in a heap on the dirt. They landed hard, the child bouncing off the woman’s lap and landing SMACK on the hard ground.Playgrounds are hazardous, fixtures fall apart. Structures have been cordoned off, the place has been closed due to either trees falling or vandalism a number of times – it’s a big liability to the city. 

We didn’t see the survey, we don’t know whether the respondents were informed off all the issues revolving around the park. I’m pretty sure they weren’t told about the salaries, the benefits, the pensions, the EPMC, etc. Just like the pamphlet from BCMVCD didn’t give any real information, and Lando’s survey didn’t give any real information. These people are ready to roll out a propaganda machine to get these bonds or assessments. 

Laura Urseny is part of the propaganda machine. She’s been writing articles about how bad of shape Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools are in – where has she been for the last 20 years that they’ve been left to rot? We can’t trust the Enterprise Record for the straight story, I’m sorry, Dave Little is a businessman, not a journalist. I have yet to see any comprehensive coverage of the garbage tax or the sales tax conversations that have been going on Downtown between the Chamber and other entities. I have this from people I know in the chamber and other organizations. They say it’s all being kept from the public, waiting for state laws to change regarding voting percentages for tax proposals. Our legislature is busy shifting the percentage from 2/3’s to 55 percent.  

And, a highly placed city staffer told me that Tom Lando is behind a lot of stuff, that he’s really pushing to annex Chapmantown because he wants the property tax revenues. The city has a 45/55 deal with the county over property tax revenues –  just think how much money that would mean to the city.  Mark Sorensen and city staff all scream that Chico can’t afford to annex Chapmantown because of all the issues over there, it would cost too much to repair their sagging infrastructure. Well, are they stupid, or just playing stupid? Lando knows like I know that Chapmantown would not get any more service than they currently enjoy, but Chico will get half of their property taxes to pay off their pension obligation. That’s a big conversation behind closed doors, I’d like to see the public get involved in that. 

So, I will try to keep on the ball, but to tell the truth, I could use a little help down here.  I feel like I’m standing in a shit storm with a tennis racket.  



Caper Acres users mention tax

By Laura Urseny lurseny@chicoer.com (mailto:lurseny@chicoer.com) @LauraUrseny on Twitter

POSTED: 04/29/2014 06:40:23 PM PDT

Chico >> Parents and other users of Caper Acres in Bidwell Park might be willing to consider a fee or tax to help out the playground which is destined for a renovation. A group of Chico State University students assigned to look at the play area as a class project uncovered that sentiment and shared it with the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission Monday night, along with other observations. More than 150 surveys were taken over a six-day period. According to the information presented to the commission, 85 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as city residents “were in favor of paying a local tax to fund the maintenance and renovation of Caper Acres. Forty-seven percent of all respondents would be willing to pay some sort of parking fee,” according to the survey results..The survey results indicated that users were willing to pay one or the other, but not both. Users said the funds must be earmarked for Caper Acres. Other financial suggestions included creating a maintenance district, user fee or crowdsourcing. The survey discovered other stances. Users wanted to keep the story book theme. “Must keep” features included the Bunker Hill Mine (also known as the tunnels), the Crooked House, Big Cheese and Locksley’s Castle. The tunnels are marked for removal in a proposal from Melton Design Group, hired by the city for the redesign. The city has problems with overnight campers inside the tunnel, as well as drainage of the area. Part of former city planner Pam Figge’s geography class, the students looked at the area from soil types and American Indian use to vegetation types, users and play equipment. Commissioners said the information was valuable, and referred later in the evening to the idea of a tax-supported areas in Bidwell Park. City officials have said there is no budgeted money available for the renovation, and is looking to the community for help. The Park Commission’s Natural Resources Committee is overseeing the Caper Acres renovation. The next meeting is planned for 6 p.m. May 8 in Conference Room 2 of the Chico City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. Chairwoman Mary Brentwood said there is plenty of time for more public comments. Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

Nakamura is dumping the fire department – in 2017!

14 Apr

Tomorrow night city council will discuss serving a three-year notice to the fire department that they will be considering a contract with Cal Fire. You may be asking the same question I am – why did they just approve new contracts with the fire department, with a proviso that says we have to give them three years’ notice before we dump them? This is not a sincere move on the part of Scott Gruendl or Mark Sorensen, it’s election year pandering.

Look there it says, “recently completed negotiations…” meaning, weeks ago. Why did they go through with the contracts at all?

REPORT IN BRIEF: The City of Chico recently completed negotiations with its nine (9) bargaining groups. One
outstanding issue, pertaining specifically to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Local 2734, that
essentially binds the City, is Section 5.7, a contracting out provision. The City Manager believes this section
adversely affects the City’s ability to consider alternative service delivery options in order to evaluate the costs related
to salaries and benefits. Thus, in light of the City Council’s desire to treat all bargaining units respectfully and equitably
in future negotiations, the City Manager recommends that the City provide the attached notice of intent, which
becomes effective April 16, 2017.

Oh no, nobody ever believes Juanita!

27 Mar

I saw this report on KRCR Ch 7 news the other night – “Chico Housing Market One of Nation’s Least Affordable”.


The survey mentioned was done by a conservative “think tank” (my description) owned and run by a guy named Wendell Cox. Looking into Cox’s background, what I see is, this guy was an early proponent of the stuff we now know as “new urban” and “smart growth,” where you shove all the people into densely packed inner cities, served by public transportation. Now, he has turned 180 degrees, saying that none of this stuff has helped, our cities and roadways are still a giant mess. 


Well, duh. I tried to tell people that a long time ago. Why do you have to have a bunch of money and some initials after your name to get people to listen? Back in the early 2000’s, I saw this happening in Chico. A building boom that necessitated the import of labor! We must provide starter housing for new families!, they said. “They” being our city council and staff.  They spoke in panic – painting a picture of whole families sitting on their suitcases out on the curb, unable to find a house to live in. I knew it was bullshit then, and I tried to say as much. 


Of course New Urban Builder Tom DiGiovanni, father of some of the biggest jokes in town (Doe Mill, Westside Green), said I made the whole thing up.


Wow, the laugh was on me – little did I know, at just about that time, city council was approving that MOU that linked city salaries “to revenue increases but not decreases“.  Wow, if you don’t get that, unscrew your head and put it in a bucket of pine tar.  That’s how they simultaneously drove up the cost of living and their salaries. By the time we figured that one out, City Manager Tom Lando’s salary had gone from around $65,000/year to about $190,000 a year. Just salary. At that time we didn’t know about the pensions scam.  And, when they dumped the MOU that tied salaries to revenue increases, they agreed to pay the lion’s share of pension premiums, and here we are today, well, you read the story in the paper.

Mark Sorensen went on his little swing about how it’s not his fault, he wasn’t on council when they did that stuff. Well, he sure as hell hired Brian Nakamura at $212,000/year plus 96 percent paid retirement and benefits, and tried to tell us it was for our own good. Yeah, that’s what they tell the victim – lay back and think of Mother England. 

Our housing market, after a boom that increased the size of our town by roughly a quarter, actually raised the price of housing. How does that happen? 

Read here, read it good. And then come back so I can say, “I told you so!”


I told you so! 

Time to take back the cop shop

24 Nov

In past I’ve been friendly with Tea Party members, and I still will be. But when I got this notice today, saying Randall Stone should be dismissed from the Police Advisory Board because he made public harassment by a Chico police officer, I had to tell them, we’re 180 degrees apart on this one Folks.

Below is the section of the code pulled out by Tea Party maven Stephanie Taber. It says member of the PAB must sign an agreement promising to lie to the public about what’s going on in the police department. Yep, that’s what it says – PAB members are not allowed to tell the public when there’s a problem in the cop shop. Read it yourself.

(a) Matters relating to personnel issues are governed by various laws of the State of
California and the City of Chico as well as various labor contracts. Personnel matters
are confidential. No member of the Police Community Advisory Board may divulge
any information regarding a personnel matter that has been deemed confidential by
the Chief of Police.
(b) Every new member of the Police Community Advisory Board, prior to hearing any
personnel matter, must sign an agreement, as prepared by the City Attorney, agreeing
and promising to maintain the confidentiality of any personnel matter.
(c) Only the Chief of Police or City Manager (or City Manager’s representative), with the
advise of the City Attorney, has the authority to determine what information related to
any personnel matter may be made public.

I think I know Stephanie Taber well enough to say this – if she’d found out something she didn’t like in one of those meetings, she’d squeal like a pig.  And of course, that would be legal, because she’s a member of the public. Of course, those meetings were not being properly noticed to the public until I squealed like a pig to city clerk Debbie Presson.  I had to bitch about it a couple of times, but finally she said, “As of yesterday, Police Department staff was asked to include the agenda (as had been past practice) under the “Minutes and Agendas” page as that is where citizens look for such items.  They will be doing so for all future meetings. “

See where she says, “as had been past practice“?  Trostle just dropped the notice from the notice page, apparently he didn’t think it was important to let the public in on these meetings. When I’ve been to these meetings I’ve noticed Trostle is uptight and hates answering questions. I’m sure he’d just drop these meetings if allowed. 

Presson offered to put me on the notice list, but I realized, maybe it’s not so smart to be on that list. I thanked her for getting the notices put back up, that’s enough. 

And, I told Mark Sorensen too, but he didn’t seem to think it was important. He told me, “Police Advisory Board Meeting is on the web site”  and sent me a link to the obscure police page it was listed on. That’s what Sorensen always does when I point out a problem to him – admits I’m right, but gives me private band-aid information instead of getting the problem fixed.  Does he just expect me to disseminate this info? No, here’s what he thinks – the public doesn’t care enough to pay attention, that’s what he thinks.  Sorensen can be a really snotty little prick when you press him, no holds barred. When he wants something, he’s going to get it, and he wants to be credited with “turning the town around.” Instead, I think he’s going to be that kid who knocks the puck into his own goal – Sorensen and Nakamura are going to put the last nail in our coffin.

Write to your county supervisors about Cal Water rate increase

12 Nov

 To: LWahl@buttecounty.net, MKirk@buttecounty.net; cc: district4@buttecounty.net, DTeeter@buttecounty.net, BConnelly@buttecounty.net

 Hi Larry, Maureen,

I don’t know what you’ve heard about the Cal Water rate increase, but I found out yesterday – a formal protest from a Marysville group has led to a hearing. The Dept of Ratepayer Assistance has recommended the increase be cut roughly in half. They wanted a 38 percent increase and now the DRA is recommending, I think, about 14 percent.

I also found out, water rates are different in various cities – O’ville, for example, pays about twice our Chico “service charge”, and their tier system starts out at over a dollar.

I’ll ask you Larry and Maureen, when was the last time you gave your water bill a good look? Do you know that the cost of a “ccf” in Chico has doubled over the past 5-6 years? And the “service charge” has gone from around $8 to now $14. For water that is pumped right out from under us, and then they add a bottle of chlorox (I’ve seen them do it) for “sanitation”.   We have a couple of wells on our properties, in fact, we just shared with our neighbors in digging a new well at one property, and it didn’t cost a fraction of what they’re trying to  tell us they spend maintaining a well. And, we can drink our well water right out of the tap – Cal Water tastes like PV Pool, complete with kids.

One notice I have lays it out right there – they want over $500,000 for pensions and benefits. Now they’re saying “to deliver quality water” or something like that, but in the original notice, they had to be straight, and it was for pensions, mostly for management personnel.

So, what can you do for us as our supervisors? City councilors, one a vice mayor, have gotten involved in Marysville and Visalia, written letters to the DRA and the CPUC, called Cal Water on the carpet. I’d like to see some support from you two, as well as Supervisors Teeter, Lambert and Connelly. Not only will this affect your constituents, wait til the cities, the county, and other agencies start getting their increased water bills. Chico Area Rec District has already discussed this issue, and they are expecting their bills to be outrageous.

For your convenience, here’s the contact information:  http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/aboutus/Divisions/CSID/Public+Advisor/

– thanks, Juanita Sumner

Camden New Jersey throws out their cop contracts – Chico needs to look into this

27 Oct

People think I hate all cops – no, I just hate cop, or any public employee, who abuses the public trust to enrich themselves. This is how I see Kirk Trostle and most of our police force – greedy pigs who threaten us with increasing crime unless we meet their demands for pay increases, extra overtime, and more officers. They refuse to pay ANYTHING toward their generous health benefits and retirement packages.   Asked along with other city departments to cut 10% of their budget, they came back with demands for raises and promotions.  Recently Trostle said they need more money for Halloween overtime, their continual foot in the door being a threat of Chico State and Butte College students and their “friends from out of town” having a “riot”. 

Here’s what a “riot” looks like:


I realize, these holidays bring people into town, whether they are registered to attend college, I do not know. But I think the cops’ hype is overblown, and poor advertising for our town. I think they bring in as many problem visitors as they keep away, maybe more, with their taunting, baiting, threatening attitude. They’ve taken a children’s holiday and turned it into a dirty word with continuous threats of Anarchy to frighten and mislead the public into giving in to their demands.  

Trostle went on and on about the consequences of drinking in our town at the Community Alcohol Workshop last week. There was plenty of talk about instituting fees for bars and restaurants, mainly Downtown, but not one word about holding the actual perpetrators – the people who choose to over-consume alcohol – responsible for their actions. Chico PD tells us again and again, registered college students, in disproportionate numbers,  are getting drunk, drinking underage or providing alcohol to underage persons,  getting in fights, getting alcohol poisoning,  being both the victim and perpetrator of sexual assaults, and other dangerous and just plain annoying – oh and did I mention ILLEGAL – behaviors related to alcohol intoxication. They tell us this group is causing a disproportionate drain on resources, both public and private. So, why don’t they prosecute these kids, and better yet, get them in trouble over at the college?  

 I’ve been told Mike Ramsey won’t prosecute these cases – not enough time he says. I think he means, there’s not enough money in them.   I wonder if it also has anything to do with the college being afraid parents will get mad and the college will get a bad reputation. I think the “Party School” image works more positively for a sausage school like Chico State than a reputation for putting kids in jail and squeezing them for money. As for Chico PD, I look forward to a chief that will take on the DA and the Chancellor, but Trostle isn’t that chief.

Instead Trostle is trying to demonize not only bar and restaurant owners but landlords.  Seeking to bill property owners for problems arising out of  their tenants’ house parties, he’s asking council to put a  “civil response cost” ordinance on the ballot.  This will allow Chico PD and Fire, as well as ambulance companies and hospitals, to bill landlords instead of the actual party hosts, without due process of law. This ordinance gives Chico PD the right to attach a landlord for expenses occurred under police discretion without proving the landlord had any knowledge of the party. Here again, we have a blatant money grab by a chief who does not want to go the proper route through court because it means actual police work.   In typical style, he tries to use statistics about underage drinking, alcohol deaths, and sexual assault as an excuse to shake down landlords and property owners. 

Chico PD also uses the street people to flame the public’s fears,  using the failure of the “sit/lie” ordinance as their excuse for not dealing with the increasingly bad atmosphere Downtown and the proliferation of transient hot spots all over Chico. An employee at Rite Aid on Mangrove says they don’t call the police anymore because they’ve refused to come, saying they don’t have the personnel to deal with “code issues.” They tell us they can’t arrest them without “sit/lie.”  A guy standing in front of the automatic door of a store, filthy, waving a bottle of booze and screaming at the top of his lungs, stepping back and forth into the sensor beam on the automatic door, causing the door to open and shut itself into a fit, is a “code issue.”  Standing in the middle of a walkway, hostile to passerby, finally staggering out into the parking lot to confront a man in a Blazer is a “code issue.” 

As Peter Durfee demonstrated recently, there are already many reasons for Chico PD to interact with street people, ticketing them for a variety of violations that have been a part of the Chico code for over 10 years now, a response to people who saw the writing on the wall that long ago.  We’ve also had State Parks employees in Bidwell Park, citing campers and removing illegal campsites. The city, both the police department and the park department, have allowed Bidwell Park to become infested with illegal campers, supposed “homeless” folks. I’ll tell you what, I see them when I traverse the park in the morning out to do my errands, I see them when I’m doing business up and down Mangrove Avenue, and I see them when I cross Lindo Channel to head over to the North side of town. I don’t feel safe. There’s been too many incidents lately, with transients attacking each other, attacking other people, knifings, and strong arm robberies. Chico PD has allowed this army of the night to take over various areas linked up by the creeks and the convenience stores by simply not enforcing basic laws of loitering, trespassing, public intoxication, camping and urination/defecation.  I don’t know what law covers it, but I’m pretty sure these people are not allowed to harass others either.  These things have always been illegal, and there’s also rules about where they can panhandle that are blatantly violated, but only lately has anybody been enforcing them. Just Durfee? Just long enough to get his fat puss in the News and Review? 

Is it only clear to me Chico PD has long ago stopped serving the public? 

I know there’s other ways to solve our problem.  Thanks Jim in Chico for this story from Camden, New Jersey. I did some research, and you will also find an article about how they did it by getting rid of things out of the contracts, like paying employees for unused vacation and sick time!

From National Public Radio, reporter Elizabeth Fielder:

Last year the city [of Camden, New Jersey] set a new record with 67 homicides, the worst since 1995. To combat crime, [Camden County Police Chief Scott] Thomson says the department is trying a blend of old school policing, getting officers out of their cars and on to foot patrols, and newer technology using microphones to record gunshots and cameras to capture license plate numbers and remotely keep an eye on the streets. Camden’s made some inroads. Since the new police force took over, the long ailing city’s crime rate has fallen 15 percent. Homicides are down 22 percent and burglaries dropped nearly 30 percent. In one tough neighborhood, a bunch of little kids are playing football in a patch of grass.

[According to Camden County Commissioner Louis Cappelli Jr.,] “We will have 401 police officers, 100 civilians at the same cost that Camden was paying to employ 260 police officers and the salaries for the police officers that we brought over are the same as the salaries that they were being paid before. What we were able to do is to eliminate some of the frivolous financial terms that were developed over decades through labor negotiations.”

From NBC News, April 30, 2013

The last remaining members of the 141-year-old police department in Camden, N.J., will retire their badges Tuesday as the city — stricken by brutal murders and crippling poverty — yields its streets to a new metro division of the county police force.

Gov. Chris Christie and other advocates hope that the transition to a county-run force will help drag the city of 77,000 out of a half century of post-industrial decline and decay, its annals pockmarked by open-air drug markets and sky-high murder rates. Union leaders called the new policing model, which was approved by local and state officials in August 2011, “untested” and said the move amounts to union busting.

Officials have struggled for years to reduce crime in a city where more than 42 percent of people are thought to live below the poverty line. Budget cuts forced the city to lay off 168 officers in January 2011 — 46 percent of the entire department. A spike in crime ensued

Even after some of the laid-off officers trickled back with the help of federal funds, crime rates never fully leveled off. Camden had about 270 cops to rely on as the streets turned into killing zones last year, with absentee rates reported as high as 30 percent, said Jose Cordero, a consultant with 21 years of New York City Police Department experience.

Police union contracts had gotten too expensive for the city, said Cordero, who helped design the new force. Officers could earn an 11 percent bump in their pay by working an anti-crime patrol, or 10 percent more for working a nighttime shift.

“The primary purpose of this was the city could not afford to staff up its police department to the number of officers required to have a fighting chance in what is one of the deadliest cities in America,” Cordero said.

Officers in what will be a 400-strong metro division, to be backed by 100 civilian employees, have trained on the streets of Camden alongside city police since March. About half of the regional force is expected to be comprised of members of the old Camden Police Department.

“I’m looking to see a partnership form between the metro division officers and the citizens of Camden; that partnership is crucial to prevent future crimes,” said Freeholder director Louis Capelli, Jr., who helped develop the new force.  “For the first time in decades they’ll have officers walking the beat and in their neighborhoods on bicycles.”

Camden is so far the only town or city to make use of the regional police department, which will be paid for by city property tax revenues and state municipal aid funds, Capelli said.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson will take control of the new force on Wednesday after retiring his city post. The force will cost Camden an estimated $62 million, the same amount the city use to pay for the smaller previous force.

Some city residents and business owners said they were pleased with the change as the new force began to roll out on streets in April.

From nj.com, March 13, 2013 –

By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal 

on March 13, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Jersey City has come to an agreement with three labor unions representing fire and police officials and rank-and-file police officers that give the employees a 2.5 percent salary hike for the second half of this year.

The three new contracts, which also provide a roughly 2 percent pay increase for each of the next three years, were approved unanimously tonight by the nine-member City Council.

The new labor agreements address some issues that have caused headaches for city finance officials for years, including terminal leave. New employees will not be eligible for this perk thanks to the new contracts.

“We’ve all seen some of the larger payouts, and the union representatives were willing to work with us to address that growing concern,” Assistant Business Adminstrator Robert J. Kakoleski told the council on Monday. “All three deals make significant impacts on that benefit.”

The new contracts apply to workers in the Jersey City Fire Officers Association, the Jersey City Police Superiors Officers Association and the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association.

Workers in the three unions hired after Jan. 1, 2013 will not be eligible for “terminal leave” payouts, which cost the city roughly $10 million last year.

Longevity pay, which amount to bonuses tied to the number of years an employee works for the city, will be capped at 12 percent for new employees, down from 16 percent for current workers.

Members of the three unions will also have to pay increased co-pays on prescription drugs.


At last we’re talking nuts and bolts on employee contracts – ER does a story on vacation and sick day accrual

28 Sep

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ashley Gebb’s story on city employees’ accrued sick and vacation days turning into massive payments at lay-off time. Wow, at last the media is paying attention to these insane city contracts. 


Gebbs explains  how employees accrue unused vacation and sick days, and then get paid for all these unused days when they leave.  Think about that – they already  got paid for those days. This system allows an employee to get paid twice for one work day.  Chris Constantin makes it sound onerous – these people aren’t getting vacations!  Hey, that’s their choice, and it works out pretty good for them if you ask me.  Gebb’s reports that this round of layoffs cost over $80,000 in vacation and sick leave payments. 

What Gebbs doesn’t mention is, those contracts are  being hashed over right now, to  be negotiated in December. It’s never too early to write to council and let them know just what you don’t like about the employee contracts. You can see those here:


I will bring copies of contracts to the next Chico Taxpayer’s meeting so we can discuss a list of items we can forward to council. The next CTA meeting is postponed to the Second Sunday in October, the 13th. 


Chico Taxpayers will meet next Sunday despite Labor Day

25 Aug

I got  the heads up that our next First Sunday meeting falls on Labor Day weekend, but I’m forging full steam ahead anyway. I like consistency. What better way to spend an hour or so of your Labor Day weekend? You like sitting on the highway with the other lemmings? You like driving hours into the “wilderness” only to find 800 people vying for two parking spaces and a picnic table? I’ll be down at the library, enjoying what may well be the last peace and quiet of 2013. 

Next Sunday I’ll bring in some pages of city employee contracts I’ve printed out, and if anybody else shows up, we’ll redline some stuff that needs to get cut. What fun! I want to get these details out to the public, so it would be great if we could make some points to write in letters to the editor.

If we can get Stephanie Taber to come in, maybe we can get her to give us a report on meetings she’s attended over the past month. I’ll drop her a line and ask her about that. She covers not only the city meetings, but the Chamber of Commerce meetings. Last month she was present for a conversation with Brian Nakamura – usually only members are allowed in these meetings, or, like their “Business Crawl,” non-members are  charged a lot to get in.  I’ve got Katie Simmons to let me in by reminding her how inappropriate it is for the city manager to be talking to an “exclusive membership” audience, but was not able to attend last month. Stephanie reported that Nakamura discussed out-sourcing the fire department, and wow, what do you know – all the sudden interim chief Keith Carter comes up with a brilliant new rotating station plan that cuts fire department overtime! Wow! 

What bugs me is Nakamura is having these conversations without the public. I’ve also heard they’re again planning to hire an Economic Development Director – what? with the money they are “saving” by shuttering up our park? 

It’s time to pay attention. We need folks to attend these meetings. I’ll try to keep a meeting schedule for the week ahead posted here, but it’s tough – maybe I’ll post a list of all the damned chores I have ahead of me today, not to mention, some kind of plan for dinner! 

I hope some of you can make it next Sunday, I’ll be there, testing out the free wi-fi.