Tag Archives: Chico city council

Who is really in charge Downtown?

9 Jun

I had e-mailed my question about the Nature Center loan (essentially, why was it pulled from last Tuesday’s agenda) to city obfuscators Mark Orme, Chris Constantin and fiscal bulldog Mark Sorensen. I got a response from Constantin. 

Hello Juanita,

 The City believes that there is an opportunity to renegotiation [sic] the loan and lease agreements with the Nature Center to avoid needing to write-off the loan.  The promising development is the reason why the item was pulled, and the City decided not to entertain a write-off of the loan at that meeting.

 Chris Constantin, MPA, CIA, CFE, CICA, CLEA

Assistant City Manager

Excuse me, this is always my immediate mental response to an e-mail from Chris Constantin – “What? Can you just tell us what the hell is going on?!”  

That’s why I call them names here, like “mangler” and “obfuscator”, because they won’t just talk about this stuff straight with the taxpayers, they try to wiggle out of a direct answer. Brian Nakamura was one of the best I’ve ever seen – he would contort his way through half sentences, acting as though he was under some brutal torture, and never finish what he was saying.  And nobody in the room was rude enough to say, “spit it out Brian, what the hell are you saying?”  I know my place – I get asked to shut up when I am too curious with these people, I really have to hold back. If you ask more than one question at these meetings, even on separate topics, they treat you as though you are trying to be difficult.

I notice the Enterprise Record editorial this week is getting at the same point – they are being too coy these days Downtown. Dave Little is blaming it on staff, as if the council is getting the same treatment as the rest of us. 

Ex city manager Dave Burkland and finance director Jennifer Hennessey acted the same way. At first the press said nothing, the council said nothing, but when the financial shit finally hit the fan, they were throwing their pointy fingers  around  so fast they almost got them caught in the fan blades. 

So now we have another little melodrama – according to the ER,  staff has now gone insubordinate on Sorensen and the conservative majority. Little accuses them of hiring without council oversight – including the promotion of Constantin to Assistant City Manager. Hey, you know, judging from Mark Sorensen’s reaction to the pulling of the Nature Center loan discussion from last Tuesday’s agenda, that action was a complete surprise to him. Was it? Is staff just wheeling their own deals these days? 

And Little accuses our lawyer consultant of putting up the back of his hand to protests from citizens. Well, as a person who’s seen the back of Little’s hand, I’ll say, nya nya nya. But he’s right, at least our former legal team answered our questions, even mine. Sorensen hired this new team – or did he? 

“without admitting any violation…” city responds to accusations of violating the Brown Act, promises to “cease” discussing salary and compensation in closed session

16 Jan

From next Tuesday’s council agenda, available here:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=96

CITY of CHICO
January 20,2014
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
411 Main Street (530) 896-7250
PO Box3420 Fax:(530) 895-4825
Chico. CA 95927-3420 http://www.c, chico ca 

Jessica Allen
Citizens of the City of Chico

Re: Brown Act Cease and Desist Letter – August 5,2014

Dear Ms. Allen,

The Chico City Council has received your cease and desist letter dated August 5, 2014, alleging
that the following described past action of the legislative body violates the Ralph M. Brown Act:

– Discussion of employee compensation during closed session;
– Calling a special meeting to discuss or take action on the salary or compensation of a
local agency executive;
– Failing to report action taken by the City Council in closed session
– Failing to report the votes of each council member on action taken in closed session;
– Discussing or taking action on matters not specifically exempted from the open meeting
rules detailed in the Brown Act; and
– Discussing or taking action in closed session on items not posted on the agenda.

In order to avoid unnecessary litigation and without admitting any violation of the Ralph M.
Brown Act, the Chico City Council hereby unconditionally commits that it will cease, desist
from, and not repeat the challenged past action described above.

The Chico City Council may rescind this commitment only by a majority vote of its membership
taken in open session at a regular meeting and noticed on its posted agenda as “Rescission of
Brown Act Commitment.” You will be provided written notice, sent by any means or media you
provide in response to this message, to whatever address or addresses you specific, of any
intention to consider rescinding this commitment at least thirty (30) days before any such regular
meeting. In the event that this commitment is rescinded, you will have the right to commence
legal action pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 54960 of the Government Code. That noticewill be delivered to you by the same means as this commitment, or may be mailed to an address
that you have designated in writing.

Very truly yours,
Mark Sorensen
Mayor

Latest numbers posted for election night – attendance still falls miserably short

15 Nov

Look here – 

http://clerk-recorder.buttecounty.net/elections/archives/eln31/update-2.pdf

and then compare here –

http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/11/06/ca/bt/city.html

Voter turnout was in the dirt last week, look at the numbers. In 2012 we had eleven candidates for four city council seats – the top vote getter got over 15,000 votes. Last week we only had seven candidates running for three positions, Andrew Coolidge winning with just over 11,000. I wonder if he’s asking himself this morning – what happened to 50 people who voted for him in 2012 but didn’t vote for him last week?

Almost 1,000 people left the city council portion of their ballot blank, while almost 4,000 “undervoted,” choosing less than the three requested.

Here, compare with Election 2010 – Sorensen got roughly 3,000 more votes in that race, and there were two more candidates running in that race.

http://clerk-recorder.buttecounty.net/elections/archives/eln22/22_official_results.html

Voter turnout was definitely down folks, and we have to wonder why. I blame the choices – look how many people only voted for two, when both parties ran a slate. Meaning, they voted for part of a slate,  but couldn’t stomach the whole team?  This does not bode well – our council and our town are divided, but not evenly. The conservatives have the power, and they are backing the police department, because the police department put up the money to get them in there. When the cop contracts come up later in December we will take more steps down the Road to Perdition. In 2016 a frenzied council will place a tax measure on the ballot, let’s see what they decide to flop out.

I’ll be making signs, let me know if you want one.  

 

 

We pay for Goloff’s rehab, like we paid for the surgery that supposedly hooked her on the meds. We need to dump health care benefits for city councillors

18 Apr

Chico Taxpayers Association would like to thank former mayor Mary Flynn Goloff for finally acknowledging that she has a substance abuse problem. But, I’d like to temper that with a good kick in the pants for having the nerve to sit up there for eight years high as a kite. 

Furthermore, I’d like to ask the other six council members and various close members of $taff how they could let this go on for almost eight years. In fact, when Goloff gave indications last year that she was unfit to serve, her cohorts on council voted to “forgive” the meetings she’d missed without any question as to why she’d missed them. Now we find out, as I suspected, she was in re-hab that time too. 

The last time I checked, Mary was receiving $21,000+ worth of health insurance from the city, for which she paid two percent of her salary as city councilor. Her salary is about $8,000, so she is paying less than $200 out of her own  pocket for a very nice policy. That policy not only paid for the rehab visits, but for the hip surgery she claims put her onto the meds. 

Yeah, I have a bad hip, wow. It started when I was carrying my first child, it got so bad, I could hardly walk.  It’s turned into “osteo arthritis”, which, as described by the doctor, means to me, “rotten bones.” I have taken  calcium supplements all my adult life, starting when I was working out at a gym. I’ve stayed physically active, toting my kids on a bike, making my errands by bike, swimming, hiking, biking, and snowboarding. See, it’s that Catch 22 thing – exercise helps the pain of arthritis, but it heaps it on too. The doctor recommended that I stay active, and he gave me some pain pills that would take the paint off Old Ironsides. I took one dose and laid awake all night cradling my gut like a screaming newborn.

Surgery? I’m sorry, I don’t have an insurance policy paid by the taxpayers – I have the bronze plan, or I have Medi-Cal.  No surgeon would return my calls, EVEN IF I were stoooooopid enough to think surgery would fix it. Right now they’re playing a commercial on tv – call a lawyer if you received a certain hip implant. And then there’s that episode of Rockford Files, where Abe Vigoda plays this old mobster who is having his hit men knock off every person who was involved in his botched hip replacement surgery, from the pharmaceutical salesman to the nurses to the doctors who did the surgery. I had to laugh at that episode, but it’s not really funny – this stuff really happens. And Mary just dragged us into that scam – we paid for her surgery, now we have to pay to get her off the painkillers “necessitated” by the surgery?

The only comfort I get out of  Mary’s statement is that she “has no plans to run again.” If only that was a promise.  

What we should do is form a PAC and put an initiative or measure on the 2016 ballot, ending health insurance for city councilors. We should also institute term limits – that would probably also take a ballot initiative or measure. I mean, do you really think any of the people currently sitting up there would voluntarily institute either provision? You think Mark Sorensen is so squeaky clean? Ask him why he takes the most expensive insurance policy offered and pays about $100 for it. I’ve asked him point blank, and he won’t answer. 

 

 

Butte County Supervisors discuss discussing Cal Water rate hike – pencil it in for December 10

18 Nov

We’re really lucky to live in an area where you can still reach out and touch your elected officials, at least figuratively.  When I wrote a letter to the Butte County Board of Supervisors recently regarding the Cal Water rate hike, I got answers from both Maureen Kirk and Larry Wahl. They’ve asked Paul Hahn to agendize a letter to both Cal Water and the CPUC, and Larry Wahl said it looks like they’ll talk about it December 10th. I’ll keep you posted. 

Ask and ye shall receive. I wish I would have thought to write to the supes earlier. Maybe I’ll rattle off a note to the city council. 

Denial, Anger – is this Bargaining?

15 Jun

I noticed people are reading an almost year-old old post, “Mary Goloff and Jim Walker gang jump Mark Sorensen on the dias”, and I gave it a read myself. How funny – Mark Sorensen trying, very gently I thought, to tell the rest of the nit-wits on council how he thought we’d overspent on salaries for various  programs and over-priced land for  housing projects, and Mary Goloff coming at him like a bull at a toreador.  Jim Walker was nasty too, showing his true personality – catty, insulting, trash talking.  They took turns sparring at Sorensen, pelting him with questions only to interrupt him as soon as he started giving an intelligent answer. It was like a junior high gang jump – “hey Bitch, whatchoo doin’ hangin’ round Jimmee? Whatchoo mean, you don’t like Jimmee? What the helz wrong with Jimmee you stuck up Bitch?!”

But now, look at Mary Goloff – she’s stepping and fetching to show us how fiscally responsible she is. See her playing all hard-ass with the Chico Certified Farmer’s Market, kicking them out of their almost-free location on Second Street and moving them to Downtown Plaza, where they will pay more for one day than they currently pay for a year at the parking lot on Second Street.   And, in the same agenda, renting Bidwell Park out to a for-profit outfit for an obstacle course foot race that is supposed to attract some 950 or more people to the neighborhoods along Lower Bidwell Park. 

What next – I’m afraid to say anything, even tongue in cheek. But I won’t forget how she kicked and screamed to throw the conversation off the tracks every time it got down to brass tacks. She denied we had any financial problems, getting angry whenever somebody tried to broach the subject of  trimming some fat.  

Now she’s the first one in line with a plate when it comes to BBQ’ing sacred cows like the Saturday Market and Bidwell Park. 

We need to come up with something better for 2014.

FROM JULY 3 2012 – “Mary Goloff and Jim Walker gang jump Mark Sorensen on the dais…”

I’m sitting here in disbelief of the attack I just watched Mary Goloff and Jim Walker wage on Mark Sorensen at city council tonight. I couldn’t make the meeting, so I have been watching it via computer. 

Sorensen had been challenged by a smarmy Jim Walker to list what changes he would make to balance the budget. Sorensen carefully began to explain that city funds had been depleted by millions over the last few years, with escalating costs leaving revenues in the dirt. He also explained that the lion’s share of our expenses are “operating costs,” meaning, salaries. He also carefully explained that there were programs we simply could not afford anymore, meaning, salaries. 

Mary Goloff could be heard heckling him off microphone. If you or I did what she was doing we’d be asked to leave the room, possibly with police escort. But Mayor Schwab just sat there looking at Goloff, saying nothing.  Goloff  finally got on mike, interrupted Sorensen, and asked him to be specific. So, Sorensen offered housing, saying it had been a mistake to undertake so many housing projects, and he also specified the arts programs – such as the requirement that any capital project include one percent of the total cost of that project be added for art. 

At this point Goloff began to interrupt Sorensen. She started heckling him about how “we all agree” that the arts are important, yadda, yadda. She just kept at Sorensen, not allowing him to answer any of her out-there questions, until Sorensen asked her to stop interrupting him. 

After a quick exchange Walker butted in to attack Sorensen. Out of nowhere, Walker bashed Sorensen about wanting to spend more money on the police department, asking Sorensen where he would get the money to hire more police. This question was off base, Sorensen hadn’t even gotten that far before Goloff had completely derailed him.

 Jim  Walker is just sitting out his time, he seems to be enjoying himself at all of our expense. He, like so many “public servants,” seems to think he is elected to do what he wants, what seems like “the right thing” in his fairy tale mind,  instead of carry out the law. 

Mary Goloff seems to think she has been anointed Queen in some farcical aquatic ceremony to lead us all in the light of her cough syrup-induced wisdom.  She seems to love the sound of her own voice, while here at my house, it sets off the hounds for blocks. 

My computer started failing at this point, and I was unable to watch the rest of the meeting. I am going on vacation tomorrow, I’ll see you folks on the flip flop.  

Time to write to the city council about these pension payments – Scott Gruendl thinks “pension reform” means making US pay MORE!

12 Dec

Hi Debbie, Council members, 

 
I was just going over the minutes for  the Finance Committee meeting I attended earlier this month. I see that one question I asked, about the cost of certain consultant reports, was included in the minutes, but not the question I asked regarding what the city pays toward the “employee share” of pension premiums. Jennifer Hennessy stated at that time, “about $7 million.” Later she sent me an e-mail correction – the actual figure was closer to $10.1 million.
 
I wonder why my question and Hennessy’s answer are not included in the minutes? I asked this question during the discussion regarding the loss of Measure J. I was trying to point out, that while the city is complaining about losing $900,000 on a failed tax measure, they spend millions paying THE EMPLOYEE SHARE of pension costs, in addition to the employer share. Our city’s financial problems would be solved if the contracts were rewritten so that the employee pays their own share. Why isn’t this option coming up in the discussion? 
 
I also notice, the police advisory board gets verbatim minutes. I wonder, why aren’t all the committee meetings, including the ad hoc meetings, recorded verbatim? 
 
I’d like this letter to be attached to the next city council agenda as a “communication.” 
 
I’d also like to thank Fritz McKinley for answering my flood notice question. 
 
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner

Thanks to Toby Schindelbeck for taking on Miss Finance MisDirector and Councillor Moonbeam

10 Aug

Lately a little drama has been playing itself out Downtown – better than any crap you will find on tv – but I really wonder if anybody is paying attention.

Local business owner and city council candidate Toby Schindelbeck has been trying to take our financial bull by the horns and make it behave itself. My family were farmers, I’ve seen a few of these struggles. My great grandfather was gored, almost in his private parts, by a bull when he was trying to administer some vaccination or another. He survived, but it became a legendary story in our family – the moral of the story being, you better be sure of yourself if you’re going to mess with a bull.

Well, I think Toby was sure of himself, and he was ready for a bull, but what he got instead was a greased pig. Ever try to catch a greased pig? Let me tell you, the grease is not the worst of your problem. Don’t wear your best outfit, that’s for sure.

Section 908 has become a greasy little pig. Pigs duck and dodge, they dart, they wiggle, and just when you think you’ve got one, he slips away. If you’re not careful, you end up on your hands and knees in the mud and pig poop. If you’re not determined, you go home with wrecked clothes for nothing. But if you can get that little pig by the tail, or better, by the hind leg, and hold on, you will have yourself a pig. Or $50, that was the deal.

Toby is pretty good, I must say, he’s got  that little pig by the foot. Of course, you never seen anything til you seen a kid being dragged around a fairground arena by a pig running on only three legs. Pigs are incredible, determined, smart little animals who can make fine use of those stubby legs.  This is the beginning of the real battle, you still don’t have yourself a pig, and the danger of slipping in pig poop is ever present. And a mean pig, a real smart pig, will turn and bite. Ever seen a pig’s teeth? Nasty little spikes, like a terrier. It’s enough to make a kid let go, if he or she is not really determined.

Toby Schindelbeck is determined, that’s the truth. He’s got Section 908 by the foot, and he’s going to drag it down and make it behave itself. In a greased pig contest, it was good to be able to pick up and carry your pig, but if that wasn’t possible, you could just sit on it, and the judge would give it to you. Pig was usually so tired by that time, he didn’t put up much squawk, but now and then, he’d make one last move on your ankles, and you better keep your fingers away from that little mouth.

Toby is doing everything right with this pig – persistence really pays.  But it’s tough. In one of the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever heard at council (it was a discussion of nudity in Bidwell Park that takes the top number one position of all time), Schindelbeck finally got the talking heads to agree to discuss Section 908.  I know, it’s like some skit from Monty Python, or the chapter on Volgon poetry from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe…”

This e-mail below illustrates Schindelbeck’s persistence. He stays calm and polite, but firm. 

Ms. Hennessy,

Thank you for your time and response. I appreciate it. However, my request was for the monthly financial reports as defined and required by the City Charter, Section 908, which states the following:
“The finance director shall submit to the council through the city manager monthly
statements of receipts, disbursements and balances in such form as to show the exact
financial condition of the city.”
I understand that the only portion of the Charter requirements that you comply with are the monthly disbursements, which are posted online in the links you sent.
Quarterly reports are not adequate to show the real-time exact financial condition of the city, especially when we don’t see the quarterly report for 90-180 days after the end of each quarter. In fact, on your website you only have the Q1 and Q2 reports for ’11 and ’12. The 4th quarter ended 6/30/12, and yet neither Q4 nor Q3 of ’11/’12 are posted.
Not only are quarterly reports inadequate, they are not what the City Charter Section 908 requires you to do.
As you are well aware, the Charter requires not only the monthly disbursements, but also the receipts (revenue that came in that month) and the fund balances (which would reasonably include each individual fund balance, along with transfers/allocations to and from each individual fund.) These items should be in such a form to show the exact financial condition of the city, not a hodgepodge of numbers.
As you admitted on 6/5, you struggled with providing this monthly report from the time that you were hired seven years ago. You also said that the city manager at that time directed you not to do it. Here is a clip from that meeting, in which you tell us this:
Fortunately for the taxpayers and citizens of Chico, neither the city manager, the city council, nor any other individual has the power or authority to modify the requirements of the City Charter. Changes can only be made to it by the voters of Chico, if such changes are on the ballot.
Thus, when the city manager directed you not to comply with the Charter seven years ago, he had absolutely no authority to do so and was acting illegally.
Ms. Hennessy, in my Public Records Request dated 8/2/12, I asked specifically for the monthly reports as defined and required by Section 908 of our City Charter. This request is not ambiguous; it is very specific and the language in Section 908 is very specific as well.
Let me ask you for this again; please send me the monthly reports containing the monthly statements of receipts, disbursements and balances, in such form as to show the exact financial condition of the city, for the following months: January 2012, February 2012, March 2012, April 2012, May 2012 and June 2012.As I understand the nature of Public Records requests, once a request is made the city has 10 days to provide the requested information. This applies to Public Records which are created, or which should have been created as required by the City Charter.Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to the timely delivery of the specific information that I have requested.
Toby Schindelbeck

CC:
BTA
CTA
Chico ER

The above email was part of the ongoing correspondence that finally got the ball rolling. A formal request was handed to council during the “Reports and Communications” segment of this past Tuesday’s council meeting. The public was also allowed to speak, and I joined about half a dozen citizens who stood up to urge council, and Jennifer Hennessy, to comply with Section 9o8. The council discussion that followed was pretty ludicrous. Andy Holcombe insisted that “we already comply”. He referred to the months old figures that Hennessy gives out quarterly, by request, at her office, Monday through Friday, 9 – 5. Unless she’s out for a three day weekend.

This gets inane, it’s hard to take Holcombe seriously.  Andy Holcombe would be great as the Emperor who gets new clothes. He’s just as persistent in his complete denial as Schindelbeck is in his insistence that there’s a problem here. Well, maybe not. In this next e-mail, Toby again asserts his position. 

Andy,

Regarding your comment tonight that you think we already receive the reports required by section 908 of our Charter, please watch this 1:38 minute clip of Ms. Hennesssy telling us that she is well aware of the Charter requirement, but only meets a portion of it. She goes on to say that she “struggled” with complying, and so she went to the city manager at that time (Lando), and was directed not to comply.

Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKjKixdGdO0&feature=plcp

I am not making things up, Ms. Hennessy herself said that she doesn’t comply with all of the Charter requirements in Section 908. 

Since she is our finance director, she would know, right?

Toby Schindelbeck


I can’t get into these Merry-go-rounds with Andy Holcombe, he makes me sick. I have no patience – I just want to land one right on the end of his nose.  Of course Holcombe has a response – another Butler Amusements special!  But Schindelbeck stays with it. This is the kind of “grit”  it takes to be on city council these days. Leaches have taken over our town, and it’s time for a council member who is ready to stand up to $taff. 

I’ll post the rest of the conversation as it comes in.

Please take a hint from Toby Schindelbeck, and write a letter to council or the newspaper, demanding that Hennessy and Burkland make the finance reports as is stated in the city code, section 908. 

 

Facebook and the State of California: The Trouble with Assumptions

4 Aug

Chico City Council In Session: “Hey, who forgot to fill our bucket? By the way, that pile over there isn’t going to pick up itself.”

Years back, I was sitting in a meeting Downtown, listening to another budget report from Jennifer Hennessy, and suddenly the word “assumptions” hit me on the forehead with a “SMACK!”  Hennessy was explaining, essentially, that our entire budget is based on what she assumes we will take in revenues.

Yeah, that’s right – I like to call that, “ASS-umptions.” Or, as my dad might have said, “talking out of your ass.” Or, another Texasism  – “allowing your mouth to write checks your ass can’t cash.”

According to the online “Urban Dictionary,” th  is means that “talk is cheap relative to performance, or that promising something and delivering on it are two different things.  A phrase similar in meaning is ‘Money talks, bullshit walks.'”  Another Texasism.

And a perfect description of what Facebook has done. Initially a gigantic success, they are currently tanking. According to the State Legislative Analyst’s office, it’s costing California “hundreds of millions” in anticipated tax revenues. “Anticipated” is another word for “ASS-umptions”.

Don’t think I didn’t smell a rat when the Enterprise Record started requiring everybody to sign up for Facebook in order to post on Topix. Oh yeah, David Little and his cussing phobia, saying Facebook would make posters “more polite” – you know, some people wouldn’t say “stuff” if they had a mouth full of it. But that wasn’t the real reason for that requirement  – and if it was, it didn’t work. People are still nasty and many don’t use real names.   I’m guessing, Facebook offered newspapers something if they’d get more of their readers to open accounts. Why? Because, according to the IPO they filed with the SEC, Facebook makes over 85 percent of their revenue from advertising. Selling advertising requires the ability to put it in EVERBODY’S face, so, Facebook enlisted rags like the ER all over the country to boost their user accounts and sell their advertising.

That went so well, as you may have seen, Facebook essentially exploded with revenues. Thank you Enterprise Record and fish wraps all over the US.  That led to a furor of trading. Investors like Paul Hewson, better known as “Bono the Clown,”  were instant Bazillionaires. Of course the stock immediately turned around and crashed.  If you didn’t smell a rat in that, you need a good dog.

Like a good souffle, Facebook’s success was essentially full of hot air – a racket, really. Facebook is, let’s face it – NOTHING BUT E-MAIL WITH ADVERTISING. When people wrote letters on paper, it would have been funny to market stationery with ads on it – think that would have stuck? And would anybody care? I was just reading an article on Facebook revenues, and a commenter said, ” If my children are anything to go by, they have zero interest in commercial things appearing on their facebook pages.”

I do like ads. I have my fave TV ads, like the “Mayhem” ads (including the completely different Spanish language version – http://www.homadge.com/2011/01/spanish-mayhem-soy-la-mala-suerte.html), and alot of the “Got Milk?” ads – how many of you think of milk every time you take the handles of your wheelbarrow? Sure, advertising is effective.  Facebook has taken advertising to a new level – an electronic billboard network for your telephone and e-mail. This is why advertisers like  Netflix at first thought it was a new bonanza and hooked right up. In the beginning, 98 percent of Facebook’s revenues came from advertising. And then the trading frenzy began.

Never trust a bonanza, kids. By the time you hear about it, it’s a bust. That’s what happened to Facebook – advertising revenues were artificially ballooned by the excitement of new technology. When the excitement wore off – and, to tell the truth, I don’t think it’s done wearing off –  ka-POW! The balloon is burst. It’s going flatter by the minute. I think someday soon people will say, “Face-what?” And it’s just adding to the list of lost revenues for the state. Money they’ve already budgeted, and in some cases, are already spending.

Of course, that’s why you get into trouble with ASS-umptions. I realize, we do have to make assumptions in life. We must assume the sun will rise tomorrow.  We must trust in our business dealings and assume that our neighbors are good people, most of the time.  But spending frivolously based on the assumption that you will somehow come up with the money later is just ASS-inine. So follows the city of Chico, making ASS-umptions. In one report Hennessy predicted revenues would go up because the price of gas was predicted to go up, so they’d get more gas tax. She pulled the figure out of her hat as far as I’m concerned, I don’t know how she came up with it, but she marked it right down on the revenues side of the chart and proceeded to spend it.  I’m pretty damned sure it never occurred to her that a rise in the price of gas means people drive less. She seems to ASS-ume things will go her way, no matter what’s swirling around her head.

So, it’s important that we go in force to the next council meeting and support Toby Schindelbeck’s request for a monthly accounting of the city finances – with receipts, etc, just like Mom and Pop – from Jennifer Hennessy, who has apparently never been required to do so in the seven years she’s been employed by the city of Chico.  This is why our city is in trouble. They hold us off by the forehead – and, we let them. We need to take control of our situation. You know, it’s an “intervention.”

We’ll be discussing this action at the next meeting of the Chico Taxpayers Association, this Sunday, August 5, at the Chico Library – 9 AM!

Oh, come on, you’re NOT THAT DUMB!

8 Feb

Last night I acted on an impulse and went before city council to ask them to agendize a discussion regarding how a tax increase measure is placed on the local ballot.

As I said, our city clerk informed me that a tax increase measure can be placed on a ballot with nothing but a simple majority of council – 4 of 7 members. Or, council can call for the proponents to carry an approved  petition and gather 10 percent of the registered voters.

So I thought I’d get this discussion going by asking council to agendize it for a near future meeting.  This issue was brought up last November, just kind of leaked around, no real details were given about the measure itself or the people who are backing it.  Since then it has been treated like some kind of state secret. I think a tax increase is something that needs the star treatment, lots of publicity, lots of public attention., lots of yap-yap.

So I asked. What I got was surprising. Two of the seven acted as though I was asking for a discussion of the measure itself. That’s not what I said. I made my self point-blank clear – I had written it down on a piece of paper aforehand, and practiced reading it to my family. My husband and teenage son were able to tell me what I was saying, but when I read off that piece of paper at council, I got dumb stares and one councilor’s opinion that  “it might be premature to discuss this proposal…”

I stood back up and  asked council if they understood my request – at this point I was feeling pretty perplexed. They aren’t stupid. They knew I was asking to discuss the procedure by which such a measure is placed on the ballot, not the measure itself. So, why play dumb? Ann Schwab tried to flat ignore my request, while Scott Gruendl said it should be agendized, but immediately launched into his own tour de force rant over the assault at Burger King. I never got an answer.

Well, I think we know why, given this morning’s Enterprise Record:

“City now operating at a loss: Chico to lose millions for redevelopment, thousands more from main fund”

Last night they came right out with it – they’ve been paying salaries with the RDA, and benefits, and pensions.  Not to mention, the bond payments on the RDA debt. Yessiree, they been buying groceries and making the credit card payment WITH  the credit card.

So, I can see why they want the tax increase, oh sure. But I don’t appreciate the way they’re going about it, kinda dishonest, using that dumb act, as if.

I have a very smart dog. Her name is Biscuit.

Yep, that's the blue ball alright.

She has her toys she likes, among them, six lacrosse balls – three white, one red, one yellow, and one blue.  And she’ll play with all of them, but if you ask her for the blue one, that’s the one you get. She’ll search the entire back yard, through brush piles and weeds and gopher holes, under cars and behind sticker bushes. She’ll bring back that blue ball every time.  She never tries to hand me a stick, or a bone, or even a white ball or a yellow ball. She never acts like she doesn’t understand.  If she can’t find the blue ball, she tells me, and we go looking for it together. But she never plays dumb, or refuses to answer.

Maybe we should give her a stint on city council, see if she’s a better listener than Ann Schwab.