Tag Archives: Chico Firefighters Legislative Action Group

Chief Beery needs to go, maybe Trostle too

9 Jun

I sent the letter below to the Enterprise Record last Sunday, Dave Little responded bright and early Monday that he’d run it, but hasn’t.   So, here it is, I won’t wait for him next time.

People have already forgotten Beery’s threats to close the airport station – guess why – because people don’t care unless something crawls right up their ass.   If he’d threatened Station 5, all those little yupsters over there in the subdivision that used to be North Valley Swim School would have their panties in a knot. If you don’t hold the stinking fish right up to their noses, they don’t give a shit. That’s the kind of people that have moved here over the Boom Years – stupid lemmings. If I have to read one more letter about the cops being cut, I’m going to barf – the cops have people like ex-chief Maloney’s wife writing in, spreading bullshit. Laurie Maloney is a fed pig. She sits with her husband on his $150,000+ pension and benefits, and she’s afraid the public is going to turn her apple cart over. Mrs. Piggy is going to get pushed out of the slops trough, oh no!

We need better chiefs. We need LEADERS, not mule drivers who threaten and whip. We may need to turn an apple cart over, get your gloves.

Who needs Dave Little – this is our newspaper!  Here’s my letter, if you send me something that’s not creepy or obscene, I’ll print it. 

Whenever we ask the public safety departments to curtail spending, they threaten to cut positions and close stations. This time Chief Beery is threatening to close the airport fire station, which will put the city afoul of federal air safety restrictions.  We ask the chief for leadership – instead he threatens public safety and the viability of the airport to protect his department. 
Our Finance Director has revealed  the city is losing about $70,000/month with the defeat of Measure J, the cell phone tax initiative. Meanwhile, the city spends over twice that amount – over $158,000 a month – paying the employee’s share of pension premiums. 
The police and fire departments, having the biggest budgets at about $22 million and $18 million, also pay nothing toward their pensions, so their pensions comprise the lion’s share of the ominous unfunded pension obligation.  
These pension agreements are a threat to public safety. During this last round of contract talks, it became very clear that most public safety employees will see their co-workers laid-off and positions go empty before they will step up and pay their own shares, for pensions of 90 percent of their highest year’s pay, available at age 50. 
Council signs these contracts because the public safety employees routinely make the biggest expenditure in every council campaign. If council was really working for us, they’d refuse to sign these contracts until the employees came back with a better deal.  

Juanita Sumner, Chico

UPDATE:  The ER finally ran my letter, over a week after I sent it. The cops made an offer to pay their own share the other  day, but they also wanted a raise to cover it!    They say they got a pay cut – no, they just didn’t get a raise. They call that a pay cut. 

We don’t need yer stinkin’ deals, Coppers!  


How dare they tell us, they don’t make enough money to pay their own pension premiums! They’ve made “sacrifices”?  Look at these salaries – this is just a sampling from one page, with regular pay and overtime:

  • Anthony Ferreira, Police Officer – $71,219.20 in reg pay, total $97,473.35 with overtime
  • Donald Finkbiner, Police Officer  – $71,219.20 reg pay, total $83,070.98
  • Daniel Fonseca, Police Sergeant – $87,913.76 reg pay, tot $121.145.91
  • Scott Franssen, PS – $95,638.40 reg pay, tot $126,657.16

You can see more salaries at the Enterprise Record. You’ll see “compaction” on page 2 – Lieutenant Jennifer Gonazales, at a regular salary of $101,000 year, is not allowed overtime, being an “at will” employee – she’s just supposed to be available for whatever comes up?  From what I’ve seen, she spends most of her overtime in meetings, like the Police Advisory Board meetings, making high school style reports on subjects like mental illness among the homeless population. She did receive about $15,000 in “special” and “other” pay, without any details beyond that description. But, down at the bottom of the page it says that for CSU  Chico, “Other pay includes police training, uniform, holiday OT and special assignment stipends; summer stipends or pay; and payments for indirect instruction, educational achievement, and misc. incentives.”

But, Gonzalez and the other lieutenants pitched a bitch because many sergeants, who are supposed to be subordinate to the lieutenants, were jacking up their $80 – 95,000 a year salaries with overtime, to waaaay more than the lieutenants were getting paid. So, despite the bullshit storm being stirred up by Peter Durfee of Chico Police Officers Assoc, they did so get raises in their new contracts. it makes me sick to have to listen to even Channel 7 perpetuating this horseshit campaign, letting Durfee shoot his mouth off on the news without any opposing viewpoints.

Durfee, by the way, padded on more than $30,000 to his seemingly innocuous-looking $63,000 salary, taking home more than $95,000 in 2012.

Here’s a response my letter got from a cop groupie, sitting next to her scanner in a negligee:

Linda Hinchcliff Rouland · Clear Lake High

Chico PD is the only city bargaining group that has come forward offering concessions to contribute toward their retirements in an effort to offer savings and keep their department operating. No one else has, and the city managers rejected the offer.

Yes, they certainly did reject it, and good for that. I wish people would try harder to be informed before they accuse ME of spreading misinformation – but this woman is obviously going to support the cops no matter what they do.  

The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but that’s not all it’s going to take to shut her up.

21 Dec

Debbie Presson sent me a note to say she’d had the report for the November 27 Finance Committee meeting amended to reflect the other questions I asked at the meeting, and the answers from staff. You can see that here:

Click to access 2012Minutes.pdf

The minutes for that meeting are posted there at the end of 2012.  

I also got a note from Brian Nakamura, with attached documents regarding the city’s share of CalPERS costs – yeah, it’s bad alright. You have to write to your council, and ask them what made them promise these outrageous packages in those closed door bargaining sessions they’ve held us out of for so long. Now we’re allowed to look at the contracts, sure – like a condemned prisoner stares out the cell window at the gallows. These idiots have put us on the hook for MILLIONS of dollars, a YEAR, in pension payments, more than the employees pay. And then there’s the “unfunded obligations” – that is on the agendas for the next six months! Nakamura is trying to spoon-feed us that manure, and I don’t know about you, but I’m spitting it out. 

We need to shut this city down. 

More questions for Ken Campbell – every answer is just another can of worms!

16 Dec

As I was saying in a previous blog, I recently been struggling through the city firefighters’ contracts, and I don’t mind saying, it’s all Greek to me. “Legalese,” I think it’s called. The worst thing is, they treat you like a moranus because you don’t understand the gobble-ty-gook they spin up just to make sure you don’t understand.

Here’s how they explain the pay rate in the current IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters, the union) contract:

Regular Hourly Rate

 1.2.5. Regular Hourly Rate. Regular Hourly Rate shall mean an hourly rate calculated by summing all non-overtime and non-out of class pay for the bi-weekly pay period, with the specific exception of Holiday Pay as defined in Section 2, Subsection 5.3.1, and dividing the total by 112 for Employees assigned to a fifty-six (56) hour work week, and by 80 for those employees assigned to a forty (40) hour work week.

As my friend Stephanie Taber said recently about the firefighters’ contract, “confused???? so am I!”   Stephanie is way more patient than I am, when she doesn’t understand these documents, she e-mails the appropriate department and asks the questions, then sticks around long enough to get an answer. 

In the letter I wrote to the editor, I asked about the 56 hour week – did that mean 16 hours of guaranteed overtime? Is that how some of these employees almost DOUBLE their salaries?   One person I saw on the salary charts had added $80,000 in OT to his $90,000 salary – and he’s not the only one who does that.  As I pointed out in my letter, the fire department alone bills for over a million dollars a year in overtime. I wonder, how do they do that? 

When Stephanie asked the human resources department about overtime, here was the response: “Under the terms of the IAFF MOU City firefighters get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 56 in a seven day period.”

Okay, now I’m confused. You can schedule people for 56 hours without paying them overtime? News to me. And, I still don’t understand, how do they rack up the overtime pay when they have to work over 56 hours a week to get  it? I mean, there’s not a house burning down or an accident every freaking minute. In fact, hours and hours go by, every day, when nothing justifying the use of gasoline even happens around here. 

I got a new question. Are we paying people to sleep? To watch tv? To take the hook and ladder to the grocery store? 

Human Resources offered more explanation: “In addition, under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 182 in a 24 day period.  For the City of Chico this equates to an additional 5 hours of pay for each person every 24 day period.”

I keep seeing that word, “work”, and I keep wondering, “what do they mean by ‘work‘?” 

So I will keep asking my questions.

I got a few questions for Ken Campbell

8 Dec

NOTE: a person recently tried to contact me through the ER editor – if you want to discuss this post look for the “comment” button at the bottom of the page. If you want to be anonymous let me know or use an acronym.

A week or so ago, firefighter and fire department political action committee chairman Ken Campbell wrote a pretty condescending letter to the Enterprise Record, insinuating that anybody who criticized the fire department would change their mind if they just came down for a tour of a fire station.

He says, “In the last month there have been a few letters to the editor criticizing the response of the emergency services within the city of Chico, particularly the Fire Department.” But I looked, I never found any letters to that effect. What I did find were comments regarding the fire department budget, the contracts and the excessive amounts the city is paying for the “employee’s share” of the benefits.

Stephanie Taber brought up these points in her response to Campbell.

Reference Ken Campbell’s (Chico Fire Dept.) letter of December 1 which invites the public to visit a Fire Station and talk with any department member so we the public can better understand their mission.

I think the public knows fairly well what the department’s mission is; what we don’t understand is why it costs us so much.  Of the $13 million dollar Fire Department budget $11.5 million is spent on salaries, holiday pay, overtime, gym fees, wellness physicals, and “other” benefits.  That “other” category includes Fire personnel’s share of their pension retirement benefits.  Why are we paying that 7% when we already pay the employer (taxpayer) share?  Why are we paying the employer AND employee share of FICA from the date of hire till retirement?  Why are we paying $350 each month, tax free, for every Fire Department employee toward their retirement medical from the time of hire till retirement at 50?  Do you know how many more firemen we could hire if just that one part of the department’s benefit package were eliminated?  Then add to that the Fire Department employee’s 7% share of their pension benefit and I’ll bet we’re talking about being able to fully staff the Fire Department and the elimination of all that overtime.

The City Manager should invite Chief Berry to discuss Fire personnel’s job responsibilities.  And I’d like to invite the IAFF to explain why the 47% (low income earners) should continue to pay the top 1% (Fire Dept. personnel) incredibly generous benefit package.”

To which local liberal shoofly Ron Sherman responded, “I guess you have a rather selective memory. The current contracts are successors to those approved by the conservative Chico City Councils dominated by Rick Keene and Larry Wahl, so that they could secure the endorsement of the fire department.”  Sorry, Ron, again you are confused – Larry was the only one who voted NO on that contract. It’s up for renewal right now, and our “liberal-dominated” council is about to give it the old rubber stamp, three of them having already approved the same contract, two others sure to follow their mentors on to Perdition. That’s five to two – SWOOSH! And, I’m betting Morgan will also sign the contract, he’s already made it clear he’s up there to represent “the public safety ‘workers'”.

I couldn’t find the contract now up for consideration – I think it’s buried somewhere on the city website – if anybody can send me a link, I’d appreciate it. But, here’s the current contract:


You might have to cut-and-paste that link, but it’s worth it.  It’s a confusing yet interesting read, just stick with it. For example, I have finally  figured out how they manage to rack up so much overtime – some of them as much as double their agreed-upon salary with overtime. For one thing, they are guaranteed a 56 hour week. That’s 16 hours of overtime, given for starters. And get aload of this – every week the captain is supposed to determine whether or not he’s going to need a firefighter to work his overtime. Or, get ” Compensated Time Off in Lieu of Overtime“. That means, instead of working and getting paid for an hour of overtime, the firefighter can take time off, at a rate of an hour and a half off for each hour of overtime.  And, at the end of the year, the firefighter can exchange his unused CTO for pay, again, at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.

Yeah, you better read that again. I’m not sure, but it almost looks like they’re  getting an hour and a half for an hour, and then getting an hour and a half for every hour of that.  For example, 4 hours of overtime becomes six hours of CTO, and then each hour of that CTO is worth an hour and a half of pay? What? 

What I understand loud and clear is, they get paid for overtime they don’t even work, overtime that is scheduled in UNNECESSARILY. Simply to guarantee a fat salary.

In his insulting little letter to the ER, Campbell suggests “The department would welcome the opportunity to answer all questions and explain what citizens receive for .41 cents a day. If you are unsatisfied with the answers you receive, then write a letter to the editor and state your opinions with credibility because you actually did some homework and tried to gain complete understanding.” 

Well, I did my homework, Ken, and now you got some explaining to do alright.


Well, just when I got around to complaining about that section of the fire contracts, it has already been changed.

(I can’t post the link, for some bizarre reason, you have to go to the city website, hit the bar at the top of the home page that says, “How do I…” and then choose “Get city salary/benefits information”, then choose “Labor Agreements” from the menu at the left. And you thought you’d never find a needle in a haystack!)

The section I”m referring to above is almost cut out of the new contracts – they’ve completely eliminated the section that says “exchange his unused CTO for pay at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.”  They don’t call it “compensated time off” anymore, they call it “compensating time off,” which means, they get the time off but don’t get paid? I’m still wondering there.

But, they still get 16 hours of scheduled overtime, and can exchange it, for whatever reason, for an hour and a half of (paid?) time off for every hour of overtime they actually work.  They are certainly getting paid for time they aren’t even at the station (grocery shopping with the hook and ladder?!), much less “working”.  And then, if there’s a need while they’re on CTO, another firefighter is called in, probably on overtime him/herself.

This is left to the discretion of the chief. Yeah, Chief Beery, the guy who closed Station 5 because he was pissed at the city for cutting his budget $90,000.

This is the scam through which some of these people as much as DOUBLE their agreed upon salary with overtime, still crying for more hires.  I’m still asking  Ken Campbell – why does the fire department get guaranteed overtime, even when it’s not needed? Why can’t  the fire department be staffed just like any other 24 hour business?

Get a convoluted answer.

4 Dec

I won’t pretend to understand what goes on Downtown. Sometimes I am afraid to ask questions, because they just lead to more questions. When I asked Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy how much the city spends on employee pensions a year, I didn’t know what I was getting into.

First there’s the “employer share,” and that’s a gob-stopper – over $9 million a year. And then there’s the “employee share” – and we pay that too. There’s the terminology – “employer paid member contribution.” And there’s never a straight answer to anything.

When I asked, “how much the city spends,” I meant, in total, all of it. But Hennessy “only recalled” the portion that comes out of the General Fund – about $7 million, she says. She forgot about all the other walnut shells she moves to pay these employee costs.

Ms. Sumner~

At last week’s Finance Committee, I stated that the cost of the City’s pension was $7M, however I was recalling the approximate General Fund portion only.  The estimated cost across all funds is budgeted at $10.1M for FY12-13.
Sorry for the confusion.  Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Jennifer Hennessy, Finance Director


Across all funds“? See what I mean about the walnut shells? They have over 50 funds now, I can’t remember how many, and I can’t remember where I put the blog where I talked about it before. That’s a lot of confusion, and that’s why they do it that way. They can shift money from one fund to the other to pay for stuff they couldn’t pay out of the first fund. That’s like saying, “now that this money is in my purse instead of my 401K, I can’t spend it without consequences!”

Tonight they are installing a new council. I can only predict a darker picture for Chico. Randall Stone and Tami Ritter are two of the biggest pigs who have ever hit the trough.

When I was a kid I lived in the community of Glenn, where my grandparents belonged to various social organizations. We had “feeds” over at the Glenn Pheasant Hall, where everybody would bring a covered dish. With food in it, you know? Except for this one family of enormous fatties – I won’t say their name, they were nice enough people – but they would walk into a pot luck party carrying empty casserole dishes covered with fresh tin foil. They would walk straight over to the table and load their plates with food, several times, and then when everybody else had their fill, both the man and the woman would totter over to the table with those casserole dishes and load them full of whatever was left. The adults wouldn’t say anything as these pigs chatted their way up and down that table, filling those dishes with whatever they wanted, but we kids couldn’t believe it. We weren’t allowed to make pigs of ourselves that way, seconds were for really good children whose mom had brought a contribution to the table.  We’d follow these two up to the table, wide-eyed and gape-mouthed, marveling aloud at the amounts they were able to stuff into those dishes.  In fact, my sister and I used to bolt our food just so we could go and sit across the table from them to watch them eat! It was a-MAY-zing.  Then we’d file along with the rest, watching them load their take-out containers.  The bolder among us would ask, “whatcha gonna do with all that food?” Some kids thought they might have dogs. But the man would just laugh and say, “Eat it!” As if he had nothing to be ashamed of. The adults would all stand off, some of them would cover their mouths and giggle, and they’d all have something to say later, after this couple made their way out to their enormous station wagon with those piled high dishes of other people’s hard work. But nobody wanted to rock the community boat. No, these people were not particularly good neighbors or hard workers, their house was a disheveled eyesore and they never came around in times of need. But in a small community, you “have to get along,” and we did. 

But Chico is NOT a small friendly community anymore,  so  I’m going to say it. Randall Stone is a worthless, soft-handed leech who should not be allowed on council unless he is willing to divest himself from his development business which bamboozled the city out of millions in RDA money to build clap-trap low-income housing that will never contribute anything to the community but another eyesore. He’s wangled the city out of so much money it’s inappropriate for him to sit at the dais. In past when I’ve criticized this guy, he’s tried to smear me on Topix. He’s a cheap, nasty little pinhead, and having him on the dais, while it might have some entertainment value, is going to be a disaster for the city. 

And then there’s Tami Ritter, who has been in one trough position after another ever since she trolled into Chico, with complaints from everybody involved.   She left the Torres shelter under accusations from homeless people who were complaining she ran the place like her own home, picking and choosing who got to stay based on whim. She got FIRED from Chico Green School when she complained she wasn’t getting a big enough salary. From Chico News and Review, September 2012:

Ritter, a well-known Chico resident who quickly won the support of the teaching staff when she assumed her position in July, described some chaotic weeks that led up to the school’s opening.

Tami Ritter lost her job as the school’s part-time principal during the upheaval.


Ritter, a former director of the Torres Shelter, had been hired in May while she completed work in Philadelphia on a second master’s degree. When she returned to Chico in July, she found that no site had yet been selected for the Green School, creating a lot of “organizational tension.” She said she and a few others worked out of the Chico State teaching office of Sandoe, a computer science professor.

The group decided on the Cohasset Road site, set up the school and recruited the students. But Ritter said she soon found herself working 45 hours a week in a position that paid for 20 hours a week. She took the issue to the board of directors, and the board suggested she limit her unpaid overtime to five to 10 hours a week. She and the board often disagreed on how she could be most effective with so few hours.

Then, Ritter said, she defied board instructions to withhold information—specifically the school’s student roster—from CUSD. The Green School board placed her on administrative leave and asked her to show up for a second mediation session.

She said she refused to go through mediation for a second time without a representative, and she then received e-mail notification that she was fired.

There is so much impropriety about the Chico Green School mess,  I don’t know where to start.  Did you get that part where she told them 20 hours wasn’t enough and they gave her 10? That’s because she’s a bitch to work with.   Is this the kind of performance we’ll get from Ritter on council? When I encountered her at an envelope-stuffing party I got talked into  by Maureen Kirk, she was totally weird. Instead of walking over to the main table and getting a pile of letters and envelopes for herself, she just walked right over to my table and sat down next to me without a word, abruptly snatching up my little piles of letters and envelopes  and placing them in front of herself! Then she let everybody at the table know she was in a bad mood and didn’t want to talk. Silence! How can you possibly be productive with a person like that? I predict she will not get along with Schwab, who is quick to let other women know when she feels they are being “too pushy”.   And to top it all off, at her age,  Ritter’s got a new baby – that will make you bitchy alright.  Let’s see how many meetings she excuses herself from because of the baby. That’s why I feel she ran in the first place – she is currently unemployed, and uninsured, and that’s kind of tough with a new kid.  She’s like a pigeon looking for a roost.

Ritter and Stone are snout-nosed trough dwellers. This is a council we really need to keep an eye on. We need citizens to attend meetings, and ask the right questions. We need to get together to compare notes, because as you’ve seen, they’ll FLAT LIE to get  their way Downtown.

And that’s what I’m looking for in a candidate for 2014. Coolidge is still eager to be on council – he needs to make his presence more known. We haven’t heard a peep out of the guy since he got himself on the local news protesting Measure J. Then he posted that blurb on youtube, and never said another word about it. He raised weird non-issues on his website – “Andrew will oppose any elimination of the leaf pick-up program…” ?  There is not one word about the budget or Measure J – just pseudo problems with no specific solutions. He has shown no real knowledge of city affairs.  I have yet to see him at a meeting aside from a couple of council meetings – standing silently and noticeably at the back of the room, just so he could say he was there. He really should have been at that Finance Committee meeting last week. There’s no excuse for not making meetings if you want to be on council. 

I don’t know if Toby Schindelbeck is interested in running again. I can’t help but admire Toby for being himself, but some people didn’t like him for the same reason they don’t like me – he doesn’t eat shit with a smile, he tends to tell people what he thinks. That won’t make you any friends, but it will get you my respect.  The kind of people who voted for Schwab, Stone and Ritter want to hear lies, they don’t have the courage to hear the truth, and they’re too lazy and stupid to do anything about it anyway.

I won’t forget – Toby actually accomplished something really important at the expense of his council campaign – he forced the Finance Director to give the monthly reports she’s required to give under Section 908 of the city code.  That is huge people. Now it’s time for all of us to pay attention. I think Toby has what it takes to turn this city around, whereas the rest of them seem to be worried more about keeping their butts in the chair than anything else. By going to the mat and risking the election – you realize how many city workers vote, don’t you? – he has actually accomplished a monumental task. Now, if the rest of the citizens would only pay attention, we might be able to get our city turned around, back on track. 

Toby Schindelbeck proved that old saying – “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow…” 

Right now, the candidate I’m looking for is willing to say NO to the police and fire employees, and make them pay their own pensions. Hellllloooo?

We need to dump structural overtime and ask public safety employees to pay more of their own health and pension costs so we can hire more personnel

24 Oct

I watched the city council meeting for a while online last night and then I read the report in this morning’s ER. As usual, no mention of pension premiums or structured-in overtime.

Right now Chico police employees pay nothing toward their pensions, which will be 90 percent of their salary, available at 50 years of age. The city of Chico, and that would  be you and me, the taxpayers, pay not only the “employer  share” but the “employee share” of pension premiums for all city employees – except the fire department. They pay two percent of their premium cost, and the city picks up the other seven percent of the “employee share”, as well as the entire nine percent “employer share”.

Two questions stand begging beside the table here –

  1. why do they call them the “employer” and “employee” shares if the employer is doing all the paying?
  2. who pays the other 82 percent of the premium?

The answer to Number 1 is, we’re a pack of suckers.

The answer to Number 2 can be found in this  earlier post:


Nobody pays that other 82 percent. It’s “outstanding.” It is waiting offshore like the fabled “perfect storm,” waiting for the lack of revenues to catch up with the overspending of same. When CalPers can’t pay those “outstanding” pensions anymore, it will fall on the cities and other public entities that agreed to these contracts to pay them. Let me show you the tidal wave we’re facing here – well, how about, just the part you can see through the windshield of George Clooney’s crappy little fishing boat. These, again, are just those 21 retirees receiving over $100,000 in pension. There are hundreds more receiving $99,000 or less, plus health benefits.

Name Employer Warrant Amount Annual
ALEXANDER, THOMAS CHICO $8,947.23 $107,366.76
BAPTISTE, ANTOINE G CHICO $10,409.65 $124,915.80
BEARDSLEY, DENNIS D CHICO $8,510.23 $102,122.76
BROWN, JOHN S CHICO $17,210.38 $206,524.56
CARRILLO, JOHN A CHICO $10,398.98 $124,787.76
DAVIS, FRED CHICO $12,467.78 $149,613.36
DUNLAP, PATRICIA CHICO $10,632.10 $127,585.20
FELL, JOHN G CHICO $9,209.35 $110,512.20
FRANK, DAVID R CHICO $14,830.05 $177,960.60
GARRISON, FRANK W CHICO $8,933.56 $107,202.72
JACK, JAMES F CHICO $9,095.09 $109,141.08
KOCH, ROBERT E CHICO $9,983.23 $119,798.76
LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48 $134,837.76
MCENESPY, BARBARA CHICO $12,573.40 $150,880.80
PIERCE, CYNTHIA CHICO $9,390.30 $112,683.60
ROSS, EARNEST C CHICO $9,496.60 $113,959.20
SCHOLAR, GARY P CHICO $8,755.69 $105,068.28
SELLERS, CLIFFORD R CHICO $9,511.11 $114,133.32
VONDERHAAR, JOHN F CHICO $8,488.07 $101,856.84
VORIS, TIMOTHY M CHICO $8,433.90 $101,206.80
WEBER, MICHAEL C CHICO $11,321.93 $135,863.16

Six of the above, that I know of, are either police or fire department.

The police and fire departments also manage to drive up their salaries, some of them almost DOUBLE, with overtime. It’s the classic repo-man grab – they say they need to write overtime into the budget, and the contracts guarantee officers a certain amount of overtime. They say overtime is cheaper than new hires. But then they turn around and bitch for new hires.

The police and fire departments, mostly through salaries and benefits packages, take up over 82 % of our city budget, and drive our looming pension debt.   This never came up in the budget conversation at City Hall last night. There stood the elephant in the room, crapping all over the chambers, but nobody would look him directly in the eye. 

Ann Schwab’s mismanagement – 21 top-paid retired employees get over $2 million a year in pension payments, plus benefits and COLA

2 Oct


Sometimes a bad thing is so bald-faced, so blatant, so obvious that you can’t believe it’s true. This is what I have found as I’ve dug and delved at the pension mess. It’s so simple it took me forever to figure it out.

In Sacramento there is a tug-o-war playing out between Governor Jerry Brown,  the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  The subject of this wrestling match is the billions – yes that’s BILLIONS –  promised to former and current public employees, and whether they should be paid now by the public entities (like the City of Chico) who signed their contracts, or whether the state should borrow money to pay them and hope that the stock market will recover enough to pay the money back.

State Controller John Chiang says we have a projected deficit of over $38 BILLION over the next 30 years. The interest to borrow the money to pay this is projected at $149 million.

“Thirty-eight BILLION?” you say. Well, let me explain how we got there.  In Chico, we have 21 retirees who make more than $100,000 a year,  in pension, including a former fire chief who makes more than $200,000 a year! 

Name Employer Warrant Amount Annual
ALEXANDER, THOMAS E CHICO $8,947.23 $107,366.76
BAPTISTE, ANTOINE G CHICO $10,409.65 $124,915.80
BEARDSLEY, DENNIS D CHICO $8,510.23 $102,122.76
BROWN, JOHN S CHICO $17,210.38 $206,524.56
CARRILLO, JOHN A CHICO $10,398.98 $124,787.76
DAVIS, FRED CHICO $12,467.78 $149,613.36
DUNLAP, PATRICIA CHICO $10,632.10 $127,585.20
FELL, JOHN G CHICO $9,209.35 $110,512.20
FRANK, DAVID R CHICO $14,830.05 $177,960.60
GARRISON, FRANK W CHICO $8,933.56 $107,202.72
JACK, JAMES F CHICO $9,095.09 $109,141.08
KOCH, ROBERT E CHICO $9,983.23 $119,798.76
LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48 $134,837.76
MCENESPY, BARBARA CHICO $12,573.40 $150,880.80
PIERCE, CYNTHIA CHICO $9,390.30 $112,683.60
ROSS, EARNEST C CHICO $9,496.60 $113,959.20
SCHOLAR, GARY P CHICO $8,755.69 $105,068.28
SELLERS, CLIFFORD R CHICO $9,511.11 $114,133.32
VONDERHAAR, JOHN F CHICO $8,488.07 $101,856.84
VORIS, TIMOTHY M CHICO $8,433.90 $101,206.80
WEBER, MICHAEL C CHICO $11,321.93 $135,863.16

That’s 20 pensions over $100,000 and one over $200,000 – over $2 million dollars a year, just those 21 pensions. These pensions were based on 70 – 90 percent of the employee’s highest year’s salary. We have over 100 city employees who make over $100,000 a year, meaning, they will retire at over $70,000/year-plus, many of them over $90,000, even over $100,000/year.

What pack of absolute ninnies would sign contracts with employees that guaranteed these pensions while requiring not one penny in premium payment on the part of the employee? Our city council, that’s who. They just signed another police contract – the city even pays the “employee share” of the pension premiums. Ann Schwab, your mayor, signed that contract.

So, am I the only non-public employee who thinks this is crazy?  Public employees get pensions based on their salaries. These pensions are  administered by CalPERS. But instead of requiring realistic pension premiums for these superCalifragilistic pensions, CalPERS and the SEIU hatched a plan to gamble on the stock market. CalPERS will tell you, without any shame, that they expect to fund our pension machine almost completely through gambling earnings, without any input from the recipients.  According to an article on their website,  Calpensions.com, “Most pension funds expect to get about two-thirds of their revenue from investment earnings, not annual employer or employee contributions,’ but they admit, “critics say the earnings forecasts are too optimistic.”

Yeah, way too optimistic – they’ve gotten dunked time and time again since 2003, including just this past couple of months. They’ve already lost over half their fund, a couple of times.  A July CalPERS press release reported a 1 percent annual gain – they need to make around 7.5 annually to stay on top of their, our, obligations.

So Governor Brown wants a premium rate increase, now!, meaning cities like Chico would be hit hard. Look at that list again.  But the SEIU says NO! Here’s the thing, again according to CalPERS, “Unions asked the [CalPERS] board to spread out higher pension costs mainly caused by a lower investment earnings forecast. Paying part of the new rate over two decades, instead of the full amount now, makes an extra $149 million available for worker pay and other programs next fiscal year.”  But it will cost at least that much to borrow the money to pay pensions we are already paying right now. See what a mess this is? 

The SEIU knows that if cities and counties had to pay more toward their pension obligations, things would change remarkably. First of all, Chico – along with towns all over the state – would have to lay off current employees in order to make those payments  – and those people would of course be union members. The union would lose those dues, and the union would start to shrink, and it’s power would start to diminish.  If you think our salaries are wild, you can just imagine what they get paid at CalPERS. Those people have not even begun to be laid off yet. 

Second, cities would be less eager to write the contracts that got us in to this mess in the first place – contracts that guaranteed overtime by which people could spike the salaries on which the pensions were based, and then allowed the employee to get out of paying for any of it.

Look at that list again – the red names are people I’m certain were either with the police or fire department. There are a couple of others I suspect to be retired “public safety” workers. The pensions they are receiving are more than the salaries they agreed to – they got them by spiking their regular salaries with overtime.  You’ll note, the biggest pension goes to former Fire Chief John Brown. I sat in at least three meetings listening to Brown declare that paying overtime was cheaper than hiring more firefighters, but he never had any proof, no figures, nothing. He just declared it as the truth and the idiots on council ate it up and rubber stamped contracts with structured-in overtime. Same with the cops – right now Chico Police Officers Association President Will Clark is hammering council for more structural overtime written into the city budget – he wants overtime budgeted for every three day weekend. Publicly Chico PD makes big talk about wanting more officers, for “public safety” –  but behind closed doors they’re howling for more overtime for themselves and their pensions.

The “public safety” contracts are the biggest problem. We need to get structural overtime out of the budget, completely. We also need to make employees pay their own benefits premiums. Look, if you paid all your adult children’s expenses, you’d look like an ASS, wouldn’t you? Why do we pay the “employee’s share” of benefits for people who make as much as four times the median income?

Ask Ann Schwab – that’s aschwab@ci.chico.ca.us.