Tag Archives: Chico First

This one’s for Yvonne Johnson and all her Facebook friends!

29 Sep

I love Jennifer Coolidge, and I got a heckler today! So here’s what Coolidge has to say about hecklers. The first card is for Facebook gadfly Yvonne Johnson, who seems to think she can come to where I work and threaten me.

 

The discussion is finally getting interesting

13 Jun

Last week’s meetings (6/9 continued to 6/10) were the most outrageous yet. You can get an entertaining and informative recap from Rob Berry here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicofirst.org/

“One day later, another city council recap, June 10, 2020”

Berry’s a lawyer, he understands a lot more of this crap than the average housewife, and he loves to yak, so I like to read his recaps.

I also like to check the comments on Chico Engaged. I don’t think Engaged is a substitute for open meetings, but it’s an interesting site. For example, the biggest conversation regarding this past week’s meetings was the tax measure. Of 87 comments, I only counted 3 or 4 that said they would support a simple measure. The rest registered themselves as “opposed.” A few of those said they wouldn’t support any tax, others expressed a willingness to discuss a 2/3’s measure, even support it. Most of those cited public safety, but a few others mentioned roads.

Troubling to me was that some actually mentioned schools – it’s scary how little people know about the government and which agency funds what. The city has nothing to do with the schools, in fact, those agencies are often pitted against each other over property issues like mowing weeds and bum camps.

The most common reason to oppose was distrust in the current Chico City Council – 44 comments included that as a reason they would not support the proposed measure. Some named Ory, Stone, Brown and Huber directly, some included Schwab, and a couple included “the city manager.”

Here’s a high note – 22 people complained that the discussion was taking place in closed meetings. Some cited the shut down as their only or main reason to reject the sales tax measure, accusing the council of trying to shove a poor measure through the chute behind closed doors.

Which brings the conversation back to the mistrust in council and staff. Look further at the Chico First site, I see these comments:

“If 30 or 40 Chico City employees would reduce their fat bloated salaries, we might have enough money to operate.”

It is so refreshing to read someone else’s thoughts on that, I was afraid people are deaf, dumb and blind to the payroll expenses. I wish everybody was this interested in the budget.

Here’s another that says it pretty plain.

“If the council weren’t crooks wasting the tax money they already have and actually used it for its said purposes the city wouldn’t be in this situation! Cut the council’s salaries! NO NEW TAXES! Screw you your vagrants, addicts, park campers and the crime that you fucks promote! To hell with your communist college too!”

It’s comforting to know that other people know about little perks like the council members’ salaries and, hopefully, their overgenerous health packages. And, as I knew, people are pissed off about what the “homeless industrial complex” is doing to our town. But you know, I haven’t heard the college called “communist” since I was a kid!

Finally, a really well thought-out response to the weird meeting I watched on Tuesday night:

“My three thoughts from this meeting.

First, I found Chris Constantine’s presentation uncomfortable. I didn’t appreciate him telling the council his marriage ended because his job is so hard. The simple fact is the citizens of Chico do not trust this council or staff to spend the money wisely.

Second, I laughed out loud when the discussion of ‘sunsetting’ the sales tax came up. When has a tax ever seen a sunset? 😂

Third, did anybody catch Mark Orme’s sneaky maneuver with the Homeless Solutions Coordinator position during the budget discussion? When Joy Amaro was brought on board, it was only funded as a 4-month trial. When Ann asked about that approaching end date, Mark Orme said: ‘I asked them to put that in my budget…the full year’s worth of funding.’ Ann’s reply: ‘I appreciate that you have done that. I think that’s an investment this community really can’t go without.’ Hmmm.

The whole presentation was unbelievable. Very emotional, unprofessional, troubling behavior. Constantin’s melt-down, then Ory’s stuttering, shaking, desperate delivery, followed by a very visibly pissed off Mark Orme. I sense a lot of trouble Downtown. These people can’t even run their own lives, but they think we should be grateful to have them? Grateful to the tune of paying their outrageous salaries and then paying them again in pension? Thank you Mother, may I have another?

And no, I have never seen a tax sunset, including the recent sales tax that Governor Moonbeam foisted on us as temporary and then put it on the next ballot as permanent. It passed – people get used to things fast, especially when they are not implemented for a year after the election, as Ory suggests for this measure. People forget, and then they don’t notice a few pennies here and there. Ka-CHING!

And yes, while they keep telling us Orme just laid off 11 employees (which is misleading, they were empty and part-time positions, even interns), they don’t talk about the hiring of Amaro or the new Public Information Officer. Full time positions with benefits.

I’m so glad others are hip to the poor decisions and the misleading by staff that add up to a big mess for those of us who pay for all of it.

Yeah, what a meeting. So now we have a proposal for a half-cent tax that will not take effect for one year after the election and which will sunset in a short amount of time – did Ory say 9 years or something like that? But thank goodness we have some voters who question what’s going on. The discussion is finally picking up.

Rob Berry, please tell us your plan!

26 May

From Chico First Facebook, 5/26/20, about 12:57pm

Rob Berry uploaded a file.

I am often asked by advocates of the current Homeless Industry, “OK Rob, what is your plan?” Tonight at the City Council meeting, once again, in the second Special Meeting in a week, we will be hearing a verbal report on the City of Chico’s plan to “end homelessness”.

While “ending homelessness” is not and has never been my goal, protecting the interests of the Citizens of Chico is my goal. In order to achieve that goal, we need a plan to end the negative impacts of unmitigated habitation of our parks and public spaces.

HERE IS MY PLAN: It is not perfect, but it is not useless either. All I can do is share it with you, and I will share it with our city council.

Please take a minute to read through this. It is 5 1/2 pages long. I would like you to have this in you mind as you hear tonight from our Homeless Coordinator and City Manager, and of course our City Council members on what they have in mind for Chico. Here is an alternative that most likely will never see the official light of day.

One thing is clear: they cannot tell me I don’t have an alternative plan. Here it is.

But, as if often the case  with Chico First postings, Berry’s comments are immediately followed by a notice, “This content isn’t available right now.” 

So, Rob, please, tell us your plan. 

 

Chico city council plays their little violin for the “homeless” while sticking it to the rest of us with Utility Tax

13 Feb

I received two rate increases in my last PG&E bill, one a “general rate case application” and the other for the decommission of the failed Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant.

I also got a letter from Cal Water detailing their pending rate increase. A CPUC hearing held in Chico this week drew a few protesters, but I’m unaware of any city council member or county supervisor who bothered to show up. 

It’s better to approach the CPUC directly, anyway. The hearings are just a dog-and-pony show required by law, overseen by shills hired away from the utility companies. It’s a good idea to write to the CPUC – in past a CPUC commissioner actually turned down a water rate increase, asking for further hearings, because he’d had so many protests from ratepayers. That increase went through, but not at the original amount requested by Cal Water.

There is a “formal protest” option, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The local CPUC rep told me I should get a lawyer to fill out the forms when I inquired about it. He said they’re very complicated and mistakes will result in your complaint being round-filed. I asked then-supervisor Maureen Kirk to do it but she turned me down. The city of Chico didn’t even discuss my suggestion that they mount a formal protest. That’s frustrating, because we pay for the city and county to have a lot of legal counsel, more than any of us could afford. And that’s what it takes, paying a lawyer.

But why would the city lift a finger to stop utility rate increases when they collect millions in utility tax – about $7 million last year. The budget projection for this year was over $8 million, but that was before the Camp Fire drove who knows how many refugees into residence in Chico. Whether they live in hotels or rentals or have bought homes, they will contribute to a heavy spike in utility tax. 

So, I’m actually hoping this nasty weather we’re having right now will result in higher PG&E bills, maybe people will get pissed off enough to start rattling their chains. Our city leaders are always posturing, posing and primping. Ann Schwab’s proposal for a rent control ordinance is a pretty brassy beginning to her 2020 campaign – she’s already pulled her papers. Randy Stone and Scott Huber have pasted their faces all over the “warming tents” – Stone has pulled his papers for 2020 and Huber used “the homeless” as his 2018 campaign. 

I think these petty gestures are very insincere, so I wrote a letter to the editor about it, see below.

REMINDER! start gathering together your utility bills, UT rebates will be available starting May 1. More about that later!

Chico council members have made goodwill gestures toward the growing low-income population in our town but have yet to offer anything of substance.

An ordinance to protect renters from landlords?  California tenants already get a minimum 30  days (60 days after one year’s tenancy) notice for any change in tenancy. Local jurisdictions mandating their own reasons to evict is contrary to state law.

A $100,000 budget for warming tents that attract less than a dozen street people? There are three publicly-funded shelters in town, as well as CHAT’s rotating “Safe Space”. 

These  gestures seem little more than grandstanding when council tacks a fee onto our PG&E, Cal Water and landline phone bills. Currently the city taxes our utility bills at the highest rate allowed – 5 percent. Utility Tax is one of the  city’s biggest revenue sources, raking in almost $7 million last year. While the city incurred some costs with the evacuees, UT revenues are sure to spike in 2019 – all those new residents, and rate hikes coming from Cal Water and PG&E. 

I saw no member of council at the Cal Water rate increase public hearing. Nor has the city mounted any formal protest against PG&E’s plans.

If council members sincerely want to help low income folks, they would reduce the UT, and protest the rate hikes. Instead they are using expensive staff time to figure out how to get us to approve yet another tax on ourselves.

Empty gestures are easily made with other people’s money. Let’s see something that really matters.