Tag Archives: Chico Taxpayers Association

Chico Taxpayers Association regular meeting this Sunday, November 3, Chico library, 9am

1 Nov

This Sunday November 3 we will have our regular Chico Taxpayers meeting, 9am, Chico library on Sherman Avenue.

I will bring my little computer and we’ll see if we can pick up the tape of the Tea Party meeting on the free wifi.  

I’d like to talk about the constitutional amendments that are still kicking around (ACA 3, SCA 4) in our state legislature, and hear what other people have been hearing around town. 

Looking forward to some productive chitter-chatter, see you there.

From Howard Jarvis Association: Bills that threaten homeowners, renters, and small businesses are moving through the legislature – contact your representatives NOW. And then do it again and again until they get the message.

24 Sep

The most important thing I learned at the CARD meeting last night was, there are constitutional amendments advancing through the state legislature that will lower the threshold of votes needed to RAISE YOUR TAXES for stuff other people want, like a fancy aquatic center for Aquajets.   Jerry Hughes, the former CARD director who called the meeting, said they will probably hold off efforts to get this bond they want on our property taxes until  they see how these amendments fare in the legislature.

Excuse me – I don’t know if I made this point when I posted this earlier – we don’t get to vote on these amendments – the Democrat-controlled legislature is expected to  pass them, making it will be easier for our local governments and districts like CARD  and CUSD to flop a bond or assessment on our homes. We have to CONTACT OUR LEGISLATORS.

I’ll post a separate report about that meeting last night, but I’d like to tell everybody now, this below is what’s important in Election 2014, and this will likely be the focus for the Chico Taxpayers Association.

Our next meeting, by the way, has been scheduled for the SECOND SUNDAY, Oct. 13, hope to see you there.

From Howard Jarvis Tax Association:


Bills That Threaten Homeowners and Small Businesses Are Starting to Move Through the Legislature!

The new Legislature is dominated by pro-tax politicians, and bills, that undermine the taxpayer protections in Proposition 13, have been introduced and are starting to be heard in committee. If approved, these bills could cost every property owner thousands of dollars.

On May 15th, six of these bills that directly undercut various provisions of Proposition 13 (SCA 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 11) were heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Despite strong testimony from HJTA these were approved on a party-line vote (Democrats in favor). The battle now shifts to the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. While the bills have not yet been set for a hearing, they could be taken up at any time. We will continue to alert you promptly regarding these and other threats to Proposition 13.

An additional two bills, Assembly Constitutional Amendments 3 and 8, also diminish Proposition 13’s protections. These have not been set for a hearing yet.


Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 (SCA 3), Mark Leno (D—San Francisco): Lowers the threshold for school district per-parcel property taxes from two-thirds to 55%. This is a direct assault on Proposition 13 because it makes it easier to increase property taxes above Proposition 13’s one percent cap.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 4 (SCA 4), Carol Liu (D—La Canada) andSenate Constitutional Amendment 8 (SCA 8), Ellen Corbett (D—San Leandro): Lowers the threshold for the imposition, extension or increase of local transportation special taxes from the Proposition 13-mandated two-thirds vote to 55%. Most transportation special tax increases consist of very regressive sales tax hikes. These add to the burden of California taxpayers who already pay the highest state sales tax in the nation.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 (SCA 7), Lois Wolk (D—Davis): Lowers the threshold from two-thirds to 55% in order to approve a bond to fund public library facilities. Lowering the threshold for school facilities to 55% has already resulted in billions of dollars of additional property tax payments that otherwise would not have been approved by voters.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 9 (SCA 9), Ellen Corbett (D—San Leandro): Lowers the threshold from two-thirds to 55% to increase special taxes to fund community and economic development projects.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 11 (SCA 11), Loni Hancock (D—Berkeley): Lowers the threshold to 55% to allow for voters representing ANY local government entity to approve a special tax for ANY purpose. This is far and away the broadest application, and thus the most egregious, of these constitutional amendments.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 (ACA 3), Nora Campos (D—San Jose): Lowers the threshold to 55% for voters within cities, counties and special districts to approve EITHER a local bond measure or a special tax in order to fund emergency service facilities projects including police and fire services.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (ACA 8), Bob Blumenfield (D—Woodland Hills): Lowers the threshold to 55% for city and county voters to approve a local bond measure in order to fund emergency service facilities projects.

City of Chico meeting schedule for week of August 26, 2013

25 Aug

Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, Monday August 26, 6:30 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Council Chamber:  The only item on this agenda is commissioner Richard Ober’s request to agendize a discussion about creating a “public/private non-profit partnership” between the city of Chico and the Caper Acres Volunteers. This is total news to me. The Caper Acres Volunteers Facebook has not been updated for almost a month, there’s nothing on it about the meeting they had at the end of July, and I have yet to hear any news about this handful of moms starting a legal non-profit. I will try to make this meeting, I haven’t attended one of these for years. 

Here’s that link:    http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/bidwell_park_and_playground_commission/BPPC_Agendaandreports_13_0826.pdf

Finance Committee, Tuesday August 27, 8 – 10 am, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1: This meeting is chock full of interesting stuff – did you know the city takes in over a million dollars a year in Downtown parking revenues, and spends over $500,000 of it on salaries and benefits? Something tells me the fellows who service those parking meters are not taking in that kind of salary, I’m guessing, this is another fund that is being hit heavily for other than it’s intended purpose.  $taff is in fact requesting that this fund be opened up to all kinds of allowed expenditures, stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with securing you a parking space Downtown. 

Other items include a continuation of the user fee study, as well as the usual budget and finance department updates from Chris Constantin. If you can’t make the meeting, at least look over the agenda – over 100 pages, including a Downtown parking study and pages and pages of incriminating financial figures. 

Here’s that link:  http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/8-27-13FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

Economic Development Committee, Wednesday August 28, 4 – 6 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1:  THIS MEETING HAS BEEN ERRONEOUSLY POSTED AND NOTICED AS BEING SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY THE 27TH.  Sean Tillman sent out a blast of e-mail corrections that loaded my mail box like a diaper, but has not corrected the notice on the website yet. I keep waiting for his name to disappear from the $taff roster, and I keep being disappointed.

I had been looking forward to this meeting, because at the last meeting I attended, Tillman excitedly promised the results of the shopper’s survey undertaken earlier this year by Tri-Counties Bank, sponsored in part with our tax dollars.  Audrey Taylor from city consultant Chabin Concepts even mentioned having some sort of exciting “event”,  “in August”. But I don’t see anything about that on this agenda. Instead they will be continuing the conversation about merging this committee with the underground “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council,” which operates without public oversight. I’ve asked to attend MBAC events and been refused by $taff, as well as Ann Schwab and Mark Sorensen. Only Ann would even tell me who else is in this secret committee – PG&E? So, I don’t know if this is a good move. I’ve heard, at last week’s council meeting, they’ve re-opened the conversation about hiring a new Economic Development Director, also behind closed doors. I’m sick of all this sneaky business with the Chico Chamber, DCBA, and various consultants who come around at Community Block Grant Funding time. This issue needs more sunshine. 

There will be a “report” from “Team Chico” – another behind closed doors effort between the City of Chico, Chico Chamber, Downtown Chico Business Association, 3CORE and the Alliance for Workforce Development and who knows what other “stakeholders”. Their meetings are not noticed to the public, Tillman reports whatever he feels the public needs to know. These reports are all full of rainbows and lollipops, nothing substantial.  But, city money, in the form of Tillman’s salary and benefits, is being spent on these consultants, many of whom also get CBGF money. I read the slick report included in the agenda, and some of the information is no longer correct (Hwy 32 widening was KO’d the other night), a lot of it is just soap bubbles. 

Here’s that link:   http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/8-27-13EDCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

I wish more people would take time to attend these meetings, just once. I hate to think people just like to sit around complaining but doing nothing! 

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. 

Hit me, beat me, make me read the employee contracts.

1 Aug

We have our regular Sunday meeting coming up this weekend, and I’m trying to get some stuff together for a good conversation about the employee contracts. The contracts are all up in December, so we need to start talking about them now. Council will be discussing the following contracts at next Tuesday’s meeting:


CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR (Gov. Code Sec. 54957.6.) Negotiator:  Brian Nakamura, City Manager Employee Organizations:  Management Employees, Confidentials, Public Safety Management Employees, Chico Police Officers’ Association, Chico Public Safety Association, International Association of Firefighters, Service Employees International Union (Trades and Crafts Unit), Chico Employee Association, WPEA/Local 39

They should be posting information for us as the talks continue, but I’ll bet we’ll have to bitch for it.  The current contracts are available on the city website, on the Human Resources and Risk page, under “Labor Contracts”, here’s the link:


I’ll tell you right off the top – they’re HORRIBLE to read. No lie, they really suck. “Whereas City and CPOA have memorialized their agreement regarding matters within the scope of their representation…” 60 pages, the first 10 of which include title pages, table of contents, and definitions. Then stuff like The CPOA Time Bank – “The CPOA Time Bank is established for use by CPOA employees for the sole purpose of performing or conducting CPOA business without loss of pay…” Wait a minute – what? 

Here’s what’s worse from my standpoint – $taff loads documents in such a way that I cannot cut and paste.  Instead of giving a link and hoping people wade through all that SHIT, I want to take out bits and snatches of interest to discuss here and at our meeting Sunday, but that means, I have to open both screens and go back and forth and type it. That just makes me so mad – my time is worth something, and I just get so frustrated sitting at the computer doing stupid stuff like that. But, I can’t think of any other way to get people to pay attention than to put the outrageous words right in front of their  faces.

I’ve always wrestled with the concept of  “CTO” and “STO”. CTO is “Compensatory Time Off in Lieu of Overtime Payment“, STO is “Selective Time Off in Lieu of Overtime Payment“.  This is an exercise in accounting.  “CTO shall be accrued at a rate of one and a half hours for every hour of overtime worked.” So, they can choose to take an hour and a half of time off for every hour of overtime worked.  Sounds fair, and good for the city, right? But something sounds weird about “Payment for unused CTO …Employees may request payment for a maximum of forty (40) hours of unused CTO…The maximum amount of CTO that may be accrued and utilized at any time shall be limited to 200 hours. Employees may choose to leave CTO in place into the following calendar year. Payment for such hours will be made at the Regular Pay in effect at the time.”  

Then, “Selective Time Off” – Employees who work overtime “may accrue Selective Time Off in lieu of overtime or CTO…STO will be accrued at the rate of two hours for every hour of overtime worked.”  When an employee doesn’t use that STO? They can have it converted to CTO and get paid for it. But here’s what’s changed – they used to get paid for TWO HOURS when they’d only worked one. Even though they were paid at the regular rate instead of overtime, they still ended up with an extra half hour of pay. That sounds petty, but it really adds up. Now the formula says, “Number of STO hours divided by 2, multiplied by 1.5, equals CTO hours”. In other words, they’re getting paid for the hour they actually logged, at overtime, which seems fair to me if indeed it was an overtime hour in the first place. 

My concern is, they can roll these hours over, year after year, through pay increases, and end up getting paid a higher salary for hours worked years previous. I don’t know if it actually works that way, you read it and let me know. All I know is, these guys as much as double their base salaries with overtime, “other pay” and “special pay” and it’s all here in these contracts for any dummass who wants to read it.

Me, I fell asleep while typing and accidentally closed the contract page at least twice. My family has gone out to clean the garage because I kept reading snippets aloud and asking “does that make sense to you?” or “is this crazy or what?”

I’m going out to clean the garage. 

City Manager Brian Nakamura has agreed to come down to our July 7 meeting to discuss the budget.

12 Jun

I didn’t get to attend last week’s “Budget 101” session with Chico Chamber and city staff, but I found Ashley Gebb’s write up pretty interesting. 

I really can’t wait to hear just what Jovanni Triceri wants citizens to “stand up” and do!

Gebb doesn’t identify the person who asked about sales tax, but Brian Nakamura’s answer doesn’t give me any comfort. ““We have to live within our means first.”  First, he says. Before what? 

While I was happy to hear Nakamura and his assistant Orme recently refuse the cops’ pay raise proposal, I’m still worried. They seem to be asking the employees to make little gestures, to improve ” the public’s  perception of public employees.” So what? So we’ll approve a sales tax increase? 

We will have to ask Brian Nakamura about that – he will be coming in to our next First Sunday meeting to discuss this and other city issues. We’re looking forward to a good discussion, hope you can make it. 




Budget 101′ forum details city finances to Chico citizens

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

Posted:   06/10/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — With questions about solving the city’s financial problems through a tax or aid of businesses, citizens took a course in “Budget 101” Friday from city officials.About 80 people gathered in the City Council Chambers to hear about how the city budget works, how millions of dollars in deficits accumulated and what will happen unless immediate action is taken.

Two days earlier, the city issued 53 layoff notices to employees in every city department as it attempts to close a $4.8 million general fund gap.

“People just really aren’t clear at what the challenges are, why they are impacting us now and where we go from here,” said Katie Simmons of the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

She helped organize the forum in hopes it would provide transparency, answer community questions and give city staff an opportunity to clarify some “gray areas,” she said.

In recent weeks, she has heard numerous questions from business owners and residents, many wanting real answers to rumors about what the impacts will be and what can be done. “Knowledge is power,” Simmons said.

After an hour-long presentation, several residents had questions. Some asked about where certain funding sources come from, what unfunded liabilities exist, and the potential of getting more help from the corporate community.

Jovanni Tricerri of the Chico Stewardship Network answered the latter question. “This is an opportunity for the citizens to stand up,” he said. “Citizens partnering with the

institution. Let’s find these solutions together. We are going to have to push citizens to take a bigger role in the governance of the city.”A final question inquired about the viability of implementing a tax to offset cuts.

“I’m not sure we have the trust to assure the public money will be spent as intended,” said City Manager Brian Nakamura. “We have to live within our means first.”

The City Council will have an all-day budget study session starting at 8:30 a.m. June 18 in the Council Chambers.

Chico Taxpayers Association meets tomorrow, Sunday May 5, Chico Library on Sherman Ave, 9am

4 May

I hope we can get a good discussion going on the local efforts to raise taxes, all inspired by CalPERS recent demands for “side fund payoffs” of pension premiums.

What CalPERS is after, is money to keep their pension payments flowing, so people like Tom Lando don’t sue them. And then there’s the CalPERS salaries – about a dozen top execs, making between $350 – 500,000 a year, plus, yeah, FULL BENEFITS!

How stupid are we? Let’s talk about that – tomorrow, Chico branch library, 9am.  The public is welcome.

Happy Tax Day – give a taxpayer a hug today! They really need it!

15 Apr

Thanks to Sue Hubbard for getting a letter to the Enterprise Record about Taxpayer Appreciation Month, just in time for TAX DAY!

Her request to council was met with a ridiculous rant by Scott Gruendl, I’ve posted the text here:


But beyond taking a few really weird pot shots at the CTA, council did not even discuss the request. How predictable.  They’re too good to stand up there and thank the taxpayers for their own salaries and benefits, how very, very predictable.

But Sue’s letter was comforting:

Letter: Council needs to appreciate taxpayers

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted:   04/14/2013 12:05:21 AM PDT

We at the Chico Taxpayers Association would like to proclaim April as Taxpayer Appreciation Month. Even though our City Council is proclamation and resolution happy, the mayor chose not to honor our request. So we will simply proclaim it ourselves. We think it is appropriate.

Whereas, the approximately 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax are supported by the 53 percent of those who do

Whereas, 5 percent of Americans are paying 60 percent of all income tax

Whereas, America’s top tax rate is the second highest in the world

Whereas, taxpayers’ money is used to fund government services

Whereas, taxpayers’ money is used to pay salary and benefits to government workers

Whereas, taxpayers are the ones who are paying for all the entitlements so generously given out in this country

Whereas, taxpayers pay America’s bills

Now therefore let it be proclaimed, that the Chico Taxpayers Association hereby recognizes April as Taxpayer Appreciation Month.

— Sue Hubbard, Chico

So Happy Tax Day! I mean that.  Taxes provide for the public convenience, necessity, and security. The fact  that taxes are often unfairly distributed and unreasonably high, and that  public officials and publicly-paid employees are often corrupt, lazy or stupid doesn’t mean taxes cannot be a good way to fund the everyday needs of society. 

It’s up to the taxpayer to keep an eye on their employees, and we haven’t. The average taxpayer is asleep at the wheel, saying to him/herself and anybody who listens, “that’s what I elect people for.”

And Mary Goloff – a woman our town has elected –  has told me, if I want to have a say in the public’s business, I have to run for public office. She is the typical politician who is so high on her own fumes she thinks she knows better than the public what’s good for them.  She doesn’t think she has to listen to anybody – she thinks it’s her job to run things as she sees fit. She thinks election has proven her some kind of mental giant among the rest of us pusillanimous midgets.  And, that is makes her so popular she doesn’t need anybody’s approval on anything.

There are two kinds of politicians – the Evita type, who gets so drunk on power she eventually collapses, and then there’s the “roll up our sleeves and work together” people, like Dan Logue. No, I don’t agree with Logue on everything, but he’s quick to get a public forum going when there’s a problem. And not a charette, where everybody breaks into groups with a handler, and gets spoon fed information to give a controlled statement supporting the proposal. Logue’s forums are a chance for the people to get in there and let the public workers know what we think. 

Where was our “single use” plastic bag forum? Well, I guess you could call those 8am meetings forums, the public is allowed. 

The biggest problem with paying taxes is that most taxpayers don’t pay enough attention to what happens to their taxes after April 15. We can’t blame the council for everything  – people have got to get more involved. 

And so, on this April 15, I would like to ask those of you who think our town is headed down the wrong path, who think they have some creative ideas for getting our city back into solvency – SAY SOMETHING! Come out to the meetings, and not just the dinnertime meetings, but those 8am meetings Downtown. Look at the “agendas and minutes” page on the city website. Familiarize yourselves with the issues Downtown, write letters, write letters, write letters. 

But for now, give yourself a hug, and hug somebody else who pays taxes. I just mailed off my property taxes earlier this month, and I sure needed a hug! 

Scott Gruendl calls defeat of Measure J a threat to the constitution – where did we get this guy?

6 Apr

I have to say, I did not support Toby Schindelbeck’s request for the city to make a resolution supporting the Second Amendment because I get sick and freaking tired of these resolutions and proclamations. But I have to hand it to Toby, he sure got a conversation out of it. The most interesting part for me was Scott Gruendl’s assertion that the defeat of the cell phone tax was “a threat to the constitution.” 

“but I believe there are threats to our constitution that go far beyond the second amendment.  I think they’re constant, I think they’re regular, and I think our affirmation of our oath of office is something we are confronted  with on a regular basis, and the Second Amendment is part of that, but it’s not the only part of it. One simple example  – we had a defeat of measure J that results in about  $25 in tax savings for the average public member, but for me, I have a tax rate that’s about 150 times that that’s imposed on me by the federal government because of a constitutional interpretation (his voice starts breaking here, as if he’s going to cry).  I don’t see the Chico Taxpayer’s Association standing up for my tax injustice and that’s just one example of what we’re confronted with on a regular basis…”

When I heard that on the video, I was shocked. I had to listen to it over and over to get it down, but that’s pretty much it. I punctuated the natural pauses in Scott’s voice, but I’m pretty sure I got it word for word. Let’s just take this thing apart, piece by piece, and try to make nonsense of it.

First of all, I just had a e-mail chat with Frank Fields over in the city finance office on this past Thursday. I asked him again, how many refund applications had been received as of that day, and what’s the average refund amount. Scott keeps using that $25 figure, the same figure he and Ann Schwab put in their “argument in favor” of Measure J. From Frank Fields:

“Ms. Sumner:


To date, the City has issued 157 refunds at an average of $50.81.  However, please note that six of those refunds were to business which obviously end up with larger refunds.  Excluding the six businesses, the average refund is $38.50.


Please let me know if you have further questions.



That’s an interesting point Frank makes, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to worry about how these people  ran up their phone bills – they may have a business, or they may have family in Germany, I don’t care whether they use their phone for business or pleasure or to save a life.  It doesn’t matter how they run up the bill on which their tax is based, it only matters that 157 cell phone customers have applied for and received an average refund of $50.81, not the $25 Gruendl keeps claiming. In fact, we’re talking “average” here people – those businesses were taken for a lot more than $50 a year. When my family had AT&T, for three phones, our yearly UT was about $87.

And then Gruendl goes completely off the deep end with his walk through the dog park regarding threats to the constitution. The rest of his little peeve is just, well, crazy.  He says a group of citizens working to defeat a tax measure brought forth by government officials is “a threat to the constitution”? Whose constitution is he talking about?

I have a tax rate 150 time that…”  Again, what is he talking about? 150 times…what? $25?

that’s imposed on me by the federal government because of a constitutional interpretation…”  Is he talking about the gay marriage discussion? I thought the feds were going his way the last time I heard. Is he complaining that he is not allowed to write his partner off on his taxes? I have no idea of the law there, but I know “domestic partnership” has been accepted for some time – it’s in the cop contracts, and it’s on the paper work my kids bring home from Butte College. And, he complains that the CTA has never “stood up” for his “tax injustice” – well, Scott, we’ve never been asked. I’m not even sure what your “tax injustice”  is.

Here’s my “tax injustice” – I have to pay a salary and benefits for this ass Gruendl, I buy him a $21,000 a year health insurance policy, for which he pays $156 a year.  My cousins in Glenn County pay him about $103,000 a year and also give him a health benefits and pension package, for which he pays little or nothing. And now, he stands up before the citizens of this town and complains that he pays more taxes than the rest of us? This guy is a piece of work.

Maybe what he really means is, he gets more taxes than the rest of us – the 150 times figure might actually work there!

And then there’s the injustice of being limited to three minutes, even one minute!  to state my concerns and then have to listen to this crap-mouth rattle on at will, without any response from the public.  He’s allowed to say whatever he wants!  I’m not the only one who gets sick of these little diatribes. Here’s Bob Speer, from this past Thursdays News and Review –  – ” But it’s true, as critics often charge, that some council members, including Goloff, don’t always apply standards of brevity to themselves. They should take lessons from Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan, who quickly say their pieces and shut up. It’s a sign of respect, and those of us in the audience appreciate it.

I’ll say further, they don’t stay on topic, they use the podium to abuse members of the public who don’t agree with their agenda,  and they spread misinformation, all of which I’d say about Scott’s little rant.

And here’s the creepiest thing about that meeting Tuesday night: Gruendl and Goloff requested and got a list of the folks who spoke on the Second Amendment resolution request. Why would they need that?


Today, at the First Sunday meeting, we were talking about the rules for council discussions. During this past Tuesday’s city council meeting, we found that the mayor is allowed to re-open the public hearing. When this was suggested by Sean Morgan during the eminent domain discussion, there was a moment of confusion. Mary Goloff said she was not able to reopen the public hearing, but Lori Barker interrupted that it certainly was allowed. That’s something to remember in future. 

Also, there was mention of a rule that limited the council members to three minutes – this I will have to check into, but it would certainly be worth it. 

April is “Taxpayer Appreciation Month”

7 Mar

 Sue had a brainstorm the other night – let’s raise awareness of the amount of tax money collected in this country, and show some appreciation for the taxpayers who foot America’s bills.

You know, I tried to find a figure on what Americans pay annually in taxes, and it was very confusing.

First of all, if you have a job or a business, and make any money whatsoever, you pay income tax.  If you work for somebody else, they have the happy job of vivisecting your wages into little piles and sending this here and that there – your “social insurance” and all that crap. If you are a self-employed small business owner, you can either do this yourself, or hire somebody like RUSH Personnel to do it for you. Take it from me – it’s a real pain in the ass.

If you own a house, screw you – you pay “ad valorem” or property taxes. Sheesh, what a scam there! A tax to own your own home, give me a Jesus H. Break. A tax based on roughly ten percent of what the county assessor determines to be the “value” of your house. Based on, well, mostly revenue needs! This tax gets split between the state thugs, the county thugs, and, if you are unlucky enough to be annexed, the city thugs. They say they use it to fix your roads and pay for your schools – what they mean is, pay salaries and benefits.

Listen you smartass renters – where do you think Landlord gets the money to pay his property taxes?!

Then there’s “excise” or sales tax – this is a phrase that will put sixty years on my 17-year-old, who feels this is one of the biggest hokums ever perpetrated on humankind – a tax on spending money you already paid taxes on.

I think “excise” covers “utility” tax, thankyouverymuch.

There’s so many ways they get to you. I know, we beat Measure J, but did you know, California has some of the highest cell phone taxes in the state?


I realize, taxes pay for stuff I want to have. I like paved roads, I’m glad to have public schools and other institutions. I’d like to be able to depend on cops and fire. I realize taxes are supposed to be the collective way to pay for stuff everybody wants and needs.

But we don’t get the service we pay for. The streets in some of our older neighborhoods are so badly maintained – I’ll never forget the pothole at the corner of Filbert and Downing that “voided” the warranty on my right front tire.   The park looks terrible, the trails are  not maintained, non-native overgrowth prevails and there’s garbage and dog poop laying on the ground. The other day on my way to a morning meeting, I found one of those dog poop bags – you know, the ones on which they spend some $60,000 a year – full and tied to the branch of a small tree alongside the trail. 

Last night on the news I heard them looking for park volunteers. Screw that! We have half dozen rangers who make over $80,000 a year, plus benefits. I see the park ranger truck parked here and there along the road, no ranger in sight. I sure as hell don’t see any ranger out there with a trash bag, picking up anything. I sure don’t see anybody over there at that freeway job writing tickets for fugitive dust or violation of the noise ordinance (regular crews are relegated to a 7am – dusk time limit) or the tree ordinance (9 inch diameter my ass!).  

I’d sure like to see some taxpayer appreciation out of these city workers, who get damned generous salaries, all of them, and don’t pay nearly enough of their own benefits packages.  I’d be happy if they’d do their jobs. 

We must demand of these people.  Next time you see a public worker, ask them, when’s the last time they thanked a taxpayer? Then give them the opportunity.