Tag Archives: Dave Burkland Chico Ca

Whimsies

23 Jan

I attended last night’s Chico City Council meeting last night, on a whim, for a short while. It’s good to make yourself physically attend one of these meetings now and then, like cod liver oil, it’s good for your constitution. 

The items I was interested in had been held to the end of the agenda –  the new employee contracts. The big news is, city employees are being asked to pay their full share of their pension premiums. Whoop-de-fucking-do!  That’s only nine percent of the cost of pensions worth 70 – 90 percent of the highest year’s salary, available at age 50 – 60 years.  Life expectancy in the United States, according to Wikipedia, is about 78 and a half. So, on average, we will pay these folks almost a full salary,  for DOING NOTHING,  for an average of 28 and a half years. And yeah, we pay their health benefits and their rest home insurance too.

Sure they will make new hires pay 50 percent. Another can of worms hits the floor. First of all, how would you feel toward your co-workers knowing fully well you pay 50 percent of your pension and they only pay nine? Come on – I feel that is setting up a hostile work environment, how could anybody be so stupid or insensitive to think something like this is okay?  Well, I guess the same folks who think it’s okay for Todd Booth to carry a gun and represent the city of Chico, there’s your answer.

Second, this plan will only work if they fire all existing employees and hire new ones. Fat chance. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay for that issue, so I’d written an e-mail to council ahead, telling them they needed to make the contracts only good for year, and then we need a financial report about how much money was actually “saved.”  I also wanted to thank Michael Jones for the wonderful chart he had made with friends, showing how out of whack our salaries are when compared with other, some of them very spendy, California towns. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera.  He’d had a beautiful banner made, displaying it on the back of the council chamber. He’d also had postcards made up, already stamped and addressed to each council member. He was handing those out, asking people to sign and send them. He gave me a set, which I sent. 

Here's one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

Here’s one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

When I see that kind of determination, I feel, well, you know:

Michael Jones has been active in Chico for a long time, he could give you a pretty good historical perspective on most of the business before council today. I remember stuff too, and it’s funny to listen to what they say now.

 I sat through the annexation conversation, which was interesting because I happen to know a lot of the background on that conversation, I remember when it all happened. I’ve watched it because I’d owned rentals with septic tanks in parts of the county that Tom Lando systematically turned into “county islands” so he could annex them later. For example, at one point, the city just annexed Courtesy Motors, who wanted to expand onto their sewer. Wow, all the sudden, we were in a county pocket, boundaried by a car dealership? In a morning meeting, Lando crowed about the sales tax receipts he’d just stolen from the county!

And Colleen Jarvis was honest at the time – she let everybody know, they were annexing for the property taxes, and they wanted people on sewer to pay for an expansion at the sewer plant, as well as problems with river flow and accidental poop releases  that they are still having today.

When I complained about annexation of my properties, they said, “Oh Juanita, you’re going to get all these city services, and you can vote in council elections!”   Boy, talk about rainbow promises – here’s a funny example: We were living in a house on Palmetto, and the county had started a makeover that was supposed to be completed by the city, an agreement made over the annexing of the neighborhood. The county started the job, and everything went smoothly – they stripped and resurfaced it, it still looks great! But, on the day that the job was handed over to the city for completion, work came to a halt. Oh oh, we thought, our driveway was still suspended about a foot up in the air, and we’d been cutting across the neighbor’s side yard (with their permission) and exiting by way of their front yard, because it was lower than either driveway. There were three households off our driveway, we’d turned that one neighbor’s yard into a mud slick. It was the rainy season, so the mud went all over the place, all the way up our shared driveway, and out into the construction zone.  It made for slippery driving, and forget pedestrian access. A week or so went by and the city just didn’t show up. One night our old neighbor lady had a stoke – and the ambulance could not figure out how to get into our driveway. It was a disaster, all of us were out there trying to get that ambulance across that mud slick, and they didn’t want to come. Finally they got the poor woman out of there, but she didn’t last very long afterward, and I can’t believe the ambulance delay helped her in any way.  The next day I called the city, told them what happened – oh, many apologies – but they still didn’t send a crew until the next week.

And now I live on Filbert – we are proud of our potholes, we call them, “vernal pools.” (sarcasm alert)  There’s a chronic pot hole near the corner of Filbert and Downing – about 12 years ago, it voided the warranty on my tires – excessive road hazard.   They annexed our neighborhood here over five years ago, and you can still look out there and see that same pothole – I call it, “Mooooby Dick! Ye dam-ned whale!”

Oh, but you say, I can vote in city elections! Yeah, that was tasty two years ago, when we kicked the shit out of Measure J, but, over the long run, it’s been a total downer. I voted for Scott Gruendl, Mary Flynn, Tom Nickell, Mark Sorensen, Sean Morgan, Mitt Romney (?!) and some others my brain is protecting me from by forgetting. The only votes I feel good about today are the ones I threw away on Nader – thanks for that Ralph.  I am starting to hate voting, I may quit altogether. That carrot has gone sour.

So, this controversy over the annexation of much of Chapmantown, one of the oldest contiguous sections of the city of Chico, has many biting heads. No, I don’t feel any better about being annexed myself. When I lived in the county, I had the sheriff and Station 42. The sheriff’s employees we encountered were great. We also got alot of support from CHP in those days – they came to help a couple of my old neighbors shut down a party house, that was a-may-zing. CHP did that, because we were in the county, now we can’t get them, they tell us to call the Chico PD. Hah!

The fine volunteers of Station 42 put out two fires in my neighborhood within minutes, saved both houses, one of was already burning on the roof. The other fire involved a car parked right next to the house, which left a huge scorch mark but never “engaged” the house. Because Station 42 is there within five minutes, we timed them. When I had an experience with the city, it was more like 10 minutes, and the house was fully engaged and ended up being a total loss. I believe if it hadn’t been for the fast actions of my neighbors, I would have lost my garage that day.

So, when Scott Gruendl protests that he has received “a lot” of comments from Chapmantown residents that they don’t want to be annexed, I say, “who could blame them.” Well, I have to think again.

I owned a house just this side of the city limit in Chapmantown. I had great sewer, great drainage, high curbs, etc. My house was protected. Blocks over, the houses sit in swamps, no sidewalks – one lady came to a meeting to describe the system of planks she has to lay out during rainy weather to get from her front door to her driveway. This also means, raw sewage floating up out of old long untended septic tanks. I’m sure, some of the septic tanks in that part of town are sub-code.  And, it’s been documented – the water pipes are leaking toxins into the groundwater over there, and toxins are getting into the drinking water. This I know because friends of mine living on 20th Street received  notice that drycleaning fluids had contaminated the city water, and they shouldn’t even shower in it until further notice. Last I heard, the city is making some progress on this issue – but they are waiting for lawsuits against the old businesses to play out, or for grants and funds  from the feds and state. In the meantime, they’ve been deferring developer fees, that fund being bottomed out. That’s who is supposed to pay for the sewers and the plumbing for development, the developers. Instead, the city has been giving them a free ride for years, and now they want the taxpayers to foot the bill for clean-up required by poor infrastructural management.

So, yes, in this case – one of the oldest urban areas of town, not an almond orchard dotted neighborhood five miles north of town – I’m for annexation.  And I think most of the residents would say so too, given the proper background info and an election to make it respectable. Instead, we get vague reports from Scott Gruendl about residents he’s talked to that don’t want to be annexed. These nameless residents who can’t seem to put comments in writing with a signature, these shadow-puppets, are saying, they like their rural charm! But no names, no phone numbers, no evidence. Just Scott Gruendl’s word.  Like they’ll tell you if you try to report something – anecdotal evidence is not acceptable, let’s hear some names, let’s see some e-mails or phone memos Scott.

And excuse the ramble, but then there’s Sorensen. He says we can’t afford to annex Chapmantown? Oh, but we can annex all over North Chico, they’re just chomping at the bit to get out there where the properties are bigger and generate more taxes, but everybody is on a new septic tank, and their houses are not close enough together to warrant sidewalks, so this would be pure profit for the city. They’d be taking in all those expensive properties (prop tax and utility tax) but they wouldn’t have to offer any services. They certainly wouldn’t have to clean up the mess they’ve allowed Chapmantown to become over all these years.

Dan Nguyen-tan was one who told me my services would get better after annexation. Within a couple of years, Nguyen-tan was complaining that the annexed areas had become a drain on Chico, and – GET ALOAD OF THIS! – he and Gruendl and Dave Burkland tried to blame our burgeoning fiscal problems on the annexations! And at the meeting the other night, Ruben Martinez reminded us, our short-lived City Mangler Greg $190,000/year Jones (who retired at 70 percent of that salary having paid only 4 percent toward the pension premiums) tried to tell us that we’d annexed these areas “without any visible means of support.”

That just doesn’t add up to me. Oh sure, you annex millions in property taxes, millions more in sales tax, but the annexed neighborhoods are still looking like third world countries 10 years later? Drive that neighborhood along the freeway, behind East Avenue McDonalds. Go in the daytime, they’ve had strong-arm robberies there during the day.  Look at the streets, look at the filth, and ask yourself – “am I in America?” Yeah you are, you’re in the City of Chico.  Alabama? Nope, California. Tom Lando’s California. Dave Guzzetti’s California. Jane Dolan’s California.

I mention Lando because he was the puppeteer, but I also mention Guzzetti and Dolan because they’ve been the official face of efforts to stop the annexation of Chapmantown. Dolan even threatened to sue at one point. Schwab and Gruendl both brought her up, but for some reason, refused to mention her name. She was the “county supervisor from that district…”, even though, both Schwab and Gruendl, by his own admission to me, have had dinner many times with Jane and husband Bob in their home.

Oh well, enough of this. This is a  ramble. I went to a meeting, so I felt the need to talk about it. Go to a meeting and tell me what you saw.

Did I say going to one of these meetings is good for your constitution? Well, it is. As soon as you get home you are going to want to take a big dump. Works better than poke berries. 

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. 

 

“Hostile” City of Chico mismanages the airport

20 Feb

For a few years now (since 2008) an item has popped up so regularly on the city council “closed session” agendas that I have come to recognize it without knowing anything about it.

2.1. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL — EXISTING LITIGATION: The City Attorney will review
the following: Danford A. Jay and Sandra R. Jay v. City of Chico, et al., Butte County Superior Court
Cases 145202 and 145203, pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(a).

It started to pique my curiosity, but I didn’t know how to find out about it. I figured, since it’s on the closed session item, they wouldn’t be exactly eager to discuss it with me, and you know, I get tired of being led a merry chase down at the City of Chico.

So, I finally stumbled onto the info, you know, casual conversation with some parent at a playground, that’s how I find out stuff around town.  I mean, it’s just amazing the people you find yourself chatting with, about what.

It seems this all relates to Chico’s abysmal reputation for being “hostile” toward business.

I’ve sat in at least two different Economic Development meetings in which the main topic of discussion was the airport. At one meeting, a couple of consultants complained that the airport does not offer consistent enough “service” for corporate types to fly to Chico to snoop out our job-ability. They didn’t explain it, they just said, these big-wigs want to be able to fly in and out at their convenience, and that’s not doable at Chico airport.

At another more recent meeting, a spokesman from Build.com said the airport needs a big commercial carrier. He seems to think we can turn our airport into the same kind of behemoth  as the Sacramento Airport, bring in TWA – wowsers! He mentioned regular flights to Disneyland as his main concern – what does Disneyland have to do with bringing job-makers into Chico?

No, no, no. It’s not lack of a commercial carrier, it’s lack of somewhere for really important people to land their own jets. I got news for Mr. Build.com – real employers don’t stand in lines to take a commercial carrier, they fly in with their own plane at 10 am and they fly out at 4pm. The don’t use giant, overrun airports, they use little executive airports unconstrained by heavy traffic and avoiding major accidents involving housing tracts. Chico Airport should be perfect for exactly this use.

Yes, it should be. Chico Airport is equipped with a special landing strip with a gated terminal, just for really important people. You might remember, Oprah landed at that gate. She was whisked away to Oroville to meet and interview a local beauty queen, and then within a couple of hours, there she went.

But, for some reason, when Governor Schwarzenegger came to town a few years ago, nobody came to open the gate to the terminal. Schwarzenegger was left outside a locked gate. This was sufficient to  make a laughingstock out of Chico Airport.  It’s happened more than once, and it’s apparently turned away big execs looking for prime employment territory.

The special terminal is owned by a local couple, Chris and Maria Rock, who have a special contract with the city of Chico to operate the terminal and an airplane fueling station. When a “special” visitor is headed for the airport, they are supposed to contact the Rocks, who are supposed to have that terminal open and functioning. Apparently the Rocks are pretty lackadaisical about their duties and more than one person has arrived to find a gate locked.

Enter Danford Jay.  Mr. Jay wants to be licensed to operate such a terminal himself. He operates a business out of the airport and his livelihood depends on the airport running efficiently. Apparently Mr. Jay is tired of watching the Rocks run business away from Chico.

But the City of Chico protects the Rocks’ contract for some reason, they won’t let Mr. Jay have a permit to operate his own terminal and fueling station. According to my source, this drives people to the airports at Redding and Oroville. My friend is himself considering moving his business and the 25 people it employs to the Redding airport.

This friend has been to meeting after meeting, in Chico, in Oroville, in Redding. He uses the word “hostile” to describe the city of Chico, and particularly, Dave Burkland.

Dave Burkland is not only our city manager, he’s the airport manager.  That’s why his salary is so  high – I’ve seen the breakdown – he gets separate salaries for all these jobs that should just be handed to different, hopefully more competent people. This is how the city “saves money.” And this is how Burkland will retire at over $120,000 a year soon.

And this is why our airport drives jobs away from Chico.

Meanwhile the city’s little protection racket racks up the bucks in court:

http://www.buttecourt.ca.gov/online_index/CMSCaseDisplay.cfm?ucn=145202&sx=1088450740381968