Tag Archives: Dave Burkland

Finance Committee to take up Section 908 – will Jennifer Hennessy do her job? What does the new city manager think?

27 Aug

I don’t know how many people are available for an 8am meeting Downtown, but tomorrow morning the Finance Committee will take up the issue of Jennifer Hennessy not complying with Section 908 of the Chico City Code. 

908 says that the Finance Director is supposed to give a current update regarding our budget, just like you do every month with your check book. You see what you’ve taken in, and you see what’s gone out. It should all be there, so you don’t get in trouble with your finances! Heck! You wouldn’t want to write rubber checks – Mike Ramsey will slap you in jail for that! 

The city of Chico is in a deep amount of deficit-doo right now because Hennessy hasn’t been making these reports. The only reports she will make are “after the fact” – by the time she tells us anything, we’re already in trouble. And the reports she gives are never clear – she spends hours on these ridiculous “power point presentations,” with little cartoon figures and charts and graphs, without ever really telling us exactly how much money has come in and where it’s gone. We just see budgets – like Scott Gruendl said, “budgets are a fairy tale…”. They’re speculative, imagined, hoped-for,  but rarely achieved. And Hennessy announces so many budget changes due to “unexpected downturns” that it’s hardly worth the paper to even write the damned things. 

I’d frankly rather have a neat little accounting of what she’s taken in for each fund every month, and what’s  she’s spent. She won’t give us these details – leaving a suspicious person to speculate that she is doing something inappropriate with the money. 

The state parks department was funneling money into a secret fund that was being used to buy state worker’s unused vacation time. I’m sorry, but until Hennessy tells us what’s going on, I’m a suspicious person.

So, if you have the time tomorrow morning, that’s 8am, at City Hall, in the little conference room off the main chamber. There’s speculation that new city manager Brian Nakamura will make an appearance, I’ll keep you posted. I can only stay half an hour cause I got a dentist appointment. Yeah, I saw Marathon Man too, Stop It! 

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss! $217,000 a year, plus benefits. And he’s a liar, to boot.

19 Aug

I got a comment a couple of weeks ago from a person who identified themself as a resident of the town of Hemet, Ca, and said that our city was about to hire their city’s manager. And what do you know – our council went right ahead and did that the other night. And it was unanimous, so Sorensen and Evans went right along with it. 

This Nakamura dude only made it in Hemet for three years. And when their financial ship appeared to be on the rocks, he kept it a secret that he was looking for another job, here in Chico. 

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/hemet/hemet-headlines-index/20120815-hemet-city-manager-accepts-chico-job.ece

In fact, according this story, he lied to his bosses about his intentions when they found out he had visited Chico – he told them it was just to “share with the council my experience on how we made our city a wonderful place, and that’s it.” For one thing, Hemet isn’t such a wonderful place, it’s a shithole with piles of problems. 

According to the story, “Two weeks ago, (Nakamura)  said he was no longer involved in talks with Chico, but on Wednesday said Chico officials contact [sic]  him last week and negotiations moved swiftly.”

Hemet lies in the middle of SoCal, out in the wasteland east of San Diego. It’s one of those towns that has grown by leaps and bounds over the boom years. In the 90’s, they actually allocated $800,000 in RDA money to begin building a LAKE, to draw tourism.  And now there Hemet sits, LAKESIDE! revenues dropping, and up to it’s ass in debt. In fact, if you scan over their agendas and records, you find Hemet is in the same kind of mess Chico is in  – they’ve  been using their RDA like a credit card too.

So, why are we hiring a guy to replace Dave Burkland that is just going to continue us down the same road to Perdition that Dave Burkland had us on? A guy who is jumping the ship he helped sail into the reef? Just like Burkland.

And, at 47, you know he’s just coming here to retire. Mark my words, in three years, this POS will retire at over $150,000 a year. 

Ask your mayor, Ann Schwab. You can e-mail her at aschwab@ci.chico.ca.us, or drop her some snail mail at 555 Vallombrosa Ave, #74, Chico CA 95926. Decisions this woman is making are killing our town. Write to the other council members too – they also voted to hire this man. You can get them through Debbie Presson at dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us. 

First Mate Dave Burkland declares MUTINY! Schwab too busy campaigning to take the helm.

15 Aug

As you may have read, local business owner and city council candidate Toby Schindelbeck has been after  Finance MisDirector Jennifer Hennessy and City Mangler Dave Burkland to comply with the city code and hand over monthly budget updates that include all the pertinent information demanded by the code – including our revenues. 

Maybe you’ve lived here long enough to remember a string of embezzlements that made the news – several local non-profits and a couple of long-time local businesses – all hookwinked by older women bookkeepers, for  10’s of thousands of dollars. One popular Esplanade business owner recently said he’s still suffering the effects, almost 10 years later.

Besides the fact that they were all older ladies with good reputations, the common thread in these crimes was how they did it – they just didn’t report all the revenues they were taking in, taking the money themselves instead. That sounds like an old trick, doesn’t it? Well, obviously, it still has the potential to work.

Those of us who’ve been watching the city $taffers consistently have heard budget reports that just didn’t make sense – most recently, the vast discrepancies in the budget report Hennessy gave early this year, and a May report in which she was suddenly short so much money the city had to close Fire Station 5.  Now, if she was doing the job for free, that might fly, but we pay this woman roughly $160,000 a year, and you’d think she could do the job for that kind of dough. 

So Schindelbeck’s request for the monthly finance reports required by the code is not only reasonable, it’s necessary. We need to press this woman to make better explanation of where all this money is going. 

I’ll tell you where it’s going – Hennessy’s salary has increased by over $30,000 since she gave her first warning of “deficit.” 

But Hennessy will only do the job her bosses require, and Dave Burkland tells Schindelbeck in this e-mail below, he’s not going to make her do it, even while admitting it’s perfectly do-able.

From: “David Burkland” <DBURKLAN@ci.chico.ca.us>

Date: August 10, 2012 5:26:26 PM PDT

To: “Toby Schindelbeck”
Cc: “Jennifer Hennessy” <jhenness@ci.chico.ca.us>, “Lori Barker” <LBARKER@ci.chico.ca.us>
Subject: Re: Public Records Request response

 Mr. Schindelbeck,
 
I am responding to your email dated August 7, 2012, to the City’s Finance Director, Jennifer Hennessy.  As you know, the Council directed the Finance Committee to agendize an item to determine the form and content of monthly financial information that would best benefit the Council and community. As I mentioned at the Council meeting, staff researched Section 908 of the City Charter and found that monthly reports provided to the Council over the years had varied significantly and had included the monthly claims and investment reports that the Finance Director recently provided you. 
 
In your email you acknowledge the receipt of information which Ms. Hennessy provided you in response to your Public Records Act request for monthly financial reports as defined by the Chico City Charter section 908. 
 
You then repeat your request for such monthly reports and state that you understand the Public Records Act to allow the City 10 days to provide the requested information and that “[t]his applies to Public Records which are created, or which should have been created…..”
 
The Public Records Act requires the City to provide records which are in existence at the time the request for those records is received.  It does not require that records be created.  To the extent that you are requesting the City to create records in a form that you feel should have been done in the past, there is no requirement that the City create those records. 
 
At this time, the City has provided you all of the records that it has which we believe are responsive to your request and, therefore, has fully complied with your request. 
 
I believe that the Finance Committee will take this opportunity to focus on financial information needs going forward.  Any recommendation from the Finance Committee will go to the full Council for final action.  We’ll keep you informed of the dates and times of the meetings and hope you have an opportunity to participate.  If you have any questions, please call me at 896-7201 or email: dburklan @ci.chico.ca.us.
 
Dave Burkland
City Manager
Well, there it is – a guy who is paid nearly $200,000 a year telling us he’s not going to do his job.  And where’s his boss, Ann Schwab? 
Currently Schwab is too busy running her re-election campaign, playing Evita! for the students, to do anything about running the city of Chico.  
But you can make use of the above mentioned e-mail addresses to let Burkland and Hennessy know how you, the taxpayer, feel about this. Notice how they both took steps to make it harder to figure out their city e-mail address – most employees just use their first initial and last name – notice how Burkland does his all in caps, and both he and Hennessy leave off the last letter of their name. They don’t like their e-mail addresses given out, so be nice.  But be firm. Tell them we want to hear the reports Burkland admits are do-able EVERY MONTH, like it says in the charter.
Like Toby Schindelbeck often reminds us – the city Charter is our constitution, and we should take it more seriously. 

Jennifer Hennessy is incompetent – she can’t do her job and Burkland says she doesn’t have to

15 Jul

I’ll never forget my first real job – a clerical position at a manufacturing plant. I would compare it to the story of the miller’s daughter. On the first day, I was told that the employee I was to be replacing would stick around for a week to train me. At noon that day, having shown me where everything was and how to use the coffee maker, she got up from her chair, smiled, and told me she thought I could “handle it,” then left. At one o’clock, the plant manager came over to my desk followed by several “production” workers. They brought cart loads of microfilm, on rolls, in little white boxes. I was to label all of those boxes, three carts, piled high. This job had gotten held up, he explained, it would be “great!” if it could go out today.   Did I think I could get them done by 4 o’clock?  I wanted to make everybody happy, so said I yes without thinking, and set to work loading the labels into the typewriter.

It was a disaster. I had never typed anything like those labels before – typing class had been all about letters and envelopes, columns and reports. The labels skittered all over the platen, getting glue all over the inside of the typewriter. About every 50 or so labels, the platen had to be taken out and cleaned with alcohol. I typed and typed.   By 3 o’clock I knew I was in trouble. The production workers had come over to my desk to help me affix the sticky labels. We were nervous, labels were getting screwed up. At 3:30 the office manager and receptionist came back to my desk to help with the labels. I typed and typed, and tried not to cry.

We didn’t make it. The plant manager was flustered. The salesman who’d promised the job was really pissed off, he said mean things.  I apologized again and again, they told me it wasn’t all my fault, but could I please be more careful what I committed myself to in future. I could tell they also expected me to get a hell of a lot faster, but they were just trying to be nice.

So, I got faster. I came in early in the morning and worked through lunch until I got better at my job. I had signed up for a typing job, nobody had described all the weird stuff they expected me to type.  It started with typing and labeling, not only sticky labels, but microfiche jackets. They have a little quarter inch tall label strip across the top that chips and peels if you aren’t careful loading them into the typewriter, and strips or frames of 35 and 16 mm film  that falls out in your typewriter. Then there were the three-part work orders, with carbon paper, and the  three-part shipping labels, also with carbon paper. There were the mistakes – whole orders that had been indexed incorrectly, and therefore typed incorrectly, and therefore had to be corrected and typed all over again. I won’t describe what I had to go through to correct microfiche labels, it was too stupid.  I hated doing that, so I asked for my own little “eye-loup” – a little magnifier that you hold up to a light to look at the tiny little page numbers on the film – to make sure the cards had been indexed correctly before I typed them.

I’m not perfect, but I know I’m competent, cause I kept that job for five years while I watched others get fired, for everything from showing up late to breaking expensive equipment to stealing. I was given new jobs and increased responsibility as time went by.  I got good job reviews from my supervisors, and good raises.  Morale was high, we liked our co-workers and our managers, we felt like a team. Our customers were nice to us too. We worked for cities and counties, hospitals, banks – anybody who needed to keep records. We were trusted to handle confidential records, like people’s medical records. As we handled these confidential files we were simply told, “Don’t look at them,” so we didn’t. 

I left in 1984 in finish school. Over the next decade computers killed the microfilm industry, and the company went out of business. 

Excuse me if I compare my experiences in the private sector with stuff I’ve seen coming out of our city $taff. I keep waiting for some professional behavior, some professional accountability out of the people who run our town, and I start to wonder if I will ever get it. For a couple of months now, Toby Schindelbeck and Stephanie Taber, among others, have been asking council and Finance MisDirector Jennifer Hennessy to provide a simple accounting of city finances, as is required by the city charter, and she just plain refuses to give it. City Mangler Dave Burkland won’t make her. 

Last month she actually admitted, she is UNABLE to do it. At the June 5 meeting she admitted that she is incompetent to follow the city charter. She said that when she came to her position seven years ago, she “struggled” with doing such a report – something every house wife does – and went whining to then-city-manager Tom Lando, who apparently patted her on the head and told her she didn’t have to do it anymore. 

I don’t know about you guys, but I go over my check book every month, just to make sure everything is straight. I’ve found big, dumb mistakes, in the 100’s column even, that could have caused big, dumb problems down the road.  I’m no math instructor, like Mary Goloff, but it’s not exactly rocket science – you just add your deposits and subtract your checks and withdrawals. I’ll admit, when my kids were little, I felt like I never had time to do that, and stuff would get screwed up.  So now that I’ve got time, I make it a regularly scheduled event, and it’s amazing how much easier it is. And, I can keep the figures in my head, I know essentially how much I can afford to spend when I’m at the grocery store, or what kind of activities we can plan. My husband and son are enjoying a weekend trip right now that is already paid for, thankyouverymuch. 

But Jennifer Hennessy is unable to do that? And she has expectable stuff – over 80 percent of her budget is payroll. She doesn’t have that many emergencies.  The biggest emergency she’s had lately, is that the state has taken back the fund she’s been mis-using – the RDA. She was paying salaries and benefits out of a fund that’s supposed to be reserved for emergency public works projects. In other words, she’s been dipping into the till to pay her own salary!  

The mayor is to blame here, she’s the captain of our ship. Unfortunately, like the captain of the Costa Concordia, she’s abandoned ship for a party onshore. While she and her college chums bully their bag ban down our throats, our ship is sinking. We have less than $200,000 in our reserve fund, we have un-secured pension obligations totaling in the millions and growing every day, and we have  $taff who are using blackmail to get their way – they are just refusing to do their jobs. Hennessy won’t give the report she’s required to give because it’s BAD. I think the mayor is completely behind her on this – Ann Schwab doesn’t want us to hear that report either. Would you? 

Please write a letter to council demanding that Hennessy do her job, or get out. 

City mangler Dave Burkland recommends tax increase for city – he lives in the county!

9 May

I find it interesting how many city employees live outside the city limits. 

Your mayor owns a fine place up above the Forest Ranch Store, staring down at the little smog ball hovering over Chico. Your city manager lives halfway to Dayton in the unincorporated area surrounding Chico. How these people find the nerve to tell us actual Chicoans how to live is beyond me, but you can read Dave Burkland’s recommendation to raise our phone tax here, under the report for Item 4.1:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/5-1-12CityCouncilAgendaPacket.pdf

“I concur with the City Attorney’s recommendation,” he says. Furthermore, he reports, “If Council takes no action, the City stands to lose a significant portion of it’s general use revenue.” 

It’s easy for Burkland to talk – Dave lives well outside the city of Chico. This TAX is for those of us unfortunates who, either by choice, or in my case, ANNEXATION,  live within the confines of the city, where we are seen as a little herd of cash cows to be milked at will by our oppressors. 

Time for a little Animal Farm? Yep, I believe it is high time we stood on our hind legs and threw these people off. 

Of course, our boy Dave, rat that he is, has already made his jump from our floundering shipwreck in the making. Retiring this coming August at 60, BURKLAND WILL BE GETTING 70 percent of his $180,500 a year salary – over $126,000 A YEAR  – with  cost of living increases and medical benefits – for DOING NOTHING but picking up a check, for THE REST OF HIS LIFE

Damn, he looks pretty fit too! We won’t be rid of that leech for some years. 

At our Taxpayers’ Association meeting the other day, one  participant opined that Burkland and other staffers are supporting these local tax increases to feather their own nests, to pay for their pensions. Another person present tried to say that these pensions are “paid by PERS”.

Well, wake up and smell the coffee.  Read the papers lately? Like for the past two years? PERS gambled all their funds on the stock market. They lost their asses. Well, actually, they lost our asses. 

Go ahead. Google “pension time bomb” or “California on the hook for unfunded pensions” – you’ll find all kinds of articles dating from the present all the way back to 2010, telling us, we can’t afford these crazy pensions, built on crazy salaries, bloated with overtime, and then gambled on the stock market. 

As the Wall Street Journal says, in an article from April 2010, “Calpers and Calstrs are decrying the Stanford study because it has revealed exactly who is on the hook for all of this unfunded obligation—California’s taxpayers.”

Yeah, we pay for Dave’s pension and benies, and that’s exactly what he’s out to protect. And we pay them out of our General Fund. And like Dave says in his recommendation to stick us with a expanded tax on our cell phones – “The primary purpose of amending the telephone users’ tax is to protect existing revenue for the General Fund.”