Tag Archives: election 2014

Sac Bee: E-mails show the governor’s office was involved in CPUC/PG&E San Bruno scandal

14 Oct
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Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Gov. Jerry Brown during the 8th Annual California Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 in Sacramento.

Virgle Gage to speak to Chico Taxpayers today, Chico library, 1 pm

25 May

I’m sorry I didn’t schedule Virgle Gage earlier in the season, I have been hearing that he is an engaging speaker. Trying to schedule people over the last few months has been a challenge, and I really appreciate the cooperation I’ve had from these candidates. It was nice of Mr. Gage to agree to come on down to the library to answer questions, I hope we can give him a good reception. I know there are people out there who haven’t voted yet, and I hope they’re taking these county offices seriously.

I’ll be there at 12:30 to set up chairs, and I’ll  get a good interview with Mr. Gage for those of you who are not able to make it today. 

Voter pamphlets and mail-in ballots should be arriving now – primary June 3

14 May

I got my mail-in ballot a few days ago, and I’ve filled it almost completely. I have to admit, there are some offices I’m not voting, I just don’t know anything about the candidates one way or the other. And, there are a couple I have not decided yet, I’ll be holding onto it a couple more days.

Would you believe, there are still five days left to register to vote in this election?

Geez, and almost three more weeks of mailbox stuffed fulla junk!

 

This is just one day's sampling of the campaign blitz.

This is just one day’s sampling of the campaign blitz.

 

See there, Bill Connelly sent me a Mother’s Day card.

 

That Bill, he's a go-getter.

That Bill, he’s a go-getter.

 

Good for Bill, he sent a post card – on the other hand, Bob Evans gets the Paul Bunyan award.

 

10 x 14? That's a lot of tree pulp Bob!

10 x 14? That’s a lot of tree pulp Bob!

 

I often worry my mail carrier won’t be able to get my regular mail in there.

 

Here's a pissing match - will the extra two and a half inches guarantee victory for Mr. Gallagher? My dad always said, check their shoe size.

Here’s a pissing match – will the extra two and a half inches guarantee victory for Mr. Gallagher?

 

I often wonder how much these mailers influence people’s decisions. And then there’s this guy.

 

I have to wonder how much money this man makes selling ads in his "newsletter."

I have to wonder how much money this man makes selling ads in his “newsletter.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chico Tea Party to host councillors Sorensen and Morgan, ass city manager Orme – “Chico’s role in economic development and how Chico can grow it’s way out of debt.”

17 Apr

Chico Tea Party meeting Tuesday 4/22/14 @ 7pm.

The Chico Tea Party Patriots will be holding a symposium. The topic will be the city of Chico’s role in economic development and how Chico can grow its way out of debt.  Mark Orme assistant city manager along with Sean Morgan and Mark Sorensen will be guest speakers.

 
The meeting starts at 7PM– at Marie Callenders 1910 East  20th Street, Chico. Doors open at 5:45 for those who want to order Dinner and visit before the meeting.

chicoteaparty.ning.com/events/chico-tea-party-patriots-meeting-3

LIMITED GOVERNMENT, FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, FREE MARKETS

Check us out on Facebook at “Official Chico Tea Party”

Check out www.chicoteaparty.com for more details on what tea party patriots are doing today.

Chico Tea Party Patriots
chicoteapartypatriots@gmail.com

236 East Ave., Ste. A
PMB 112
Chico, CA 95926-7239

Experience is what counts in the Assessor’s office

13 Apr

Today’s session with Butte County assessor candidate Diane Brown answered all my questions about the assessor’s race – including, why would such a highly skilled non-partisan position be filled by the fickle public?

Brown’s opponent Al Petersen had already led us into this conversation, telling us how important it is to have an assessor who has an eye for detail and a good relationship with the public to keep the rolls accurate and up to  date.  Diane Brown took it further, driving in the need for experience in this leadership role. 

Petersen and Brown are former co-workers at Butte County assessor’s office, Petersen having left a  few years back to take a position with the Sutter County assessor. Al is a very polite guy, I didn’t want to get into it with him about why he left Butte County as an employee to drive all the way to Sutter for a job, I figure, there are a million personal reasons. But he and Diane still have a very good rapport, and that made for one heck of an informative conversation.  I’ll say, they both know their job and are really serious about this position. 

Diane led right off telling us about the function the office, picking up where we left off with Al. With a staff of about 38 people, the office is responsible for identifying taxable properties and their owners, assessing taxable value of everything from bare land to new construction, commercial properties, residential remodels and rebuilds. The maps must be updated to reflect changes in parcel boundaries and subdivisions. 

Assessments, she says, are based on recorded documents, inspections, and objective market values. Of course, market values have been falling over the past years, there are plenty of houses currently over-assessed. Brown explained that these homes can be enrolled in the Proposition 8 program. Prop 8 allows the assessor to adjust the base value of a house when it becomes “upside down”. The home remains in this program until either the market recovers and the home becomes worth more, or the house adjusts down to true market value. There are currently about 22,000 houses enrolled in the Prop 8 program.  Brown says anyone who thinks their house is over-assessed should certainly contact the assessor’s office.

Properties can also qualify for a variety of exemptions. For example, if your home is damaged by some accident – even if it was your own fault – you can get exempted from paying taxes on all or part of the house until it has been repaired. Also, home improvements that are made to accommodate a handicapped individual are exempt from re-assessment. In fact, a handicapped person may sell their home to move to a more accommodating home, and keep the tax base from their previous home. I’m sorry if my explanation is simplistic – if you want all the details, contact the assessor’s office.

I’ll tell you what, the conversation was flying fast and over my head alot of the time. There’s a lot to this job, that’s for sure. Complicating matters, Brown says the manual by which assessments are made is woefully out of date and hasn’t been updated because the position of Standards Officer has been vacant since 2005. The county has made cuts to stay on budget, but there is a position Brown says she would very much like to see filled. 

She is left to rely on her experience both in assessing and in training new assessors. There are a myriad of complicated rules and regulations – she used the exemptions as an example – something as simple as noticing a handicapped sticker on a car at a house getting a remodel would tell an experienced assessor that this household may be eligible for an exemption. 

“My training and experience make me the best candidate for this job,” Brown asserted.  Sue asked, how long would it take to bring a person who is not experienced up to speed in this job. I immediately thought of the Wilmar 8 – a group of female bank employees who went on strike back in the 80’s, one of their complaints being, they were regularly made to train outside male workers promoted over them. 

Diane explained that the state will grant such a person a temporary assessor’s certificate, which is good for one year. During that time this person must receive 24 hours of training regarding  all the stuff Diane told us about at this meeting. This would make them qualified to be hired as an assessor, but Diane says, a new hire would still require at least a couple more years of intensive training to be qualified as an “advanced assessor,” able to go out on their own and make their own calls. But, at the will of the capricious mob, they’re qualified to head the office? Weird, so very, very weird.

I wonder if the public is up to hiring somebody for this job, most of us having a slim to nothing hold on the qualifications. But, Diane reminded me, this person needs to be accountable to the public. “An assessor has to be able to work under a lot of pressure,” she said. County officials might want the assessor to over-assess, bring in more revenues for the county. These people could put an obscene amount of pressure on an individual who was beholden to them for a job. That’s why the assessor has to be accountable to the voters. 

Why me? she asked rhetorically.  She went on to detail her 30 year relationship with Butte County. Starting in the assessor’s office in 1983 as a clerk typist, she educated and worked her way up to appraiser in 1989 (slightly different than assessor, an appraiser only fixes value, assessor figures in all the exemptions and rules that go into setting the tax), was one of the first office staffers to be sent out to do field work, and one of the first women to work in the mountains. She has worked at all the local offices, trained new employees, and, as an advanced assessor, has assessed all sorts of properties – residential, commercial, ag, etc. 

What would Diane do as head of the County Assessor’s office? Again she mentioned the out-of-date manual. She would like that to be updated, asap. This would require the hiring of a new Standards Officer. The assessor’s office has been run very frugally under Fred Holland, who actually returned money to the General Fund the last few years. That’s like putting your children on diets to save money – not a good idea if they’re not actually fat. Maybe we need to ask our county supervisors to fill that position. 

There is quite a little gaggle running against Diane and Al for this job. Diane said it – “Let’s face it, this position pays a lot of money.” Al told us, the assessor is only required to be in the office, physically, two days a year! Those are the days he has to deal personally with the auditor. Bill Connelly and Virgle Gage have absolutely no qualifications, Connelly has already made statements indicating he will be completely dependent on staff. Rudy Rindelsbach is a realtor.  His knowledge of realty may come in handy for him, but he, like Connelly and Gage, will still have to be “brought up to speed” on all those laws and exemptions.  Again, leaving staffers who are hired instead of elected to run the shop.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not accusing county staff or CAO Paul Hahn of anything, but like Diane said, a boss can put undue pressure on employees, it’s better to keep the safeguards in place. 

Diane Brown seemed firm in her conviction that “the taxpayers deserve somebody who can step in there the first day of work without any training…the taxpayers deserve better.”

So, there it stands – of a field of five candidates in which we have two that are qualified and three that may just be in it for the $123,000 a year paycheck. You decide. 

Thanks to Diane Brown for coming in on a Sunday and thanks Al Petersen for coming in to round out the conversation. I think it is very much to both of their credit that they come out to engage the voters.

And thanks to everybody who came down to enjoy sandwiches with me for Taxpayer Appreciation Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Only two months left til primary – Butte County assessor candidate Diane Brown coming in to library next Sunday, more speakers lined up

6 Apr

NOTE  10/24/14 – I notice Diane Brown has included this old post on her website – let me be clear – Chico Taxpayers Association does NOT endorse Brown for Assessor. I’m not endorsing Connelly either, but I voted for him because Brown came off as tax happy. She seems to look at the taxpayer/property owner as her adversary. She also seems to think she has the authority to go into people’s homes and use their personal decor in assessing the value of a property – no, it’s square feet Folks, and that’s something she can figure from the curb.  Brown thinks it’s her job to raise revenues to pay salaries and  benefits down at the county, not to protect the homeowner. 

I’m not thrilled with Bill, but knowing Brown’s philosophy I’m willing to give him a whack.

 

Next Sunday Chico Taxpayers Association will host Butte County assessor candidate Diane Brown at Chico Library, the usual time, noon to one pm.

There are six people running for the office of assessor. This may seem weird until you see the salary – over $120,000/year. Bill Connelly, who has yet to offer an qualification for the job or even any understanding of the duties,  has already stated the salary was a major consideration in his decision to run. 

The candidates filed:

  • Rudy Rindlisbacher, who lists himself as a real estate broker
  • Diane Brown, currently principal appraiser for the Butte County assessor’s office
  • Blake T. Bailey, undescribed
  • Bill Connelly, who describes himself as a contractor and county supervisor (District 1)
  • Al Petersen, currently chief appraiser for Sutter County, a former employee of the Butte County assessor
  • Virgle N. Gage,  “retired business executive”

Al Petersen was the first to announce, so I googled him and found him at Sutter County, contacted him and he got back to me right away. Al has supported our speaker series since the beginning. What I feel about Al is, he’s gone to a lot of trouble to contact the voters, it’s a logical stretch that he might be more accessible once he is in office. 

When I contacted Diane Brown, she actually told me she’d been trying to figure out how to get ahold of Chico Taxpayers, she’d read my letters in the paper and thought this forum was a good idea. We both wanted to get April 15, but that day was booked, so we settled for the usual Sunday date – I like consistency when I can have it. I’m hoping Al with come in, not for a debate, but both of these people as as well-informed as you can get about the function of the Butte County assessor’s office, between them, we should have a very interesting, educational and enlightening conversation. This isn’t just about the election for me, it’s about understanding the function of these highly paid employees who have a very direct impact on our lives.

I tried to get Bill Connelly to name a date, but he wouldn’t. Instead he came into Maureen Kirk’s date and  muscled himself into the conversation. But, he didn’t discuss the assessor’s job, just gave his take on issues before the Board of Supervisors. Which is where he belongs if you ask me. I can’t stand a jumper – somebody who runs for an office and then shags it halfway through. And Connelly is making no bones about the salary being twice as much! He’s got no qualifications for this office. And, Al told us – there are only two days of the year when an assessor is required to be in the office.   Is that how Connelly intends to run the assessor’s office? Show up the two days that he is required, then go home and collect that fat salary? And let’s not forget – pension and benefits, based on that $120,000 + salary.  

As for the others,  I will work on contacting them, at the very least, to tell them about Diane Brown coming in. I’m worried that this race will go to Connelly because he’s got name recognition (Sheesh Bill – think you put up enough signs?)  and because people don’t know what the assessor’s job is. And, he’s been raising money since way before he announced. It was pretty clear he wouldn’t commit to a date with us because he knew there was no money in it. Bill, could you wipe that slobber off your chin, you’re freaking me out.

Good questions to ask the assessor candidates are, how do you evaluate a property, where do you collect comps, do you actually physically view the property or use maps, etc. How do these folks feel about prop 13? Al has mentioned he’d like to see some analysis of how much money we’re losing to prop 13 – does that kind of talk turn you on or off? We need to talk about this stuff, come on down and bring your questions. 

Furthermore we have the following candidates lined up:

  • April 27 – Andrew Coolidge, city council, noon
  • May 11 – DOUBLE BILL – James Gallagher, 3rd dist assy, noon; Andrew Merkel, 2nd dist supe, 1 pm
  • May 25 – Joe Montes, city council, noon

And, I realize these things are at noon. Food is allowed in the library, so I’m going to try to bring sandwiches and bottled water, maybe a pot of coffee.

 

 

Third District Assembly candidate Ryan Schohr greets voters at Chico Library with his take on state issues

1 Apr

Sunday’s meeting with Ryan Schohr was fun, a little more intimate than usual, and  gave me a chance to get to know the guy a little better.  While we still disagree on one key issue – water storage – I think I could learn to live with this guy. Especially if he lives up to his words – Schohr believes that a citizen should serve these offices, not become a lifelong professional trough dweller.

Schohr hit a chord with me when he began to discuss the myriad of state agencies that bind our government like some sort of flour paste. 

So Sue, who works part time for District 2 supervisor Larry Wahl, gave us an example –  Wahl recently asked for a list of Butte County boards and commissions, and was handed over 169 pages of listings. I thought she said, there’s 169 boards and commissions – no, 169 pages of them. She went on to say, Wahl was taken aback by the pile of paper, and said he’d actually only wanted those commissions and boards overseeing agriculture. No luck – that’s most of them, he was told. Bob Evans pointed out to us when he came in to chat – agriculture and small business in our county are completely overrun with regulations. 

These agencies often contradict each other – Schohr gave one simple concrete example that I knew about – our local fish and game agencies and mosquito control folks are at each other’s throats over their practices – mosquito spray kills wildlife. Years back, the Chico News and Review did a story about a local biologist who had gone to work for vector control, and when she complained that she was finding big dead mammals, like deer, along with skads of little animals and birds, around recently sprayed ponds and waterways, she was fired. We found out, that spray has a shelf life, and it gets “dumped,” into whatever little body of water comes up convenient, apparently. Here we have laws about private citizens dumping chemicals into public waterways, or even on the ground in your back yard, but the vector control people can literally spray poison all over everybody. That is a classic case of the silly contradictions and mismanagement that comes from turning every half-baked idea into a commission or a board.

“…all those boards we pay for,” Schohr reminds us. “That’s cost our economy,”  reminding us of pensions and benefits. “Government does this to itself, we pay to regulate all these agencies.” 

This is Bureaucracy folks, absolutely nothing new about slick types creating positions by which they can funnel the public’s hard-earned dollars into their own pocket. Schohr lamented that the decision making that used to be done directly by our elected legislators has largely been passed off to these boards and commissions, where, you know, it swirls around for years, doing nothing but generating salaries and benefits and pensions.  Bernie Richter told us, and I saw it as a young college student in Sacramento – alot of these legislators see their position as some sort of hayride, and that’s what it too often turns into. Richter complained about the suits and the way they treated outsiders who didn’t know how to dress for the constant luncheons in fancy hotels.  

When I lived in Sacramento, I had a friend who put up and took down tables and chairs in banquet rooms at the Holiday Inn. He said, about two thirds of the banquets he worked were made up of legislators and lobbyists . My sister was in the accounting department at the old Senator Hotel – that hotel also catered largely to politicos and their hangers on. If you rode the transit buses late enough at night, you’d see faces you recognized from news stories wandering along the sidewalk in pairs or small groups, snockered half out of their gourds. I once watched my own assemblyman load a completely wasted friend onto the bus I was riding, to take him to a parking garage, where I almost wanted to get out and watch him load the guy into a car, just for the entertainments’ sake. The stuff I used to see in Downtown Sacramento, sheesh. Remind me to tell you my Willy Brown story sometime.

So, Ryan believes we need to cut through all the duct tape that has gobbed our government up and prevents us from getting our money’s worth in public service. He says he wants to be the kind of legislator that deals directly with the people. He told us a story to illustrate this point. Schohr’s family has farmed near Gridley for several generations, and when Schohr was younger, they came up against a regulation that required an expensive one-day permit to haul farm equipment on or across a state highway. A farmer might own rice fields or orchards that are spread out and separated, and they need to drive big equipment a few times a year from one site to another. Some farmers are intersected, their property divided, by state highways.  So every time a farmer might need to use a particular piece of equipment, they would have to apply and pay for a permit that was only good for one day, a day to be specified by the paper shufflers. Furthermore, iff for whatever reason they couldn’t move the equipment that day – be it weather, mechanical failure or people problems – they would have to re-apply, re-pay, and take another shot at a permitted haul. 

That story set off our crowd. Why in the heck, several asked, would you need a permit to move your farm equipment. Well, it’s not just farm equipment, but farm equipment can also be quite large, endanger other drivers, utility poles, over passes and other edifices – my gramma’s mail box! Some need a CHP escort. When my brother was working in the gas fields, I once saw a derrick being moved. Wow, talk about other worldly. They usually move that stuff at night, and the route has to be mapped out and approved. So, yeah, there’s a need for some regulation here, but what Schohr saw was just a milking of the public trough that caused onerous hurdles for small business.

So, he went to Dick Dickerson, then Second District Assemblyman out of Redding. Dickerson he said, “brought people to the table,” worked for a solution, and was able to get the permit extended to a week.  This might not sound like much but of course it gives the equipment operator a lot bigger window without leaving the public in danger of being run off the road by trailer houses or giant sections of oil derricks or towering combines. 

“That is the style I think is important, bring people to the table for a common sense solution,” says Schohr. “We need to change the culture in Sacramento.”

 I’ll finish this tomorrow – thanks!