Tag Archives: embezzlement

Thanks again to Truth Matters – Brian Nakamura Jones and the Raiders of the Cookie Jar

26 Nov

Mary, Quene and Alicia over at Truth Matters have been working really hard to lay out complex issues, I really appreciate the time they are putting into the details of city operations.  If you haven’t already read their post on “Remedial Funding,” take a look here:

http://truthmatterschico.com/2013/11/22/update-remedial-funding/

They have explained how funds are raided, the money jumping from one fund to another faster than a barker’s fingers switching peas under walnut shells. Ah, the electronic age!

I think it’s funny that until Nakamura came along, Mark Sorensen was making big wah-wah about the sewer fund being pilfered, now he’s mum on that subject. What happened to that guy? One of my readers remarked that he never saw anybody go from private citizen to public trough dweller quite as fast as Sorensen.

Brian Nakamura wants to keep the public out of the contract talks – some sunshine!

20 Mar

Several years ago, because of inquiries and complaints on the part of various citizens, including myself, Chico city council made a verbal agreement with the public, recorded in the minutes of the meeting, that they would “sunshine” future cop contracts  before they voted on them.   So, if you look at the agenda for March 5, you will see the proposed cop contract.

I went over this in a letter to the Enterprise Record:

The tentative Chico police contract is available in the March 5 city council agenda packet at 

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/city_council.asp

 Some highlights:  
 
Page 33: the taxpayers will continue to pay most or all of the health insurance premium. 
 
Page 34: the taxpayers will pay the employee’s full life insurance premium based on salary plus lesser policies for spouse and children. 
 
Page 35: the taxpayers will pay the full long term care insurance premium.  
 
Page 42: the taxpayers will continue to pay both the “employee’s” and “employer’s” share of pension premiums, for current employees only.   For employees hired on or after January 1, 2013,”the city shall not pay any employee contribution, and those employees shall pay the entire employee contribution rate of 50 percent…”  
 
Page 43: “City agrees to the establishment of a retiree Medical Expense and Health Insurance Trust…funded by monthly contributions made by the city…” of more than $300/employee. 
 
Chico Police currently boasts 147 full-time employees. They claim to be short of staff, but still demand very generous salary and benefit packages for current employees. Their demands place not only the public, but the police themselves, at risk. This contract also creates a dangerous disparity between existing and incoming employees.  There’s already an issue of “compaction” between lieutenants and sergeants, two lieutenants have filed formal complaints.  
 
Brian Nakamura recently announced a $50 million deficit  related directly to the “unfunded pension liability”. When will the CPOA bring a rational proposal to the table?
 

Juanita Sumner, Chico

I read  the entire contract, and was really interested in what the council had to say about it – turns out, “sunshining” does not mean, “public discussion.”  They posted the contract on the agenda for the public to see, but when that item came up at the end of the meeting, Mayor Goloff simply closed the meeting. She didn’t even mention that the contract was available for public review.

I’m not the only person who’s miffed about that. Below read Stephanie Taber’s e-mail to city council and Brian Nakamura:

6.3 on the agenda last week was the sun-shinning of the new CPOA MOU.  Apparently based on a conversation between the City Manager and the city’s chief legal strategist there was no mandate that there be an open discussion regarding the contents and that is now sufficient to just place it on the agenda.  I do not recall that as a decision by council during discussions regarding transparency and sun-shinning.  I object.  I think it is necessary for the City Manager to justify why this MOU is being placed on the agenda for apparent approval without regard to the cost to the city taxpayers.  No fiscal impact – really?

There is no dispute that Public Safety consumes the majority of the General Fund budget.  There is also no dispute that those employees under the Public Safety umbrella deserve the wages they make.  But that is where the consensus ends for many of us.

Why has the city not mandated that current Public Safety employees pay their share of retirement benefits?  The County was able to negotiate a gradual down-tick of employer pick up of their retiree benefits over a three year period.  Why hasn’t the city taken the same approach?

Why hasn’t the city discontinued the $300 per month per employee toward the employees “retirement trust fund”.  That is an incredibly costly benefit – $3,600 per year for one employee, in ten years that is $36,000; 20 and that’s $72,000.  And how many Public Safety employees do we have?  Do the math. What is the justification for that?  What private employer in Chico provides a similar benefit?  And this has been in effect since 2007.

In these tough economic times, City employees who make 2, 3 and even 4 times the wages of those working for private employers, not including very generous city benefits, need to consider shared sacrifice.I see no evidence of that in this current agreement with Chico Police Officers Association.

Perhaps it is time for the city to consider the hiring of a profession labor negotiator to deal with the unions.

Stephanie Taber

Apparently, Stephanie found out, this was Brian Nakamura’s decision.

He’s Mark Sorensen’s pit bull, Sorensen needs to answer for this too. 

UPDATE: Mark Sorensen responded to my e-mail query, but I’m out of town this weekend – I’ll get back to it on Monday. Unless there’s wi-fi in my cheap motel room. 

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.