Tag Archives: EMC Research Oakland CA

City sales tax measure in June 23 agenda – speak up, we might still be able to keep this measure off the ballot

20 Jun

The agenda is out for this Tuesday, June 23, so-called “special” and most certainly CLOSED city council meeting. You can look at it here, on the Chico Engaged site.

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/706-june-23-2020-special-city-council-meeting/agenda_items

I hate the report they’ve presented for 3.1 on the Consent Agenda – the mysterious Supplemental Allocation/Budget Modification. That’s a holdover from a cancelled meeting in April. Remember, they had a rainbow list of stuff to spend that projected money on, until Orme pulled the plug with dire predictions of COVID tanking our finances.

Now, look at the report in Tuesday’s agenda, Item 3.1, it’s nothing like the straight forward report in that April agenda. Can anybody tell me exactly where the money comes from, whether it exists or is still only a projection, and what exactly they intend to spend it on? They wrote the report “not for dummies,” so I don’t get it.

When will council get it? This is exactly the kind of stuff that leaves the public with a taste of mistrust.

Then there’s the ballot measures – wow, these all merit more serious discussion in OPEN meetings, but see how these guys are shoveling through this stuff just as fast as they can while they have the cover of COVID.

Again, this is what fosters mistrust in these people. Just keep it comin’!

Here’s my favorite ballot measure:

Shall an ordinance to fund essential city services such as preserving the number of on-duty police officers and fire fighters, protecting 911 emergency response times, maintaining and repairing streets, sidewalks and Bidwell Park, and funding other general services and essential activity, by establishing a 0.5 percent sales tax, providing approximately $9,000,000 annually until June 30, 2029, subject to annual audits, with all funds staying local, be adopted?

I’ve been waiting for this measure for years. They’ve been talking about it since at least 2012, when Tom Lando ran a survey. He reported a “negative” response, but the idea stuck. Since then both the city of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District have hired various consultants, all on taxpayer money, to run surveys trying to convince us that we do want to pay more taxes.

Here’s how that works. The consultant asked respondents to “rank” various arguments. “I’d like to read you statements from people who SUPPORT the Chico City Services Measure. After each one, please tell me how convincing [very convincing or somewhat convincing] that statement is as a reason to vote FOR the measure.”

That’s the Band Wagon Effect – telling you that other people support this measure. And then they begin campaigning for the measure by reading you reasons to support it.

They hold out a stick in one hand – implying cuts to fire and police – “We need to pass this measure to make sure city services can keep up with the increase in population, keeping us all safe and protecting our quality of
life..
.” – and a carrot in the other – “much needed revenue for road upgrades and repairs“.

As you can see, looking at the proposed measure above, they use the most popular responses to write the measure.

I always wonder – am I the only one who is offended that they use my own money to manipulate me in this way? Using a survey of 400 people in a town of over 90,000? Really think I’m that dumb? Really?

When I looked at Chico Engaged I didn’t see any comments posted. I hope more people will tune in and chime in – we still might have a chance to stop this measure before it gets to the ballot.

letter to editor: recent city survey misleading

28 Oct

I try to read the Enterprise Record at least a few times a week. Not that it’s a great paper, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what kind of BS they are floating. I usually read the print edition – my husband picks it up a couple of times a week, when he stops at the neighborhood market  for a 6 pack. But last time he came home with a 6 pack and a candy bar. “3 Musketeers is cheaper than the paper,” he said, “and it does more for you mood.” Then he told me the paper had gone up 50 cents, and screw that. So, I’ve been snooping it out online since then, but get cut off pretty frequently, having read my fill of free junk. It’s like going to the county fair, and eating too much Fiddle-Faddle.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Mike Wolcott for a get-together at the ER with other “frequent letter writers.” He said we’d all get a free online subscription, 4 months paid by him, just for standing around the old do-nut box and being civil to each other. So I went, spent about an hour in a little conference room trying to be polite with people like Irv Schiffman, and then I had to get back to work. So here I sit, waiting for my free subscription.

The down side to that would be waking up every morning to find the digital version of a cat box liner in my email. I’m starting to think I might have made a mistake.  The Enterprise Record isn’t a newspaper, it’s newspeak.  They don’t investigate, they regurgitate.  When you read a story in the ER, you must always look elsewhere for further information, don’t just believe what they print. They toe the line set by whichever mob is in charge, and right now, it’s the tax happy mob. Expecting the Enterprise Record to do anything resembling investigative journalism is like expecting the government to investigate itself. Today, the media is part of The Establishment, and they aren’t going to rock the boat now that they have got themselves into it.

So we have to read stuff for ourselves, we can’t take a reporter’s word for anything. The story the ER posted about the city’s recent survey might have just as well been a city press release.  I posted the EMC survey this morning

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2019/10/28/emc-survey-of-400-carefully-chosen-city-of-chico-residents/

because I knew it wouldn’t be in the paper. In fact, Dave Howell had to request it from the city clerk. Let’s make it worth Dave’s while having to deal with the bureaucratic jello mould.  Judging from the word press stats for today, people are at least looking at it.

I hope we can get others to take a look, maybe get a conversation going about how blatantly leading that survey was. Not to mention,  misleading. So I wrote a letter to the ER.

NOTE: Here’s a link to the ER story I mention in the letter, thanks again to Dave Howell for that, as well:

Chico one of top cities for public employee compensation

My letter sent to Chico ER 10/28/19

Tax campaign consultant EMC, after a very misleading survey of only 400 carefully chosen Chico residents, declares 70% support for a one cent sales tax increase. That’s more than the 2/3’s voter threshold required for a special tax that could be dedicated to public safety or roads, the top concerns listed by those 400 respondents. Why then does Staff insist on running a simple majority measure requiring only 51%?

Because, as the assistant city manager told council, a 2/3’s measure would have to be spent as the voters dictate.  A simple measure goes into the General Fund, available for any whim of council or staff, including the pension liability.

Just last year, another city consultant, Chad Wolford, told the Finance Committee city expenses were up because of “More people, more payroll, more allocations… salaries and benefits have gone up, operating budgets are up…”   In 2015 Wolford told council the city was spending too much money on “overhead,” which he defined as “administrative salaries and benefits.” The same year, Chico had the top compensated employees in California, as reported by the Enterprise Record 12/10/2015.

The EMC survey told respondents “The City has done everything it can to cut expenses…”  That is not true. As Wolford said, the city is management top heavy and staff continues to get salary increases, which increase benefits, and increase the pension deficit. Employees pay less than a third of their pension costs.

The survey was blatantly misleading. See the full survey and join the conversation at chicotaxpayers.com

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA