Tag Archives: Jennifer Hennessy Chico Ca

Yes, the clerk certainly does pick and choose what she puts in the reports and minutes

12 Sep

I hate to be a pest, in fact, I won’t tolerate a pest. Yesterday I found rat turds on my garbage can, so my husband went out and bought me a trap! It’s that time of year, everybody’s foraging – but I don’t put up with rats that close to my house.

Yes, I hate to be a pest – mostly because, people will only put up with a pest for so long. I’ve always known I’ve been walking on thin rice paper Downtown, trying to get information out of employees who may or may not like what I’m doing. I’ve had city staffers walk up to me out of nowhere and hand me documents – one woman said, “if anybody asks you where you got this, you don’t remember…” I’ve had them come up and tell me things, call me on my private phone, approach me at my kid’s games,  to tell me things aren’t good Downtown. This has been happening for a good five or six years, ever since I started to criticize the pay scale and the benefits. 

When I needed something from the clerk’s office, I’d ask for it. I’d tell them I didn’t want to be a bother, no hurry, etc. Debbie Presson was always almost too friendly, too cheerful, but I appreciated her cooperativeness. I remember when my neighbors and I had an appeal up before the city, we were told, we had to get it in within “calendar” days, not working days. It was Christmas time, and they counted both Christmas Eve and Christmas in the 15 days we had to turn in our appeal.  Debbie Presson was really nice – when my husband needed help with something, she told him, she’d be down there on Saturday morning, give her a call and she’d meet him at the door downstairs. That bothered me – at the time, I didn’t want her to go to the trouble, now I wonder, was she on overtime? And why can’t she do her job during the 9-5 M-F week? So, I figured – my mom liked to go to her office for the peace and quiet, maybe that’s what Debbie was doing. 

Knowing we pay dearly for Presson’s time, I’ve kept my requests to a dull roar.  But always Presson indicated to me that I could call her or e-mail her office anytime I needed anything! We had personal conversations I won’t repeat here. I started to get too comfortable with this woman because she was so kissy-nice all the time. 

You know me, I can’t swing with a good thing, I always have to shoot a hole in the dinghy. I started to find out, Presson has a lot of discretion. Discretionary rules always bother the hell out of me. Discretionary rules often set up a system by which “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” And sometimes I don’t want my back scratched, and I sure as hell don’t like scratching somebody else’s back. Yeeeeecccchhhhh!  I don’t play those games, I always get thrown out for bitching about stuff.

Below here I have the exchange I’ve been mentioning between myself and Debbie Presson, from December of last year, regarding incorrect minutes from the November finance committee meeting.  One thing I will point out – last year she had those minutes up within a month of the committee meeting in question, that’s why I asked her why she’d left out a whole conversation between me and Hennessy regarding the employee’s share.  

Then she says they will be discussing my questions regarding minutes at the January 2 2013 council meeting – I don’t remember it, and she only posted the minutes for that meeting a few days ago. According to the minutes, my letter was read to council and no action was taken. You have to get up there and call these people out physically if you want something – gee, I guess I had better things to do the day after New Years than go Downtown and try to Matt Dillon some legal propriety out of these idiots Downtown.

This is why I’m getting to the end of my patience with Debbie Presson and $taff and the talking heads we call our “elected representatives” – they play games, they jack me around, they are shysters.

In December of last year, having attended a Finance Committee meeting during which I asked detailed questions about the city retirement system and was given erroneous answers by the Finance Director, I read the report from that meeting and noticed that while another question I’d asked had been included in the report, they’d left the conversation about the pension system completely out, not one word.  So, I felt this was important enough to mention, I wrote the following e-mail to Presson and the council:


>>> juanita sumner  12/12/2012 6:49 AM >>>

Hi Debbie, Council members, 


I was just going over the minutes for  the Finance Committee meeting I attended earlier this month. I see that one question I asked, about the cost of certain consultant reports, was included in the minutes, but not the question I asked regarding what the city pays toward the “employee share” of pension premiums. Jennifer Hennessy stated at that time, “about $7 million.” Later she sent me an e-mail correction – the actual figure was closer to $10.1 million.


I wonder why my question and Hennessy’s answer are not included in the minutes? I asked this question during the discussion regarding the loss of Measure J. I was trying to point out, that while the city is complaining about losing $900,000 on a failed tax measure, they spend millions paying THE EMPLOYEE SHARE of pension costs, in addition to the employer share. Our city’s financial problems would be solved if the contracts were rewritten so that the employee pays their own share. Why isn’t this option coming up in the discussion? 


I also notice, the police advisory board gets verbatim minutes. I wonder, why aren’t all the committee meetings, including the ad hoc meetings, recorded verbatim? 


I’d like this letter to be attached to the next city council agenda as a “communication.” 


I’d also like to thank Fritz McKinley for answering my flood notice question. 


Thank you for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner


Presson answered right away to let me know she’d received the e-mail:


Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:34:27 -0800
From: dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us
Subject: Re: letter to council
To: juanita sumner

Hi Juanita….
I have received your email and I wanted you to know that I will check into the minutes as well as place your letter on the January 2, 2013 meeting under Reports and Communications.  I will however be in touch with you as soon as possible.
Have a great evening!


When I didn’t hear anything or see any change in the minutes a week later, I wrote back, wondering if she needed proof – Mark Sorensen was the one who e-mailed me to tell me Hennessy had given me the wrong information. By this time, the whole employee share thing was getting pretty clear, and I felt like I was being pushed back in my attempts to bring it to public attention:

 >>> juanita sumner 12/19/2012 8:28 AM >>>

Hi again Debbie,


I wonder if you’d like me to forward you the e-mail discussion I had with Mark Sorensen and Jennifer Hennessy regarding the question I asked that was omitted from the minutes of the meeting? I’m sure Scott Gruendl and Mary Flynn also heard my question and Hennessy’s answer. 


My question and Ms. Hennessy’s answer (answers?) need to be part of the public record. I’m just wondering, why do the minutes mention the one question I asked, but not the other?  The record needs to be complete. This is another reason people don’t participate. I rode my bike through the park to that meeting, at 7:45 in the morning, just to ask that question, and it’s important to me that the question and the answer are part of the official record. Is it a waste of my time to attend these meetings? A waste of time for the public to pay attention? 


I’ll be at the next Finance Committee meeting, I’d like some kind of resolution to this problem by then  – thanks, Juanita Sumner

Presson answered me that day. She mentions council’s 2001 decision regarding “‘action only’ minutes, with some summary when needed.”  Well, I think what has become apparent in this conversation, is that Presson and her staff are either incompetent to provide proper “summaries” or they are willingly distorting the record. You decide. 


Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 19:56:57 -0800
From: dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us
CC: bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us; DBrinkle@ci.chico.ca.us; KMasters@ci.chico.ca.us
Subject: RE: letter to council regarding minutes
To: juanita sumner

Hello Juanita.

I have researched your questions regarding the discussions that occurred at the 11/27/12 Finance Committee Report (minutes) and found that the report does not reflect all of your comments regarding employee share of pension and benefit costs and subsequent responses by staff. That report is currently under review and once the report is amended, we will provide the Council with the report, with a copy to you as well. Please note, it is always our intent to provide a thorough report from these meetings. The reports however, are typically in summary format. Council’s formal action in 2001 was to direct staff to provide “action only” minutes, with some summary when needed. That motion carried 7-0. 

On a side note, but still related to this topic…. City Manager Nakamura sent you an email following that November Finance Committee meeting which included two attachments pertaining to safety and miscellaneous costs as well as an overview of the range of healthcare benefits that employees can chose from and for which they pay a share of the costs. Would you mind confirming if you did or didn’t receive this information? We would like to make sure he has your correct email address.

As I had mentioned in my 12/12/12 email, your email will be included on the January 2, 2013 agenda under Reports and Communications. At that time, I will be able to address regulations regarding the types of minutes required. Hope that helps. 

I wish for you and your family a wonderful holiday and will see you on January 2, 2013.



Jennifer Hennessy off to Temecula – a geography lesson!

29 Mar

I was just looking over the stats for today and it looks like everybody’s talking/reading/thinking about Jennifer Hennessy.  You know she “resigned” yesterday, from her position as city finance director. This on the heels of lots of criticism at a meeting I missed earlier this week, detailed in a pretty nasty little report in yesterday’s paper. 

At Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, which I missed, due to being too tired from snowboarding my ass off Monday at Tahoe to get out to another stupid 8am meeting, there was a frank announcement from Planning Services Director Mark Wolfe that our “development fund” is some $10 million in the hole. Yes, that’s MILLION – 1-0-000-000. 

This is not a secret, Mark Sorensen. This subject has been kicking around in meetings for years. I been kicking it around, for one. The developers do not pay their way, some developers pay less than others, etc. They use all this staff time and pay nothing. I mean, “$taff time,” you know, those people in that building Downtown, more than 100 of whom rake in over $100,000/ year, just in salary.

All the sudden it’s a big deal? Where was all the angst when they decided just last year to “defer” developer fees for Downtown development? 

When I bitch about stuff, it’s just bitching, ever notice that? 

The newspaper article did not flatter Jennifer Hennessy, in fact, it sounded like they were insinuating something. I’m not going to speculate. I already have, many times, read up. 

I’ll tell you something funny though – Jennifer just “resigned” yesterday, but as of an hour ago, at about 6:30 pm, the Enterprise Record, with glowing remarks from Mark Sorensen, announced the hiring of a new finance director. 

This stinks, oh boy does it stink. It’s like when I smell something in my refrigerator, and I know it ain’t right, but I’m too busy to drag everything out right at the moment. I’ll get time, you turkeys, believe me, and it’s turkey season right now. 

Here’s something else funny – Hennessy is headed for one little pimple of a town – Temecula. Not far from Hemet!  And, co-inka-dinkkally – Temecula is in the middle of  the creek without a paddle, like Hemet. Last fall they fired their city manager and then their finance director, the latter of which will be the position Hennessy is stepping into. I don’t know if they’ve replaced their city manager. 

According to Nelsy Rodriguez of the Press Enterprise, “On Nov. 5, exactly eight days before the City Council voted unanimously in closed session to place him [city manager Bob Johnson] on paid administrative leave, Johnson sent an email to all city employees announcing the creation of a ‘transparency sharepoint page’ containing information regarding city salaries and benefits and official communication between the city and union representatives, among other information.”

Verrrrry iiiinterestink!  There’s a barrel of stinking fish here, a barrel full.


City announces they’ve instructed cell phone companies to stop taking tax – check your bills to make sure!

29 Jan

I see the Measure J refunds story is in the “most read” section of the Enterprise Record  today, but I posted it here just in case you missed it – read below.

I see a couple of problems in the story – for one thing, Ashley Gebb is a sloppy reporter. There she says, “Nearly 54 percent of residents voted in November to not update the city’s phone user tax”.  No no Dear, it was 54 % of the city’s VOTERS, not residents, duh. Does she understand how voting works?  Sorry to be a nit-picker, but this is the same gal that lectured me on the proper mis-use of the word “average“.  I notice she dropped that word from the part about billing amounts. In her pre-election story she said the “average”  bill in Chico was $50. When I questioned her about that, she came back like, “Oh silly, I didn’t mean mathematical average, I just meant, you know, AVERAGE!”

Another bit that bothers me is where Hennessy says folks will have to provide not only proof they were billed for the tax, but proof they PAID the tax? Of course, that should come up on the next bill, but what about your last bill? You need to wait until you get the following bill, that says you paid your previous bill? For Chrissake Jennifer, LET IT GO!  This whole thing reminds me of “Repo Man” – the old movie with Emilio Estevez. 

But, the good news is, ” the city has notified wireless phone companies to no longer collect the tax.”

Now, there’s some news! But I’d like to hear from those of you, who, like Jim in Chico, have seen the tax on their billing, who can check to make sure it’s gone. Let me know. 

Here’s Gebbs’ story:

Measure J-related phone tax refunds now available in Chico

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer
Posted:   01/29/2013 12:00:00 AM PST

CHICO — Chico residents can now apply for refunds for phone taxes paid to the city during the previous 12 months. 

Due to the failure of Measure J, the city is offering residents refunds for any utility user taxes paid for cellphones or Voice over Internet Protocol services within a year of application. 

Nearly 54 percent of residents voted in November to not update the city’s phone user tax to include modern technology such as cellphones, and the city has notified wireless phone companies to no longer collect the tax.

“If an individual showed documentation they were billed a tax and it was paid, we will issue them a refund,” said Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy on Wednesday.

The 5 percent phone tax would equate to about $2.50 of a monthly $50 bill or $5 of a monthly $100 bill.

Since November, any phone tax revenue that has come in has been placed in an account earmarked for refunds. If any remains after one year, the revenue may be placed in the general fund.

As for how many people may apply, “I have no idea,” Hennessy said. The potential fiscal impact is about $900,000 if all phone tax collected were to be reimbursed.

The City Council has not yet addressed what it will do to compensate for the loss in revenue, which supported the general fund.

Residents will need to provide documentation, including their cellphone bill and proof the bill was paid. Refunds will be issued beginning Feb. 21 and be mailed to the name and address on the bill.

Residents may not claim refunds for amounts previously refunded through the city’s utility tax refund program for income-qualified individuals. Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS customers are also not eligible because the providers did not collect the tax in the last 12 months.The refund application is the only way for the city to issue reimbursements, Hennessy said. The tax payments it received from phone companies are a lump sum, with no indication of who paid, for what and how much.Applications are available online and at City Hall’s Finance Department counter.

“We will be processing them as they come in and issuing refund checks,” City Attorney Lori Barker told the City Council this month. “Checks will be issued on the city’s regular cycle of processing and accounts payable.”

The City Council unanimously made final approval of the refund ordinance at its Jan. 15 meeting.


Connect with Ashley Gebb at 896-7768, agebb@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @AshleyGebb.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

26 Jan

I been rattling chains over at the Finance Department to find out how they plan to legally notify the public about cell phone tax refunds. I feel  it’s more their job to protect the citizens than to protect the city itself, but they agree to disagree with me on that. It’s all about civility people – don’t ask too many questions, you will be treated like you’re from Glenn County or something. 

I feel the city should be more responsible for returning this ill-gotten booty, so I’ve been e-mailing the Finance office about once a week for more details. I have to give Frank Fields some credit – at least he answers my e-mails.   He told me they’d finally decided how to notice the cell phone tax  refund:

Ms. Sumner:     The City will be placing a “Notice” (much like the notice for the annual UUT Refund program) in both the Chico ER and Chico N&R beginning late next week (i.e., sometime over the weekend).   – Frank

We’re so damned civil around here! Don’t fart, you gauche bastard! 

So, next Thursday there should be something in the N&R, and then we’ll maybe see it in the ER later that weekend.  

Of course, as far as I know, they’re still taking it out off people’s bills, which really isn’t very civil, but you know how they are. Down at the city, civility means, you get a kiss with your screwing.

 I have not heard one more word on their quest to inform the cell phone companies. That’s a question for Jennifer Hennessy, and I forgot to ask her at the last Finance Committee meeting. I’ll have to drop her an e-mail soon. 

What I do know is, people are hitting that link I posted to the refund application – here it is again:


I hope people will get their refunds – that’s the real “victory” I’m looking for here, that the city is called on it’s bad behavior, and made to set things right. 

Don’t forget about those cell phone tax refunds!

9 Jan

At the December 26 Finance Committee meeting, Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy and City Attorney Lori Barker reported on their efforts to notify cell phone carriers that they no longer need to collect Utility Tax on cell phone bills, given the defeat of Measure J. You might be sick of hearing this but I never tire of telling it – they’ve been collecting the tax illegally for years now, knowingly, and when they noticed that other cities around the state were being sued for perpetrating this fraud, they wrote a measure legalizing it and plopped it on last November’s ballot. As you may recall, WE KICKED THE CRAP OUT OF IT, thankyouverymuch. 

So, what’s the big hold up with telling these companies to stop collecting, you might ask. Any intelligent person might ask that. Any intelligent person might run screaming out of these meetings. I prefer to think of myself as not quite intelligent, maybe just “dog smart.” I may not understand exactly what’s going on, but I got a very suspicious nose. So I go to these damned meetings and ask these persistently annoying questions – if you think I’m  annoying, just try being  me! 

It was asked at the meeting, I don’t remember by who or in exactly what words, but something like this –  well, Jennifer, since you receive these payments from these companies, wouldn’t you know which companies are collecting the tax? 

I’m so glad somebody asks questions besides me – you only get so many pointy questions before certain people get all pissy on you. When that question was asked, all I could do was yell  “You GO girl!” in my head. 

The answer – they are having a hard time segregating (their word) the land line taxes from the cell phone taxes. 

Okay, I thought, that sounds reasonable. You know me, at 8:15 in the am,  “hand me your purse” sounds reasonable to me.  I’m not really awake until about 9:15, three or four cups of coffee down the gullet and a couple of loads of laundry. I come home from these meetings and realize I let all kinds of weird stuff go by without so much as a squawk. 

Have you looked at your cell phone bill? They not only “segregate” your cell phone charges from your land line charges, they segregate all your calls and the amount of time you talked and everything. I could track my husband around the city for the better part of a month using that phone bill.  

The measure was defeated in November and they’re still grappling with, as the News and Review put it, “the daunting task of how to repay local cell phone users the utility tax that is has been collecting under an outdated ordinance.

They can’t even answer questions about it yet. I sent an e-mail to the Finance Department today:

Hi,  I understand the city will be refunding cell phone taxes taken as a result of the defeat of Measure J – could I get the details on that? When and where can we get it, what documentation would we need, etc.    I assume this information will be posted on the front page of the city website eventually, but I’m writing a letter to the editor about it, and I wanted to get the  facts right.  

 Thanks, Juanita Sumner

I received this response:


Hello Juanita, thank you for your request for information on refunding cell phone taxes as a result of Measure J.  We will be responding to your request soon.  Thank you!


Well, we can make it easier for them – sing out people – who among you has been taxed on your cell phone bill within the last year? Bring those bills forward, e-mail the Finance Department – that’s jhenness@ci.chico.ca.us or ltheisen@ci.chico.ca.us – and tell them you have your bills, and you’re wondering how to get your refund. Simple as that. 







Council to discuss Section 908 – Hennessy offers monthly reports online as well as to council

16 Nov

Well I’ve been lame lately – I have not been attending the morning meetings. You can withhold that from my paycheck, okay? But I do see, on the agenda for next Tuesday’s council meeting, there is the item we’ve been waiting for  – a recommendation that Finance Mis-director Jennifer Hennessy give a monthly finance report, as per city code section 908. 

Since I wasn’t at the meeting, I don’t know exactly what she will be asked to report – here’s the agenda item, take a look: 



A. The Finance Committee considered the matter of development of a Monthly Financial Report at its
meetings of 8/28/12 and 9/25/12:
Recommendation: Accept the Finance Committee recommendation (3-0) to approve the monthly
report package to be distributed each month to the City Council and posted to the City’s website.
B. The Finance Committee considered the matter of development of Monthly Department Expenditure
Reports at its meeting of 10/23/12.
Recommendation: Accept the Finance Committee recommendation (3-0) to approve the Monthly
Department Expenditure Report to be distributed each month to the City Council and posted to the
City’s website.

It looks all well and good on paper, but having missed the meeting, where the conversation goes all over town, I won’t know exactly what she’s going to give until I hear her giving it. And of course, that’s not going to happen unless the full council approves this recommendation. It would probably be good to write letters to council – send them through dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us

Right now I’m interested in hearing a report about exactly which phone companies are still collecting the phone tax, a draft of Hennessy’s letter to these companies telling them they no longer need to do so, and a report as to exactly how long Ms. Hennessy thinks she will need to complete this task.  This is what we will take up at our next Chico Taxpayers Meeting, we will be drafting a letter to Hennessy and her bosses, asking exactly these questions. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’ll be tuned in Tuesday night, hope you will be too. 

Hennessy is using city funds like walnut shells to hide and move money

29 Aug

I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning, bright and early, so I thought I’d drop in on the Finance Committee meeting.   There I watched Toby Schindelbeck try to dig a monthly finance report out of Jennifer Hennessy – and that was like pulling teeth.

I’ll tell you something about Jennifer Hennessy – she’s used to getting her way, Daddy’s little (?) girl. When Schindelbeck pressed for those reports, in a very polite and businesslike manner, she started acting like a petulant child, bickering with him about her “interpretation” of the code. She acted as though the code was written by Joseph of Arimathea.

I would recommend everybody read the Charter and Code for the City of Chico, it’s not rocket science. Get a dictionary, just for those $64,000 words. But, it’s very clear, it’s very direct:

“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. At the end of each fiscal year the finance director shall submit a complete and detailed financial statement.” (Article 9, Section 908)

What do you guys read there, any comments? I hear it loud and clear – she’s supposed to show us how much came in, how much went out, and how much is left, EVERY MONTH. She acts as though that’s an unreasonable request, even after the Station 5 fiasco.

How soon we forget? In January of this year, Hennessy had told us everything was DANDY! Then by March we were in DEFICIT.  In July we were closing a fire station that sat watch on the entire east side of town, including all the east side grasslands (meadow foam!) that this council allowed developers to squat on over the last five years. 

Schindelbeck had gone to a lot of trouble, read over reports, graphs, charts, and found figures that don’t match. He had different reports from different staffers that listed different balances in the same funds. He had reports that indicated  questionable transfers between those funds, and he had a report that showed $taff had undertaken a project with a fund that was completely inadequate to fund it.

But, our council seems to have drank Hennessy’s Kool-Aid.  With the spectre of mismanagement standing firmly behind him, Scott Gruendl defended Jennifer Hennessy’s adamant, and I’ll say, BITCHY and CHILDISH, refusal to DO HER $165,000 A YEAR JOB. 

Scott Gruendl went on to explain the practice of “deficit spending.” In his world, spending other people’s money you don’t really have is considered a high art form. In fact, did you know, council members used to get credit cards? Gruendl made such fast use of his credit card, wining and dining at little nooks and crannies all over the Bay Area, that council voted to tear up those cards. Nobody else was using them, Gruendl was partying with his, and then using excuses like, he had to go pick up the “Sister City” plaque that could easily have been shipped for a fraction of the cost of putting him up in a chic boutique in San Fran and sending him to all the  snootiest little eateries. Gruendl is a pig, and he likes to be kept nice and fat.

So, he says, there’s nothing wrong with spending in deficit on stuff like a bike path, buy some guy’s property to run a bike path across, everybody does that when they are poised on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s called an investment in the future – yeah, that property owner’s future just got a lot brighter, wouldn’t you say? 

Did you know, they spent General Fund money finishing up that Hwy 99 bike path – the privately contracted workers were in my neighborhood all one weekend.  Having freshly paved only the exact bike route through my neighborhood of otherwise shredded streets, they sent in a crew to stencil the magical protective bicycle people in the brand new oily surface.  People, not cyclists, but people who occasionally like to be seen on a bike,  seem to think those stencils are magical.  They seem to believe  they can ride right out in the street and those stencils will protect them from the congregation of the Evangelical Free Church over on Filbert! Good luck! 

Hennessy and the rest of them need these projects to attract grants to bring in revenues to pay their salaries and benefits. The grants don’t even start the job – for example, already over $1 MILLION  has been granted on that Downtown remodel, and SPENT, and you see how far it’s gotten. They’re already out of money, and the job will wait until there’s more.  They used the money not for construction – it PG&E you’ve seen hashing up the streets. Construction is really a pittance of the actual cost of these jobs – they spent most of this money on their own salaries and benefits. Ask Hennessy – the entire gas tax, which is legally supposed to be reserved for  capital projects, is spent on salaries and benefits. 

Furthermore, in order to get these grants, the city has to spend money, oftentimes matching the amount of the grant. So, every time you hear they got a grant, what they aren’t telling you is, it’s going to cost you the same amount of money to get it. And, don’t you love the way they act as though these grants just rain like manna from heaven – no, they come out of the taxes you send to the state and feds every year. 

Hennessy said that when Fred Davis ran our town, he only had 10 “funds”. Now there are over 250 funds. Know why? Cause all those “funds” act like walnuts shells – you can HIDE MONEY that way, and transfer it from one “specific” fund to another. That’s the way they will take the phone tax they expect to get out of you and use it for whatever art project or Sustainability scam they please. 

The conversation was getting pretty hot when I noticed the clock – I had to be at the dentist for a good reaming at 9am. Gruendl was telling Schindelbeck, very rudely, that his comments didn’t have anything to do with the subject at hand. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I asked to speak. I told them I agreed with Schindelbeck  – that for exactly all the reasons Miss Malfeasance listed for NOT doing her job, she needed to do it.

They are using this confusing mish-mash t0 move money around to pay their salaries and benefits, that’s what I know. We need to demand not that Hennessy DO her job, but that Hennessy LOSE her job. 

And Gruendl needs to go in 2014, let’s make note of that. 

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

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. 


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:


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. 


Keep a Knockin’ but you can’t come in! Come back next Tuesday night and try it again! And be sure to bring plenty of your friends.

26 Jul

Toby Schindelbeck has finally been rewarded for his persistence – he’s been going before Chico City Council, asking that Finance MisDirector Jennifer Hennessy comply with city code and give a budget report at every meeting.  City clerk Debbie Presson has informed him that this subject will be “discussed” at the August 7 council meeting. 

But we know, it won’t be a very good “discussion” unless a bunch of people come in and demand some action. Toby has observed that issues like Corporate Personhood and the “single-use” plastic bag ban have drawn fairly small crowds – he estimates 25 – 30 people, and I’d say he’s being generous. The city has acted on these issues, with only that small fraction of the population in support. So, Toby believes there needs to be an even stronger presence to get a decent discussion on this matter, and I agree. 

Like Toby and Stephanie Taber and others have been saying, the city code calls for a monthly budget report, with sticky details like receipts, etc, and Jennifer Hennessy admits she has not made such a report in the seven years she’s been with the city of Chico. Try not paying your taxes for seven years – you’ll get the same treatment as the man from Touch of Class Florist – 68 years old, and he’s being sent to PRISON. But Jennifer Hennessy and her boss Dave Burkland, and their overseer, Mayor Ann Schwab, get to flog the law right in front of everybody, and Ann just steps right into that little red convertible and drives off to her palatial estate in Forest Ranch. 

The law is a piece of paper. It takes people to demand law enforcement. We’ve got a serious law enforcement problem in our town. The police say they aren’t paid enough to enforce the laws in the streets, and now Dave  Burkland says, he just doesn’t have to. 

And your mayor won’t make him either. He’s retiring, on more than $150,000 a year, for the rest of his life, but she’s up for election in November – time to take out the trash.

That meeting is scheduled for August 7, the usual time, the usual place. I’ll keep you posted.