Tag Archives: Mark Orme Chico Ca

Orme “estimates” 10 – 15,000 refugees living in Chico, based on “nonregistration, couch living, trailers parked on streets…”

12 Apr

I don’t know how you feel about roundabouts, but one fact we know for sure – they bring a lot of money into the city by way of grants.

From the Chico Enterprise Record, “According to senior traffic engineer Bikramjit Kahlon, the cost of the project is between $5 and $6 million. ‘It just depends when we go out to bid,’ he said Monday. The city’s match is about $1 million, with Caltrans funding the remainder amount.”

Eaton Road roundabout proposed for traffic, safety

$5-6 million for one roundabout? Most of that will go into the salaries Downtown. An old contractor I know says “boots on the ground labor” and materials make up about 2% of the cost of these public jobs.  This is one way Staff turns money we paid toward maintenance of our roads into their salaries and pensions.

Here’s a thought – how’d you like to see that million the city is kicking in on the street in front of your house? How far would that million go toward the streets in your neighborhood? 

And again, they are using Camp Fire refugees as bait.  Read these excerpts.

“Even before the Camp Fire pushed thousands more new residents into Chico, the intersection was known for commute-time traffic jams and lines of traffic out to the freeway, along with traffic accidents.”

“thousands more new residents”?  I had to ask reporter Laura Urseny if she has any hard numbers on how many evacuees have settled in Chico since the fire. She had none, but asked city manager Mark Orme if he had any. “He [Orme] said he doesn’t have hard numbers from FEMA because of nonregistration, couch-living, trailers parked on streets etc. He said  the city is still using the  10,000-15,000 estimate.”

So, Orme drives by your house, sees a trailer in your driveway, and assumes it’s full of evacuees? Sees somebody sitting on your couch through a front window and assumes you have a “couch liver” in your household? On this basis he assumes and reports that we have “10,000-15,000” new residents in our town?

Excuse me, this guy gets over $200,000/year in compensation, and he expects to give up this kind of crap?

Unfortunately he’s  got a willing media to help him pull the wool over our eyes. Urseny skirts the truth, but keeps promoting the lie – “The project has been proposed for a long time, but has been sped up with the city’s dealings with Camp Fire impacts. However, Kahlon said there is no FEMA-related funding in the project.” If this project was truly necessitated by the Camp Fire evacuation, or any impacts, the city would be getting FEMA funding.

They started this campaign before the fire was even out.  “The project was discussed during a public meeting about Camp Fire impact on Chico last year, but has been in the works much longer.”  Here Urseny mentions a proposed refugee housing project that was rejected, but still includes it as a “Camp Fire impact”.  “Initially, a FEMA proposal called for Camp Fire mobile homes to be placed on a vacant parcel on Eaton Road between Highway 99 and Cohasset Road, but that residential project has been abandoned.  Nevertheless, the traffic on the current two-lane road is huge, impacted by Chico’s growing population, but also by residential subdivisions developing in north Chico.”

In the same edition that Urseny ran her promo piece, there was this map:

Map: See where Camp Fire evacuees have moved across the country

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=10YY_flCa-v2h-qofl8x0L49kmuOT3AeE&ll=33.09184936709246%2C-91.56768772732823&z=4

“Relocation destinations are also listed below from most to least popular, in terms of the number of households registered with FEMA now living there. FEMA only provided information about individual counties in California, not other states.”

In other words, if you had insurance on your destroyed home, and therefore did not go to the ridiculous lengths to register for something you were not eligible to receive, you were not counted.  

The article said that 16,583 of the registered (and that includes entire households who live under one roof) have remained in all of Butte County. That includes Paradise, Magalia, Butte Meadows, Yankee Hill, Concow, Cohasset, Forest Ranch, Gridley, Live Oak – did I miss any? Personally, the Camp Fire victims I know  are all planning to rebuild their homes in Paradise. Some have already hired private contractors to clear their lots and are already living back at their property. Some are struggling to live in unburned homes with no safe water or power, and dead/dying trees hanging over their heads. Roads are a mess, workers everywhere, and Butte County has not even started their lot-clearance program. But the folks I know are all determined to return, they have no desire to remain “stuck in Chico.” 

And here’s another fact that Orme cleverly ignores – many of the folks who evacuated to Chico already worked here and drove down to town almost every day, where they also shopped and socialized.

So, the “impacts” are largely MADE UP. Staff continues to lie to get their way. Next Tuesday they will bring a revenue measure consultant to make report regarding the $25,000 survey they are planning to get us to tax ourselves to pay their pensions. They want $65,000 more for a consultant to actually run their campaign. This is illegal, but who will call them on it? 

Will you?

 

Who’s responsible for these elephant turds?

2 Mar

At last week’s Finance Committee meeting (Feb. 27) Mayor Randall Stone (Chair) and council members Sean Morgan and Ann Schwab heard a consultant’s pitch for a revenue measure campaign, starting with the usual “survey”. City mangler Mark Orme made some interesting comments before introducing the consultant.

Orme stated that since he came to the city in 2013 he has “resisted” revenue measures. “I think there needs to be a high level of trust within the community that those funds are going to be spent prudently.” 

I always wonder about public sentiment. Do most Chico voters trust the city council and staff to use their money wisely? And here’s the scary question – what would they know about it?

Orme feels that he and staff have “created a higher level of trust.” opining, “We have learned to live within our means.”

Orme reminisced about his arrival in Chico in 2013, reminding us that the city “has been through hard times.”  He talked about “lost” staffers as though they wandered away in a storm or left for better digs elsewhere. No, hit man Brian Nakamura was hired, long time staffers were fired, or in some cases, simply encouraged to take a position in another city. “Hit Man” brought in former co-workers as new management and skipped off to his next assignment. Over the next year or so staff was pared down until there were no more workers, just management. And management salaries have continued to get higher – now in excess of $200,000/year – while they only pay 11 percent of their pension cost.

So I’d really like to ask Orme just whose means he’s been living within.

He certainly did mention the pensions – “one of the big elephants that cruises through any government living room…” He acknowledges the pension deficit. But here’s where the fiction continues – “The city  didn’t create it…”

I have to take exception with that last claim.  Looking at Orme’s contract here, it’s not hard to see what really happened.

http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/OrmeEmploymentAgreement10-2017.pdf

“WHEREAS, the Council desires to have Orme participate in CalPERS cost sharing, and pay three percent (3%) of the Employer’s cost, in addition to Orme’s contribution for CalPERS;”

On “Exhibit A” you find the employee share, Orme’s contribution, is 8%. Plus 3% of the “employer share” equals 11%. For 70% of his $207,500 salary at age 60. The city payment has been increasing every year, I  believe they now pay 39% but it might be more. CalPERS is constantly demanding more. The other 50 or so percent rides on the stock market. This hasn’t worked out so far – CalPERS promises 7% return but has been lucky to see 1%. This has caused the PENSION DEFICIT, aka PENSION LIABILITY.

Not only that, but Orme, as well as other management staffers, have recently added a IRC 457 plan to their contracts. In addition to their salaries and CalPERS contributions paid, they get tax exempt “deferred” compensation.

“Plans of deferred compensation described in IRC section 457 are available for certain state and local governments and non-governmental entities tax exempt under IRC Section 501. They can be either eligible plans under IRC 457(b) or ineligible plans under IRC 457(f). Plans eligible under 457(b) allow employees of sponsoring organizations to defer income taxation on retirement savings into future years.

“Effective from the first pay period in January 2017 considered in calculating the maximum IRC 457 plan limit and annually, City agrees to contribute nine thousand dollars ($9,000) , to Employee’s IRC 457 plan. Additionally, effective October 5, 2017 the City agrees to contribute four and fifty-two hundredths percent (4.52%) of base salary to Employee’s IRC 45 plan.”

See, the city most certainly did create the deficit, because they’ve continued to agree not only to CalPERS stipulations but to bigger and bigger salaries (and therefore PENSIONS) and more generous contracts all along. Since 2013, Orme’s salary has gone up almost $20,000. Laying off people who made $35,000 – 65,000 a year while raising management salaries by 10’s of thousands is like taking 5 steps backward and no steps forward. As Orme acknowledged last Wednesday, we now get no services.

“Now we’re a city that’s living within their means that isn’t meeting the needs of the community…”

We need to ask ourselves, what the hell is the use of a city that doesn’t meet the needs of it’s community?

Orme casually mentions the elephant in the room – he is the elephant in the room. Somebody better get him a shovel, he has a huge pile of crap to clean up.

 

 

 

 

CalPERS nears insolvency – meanwhile city of Chico uses “cost allocation” to rationalize fund pilfering to pay pension costs

27 Feb

Thanks Dude, for this recent article regarding CalPERS insolvency. Former CalPERS board member and erstwhile gubernatorial candidate (2006?) Steve Westly has been speaking up about CalPERS growing pension deficit, warning the agency will collapse if it is not bailed out or “reformed.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-24/former-calpers-board-members-shocking-admission-calpers-near-insolvency-it-needs

I don’t know what he means by “reform” – to me, this would mean, no more 70 – 90 percent of highest year’s salary at age 50 – 65, cut employer contributions to 10 percent (based on merit and years employed), and make the employees pay their own retirement package. 

Here’s an article from last year that chronicles this mess we’re in from the beginning.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-pension-crisis-davis-deal/

Of course now everybody is screaming for “reform” because they know the system is about to collapse and they won’t get their dough.  Most of these “reformers” mean, taxpayers pay more. That’s what the city of Chico is up to at tomorrow’s Finance Committee Meeting.

Chris Constantin first introduced the concept of “cost allocation” a couple of years ago. It is a process by which they transfer money out of the general fund to pay salaries, benefits and pensions for city employees. It’s very confusing, unless you are the consultant who is hired to explain it every year. That would be Chad Wolford. 

Two years ago, Wolford told us we were “spending too much money on overhead” – meaning, management salaries, and particularly, management pensions.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2015/11/29/no-kidding-our-city-is-headed-for-deep-doo-doo/

In response, the city raised pension shares but made adjustments to ensure employees would not have to pay. Mark Orme and Chris Constantin accepted what amounts to 401K plans, which they report will not add to our pensions costs – wrong again Chris! They still got salary increases, and we will have to pay them that deferred compensation, it just routes CalPERS. To me, this is just greed. Look at their salaries:

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20171002/NEWS/171009943

http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/documents/OrmeEmploymentAgreement10-2017.pdf

Orme demands over $200,000 in base salary, but expects us to believe he has our best interests at heart? 

Tomorrow, at an 8:30 am Finance Committee meeting, they will go about “allocating” their fancy lifestyles onto the backs of the taxpayers, taking money that should be providing street maintenance, sewer plant updates and other services for those of us who pay for them, and putting it toward their 70 – 90 percent (do the math on Orme’s salary) pensions. Read the report here:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/2-28-18FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

This is sneaky stealing, if you ask me. The taxpayers are never privvy to this stuff – wonder why they hold these meetings at 8:30 in the morning while you are rushing to work? 

 

Why do people ignore a problem until it’s too late to do much about it, then expect to complain? Trash deal has been in the works since 2012 – now people want to bitch about it?

5 Jan

I just got my new 2018 Waste Management bill for three months (32 gallons) of $59.70, up about 55 percent from previous bills of $38.55. I realize there is always a bit of inflation but 55 percent? By chance, did the city hire the negotiator from the Pentagon’s F35 program for the Waste Management contract?

I also read that pot was legal in California in 2018 but our City Council decided that a retail pot store was not appropriate for our fair city. How am I supposed to relieve the anxiety of opening my Waste Management garbage bill? I’m very unhappy with our City Council.

— Geoff Bartels, Chico

You know how I love to say “I told you so.”   

That’s not really true – it drives me nuts, trying to get people to pay attention to an issue when there’s still time to stop the bulldozers, but they give me that same old tired bullshit – I’m sorry, I have a life! Why don’t you get one Juanita?

But of course, later, they  get to whine and complain about it.

Somebody read one of my old posts on the subject yesterday, from 2014. At that time, Joe Matz of Recology was saying rates would triple, and the city was looking at requiring service for everybody. If you wanted to haul your own trash they wanted to inspect your vehicle, etc, which was tantamount to requiring a hauler’s permit.

When Juanita raised her scrawny little fist and said, “If you require service the city will have to provide a low-income subsidy…” 

To which the consultant answered, “She’s right.”  He smiled at me across the room. It wasn’t the consultant’s fault, he was very truthful about the whole thing.

OOO! The bulldozers had to stop and listen! You’ll notice, service is not required under this deal, and you can still take your trash to the dump without a hauler’s permit. Which means, neighbors/relatives/friends can still share cans to save money.

Just think if there was four more Juanitas.  Or at least four more people who went to these meetings and raised a scrawny little fist?

And here’s what I’ll  tell Geoff – read the Waste Management website – you can opt out of yard waste service and save almost $6 bucks a month. My family, who share service with our tenants, also opted for a smaller bin. Our son has moved away to college and our tenants don’t have much trash either – we realized we didn’t need that 96 gallon bin anymore.

Once I made those changes in our account, the rate is still about $5 more per month. No, I’m not happy about that. But I wish people who complain would educate themselves – the real problem at this point is the city wants to use the new revenue to pay down their pension deficit instead of fixing the streets like they said they would. That’s where we need to hit them, and hard.

In fact, public works director Brendon Ottoboni says the road/streets fund is tapped, and they are almost 10 years behind on necessary projects. When developer Bill Webb asked at a recent public meeting how a person could get their street on the projects list, Ottoboni again said there’s no money for fixing any more streets.

thumbnail_20171129_095754

This is the “pedestrian right-of-way” down my street. Every now and then I look in that pothole, make sure there isn’t an old lady or a jogger with a stroller stuck down in there…

Want to have some fun? Write to council member Randy Stone, who recently declared the deal was working cause we have less trucks on the streets.

randall.stone@Chicoca.gov

Really Randy? On Wednesday I have a Recology truck on my street, servicing the “commercial enterprise” known as the Evangelical Free Church. On Thursday my bins  are picked up by Waste Management. On Friday Waste Management picks up the bins on the street that intersects my street. So, I get a minimum of seven trucks a week running up and down the street in front of my house.

How about another picture.

thumbnail_20171129_095932

The asphalt is almost completely separated from the base here.

But here’s another funny fact – my street is not considered a  “feeder” by the city of Chico, because there is no new subdivision on my street, so my street will never be on the “projects” list – ask Ottoboni about that.

brendan.ottoboni@Chicoca.gov

Letters to the editor of a newspaper that reaches less than a third of local residents isn’t going to cut it. A few months ago council member Ann Schwab suggested a complaint line for garbage customers so they wouldn’t have to write to the mayor. Why not write to the mayor?  He approved this deal too.

sean.morgan@Chicoca.gov

Don’t forget the chief engineer – city mangler Mark Orme

mark.orme@Chicoca.gov

If you’re going to complain, make it count. 

 

 

I made a simple request of my new garbage hauler… only I was smart enough to cc WM rep and my city mangler…

15 Sep

Did you get your postcard?

Last week Recology sent postcards to all their soon-to-be former customers here in Chico, handing us over to the city’s new designated residential waste hauler, Waste Management.

Two weeks ahead of “Live” date, the public is finally properly noticed of this deal. But there’s nothing in this post card about pending rate hikes.

“Your new service provider will be Waste Management. They will communicate any potential service day changes, if applicable. Please continue to use your current containers for weekly service until your new provider is able to exchange them. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact your local WM office at cssacramento@wm.com “

So, now Sacramento is our “local WM office”?

I wanted to get a leg up on this thing, because I already got a sniff of the new rates – I have friends who live in Paradise, where a similar deal was cut years ago with their local hauler, Northern California Recycling and Waste. Right now, my 96 gallon Recology bin, shared by two families, costs me about $26 a month. I think this is a reasonable rate for weekly pick-up. In Paradise, my friends pay about same for a 35 gallon bin.

So I expect Chico rates to go up similarly, now that the precedent has been set. I wanted to switch to a smaller bin, and I wanted get a leg up, knowing how people are – some people are already aware, and they will also be queueing up for service changes. And, when the rest of the lemmings get their first bill, I predict a general landslide of service change requests.

Over the weekend I e-mailed the address on the postcard, but here’s the thing: I cc’d Chico City manager Mark Orme, mark.orme@chicoca.gov, and the Chico WM rep who has been attending the franchise meetings, Ryan West – rwest1@wm.com

I also asked to opt out of the yard waste bin – which the agreement says is required, and which will be an extra charge.  

I’ve been having a “live” conversation with  Orme and West for a few months now, and West told me I could opt out of the yard waste bin.

“Exemptions will be allowed for customers residing in an HOA, Mobile Home Park or other maintained community where yard waste service is already provided or where lack of room at the residence does not allow space for the third cart.  These customers may choose not to participate in yard waste service and receive a $5.79  reduction in their monthly rate.”

We  share property and trash service, for which we pay,  with our tenants. My husband and I have always provided landscape and trash service for our rentals because that’s just the best way to make sure your properties are maintained.  We have bigger yards, compared to the new standard, with lots of trees and shrubberies. One morning’s work would stuff their little 56 gallon yard bin so full I wouldn’t be able to get it down the driveway.  We mulch the small stuff and take the bigger stuff to the city-owned compost facility on Cohasset. I think it’s about $5 – 8 a pick-up truck load, and we go a few times a year. Why would we want one of their pathetic little bins? Why would I want a third truck stopping in front of my house – I thought the whole idea was to get some of these trucks off our streets?

Besides, Neal Road Landfill manager Bill Mannell once told a gathering of the city Sustainability Task Force that customers typically use their yard waste and recycling bins as back up trash bins. I don’t know if that ‘s true, and I don’t want to find out.

I mailed off my simple request, on Sunday, and was shocked to get an almost immediate response from Orme.

Ms. Sumner,

Thank you for your e-mail.  You’ve included WM on this e-mail, which is the correct recipient and who will follow-up with you on this request.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday. 

Sincerely,

Mark

I had to answer him that he’d been cc’d to keep him in the conversation, no need to respond on Sunday. He responded again to tell me he understood – I worry about this guy, he should be spending more time with that little boy he brings to meetings on occasion.

But I thanked him, telling him, “we’ll see how long it  takes Waste Management to respond…”

Well, Ryan West got back to me the next day,

“Thank you for your email.  We will be happy to make the requested adjustments to your account before we create it.  Can I ask you to verify the service address in question?”

His response was followed up by a staffer who wanted to “clarify” the information I had given him.  I felt confident my needs would be met, absolutely spoiled with all the attention!

And then I got another e-mail on Wednesday. It cut-and-paste weird.

Hello Juanita,

Thank you for contacting Waste Management about your account. Certainly, once the account is switched over automatically after 10/1/2017, please contact us so we can update the changes you requested.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reply to this email or contact us through Waste Management live chat at http://www.wm.com.

Thank you again for contacting Waste Management. We truly appreciate your business and allowing us to meet your waste service needs.

Jose Luis

Waste Management Customer Service

So, there’s my official response from Waste Management, from the address all the other customers were given – “once the account is switched over…”

So here’s my advice – any problems you have with Waste Management, even simple requests,  cc mark.orme@chicoca.gov and Ryan West at rwest1@wm.com

And remember, the Early Bird who cc’s the appropriate people will get the worm.

City to form ad-hoc committee with CARD to “pursue cooperative development of facilities…such as sports and aquatic complexes…”

15 Sep

At next week’s council meeting, city mangler Mark Orme will suggest an Ad hoc committee with Chico Area Recreation District. A lot of items on his proposed agenda seem innocuous – discussions of various park and playgrounds and who will own and be responsible for them.

Near the end of the item we find this notation:

Cooperative Development. CITY and CARD agree to pursue cooperative
development of facilities that could enhance economic development, such as sports
and aquatic complexes.

The group “Every Body Health Body” has been fronting the sports/aquatics complex conversation eversince CARD gave up trying to convince the public they should pay a bond to support such a venture. Now CARD is going for a general bond, and EBHB has taken up the campaign to get us to pay for this thing.

I attended an event these people hosted at Cal Park Pavilion last year, and the first person I ran into was Mark Orme. Invites had been given to all the council members and board of supervisors, as well as key staffers. 

Orme told me he was there out of “personal interest,” that the city had no involvement.

Oh yeah? 

 

You heard it in the Enterprise Record: “Chico Government Can’t Be Trusted with Tax Increase”

22 Jul

I wrote a letter to the paper in response to Stephanie Taber’s suggestion of raising sales tax to support salaries and benefits Downtown, it ran yesterday, now it’s gone! You have to know it was there and search it! How LOW will they GO?

That’s how Dave Little treats people he doesn’t agree with, he just squelches their letters.  He’s a very “Little” man, his testicles have to be put in the microwave every morning.

So, I ain’t proud – here’s the link:

http://www.chicoer.com/opinion/20170720/letter-chico-government-cant-be-trusted-with-tax-increase

And here’s the letter:

A letter writer has suggested a sales tax increase to “fix a couple of major roads a year”.   

Chico has reached financial crisis because of employee overcompensation.  In 2013,  third-party auditors found a $15 million deficit. Council cut workers and services, while raising management compensation to unprecedented levels. By October of 2016 we were one of six cities in California being investigated for fraud, having exhausted our emergency fund and outspent revenues for six years.. We are still on the state’s “watch list”.  

To avoid further audit, staff cooked up an “aggressive” repayment plan, purporting to raise employees’ share of compensation costs. But the increased shares came with salary increases that more than covered the new CalPERS shares.  According to publicpay.gov, the city now has a $180 million deficit and will soon be paying more than a million a year to beat it down. 

According to California Policy Center, “As Chico recovers, new development projects have been downsized to reflect the city’s long-term financial reality.”   Staff has spent all the money on management pensions and benefits, there’s no money left for road base, asphalt, or  qualified workers needed to fix the roads. 

Proponents of a tax increase measure say the money will be dedicated to the roads – don’t believe it. Staff has instituted a “fund allocation” policy – they move money from one fund to another like peas under walnut shells. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

It’s sad to me that we have such poor media here, Dick Little and Melissa Dogtree are just government shills. We have a council that plays lackey to the staffers who are ripping us off because all but one member of our council either get public  pensions or are married to one.