Tag Archives: Mary Flynn Chico Ca

Last week to get your Utility Tax Rebate – let them know what you think of a sales tax increase while you’re at it

22 Jun

Friday is the last day you can take in your Utility Tax rebate application. I will have to check in with the Finance Department and see what the totals were, once the dirt settles.  Even if you won’t get much back, it’s good to go down and let them know you don’t want them to have the money.

I can’t get over how desperate city council and $taff are to drum up revenues, any way possible, whilst holding us all off  by the forehead on the subject of paying their own share. Between the seven of them, council receives over $130,000 in health benefits, for which they pay two percent of their salaries – about $1,000. Yes, all of them split that $1,000, and walk away with health insurance packages ranging from $8,000 in value to over $21,000. Staff meanwhile spends about $2 million a year, of our money, just on the “employee’s share” of their pension premiums. The full cost of their benefits and pensions, according to a hastily departing Jennifer Hennessy, is over $10 million a year

Brian Nakamura says we have to cut about $7 million from out budget. Well, I see the solution right in front of his face – PAY YOUR OWN SHARE BRIAN! 

Brian Nakamura, with a $217,000/year salary, pays 4 percent of the premium on his 70 percent pension, and we pay the rest of his share, plus another 20-something percent (this figure goes up every two years or so), and then the other 70 or so percent rides the stock market. That hasn’t been working out lately – CalPERS needs a 7 percent return on their investment and they have been lucky to get 1 percent. So, they keep sending letters upping  the contribution for employers. They don’t care how much of that contribution comes from employees. 

It’s council’s job to determine how much the employee’s should pay of their pension premium. The current 9 percent “employee share,” which, of course, they don’t really pay, is “only a suggestion.” Our city council could ask the employees to pay the entire share demanded by CalPERS. Instead, they take the full 9 percent only from the lower-paid classified staffers, while management types who make upwards of $100,000/year get away with paying 4 percent and neither cops nor fire pay anything. 

But Mary Goloff has the nerve to stand up in front of the public, after what we heard about the misappropriation and outright mismanagement that’s been going on for the last six to eight years, and ask us to pay an increased sales tax? 

Is she on the hooch again? 

And then there’s Tom Lando, who walked unelected into a  board position at Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) because nobody else ran. Lando has made the rounds of many public agencies, oftentimes receiving a pretty nice “consulting fee” for serving as interim director of agencies like Feather River Recreation District. But what I see him doing, really, is networking these agencies – like the Chico Chamber, Enloe Hospital, CARD –  in support of raising taxes on the public to pay off the ever mounting pension debt at CalPERS.  His $143,000/year pension depends on keeping CalPERS afloat. (See Jan 30, 2012 “Here’s why Lando wants to raise your sales tax!”)

So, he keeps bringing up this sales tax increase idea at CARD, at every meeting we’ve attended. I don’t know if CARD can put a sales tax increase measure on the ballot, but a group of like-minded agencies could approach the city about it, and then run a pretty expensive campaign to pass it. 

We need to let them know, we will oppose it. We need to show them we’re ready to take out our wallets to fight it, just like Measure J. And we need to let them know, we’re ready to take our wallets to Paradise, Red Bluff and Oroville, Redding and Sacramento, to spend our sales taxes elsewhere. And, we’ll be shopping online. When we shop online, we may pay California sales tax, but Chico gets nothing, and Chico retailers suffer. 

So, write those letters, please. Write to the papers, but write to the players too –

  •  Mayor Mary Goloff at mgoloff@ci.chico.ca.us
  • Tom Lando at tlando@chicorec.com

If this campaign starts to pick up there are other people we should write to – including the full council, the chamber of commerce, DCBA, and CARD. We can’t just sit here while they run their propaganda machines against us. Get busy writing those letters. 

 

 

 

 

Happy Tax Day – give a taxpayer a hug today! They really need it!

15 Apr

Thanks to Sue Hubbard for getting a letter to the Enterprise Record about Taxpayer Appreciation Month, just in time for TAX DAY!

Her request to council was met with a ridiculous rant by Scott Gruendl, I’ve posted the text here:

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/scott-gruendl-calls-defeat-of-measure-j-a-threat-to-the-constitution-where-did-we-get-this-guy/

But beyond taking a few really weird pot shots at the CTA, council did not even discuss the request. How predictable.  They’re too good to stand up there and thank the taxpayers for their own salaries and benefits, how very, very predictable.

But Sue’s letter was comforting:

Letter: Council needs to appreciate taxpayers

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted:   04/14/2013 12:05:21 AM PDT

We at the Chico Taxpayers Association would like to proclaim April as Taxpayer Appreciation Month. Even though our City Council is proclamation and resolution happy, the mayor chose not to honor our request. So we will simply proclaim it ourselves. We think it is appropriate.

Whereas, the approximately 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax are supported by the 53 percent of those who do

Whereas, 5 percent of Americans are paying 60 percent of all income tax

Whereas, America’s top tax rate is the second highest in the world

Whereas, taxpayers’ money is used to fund government services

Whereas, taxpayers’ money is used to pay salary and benefits to government workers

Whereas, taxpayers are the ones who are paying for all the entitlements so generously given out in this country

Whereas, taxpayers pay America’s bills

Now therefore let it be proclaimed, that the Chico Taxpayers Association hereby recognizes April as Taxpayer Appreciation Month.

— Sue Hubbard, Chico

So Happy Tax Day! I mean that.  Taxes provide for the public convenience, necessity, and security. The fact  that taxes are often unfairly distributed and unreasonably high, and that  public officials and publicly-paid employees are often corrupt, lazy or stupid doesn’t mean taxes cannot be a good way to fund the everyday needs of society. 

It’s up to the taxpayer to keep an eye on their employees, and we haven’t. The average taxpayer is asleep at the wheel, saying to him/herself and anybody who listens, “that’s what I elect people for.”

And Mary Goloff – a woman our town has elected –  has told me, if I want to have a say in the public’s business, I have to run for public office. She is the typical politician who is so high on her own fumes she thinks she knows better than the public what’s good for them.  She doesn’t think she has to listen to anybody – she thinks it’s her job to run things as she sees fit. She thinks election has proven her some kind of mental giant among the rest of us pusillanimous midgets.  And, that is makes her so popular she doesn’t need anybody’s approval on anything.

There are two kinds of politicians – the Evita type, who gets so drunk on power she eventually collapses, and then there’s the “roll up our sleeves and work together” people, like Dan Logue. No, I don’t agree with Logue on everything, but he’s quick to get a public forum going when there’s a problem. And not a charette, where everybody breaks into groups with a handler, and gets spoon fed information to give a controlled statement supporting the proposal. Logue’s forums are a chance for the people to get in there and let the public workers know what we think. 

Where was our “single use” plastic bag forum? Well, I guess you could call those 8am meetings forums, the public is allowed. 

The biggest problem with paying taxes is that most taxpayers don’t pay enough attention to what happens to their taxes after April 15. We can’t blame the council for everything  – people have got to get more involved. 

And so, on this April 15, I would like to ask those of you who think our town is headed down the wrong path, who think they have some creative ideas for getting our city back into solvency – SAY SOMETHING! Come out to the meetings, and not just the dinnertime meetings, but those 8am meetings Downtown. Look at the “agendas and minutes” page on the city website. Familiarize yourselves with the issues Downtown, write letters, write letters, write letters. 

But for now, give yourself a hug, and hug somebody else who pays taxes. I just mailed off my property taxes earlier this month, and I sure needed a hug! 

I got a few questions for Ken Campbell

8 Dec

NOTE: a person recently tried to contact me through the ER editor – if you want to discuss this post look for the “comment” button at the bottom of the page. If you want to be anonymous let me know or use an acronym.

A week or so ago, firefighter and fire department political action committee chairman Ken Campbell wrote a pretty condescending letter to the Enterprise Record, insinuating that anybody who criticized the fire department would change their mind if they just came down for a tour of a fire station.

He says, “In the last month there have been a few letters to the editor criticizing the response of the emergency services within the city of Chico, particularly the Fire Department.” But I looked, I never found any letters to that effect. What I did find were comments regarding the fire department budget, the contracts and the excessive amounts the city is paying for the “employee’s share” of the benefits.

Stephanie Taber brought up these points in her response to Campbell.

Reference Ken Campbell’s (Chico Fire Dept.) letter of December 1 which invites the public to visit a Fire Station and talk with any department member so we the public can better understand their mission.

I think the public knows fairly well what the department’s mission is; what we don’t understand is why it costs us so much.  Of the $13 million dollar Fire Department budget $11.5 million is spent on salaries, holiday pay, overtime, gym fees, wellness physicals, and “other” benefits.  That “other” category includes Fire personnel’s share of their pension retirement benefits.  Why are we paying that 7% when we already pay the employer (taxpayer) share?  Why are we paying the employer AND employee share of FICA from the date of hire till retirement?  Why are we paying $350 each month, tax free, for every Fire Department employee toward their retirement medical from the time of hire till retirement at 50?  Do you know how many more firemen we could hire if just that one part of the department’s benefit package were eliminated?  Then add to that the Fire Department employee’s 7% share of their pension benefit and I’ll bet we’re talking about being able to fully staff the Fire Department and the elimination of all that overtime.

The City Manager should invite Chief Berry to discuss Fire personnel’s job responsibilities.  And I’d like to invite the IAFF to explain why the 47% (low income earners) should continue to pay the top 1% (Fire Dept. personnel) incredibly generous benefit package.”

To which local liberal shoofly Ron Sherman responded, “I guess you have a rather selective memory. The current contracts are successors to those approved by the conservative Chico City Councils dominated by Rick Keene and Larry Wahl, so that they could secure the endorsement of the fire department.”  Sorry, Ron, again you are confused – Larry was the only one who voted NO on that contract. It’s up for renewal right now, and our “liberal-dominated” council is about to give it the old rubber stamp, three of them having already approved the same contract, two others sure to follow their mentors on to Perdition. That’s five to two – SWOOSH! And, I’m betting Morgan will also sign the contract, he’s already made it clear he’s up there to represent “the public safety ‘workers'”.

I couldn’t find the contract now up for consideration – I think it’s buried somewhere on the city website – if anybody can send me a link, I’d appreciate it. But, here’s the current contract:

http://ebookbrowse.com/iaff-mou-pdf-d33663777

You might have to cut-and-paste that link, but it’s worth it.  It’s a confusing yet interesting read, just stick with it. For example, I have finally  figured out how they manage to rack up so much overtime – some of them as much as double their agreed-upon salary with overtime. For one thing, they are guaranteed a 56 hour week. That’s 16 hours of overtime, given for starters. And get aload of this – every week the captain is supposed to determine whether or not he’s going to need a firefighter to work his overtime. Or, get ” Compensated Time Off in Lieu of Overtime“. That means, instead of working and getting paid for an hour of overtime, the firefighter can take time off, at a rate of an hour and a half off for each hour of overtime.  And, at the end of the year, the firefighter can exchange his unused CTO for pay, again, at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.

Yeah, you better read that again. I’m not sure, but it almost looks like they’re  getting an hour and a half for an hour, and then getting an hour and a half for every hour of that.  For example, 4 hours of overtime becomes six hours of CTO, and then each hour of that CTO is worth an hour and a half of pay? What? 

What I understand loud and clear is, they get paid for overtime they don’t even work, overtime that is scheduled in UNNECESSARILY. Simply to guarantee a fat salary.

In his insulting little letter to the ER, Campbell suggests “The department would welcome the opportunity to answer all questions and explain what citizens receive for .41 cents a day. If you are unsatisfied with the answers you receive, then write a letter to the editor and state your opinions with credibility because you actually did some homework and tried to gain complete understanding.” 

Well, I did my homework, Ken, and now you got some explaining to do alright.

UPDATE:

Well, just when I got around to complaining about that section of the fire contracts, it has already been changed.

(I can’t post the link, for some bizarre reason, you have to go to the city website, hit the bar at the top of the home page that says, “How do I…” and then choose “Get city salary/benefits information”, then choose “Labor Agreements” from the menu at the left. And you thought you’d never find a needle in a haystack!)

The section I”m referring to above is almost cut out of the new contracts – they’ve completely eliminated the section that says “exchange his unused CTO for pay at a rate of one and a half hours pay for every hour of CTO accrued.”  They don’t call it “compensated time off” anymore, they call it “compensating time off,” which means, they get the time off but don’t get paid? I’m still wondering there.

But, they still get 16 hours of scheduled overtime, and can exchange it, for whatever reason, for an hour and a half of (paid?) time off for every hour of overtime they actually work.  They are certainly getting paid for time they aren’t even at the station (grocery shopping with the hook and ladder?!), much less “working”.  And then, if there’s a need while they’re on CTO, another firefighter is called in, probably on overtime him/herself.

This is left to the discretion of the chief. Yeah, Chief Beery, the guy who closed Station 5 because he was pissed at the city for cutting his budget $90,000.

This is the scam through which some of these people as much as DOUBLE their agreed upon salary with overtime, still crying for more hires.  I’m still asking  Ken Campbell – why does the fire department get guaranteed overtime, even when it’s not needed? Why can’t  the fire department be staffed just like any other 24 hour business?

To the victor go the spoils.

5 Dec

President Obama Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey At White House

PHOTO:  President Bronco Bama congratulates Mary Goloff on her recent appointment as Mayor of Chico.  

Today I woke up to another gorgeous rainstorm – that’s the water that’s going to give me a wonderful crop of maters next summer. But then my husband had to go and ruin my morning by reading to me from the Enterprise Record – stuck inside on a rainy day, you know.   “Oh, Jesus!” he exclaimed, and I think, he was literally calling out to Jesus. “Mary Flynn (he can’t get used to her new name) is our MAYOR!” And then, the cherry on top, “and Gruendl’s our vice mayor!”

At this point, I had to say, putting “vice” in front of Scott’s name is appropriate whatever you’re talking about.

We had certainly discussed this possibility at our recent Chico Taxpayer’s Association. We knew Sorensen, although he’s the proper candidate for at least vice mayor, didn’t have a rat’s ass of a chance. And let’s face it, his plate is full of Biggs right now, we’re lucky he can manage to make the committee meetings. And glad to have him. There’s only so much one man can do, we don’t want Mark half-assing anything.

Besides, I don’t know if Sorensen wants to be in the Mayor’s chair – Ann Schwab certainly let it slide – not at this particular junction in the Road to Perdition. Like Amy Winehouse said, “Noo, nooo, NO!”

The only other members who would be considered “qualified” – meaning, didn’t just get elected – were Schwab, Goloff and Gruendl. So, there you go. Gruendl had already been mayor, and that would be pretty greedy of him.  Goloff was previously vice mayor, so I guess you’d say, she was “in line for the throne”.

Funny to think, just eight months ago, the council had to vote to pardon Goloff from excessive absences. According to the city charter, any member who misses more than two consecutive meetings without getting a permission slip from the rest of council will be dismissed! Flynn missed meetings on March 20 and April 3 and 17. The council granted her leave through April 18, that I know of, and agendized a discussion about letting her off into May. Her excuse was “unspecified medical reasons.”

Let me specify here. I know, I accused her of getting plastic surgery on our public dime – she has a $17,000 benefits package through her council position.   But, there is also talk around town that she was in rehab.

Now, I would not have been shocked if I’d heard this back in 2008, when she tried to create a drive-up entrance over at the Great Harvest on Forest Ave, and was found by the police to have a pile of prescription drugs  in her car. In fact, I never remember hearing anything about her being directed to a program at that time, and that  bothered me. Everybody, including then-chief of police Bruce Hagerty, acted as though driving under the influence of drugs was no big deal. “‘I just think she made a mistake in mixing several different medications,” Hagerty said, referring to a recent medical procedure Flynn had undergone. He said she had medications with her in the car.”

Wow, just imagine, if the Chico PD found me with so much as Ibuprofen in my car! They’d probably haul me to Oroville and tear my car to pieces!  Hagerty said in an interview at the time, it’s really a matter of the arresting officers’ and the chief’s discretion as to whether somebody is charged with a “DUI” for prescription drugs. “It’s not illegal to drive a motor vehicle with prescription drugs in your system provided that they don’t interfere with your ability to drive that vehicle safely. That’s what will have to be determined regarding the charge of guilt or innocence regarding driving under the influence.”  This from the man who came in off duty, with a back injury for which he is still collecting compensation, to personally escort then-Flynn through the arrest process and then stand by her while she confronted the press. Can you imagine anybody else getting that kind of treatment from the police chief over a DUI? And this is one of the two people who decides if she gets charged or not.

“Hagerty said while determining innocence or guilt is more cut-and-dried for a DUI involving alcohol — a person is guilty of DUI when blood-alcohol content is .08 — there is no presumptive level for medications. Instead, a district attorney will use a combination of the blood work identifying the substance and the officer’s opinion following field-sobriety tests to determine whether to press charges or drop the case.”

According to the article posted at www.SanDiegoDrunkDrivingAttorney.netm , “Hagerty said warnings that prescription drugs can cause drowsiness or should not be taken while driving should be heeded. However, he acknowledged drugs can have different effects on different people. ‘It’s an individual’s decision on a person’s part, and people make mistakes. I really think that’s what she made, a mistake,’ he said.”

Well at least we know where the chief stood! 

As you may remember, it wasn’t Mary’s first offense. Goloff-then-Flynn made no bones about a 1990 DUI conviction – this one a “cut-and-dried” conviction for alcohol – when she ran for office in 2006. She said she was afraid somebody would out her, so she was coming clean on her problems. Maybe we should have a form posted down at the city clerk’s office listing which prescriptions our council members might be under the influence of when they are making decisions that influence our lives.  

Well, I’ll also say, she might have wished she’d stayed on the hooch after the next six months – there’s rough sailing ahead for the SS Chico, and as Captain, she’s designated to go down with the ship.