Tag Archives: Mary Goloff Chico Ca

We pay for Goloff’s rehab, like we paid for the surgery that supposedly hooked her on the meds. We need to dump health care benefits for city councillors

18 Apr

Chico Taxpayers Association would like to thank former mayor Mary Flynn Goloff for finally acknowledging that she has a substance abuse problem. But, I’d like to temper that with a good kick in the pants for having the nerve to sit up there for eight years high as a kite. 

Furthermore, I’d like to ask the other six council members and various close members of $taff how they could let this go on for almost eight years. In fact, when Goloff gave indications last year that she was unfit to serve, her cohorts on council voted to “forgive” the meetings she’d missed without any question as to why she’d missed them. Now we find out, as I suspected, she was in re-hab that time too. 

The last time I checked, Mary was receiving $21,000+ worth of health insurance from the city, for which she paid two percent of her salary as city councilor. Her salary is about $8,000, so she is paying less than $200 out of her own  pocket for a very nice policy. That policy not only paid for the rehab visits, but for the hip surgery she claims put her onto the meds. 

Yeah, I have a bad hip, wow. It started when I was carrying my first child, it got so bad, I could hardly walk.  It’s turned into “osteo arthritis”, which, as described by the doctor, means to me, “rotten bones.” I have taken  calcium supplements all my adult life, starting when I was working out at a gym. I’ve stayed physically active, toting my kids on a bike, making my errands by bike, swimming, hiking, biking, and snowboarding. See, it’s that Catch 22 thing – exercise helps the pain of arthritis, but it heaps it on too. The doctor recommended that I stay active, and he gave me some pain pills that would take the paint off Old Ironsides. I took one dose and laid awake all night cradling my gut like a screaming newborn.

Surgery? I’m sorry, I don’t have an insurance policy paid by the taxpayers – I have the bronze plan, or I have Medi-Cal.  No surgeon would return my calls, EVEN IF I were stoooooopid enough to think surgery would fix it. Right now they’re playing a commercial on tv – call a lawyer if you received a certain hip implant. And then there’s that episode of Rockford Files, where Abe Vigoda plays this old mobster who is having his hit men knock off every person who was involved in his botched hip replacement surgery, from the pharmaceutical salesman to the nurses to the doctors who did the surgery. I had to laugh at that episode, but it’s not really funny – this stuff really happens. And Mary just dragged us into that scam – we paid for her surgery, now we have to pay to get her off the painkillers “necessitated” by the surgery?

The only comfort I get out of  Mary’s statement is that she “has no plans to run again.” If only that was a promise.  

What we should do is form a PAC and put an initiative or measure on the 2016 ballot, ending health insurance for city councilors. We should also institute term limits – that would probably also take a ballot initiative or measure. I mean, do you really think any of the people currently sitting up there would voluntarily institute either provision? You think Mark Sorensen is so squeaky clean? Ask him why he takes the most expensive insurance policy offered and pays about $100 for it. I’ve asked him point blank, and he won’t answer. 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

My guess: Mary Goloff is kicking the farmers off the parking lot so she can sell a parking lot to Tom DiGiovanni

13 Jun

I got some freaked out e-mails, and then I read the story in the paper this morning – Mary Gol0ff is calling for an end to the Farmer’s Market agreement? Wow, what got up her ass? 

At first I thought she was just desperate to raise revenues, desperate enough to nickel and dime the Farmer’s Market? 

No, that’s not it – compared to our current deficit, the annual fees for every Saturday morning at the plaza wouldn’t amount to a drop in the bucket. I’m going to throw this out there – they want to surplus a parking lot – maybe even THAT parking lot – and they want the CCFM offa there.   Whether they are planning to sell that lot the farmers are on now, or whether they just want to free up Saturday morning parking on paper so they can surplus that other lot over on Salem, I don’t know. I do know, Tom DiGiovanni has proposed major developments –  “live-work” units –  for both of those sites, as well as other Downtown lots. 

The Downtown parking discussion has been, like the farmer’s market discussion, a political football. The Friends of Downtown and many people from the Certified Farmer’s Market have added nothing to the discussion, raising an hysterical howl that blots out any intelligent conversation on the matter. I’m tired of hearing about the merits of the farmer’s market – that’s not the real issue here.   It’s been impossible to get anybody Downtown, except ex-mayor Carl Ory, to admit there are plans being discussed to put residential development on city-owned parking lots. Tom DiGiovanni has been pushing this plan for years.

A view of the creekside promenade envisioned as part of New Urban Builders’ proposed East First Street project, circa 2005.IMAGE COURTESY OF ENVISION DESIGN, BERKELEY

This picture above is the plan for the old Wascomat building currently occupied by businesses like Solutions Cubed and the Little Red Hen. Retail on the bottom, offices on the second floor, small high-end apartments on top. And cement right up to the creek, with a small public walkway. The plan includes NO PARKING. None of New Urban’s plans call for parking.  They will bring residents Downtown without providing for their cars. 

I know, I’ve said, there is currently no lack of parking Downtown. I mean, there are plenty of spaces to accommodate the folks who currently go Downtown, even if they can’t expect to pull right up to the  front door of the business they are patronizing.  

But I realize, that’s during the week day.  At night, when restaurants are busy, or when the Thursday Market has streets shut down, and on weekends when people drive in, those precious out-of-town shopper we are losing hand-over-fist, there is a parking shortage. Try patronizing a restaurant – you have to drop the family off on the curb at go look for a spot. Try picking up to-go food – thank god my kids have gotten old enough to drive, that’s another two man job – drop one person off at the curb and circle the block waiting for them to appear with the bag. 

No, I don’t feel any need at present for a parking structure – not unless Downtown property owners will pay for it. I won’t have a bond put on my property taxes to pay for something that benefits a small portion of the city. They need to come up with the money from assessments of Downtown  property owners. Why should Raley’s pay property taxes on their parking lot to subsidize Downtown businesses? 

But neither am I interested in surplussing lots. That’s desperation on Goloff’s part. She’s freaking out. She’s just realized why they let her be the mayor. 

When we had the surplus parking lot discussion Downtown a month or so ago, Brian Nakamura put the kybosh on any talk of what the parking lots would be used for when they are surplussed. He’s no dummy, he knows the idea of live-work units is not going over good, and he doesn’t want it to muck up the conversation about selling the lots. He’s just desperate to raise revenues right now, he doesn’t want some community roaring up his ass. 

Well, back to work, I want to get my dinner made by noon, so I don’t have to work in a hot kitchen later. 

Henny Penny tried to tell them about Loosey Goosey, but would they listen? Nooooooooooo!

29 May

Yesterday I put aside a bunch of junk I had to do to go to a meeting Downtown.  I don’t know about the rest of you people, but when I don’t work, it shows up pretty immediately on the balance sheet as no dinner, or clean underwear.   But, I figure, a few hours spent each month riding herd on the city monkeys is worth the effort. 

They had to hire some out-of-town gun to tell us, our city staff has been operating, as Chris Contantin puts it, “loosey goosey.” So, that’s why they called me “Henny Penny” every time I said they needed to slow down on the spending? 

I have to say – I really like these new guys. I like Brian Nakamura. I like Chris Constantin. And, I like Frank Fields,  a guy who’s been with the city for some time. I also have to say, I didn’t like Jennifer Hennessy. I wanted to like her – her kid played hockey with my kid, her husband worked with my husband on the rink in Ham City. But she was a petulant little spoiled rotten bitch who cared more about herself than her job. She was lazy, I’ll say it. She just didn’t want to do her job.  She expected to have that salary and those clothes and that hair and that little hot rod, but she didn’t want to do the work that paid for it. No, I”m not jealous – women like her make me embarrassed for the gender.

So, excuse me  if  yesterday, when Chris Constantin came into the Finance Committee meeting and gave the type of report that we’d been asking, begging, demanding from Jennifer Hennessy all these years – NO POWER POINT PRESENTATION?! – just the horrible facts, Ma’am – I just about blew up trying to hold back with “I TOLD YOU BASTARDS SO!” 

We all knew, the entire time, that money was being moved from fund to fund, excuse me for REPEATING MYSELF – like peas under nutshells. If I used the shell game analogy once, I used it a hundred times.  And yesterday Constantin reported to those in attendance exactly that – money was allowed to be moved, from one fund to another – willy nilly, loosey goosey, whatever – without any supervision from Hennessy or the Finance Department or the city manager. Departments were padding their budgets so they’d have a surplus to “spend or lose” – how many times did I tell you that? Like that episode of The Office where Michael has to choose between a new copy machine or new office chairs, and then finds out he can simply give the money to himself as a bonus and does so. 

I think most of the senior management staff needs to be fired. This is why Rucker and McKinley were fired. This is why Hennessy was quietly found another job elsewhere – it wasn’t all her fault – how many times did the council listen to Hennessy say we were in deficit and simply refuse to act? I know I sat in those meetings for years. I sat in one meeting with my then-6-year-old son, during which Scott Gruendl took a fistful of marking pens and a giant tablet and tried to draw a picture of how much financial trouble we were in. He jokingly put aside the red pen, not wanting to alarm anybody! But he made it clear, the city of Chico was spending alot more money than it was taking in. 

After the meeting, my son was aghast – “if the city is in so much trouble with money, what’s Scott doing with all those marking pens?” He noted that Gruendl was using more than one at a time, leaving the caps off, not really acting like a guy who might not be able to afford another set of marking pens. This is the same man who has voted to spend money on overpriced real estate, bar a major retailer from expanding unless they lay down a million dollars to swap out wood stoves, and who has led the city on a windmill chase over banning plastic bags that has cost God only knows how many hundreds of thousands in $taff time.

Furthermore, to listen to Ann Schwab and Mary Goloff sit on that dais and say they didn’t have any idea what was going on is like listening to the captain of the Concordia say it wasn’t his fault the ship ran aground because he wasn’t present at the time.

But let’s face it, it wasn’t just the way $taff was running the books, it was that MOU that raised Tom Lando’s salary from around $60,000/year to over $150,000. That MOU was the killer, linking salaries to revenue increases but not decreases.  It was like some kind of time release poison, it has taken us to The Brink. Gruendl voted for that MOU, in fact, I believe he was one of the proponents who pushed it forward for $taff.  The same thing was going on in Glenn County, where Gruendl’s salary went from around $50,000 to $103,000 in less than five years.

When the public found out about that MOU, it was canned, but they replaced it with this practice of paying most or all of the employee share of pension and benefit premiums. Now our city has adopted a resolution requiring all new hires from out of the CalPERS system to pay “50 percent,” of what I’m not sure. But, Constantin explained to me yesterday – even if the new hire is from out of state, if they come from “an agency” that has an agreement with CalPERS, they come in as a member of CalPERS, and they will not be required to pay the new share.

Furthermore, Gruendl has already informed us, that if we are going to require employees to pay more of their share, we will have to pay them more salary.

At yesterday’s meeting, I sincerely thanked Chris Constantin, but I told the committee of Randall Stone, Sean Morgan and Scott Gruendl that we need to get management and public safety to pay their own share of their pensions. Constantin agreed with me. He  said he’d tried to pay his own share, but apparently the union won’t allow it? I didn’t get a very good explanation. But he also said that if public safety would pay their own share, their pensions would be cheaper.  I think he meant, they’d be cheaper because the city wouldn’t have to go into debt to pay them, the payments would be taken directly every month instead of put off. So, there would be enormous savings in interest. I’m not sure on that, but I think that’s what he meant. It makes sense. 

But there it sat. They won’t push it. Trying to get them to do something is like trying to push Jello. 

So, we have to put the heat to the people who really have control – the council. We have to start holding a match to Mark Sorensen’s ass – he’s up for re-election in November 2014, along with Gruendl and Goloff. They all need to be told, loud and clear, that they shouldn’t even bother to run in 2014 if they re-sign these contracts in January. 

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! 

Scott Gruendl calls defeat of Measure J a threat to the constitution – where did we get this guy?

6 Apr

I have to say, I did not support Toby Schindelbeck’s request for the city to make a resolution supporting the Second Amendment because I get sick and freaking tired of these resolutions and proclamations. But I have to hand it to Toby, he sure got a conversation out of it. The most interesting part for me was Scott Gruendl’s assertion that the defeat of the cell phone tax was “a threat to the constitution.” 

“but I believe there are threats to our constitution that go far beyond the second amendment.  I think they’re constant, I think they’re regular, and I think our affirmation of our oath of office is something we are confronted  with on a regular basis, and the Second Amendment is part of that, but it’s not the only part of it. One simple example  – we had a defeat of measure J that results in about  $25 in tax savings for the average public member, but for me, I have a tax rate that’s about 150 times that that’s imposed on me by the federal government because of a constitutional interpretation (his voice starts breaking here, as if he’s going to cry).  I don’t see the Chico Taxpayer’s Association standing up for my tax injustice and that’s just one example of what we’re confronted with on a regular basis…”

When I heard that on the video, I was shocked. I had to listen to it over and over to get it down, but that’s pretty much it. I punctuated the natural pauses in Scott’s voice, but I’m pretty sure I got it word for word. Let’s just take this thing apart, piece by piece, and try to make nonsense of it.

First of all, I just had a e-mail chat with Frank Fields over in the city finance office on this past Thursday. I asked him again, how many refund applications had been received as of that day, and what’s the average refund amount. Scott keeps using that $25 figure, the same figure he and Ann Schwab put in their “argument in favor” of Measure J. From Frank Fields:

“Ms. Sumner:

 

To date, the City has issued 157 refunds at an average of $50.81.  However, please note that six of those refunds were to business which obviously end up with larger refunds.  Excluding the six businesses, the average refund is $38.50.

 

Please let me know if you have further questions.

 

Frank”

That’s an interesting point Frank makes, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to worry about how these people  ran up their phone bills – they may have a business, or they may have family in Germany, I don’t care whether they use their phone for business or pleasure or to save a life.  It doesn’t matter how they run up the bill on which their tax is based, it only matters that 157 cell phone customers have applied for and received an average refund of $50.81, not the $25 Gruendl keeps claiming. In fact, we’re talking “average” here people – those businesses were taken for a lot more than $50 a year. When my family had AT&T, for three phones, our yearly UT was about $87.

And then Gruendl goes completely off the deep end with his walk through the dog park regarding threats to the constitution. The rest of his little peeve is just, well, crazy.  He says a group of citizens working to defeat a tax measure brought forth by government officials is “a threat to the constitution”? Whose constitution is he talking about?

I have a tax rate 150 time that…”  Again, what is he talking about? 150 times…what? $25?

that’s imposed on me by the federal government because of a constitutional interpretation…”  Is he talking about the gay marriage discussion? I thought the feds were going his way the last time I heard. Is he complaining that he is not allowed to write his partner off on his taxes? I have no idea of the law there, but I know “domestic partnership” has been accepted for some time – it’s in the cop contracts, and it’s on the paper work my kids bring home from Butte College. And, he complains that the CTA has never “stood up” for his “tax injustice” – well, Scott, we’ve never been asked. I’m not even sure what your “tax injustice”  is.

Here’s my “tax injustice” – I have to pay a salary and benefits for this ass Gruendl, I buy him a $21,000 a year health insurance policy, for which he pays $156 a year.  My cousins in Glenn County pay him about $103,000 a year and also give him a health benefits and pension package, for which he pays little or nothing. And now, he stands up before the citizens of this town and complains that he pays more taxes than the rest of us? This guy is a piece of work.

Maybe what he really means is, he gets more taxes than the rest of us – the 150 times figure might actually work there!

And then there’s the injustice of being limited to three minutes, even one minute!  to state my concerns and then have to listen to this crap-mouth rattle on at will, without any response from the public.  He’s allowed to say whatever he wants!  I’m not the only one who gets sick of these little diatribes. Here’s Bob Speer, from this past Thursdays News and Review –  – ” But it’s true, as critics often charge, that some council members, including Goloff, don’t always apply standards of brevity to themselves. They should take lessons from Councilmen Mark Sorensen and Sean Morgan, who quickly say their pieces and shut up. It’s a sign of respect, and those of us in the audience appreciate it.

I’ll say further, they don’t stay on topic, they use the podium to abuse members of the public who don’t agree with their agenda,  and they spread misinformation, all of which I’d say about Scott’s little rant.

And here’s the creepiest thing about that meeting Tuesday night: Gruendl and Goloff requested and got a list of the folks who spoke on the Second Amendment resolution request. Why would they need that?

UPDATE:

Today, at the First Sunday meeting, we were talking about the rules for council discussions. During this past Tuesday’s city council meeting, we found that the mayor is allowed to re-open the public hearing. When this was suggested by Sean Morgan during the eminent domain discussion, there was a moment of confusion. Mary Goloff said she was not able to reopen the public hearing, but Lori Barker interrupted that it certainly was allowed. That’s something to remember in future. 

Also, there was mention of a rule that limited the council members to three minutes – this I will have to check into, but it would certainly be worth it. 

The figures are in – Schwab, Gruendl and Goloff just flat LIED about Measure J

12 Mar

As most of you probably remember, Measure J, the cell phone tax measure, was promoted by Ann Schwab, Scott Gruendl, and Mary Goloff. I really have to hand it to them – they were the only ones with the balls of brass to put their names on this obvious money grab.  That doesn’t mean I have anything but contempt for this group, I’m just saying, I’d hand “it” to them, “it” being a big turd.

In the argument they posted in favor of the cell phone tax, Ann, Scott and Mary claimed, ” A loss of $900,000 a year would result in reduced police and fire services, road maintenance and park funds.’

Where’d they get that figure? In the same argument, they cited “the average cell phone bill of $50 per month…”. I remember doing the math, and asking, “how could that add up to $900,000 a year?” My husband said it was possible, but I had to remind him – only AT&T and Metro PCS – the two cheapest cell phone providers out there – collected the tax. How many people in Chico use those providers? We don’t know, but it’s hard to figure how these two providers, who cater to welfare recipients and other low-income customers, could possibly come up with $900,000 a year in tax.

Well, they couldn’t. In subsequent discussions, finance department employee Frank Fields estimated a truer figure of $600,000/year, and, at a December council meeting, Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy reported the actual figure at $500,000. Yes, exactly $500,000, no odd dollars or cents. Go figure.

This whole discussion has been highly questionable. So you know Stephanie Taber, she did the asking. She stood up at the end of the meeting and asked very pointed questions about the figuring for Measure J. Crickets chirped.  Mayor Mary Goloff thanked Stephanie but neither offered answers of her own nor questioned $taff. So, Stephanie had to e-mail her questions to Brian Nakamura, Jennifer Hennessy, and the council.  The first two deal with Measure J, I didn’t include the others because I want to focus here on Measure J. I’ll  get back to the others.

Stephanie’s letter begins, “Perhaps you were unable to jot down the questions that I asked so here they are again:

1) What/who is the source of information that is now being used to verify the $500 loss (or whatever the current figure is) in revenue due to the defeat of Measure J?  At the offset of the proposal there was no definitive way of separating how much revenue was received based solely of cell phone calls and texting and how much on land line costs.  At least that was my understanding.

2) Are telephone tax collections a separate revenue line item that can be compared month-to-month and year to date?

(Questions 3 and 4 left out)

Stephanie Taber

On Sunday evening Silly Manager Brian Nakamura e-mailed back, saying, “I wanted to share that Ms. Hennessy has provided draft answers for me to review and share and its my delay that is slowing down the response to your questions.”  And he said he’d get back to Stephanie, which I assume Stephanie will clue us in there when she has something.

In the meantime, she answered Nakamura, ” As to the comparison one year against another to verify the $900K lost as a result of the defeat of Measure J, it would be of value to have that specific item as part of the quarterly report since a lot of taxpayers are skeptical of the figure. “

Yes, a lot of taxpayers are skeptical of that $900,000  figure – we’re damned sick of hearing it repeated. The News and Review used it in a February editorial, even after they’d printed Frank Field’s estimate back in November. I asked Robert Speer about it when I sent in a letter last week, he printed my letter and thanked me for it, but did not respond to my remark about the $900,000 figure.

What is this – the Big Lie? They think if they just keep repeating that figure, we’ll buy it hook, line and sinker? Well, that probably works when they’ve got both newspapers and the tv station to go along with them.  We need to get some folks writing letters, demanding answers to the “creative bookkeeping” they’re using Downtown. Ask questions people!

I did some asking – last week I dropped another note to Frank Fields over in Finance. I asked him, again, how many people have applied for and received cell phone tax refunds, and what’s the average refund amount? Frank is a sport, he got right back to me:

Ms. Sumner,
 
To date, we’ve processed 91 refund applications averaging $52.65 each.  In addition, I have another 10 or so applications waiting to be processed.
 
Finally, we’ll be posting the “UUT refund application” for the annual UUT refund program in the next couple of weeks.
 

Frank

Vielen Dank Frankster, that is just what I suspected above.  If the average refund is $52.65, that works out to $4.38 a month in tax – almost twice the figure Schwab, Gruendl and Goloff stated in their “argument for.” That would also make the average bill about $87 – again, almost twice the figure stated in the “argument for.” 

From the voter’s manual: “This rate, if applied to the average cell phone bill of $50 per month, would equate to a monthly charge of $2.25 as opposed to the current charge of $2.50.”

Boy, there it is – as Al Franken would put it, “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.” 

And here’s the link to that refund application:

http://www.chico.ca.us/documents/CellPhoneRefundApplication_011713.pdf