Tag Archives: Measure J Chico Ca

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:

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/CellPhoneRefundApplication_0117

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. 

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Last minute meeting reminder – Chico Taxpayers Association meets tomorrow at the Chico library, 9 – 10am

1 Dec

I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow morning but I will be over at the library at 9 am, trying to get up a discussion regarding the defeat of Measure J.  We should talk about this past Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting and comments made by city attorney Laurie Barker regarding contacting the cell phone providers and also the possibility of refunds on revenues already collected.

Hopefully, we can get some letters going to Ann Schwab, the council, and the local newspapers, letting people know what’s going on Downtown, and encouraging them to contact Mayor Ann Schwab and tell her they want this matter handled promptly and correctly. By some fluke I’ve had two letters in the ER over the past week – I hope some other people will write. The letters section seems to be wide open these days. 

If we have time tomorrow morning, we might want to discuss Brian Nakamura’s persistent warnings about “unfunded pension liabilities.” At the Finance Committee meeting, Nakamura kept mentioning UPL’s, but never elaborated. He said he was going to talk about them at next Tuesday’s council meeting, but I see there’s nothing specific in the agenda, just “goal setting meetings. set dates”   I’m guessing Nakamura is trying to give us the bitter pill – he’s going to warn us that Brown wants the cities to pay more of their employees’ pensions.   Nakamura and Lando are going to use this as a reason to pass a sales tax increase, just watch them. We need to be mentally ready to run another NO campaign. 

I know the weather is bad, so if I don’t see you at the meeting, don’t worry, I’ll fill everybody in! 

Let’s make Scott Gruendl squeal like a pig

1 Dec

I love living in Northern California and these winter storms are part and parcel. I keep my house maintained and I try to watch the storm drains up and down my street because you can’t depend on the city to do anything until there’s a problem. All along the Manzanita corridor intersections have suffered severe flooding because the city isn’t cleaning the storm drains.  They make a lot of noise about leaf pick-up, allowing landscapers to dump tons of leaves in the street every year, but all it takes is a handful of leaves to plug a storm drain, and that’s what I’ve been seeing around town. 

The city has also allowed an enormous amount of development around town, especially along Big and Little Chico Creeks, without providing any kind of flood mitigation. That’s why you’re all getting notices right now. 

Meanwhile, they are blaming the defeat of Measure J for all their problems and getting ready to mount a campaign to raise your sales tax, starring Ann Schwab and  Scott Gruendl, and produced by Tom Lando and his fist-puppet Brian Nakamura.

Schwab and Gruendl are currently undertaking a scare campaign, with the help of the local media, to convince Chico voters that if they don’t pay more taxes, anarchy will reign in the streets of Chico and we’ll all be home-invasioned and carjacked. Ken Campbell says we complain too much. 

They’re also cutting street maintenance, and watch for the park to start looking pretty bad too. Those bread bags hanging out of those dog doo dispensers are looking like weird trash cans. Wait til we see old crappy bread bags laid alongside trails full of poop, that’s going to look good. 

You probably watched Kojak as a child, if you’re reading my blog. You know what a “protection racket” is, don’t you? 

Nakamura, like a broken record, keeps repeating the same words over and over: “To give you some perspective, $900,000 means seven to eight police officers or potentially two-thirds of an
operation of a fire station…”  
That fucker is threatening us. 

Maybe I need to put this in perspective: at the same meeting referenced  below, Jennifer Hennessy told us, we spend over $7 million a year paying  our employee’s pension premiums. She didn’t have the figure on health benefits.  

Yes, that’s just the “share”. The city only contributes 18 percent of the actual costs of these pensions, including the employee and employer shares.  The rest of the cost is what they called, “the unfunded pension obligation.” 

I’ll save you rereading those epic blogs I wrote about the Pension Bomb – the California Public Employees Retirement System – CalPERS – expected to fund 82 percent of these pensions by loading them into a little cart and sending them off to the stock market with Mr. Toad. Mr. Toad fell out before the got the cart off the runway, and every time the cart comes back around it’s full of nothing but I.O.U.’s – or rather – “we owe them’s”. CalPERS has lost 10’s of millions on the stock market, they’ve never made the returns they’ve promised, and now Governor Moonbeam is starting to talk about making the cities and counties pay their own pension obligations. 

Here’s a little slice of what that’s going to look like – these are just the top management pensions, current as of 2010. Yes, all these people are RETIRED. They do NOTHING but still get this money. 70 – 90 percent of their highest years earnings. The “warrant” amount means, their monthly check.  Right now, they are being paid out of RDA funds and off the premiums of lower level workers who pay more, but soon Jerry Brown will turn on us for this money. And guess what – we don’t have it! 

Name Employer Warrant Amount Annual
ALEXANDER, THOMAS E CHICO $8,947.23 $107,366.76
BAPTISTE, ANTOINE G CHICO $10,409.65 $124,915.80
BEARDSLEY, DENNIS D CHICO $8,510.23 $102,122.76
BROWN, JOHN S CHICO $17,210.38 $206,524.56
CARRILLO, JOHN A CHICO $10,398.98 $124,787.76
DAVIS, FRED CHICO $12,467.78 $149,613.36
DUNLAP, PATRICIA CHICO $10,632.10 $127,585.20
FELL, JOHN G CHICO $9,209.35 $110,512.20
FRANK, DAVID R CHICO $14,830.05 $177,960.60
GARRISON, FRANK W CHICO $8,933.56 $107,202.72
JACK, JAMES F CHICO $9,095.09 $109,141.08
KOCH, ROBERT E CHICO $9,983.23 $119,798.76
LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48 $134,837.76
MCENESPY, BARBARA L CHICO $12,573.40 $150,880.80
PIERCE, CYNTHIA CHICO $9,390.30 $112,683.60
ROSS, EARNEST C CHICO $9,496.60 $113,959.20
SCHOLAR, GARY P CHICO $8,755.69 $105,068.28
SELLERS, CLIFFORD R CHICO $9,511.11 $114,133.32
VONDERHAAR, JOHN F CHICO $8,488.07 $101,856.84
VORIS, TIMOTHY M CHICO $8,433.90 $101,206.80
WEBER, MICHAEL C CHICO $11,321.93 $135,863.16

This is what Gruendl doesn’t want to talk about.

Scott Gruendl is a sneaky little creep. The discussion in the meeting lasted less than five minutes, but after everybody was gone he sidled up to reporter Ashley Gebb and continued his threatening diatribe against the public. “After the meeting, Councilor Scott Gruendl said he was disappointed and a bit confused by the measure’s failure.  ‘The voters have sent a conflicting message,’  he said.  Citizens reportedly say they are concerned about
public safety and want more officers on the streets, yet they knew this revenue was tied to preventing cuts, he said.”

Gruendl has a selective hearing problem –  he is deaf to our concerns about salaries, benefits and pensions. 

When I questioned Jennifer Hennessy about the  shares, she told me what an employee pays toward their perks depends on what “unit” they’re in and what kind of “package” they choose. Most pay less than 5 percent toward their health package and NOTHING toward their pensions.  She also acknowledged that all our city councilors receive benefits packages paid by the taxpayers, for which they pay an amount equal to two percent of their city salaries.  For example, Gruendl receives a $16,935 health benefits package, for which he pays 2 percent of his $7,800 council salary – about $150 a year.  That in addition to his salary and benefits out of Glenn County, two other salaries from Chico State, and his partner’s salary. According to his Form 700, Gruendl takes over $140,000 in public money, not including benefits packages. I’m assuming his partner, who takes “between $10,001 – $100,000” as a supervisor at a local rest home, also gets a benefits package. 

This guy never ceases to amaze me. Ever hear a pig scream when you are late with that bucket? Well, there’s Gruendl for you. 

Here’s the article from the ER below.

More cuts to Chico police on the way?
By ASHLEY GEBB — Staff Writer
Posted: 11/29/2012 01:46:41 PM PST
CHICO — Chico voters’ defeat of a proposed change to the city’s telephone users tax almost inevitably will cause
cuts to public safety, members of the finance committee said this week.
Measure J asked voters whether to amend wording to the city’s phone tax to encompass modern technology such
as cellphones while decreasing the tax rate from 5 percent to 4.5 percent. The measure was voted down Nov. 6,
gaining only 46 percent of the vote.
The telephone users tax, like other utility taxes the city collects, supports the general fund. The city receives about
$1.4 million annually in phone tax revenue, of which $900,000 to $1 million comes from wireless
telecommunications providers and likely now will disappear.
Discussion of the impact was brief at Tuesday’s meeting but City Manager Brian Nakamura said the revenue loss
will be a significant hit to the general fund, which primarily supports public safety.
“To give you some perspective, $900,000 means seven to eight police officers or potentially two-thirds of an
operation of a fire station,” he said.
Cuts to public

safety have a trickle-down effect, he said.
“Public safety, that’s what drives economic development, with businesses wanting to locate here and residents
wanting to locate here,” he said.
Revenue loss is expected to start this year, said City Attorney Lori Barker, who plans to bring the topic to the City
Council in December for discussion.
The issue will be determining the loss’ size and
where to adjust the budget, Barker said. The city will
also need to address how it will deal with any
refund requests and notifying phone providers.
Until specific legalities are ironed out, Finance
Director Jennifer Hennessy said the Finance
Department will hold any revenue from phone
companies in an account.
After the meeting, Councilor Scott Gruendl said he
was disappointed and a bit confused by the
measure’s failure.
“The voters have sent a conflicting message,” he
said.
Citizens reportedly say they are concerned about
public safety and want more officers on the streets,
yet they knew this revenue was tied to preventing
cuts, he said.
“People are going to blame us for taking cops off
the streets,” he said. “I’m OK with being blamed
because I’m an elected official, but I voted yes on Measure J.”
Proponents of Measure J said its passage was critical to protect tax revenue, while opponents argued it was a
regressive tax that unfairly targeted students and economically disadvantaged.
Options to address the revenue loss through negotiations will be limited, Gruendl said.

“Part of where my disappointment is, is the unions who are affected by Measure J did absolutely nothing,” Gruendl
said.
This revenue loss is not the only fiscal challenge the city faces, Nakamura said. Several other issues coming
forward will have to be addressed, and he anticipates a significant budget discussion will take place in January.

I booked the library room for every first Sunday through April 2013 – Chico Taxpayers Association is here for the long haul.

19 Nov

I am still waiting, with coffee breath, for the final results of the election. I’ve noticed, more votes have been added at some point since election night, but the result remains the same – Measure J is a good 2,000 votes behind and at least 5% short of the 51% needed to pass. 

I think it was member Casey Aplanalp who said we should be thankful to Tom Lando and Ann Schwab and the other tax hike proponents – they gave us the nudge to create our group, and wow, it sure worked out. 

So, I went ahead and reserved the library meeting room for the next five months, first Sunday of every month, 9am to 10am. I will be there this December 2 to see if anybody can help me draft a letter to the city. I want to ask a  few questions, what happens now that Measure J has been defeated? Which companies are collecting the tax currently, and when will Jennifer Hennessy have a letter drafted to those companies, telling them to stop? 

Etc. 

I hope you can join me, but don’t worry, I’ll be sure to fill you in.

We are not alone! NO on Measure J! NO on Schwab! NO on Stone!

5 Nov

Some citizen placed these colorful fliers on cars along the perimeter of Chico State the other day.

Sue received this picture from a friend who spotted these fliers over near Chico State campus last week.  We can only guess who put these out, and be really thankful that there are some other people out there who aren’t afraid to act.

We had our regular First Sunday meeting yesterday, library, 9am.  We have a core of diehards, willing to come down to the library on a Sunday morning when they could be snuggling up to a plate of blueberry pancakes!  We have people who have spent time reading and yakking over documents and boiling them down to half-size bullet point sheets, people who have literally stood out on street corners to hand them to fellow citizens, and taken time to explain this measure to people who were hearing about it for the first time.  

We have a group who was willing to put up their own dough to print signs, and then move out in unison to get those signs placed around town.  We have Toby Schindelbeck, who not only set us up with a printer but went about putting out ‘NO on J’  signs right alongside his own.  He and Andrew Coolidge are the only candidates in this race who have taken on Measure J – where’s Bob Evans? Was his signature on the ‘argument against’ just a one-night-stand?  And,  I sure haven’t seen Ann Schwab speaking on behalf of this measure that she brought forward herself. Where are the ‘YES on J’ signs Ann? 

At times I fear ‘Democracy’ is just a pipe dream.  It’s really hard work, and a lot of people don’t seem to be willing to put into it what they expect to get out of it. It’s frustrating talking to people about issues, and then hear what one of our members heard in a door-to-door conversation – “I vote however the newspaper tells me…” 

The Chico media has said there’s “no organized opposition” to Measure J. School Administrator Magazine defines “organized opposition” as “two or more individuals banded together to fight a local school bond or operating levy proposal…”  Well, gee, that would be, The Chico Taxpayers Association. There’s at least four of us at every meeting, with seven regular members on the mailing list. Our meetings are wide open to the public and noticed here, where anybody who can string together an intelligible sentence on topic is allowed to join the conversation. You can also spy on us via the library website – the meeting room schedule is there for everybody to see. It’s as if the proponents of Measure J are just wishing us away – David Little edited “Chico Taxpayers Association” off the letter I sent to the paper, I thought that was kind of weird. 

Meanwhile, here’s the website for the Chico Democrats:

http://www.chicodemocrats.org/index.html

Or you might approach them at their HQ over on Mangrove, but don’t ask any pokey questions or Bob Mulhullond will show you some Chicago style politics.

And here’s Guzzetti’s joint, Chico Conservation Voters:

http://www.chicoconservationvoters.org/index.html

it says, there’s three members – Kelly Meagher, who pays for everything, Dave Guzzetti, who issues all the orders, and little Jessica Knothead, who does the bidding of Guzzetti. 

Where’s their public meetings? Where’s their public discussion? 

And then there’s the Democratic Action Club of Chico – that’s Mark Stemen and Maria Phillips – they have a Facebook page which you can only look at if you have Facebook. When Stemen had a meeting at the library, he got in trouble for trying to kick out a woman who was not a member of his club – he’s not allowed to do that at the library. I guess that’s why I haven’ t seen them schedule another meeting there. 

Isn’t that funny – the “Democrats” don’t seem to believe in Democracy!

Thanks whoever you are, anonymous stranger. I hope you will continue to spread the alarm. Wow, Paul Revere could have used a good copy machine. 

Casey Aplanalp: Measure J “aims to sanctify years of theft”

3 Nov

From CTA member Casey Aplanalp:

Measure J is a devious attempt to legitimize the taxation on our cell phones that is currently not authorized. The City has been pilfering these monies for over a decade, last year taking in $900,000 alone. This is illegal, but if Measure J passes it will be as if we voted for these additional taxes years ago. It aims to sanctify years of theft, and to continue doing so.
Not only does Measure J allow for cell phone taxes, it goes to include any and all technical modes of communication now and in the future, broadening the tax base. Furthermore, it would give the power to increase taxes to the City Finance director, bypassing voter approval. This is taxation without representation, and circumvents the democratic process. 
Supporters of Measure J call it a tax rate decrease while also claiming, incredibly, it to be revenue neutral. Supporters also claim it merely updates the verbiage, another lie. Of course, supporters claim the money goes to public safety, but there is nothing specifically written in the measure to support that claim. It is spent at the whim of current bureaucrats. 
Finally, Measure J was drawn up in the hopes of preventing a massive class action lawsuit against the City for the millions of dollars it has taken in over the years. Those behind Measure J have been dishonest with the public, but that is to be expected because they’ve been caught stealing from the public. Measure J deserves defeat. Vote NO on J.

 

THANKS CASEY!     And remember everybody, only you can prevent a massive takeover of our city, county, and state by the snout-nosed trough dwellers.  Don’t forget to VOTE! 

Homegrown in the North State – a citizen takes his stand against more taxes.

2 Nov

Thanks to Rick Clements for posting this sign at the corner of Eaton and Cohasset. I wanted to get my picture with it but haven’t had a chance to get out there.