Tag Archives: No on Chico Measure H

I hate to mention it, but you realize, the real work begins AFTER the election…

3 Nov

I can’t wait for this election to be over and I’m expecting people to take down their campaign signs. I think this was a new high for illegally posted signs, with Tom Lando Jr coming in first – his little signs are flapping along sidewalks, road medians, parks, and other public spaces. No, no, no Tom, you were supposed to get your supporters to post them in front yards. Jessica Gianola comes in at a close second, with signs at commercial centers and along public sidewalks. Same for all of those candidates who posted at Bruce and 32 – that’s illegal, and it’s not a good sign of your character. It looks like a trash truck blew up there, thanks for caring!

Same with the flyers – I know they’re legal, but I don’t think they’re very nice. First there’s the content – which is absurd, blaming the challengers when it’s been Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds and the rest of the so-called “conservative” council who’ve been making all the bad decisions. Reynolds and her pac – Citizens for Safe Chico – has been loading my mailbox full, addressing their little shitbirds to both me and my husband. Reynolds has robo-called my son in Oregon – I don’t get that, he’s never even been registered to vote in Chico. They are pulling out all the stops, spending all that union money – guess why – they’re worried.

And they should be. Let them know why they should be worried. Tell them exactly why you’re unhappy and what they need to do about it. This is the only time they’re listening, or even pretending to listen.

What we also need to remember, is that this election is not the end of anything. No matter who gets elected or what passes, we’ll all wake up the next day to the same problems – our parks and public areas full of transient tents and trash, our roads still crumbling, and the ticker continuing upward on the pension deficit.

I like to ride my old bike around town, and that’s when I really get it – skinny tires pick up every bump in the road. You can hear the pavement jangling loose, it’s like riding on broken crockery. And if you watched me from behind you might think I been hitting the bottle – it’s a 70 year old bike, I try to avoid the big potholes, and that can be a challenge. Yesterday I jogged over to avoid a pothole about the size of a toaster oven – you could see dirt in the bottom. I also realized I need a better bra.

As I rode toward Upper Bidwell Park recently, I noticed a section of South Park Drive has been falling into the creek for years now, still falling. And you must ask yourself – are those houses along the south side of the park on septic or sewer? We went to a park in Sacramento years back where they’d allowed septic tanks from houses on either side to pollute the little creek running through the park, and had finally got the GRANT FUNDING to fix it. You could smell shit, and the water looked awful. They’d let it go all those years, waiting for the state to pick up the tab, while they spent those people’s property taxes on, oh, probably their own salaries and pensions.

And there’s those pensions – the herd of elephants that are crapping all over our living room rug. Here’s what you need to remember – they pay more every year, at the expense of our infrastructure and services, but the pensions deficit does not go away – it actually increases.

And here’s one reason why – besides the fact that employees pay unrealistic shares – in the past two years, city management has added three new positions (that I know of) at over $100,000/year. Council has also approved raises for both the fire and police departments, as well as the management unit, without asking them to pay more toward their own pensions. Employees pay less than 20% of their payroll costs and NOTHING toward the deficit created by those unrealistic shares.

So remember this – when I started this blog in 2012, most employees paid nothing toward their benefits. Former city manager Tom Lando, for example, PAID NOTHING toward one of the biggest pensions currently carried by the city of Chico. They only started paying when we discovered their scam, and only in tiny increments. We’ve had to beat their asses for every dime since then. They expect us to pay them twice – once for actually doing their job, and then another 70 – 90% in retirement. So the $100,000 salary we see really costs hundreds of thousands more in pension, benefits, perks like life insurance, burial insurance, and the interest accrued on the debt.

So, we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2023.

Joe Azzarito: will the city be borrowing annually the $24,000,000 using realizable tax receipts, along with other general fund monies, to pay for the borrowed funds, both principle and interest? We need to know this!

27 Oct

Regular contributor Joe Azzarito had some thoughts that wouldn’t conform to the Enterprise Record’s format:

Chico citizens are being asked to approve our city council’s decision to increase the rate of sales tax charged on numerous goods and services in this coming November’s election. Known as Proposition H, an add on local sales tax of 1% will, if passed, become law, unless repealed by citizens effective January 1, 2023. This will restate Chico’s sales tax rate and raise the combined tax rate to 8.25% from its current 7.25%.

Proponents of this increase have publicly, through mailers, as well as articles in this paper, argued that the increase is necessary, but more importantly, the only way our streets will be repaved, our citizens’ safety will be ensured and, lastly, housing for both the un-housed and those of limited means will be provided for.

To justify this increase, to remain locally and not shared with the rest of the state, they have released such information that on the surface would seem to justify this increase. They have told us that only a handful of cities, the size of Chico do not have a local sales tax. They have told us that Chico’s General Fund budget is one of the lowest in the state on a per capita basis. They have further told us, that without more revenue, not much can be done with the money it has. They have appealed to our decency, with a promise, but not a commitment, to address these stated needs.

Have they been totally honest with us? By authoring a simple majority proposition, with no sunset clause, they have not. Oh, of course, it is said, by repealing this rate increase in a future election, it can, by defacto, contain a sunset clause. Have you ever known of a tax increase to be temporary?

These are just the tip of the iceberg facts surrounding this proposed increase. There are many more facts, that proponents have conveniently refused to present, in an honest and forthright manner, so that we voters can make a discernible decision. To speak bluntly, proponents have not been entirely transparent. Why? Because, with all the facts, the proposition would be rejected handily. For those old enough to remember radio personality Paul Harvey and his news broadcast, he would end his show with ”the rest of the story” This is precisely what we need – the rest of the story.

Here are some, maybe not all, of the “rest of the story” voters need to hear and understand to be able to make a truly informed decision on this proposal. Without these facts, all we are doing is blindly, unquestioning, agreeing to tax ourselves more without so much as a whimper.

One of these unstated facts is the revenue expected to be received – the additional $24,000,000 each year. Mathematically, it will take $2,400,000,000 (2.4 billion in annual sales) to achieve the above $24 million in extra revenue. Proponents offer a few of the items not taxed as proof of its fairness. Have they told us which items will be taxed? No, they have not! Can it be shown that our city spends $2.4 billion in taxable sales each and every year? I thought our average or median income was near, if not under, $50,000 per year! Even if higher income families are included, can we reach this plateau? Ask yourself!

The next fact that has not been discussed, with honesty, do proponents expect such revenues to come about by encumbering debt with realizable tax receipts as collateral. In other words, will the city be borrowing annually the $24,000,000 using realizable tax receipts, along with other general fund monies to pay for the borrowed funds, both principle and interest. We need to know this!

Another fact to be factored into our collective vote – the reliability, since a promise is not contractual, that infrastructure, safety and housing will in fact be where this fictitious money will be spent . The quietly not discussed “elephant in the room” – the extremely large and growing UAL, known as the unfunded actuarial liability or pensions and other perks of staff could very well siphon off all of any tax receipts. It’s a fact that each year, the city disburses to CALPERS millions of dollars, both in current contributions, as well as catch up ones, for a bloated pension obligation. City staffs pay some, but not nearly enough of their “golden parachute” pension costs. Why should so few, a mere 2-3 thousand, at best, reap fantastic benefits at our expense. It’s truly Robin Hood in Reverse (take from the poor to give to the rich) I have many times brought the issue of “The California Rule” section found in the State’s constitution, wherein it is supposed to state that no benefit accorded state employees be taken away without replacing it with an equal valued one. That seems to be the major stumbling block from abrogating our pension contracts and replacing them with a more reasonable one given current circumstances. This topic, asked by me and others, never gets an honest evaluation. Why is that? If private employers can abrogate their pension obligations, in bad times, why can’t public employers do the same? It’s as if government says, the public be damned, we’ll take care of our own at your expense.

The editor of the local daily asks readers to vote yes on H, because it’s the only viable alternative. I say, NO, it’s not! So much more could be done to release funds for the three stated Third Rail items mentioned above, if only they wanted to. Council is not being entirely honest and forthcoming with us in not presenting ALL OF THE FACTS. LET me end with this pithy statement: NEVER HAS A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE BEEN AGAINST RAISING TAXES, AS THAT IS THE SOURCE OF THEIRS, NOT YOUR, INCOME. We need to play hard ball with this government, demand they own up to current, but more importantly past bad decisions, find every possible area in government inappropriate changeable spending and reduce it, abrogate salary contracts to restructure employee contributions, stop raiding every department’s funds to support the UAL, admit to their culpability in deceiving us of real funding sources and ultimately cancel the Proposition H, effectively shooting themselves in the foot. Short of that we, the citizens of Chico must rise to the occasion, educate ourselves, demand true accountability, throw off the yokes of complicity and VOTE NO with our ballots on H. We can do better, if we demand government do better!

Joe Azzarito, Concerned long time resident of Chico, CA

NO on H: BC and Bob respond to Measure H proponents

12 Oct

The following is a comment BC made on my last post.

An editorial was recently submitted to the Chico News and Review by a local politician in support of the Measure H tax increase. it is responded to here, point by point.

Want better roads? Better parks? Better public safety? Better housing solutions? A vote for Measure H is a vote for a better Chico.

Response: Of course, voters want better roads, a cleaner park, and a safer environment. But there is nothing in Measure H that mandates the funds be spent on any of those items. The additional funding will be spent where existing funding goes: salaries, benefits, unfunded pension liability and catch-up provisions, and unfunded post employee benefits

Rapid population growth, the Camp Fire, COVID-19 and increased community needs have stretched our finances. Maintaining roads, preserving Bidwell Park, keeping neighborhoods safe and creating durable housing solutions takes resources the city simply does not have.

Response: There have been more than adequate resources from State and Federal programs to offset COVID-19 and the Camp Fire. The suffering at a personal level is significant and not to be discounted. Many burned out families are still waiting for restitution. But at the City level by some estimates, the Camp fire was a money maker for Chico. Population growth, along with deteriorating roads and parks are all issues that predate COVID and the fire. The reason there is no funding for these issues is city pension liability. There are the pensions, and everything else.

Chico is only one of eight California cities over 50,000 residents without a local sales tax. Of those eight cities, Chico’s general fund budget is the lowest per capita.

Response: This type of comparison is vapid. How are the other 8 cities without a sales tax doing? This line of poor reasoning also shows up in comments like: Chico has less employees than other cities our size, we need more. Our director of “XYZ” makes less that comparable directors, he needs a raise. Every other city of our size sends its employees to the national conference in Hawaii/Las Vegas/Washington, DC, our people should go as well. It all leads to an escalating size of government without any critical thought or analysis. (E.g. Why do employees need a raise when they are well paid, and there is a line out the door of qualified applicants who will take the position?)

The sales tax will add $1 to every $100 spent (groceries, rent and prescription medications aren’t taxed) and will generate $24 million a year to invest in our community.

Response: It would take $2.4 Billion in sales to generate $24 million in revenue @ 1%. Pulling $24 million out of the local economy so it can be redistributed to City employees, benefits and pensions is not an “investment”. If you want to know how any new tax revenue will be spent, look at how the EXISTING money is spent.

Measure H spending decisions will be made locally. We’ll be able to will make improvements to Chico that not only will enhance our daily lives but also create jobs. Chico would be able to support local social service agencies and provide housing assistance.

Response: How are those “locally made” decisions serving you currently? The roads are bad, the park is a run-down and the local agencies are underfunded. Raising taxes does not create jobs, except for the tax collectors and the administration that you have to set up at the city level to monitor the tax.

Measure H has support from across the political spectrum. Seven former Chico mayors endorse Measure H, as do seven of the eight council candidates.

Response: The measure is supported by local politicians who view growth of government as a public good. They have a vested interest. This is the equivalent of going to a Friday-night high school football game, and asking the fans in the grandstands if they like football.

Thanks BC! – I also liked Bob’s response –

These were the people on whose watch the pension and OPEB deficit blew up and who spent our money very unwisely in other areas. They created today’s problems. So now we are supposed to take their advice?

All this tax will do is enable the current local politicians to continue the bad spending of the seven former mayors who caused our problems.

When will people wake up and stop listening to those who got us into this mess? Listening to Schwab discuss a tax increase is like listening to an arsonist lecture you on fire prevention.

Thanks BC and Bob for pointing out the flaws in the H campaign, and why we should vote NO on H.

Steve Wolfe: City staff have “insinuated” that the Measure H funding will go towards infrastructure and services. This voter will believe that when pigs become aeronautically enabled.

8 Oct

The Butte County clerk has noticed us that she will be mailing ballots with the county voter’s pamphlets on Monday (10/10/22). You can see the pamphlet here, start doing your homework:


Measures H and L are for city of Chico, click on those measures for the city attorney’s analysis, and for H, the Arguments For and Against.

Measure L doesn’t even get a discussion. The proponents – Kasey Reynolds, Sean Morgan, Rob Berry – didn’t post any Argument For, and I didn’t have time to post an Argument Against. I’m voting No on L, for reasons explained here:

As for Measure H, you can read proponents’ arguments, and my responses – same arguments we’ve both made in our letters to the editor. I’ll say though, the proponents’ letters have sounded like form letters, weak, insincere, and sometimes using the same words – especially their mantra about the tax not applying to “food, rent or prescription medications…” Wow, as if those are life’s only necessities. None of the yes letters have been from frequent letter writers, so they seem unnatural, as if they’ve been put up to it.

By contrast, I’ve seen some very original and sincere letters coming from folks like Dave Howell, Joe Azzarito, and here’s a good one from longtime letter writer Steve Wolfe, recently posted in the Enterprise Record.

To reiterate an earlier article, this is a poor Measure.  Measure H requires only a simple majority for passage with the money going into the general fund, to be spent at the discretion of the City Council.  In addition, there is no “sunset” clause which would allow the voters an opportunity to audit the measure at a future date.

It is difficult for one to believe that the city is in desperate straits financially when one considers the funding available through sales tax, property tax, vehicle registration fees, utility users tax, etc., all of which must be on the increase considering the city’s burgeoning population.

In addition, consideration must be given to the $200 million in failing infrastructure (roads/sewer) due to years of admitted deferred maintenance while staff funneled amounts into an ever increasing pension deficit; last year $11.5 million, this year $12 million, $18 million by 2025 and on and on. Which doesn’t seem to faze city staff as I read where the PD just received another raise. City staff have “insinuated” that the Measure H funding will go towards infrastructure and services. This voter will believe that when pigs become aeronautically enabled.

I suggest a measure dedicated to city infrastructure. That of course would require a 2/3 majority vote, but at least the voters would know where the money was going. That measure this voter could support.

Steve Wolfe, Chico

I’m glad to see Wolfe has done his homework on the budget, and he’s making rational suggestions, while also entertaining us with his wit! I also believe there are plenty of people out there like Wolfe, who would be glad to contribute if they saw a light at the end of the tunnel – a 2/3’s measure dedicated to infrastructure, specific amounts toward specific projects, and even a sunset date.

My husband and I have also heard from folks around town, people we do business with all the time, longtime local business owners. Whenever we’ve mentioned the tax measure we’ve started a spirited discussion among owners and customers – they’re pissed at the city – they know the money has been coming in, and they want to know why it isn’t being spent on long-needed infrastructure maintenance and repair. They’re mad about the bum camps, and they blame incumbents Coolidge, Morgan and Reynolds, by name. They know about the salaries and the generous benefits. And more than a few of them still remember how badly Chico management treated the Camp Fire refugees, lied about surplus population numbers, and got money that probably should have gone to Paradise and other burn victims. Chico voters are a little better informed than H proponents might realize.

By contrast, 10 years ago when the city put a cell phone tax on the ballot, Measure J, fellow CTA members and I were surprised how few people had even heard about the measure. Folks we spoke to on the street were shocked to find out they’d been taxed for years via their cell phone bills, that it was illegal, and that a lawsuit had forced cities all over California, including Chico, to put it on the ballot for voters. When the Chico Tea Party group held a rally at City Plaza, with information regarding city salaries and benefits, we found out local taxpayers had no idea how generously compensated Chico Staffers were, and still are. And people were outraged, J was beaten pretty soundly. But it took a dedicated group of Chico Taxpayers, Chico Tea Party, and Chico Republican Women to get the word out.

So thanks Dave, Joe, and all the folks who have worked to expose the truth – our city is very well funded, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

We really can do better – NO on H.

Many campaign donors look at it like more of an investment – take Measure H donors, please!

6 Oct

It’s always good to see who is behind a campaign and how much money they’ve put into it. Sometimes we find, these donors look at campaign contributions as more of an investment than the rest of us.

Here’s the link to the most recently filed report from Chicoans For The Sales Tax Measure 2022 — aka, Yes on Measure H. It’s a quick read, but very interesting – thanks Dave for the Heads Up.


The biggest donors on this report are the Chico Police Officers Association and local developers Slater and Son. The CPOA was also the biggest donor behind ill-fated CARD Measure A. The Chico Police Department is also the biggest expense the taxpayers have, taking over half the new budget of $211 million. The salaries lead the pension deficit, so the cops also have the biggest pension deficit. Generous contributions to candidates at election time have kept council members from pressing CPOA members to pay more rational shares of their pensions and benefits.

Meanwhile, developers Howard and son Brandon Slater enjoy their fair share of public housing contracts, most recently receiving the contract for the new Jesus Center and transitional housing on Fair Street. That project is funded by the city of Chico.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing the housing shortage the city (and Measure H proponents) are claiming – read this article, this is what I see whenever I drive around town.


CHICO, Calif. April 16, 2022 — Construction of affordable housing in Chico is picking up, while tenants are moving out.

Brendan Vieg, the City of Chico’s community development director for planning and housing, released the new development statistics during the Chico Chamber of Commerce’s community development update Thursday.

Affordable housing, historically not comparable to those numbers, is keeping up this year. Vieg says 476 affordable housing units are currently under construction via apartments, duplexes and more. This work can be seen at the 59-unit project located at the old Jesus Center near downtown, the 60-unit project at the intersection of Bruce Road and East 20th Street, 97-unit Laval Ridge project off State Route 32 and east of Bruce Road, the 100-unit Creekside Place project across from Marsh Junior High School and the 106-unit North Creek Crossing project inside Meriam Park.

And a lot of it is being built with public money – “Those affordable housing projects represent solely those that have already broken ground, but something both the in-construction and in-development projects share: where the funding is coming from.

Vieg says a total of 10 projects are being funded through disaster tax credits and CDBG Disaster Recovery Funds. Chico received over $32 million of this post-Camp Fire due to the influx of around 20,000 people who were displaced and eventually moved there in 2018.

The Measure H flyer I received today claims that the revenues from H “would support“, among other things, “housing“. So you see, Slater and Son are making an investment, not a donation. They will receive millions in funding out of those revenues. There’s no oversite on jobs like that, when it’s taxpayer money, the sky is the limit. No fiscal responsibility, no competitive nature, the contractor charges what they want once they secure the contract.

Howard Slater used to say something along the lines of “for every dollar you spend in planning, you save $7 in building…” Well I’d say, he’s using the same philosophy in regards to greasing the wheels that turn his business empire – the public trough. For every $30,000 donated, you get how many million in return Howard?

And we must realize, the cops look at it same. Every election the CPOA are the biggest donors.

I’ll add this last “I told you so” – when Paradise was burnt to the ground and people fled for their lives, city of Chico management treated them like a pack of fleas, claiming they were overwhelming services like roads and sewers. Orme cried poormouth while receiving millions in disaster relief. I told you all that was BULLSHIT, and here’s staffer Vieg admitting it.

Over three years after the blaze, these people are moving out.

“‘Our population swelled to over 112,000,” says Vieg. ‘Based on the Census, they have come in with a number of 101,475. So that’s kind of a big reflection of, again, a greater out-migration in our community.'”

At the time, Orme claimed 120,000. He used that number to file for and receive millions in disaster relief. Council spent the money as they saw fit – doled it out to their buddies in the unions and the developer community.

The most interesting reports come after the election is over, because the smart ones don’t donate until the last quarter. That would be the Service Employees International Union, which is the biggest union Downtown. That’s another time, on This Old Lady.

New group comes out against Measure H: Chico Says No

2 Oct



Why Should You Vote No On the Chico City Council’s Measure H Sales Tax Increase?

  • There is No Guarantee How the Money Will Be Spent

The measure contains a long list of possible uses for the money (many vague) but no details, dollar amounts or completion dates are assigned to anything.  Instead of necessities like street maintenance, the money can be spent on unsustainable employee costs, boondoggles and possibly hundreds of millions in new bonds (debt)! Remember, the money from the garbage tax was supposed to be spent for street maintenance but was siphoned off for the pensions. And that is only one example of our money being mismanaged!

  • There is No Citizen Oversight Council

Our city councils have proven over and over they can’t be trusted to spend our money wisely.

  • The Tax is PERMANENT Despite What The City Says

The ballot measure deceitfully says the tax will be in effect until “ended by voters.” Do you think the City will ever put a repeal on the ballot?  Of course NOT!  So it will require professional signature gathers to collect in excess of 12,000 signatures to get a repeal on the ballot and that will cost thousands of dollars.  Who is going to pay for that?  No one!  You will NEVER get a chance to repeal this tax.

  • The Tax is REGRESSIVE

Working people, poor people and those on fixed incomes will pay a disproportionate amount of their incomes and savings for this tax. In 2019 a City consultant said the per capita cost would be about $200 a year and that’s before the worst inflation in forty years.

  • This Is No Time for Another Tax Increase

Inflation at a 40 year high, looming recession, 22.4% of Chicoans living in poverty, record debt, taxes and the cost of living are already too high, etc.  And the City just passed a 67% sewer rate increase! Among other taxes, the City already taxes us 5% on gas, electric, telecom, water and has “franchise fees” of 2% on gas and electric and 10% on garbage. We have enough taxes!

  • The City’s Revenue Has Been Growing for Years

The City has never had more money to spend and the streets and the rest of the City’s infrastructure have never been worse.  The City’s revenue is up 40% FY15-16 through FY20-21 and when the audited financial reports come out for last fiscal year revenue will be up again. (As usual, the City doesn’t publish the audit financials until 6 months after the FY closes!)

  • The City Has a Spending Problem, Not a Revenue Problem

For many years money that should have been spent for essential programs like infrastructure maintenance has been siphoned off for massive unfunded liabilities which continue to grow anyway.  These liabilities are unsustainable. A tax increase will NOT solve this problem but only enables the City to delay taking action resulting in more tax increases later.

Instead of voting for a tax increase, demand the City Council reform these unsustainable liabilities so they are not passed down to your kids and grandkids! Download this flyer here and distribute it to everyone you know! Thank you!

Do your research, write your election letters, and send them here!

7 Sep

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about writing letters to the editor. I see Mike Wolcott has already lowered the boom – it was sometime in August, after which we are only allowed one election related letter. He says he gets overwhelmed with letters – I think he manages the page poorly, whole days printing nothing. But, he’s the boss, and he makes the rules.

Of course it’s perfectly reasonable for an editor to make rules, I just wish Wolcott was more consistent. No personal insults – since when? Claims must have supporting facts – since when? I laughed out loud when I read that the paper will not research anything in depth – isn’t that what journalism is about?

We’ve all watched the letters section descend into a mosh pit. I wish more people would actually follow those rules all the time, and Wolcott would really uphold them.

Here’s a source I wish more people would read and cite – the city budget.


I quoted the budget in my “Argument Against Measure H,” and the proponents came back saying I was using “scare tactics”. Yeah, our budget is scary, give it a read, there are things in there you should know, and can quote in your next letter.

Another good read is the Agendas/Minutes page – City Council is not the only board that affects our lives, and the others aren’t elected, they’re appointed. You should know about these boards and read up on their activities:


I know, I’m just a blogger, and I’ve been accused of spreading misinformation, but I am very serious about getting people to inform themselves, look at different sources, read between the lines. Stay out of gossip and feelings, and state the facts, Ma’am.

And, if you please, send your letter here and I’ll run it. Just cut and paste it into a comment on the “contact us here” page.