Tag Archives: No on Measure H Chico CA

Chico Says No: There is no bigger reason for the City’s financial predicament than spiraling pension and other post employment benefits (OPEB) costs.

3 Oct

 Investigating the “Chico Says No” site further, I found this really good essay on Chico’s unfunded pension liability.

https://chicosaysno.weebly.com/unfunded-liabilities.html

Something I’ve tried to remember to include in the pension deficit conversation but often forget, is OPEB – other post employment benefits. Yes, there is also a separate deficit on employee health benefits, for the same reason there is a pension deficit – our city employees expect very nice benefits – health insurance, vision, dental, life insurance, etc – but employees don’t make realistic contributions. Listen, the only reason they discuss the pension deficit AT ALL is that we’ve continued to press them about it for years. As we’ve kept pressing, they’ve raised employee contributions, by very tiny increments. The taxpayers pick up over half the “payroll” share and ALL the “catch-up”, or deficit payments.

And here’s what’s weird, like the author points out below – the catch-up payments get bigger every year, taking more money from the General Fund every year, but the deficit just keeps getting bigger. More about that tomorrow – or you can look at the budget yourself, here:

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/2022-23_city_annual_final_budget.pdf?1664554257

And now, from the Chico Says No website:

Why are the streets crumbling in Chico?  Why is the rest of the infrastructure in sad shape?  Why have City services declined?  And why has this happened while City revenue continues to rise?  The fact is the City has never had more money to spend and the infrastructure has never been worse.  Why do our local politicians and bureaucrats continually cry out for more money and raise fees and taxes?

There is no bigger reason for the City’s financial predicament than spiraling pension and other post employment benefits (OPEB) costs. These costs are referred to as unfunded accrued liabilities (UAL) meaning there has not been enough money put aside to pay for them.  Despite higher fees and taxes, despite money that is supposed to be dedicated for essentials like street maintenance being siphoned off to meet these costs, they continue to spiral out of control.

The City Council wants tax increases and although no City Council member will tell you the truth, the reason for these tax increases is to deal with the UAL.  It is unconscionable that our local leaders will not level with people like you who have to pay for this.

If you read nothing more on the subject, read this article:

Although it is over two years old it applies even more today because the problem is even worse today. The article states:

Local governments and school districts always tout these measures as necessary expenditures to rebuild crumbling schools, maintain overused parks and provide better police services, but don’t be fooled. Every new local tax these days is, essentially, a pension tax. These governments write the ballot summaries and provide ‘voter information,’ so they are able to sway the discussion away from the true causes of their fiscal peril.

And remember, no city in California has solved its UAL predicament by raising taxes or borrowing more.  All that can do is increase the cost to taxpayers and postpone the day when there will be no choice but to reform these liabilities.

Don’t vote for the politicians’ tax increases.  Don’t let them borrow more.  Instead, demand accountability and demand they reform the out of control unfunded liabilities before they cost taxpayers even more.

“Quality of life” Measure L is a backhanded attempt to stop lawsuits against the city of Chico and relieve them of any responsibility from damages caused by their bum camps

4 Sep

I know I been yak-yakking about taxes, but city of Chico has two measures on the ballot – the sales tax increase Measure H, and “Quality of Life” Measure L. Here’s the link to the clerk’s local measures page:

https://buttevotes.net/306/Local-Measures

I’m sorry I didn’t mount a campaign against Measure L, I thought Measure H was more important. But frankly, Measure L is just a pitch for Measure H, and staff time was used to create and market it to the voters. And, ultimately, I believe it is a sneaky, underhanded attempt to get us to us to exempt the city of Chico from the current public nuisance abatement laws by allowing them to be the judge of whether there’s an infraction or not.

Let’s start with the text of Measure L.

TEXT OF MEASURE L: Shall an ordinance which requires the City of Chico be held to abide by the same public nuisance laws it imposes on private landowners by establishing a right for residents uniquely harmed by a public nuisance to demand the abatement of public nuisances by the city on city-owned public property; and requires the city to respond to the demand by abating the alleged nuisance or providing the reason for its refusal, limited to prescribed justifications, be adopted?

The biggest problem I see here is the assertion that the city is not held to the same public nuisance laws as private property owners. We already have a mechanism for holding a landowner responsible, public or private – like Karl Ory and his friends, we can take the city to court when they don’t uphold the laws. And there’s plenty of laws not being upheld around here. Look at this website – according to these definitions, Bidwell Park is not only a public nuisance but a drowning hazard and a toxic waste dump.

https://library.municode.com/ca/commerce/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT9PESAMO_CH9.32PUNUAB

One Mile, at which at least one person is found drowned each year, is unfenced and unsupervised. Read for yourself – according to the California muni code, the city is not only responsible for the nuisance but responsible for abating the nuisance. And even levying fines on itself. Interesting what you find out when you do your own research.

And how about the term “uniquely harmed“? In earlier discussions, it was revealed that a citizen has to live within very close proximity to a complaint site, adjacent, next door to it, in order to make a complaint. Meaning, if you live near a camp, and they come around to steal the water from your garden hose, along with anything that ain’t nailed down in your yard, then rummage your car, well, that camp down the street is not for you to complain about, because it’s not right next door to your house.

And then there’s this – “limited to prescribed justifications”. What does that mean? Well, according to Cornell Law School, justification is “A type of defense that exempts the defendant from liability because the defendant’s actions were justified.  In other words, a defendant with a valid justification will not suffer the usual penalty for his actions because in the eyes of the court, the defendant could not have been asked to act any differently in this situation.

Do you think this works the same way when the defendant is the court? Because this ordinance allows the city to determine whether or not the complaint is valid. Or simply, “the city disagrees that a public nuisance exists on the property…” And sit down for this one – “it is not in the best interest of the city to abate the nuisance…” What the hell does that mean? (rhetorical question)

There are so many things wrong with this ordinance, including an attempt to avoid liability, that I’m saying, just vote NO. Below is the “impartial analysis” of the guy who wrote it? That sounds, hmmmm, weird. I’ve highlighted statements that illustrate my points above, but read it for yourself – it’s an expensive campaign tool to convince us they will be accountable with Measure H. Don’t buy it folks, it’s just another bottle of snake oil.

IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE L
CITY ATTORNEY IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS
Measure L asks voters to approve an ordinance revising Chapter 1.14 of Title 1
of the City’s Municipal Code (“Ordinance”). The Ordinance would hold the City
of Chico (“City”) to the same public nuisance standards as private property
ownersin the City. The conditions which exist upon private property constituting
a public nuisance under Chapter 1.14 of the City of Chico Municipal Code
(“CMC”) may also qualify as a public nuisance on City owned public property. To
accomplish the goal of increasing quality of life in the City, the Ordinance
provides a process for residents to demand abatement of a public nuisance on
City owned public property. Any resident specially injured by a public nuisance
may submit a demand to the City to abate the alleged public nuisance. Upon
receipt of the demand, the City must analyze the demand and investigate the
conditions in the demand.
The City is required to provide a response to the
resident within 20 business days of receipt of the demand.
The City’s response to the demand will notify the resident that either 1) the City
agrees to abate the public nuisance and to provide a time by which it expects
abatement to be completed, or 2) the City denies the demand to abate the
alleged public nuisance and the reason(s) for denial.
The possible grounds for denial of a resident’s demand include:

  1. The City does not own the property and is therefore not the appropriate
    party to abate a nuisance on the property;
  2. The City disagrees that a public nuisance exists on the property;
  3. The resident has not proven a special injury from the public nuisance;
  4. The City is not legally permitted to abate the nuisance; and/or
  5. It is not in the City’s best interest to abate the public nuisance.

The Ordinance does not include a monetary penalty against the City for denying
a resident demand to abate an alleged public nuisance. It further does not
provide residents an appeal process
if the demand is denied. The Ordinance may
be amended by the City Council upon a two thirds vote of the members
of the
Council, but only to further the purposes of the Ordinance.
A “YES” vote on Measure L is to adopt the Ordinance. A “NO” vote on Measure L
is to not adopt the Ordinance.
The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure L. If you desire a copy
of the Ordinance or measure, a copy is available from the City Clerk’s office.
s/Vincent Ewing, City of Chico Attorney

Thinking beyond November 2022: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is circulating a petition to put the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act on the 2024 ballot

31 Aug

Tomorrow is the First of September, so things are starting to happen. The county clerk has posted the text for Measure H, as well as Kasey Reynold’s “Quality of Life” Measure L. Here’s the link to that page:

https://buttevotes.net/306/Local-Measures

When I read this, I saw that the text of the measure strongly resembled the Yuba County measure that was the subject of a lawsuit. They are making specific promises for spending the money, when it’s a simple measure with absolutely no restrictions on spending. Here’s that link, scroll down to page 4 of 8. Or by all means, read the sales pitch that staff calls a report. This whole document is really something they hope you will never read.

https://buttevotes.net/DocumentCenter/View/1061/Measure-H—City-of-Chico?bidId=

From the text of the actual measure: “To support vital city services, including: maintaining/fixing streets, storm drains, sidewalks, and fixing potholes; addressing homelessness; protecting 911 emergency response times; preserving the number of on-duty police officers and firefighters; maintaining/improving Bidwell Park, neighborhood parks, and funding other general services and essential activity…”

Measure H, again, is simple measure, requiring only half the participating voters plus one more voter to institute a permanent tax on 100% of the population. The money can’t be dedicated to any specific purpose, it just goes into the General Fund. The proponents and the lawyer who wrote it are making promises they can’t keep, they’re being misleading. If they are going to list some possible uses of Gen Fund money, they should have to list all uses of Gen Fund money. But please note, in the text, there is no mention of the Pension Stabilization Trust, no figures as to how much they intend to pay toward the UAL, no formula for determining how much of the General Fund will go into the pensions. They feed us wad of crap about how much trouble we’re in to scare the shit out of us, but they don’t tell us this tax will not be the solution.

I think this is an attack on voter’s rights, so I sent the text to Howard Jarvis Taxpayers to ask for their opinion. They sued Yuba County over the very similar sales tax measure K, so I knew they would help me with some good information. Of course they confirmed my suspicion that the language in Measure H is legal, “although, not appropriate…” But here’s a hopeful note – they’re passing a petition to get a measure of their own on the 2024 ballot – The Taxpayers Protection and Government Accountability Act. Read more here:

Home

This is an important point to me. I don’t believe the legislature should be able to pass taxes without voter approval. The gas tax was instituted by the legislature, and when they allowed us the privelege of voting on it the question was not whether it should exist or not, but whether they would be able to increase it. “Proposition 13 requires a 2/3 vote in the Assembly and the state Senate for any state tax increase, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the massive increase in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, or the waste of money that was supposed to go toward fixing our roads. This initiative would require statewide voter approval of any new taxes or tax increases in addition to the 2/3 vote in the Legislature.”

And when it was put on the ballot, the language was famously deceptive – I had a tow truck driver tell me that as he towed our family vehicle into Reno, where the gas was incredibly cheaper than California. We agreed that it had been intentionally worded to make people believe that a YES vote would eliminate the entire tax and a lot of road funding. “Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated For Those Purposes.” Yeah, that’s deceptive, but they got away with it. I feel the wording in Measure H is deceptive. I can only hope the voters see through it. And I hope the TPGA can stop it in future. “This initiative will stop the abusive practice of mislabeling taxes on the ballot to fool voters into approving them. It will also stop the mislabeling of taxes as “fees” or something else in order to evade voter approval requirements.”

Finally, having read a list of local supporters of Measure H, I find this paragraph very interesting.

Proposition 13 requires a two-thirds vote for special taxes to make it harder for special interests to game the system. However, state courts have recently invented a loophole. They say special taxes proposed by a “citizens’ initiative” can pass with 50% plus one yote instead of 2/3. This loophole enables special interest groups to pretend to be average citizens circulating an initiative, when really they’re interested parties who will get all the money from the tax increase.”

No, Measure H was not put on the ballot via “citizen’s initiative”, it was put there by the council majority, sans Brown. But, like this paragraph says, the folks who are supporting this measure publicly – most are people who stand to benefit from the tax revenues. For example, Laura Cootsona and Howard Slater. Cootsona is the director of the Jesus Center, and Slater is scheduled to build the new Jesus Center. And he’s not doing it for free. Takes a lot of wax to fly that ‘stache, okay? Cootsona also gets a very livable salary out of that shelter. Look at the rest of that list, you’ll see others who have a direct interest in the passage of this measure, including developers who get it in the form of new streets in their pricey subdivisions.

I know, it’s hard to believe legislation will change anything, the greedy bastards seem to worm their way out of everything. But they push us, we push back. That’s the Dance of Life folks, and if you ain’t in it, somebody else is dancing on your dime!

I’ll look into this further and keep you posted – I’ll send for the petition and see what we got.