Tag Archives: Off The Wall Soccer chico Ca

CARD needs to do a cost allocation study on their programs, find out the real costs of running private businesses under the bus

2 Oct

Off The Wall Soccer owner Mario Sagastume wrote a letter to the paper last week regarding their complaints about Chico Area Recreation District (CARD).

Regarding the recent article by Laura Urseny, understand the owners/management of Off The Wall Soccer (OTWS) are not Anti-Soccer.

To the contrary, all of us have supported, organized, promoted, played, coached and enjoyed the game.  Furthermore, we continue to encourage youth/adults to play the game, indoor and outdoor.

We have not requested CARD to reduce or eliminate their soccer program.  We simply asked them to honor an agreement made with OTWS in 2006.  OTWS opened in 2000 to provide year round soccer.  At the time CARD ONLY offered 11-aside in the Fall.

We were successful for a few years until CARD began offering 7- aside soccer in the Fall/Spring.  This had an immediate impact on sign-ups.  Any small business would struggle to compete with a government organization receiving about 60% ($4,000,000.00) of their annual funding from property taxes.

In 2005 we approached the CARD Board with our concerns and were directed to coordinate with management.  In 2006 the CARD General Manager agreed to only offer 7-aside in the summer and 11-aside in the Fall/Spring.  This was a fair compromise.

In 2013, after experiencing falling participation, we learned CARD had been offering 7-aside in the Fall/Spring for several years.  When we again met with CARD management they apologized and assured us they would abide by the agreement in the future.

Foolishly, we took them at their word, their commitment lasted less than a year.

Last week we approached the CARD Board and requested they have management honor their commitment.  Other than Tom Lando, THEY DECLINED.

Mario Sagastume

Partner, Off The Wall Soccer

Most members of the CARD board wrote off OTWS complaints as sour apples. They ignored the well-made point that they are using taxpayer money to subsidize their efforts to undercut private businesses all over town.

Here’s my suggestion – have CARD do a cost allocation study on their soccer program. When Chris Constantin did cost allocation for the city, he figured in all the salaries involved, which in this case would include director Ann Willman’s $100,000 plus salary and benefits, and even the air conditioning charges in the room where they discussed the programs. I’m telling you – they don’t price these programs for cost, they price their programs to run private businesses under.

Their costs are enormous. They spend about 90 percent of their more than $6 million budget on salaries and benefits. Only recently were CARD management asked to contribute to their own pensions – yeah, that’s right – none of the previous management, not Steve Visconti nor Ed Seagle nor Jerry Hughes – paid one red cent toward their own pension. Visconti recently retired at a salary of over $120,000/year – he will received 70 percent of that, with cost-of-living-increase, for the rest of his sorry life.

Now Jerry Hughes expects to be elected to the board. Let me tell you a  story I heard Hughes relate to Enterprise Record reporter Laura Urseny at a meeting. He was building his new house in Tahoe – that’s right, Tahoe – when his neighbors informed him that his plans trespassed over the property line onto their property. They were trying to tell them he couldn’t do that, and he was telling Urseny that he had got a lawyer to settle the matter. He was telling her, his trespass was just a silly thing, and he didn’t understand why the neighbors were making such a big deal about it. He had trespassed on them, admittedly, and he was making them get a lawyer to get him off their property.

That’s Jerry Hughes. Let me tell you another story about Jerry. When CARD paid three consultants a month or so ago to give a presentation about how to pass bond measures, Hughes asked them a question Michael Worley had already asked (because he’s either deaf or doesn’t listen).  Worley  wanted to know if the city of Chico could run a bond for them, and the consultant said the city would control the money, which might not work out so well for CARD.  When they repeated the same answer to Hughes, he actually turned his back on the consultant while the man was talking and grumbled his way back to his chair. Hughes is not fit for office.  This is how he treats a consultant who is paid with the taxpayers’ money.

And then we have candidate Dave Donnan.  Read here.


I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make fun of a man’s problems, but this man is an idiot. I would bet you $5, he hasn’t attended a CARD meeting to date, and he’d admit that, but try to excuse himself with his myriad of personal problems. If he has so many personal problems, I would suggest he keep his dick out of  the public mousetrap.

They’re both horrible. Which leaves us with Lando and Worley.  They’re weasels, but (heavy sigh), they’re weasels we know.   They are professional and businesslike. I wouldn’t expect that out of either Donnan or Hughes.

Three CARD board members will be up in 2018 – Sneed, Mulowney and Ellis. These people need to go. We must come up with at least one viable candidate to run for 2018. I would nominate either Dave Stahl or Mario Sagastume, or both. They’ve been in the recreation business all these years, I’d say it’s time to get some people on the rec board that actually know about recreation.

Enterprise Record running interference for Chico Area Rec District

14 Sep

I sent a letter to the editor of the Chico Enterprise Record Sunday, detailing the breach of promise described by Off The Wall Soccer in their dealings with CARD. My letters usually run within three days of sending. Instead, today, the ER published the following announcement about this week’s CARD board meeting.

CARD agenda filled with master plan, soccer, ideas

Staff Reports

CHICO >> An update on the projects on the table, as well as possibly competing with a local soccer business, and getting involved with a community- based recreation entity will be on the agenda for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board.

The next board of directors meeting for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District will be 7 p.m. Thursday at the Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

General Manager Ann Willmann will be providing an update on the various projects that are in development or exist, as well as what’s happening with the CARD master plan. The board asked that the master plan be updated, and a $ 19,500 contract was awarded to Melton Design Group of Chico to provide those services.

At the last meeting, the board directed Willmann to meet with Off the Wall Soccer and others about the soccer program. Representatives from the indoor soccer business said in August that an old agreement with CARD not to compete over some soccer programs has been overlooked. The board asked to talk about that issue in September. The business maintains that competition from CARD is jeopardizing its financial stability.

At the August meeting, the board also heard from private organization Everybody Healthy Body representative Bill Brouhard who asked that a CARD representative participate in its meetings. The community group is evaluating local recreation assets and has been looking at developing a recreation complex or campus in Chico. CARD is interested in the concept because it has been talking about a proposed aquatic center.

Yeah, you see the Melon Head is going to get yet another very posh contract from CARD – $19,500 to update their General Plan? Why do they need Ann Willmann? 

Then that weak paragraph about OTWS.   She’s taking CARD’s perspective – she was there when OTWS presented the documentation of years of agreements, acknowledgements of agreements broken, and promises to keep their word in future. Over and over again. She heard the whole story, and this is what she prints. I say “she” because I know Urseny wrote the story, or at least provided the outline, but she’s embarrassed to put her name on it. I would be too.

And then they act as though “Every Body  Good Body” just rolled into town – surprise! They want to build an aquatic center too! Urseny doesn’t say anything about the inappropriate nature of their relationship with CARD or Chico Aquajets – Brad Geise, president of Aqua Jets and member of the old “aquatic facility advisory committee” is a board member of EBGB. Ann Willmann gave them cut rate pricing for their meeting(s?) at Cal Park Pavilion. Let’s stop being coy here folks, this is not being reported properly to the public, and the newspaper is going along with it.

We need this newspaper like a moose needs a hat rack.   Reporter Laura Urseny is in bed with CARD, they need to send somebody new into those meetings. But who? All of their reporters are horrible.  

What to read some journalism?  Here’s the letter I sent Sunday that hasn’t been run yet. 

I attended the August 18 CARD board meeting at which owners of Off The Wall Soccer reported CARD management has not honored a good faith agreement made with them in 2006 and is undermining their business with predatory pricing.   


OTWS opened in 2000, offering 7-a-side  soccer programs that were not offered through CARD.  In 2005, OTWS experienced dramatic decline in membership and found CARD had begun offering 7-a-side programs, at less than half the price.  OTWS owners felt it was inappropriate for a public agency subsidized with taxpayer money to undercut legitimate private businesses.  They approached CARD’s board, which instructed management to resolve the conflict. CARD management agreed to offer 7-a-side soccer only in the summer months 


OTWS owners report CARD has reneged on their agreement several times since 2006, and they’ve had to go back to management and the board repeatedly to get them to honor their word. 


At the August 18 meeting, long time board member Jan Sneed acknowledged “we agreed to this,” promising to “make it right”.  Nonetheless, staff again told OTWS they have scheduled competing programs that began this Fall. 


With six-figure salaries and nearly $2 million in pension deficit, the CARD price of $319 per team does not even begin to reflect overhead at CARD. Are they offering these programs below cost in an attempt to steal business?   They are using taxpayer dollars to compete unfairly with businesses all over town.  


Is this really an appropriate mission for a recreation district? 
Juanita Sumner

CARD practices predatory pricing – this is a risky ploy in the real world, but not when you have guaranteed taxpayer funding

12 Sep

The story about Off The Wall Soccer and CARD has been bothering me. I sat in a board meeting last month and listened to the owners describe how CARD is putting them out of business, and it just pisses me off.

I remember when they opened that business, in a 20th Street warehouse that had been left empty for some time – what a good thing that was for that entire neighborhood. Sixteen years later, it is shocking to see a government agency go toe to toe with a viable business, pirating revenues to pay their burgeoning pension debt.

When I blogged this previously I heard from owner Dave Stahl and asked him for more information. He showed me the stream of written communication, as well as minutes from a 2006 board meeting which included a record of the conversation. At that time, staff acknowledged having made a spoken agreement with the owners of Off the Wall Soccer, and the board directed them to honor the agreement.

In my conversation with Stahl, he reported they reneged on their own agreement so many times, I can’t recount it.  All I know is, you better get it in writing if you are dealing with CARD. In a letter dated  August 10, 2016, CARD Director of Parks and Rec, Terry Zeller said, “I understand your description of past events in regard to your business and what you feel has and has not transpired as a result of conversations and meetings with CARD and its Board. As I mentioned before, without a policy or agreement created from these past discussions, I can only work from the present and your current concerns.”

What I hear Zeller saying is, OTWS made their deal with ex-staffers Steve Visconti and Jake Preston, and they’re gone now, so the deal is dead. Furthermore, says Zeller, “we cannot eliminate programs based on perceived competition. Local competition is present in almost all of the programs we offer.” He goes on to list programs from daycare to art lessons, programs that are also “offered by many private businesses, churches and non-profits.”

Zeller just ignores his own predatory pricing scam. Defined as “the pricing of goods or services at such a low level that other suppliers cannot compete and are forced to leave the market,” this method of eliminating your competition is risky for a private business. But CARD gets almost $4 million a year in tax money, getting less than half their revenues from program fees. In private business, if a service or product can’t pay for itself, you dump it. But CARD is subsidized by the taxpayer – they don’t have to support themselves.  They can undercut, undercut, undercut – until their competitors in the real world fail. And then they have a monopoly, and they can charge what they want.

They don’t have to play by the rules, either, because people rarely call them on their bullshit. Thanks to Dave Stahl and his partners at Off The Wall  Soccer, for calling this out in the open.  Their business is in dire straits, most of their clients having been lured away by CARD’s half price scheme. As teams defected, others were fairly well forced to go along – you can’t have team sports without a few teams, after all.  While CARD board member Jan Sneed admitted to having made the agreement with OTWS, the staff has gone ahead and scheduled exactly the programs they promised not to schedule.

This is exactly the treatment I got from CARD board and staff when I tried to find out more about their efforts to build a new aquatic center.  I had attended an early, publicly announced meeting – they said they were looking for people to sign up for a committee. I signed  up. I never got any notice of any meeting, although time and time again I’d see reports from the committee scheduled on board agendas. Former CARD general manager Steve Visconti played me like a pro – at first he apologized, my name must have gotten lost… it just went on like that.

It is imperative this agency increases funding, because their salary and benefit costs are going up all the time. While they are budgeting less than $500,000 this year for capital improvements, they continue to spend almost their entire budget on salaries and benefits – this year $5.5 million, last year $5.1, the previous year, about $4.9. This year they budgeted over $420,000 for pension premiums, and that amount increases by about $10,000/year.

They say they can’t maintain their facilities without more money. Please! Of their $482,000 capital improvements budget, $250,000 goes to fix rot at Park Pavilion. What were they thinking when they bought that thing? They wanted to rent it out – compete with local businesses.   Rotten from top to bottom, but they paid over $1 million, before interest.  Meanwhile, they deferred a $500,000 fix-it for Shapiro Pool in 2006 – that was 10 years ago. Today they say Shapiro is beyond repair.

After I talked to Dave Stahl I attended a special “informative meeting” with CARD board, staff, and three consultants who detailed CARD’s options for more funding. I’ll get back to that another time.