Tag Archives: phone tax increase

Turn that S*** UP!

2 Jul

We had a lively discussion down at the library yesterday about how we are going to fight the phone tax increase in November. 

 The key here is to inform the public. $taff has already done their best to make this measure confusing and deceptive, actually writing into the measure that it will lower taxes. They mean, they are lowering the rate half a cent, but of course, this half-cent will be an ice cube in hell when they apply the tax to all the new stuff this measure allows – starting with cell phones, texting, paging,  and adding whatever new technology comes along.  All the voter needs to know is, this measure will  raise his/her taxes, noticeably.  

Even people on welfare will pay  this tax, even though they qualify for the rate-assistance plans offered by the phone companies – utility tax is based on the total bill, before the adjustment for the rate assistance. And, this tax includes those prepaid phone cards. 

The hardest hit will be commercial customers. A friend of mine who owns a little manufacturing business in town tells me the city of Chico thinks all business owners are “rich sugar daddies”. 

My friend always tells me, that while I am in these meetings Downtown, he is in Oroville or Redding or Modesto or some other town, dealing with his business. He says these towns have better, more workable $taff. He is among the business owners who have used the word “hostile” to describe Dave Burkland, and the city business climate in general.  

We have to get the word out to people like my friend that NOW IS THE TIME to get involved. I like that  band, Rage Against the Machine – they say, “it has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than NOW!”  

We’re fighting the city, which will use public money to fund this tax increase initiative. For example, they have already used $taff time to research and write the measure, and now council members and $taff will create the “for” argument to be placed on the ballot. Our city attorney makes over $190,000 a year in salary alone – Mark Sorensen figured the cost of an hour of her time, but I forget the figure. More than most people make in a day, is all I remember.

The city will turn over their arguments in favor in August – at that point we can take this dog and pony show on the road. Until then, let’s keep working.  Thanks all! 

Thanks Mark Sorensen for speaking to Chico Taxpayers Association

4 Jun

Yesterday Mark Sorensen was good enough to come down to the Chico library to fill in a group of interested citizens on some of the facts regarding the November phone tax increase measure. But, we probably won’t get alot out of the council or the city attorney’s office until August 7, when they are due to turn their “impartial analysis” and ballot arguments in to the city clerk’s office. 

Until then, we are left with a lot of speculation. But the important fact remains – this measure will raise the taxes of every city resident who owns “mobile messaging devices” – specifically , for now, cell phones. 

Councilor Sorensen explained to us that the city is very desperate to pass this measure because they have already been receiving this tax and are heavily dependent on the revenue – some $900,000 a year, in fact. Some cell phone providers, AT&T the most prominent, have already been collecting the tax for an undisclosed number of years, without any legal grounds to back them up aside from the fact that they make up your bill and you don’t ask any questions. The city has been receiving this ill-gotten gain, knowingly,  for years, in violation of our own code, which only allows for the taxing of land lines.  

I can hear the question forming in your mind Joseph – how the HELL do they get away with this shit!?!  It’s the psychic connection -oh oh – think they’ll find a way tax that? 

Well, we’re not the only ones. This is happening in cities around California. Because of a man named Donald Sipple, it’s been brought to the attention of the courts, if not the media. Mr. Sipple has sued AT&T, and won, and in turn, AT&T has had to sue the cities over which Mr. Sipple sued them. The case is still a big mess in the courts, because, despite two rulings to the effect that the money was taken from those city residents illegally, those cities will simply not return the money. 

Anyhoo, this is why the city is so desperate and so dishonest in handling this phone tax increase – they actually do stand to lose $900,000, in General Fund money, no less – the unrestricted kind! And yeah, if this measure doesn’t pass, they are left red-handed.

My-oh-my, how embarrassing for Ann Schwab and Dave Burkland. They know this, but they have made no attempt to tell the voters. Instead they try to tell us they are lowering our taxes and making everything fair for everyone. 

Tsk tsk! If they told the truth on this ballot measure, it would never get off the launch pad.  How can a  tax that is collected off of one very specific portion of the population – those folks whose cell phones are billed to a city address – but goes to pay for infrastructure and services that are enjoyed by everybody who uses our town – whether college students with a phone billed to their parents in LA or folks who work here with phones billed to a mansion in Forest Ranch – be  “fair for everyone” ?

We’ll have to see how they explain this when they come out with their “impartial analysis” in August. Until then, we need to study this issue among ourselves and try to get ready for the debate in the fall.  If you want to keep up on the agendas be sure to subscribe to Mark’s feed:


Learn the truth about the city’s proposed phone tax hike – it’s a G-snatch!

3 Jun

Well, best meeting EVER. It just keeps getting better, Folks. A wonderful group who was there to work, that’s what it takes.

Mark Sorensen answered some questions this morning, but raised others.  There is so much about the phone tax increase measure that does not make sense. And where can we get the answers? Our city attorney seems to be making the whole thing as convoluted as possible, I don’t think we can count on her for any help. She’s not our attorney anyway, she’s there to protect $taff and council from  us. “$taff” would include herself.

The first and foremost thing everybody needs to know about this measure is that it will INCREASE our taxes. While the text of the ballot proposition, in the first sentence, claims to be lowering our tax, it is also broadening the definition of what  can be taxed, therefore, increasing our  taxes.

City Attorney Lori Barker’s first measure was so deceptive she was asked to rewrite it. The newer version is more truthful, but still pretty vague:

“Shall an ordinance be adopted to amend the City’s Telephone User’s Tax in order to: 1) reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.5%; 2) modernize the definition of telephone communication services subject to the tax to include new technologies such as wireless and voice over internet services; 3) apply the tax to all telephone communications regardless of the type of technology used; and 4) reflect changes to federal and state law? 

Yes, the new rate will be half a percent lower – Big  Flopping Whoopie.  And, there you see it, this tax will “include new technologies such as” Such as, when you read along in the report Barker made, includes whatever the Finance Director wants it to.

No, you can’t read the report unless you got a copy from the city clerk  before she took it off the website. I don’t know why it’s not on the website. In fact, I don’t know why there’s no records on the website right now for any meeting between December 2009 and the agenda that is posted for this coming Tuesday’s meeting. You can see the agendas on the viewer, where you watch the videos of the meetings, but no reports.  The reports are all taken off the website after the meeting, you have to ask the clerk if you want to see the reports. I just happen to have the copy she sent me before the meeting – I signed up to receive this stuff, or I wouldn’t have it.  I’d have to go Downtown and PAY to get a copy from the clerk.

They are being deceptive on this tax increase measure because they know if the voters get all the facts it will fail. They might even have to pay back the money they’ve been collecting illegally through AT&T for years.


They stand to lose big, so get ready for some pretty desperate measures and some cheap and dirty fighting.