Tag Archives: Sustainability Task Force

Meet the Taskmaster!

11 Dec

Just when you forgot how pissed you were about the bag ban and the Climate Action Plan (CAP) and all those ridiculous edicts out of the appropriately named “Sustainability Task Force,” here they come again. But there’s been a long-awaited shake-up on the STF. If you thought Ann Schwab was a tight-assed little fascist, just wait til you get a load of new chair Mark Stemen. For years Stemen complained that the STF had no teeth, wasn’t quick enough to mandate human behavior change, and that Chico was going to perish as a result of our inaction regarding global warming. I like Mark, I think his heart is oftentimes in the right place, but he’s way too quick to place himself above the law and try to mandate the behavior of others.

Tomorrow Stemen and the other members of the task force will be sworn in, read their rights and responsibilities, and given a quick overview of the Climate Action Plan and how the city has moved, or not moved in Stemen’s opinion, to implement this plan. 

Honestly, I haven’t read the plan for over a year. It was offensive to me,  but I can’t remember the particulars. Of course, some of this stuff makes perfect sense – cut electrical usage in public buildings by implementing agreed upon efficiency standards – a no brainer, as far as I’m concerned. But, I could never understand why they still ran the air conditioning at City Hall until everybody was forced to carry a sweater. That’s changed now, but only because we’re facing bankruptcy and they can’t afford the rates they helped PG&E jack up. The whole thing has always seemed completely stupid and hypocritical to me. And now we’ve got Stemen, who’s ready to force us to do what he thinks is for our own good!

That’s the Sustainability Task Force, 5:30 pm, tomorrow (Thursday December 12) in conference room 1, at City Hall. 


Dump mismanaged – needs MORE trash!

9 Nov

Well, the headline below says it all – we aren’t trashy enough in Butte County, the dump is staaaaaaarving!  Come on people, shake down – you are not living opulently enough! 

Just kidding. The real problem is mismanagement, or rather, too much management.   The dump currently has at least two management personnel that I know of – Bill Mannel and Steve Rodowick – both of whom yank in almost $100,000/yr, TWO MANAGERS, largely just to drive all over the county and sit in meetings. Hasn’t the county ever heard the one about “too many chefs”? Why do you need two managers, both with separate  benefits, and pension packages, none of which they pay for themselves? 

So, they try to make the increase sound like “pennies”, but Mannel is already crying that this will not be enough. This hike over three years is not going to be enough? No, it’s pissant to these guys with their salaries.  What Mannel really wants is to force the two local haulers to take all trash from Chico to the Neal Road dump. In past, when the county dump has raised their fees, the haulers have hauled ass for Yooooooba City, where other cities’ garbage is considered a “revenue source”.  Yes, Waste Management and Recology, two of the longest-running members of Ann Schwab’s Sustainability Task Force, will truck garbage 50 miles to save “a few pennies.”

The county owns the dump now, “managed” by Mannel and Rodowick. I have listened to these two complain before that the dump does not take in enough trash/money (same thing to them). They want the city to force the two haulers to take all trash from Chico to Neal Road, but the trash companies say they won’t do that unless the city can guarantee them EACH  a certain amount of business every year by instituting  “enterprise zones” – dividing the town up like a pie and handing certain sections to each hauler. Meaning, you don’t choose your hauler, your hauler chooses you.

This is a problem for me because  I WON’T USE WASTE MANAGEMENT.   Linda Herman and Ann Schwab and Larry Wahl know why – they were sitting on the now-defunct “waste management committee” when I brought in a complaint that drivers from WM were driving pell mell across my property, trespassing in my private driveway, tearing holes big enough to form little ponds, to access houses on the other side instead of requiring those customers to put their trash out on the public street like everybody else. At one point a WM truck, trying to turn around on my skinny little private driveway,  took out an electric pole, cutting power to four houses on my street. The manager from WM came out and tried to tell us we had to pay PG&E  for the damages, because it was in our driveway!  The driver of the truck told my husband it was his second day on the job. Wow, good job! Took out a phone pole on your second day at work! We’re so glad to know what kind of people they hire down at Waste Management. My husband told the WM manager to get the hell off our property and we’ve used Recology eversince. The city told Waste Management to stay off our property too, but we’ve had to tell their idiot drivers a number of times since -they’ve admitted to me, they don’t know where their accounts are, so they will enter little cul-de-sacs and alleys  just to check for WM cans. 

Anybody who doesn’t believe me can listen to my story about former employee Ginger, who used to run the WM office. Oh yeah, now you know I know what I’m talking about. Ginger retired a few years  back, but anybody who’s been in the trash trade in this town more than five years know who I’m talking about, and probably has a pretty good story of their own. 

The dump is poorly managed, and money isn’t going to fix the problem. Now they cry they don’t have enough trash, and need a guarantee of more trash to come. But later this year they will switch gears, and say, as they have in the past, the dump is getting USED UP, they need more money to PROLONG THE LIFE OF THE DUMP. They just switch their story whenever they need more money.

The dump needs to be completely overhauled. It is an old-fashioned dump, the kind where you just bury garbage and hope gnomes will carry it deep into the earth before the next generation finds out what you’ve done.  Nowadays, intelligent towns are converting to “composting dumps” – a “no-brainer” as far as I’m concerned – go look at that giant composting machine they use at the “green waste” facility on Cohasset. A-MAY- zing!  Other towns, like Truckee, have also become a lot more careful about what they allow in the dump – they give customers more options for sorting trash.   They actually manage their dumps, not just talk about it.

Neither Rodowick nor Mannel actually “manage” anything, they spend the lion’s share of  their time raising money to pay their own salaries.  Rodowick  gets paid  to sit in Sustainability Task Force meetings, along with employees from both haulers. They’ve asked Schwab  for more trash regulations that benefit their collective bottom line. They’ve  managed to get Schwab to put extra requirements on landlords, lowering the number of units per garbage can and requiring locking recycling bins at rental complexes, so people can’t “steal” from recycling bins. They’ve asked for “enterprise zones” before, but it hasn’t gone anywhere so far. I think Schwab and Herman are aware, I’m not the only person who has pointed out the vast difference in the levels of service you get from Waste Management and Recology. 

Of course, I don’t trust Recology all that completely, but they haven’t burned me yet, I’ve got good service out of them at various rentals for almost ten years, without complaint. It’s only their actitivies in the STF that lead me to mistrust them. They don’t care about the planet, they don’t care about us, they care about money, and that’s the bottom line folks. 

Neal Road dump needs 20,000 more tons of trash a year

Chico Enterprise Record
Posted:   11/09/2012 12:06:17 AM PST

OROVILLE — Tuesday, Butte County supervisors were told additional trash is essential to the economic health of Butte County’s Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility.Bill Mannel, county solid waste manager, made that point when he lobbied the supervisors to impose an increased gate fee at the dump.

Mannel asked the board to up the facility’s gate fee by $1.50 a year over three years.

Mannel said the hike will add about 10 cents a month per added dollar for residential trash removal. So at the end of the three-year hike cycle, according to Mannel’s figures, the residential fees will have climbed by 45 cents.

Having asked for the hike, Mannel said the price hike by itself “will not get us where we want to go.”

In order to keep the facility solvent, Mannel said there needs to be a fund balance of $3 million to $4 million a year to be ready for unanticipated operational costs.

To achieve that goal, in addition to the hike, the county needs to bring in 20,000 more tons of garbage a year.

Mannel said in recent years the tonnage coming to Neal Road has slipped. He said the faltering economy and the associated sharp reduction in construction, combined with increased efforts to recycle an ever-larger portion of the refuse, are the primary causes for the drop.

With the $1.50 addition, the gate fee at Neal Road would be $42.11 a ton.

Oroville Supervisor Bill Connelly said when he came to the board eight years ago, the gate fee was less than half of that, and

he asked Mannel to justify the need for the hike.Mannel agreed the fees were lower then, but said in the interim there have been additional state and federal regulations that have sharply hiked operational costs.

Chico Supervisor Larry Wahl said regardless of the need, it is just the wrong time to raise fees on anything, particularly on a service needed by the hard-pressed construction industry.

The $1.50 hike “will add pennies” to individual bills, observed Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi of Paradise. He said it was better to make hikes in increments than to wait until things reach a crisis stage and have to raise bills by a huge percentage.

The hike was approved on a split vote with Yamaguchi, Chico Supervisor Maureen Kirk and board Chair Steve Lambert in favor, and Connelly and Wahl opposed.

Outside of the meeting, Paul Hahn, Butte’s chief administrative officer, said the county hopes to broker a deal with trash haulers and the city of Chico to see that all of the trash collected in the city is funneled into Neal Road.

If that can be arranged, according to Hahn, the 20,000-ton goal could be achieved.

Are you tired of this? Me too.

22 Oct

I’m looking for a caption for this picture – something imaginative, not the same old cranky drunk potshot. There’s more to this picture than a snarling bitch holding on to a sixpack. Think about it. The winner gets a $5 gift certificate from Shuberts and a free ‘NO on J’ sign.

Here’s the kind of butt-kissing that passes for “work” at the city of Chico – Linda Herman gets paid over $85,000 a year plus benies and pension premiums to pass around these back-scratching e-mails

3 Oct

I’m busy this morning, I check my mail, I get the stupidest kind of crap from the city of Chico. Here’s a snatch of a coversation between $85,000 a year plus Sustainability Task Force $taffer Linda Herman and Audrey Taylor of  Chabin Concepts – a consulting firm that bellies up to the bar for city funds.  This is what the city $taffers call “work”, and YOU pay for it. 

<div “”=”” id=”mp0_recip”>To Linda Herman, Shawn Tillman, Ann Schwab, Ruben Martinez, Crystal Torres, Dwight Aitkens, falexander@csuchico.edu, Hannah Hepner, Jill Ortega, juanita sumner, Nichoel Farris, Scott Wolf, Stephanie Taber, Steve Rodowick, Tino Nava, Tom DiGiovanni, Toni Scott

Thanks Linda – Ann had asked me a while back if I could join the task force but we all agreed I might have a conflict of interest since I was contracted with NoRTEC at the time, I should have kept up on it better.

I look forward to any help I can provide and leveraging these opportunities for our businesses – it is all good and I think the time is right for greater collaboration and outreach on all fronts to assist our local businesses.

And thank you, Rubin and Erik for attending the Alternative Fuel & Vehicle meetings – that too is a key part of this which we may want to discuss further of how to leverage.


From: Linda Herman [mailto:LHERMAN@ci.chico.ca.us] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 8:23 AM
To: Audrey Taylor; Shawn Tillman
Cc: Ann Schwab; Ruben Martinez; Crystal Torres; Dwight Aitkens; falexander@csuchico.edu; Hannah Hepner; Jill Ortega; juanita sumner; Linda Herman; Nichoel Farris; Scott Wolf; Stephanie Taber; Steve Rodowick; Tino Nava; Tom DiGiovanni; Toni Scott
Subject: Re: Great job

Thank you Audrey for your comments for I believe that they are spot on and exactly what the Sustainability Task Force and Ad-Hoc Committee have in mind.  We would love it if every business in Chico were recognized under this program and want to help them achieve this goal.  I also very much  appreciated your help last night.  I didn’t get a chance to say it, but we, too, had thought about possibly the Chamber taking this program on and Ann had approached Jolene Francis about this concept early on in the process.  I also agree that we should join forces with the Economic Development side of this and something we need to pursue. 

Attached is a copy of the Council agenda report with the Sustainable Business program materials.  Please note that due to the length of the staff report I only attached a copy of the Energy resource guide as a sample.  Please let me know if you would like to see the guides for the other five categories as well.  We also welcome any comments or suggestions you may have and it occurred to me last night that we should have solicited your input on this earlier.

Thanks again and I am sure we will be in touch in the future about this program.


Linda Herman
General Services Administrative Manager
City of Chico
phone:  (530) 896-7241
fax:       (530) 895-4825
email:    lherman@ci.chico.ca.us
web:     www.ci.chico.ca.us

>>> Audrey Taylor <audrey@chabinconcepts.com> 10/3/2012 7:20 AM >>>


Very good job on the sustainability program..I think it is a good thing and more and more is a great part of economic development which I think is a good thing.   

Certainly understand some of the concerns from business perspective – I certainly hope my comments were taken in the right context – I was not suggesting we move the program to the Chamber (I certainly cannot speak to them) but in many areas I know they are starting to take leadership roles in a collaborative setting to take pressure off of  cities.   

After I thought about it I should have commented that this might be just a positioning opportunity –  this as an assistance program to help those businesses interested in triple bottom line to get there through the guideline and resources available and which the City would recognize those businesses and working with partners would provide technical assistance to reach those goals.or something like that.    I think that is the intent and totally support the effort as it is shared value to everyone.   Know though that a lot of businesses react to “govt” as being received as “regulations” before even investigating…

With this and the PACE program think these are good tools for the Outreach program that Shawn was discussing – possible opportunity to collaborate and leverage the outreach for more impact utilizing the outreach team to deliver messages on tools and then referring interested companies to any of the sustainability team that could help a company.   Shawn’s team has been working on a Chico Business Services guide which would be a leave behind..the last page could be used to promote this assistance program.

Just my thoughts and if I can be of help more than glad too.   I recently had opportunity to work with City of Benicia  on the Sustainability Program and ran into some of the same issues brought up last night…they are fortunate though to have a Valero fund to tap to really assist businesses 



PS Can you send me copy or link to access the full report/guide – thanks

Audrey Taylor, President & CEO

Chabin Concepts & CR Group


TEL: 530.345.0364 Ext 27

MOBILE: 530.520.2521

2515 Ceanothus Avenue, Suite 100

Chico, CA 95973




Where’s that $255,000? Nobody’s talkin’!

1 Jun

Well, aren’t I a dork!?! I promised everybody there would be a big discussion at next Tuesday’s council meeting, regarding that missing, well, at this point, it’s only $255,000.  Actually, it’s more complicated than that – if you’ve  been following the deficit discussion for the last five years you better have laid down bread crumbs or you are lost on the other side of some far away planet trying to figure out “how we got here.”

Jennifer Hennessy, Miss Finance MisDirector, has been leading us on a merry tramp these last five or six years, pretending to explain why we are perennially short of money, but not really doing so. Lately she’s been telling us one thing when it’s time for her re-evaluation and raise, and then another, BAD  thing a few months down the road. I’ll never forget a few years back – she was allowed to hire her own evaluator, and then when he gave her a good evaluation, she gave herself a $14,000 raise. Of course council approved the raise, but by the time the rubber stamp was dry, she was telling us we were up Shit Creek without a paddle again. She keeps losing that goddam paddle, and then finding one to suit her when she pleases. I think her husband makes those paddles in the garage. 

So, when council was confronted with a mob at the last meeting, they quickly agreed to a “discussion” of why Hennessy would say everything was just Jim Dandy earlier in the year, but by May, we’re closing a fire station. Gosh, there are so many worms in this can, it’s almost impossible to move without stepping on them.

The fire station was closed as a grand stand gesture by a chief who was told he had to come up with the missing money. The chief could have restructured overtime to find that money, in fact, if the fire department would agree to DUMP STRUCTURED IN OVERTIME, they could hire more staff. But the current employees want their salaries and overtime and their spiked pensions, so the chief just closed a fire station to piss off the public, trying to force the council to give up MORE MONEY TO THE SECOND BIGGEST DEPARTMENT IN THE CITY. This city spend 89 % of it’s budget on “public safety”. Sorry Chief Beery, your buttcrack is showing. 

But, Toby Schindelbeck, Will Clark, and Ken Campbell are right in this – the city is hiding malfeasance. 

What we have here, is a bunch of tigers fighting over money. I hope they all chase each other around a tree until they turn into butter. PANCAKES FOR EVERYBODY!

But, when I read the upcoming agenda, I realized, there’s going to be no such “discussion” – see here:


I wrote a letter to council, asking for a better report about this mess:

Hi All,

 we were promised a report with figures regarding this missing $255,000. There’s no report in the agenda I received. 
When will we get a precise explanation of all the figures that don’t make sense? I try to share the “facts” with the public when I speak about these issues, but getting the “facts” out of staff and council is like pulling teeth. 
We are expected to sit through another discussion of “sustainability indicators,” presented by a staffer making more than $100,000 a year with slick glossy photos and all kinds of groovy charts – how much did THAT cost? Ann, you couldn’t even get a quorum of the STF to endorse that report, and THAT’S A FACT! 
If we don’t get “facts” regarding this latest “shortfall” we’re going to have to run on assumptions. I assume Ann Schwab has presided over an embezzlement, and until I hear some convincing arguments to the contrary, that’s going to be the “facts.” 
Thanks, Juanita Sumner, Chico 
As far as I’m concerned, this is the “facts” – Ann Schwab has presided over the economic degradation of our town, watching silently while staffers and other hangers on empty our coffers with their crazy salary agreements and “you scratch my back”contracting practices. Ann’s sustainability task force has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with nothing to show for itself but onerous restrictions on practicing business or living in the city of Chico. This woman needs to be shown the back door in November, and given a  toe to the seat of her pants.
UPDATE, 6/5/12, 8:30pm –  Chief Beery is explaining that he closed Station 5 when he was faced with a $95,000 shortfall because Station 5 is not really essential. He claims it was built to serve development at “Bidwell Ranch,” which was never built out. Beery says he never would have built Station 5 in that location. 
Beery’s presentation has been rambling and repetitive, mostly to the point that we can’t live without Chico Fire. We are supposed to call them when our water pipe breaks in the middle of the night he says – I’m sorry, I would shut off my main water valve, and go back to bed. He says we’re supposed to call Chico Fire when we have a “miocardial infarction” – why? Why wouldn’t I call an ambulance? 
I’m not happy with the reports given tonight. There was no written back up, they’ve been rambling all over the countryside without really explaining why they are perennially over spent Downtown. 
And now Andy Holcombe is taking the old Caddy around the block. Beery is answering with computer modeling and national averages. Let’s talk about what the truck really roll out for in Chico – broken water pipes? Ambulance runs? Hook and ladder to Safeway?  Response time to WHAT? 
To best address the needs of this community, the Fire Department needs to change their staffing policies and dump structured overtime. Regular people work swing shift and graveyard for the same wages as their day shift counter parts. It’s time for the night shifts to get paid regular wages instead of overtime. Overtime is why the police and fire get over 80 percent of our budget and they still want more. 
Having listened to Jennifer Hennessy’s presentations, what I would say is, we need to spend based on what we actually take in, rather than budgeting based on her “guesses”. 

These city committees have no accountability to the public

22 May

Yesterday I wrote a post about a Sustainability Task Force meeting that had been scheduled for yesterday afternoon. This special meeting had been scheduled at the May 7 meeting and noticed to me and others on the e-mail list May 14. I received the agenda for this meeting on May 16th.

Yesterday at 4:12, I received an e-mail stating that the 5:30 meeting had been cancelled due to an expected lack of quorum. $taff  liaison Linda Herman had waited until just a few hours before the meeting to notice  the e-mail list.

Well, for Pete’s sake. She could not get enough people, from a list of fifteen members of this committee, to make a quorum for a meeting that had been noticed at the last full meeting, three weeks previous? And she didn’t know this until an hour and fifteen minutes before the meeting?

When I called her on it, Linda responded: “I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused for you.  This was a second extra meeting that was scheduled for this month and not the regular monthly meeting. That meeting was held on Monday May 7, 2012.  Yes, I did poll the members when I sent the agenda out on May 16 and sent an email at 8 am yesterday to reconfirm and left phone messages. Unfortunately things came up for some of the members that they didn’t plan on (flights and travel delayed, illness etc.). We are large committee so we need 8 members for a forum.  I was waiting on phone messages to hear back before I could cancel the meeting.”

Well, I’m on the list, but did not get the e-mails she mentions – nobody ever told me that this meeting was in question. And I’m on the mailing list – she didn’t post the cancellation on the website until after 4pm either, maybe later, I didn’t check. So, a member of the public who wanted to attend would have made their arrangements, for a dinnertime meeting, and then shown up — at what inconvenience who knows? — to find a locked door.

This morning when I arrived at 8am for the Finance Committee meeting, the Sustainability Task Force notice was still on the wall, as if the meeting actually happened.

The agenda for this meeting was further discussion of the “Sustainability Indicators Report.” This report has been drawn up by $taff, printed out with color illustrations and photos, and will be considered by council at a future meeting. But here, having a further chance to vet it before the public, this self-appointed “task force” can’t even come up with eight members. This is a recurring problem. When I attended a regular STF meeting regarding the plastic bag ban, two of the members skipped out at some point during the lengthy discussion, again leaving the group without a quorum. So,  the matter was scheduled again for a second meeting.

Here’s the commitee:  Ann Schwab, Chair; Dwight Aitkens;  BT Chapman; Robyn DiFalco; Tom DiGiovanni; Ken Grossman; Jon Luvaas; Jim Pushnik; Valerie Reddemann;  Toni Scott; Jon Stallman; Krystle Tonga; Tammy Wichman; Scott Wolf;  Julian Zener.

Ann Schwab and BT Chapman are the only members I have seen without fail at every meeting I have attended. I have never seen a couple of these people, at any meeting I’ve attended, but I’ll say, I don’t go to ALL the meetings.

Some of these people listed above actually get paid to sit in at these meetings, it’s part of their public job.

Finally I’ll say, the people I see at the ad hoc meetings, including PG&E and garbage company employees, are not on this list. The ad hoc committee meetings are where the real plotting and planning is done, these regular meetings are just the rubber stamp committee. If you really want to know what this “task force” is up to, you have to go to the ad hoc meetings, which are scheduled at any time the various attendees can agree to get together – sometimes with less than 72 hours notice.  These ad hoc meetings do not appear on the agendas list.

I feel most of the people listed on the committee are just there to get their name on the list. They want it for their various resumes, their company image.  But, the  ones who aren’t named on the above list who actually do all the work are doing it for their own benefit, not for Mother Earth. For example, the garbage haulers are vying for enterprise zones and the county dump wants a guarantee that all haulers will take their loads to  Neal Road instead of heading for lower tipping fees in Yuba City. PG&E has got the city running a program to install Real Time meters in people’s homes. Of course these companies pay their employees to sit in on these meetings.

And no wonder neither Ann Schwab nor $taffer Linda Herman is too concerned about our attendance.

Searching for accountability in local government – Good Luck!

21 May

At city meetings over the last few years, I have sat  through one after another “power point presentation” regarding the city budget mess. It’s like a kindergarten-level slide show, designed more to distract and confuse than inform. They always turn the lights down to make you sleepy. It’s maddening to sit through this insulting and condescending babble – I don’t even want to think about the hours of my life these people have stolen, in addition to my tax dollars.

These stupid reports and “PPP’s” add up to hours of $taff time and related expenses – the computer programs to produce this junk, and the paper and ink to print it for a cavalcade of $taffers and council. They say it’s for us, for our information – hah! What they could have done in a page and a half report, in plain language, they turn into a marketing extravaganza, complete with graphs, charts, little cartoons – color glossy photos!  I remember one whole page illustration, showing a sad, rather obese  man, looking quizzically at his surroundings, tentatively holding out his umbrella to a darkening, sinister sky. At the bottom of the graphic, the caption read, “How did we get here?” 

Oh here, let me field that question. As if it isn’t obvious – you people Downtown spend money like you were printing it in the basement, alongside all these glossy pamphlets and newsletters you hand around among yourselves. Not only do we have to pay your ridiculous salaries, we have to pay for something to keep you busy. 

I got an interesting e-mail newsletter from Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, who was kind enough to address our Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting a few months ago. He says, Recent independent reports suggest that state government agencies and departments routinely spend on programs and projects with little accountability to taxpayers, failing to consider what is the most efficient and effective way to stretch tax dollars to the fullest. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in state government is essential to our efforts to solve California’s long-term budget problems once and for all.”

I think you could substitute “Chico” for “state”, and “California” throughout that passage.  An example of a program on which the city of Chico routinely spends with little accountability to taxpayers is the Sustainability Task Force. Talk about your “color glossy photos” – get a load of this pamphlet recently produced by  city $taff  as a “Sustainability Indicators Report”:


Yes, this is how they present a “report” to council – what the hell? I hate to see what they will do with anything REALLY important.

Hey, did you see the slick glossy pamphlet they produced to report about all the jobs they been bringing into town? TRICK QUESTION DAWG! You know they have not been bringing any jobs into town, look alive there!

This pamphlet mentions only two employers. They again mention Build.com, which has been here a few years now, as if they just got here and are hiring in droves.  B.c claims to “support” over 400 people, but I’m not sure if that means employees, or includes whole families. Also, I don’t know where their employees came from – did they move here to take these jobs? Placing more strain on everything from housing to groceries to roads and schools? And I realized – Build.com competes directly with Lowe’s, Home Depot, and a half dozen or so other small, locally owned hardware stores and suppliers. Sure they can sell goods outside Chico, but they will sell them inside Chico too, taking business away from other employers. I wonder if city $taff takes this into consideration when they write these “reports.” 

The only other business mentioned in the pamphlet is Springboard Biodiesel. The city apparently helped this developing company secure a $758,000 grant to start building it’s facility, but doesn’t say when they’ll start hiring people. I don’t know what “assisted in a grant submittal” means either – a lot of times, it means the city had to put up a certain amount of money to secure the grant. Nor any mention of who gave the grant – but I’ll guess, The Taxpayer! Thank Me Very Much! 

The $taffer who produced this report makes over $100,000 a year in salary with a $50,000 benefits package. You got to keep a guy like that occupied. 

At 5:30 this evening, Mayor Marie AnnShwabnette will be convening her court, the Sustainability Task Force, to give this “report” one last look-see before they present it to council on June 5.  Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend these meetings – Schwab and her committees are what my friend Casey refers to as “time vampires” – they will steal your life with their incessant clatter, suck your brain drier than a biscotti, and leave you thinking you participated in something. Something.

You don’t have to attend these meetings to keep up on them. Send an e-mail to  Linda Herman  at   lherman@ci.chico.ca.us  and ask her to put you on the e-mail list, not only for the regular meetings but ALL the ad hoc committees. At least you’ll see the agendas – you will have to attend these ad hoc meetings if you want to know what’s really going on, and let me tell you, you’ll get an earful. 

We will, by the way, be having a meeting of the Chico Taxpayers Association on Sunday June 3 – WE MAY DO IT EARLIER THIS TIME, I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED! Our agenda will be a discussion of the phone tax facts and also some background on the $255,000 hole in the city budget. Geez, let’s hope it doesn’t get any bigger before then! 

POST-IT-NOTEAt 4:12, about an hour and 15 minutes before the meeting was to convene, I got a note from STF $taff liason Linda Herman.   “After polling members, today’s the Sustainability Task Force meeting has been cancelled due to a lack of a quorum.”

Well, that’s the way to keep the public out of your meetings – have them at inconveniently inconsistent times,  with little or no notice, and then cancel them at  the last minute! 

You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours!

15 Mar

Every two weeks the city council gets another dose of medicine – budget updates on the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. Malfeasance Director Jennifer Hennessy is trying to break it to them slowly that we are out of money, and then they have these little confabs about how to hand the situation. These meetings are maddeningly the same – they never really come up with any solutions, they just sit wringing their hands. 

At my house we have had some financial shocks. For example – I had to get some dental work done, cause I ain’t been to the dentist in six years. My teeth were in generally good shape, except for my back molars – the ones I grind like 24-7. In fact, I’m holding my tongue between my teeth right now to keep them from grinding.

My back molars needed a little extra work – at $170 a tooth, I’d like to think of it as a weekend in the Poconos. All told, between the initial exam, the standard all-around cleaning, and the two back molars, this little adventure ran me about $650. Yeah, $90 for a 40 minute pick and scrape, that was kind of a shocker. By the time I paid all this off, I had taken a hefty broadside at my family’s budget. 

But, I have to say, my teeth were still in pretty good shape – I’ve always had trouble with those molars. When my kids were little, my dentist had me coming in four times a year, at $90 a pop – just put a bell around my neck and lead me to the barn!  When I’d see my dentist at the grocery store, I felt like saying, “Mooooo-oooo Fred!” So,  I actually saved money by not going in, contrary to the lecture I got from my hysterical hygienist, Carol. You heard me – I saved money by NOT going to the dentist. 

So, I’m going to practice the same kind of budgetary magic our Malfeasance Director, Jennifer Hennessy has taught me over the last five or six years – instead of recording the $650 as a loss,  I’m going to write off a $720 savings! 

Unfortunately the city budget is not so simple. Our city has become addicted to endless spending – it’s like heroin, and they are hooked bad. To watch these idiots try to fumble their way out of the mess they’ve made for themselves is very frustrating. It’s like watching the teenagers do all the wrong things in a slash movie. You scream at the movie screen – DON’T OPEN THE DOOR! – but they don’t hear you! 

When I sit through these discussions, I want to scream, “CUT THE CRAP!”

And the “CRAP” I’m talking about are the committees. Like the Sustainability Task Force. Linda Herman is struggling to keep this group together, to keep them on “task”, because her salary depends on it. She makes over $85,000 a year, plus benies and pension, to administer to a pack of children who can’t even make meetings. In fact, lately, Linda seems to have had trouble making the meetings:

Hi Everyone,  Fletcher called me last week concerned about the timeline that was set regarding the Sustainable Business Program.  Primarily he was concerned that the beta test businesses being contacted this week and then having Alan gone on spring break during the time when the businesses may have questions.  I know that the problem was that Fletcher and I were not at the Ad-Hoc meeting and we sincerely apologize for that.   

Right now they are working on the “Sustainable Business” program. Each member is supposed to survey local businesses, find out what they think of the checklists and “tasks” the committee has come up with – stuff like, replacing all your lightbulbs with little mercury bombs, and providing bicycles for your employees to ride across the street to have lunch. We’ll see if they do any better than the Diversity Action Committee, who had to be nagged constantly by Mom Rucker, and turned in less than 200 “surveys” in a town of over 85,000 people. 

But I notice right away, in an e-mail from committee member and Recology employee Jill Ortega, they only seem to be contacting businesses who are already on the bandwagon –  “My list includes the following: Chamber of Commerce, DCBA, Transfer Flow, Woodstock’s, Sierra Nevada Brewery, and Masie Janes.”


In fact, Ken Grossman, owner of Sierra Nevada,  is a member of the STF, regardless of the fact that he never does any work and only shows up at a few meetings a year.   This whole “Sustainable Business Program”  is really just a bunch of people sitting in a circle patting each other on the back at our expense. 

Why would Ortega choose to include failed Greenfeet owner Valerie Reddeman in her survey? You got me. “Even though her business has recently closed, I believe she can provide some valuable insight.”  Well, she’s also a member of the committee, and I’ll bet she’ll be real cooperative too. Between these two gals, they’ll come up with a favorable review of their own program, how nice.  

Neither the DCBA nor the Chamber were interested, according to Ortega, so that leaves her with nobody but the choir to preach to. By the way, Ortega is one of several garbage company employees, as well as employees from the county dump,  who are paid to sit in these committees. They tack that onto your garbage bill every month, I hope you don’t mind. 

This is how they fiddle while you are at work all day. They’re supposed to meet next Monday afternoon, but they still haven’t confirmed that yet. I’ll try to keep you posted, but if it snows over the weekend, I ain’t going.