Tag Archives: Toby Schindelbeck for city council

We need to dump structural overtime and ask public safety employees to pay more of their own health and pension costs so we can hire more personnel

24 Oct

I watched the city council meeting for a while online last night and then I read the report in this morning’s ER. As usual, no mention of pension premiums or structured-in overtime.

Right now Chico police employees pay nothing toward their pensions, which will be 90 percent of their salary, available at 50 years of age. The city of Chico, and that would  be you and me, the taxpayers, pay not only the “employer  share” but the “employee share” of pension premiums for all city employees – except the fire department. They pay two percent of their premium cost, and the city picks up the other seven percent of the “employee share”, as well as the entire nine percent “employer share”.

Two questions stand begging beside the table here –

  1. why do they call them the “employer” and “employee” shares if the employer is doing all the paying?
  2. who pays the other 82 percent of the premium?

The answer to Number 1 is, we’re a pack of suckers.

The answer to Number 2 can be found in this  earlier post:


Nobody pays that other 82 percent. It’s “outstanding.” It is waiting offshore like the fabled “perfect storm,” waiting for the lack of revenues to catch up with the overspending of same. When CalPers can’t pay those “outstanding” pensions anymore, it will fall on the cities and other public entities that agreed to these contracts to pay them. Let me show you the tidal wave we’re facing here – well, how about, just the part you can see through the windshield of George Clooney’s crappy little fishing boat. These, again, are just those 21 retirees receiving over $100,000 in pension. There are hundreds more receiving $99,000 or less, plus health benefits.

Name Employer Warrant Amount Annual
ALEXANDER, THOMAS CHICO $8,947.23 $107,366.76
BAPTISTE, ANTOINE G CHICO $10,409.65 $124,915.80
BEARDSLEY, DENNIS D CHICO $8,510.23 $102,122.76
BROWN, JOHN S CHICO $17,210.38 $206,524.56
CARRILLO, JOHN A CHICO $10,398.98 $124,787.76
DAVIS, FRED CHICO $12,467.78 $149,613.36
DUNLAP, PATRICIA CHICO $10,632.10 $127,585.20
FELL, JOHN G CHICO $9,209.35 $110,512.20
FRANK, DAVID R CHICO $14,830.05 $177,960.60
GARRISON, FRANK W CHICO $8,933.56 $107,202.72
JACK, JAMES F CHICO $9,095.09 $109,141.08
KOCH, ROBERT E CHICO $9,983.23 $119,798.76
LANDO, THOMAS J CHICO $11,236.48 $134,837.76
MCENESPY, BARBARA CHICO $12,573.40 $150,880.80
PIERCE, CYNTHIA CHICO $9,390.30 $112,683.60
ROSS, EARNEST C CHICO $9,496.60 $113,959.20
SCHOLAR, GARY P CHICO $8,755.69 $105,068.28
SELLERS, CLIFFORD R CHICO $9,511.11 $114,133.32
VONDERHAAR, JOHN F CHICO $8,488.07 $101,856.84
VORIS, TIMOTHY M CHICO $8,433.90 $101,206.80
WEBER, MICHAEL C CHICO $11,321.93 $135,863.16

Six of the above, that I know of, are either police or fire department.

The police and fire departments also manage to drive up their salaries, some of them almost DOUBLE, with overtime. It’s the classic repo-man grab – they say they need to write overtime into the budget, and the contracts guarantee officers a certain amount of overtime. They say overtime is cheaper than new hires. But then they turn around and bitch for new hires.

The police and fire departments, mostly through salaries and benefits packages, take up over 82 % of our city budget, and drive our looming pension debt.   This never came up in the budget conversation at City Hall last night. There stood the elephant in the room, crapping all over the chambers, but nobody would look him directly in the eye. 

Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting, Saturday, Chico library, 3pm – come get a sign!

19 Oct

When I got the “No on J” signs yesterday, I immediately reserved the meeting room at the library for 3pm tomorrow. I will be there until about 4pm, with some signs, and some “Vote NO on Measure J!” fliers.

So far I have given away 25 signs, with help from friends, and I’m hoping to get these signs up and around town by the end of this week.

Three things to know about Measure J :

  • Measure J will add a 4.5 percent tax to cellular phone services and every form of electronic communication service existing now, as well as those yet to be introduced to the consumer.
  • Measure J allows the city Finance Director to add new forms of electronic communication to the list of those services taxed, without voter approval.  
  • Measure J revenues will be directed to the General Fund, which means there is no guarantee they will be used to fund public safety as proponents claim, but could be used for any purpose determined by council.

Measure J will add a 4.5 percent tax to “cell phone services, meaning, $4.50 per hundred dollars of your bill.  According to the sample ballot, “‘Telephone communication services’ shall mean and include the transmission, conveyance or routing of voice, data, audio, video, or any other information or signals, to a point, or between or among points, whether or not such information is transmitted through interconnected service with the public switched network , whatever the technology used, whether such transmission, conveyance or routing occurs by wire, cable, fiber-optic, laser, microwave, radio wave (including, but not limited to, cellular service, commercial mobile service, personal communications service (PCS), specialized mobile radio (SMR), and other types of personal wireless service – see 47 USCA 332(c)(7)(C)(i) – regardless of radio spectrum used), switching facilities, satellite or any other technology now existing or developed after the adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter, and includes, without limitation, fiber optic, coaxial cable, and wireless. “

You’d think they’ve covered it here.  But wait!  There’s more!

“The term ‘telephone communication services’ includes such transmission, conveyance, or routing in which computer processing applications are used to act on the form, code or protocol of the content for purposes of transmission conveyance or routing without regard to whether such services are referred to as voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services or are classified by the Federal Communications Commission as enhanced or value added, and includes video and/or data services that are functionally integrated with telecommunications services. “

It goes on to include, “but not limited to…the following services regardless of the manner or basis on which such services are calculated or billed: central office and custom calling features (including, but not limited to call waiting, call forwarding, caller identification and three-way calling), local number portability (?), text messaging, ancillary telecommunication service, prepaid and post-paid telecommunications services (including but not limited to prepaid calling cards); mobile telecommunications service; private telecommunication service; paging service; 800 service (or any other toll-free numbers designated by the FCC); and value-added non-voice data service. 

“For purposes of this section, ‘private telecommunication service’ means any dedicated telephone communications service that entitles a user to exclusive or priority use of communications channels.” 

Is that, hmmm,  clear?  Basically, every service that is billed with your cell phone is taxed. If you have a basic basic basic plan like my family of four, you may get away with a tax increase of $4.50 a month. But if you have a bigger family and a social life, or if you have one of those new Smart phones with all the bells and whistles, I think you will probably pay more like $10 more a month.

I don’t even understand all these services, I don’t use them, but Mark Sorensen was saying that small businesses use a lot of “VoIP”. He calculated the cost for a small business to be hundreds of dollars a year, just for this tax. A shake-down, really.  That’s not very employer-friendly, as far as I’m concerned. 

It also includes Skype.  

This whole thing stinks, and we’ve got to move fast if we’re going to stop it. Come down to the library tomorrow and pick up a sign, or watch the blog and we’ll have at least another couple of meetings down there before the election. Or contact us here and we’ll get a sign over to you. 

The CalPERS disaster: A housewife tries to make sense of it

25 Sep


I’m still reading about how we ended up in this pension mess. This time I found a more recent article that confirmed suspicions I’ve had since I read that last article  from 2003.  The essential problem is, the California Public Employees Retirement System gambled pension money on the stock market, and got eaten alive by their own handlers.

CalPERS has to achieve stock market earnings of at least 7.75 in order to ” to keep its funding levels high enough to avoid further forced taxpayer contributions.”  For awhile last year, during a “volatile” market, they managed to achieve an outrageous 20 percent gain.  Of course  they did a little end-zone dance – “This is a great one-year achievement that powerfully affirms our strategy and the skills of our investment team,” said Chief Investment Officer Joseph Dear. “While we can’t assume that we’ll sustain this high level of earnings, we have averaged a net return on investments of 8.4 percent for 20 years.”

But you  know how that works. They just ripped off a bunch of people, triggering the “Karma Factor.” See, that’s how the stock market works, your gain is somebody else’s tragedy. I met a lady once who had got a handsome retirement payoff, and she wanted to turn it into a college education for her grandkids, so she bought Disney stock. Wow, who woulda thunk it – Disney lost their ass that year, and so did my old lady friend.

When that happened to some stocks my cousins and I inherited – mutual funds that had performed well for my family for a couple of generations – we read months later that the agents had ripped us off. It was a huge scandal, you know, that big pre-911 market melt down. It was found that agents were trading their clients’ mutual funds, without their clients’ (one of whom was me!) knowledge.   They were using their clients’ funds  as their own  – a scam know as “late trading”  – and raking in big amounts of money. That can only last so long, before the stock starts to be devalued, as were mine. I lost thousands of dollars over the span of a week, before I was able to get my agent on the phone ( he just wouldn’t return my call) and dump those funds. I got out of the stock market with what was left, but those people were never investigated or charged with anything, even though the whole scam quickly became common knowledge. They nailed Martha Stewart to the cross, she paid for their sins, and everybody went home and forgot about it.

I learned my lesson, but you can’t teach greedy people, they think with a part of their body that resembles an eyeless fish.  There was CalPERS, sitting pretty on a 20 percent gain like there’s no Tomorrow! And then Tomorrow came, and they too lost their (well, our, really) asses.   According to Cal Watchdog, the  fund lost over $17 billion dollars in just five weeks last August. But don’t worry, our loss was most certainly somebody else’s gain.

With my mutual funds, I was helpless. Like Barack Obama, I inherited a mess. I acted quickly, at first on just “women’s intuition”, then I heard the news. I told my agent what I knew, and he was all helpful all the sudden!  I was able to save over 80 percent of my fund.  But CalPERS walked right into that market and laid all their dough on that table. “These strong returns are a testament to our commitment to our long-term investing principles,” said Anne Stausboll, CalPERS Chief Executive Officer. “Our members, employers and California taxpayers all benefit from our disciplined approach to investing.”

They lost over half the fund, in a system that seems to me not much more sophisticated than a dice game. Former Orange County treasurer/tax collector and current county supe John Moorlach calls it the “’Peter Pan Portfolio’ that led to Orange County’s bankruptcy in 1994. The meaning: If you just believe, the fund will be all right.”

That’s what I’d call Dave Burkland and Jennifer Hennessy’s accounting style –  Jennifer Hennessy keeps “predicting” that sales and homeowners’ tax revenues will go up – when one call to a local retailer or real estate agent would set her straight, she’d rather believe she’s Tinker Bell.  She doesn’t “predict” she “wishes”. Like I’ve said before, if wishes were horses around here, we’d all be hip-deep in horseshit. 

The city of Orange rode their wish horse right into bankruptcy – geez, way back in 1994!  They were surfing interest rates, and a pack of sharks ate them.  

CalPERS can’t go bankrupt. We have guaranteed them with our taxes. In the event that they can’t pay, we are on the hook for billions in pension payments, many of those payments going to people like Tom Lando – who makes over $140,000 a year in pension, plus health benefits. There’s also a yearly cost of living increase. 

All because of the outrageous pension packages promised by elected leaders like our Mayor Ann Schwab and her council – who just signed off a new cop contract through which we continue to pay all their pension premiums, including “the employees’ share”.  And, they still get 90 percent of their highest years’ salary, including overtime, in pension, at 50 years old. That is how a cop who agrees to $65,000 a year salary ends up retiring at over $100,000 a year.  And, ex-police chiefs Mike Efford and Mike Maloney have both gone on to public salaries at Butte College, in addition to their pensions. All agreed upon and signed by Ann Schwab and council. 

Reform is coming, slowly, but the public pensioners fight tooth and nail. All we ask is that they pay more of their own pension premiums, and that CalPERS stop gambling on the stock market. Here’s what Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the union-backed Californians for Retirement Security, says to that – “My point was that the pension-bashing crowd used the depths of the recession as the reference point to sound an alarm about pensions instead of the long term returns actuaries use. And given the last two days on the market [August 5 and 8], the alternative that reformers are pushing — 401(k)s — are looking even worse than before.”

Maviglio accuses “pension bashers” of poor logic – he bases his claims on one short period of volatility on the market – any idiot knows, when you get a 20 percent gain, you are riding a short-lived high, and you better be ready for the come-down. CalPERS was apparently asleep at the wheel.

But, their handlers were there, like prowling sharks. Handlers they didn’t even need. According to CalWatchdog reporter Wayne Lusvardi, “An index fund is a passively managed fund designed to match the performance of the whole market or mix of funds.  So whatever commissions CalPERS paid all its external fund managers to invest in public stocks apparently could have been saved just by passively investing in the S&P 500 Index.”

That’s what I said last time – there was a little pack of sharks that fed off this whole mess, the “fund managers.” And the folks at CalPERS, confident that they’d continue to get their five and six-figure salaries and their 70 percent at 55 retirement packages, went right along with the scam – you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours! 

But the real villains here are your publicly elected leaders, at the city, county and state level. They’ve approved the contracts, the salaries, the pensions and the pension payments, every damned one of them. In Chico, most of our council members – with the exception of Jim Walker, somehow – are on the public dole. They all get public pensions, and you know, that doesn’t exactly put them on  very good footing to demand pension reform of their, our, employees. That’s exactly why we need more “regular” citizens on council – a small business owner like Toby Schindelbeck would at least be different. Schwab calls herself a small business owner, and she’s done everything she could during her tenure to promote that business – a bike shop. She’s used her position to promote her private business while making decisions that hurt businesses all over town. I’d like to see a person in there who has everybody’s business interests at heart, and I think that’s Toby Schindelbeck. 

I must say, I don’t like being in bed with Chico Firefighters, who have also endorsed  Schindelbeck.  But, Schindelbeck has told Chico Taxpayers Association that he would like to see the  “public safety” workers  PAY MORE OF THEIR OWN PENSION. We haven’t heard that from Bob Evans or any of the others, including Sean Morgan, who is also expected to get the public safety endorsement.  We’ll be holding Toby Schindelbeck to his word, and I think he will make some welcome changes on council.

Ballot measures – today featuring state Proposition 30 and local Measure E

15 Sep

I thought I’d share this interesting link:


Look them over, some of them are tax increase measures.  There at the top you see Proposition 30 – that’s Jerry Browns’ pit bull disguised as a tea cup poodle. “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Gee, they make it sound so harmless – “Temporary” – oooo! “Fund Education” – ahhhh!  That’s like saying,  “well he’s just a little ol’ alligatah, Honey!”

They write these titles knowing how many people actually read the text of a measure. Sure, some of those people don’t bother to read it because they ritually vote NO! on anything smelling like a tax increase – that’s not a bad strategy as far as I’m concerned.

But, it’s not my strategy. I know we need taxes to fund public needs. It’s not like I’m just Anti-Tax – my family is full of teachers, I went to public school. I’ve driven my car, rode my bike and hoofed it on public roads for over 50 years.  I like public utilities, which are largely subsidized with taxes, and I like having some sort of police and fire protection, even if I have to take the ticks with the hound. 

On the other hand, I also know, it’s stupid to throw money at budget problems. We certainly do have a budget problem in the state of California, but it’s not a revenue problem, it’s  a spending problem.  Year after year the governor and the legislature have screamed that we are in deficit, need to “cut back,” but they just keep approving more spending. For the craziest stuff, I don’t even want to go there. Mostly for the lifestyle they’ve managed to make out of it for themselves – why do we allow these public servants to live like demi-gods? Alot of us could live on their wardrobe and dry-cleaning allowances, their cell phone allowances, their car and gas allowances. We have “allowanced” these people until they are so far removed from our everyday reality –  I guess, we’ve made our own monster, and we deserve to be destroyed by this creature.

Well, not me. I’m going to fight. This “temporary” tax is another hike – add that onto the hike in the cost of housing, the cost of medical care, the cost of groceries and gas and everything else you need to live. Add that to the city’s utility tax hike and the state’s wood products tax and the proposed Chico art tax and a grocery bag tax – pending state legislation would allow retailers to charge the public for plastic grocery bags, currently illegal.  I’ll tell you what, it sure seems to me, the people of  California are being told to TAKE A HIKE!

First of all, “temporary” means, after the allotted time, the legislature can vote to extend it.  I don’t know if they need public approval for that. Like local Measure H, which would extend a “temporary fee” that was placed on our vehicle registration a few years back. Once you vote something like this in it’s like giving the vacuum salesman a foot in your door. 

And then there’s the WHY? of it. WHY? would we give the schools more money? Here in Chico, they just pad their behinds with the stuff. What does a school district the size of Chico need with all these $100,000 plus administrators, including Stuporintendent of Snooze, Kelly Staley, who makes well over $180,000 a year, plus benefits and pension paid by the taxpayers.

Furthermore, Chico Unified has foisted their own bond on the local ballot – how much money do they need down there? Are they making clothes out of it? Here’s the info on that:


Staley wants to issue $78 million in bonds, placing a $45 tax on your home for every $100,000 worth of value. Read Staley’s request here:


Staley only wants $78 mil. Jerry Brown is hoping to raise $6 billion annually. I can imagine Santa Claus, and maybe even the tooth fairy, but I can’t begin to imagine $6 billion.

He says his measure “bars use of funds for administrative costs, but provides local school governing boards discretion to decide, in open meetings and subject to annual audit, how funds are spent.” That is a loophole – everything after “but” .  Everybody who’s dealt with government types knows what the words “discretion” and “open meetings” mean – in other words, we listened to what the public said but we did what we wanted anyway. 

And there’s this line: “Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments.”   Let’s have a collective, “oh, sure!” on that one – which turnip truck does Governor Moonbeam think we fell off of? How many times have they just TAKEN money from local jurisdictions, saying, “make us give it back” ? And we’re supposed to fall for it? Fool me once, Shame on You! Fool me twice, well, I’ll probably buy it a third time too. But the fourth time, I’m not only not going to fall for it, I’m going to kick your ass for trying to pull it.

Oh, you know, I’m not advocating violence, oh geeshy sakes no! I’m asking everybody I know, everybody within blog-shot,  to bring in a LANDSLIDE against Prop 30 AND local Measure E, the school bond. We have to clean our financial house, and it’s going to be a lot of work. Lately, adding more money to the state of California engine is just like putting cheap gas in your Pinto.  Clunk-clunka-clunk-clunk-clunk!  Clunka-clunk!

 I read an article today, in which the author professed being in favor of Prop 30, and challenged opponents to come up with good alternatives to the “problem”. Of course, he thinks the “problem” is, teachers don’t get paid enough, and we don’t have enough money to hire adequate teachers. I feel the “problem” is, the school system is top-heavy with administrative salaries and drowning in benefits and pensions obligations that should be paid by the employees.  His answer is either raise taxes or watch the California schools fall further into the abyss. I say,  cut administration positions down to bare bones, and make Superintendent a publicly elected position. Then,  fire people, and rehire other qualified applicants at reasonable salaries. Finally, throw out the notion of “benefits packages” altogether – benefits packages are something you use to lure highly skilled candidates in an employee’s market. That is not how I’d describe the average employee of Chico Unified, and Chico is certainly not an “employee’s market,” with Chico State squeezing out Liberal Studies candidates like a sausage press.

 What the government isn’t admitting, is that these contracts come up for review every so many years – every year down at the school district –  and they have the alternative of NOT RENEWING. Instead, they hold the public out of the negotiations with BS about “collective bargaining rights” and renew even worse contracts than those expired. Why do we pay our public workers three, four, five times the median income, while also paying even the “employee share” of their benefits?

That has got to stop. If we really want to live within our means, we need candidates for public office who are willing to tackle the issues of salaries and benefits, not in some future “tiered” system, but NOW. When existing contracts come up for renegotiation, we need candidates who are not afraid to look unreasonable employees in the eye and tell them not to let the screen door hit them on the ass. We need council members who are not afraid to tell employees they need to pay MOST, if not ALL, of their own benefits. I’m sick of these cowards, people who are more interested in keeping their ass in the chair than working for the taxpayers. People who are afraid of $taff because they are too lazy or intimidated to do their own homework and depend on $taff to feed them like infants. 

Do your homework this election, tell your friends, get the word out – “change” is actually a wonderful word, we’re all allowed to use it. 


Outback Steakhouse hosting a fundraiser for Chico council candidate Toby Schindelbeck – steak and shrimp lunch!

11 Sep
Frank Kennemer and Outback Steakhouse will be hosting a
Toby Schindelbeck for Council Fundraiser and you are invited!

Outback Steakhouse

Please Join Toby Schindelbeck, Candidate for Chico City Council, for a delicious lunch hosted by Frank Kennemer, owner at Outback Steakhouse in Chico!

When: Thursday, September 13th from 11:30am to 1:30 pm- show up anytime between.

Where: 1990 E. 20th Street

Chico, CA 95928

Suggested Donation $30.00 per person, includes a steak and shrimp lunch!

Please RSVP to Lisa at (530) 519-9634 if you can, or just show up.

Join us  to get to know Toby, his passion for the issues, what he stands for and what he will bring to the City Council.

Additional donations are greatly appreciated up to $500. If you are unable to attend, your generous contributions can be mailed to: 1141 Forest Ave, #20, Chico, CA. 95928.

I received the above invitation from Toby Schindelbeck. I have attended Outback Steakhouse fundraisers before, including a really nice dinner at the Nature Center years ago, and really enjoyed the food. I’ve also given tickets to their fundraisers as gifts, and never gotten a complaint. 

Chico Taxpayers Association endorses Toby Schindelbeck because he has proven himself to be a hard worker, attending meetings, reading volumes of documents and weeding out discrepancies in the city’s book keeping, ah, er, let’s say “style.”  He’s also worked hard to get more citizens involved in their own government, raising issue with the closing of Station 5 and pressuring the city manager and council to uphold the city code and open the public finances to the scrutiny of the public. 

Schindelbeck has said that he believes city employees, particularly the public safety employees, should pay more of their own benefits, and this is a move in the right direction. I don’t expect we will always agree with Toby Schindelbeck on everything, but it’s not his words or promises we’re endorsing, it’s his actions. 

If you can’t make this fundraiser, keep posted, Toby has other fun events planned. 

First Mate Dave Burkland declares MUTINY! Schwab too busy campaigning to take the helm.

15 Aug

As you may have read, local business owner and city council candidate Toby Schindelbeck has been after  Finance MisDirector Jennifer Hennessy and City Mangler Dave Burkland to comply with the city code and hand over monthly budget updates that include all the pertinent information demanded by the code – including our revenues. 

Maybe you’ve lived here long enough to remember a string of embezzlements that made the news – several local non-profits and a couple of long-time local businesses – all hookwinked by older women bookkeepers, for  10’s of thousands of dollars. One popular Esplanade business owner recently said he’s still suffering the effects, almost 10 years later.

Besides the fact that they were all older ladies with good reputations, the common thread in these crimes was how they did it – they just didn’t report all the revenues they were taking in, taking the money themselves instead. That sounds like an old trick, doesn’t it? Well, obviously, it still has the potential to work.

Those of us who’ve been watching the city $taffers consistently have heard budget reports that just didn’t make sense – most recently, the vast discrepancies in the budget report Hennessy gave early this year, and a May report in which she was suddenly short so much money the city had to close Fire Station 5.  Now, if she was doing the job for free, that might fly, but we pay this woman roughly $160,000 a year, and you’d think she could do the job for that kind of dough. 

So Schindelbeck’s request for the monthly finance reports required by the code is not only reasonable, it’s necessary. We need to press this woman to make better explanation of where all this money is going. 

I’ll tell you where it’s going – Hennessy’s salary has increased by over $30,000 since she gave her first warning of “deficit.” 

But Hennessy will only do the job her bosses require, and Dave Burkland tells Schindelbeck in this e-mail below, he’s not going to make her do it, even while admitting it’s perfectly do-able.

From: “David Burkland” <DBURKLAN@ci.chico.ca.us>

Date: August 10, 2012 5:26:26 PM PDT

To: “Toby Schindelbeck”
Cc: “Jennifer Hennessy” <jhenness@ci.chico.ca.us>, “Lori Barker” <LBARKER@ci.chico.ca.us>
Subject: Re: Public Records Request response

 Mr. Schindelbeck,
I am responding to your email dated August 7, 2012, to the City’s Finance Director, Jennifer Hennessy.  As you know, the Council directed the Finance Committee to agendize an item to determine the form and content of monthly financial information that would best benefit the Council and community. As I mentioned at the Council meeting, staff researched Section 908 of the City Charter and found that monthly reports provided to the Council over the years had varied significantly and had included the monthly claims and investment reports that the Finance Director recently provided you. 
In your email you acknowledge the receipt of information which Ms. Hennessy provided you in response to your Public Records Act request for monthly financial reports as defined by the Chico City Charter section 908. 
You then repeat your request for such monthly reports and state that you understand the Public Records Act to allow the City 10 days to provide the requested information and that “[t]his applies to Public Records which are created, or which should have been created…..”
The Public Records Act requires the City to provide records which are in existence at the time the request for those records is received.  It does not require that records be created.  To the extent that you are requesting the City to create records in a form that you feel should have been done in the past, there is no requirement that the City create those records. 
At this time, the City has provided you all of the records that it has which we believe are responsive to your request and, therefore, has fully complied with your request. 
I believe that the Finance Committee will take this opportunity to focus on financial information needs going forward.  Any recommendation from the Finance Committee will go to the full Council for final action.  We’ll keep you informed of the dates and times of the meetings and hope you have an opportunity to participate.  If you have any questions, please call me at 896-7201 or email: dburklan @ci.chico.ca.us.
Dave Burkland
City Manager
Well, there it is – a guy who is paid nearly $200,000 a year telling us he’s not going to do his job.  And where’s his boss, Ann Schwab? 
Currently Schwab is too busy running her re-election campaign, playing Evita! for the students, to do anything about running the city of Chico.  
But you can make use of the above mentioned e-mail addresses to let Burkland and Hennessy know how you, the taxpayer, feel about this. Notice how they both took steps to make it harder to figure out their city e-mail address – most employees just use their first initial and last name – notice how Burkland does his all in caps, and both he and Hennessy leave off the last letter of their name. They don’t like their e-mail addresses given out, so be nice.  But be firm. Tell them we want to hear the reports Burkland admits are do-able EVERY MONTH, like it says in the charter.
Like Toby Schindelbeck often reminds us – the city Charter is our constitution, and we should take it more seriously. 

Thanks to Toby Schindelbeck for taking on Miss Finance MisDirector and Councillor Moonbeam

10 Aug

Lately a little drama has been playing itself out Downtown – better than any crap you will find on tv – but I really wonder if anybody is paying attention.

Local business owner and city council candidate Toby Schindelbeck has been trying to take our financial bull by the horns and make it behave itself. My family were farmers, I’ve seen a few of these struggles. My great grandfather was gored, almost in his private parts, by a bull when he was trying to administer some vaccination or another. He survived, but it became a legendary story in our family – the moral of the story being, you better be sure of yourself if you’re going to mess with a bull.

Well, I think Toby was sure of himself, and he was ready for a bull, but what he got instead was a greased pig. Ever try to catch a greased pig? Let me tell you, the grease is not the worst of your problem. Don’t wear your best outfit, that’s for sure.

Section 908 has become a greasy little pig. Pigs duck and dodge, they dart, they wiggle, and just when you think you’ve got one, he slips away. If you’re not careful, you end up on your hands and knees in the mud and pig poop. If you’re not determined, you go home with wrecked clothes for nothing. But if you can get that little pig by the tail, or better, by the hind leg, and hold on, you will have yourself a pig. Or $50, that was the deal.

Toby is pretty good, I must say, he’s got  that little pig by the foot. Of course, you never seen anything til you seen a kid being dragged around a fairground arena by a pig running on only three legs. Pigs are incredible, determined, smart little animals who can make fine use of those stubby legs.  This is the beginning of the real battle, you still don’t have yourself a pig, and the danger of slipping in pig poop is ever present. And a mean pig, a real smart pig, will turn and bite. Ever seen a pig’s teeth? Nasty little spikes, like a terrier. It’s enough to make a kid let go, if he or she is not really determined.

Toby Schindelbeck is determined, that’s the truth. He’s got Section 908 by the foot, and he’s going to drag it down and make it behave itself. In a greased pig contest, it was good to be able to pick up and carry your pig, but if that wasn’t possible, you could just sit on it, and the judge would give it to you. Pig was usually so tired by that time, he didn’t put up much squawk, but now and then, he’d make one last move on your ankles, and you better keep your fingers away from that little mouth.

Toby is doing everything right with this pig – persistence really pays.  But it’s tough. In one of the most ridiculous conversations I’ve ever heard at council (it was a discussion of nudity in Bidwell Park that takes the top number one position of all time), Schindelbeck finally got the talking heads to agree to discuss Section 908.  I know, it’s like some skit from Monty Python, or the chapter on Volgon poetry from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe…”

This e-mail below illustrates Schindelbeck’s persistence. He stays calm and polite, but firm. 

Ms. Hennessy,

Thank you for your time and response. I appreciate it. However, my request was for the monthly financial reports as defined and required by the City Charter, Section 908, which states the following:
“The finance director shall submit to the council through the city manager monthly
statements of receipts, disbursements and balances in such form as to show the exact
financial condition of the city.”
I understand that the only portion of the Charter requirements that you comply with are the monthly disbursements, which are posted online in the links you sent.
Quarterly reports are not adequate to show the real-time exact financial condition of the city, especially when we don’t see the quarterly report for 90-180 days after the end of each quarter. In fact, on your website you only have the Q1 and Q2 reports for ’11 and ’12. The 4th quarter ended 6/30/12, and yet neither Q4 nor Q3 of ’11/’12 are posted.
Not only are quarterly reports inadequate, they are not what the City Charter Section 908 requires you to do.
As you are well aware, the Charter requires not only the monthly disbursements, but also the receipts (revenue that came in that month) and the fund balances (which would reasonably include each individual fund balance, along with transfers/allocations to and from each individual fund.) These items should be in such a form to show the exact financial condition of the city, not a hodgepodge of numbers.
As you admitted on 6/5, you struggled with providing this monthly report from the time that you were hired seven years ago. You also said that the city manager at that time directed you not to do it. Here is a clip from that meeting, in which you tell us this:
Fortunately for the taxpayers and citizens of Chico, neither the city manager, the city council, nor any other individual has the power or authority to modify the requirements of the City Charter. Changes can only be made to it by the voters of Chico, if such changes are on the ballot.
Thus, when the city manager directed you not to comply with the Charter seven years ago, he had absolutely no authority to do so and was acting illegally.
Ms. Hennessy, in my Public Records Request dated 8/2/12, I asked specifically for the monthly reports as defined and required by Section 908 of our City Charter. This request is not ambiguous; it is very specific and the language in Section 908 is very specific as well.
Let me ask you for this again; please send me the monthly reports containing the monthly statements of receipts, disbursements and balances, in such form as to show the exact financial condition of the city, for the following months: January 2012, February 2012, March 2012, April 2012, May 2012 and June 2012.As I understand the nature of Public Records requests, once a request is made the city has 10 days to provide the requested information. This applies to Public Records which are created, or which should have been created as required by the City Charter.Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to the timely delivery of the specific information that I have requested.
Toby Schindelbeck

Chico ER

The above email was part of the ongoing correspondence that finally got the ball rolling. A formal request was handed to council during the “Reports and Communications” segment of this past Tuesday’s council meeting. The public was also allowed to speak, and I joined about half a dozen citizens who stood up to urge council, and Jennifer Hennessy, to comply with Section 9o8. The council discussion that followed was pretty ludicrous. Andy Holcombe insisted that “we already comply”. He referred to the months old figures that Hennessy gives out quarterly, by request, at her office, Monday through Friday, 9 – 5. Unless she’s out for a three day weekend.

This gets inane, it’s hard to take Holcombe seriously.  Andy Holcombe would be great as the Emperor who gets new clothes. He’s just as persistent in his complete denial as Schindelbeck is in his insistence that there’s a problem here. Well, maybe not. In this next e-mail, Toby again asserts his position. 


Regarding your comment tonight that you think we already receive the reports required by section 908 of our Charter, please watch this 1:38 minute clip of Ms. Hennesssy telling us that she is well aware of the Charter requirement, but only meets a portion of it. She goes on to say that she “struggled” with complying, and so she went to the city manager at that time (Lando), and was directed not to comply.

Here is the link:


I am not making things up, Ms. Hennessy herself said that she doesn’t comply with all of the Charter requirements in Section 908. 

Since she is our finance director, she would know, right?

Toby Schindelbeck

I can’t get into these Merry-go-rounds with Andy Holcombe, he makes me sick. I have no patience – I just want to land one right on the end of his nose.  Of course Holcombe has a response – another Butler Amusements special!  But Schindelbeck stays with it. This is the kind of “grit”  it takes to be on city council these days. Leaches have taken over our town, and it’s time for a council member who is ready to stand up to $taff. 

I’ll post the rest of the conversation as it comes in.

Please take a hint from Toby Schindelbeck, and write a letter to council or the newspaper, demanding that Hennessy and Burkland make the finance reports as is stated in the city code, section 908.