Tag Archives: Tom Lando CARD

Dan Walters: local government officials throughout California have been thumbing their noses at a state law that prohibits them from using taxpayer funds for political campaigns

27 Jun

In February I read that the FPPC, under new chairwoman Alice Germond, is trying to expand it’s powers to prosecute government agencies who misuse public funding to finance tax increase campaigns. In March the request went to the legislature, as reported here by Dan Walters.


Walters says, “State law very clearly and specifically makes misuse of taxpayer funds for political purposes illegal, but the FPPC has no power to enforce the law. That’s up to local prosecutors and the state Department of Justice, but as the FPPC report concluded, ‘The Enforcement Division is not aware of any actions brought by state or local prosecutors related to those cases.’”

Of course, it seems pretty simple – why would a county employee – like Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey – bite the hand that pays his salary? Would it even be worth contacting Ramsey to report this? Not sure.  The school district is the major offender here, although, in the last bond election, they put up a sham “citizen’s committee” to do their campaigning – a committee that did not have public meetings, keep records, or disclose their membership. 

The city of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District, meanwhile, have both spent 10’s of thousands of public dollars – CARD has spent nearly $100,000 in the past few years – to hire consultants to put forward their tax campaigns. Ramsey must be too busy chasing pot farmers to pay attention. When I looked at his website to see how to file a complaint, the only form that popped up was for pot patches.

Mike, I think you should read a newspaper once in a while. Dan Walters has been talking about this issue for over a year now. 

So, I took some advice from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and wrote a letter to CARD, who has been the most egregious offender so far. I used a form letter at their website for inspiration, but I don’t use form letters, I write my own. Form letters look stupid and put up, and are easier to ignore. I made sure to ask that my letter be made part of the public record, and I included not only the manager Ann Willmann ( annw@chicorec.com ) but the entire board – tlando@chicorec.com, mmcginnis@chicorec.com, tnickell@chicorec.com, mworley@chicorec.com, and ddonnan@chicorec.com

Please Note: I would like this email to be part of the public record.

To Ann Willmann, CARD General Manager, and members of the board, Tom Lando, Mike McGinnis, Tom Nickell, Michael Worley and Dave Donnan. 

I believe Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) is illegally using taxpayer dollars for political advocacy. The Political Reform Act prohibits public agencies from spending public funds in support of or opposition to ballot measure campaigns. 

CARD has hired EMC Research to advise them in placing a tax measure on an upcoming ballot. A quote from their website:


“Great campaigns don’t just happen. That’s why we offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations and ballot measures succeed.” 

CARD has paid EMC to conduct a survey.  EMC’s website makes it clear that they use demographics to shape the outcome of their surveys in order to sway public opinion in favor of passing tax measures. This is an illegal use of taxpayer funds. I have contacted the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and they tell me they have successfully sued agencies for this misuse of public money. The FPPC also requires these expenditures to be reported as campaign donations. 

Below I’ve provided links to a couple of recent articles from Cal Matters and the San Jose Mercury News that provide further details and resources.

Thank you for your anticipated responses, Juanita Sumner, Chico Taxpayers Association 

I included the following links to a couple articles Dan Walters has posted:

Finally, a crackdown on misuse of taxpayer money

Walters: California should crack down on misuse of taxpayer money

Yes, these two local agencies are illegally using taxpayer funding to put forward tax increase measures, but unless we call them on it, nobody else will. We have to get this issue out into the newspaper, and then we need to start a serious letter writing campaign to Ramsey, and then maybe the Grand Jury, asking that the city and CARD be investigated. 

In the meantime, write your own letter to Ann Willmann and the CARD board to let them know how you feel about a government agency that breaks the law. 

CARD, city $taff agree on one thing – it’s time to run a revenue measure!

4 Nov

Yesterday [11/3/17] I went out early to attend a meeting of the ad hoc committee formed between Chico City Council and Chico Area Recreation District to divvy up local parks, including Bidwell Park. 

There’s a lot of funding involved in these parks, and this was essentially a grab by CARD to get some of those revenues. The last thing CARD director Ann Willmann asked before she left the meeting was when she would start seeing the $$$$ from the neighborhood parks they were about to take over.

Ad hoc meetings do not have to be noticed to the public, but for some reason the news ran a story saying this meeting would begin at 9 am. There was no agenda posted either on the CARD website or at the city website, so I had to trust the news. When I arrived at the city building just before 8:50 I was glad to see the agenda posted alongside the door – it said 9 am. I went to a lot of trouble to push though my chores and get down there on time, and hey, my time might not be worth $139,000/year plus benefits but it’s worth something.

The Enterprise Record reporter and another woman, who told me she was at the meeting to see “if I still have a job” were waiting at the door when I arrived. As time went by and nobody came to let us in, we began to speculate. 9:00 came and went, so the reporter went over to the city office to inquire about the meeting. At 9:10 we were told that the meeting notice was wrong, the meeting didn’t start until 9:30, and someone would be along to open the door for us. 

Later, when councilor and committee member Karl Ory walked in a few minutes after 9:30, he looked around at the gathering and said, “I thought we agreed on 9:30?” Committee members and staffers all laughed. 

Like Lawanda Page says in “Friday,” “Well…Fuck You!” The way they treat the public down there is just gob-stopping. Our inconvenience doesn’t mean Jack Shit to $taff.

I’m sorry to be coarse, but these people treat me like garbage, and I get sick of it. 

Let me cut to the chase – the meeting started at 9:30 and by 9:45 the words “tax”, “assessment” and “tax assessment” had been used by staff or CARD representatives three times. Two staffers, Linda Herman and Eric Gustafson, said in so many words they want the city to pursue a revenue measure, and Tom Lando, CARD board director, made it clear, again, that he also wants a revenue measure. 

Herman said at one point, “I believe we have a united front for a tax [measure]…that’s better than going at it from opposite sides…”

It sounded as though CARD has already decided on a mailed assessment, but hasn’t made the formal announcement. I’ll try to attend the next CARD board meeting, usually held around the 15th of each month, and get more clarification on that.

The rest of the meeting was a jawdropper, the way these people wheel and deal behind closed doors, the stuff they say. I can’t write that fast, but the notes I was able to get are stunning. 

These people are not out to protect our interests, that’s for sure. I’ll cover it more when I get another chance to sit down. 



Butte County League of Women Voters candidates forum worth a listen

11 Oct

Two years ago I tried to host a speaking series for candidates in the 2014 election and wow, what a pain in the ass that was! So I can really appreciate the amount of work the League of Women Voters has done to host their candidates forum series. 

Here’s the link to their website – 


and here’s their forum schedule – they will host candidates for Chico City Council on October 20


If you haven’t been able to make these, you can find videos on youtube.  Here’s the video from the October 6 forum with candidates for assembly District 3, Chico Area Recreation District, and US representative District 1.


The race here that interests me the most is for two seats on the CARD board.  Tom Lando and Michael Worley were appointed four years ago because nobody else ran for their seats. Now they face ex-CARD director and former board member Jerry Hughes and local perpetual candidate Dave Donnan. I will give it a good listen, this race is more important  than most people realize.

Not that I don’t care about Assembly District 3 or US District 1, but I’m guessing those races are pretty moot. I will listen to what these people have to say, it’s just good to know where your elected leaders stand on various issues, at least for the moment. 

Thanks for asking me about this Kurt, it’s a great resource the LWV is providing and I’m glad to help them spread the word.

What is Tom Lando up to?

5 Jun

Last night we reached a new low with the council’s decision to move forward on the eminent domain of a private property for a bike lane. The worst part is, the owners say they’d go along with these plans if there was adequate compensation being offered, but the city stands by it’s ridiculous offer and holds a club up to the Douglas’ if they don’t agree.

Again, I’ll remind everybody – Tom Varga has admitted this acquisition will allow the city to apply for grants.  Mark Sorensen has said, “As far as the Grant revenue to fuel capital projects salaries… I believe that has at times been too much of a motivating factor.”  And the city is greedy – if they paid for the Douglas’ sewer hook-up, that would probably eat a good deal of the grant they’re after. 

I’m glad Sorensen voted NO on this item, but I don’t know if he sincerely didn’t want to eminent domain this family’s private property or whether he knew it would carry anyway so voted NO for the pleasure of his peanut gallery.  He had expressed a desire for the bike trail to be completed. Like Stephanie Taber said, they should have had all the properties secured BEFORE they started the trail. I believe Varga did it this way on purpose, to pressure any of those hold-outs who didn’t want to go along.  

But I’m not going to get distracted with that item right now. I feel like we need to be looking ahead. This bike trail fiasco went through the approval process years back, I don’t feel like going back through that process, or the bag ban. Let’s just remember who voted which way in a year and a half, when these people are up for re-election.  

What worries me now, is our finances, and what our city “leaders” are planning to do about the lack there-of.  Brian Nakamura and the New Kids on the Chopping Block – Mark Orme on bass, and Chris Constantin on drums –  are on the “Your City’s Up Shit Creek” Tour, with an appearance at City Chambers, this Friday, noon to 1:30. This event is being hosted by the city, as well as the Chamber, the DCBA, and the Chico Stewardship Council.

Yeah, I’d like to be there, but my family has already moved our plans to accommodate a financial opportunity for my son and a CARD budget meeting.  I hope somebody will go down there and fill us in. 

I will be at CARD’s budget meeting Thursday, 3pm, at the CARD center on Vallombrosa. The story in today’s ER says they have a balanced budget, with expenditures actually falling short of revenues – HOLY SHIT! Stop the press!  I’ll try to get photos of he momentous occasion.

Although, I am perplexed – if they can stay within their budget, why this panhandling lately? First they try to get us to agree to some sort of assessment or parcel tax, and when that doesn’t go over, board member Tom Lando tries to shove a SALES TAX HIKE onto the agenda. That’s what he said at the last meeting, that he wanted to discuss a sales tax initiative. The agendas aren’t very descriptive, there’s no report, so I’m going to the meeting to see exactly what comes up in the discussion. 

I could see a link here, excuse me for having a rubber brain. Lando has his fingers in several pies – he is a board member and past president at the Chico Chamber, and also a board member at CARD. As past city of Chico manager, he also consults extensively Downtown. This meeting Friday, sponsored by the city, the Chamber, the DCBA, and Bob Lincheid’s friends at the Chico Stewardship Council, just reeks of a campaign to get us to raise our own taxes. We need to pay attention to these people, because I’ve found, leeches do not like sunshine.