Tag Archives: Tom Lando Chico Ca

Chamber Special Report: $3 million for more cops, $90 million to fix roads – $130 million for the pension deficit?

24 May

Chico Chamber started marketing their proposed sales tax increase measure five years ago. Below is the link to their “Special Report,” the product of five years of committees, task forces, clandestine surveys, and other ploys recommended by various consultants. 

Below is the link to their “Special Report”.

They list four “priorities for Chico – “police, roads, pensions and fire.” Don’t let the order in which they are listed fool you – that’s not indicative of priority. $3 million for the cops, $90 million for roads, and $130 million for pensions

The report summary says the Chamber would like to get the public involved in the discussion, but given the way Katie Simmons has scheduled the “community meetings,” there really hasn’t been much public participation – mostly Chamber and City officials. 

The Chamber wants a sales tax increase to pay for all this stuff. Do you really want to pay for the pensions? You’ve already paid more than the employees. 

Read that “special” report here:

http://chicochamber.com/public/uploads/CC_January_Special_Report_FINAL.pdf

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CARD plans phone survey for late January to promote new funding measure

20 Dec

The school bond and the lawsuit CUSD pressed against Chico State to hide the e-mail conversation regarding mold in classrooms has kept me distracted from Chico Area Recreation District’s plans to assess homeowners to pay down their pension deficit and eliminate other problems caused by poor management and bad decisions on the part of the board.

An audit report from Matsom and Isom showed that CARD’s pension deficit has actually increased by about $50,000  over the last year, but the board is only now asking employees to pay into their own pensions, and they’re asking less than 4 percent. 

CARD is also under the same pressure all public agencies are under – CalPERS wants more money, more money, more money. They’ve stepped up their demands and are threatening fees on late payments.

And then there are some poor decisions made over the last 10 years that beg examination.  For example, I’ve always wondered, who approved the purchase of Lakeside Pavillion at over a million dollars, a building riddled with rot and out of compliance with 1990’s Americans with Disabilities Act?  Who profited from that sale? Who arranged it?

Here’s a good question – why not sell it?

Here’s a better question – why should the taxpayers have to bail them out?

This is the kind of stuff people need to know and ask about before they vote to give this agency any more money.

CARD has spent almost $100,000 so far on consultants who keep telling them the public does not support a bond and will need a lot of convincing. These consultants, ranging in price from $50,000 to about $3,500, have told the agency one thing over and over again – it’s going to be an enormous amount of work for staff, especially manager Ann Willmann.    The last consultant told the agency they needed to run extensive Public Relations campaigns to make the public think they want a bond or assessment on their homes to fund rainbow promises.  That’s going to take a  really professional propaganda blitz, and Willmann is not up to the task, so she’s just kept hiring one consultant after another in hopes she could get a firm with a price tag acceptable to the board.

It looks like she finally convinced the board they needed to hire an out of town crapslinger –  the bay area firm that hammered the school bond through on us. The board approved  to run a “survey” after Christmas, probably late January.  Consultant Ruth Bernstein said they would try to do 400 “interviews” within about a week.  

These “interviews” will not be indiscriminate.  The consultant will use the voter roles – “we know demographics”  – meaning, they can call people they feel will support the bond.

The purpose?   Bernstein posed the question “How do we build community support for your vision…” and then answered it.

Building community support [for a bond or assessment] is difficult,” Bernstein admitted. A survey would identify “what they want…then you know what to say about yourself…”  

In other words, you simply find out what rainbow dreams the public has (well, 400 of them, anyway…) and then you tell them you need a bond to pay for it! Swwwwweeeeeeet!

No, it’s really not that easy. Bernstein went on to warn the board about opposition.  “We won’t recommend placing a measure on the ballot if we sense too much opposition in the community.” 

How to avoid opposition? Don’t  tell people what you’re doing. Bernstein assured the board the callers would make no mention of the agency, no mention of the bond effort – “We don’t tell them what it’s about. We don’t want to attract people who hate CARD,” she warned. “We have to be careful who we survey…” The callers, working from the Bay Area, will even program a local area code onto their caller ID so the respondent won’t know the agency is from out of town. 

So they will take this effort around the back  door, survey less than half of one percent of the population, and then use the information to make their bond campaign.  That’s what worked for Chico Unified with Measure K.

The board had a few questions. Michael Worley wanted to make sure Chico State students, an admittedly transient population, will be in town for the survey. That’s the kind of thinking that got Worley more votes than any CARD candidate in history.  He not only doubled Jan Sneed’s total for 2014, he got more votes than our new mayor, city council record spender Sean Morgan. As far as I know Worley did so without spending a dime cause he didn’t file any reports with the county.

The consultant answered Worley, “we’re not going to have a big  student turnout in 2018, so why include them in the survey?” She said statistics pointed out that students don’t vote in non-presidential election years. Right in front of us, they were marginalizing people using occupation.  What other demographics will go into how they pick  and choose who they will call? 

Then Tom Lando opined that he would rather hold off on a survey until CARD finishes their 2017 master plan, first draft due in February. Jan Sneed responded tersely, “the master plan isn’t going to change…” Wow, that’s an open mind, somebody toss a cigar butt in there.

Director Ann Willmann, who only recently agreed to pay less than 4 percent of her own pension premiums, having paid nothing up to now, was anxious to add that the “survey should define ‘quality of life’…”

Willmann is the stinking head of this fish, because she knows she ain’t going to get no pension if CalPERS doesn’t get their money.  She’s smart – yeah, get people to tell you their wishes and dreams, then dress that up on a platter for 2018. 

The board passed a motion to hire EMC, with Lando dissenting. I  think he supports the measure but worries about the timing.

They promised to fix the skate park when they took it over from the city. They’ve led a group of citizens along by  the nose, allowing them to raise funds, and now backing down. Why would we expect them to behave any differently with promises they make to pass this measure? 

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20161218/card-board-irked-over-skate-park-expenses

 

Election 2016 will be The Battle For Chico

2 Feb

I like to look at the blog stats, see what people are thinking about, what searches bring them here. I have to wonder if somebody’s just having fun with me when they type in “reanette fillmer stupid bitch.”

What in the world did Ms. Fillmer do this time?

A month or so ago, the lines were bouncing with curiosity and outrage over the Feaster shooting – now it’s the Torres Shelter. Tonight shelter director Brad Montgomery will make some kind of plea before City Council, we’ll see what happens.

A friend of mine asked me what I thought of Chico Chamber chair Mark Francis’ suggestion that Chico is ready for a quarter cent sales tax increase. That reminded me – I need to make another order from Lucky Vitamin. I found Lucky Vitamin a few years ago when former city manager Tom Lando started talking about raising sales tax. I didn’t like online shopping at first, but wow, it’s gotten so much better.  Since Lando first broached the subject of a sales tax increase, I’ve found my way onto various shopping sites that offer good prices and free shipping. I find shipping to be getting a lot better, and when there’s a mistake, you don’t have to drive to the store and wait in an onerous line to make your return.

It’s up to the seller to collect sales taxes, and they are not required to do so unless they have a “physical presence” in California. I know Amazon.com has made a deal with the Franchise Tax Board but only for items shipped from a California location. The customer is on the hook to report and pay uncollected sales tax, or  “use tax,” but there is no mechanism to sort this out by city, the state just keeps it.

http://blog.taxjar.com/sales-tax-for-california/

Whether or not the city gets the sale tax, local businesses will suffer. They need to know that before they decide whether or not to support a sales tax increase. For a while I got over Lando’s little threat, but I shop online more now than I did, and Francis has pissed me off again.

Sheesh, Nevada is a day trip, do they realize that?

It’s funny-weird, not funny-ha-ha,  that Francis’ wife Jolene has brought a proposal to rename City Hall after former City Mangler Fred Davis.  Davis, until his recent death, was one of the biggest pigs in our pension trough.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2013/07/13/heres-whats-really-behind-the-park-closures-more-than-21-retirees-get-over-100000year-in-pension-ex-fire-chief-gets-over-200000/

How did that old guy worm his way up to over $149,000, in pension? He helped Tom Lando pull off that MOU that “attached salaries to revenue increases, but not decreases…”  That’s how!  Old bastard had a bag of tricks, and long after he’s rotted to dirt, Chico taxpayers will be paying for his hijinx.

Time to mount up, get ready for battle – they are coming after the roof over your head, the food on your table, your kids’ education.

It’s the Battle for Chico.

 

 

 

Enterprise Record running the tax increase campaign? I thought newspapers were supposed to be objective

23 Nov

It seems  the Enterprise Record is running the campaign for a local tax increase – read Laura Urseny’s “Biz Bits” column for Sunday:

“Former Chico airport commissioner Karl Ory certainly brought a surprise to last week’s City Council meeting. During the public comment period over the AvPORTS proposal to manage the Chico airport, Ory suggested that airport improvements might warrant a bond measure.”

I know Ory has been beating this horse, can’t figure out what his interest is. Maybe somebody out there can fill me in. 

“AvPORTS — and others — have suggested that the terminal at the Chico airport is too small, given airline industry trends toward larger planes to carry more people. Sky-West used to fly in with a 30- seater, but nowadays the planes that might come to Chico — if commercial service ever returns — could be in the 100- seat size. AvPORTS suggested a larger terminal with a larger area for the Transportation Security Administration processing is needed.”

Chico couldn’t even fill the 30-seater, is the reason Sky-West is gone. Why in the hell would they send in a bigger plane? 

“One criticism was that Chico has no way to pay for the improvements. A counter was that no airline was going to come to Chico without those improvements.  Ory suggested Chico could turn to a bond for a public vote to pay for capital projects at the airport. Ory is a retired Chico airport commissioner and retired city councilman.”

Here she forgets to mention, the airline wants a subsidy to cover their losses when they can’t fill the planes – like $200,000/year!

Then she seems to be playing the Devil’s Advocate. “But this is one of those suggestions that raised eyebrows. We wonder if the community would vote to tax themselves for airport improvements, when a smaller group wouldn’t even fly out of Chico to help support commercial air service here.”

But here she comes again with that bond stuff.

“Since then, I’ve heard from another airport advocate who didn’t automatically dismiss the idea of a bond.”

She’s talking about Tom Lando, I’d bet my last $5.  Maybe Lando is finally getting a thin-skin about being tagged with this tax increase.

“Why such a thing might warrant community support, he explained, was because the airport benefits many in Chico. Benefits include the transportation for residents and businesses, as well as jobs. The advocate pointed out that large companies in considering a new location would consider getting in and out of Chico via commercial service important.”

Lando is also a member of the CARD board, as well as member of the Aquatic Facility committee. He listened to the consultant say that not having an airport was a bad indicator for the success of the Olympic style swim center CARD is pushing.  If we can’t support an airport, how could we support this aquatic facility? Lando and friends are even proposing a sports stadium for Chico, all to be built with a bond.

What neither Urseny nor Lando is talking about is how big of trouble every public entity around here is in over their unpaid CalPERS liability. You just read here, the city has assigned $6 million in pension debt to the Private Development Fund – that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  That’s what a bond would really be about, and then, in a couple of years, like Chico Unified, they’d be telling us they need yet another bond to actually improve the airport. Same old story. I hope you kids are paying attention.

Recently I’ve noticed our local media has fallen to yellow journalism. We don’t really have a newspaper in this town. I know, I’m just a blogger – internet gossip monger? But these people are supposed to uphold some sort of journalistic integrity. They are supposed to work for the public at large, not the government, or the corporations. 

Aside from the rather loose rules set before me by Word Press (for one, you have to publish, something, somewhat regularly, or they will take your blog away!) , I am free of corporate and government influences. I will continue to work in 2016 to inform you and be a tack on the chair of the Overlords. 

POST SCRIPT: And today (11/25/15) Dave Little has foisted an editorial – he’s actually mad because Chico isn’t “stepping up” to “save the airport”

Mr. Little, you need to step aside, and let a real journalist save the newspaper

2016 – the Year of the Tax

4 May

The other day I read a pretty comical article in the Enterprise Record – “Caper Acres Users Mention Tax.”

Excuse me – what the hell kind of a headline is that? “Mention Tax“? Was this overheard in casual conversation? Was it just  whimsy?

To me this word play typifies the verbal gymnastics people will indulge in to get around talking directly about raising taxes, just trying to put the notion out there so we think we came up with it ourselves. I’m wondering how long it took the editorial staff to decide to call this a ‘tax‘ at all.  I don’t trust the ER anymore.

This “mention” of tax is actually part of former City of Chico manager Tom Lando’s slow and grinding efforts at getting us to foist a tax(es) on ourselves to cover his and other grandiose pensions. Here, read up on it:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2013/07/13/heres-whats-really-behind-the-park-closures-more-than-21-retirees-get-over-100000year-in-pension-ex-fire-chief-gets-over-200000/

A pension that’s not mentioned in that list is Pam Figge’s pension. Figge is the Chico State instructor who brought her class into a Park Commission meeting to “mention” a sales tax increase.  Pam Figge was also a city of Chico $taffer under Lando. She’s one of those perpetual revolving door trough dwellers, like Lando, who also teaches at Chico State. I don’t know how many pies old Figgy has her finger in, but Lando sits on various boards around the county, including Chico Area Recreation District. 

A few years back, Lando undertook a campaign to get a sales tax increase on the ballot. He and business associate Jim Stevens hired a company from out of town to run a survey testing the waters for a sales tax:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2012/03/05/lando-releases-survey/

These companies always boast their ability to get voters to approve tax measures on themselves, so of course, it was leading, using scare tactics, leaving out the reasons the city got into this mess. I was also contacted by people, including Larry Wahl, who said Lando used their names as though they supported the tax, without even asking them. Read it yourself.

Back when he was still city mangler, Lando was behind the MOU that nailed us into our coffin – the one that linked city salaries “to increases in revenue increases but not decreases...”  His salary rocketed up about $100,000 over a few years, going from about $69,000 to over $160,000. When  we found out about that MOU, they dumped it, but wrote the “Employer Paid Member Contribution” into the employee contracts – the clause by which we pay their share of pensions and benefits.  I know I’m not the only one that bitched about that too, and now look, they’re pretending to dump it – but only for new hires.  Brian Nakamura, Mark Orme, Chris Constantin and their over-priced management friends only just agreed to pay 9 percent of their own pension – please join me in a solid chorus of “Big Fucking Whoopie, Fellas!”   

Sorensen and Nakamura expect us to eat lint out of their buttcracks, because they are making NEW HIRES pay their own benefits. Again, BFW Boys! What they don’t like to say is, that won’t happen until our existing workforce retires on 70 percent of their fat salaries and walks on down the hall. Mother…

And then, the new hires only pay if they come from outside the retirement system. For the entire United States. Most of our new hires are picked up from within the system, we hire very few newbies.

And then, the new hires only pay  50 percent. Imagine yourself sitting at the city picnic, over on the railroad tracks, eating your slice of community pie, and some cop comes over and takes half your pie and puts it on his plate next to his big fat piece, and walks away. Then a fireman comes over and takes half of what’s left, walking over to the opposite side of the room to glare at the cop while they eat your pie.  

Actually, this analogy isn’t right – Brian Nakamura got your pie while you were standing in line, sorry about that. 

These people just don’t get how big of pigs they are being – the pig is always the last one to know, right? Who, me?  Then most of them have the nerve to put on the “I’m just (sniffle) outraged!‘ act, like little Beth Vice over at Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control.  I hope she is able to pull her panties out of her ass, cause I’m the one who gets to be outraged this time. I’m sick of paying for people like her to sit in air conditioning waiting for the phone to ring, making $60,000+ but contributing NOTHING toward a pension that will pay them at least $50,000 a year (plus COLA) for the rest of their bloated life.

This is the common core behind all these little tax bombs that are headed our way over the next couple of years.  Gee, isn’t it just coinky-dinkal, that BCMVCD just lost the same amount in RDA money that they were splattering out on their own benefits? They say the cost of pesticides has increased – well that’s funny cause their budget shows they’ve spent $150,000 less on pesticides this year than they did three years ago. At the same time,  they’ve laid off employees, but wow, their pensions and benefits costs kept climbing anyway? What gives Beth?

Don’t forget the garbage tax. When I sat in on that conversation, the consultant said repeatedly (and I have this on tape) that the main reason for doing a franchise agreement was to “help the city with it’s financial condition…”  He even admitted, there will be a period during which there is no restriction over how many companies can operate, due to legalities in noticing the companies of the new regulations (5 years). He also admitted, that in order to get Recology and Waste Management to agree to go along with this deal, some of which is on shaky legal ground, the city must agree to close the bidding process to just those two haulers. This whole thing smells worse than Garbage Day.

Don’t forget CARD, who has  committee of  “shareholders” scheming behind closed doors to put an assessment or a bond on our homes to pay for Aquajets new Taj Majal swim facility. Oh yeah, don’t worry, you’ll be allowed to pay to get in, when Aquajets aren’t using it for one of their legendary swim meets. 

Let’s talk about assessments. For lack of a better adjective, I’ll say, assessments suck. This is a way by which these rent seeking agencies (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking  ) like BCMVCD and CARD stick it to us through our homes. Each property owner gets ONE vote. Did I say, each property owner? Well they count couples or families or groups of investment partners as an each, and they only get one vote among them. And, it doesn’t matter how many properties you own, how many assessments you will pay, what your total assessment would be – you and your spouse or partner(s) get ONE vote. Period. 

When I read into the text of the Caper Acres “users” story, I found the opposite was true – Figge’s class only polled people who came into Caper Acres with their kids.  I had to laugh – these college kids that Pam Figge rounded up and brought down to the playground (were they accompanied by a child under 13?) only “surveyed” people who use Caper Acres. They asked them, essentially, “would you like other people to pay more to secure your whimsy?”  Well, duh, 80 percent of them said “Yes!”  

And the demands – keep the Bunker Hill tunnels? Yeeeccchhh! My boys never wanted to go into those tunnels, and I was relieved. They have always stunk of pee, and I’ve long questioned the safety of tunnels in the dirt, come on.  Alot of Caper Acres should just be removed. Those structures were somebody’s silly fancy, nobody ever thought to ask – “how will we maintain these? How will we keep transients from camping out inside them, using drugs, leaving filth, etc?”  Time after time the city has faced liability issues over those crazy fixtures at Caper Acres. I once watched a woman and her kid fly off the end of that crooked slide and land in a heap on the dirt. They landed hard, the child bouncing off the woman’s lap and landing SMACK on the hard ground.Playgrounds are hazardous, fixtures fall apart. Structures have been cordoned off, the place has been closed due to either trees falling or vandalism a number of times – it’s a big liability to the city. 

We didn’t see the survey, we don’t know whether the respondents were informed off all the issues revolving around the park. I’m pretty sure they weren’t told about the salaries, the benefits, the pensions, the EPMC, etc. Just like the pamphlet from BCMVCD didn’t give any real information, and Lando’s survey didn’t give any real information. These people are ready to roll out a propaganda machine to get these bonds or assessments. 

Laura Urseny is part of the propaganda machine. She’s been writing articles about how bad of shape Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools are in – where has she been for the last 20 years that they’ve been left to rot? We can’t trust the Enterprise Record for the straight story, I’m sorry, Dave Little is a businessman, not a journalist. I have yet to see any comprehensive coverage of the garbage tax or the sales tax conversations that have been going on Downtown between the Chamber and other entities. I have this from people I know in the chamber and other organizations. They say it’s all being kept from the public, waiting for state laws to change regarding voting percentages for tax proposals. Our legislature is busy shifting the percentage from 2/3’s to 55 percent.  

And, a highly placed city staffer told me that Tom Lando is behind a lot of stuff, that he’s really pushing to annex Chapmantown because he wants the property tax revenues. The city has a 45/55 deal with the county over property tax revenues –  just think how much money that would mean to the city.  Mark Sorensen and city staff all scream that Chico can’t afford to annex Chapmantown because of all the issues over there, it would cost too much to repair their sagging infrastructure. Well, are they stupid, or just playing stupid? Lando knows like I know that Chapmantown would not get any more service than they currently enjoy, but Chico will get half of their property taxes to pay off their pension obligation. That’s a big conversation behind closed doors, I’d like to see the public get involved in that. 

So, I will try to keep on the ball, but to tell the truth, I could use a little help down here.  I feel like I’m standing in a shit storm with a tennis racket.  

 

 

Caper Acres users mention tax

By Laura Urseny lurseny@chicoer.com (mailto:lurseny@chicoer.com) @LauraUrseny on Twitter

POSTED: 04/29/2014 06:40:23 PM PDT

Chico >> Parents and other users of Caper Acres in Bidwell Park might be willing to consider a fee or tax to help out the playground which is destined for a renovation. A group of Chico State University students assigned to look at the play area as a class project uncovered that sentiment and shared it with the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission Monday night, along with other observations. More than 150 surveys were taken over a six-day period. According to the information presented to the commission, 85 percent of the respondents who identified themselves as city residents “were in favor of paying a local tax to fund the maintenance and renovation of Caper Acres. Forty-seven percent of all respondents would be willing to pay some sort of parking fee,” according to the survey results..The survey results indicated that users were willing to pay one or the other, but not both. Users said the funds must be earmarked for Caper Acres. Other financial suggestions included creating a maintenance district, user fee or crowdsourcing. The survey discovered other stances. Users wanted to keep the story book theme. “Must keep” features included the Bunker Hill Mine (also known as the tunnels), the Crooked House, Big Cheese and Locksley’s Castle. The tunnels are marked for removal in a proposal from Melton Design Group, hired by the city for the redesign. The city has problems with overnight campers inside the tunnel, as well as drainage of the area. Part of former city planner Pam Figge’s geography class, the students looked at the area from soil types and American Indian use to vegetation types, users and play equipment. Commissioners said the information was valuable, and referred later in the evening to the idea of a tax-supported areas in Bidwell Park. City officials have said there is no budgeted money available for the renovation, and is looking to the community for help. The Park Commission’s Natural Resources Committee is overseeing the Caper Acres renovation. The next meeting is planned for 6 p.m. May 8 in Conference Room 2 of the Chico City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. Chairwoman Mary Brentwood said there is plenty of time for more public comments. Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

Dogpile on Mary!

11 Apr

Do you remember childhood? Remember being on the playground and hearing somebody scream at the top of their lungs, “DOGPILE!”  And a mob would form out of nothing and jump on some poor kid – usually, a real annoying kid.  Seen it. Done it. Gonna do it now.  It’s highly uncivil, but let me ask you – has Mary Flynn Goloff been civil?  

I’ve actually been holding back lately, but you know I’ve said it before – Mary needs to go. She needed to go from the get-go. She’s never contributed anything worthwhile to a conversation. I remember when she chaired the Economic Development Committee (yeah, it’s all coming back to you now…), I sat in on a meeting where a former Chamber CEO was making his farewell speech as he headed to another town, carpet bag in hand. Jim Goodwin told us that Chico wasn’t going to get any new jobs because our housing was too expensive. Perspective employers know they can’t pay the kind of wages it takes to own a $400,000 house, so they go elsewhere. One manufacturer, of a cool, space age, high tech jet, pulled up stakes and headed for Texas.

Why are houses so expensive here? Well, first there was Tom Lando’s attaching of salaries to “increases in revenues but not decreases.”  Staff and council started handing out building permits to raise their own salaries. By the time that hayride was over, houses had gone from less than $100,000 to $600 – 800,000, in the span of a couple of years. Tom Lando’s salary had gone up about $100,000. 

Then staff, with the blessing of council, started giving the cookie jar to their friends who helped them raise revenues. They’ve allowed developers to come in and get all kinds of cheap to free service – streets, sidewalks, sewer hook-ups. They’ve handed money to developers – the $7 million used to purchase the low-income section of Merriam Park went right into New Urban developer Tom DiGiovanni’s pocket, out of the RDA fund, meaning we’ll pay for it three times. Scott Gruendl arranged for  DiGiovanni to write a “parallel code,” so he wouldn’t have to get variances for the sub-code stuff he does. They just let him write his own code, with narrower streets, smaller setbacks, and stuff like, the wall of one house acts as the fence to the neighbor’s property – your neighbor’s kid can play basketball off the wall of your house, and you have to sue his parents to make him stop. Go look at Doe Mill – you think that’s standard code? But those yardless crappers will still run you over $250,000 each. What?

Goloff sat through that Economic Development meeting listening to Goodwin’s report, and whenever there was a break in the conversation she’d kind of look around the room and flutter her hands and say, “Well I just think Chico is a wonderful place to live.” She just kept repeating that, over and over. 

Yeah, nice if you’re a public worker, and make three, four, five, six times the median income. It’s real nice to live in a town like Chico, where people are desperate, on a big salary. You can have a maid, nanny,  landscaper, all these willing slaves to do your shit work for you.  But it sucks if you’re living on the median income or less, because the high salary assholes drive up the cost of everything from gas to hair cuts to daycare to eggs. I got my hair cut at Dimensions once. I went in and told them, Annie August sent me, so they knew she’d told me how much to pay. I used to get a nice ‘do, a little color, made me feel pretty when I was changing diapers and scrubbing rental toilets. As I sat in the chair getting my color and cut, a lady came in, announced she was visiting from “The City,” and sarcastically asked if she could she get a cut for less than $150? Oh sure! they told her. They did exactly what they did to me and charged her twice as much. I remember how those gals looked at me, “Shut Up!” I never went back. After having a woman like Annie August fussing over you, there’s just nobody else. But I saw what they did, and I never forgot it. That’s the way this town is – take advantage creeps.

And that’s what Mary Flynn Goloff is, a take-advantage creep. She never even understood what she was getting herself into with the job of councilor, she just wanted attention.  I don’t know which ones are worse – the ones who come in with agendas in place, or the ones who come in to be fawned over like some sort of Evita, and end up being used like a Fist Puppet by the ones who do have agendas. That would be little Miss Mary. 

She’s been to rehab at least twice for alcohol and prescription drug problems. She’s already had problems attending meetings – we found out later, she’d been in rehab at that time.  Nobody is going to forget her unannounced entrance at Harvest Bakery while on prescription medication. How can we help but be suspicious that she’s fallen off the wagon again? In an attempt to be civil, I will ask Goloff to buck up and finish her term, but to announce NOW that she does not intend to run again. Thank you Mary for your anticipated cooperation.

 

 

Whimsies

23 Jan

I attended last night’s Chico City Council meeting last night, on a whim, for a short while. It’s good to make yourself physically attend one of these meetings now and then, like cod liver oil, it’s good for your constitution. 

The items I was interested in had been held to the end of the agenda –  the new employee contracts. The big news is, city employees are being asked to pay their full share of their pension premiums. Whoop-de-fucking-do!  That’s only nine percent of the cost of pensions worth 70 – 90 percent of the highest year’s salary, available at age 50 – 60 years.  Life expectancy in the United States, according to Wikipedia, is about 78 and a half. So, on average, we will pay these folks almost a full salary,  for DOING NOTHING,  for an average of 28 and a half years. And yeah, we pay their health benefits and their rest home insurance too.

Sure they will make new hires pay 50 percent. Another can of worms hits the floor. First of all, how would you feel toward your co-workers knowing fully well you pay 50 percent of your pension and they only pay nine? Come on – I feel that is setting up a hostile work environment, how could anybody be so stupid or insensitive to think something like this is okay?  Well, I guess the same folks who think it’s okay for Todd Booth to carry a gun and represent the city of Chico, there’s your answer.

Second, this plan will only work if they fire all existing employees and hire new ones. Fat chance. 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay for that issue, so I’d written an e-mail to council ahead, telling them they needed to make the contracts only good for year, and then we need a financial report about how much money was actually “saved.”  I also wanted to thank Michael Jones for the wonderful chart he had made with friends, showing how out of whack our salaries are when compared with other, some of them very spendy, California towns. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera.  He’d had a beautiful banner made, displaying it on the back of the council chamber. He’d also had postcards made up, already stamped and addressed to each council member. He was handing those out, asking people to sign and send them. He gave me a set, which I sent. 

Here's one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

Here’s one of the postcards Michael Jones had made. Speaks for itself. Thanks Michael and Kelly!

When I see that kind of determination, I feel, well, you know:

Michael Jones has been active in Chico for a long time, he could give you a pretty good historical perspective on most of the business before council today. I remember stuff too, and it’s funny to listen to what they say now.

 I sat through the annexation conversation, which was interesting because I happen to know a lot of the background on that conversation, I remember when it all happened. I’ve watched it because I’d owned rentals with septic tanks in parts of the county that Tom Lando systematically turned into “county islands” so he could annex them later. For example, at one point, the city just annexed Courtesy Motors, who wanted to expand onto their sewer. Wow, all the sudden, we were in a county pocket, boundaried by a car dealership? In a morning meeting, Lando crowed about the sales tax receipts he’d just stolen from the county!

And Colleen Jarvis was honest at the time – she let everybody know, they were annexing for the property taxes, and they wanted people on sewer to pay for an expansion at the sewer plant, as well as problems with river flow and accidental poop releases  that they are still having today.

When I complained about annexation of my properties, they said, “Oh Juanita, you’re going to get all these city services, and you can vote in council elections!”   Boy, talk about rainbow promises – here’s a funny example: We were living in a house on Palmetto, and the county had started a makeover that was supposed to be completed by the city, an agreement made over the annexing of the neighborhood. The county started the job, and everything went smoothly – they stripped and resurfaced it, it still looks great! But, on the day that the job was handed over to the city for completion, work came to a halt. Oh oh, we thought, our driveway was still suspended about a foot up in the air, and we’d been cutting across the neighbor’s side yard (with their permission) and exiting by way of their front yard, because it was lower than either driveway. There were three households off our driveway, we’d turned that one neighbor’s yard into a mud slick. It was the rainy season, so the mud went all over the place, all the way up our shared driveway, and out into the construction zone.  It made for slippery driving, and forget pedestrian access. A week or so went by and the city just didn’t show up. One night our old neighbor lady had a stoke – and the ambulance could not figure out how to get into our driveway. It was a disaster, all of us were out there trying to get that ambulance across that mud slick, and they didn’t want to come. Finally they got the poor woman out of there, but she didn’t last very long afterward, and I can’t believe the ambulance delay helped her in any way.  The next day I called the city, told them what happened – oh, many apologies – but they still didn’t send a crew until the next week.

And now I live on Filbert – we are proud of our potholes, we call them, “vernal pools.” (sarcasm alert)  There’s a chronic pot hole near the corner of Filbert and Downing – about 12 years ago, it voided the warranty on my tires – excessive road hazard.   They annexed our neighborhood here over five years ago, and you can still look out there and see that same pothole – I call it, “Mooooby Dick! Ye dam-ned whale!”

Oh, but you say, I can vote in city elections! Yeah, that was tasty two years ago, when we kicked the shit out of Measure J, but, over the long run, it’s been a total downer. I voted for Scott Gruendl, Mary Flynn, Tom Nickell, Mark Sorensen, Sean Morgan, Mitt Romney (?!) and some others my brain is protecting me from by forgetting. The only votes I feel good about today are the ones I threw away on Nader – thanks for that Ralph.  I am starting to hate voting, I may quit altogether. That carrot has gone sour.

So, this controversy over the annexation of much of Chapmantown, one of the oldest contiguous sections of the city of Chico, has many biting heads. No, I don’t feel any better about being annexed myself. When I lived in the county, I had the sheriff and Station 42. The sheriff’s employees we encountered were great. We also got alot of support from CHP in those days – they came to help a couple of my old neighbors shut down a party house, that was a-may-zing. CHP did that, because we were in the county, now we can’t get them, they tell us to call the Chico PD. Hah!

The fine volunteers of Station 42 put out two fires in my neighborhood within minutes, saved both houses, one of was already burning on the roof. The other fire involved a car parked right next to the house, which left a huge scorch mark but never “engaged” the house. Because Station 42 is there within five minutes, we timed them. When I had an experience with the city, it was more like 10 minutes, and the house was fully engaged and ended up being a total loss. I believe if it hadn’t been for the fast actions of my neighbors, I would have lost my garage that day.

So, when Scott Gruendl protests that he has received “a lot” of comments from Chapmantown residents that they don’t want to be annexed, I say, “who could blame them.” Well, I have to think again.

I owned a house just this side of the city limit in Chapmantown. I had great sewer, great drainage, high curbs, etc. My house was protected. Blocks over, the houses sit in swamps, no sidewalks – one lady came to a meeting to describe the system of planks she has to lay out during rainy weather to get from her front door to her driveway. This also means, raw sewage floating up out of old long untended septic tanks. I’m sure, some of the septic tanks in that part of town are sub-code.  And, it’s been documented – the water pipes are leaking toxins into the groundwater over there, and toxins are getting into the drinking water. This I know because friends of mine living on 20th Street received  notice that drycleaning fluids had contaminated the city water, and they shouldn’t even shower in it until further notice. Last I heard, the city is making some progress on this issue – but they are waiting for lawsuits against the old businesses to play out, or for grants and funds  from the feds and state. In the meantime, they’ve been deferring developer fees, that fund being bottomed out. That’s who is supposed to pay for the sewers and the plumbing for development, the developers. Instead, the city has been giving them a free ride for years, and now they want the taxpayers to foot the bill for clean-up required by poor infrastructural management.

So, yes, in this case – one of the oldest urban areas of town, not an almond orchard dotted neighborhood five miles north of town – I’m for annexation.  And I think most of the residents would say so too, given the proper background info and an election to make it respectable. Instead, we get vague reports from Scott Gruendl about residents he’s talked to that don’t want to be annexed. These nameless residents who can’t seem to put comments in writing with a signature, these shadow-puppets, are saying, they like their rural charm! But no names, no phone numbers, no evidence. Just Scott Gruendl’s word.  Like they’ll tell you if you try to report something – anecdotal evidence is not acceptable, let’s hear some names, let’s see some e-mails or phone memos Scott.

And excuse the ramble, but then there’s Sorensen. He says we can’t afford to annex Chapmantown? Oh, but we can annex all over North Chico, they’re just chomping at the bit to get out there where the properties are bigger and generate more taxes, but everybody is on a new septic tank, and their houses are not close enough together to warrant sidewalks, so this would be pure profit for the city. They’d be taking in all those expensive properties (prop tax and utility tax) but they wouldn’t have to offer any services. They certainly wouldn’t have to clean up the mess they’ve allowed Chapmantown to become over all these years.

Dan Nguyen-tan was one who told me my services would get better after annexation. Within a couple of years, Nguyen-tan was complaining that the annexed areas had become a drain on Chico, and – GET ALOAD OF THIS! – he and Gruendl and Dave Burkland tried to blame our burgeoning fiscal problems on the annexations! And at the meeting the other night, Ruben Martinez reminded us, our short-lived City Mangler Greg $190,000/year Jones (who retired at 70 percent of that salary having paid only 4 percent toward the pension premiums) tried to tell us that we’d annexed these areas “without any visible means of support.”

That just doesn’t add up to me. Oh sure, you annex millions in property taxes, millions more in sales tax, but the annexed neighborhoods are still looking like third world countries 10 years later? Drive that neighborhood along the freeway, behind East Avenue McDonalds. Go in the daytime, they’ve had strong-arm robberies there during the day.  Look at the streets, look at the filth, and ask yourself – “am I in America?” Yeah you are, you’re in the City of Chico.  Alabama? Nope, California. Tom Lando’s California. Dave Guzzetti’s California. Jane Dolan’s California.

I mention Lando because he was the puppeteer, but I also mention Guzzetti and Dolan because they’ve been the official face of efforts to stop the annexation of Chapmantown. Dolan even threatened to sue at one point. Schwab and Gruendl both brought her up, but for some reason, refused to mention her name. She was the “county supervisor from that district…”, even though, both Schwab and Gruendl, by his own admission to me, have had dinner many times with Jane and husband Bob in their home.

Oh well, enough of this. This is a  ramble. I went to a meeting, so I felt the need to talk about it. Go to a meeting and tell me what you saw.

Did I say going to one of these meetings is good for your constitution? Well, it is. As soon as you get home you are going to want to take a big dump. Works better than poke berries.