Tag Archives: Tom Lando

CARD takes consultant’s advice, sends out messengers to brighten it’s image before the public

2 Jul

Today Chico Area Rec and Parks District, aka CARD, is starting a public relations campaign suggested by a consultant they hired to run a survey a couple of months back, trying to “guage,” or more likely create support for a new bond or assessment on our property taxes. 

The consultant came back with a “negative” –  not enough support indicated for any kind of tax to float CARD.  For one thing, only 1800 of 10,000 surveys were even returned – you can interpret that however you want, they sure did. I interpret that as, people don’t even CARE about CARD, much less want a bond on their homes.

The reasons listed by the consultant – summarized from respondents’ comments: “bad economy; recent passage of Measure E, prop 30, and other tax increases; and ‘government spending’”.

Of course she didn’t elaborate on “government spending.” You can speculate there too. I will speculate that at least some people either read my letters to the editor or found out for themselves – the aquatic center held up as a prize for your correctly-answered survey was nothing but a rainbow – it disappeared before the survey had even been completed. Board member Ed Seagle sat right there at a meeting and said they were wrong to even suggest they had anywhere near enough money to even think about building an aquatic center, and that notion dried up quicker than spit on a griddle. But not as loudly – they never took out a press release or anything, they let it ride silently. They knew I’d sent those letters, and Seagle was just doing damage control, covering his own ass if you ask me.  

Seagle of course didn’t mention the $400,000 “side fund pay-off” to CalPERS for THEIR pensions. They act like they were buying something for us with that money – Scott Dowell keeps repeating, like some kind of snake handler, “we saved $40,000 with that pay-off.” Big fucking deal, Preacher Man. You saved YOURSELVES $40,000, you ripped the taxpayers off for $400,000, and counting. CARD staff does not pay one thin red dime toward their own pensions.

The consultant had some wisdom to offer the board and staff. She said they needed to get out  there and create a more positive image of CARD. I’d say, “an image at all.” How many people don’t even know CARD exists until they need an “after school program” to dump their school age kids in when school’s out?  That’s where CARD gets most of it’s “program revenues” – they get most of their money in property taxes and new home fees, but of the revenues they generate themselves, those after school programs are their Blue Ribbon Cash Cow. But recreation superintendent Monica Jameson loudly announced at one meeting, she doesn’t have enough staff to supervise your children properly – she’s going to have to turn hundreds of kids away. Good luck finding somewhere to dump your spawn this summer.  And, if you are “lucky enough” to get in, keep an eye on your own child – she said she only has two adults to supervise over 300 children in one program, and some 500 signed up! 

It’s going to take a lot more than some little gal sitting in the park handing out “free” flying discs and other stuff paid for by the taxpayers to untarnish CARD’s reputation with me. 

UPDATE:  I had errands to do in my car yesterday, so drove by Hooker Oak Park at 10:50 to see the CARD gal and get some of that free bling – she wasn’t there. “Almaguer will be at Hooker Oak Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 2;”    We drove all over the parking lot at Hooker Oak, looked around the playgrounds and the ball fields – nobody but the usual $5,000/year maintenance workers.   There was no place she could have been that we wouldn’t have seen her. If I’d rode my bike over there in that heat, I would have been pissed off. Why would she say she’s going to be there for a certain time block, and then right in the middle of it, nothing?

I’ll drop her a note.

CARD delving into community park-love effort

Staff Reports

Posted:   07/01/2013 12:55:40 AM PDT

Click photo to enlarge

Marketing coordinator Lisa Almaguer shows off the flying discs she’ll be giving away at parks…

CHICO — Lisa Almaguer will be staking out a corner of several Chico parks through July, hoping to talk to lots of people about what’s behind their feelings for Chico parks.She’ll be at Hooker Oak Park on Tuesday morning.

This is the unfurling of “I love my parks and recreation” campaign, which she is pursuing as a way to reinforce how important play and parks are to people. July is National Parks and Recreation Month, designated by the National Recreation and Park Association.

Almaguer works for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District, which owns Community Park and the others she plans to visit.

While she knows park users have an appreciation of CARD parks — because they’re already playing there — Almaguer hopes her campaign will bring a better understanding of how valuable parks are in people’s lives.

She’ll be asking park users what they love about the parks, writing down the comments on slips, and then displaying them on bulletin boards at each park. There will likely be a report to the CARD board as well.

The national association’s turnkey campaign came with minimal costs, so CARD decided to adopt it in July.

“Basically, we’re looking to find out why parks are vital to the users,” said Almaguer, who handles marketing for CARD.

Almaguer will be at Hooker Oak Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 2; at DeGarmo Community Park from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 9; at Wildwood Park from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 18; and at Community Park

from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. July 27.Initially, she’ll have give-aways like flying discs and stickers, and by mid-month, she’ll also have sunglasses, water bottles and more.

Letter: Here’s why CARD wants more money

7 Apr

Here’s a letter I sent to the Enterprise Record a full week ago. I don’t know why it took so long for Little to run my letter – I could speculate that he wants the CARD tax to pass. We’ll see when he endorses it in 2014.

My family received the Chico Area Recreation District’s survey regarding their proposed tax hike. We wanted more information, so asked for their 2012-13 budget figures.  

 
CARD says they need a new tax because of falling property tax revenues and a “disappearing RDA.” What they don’t mention is the recent $400,000 “side fund payoff” to the California Public Employees Retirement System. CalPERS has demanded public employers pay more toward their employees’ pension premiums, offering some savings on interest if they pay a certain amount immediately.
 
CARD, employing about 30 people full time, also paid $375,000  in regular pension premiums last year, and $300,000 in healthcare premiums. Salary and benefits totaling about $5 million dollars  eat over half their $7.2 million budget. 
 
They earn about $3.3 million of their annual revenues from their programs and rental of their facilities. The other $3.5 million  comes mostly  from taxpayers –  county taxes ($2,3456,782), homeowner assessments ($162,753), fees on new homes ($23,750), and $924,000 from the RDA credit card. 
 
CARD currently suffers a $420,000 deficit. Their capital projects reserve fund shows a sudden negative balance of $344,500. It appears to me they took money from their capital projects fund to pay their CalPERS “side fund payoff”, and now they want us to replace that money. It seems misleading to offer an aquatic center when what they are really asking for is money to pay for their pensions and benefits. 
 
I’ve posted the budget spreadsheet at chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com
 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I know, I said I’d post the budget here – I can’t get it to come up right on this blog, so here’s the link to my other blog:

http://worldofjuanita.com/2013/03/31/card-2012-13-budget/

and here’s the link to the survey:

img003

This survey is completely loaded – essentially, they tell you, if you don’t pay this tax, your kids will end up on dope. Read it yourself.  They also promise “this measure would include strong fiscal safeguards and oversight, including that less than 5% of the proceeds would be used for administration.” 

CUSD stupe Kelly Staley said that about the school bond voters just extended. Chico Unified said they’d form some kind of citizens’ committee  to “vet” a list of projects, but the administration has already announced projects that have never been vetted in any way. And don’t forget, when the school district originally floated that bond about ten years ago, they said the money would be used exclusively to build a third high school. Then they changed their mind, and we’ve never been shown an actual accounting of how much they’ve raked in over the years or where any of that money has gone. 

In this case, you can see that CARD has taken money out of their capital projects fund and used it to pay their CalPERS obligation. When Steve Visconti sent me that budget,  I could tell from his attached letter he really didn’t expect me to read the budget, or thought I was too stupid to figure it out. I had asked him about revenues. 

Our funding sources come to us a few different ways. One is a small portion of property taxes from each homeowner in our District. The other main revenue source is from programming fees. Those are also shown on page 6 of the attached budget.”

But the budget says otherwise. Like I said above – they get over half their revenues from property taxes and assessments – including $924,000 in RDA money. That RDA money is about to disappear, that’s just another reason they want this tax. Besides the $400,000 they stole to pay their own pensions.

You can print that survey from that link, fill it out, and send it to Visconti at the CARD center – 545 Vallombrosa Ave, Chico, 95926. You can e-mail him for more information at svisconti@chicorec.com

And here’s the funny thing – guess who’s on the CARD board – Tom Lando, the same guy who’s been proposing a city sales tax increase.

Measure J was just the test run for the sales tax increase

12 Mar

Brian Nakamura forwarded along Jennifer Hennessy’s answers to Stephanie Taber’s questions from last week’s city council meeting.

Stephanie’s questions, below in black, with Hennessy’s responses in blue, and my smart ass observations in green:

1) What/who is the source of information that is now being used to verify the $500 loss (or whatever the current figure is) in revenue due to the defeat of Measure J?  At the offset of the proposal there was no definitive way of separating how much revenue was received based solely of cell phone calls and texting and how much on land line costs.  At least that was my understanding.

Answer:  City staff will be able to determine Measure J’s impact over time, as Telecommunication companies stop collecting the tax on cell phones and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services.  Future UUT revenue will be compared to revenue collected prior to the notification to the companies to cease collection of this tax. 

Wait, this doesn’t sound right. For one thing, in December, Hennessy reported a loss of $500,000 to the General Fund, and blamed it directly, in so many words, by name, on “the loss of Measure J.” There was no doubt in her mind, our budget had been hit broadside to the tune of $500,000 by the petty taxpayers who defeated that ill-begot scheme. Now she tells us, she won’t know how much, til “over time”?   She’s our budget director, in charge of our financial “IN” and “OUT” boxes, and she doesn’t know where our money comes from? She gets checks all year from the phone companies, but she doesn’t keep track of how much? That answer sounds fishy to me on a number of levels. 

2) Are telephone tax collections a separate revenue line item that can be compared month-to-month and year to date?

Answer:  Yes, revenue collected for Utility Users Tax on telecommunication services is reflected in the City’s General Fund, under account 40492. 

And here she says the opposite – that the revenue collected is kept track of in the budget?  Month to month? I looked in the budget, available under “Finance Dept” on the city website.

Click to access 2012-13CityAnnualFINALBudget_000.pdf

Yes, under the General Fund summary, page FS-1, Fund 001, Utility Tax is separated out – gas, electric, telecom, and water – but only year to year. I wonder if she even read Stephanie’s question all the way through. The fund is there, but we don’t see how much is added and subtracted, just the balance. Like she says for Q #1, we would have to have all the budgets, and compare that number from year to year, and we’d have to know how much money had been taken from that fund in order to figure out how much had come in over any particular year. She knows that stuff, or she should – why she can’t give us a straight answer is beyond me, and it just makes me suspicious of everything they say Downtown.

What they continue to say Downtown, is that Measure J is to blame for all our fiscal difficulties. This even as they sign that new cop contract – raises, especially for lieutenants, fully-paid “employee share,” the whole nine yards. And did you see those new cruisers they bought, just to be “traditional”? They’ve also raised department head salaries about $25 – 30,000 each.  Oh, but $900,000, or uh, is it $600,000 – oh, just $500,000? Really? Well that’s still a TRAGEDY! QUE LASTIMA! You rotten, petty taxpayers! You’re so stingy! 

This is their foot in the door for that sales tax increase, you just watch. 

And don’t forget, Frank Fields said he’d have the UT rebate application on the website “in the next couple of  weeks,” so I’ll keep you posted there.

We’ll have to hit the ground running

26 Oct

I’ve reserved the meeting room at the Chico library for our First Sunday meeting, November 4,  9am. I hope that’s good for everybody, let me know, I can change the time.

That of course, is only days before the election, a little too late for any strategizing on Measure J.  What I’d really like to talk about is what we’ll do after the election. I got a couple of ideas I been kicking back and forth with the fence post.

Of course, I believe our first true concern is a sales tax increase. I would bet my last five dollars that whether or not Prop 30 or Measure J pass, Tom Lando will bring forward his sales tax increase measure. He will either say, Prop 30 lost and we need the money, or Prop 30 won but we can’t trust Brown to share the proceeds from 30.  He’ll say, whether it wins or loses, that Measure J was already being spent, which is true. The city has been collecting the phone tax illegally, mainly through stooges AT&T, for years, and stands to lose millions in ill-gotten gain. Sheesh – they may even be afraid we’ll sue them for those illegal takings, like the folks of the  city of Chula Vista!

http://www.caseygerry.com/news/class-certified-chula-vista-tax-lawsuit

I honestly believe Tom Lando fully intends to ask for a special election in Spring 2013 to put a sales tax increase measure before the voters, and we need to start thinking about a serious “organized” campaign against it.

Secondly, I heard a good idea from the city of Hemet, which recently unloaded their ex-city manager on us – Brian Nakamura. Sure, they made it look like they were being ripped off, but I say, they hoodwinked us into taking the guy. Ever read “Ransom of Red Chief”?

Yeah, those Hemetians are pretty damned smart.  Two years ago, they passed some very interesting legislation in their little town, read here –

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/hemet/hemet-headlines-index/20101026-hemet-campaign-spending-increases.ece

Here are the ballotpedia pages for Measures W and X – both passed with OVER 80 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. Measure W limits terms for city elected officials, and Measure X cuts them off from city-paid  health benefits.

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Term_Limits,_Measure_W_(November_2010)

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Prohibition_on_Contributing_to_Cost_of_Healthcare,_Measure_X_(November_2010)

You will note, the Hemet Taxpayers’ Association put some money into these issues. We must decide, do we want to start raising and spending money?

I hope to see the usual suspects on November 4, at the library, 9am, along with some fresh newbies, willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn our city around.

Sleep with your hand on your wallet/purse strap

25 May

I would certainly like to think we just landed a house on a witch, but I got another think coming.

“Self-imposed Chico tax supporters take a break”

Well, I’ll tell you right away, I got a problem with that headline. Lando and friends were not imposing a tax just on themselves, they were imposing a tax on all the rest of us as well. What’s with the ER, always trying to make this thing look so magnificent – those magnificent tax paying bastards!  They’re so community spirited!  Anybody who doesn’t want to pay this tax is just, well, NOT community spirited! Damn us!

Now, please note, Lando, who sent this article to Urseny as a press release – that’s some news reporting!  – Mr. Lando uses the word “hiatus”. That means, he isn’t quitting, he’s just taking a “break, or a pause, in a sequence, series or process…”

“We think it’s best to wait for another round of elections,” he says. Well, duh!

He can’t float this turd in the same pond in which his colleague Bob Evans must make his swim for re-election. I am afraid Evans might support this tax if he thought he could get away with it. Mr. Evans told me early on that he would not agendize a discussion of this tax because there was, as far as he saw it, nothing to discuss. He said he hadn’t seen any proposal and therefore didn’t want to talk about it. But come to find out, he’s been meeting with Lando over at the Chamber of Commerce, where both are longtime members, and the topic on the agenda has been the sales tax increase. So, Evans has heard something, and I’m afraid he’s not being completely honest about what he knows or what he intends.

I certainly don’t trust Ann Schwab. She’ll play it safe for now, sure. She’s already busted a bottle of bubbly on that leaky phone tax vessel – a sales tax increase would sink her battleship, and she knows it. When I asked her if she’d put this stinker on the ballot, she referred to Lando’s early proposal for a ballpark, and indicated she wouldn’t support a sales tax “for a ballpark,” that’s all she’d say. She wouldn’t say, “I won’t support a sales tax increase,” she qualified herself – she won’t support a ball park.  She just wants to distance herself from this thing until she can get her butt back in that chair, and then you’re going to see the biggest turn-around since George H. W. Bush told you to read his lips.

I fear either of these two would support a special election for November 2013, when they could put this sales tax increase measure on the ballot with a 5-2 majority, without any immediate retribution from the voters. Ah, how the voters forget!

Well, I’m a vindictive bitch, I never forget.  What I’d like to hear from Evans before I can support him in November is that he will not vote to put a sales tax increase on the ballot without the required number of signatures on a legal petition.

I’d want a petition because I want to know that a sufficient number of voters support an election. As we were told when we presented the legally required signatures for Measure A, a special election is expensive, and there’s absolutely no basis at this time on which to justify that kind of expenditure – I remember hearing estimates as high as $120,000.  They made the Measure A proponents spend over $50,000 gathering signatures, I will feel completely had if they do not require signatures of Lando and his friends.
This issue is not going away, in fact, I don’t think they will even slow down. They have a lot of money to raise to run their campaign, and lots of lies to spread to try to get it passed. We have to keep our ear to the ground, and be ready to pick up after the phone tax fight and go at it again.
Here in Chico, you must sleep with your hand on your wallet/purse strap.

Chico Taxpayers Association discusses pending local tax increases

6 May

We had a great meeting at the library this morning. We discussed the phone tax resolution that is currently being crafted by the city attorney, as well as the sales tax increase proposal being forwarded along by Tom Lando and friends. 

Council heard a first reading of the phone tax resolution, in three versions with three rate proposals,  at the May 1 meeting last week. In answer to complaints that the language in those drafts was misleading and deceptive, council voted to send one of the proposals back to city attorney Lori Barker’s office for some editing.  Council majority (with Evans and Sorensen dissenting) chose a rate of 4.5 percent, but made no specific demands regarding the language or exactly which parts of the resolution should be rewritten. The revised edition should come back to council shortly, I’ll be watching for it.

The sales tax increase proposal is being kicked around at the Chamber of Commerce, of which Tom Lando is a member and past president. The Chamber seems to be vetting the measure, keeping a low profile and trying to get as many clouted individuals on board as possible before they bring this turkey out to greet the public. 

At today’s meeting we read over and discussed the reports made by the city attorney and the city manager regarding the phone tax, and also the proposed resolution itself. I’m going to try to post a bit of those reports day by day so we can discuss the pertinent points here, please stay tuned.

Phone tax a GO, sales tax increase in the works – let’s talk about it tomorrow (May 6), Chico library, 11:30am

5 May

Tomorrow we will be discussing both the phone tax that council has already added to the November ballot and the sales tax increase that is slithering in that direction.

We realize 11:30 is not good for everybody, so we’ll also be discussing holding meetings at different times, and more often. We have a list of well-informed guest speakers we’re hoping to coax in as well.

I think we’re okay in our location, don’t you? The library is a great place for public meetings. It’s free, for one thing. And it’s fairly well placed, nearly in the middle of the incorporated  Chico area, easy bicycle OR car access, close to the freeway, and plenty of parking.  Plenty of seating too. So, I think we’ll leave it at the library, but try to have more meetings at various times to accommodate everybody.

Hope to see folks tomorrow, 11:30!

Lando still working on sales tax increase, behind closed doors with Council members and $taff

4 May

Thank you Toby Shindelbeck for attending the Legislative Action Committee meetings which are NOT LISTED ON THE AGENDAS PAGE of the city website.

CORRECTIONmy apologies – I found out, this is NOT a committee of the city but of the Chico Chamber, of which Lando is a member and past president.

I have been remiss – I knew about these meetings, but I have not attended. What I didn’t know, is this is where Tom Lando is plotting and planning with Council members and city staff to get that sales tax increase on the city ballot.

They (Lando and friends)  have until the first council meeting in July to come up with a proposal for Council, and it looks like they are  planning to do so.

If we have to mount an opposing campaign, we are ready to open our checkbooks.

The closure of Station 5 should have tipped me off – they are tying public safety to the train tracks to threaten us into passing both the phone tax and the sales tax.

We have a meeting Sunday at the library, 11:30.  I hope some folks will show up,  ready to work.

Many thanks to Assemblyman Jim Nielsen for speaking to the Chico Taxpayers Association

3 Apr

I’d like to thank Jim Nielsen for taking his Sunday morning to come to Chico and talk to a group of concerned citizens at the library. Mr. Nielsen took our little group seriously, because we’re fighting the good fight. Thanks to everyone who showed up to listen.

We are showing Tom Lando, not to mention other chickenshits who are hiding behind Lando, that there is no support for raising local sales tax outside of their little clique.  Lando apparently has the support of  certain council members on this –  Lori Barker plopped out a paragraph about how taxes get on the ballot – but she didn’t mention ANYTHING about getting signatures on a petition.  So, I’m guessing, if Lando comes forth with an initiative, council would put it on the ballot with a 5 -2 majority.  I bet you can guess who the five would be, and I’m guessing there might even be a 6!

I’d say the only people who would support this idea are the public salary/pension takers and their hangers on.  At last count, we still got them outnumbered, but for how long, nobody knows. This might be the effort that turns that tide, Folks, let’s keep our shoulders to the wheel.

Let’s not forget, they’ve already decided to put the phone tax on the ballot, without a squeak from the public. There’s a tax that will effect everybody – not only would they re-institute the cell phone tax that was rescinded a couple of years ago, they’d add a tax on your land line!

In past it added up to about $4 on my family’s cell phone bill – might sound like chump change to somebody who skims $100,000+ a year off the public, but it’s a gallon of milk or a couple of packs of eggs as far as I’m concerned.  And, mercy, what $4 would buy at Shuberts!

The phone tax is already on the ballot, we have to start making noise about it. We have to remind people, they’d be better off giving the same amount of money to their local school or charity fund.

Giving more money to the city of Chico is like letting out a pair of pants to accommodate obesity.

Now don’t forget – it’s almost time to get your Utility Tax Rebate. If anybody wants to organize a little party to go down there together, I’d be all over that. Let’s start talking about it now.

You realize, they sometimes pay cash, and Shuberts is like two blocks away. I’m getting chocolate covered raisins, maybe some orange sticks…

Jim Nielsen will speak to Chico Taxpayer’s Association, Sunday, April 1, 11:30 am

25 Mar

Memories of summer - I made this minestrone  with tomato sauce from last year's garden.

We are lucky to have good friends – our friend Mark is one of the bestest. Every year he gets us a ginormous corned beef brisquet from the locker, and we eat it for a week, in one form or another. My favorite way to finish it off is to use the broth to make a nice pot of minestrone.

I used my own tomato sauce, from last year’s garden. My husband plants a lot of tomatoes because you never know what might happen. They kicked in late last summer, because of that late rain – we didn’t get a ripe tomato til August! And then they came in, Hellbent for Glory. My little freezer was solid packed by the end of September.  I still have about half a dozen pints of sauce in there, stowed away with all my Meyer’s lemon juice and some big-ass chickens bought on sale at Safeway.

Nothing makes a good pot of soup like some good bread – this time I made it into stix, my kids loved them. I might make some more today.

I buttered them when they were still hot and rolled them in a little pile of big salt and garlic powder. Next time I might use real garlic – I’ve heard, if you eat enough garlic, it keeps the tax vampires away. I know, that’s probably just some old wives’ tale.

What you really need to do to keep the tax vampires at bay is organize early and get a good plan. So, next Sunday, Casey has got a promise from Jim Nielsen, Second Assembly District representative, to come to the library and give us some strategies for fighting tax increases.

Jim  Nielsen shares our area with Dan Logue. Their districts meet up at Hwy 99, splitting off some of West and South Chico, with Nielsen skirting the edges and Logue taking the lion’s share of our town.  Nielsen has been in one California legislative office or another, on and off, for over 25 years. I don’t know how you feel about him politically, but I’d say, he has some experience to share and some  things to tell us about the system, how it works, and how to go about putting down Tom Lando’s plan to increase our sales tax by 3/4 of a cent, in it’s tracks.

Unfortunately, I have a previous committment, a Mom Thing, and nothing gets in front of the Mom Thing. So, I am counting on folks to come out and greet Mr. Nielsen and show him a good time, listen to what he has to say and give me the skinny when I get home.

Remember, keep the questions and the conversation on topic – what strategies can Nielsen offer to stop this tax increase? Has he ever participated in a local tax increase battle? Does he know of any instances where citizens have successfully overturned an effort like this? How?

I’d like to invite Dan Logue and other legislators and local elected officials  to speak to us as well, so let’s be nice to Nielsen, give him the old “Y’ll come back now, y’hear!” treatment.

That’s next Sunday, April 1 (yeah, I know!), at 11:30 am, at the Chico Branch of the Butte County Library, at the corner of First and Sherman Avenues.