Pass the phone tax or we close Station 5

3:13 pm, and the KIST! thermometer registers a dry and dusty 102 degrees. If you throw Biscuit’s ball right now she will stand for a moment, giving you a dirty look, before she trods off at a deliberate pace to fetch it. Instead of bringing it back, she will search out a shady spot inside a bush and lay down. She’s no dummy.

Summer has arrived, and she ain’t kidding! If this heat keeps up, I will have to fry an egg down at The Plaza.

I predict this heat will lead to an increase in city revenues.  Just think, every time you touch the button on your ac, a little bell rings in Jennifer Hennessy’s office – MORE UTILITY TAX!

And quit watering that lawn – Cal Water has raised their rates, with this weird new tiering system – TWO “Tier 1’s”? – and of course that means more revenue for the city of Chico.

I ignored the budget meeting Tuesday, because I felt pretty sure of the outcome. Library cut, art funded, public safety threatened but in the end some shells moved and whattya know, they find the money somehow. And that’s just about what I read in the paper yesterday morning. You could just save the same story and use it again and again, nothing changes but the names of the revolving door $taffers.

But they’re still holding a sword to Station 5. Holcombe said it, cause he’s not up for re-election – sure, not in exactly these words but you know what he meant – PASS THE PHONE TAX OR WE CLOSE STATION 5.

No, I don’t have the figures in front of me and I’m tired of looking at them. You can get lost in numbers. Here’s the gist: this city takes in and spends so much money they quite literally can’t keep track of it. Why is everything they do so expensive? It’s the salaries and benefits. They attached their salaries to (come on now, everybody sing along!) TO REVENUE INCREASES BUT NOT DECREASES! You got it. Then the rabbit math began – you know, those percentages, they  add  and multiply at the same time! By the time we managed to pull the plug on that (with a steady stream of bitching and complaining), they had taken their salaries from an average of $50,000 a year to an average of $90,000 a year.

They also instituted “structured overtime” for “public safety” workers. The fire and police chiefs have all said that overtime is cheaper than hiring more officers, but none of them has EVER presented any evidence that this is true. I’ve been at meetings where they actually agendized this discussion but nothing was really said.  Listening to these people in meetings is like watching a Python skit.  I don’t know which is more outrageous – the stuff they say, or they stuff they WON’T say. One time, Larry Wahl, bless his heart, listened to a $taffer do a convoluted cha-cha-cha around a direct question, and then point blank asked her – “are you unable to answer my question or is it that you just WON’T answer my question?” The $taffer started to cry, and that was the end of it.  And, if you try to call them on this behavior, you get a look from Ass City Mangler/City Hall Gendarme  John Rucker that says, “listen you little pipsqueak, I will taser you so many times you’ll be able to power a small toaster…” And I’m betting he would!

So, they have built in overtime, a minimum guaranteed. And most of them go far beyond that minimum, as much as doubling their agreed-upon salaries. This practice is known as “spiking,” and no matter what they tell you, their pensions are based on 70 percent of their highest year’s salary, INCLUDING OVERTIME.

So, we are on the hook for a $100,000 a year pension (plus cost-of-living-increase, plus medical benefits)  for a person who agreed to take $65,000 a year. 

So now, we’re supposed to deprive ourselves of everyday pleasures, like paying our bills, in order to spend our way out of Dave Burkland and Jennifer Hennessy’s mess. Hah! 

In Stockton it’s been  said again and again, the salaries and pensions, especially the pensions, have led to insolvency. Cities like Vallejo have had to go to the wall to get their “public safety” workers to be reasonable – BANKRUPCTY. So, the unions have pulled strings in Sacramento to change the laws by which cities can declare bankruptcy. This is a direct attack on the public by the unions, but they try to tell us they are working for us. No, they work for themselves, for OUR MONEY.

Here in Chico, Andy Holcombe declares we need to raise taxes on ourselves, to pay for these shenanigans. Well, let’s make our battle cry, Remember Chula Vista! Remember Vallejo! Remember Stockton! Hell No, We Won’t Go! We need to get a council up there who will demand solvency of the unions, or kick them out. Get rid of the management employees who won’t cooperate – their contracts are up this year, and council has to approve them. Or NOT! Out with workers who won’t be reasonable. We need people to cut their own salaries, pay more of their own benefits and pensions. I’m not raising taxes on myself, again. They already raise my property taxes by 2 percent every year, just so they can TAKE IT. 

If you’re fed up, let the council know about it – that’s dpresson@ci.chico.ca.us. Tell them we need to cut structured overtime out of the budget, and get city employees to pay their fair share for a change.