Constantin threatens the library – RDA committee agrees to continue allowing City of Chico to pay salaries with RDA money

I’m so mad right now, I should not drive a car or use sharp tools. That latter would probably include my own tongue.

Today, at the Successor Agency meeting, Chris Constantin insinuated that if they didn’t allow the city of Chico to raid the last $5 mil or so left in the RDA fund, he’d not only have to lay people off, he said they might have to cut library funding! 

He didn’t say Chamber of Commerce funding, or the Nature Center, or any of the other handouts they give to their political faves, he specifically said, “cut library funding,” and I swear to Goddess, he looked at me out the corner of his snake eye.

I don’t think it’s any secret I’ve supported library funding, and more importantly, I don’t think it’s any secret we have our Chico Taxpayers Association meetings at the library. That little bitch! He thinks he’s just a chucked a dirt clod at my forehead! 

No Chris, you’ve just made a threat against the nastiest beehive in town – the Chico library supporters. I’m not talking about Friends of the Library – that is a group of social butterflies who try to stay non-political because they depend on donors from all over the spectrum. They just put in that flashy new wood floor in the library – boy, that was a life or death deal, glad to hear myself walking across that every time I go in there.

The real “Friends of the Library” are the people, including some from the club of the same name,  who come out of the woodwork every time the council discusses library funding. I’ll never forget one meeting where the liberal-led council, under Mayor Maureen Kirk and following her lead, decided to cut library funding, threatening to cut the number of days the library would be open. Wow, what a crowd that was – to heck with the art people, the only bigger crowd I’ve seen in there was the Hmong community lobbying for the appointment of Sor Lo to Larry Wahl’s seat.  The library crowd can fill the chambers, with people of every age and background, people who don’t know each other, don’t communicate really, just come en masse to the chambers when they sense any kind of threat to the real seat of Democracy – the library. Like Mary Wahl pointed out at the time, the library serves more people in one day than the city building serves in a week.

Council liberals led the charge against library funding, despite the protests of that full chamber.   Mayor Kirk, now county supervisor,  said, “the library needs to do more for itself.”  See how she refers to the library, a church of Democracy, as “itself“? The library is one of the last true services available to the people, and she just sneers at it, like, “let them eat cake…”

And then there was Dan Nguyen-tan, who also insinuated the public should do more for themselves and stop expecting “hand-outs” of their own tax dollars. My husband, standing next to Dan as the crowd reacted to council’s decision during a break in the meeting, pointed out that standing room only crowd and asked Nguyen-tan, “how many votes do you think you lost tonight?” Nguyen-tan got a kind of sick look on his face. We weren’t surprised when a few months later, he announced he would not be running for another term. As far as I can tell, this bastion of the public who was “raised by wolves in Chico Ca” has left town and opened a business in San Francisco. That’s the kind of stick-to-it determination it takes to be a “Townie”.

So, go ahead Chris, huck a dirt clod at that beehive, I hope they eat your ass off.  You might want to call Nguyen-tan and see if he has any advice, or possibly a job for you. 

$taff is in charge Downtown. Our elected officials know what’s going on, but  they bow and smile and hand the reins to $taff.   With the exception of Trevor Howard (Butte County school board), who questioned the continued use of these funds instead of paying off the bonds, this  board – Steve Visconti of CARD, Scott Gruendl for City of Chico, Larry Wahl misrepresenting the county, and Wes Gilbert, a local engineer – is useless. All but  Stewart went along with $taffer Shawn Tillman – who, by the way, takes his salary out of the RDA  – agreeing that the projects on that list need to be funded! Then they all agreed that $5 million dollars wasn’t adequate to fund any of the items on the list.  But oh well, we couldn’t possibly hold up PROGRESS!

That’s because they all know, this funding will not be used  for the projects on that list. Constantin admitted it – they need the money to pay salaries Downtown, or he will have to recommend another round of lay-offs. These projects are just a list of excuses for using the money to pay salaries, busy work.  At one point Tillman exclaimed, “Capitol Improvements [department] needs projects!”  That was when Constantin interjected that otherwise, he would have to make lay-offs, and “possibly cut library funding…”

They know they can say this stuff, because nobody comes to these meetings. The only other person in the “audience” was $taffer Tom Varga, who I’m guessing also receives a good deal of his salary out of the RDA.

Board member Wes Gilbert said the community wanted the money to be spent on these projects, to which I had to answer, “the community never had a word to say about how this RDA money is spent,” and nobody in that room had half a testicle to argue me back, except maybe Trevor Stewart, who I believe was in agreement with me. He’s the only member of that board who gives a shit about the public, the taxpayers, or the bond holders. He wants to use the $5 mil or so left in the fund to start paying back the bonds. At first, Tillman tried to tell Stewart the committee had no authority to make that decision, tried to tell him it was an illegal use of the funds, but finally, seemed to admit it would be okay, said it couldn’t be done til 2014. Until that time, if the committee didn’t recommend spending the money, it would just sit right where it was until 2014. God,

Tillman’s a back-peddling liar, he just sits there and lies, and when he gets called on it, he “corrects” himself. And Varga lied too, denying he made a report years back saying traffic congestion would not be relieved by the Hwy 32 widening because nothing could possibly alleviate the traffic those permitted subdivisions would bring. And yes, they admitted, those developers will not pay one dime in impact fees until their projects are complete built out, meaning, we pay for the Hwy 32 widening that was necessitated by subdivisions like Meriam Park and Westside Green, among others. 

The committee of course voted to spend the RDA money, never once denying that every RDA dollar spent costs $3 or more to pay back. With the exception of Stewart, I don’t think any of these people should be trusted within close proximity to a cookie jar, or your purse or wallet. 

Wanted: Roustabouts!

This photo does not really capture the threatening nature of the sky - "Go ahead lady, hand your laundry! I'll show you what I can do to a load of laundry!"

I am sitting in my house trying to decide if today is a good day to hang a load of wash.  I see Hummer sitting in one of his fave spots in our crepe myrtle tree, he looks like he’s thinking about the weather too.

Look hard at that little dot at the end of the branch, toward the top of the photo, above the power lines. That's Hummer. You've been warned.

Look hard at that little dot at the end of  one of the bare branches, toward the center-top of the photo, just above the power lines. That’s Hummer. He’ll come out of that tree like a shot, right across the top of your head. You’ve been warned.

It’s been pretty busy here at the ranch, but I’ve also been trying to keep up my duties as head roustabout for the Chico Taxpayer’s Association. I reserve the room, pick up the key, and am in charge of making sure everything is turned off and locked up when we are done. I try to make up an agenda, with items I find interesting and want to share with the group, or items that others have brought up for discussion. Sometimes our meetings go all over town, sometimes they stick pretty precisely to the agenda. I try to take notes – although, I find it weird, writing down what people say, like some kind of spy. Mostly, I write down interesting tidbits of information to check out later, or things I want to remember to check out and bring back a report to the group next time. My notebook is pretty messy, but I must say, it’s good to have notes.

We had a new person come down today, a very nice lady named Alice. She had her own concerns, and she was curious about our group. I think I might have detected disappointment that we are not a more “pulled together” group, but I hope she will come back. She asked questions we were able to answer for her, and others we found interesting.

That’s what this group is about folks – we share our ignorance, and we share whatever  information we are able to scratch up. We’re not a PAC, we don’t have a lawyer, we don’t even have anybody particularly in charge.  We just try to get together regularly and share what we know, what we’ve found out, and what we want to know.

But yeah, piss us off good, we can raise money, and we can put out yard signs. So there!

At this point, we are not the kind of political machine that can take on big entities with lawsuits, or raise a bunch of money to float a measure or get a candidate into office.  We’re really here to try to awake the Sleeping Giant – The Public. That’s what “grass roots” politics are all about. That’s the kind of action that made America a country – people power. As far as I’m concerned, we need to stop depending on politicians to do our work for us, and just step up to the plate. We don’t need money, we need people of like minds, ready to attend meetings, read documents, write letters and follow up.

Well, after a pep talk like that, I guess I better just hang that wash.

Get a hot start on your cold morning

 

Almost done!

Almost done!

As cold as these mornings are, I like to go out and get a good look at the sky. The stars are brilliant. Yesterday as I stood on my patio I watched an owl fly across my yard in the moonlight.  A few minutes later I looked up into the Eastern sky just in time to see a shooting star that looked like a flaming refrigerator plummeting to Earth.

If I have trouble sleeping, or get a stomach ache in the middle of the night. I go outside. In the wee hours, Orion stands over my house like a giant, Betelgeuse glowing red. The big dipper is so big, I almost can’t recognize it.

I’m a morning person, I like to get up and putter around, read stuff, blog. At this time of the year, it’s good to start your laundry early, so you can  get it out on the line. It’s nice to put a batch of muffins or dog biscuits in the oven, warms up the house, wakes people up.

I make my own dog biscuits, it’s cheap and I know what’s in them. Three cups of whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of oatmeal, 8 tablespoons of shortening, (or you can substitute some of this with bacon grease, raw liver, and/or fruit/vegetable pulp from your juicer), a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, and about half a cup of water.

You start with the flour and oats and add the shortening, along with any substitutes, and mash this into a mess with your hands. When you think you have it pretty well mixed, add the water – enough to make the whole thing stick together but not so much to make it sticky. It should come out like smooth cookie dough. At this point you can add flour if it’s too sticky or add a few drops of water if it’s too dry.  Once you have dough you can handle, take half of this at a time and roll it out to a quarter inch thickness – you can cut it just like  cookies. Sometimes I use a heart-shaped cookie cutter, but I usually just cut them with my butcher knife, in inch to inch-and-a-half squares. I bake these on a greased sheet in a good hot 425 oven, for about 20-25 minutes. They should be brown. If you make them crunchy, my vet says, they will keep your dog’s teeth cleaner.

I like to bake treats for my family too, it’s nice to have something hot in the morning. Walmart has bananas cheap, 25 cents a pound – and no, they’re not already rotten, they’re perfectly firm and nice. I use them for smoothies, but I also like them for banana muffins. Start with a quarter cup of butter, melted, and give it a few minutes to cool. Mash three small bananas, then add a beaten egg, then stir in your cooled butter. Beat in a cup of sugar – I use a half cup of brown and a half cup of granulated.  Now add dry ingredients – that’s a cup and a half of flour (use a quarter cup whole wheat), a teaspoon each of baking soda, salt, cinnamon, along with a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg and cloves. Don’t forget the spices, they really make it. Stir this just until the dry stuff is wet – don’t beat the batter. You can add raisins and nuts at  this point if you have them.  Then spoon it into your muffin cups and bake them for about 20 minutes at 350.

If I want to get going early, I measure and mix the dry ingredients, and leave them with the rest of the stuff on the counter before I go to bed.

There’s no rule that says, treats can’t be healthy. 

Cold outside, warm inside – it’s time for comfort foods!

Winter never ceases to amaze me – it’s COLD!

I enjoyed those last weeks of beautiful weather. I actually looked for chores in the yard, tried to do as much gardening and clean-up as possible. I knew it was going to get unpleasant outside, but still, this cold spell is shocking to my system, whoa Baby! My fingers are stiff, my legs and feet ache, I feel like I aged 30 years overnight.  My hair feels like a bag of cold water sitting on top of my head. I keep wandering around the house, putting on another shirt, another pair of pants, another pair of socks. I fight the urge to wear a hat in the house, bad luck.  I rub my arms and look at the thermostat – I keep it on 64, but it’s tempting just to try 65 or 66 once in a while.  I get so distracted, I can’t remember what chore I was doing.

I’ll tell you the best way to warm up your house – make soup or bread or some lasagna. Obviously, you have to turn the oven or stove on to cook, and then you have to get up and move around, gets the circulation going. And then when you eat whatever it is, you get all warm inside. This is the best way to warm up your house.

Whenever I peel carrots or process vegetables in any way, I save the peelings and odds and ends in a zip lock bag in my freezer. When I have a quart bag full, I put them in my soup pot and cover them with water, add a couple teaspoons salt, and I simmer this mess on the stove with a lid for about an hour. When it’s cool I strain it and it’s vegetable broth. It smells so good, it’s just outrageous. I put it back in my soup pot and add some cut up chicken – I watch Safeway, and buy the boneless chicken on sale. I like to use dark meat for soup, I simmer that with a lid for half hour or so – then it’s chicken soup! Then I add cut up carrots and celery, garlic, onions and some kind of green stuff like cabbage or spinach, and either cut up potatoes or some noodles, and then it’s either chicken vegetable or chicken noodle soup. By this time, my house is warm and everybody is happy.

If you think ahead enough, you can start a loaf of bread the night before. I put the  dough in a ceramic bowl with a lid, and then I put the bowl into a slightly larger metal pot full of the hottest tap water I can get. I set the whole thing on a towel and then I cover it with another towel, and I set it in the corner of the counter next to the stove.  It rises all night, and in the morning it’s ready to knead the first time. Between the workout of kneading and then preheating the stove, the house feels warmer already. By noon there is a fresh hot loaf of bread, and maybe a pot of soup, who knows.

Lasagna is nice because you can make it as simple as you want – our last batch, made on the spur of the moment, was nothing but noodles and sauce and cheese. We always have sauce in the house – right now, left over from the garden, but when that’s gone we buy big cans over at Cash and Carry.  We always try to keep a big block of mozzarella in the house too – the two pounder. My husband was afraid it would go bad before we could use it, but I could write a blog about how many uses there are for mozzarella cheese. It’s good to have some in the house.  And sure, store noodles are convenient, but homemade noodles are easy to make, just flour, eggs, a little oil and salt. The dough only needs an hour to set up, just enough time to get the tomato sauce going.  For lasagna you can roll the noodles out with a rolling pin, who cares if they’re all perfectly matched. You can make a big batch or a small batch – whatever you have ingredients for. Like soup, this heats your house and fills it with a smell that makes you warm all over. And, if you make a big batch, you have another meal for the next day.

Of course, cookies will liven up your afternoon, and make you popular. I like to make cookie dough in big batches when I have the time and ingredients, and freeze it in a roll, wrapped in plastic. Then I can cut quarter inch thick slices off the roll and put them on a cookie sheet, whoopsie-daisy, and I got a  dozen fresh hot cookies. The inside of my apartment is warm and smells like a bakery.

I’ll tell you a secret, if you don’t like mixing up cookie dough, they sell several outrageous flavors of cookie dough in buckets over at Cash and Carry on Mangrove.  For less than $20 you can get a bucket that will last you a few weeks. I didn’t keep track of how many batches we got, but we did the math on the dough – it’s way cheaper  than the “Pop and Fresh” rolls you can buy at  the grocery store.

It’s nice to have a simple snack. A hot air popcorn popper is cheap, easy to clean, and makes a pot full of popcorn in less than five minutes. And you can put whatever you want on popcorn, including garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, sugar, etc. Popcorn is so cheap too – a good survival food for that college budget. And, as much as I like my air-popper, microwaves are nice for popcorn too. Our friend who has a microwave saves a lot of money buying bulk popcorn, putting a handful  in a brown paper bag, and popping it into his microwave on the “popcorn” setting. That  works as good as any of those name-brands in the “pop-in” bag and at a fraction of the cost. You must endure the hardship of melting your own butter, but it’s worth it knowing you’re getting real butter.

Once or twice we have been successful at candied popcorn – you boil sugar and water to a certain point and then you dump in the popcorn. This is a matter of knowing your soft-ball stage, etc. I was never too good at that, so I ended up with some watery candy popcorn. But wow, it was good, and a fun project with the kids. We’ll keep at it til we figure it out.

Roasting raw almonds on a skillet will also warm up your house, and they taste great this way. Just brown them a little on that hot frying pan, then throw them into a bowl with some salt and garlic powder, maybe some sugar, wasabi powder, whatever you like. You can also throw these in with your candied popcorn.

You know, I’ve heard the restaurant industry is doing real well in Chico. If you work for the public sector, you can afford to eat out – I don’t, and I can’t. So, I like to keep my family comfortable at home, it’s cheap, and it helps to get us through that darkest time of winter.

Happy Election Day! NO ON MEASURE J! NO ON SCHWAB!

Frankly, I am so sick of this election, I just want it to go away. I too, am completely sick of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney. At least after the election, whoever the winner, we won’t be seeing so much of them anymore.

Yeah, Bronco Bama. THAT’S going to stick!

I even heard somebody use my fave word the other day, in regards to the kind of stuff that’s been spread across our tv sets the last month or so – MENDACITY! I love that word, from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Nobody says “mendacity” like Paul Newman with a fake southern accent, but I love to hear it anyway.  “MENDACITY!”

“Mendacity,” simply put, means LIES! I usually use the lay-woman’s term, BULLSHIT!

The air around here is so thick with bullshit lately, you might think you were in attendance at the Anderson Bull and Gelding sale. Actually, that event is way more fun than a Chico election, and doesn’t smell nearly as bad, or cost half as much.

The mayor is telling people they should vote for Prop 30 – you’d expect that from a woman who is on the University payroll for over 80 grand a year, but really doesn’t do anything resembling work. Let’s run that picture again, shall we?

Ann Schwab, backing up the Moonbeam at a recent “YES on Prop 30″ rally. She had scheduled a “Sustainable Business Program” meeting Downtown, promising to report on her closed-meetings with hand-picked local businesses, but blew us off to hang out with Jerry Brown.

 

Ann Schwab is backing several tax increase measures. She personally put forward Measure J, the cell phone tax. The average citizen has to gather oodles of signatures, which these days can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars. All Schwab had to do was put it on the docket, and voila! There’s a tax increase measure on the local ballot!   Schwab also wrote the “argument in favor,” which is full of lies, excuse me. She leaves out a lot of  facts, including  – the city has collected this tax ILLEGALLY for years.  If we vote NO, they may even have to give the money back.

The Supreme Court will decide in January whether the city of Chula Vista must return similarly stolen revenues from their citizens. See, the people of Chula Vista, a little working class town near San Diego, voted DOWN their Measure J. Now they are suing to take back the money.   Go Chula Vistans!  Democracy is alive and well in Chula Vista California. Let’s try to breathe some life back into Chico!

I didn’t vote for Morgan, Coolidge and Evans, I voted AGAINST Stone, Ritter and Rudisill

All stamped and ready to go – although this election has hardly been anything to “Celebrate!”

It‘s been a long, rough election people. Yesterday my husband and I went out to do some sign maintenance – those big signs are getting had in this weather. 

It’s kind of funny – the Schindelbeck signs are holding up the best, while the Evans and Coolidge signs are becoming litter, and a huge Morgan sign I saw yesterday was folded up like a dinner napkin, flapping in the mud over on East Avenue.

But, like my Grandma always said, you “make do” with what you’ve got. This morning I realized, I better get my ballot in the mail, or I’d be stuck going to the polling station on Election Day, being treated badly by a dwindling number of harpies who haven’t realized their time has come. Vote by mail is really the way to go. It saves a lot of money, and it gives the voter a lot more time to ponder the issues. I swear, this is a fact – most people don’t really think about an election until they are holding that ballot and pen in their hand, and Election Day is too late to be thinking about this stuff for the first time.

I put a lot of time and thought into my votes, and it was agonizing – the city council race looks like something you’d find at the Mexicali dog tracks. I finally realized, at the prodding of my son – we just need to fill the seats the best we can. Yes, I can stomach Evans, Morgan and Coolidge before I could put up with four years of that smarmy bitch Randall Stone, Mr. Helpmyself, sitting on the dais. I’ll tell you what, electing Stone is going to lead to a recall, maybe even a criminal investigation – can we afford that? 

No. So I held my nose and voted Evans, Morgan and Coolidge. No, I’m not happy about it. The upside is, if they win, they have to put up with me for four years too. 

Try this! The “Orange Juanita”

I remember having my first Orange Julius – they had a huge stand at the State Fair. That taste was just, magical. And, it was made with orange juice, so my gramma would let us have them without any questions. We had peaches and plums and persimmons and figs and pomegranates at home, but we didn’t have oranges, so she’d let us drink those things until we puked. 

When I went to college, they made me take a nutrition class, and that’s when I found out how much sugar is added to the Orange Julius, and I quit them on the spot.  I had not had one for years when my husband took us to the State Fair, and there was the Orange Julius stand. It still tasted magical, like freshly battered  corn dogs and cotton candy right off the spinner instead of that pre-made stuff that sits in bags for gawdknowshowlong. 

Of course the true ingredients of the Orange Julius are held like a state secret by current owners Dairy Queen. But, stubborn me, I finally figured out something close enough, and probably healthier – I like to call it, “the Orange Juanita.” 

See, you start with yogurt – there’s a no-brainer.   I’m always looking for a new way to eat yogurt, keeps those little monsters in my lower intestine happy. To this I add a good whollop of (okay I’ll admit it) sugar-sweetened juice. I like that Mexican juice, Jumex, that comes in the aseptic cartons at Raleys. You’ll find it in the “Mexican food section.” My favorite is the pureed banana and strawberry, cause yeah, I’ve tried juicing bananas, and I just felt really stupid as I scraped that crap out of my juicer filter.  I don’t know how the folks at Jumex do it, but they do, and it’s great. Unfortunately, they also add sugar, but not half as much as you’ll find in the average breakfast cereal or pre-sweetened yogurt. I use unsweetened yogurt and unsweetened orange juice, so a little sugar, if you don’t mind my saying, makes the medicine go down. A cup and a half smoothie keeps me happy til lunchtime. 

I actually found a recipe online, a guy who adds powdered sugar!  This man is obviously not in it for his health, but more power to him. Life’s too short to bitch yourself crazy, I always say. Bitch at your public leaders instead, they’re a mess.