We need to take issue with the economy this November

This morning Sac Bee columnist Dan Walters tells us Stockton is not the only California city in financial distress.

Well, you don’t say!

Read more here:  http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/16/4416349/dan-walters-stockton-not-only.html#storylink=cpy 

Guess where he’s describing here:

“City officials borrowed and spent heavily … in hopes of resurrecting a woebegone downtown, and simultaneously boosted their employees’ salaries and fringe benefits.”

I know, sounds like Chico, but he’s talking about Stockton. 

How about, “was seeing a surge of sales and property taxes from a housing boom and the city’s politicians and administrators wagered, in effect, that it would go on forever.  When the bubble burst, it was left with more debts and operating costs than it could afford.”

Yep, again sounds like Chico, again, Stockton.

 Walters is describing  government entities that “have consistently overspent revenue – even when the economy was booming – with chronic budget deficits the inevitable result.”

He adds, “A number of school districts have been listed by the state as being in fiscal distress, some facing the prospect of state receivership.”

He quotes one city official talking about an “increasing deficit in the budget, terming it ‘crisis mode’ that could require privatization of some city services, layoffs of employees and new taxes to relieve…complete devastation of city services, including public safety…”
This should all sound familiar – if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve heard all this said at our City Hall over and over for the last four or five years. We’ve been going deeper into deficit and debt year after year, and now we’ve lost our credit card (they call it the RDA). 
Walters  reminds us, “there are no indications of a new boom” to save us. 
Bob Evans spoke at yesterday’s Tea Party rally, and recalled that in the year and a half he’s been on council, despite his requests to agendize the matter, there has been no council discussion regarding economic development. He, Ann Schwab, and  Mark Sorensen are working on the “Mayor’s Business Council.” This board is not listed on the minutes/agendas page but I heard Ann mention it one day in a Sustainability Task Force meeting.  But, she told me, the  only “local businesses” participating in that council are PG&E and Cal Water. 
I know Evans has been trying to bring about a discussion about how we can “help” business. I guess we need to start by defining what we mean by “help.” I don’t want to go back to the days of Big Business, running things, getting by without minding the rules, paying government off to shut-up – which is just what PG&E’s $350,000 + in grants have looked like to me over the last couple of years. I don’t see them expanding their work force in Chico, Cal Water neither.  Maybe someone can enlighten me there. 
What I have noticed, in my research regarding starting up a small business in Chico, is that this is a no-win proposition.  The city is only interested in computer tech companies, they have no interest in helping Mom and Pop. Mom and Pop are squeezed like turnips in Chico. Mom and Pop are not wanted – the government wants companies with employees – companies who pay payroll tax. Mom and Pop don’t really employ anybody – oh gee, except themselves and their kids –  so screw them. 
When I complained at a meeting, Scott Gruendl told me to go to the Butte County One Stop center, but I could tell by the look on his face he knew what I already knew –  they only offer help for employers. They don’t care about Mom and Pop either. 
If I’ve heard it once lately I’ve heard it a million times – and I believe it – small companies, including Mom and Pops, are the only hope for our economy. They don’t take much money to start up, oftentimes nothing but “sweat equity”.  They  stimulate spending locally – they offer cheap services their neighbors can afford, and they turn around and spend the money they make in their own community. When they expand, they are far more likely to hire locals than big companies who can afford to recruit outside of town and  re-locate people. 
Here is a link to the city Economic Development website:
The first thing I notice, is they list businesses that are now defunct – like Green Feet. I also question the number of employees they list for some of these companies, and wonder, do they mean, in toto? I know one of the companies they list, with 35 employees, do most of their operation in Gridley and only employ a half dozen or so in Chico. And they didn’t hire them in Chico, they brought them in.
Some of the companies I see listed as major employers depend heavily on seasonal workers, mostly Mexican nationals.  The numbers listed are only seasonal numbers, and they aren’t even locals. 
At the Tea Party rally, Bob Evans again mentioned the many companies that have left town over the last couple of years. The local papers don’t do stories  about the local economy – the bike race that didn’t bring in any tourist dollars took up the front page, no mention of the economic discussion that was taking place Downtown at the Tea Party rally yesterday. 
We have to make the economy an issue with these people.  It needs to be the biggest issue in the November election.