Shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, tote that barge, lift that bale…read the airport report!

I love the little calendar mechanism on the computer because sometimes I don’t know what day it is.  I like to be able to hit that button in the lower corner of my desktop and see that little calendar with today highlighted – at  this hour, with my eyesight and just having woke up, I get confused.

I like clocks too. I get so busy I lose track of time, and while my natural clock will tell me sort of what time it is (time to eat, time to pee, time to hit the sack), I need a clock to stay “on schedule” so I can manage to accomplish something useful during the day. It’s easy to get distracted, start “wool gathering, ” something my teachers and my grandma warned me about in school.

Yesterday I spent at least an hour reading the damned city of Chico airport report. From March. See how these things go? I meant to read that report when I saw it mentioned in some agenda or another, and I just plain forgot. It’s important to watch the suits, People, they’re always pulling some shit.

http://www.chico.ca.us/airport/documents/AirlineFeasibiltyCommitteeReport3-3-15.pdf

But it wasn’t just the airport report, it always turns into other reports and articles for definition and agendas and the next thing I know I’ve got like five or six pages open on the computer and I can’t remember which one I started with. I have to look up stuff like “PMMP”. Those fuckers and their initials! 

I learned a lot about airports, bullshit consultants, and, the bottom line – they’re about to spend tens of thousand of YOUR MONEY for a study to please less than 100 people who want commercial  service restored at the airport.

Chico Chamber just did an informal study, surveying the public, business owners (all unnamed), reading old reports and talking to the airline people, and even Chamber Shill Katie Simmons has to admit – on a “business climate” scale of 1-7, ” Airline Attraction ranked 7 th place in 2015,”  with 7 being the least important behind issues like public safety and workforce development. For one thing, they were only able to identify about 60 people who fly regularly. Flights have been declining steadily every year, leading to Skywest’s logical decision to leave Chico. 

The complaints about service read like, “and don’t let the screen door hit you on the ass, Skywest!”

But, Simmons and the handful of supporters all insist we need to keep trying to attract a commercial provider. They ticked off a list of their demands – a fulltime airport manager, a $40-60,000 study to find out “who uses the airport and where they go” (I thought they found that out in their own survey?)and a commitment to over $3 million in “maximum revenue guarantee”

“United Airlines shared the following necessary steps City officials must take for the exploration of restored service: 1. Updated Market Study ($40,000 – $60,000) 2. Maximum Revenue Guarantee (MRG) equaling the total risk presented by the Market Study. For example, 1 roundtrip flight from CIC to Denver would cost approximately $8 MIL annually. With an average load factor of 62%, CIC would be responsible for an MRG totaling $3,040,000 annually. 3. Only with these elements in place will destination options be considered.”

But, “75% of Businesses said they would not commit funds in their corporate travel budget to a travel bank or maximum revenue guarantee.* 70.8% of Businesses said they would not contribute funds for an updated market study. Of the businesses that said they would contribute funds, amounts ranged from $25 – $3,000.*”

Respondents also indicated they’d be glad to use a shuttle service to Sacramento. The report showed we’d keep almost a million dollars in Chico if the airport lowered their shuttle charge from $60 to $35 a head. 

But Simmons keeps making the call for the city to spend “millions and millions” to restore commercial air service. She admits it took Santa Rosa five years, millions a year. And for what? A handful of suits!

This is just another example of the taxpayers footing the bill for the whims of the rich. 

Another demand was, hire a fulltime airport manager. Well, that seems prudent, the airport has been without a manager for years, and I’m guessing that’s the problem. According to a notice I read on the Chico Airport website, they haven’t even been keeping the tarmac maintained. They haven’t filed a maintenance report with the FAA since 2003. The FAA just called them on that and some other violations. And people want to fly out of here? I’d rather take my chances on Highway 99.

When the last airport manager retired, in the early 2000’s, they just added the duties to City Manager and added about $35,000 to the City Manager salary. Will Mark Orme donate $35,000 toward the hiring of a new airport manager? I’m guessing a new airport manager will get the same $200,000 + salary and ginormous benefits and pension package we pay Orme and Constantin. 

The airport has a lot of other possibilities – I think they need to concentrate on locating more manufacturers out there. I know two people who run businesses out of the airport that employ more than 50 people between them, and they both threaten to leave constantly because of poor management of the airport. They’ve actually  got a committee of business owners and plane owners out there who’ve been to other local airports to talk about moving. The fueling station run by the Rock family is a main concern – I’ve had people compare it to the gas station in Mayberry RFD, complete with Gomer and Goober.  But the city spent tens of thousands protecting the couple that owns the station in a lawsuit – their daughter was a city attorney at the time, and that seemed weird, but the lawsuit was eventually thrown out. I didn’t really understand the conclusion, but the Rocks are still running the fueling station.

According to the last FAA inspection, the airport needs a lot of work – almost $400,000 in tarmac work alone – in order to remain eligible for federal funding. The FAA provides 90 percent of the funding to complete the work, meaning the city needs to come up with $40,000 to do the repairs. The airport fund is almost a million dollars in the red, having been hit like a cookie jar for years to pay the salaries Downtown. That was why the airport manager position was handed to our former city manager Dave Burkland  – to justify taking his salary out of that fund. In that way they continued to pilfer the airport fund, just like the sewer fund and the development fund, to pay salaries, benefits and pensions for management. Those funds are all at least a million in the red now. The airport fund was made largely of FAA money and the rent of the tenants and plane owners who use the airport. The airport went into decline about 2003 and now they’re making this sudden effort to bring it back to life.  With no money.

I realize suddenly, it’s not about attracting commercial service as much as it is about keeping those FAA funds coming in. That amounts to over a million a year. They’ve been treating it like free money all these years, divvying it up among themselves, without performing the maintenance that would keep the golden goose alive.

I’m also sure this will be a big leg in the sales tax increase campaign they will launch next Spring. I expect that to come from Katie Simmons, but we’ll see. 

Tell your silly council you don’t want to spend $40-60,000 on a stupid study, you don’t want to pour $3 million + a year into a elitist trip for 60 of our upper crust residents. Tell them if they raise sales tax you will go to shopping online and out of town. Tell them Red Bluff is a great place to do Christmas shopping, and they have cheaper gas too.

Send those e-mails to debbie.presson@chicoca.gov and ask her to forward them to the council members.

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