45% of Americans would rather skip Christmas? This is Bronco Bama’s America.

According to a survey done by loan provider  “Think Finance,” almost half of the 1,000 people they surveyed recently are under so much financial stress it’s  “rendered the simple joy of gift giving a nuisance…” 

I don’t need a survey to tell me, people are depressed. Gift shopping isn’t that much fun on a shoestring. Even “cheap” gifts for a normal circle of relatives and friends can quickly amount to hundreds of dollars. And then there’s things like gas and shipping to add to it.

Groceries have gone up dramatically too. I don’t need to tell you that.  So much for “comfort food.” 

You can stow all that crap about a Walton’s Christmas  – their father was a migrant worker, their “hot” turkey was stolen, and Elizabeth’s free doll was cursed. In the end, Pa beat the crap out of Santa for their gifts – the message there being, “nothing is free, not even Christmas.” 

It’s not Christmas itself that is bumming people out. It’s the economy in general. You know something has to be pretty bad to take the fun out of a holiday like Christmas, my geeshy sakes. 

We can’t blame the government entirely – there has been a lot of stupidity over the last five or six years – people buying houses they couldn’t afford, signing loans without reading the paper work, using their homes like a credit card to buy cars and other stuff they couldn’t afford, etc.  A lot of people have been partying on the railroad tracks the last few years, and now the train has come.  And instead of just taking out the dummies on the track, it’s derailing into entire cities. Now these idiots want to be bailed out, they want the rest of us to pay. I can’t believe how many people voted ‘yes’ on J – maybe they should write their checks now, to the city of Chico, if they are so happy to give. Nobody is stopping them. 

But, I would also say, our government leaders have not done much leading.  I’m tired of hearing that I have to pay more taxes to bail out their bad spending. They are absolutely incredible in their denial that the entitlement system is out of whack, along with public salaries and benefits from the federal to the state to the county and city levels. Bronco Bama will not admit his programs are too costly and impractical  – he plays to special interest groups to get elected, just like Jerry Brown and Ann Schwab. And when the carrot approach isn’t sufficient, they start with the threats. Here Ann Schwab brazenly threatens us with more crime, more houses burning down, and more road hazards to raise our insurance rates. She has also sat idle while staff has bumbled the levee certification, and many of you will shortly be getting notices that you will be required to buy “flood insurance.”  

“Happy Thanksgiving! Now bend over!” 

That’s not leadership, it’s mule driving. And it’s not even very smart mule driving – a stubborn mule will just sit down. I’m waiting for the American people to get that stubborn. 

I think it will happen in Chico as more of you get those notices. Write to Ann Schwab at aschwab@ci.chico.ca.us and let her know you expect staff to do something about those flood plain notices. 


Congratulations Ann! Now get your sticky fingers out of my phone bill!

You win some, and you lose some, but last night, as far as I’m concerned, we got the biggest victory of the election. 

Measure J is dead. You can poke it with a stick – I certainly will –  but it’s down for the count. They only needed 51 percent to pass it – and I was actually worried about that. I think they thought they could get 51 percent too, that’s why they designated the money to the General Fund, because  then it only takes 51 percent of the vote to pass. Pretty evil, eh? Well, you see where it got them.

Ann Schwab won by her narrowest margin ever – I assume, because the liberals flooded the field like a cesspool during a hurricane.  People are saying, too many conservatives ran. At least they didn’t have a “slate.” The conservatives, in fact, were so wary of each other because I don’t think they really agreed on everything. Toby Schindelbeck was the only true “fiscal conservative” in the pack.  

I’m sorry Toby Schindelbeck lost – I wish Bob Evans just would have stepped aside, given the lackluster campaign he ran, and leave his votes for Toby. But oh well, Toby is a young man with a big heart. I told him when he started out, it took Sorensen three shots to get his lame ass up there, and I hoped Toby would not give up if this first race was not successful. I still feel that way, but it wasn’t my money he was spending – he ran a great campaign, and Democracy is getting more and more expensive these days.  Whether he runs again or not, I think he has learned enough about the process over the last year of hard work to be a force to reckon with in this town. 

Now we’ve got Sean Morgan in Bob Evans position – no change there. We’ll see another two years of 5-2, 5-2, 5-2, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.  We’ll see another two years of what a friend of mine calls, “protesting into your shirt collar,” meaning, posturing a NO vote when you are sure an unpopular item is going to pass anyway but you want your constituents to think you are against it.  Scott Gruendl does it all the time, That’s why he sits at that end of the dais, to see how everybody else will vote.  Lately Evans has been making half-hearted protests toward the Sustainable Business Program, but he lets himself be satisfied with changes in the wording of the measures.  He and Sorensen sit there unmoving while Schwab is abusive toward speakers, when they could intervene. They don’t want to, they just want to roll along with the tides like a couple of happy turds.  I don’t predict anything different from Morgan, but I’m hoping he’ll roll our way at least some of the time, like Sorensen and Evans. Of course, Evans hasn’t stopped anything – like the smoking ban or the plastic bag ban – so what’s the use of watching him posture. He’s also failed to come up with a policy to replace a councilor who steps down, which was the first thing he said he’d do when he took the job.  Remember, he wasn’t elected the first time either, and the field was wide open.

So, while Schwab has won her little victory, we should sit back and enjoy the victory we have won – she will have to run her captive town with several million dollars less, thanks to the defeat of Measure J. 

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!

Who really benefits from Sustainability?

Last Thursday, while Ann Schwab was fawning at Jerry Brown’s feet like a groupie at a Pearl Jam show,  I attended a meeting of the City of Chico Sustainable Business Recognition Program, her program. This was an ad-hoc committee meeting, called with less than a week’s notice, and not noticed on the website.  I have asked Ann Schwab’s personal assistant Linda Herman to put me on the mailing list, or I wouldn’t know anything.

When I arrived at 3:29 I found $taffer  Herman chatting with county dump manager Steve Rodowick, along with another man whose name I do not know, but I think he’s the guy who once told me people don’t need refrigerators, not sure.    We were there to hear what Ann Schwab had to report about her “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council” (see   https://worldofjuanita.com/2012/10/31/what-could-the-mayor-find-to-talk-about-behind-closed-doors-with-pge-and-cal-water/  ).

Unfortunately for the rest of us, sitting in that smelly little room, giving up time from our lives, Ann had more important things to do – she had a date with governor Jerry Brown over at the campus, to stump for his “beleaguered tax increase”. Good job Ann – this is EXACTLY what’s WRONG WITH CALIFORNIA – when she’s supposed to be at her job, she’s out pandering to her captive student audience, telling them if they and their parents don’t vote Yes on 30, there will be more cuts and less classes. Aren’t you glad this woman is your mayor? I, for one, am glad my kids are NOT going to Chico State.

Sitting rejected in the smelly little room, we were joined shortly by New Urban developer Tom DiGiovanni, a long-time member of the STF who has recently made a proposal to council to privately develop city owned parking lots into high density “live-work units.” DiGiovanni has literally profited from “sustainability” – a few years ago he was actually allowed (and I presume, PAID) to write a “parallel code” for building in Chico – lowering city building standards to the level of high density “new urban,” with 23 foot wide streets and houses that share walls with their neighbors.  That meant, New Urban Partners no longer had to go through the approval process for their sub-code developments, no more “onerous” public hearings about all the variances and exceptions the city makes to allow DiGiovanni to cram his sub-sized crappers onto their tiny little lots, turning people into sardines.  The “parallel code” gives him “administrative approval,” damn the neighbors.

His proposal for Downtown would eliminate several high use parking lots and replace them with three to four story buildings that include retail on the bottom, offices on the second floors, and single-tenant apartments and studios on the upper floors. He has proposed such a project for the parking lot along the creek on First Street, and the creekside area  known as “Lost Park.” He wants to put a privately owned building right up to the creek, but needs the city to clean up toxins on the property before he can develop it as residential. This conversation promises to be interesting, but right now, it’s happening largely behind closed doors, out of the public ear.

A view of the creekside promenade envisioned as part of New Urban Builders’ proposed East First Street project

COURTESY OF ENVISION DESIGN  (from Chico News and Review, http://www.newsreview.com/chico/changing-face-of-downtown/content?oid=35286

DiGiovanni was the principal force behind remodeling city plaza – he was paid to do the design, having suggested the project in the first place. At that time he was using an office directly across the street, and remarked that he hated looking down on the “ugly” plaza.

DiGiovanni was also a principal force behind the current Downtown makeover – intending to build on those high-use parking lots, he knew he’d have to do something to provide more parking elsewhere downtown. Thus the move to lateral parking, something that was tried in Chico years ago and happily abandoned. DiGiovanni also wants to build on the lot that currently houses the Saturday Farmer’s Market, but you see how that went over with the market lemmings.  You don’t want to mess with that crowd – even the happy hat lady will go up your ass over that.

So, DiGiovanni has been with the STF since it’s inception, lasting out even der gross Mann. He knows a good thing, like a shoat hangs onto a teat.

At Thursday’s meeting, Linda reported for Ann, that Ann has not been able to generate much interest in her “sustainable business program.” She presented it to her “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council” – members include PG&E, Cal Water, Chico Unified School District, Chico Bag, Transfer Flow, and Norfield Industries.

In fact, Transfer Flow, a Chico firm that retrofits trucks to be compliant with AB32, wrote a letter to the effect that they thought the mayor was overstepping her boundaries. Transfer Flow CEO Lisa Johnson says, in a letter to the city council,

“Recently I had the opportunity to review and respond to Mayor Schwab in regards to the proposed Chico Sustainable Business Recognition Program (CSBP). I feel that my comments in regards to the request for feedback should be shared to all members of the city council. The intent of this letter is to request that the city council not  approve this program.” 

Poor Ann – this must have felt like a sock in the back. I’m wondering if Johnson didn’t trust Ann to relay her feelings. I know, I for one, have sat in those meetings for a couple of years now, and whenever I’ve been asked for feedback, I’ve said that while I am all over sustainability and am a total groupie of the planet Earth, I don’t think the city has any business administering and using taxpayer funds on a program that is of obvious benefit to a handful of insiders at an onerous cost to the rest of the community.  I repeated myself again the other day when Herman again asked for my input. But I have yet to read my own remarks on any reports or hear them repeated at any council meeting. Schwab and her friends are so eager to shove this program through the process they are flat ignoring any criticism of their activities. Linda Herman asked me what I thought, I didn’t raise my hand, I was just sitting there taking notes. But when I told her my answer, she didn’t move to write it down. She just grunted and sat there with an increasing look of anxiety on her pretty little face.

The only one to respond to me, although he turned away from me as he spoke,  was DiGiovanni. He’s a quiet man, tries not to offend because he has so much to lose. But in past, when I’ve questioned his activities, he’s called me “paranoid” and “delusional” in letters to the editor. He called David Little and tried to get him to stop printing my letters, and I’m guessing he’s had similar conversations with Robert Speer.  He hates being questioned, and I could tell he was very tense, and very careful, in responding to my remarks last Thursday.

Earlier in the meeting, when they were discussing similar objections on the part of Councilman Bob Evans, DiGiovanni argued the importance of having such a program, and that such a program have some sort of verification process, some kind of regulation in order to “avoid the ‘greenwash’ label.” DiGiovanni wants a program with inspectors to verify that the businesses participating are actually doing what they say they’re doing – like holding ‘sustainability workshops” for their employees, and providing tuition for employees who want to take “classes on sustainability issues”.

And he wants the city to administer this program. And pay for it, using our $taff and our tax money. He doesn’t see the problem there.

He certainly didn’t see any problem when the city of Chico bailed him out at Merriam Park with $7 million in RDA money.   Merriam Park sat vacant, and New Urban Partners teetered at the brink of bankruptcy for the better part of a year. But Ann Schwab saved DiGiovanni’s ass by giving a Fresno developer $7 million of RDA money to buy the low-income portion of Merriam Park. That money went in turn to Tom DiGiovanni and New Urban Partners.

And now they’re placing the new Butte County Courthouse on his property? I haven’t been able to get the information on that, but it stinks of insider privilege.

I’m not the only one who has problems with this program folks – a member of Schwab’s own “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council,” a business that wouldn’t exist if not for environmental regulation, has said Schwab’s committee is overstepping it’s boundaries. “The City of Chico should not be taking part in managing businesses in any manner.  Awarding businesses that can participate but [not] those that can’t afford to participate is wrong. ” (I placed “not” in that paragraph because I believe it was an overlooked typo – it doesn’t make sense otherwise.)  Furthermore she states, “Supportive but not legislative should be the role that city government plays. A business friendly city/community should not drive such a fiscally onerous program …”

Johnson seems to feel as I do – only certain people are benefiting from this program, but we all pay for it. In this economy, we can’t afford charity for rich people.

We need to dump Schwab, and her policies.

What could the mayor find to talk about behind closed doors with PG&E and Cal Water?

Tomorrow I am going to try and make the Sustainability Task Force Business Outreach Committee Ad Hoc meeting.  They don’t post these meetings on the city website,  Linda Herman just e-mails everybody and asks when they can show up and it’s a go. No minutes posted, nothing. Of course they are open to the public – the public who knows about them, that is. If you really want to follow this stuff, you have to ask Linda Herman to put you on the mailing list. 

There’s lots of little secret committees Downtown.  Ann Schwab has been presenting the Sustainable Business program to her  “Mayor’s Advisory Council”. That one is completely off the charts, Schwab does not even allow the public to attend those meetings. When I asked about that committee, a staffer named Nancy told me I wasn’t allowed, and wouldn’t tell me anything.   I e-mailed Ann Schwab, who tried to ignore me for awhile. I found out Mark Sorensen and Bob Evans also attend these meetings but neither would tell me anything. Finally,  Schwab answered, 

“Hi Juanita, thank you for your email and interest in the Mayor’s Business Advisory Council. I thought Nancy had answered your questions. To clarify, the quarterly meetings are attended by base level business owners, city staff, representatives from PG&E and Cal Water and myself. Since these are informal, non-Brown Act meetings agendas are not required nor are minutes taken. 

Ann Schwab
Mayor, City of Chico
P.O. Box 3420
Chico, CA 95927

Well, that’s comforting – our mayor is meeting behind closed doors, dishing out free staff time ($$$$!)  to the utility companies, but we aren’t allowed to attend. At all. I don’t know who she means by “base level business owners,” and she wouldn’t tell me, but I know who PG&E and Cal Water are. PG&E is the company that handed Schwab a check for over $399,000, money received from us ratepayers.  


As you can see from Mark’s post, about half of that  went to STF member Jon Stallman of Butte College, another $30,000 to STF member Scott McNall of Chico State, another $11,000 to Ann’s web designer friend and local liberal gadfly Chuck Lundgren, with the remaining $165,000 going to the city of Chico. I’d bet at least some of that $165,000, which was supposed to be earmarked for energy retrofits on local homes, went to pay Linda Herman’s $85,000 plus salary, not to mention another what, $30,000 for her benefits package? Ask Mark Sorensen, he’s real quick to correct me on those figures now that he’s got his snout in the trough over in Biggs.

Ask him if he has room for a “NO on J” sign out there next to that Bob Evans sign standing in his front yard. Both of those guys signed the argument against Measure J, but that’s about it.  They also have sat in on these “Mayor’s Advisory Council” meetings, but neither of them will talk about it.

Why so secretive Fellas? 

I know who Cal Water is too. They’re the company that pumps the groundwater out from under our feet and charges us more for it every month. They “own” our wells, but the city is currently paying to have those contaminated wells on the south end of town cleaned and re-certified. Cal Water just announced a “30 – 40 percent rate increase.” Gee, I wonder what they find to talk about behind closed doors with the mayor. 

I guess I will just have to go Downtown tomorrow afternoon and find out. That’s Thursday, 3:30 pm, in that little room on the first floor of the city administration building, across the corridor from the Finance Department. 

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. 

Meatless Monday – here’s a no fuss meatless meal that will warm your house and your bones

I got the last little stragglers from my husband’s tomato patch right before it rained and turned them into just enough sauce for a pot of pasta.

We don’t get a big “Fall” around here, things progress quickly into Winter.  A few weeks ago, we listened to the newscasters complain about the heat, threatening the weather man with a lynch party because of that dry wind, but last night, the woman on Ch 24 complained she was cold. 

Well, me too. I put flannels on my bed already.  Got a ginchee set of flannel sheets for about $20 at WalMart last year, and boy was I glad to pull them out of the hutch at the end of our bed the other day. I’ve been pulling my winter stuff out of the closet and airing it on the clothesline, getting out those long johns and squishee pj’s. I don’t even want to look at my thermostat until at least November, so I’m winterizin’. We like to keep our doors and windows open as much as possible during this time of year – it got a little stuffy in here those last few weeks of dirt storm we been enduring. 

I love Summer, but toward the end, it starts to get pretty frazzled around here. Dirt like powder, landscape sagging, water bills through the roof. I’ll admit, I had about enough, I’m ready to have some Winter. Not much, mind you, don’t get too comfortable Old Man – by January, I’m going to be howling for sun.

You know you can capture the sun? I loved that bit on Sesame Street – “The Story of Andy Fritz, the boy who ate the sun.” It tells us how the sun makes grass grow, and then cows eat that grass, and they make milk, and people can make all kinds of wonderful things out of milk. So, in that way, Andy Fritz eats the sun in a cheese sandwich.

I captured the sun all Summer in little red globules we know as “tomatoes.” I love tomatoes, and spend the summer picking and eating and grinding them into sauce. I save the sauce in pint containers in my little freezer. In this way I can eat the sun in January when I feel like a bean sprout left in the cupboard.

We use it on pizza and pasta, we make bbq sauce out of it, I even like to make my own ketchup when I have the time. The other night, I made a pot of pasta, cause we didn’t have any meat in the house, and I didn’t feel like going out shopping that day after all that rain. Pasta is fun to make if you have a little pasta press. I got mine online for about $50. It is supposed to be a “cheap model” but I find if you take care of your stuff the cheapies will do you justice.  

This is my ‘Al Dente’ pasta press I got from Amazon.com for about fifty bucks. It’s held up very well to almost weekly use.

The dough is easy – just flour, eggs, salt, and a dash of olive oil.  At first it seems impossible – the dough is dry and sticky, it doesn’t want to stick together so much as it wants to stick to your hands.  Here’s a tip – always have a little flour in a bowl to get the sticky egg dough off your hands. Here’s another tip – don’t give up, just keep working in that flour and mashing and mashing. Keep practicing – before you know it, you can whip out fresh pasta dough in minutes, let it sit while you mess up your sauce, and then it’s ready to roll and cut and dump in boiling water. 

Here’s about exactly enough pasta for three people – a cup and a half of flour and two eggs. I use about a quarter cup of whole wheat flour there.  I improvise a drying rack from some wooden spoons ballasted by a stack of plates.

I like a loaf of fresh bread with my pasta. The house has been too hot to bake bread these last few months, so I really enjoyed whipping out this weird little loaf.

This loaf of bread looks like a little round butt! Turned out PERFECT!

I am not a great cook. Like my grandma, the Great Armadillo, I get distracted with other stuff, like stupid city council meetings, and I forget the stove. Or, sometimes, I forget salt at a crucial point – boy is THAT a bummer. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t turn out right, and I can’t figure out why.  My cooking is pretty hit and miss. But the other night, I turned out about the best loaf of bread I have ever made. Like Mary Poppins, it was “100 percent perfect in every way!”   A nice golden globe, light and bouncy, nice chewy crust.  It was just what we needed to top off our Meatless Monday.  Made the whole house smell nice too. 

I like to do at least one “meatless” night a week – saves money, saves your colon! I don’t advocate total vegetarianism – tried it, and I didn’t like it. It’s really hard to find a protein substitute for meat. You find yourself eating a lot of cheese and eggs.  You have to learn how to cook beans, and that’s not as easy as some people think. When you screw up beans, you  get a stomach ache all night, and fart like nobody’s business all the next day.   But, once or twice a week a meal without meat certainly won’t hurt you.  Grind a little cheese over your noodles, and enjoy a big salad with some tofu dressing on the side. 

Stay hardy, stay alert.