Is Juanita “too mean”? JURY’S IN: NO! Mark Sorensen deserves to have his underwear pulled up over his ears.

When the agenda for tonight’s council meeting came out last week, I took a look over Brian Nakamura’s “reorganization” plan, and wrote this e-mail to Mark Sorensen:

No, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, you know me.   But Brian’s plan is no improvement, just a bunch of moving around of walnut shells. That diagram is awful – THAT is supposed to be simplification? 

  He’s just switching job titles around so he can get rid of people without firing them. Some will just be rehired under different titles, but is there any estimate of what this whole “restructuring” hoorah – hours of interviews, etc. – will cost?  Just to get rid of a few incompetents who should have been fired long ago? I’m guessing this is just a  big chicken dance to get around any possible lawsuits. 
And he’s still proposing a salary range for department heads of $160,000 a year. This is just what I predicted – he’ll whittle things down to a few fat cats, business as usual. We’ve been doing that for years, that’s how we got here – a city with almost a $50 million budget, and no services. 
My plan – to make employee’s pay their own share of pensions – would save $1.9 million a year, immediately. His plan promises to save, MAYBE, $1 million. My plan doesn’t involve firing people or cutting services. My plan would allow the city to HIRE PEOPLE and still save money. 
And I saw the public safety information – those aren’t the contracts, we’re supposed to see the contracts. And I don’t see anything there about making fire or police employees pay their own share. Currently the police pay NOTHING and the fire only pay two percent. Not to mention, they are only proposing to save about $10,000. You’re kidding me! I’m reading, they’re giving raises! All the  cops and fire ever worry about is their own backsides. 
I’m really disgusted and disappointed.  I  read Nakamura’s contract because of a story I read out of Hemet – Mark knows this, maybe John and Stephanie don’t realize – Nakamura gets a year’s salary if we terminate him. When he tried to get that in his contract in Hemet people complained and he made a big ploy of taking it out, what a nice man he was there! But here, if we have to let him go for any reason, like, say, we can’t afford to pay him anymore – he walks away with $217,000 plus. 
Also, Mark, why am I not able to cut and paste from the agenda? I used the link I got from Chico Agendas, but I can’t pick up anything off the agenda. So, I just have to type it out if I want to share it with the public. You know they don’t follow links, you have to put something right in people’s faces before they get it.  Any suggestion you can offer there, would be welcome. 
Juanita Sumner
Sorensen’s response was polite and quick, but somewhat frustrating:
Much to my chagrin they still “scan to PDF” rather than “print to PDF” much of the time, so the result is not text, but rather a graphic. 
When they do it that way, that is why you can not copy/paste text as text, because it is not text. It is a graphic. 
When that happens, about the only tool that you can try to use is the “Snapshot” tool in PDF reader. 
As for the reorg… yes, there will still be some of the highest dollar positions (many are over $200,000 in payroll and benefits), but over time there will be reduction in the numbers…. vs the past several years where there were ZERO reductions….. The process will take a year or more. But at least it has (at long last) begun to occur. 
His agreement with me over the scanning of the agendas is frustrating because, despite his protestations, he hasn’t been able to make her stop doing it. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about with “Snapshot,” I can’t find any such tool in my box. I hardly have time to do this blog, much less take a computer tutorial every five minutes. But Debbie Presson gets paid $135,000+ to sit in her office figuring out ways to keep the public out of “city business”.  
And then what he says about the reorganization is just maddening – “yes, there will still be some of the highest dollar positions (many are over $200,000 in payroll and benefits), but over time there will be reduction in the numbers…”  
Mark, there’s already been a HUGE reduction in numbers – for the last five years, the city has been laying off the worker bees in droves.  This city has cut service to the point of offering NO SERVICE. Look at your streets, look at your park. Drive over there behind the East Avenue MacDonalds and look at Chico’s little section of Tia Juana. 
Try calling a cop. Ask your insurance agent why your homeowner’s premiums are so high.
So, I answered Sorensen, and I’m not sure, but I may have been a little mean here, cause he hasn’t responded again. Oh well, you be the judge. 

Why isn’t employee share on the table? We need to make them pay their share, period. Is that even being discussed?  And when CalPERS comes to us for more, we need to RAISE the employee share too, instead of just raising the EPMC.

After the IA meeting the other morning, Dave Donnan said to me, did I notice the employee contract talks were taking a lot more time this year than in past? He suggested Nakamura was being tough. Oh right. That’s why Nakamura only pays 4%!  Then he says to me, as if he had just thought of the idea himself – “they could solve all their problems Downtown if they’d just make the employees pay their own pension share – do you know they spend $1.9 million a year on the employee’s share of pensions?”
I’m not the only one who thinks that’s whacked. People all over the country are questioning this deal politicians have made with public workers. I know why you guys are afraid of the unions – they outnumber regular voters like me. And they contribute those big salaries during elections, don’t they?  I haven’t looked at the November reports, but in past, I know SEIU has swung a pretty big stick in our elections.
And I’ll tell you what I notice lately – a lot more of the politicians are union members themselves – great! 
I’m sorry if this is a bit personal, but I’m trying to make a point here.  The taxpayers pay for your $21,000 package, for which you pay $156 a year. I can’t afford that, but I pay toward yours? Do you see what I’m saying? If you ran your satellite business that way, nobody could afford to have satellite, could they?
In Hemet they passed an ordinance that restricted the city from paying for city council benefits.  Again, I’m not the only one who has a problem with this practice.
 And these benefits packages have ruined the health industry – they’ve driven up the cost of healthcare for EVERYBODY, and the rest of us aren’t getting subsidized health insurance packages. 

I’m sick of paying for public workers’ benefits and not being able to afford a decent policy for my family, because of the effect these benefits packages have had on the industry. It’s like feeding blue jays.  

Thanks for listening, Juanita

UPDATE: No, Juanita is not too mean.  Mark Sorensen deserves a noogie for going along with Nakamura’s reorganization plan, and that’s all he’s getting out of me in 2014.

During the discussion last night, Ann Schwab asked Nakamura to explain the various savings figures he’d flopped out in his report – in other words, exactly how much money will we be saving, the report was vague. He never gave her a straight answer.   But it sounds like this plan will save less than $1 mil. And Sorensen didn’t raise a peep when Scott Gruendl opined that we will not see the benefits for TEN TO FIFTEEN YEARS.
Oh God, I’m in agreement with Scott Gruendl!

I’ve had enough of Mark Sorensen. He tries to feed me information on the sly, tries to lead me to certain conclusions, tries to get me to expose and talk about things he doesn’t have the balls to talk about in his own blog. Which, by the way, has sat idle for months. There’s no law against an elected official having a blog, I’ve seen plenty of local politicians use their blog to keep citizens posted on the issues at hand. I get a really good newsletter from Doug LaMalfa and e-mail alerts from Jim Nielsen. But Sorensen is a pussy, there I said it. He wouldn’t say “shit” if he had a mouthful, he’d just pass it along to you and expect you to eat some too.

Sorensen is the worst kind of RHINO. He gets himself in there by rousing the Rabble, and then when he’s in, he doesn’t answer Rabble’s phone calls anymore.

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. 

Hope everybody is having a great weekend!

I have been so busy this week, I can’t even remember what I did.  Between chores and visitors and unexpected illnesses, I’ve been trying to order some signs for the “No on Measure J” campaign. Whew-ieeee, what a week I’ve had.  I won’t bore you with the details, cause I know you’ve all had a three-ring circus or two run across your living room rug.

I hope to have some signs pretty soon. The folks at the print shop have been really wonderful, I’ve seen their work around town, and I think we will get some very nice signs.

I’m also trying to plan a Taxpayer’s Association meeting, and hoping to get the signs before then. I will keep everybody posted here and at

Well, this may be the last nice weekend to hang out in the yard and soak up the sun around the old Intex pool, so I’m headed outside. There’s a fundraiser for Butte Humane Society over at One Mile, and while passing by, I saw some tricks I must show Biscuit!  I  hope you are all having a lovely weekend!   Bark Bark!