by Lou Binningerhoney oil  8 23 17Norland, Tyler John, age 29 of Portola, Ca

Yuba County has been overrun with marijuana growers and hash / honey oil producers. The loss of control can be attributed to the opportunity to make a lot of untaxable money, a shortage in enforcement personnel, changing local ordinances, and an inconsistency in federal and local marijuana laws.

Past articles noted grows at the Rastafarian Church 9015 Marysville Road, Oregon House; on 429 acres at 10874 Marysville Rd., Dobbins, recorded to BBNR LLC, Lance Bates, Adam Bates, Mary Bates and Scott Bates but being sold to unknown individuals on a contract of sale; another 5 acre operation at 14143 Terra Rojo Lane, Dobbins belonging to Tosha Asker of 1410 Calistoga Rd., Santa Rosa, CA. 95409-2541; and more than 30 sites along Vierra Road, Rackerby with 80 acres at 16485 Vierra Road, purchased in 2013 by Mark and Jeanette Baker, 1769 Kimberly Drive, Sunnyvale, Ca 94087

Last week, an enforcement team began visiting properties. August 14, Tyler Jon Nordlund, 29, formerly of Portola was arrested at 13828 Charlie Lane, Dobbins for planting, growing, harvesting and processing more than 6 plants and manufacturing a controlled substance / honey oil. Agents seized 106 plants, 5 lbs. of processed marijuana, a set of brass knuckles, and a butane honey oil lab capable of producing a pound at a time.

Nordlund purchased his 3.32 acres on March 22, 2017 and ‘moved in’ without electricity, septic or running water. He lived in a camp trailer and told neighbors he was entitled to an open fire to warm himself in spite of the fire danger. He further explained that the property was purchased to grow marijuana.

This was not a clandestine operation as Tyler boldly proclaimed his mission and played Reggae music into the early morning hours for all to enjoy. Agents arrived to find cases of butane containers, a pulley system for his honey oil generator, plumbing equipment, hot plates, generator, and other items used in the production of honey oil. There was evidence of a ground fire that burned up to the butane containers at some time in the past.

Residents fear operations like Nordlund’s. His outdoor fire pit and lab are an imminent fire threat to rural Yuba County. And his lab, chemicals and lack of septic damage the environment.

Nordlund’s bail was $500,000 and he is no longer in custody at Yuba County jail.

A larger grow operation was located the same day on Pecan Lane off Wildwood Trail, Dobbins where approximately 1810 plants were removed. Packaging materials for sales, as well as chemicals, were also found.

Nobody was at the site during the search, but Yuba County personnel are working to identify suspects. Law enforcement became aware of this grow during an over flight of the region.

On August 17, 477 plants and 2 pounds of processed marijuana were removed from the 3700 Block of Nisenan Lane, Wheatland. There were packaging materials and scales inside the home. Agents obtained a search warrant following neighbor complaints, a flyover and a compliance visit.

Jianrong Zhang, who had documents to have and grow marijuana for medicinal use was cited for not complying with the orders of her prescription nor the Yuba County outdoor cultivation prohibition. Zhang’s husband was not cited.

Power to the property was terminated by officials after it was discovered that electric work was done without authorization and the residents were illegally obtaining utilities.

Four large greenhouses and the home were used to grow marijuana. High fencing around the property blocked sighting of the pot nursery from the street.

Most operations under investigation have toxic chemicals present, some have honey oil labs and many have structures and wells developed without permits. The BBNR LLC property at 10874 Marysville Road, Dobbins has numerous large buildings and 4 water wells while only one permit was obtained but never getting a final inspection.

The recent raids have been carried-out by Yuba County Sheriff Marijuana Enforcement Team, NET-5, California Fish and Wildlife and code enforcement officials.

picture: Nordland, Tyler Jon, Age 29, of Portola, Ca

by Lou Binninger

In November 2016, former Republican Assembly member Ling Ling Chang lost a race for the State Senate to Democrat Josh Newman of Fullerton by 2,498 votes out of 317,962 cast. The 29th Senate District is typically conservative and includes portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernadino Counties.

Newman served in the Army, was a veterans’ advocate and led a nonprofit assisting vets. Chang, a Taiwanese immigrant, was an Assembly member who distanced herself by her comments from Donald Trump in the campaign against Newman.

The election win helped California Democrats regain a two-thirds legislative supermajority thereby virtually controlling all legislation. Then Newman voted to increase DMV fees and gas prices, already the highest in the nation.

The change in representation, the supermajority debacle, the dramatic spike in DMV fees and 12 cents per gallon increase in gas prices were a catalyst to launch a recall of Newman. Some people’s DMV fees are now what you could pay for a cheap clunker.

Democrats have both changed the recall rules and challenged the recall in court to save Newman and their supermajority. However, this past week more than 63,593 valid signatures were counted by Los Angeles, San Bernadino and Orange Counties. More are coming.

Democrat Secretary of State Alex Padilla has 10 days to certify the signatures, after which Gov. Jerry Brown must schedule an election within 60 to 80 days.

Could Newman lose his seat before his first year in office ends? Chang says she will compete for the Senate seat again should citizens choose to remove Newman. Chang voted to stop tax increases during her two years in the Assembly.

The cliché ‘follow the money’ is often used to explain why a vote or decision was made. However, an equally poignant phenomenon is ‘follow the sperm’ when determining cause and effect in politics and business.

Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from California ended his run for House Speaker when news spread of his on-going affair with North Carolina Representative Renee Ellmers. Both are married. Ellmers denied the relationship. Enter Paul Ryan as Speaker.

Then there is married former Democrat Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in the 1990’s having a ‘girlfriend’ or ‘new steady’ by the name of Kamala Harris. Harris was appointed to one plum position after another by Brown. Then, she became San Francisco’s District Attorney and squeaked by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley for State Attorney General. She is currently US Senator for California.

Now, there is California Republican Leader Chad Mayes in an affair with former Republican leader Kristen Olsen. Both were married. Olsen is now a Stanislaus County supervisor and Vice Chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

Why difference does it make? The backroom intrigue may have led to Mayes’ reversing his long-held opposition to Cap and Trade laws and leading other Republicans to join Governor Brown and Democrats to extend the punishing tax and regulation law.

The Mayes-Olsen affair was exposed when Olsen’s estranged husband Rod sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, demanding an investigation into the affair suggesting tax dollars were used in the affair and an attempted cover-up. The husband later withdrew the request.

Rod Olsen’s complaint letter to Speaker Anthony Rendon is dated April 24, 2017. Three days later, April 27, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article, not about Rod Olsen’s complaint letter but about Mayes’ sudden flip-flop on climate change titled, “The fight against climate change in California gains an unlikely ally: Republicans.” That’s a big shift in 72 hours.

Did Governor Brown and Speaker Rendon heal the political troubles for Mr. Mayes in return for his support of Cap and Trade legislation?

Being pro-life, for traditional marriage and moral integrity, even protecting the second amendment and property rights, no longer defines many California Republican politicians or local central committees. And, they certainly aren’t issues upon which GOP legislators have influence. We’ll see whether one issue still has Republican support, stopping higher taxes.

Last week in Riverside County, Chad Mayes’ home, the Central Committee heard from him and Assembly member Melissa Melendez who has been punished by Mayes and Democrat Speaker Rendon for standing up for lower tax, less regulation party principles. After hearing from both, the committee voted overwhelmingly that Mayes should resign or be replaced as Republican Assembly Speaker.

So far, twenty-four county Republican committees want Mayes out. Nevada and Butte are on the Remove-Mayes list but Yuba, Sutter and Colusa are missing.

The Republican Party at this point seems to be standing for nothing, falling for anything and fulfilling Mathew 5:13.

by Lou Binningerpot1

As Yuba County officials seek to calm frustrated and fearful residents by explaining that the hill country is safe, families have second thoughts. No one questions Sheriff Durfor’s integrity or the lower crime statistics for the rural areas.

However, residents are aware that illegal growing is occurring nearby, buildings are erected without permits, agri-chemicals are used without supervision, and honey oil labs and illegal electrical installations present a volatile fire threat. Add to this people brandishing weapons and making threats. There are no crime statistics for feeling unsafe, intimidated and fearful.

Last week, the Rastafarian ‘Church’ illegal marijuana farm at 9015 Marysville Rd., Oregon House and a much larger operation on 429 acres at 10874 Marysville Road, Dobbins, were noted in the article ‘Yuba Co Pot Chaos Life Threatening’ about Yuba Co deputies being shot protecting an illegal grow.

County records show the larger acreage owned by BBNR LLC, Lance Bates, Adam Bates, Mary Bates and Scott Bates. However, BBNR LLC attorney Courtney McAlister called to say his clients sold the property on an unrecorded contract of sale to new owners who may not want to be identified. McAlister was to call back with a yes or no regarding the new owners’ names, but had not by this paper’s deadline.

A third plot has now been revealed located just behind the Dobbins Catholic Church with access at 14143 Terra Rojo Lane. It’s a 5-acre parcel that supports at least 3 separate plantings (See aerial photo). This grow has been reported to county officials numerous times over a number of years and yet, today it flourishes. Plants have been visible from the road and from the church property.

County records show the property is owned by Tosha Asker who uses 1410 Calistoga Rd., Santa Rosa, CA. 95409-2541 as an address of record. The Sacred Heart Parish is the structure and parking lot in the photo on Old Dobbins Road.

Last week’s Supervisors’ meeting was attended by concerned citizens asking that a state of emergency be declared and for federal authorities to be sought for help. Many residents also feel that enforcement of illegal cannabis activity laws should be handled by deputies and not code enforcement.

The supervisors are on their third marijuana ordinance. They are the policy makers of the county and need to draft an ordinance that helps law enforcement do their job. Unarmed code enforcement people do not have the ability to handle this problem.

Some estimate there are thousands of pot plantings in the Yuba Co hills. People wonder why the illegal grows remain?

By Lou Binninger

On August 9, the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency (SBFCA) in charge of managing more than $200 million in levee upgrades disbanded the Citizens' Assessment District Advisory Committee (CADAC). It did so after promising to establish and utilize the ‘watchdog’ group in exchange for the public’s support for the 2010 levee improvement assessment measure.

Two previous measures had failed until public assurances were given that a citizens committee would examine the finances and ongoing management of the revenues from stiff property assessments on more than 30,000 parcels and continuing for 33 years. The public did not trust huge property assessments handed over to an unelected and unsupervised agency.

CADAC people receive no pay, even for travel. However, CADAC members created an immediate stir in the beginning when SBFCA employees wanted to spend $80,000 for a junket to Washington D.C. to lobby for flood insurance changes. CADAC members felt this expense was outside the scope of repairing levees. The request was then reduced to $10,000 and then withdrawn altogether.

CADAC members continued to question expenditures and the size of some budget items including the fees of outside contract employees. Two CADAC members, retired state auditor Elaine Miles and former school teacher Roberta Fletcher were dismissed for being too persistent in protecting the public’s funds.

Miles has questioned the legality of some of the SBFCA board meetings when decisions about and changes in the board’s composition were made. She also maintains there is lack of transparency in the finances including staff compensation.

The vote was 8-2 to drop CADAC with Stan Cleveland and Jason Banks opposing the move. SBFCA’s website states that “CADAC was disbanded by the SBFCA Board due to concerns about related staff time and duplication of effort. The information shared with CADAC members is also made publicly available at SBFCA Board meetings, on the website and via staff. The public is encouraged to ask questions, request information, attend community meetings and board meetings, and communicate directly with Board Members and staff.”

To suggest that community members are as SBFCA-knowledgeable as CADAC people and that citizens’ have time to attend 1pm board meetings is elitist razzle-dazzle. Most all government meetings and county department schedules are designed to benefit employees and not to better serve citizens.

SBFCA is out of control and has violated its promise to the people of Sutter and Butte Counties.

When you drive through Marysville it looks like there is a drought. Most all grass and shrubs are dead or dying. However, the shortage is not water but money to pay the egregious bills to sustain one of the most profitable private water monopolies in the country, California Water Service.

Marysville rates run 3-4 times higher than in Yuba City, Olivehurst or Linda where municipal districts manage the water. Cal Water Directors recently declared their 284th consecutive quarterly dividend and their 49th annual dividend increase in a row. Net profit for 2016 was $48.7 million. Their stock price went from $18.35 in 2012 to $33.90 in 2016.

This would be a corporation to invest in, not buy your water from. Cal Water (CW) is also celebrating the corrupt California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) awarding them rate increases for 3 more years. While Marysville browns-out Cal Water gets greener.

Every three years Cal Water justifies rate increases to the CPUC with the ‘needed improvements’ pitch, but the upgrades amount to window dressing. Cal Water's Marysville District was formed in 1930 with the purchase of Marysville Water Company. It has 55 miles of pipeline.

How many feet of pipeline are replaced each year? Currently CW Manager Robert Thompson is replacing 600 feet of 6 inch pipe that is more than 70 years old. For that, customers will get a ‘small bump’ in rates in 2019-2022 according to Thompson. A request was made to former manager Lee Seidel for a schedule of piping and its age throughout Marysville. There was no response.

With 55 miles or 290,400 feet of pipe in Marysville, to be ‘good stewards’ of the infrastructure replacing 600 feet each year it will take 484 years to upgrade every foot. No wonder all the CW board members and bosses are smiling on their website. Thompson says in a recent Appeal Democrat article that the newest pipe available lasts about 80 years. Seems like we are a bit behind.

At some point Cal Water rates will completely break the residents of Marysville while the infrastructure is maintained by a slumlord.

by Lou Binningermain facitlityThe property at 10874 Marysville Rd. in Dobbins. Owned by BBNR LLC, Lance Bates, Adam Bates, Mary Bates and Scott Bates.

A turkey hunter chasing a wounded bird was confronted by men with long guns and informed that if he crossed onto their property again he would not fare well. The property is at 10874 Marysville Road, Dobbins and owned by BBNR LLC, Lance Bates, Adam Bates, Mary Bates and Scott Bates.

What would cause someone to be so inhospitable to a hunter just trying to retrieve his game? They were protecting a major marijuana growing operation on 429 acres once known as the Middlebrook Ranch. (See Google photo here) Confirmation that the plants were marijuana was made by conversations with those who had access to the property.

Since 1996 and the passage of Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act, allowing the use of medical cannabis, counties and cities have wrestled with ordinances to comply with the new law. Yuba County has tried a couple different approaches. The latest forbids any outdoor growing.

However, hundreds and possibly thousands of marijuana entrepreneurs are ignoring the ordinance, permits, fees, and their neighbors in Yuba Co. In fact, Buck Weckman, who founded Yuba County FACT (Families against Cannabis Trafficking) 5 years ago, says the problem of illegal pot growing has increased and become even more dangerous particularly for hill residents.

The shooting of two Yuba County sheriff deputies, Phillip Bronson and Andrew Everhart last week by an armed felon with warrants employed by the Rastafarian Church may have been a tipping point for many hill citizens. ‘Church’ leaders Heidi Grossman and Eddy Lepp have been in an ongoing legal scrap with the county over their illegal pot operation in Oregon House.

In spite of Grossman’s history of crass and profanity laced threats posted on the Internet against the sheriff’s department, on August 1st she called for help protecting her illegal marijuana from an irate employee. Deputies were fired upon after entering a home where the resident denied the presence of the perpetrator.

The irony of law enforcement put in harms way by a hateful lawless citizen to protect her illegal operation and then deputies being deceived and led into a death trap by a second citizen is disgusting in its lack of respect for authority and for fellow human beings.

Yuba County hill residents are angry and fearful at what they perceive as the inability of the government to protect life and property. The founding fathers believed the role of government was to protect from foreign invaders and from those in our midst who would infringe upon our liberty.

Government has taken on many roles like handing out condoms, welfare, cautioning about hot weather, taxing everything and restricting what we eat and drink, none of which are in the constitution. If the county cannot protect the life and property of Yuba Co residents it has lost its mandate to govern.

Yuba County is using 4-code enforcement officers to respond to all kinds of complaints. There currently are 700 open cases 10% of which are marijuana complaints. Kevin Mallen, Director of Community Services, was surprised at how few calls they get for marijuana grow issues, but citizens say that many people now are afraid to complain or don’t see any results.

Mallen said that normally 2 of the 4 code enforcers are assigned to the marijuana complaints but lately all four have been focused mainly on the homeless problem. Even though marijuana farms are protected with armed security people, code enforcement officers go out with only body armor and a pen and paper. Many residents believe the marijuana grows are a law enforcement problem and we need to declare a state of emergency and ask for federal intervention.

Mallen said grows on private property are more cumbersome to address versus grows on public property like the recent Bullard Bar Dam eradication of 3,500 plant and 500 lbs. of refuse. The private property dilemma seems to be whether the illegal grows are going to be considered a matter for criminal versus code enforcement. It is complicated, cumbersome and ineffective.

People violating codes and/or laws are afforded due process. However, the neighbors of these marijuana businesses want law-breakers cleared out and the problem solved. Good people are growing weary and may choose to relocate rather than wait for government to do its job.pot growPart of Rastafarian complex where Yuba Co. Deputies were shot


by Lou Binninger

Though politicians created the pension and health care crisis in California they all fault someone else. It’s like the 40-year smoker who has lung cancer and now blames the tobacco company and society for not warning him.

There is even a term for the evolving condition of cities and counties, service insolvency. That is where the jurisdiction is still paying bills, payroll, pensions and health but that’s it. There is little or nothing left for services.

As a city manager was once said, California cities have become pension providers that offer a few public services on the side. It’s a corrupted system when local governments exist to do little more than pay the people employed there.

Wherever unions have dominate, industries crumble under the weight of health and pension benefits. Before the bail-out General Motors had become a health and welfare business, no longer a competitive car company. Everyone remembers the pastry icon Hostess Twinkies, once a victim of Bakers Union greed. The nonunion private sector bought the brand and heavenly recipe out of bankruptcy and the tasty treat returned to the shelves.

Not surprisingly, the union-dominated Legislature has been of little help to local officials dealing with such fiscal troubles. The state pension systems have run up unfunded liabilities, or debts, ranging from $374 billion to $1 trillion (depending on the financial assumptions one makes). Regardless, legislators have avoided meaningful pension reform. They owe their soul to the unions. This has forced local governments to cut back services or raise taxes to meet their ever-increasing payments to California’s pension funds.

Now, union legislators have introduced Assembly Bill 1250 to gain complete control over local government. AB1250 would essentially stop county governments from outsourcing services (financial, economic, accounting, engineering, legal, etc.), which is a strategic way for counties to survive these days.

The legislation originally also applied to cities, but was dialed back. It now applies to all 58 counties except for San Francisco (which is exempt because it also is a city) and the authors plan to exempt Santa Clara County because of a hospital contract. Cities will be hamstrung next if this move is successful.

The bill is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and authored by Assemblyman Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, a Los Angeles Democrat who previously was an SEIU vice president. It’s a brazen blitz to force county governments to spike the size of their full-time, unionized workforce. Ultimately, the bill sees county governments as employment agencies rather than service providers.

The bill removes the autonomy of local citizens and their supervisors to make the appropriate decisions regarding the financial benefits of outsourcing. Counties were not intended to provide cushy employment-to-grave benefits but were created to serve the citizens. Does anyone recall those days?

An analysis for the counties by the Oakland law firm Jarvis Fay Doporto & Gibson concluded that the latest version of the bill “will substantially increase the cost for delivery of county services and substantially decrease delivery of county services – including critical public health and safety services.” Counties will be forced to pare back services “to offset increased pension and benefit costs.” Small and rural communities in particular like Yuba-Sutter will face service reductions.

Although government outsourcing tasks to private companies usually saves huge sums of money while providing a more effective service this bill makes it nearly impossible with all the new rules and paperwork. Also, many companies may choose not to do government work due to the nonsense created to shut private enterprises out.

by Lou Binninger

On Saturday, July 29th, more than 150 leaders from the State of Jefferson movement throughout Northern California came to Yuba City for a meeting at Church of Glad Tidings.

They were there at the request of State of Jefferson Chaplain Dave Bryan to address rumors and expose fake news and slander directed toward the Jefferson movement and its founder Mark Baird. Bryan also wanted to see a reconciliation of any factions resulting from misunderstanding or offenses over the last 3 ½ years since the movement began.

A Dave Hodges radio broadcast was played claiming that more than $300,000 collected to fund an ongoing legal action by Jefferson against the State of California for lack of representation was being wasted on the endeavor. Hodges said pursuing the lawsuit was intended to deplete funds and destroy the movement.

Further, Hodges explained ‘his un-named inside sources’ revealed that George Soros and had infiltrated the organization to undermine it so the Cal Exit effort could succeed. More details were promised by Hodges to come later.

Hodges also predicted that the Cal Exit advocates would somehow sabotage Oroville Dam causing a breach where the catastrophe would lead to the federal government allowing the state to secede from the union.

Local radio host Paul Preston and friend of Hodges was also noted at the meeting as claiming Mark Baird, the unofficial and unpaid leader of the movement, had misused Jefferson funds and would soon be held criminally accountable for his misdeeds.

Mark Kent, who set-up Jefferson’s 501 (c) 4 and oversees the monies given for the lawsuit, was at the meeting and took offense at the Preston lie. Mark Baird said he has nothing to do with the 501 (c) 4, is not on the board and handles no money from the organization. He is a volunteer like all Jefferson advocates.

Dave Bryan explained this is now the second time Preston has been involved in spreading far-fetched tales causing damage to those he targets. Bryan referred to a recent Liberty Tour conducted by Preston that was held at Glad Tidings where engineer Scott Cahill spoke about Oroville Dam.

The next week, Cahill posted a You Tube video slandering the church as allegedly destroying a video of the event and undermining the truth about the dam’s condition and the State of Jefferson movement. Cahill also attacked the character of the church and Bryan, the pastor.

Bryan indicated the church filmed and edited the event at no charge and provided the finished product to Cahill on time. No apology was ever offered to the church or You Tube retraction provided by Cahill or Preston.

Preston, a spokesperson for the Sutter Buttes Tea Party Patriots is now working with Tea Party members to nurture a ‘Jefferson’ splinter group describing itself as the leading effort to start the 51st state.

At the Jefferson meeting participants were encouraged to speak-freely about any concerns. Many did so while others presented questions in writing. General presentations were made by Baird, Bryan and advertising / marketing expert Phil Enright.

Judging from attendees’ comments and next day emails, most everyone left better informed and energized to carry–on the fight for the 51st state. Participant Kayla Brown, who is married to a Shasta County correctional officer, says she is hopeful that her kids and grandkids can grow up in a state where the people are truly free.

California’s corruption, abuse of the citizenry and its tyrannical mission is free advertising for the State of Jefferson where the people would be free and in charge.

by Lou Binninger

Yuba County Clerk-Recorder Terry Hansen announced she will be campaigning for another term in office. Other than the court system the Clerk-Recorder office may have more face to face contact with the public than any other county department.

The office keeps track of the complex and changing laws on elections, conducts elections, and keeps candidates briefed on compliance issues. It handles voter registration and the integrity of the registration list. People wanting marriage and other licenses, passports, or to record any document come through that office. The Clerk keeps the details of births, marriages, deaths, name changes, real estate and more.

A poorly managed county office can create havoc for the citizens. Fortunately, Hansen’s is easy to work with and seems efficient and effective doing the people’s business. Her workers are knowledgeable and Hansen actually returns calls promptly.

Marysville can’t seem to get ahead. The story of $17 million debt on 5 acres worth $1.5 million should be engraved on a monument to remind future generations that government has no business gambling with the people’s future. The debt will outlive those council members who created it at no personal cost to them. Even if the property is sold the city still has to pay the balance on the bonds.

After the council got its 1% sales tax increase and up to $1.5 million in extra cash annually, $288,000 will go to the state for a fine because Marysville employees were too lazy to complete quarterly reports to the Dept. of Water Resources.

After borrowing $700,000 from Yuba County to leverage a multi-million dollar grant to upgrade drains, streets, sidewalk and gutters at 12th and J nothing was ever done though the project was pitched to Yuba County as shovel–ready. The loan, interest and administrative fee were repaid and the residents in the area are still waiting for a resolution to annual flooding.

The city was offered an opportunity to join the Linda Water Agency to upgrade its water treatment facilities years ago where Marysville could send its waste water and sewage. Maryville chose to stick with its antiquated system in the flood zone until the Regional Water Quality Board threatened fines saying the sewage ponds had to go. Now, city residents will be paying more than they had to by piping their fluids to Linda because they procrastinated and missed an opportunity to join Linda Water in the first place to obtain a $10 million grant.

Now, the contractor to build the pipeline to the Linda Treatment Plant is suing Marysville for $1.1 million. RGW Construction Inc. claims the city failed to properly inspect and perform compaction tests. Nor did it inform RGW thereby causing delays in the project. RGW is asking $508,000 in damages. The city cancelled the contract with RGW and the contractor says they have not been paid properly.

The recent shameful violating if its own codes and ordinances to approve two marijuana dispensaries cost the city the little credibility remaining. Buck Weckman, who exposed city leaders’ incompetence and dishonesty via appeal, showed 3 members of the council (Samayoa, Simmons, Pedigo) wanting to save face and sell their souls to deal in bud.

You can’t be this incompetent and dishonest by accident. These miscues are routine and go back for years including numerous council member changes. When your city mascot is a demon called Bok Kai you might wonder whether the spiritual deck is stacked against you.

There was a stabbing at a ‘7-11’ store in Yuba City recently. Will the city now forbid ‘7-11’ to sell 16 oz single beers? The city’s arbitrary and prejudicial banning of Washington Ave Market selling a 16 oz beer was exposed by a Freedom of Information Act request of police activity around similar stores in Yuba City. The data revealed other convenience stores having more problems and still able to freely sell single 16 oz. beers to customers.

City bureaucrats had the gall to tell Washington Ave. Market owner Kumar Kairam that selling 16 oz. single beers was not a big deal anyway, profit-wise. The problem is that we now have a state ruling over us that sticks its nose into everything we do and treats us like children. The beer is not the biggest problem. Rather, it is the lack of freedom. Until citizens are willing to say ‘Hell No’ they deserve what they get.

by Lou Binninger

A family in financial crisis with multiple credit cards maxed out at 18%-24% often “saves money” by consolidating all cards on a lower rate credit plan. Did they reduce their debt load? Of course, but did they change their ways? Don’t jump to any conclusions.

This scenario is analogous to the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) recently approving a 6.6 million dollar loan to save Yuba County money on their annual debt payment to CalPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System).

“Yuba County is fortunate to have a collaborative relationship with the Yuba County Water Agency that allows us to achieve unique solutions,” said County Administrator Robert Bendorf. “This short term loan helps us achieve substantial savings and protect funding for ongoing vital services.”

“It is great to see government agencies working together,” said YCWA Board Chairman Brent Hastey. “This loan will benefit the County, YCWA, and the people of Yuba County.”

It’s not what these two Bendorf / Hastey quotes say it’s what they don’t say. These ‘compatible’ agencies with this collaborative relationship are led by two boards of essentially the same people. YCWA has two additional members elected by the public. So, basically the five Yuba County Supervisors petition themselves as YCWA directors for a loan which they then approve as YCWA directors. It’s nice to get along with yourself but bad juju for future bad ideas.

The YCWA used to say their money was utilized for flood control, water resources and hydroelectric power. However, since YCWA now has the deep financial pocket in the county, will they now become a slush fund to bail other Yuba County agencies and cities out? Marysville would like some help and what about Wheatland? Maybe the supervisors / directors don’t have such warm feelings toward these folks.

Robert Bendorf did not create CalPERS but as county administrator has conformed to the employee union - CalPERS gig, even taking part in giving huge retroactive raises to long-term employees back to their date of hire when Yuba County had some extra cash.

Bendorf’s comment that the savings will protect funding for vital services is telling. All agencies and districts have been told how much extra money into the future they have to contribute to CalPERS. So, taxpayer funds are not going to traditional infrastructure maintenance and will begin cutting into law enforcement, the primary reason for taxation.

What is hypocritical is to be told that Yuba Co leaders are saving the taxpayers money when they created the problem to begin with. This is like the meth addict stealing his partner’s stash, and then helping him look for it all night.

Cities and counties have been told by CalPERS to prepare to double contributions over the next 5 years. In May, Joe Lopez, Modesto’s acting city manager, said the city eventually could not afford its CalPERS bill, which will nearly double over the next eight years.

Last month, Chico Councilman and financial planner Randall Stone said CalPERS would eventually collapse as the benefits it paid out exceeded the money it collected. The grim assessment comes from a report showing the city’s CalPERS bill increasing about $370,000 in 2018-19, $803,000 in 2019-20 and nearly $2 million in 2020-21.

“I think generally speaking, the community doesn’t understand what a time bomb this is,” Stone told the Chico Enterprise-Record. “You should be screaming with your hair on fire from the rooftops.”

In May, the Bay Area News Group reported that three small East Bay towns – Pittsburg, Walnut Creek and Martinez - cut several agencies’ budgets for 2017-18 to pay CalPERS bills. These cuts are before the large predicted CalPERS hikes.

In March, the Ventura County Star told how local cities there were staggered by the CalPERS hikes. Port Hueneme’s (pop 21,732 in 2010) pension bill went from $774,000 in 2014-15 to $1.3 million in 2017-18 and will reach $3.2 million in 2022-23 more than quadrupling over an eight-year span.

In Yuba County there is no hair on fire shouting from the roof top even though there is no way to fund the sheriff’s department out of the budget if the immigration detainee jail contract is ended. Bendorf uses the euphemism “the cost of doing business is increasing.” That’s like calling a levee breach a high water moment.

Bendorf is promoting a 1% sales tax increase and now we are borrowing each year to cover the CalPERS payment. The county is in big trouble. When are leaders going to lead instead of whistling together before the train hits us?

by Lou Binninger

A town hall meeting last week in Sutter County Supervisor Matt Conant’s district attracted some angry constituents. Homeless people living along the river are vandalizing businesses on Burns Drive and causing havoc in the Shanghai Bend subdivision. Conant’s constituents came and left frustrated and confused about what is being done.

County Administrator Scott Mitnick was there, but his mind was in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, where he resides. He repeatedly inserted ‘Thousand Oaks’ when referring to Yuba City / Sutter County. Mitnick joins a growing number of county and city administrators and employees that are good enough to get the job here but too good to live here. It’s getting old.

Mitnick instructed the sheriff’s department to not cite or arrest the homeless but shew them into the river bottoms until he comes-up with a plan. One lady interviewed by KCRA News said she had been residing in her camp along the river for 7 years. She said she liked living down there.

It’s amazing when people feel entitled to live wherever they wish even when the property doesn’t belong to them. There are limits though. Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath sent a lady to prison that moved her family into a fully furnished Olivehurst home while the owner was away. A ‘meth’ perspective convinced the inmate that if she claimed the house then it was hers. McGrath didn’t see it that way.

Hundreds of thousands of Sutter County dollars have already been spent for hotel rooms to cure homelessness and cleaning-up the river bottom area only to have it trashed once again. Neither Sutter nor Yuba County leaders have discovered how to get these ‘victims’ to pick-up after themselves.

Mitnick, consultants and the supervisors will jump off the same cliff Yuba County did, but of course they will spend more money and kick it up a notch. Rumors are flying about sacrificing the newly renovated Sutter County Sheriffs Training Center along the airport to add yet another shelter.

How many shelters will it take until social service workers do their miracle to empty them? Since we have been funding these county departments for more than a hundred years just what have they been up to until now?

The Second Street area in Yuba City is already in chaos between the homeless running amuck along the levee and the controversy with the airport being out of compliance with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Twin Cities Rod and Gun Club is now paying $338 / month versus $10 annually for its range to help the county follow FAA rules. All the while, the club faces ongoing vandalism and members report illegally parked recreational vehicles now residing adjacent to them and the airport.

How will this all turn out? George Mason University Economics Professor Walter Williams says whatever is subsidized will grow and whatever is taxed will shrink. Poster cities for this approach are San Francisco (SF) and Los Angeles (LA) where the spending on the homeless has spiked along with the street people population.

SF spent $241 million in 2015-16, $275 million in 2016-17 and $305 million in 2017-18 to ‘conquer’ homelessness. But in 2016 the liberal San Francisco Chronicle ran a front page editorial declaring the city’s efforts a failure.

The number of SF homeless on an average night was estimated at about 7,500 in January 2015. By late 2016, city officials’ estimate was up to about 10,000, with some homeless advocates saying the number was closer to 12,000. The Chronicle’s editorial took the side of those who argue that these numbers were on the low side.

LA budgeted $100 million for 2015-16 and $138 million in 2016-17. In 2016, voters approved $1.2 billion in bonds to build houses for homeless. However, in spite of the generosity with the public’s money, the average number of those homeless on any night according to city tracking has gone up by nearly two-thirds. In 2015, the average number was 21,338. In 2016, it was 28,464. In 2017, so far the number has grown by 18 percent to 34,189.

For those Yuba-Sutter law-abiding citizens who pay for services, they see their community overrun while law enforcement stands down. No longer can you walk, fish, or bike the river. The region has been surrendered to people packing weapons and under the influence of drugs, drink, and demons. Meanwhile, most of the city and county aristocrats carry-on comfortably away from the fray.

by Lou Binninger

Yuba-Sutter and its cities are going broke from pension and health care debt while the general funds are depleted to bail-out a corrupt, flawed and horribly managed California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). CalSTRS for teachers has the same terminal condition.

Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf’s latest suggestion to add a 1% sales tax for an employee benefit bail-out is like the SF Giants correcting their lousy play by raising ticket prices. The state pension system is an insult and a rip-off to private sector workers and other taxpayers paying for it.

Citizens are sick of being shafted by self-dealing politicians who run short of money for infrastructure and public services and then dump the responsibility back on the citizens. When local government employees make $100,000 to over $400,000 annually, continue to get most of it in retirement, and then suggest raising taxes with a straight face there is a seared conscience.

Both counties’ supervisors provided fantastic increases in wages and employee benefits when they were rolling in money due to the construction boom and the bubble in the early 2000’s. Yuba County Supervisors were so euphoric they nearly doubled their own pay/benefits to $80,000 annually. They took credit for the boom, but blamed others for the eventual bust.

Yuba County not only increased employee pay but did so retroactive to the date of hire spiking some long-time employee income by thousands a month. Of course, those increases carried on into guaranteed pensions.

Sutter County Supervisors raised the pension percentage from 2% to 2.7% in August 2004. In 2001, there was a $28,707,894 surplus in the county’s retirement fund. Today, there is a debt of $150 million according to Auditor-Controller Nathan Black.

If CalPERS earns 3.25 percent on investments using 2015 figures every Yuba County household owes $14,490 each to pay-off the pension debt. However, CalPERS earned just 2.4 percent in 2014-15 and 0.6 percent in 2015-16. If the system is not earning more than 7.5% all jurisdictions must make supplemental payments to the fund. Taxpayers were lied to, deceived and defrauded by local and state politicians.

Yuba County is in poorer shape than other local jurisdictions. Sutter County owes $7493 per household, Yuba City $9676 and Marysville $9113.

When thinking about CalPERS being trusted with the publics’ pension money versus the private sector think about the alphabet soup of government agencies. Which one is well-managed? CalPERS is unconcerned with profits because its decision-making is first political and investments politically correct.

Add to the mix the criminals at the helm. The estate of the late Alfred Villalobos must pay the State of California $20 million to settle charges of bribing CalPERS officials.

According to John Coupal, “Before his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Villalobos pled guilty to bribing CalPERS officials to make investments through him, which allowed him to earn about $50 million in commissions. The former CalPERS CEO Fred Buenrostro also pled guilty to criminal charges for accepting bribes.”

“That this criminal activity could take place in a major state agency is troubling on a number of levels. First, it puts at risk the security of thousands of government workers who will depend on funds from CalPERS when they retire. Second, that this bribery conspiracy went on for a number of years, without being discovered, raises the troubling question: What else don’t we know? And taxpayers, as well as the workers contributing toward their pensions, have a right to ask if the $20 million settlement even comes close to compensating them for their loss which appears to be at least $30 million more.”

It is clear that Villalobos and his co-conspirators’ self-dealing hand-in-the-till government way fits into the widely-held image of insiders dishonestly taking care of themselves at the expense of the general public.

Since the late 1960s when government employees unionized, all pay and benefits negotiations have occurred out of public sight with no one representing the taxpayer. Politicians and unions continue to take care of each other leaving the tab with the citizens.

At some point taxpayers not only must say “No, but hell no!”

kates law can save lives pic  7 5 17Casey Bissellby Lou Binninger

On June 29, 2017 the House passed “Kate’s Law” named after Kate Steinle, 32, who was shot in the back and killed in San Francisco on July 1, 2015 by illegal alien Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez. Her killer had 7 previous felony convictions and was deported 5 times.

The new law assesses enhanced penalties on illegals convicted of crimes, deported and then caught re-entering the United States. The law passed 257-157 with one Republican voting no and 24 Democrats voting yes. It still must now pass the Senate which previously voted it down.

Prior to Steinle’s killing, Lopez-Sanchez completed a nearly four-year federal prison sentence for illegally reentering the country. He then was turned over to San Francisco (SF) officials because of an outstanding warrant for a marijuana-related charge that was immediately dismissed. SF authorities released him, despite a request from federal immigration officials to keep him in custody because of his undocumented status, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Steinle’s family.

Less than three months later, authorities say, Lopez-Sanchez stole a .40-caliber pistol from the unlocked car of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger, and shot Steinle at Pier 14 along the Embarcadero.

Seven months before Steinle’s death, on December 7, 2014, Casey Bissell, 25, of Placerville was stabbed to death by two illegal aliens outside a restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. Bissell and friends were celebrating his admission to U. C. Berkeley. Bissell’s grandmother is longtime Yuba City resident Dottie van Eckhardt.

Bissell was a straight-A student completing junior college who hoped to study International Relations at Berkeley. He was working his way through school as a sous chef.

Bissell’s attackers had been drinking before approaching and assaulting Bissell and friends outside the eatery. Andres Novelo, 27, was sentenced to 19 years to life, 6 months in county jail and pay restitution of $5,000. His partner in the assault, Josue Chan-Perez was released with a misdemeanor and time served of 220 days in county jail. The Bissell family was shocked that Chan-Perez was released.

“The nature of the crime could not have been more serious,” Judge Rochelle East said, calling the murderous attack tragic, senseless and unprovoked. She said Bissell was stabbed to death at 18th and Valencia Streets “for no discernible reason.”

Steinle and Bissell join thousands of other victims of illegal alien crime sprees. According to Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two reports in 2005 on criminal aliens who are in prison for committing crimes in the United States, and issued an updated report in 2011.

The first report found that criminal aliens, both legal and illegal, make up 27 percent of all federal prisoners. Yet the group comprises only about nine percent of the nation’s adult population. Therefore, judging by federal prisons numbers, non-citizens commit federal crimes at three times the rate of citizens.

Spakovsky says, “The findings in the second report are even more disturbing. It reviewed the criminal histories of 55,322 aliens in federal or state prisons and local jails who entered the country illegally. Those illegal aliens were arrested 459,614 times, an average of 8.3 arrests per illegal alien, and committed almost 700,000 criminal offenses, an average of roughly 12.7 offenses per illegal alien.”

“The 2011 GAO report is more of the same. The criminal histories of 251,000 criminal aliens showed that they had committed close to three million criminal offenses. Sixty-eight percent of those in federal prison and 66 percent of those in state prison were from Mexico. Their offenses included homicide, kidnapping, drugs, rape, burglary, and larceny.”

Once again, these statistics are not fully representative of crimes committed by illegal aliens. The report only reflects the criminal histories of aliens in prison. If there were a way to count all crimes committed by criminal aliens, the numbers would likely be higher since prosecutors often drop criminal charges against an illegal alien if immigration authorities will deport the alien.

The GAO reports also highlight the fact that criminal aliens from Mexico disproportionately make up incarcerations and that most arrests are made in the three border states of California, Texas, and Arizona.

Enforcing immigration laws saves lives, protects citizens and may have prevented Kate and Casey’s violent and senseless deaths.

fourth of july leftovers pic  7 5 17by Lou Binninger

In Southern California street-side interviews most people could not answer basic questions about the origin of the July 4th holiday. What happened and in what year? From what nation was independence declared? Why? Their answers were wrong, way wrong.

There is much skepticism as to whether government schools even place significant value on informing students about the Declaration of Independence and the harrowing times encompassing the drafting and signing of our founding document. Some on the left would rather it be forgotten and discarded. Fortunately early Americans saw it differently.

After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the “Committee of Five”—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—was charged with overseeing the reproduction of the approved text. This was completed at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap.

On July 5, Dunlap’s copies were dispatched across the 13 colonies to newspapers, local officials and the commanders of the Continental troops. These now rare documents, known as “Dunlap Broadsides,” predate the engrossed version signed by all the delegates. Of the hundreds thought to have been printed on the night of July 4, only 26 copies survive. Most are held in museum and library collections, but three are privately owned.

Dunlap’s Broadside included the signatures of just 2 of the eventual 56 signers, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. The later Goddard Broadside printed by Mary Katherine Goddard in 1777 showed all the signatures.

In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of the few surviving copies from Dunlap’s official first printing it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in 2000. A 26th known Dunlap Broadside emerged at the British National Archives in 2009, hidden for centuries in a box of papers captured from American colonists during the Revolutionary War.

On July 9, 1776, when Dunlap’s Broadside reached New York City it caused a riot. As hundreds of British naval ships occupied New York Harbor, revolutionary and military tensions were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall.

A raucous crowd cheered the inspiring words, and later that day tore down a nearby statue of King George III. The statue was then melted and turned into more than 42,000 musket balls to equip the American army.

Although the document arrived in New York City to be proclaimed, the New York (NY) delegation to the Second Continental Congress was the lone hold-out among the 13 colonies to give their agreement to the Declaration. NY representatives had yet to receive permission from the New York Provincial Congress. However, after the Broadside arrived and the resulting impact they voted to embrace the cause and add the names of New Yorkers.

Opponents to independence and / or elements of the Declaration produced and circulated their own pamphlets. Some questioned how American slaveholders in the Continental Congress could agree that “all men are created equal” and still own slaves.

William Whipple, of New Hampshire, a signer who fought in the war, freed his slave, Prince Whipple, because of his revolutionary ideals. He concluded that no man could fight for freedom while holding another in bondage.

In the postwar decades, other slaveholders also freed their slaves; from 1790 to 1810, the percentage of free blacks in the Upper South increased to 8.3 percent from less than one percent of the black population. All Northern states abolished slavery by 1804.

However, as other “slave states” applied to join the union, slavery continued to be bitterly contested. Abolitionist legislators wanted to reject admission of any states permitting the practice.

In the 19th century, the Declaration took on a special significance for the abolitionist movement. Abolitionists tended to interpret the Declaration of Independence as a theological as well as a political document.

For radical abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, the most important part of the Declaration was its assertion of the right of revolution. Garrison called for the destruction of the government under the Constitution, and the creation of a new state dedicated to the principles of the Declaration.

For those who think the 4th is about bar-b-que, beer and bud it’s a shame if they missed the bravery, wisdom and provocative times that shaped who we are.

by Lou Binninger

Politicians and government unions have had an exciting incestuous affair since the day public workers were given the right to organize. Public employees are tapped for dues that are used to fund political campaigns and ballot propositions benefitting unions. Union members are pressured to vote the union way. Union leaders then have politicians by the short-hairs when salary negotiations come around.

These negotiations are done in secret with no one representing those who are stuck paying for the majority of the pensions, the taxpayers. Union members’ retirement pay now is more than the gross income of over half the households in California. The affair is working.

The total public pension liability for all state, county and municipal governments is $106,848 for every household in California, according to Stanford University’s Pension Tracker. Even if pension managers at California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) experience a miracle by earning a 7 percent annual return without any loss over the next 30 years (CalPERS gained 2.4 percent in 2014-15 and 0.6 percent in 2015-16) every household in California will still owe $28,507.

Without any financial smoke and mirrors California has a politician-produced crisis of over 2 trillion dollars in unfunded pension debt. And up until June 25, 2012, legislators ‘cooked the books’ to hide their deviant doings. They allowed government entities to leave the unfunded pension debt off their balance sheets further deceiving taxpayers, slow-thinking board and council members and financial institutions that might be solicited for loans.

The pension problem has been growing due to legislative corruption, union greed and CalPERS mismanagement. The current crisis started in 1999 with Governor Gray “Experience money can’t buy” Davis. Davis was elected in 1998 with more than $5 million in campaign contributions from public employee unions. He would take good care of his donors.

Up until then, CalPERS and other pension funds had a major surplus bolstered by double digit profits in their investment portfolio. However, unions wanted that surplus for bigger pensions and SB-400 was passed by democrats and signed by Davis to do just that.

SB-400 increased pension benefits for all levels of public employees based upon the false assumption that the stock market would continue to achieve record levels. The up to 35% in pension increases stoked the governor’s upcoming bid for re-election. The democrat – controlled legislature and Davis had done the unions a solid. SB-400 was the largest issuance of non-voter approved debt in the state’s history.

SB-400 made more than 200,000 civil servants eligible to retire at 55 — and in many cases collect more than half their highest salary for life. California Highway Patrol officers could retire at 50 and receive as much as 90% of their peak pay. Other police departments got this benefit, as well.

Pension-spiking was the rage. Soon retiring employees were promoted to boost their retirement pay-out. The financial barn-door was ajar and public employees ransacked the place to get ‘what was theirs.’

Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. They said the state employees’ pension fund would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full. Were these optimists, fools or liars, maybe some of each?

When the law took effect in 2000, CalPERS investment values collapsed with the bursting of the ‘’ bubble. Eight years later, the housing market crashed and the recession set in. All this combined with poor investment decisions by the corrupt and unaccountable CalPERS management led to citizens paying the highest taxes in the nation while getting the poorest services.

When Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf offers a budget review lately he usually says “we are bringing in more money but the cost of doing business is going up.” That means that the taxpayers are being screwed by rising pension and health benefits for county employees. Yuba City’s finance director Robin Bertagna gave the most transparent and ominous comments recently to the council about the pension and health cost debacle. She basically said this problem will eventually consume the city coffers thus further crippling services. Auditor-Controller Nathan Black says that Sutter County’s unfunded pension debt has risen to $150 million.

Can anything be done? Yes, but most politicians lack the backbone to grasp the nettle.

by Lou Binninger

San Diego may be one of the most visited cities in California and certainly a most beautiful and entertaining place. However, in 2008 the New York Times called it ‘Enron by the Sea’ as it wrestled with bankruptcy caused by employee pension debt. Deals made between city leaders and powerful unions created a massive financial crisis for the eighth largest city in America.

Today, San Diego is the only jurisdiction in California that does not offer defined benefit pensions. The city succeeded with a proposition to change pension plans and overcame multiple lawsuits and union prophets of doom to switch to 401(k) investments for employees.

With San Diego heading for bankruptcy in 2005, voters took charge by electing Republican Jerry Sanders, former commander of San Diego’s SWAT team, as Mayor. Despite being a former member of the police union, he stopped all pension spiking, and pushed the passage of Proposition B, which required all non-police employees hired after July 19, 2012 to receive a funded 401(k) contribution instead of the right to an unfunded defined benefit pension, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) model.

Unions screamed that the city would suffer economically and would be unable to attract sufficient public employees and firefighters. The proposed combined wage and benefit compensation would be 30 percent below the average of the 17 cities in San Diego County that offer a CalPERS defined benefit program. Unions said the city would become a training ground for other fire departments nearby.

The fire department reported an increase in retention losses the first year but has returned to the typical annual turnover. The city gets several thousand applicants a year to join the fire department and has no problem filling other city job openings.

The University of San Diego’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators says that since converting public pensions to the 401(k) system the local economy has expanded for 58 of the last 60 months. In April, the Index reached its highest level since February 2006. However, in spite of the city’s pension woes the unions waged a four-year legal assault to turn back the voters’ will in Proposition B to reform the lavish and unsustainable CalPERS plan.

Finally, on April 11, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of voters. The taxpayers of San Diego still must pay $2.7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for employees that joined the city before 2012, but that number is now decreasing.

As San Diego is on the mend financially other jurisdictions are embracing pension reform as well in order to survive. Jacksonville, Florida, began switching all new employees, including police, into 401(k)’s last year. Pennsylvania’s Governor signed a bill to move all new state employees and teachers into a similar plan. And Michigan’s governor is expected to sign a bill to move new teachers into 401(k)s.

Yuba and Sutter County citizens have witnessed a steady decline in services, roads and infrastructure as a greater portion of the general fund is needed to pay extraordinary salaries and benefits. San Diego is an example of how a local government can change their pension system to avoid bankruptcy. And, because of their court battle, a legal precedent has been established for change.

There have been numerous ideas offered to reform the state system but there is little chance for that to occur with a union and democrat-controlled capitol. The hope is at the local level.

by Lou Binninger

The Tuesday, June 20, 2017 Marysville City Council meeting will test the mettle of its members. The council can follow the same failed policies of the past or launch a new direction more fitting for a small town that is broke. The days of the Cargill Meat Company, department stores and a downtown full of auto dealerships are long gone. It is time to deal with reality.

The way small businesses and contractors have been treated both personally and through fees and fines have taken a toll. It’s simple, no businesses no town. It’s time for the council to take charge and set a new tone.

A number of hot issues on and off the agenda may surface Tuesday. They include taking on nearly a million dollars in new debt to keep a very expensive and unnecessary police department afloat, what to do with City Manager Walter Munchheimer, the violating of Buck Weckman’s right of appeal regarding the marijuana dispensaries, voiding the planning commission decision to obey state and federal law, unethical moves by the city administration to undermine opposition to marijuana dispensaries, giving away $58,000 in public assets, hiring a parks worker, pay up to $15,000 for a new city website and the city’s legal firm that has forgotten who it represents.

It would be refreshing to see council members act like they’re representing those who voted for them rather than the city staff, the union or tradition - “we have always done it that way.” Citizens did not elect the council to allow these three influences to set the city’s course.

The council should do what is best for the residents by making whatever changes necessary to get the city financially in shape and the infrastructure improved. The city, even with the new sales tax revenue, is circling the drain while proposing more debt.

After telling citizens that $1.5 million in new sales taxes annually would ‘save’ police and fire the administration is now proposing to add another $870,000 in debt to lease 19 new police vehicles. This is added to the $17 million in bond payments owed on the B Street property valued at $1.5 million and the spiking unfunded employee pension and healthcare liabilities.

Munchheimer has an aversion to working with the county. He resigned rather than seek help from the county and save $20,000 in a personnel search. He and the council did a disservice to the city by not asking the County Sheriff for a proposal to police the city. This is a classic example of going broke by maintaining outdated practices rather than saving a million a year in the policing budget. Stubbornly being stuck in the past is expensive. Munchheimer may have experience but pride comes before a fall.

The first year’s sales tax will be consumed by the B Street property payment, a $288,000 fine from the State Department of Water Resources and employee raises. Nothing is left for parks and streets. The citizens get nothing while paying more and more taxes. It’s the mantra of city after city.

Tuesday, the council will debate and vote on the Planning Commission decision that chose to stay with current city codes in compliance with state and federal laws. However, the dispensaries don’t fit under current ordinances.

The city violated the rights of Buck Weckman who submitted a timely appeal on the dispensaries. The city without explanation postponed the hearing.

Weckman’s appeal will highlight the city violating its own codes to complete their marijuana outlet plan. Will the council have the courage to do what is right? Or, will Rich, Fuidge, Lane and Bordsen double-talk them and the city get sued by Weckman? Of course, going to court would be a cash cow for the law firm. The city is rushing the ordinance change through thus avoiding Weckman’s testimony since city hall knew he could not attend the council meeting.

Munchheimer’s outdated ways have contributed to an eventual insolvency here. Spend up to $15,000 for a small town website, incredible. Expand parks personnel when the city cannot afford its pensions is crazy? The parks need care, but by private industry. The council has an opportunity to look at outsourcing finance and community services positions and go to a 3-day a week city manager.

It’s time for a change. Tuesday will speak loudly one way or the other.

by Lou Binninger

There are some benefits to growing-up in Northern California. You realize that brown cows don’t produce chocolate milk. This understanding is called agricultural literacy which some people have missed out on.

Whether government schools covered that topic or parents, it seems that 7% of more than a thousand people surveyed were fuzzy about the origin of chocolate milk. Seems logical but wrong – if white cows give white milk then brown cows offer chocolate milk.

A 1990’s Department of Agriculture study found that 1 in 5 adults did not know hamburgers were made with beef. And in 2011, researchers learned that more than half of the fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students interviewed did not know pickles were cucumbers or that vegetables such as onions came from plants.

However, these ag or food literacy rates are not the same throughout the nation. Those living in rural areas and those having higher income and education levels know more about their food sources. Ag literate Yuba-Sutter youngsters can at a glance tell the difference between peach and prune trees and between walnut and almond orchards without fruit or nuts on display. They can also name row crops at a glance.

At one time, the big talk just before summer for students around here was where they were going to work. Many found jobs in orchards or the fields, canneries, construction, retail and restaurants, while some headed to Alaska for the fishing industry.

The thought of work was exciting. It was before the unions lobbied for laws limiting equipment operating to those 18 and older. In one summer a 16-year-old could learn how to drive and maintain a tractor, operate a forklift and bobtail truck.

More importantly a multitude of soft skills were accumulated while having a great time and making money to buy a car. Teens paid with cash and most bought their own. They learned timeliness, diligence, determination, and team work. They experienced laboring under stress and pressure, how to get along with co-workers, following directions and they understood the value of a dollar.

Some were promoted and guaranteed a job for next summer while others were fired, both a great lesson. For Baby Boomers and Generation X, the summer job was a rite of passage.

Today, more and more teens are not working. Those that are working are most likely employed by July, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In July of 2016, 43 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds were either working or looking for a job. That's 10 points lower than in July 2006. In 1988 and 1989, the July labor rate for teenagers nearly hit 70 percent.

Whether its summer or year around, teens are dropping out of the workforce. They are finding other tasks to occupy their time. Some are attending classes to get ahead scholastically. In July of 2016, more than two in five 16- to 19-year-olds were enrolled in school during summer. That's four times as many as were enrolled in 1985, the BLS says. Almost a million students graduated in 2009 having completed an advanced placement (AP) class, up 39 percent from four years earlier. Others not working may just be lazy.

Extra scholastic work and sports camps have their benefits but missing out on job experiences cannot be replaced by reading or hearing about them. College graduates with a spotty work history may make poorly adjusted workers and soon join the unemployed.

For some kids a job may save their life. In two Chicago jobs programs, arrests among participants for violent crime dropped by 42% for one and 33% for the other. The effect continued for at least a year after. Though the work programs could not show future employment or education benefits keeping people occupied for pay had a unique outcome in the city where shooting people is a pastime for some.

Rural and urban kids have differences, but having a job has been a rich learning experience for them in the past. Now, for many, going jobless until they need to support themselves should be interesting.

GRADS WITH TEACHER 6 14 17by Lou Binninger

Five Yuba County Jail women recently earned high school diplomas while incarcerated. The graduates were Angela Villa, Amber Williams, Thi Nguyen, Carla Rincon and Marygen Matta.

The ladies benefitted from a partnership between Yuba County Office of Education (YCOE) and the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) to not only offer an adult education curriculum but a high school diploma option starting with the 2016-2017 school year. YCOE has offered adult education in the jail for years along with English proficiency and basic skills classes.

Assistant Superintendent Bobbi Abold and Captain Brandon Barnes put the project together and veteran YCOE instructor Carol Holtz assisted the students.

The expanded program also received help from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and its Educational Services Division. The agency helped streamline the process of obtaining transcripts so prior credits could be evaluated to see what each student needed to complete.

The course of study complied with California State Standards and College and Career Readiness Standards. The students were required to earn credits in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, and Health as well as Life Skills.

In order to serve inmates that leave custody but still need a diploma, the program is also offered at the Day Reporting Center (DRC) run by the Sheriff and Probation Departments. The DRC is a service center for people on probation and parole to obtain needed skills to succeed.

The jail offers additional classes as well on the following topics: computer keyboard, parenting, sewing, sexual and mental abuse, anger management, health and tobacco cessation, sexually transmitted infections, life skills, relapse prevention, the supernatural and Celebrate Recovery.

Presentations are made by Child Support and Child Protective Services. Local rehabs and shelters explain how to access their facilities. One Stop Jobs assists inmates and a new employment skills class will soon be offered by a retired businessman.

Other services are also available. Since 2008, Sutter-North Medical, Dr. Joseph Cassady and the jail have provided tattoo removal for both jail and juvenile hall residents. The program seeks to remove barriers to work and eliminate offensive messages leading to violence. More than 4,300 treatments have been performed in the jail, juvenile hall and the Sutter-North Surgery Center.

For years, the Sheriff’s Department has funded a fulltime substance abuse counsellor, Randy Inman, to interview and educate inmates to link them with residential rehabs, clean and sober living homes and shelters. Having an in-house advocate has eliminated a major communication barrier to those incarcerated.

The legislature’s decision to house more inmates in county jails versus prison presented an opportunity for local agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to help. Eventually, all inmates are going to return to the community. Community members have an influence in how that happens.

Pictured: left to right Angela Villa, Amber Williams, Carol Holtz, Thi Nguyen, Marygen Matta, Carla Rincon

Marysville City Manager (CM) Walter Munchheimer emailed his notice of ‘retirement’ the day after the council rejected on a 4-1 vote, his paying a headhunting firm $22,000. The County of Yuba offered instead to find a Finance Director for $2,000. Munchheimer already hired the firm with $25,000 to fill the Community Services position. Now, the city council has 3 slots to fill. Munchheimer will be gone by October 31.

Munchheimer, if remembered, it will be for costing taxpayers. He launched a Bounce Back (BB) economic plan with a Blue Ribbon Committee of citizens that never had any bounce, though spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. Remember the outside consultant that was to present a BB report after months of waiting? When the CM called to set the presentation date, the fellow never got around to doing the work. The bid winner then found a friend to complete the contract. Is there a new shelf to hold that report?

And, there was the Measure W Sales Tax Increase Measure, the one that failed. The city was touting being broke. The CM in the middle of the propaganda campaign bought three thousand dollars of new furniture for his office. When they went to furlough Fridays to save money the citizens realized they really didn’t need a fulltime administration after all. Hold that thought.

Munchheimer considered the city council’s directives as suggestions and basically did his own thing. The council in turn lacked the ‘Spauldings’ to hold him accountable. Under his management philosophy the city stopped enforcing basic decency laws allowing the place to become a sanctuary of vagrants.

The CM took no responsibility for those working under him as the Community Services Director decided to stop completing quarterly reports to the Department of Water Resources, twelve of them. The state fined Marysville $3 million. The new sales tax increase that finally passed brings in at most $1.5 million annually to “save police and fire?” The city has holes in its pockets.

The multi-million dollar street and drainage overhaul at 12th and J languished though the city had a grant and borrowed $700,000 from the county with interest and a $7,000 administration fee. No explanation for this blunder either.

Though city and county residents voted twice against marijuana dispensaries the CM and the council forged ahead to ‘save’ the city by taxing the sale of bud. The process of soliciting and vetting dispensary operators was an ethical and legal fiasco replete with violations of the Brown Act and city ordinances, crony capitalism and pay to play. The council is still ditching ordinances and cancelled a June 8 appeal on the dispensary decision to get the rules to comply with their decisions.

It’s a shame the average business doesn’t get this type of coddling. The city wouldn’t have any vacant buildings left.

Recently the city has been making gifts of public funds in the ‘spirit of helping businesses.’ However, just certain people are getting hand-outs. In most places that’s illegal.

One slice of Lemon Street worth $28,000 according to Councilmember Whitmore was donated, not sold to the auto company moving to Tenth and H. Then, $30,000 of rent was forgiven Armstrong Racing since their track was flooded in Riverfront Park this winter.

The Motocross contract specifically says the lessee rented the property knowing the state manages water levels and the city was not liable for flooding. Exhibit B Winter Operation Policy spends more than a page dictating Motocross responsibilities when the water rises. Item 27 of the contract explains the city would not suffer in the case of a loss of business when the facility is inoperable.

Furthermore, most enterprises carry insurance for business interruption and loss from disaster. The Motocross is in effect renting the property for a year around fee though only wanting to pay for the favorable months.

The city’s law firm of Rich, Fuidge, Lane and Bordsen on retainer for nearly $10,000 a month signed and probably drafted the contract. However, the firm’s attorney gave no input according to council members as they voted to give away the public’s revenue.

Since the council will make a decision about 3 administrative positions maybe the legal contract should go out for bid as well. Sometimes service providers become too comfortable and lack the diligence that a new firm may have.

Munchheimer’s high performance scored a raise recently that will reward him with greater retirement benefits. And so goes the world of public employees.


by Lou Binninger

Sutter County Community Services Director Danelle Stylos was fired by Supervisors effective May 23, 2017. Supervisors Flores, Munger and Conant voted in favor of termination. Supervisors Whiteaker and Sullenger voted no.

Stylos was placed on administrative leave by Supervisors after being arrested by District Attorney (DA) Investigators on February 1, 2017. She was accused of making false statements, providing false information, perjury and voter fraud. She was booked into Sutter County jail and released on $25,000 bail.

Some supervisors and department heads were angered by the arrest inferring that the DA’s charges were political and petty. They protested her arrest while aware she was violating her employment agreement with Sutter County. Stylos stated she lived at the residence of a former Sutter County Fire Chief though she actually resided in Sacramento.

Her job responsibilities required her to dwell in Sutter County. She used her fictitious Sutter County address on various legal documents.

Stylos was afforded two week’s severance pay in addition to being paid while on administrative leave. According to Transparent California, Stylos received pay and benefits of $192,015.92 in 2016. Stylos collected approximately $64,005.31 during her absence prior to dismissal.

The case against Stylos is proceeding through court. However, Sutter County officials maintain their terminating of Stylos had nothing to do with the legal charges, but was based solely on an internal investigation performed by outside professional services.

The investigation reviewed her work and regard among fellow administrators and those she managed in her department. Though personnel details are confidential, her firing speaks loudly about her performance knowing it is nearly impossible to dismiss a government employee even when they serve ‘at will.’

Stylos is the second key Sutter County employee to lose their job in less than two years.

In October 2015, Supervisors declined to renew former County Administrative Officer Jim Arkens’ (CAO) contract and placed him on leave with a salary and benefits of $267,598.95. The Supervisors’ decision occurred just months after they defended Arkens’ handling of county affairs in a letter to the Territorial Dispatch.

An outside audit by Gallina LLP revealed that CAO Arkens and Sutter County Supervisors violated accepted government accounting practices by keeping a second set of books on the county’s $10.5 million Chevron Energy Project financing, avoiding Auditor – Controller Robert Stark’s oversight. Supervisors stated they supported the CAO’s handling of the project.

The Supervisors had a habit of circumventing the view of independently elected Auditor-Controller Stark. The solar project started during the term of Stark but the outside audit revealed the financial miscue to newly elected Auditor-Controller Nathan Black.

The lesson of the two dismissals is that staying or going, poorly performing public employees are very expensive.