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 ‘dot.com’ 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.

by Lou Binninger

As debate rages about the ‘homeless’ most miss the fact that thousands of teens have this month completed one of three objectives to protect them from that fate. They graduated from high school. Few teens grasp the significance of their accomplishment though they are not immunized against disaster.

Now, their challenge is to not blow it. Unfortunately the community doesn’t address the next critical goals enough.

Since 8-year-olds don’t plan on someday being poor, in prison, or addicted, just how do they get there? Most young adults have the wrong values and no idea what they are doing. Someone said if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll get there every time.

A Brookings Institution study showed that 98% of Americans could avoid poverty by doing three things: graduate from high school, get married and delay child-bearing until after marriage. This isn’t so much a formula like lining up three cherries on the slots, but it reveals a perspective or set of values that when lived-out leads to a better life.

Proverbs 13:11 says wealth is obtained little by little. That phrase read in context is laden with values often absent today from American society and even ridiculed. The values would include but are not limited to honesty, loyalty, deferred gratification, and selflessness.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70 percent of people who get sudden wealth (lotteries, big inheritances or favorable settlements to lawsuits), declare bankruptcy within a few years – meaning they’re worse off than before they became rich. Why is that?

If they were poor to begin with, that way of thinking will probably take them back where they started. In fact, not only were many people’s instant wealth short-lived, but in some cases they weren’t long for this earth either.

According to endowment spokesperson Paul Golden, “If you’ve never had the comfort of financial security before, if you were really eking out a living from paycheck to paycheck, if you’ve never managed money before, it can be really confusing.” In other words, there are no bonuses for ignorance or deviant behavior when seeking financial stability.

The opposite can be true as well though harder to study. Take away a wealthy person’s substance and before long through right thinking and right choices they will regain their financial footing.

Cabinet member and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a recent interview indicated that hitting the big one was no substitute for years of hard work and good habits which – along with favorable circumstances – can lead to gradual advancement. Of course, though Carson came from poverty and childhood misbehavior, his comments are misconstrued and resented by liberals propping-up the lie that the poor are victims of capitalism and racism. Most Republican politicians are also swayed by this nonsense in voting millions of dollars to fund the poverty industry.

Carson’s comments were addressing what instigates upward mobility. He knows something about it since his brother Curtis Carson is an aeronautical engineer while their divorced mother Sonya Carson worked multiple jobs in Detroit to pay the bills. Sonya suffered from depression and suicide attempts and Ben overcame a period of angry outbursts in his youth.

The Carsons are the Black family that Black race hustler’s and liberals love to hate and mock. The Carsons overcame the adversity that 99% of people will also face at some point in life.

What Carson didn’t address was the devastation caused by substance abuse and the government giving away a trillion dollars a year while holding no one accountable to change. In spite of, or more accurately because of the government funding hundreds of anti-poverty programs we have the same level of poverty as in 1965 when the war against it was declared by President Lyndon Johnson.

According to Economics Professor Walter Williams we are maintaining poverty by funding it. We fund it with no accountability of recipients because we believe they’re victims. So, they don’t have to look for work, donate their time or stay sober - just continue breathing.

‘Homeless’ has become a convenient term that portrays people as victims and disguises what their actual ailment is. Liberals love a good victim story even if it’s a lie. The truth is the taxpayers are subsidizing addicts, vagrants, tramps, thieves and the mentally ill. Workers have no idea what to do with them since the government’s mission is – hand outs with no expectations – no change required.

Classifying the group as victims puts the police on pause since we can’t arrest victims. Politically correct thinking has rendered poverty fighters impotent.

Funding wrong behavior while neglecting to advocate the right choices necessary to produce stability will always result in disaster.

20170329 103348  5 31 17(L-R): Sutter County Auditor-Controller Nathan Black, Riverside County Auditor-Controller Paul Angulo, Sutter County Assistant Auditor-Controller Ronda Putman, Orange County Auditor-Controller Eric Woolery, former Sutter County Auditor-Controller Robert Stark, Monterey County Auditor-Controller Michael Miller, Yuba County Auditor-Controller Richard Eberle, and Butte County Auditor-Controller David Houser. Photos were taken in front of the Ronald Reagan statue at the California State Capital Building.by Lou Binninger

Orange County Auditor / Controller (A / C) Eric Woolery considers former Sutter County Auditor / Controller Robert Stark a hero. Woolery presented Stark with the Orange County Taxpayer Watchdog Award at the State Capitol for jeopardizing his freedom and wealth to uphold the law and protect the citizens of his county during 30-years in office.

Woolery and other County A / Cs were at the Capitol to testify before the Senate Government and Finance Committee on the need for Senate Bill (SB) 292. Woolery is the instigator of the bi-partisan legislation and refers to it informally as ‘The Stark Bill.’ SB 292 would provide a procedure for A / Cs to obtain county-funded legal help when the A / C and the Supervisors or department heads are at an impasse over the proper management of the people’s money.

Woolery was Chief Financial Officer for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office when he was elected and became Orange County’s A / C in January 2015. Woolery says working for the District Attorney heightened his appreciation for ethics, good government and abiding by the law without reserve.

As Woolery moved to the A / C position he encountered conflicts with the Supervisors when he questioned the propriety of some decisions. Supervisors wanted to approve a retroactive pension for a fellow board member. Taxpayers were also paying for Supervisor mailers that looked suspiciously like campaign mailers. He took issue with the citizens picking up the tab.

In 1995-96, Woolery was an Orange County resident when the County Treasurer Robert Citron utilized speculative and illegal investments that bankrupted the county. It was the largest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in history. ‘Barrons’ financial journal called Citron’s investment strategy using billions of public monies a ‘Ponzi’ scheme. Four thousand county employees were laid-off to begin paying back creditors. Woolery witnessed a government debacle caused from a lack of oversight and accountability.

Woolery began doing research about A / Cs experiencing difficulties and stalemates with Supervisors. He discovered the story of Robert Stark and his assistant Ronda Putman being arrested, charged with numerous felonies and misdemeanors, prosecuted and isolated by county officials. News articles quoted county officials portraying Stark to be a buffoon, incompetent and difficult.

For ten years, Stark funded his legal defense costing more than $300,000 and Putman spent over $60,000. The people continued to re-elect Stark until he retired after three decades. Once Stark announced his retirement, District Attorney Carl Adams dropped all charges saying his goal all along was to cost Stark a fortune and force him from office.

Stark asked the supervisors for help with his legal defense since he was being attacked for doing his job, protecting taxpayers. He was turned away. The Supervisors were a major part of the problem and therefore had a conflict of interest in Stark’s request.

The irony is that the major charge against Stark was misappropriation of funds. Stark never personally benefitted from his accounting watchdog decisions, the taxpayers did. Sutter County Supervisors, County Administrator Larry Combs along with elected and appointed department heads deceptively passed a 35% pension increase retroactive to employee hire dates. This move created massive debt for the county budget – today amounting to $130-150 million in unfunded pension liabilities.

20170329 103251  5 31 17Orange County Auditor-Controller Eric Woolery presenting the Orange County Taxpayer Watchdog Award to former Sutter County Auditor-Controller Robert Stark and his wife Pam.The District Attorney was misappropriating funds. Stark accused the county leaders of wanting inappropriate transfers of funds violating commonly accepted accounting standards.

When Supervisors removed the internal auditor position from Stark’s budget as retribution, department heads were free to do as they wished. Auditing firm Cohn Reznick declined to continue serving the county as departments would not provide proper documents for review.

Woolery’s experience in Orange County and learning from the abuse of Stark and other A / Cs led to Woolery seeking legislation to protect the independence and integrity of the taxpayers’ watchdog. If the bill becomes law, A / Cs can ask a Superior Court Judge to decide the merits of whether the A / C needs outside legal help in an impasse. If so, then the county pays those costs. Currently, only the Sheriff and Assessor have these options. Forty-four of 58 county auditor / controllers support the bill to preserve the independence of the A / C.

SB 292 passed the Appropriations Committee and will soon go the Senate for a vote. Local Senator Jim Nielsen is on this committee and voted for the bill. If the Senate approves the bill it will go to the Assembly where Yuba-Sutter’s James Gallagher serves.

Gallagher’s office said they did not know of the bill since it hadn’t made it to the assembly. His staff suggested that if the Republican Caucus supported SB 292 then Gallagher would probably concur. However, Gallagher was a Sutter County Supervisor when the Board refused to assume Stark’s legal defense bills even though the District Attorney dropped all charges and then resigned while under investigation for arson and misappropriation of funds.

by Lou Binninger

A small card in the mail recently from Yuba County Clerk-Recorder Terry Hansen was a reminder of the effort and cost to maintain a voter system that is trustworthy. In this case Hansen was trying to save taxpayers thousands of dollars by cutting waste.

The notice informed voters that if they wanted their sample ballot booklet in Spanish they needed to sign and return the postcard. In prior years, all booklets were bilingual and sent to everyone, an expensive product, most of which was wasted.

Hansen estimated that the county spends around $40,000 to print them. Possibly half or more could be saved by printing Spanish versions for voters by request.

The thick document contains arguments for propositions and measures along with candidate statements. Provided by law to keep voters informed, unfortunately few people read the up to 40-50 page offering.

In spite of new citizens being required to demonstrate basic proficiency in English, law mandates that ballots and ballot booklets are prepared in a variety of languages depending on the percentage of residents speaking minority languages in the home. Some jurisdictions could have more than a dozen languages on the election documents.

Hansen assured that the actual ballots will still be printed in English and Spanish in Yuba County.

Talking with the clerk gave opportunity to discuss voter fraud. The United States has a history rich with tales of voter fraud and election fixes. How much is truth or myth is sometimes tough to tell. Before Hansen’s tenure charges were filed against a city council candidate for registering numerous individuals using a pool hall address. Voter registrants must provide a residence address.

During the Obama Presidency arguments raged about voter fraud. Some counties counted more votes than registered voters. Liberal ACORN was caught on film violating voter laws. The IRS, OSHA, ATF and the FBI harassed the conservative voter monitoring organization True the Vote and Catherine Engelbrecht. True the Vote and Tea Party groups applying for 501(C)4 recognition were stonewalled by Lois Lerner-led IRS employees.

Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama were adamant that asking a voter to present identification was racist and an effort by conservatives to suppress poor, minority and liberal voters. Holder filed legal challenges against states enforcing Voter ID laws. ID proponents wonder why voting is about the only act you don’t need identification for.

California forbids requiring voters to present identification at polling places. Hansen said she could easily produce a Voter ID for those lacking any other identification if the law should ever change.

The Help American Vote Act (HAVA) outlines identification requirements and procedures for registering to vote in federal elections. These requirements apply to all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the United States Virgin Islands. If a state accepts any type of federal funding, it must comply with HAVA. However, states can have additional requirements, as well.

Hansen explains that you must be a US Citizen to vote. To register, people need to supply a DMV identification and Social Security number. Noncitizens with a CA Driver’s License have a unique number noting them as such. The clerk says there is now a state voter data base called VoteCal which is connected with the HAVA federal system. The systems can track voters moving and registering in new communities.

When someone registers in person or online their name and ID numbers are confirmed by HAVA and VoteCal and the county is notified of any problems. The elections clerk then does follow-up to resolve the issue.

As Yuba County residents move to different counties or states and register to vote Yuba County would be notified. Returned mail to the elections clerk gets personal attention to determine what happened.

It is more difficult to know when a citizen dies in order to update the voter list. If they die in Yuba County, County Clerk personnel may note an obituary or be informed by the health department which records deaths. If a Yuba County resident dies elsewhere in the world that may be more difficult to learn about.

It all seems fairly simple listening to Clerk Hansen talk about managing the small voter population in Yuba County. How diligent other counties are with a half million or millions of voters is unknown.

In any system, there are criminal types wanting to beat the safeguards. The national debate continues on what requirements are reasonable and prudent to preserve confidence in elections.

by Lou Binninger

Outgoing California Democrat Party chairman John Burton left his post after eight years by waving his middle fingers in the air and urging his party’s convention to chant “F*ck Donald Trump!” That’s clever.

It’s really no surprise for the heads we win, tails we destroy the country Dems. If your sneakers are tattered, need a flat screen TV and a bottle of vodka, look for the nearest protest of a thug being arrested. The nation now offers amnesty for Entitlement Victims’ Night Out.

Whatever your political leanings, if you want rude, weird and violent - Democrat is the flavor of the day. You’d hope political leaders would employ some character and decorum. Forget about it.

Fortunately, when people can’t seem to pass ‘animal’ on the civil behavior meter your comfort is that they will eventually come to pass. Burton’s day is sooner than later. Since he trashed Trump and cussed Jesus Christ rather than Buddha or Confucius we’ll see if he is chatty when he meets either of them here or there.

Like a dead chicken hung around a fowl-killing dog’s neck Yuba County’s 14Forward homeless camp has become a stench. Not only has it cost a fortune keeping people like zoo animals, but for what? The place is out of control. The police should open a substation there rather than run back forth to the office.

Power cords line the grounds juicing-up the Tuff Sheds and drugs are for sale. People come and go and do as they please. Over this chaos is a homeless czar coordinating the coordinators.

How many social safety nets, rescue missions, clean and sober houses and rehabs are enough options in a community? Have any of the dozen or so ‘leaders’ in the 14Forward photo-op ever successfully got anyone off the street on their own dime? It’s always easy to be charitable spending someone else’s money. The county actually counts referrals to an agency as a program accomplishment. That’s desperation.

Now, the county wants the Twin Cities Rescue Mission to take the 14Forward black hole off its hands while continuing to fund Habitat for Humanity. The level of disrespect shown the mission is staggering.

Olivehurst Fire Department’s Chief Wade Harrison resigned. The department operates under Olivehurst Public Utility District (OPUD), has one station and serves nearly 6 square miles. It has one chief, 2-3 paid firefighters and volunteers. Linda Fire’s Chief Rich Webb is helping out till a remedy is found.

Linda Fire District surrounds Olivehurst on 3 sides and includes 52 square miles, 3 stations, one chief, 13 fulltime and 17 volunteer firefighters. It would make sense for OPUD to get out of the fire business and have Linda’s Fire District expand to include Olivehurst.

However, politics and kingdom building outweigh logic and a superior idea nearly every time. Look for a new chief and underfunded Olivehurst Fire to limp along for another decade.

President Trump has been curbing the authority of rogue agencies that create and enforce regulations without legislative approval. For example, the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency have destroyed lives and livelihoods with their reckless arbitrary rulings for years.

The Yuba City Council needs to reel-in Darin Gale and any others at city hall making-up rules without ordinances or council approval. Kumar Kairam has sustained financial damage by Gale’s Doctrine that 16 oz. single beers cannot be sold at the Washington Ave Market resulting in Kumar losing business to competitors exempt from the Gale rule. This is nothing but flexing bureaucratic power and picking winners and losers.

Kumar, an immigrant, doesn’t understand how government works here. He wonders if he needs to pay money to someone like in his Third World homeland. The answer is probably yes since the council has so many other pressing tasks to tackle. Money tends to move agenda items to the top. The other option is paying a hungry civil rights attorney.

by Lou Binninger

Many were angered at Governor Brown calling taxpayers “Freeloaders.” Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Brown is a Socialist and believes your money belongs to him, and his money belongs to him. Socialist and Communist doctrine tout equality. Some folks are just more equal than others. Google Venezuela for more details.

Brown’s liberal arrogance is shared by many politicians. After the Marysville City Council begged and lied to pass its sales tax hike for “police and fire” now they have so much money they are doing charity work on the citizens’ behalf.

While parks and streets are ignored, $15,000 was given to Habitat for Humanity for a homeless shelter. The city can’t pay its debt, fines, pensions, fill potholes, trim trees or water parks but it can subsidize the homeless industry.

If individuals want more homeless people here they should adopt one. There are more and more to pick from. The homeless are moving back to the ‘jungle,’ have settled a new camp adjacent to the Marysville Cemetery, or can be reached near the entry to most Marysville businesses. After spending a few hundred thousand dollars to move squatters and clean-up camps wasn’t there supposed to be enforcement of laws?

Where does government get off incurring debt, ignoring infrastructure, raising taxes and then give more money and services to people already on the dole? It happens because the council has no sense and few citizens are bothered enough to monitor them. Remember the era before the Tea Party became a club and they were activists attending government meetings in red t-shirts?

Government has no constitutional mandate to do charity work nor tax dog owners while providing no services for that matter.

When it comes to government bureaucracy, not being a veteran can be beneficial. You haven’t succumbed to zombie think. New Marysville council member Stephanie McKenzie thought $22,000 to hire head-hunters to fill the vacant Community Services position was outrageous. She still thinks like a taxpayer.

When McKenzie then heard that City Manager Walter Munchheimer wanted to spend another $22,000 to find a new Director of Finances she had a forbidden thought “Is there a better way?”

She called County Administrator Robert Bendorf before the city council meeting seeking ideas. Bendorf said that County Human Resources would charge around $2,000 to search for a new hire and they would be happy to help.

Muchheimer was irritated that she didn’t talk to him first before reaching out to Bendorf. Can’t Munchheimer call Bendorf? The question no one seems to ask is why Munchheimer isn’t coming-up with the innovative and cost saving ideas. And, why not partner with the county where it is beneficial?

The highly-educated Mayor Samayoa says when it comes to head-hunting “You get what you pay for.” However, it appears that the county did the search that found Munchheimer and they did it on the cheap. Since the council likes Munchheimer they must think they got a bargain.

Muchheimer basically does what he wants as the council lacks a compass, flashlight and ‘Spaldings.’ When the council instructed city management to get the best price on legal ads nearly a year ago the directive was ignored. It’s only money.

Muchheimer has total authority and yet is not held accountable. He buys new furniture when the city is broke. Three million dollars in fines from the state for ignoring 3 years of quarterly reports and nothing to see here. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on consultants with zero to show. The search for marijuana dispensary operators was illegal and unethical.

Cal Water Service with the highest water rates in the region by 300% is applying to the CPUC to raise its rates once again and Munch and the Mayor don’t want to water the parks this summer. Didn’t we turn a corner in the city? The city could conserve water and make money if it sold the parks and gave out maps to Yuba City facilities.

dog license   5 17 17by Lou Binninger

Marysville City Government is trolling for ways to lift money from the pockets of citizens.

The City Council snookered residents in June 2016 to increase the sales tax rate to 8.5%. The added cash stream was to “save” police and fire. However, all city employees recently received raises. The council is using the money for whatever it wishes.

Next, businesses are being assessed up to $75.00 for an annual fire inspection fee. Inspections had been suspended for years and there had been few commercial fires, but the council thought businesses should pay them another $75.00. Business people and residents wonder what their various taxes actually cover.

Now, a letter addressed “Dear Dog Owner” says that “Marysville Municipal Code Chapter 8.12 requires that all dogs within the City of Marysville be licensed.” It is unclear whether only dogs residing in the city trigger the license or canine visitors pay-up as well.

The annual fee is $6 for altered dogs and $24 for unaltered. The license is valid only as long as their rabies certificate is current. Of course, there is a late fee of $10 for no compliance within 45-days of receiving the anonymous letter.

The boiler plate “Dear Dog Owner” letter closes with no name, just the “City of Marysville - Finance Department.” And, the letter was not received by all dog owners. Residents are wondering whether this is one of those Nigerian email-style scams since the letter is void of names. Councilmembers were not aware of the finance department’s move.

In the unincorporated areas of the county dog owners receive a personal letter regarding licensing where the owner and the dog(s) are referred to by name.

State law requires that cities only collect dog license fees in order to recoup costs related to city animal control services and Marysville's municipal code refers to the law. The City's code mentions the animal control officer position and describes the work of the officer.

However, the City does not have an animal control officer nor does it offer the typical services for animals. A Marysville resident called the City asking whether it had an animal control officer and was told it did not. The citizen then asked who to call for animal control services? The City employee said to call Yuba County Animal Care Services (YCACS).

YCACS told the City resident that it does not provide regular animal care services within the City of Marysville. YCACS serves the unincorporated portions of the county.

The Yuba County Sheriff’s website says that YCACS transports stray injured animals to veterinarians for emergency care; rescues animals from locked vehicles and abusive or negligent conditions; provides assistance locating services for wild animal removal; impounds loose and stray animals; administers a rabies control program; helps citizens resolve nuisance problems such as complaints about barking dogs; investigates dog bite complaints; assists emergency response agencies; educates pet owners on the importance of spaying or neutering their cats and dogs; responds to animals in disaster situations and co-sponsors low-cost vaccination and spay / neuter programs.

YCACS also provides a 24-hour-a –day response for injured animals, those involved in biting incidents and when there is a health or safety threat. YCACS also assists fire and law enforcement agencies in its jurisdiction.

Marysville people are wondering if the letter is for real and if so, what they are paying for when the City provides no animal care services.

by Lou Binninger

Marysville Mayor Ricky Samayoa’s glowing perspective of the city’s rebuilding agenda in the May 13 Appeal Democrat was bold on objectives and coy on how it’s possible. A look at the details is troubling.

The mayor loves the city. That’s good. Let’s assume residents in Marysville either like the city or are financially mired here. People don’t run toward gritty towns full of vagrants.

Everyone wants better roads and parks, and a clean Ellis Lake. However, few people want speculative management that created the city’s fiscal mess in the first place. They want a city that can pay its bills.

The mayor’s first move when elected was to conclude that the city’s B Street lakefront property didn’t sell due to poor marketing. He convinced the council to re-bond the property which will cost residents around $17million over 25 years. The 5-acres are valued at about $1.5 million. His marketing insight has come up short.

Now, the city has the highest sales tax rate in the region. The mayor says those taxes have enabled the hiring of 3 police officers and 3 firefighters. He left out the fact that all city employees received raises. The tax increase continues for 10-years and can be used for anything.

Although the city has been basically bankrupt due to the B Street real estate speculation, the mayor’s article mentions no funding source for the $4-5 million for paving roads and improving parks. The council is actually discussing borrowing millions more indebting city residents again for 15-20 years. These bonds or loans plus interest would be repaid from SB1 (Gov. Brown’s Road Tax) and Measure F (Marijuana Dispensary Taxes) monies.

The B Street property was purchased with borrowed money by city council members with no real estate experience. Their plan was to flip the property to a developer. Their excuse when it didn’t happen? They had good intentions gambling with the city’s future.

So, the mayor is gambling again, this time presuming that the new gas and cannabis taxes will make the payments for the city to enjoy improvements now and pay later. Are we 100% sure we have these tax flows for 15-20 years? SB1 is a 10 - year gig.

Next, the mayor says that “The city has agreed to spend $145,000 on improving water quality” at Ellis Lake. There is no mention of a funding source. However, just prior to Public Services Director Dave Lamon leaving, it was discovered that Lamon ignored filing 12- Department of Water Resources quarterly reports triggering a $3 million state fine. The city’s attorneys retained at $10,000 a month found a legal specialist to negotiate the fine with the state.

The state reduced the fine to $288,000 and stipulated that half could be used on a city project agreed upon with the state. So, there is still no found money to pay the $288,000, half of which may go to lake improvements. Is there a plan to borrow the $288,000, as well to pay the fine and clean-up the lake?

The council is also discussing leasing up to 19 new vehicles for city agencies. The city will pay an additional $10,000 per vehicle over 5 years to lease versus purchasing outright.

With a $636,875 annual B Street Property payment looming over the city for 25 years shouldn’t the voters have a say in borrowing more money? They are the ones who are stuck with the debt after council members are long gone.

Has the mayor or council members every heard of living within your means? The council is doing no favors by fixing up the city while incurring more debt.

by Lou Binninger

Following the murder of Greg Kelly in an illegal homeless camp Yuba County Supervisors authorized the construction of 14Forward next to Twin Cities Rescue Mission and near Tri-Counties Juvenile Hall. 14Forward is a cluster of 20 Tuff Sheds modified to sleep two people each. There are no utilities in the sheds though port-a-potties and water spigots are available in the fenced village.

Residents obtain showers and meals next door at the Mission, a fixture here since 1956. Supervisors say 14Forward offers county social workers a better opportunity to engage with residents lacking available services.

Meanwhile, numerous illegal camps allowed to flourish by local government were closed and cleaned–up. “Over the course of a six month period, Code Enforcement staff worked with contractors and the public to remove more than 1.3 million pounds of trash and sewage from Hollywood and other homeless camps along banks of the Yuba River,” said Yuba County Chief Code Enforcement Officer Jeremy Strang. “The Yuba River and the Feather River were both spared from having all of that waste washed into our local water ways when river levels rose during the January storms.”

Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) says it provided $70,000 of a total clean-up cost of $120,000 and the effort was completed by November 1, 2016. County Information Officer Russ Brown reported $135,000 was needed to establish 14Forward.

An additional $64,146.33 was spent so far in 10 months during this fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 or about $6414 per month. Figures do not appear to include the annual costs of homeless coordinator Chaya Galicia’s $75,000 plus benefits. Galicia left the Salvation Army for the county position.

The county has collected $114,729.13 from grants, sponsorships, private donations and a Go Fund Me account to help defray the expenses of 14Forward. The county has also been advertising for a 14Forward manager who would receive no pay other than being able to live there.

Although initial reports indicated there would be no drugs or alcohol permitted, observers claim that is not the case. The first of the month is a particularly robust time at the encampment.

The camp is holding only a handful of the total homeless population assumed to be staying here and there around the community. However, county and city authorities now seem willing to enforce at least some of the laws that all other county residents obey. Law enforcement is not allowing people to resettle the purged camps.

Other common crimes like stealing shopping carts from stores are usually overlooked for being too much of a hassle for officers to enforce. Officers would have to cite the person, confiscate and transport the cart and record the personal belongings in the cart. Then, when the belongings are separated from the cart, they may end up in a pile along the street. It is easier to let the grocery store suffer the $100-125 loss which is then passed onto customers through higher prices.

The other negative impact on citizens is panhandlers. Though citizens are forced to pay taxes for police and fire, local politicians will not stop panhandlers. Businesses beset with panhandlers are losing customers due to harassment experienced when entering or exiting.

Last week at night, a 16-year old girl called her parents from her car seeking help in a Marysville gas station due to a rough looking hustler heading her way. Harassment in the Red Robin parking lot leads to a new Chili’s customer, same with pharmacies.

A lack of enforcement has led many businesses to employ their own security company. So, business people pay twice for public safety.

Hundreds of anti-poverty programs over the last 50-years have corrupted millions of lives by creating an entitlement mentality. Politicians created the problem and then roll the dice again with another failed fix-all. Why don’t we just pay everyone’s way and be done with it, regardless of personal responsibility? When the philosophical foundation is flawed no amount of money will make life work.

Putting someone in a Tuff Shed changes not the habit or the heart, but it does soothe liberal’s guilt.

by Lou Binninger

The dust-up over the Twin Cities Road and Gun Club shooting range seems settled. Sutter County will keep them on a month-to-month lease until Supervisors site another location for them, a law enforcement range and a new sheriff’s training center, all currently located along Second Street in Yuba City.

When Supervisor Jim Whiteaker told Gun Club President Gary Kim that the club’s tenancy problem with its range is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Whiteaker was technically correct, though Kim had no idea the bureaucratic beehive he bumped.

The 170 - acre Sutter County Airport founded in August 1947 is owned by the county, regulated by the FAA and operated since 2012 by Sutter Buttes Regional Aviation Association (SBRAA) in collaboration with the county’s Community Development Department.

Around 2012 some supervisors tiring of subsidizing the airport from the General Fund suggested closing it. A group of pilots now known as SBRAA asked to take it over and it was granted by the board.

Auditor-Controller Nathan Black says there is a $214,000 loan made from the General Fund to the Airport Fund that never was repaid. It’s an outstanding liability on the county books and the money has been spent.

Counsel Jean Jordan and Administrator Scott Mitnick, both new to their positions, discovered that the county has been violating FAA regulations for years. How and when the county got off-track is still a mystery according to these two and they are meeting with FAA representatives to come into compliance.

The problem is that FAA permission is required to add aviation and non-aviation related buildings and facilities on airport property. And, improvements must be appraised and entities charged fair market rent that is then paid to the Airport Fund. This was never done. The private Gun Club was paying $10 annually.

Currently, the animal shelter, welfare, general services, the agriculture and maintenance departments, two shooting ranges, the sheriff’s training center, posse facilities and more are located around the airport. Was proper FAA approval received? No fair market rents have been paid. Some feel the county owes the Airport Fund hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mary Hansen, who has managed the 1,000 acre Yuba County Airport for nearly 39 years, says they have the road department, a shooting range, the Miller-Day Hall, Olivehurst Public Utility District’s solar panel project and more on their airport plot plan. All pay rent into the Airport Enterprise Fund.

Hansen is happy the Sutter County Supervisors decided to keep the airport saying it is valuable in any emergency and a community service in general. Hansen is an airport maven and a member of the Association of California Airports which tracks important issues and legislation affecting airports large and small.

According to Jordan, the county can pursue a Land Release Process where the county applies to the FAA to remove the parcels upon which various buildings reside and then pay the Airport Fund for the property. That will take time.

The FAA asked that all parcels with improvements on airport property be appraised to establish a fair market rental value. A firm has been retained for $52,000 to provide those figures. Is there FAA forgiveness for past county ignorance or just plain ignoring the regulations? What will the costs be to remove parcels from airport jurisdiction? That is yet to be determined.

Also discovered was an illegal $50,000 transfer of county funds to SBRAA by General Services Director Megan Greve. Auditor-Controller Nathan Black indicated the money never received supervisor approval before being given to SBRAA. The supervisors eventually approved the transfer 14-months after the payment, once the illegal move was noted.

City and county officials seem to be unable to follow the rules while requiring citizens to religiously conform. Are they incompetent at their job or arrogant to choose what regulations they will and will not obey? Gun Club members seem at peace but Jordan, Mitnick and the supervisors are facing a financial and regulatory fiasco at the airport.

by Lou Binninger

Marysville Planning Commission and the City Council are determined to bring two marijuana dispensaries to town. Although Yuba County residents twice opposed the idea, neither zoning, set-back problems nor children will hinder the city’s purveyors of bud.

No sooner did the city council establish codes and zoning for dispensaries did they alter them to make their favored applicants compliant. Other people wanting to establish an “old school” business in Marysville only dream of such flexibility with city rules.

The one city attraction that children and families frequent every day is Ellis Lake. In fact, it is the only park sought out by visitors. Most other “parks” are such a mess that only drunks and addicts are comfortable there. Marysville residents normally travel to Yuba City when needing a park other than the lake.

Sex registrants cannot dwell within 2000 feet of where children play but marijuana dispensaries can locate a couple hundred feet from youngsters in Marysville. Has anyone noticed that homicides, shootings and home invasions involving marijuana were not an issue while marijuana use was illegal, before Proposition 215, the Medical Marijuana legislation?

Once people recognized where the plantings and stash were, they knew where to get what they wanted. Dispensaries will have abundant supplies of both cannabis and cash since most banks will not deposit the money due to federal restrictions.

It would be ethically tidier if the city council did away with all codes and made their arbitrary decisions based upon what really counts, cash contributions and influence. Who could miss the mayor’s new Cadillac after collecting $10,000 from those interested in the bud business.

The question people are asking about Marysville politicians is, Are they smokin’ what they’re sellin’? Citizens must follow the rules but politicians may or may not.

Marysville’s highest sales tax rate in the region of 8.5% is having an impact. City employees all got raises and businesses are closing or thinking about it. Residents are paying hundreds more per year for their everyday Marysville purchases and when they buy a car anywhere on the planet.

Last week, Yuba County supervisors talked about following Marysville’s example. Nowadays, there is Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July and the annual declaration that we can’t afford to pay for county employee pensions and health policies. Well, payments are made but community services are cut. This year, County Administrator Robert Bendorf says the supervisors need to find an additional million dollars and change.

Who commits to paying for what they cannot afford - broke families and politicians. Supervisor Vasquez suggested taxing the people to solve the million dollar debt.

The corrupt and collapsing CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System) along with egregious health costs are not bad enough yet for supervisors to make a change. They accept union endorsements and cash during election campaigns and give union bosses what they want. However, it’s not what the citizens want.

Maybe supervisors should lay-off the rest of the road workers and give the county administrator a raise. They did that last year.

Yuba County Sheriff’s Department needs to fill vacated spots throughout the agency. The problem is that a woman can conceive and give birth faster than the human resources department can employ someone. Maybe it’s because once you are a government employee, you are there for life.

There are many dedicated public workers, but thinning out duds is more likely to occur via workplace violence. It is noteworthy that the Department of Veterans Affairs with 345,000 workers and a budget exceeding $152.7 billion allows veterans to die waiting for a medical appointment while giving directors bonuses. Then, they lie about it but no one loses a job.

This appears unsolvable using the current employees and system. Whistleblowers are threatened.

President Trump authorized a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to address the shameful situation. VA Secretary David Shulkin said the office will help identify “barriers” that make it difficult for the department to fire or reassign bad managers and employees. Apparently no managers of the 345,000 workers had the “Spauldings” to purge the union-protected leaches.

by Lou Binninger

If you get out much you’ll notice Californian’s pay $1-2 per gallon more for gasoline than many states in the nation. There are a number of reasons for it, all political.

In spite of the state and off-shore being loaded with oil and natural gas reserves, liberal politicians forbid expansion of extraction activities. That’s partly because they are controlled by environmental groups funded by foreign oil competitors like Russia and Venezuela.

Of course, politicians say they are protecting the environment, but it’s their bank account that’s being fortified. Why would oil producing nations fund environmentalists? High oil prices in the US boost foreign nations’ profits off their petro sales.

Liberal politicians argue for green energy, usually solar and wind, and elimination of fossil fuels (oil). However, today green energy represents a miniscule share of the state’s power source. And, since green companies lose money without government subsidies the taxpayer is paying higher taxes, utility and fuel costs.

For decades, fuel taxes have been used for nearly everything except roads. Legislators and the governor have openly diverted fuel taxes to bike and horse trails, parks, high speed rail and other projects while allowing our once premier roadways to crumble.

Recently, liberals stole another $52.4 billion over ten years via Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, a complete fraud. There is no accountability and roads get only some of the take. The bill was passed, not because there wasn’t enough money, but because legislators misspent it. In fact, less than 5% of the new money can be spent on expansion of roadways.

The revenue stream will come from a number of new taxes and fees on driving, the liberals’ new “sinful” behavior.

According to the State Board of Equalization the total amount in fuel excise taxes will reach 41.7 cents per gallon on Nov. 1, 2017. Then the rate will be reset at 47.3 cents a gallon in July 2019.

There is more. There is an underground storage tank fee of 2 cents per gallon.

Plus, California is one of six states that charge a sales tax on gasoline. The state’s 2.25 percent sales tax fluctuates according to the price of gasoline and it works out to about 9 cents a gallon at current prices. Gas in Marysville is even higher due to an added 1% local tax.

By 2019, when all California taxes and fees are added, you get: 47.3 cents in primary and secondary excise taxes, 2 cents on the underground storage tank fee and 9 cents on the sales taxes (not including Marysville’s tax).That is a total of 58.3 cents per gallon in state fees and taxes.

Then, add federal taxes of 18.4 cents a gallon for a total of 76.7 cents per gallon. Diesel drivers pay more, an increase of 20 cents per gallon plus a 5.25% sales tax increase.

SB 1 then adds a new vehicle licensing fee in January 2018, ranging from $25 for cars valued at less than $5,000 to $175 on cars worth $60,000 or more.

SB 1 also finally tags buyers of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). For the first time, owners of so called “clean-energy cars” will pay $100 each year, although it won’t go into effect until July 1, 2020 and applies just to the sale of new ZEVs. So, ZEVs pay about a third of that for other cars, use the same roads and get a three-year tax holiday.

If a driver of an internal combustion vehicle puts 12,000 miles on a car that gets 25 miles per gallon, the cost would be about $280 a year in state gas taxes and fees, using the 58.3 cents-per-gallon figure or $368 when adding in the federal taxes. Your smog test charge and normal motor vehicle fees are additional costs.

Finally, Californians also pay more per gallon than the national average for regular gasoline before taxes and fees, due to the state’s requirements for cleaner-burning gasoline that reduces smog but is more expensive to refine. Few refineries even produce the product. So, if you fuel up in Nevada or Oregon it is a different product and cheaper.

Oh, if you smoke and drive you are paying an additional $2 per pack tax of 20 cigarettes, as well. Pleasant travels.

by Lou Binninger

Liberal legislators in California have been on a mission to overhaul the criminal justice system. This time, it is bail reform to benefit the accused and those convicted of crimes. Lawmakers say the bail system is unfair to those short of funds. However, new legislation displays no concern for those victimized by criminals.

Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42, if passed, would change the pre-trial process, largely doing away with the bail bond system. Instead, those charged with or convicted of “non-violent, non-serious felonies” (including residential burglary) and misdemeanors would be released on their promise to return for court appearances.

The proposals would also change the bail schedule, now based on the seriousness of the charges, to a new approach where judges must establish bail at the lowest amount possible to discourage the subject from being a flight risk.

Currently, if defendants or those convicted do not return to court, their bail would be forfeited whether costing them or the bail bond company. The new approach removes the financial penalty for a failure to appear, but there is more.

The legislation’s new plan undermines the role of crime victims in the judicial process despite the passage by voters of the 2008 Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights or Marsy’s Law. This law ensures that victims would have, among other rights, the ability to have a voice in the criminal justice process.

Under Marsy’s Law victims’ rights are to be preserved by the court, district attorneys and law enforcement. Unfortunately, these entities have done poorly at honoring the law in some jurisdictions including Sutter County up until the departure of former District Attorney Carl Adams. Adams had a token Victim Services office and little passion for assisting victims.

Under the current system, the pre-trial release of someone charged with a crime takes place at an arraignment hearing. California’s Constitution requires that victims be notified of public hearings, have a right to be present, and be able to make a statement to the judge. These rights not only ensure that victims are treated with respect, but also allow the victim to have input on potential conditions of release.

SB 10 and AB 42 would for misdemeanors and some felonies eliminate an arraignment hearing where victims have rights and could have a say before a judge. This would be replaced by an administrative process where an agency would make an evaluation and decision for release without need of bail and without input from victims.

Victims fearing for their safety would have no opportunity to argue for a high bail, a stay-away or restraining order, nothing. Unless the legislation is amended, it looks like a step back to the Dark Ages for victims.

Years of getting tough on crime using determinant sentences and the 1994 Three Strikes Law saw the prison population spike and crime rates fall. Incarcerated criminals do not victimize communities.

Now, Three Strikes and determinant sentence reform have released thousands of prisoners. What has changed about these prisoners to benefit the community?

When politicians and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union argue for reducing sentences and bail they tout fairness to defendants and cost savings to the taxpayers for housing fewer inmates. However, they rarely explain that society pays a cost for being victimized. Costs per average incidence in 2008 dollars vary depending on the study, but it is expensive: murder $8,982,907, sexual assault $240,776, assault $107,020, robbery $42,310, arson $21,103, vehicle theft $10,772, stolen property $7,974 etc. to vandalism at $4,860.

When voters passed Proposition 47 it redefined many felonies as misdemeanors. If the crime loss was under $950 (shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, writing a bad check and use of illegal drugs) it was now a misdemeanor. But, Prop 47 had some unintended consequences.

Semisi Sina, a 30-year-old meth addict, steals bicycles to support his habit. He skipped out on drug treatment 5 times in 12 months. He has 16 arrests and a reputation with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He says the new law made it easier for him to commit crimes.

Sina was thrilled when he first heard about Proposition 47. He said he didn't start stealing bicycles until the proposition raised the threshold for a felony theft to $950.

"Proposition 47, it's cool," Sina said. "Like for me, I can go do a [commercial] burglary and know that if it's not over $900, they'll just give me a ticket and let me go."

"I know it's up to me to change. I wasn't ready. I probably still am not. I'm not going to lie — I'm still not ready to quit," he said on a break from shoveling dirt at a sheriff's training facility in Whittier.

Incarceration may not change Sina, but there are fewer citizens losing bicycles when he’s behind bars.

by Lou Binninger

Unless you’re getting married or having a baby you should attend the Liberty Tour VI to learn about Oroville Dam, California Voter Fraud, Cal Exit vs State of Jefferson, and the Declaration of Independence. You’re more likely to see a spotted owl than get accurate information on these topics elsewhere. Here is the line-up of speakers and why they’re invited.

After decades of being the state’s infrastructure slumlords, Governor Brown and California liberals have sealed the report from engineers assembled to assess Oroville Dam’s condition. Apparently it’s toxic. Yes, the dam may kill you. No, they don’t want you to know the details.

Scott Cahill, engineer and national expert on dams will be addressing the Oroville Dam disaster, the repair and risks involved. You can also reach his articles and podcasts about the topic on the Internet. However, he will be in town to give the current scoop.

Chriss Street with Breitbart News will also be talking about the dam, the state’s economy and Governor Brown.

Liberal politicians want a Sanctuary State and illegals to vote. It is working. Nationally- noted columnist Katy Grimes will talk about massive California voter fraud and how it can be stopped.

Cal Exit is a movement to break California off from the nation. The State of Jefferson effort wants to create a 51st state using 21 Northern California counties. The new state will offer more freedom, minimal government and honor the constitution. Red Smith, writer for the Shasta Lantern will contrast Cal Exit and State of Jefferson movements.

Are the nation’s founding documents taught in school any longer? Liberals see it as a bother. Robert Thomas, former Butte County District Attorney will talk about the Declaration of Independence.

The event is this Saturday, April 22, 8am – 3pm at Church of Glad Tidings, 1179 Eager Road, north of Yuba City. Admission is $15 before April 20 and $20 thereafter. Veterans, emergency responders and students with an ID are admitted free. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 530-870-8569 for information and tickets.

Have you wondered how business people lose their sense after being elected to a board? Recently current and former business people, Sutter Co. Supervisors Mat Conant, Dan Flores and Ron Sullenger voted to contract out jail medical services to reduce costs, liability, and deaths, while increasing care. It was logical under the circumstances.

However, Conant and Flores then joined Jim Whiteaker and Larry Munger to allow lower-qualified jail nurses to transfer to the health department and receive higher pay than the current better-trained health nurses. Conant and Flores can’t make that philosophy work on their farm or private college. Of course, there they are spending their own money. With the county they are dipping into your pocket, a big difference.

Sullenger was the lone hold-out on the nurses’ pay scheme and then was berated for it. So-called conservatives talk about shrinking the cost and size of government and then vote just the opposite. They are no friend to taxpayers.

Republican, once the conservative brand, has become Democrat-lite. A wise guy once said “If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Marysville City Administrator Walter Munchheimer exhorted the city council to get busy and spend some of that new sales tax cash to position the city to prosper. So far, Mayor Samayoa is the only one getting ahead by $5,000 contributions every few months. At least somebody is prospering.

Allen G. Turner was arrested by Sutter County detectives on suspicion of child stealing, concealing a child from a legal guardian, oral copulation of a person under 18 years-of-age and rape. The case involves a 16-year-old girl missing for nearly a week and found at Turner’s home in Yuba City. Turner connected with the girl on social media. She’s now back with her parents.

However, bail was set at $25,000 and did not include restraining or stay away orders, a bargain for the accused with that list of charges. Turner is no longer in custody.

Turner is a technician for the ADT alarm company. When the company was contacted about Turner’s arrest the initial spokesperson said the charges have not been proven, Turner may be a model employee and what he does on his own time is of no concern to the company - so much for a sense of security.