Letters for August 22, 2013

A trio on Valley Oak

Re “Up from the ashes” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Aug. 15):

[In his story], Gascoyne states, “Fogarty’s suit against the city ended in a $2 million settlement in his favor.” In fact, the “settlement” was more than $8 million as shown in the current Capital Improvement Program 2013-14 Annual Budget.

Project Number 50130 is euphemistically titled: Oak Valley Infrastructure. However, upon closer scrutiny, the project description states, “Allocated funds for the payment obligation pursuant to the settlement agreement between Fogarty et al v. City of Chico et al.” The majority of the settlement came from merged redevelopment, which is borrowed money, the kind you pay interest on.

However, $400,000-plus was taken from the general fund. How many police officers would that have funded?

Stephanie L. Taber

The article regarding the Oak Valley subdivision profoundly understates the Humboldt Road Burn Dump (HRBD) debacle. The cost of the Fogarty settlements to the city was total over $10.8 million.

The total cost of the HRBD debacle was over $23.5 million, and included over $1.3 million directly out of the general fund and emergency reserves. [This was] all for a project that should have cost the taxpayers less than $5 million.

See a recent summary of the costs here: tinyurl.com/Chico-HRBD-2013. And a helpful spreadsheet summary: tinyurl.com/Chico-HRBD-2013S.

Mark Sorensen

Editor’s note: The $2 million referred to in the story ($1.6 million from insurance and $400,000 from the general fund) is not the full scope of the Fogarty settlement. See Correction, page 6.

I worry that this is another situation where a project is allowed by the city without consideration of its impact on the area and steps taken beforehand to mitigate that impact.

I think back on the Chico Mall going in with no signals at the Highway 99 and East 20th Street exits, because who’d expect a mall to increase the impact on those ramps? Or a retirement home being allowed next to an existing dance club/bar (that bar’s license to have dancing was eventually taken away by the city after complaints from the home).

So now we have a brand-new, large-scale housing development beginning on Highway 32, while the project to increase the number of lanes on the highway, from Yosemite Drive to Highway 99, has languished in limbo for years. Driving on that part of Highway 32 during the school year is horrible. Now we’re increasing the number of cars on that same expanse with no work done to accommodate the extra traffic.

I can only hope that the road-widening project is completed before any of the new homes are finished. There’s still time but, given our city’s history, you can understand why I’m not optimistic.

Teresa Walsh

Go flip burgers

Re “LaMalfa awarded booby prize” (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Aug. 15):

Since the early ’90s Doug LaMalfa has fed at the taxpayer trough. He receives more than $100,000 annually as congressman. In addition, his domain north of Gridley on Highway 99 has received more than $1.5 million in rice subsidies—for a crop that mostly is exported overseas.

Yet he espouses Christian virtues toward helping the poor while doing all he can to eliminate food stamps to more than 27,000 of his constituents.

Well, we have Congressman McClintock who lives in Elk Grove, but represents our area (Roseville). He wants to save the fast-food outlets in Yosemite while the National Park Service wants the area greener.

If we can get LaMalfa and McCIintock together, we could feed those 27,000 food-stamp people ice cream and hamburgers! We could move the rice-growing to Yosemite Valley, and get Doug LaMalfa and John McClintock a flipping job at McDonald’s—if they could qualify.

Ted M. Ball

The data-mining myth

Re “Initiative invades privacy” (Letters, by John Salyer, Aug. 15):

John Salyer needs some common facts about Common Core: There are no data-mining provisions built into the Common Core State Standards. They are merely a set of grade-level skills and expectations for math and English that states developed together and have complete discretion in adopting.

A number of politically motivated hacks have been spewing the “data-mining” myth to the degree that non-partisan PolitiFact.com researched the claim and awarded it a “Mostly False” rating. They pointed out that the standards themselves have not a single instance of data collection affiliated with their adoption.

Why not a fully False rating? Because they pointed out that some are confusing the CCSS initiative with inBloom—a software product states can purchase to assist with their existing state-level data-collection as a completely separate resource—which California has not opted to secure.

At the end of the day, if you are truly interested in authentic dialogue about standards, then you should start by reading them. You will find that sixth-graders are expected to “Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.” That skill would serve you well, sir.

Brian Ausland

Craving a pale bock

Re “A view from the bar” (Cover feature, by Miles Jordan, Aug. 8):

Thank you to the C.A.B. for mentioning the MIA spring bock. Oh, how we miss those bock-release parties. For the $5 cover, you got world-class music on a plywood stage and the first delicious sip of spring. Good times!

Toni Morucci
Chico/Butte Creek Canyon

Beware the trash tax

Brian Nakamura has admitted that the change to garbage franchise zones is not really to get trucks off the roads, but to get the resulting franchise fees. He says these will be applied to fixing our streets, but given the city’s current $48 million “unfunded pension liability,” as well as the $30,000-$50,000 raises recently handed to department heads, it’s hard to believe that.

The $3.4 million collected last year in gas taxes was supposed to go to road repairs. Instead, for the last few years, it was put in the general fund, where it was used to pay salaries and benefits, according to former Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy.

According to new Administrative Services Director Chris Constantin, the city already collects $130,000 a year from the garbage companies, but he did not say where that went.

Nakamura also acknowledged that franchise zones very possibly mean higher rates for customers. This looks to me like a runaround way to get our money to pay the pension liability. I’m calling it a “trash tax.”

Juanita Sumner


Last week’s Newsline “Up from the ashes,” by Tom Gascoyne, Aug. 15, was missing some information related to the city’s settlement with developer Tom Fogarty over his $48 million lawsuit. In addition to a $2 million cash payout to Fogarty, the city, acting as the redevelopment agency, put $6.5 million into a trust fund for public improvements associated with his planned subdivision. The RDA also paid $1 million to buy the land on which the developer’s waste cell is located. Including legal costs and other fees, Fogarty’s lawsuit resulted in a settlement of just more than $10.8 million. The omission has been corrected online. –ed.