California Poverty is the worst in the nation – and no one to blame but our own liberal selves

It sure sucks when the Golden State looks more like a Golden Turd when it comes to the economic support it gives to the people.

Remember the decades-ling efforts to pad income and provide support to those in poverty, in the hope of lifting people out of dire financial straits? Well…California, for all it’s whining about federal policies designed to “hurt” the poor, has accomplished the exact same thing. Only they did it through idiocy and a blind dedication to throwing money at the problem.

We honestly are mystified when California’s politicians lash out at Trump for policies they claim target the poor. He’s a crook and an ass-hat, surely, but no more than a single one of our leaders in California.

This recent Op-Ed in the LA Times sheds some light on just how wrong California’s tinkering with poverty assistance has gone. Did you know, for example, that California spent $958 billion on public welfare programs? Or that 1 in every 3 welfare recipients in the nation lives in California?

Most damning of all, even with all that spending, poverty in California is getting worse.

Check it out:

Why is Liberal California the Poverty Capital of America?

Two of the biggest factors in poverty and welfare problem? Well, bureaucratic greed, of course. And, as you might have guessed from previous THC posts – the lack of frickin’ housing in California. Not just affordable housing, either. All types of housing.

If only our political leaders would listen to us. It’s almost like they’re afraid of our tinfoil hats.

A heck of a sobering read, if you ask us. No amount of Mike’s will make us forget all this – but we’re going to try anyway.

 

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Last Day to Vote: Biggest Asshole of 2018!

It’s been a heated battle so far, folks, and one that we didn’t quite expect.

So far, Ben Shepherd is in the lead, but only by a hair. We’ve got a three-way contest for Biggest Asshole on our hands, folks – the tightest race in the grand history of this prestigious award.

2017 Asshole Pat Cleary is tight on his heels, and ol’ John Ford and the Humboldt County Planning Department is right there with him – they are completely tied in the polls as of this writing!

Honestly, we thought Shepherd was the dark horse this year. It’s Cinderella stories like Ben’s rise to the top of Asshole-dom that makes this contest so special to us at THC.

Unfortunately for Alex Moore, and for those who think that blatant government corruption and interference in politics via massive  donations of cannabis money is a bad thing, he appears out of the running. (Would it have been better if we blamed the Bulgarians?)

Anyhow, if you haven’t yet – get your vote on!

Polls are closing tomorrow, get your Biggest Asshole nomination in while you still can. It would be a shame if your favorite BA didn’t take home the Donald A. Trump Biggest Asshole Trophy, right?

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THC Poll: Vote for 2017’s Biggest Asshole of the Year

2017 was a year in which many assholes distinguished themselves through extraordinary acts of either benefiting from their positions of power, screwing over the every-man, or in some cases, both.

But like clockwork, THC has sifted through the many actors in Humboldt who qualify as assholes in order to bring you the cream of the crop – the holiest of asses, if you will.

2016’s contest was a tight one, and we look forward to another thrilling race between a field chock full of only the highest caliber of assholes. (Here’s a recap of last year’s results, when Patrick Cleary edged Ryan Sundberg for the honors: Patrick Cleary makes stunning comeback to win Humboldt’s Biggest Asshole Award)

As a quick reminder, Asshole candidates only qualify for their impacts or actions in Humboldt County. As a true democracy, we allow one vote per person, and we’ve taken steps to ensure that their will not be a repeat of Russian influence or hacking of our voting system.

After all, it would be a shame if Patrick Cleary’s Russian connections allowed him to rig the election in his favor once again.Now, without further ado, THC proudly presents the candidates for the Biggest Asshole of 2017:

Patrick Cleary

A perennial Asshole and reigning Champion, Patrick Cleary has continued on his crusade to subvert the ideals of the formerly community oriented Humboldt Area Foundation in order to forward his own dystopian political vision for Humboldt County.

Ben Shepherd

Ben saw fit to utilize his position as a Planning Commissioner to create a cannabis ordinance which led to the very profitable sale of his cannabis property. Then, he had the gall to try and shut down public comment in a meeting in which a community member brought up his impropriety and conflicts of interest. Silencing critics, huh? We’re surprised he didn’t call the accusations fake news!

John Ford and the Humboldt County Planning Department

Mr. Ford has the dubious distinction of leading a planning department that has almost single-handedly caused the near-total meltdown of a quarter of Humboldt’s economy. We’re talking about the cannabis business, of course. More on that here and here.

Alex Moore

Alex Moore was the recipient of the first permit under the County’s new cannabis ordinance; good for him. Not good for the rest of us? That Alex Moore has since spent his time paying off Supervisors to ensure a cultivation climate that is beneficial for him and freezes out any competition. Go ahead and check the campaign contributions for our Supervisors – you’ll see who we’re talking about. Not to mention the private fundraisers at the Pearl Lounge.

What a cozy group!

For a second year running, the Biggest Asshole of 2017 will be presented with the coveted Donald A. Trump Biggest Asshole Trophy.

Get out the vote, Humboldt! And don’t forget – if you think we missed out on including a meritorious Asshole, let us know and we’ll consider a late entry.

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Happy New Years from THC! 2017’s Biggest hits

Hard to believe yet another one has come and gone!

Heck, sometimes it’s hard for THC to believe that we’re even still kicking! We’d like to thank a steady diet of bargain brand hot pockets and our true love, Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Thanks again to all of our readers for helping THC to keep growing and reaching more and more of our Humboldt audience. We do it all for you folks, even though some of you totally hate us.

We’ve got to get back to pretending to understand football so Aunt Edith will stop mouth-breathing on us, but in the mean time, enjoy THC’s top hits from 2017 (polls not included).

Cheers!

Director of Boys&Girls Club takes aim at Patrick Cleary, HAF for failing to support area youth program

New Councilmember Allison pledges to screw City of Eureka over, give firefighters even more lucrative contracts

Calaveras County is kicking Humboldt’s ass at processing cannabis permits, and we found the reason why

2018 Supervisor Election Preview: Airhead vs. Pothead, Gnome vs. Native

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What early retirement of public employees costs the public: triple the price for half the service

A couple of weeks ago, THC had some spirited discussion about the effect that Larry Oetker’s hiring at the Harbor District will have on public finances, and in general what the practice of allowing public employees to collect their pensions for 30+ years. Often, those same “retirees” are continuing to work full or part-time for another organization, public or private.

Read that here:

Larry Oetker takes over as Harbor District Director, collects salary and retirement at the same time.

This post will be much of the same – but with numbers!

See, we figure it like this.

Say Former Public Employee #1 goes to work for a CalPERS agency, making $110,000 per year – not including benefits – and “retires” at age 52 with 85% of his average annual pay over 3 years.

That puts FPE1 at $93,500 annually.

Now, we hire FPE2 for the same position at $110,000 (even though in the real world he’d probably be making more). Meanwhile, FPE1 goes and gets another job with a public agency – CalPERS halftime at 960 hours for $55,000 per year.

That means we’re paying:

(FPE1: $93,500a) + (FPE2: $110,00) + (FPE1b: $55,000) = $258,500.

$258,500 being paid by the public for one position that could continue to be filled for $110,000?

But it gets worse. Let’s say FPE1 finally really retires, 13 years later at 65. But, oh crap, FPE2 now feels like “retiring” at 52 also! That’ two pensions worth $93,500! Plus the $55,000 that FPE2 will make at their half-time job, plus the cost of hiring a new employee to fill the original position, and now we’re looking at this:

(FPE1: $93,500)+(FPE2a: $93,500)+(FPE2b:$55,000)+(FPE3: $110,000) = $352,000.

And that’s all per year, for a position that could be costing us only one pension and one salary.

In all, the public would be paying FPE1 $1,215,500 for the 13 year “retired” period, when he was working elsewhere.

That’s right – these public pensions make former employees worth millions. But more on that another time.

It’s important to note here that the main issue is this: if FPE1  had to wait to collect their pension til 65 or something in order to collect our pension, then we wouldn’t have the problem. And we wouldn’t be shelling out $93,500 a year for a “retired” person who still has at least a decade, if not two, of years when they will continue to work and earn money from a different job, when they could still be performing the first.

The drain on public finances wouldn’t be magnified by having to hire one or two more people to fill the same job that FPE1 retires from through their lifetime.

We feel the need to clarify that we originally complained about retirees double-dipping by taking jobs at other public agencies, but as we thought more about it (and read comments from one David Tyson, former Eureka City Manager), we changed our minds.

It pisses us off that anyone is out there making excellent money after “retiring” from public service, while the public is often on the hook for double or triple the amount it should cost to fill their former position. (See all those numbers, above.)

Oh, we don’t know, maybe the answer is to tie the age that public pensioners can begin collecting their pensions to the same year that folks on social security can. That seems fair, no?

This way we’d ensure that the public is still actually getting tangible production from the money that we’re spending on pensions and payrolls, and would remove the incentive for people to bail on working for the public

Oh, p.s., you can totally search for pension amounts on TransparentCalifornia.com for the annual pension payouts for many agencies or individuals in California. That includes former City Managers of Eureka.

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County to buy KMART to make room for new hires, bloating departments

Did you hear how the County is planning to buy the old KMART building in Eureka and convert it into offices for a few different departments?

Sure sounds good on the surface, right?

THC supposes that consolidating the departments under one roof could be seen as a cost-saving measure in a couple ways. They wouldn’t have to pay as much as they are now for their incredibly high space rental costs, and they might get out from under some of the massive deferred maintenance needed on buildings. Not to mention the ADA improvements they’re mandated by federal courts to perform, even though they’ve done jack shit on that front.

(Seriously, check those numbers out: the County was paying over $397,864 per month in leases for space, or $4,797,204 per year. And that was in 2015!)

Of course, given the huge disconnect between the operations of County departments, we’re not at all convinced that putting them in the same building is going to increase efficiency in any way, shape, or form.

In fact, looking at the County’s hiring trends and how many people the County has been pumping into the Planning Department, you could easily say that the County is motivated more by obtaining a building that would allow for those departments in question to get even bigger.

And that’s no exaggeration, as you can probably tell from the string of new hires the County has been piling on over the last few weeks. In fact, THC counted (quickly) that four out of the last six supervisors’ meetings featured some sort of allocation of resources for a new hire.

But we shouldn’t be surprised by that, either. We went back and looked at the earliest pre-economic-downturn budget for the County (fiscal year 2005-2006), and found that the County had 1966.19 employees.

For the most recently approved fiscal year? They had 2288.78 employees for the adopted 2017-18 budget, and that will surely grow by years’ end.

We guess the Supervisors that ran their campaigns based on job creation – that would be all of them, mind you – can say that one sector has grown under their stewardship. That would be the County government, of course.

We guess you can make that two, if you want to include cannabis-related businesses.

But, again, those aren’t the kinds of jobs the Supervisors promised us. County jobs end up costing us, and there’s no guarantee whatsoever that cannabusiness jobs will be long-term prospects for the majority of people jumping into the market.

The upshot of all this comes down to one thing: the County is making land acquisitions to save money, they’re doing it so the bloated, inefficient, and very pricey departments can expand even more.

You know what that means, right? They’ll be coming for more of your money.

That’s underlined by the fact that the County’s budget has ballooned by $100 million from 2005-06 up to today, and we can tell you that a vast majority of that budget isn’t going to the failing services our government provides.

It’s going in the pockets and pensions of employees.

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Merry Christmas from THC! (Plus our best Christmas card yet!)

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from THC. Blessings to you and yours (that’s right, all of you!).

Even the ones who said mean things about us. We forgive you. Hope you enjoy our card:

No, seriously, we worked hard on this one. At least, it seems like it. Think you could do better? Prove it!

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Newsflash! The same sheriff’s that sold dead people’s stuff also spend campaign money illegally

You know what really stinks? When your political action committee gets busted for violating the Fair Political Practices Committee rules on reporting campaign documentation.

You know what sucks even more? When you’re from the same County department that got in trouble earlier this year for pawning off dead people’s stuff for cheap, and on the down low.

Yep, these folks – the Deputy Sheriff’s PAC, and the Coroner’s office – both hail from the same department in the County.

It’s important that everyone in Humboldt County follows the law – except for the people who are supposed to enforce it. Funny how that works, huh?

Maybe if the PAC concerned themselves more with the way that they run their department, rather than protesting and eating hot dogs, then they wouldn’t be experiencing these major screw-ups so regularly.

Then again, as is usual, unions and public employee political groups pretty much run the show behind the scenes for our local governments. That’s how the firefighter union got former Chief Gillespie fired, after all.

Speaking of which…anyone know what the the Firefighter PAC is up to?

Apparently, they’re way better at their jobs than the Sherff’s PAC, since you never hear anything about them.

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County Legislative Platform reveals the County wants to make it easier to raise your taxes against an officer

THC was all tucked in last night, reading through the Adoption of 2018 State and Federal Legislative Platforms, which they approved back on December 12th.

Let us tell you, we were disappointed to read a few items that the County will pursue at the state and federal level next year – like reducing the amount of votes needed to approve new taxes and initiatives. But we certainly weren’t surprised.

Gee, let’s make it easier to ram shit down the public’s throat!

For the record, that change would mean that things like 2016’s Measure U sales tax, or Measure Q Creation of a Finance Department, might have passed. Do you see the common trend between those things?

Passing such a policy proposal would mean it’s even easier for the government to take your money.

So, are they really looking out for Humboldt’s best interests at the state and federal levels? Yeah, sure, sometimes.

But only when it happens to serve their main purpose – keeping the money-making machine of the County government rolling. Even if that means taking money from taxpayers when a significant amount of the public don’t want to pay needlessly for what could easily be addressed by making adjustments in the County’s budget.

But it’s not just the various policy positions that should be of interest to you, the Humboldt public.

Take the staff recommendation that went along which authorizes the County Administrative Offices to submit letters to state and federal representatives or agencies in support of the County’s priorities.

Sean Quincey described the action like this in the Supes’ meeting on the 12th:

An action which would “authorize and direct CAO to submit letters as needed to support legislative platform an attempt to quicken the County’s response time to legislative changes next year”.

This would essentially mean that, without consulting anyone, the CAO’s office could fire off letters to any representative they please, outlining what the County of Humboldt and our Supervisors think about a particular issue. Which is a really difficult thing to do, without first finding out what your Supervisors think the public would want.

It seems like Amy Nilsen, and her underlings in the CAO office, think it would be great if they were calling the shots on what Humboldt County’s response on all policy changes at the state and federal levels.

And guess what? All five of our Supervisors thought it would be a just the greatest idea for the CAO office to do the thinking for them. The Supes went ahead and gave the CAO that ability.

Gee, what did we elect them for anyway?

The pretense that the change is needed to “quicken the County’s response” to legislative changes is laughable – the Supervisors meet once a week!

To THC’s recollection, nobody voted to give Amy Nilsen, or anyone in the County government – aside from Bass, Bohn, Fennell, Sundberg, or Wilson – the authority to make the decisions about what it is in the best interests of the County.

Long story short, the Supervisors should be embarrassed by this, whether they understood the impact of the decision or not. What’s more, the public should be pissed. THC is. Are you?

You can read the whole policy platform here:

Adoption of 2018 State and Federal Legislative Platforms

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Four Supervisors reject safe injection sites…sort of.

THC was astonished to see that our venerable Supervisors took a united stand against a clearly bullshit policy proposal from the state when we learned that Humboldt’s Supervisors objected to the County’s inclusion in a safe injection program.

But then we read the letter that all but one member of the Board approved sending to the state regarding AB 186, which would allow certain cities to provide safe sites to inject drugs for drug users. And let’s just say that their stance was less than firm, and even seemed to show some interest in bringing the program to Humboldt – with some conditions, of course.

Turns out that safe injection sites are a really bad idea, unless our Supervisors come up with the idea, and get input on how much money they’re given in order to implement the program.

This action from the Supervisors went from being a blunt and final refusal of a – let’s say it again – ludicrous program proposal and instead turned into a whiny letter that complains because the state didn’t ask us about our feelings first.

Bohn may be blunt, and may often sound like an ass, but at least he didn’t tip-toe around the issue. Bass, Fennell, Sundberg, and Wilson, on the other hand, decided to show just how strong their spines are by playing hard to get.

Even better, the Supervisors would love the opportunity to opt in to such a program if it suits them, so don’t go thinking that the County of Humboldt is out of the woods on this program just yet.

THC would argue that we can already see the effects of lax enforcement on drug use all over the streets and green belts, and that potentially instructing people on how to be better at doing drugs is a stupid, stupid idea that will only exacerbate the problem.

Of course, it occurs to us that the Supervisors complained AB 186 should be state funded, so in the end, and as always, leaving the door open may just be about the County government putting their hands out for even more money.

If that happens, the County will hire more ineffective people, and create more opportunity for drug users.

Hooray?

Catch the full text of Virginia Bass’ letter kind-of-sort-of refusing safe injection sites here: Humboldt Supervisors’ Letter re: AB 186

Be sure to note the following: “the Board would support the existing legislation if amended to include an opportunity to”opt in” after such community conversations have
taken place.”

They’re not saying no – just taking a rain check.

THC Bonus: Here’s John Chiv’s opinion on the issue.

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