Author Archives: Alicia
Next up in our Seen or Unseen series, where you, the reader, get to decide whether your local politicians are dishonest or merely incompetent… The March 11, 2008 Finance Committee meeting!
As before, let’s start with the minutes, so we can establish who the players were: 2008-03-11_Finance Committee_Minutes. Lo and behold, in early 2008, the Finance Committee was still being chaired by Scott Gruendl, with Mary Goloff (aka Flynn) and Larry Wahl rounding out the party.
(As a point of information, note that the Finance Committee minutes are prepared as a memorandum to the full council. This is standard procedure, so whatever information is contained in the minutes gets passed along to each and every council member.)
The first item on the minutes: Consideration of Deficit Reduction Strategy Implementation. According to the minutes, the council adopted a balancing strategy on December 18, 2007. So, why all the hoopla at the December 17, 2013 council meeting about the new-and-improved Executive Team “breaking new ground” by addressing deficits?
Want proof? Here are the minutes from that meeting: 2007-12-18_City Council Minutes_re_Finance Committee
I took the liberty of highlighting some fun details, such as Gruendl specifically calling out that “a significant reduction in costs totaling $912,323 has already been realized,” and seconding a motion that, among other things, reduced the Fleet Replacement Reserve by $300,000 for the next four years and reduced the transfer to the Private Development Fund [oh no he di’int!].
That intentional reduction in the Fleet Replacement Reserve should be kept in mind for a later blog post, which will delve into the Administrative Services Director’s shocking revelation to the 2012-13 Grand Jury about the decline of Fund balances over the last several years. The Private Development Fund deficit, always a council sweetheart, was clearly part of these discussions and the General Fund contribution to it was intentionally reduced. Yet now we’re being asked to believe that this is all news to the current council, including Gruendl and Goloff.
(As an aside, these minutes also demonstrate that Larry Wahl had to disqualify himself from downtown issues, along with Ann Schwab. So why all the recent flap about Schwab’s disqualification from the Sit/Lie Ordinance discussions?)
Now, back to the March 11, 2008 Finance Committee meeting. Next up on the minutes is a Financial Status of All Funds. Of particular interest is the following passage: “…as of 6/30/07 a total of 12 funds were in a deficit position.” [audible gasp] But I heard at a recent meeting that no one ever told them there were negative Fund balances!
While the Mayor has routinely snarked over the last few months that he didn’t like the flashy power point presentations provided by former staff, I’m finding them to be PRICELESS. Here are a few of my favorite slides; Gruendl and Goloff obviously nodded off and missed them.
The 12 funds in a deficit position as of June 30, 2007, and the two types of deficits: 2008-03-11_Finance Committee_Deficit Funds
The Private Development Fund’s existing and structural deficits, explained and with solutions offered. Wow! Does one of those bullet points read, “To resolve existing deficit, the City needs to transfer funds from the General Fund”? I thought no one ever told them the negative Fund balance was a General Fund obligation! 2008-03-11_Finance Committee_F862
The impacts of deficits, including the statement that “large deficits negatively impact the City’s cash flow.” But wait! No one ever warned them of cash flow issues! 2008-03-11_Finance Committee_Deficit Impacts
Want to flip through the entire presentation? Happy to oblige: 2008-03-11_Finance Committee_Status of all Funds
So, do we have convenient memory lapses, or intentional false accusations against prior staff? Ultimately, the council is responsible for all city actions, and plausible deniability doesn’t work when there are public records to dispute that plea.
Hey, Council — Here’s a suggestion: Learn the true history, and start paying attention to the lies you are being fed. Question the sudden need for drama, and what the underlying agenda — that someone else is setting — is really all about.
Hey, Readers — We appreciate each and every one of you. Doubly so when you share our blogs with a friend.
Remember: Truth Matters, Chico!
I’m disappointed that my household chores kept me close to home over the weekend. According to Mayor Scott Gruendl’s official Facebook page, there are “Impeach Gruendl” signs posted in north Chico, and I would like to take a selfie in front of one before he tears them all down. Or requires city staff to remove them (your General Fund dollars at work).
Along with a photo, the esteemed mayor posted this politically savvy, academy award worthy spin of a take on the signs:
“This is what motivates me politically. A constituent sent me a photo of these signs that have appeared in north Chico. Flattering that someone would take the time and effort to promote my name. Of course, the act of impeachment is something reserved for a Federal official, such as the president, so quite flattering indeed! However, it is also serious to accuse me of criminal wrong doing as a public official, so it is very concerning that someone would do this in such an anonymous and cowardly way. In fact, for me to be denied the opportunity to face my accuser is quite un-American.”
My thoughts? Why yes, I happen to have a few to share.
1) Someone being disappointed enough in his performance to post negative signs “motivates [him] politically”? To do what? Actually vote in a manner that he feels benefits Chico citizens, instead of voting along with the Council majority (since, as mayor, he votes last)? Stop mocking voters/taxpayers/citizens? Run for a higher office, inspired by this thinly veiled adulation?
2) He’s flattered “that someone would take the time and effort to promote [his] name.” Nice spin. Even if I wasn’t acutely aware of his shortcomings as an elected official, seeing “Impeach Gruendl” on a sign isn’t a real motivator for me to vote for him, at any level. And with a distinctive name like his, it’s easy to remember. I don’t think the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” necessarily applies in local government. Especially when this council is about to pull off a sleight of hand maneuver that will result in spending six figures’ worth of our tax dollars to pay a company to turn around and impose a garbage tax on us.
3) I actually snorted when I read that “it is also serious to accuse me of criminal wrong doing as a public official,” when over the past six months or so, that has been the modus operandi of Gruendl, Sorensen, Flynn, and intermittently, some of the other councilors. Rather than admit they have changed their colors under their latest city manager, they continue to cast unfounded accusations — some of them involving criminal wrongdoing — at previous administrators. And at “disgruntled former employees,” such as the three of us.
4) He’s concerned that someone has posted their opinions “in such an anonymous and cowardly way.” So writes the guy who abuses his bully pulpit at every opportunity, clearly more interested in making accusations than revealing truths that might paint him in an unflattering light. We at Truth Matters, Chico! have been sharing our opinions in a very public way, à la blogging and speaking at meetings; yet I don’t see the mayor taking what we are saying to heart. For example, why don’t we see an indignant Facebook post from him about protecting the integrity of the public record or not abusing closed session privileges?
5) Rolling right in with my fourth point is a snicker at Gruendl being “denied the opportunity to face his accuser,” who must, therefore, be “un-American.” When the mayor accused my colleagues and me of great wrongdoing on his Facebook page [Have you read the now infamous Facebook rant?] and threatened — repeatedly — to release “embarrassing things from [our] personnel files” (perhaps embarrassing to him in their total lack of embarrassing things?), I don’t recall getting an opportunity to face him. He did it while cowering behind the council dais and from the safety of his computer, like so many Internet trolls, as well as through a statement to the press, which he later attempted to have retracted. Apparently, Gruendl’s reputation is sacrosanct, while the professional and personal reputations of dissenters, nay, taxpaying citizens, are his to tread upon with impunity. I would also refer you back to my third point; I have yet to hear of any former administrators being allowed an opportunity to face those councilors who routinely accuse them of wrongdoing and mock their professional reputations during the council’s twice monthly grandstanding sessions.
For the record, we at Truth Matters, Chico! are not responsible for the signs. If we make signs, they will read, “RECALL GRUENDL” with our web address clearly displayed beneath. That’s the way we roll.
If anyone wants to start a recall effort, contact city clerk Debbie Presson at (530) 896-7250. Having been recalled as a Town of Paradise councilmember, she’ll surely know the drill.
And if the anonymous sign maker is reading this, and I hope you are… If you make a new set of signs to RECALL GRUENDL, I’d like one for my yard.
Most people have probably heard that quote about the conquerors writing the history books, and I think we have a massive case of that in Chico’s current council and administration. At every council meeting, I hear another hostile pronouncement about how bad the City’s finances are, and how no one ever told council, or the bad situation was being hidden, or how no information was provided, blah, blah, blah.
That rhetoric is getting a lot of buzz, especially with the help of the Chico Enterprise Record. But here’s the deal, folks: My memory is long, and my tolerance for this grandstanding has grown short. Luckily for me, there’s a solid paper trail to dispute the history that Chico’s conquerors are attempting to write. Unluckily for some of those council members, public records demonstrate that they are either lying now about not being told, or were too incompetent to be paying attention at the time they were told. Either way, I hope Chico’s citizens will keep that in mind when election time rolls around later this year.
Let’s start with the October 22, 2007 Finance Committee meeting. You’ll want to take a peek at the minutes — trust me, this is pure gold in our search for truth about who told the council what and when: Finance Committee Minutes.
Who was on the committee at that time? Mayor Gruendl was the chair, along with Mary Goloff (then Flynn) and Larry Wahl (now a Butte County Supervisor). The first item in the minutes clearly explains that this was the first of three evening meetings to discuss topics relating to the General and Park Funds’ structural (annual) deficit.
Following are excerpts from the Finance Director’s presentation to these city leaders:
The General Fund has had a structural deficit (annual expenses are greater than revenues) since 2001: Structural Deficit;
Revenues have been inadequate to meet demands for service, with a steep downward trend, since 2001: Revenue Trend; and
Deferred maintenance (specifically on roads) has been an ongoing concern, since the City has been transferring gas tax funds to the General Fund since 1990: Roads.
But no one ever told them, until our hero Nakamura came along!
Want to see the entire presentation for yourself? Understanding City Finances
Much, much more to come…
Thank you for your continued readership, and please help us spread the truth by sharing this blog with your family, friends, neighbors, and baristas.
Remember: Truth Matters, Chico!
Thank you to the Chico News & Review for including Truth Matters, Chico! in yesterday’s article, “Who to watch in 2014.” The article pulls quotes from the August 6, 2013 Chico City Council meeting, the first time Mary and I spoke during Business from the Floor. Quené was sitting in the audience with us that night, silently cheering us on, and decided to throw down the gauntlet with us from that moment forward.
We sincerely appreciate the support our little grassroots effort has received from the community, and hope that more citizens will join us on this journey in the months leading up to the November 2014 election.
Following is the prepared speech referenced in the CNR article. (Actual wording varied slightly, but this is how I originally intended it to come out!)
I’ve worked under four City Managers at the City of Chico.
One who under-funded replacement funds and required double-dipping timecard entries that were covered by the Cost Allocation Plan in order to find a couple million dollars under the sofa cushions every year end. The same one who, shortly before retiring, recommended that Council add an additional half million dollars to the Police budget at mid-year, which they were allowed to use to increase staffing (which translated to over a million dollars of ongoing annual costs); he negotiated for contracts that tied salary increases to revenue, which resulted in nearly 10% increases some years; and left behind a six million dollar structural imbalance for the next Manager to address.
One who decided that the organization should be flatter, and recommended that Council reorganize the City into more departments (and department heads), even though that created a Housing and Neighborhood Services Department for which there was insufficient funding. The same one who determined that our reserve funds were carrying too high of balances, and recommended that transfers to those funds be reduced so that money could be actively used rather than just sit around, gathering dust; and who sent forward to Council an unaffordable six-year MOU with the Fire union.
One whose priority was to preserve services to the community despite the greatest recession to date, with a goal that it would be like a duck floating on the water: to the outside eye, all would appear calm and controlled, while under the water, the duck is paddling like crazy. He also believed in the importance of maintaining local jobs, and tried to reduce City staffing through attrition while encouraging creative solutions to maintain those services with less staff and resources. And it appeared that the Council at that time agreed to put our community first, and to put dignity, respect, and integrity at the forefront.
And finally, one who rolled in from out of town, without any attachment to what Chico means to us locals. Whose priorities appear to include giving out fat raises and one year severance packages to “yes men,” handing out layoff notices, and looking to contract out core City services. And this Council, with one notable exception, seems to be co-signing that. Why not protect jobs for Chico citizens? Provide internships for Chico State students? Is contracting out for solid waste, info systems, city attorney, safety, and who knows what else going to grow Chico’s economy, or some other community’s? And how do some of you face yourselves in the mirror after whining about previous City Managers who weren’t keeping you informed, while allowing a current Manager to ask forgiveness rather than permission? (Did that new Assistant City Manager end up below the salary cap after all?)
I know that you all have a very difficult job as City Councilors, but as a citizen I am seeing way too much finger pointing. Please remember that when this current era has passed, if you aren’t asking questions and demanding honest answers, using your own powers of analysis and common sense, then the fingers that are pointed next will certainly be at you. And no amount of dramatic tears or admission of inadequacy* will get you off the hook with the citizens who are seeing diminished quality of life in Chico.
* For those of you who would like to see the tears and admission of being ineffectual, please click here and go to time stamp 02:30:10.
As always, we thank you for your continued support and welcome your questions and comments. Please continue to share our posts with your family, neighbors, and friends.
Remember: Truth Matters, Chico!
Photo credit: newsreview.com
It’s been a whirlwind first month for Truth Matters, Chico! Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to check us out, shared, commented, and otherwise helped spread the word about our little grassroots effort. We have had a mind-boggling 12,000+ views of our 33 posts in just over a month, yet we are only getting started in all that needs to be told.
One of our early posts included images of the 20 Public Records Requests (PRRs) that we submitted to the City on August 21. Now that we are spending less time defending ourselves from personal attacks by city leaders, I have time to update our readers on the status of these requests.
This PRR was for the salary review of comparable sized cities used to establish the new Assistant City Manager’s baseline compensation. It was part of the March 5 debacle, and the justification for ACM Orme’s $185K salary. It seems like this should be a very simple request to fulfill; after all, the research and analysis were supposedly done prior to the March 5 council meeting. Just attach the file to an email and press ‘send.’
Alas… As of October 6, no response. That’s 30 working days. Three times the ten working days allowed for a response.
I’ll be sending the city clerk an email about this PRR today. Just for fun, here is your chance to anticipate what her response will be.
Tonight’s City Council Meeting starts at 6:30pm at 421 Main Street. Here is a link to tonight’s agenda:
If you’ve never attended a council meeting before, please know that there are typically plenty of seats, and you can come and go as you like (in case you can’t make it until after 6:30 and really don’t want to hang around until 11pm!). It’s okay to just come and observe — no need to speak unless you are so inclined. However, if you are so inclined, there are speaker cards in the back of the chambers, and it’s as easy as filling out two fields and placing it in a basket.
During these troubled times, it is more important than ever for citizens to exercise their civic rights and participate in local government.
The City of Chico is in a financial mess; there’s no arguing with that. In fact, cast my vote among those who say that it’s been a mess for quite some time. I’m also among those who believe that crime is on the rise, and a larger police force is needed; but that’s just my opinion.
When times are tight for my household, as they are now, we have to weigh priorities. If I took a survey of my household, the individual wish list items might look like this: hire a cleaning service, pay insurance, buy more Legos, get faster internet. We could try to do it all, but that would cause us to live beyond our means, so the decision makers (my husband and I) would need to put that list into some sort of order, dividing the items into luxuries versus necessities. Insurance protects our family – necessity. Internet is needed for school and work – necessity, but maybe we can’t afford the fastest option. Cleaning service and Legos – luxuries.
The City of Chico experienced turnover in the position of Assistant City Manager (ACM) in 2013. All of the following numbers come from documents received from the City, which are linked throughout this post. For fiscal year 2012-13, ACM John Rucker was budgeted with a salary of $158,462 and benefits of $64,860, for a total of $223,322 (Rucker_PAWs_12-13). It’s important to note that 50% of Rucker’s salary and benefits were budgeted out of the General Fund (Fund 001): $111,661. For fiscal year 2013-14, Rucker’s replacement, Mark Orme, is budgeted with a salary of $190,318 and benefits of $100,104, for a total of $290,422 (Orme_PAWs_13-14). 100% of Orme’s salary and benefits are budgeted out of the General Fund.
That turnover cost the citizens of Chico $67,100 in cash, at a time when the City is crying about being cash poor. But what’s even more painful is to realize that it cost the General Fund – the fund that pays for Police, Fire, Parks, and street repairs – a whopping $178,761.
Almost $180,000. Let’s pause for a moment and reflect…
Before I dig into more numbers, I’d like to take a little side trip, because while this post is really about numbers and facts, there’s also a whiff of something stinky, just below the surface.
On December 11, 2012, the Press-Enterprise reported that Hemet employee Mark Orme, who had been appointed as the Interim City Manager after Brian Nakamura left Hemet for Chico, was being “returned to his previous position as assistant city manager.” I know that Chico’s current Mayor has a beef with believing what’s printed by the media, but here’s the link so you can decide whether or not that’s a believable moment in history.
Less than 30 days later, on January 8, 2013, Chico’s former Assistant City Manager seemingly vanished into thin air, without a single word from Nakamura to staff, ever. The Chico Enterprise-Record finally ran an article on January 15, reporting that Chico’s ACM John Rucker had “abruptly retired.” Yep, he went out for coffee and said to himself, “I guess I’ll retire right now.” Interesting that it took a full week before the media got wind of it, and we suspect staff must have finally leaked it. (There was quite a bit of that going on at the time, in an attempt to get someone to pay attention.)
Here’s the link to that article: http://www.chicoer.com/ci_22374396/chicos-assistant-city-manager-abruptly-retires
So Mr. Rucker “abruptly retired” on Tuesday, January 8, and the recruitment for his replacement was announced internally on Thursday and published a day or two later, approximately January 12. The application deadline was February 1 – a three-week recruitment period for the new Assistant City Manager. Doesn’t sound to me like Nakamura already had someone in mind to fill that spot, does it to you?
At approximately 8:30 a.m. on February 14, Nakamura responded to a direct question from an employee about where the City was in the ACM hiring process by saying the recruitment had yielded 50+ applicants, roughly half of whom were qualified, and assured staff he would keep them posted as the process moved along. By 9:00 a.m. the top four candidates had not only been culled from the herd, but lo and behold, they were being interviewed.
In Appendix B-1 of the fiscal year 2012-13 budget, the ACM’s maximum salary was $172,383 (12-13_Budget_SalTable). At the March 5, 2013, Chico City Council meeting, the Council was asked to adopt a resolution establishing compensation for department directors, and it included an increase in the maximum salary for the new ACM to $185K.
Here’s that document: 2013-03-05_CM Agenda Report with Resolution
There was quite a bit of discussion at that meeting about the supposedly not-yet-selected ACM, including a specific question from Mark Sorensen verifying that the maximum was just that – a maximum, not necessarily the compensation at which the new ACM would be hired.
The next morning, March 6, the Press-Enterprise ran another article on Mark Orme, this time noting that he was leaving behind his $180K position in Hemet for a similar one in Chico, where the maximum salary had just been increased to $185K.
Nakamura was meeting with his department directors when the original article hit the web Wednesday morning (it was subsequently updated to the time currently shown). Staff had suspected that Orme would be hired, so by 11:30 a.m., most of us had already heard the news. When the department directors came out of their meeting with Nakamura, imagine their surprise when they were told about the hire by their subordinates. We guess Nakamura was not expecting the Hemet press to pick up the story, so he had not told the directors during their meeting. That is ‘the new Chico way’ inside City Hall; everything is secret squirrel until someone else leaks the news and Nakamura is forced to fess up.
The Chico Enterprise-Record did not pick up the story until the next day, March 7, and I agree with their decision to list it under “Weird News.” How embarrassing for the Chico paper to be a day late on the story.
Here’s the Chico ER article: (http://www.chicoer.com/weirdnews/ci_22736113/assistant-city-manager-from-hemet-will-fill-chicos.
Let’s recap that timeline:
- Nakamura leaves Hemet to become Chico’s City Manager.
- Orme is appointed as Hemet’s Interim City Manager.
- Orme is bumped back to ACM, and replaced by a different Interim City Manager.
- Rucker “abruptly retires” as Chico’s ACM.
- Chico City Council, at Nakamura’s recommendation, sets the ACM maximum salary to $185K – a whopping $26,538 higher than Rucker’s actual salary, and $12,617 higher than the former maximum. Perhaps not so coincidentally, it was also exactly $5K higher than what Orme was making in Hemet.
- While Nakamura cited a salary survey that was conducted to establish that maximum, we have yet to receive any response whatsoever to our August 22 PRR for it. Which seems strange, because you’d think it would be a simple matter of attaching an existing document to an email and pressing ‘send.’ Unless maybe that document doesn’t exist, because the only salary that really mattered was that of the Hemet ACM?
- Orme resigns from Hemet and comes to Chico.
Although the Chico ER didn’t capture the entire timeline, they found enough of the timing suspicious enough to note that it had “damaged trust,” as expressed in the following editorial:
Now, maybe it really is just a string of coincidences. Or maybe it’s irresponsible cronyism that Chico taxpayers are being forced to fund. I’ll leave that to our readers to decide for themselves. But, either way, at this moment of financial stress for Chico government, does it not seem like a luxury to have an Assistant City Manager at all? Throughout the city organization, when employees have left positions, those positions have remained vacant whenever possible. I could go on and on about this, but instead I will refer you to a blog written by former Chico Chief of Police Mike Maloney, who makes a reasonable suggestion as to how to fill that staffing gap.
As a citizen who is concerned about what I perceive to be a rise in crime in Chico, I was interested in knowing how many Police Officers the city could fund if it wasn’t employing ACM Orme. Referring again to budget numbers provided to the City, I see that in fiscal year 2013-14, the least amount budgeted for a Police Officer was a salary of $55,865 and benefits of $33,663, for a total of $89,528 (13-14_PoliceOfcr). I’m assuming that amount is representative of an entry-level officer, which seems reasonable based on their MOU’s starting pay of $25.55/hour, times 2090 hours in a year, which would be an annual salary of $53,400 (CPOA_Salaries_MOU). The variance would be due to POST or other specialty pays.
So, if one entry-level Police Officer costs the citizens $89,528, then two would cost $179,056.
Whoa! ACM Orme’s General Fund impact (over what ACM Rucker was costing the same fund, which pays for Police as well) is $178,761. Could the Police Department find $295 in savings elsewhere in its budget, and then add that savings to what would be saved by paying an ACM at Rucker’s pay and distribution, and end up with two new Officers on the streets of Chico?
Or perhaps the City could trade in the entire ACM salary and benefit cost of $290,422 for THREE new Police Officers (at a cost of $268,584) plus have $21,838 left over for Caper Acres?
Please know that, as Nakamura has said many times, this opinion is about positions, not people. I do not know ACM Orme personally, but he certainly seems like a nice enough person. Here he is, visiting with former watchdog Stephanie Taber during a break at a recent council meeting. Afterwards, near the parking lot, he came up and put his arm around her. I can’t say that’s ever happened to me after a council meeting!
During these challenging financial times, having a $290K nice guy downtown seems like a luxury that doesn’t actually contribute to improving Chico’s safety. For my money, hiring more Police Officers seems like the necessity in this priority comparison.
As always, we thank you for your continued readership and welcome any comments or questions.
Remember: Truth Matters, Chico!
I had originally prepared this fable to share at the August 20, 2013 council meeting, but the meeting ran late and I didn’t want to “waste” it if my audience was past listening. Lo and behold, today another local blogger referenced The Emperor’s New Clothes in relation to Chico city government. I find it interesting that I’m not the only one to draw this comparison.
The Emperors’ New Clothes (that would be plural, possessive)
Not so very long ago, there were some Emperors who were so excessively fond of new clothes and their perceived appearances, that they directed all resources towards that goal. They did not care in the least about their soldiers, nor their parks, nor their lands, except for the opportunity each afforded them to display their new clothes.
One day, three rogues came to town, pretending they were expert weavers and tailors. The men set up a loom and spread the news that they wove the finest of cloth, in the most beautiful designs and colors. But, said they, only a really wise man could see it; for to stupid, dull or foolish people it was completely invisible.
The Emperors said they must have suits of this marvelous cloth, and caused large sums of money to be given to the weavers in order that they might begin their work directly.
So the pretend weavers set up looms, and affected to work very busily, though in reality they did nothing at all. They asked for the most delicate silk and the purest gold thread; put both into their own knapsacks; and then continued their pretended work at the empty looms until late at night.
“I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth,” said the Emperors to themselves; they were, however, rather embarrassed, when they remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the fabric. To be sure, they thought they had nothing to risk; but yet, would prefer sending somebody else, to bring them intelligence about the weavers, and their work, before troubling themselves in the affair. People throughout the city had heard of the wonderful property the cloth was to possess; and all were anxious to learn how wise, or how ignorant, their Emperors might prove to be.
When an officer of the Emperors’ court reported that there was no fabric, he or she was called a fool and publicly beheaded. Other officers (who could see nothing on the loom, either, because of course there was nothing there to see), not wanting to be thought fools, praised the cloth, telling the Emperors that its gorgeous design would be sure to dazzle all who beheld it; and they were rewarded with new ranks and riches.
Soon the great Procession of the Year was to take place, and the rogues promised the Emperors that their new suits would be ready for the occasion.
The night before the Procession, the rogues worked late into the night making the royal costumes. They lit all the candles in the shop so that everyone could see they were hard at work. They snipped the empty air with scissors, they sewed with threadless needles, and at last they stood up and shook out the beautiful clothes that were not there.
In the morning the Emperors came to try on their suits. They stood straight and still while the rogues took away their clothes and put on the imaginary new ones. “Light as a spider’s web! What superb color!” said the rogues, and the attending courtiers echoed, “Superb! Superb!”
So the Emperors walked proudly under the royal canopy in the Procession. They were sure that their new clothes made them look magnificent, although they could not see them.
They bowed graciously to the left and right, as some people cried, “How splendid are the Emperors’ new clothes! How beautifully they fit! Such color, such rare and costly cloth!”
“But the Emperors have nothing on at all!” said a little child. And though she was hushed quickly, what the child had said was whispered from one to another.
“But they have nothing on at all!” at last cried out all the people. The Emperors were vexed, for they knew that the people were right; but they thought the procession must go on now! And the officers of the court took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.
(If you want to check out the other blog I mentioned in the intro, here’s the link: http://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/city-another-700000-in-the-hole-wow-thats-about-exactly-what-they-appropriated-for-the-new-management-salaries/)