Want the bums out of your recycling cans/sheds/garages/cars? Stop putting CRV in your bins, donate it to the Work Training Center

20 May

I was working in my tenant’s yard the other day, waiting for the Waste Management trucks to pick up our bins so I could bring them off the street. I don’t like to look at garbage cans, I wish my neighbors would bring theirs in more promptly.

As I was pulling weeds and cleaning up stickers and tree trash, I heard the jangling of glass coming from across the driveway at my neighbor’s house. I looked up to see a car, engine running, stopped in front of her house, and a disheveled man was standing over her open recycling bin with a ban, routing out her CRV containers.

Busted, he tries the friendly approach. That didn’t last long.

This is illegal, and it’s disgusting – as I watched him, I realized why there’s always a fine layer of litter up and down the streets of our town – he was spraying loose trash all over the place as he routed out her valuable recyclables.

Whenever I see something like that, I try to get a picture. Oftentimes that’s all it takes to make the person stop what they’re doing and leave. The man stopped and waved at me – “Hi”, he says, all friendly.

“What are you doing?” I asked, although it seemed stupid to ask. He answered me that he was trying to make a living the best way he could. I told him it was illegal to steal out of recycling cans – that’s when he started cursing, calling me a “bitch” and assuring me that many people thanked him – might even offer him a sandwich! Or a few bucks!

As he went on about how hard it is to make a living these days, I  thought of my sons, both minimally employed at tedious manual jobs, bosses unable to afford to give them more than 28 hours a week because of Obamacare and California Covered. I think of my husband, and all the years he worked on his hands and knees to support the family, saving what we could because we knew there would be no pension.

And I kept taking pictures, my hands shaking hilariously as this man called me “bitch” and asked me “what you gonna do about it?”  I told him I would call the police, and I kept my camera on him.

That’s when he got in his crappy little car, revved the engine, throwing gravel at my neighbor’s fence, and started moving toward me as I stood behind my garbage bins with my cellphone to my face.

Here he’s got his car headed straight for me, as I stand next to my garbage bins. There were pedestrians up and down the street, including a woman with two small dogs.

He made a pretty lame attempt to threaten me with his car, but it was a threat none the less.

I had an applicant for one of my apartments, I had to turn her down when I saw that she was at the time being charged with trying to run over her boyfriend with her car. That’s called “intent to commit great bodily harm,” and she was arrested and charged. I thought she would be a threat to my neighbors and other tenants, and maybe myself or my husband or kids, so I sent her on her way.  

The man swerved out into the street after he’d crossed the end of my driveway, drove a couple of doors down, screeched to a stop in the street, got out of the car and gave me the double birdy before he jumped back into the driver’s seat and took off. I had to laugh – he sure as hell didn’t stop anywhere to rifle anymore cans. I’m going to guess the car was neither his nor registered.

But I’m sick of this type of creep in my town. They are following the garbage trucks, in broad daylight, rifling through recycling bins. How does that make you feel about putting all those bank offers and credit card offers with your name on them in your garbage can?

In my neighborhood I can think of five different incidents of break-ins and petty thefts from neighbors over the last year. My kid’s girlfriend’s car was broken into, parking change stolen, garbage left in it, and then the perp took a big dump right next to the car in my private driveway, at least 100 yards off the public street.

So, I happened to have the phone number of a garbage company employee who’s been trying to help me straighten out my account (so I won’t complain about that, not now anyway…) and I called him. He asked me how it was going and I told him about the incident. He seemed concerned too – he said recycling theft is a big problem – it’s a free service, essentially, so they need the CRV to make it pay for itself. I’ve heard the garbage companies complain about this for years. Years ago, at meetings of the Sustainability Task Force, garbage company employees lobbied the city to make it mandatory for apartment complexes to have locking recycling containers.

Aside from that, he also acknowledged the problems of trash being left on the street and petty crimes increasing with the presence of the bin routers.

When I asked him what could be done about it, he suggested I report it to the cops. But, he also said, it could take them all day to come, and what good is that? I thought about reporting it online, but the website is ridiculous – you have to set up an account!

So, in total frustration, I sat down yesterday morning to e-mail Chico Mayor Sean Morgan. Morgan had just had a big public fight with local gadfly Mark Herrera  over the homeless issue, so I thought I’d find a sympathetic ear.

I told him what happened, and made two suggestions. First, Waste Management doesn’t pick up recycling in my neighborhood until after 2 pm. They are out to pick up trash around 9 am. Why not switch it the other way? Second, why can’t Chico PD pay more attention to the garbage routes on trash days – they would probably solve some “quality of life” crimes while they were at it.

Morgan, who voted along with the rest of council to impose this deal on the residents of Chico told me,

“Waste haulers pick up 5 days a week and it takes them all day to get everyone.  My bins don’t get picked up until about 3:00 (which is nice when I forget to take them down the driveway).”

Here the mayor admits that promises made by council in imposing this deal were LIES. They told us we’d have less trucks on the streets – that’s not true.  I have Waste Management trucks in my neighborhood two days in a row – they pick up my trash one day and then they get the other side of the street the next. And then Recology comes another day to deal with the church across the street.

See, the real problem is, Waste Management took the franchise knowing they didn’t have enough trucks to serve the entire town, and the city let them do that.  They have to haul the trash first, and then come back for recycling. Recology had both my bins by noon, but I am forced to deal with Waste Management.

And Morgan admits, they can’t  give us the service we had from Recology. That’s not the tune he was playing when he shoved this deal down the public’s throat.

I also suggested the police could pay more attention to the routes on pick-up days. His answer,

“Finally, next week PD team normally assigned to South Campus area is heading into the parks.  There’s only so much they can do but hopefully some of the service resistant are made to move so many times they chose another town.  California has tied our hands.  The PD can’t do much.  The DA won’t (because it’s fruitless) and the jail is full of people that should be in State prison.”

Chico PD gets over half the city budget, but they never seem to have enough officers to do anything.  That’s the sales tax increase pitch folks, don’t fall for it. No matter how much they get they just threaten to cut services if they don’t get more. 

I haven’t answered  the mayor – he went into a  ramble about his conversation with Herrera that bothered me too.  Morgan’s a fun guy to talk to sometimes, but he’s made a mockery of the office of mayor. 

Given the response I got from both Waste Management and the mayor, I’ve come up with another solution – I will be asking my tenants, and making the same suggestion to my friends and neighbors – DON’T PUT CRV IN YOUR RECYCLING BINS. If you want to make a positive difference, save it in an old bucket and take it to the Work Training Center – you can donate it, and they’ll be glad to get it. 

 

 

 

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City exploring pre-funding of pensions – do they ever do anything Downtown besides figure out ways to pay themselves?

16 May

Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, May 23, 2018 – 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Council Chamber Building, Conference Room 1

Committee members – Councilmembers Morgan (sean.morgan@chicoca.gov), Stone (randall.stone@chicoca.gov) and Chair Sorensen (mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov)

Next Wednesday the committee will hear reports regarding a fairly new scheme for skimming money off the taxpayers to fund employee pensions. Below is an article from Public Agency Retirement Services (another public retirement agency?) describing the benefits of this program. 

http://www.pars.org/2016/03/a-new-tool-for-pension-budgeting/

With our maturing public pension plans, we know that we should expect greater fluctuations in required contributions from year to year. And since we know big fluctuations are coming, our actuaries are warning employers to plan for it in order to ease the burden when big contribution increases do arrive. But how exactly does one do that? It’s not like big portions of your annual budget are discretionary spending.

If you’ve been in the position of sitting on extra cash, you will have quickly learned that there’s little you can do with that money to “prepare” your agency for fluctuating contribution requirements. If you give that extra money to CalPERS, CalPERS will apply it toward your unfunded liabilities, and it will probably make only a small dent in your annual required contributions due to their amortization rules. While paying down unfunded liabilities is always worthwhile, it won’t help you manage future year-to-year changes in required contributions. You could stash some cash in a rainy day fund, but that has its drawbacks as well. The good news is: we’ve got an answer for you. Duh, dah, dah, duh…. The Section 115 trust!

Here’s something funny – “ If you give that extra money to CalPERS, CalPERS will apply it toward your unfunded liabilities, and it will probably make only a small dent in your annual required contributions due to their amortization rules.”

Current city finance wizard Scott Dowell worked for Chico Area Rec Dist before he got the job with the city. He made those “small dent” payments toward their pension deficit – a “side fund payment” as he described it, of $400,000 in one year. That money could have gone toward badly needed repairs at Shapiro Pool – a consultant said the pool could have been brought up to code for less than $500,000 – but Dowell told me the agency saved a lot of money! by making that side fund payment instead. That’s like making interest only payments on your credit card.

This man gets paid almost $200,000/year, in salary alone, to make decisions like this. And when they’re bad decisions, well, gee, he just changes his MO!  And gets a raise and more for his benefits package.

So you have almost a week to write to the fellows on this committee – that’s Seanny, Randy, and Mark-e-Mark – and tell them what you think of Dowell’s little schemes to fund his own pension. 

Esplanade House Background: the letter Webb and Incaudo sent to the CAA board back in October 2017

12 May

Here is a copy of the letter Gary Incaudo and Greg Webb submitted to the CAA board on 23 October, 2017.

Dear CAA Board Members,

It is with sadness and regret that we write this letter to members of the CAA Board of Directors concerning our contingent decision to withdraw our financial support for the Esplanade House.

Some of you may know that we, along with the help of Lynne Bussey, were the founders of The Esplanade House. It was over 26 years ago, in 1991, that we formulated this vision, teamed up with CAA, and opened our first 12 room shelter at a motel on The Esplanade. CAA had lacked the funding to develop a rehabilitation program for parents, and provide a safe place for children residing there. Consequently, we raised funds from the private sector to provide those services, hiring CSUC Professor Art Sanchez to do research, design, and development that is the foundation for the program today.

Unfortunately, our funds raised were misspent under CAA CEO Peter Kochaphum, so we incorporated our own 501 (c) 3 non-profit to safeguard monies that were earmarked for specific purposes, and the Esplanade House Children’s Fund was born.

By 1999, when we had three families waiting for every one family residing at Esplanade House, we embarked on an expansion project to fill the community need. Greg Webb purchased the current 60-unit property where the Esplanade House resides today, provided the building plans and construction, then sold it to CAA at cost. When neighbors insisted Esplanade House needed a permit to operate the program there, and tried to thwart our efforts, our Children’s Board and volunteers battled through the planning commission, and three special Chico City Council meetings that were packed with an angry “NIMBY” contingent. Thankfully, we prevailed.

Along with expanding the physical size of Esplanade House, our organization took on expanding the depth of the program with regard to a reasonable length of stay for families, work training, drug abuse counseling, GED programs, and parenting classes. CAA never seemed to have enough money for the critical programs that were needed if parents were to successfully break the cycle of welfare dependence and drug addiction.

As a Pediatrician, Gary worked with psychologists, professors at CSUC, public health officials, pediatricians, nursing students and graduate students to elevate the daycare center to a truly exceptional Child Development Center that housed over 100 children. He spoke at Churches, Rotary Clubs, Soroptimists, Exchange Clubs…every organization in Butte County. Lynne did annual fundraisers at the fairgrounds, golf tournaments, church dinners, car shows, dinner dances, holiday parties and countless newsletters and direct mail campaigns.

We have continued, throughout our 26 years, to solicit donations and services from our community, and when added to our personal donations now average over $150,000.00 a year. During that time, mostly through Greg’s efforts, we have established an endowment fund for homeless children as a community resource that currently exceeds $825,000. Greg has also been personally supporting the maintenance of the facility since its inception. This would include building the facility, directing general maintenance, providing repairs to appliances/cabinets and roofs, and recently getting the wall removal permit for the children’s center without architectural costs.

During the most recent “Housing First” generated funding crisis, when The Esplanade House was looking at closing its doors, we actively helped the administration seek funding alternatives. We offered our endowment fund as a means of continuing operations until another funding stream could be found. Gary has been networking with a national coalition of family and youth homeless programs and has testified twice in front of the California State Senate supporting bills that promote family homeless shelter funding. Through information provided by this networking, Gary suggested we look to the Butte County DESS for financial support in return for services since we often care for the same families. He then facilitated a relationship that provided a new source of funding and saved the EH from exhausting our endowment fund and closing. Gary continues to work with DESS to ensure they are getting the results they need to maintain this vital financial relationship. Gary is also working actively with a national coalition of family homeless programs and Congressman LaMalfa to re-establish a Federal funding stream for our facility. Meetings to mitigate this funding crisis are scheduled this month in Washington DC with HUD officials, Congressman LaMalfa’s staff and a coalition representative.

Other areas we are funding and currently in progress with:

• Most recently, we were the key players in the staffing and re-opening of our Children’s center that was briefly lost during the funding crisis. Greg spearheaded the new contract with Super Luper Kids.

• We have been funding 1/3 of a case manager and the child advocate for several years, and have committed to fund an additional case manager necessary to improve our rehabilitation program.

• As a Pediatrician, Gary realized the unique parenting challenges that formerly homeless children pose that are not addressed by the standard classes provided by the County. Through networking with local psychologists, he arranged with Butte College to provide the service at the Esplanade House at no cost. Now twice weekly parenting classes, designed specifically for parents whose children have experienced separation anxiety and homelessness, are available.

• We initiated a volunteer based health screening clinic for our families. With on campus access to health care professionals, our families will now get additional assistance for their children to treat any developmental and social/emotional problems not otherwise supported by the County.

• The Children’s fund board, in conjunction with the Site Supervisor, has also been the driving force behind the resurrection of a more comprehensive computer lab, computer services, computer access and computer training for both adults and children. Our board is providing additional computers, software, laptops, and Chrome Books for our families to advance their education.

• Most recently, we have begun networking with local churches to provide a volunteer coordinator, a men’s support group coordinator, and to initiate regular monthly donations of food, clothing, household goods and dollars to help our families.

• Our future plans included funding and support for psychological testing and therapy for our children not available through the County.

• We have served as the conduit for integrating volunteers from the community and working with professional’s from CSUC.

Except for the leadership provided by Tom Dearmore and Tim Hawkins, we have become increasingly frustrated with the quality of the CAA administration at The Esplanade House. The Esplanade House has experienced years and years of repetitive turnover of key personnel, including two site supervisors, who all tell us after leaving that the administrative atmosphere was a key reason and sometimes the only reason for their departure.

What we want to see happen by December 1, 2017

a. Establish a separate board to manage the EH program and personnel, preferably with another non-profit organization. 

b. All day-to-day operational and personnel decisions are to be made by the Program Manager who reports to the Chief Programs officer.

c. The Chief Executive officer will no longer be involved in any of these decisions.

d. A decision was made long ago to sacrifice one of our apartments for a food storage area and, therefore deny critical services to a family with children. This was done to provide the Chief Executive officer with a large office and sitting area. This decision is in direct violation of the bank loan agreement, as identified by the recent bank inspection, and jeopardizes the integrity of that loan. This apartment must be immediately returned to its original purpose of providing shelter and aid to a homeless family as outlined in the loan agreement.

e. CAA is to physically remove their offices from the Esplanade House to another site.

f. Since the Chief Executive Officer delayed signing the operational agreement for the children’s center, the center was late opening and missed a vital window to enroll children this summer. We agree to support the Children’s Center operational deficit until they can enroll sufficient children to cover their expenses.

We have come to a crossroad. If we can’t work out an acceptable partnership with CAA and/or find a new non-profit partner to help us run the program by December 1, 2017, we will be compelled to withdraw all our support for the Esplanade House and notify our donors that we no longer have confidence in CAA as a managing partner. Consequently, the Children’s Fund will start redirecting our funding and volunteer efforts to other programs that address family and childhood poverty and homelessness in Butte County.

Sincerely,

Gary A. Incaudo, MD Greg Webb

Here’s why there’s no accountability – people like Greg Einhorn

11 May

I’ve supported the Esplanade House, a transitional housing facility, since it was in a motel on Esplanade years ago. I was very happy when the facility was moved to a new building down the road. When “neighbors” protested, I wrote letters in support. My family made a $200 contribution to help them move – that’s a lot for a working family with one breadwinner. When it was time to build my husband put the floors in. He was paid by his employer, Towne Carpet, who donated the labor. But he didn’t have to do the job, there was plenty more lucrative work in the private sector at the time. He was proud to do it, and I was proud for him to be involved.

Things change. As the original founders of the Esplanade House deferred a public agency, The Community Action Agency, I started hearing complaints. I  remember a friend of mine whose daughter was volunteering at the facility describing what I would call a hostile atmosphere – volunteers being told to shut up and do what they were told.

One day several years ago I went to an inter-agency meeting Downtown, called by then new city councilor Reanette Fillmer. Fillmer was hearing complaints that the city of Chico was hostile toward the homeless,  and she wanted to have a public discussion about it.

Tom Tenorio was invited to speak. He’s a windbag, the kind of guy that inflates like a balloon when other people are looking at him. It was at the meeting I realized the Community Action Agency was just another salary trough, and Tenorio was just another mouth on the teat.

Now Tenorio is under fire for being too extravagant with his personal expenses. Well, duh. People like him are attracted to the public sector because there’s no accountability.

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20180427/NEWS/180429728

A report released by the state earlier this month revealed no significant findings in an audit of the Community Action Agency of Butte County launched in response to accusations of mismanagement of funds and noncompliance.

The California Department of Community Services and Development completed the audit April 20, and issued what the CAA described in a press release as a “favorable” report.

The department in February began investigating the agency for alleged mismanagement of funds and noncompliance with grant requirements after founders of the CAA-managed Esplanade House took their concerns about the agency, provides transitional housing and other services for formerly homeless families, to the state.

But here’s the conflict in that report:

The audit team did not conduct an in-depth review of the agency’s use of the Esplanade house as it is beyond the state’s scope of authority. Daily operations of the CAA, unless there is concern about Community Services and Development programs, are not subject to review by the state agency.

The state did find procedures that could use the agency’s attention to evidence best financial practices, such as ensuring a board member signs and dates the CEO’S timesheets as required by CAA policy.

The audit acknowledged some negative trends related to the loss of federal and state funding, but found the organization’s financials to be adequate and show little debt. It stated, however that decreasing revenues and a higher concentration of federal and state funds could put the agency’s fiscal health at risk.

Why would it be okay for an agency that is “at risk” financially to allow extravagant travel expenses for their board members?

Furthermore, the agency continues to fight public scrutiny, according to David Little’s recent editorial from the Chico Enterprise Record. Little received a complaint from short-lived District 3 Supervisor Maureen Kirk.

“’I am writing to let you know that I am becoming increasingly concerned with the lack of transparency of the Community Action Agency board of directors,’ she wrote. ‘Any agency that receives millions in state and federal funding should be following all open public record laws, and local citizens should not have to hire an attorney to force the issue.’”

LIttle explains, “In this case, though, she was talking about three founders of the Esplanade House, which falls under the Community Action Agency umbrella. They hired an attorney to try to get Tenorio and the CAA board of directors to comply with the state’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, as well as the California Public Records Act.

That should be standard, right?

Well, the CAA seems to be working hard to keep the public away from its meetings.

Kirk asked the board to adopt a policy that it would comply with the Brown Act and Public Records Act. Kirk requested that it be discussed at the CAA’s April 24 meeting.

It didn’t help matters when she arrived at the meeting at the CAA office in Chico only to find out the meeting had been moved to Oroville without anybody knowing.

None of this surprises the three people — Lynne Bussey, Greg Webb and Gary Incaudo — who had to hire the attorney to try to force open meetings.

Their attorney, based in San Francisco, laid out the reasons why the CAA should comply with a Public Records Act request and with the Brown Act in a three-page, well-documented letter.

The CAA’s attorney said, nope, we don’t need to comply.'”

Little describes his experience with the CAA.

“Anyway, we’ve tried the nonlitigious approach with the CAA. Back on Feb. 12, I sent an email to Tenorio requesting emailed notices of all meetings at least 72 hours in advance, as required by the Brown Act.

“’Also,’ I wrote, ‘can you tell me where the meetings are publicly noticed now? I see nothing on the CAA website.’

Tenorio wrote back to politely say the CAA does not fall under the Brown Act. He also said the meeting notices are posted at their offices in Chico and Oroville.”

I’ve had the same fight with the city of Chico clerk’s office and CARD.  Little has a little more clout than I do, and a newspaper to bitch about it in.

LIttle continues, “I argued back that, no, they were a ‘local body created by state or federal law’ and were subject to the Brown Act.

Nearly two weeks later, their attorney, Greg Einhorn, responded to me and said no, the Community Action Agency board is not a ‘legislative body.'”

Little opines  that either the CAA should comply with the Brown Act or lose public funding. Great, I agree.

But something else caught my eye there  –  CAA’s attorney, Greg Einhorn, is the same guy who represented Chico Unified School District in their fight to hide documents and evidence related to the phony allegations former superintendent, Scott Brown, initiated against Marsh Junior High School years ago.  Documents were eventually found showing that CUSD employees were told to destroy e-mails pertaining to the case. The Grand Jury eventually blasted CUSD, Einhorn was eventually replaced after documents were found showing he knew his clients had falsified documents and allegations.   Under Einhorn’s direction, the district spent millions dollars fighting to keep public information from being made public.

And now he’s working for Tom Tenorio and the Community Action Agency, fighting to keep public information from being made public. 

I believe Tenorio needs to step down, and the CAA needs to get their affairs together or be dissolved as a body. The county may need to take over the Esplanade House. They certainly should not receive public funds until they have a full board that better represents the public interest. And the credit cards and expense accounts need to go – they’ve turned a facility that was built to help the poor into a slush fund built to help themselves.

And here are some questions Maureen Kirk and the board of supervisors might want to ask Greg Einhorn:  

  • In your previous work as a lawyer representing Chico Unified School District, did you ever have knowledge that records were being withheld, hidden, destroyed, or answers to requests falsified?
  • Have you instructed any members of the board or staffers of the Community Action Agency to withhold, hide, or destroy records or falsify answers to requests?
  • Do you have knowledge of the CAA withholding, hiding or destroying records or falsifying answers to requests? 

Little is right. Withholding of public information by these agencies is an pattern, as evidenced by Einhorn’s participation, and this CAA case might be bigger than we think. 

 

 

 

Gas tax repeal makes the ballot – now the real work begins!

2 May

I  got a note yesterday from the gas tax repeal campaign staff.

“Yesterday was outstanding as we turned in nearly 1 million signatures to force the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative on the November 2018 ballot! “

Of course, Governor Brown is not pleased – have you ever noticed, how Trump-like he gets at times with the potty mouth? Last year, annoyed by not one but two attempts at repeal, The Moonbeam made this comment.

“The freeloaders—I’ve had enough of them,” Brown announced in Orange County earlier this month. “Roads require money to fix.” Without an increase in the gas tax, he argued, Californians might have to drive on gravel.”

Oh my god – freeloader? Would he say that to my face?  I know the truth.

From reason.com, “Brown’s state already has the seventh highest gas taxes in the nation, and that money pays for much more than road repair. About $100 million of gas tax revenue—2 percent of the total—is diverted straight into the general fund every year, and another 7 percent goes to public transit.”

If you don’t believe in Agenda 21, ask yourself – why should people who drive cars pay for public transit? Millions of dollars a year goes into public transit in California – how about the BART train that just broke on it’s first day? – and public transit is still unusable for most Californians? Because most of the money goes into bureaucrats’ back pockets. 

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/BART-s-brand-new-cars-take-another-trip-to-the-12549936.php

Read that – when Chronicle Staff asked what kind of problems the trains were having, BART staff said, “You have our response…” Don’t you love that Caleeforneeya Sunshine!

Here’s what that woman gets paid to treat the public like garbage:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/PositionDetail.aspx?employeeid=18046298

And here’s what you see when you use public transportation in California (this is from a UK new service but I found other related stories in US press sources):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5665041/Shocking-footage-shows-junkies-taking-San-Francisco-BART-station.html

In Chico, like everywhere else, gas tax funds are diverted to pay salaries and pension premiums for people who never even get their hands dirty. Using the process of “cost allocation,” the gas tax is spread out and divvied up, used to pay a staffer just for putting a signature on a report – meet Mark Orme, City Mangler – that’s how he gets paid. He does nothing toward fixing your roads, he spends his days in meetings wearing fresh white shirts. But every time he signs a staff report, he gets money out of the gas tax and other road funds.  As our gas tax is “allocated” into his pension, we drive on gravel. 

This gas tax allows for much of the money to be given to cities to spend at their discretion. Right now, instead of fixing roads for us to drive our heavily taxed cars on, the city is going on a bike land bender. These projects – like the “experimental” bike lanes recently painted on Downtown streets – cost a fraction of the grant, the rest goes into Gustafson and Ottoboni and Orme’s back pockets. 

So, we will have to get busy working to get the initiative passed. Of course the repeal folks need and are asking for money – I don’t have much to give, I don’t think you do either. What can you do? Tell friends, and write letters to the editors of the local papers. 

 We need to keep this repeal effort in people’s minds all the way to November. Start writing letters about how this gas tax has and will effect you. I’ve noticed the prices at the grocery store have already gone up – list items you buy regularly and how much they’ve gone up. Talk about what you’ve had to cut back on to get to work – it’s getting hard to find things to cut back on, isn’t it? Talk about your most recent car registration – how much did they gouge you for? Talk about the streets around your house and the roads you take to work – have they gotten better, or worse, as state and local taxes have gotten higher and higher?

Write now, because about two months ahead of the election, David Little will announce he is limiting us to one political letter, and I mean, that’s it. Save your piece d’resistance for after he makes that announcement. Write regularly, try to sink one every month or so. Talk about a different aspect of how this tax has affected you personally. Talk to your friends, get some more ammo from them.

And come here to chatter it up, then put a link to the blog in your letters – that’s chicotaxpayers.com

And, if you can afford to chuck a few bucks at the repeal folks, I’m sure they will put it to better use than the gas tax. Here’s that link with my regards:

 

Can you to help with a contribution for the campaign TODAY to pass the Gas Tax Repeal? Here’s the secure link

 

City of Chico tells Jesus Center they are out of compliance, Jesus Center says “No we’re not!”

26 Apr

The Jesus Center has been serving the local homeless population for over 25 years. Complaints about the behavior of their clients started rolling in almost immediately. Neighboring businesses felt under siege by drunken panhandlers, vandalism, break-ins, public urination and defecation,  and worst of all, increasingly violent behavior.

Some longtime businesses closed or left the area,  pointing to the growing transient population as the reason.

Here’s my experience – my husband and I bought  an old Craftsman near the intersection of Park and 12th Avenues. The first time I saw it, one evening about 8 pm, there was a huge disheveled man standing on the sideporch,  urinating into the overgrown camelia bushes.

We bought it anyway,  and the neighbors were thrilled. It was a grand old houae, badly neglected for years, and they all thrilled to the notion of having someone living in it again.

We put a lot into saving that old house, it started attracting a lot of attention.  Within a couple of weeks we had a group of 30 – something bachelor friends who said they’d been waiting for somebody to fix it up, and we rented it to them.

The  first week they werein the house, our tenant Mike came home from work one evening to find a transient rifling their recycling can, leaving garbage all over the porch.

It is an old wrap around porch, with low Windows and patio doors that let right into bedrooms. One bathroom window, although very beautiful and an original part of the house, just had to go after I discovered how easy it was to pry open.

We owned that rental for about 10 years. One day I was raking the yard in between tenants,  my husband was inside painting,  and a reeking old man stumbled up to me, made a grab for my rake, and told me, “I do it, you pay…”

I told him I didn’t need help, that’s when he made a grab for me and invited me into the concealed sideyard for some romance.

My husband happened along just as I was about to lay the business end of that rake upside the man’s head. When he saw my husband the man sobered up and asked him for $20 to rake the yard – like nothing ever happened.  He continued to act same whenever he encountered us at the house.

He happened along one day as we spoke to our new tenants  – a group of four 20-something’s,  including an elementary school teacher. I told them about the man – too late! One of the women had already encountered him on the porch late one evening – he told her his friend lived in the house and gave him permission to sleep there. Luckily this group was older and more experienced, they told him they would call the cops.

Whenever we’d turn that house over we’d be eating tacos at Dukes Liquors or sandwiches at Chico Locker.  We had friends of various trades helping us, including our carpenter friend Charles Kidd. One day as Chuck was at the window at Dukes,  this crazy-drunk old woman – you know, their face is blood red with alcohol poisoning — steps up and starts screaming obscenities at Chuck, threatening him with an ass kicking. Charles,  a very sensitive man, just stared at her.

One day I watched Charles hand a local homeless man a brand new pair of shoes. A family man with a mortgage, Chuck was not rich, but he’d seem the old guy sitting at the door of Chico Natural without shoes, so he’d got in his truck and drove to Payless Shoes on Mangrove,  bought the guy a pair of low sneakers,  and driven back to put them on his feet.

Ha ha, how ironic – Chuck is a carpenter!

So what was going through his mind as this woman hurled spit and expletives into his face? His family – they had bought a house just two blocks the other side of Park Avenue,  and he was afraid to let his kids walk to school.

Jesus said turn the other cheek. I’m sorry to disagree but I think that’s enabling behavior.  Twenty years later, and the complaints about the Jesus Center are still pouring in.

I had to laugh when I read JC director Laura Cootsoona’s recent response to allegations – including that of city code enforcer Leo “I’m gonna stickittoya” Depaola – that the JC is out of compliance.

Do you love that – this woman is told she is out of compliance by the chief of code enforcement and she just says, “nuh-uh!” Don’t you wish you could do that?

And then Cootsoona used the opportunity to lobby for relocation of the center at the Silver Dollar fairgrounds,  on city owned property adjacent to the racetrack.

Why would she think it’s okay to locate a problem like that to a commercial zone? She refuses to take responsibility for her clients, claiming that was never part of the use permit. But she expects to take the operation to the county fair grounds?

Stay tuned – something stinks.

Chico gets new rug and chairs for half a million, Shasta County houses 60 more criminals for a million

24 Apr

Shasta County jail gets 60 new beds for $1 million – Sheriff calls it a great  deal – I agree.

That’s  $16,000 for what amounts to a single housing unit for someone who needs to get off the street.

Meanwhile the city of Chico spends a half million remodeling council chambers,  staff excusing a $25,000 cost overrun because they hadn’t saved the chamber wiring diagrams and therefore had to “rip out walls” for a simple computer upgrade.

While we might actually see some benefits of less criminals on Chico streets from Shasta County jail reducing overcrowding,  I have to wonder who benefits from the chamber remodel?