One man’s story tells the story of Chico

16 Jan

I recently noticed a story in the ER that essentially details what has happened to our town.

This man was sentenced recently for vandalism and “hate crimes” for painting a swastika.  Just now? After running the streets of Chico for 15 years, arrested multiple times for crimes that escalated in violence. Here’s the first case in his Butte County Superior Court File, from 2006 – possession of a deadly weapon.

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0

He was fined and sentenced for charges including failure to appear, but only after this case made it’s way through the court for TWO YEARS. In the meantime, he was charged three more times in 2007, and three times in 2008, for possession of drugs, failure to appear, vandalism, and “willful disobedience of court order...”

Willful disobedience to the court means to me this person is not willing to live within the law, and that should mean he needs to be institutionalized. Instead, the judge released him to go on to a felony weapon possession in 2009, for which he was acquitted? But two more arrests in 2010 result in a felony conviction for “negligent discharge of a firearm...”

Of course he was right back out on the streets in 2012, this time arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse…

His sheet goes on like this until 2019, when he FINALLY comes up for psychiatric evaluation – after the vandalism bender that included the swastika. The court determined he was competent to stand trial, and gave him 6 years for a “hate crime“.

15 years with a record like that, but they finally send him up for 6 years over “hate crimes”. Toward whom? His residence in Chico seems to me one long, extended orgy of hatred toward humankind.

Why does “hate” have to be directed at a certain kind of people before it is a crime? Twice this guy was arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse“, but no conviction? I’m going to guess the victim had no family, felt intimidated, and dropped the charges. I can see the first time being a wash, but what was Ramsey thinking when this guy was brought in a second time for a charge like that? But he gets six years for scrawling a symbol he doesn’t even understand on a wall. There’s ugly, nasty, threatening vandalism all over town. In one night someone busted out car windows at the Enloe parking lot while the owners worked diligently inside to save people’s lives. That is hateful – why aren’t we seeing more arrests and convictions? 

Oh, but gee golly, they are finally clearing the camps at One Mile, I guess we’re supposed to give them a basket of kudos for that! 

Here’s one of my favorite lines,  from Yeats, by way of Didion, by way of Me – “What rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward Chico to be born?” 

Waste Management has raised rates 19% over the past year – why isn’t that money being spent on the street in front of your house?

14 Jan

Every three months I open my garbage bill and get pissed off. 

First of all, it took me the first 5 years to get Waste Management to stop charging me for the yard waste bin. In the very beginning of this forced deal, I told them I wanted to opt out of the $6+ charge for a yard waste bin that I don’t need. They agreed, but I kept seeing the charge on the bill. Rather than beating my head against the wall trying to contact them via their website or phone, I just scribbled a correction on the bill and made the check out for the correct amount. For five years. That finally worked, and as of January, 2020, they finally got it right, I stopped seeing that charge. 

But I also noticed, they were raising the rates slowly but surely, every bill seemed different. So when I sat down to pay my January 2021 bill, I dug out the January 2020 bill, and yes, rates are up. A 32 gal trash bin has gone from $52.89/quarter to $62.79/quarter, just over the past year. That’s an increase of 19%. 

Which led me to  do more math. I looked at my old Recology bills. We had Recology for 10 years, and they NEVER raised their rates. In fact, they had a fuel surcharge that fluctuated with the price of gas – meaning, it actually went down occasionally. Their average charge per quarter was about $82, for a 96 gallon trash bin, or about $27/month. Now I pay $20+ for a 32 gallon bin? 

In fact, my total bill, for a 32 gal and a 64 gal, is $134/quarter, or $45/month. Pay attention – I used to get a 96 gal bin for $27/month, now I pay $45/month for two bins totaling same. That is a 60% increase.

I’ve been talking about the franchise fee the city gets from the haulers – as of fiscal year June 2020,  $1,980,313. That’s almost $2 million dollars, of YOUR MONEY. You paid that in extra fees. For what? Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who remembers staff and council telling us the money would go to  fix our neighborhood streets. Former City Manager Brian Nakamura told us “too many” trash trucks were destroying our streets, and that he felt they should pay for that.  He led us to believe the money would be dedicated to the streets, and council members, including Andrew Coolidge, sat by and let him do it.

The first year the money was used on the section of Cohasset Road leading to the airport. Every year since, it’s been dumped into the General Fund, where it is used at the whim of council. Can you imagine what $1,980,313 would look like on the street in front of your house? Or maybe give Vallombrosa more than a patch job? Maybe upgrade the streets around the college beyond Third World Country? 

You know, the city also gave Waste Management a contract to empty the trash cans in the park, so they run those behemoths around the park roads once a week – a job that used to be done by a city employee with a pick-up truck. So maybe council should use some of that franchise money to fix South Park Drive before it falls into the creek. Ya think? 

Let’s write to council and tell them that Waste Hauler Franchise Fee needs to be spent on neighborhood streets. Let’s start with our new mayor, Andrew Coolidge – that’s andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

While you’re at it, tell him what he can do with his “roads bond” and his sales tax increase.

Shasta County opens meetings – when will our “conservative majority” reopen council meetings? After they’ve already implemented the POB?

11 Jan

Almost a month ago, on December 13, I contacted my Chico city council representative Kasey Reynolds to ask her about the progress in removing transient camps in public spaces around town. We’d been having a conversation about the situation, and I forwarded her a conversation between Rob Berry and Chico PD officer Scott Zuchin regarding the DA’s unwillingness to prosecute City of Chico Municipal Code violations.

She responded, same day, “I will take a look at it for sure. However our City Attorney was meeting with the County and DA on Friday to talk about our newly passed resolution and the prosecution/enforcing aspect of it. I have not talked to the Atty since the meeting so not sure the outcome.  I’ll find out and let you know.”

I waited until the 22nd, then, realizing it was nearly Christmas, I wrote her again. I asked about the Shelter Crisis Designation, asking “1) if that’s still in effect, 2) if we are still receiving a grant for that designation, and 3) if so, where does the money go (into the General Fund?). I’ll add, 4) do we still get a grant for consolidating services at the fair grounds?” 

I also reminded her that she had previously promised to get back to me regarding the conversation our city attorney had with the county DA. 

As of today, 1/11/21, I have had no response from Reynolds. I know she’s busy – you realize, candy and ice cream are considered an “essential business”, so her shop is open.  

https://www.facebook.com/ShubertsIceCreamChicoCA/

We’re open and ready to scoop your favorite flavors and pack your favorite candies! Stop by the shop until 10:00pm to pick up your favorite sweet treat and see all the new renovations 🎉🍨🍫  We will now be open regular hours, Monday through Friday 10am-10pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am-10pm

Well, isn’t that just nice!

But the same woman thinks it’s okay for council chambers to be CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC? You can run out and grab yourself a SCOOP OF DIABETES, but forget about participating in your local government, especially when they are discussing a tax measure that does not require voter approval. 

So, instead of trying to contact my “representative” again, I wrote a letter to the newspaper. Hope you will do same.

On January 5, while Chico City Council prepared for another closed meeting, Shasta County Supervisors Les Baugh and Pat Jones opened their meeting to the public. Residents were invited inside to redress their grievances, no mask required.

Meanwhile, Chico City Council and Staff continue to hold the public out while they discuss their Pension Obligation Bond. It’s hard to believe we have a “conservative” majority on our council – 5 people voting unanimously to raise taxes? Without voter approval?

That’s right, the consultant reports this bond requires no voter approval. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation”, a purely administrative process. In fact, the consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.”

Staff reports the UAL has grown 43% over 5 years, even while making bigger payments toward the deficit every year, this year over $11 million. Staff blames poor CalPERS investment returns, but the real reason is drastically unrealistic employee shares,  just 9 – 15%, for pensions of 70 – 90% of salary. The situation is exacerbated by incredibly generous salaries, including three new hires in the last year at salaries over $100,000. 

The payments for both CalPERS and the bond service will be appropriated by percentage from all city funds. But POB revenues are restricted to paying the UAL, because, as finance director Scott Dowell has said, “otherwise we’d be tempted to spend it on needed things…”  He means, infrastructure maintenance and public safety – the needs of the citizens.

Employee demands have officially superseded the rights and needs of the public.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

 

Newsom recall gaining speed: LET’S DO IT!

11 Jan

Apparently the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom is picking up some speed. Proponents claim they’re 70% there, with nearly a million and a half signatures, and roughly half million more needed.

Here’s an interesting read on WHY:

The author opines that the recall attempt received a new breath of life because of COVID shutdowns, and has recently received a huge boost from the recent “French Laundry Scandal”. “If the deadline hadn’t been delayed [due to the shutdown], there wouldn’t have been time for recall backers to capitalize on Newsom’s blundering into the French Laundry on Nov. 6. And that’s what generated steam for the recall.”

The writer is obviously Democrat-friendly – “blundered“? Let’s face it – this is Newsom’s lifestyle, he’s one of the elite one percent who is completely oblivious to his own entitlement. He didn’t blunder in, he does stuff like this all the time – some reporter blundered in, is what happened. Oftentimes, people will take the little things, internalize, internalize, keep feeding that ulcer, screaming the spouse into a divorce, waiting for that inevitable stroke – but you wave something like the French Laundry in their face, and they suddenly blow.

Frankly, the French Laundry scandal is petty compared to the EDD scandal.

https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/01/california-employment-department-disaster-benefits-fraud/

And here Dan Walters opines that Newsom’s recent promise of “pandemic relief” is a panic reaction to this sudden surge in recall signatures:

https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/01/california-newsom-budget-recall-windfall-deficit-emergency/

At any rate, whatever the cause, there seems to be a new intensity to this recal, and I hope more people will jump in. Here’s the link to download, sign and send your own petition:

And here are some local businesses that have petitions for you to sign or will mail in your petition for you:

I think it’s interesting that so many small local businesses are helping out with this effort, I think that says it all. Thanks to those of you who have stood up. Let’s do it!

Shasta County opens Supervisor meetings – Chico council, still hiding under cover of COnVid, pushes Pension Obligation Bond forward

9 Jan

On Tuesday, as Chicoans got ready for another “virtual” (closed) city council meeting, two Shasta County Supervisors held an open meeting, allowing citizens to come into the chambers and speak freely about how they’ve suffered under the COnVID shut down.

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Crowd-of-people-speak-inside-Shasta-County-Board-of-Supervisors-chambers-573536611.html

REDDING, Calif. – On Tuesday, a crowd of people gathered inside the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers. People passionately pleading to county leaders lift coronavirus restrictions and resume in-person meetings.

Inside the chambers, many people stood together, with only very few wearing masks.

The virtual meeting opened to the crowd that gathered outside, demanding to have their voices heard in person.

One by one each person spoke their three minutes.

Thank you Les Baugh and Pat Jones for doing the right thing, while the rest of the board cowered at their keyboards.

Supervisor Les Baugh and Jones were the only two to sit inside the chambers with the crowd. While Supervisors Rickert, Chimenti, Moty, and other county staff remained online.

Here in Chico, council and staff are trying to use the shut-down to shove as many tax measures through the system as they can, hand over fist. In addition to the Pension Obligation Bond already on the table, our new mayor Andrew Coolidge has proposed another bond, “for streets”, and a sales tax increase measure. 

The Pension Obligation Bond presentation, same as the presentation given in September 2020, elicited almost no discussion from council, who voted unanimously to give the consultant more money to set up the “validation process“. In September, the consultant told the Finance Committee one of the best things about a POB is that it “does not require validation...” He meant, by the voters. This bond, he explained, requires only “judicial validation“, a purely administrative process, with absolutely no input from the public.  

The consultant assured council, “they all get approved, it’s just a matter of time.” 

After the presentation, Coolidge asked Scott Dowell for a list of costs, and then Kasey Reynolds asked the consultant if there would be any “public informational meetings”. The consultant told her that is up to council, that they could do “small groups” if that was what council would like. And, I’m guessing, that would cost extra. 

It’s obvious Reynolds just wants to be able to say the public was informed about this bomb before it got dropped. What a bitch.

I was also shocked to see so few comments on Chico Engaged, but I noticed, all nine, including mine, were negative.  The clerk referred council to the comments without reading names. The clerk already quit reading the comments because they became abusive, and now she’s quit reading the names because nobody should have to read fakes names like “Harry Gonads.” Council spent less than a minute reading before they advised staff and the consultant to bring more information.  

Meanwhile, I wanted people to know how much money flows through this city, directly out of the pockets of city residents. You know you pay a gas tax, right? Got any idea how much of that the city of Chico  gets? Or what they use it for? Have you seen $5,997,251 going into the streets or roads near your house? How about the garbage tax, cleverly titled, “Waste Hauler Franchise Fee” – $1,980,318 added to our garbage bills. And if you get cable tv, you paid into a total of $969,124, received as of June 30, 2020. 

Here’s a double whammy – you not only pay a franchise on your PG&E bill, you pay “Utility Tax”. You also pay UT on your water bill, and if you have a landline you pay UT on that too. 

Of course, I assume everybody knows about property taxes and sales tax, but I’m probably wrong – a lot of people have their property taxes paid by their mortgage company, so they can sail through life without a care in the world?

Here’s the totals for those revenues, as of June 2020. Roughly $60 million in revenues, just from these sources. But our fair city never seems to have enough money to fix or maintain anything? I don’t think it’s a no-brainer that these funds should be available for street/road maintenance. The city used almost half a million in cable tv fees to remodel council chambers a couple of years back, with Andrew Coolidge telling me those funds “had to be used for that…they couldn’t be used for street maintenance…”

Gas Tax $5,997,251 
Waste Hauler franchise fees $1,980,313 
Cable tv franchise fees $969,124
PG&E franchise fees $787,861
utility tax $7,317,103
prop tax $18,621,070
sales tax  $24,434,686

During the same period, over $11,000,000 was paid to CalPERS through the Pensions Stabilization Trust and another fund called the “CalPERS Liability Reserve”. Both of these funds are filled by siphoning money out of all the other funds on a percentage of payroll. Most of the budgets of all these departments consists of salaries and monthly benefits payments, and many are in the red because of the further allocations for the UAL payments.

Scott Dowell reported our UAL has grown 43% over the last 5 years, but he didn’t say why. The reason is the unrealistically low employee contributions of 9 – 15%. In fact, management and public safety only started paying ANYTHING  in 2012, when the UAL  was already over $125,000,000.  When City Manager Mark Orme and other management agreed to pay an additional 3% share, council gave them a raise to cover that percentage. Furthermore, Orme got himself a 457 Plan – a special 401K for public management. We pay over $20,000 a year into that 457, while Orme brags again and again that he has not received a raise for almost 5 years. That’s bullshit, what a stinking liar.

All this shoved through under the guise of public health and safety. Are we just stupid, lame, weak? Before you condemn the rioters in DC, take a look at yourself, and then read the US Constitution again. 

And Best Wishes to Shasta County, I hope this is the beginning of the end. 

 

Staff trying to get their pensions bond under the wire by end of January

31 Dec

Next Tuesday city council will hear a presentation on a Pension Obligation Bond. They are trying to slide it under the wire as “restructuring debt,” which is really deceptive – they don’t mention the part where they take on millions in NEW DEBT.  This is really dirty and sneaky, and you need to let your council members know, you know what they’re up to. You can contact them directly through the clerk’s office – debbie.presson@chicoca.gov – or you can go to Chico Engaged. I’d recommend both.

Here’s the link to the agenda:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items

And here’s the POB presentation:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e0f395e716e400a434-5-dot-1-calpers-pension-costs-and-ual-restructuring-p

I also wrote a letter to the editor. Staff is trying to  get this thing done within the next two meetings, let’s stop it in it’s  tracks. 

Also, get a load of Coolidge’s request for a “streets bond”! 

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/351-1-slash-5-slash-21-city-council-meeting/agenda_items/5fe748e1f395e716e400a439-5-dot-6-mayor-coolidge-request-bond-for-improvement

Here’s my letter about the POB:

January 5, Chico City Council will consider Pension Obligation Bonds. Staff calls it “restructuring pension debt/Unfunded Actuarial Liability”, but it’s really millions in new debt. A new twist on the old Shell Game, Staff will invest borrowed money in the stock market, hoping to make enough to pay both the pension debt and the new debt. If their investments fail,  the taxpayers will be forced to pay not only the pension debt but the new bond debt, at the expense of city infrastructure and basic services.

Over the last couple of years,  surveys, letters to the editor, and comments on social media have demonstrated two main concerns: lack of law and order, and lack of maintenance to public infrastructure.  While Staff has claimed they don’t have enough money for either, they’ve continued to appropriate more money each year from city departments into the Pension Stabilization Trust – this year, $11.4 million, roughly 20% of tax revenue.  

Furthermore, even with 10’s of millions a year paid through payroll and the PST, the UAL has still grown, up from $126,000,000 only a few years ago to $146,000,000. Staff has recently revealed another $140,000,000  interest. This is the result of insufficient  contributions from employees, and poor returns from CalPERS investments. 

The Government Finance Officers Association says POBs are dangerous without a plan to manage pension costs. Instead, our city has increased pension costs through new hires and overly-generous salaries, without demanding more from Staff. 

The GFOA also determined POBs were the cause of bankruptcy in San Bernardino and Stockton. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

 

Former Sec of State Alex Padilla handed a $35 million contract to a Biden company – insuring his appointment to senate?

26 Dec

Here’s what we can expect from Gavin Newsom’s choice to take Kamala Harris’ senate seat.

https://calmatters.org/politics/2020/12/newsom-padilla-skdknickerbocker-contract-gotv/

As California’s Secretary of State prepares to take a new job as U.S. Senator, he’s not going to let a politically charged $35 million invoice get in the way of a smooth promotion.

‘In a press conference Wednesday, Alex Padilla assured reporters that the multimillion-dollar tab his office owes to SKDKnickerbocker, a Biden-affiliated PR shop, will be ‘resolved soon.’”

Padilla intended to use money stolen from California counties, but our controller says he was not authorized to spend that money.

“As Secretary of State, Padilla served as California’s chief election administrator during an election season unlike any other. In the summer of 2020, his office hired SKDKnickerbocker to produce an ad campaign to explain the new election procedures to California’s voters. Padilla’s office intended to pay the PR firm out of a pot of cash meant to fund county government voter outreach operations.

“But Betty Yee, California’s controller who is responsible for signing off on all state government payments, has so far refused to okay the outlay, arguing that Padilla’s office lacks the authority to spend that money on behalf of the counties.”

Furthermore, this is turning into a partisan war, with Republicans questioning the legality of the hiring in the first place. 

“Responding to the news of Padilla’s appointment to Harris’ senate seat yesterday, Jessica Millan Patterson, chairwoman of the California Republican Party said in a statement that “Governor Gavin Newsom couldn’t have picked a more partisan politician who has yet to answer for his illegal $35 million get-out-the-vote contract with a ‘Team Biden’ PR firm.’”

I’ll question it too. Our Democratic leadership in Sacramento seems to have no moral compass. Furthermore, I suspect Padilla just bought himself a senate seat, and we have to pay for it. 

Council will hear Pension Obligation Bond presentation at Jan 5 2021 meeting

24 Dec

Wow, yeah, Merry Fucking Christmas – want to see what you can expect in your stocking this year?  Look over next year’s first council agenda – it’s a big lump of coal called a “Pension Obligation Bond,” and they’re trying to tell us it’s not really a tax, it’s just a “restructuring” to a lower interest rate. That is not true. 

And on top of that, our new/old Mayor Andrew Coolidge is also calling for a “streets” bond. Read all about it here:

AGENDA FOR 1/5/21

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=351

5.1. CALPERS PENSION COSTS AND UAL RESTRUCTURING PRESENTATION
The City of Chico (the City) continues to explore various cost management strategies for its $146 million
unfunded accrued liability (UAL) with the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). At
the September 23, 2020 Finance Committee, the City and NHA Advisors (NHA) made a presentation
discussing the City’s most recent actuarial report released by CalPERS in July 2020. The City and NHA
provided a discussion on alternative repayment strategies, including a restructuring of the UAL. The City
and NHA will make a similar presentation at the January 5, 2021 City Council meeting to assist in providing
continued education on these topics. (Report – NHA Advisors)

FROM STAFF REPORT:

https://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=351&meta_id=74726

As current interest rates are at historically low levels, combined with the fact that the City has exhausted many of
its other resources to address rising pension costs, City staff asked NHA to assist them in evaluating the merits
(including benefits and risks) of a UAL restructuring. A UAL restructuring (either through a Pension Obligation
Bond (POB) or a Lease Revenue Bond) entails converting 7% debt with CalPERS to lower debt on a bond
(currently between 3.50% and 4.00%).

That is a FLAT OUT LIE. We will be incurring NEW DEBT, and if the investments they make with the bond money do not pay off, we owe not only the 7% to CalPERS but that 3.5 – 4% for the bond. Read this post for background:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/10/09/heres-the-video-from-that-sept-23-finance-comm-meeting-ever-wonder-what-people-are-saying-about-your-money-behind-your-back/

NOTE: Oh, crap, the video has been taken down! I’ll have to repost it asap. 

You ask your district rep and I’ll ask mine – is Chico still collecting money for the “Shelter Crisis Designation,” and if so, where is it going?

22 Dec

It’s hard not to obsess about the transient camps when they are the first thing you see driving out of your neighborhood. We have to contrive NOT to drive by tents as we go out and about town. Living just a couple of blocks from Bidwell Park is like having a salt patch on a burn, rub it in, rub it in. Having to read letters like this in the paper is a Super Burn.

ENTERPRISE RECORD, 12/12/2020

Merry Christmas, here’s a fine for being homeless.

Is stunning lack of empathy a conservative trait?

Our community members are hurting. They have been burned out, priced out, and driven outdoors. As winter approaches they are living in tents in the park because we have a lack of affordable housing, a lack of shelter space, and a lack of social services in this county.

The conservative “solution” to this problem isn’t to create more space and services, it is to levy a fine on people whose backs are already against the wall. What do they think this is going to accomplish apart from creating a criminal class, and putting the police into contact with a population they have dealt with notoriously poorly in the past?

Can the conservatives not see the ridiculous, and by that I mean worthy of ridicule, nature of their “solution”? These people aren’t rolling in dough, if they were they’d have a house to go too.

I keep hearing conservatives say homeless people are simply lazy and need to pull themselves up. Really? The numbers of homeless are rising nationwide. Did all of these people suddenly decide to abandon their homes and be lazy? Or perhaps is there some systemic pressure that is putting people on the streets en masse?

Speaking of lazy, this conservative “emergency resolution” is about the laziest piece of legislating I’ve ever seen. If this is the best the conservative majority can come up with, Chico is in for a long 2 years.

— Bob Howard, Los Molinos

The first burn is having met Bob Howard as “Mad Bob,” a musician who made his home in Los Molinos years back, but still thinks he is allowed to complain about what we are doing in Chico.  Bob doesn’t have to look at these people, he can live in his romantic imagination – they’re just vagabonds, free spirits! They’re not going to rob his garage while he’s at work, or sell his kid crank at the playground, or stand across the street staring at his wife or college age daughter while they yank off in the bushes. 

The second burn is in agreeing with him somewhat – the new parks ordinance is a lazy and worthless piece of legislation. Read it yourself, I don’t think you need to be a lawyer to see it has no teeth whatsoever, just another discretionary law. Like, move along Buddy, and if I catch you beating off in the bushes outside this sorority house again… well… I’ll counsel you and move you along… again… 

You heard another musician say this. “Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.” And the beards have, indeed, all grown longer overnight. The “conservatives” have done quite the about-face, all the sudden we have to find “some place for them to go.” 

A friend of mine was expressing frustration with a situation in his neighborhood. He lives very near the old Louisiana Pacific lumber yard, where he has seen transients camping for years. People seem to forget how many fires have been started there – an entire building burned down one winter – by transients. My friend and a neighbor of his have not only called the fires in but have run over to the site with picks and shovels to beat the flames back themselves. Right in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood, the city allows illegal campers to threaten homes with elderly and children inside. I’d have to ask Mad Bob – whose backs are against the wall here? 

Why aren’t these arsonists jailed? If you listen to the Chico side of the story, it’s because county DA Mike Ramsey won’t prosecute Chico Muni Code violations. Well, isn’t arson a federal offense? I would guess Ramsey is sick of trying to prosecute for urinating/defecating in public, littering and illegal camping because those are only misdemeanors. With our pathetically inadequate jail and now COVID, they would just be processed and released.  But I can’t believe he won’t prosecute for starting illegal fires. A local transient who fire bombed a college girl’s bedroom was arrested and held, but illegal campers who threaten people’s homes are not?  My friend says the fires are put out and the transients just disappear, no one is held accountable.  I believe this is a Chico problem, starting with cops who are unwilling to do their jobs and council members who are unwilling to push them to do their jobs because the Chico Police Officers Association is a big player in every local election. 

But yesterday I realized that the real lynchpin to this entire problem is the Shelter Crisis Designation, and the annual pot of money received for declaring it. Here’s a question for your district rep: why aren’t they discussing that declaration, and overturning it? Ask if they are still receiving the grant for this designation, and if so, what are they spending it on? 

I’ll  get back to you with my rep’s response, you do same. 

 

Promises, promises

21 Dec

 

 

Pictured above is the area known as “Devil’s Triangle”. Not  really a “park,” the DT is really just a median created where Mulberry Street splits into Pine and Cypress Streets at Little Chico Creek. The conflagration of tarps and garbage is an illegal camp site, so far tolerated by city officials, even after promises made with a new ordinance enacted a couple of weeks ago. In fact, the four conservatives who swept into office in this most recent election made some pretty fat-mouth promises about “cleaning up” our town. 

Since that ordinance was voted in, this illegal site has actually attracted more campers. When I drove by today I noticed a tent had turned into a huge trash pile. Same for the illegal campsite in Bidwell Park at the Mangrove bridge. Neither site has a dedicated bathroom or trash container. Someone has placed a blue room on the side of the street on Humboldt, where the DT campers are spilling over from the original site, into the adjacent greenway. 

Recently I asked my district representative when we could expect to see these illegal dumpsites cleared away. I was surprised to hear this answer – “we can’t clear the camps until we find someplace for them to go...” She also informed me that while the city had identified two locations that would be suitable for emergency shelters, they could not find anyone to run them. 

The city actually has no responsibility for providing social services. That’s what the conservatives reminded us prior to the election. Now they’re singing a different tune. Why? Because they never meant it. Ask Andrew Coolidge, who, prior to losing his bid for council in 2018, voted to declare a “Shelter Crisis”. At that time, Coolidge made note of the $4 million a year in grants that came with that designation, transferred into the General Fund, to spend at council’s discretion. 

Frankly, I don’t think the conservatives were ever genuine in their promises to do anything about “homelessness,” illegal camping, the increase in crime, or the degradation of our parks. I believe they see these transients as just another revenue source. If that’s not true, why did they allow the city manager to create a NEW position, “Homeless Coordinator”?  

We’ll wait and watch.