Oh God our city is doomed

22 May

Thanks to John Salyer, Stephanie Taber, Sue Hubbard and the other citizens who showed up at last night’s catastrophe city council meeting. 

I went down, but left at 10 pm. I have a rule, and they also made a rule, that these meetings should not go on after 10pm, it’s just counter-productive. I get up too early, can’t always take a nap in midday, and by 10:00, I lose confidence in my motor abilities – you don’t want to be on the road with a woman who can’t tell a big raccoon from a person in the dark. Last night I slowed down because I thought I saw a pack of mice scurry out in front of my car – I screamed out loud – it was leaves blowing across the street. 

Better safe than sorry.

I also have a low tolerance for bullshit – I can’t eat it, I don’t care how much sugar you put on it. And Scott Gruendl is a regular lawn feeder. When he started rambling about his experience with the mentally ill, I made my way toward the lobby. At 10:00, with a full agenda, they had still not made it past Item 4.1.

And let’s talk about Item 4.1. I don’t remember when I’ve seen three items crammed into one before. Item 4.1 was supposed to be three reports from the city attorney, on three different ordinances, all slightly related by way of ALCOHOL. But all three deserving of separate conversations. Instead we got fixated on the sit/lie aspect of the item, and the other two subjects – a “social hosting” ordinance and a fee for “alcohol related businesses” got swept off to the side. Only a couple of speakers mentioned those subjects on a side note.

“Social host” ordinances involve holding the “host” of a party responsible for underage or other problem alcohol consumption. In Chico, when we discussed the Disorderly Events ordinance, Chico PD made it clear they want the city to go after not just the “host” of the party, but the landlord or property owner. That provision failed, I believe, because the city attorney and local property owners groups convinced them it was slippery legal ground. The Disorderly Events ordinance was passed without the landlord responsibility clause, and the cops have been trying to get it back in the door eversince. This “Social Host” ordinance completely lends itself to holding landlords responsible for their tenants’ activities, even though tenants can sue their landlords for harassment if landlord oversteps his right to control the property. 

Chico police officer and president of the Chico Police Officers Association, Peter Durfee, expressed support for both the sit/lie and social host ordinances, as well as a general distaste for landlords. He feels landlords are responsible for their tenants’ behavior.  The Disorderly Events landlord provision fell apart  when they realized, they’d have to notice landlords, some of whom live out of town. How would they identify which houses were rentals, and which were owner-occupied? The impracticalities just started to pile up, and the subject was dropped. That’s how far I expect them to get with any kind of “social host”ordinance.  There are too many subjective decisions to be made – and no, I don’t trust Chico PD to make subjective decisions, I don’t think they are the sharpest pencils in the plastic pocket protector. The salaries Chico pays only attract greed, and greed isn’t a good indicator.

But only a couple of people even mentioned “social host”. Most of the comments were directed toward the sit/lie ordinance, with most of the speakers in favor. It’s hard – I so agree there’s a problem, but I don’t think a sit/lie ordinance will help.

In San Francisco, where they have the ordinance in place, the arrested are processed and back in their own pee puddle in less than four hours. How’d you like to be the shop owner who made the complaint? Last night I watched career homeless man Bill Mash go off on a rant that Colliers is harassing “the homeless.” Wow. If I were the owner of Colliers, I’d get an armed security guard. Bill Mash is unstable. He’s exactly the kind of creep that, as Wayne Cook put it, is “poisoning” the atmosphere Downtown.  He’s hostile, in your face, and bigger than me. One woman said if I didn’t like “looking at” those people, I didn’t have to go Downtown. Maybe she’d like to set up an escort service for small women and children who don’t feel safe around these freaks. It’s a lot more than “looking at” them. 

But a sit/lie ordinance is not going to do it, not when the DA won’t prosecute, whining that he has no space in his jail. They will just be processed at our expense and turned back out on the street. One guy in that article on San Francisco had amassed 10’s of thousands of dollars in fines for the same violation.

Randall Stone also made one of the best points of the meeting – most of the annoying things these people do are already against the law. You aren’t allowed to block a public sidewalk, urinate or defecate in public, have an unruly dog – most of the stuff they do is illegal. But the cops won’t do anything.  Trostle admitted – all a person has to do, is refuse to obey a cop, or even mouth off to a cop, and it’s “malicious,” and the cop can arrest them.

Let me tell you my own personal experience with Peter Durfee, mentioned above. One morning, I woke up to find my neighbor had again had a loud party, and there was one of her friend’s vehicles parked in my driveway, right next to a “NO PARKING” sign. So, at 8:30 on a week day morning, I walked over, knocked on her door, asked if she knew whose vehicle that was, and when she said yes, I asked her very politely to tell them they’d have to move it, it was on my property – thanks! You’ll have to take my word for it, I was perfectly nice and sweet. And then, as I walked away, she said, perfectly audibly, “Or what?”  I turned and told her, “or I’ll have to have it towed.” And I hot-footed it out of there. I don’t like trouble – are you kidding, at my size?

I left the property for about 15 minutes to ride my bike over and  take in one of my tenant’s trash cans – they were out of town for the weekend, and asked me to get their cans in – and when I got back about 15 minutes later, Peter Durfee and his partner were sitting in my driveway, blocking not only my gate but my other  tenant’s driveway. He stayed a half hour, telling me I wasn’t allowed to go to my neighbor’s house to tell her to move her car off my property. He never said exactly what I was accused of, just said, next time I have a “problem” with my neighbor, call him. I still have his card with that message on back. I told him I thought it was crazy that, at a time when the cops were whining short staff, he would come to my house and stay over a half hour, blocking my ingress and egress from my home, over 100 feet onto my private property, harassing me over my neighbor’s trespassing on my property. Officer Fat Ass has no respect for private property rights – I asked him to leave several times and he refused, still blocking my tenant’s driveway as well as mine.  He seemed to be determined to get me to obey him, like some fat little god.  He finally told me that if I ever went to my neighbor’s door again, for ANYTHING, he’d arrest me. In exactly those words, he threatened to arrest me. I went in the house, and he and his partner sat in my driveway for another five minutes, then turned around and left. 

So, there you have the “quality” employees we attract with these salaries, and this fat little creep with the extra chin is the PRESIDENT OF THE CPOA!  Sums it up, as far as I’m concerned.

But even Officer Fat Ass did not discuss the ACE ordinance, the third subject of attorney Barker’s report. The ACE – or “Alcohol Compliance and Education” ordinance should be a dead fish, but the cops keep bringing it back – it’s a fee, that would go straight to the cops, to be used at their discretion. Chief Trostle says he’ll hire a cop to dedicate to alcohol related issues – how vague and – excuse me – unenforceable is that? Is this “dedicated” officer just going to be laying around in some kind of wrapper, to be brought out just for alcohol-related problems? No, they just want another $100,000 + a year to hire a new cop, I got Trostle to admit that at that Chamber function I attended.

Well, Barker shot ACE down last night – she said in 2010 the state legislature passed Prop 26, prohibiting a government from just tacking fees onto stuff without a specific purpose. Prop 26 “defines ‘tax’ as every charge that is imposed by a municipality...”  Furthermore, “alcohol fees were used as an example of what should not be imposed…” 

Any fee must have a specific service that is provided, for example, Barker cited license fees, inspection fees, or a fee for an employee education program that is directly provided by the city.  They can’t just charge a fee and use it as they please. 

Mark Sorensen, feeling his balls last night, asked, “how does this differ from the ABC (Alcohol Compliance Board)?”, and Barker answered that Prop 26 essentially says that the only things a municipality CAN do are things already done by the ABC.

So, we don’t need an ACE ordinance. The cops are just phishing for money, again. We have about a $43 million budget. The cops get $22 million of that. They pay NONE of their pension premium or health insurance.  They repeatedly tell us, they need more money and “new tools” to do their jobs. Talk about “aggressive panhandlers”! 

We need a new council, and a new police chief. Our mayor is incompetent, which is what I tried to tell everybody about our City Manager Dave  Burkland and our Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy, and nobody would listen. Now we have to hear it from an outside. I missed that report, held somewhere around what? 11:30 at night? As if anybody was still awake. And don’t forget, council also approved contracts that continue to pay the “employee share.”

These meetings are agendized without any sense. The ACE ordinance is dead, why was it agendized? Why were three items jammed into one public comment session? Mary even said, “we didn’t think this through” as she realized there were 29 speakers and it was already after 8pm. She wondered aloud how they would sort the comments on these three different issues. She tries to act like a mayor, but she doesn’t have the slightest idea what she’s doing.

Our council is a pack of naked emperors, all buck naked. They expect us to sit and look at their junk and not say anything about their shortcomings? What a pack of useless ninnies. 

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2 Responses to “Oh God our city is doomed”

  1. Sue May 24, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I really want to hear the budget issue, since I slept through it, but the video is still not up on the website.

    • Juanita Sumner May 24, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Me too, I’m dying to see Mike Reilly and Stephanie tell it like it is.

      I don’t know how long it’s supposed to take to get online, but you’d think they’d have it available within 48 hours. We’ll see.

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