Local Governments Committee to discuss “Homeless Support and Prevention Initiatives” – Wednesday (Nov 4) at 3:30, conference room 2

2 Nov

I’ve been busy – getting ready for rain, re-learning how to function in rain,  etc. But, there’s a meeting Wednesday I just can’t pass up – the Local Governments Committee, made up of members of various elected boards. This committee is supposed to meet quarterly to talk about issues that involve county, city and various local public agencies, kind of a “Hey, Left Hand, look and see what the Right Hand is doing…”

But they aren’t held that regularly, the last one I attended was in May. It’s funny to read the minutes from that meeting,  attached to Wednesday’s agenda. I remember the discussion about library funding was a lot more lively than reported here!

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/LGC-11-4-15-AgendaandMinutes.pdf

Sean Morgan called the library supporters “nazis” and that pissed Larry Wahl off. Mark Sorenson waded in like Daddy come home from the office to find squabbling. It was kind of tense – Maureen Kirk actually apologized for asking, she’s such a nice lady. She had wanted to know the process by which the Community Development Block Grant money was divvied out – that’s all explained in the minutes. But nothing about Sean Morgan’s behavior, or how Larry Wahl or Mark Sorensen reacted to him. Meetings, People, you got to attend the meetings.

The item that is of interest to me is the first up, “Homeless Support and Prevention Initiatives.” We will get a report from the county’s Behavioral Health Director regarding various programs he has been working on to get people “off the street,” whatever that might mean to you and me.

I have met BH Director Dorian Kittrell  via e-mail, through my supervisor, Maureen Kirk, when I made inquiries about stories the cops are passing around town. Chico Police Department Business Support Team leader Jack Van Rossum said in an interview on Alan Chamberlains’ podcast talk show that Chico PD spends so much time with street people down at Enloe Hospital that they need what amounts to –  his words – a substation.  Van Rossum said Enloe was willing to give them the space but Chico PD needs money to equip this space with phones because they can’t use their cellphones from inside the hospital. They also need, Van Rossum says, a place to go to work on reports, instead of sitting in the ER or the hallway. 

When I asked Kirk and later Kittrell about this situation neither had heard anything of the sort. Kittrell said he’d check into it, so I’ll have to ask him if he found out anything.

As you can read in the minutes from that last meeting, Behavioral Health has received grants to purchase and staff a building over near the old Community Hospital.  These staffers are supposed to be available, 24-7, to meet Chico PD at Enloe and take these people off Chico PD’s hands. The only time a cop is required  is when “patients are uncooperative…” or they’ve committed some crime.  So I wondered – why would Chico PD employees be spending so much time at Enloe? 

I keep asking myself – I know you are – why do I care about this stuff? It’s all part of the continuing conversation about crime getting worse in our town all the time. I’m not just hearing about it on the news – we’ve had a break-in within doors of our own home and all our rentals here in town. All had this in common – a window was broken out of a locked car and items were removed from the car. All happened right in front of the victims’ front doors, within ten yards of their home. They happened within sight of my windows, and other people’s windows, and one happened in the broad daylight. None have been “solved.” 

When I looked at the police log in the paper yesterday same thing – of five vehicle burglaries four involved windows broken out of locked cars. They are happening at all times of day, in all neighborhoods, most of them right out on the street. 

While Chico PD are sitting in the hallway at Enloe filling out their reports? 

Whenever we have something like this in our hood, it makes me so suspicious of every Tom, Dick and Harriet I don’t recognize anywhere near my property. There are so many transients in our town, we can’t recognize them anymore. It seems like new faces turn up next to the front door at Safeway on Mangrove every day. We hear conversations where the ones who’ve been here for a while tutor the newbies – “get a bike, it’s good to have a dog, don’t camp below One Mile,” we overheard one woman and her boyfriend telling another dirt-smeared young couple sitting on their pile of belongings next to the water machine. 

I want to know, what Behavioral Health is doing to separate out the truly helpless and needy so the cops can start enforcing the laws on the ones who are taking advantage of the situation.  I think the root problem is the camping in the park and along waterways like Lindo Channel, and I’m not convinced, aside from that high-profile and short-lived sweep of One Mile, that the police are doing everything they can to end it. They use the mental health issue as a shield, they insinuate we’re going to denigrate them if they arrest these people. I think there also might be a problem with the district attorney’s office not charging these people with anything – apparently they have to be in possession of more than $900 in stolen goods before Mike Ramsey will turn a hairy eyeball on them. Is that true? I’ll try to find out. 

That meeting is Wednesday, 3:30, at City Muni Bldg, conference room 2. 

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