Archive | December, 2015

Would more street lights Downtown solve our crime problem?

30 Dec

According to Alexander Thomas of Chico, “There has been numerous accidents, muggings, rapes etc, All over downtown Chico. According to crime statistics, three-fourths of all crimes take place at night, and two-thirds of these occur in dimly light areas. In order to make the city of Chico a safer place, we must implement a lot more street lamps all over the town. Especially so in places often frequented by numerous people like downtown.”

Thomas has launched a petition drive on to get the city to put more street lights Downtown, and so far, he’s gathered over 250 of the 500 signatures he wants to take to Ruben Martinez.

I know, Ruben Martinez left the city of Chico last Spring – both the city and Martinez said it was a mutual deal, that they didn’t agree over the direction the city should be taking. I saw Ruben at Wittmeier Ford recently, he didn’t look any worse for the wear. Although, I’ll say – he looks a lot shorter as a private citizen.

There are a few things, besides ignorance of city doings, that bother me about this petition drive. For one thing, I read the police and sheriff logs, and I watch the news almost daily – the last rape I saw in the news was the assault of a Chico State student in Olivehurst.  According to Channel 7 News,  “Investigators said the victim told them she got drunk Friday night. When she woke up, she was in an unknown house in the Olivehurst area.”

This assault probably started Downtown, but I don’t think street lights had anything to do with it.

The Chico Enterprise Record selects a couple dozen arrest reports and runs them weekly, but the actual arrest logs are usually pages and pages. The latest one I could find online dated back to the last week of May, 2015. It is 25 pages long, I looked over it, I only found one assault, on page 25. I saw reports of spousal and child abuse, more than I would consider to be “okay”, even “cruelty” to an elderly person. I saw one report of a fight Downtown, which was apparently broken up without arrest. I also saw a few people arrested with weapons – less than half dozen in all those pages.  

We only see the arrest logs, we don’t get the dispatch logs, where people report crimes. I don’t know why the department would keep rape reports a secret. I remember, in the months before they arrested the creep from Enloe Hospital, who was going around grabbing tipsy girls off the streets late at night, drugging and raping them – those attacks turned up in the paper. Why wouldn’t the police and newspaper be quick to report such crimes? 

Here’s the report for the last week of May 2015. If you can find a more recent log,  please send me the link.

I’ve posted the sheriff’s department logs for comparison. They post their logs right up to date.  These logs include dispatch reports of everything from accidents to stray goats. If you don’t understand something, cut and paste it into your google search engine, you’ll find out what all those abbreviations stand for.

I wonder what is behind this push for more streetlights Downtown. I don’t know Alexander Thomas, but he seems to be genuinely concerned about crime in Chico.  

I would suggest he come up with some specific incidents from the police logs to support this petition. I’d suggest he approach the Internal Affairs Committee, where they’ve been discussing various safety improvements around town, some of which have been brought forth by citizens. And, I’d suggest he might mount some sort of public awareness campaign. A lot of our problems Downtown involve people who get drunk and aren’t paying attention, including pedestrian/car encounters. 

I’ll say the same thing about street lights I’ve said about bike lanes – they’re not some magical force that protects you from Danger, you are still your own best or worst friend.



Cal Water comes on strong with propaganda blitz in Visalia

29 Dec

I was not surprised that as soon as I found out about the city of Visalia’s plans to look into ownership of their own water system, I also found Cal Water has mounted a mis-information campaign.

Yesterday I posted Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen’s letter to the Visalia Times Delta, explaining why the city is thinking about buying out Cal Water. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it “thinking about buying out” – how much would any of us know about that? Call a realtor? What?

The city is making a very legitimate effort not only to learn the facts but to get the public involved in the discussion. Of course, Cal Water intends to put their foot in the middle of the facts and grind the conversation out like an old cigarette butt. Independent Thought Alarm!

The first volley is underhanded and sneaky. Letters to the newspaper, not from Cal Water employees, but from employees of a popularly unknown company that serves Cal Water and other utilities by manufacturing and installing the infrastructure by which these utilities “serve” us.

You’ve seen that episode of “Twilight Zone” and you’ve seen the parody on “The Simpsons”. You know what Cal Water means when they say they “serve” people.

After Mayor Nelsen’s letter appeared in late November, these two letters turned up December 11.

There’s no doubt in my mind that California’s tax-and-spend policies have burdened the middle class and driven business from our state. That’s one reason I chose to make Visalia my home; affordability when it comes to cost of living, and for the most part, responsibility when it comes to decisions made by our elected officials.

Unfortunately, recent actions by our local government could be construed as anything but responsible. Their move to start a takeover of our water system from Cal Water is not only reckless, but has also been done under the table and without public input. This is a mistake and it’s incredibly disappointing.

I will be opposing the water takeover and supporting Cal Water. I will also be thinking very carefully about how I vote when our elected officials are up on the ballot; any councilmember who supports this won’t be getting my check next to their name.

Dylan Byer


Wow, Mr. Byer, what a load of manure you’ve shoveled out here. You didn’t come to Visalia for the affordable cost of living, you came as an employee of Western Utilities Transformer Services. Glassdoor reports the average salary at WUTS in the mid $70,000 range, which is more than one and a half times the median income in Visalia. WUTS works for Cal Water and other utility companies, so it’s in their best interests to take public opposition out of the CPUC process. 

Please note that Mr. Byer does not offer any real information regarding this issue, but misinformation. He says this conversation has been had “under the table,” even though the mayor has written a letter to the newspaper about what’s going on a couple of weeks previous.

Here below is a letter from a woman whose husband is employed by WUTS. She threatens that just having a conversation and moving forward with a study is going to “indebt us for years to come.” 

Her grammar alone is enough to send anybody away screaming. How do you talk to people like this, with the childish threats? “water takeover”?

Ratepayers and taxpayers beware: The City of Visalia is about to make a grave mistake and we’ll be the ones who pay for it.

If City Council moves forward and conducts the study to take over our water system from Cal Water, it will indebt us for years to come.

In order to avoid poor service, higher rates and new taxes, join me and stand against the water takeover!

Rachel Telfer


Published a couple of weeks later was the following letter, supposedly signed by 57 Cal Water employees, including Utility Workers union shop steward Juan Cisneros:

Imagine for a moment that one morning there is a knock at your door. When you open the door, the people standing there tell you that they are from the IRS and that they are going to come in to determine how much your house and belongings are worth just in case they decide to seize them from you, but that you really don’t have anything to worry about.

Of course, their assurance that you don’t need to worry would fall on deaf ears, not only because it obviously isn’t true, but also because you probably wouldn’t have heard much after “we’re from the IRS.”This hypothetical scenario became all too real for the 61 local employees of Cal Water, which has been Visalia’s local water utility since 1926. On Nov. 5, Visalia’s City Attorney sent a cold, emotionless letter to Cal Water notifying it that the city was going to conduct an appraisal of Cal Water’s property and business in Visalia ahead of possibly trying to seize them through eminent domain. City staff told Cal Water that it really doesn’t have anything to worry about.

Does City Council not realize that Cal Water is as much a part of the Visalia community as anything else in our city?A few weeks later, Mayor Nelsen asked in these pages whether Visalia needs Cal Water, and laid out his case for taking over the water system. Worse, he accused each and every employee at Cal Water of being unconcerned about Visalia’s residents and the well-being of the community.

Does Mayor Nelsen not realize that we are residents of Visalia? That we shop at local businesses? That many of us grew up here? That our children go to school here? That we work tirelessly every single day to make sure that everyone in Visalia has safe, reliable and high quality water service?

And just a few days ago, the city issued a press release saying they were going to delay consideration of trying to put Cal Water out of business. The press release made it clear, though, that the city was still going to complete the appraisal of Cal Water’s property and business in Visalia. And Mayor Nelsen all but said that the city hasn’t taken the option of a government takeover off of the table, just that they are going to wait a little while before making a decision. Perhaps the city was just trying to tell us, again, that we really don’t have anything to worry about.

Do City Council and Mayor Nelsen not realize that they are playing political games with our jobs, families, and lives?

Just as you would be rightfully worried if the IRS showed up at your house one morning, we are worried that the City Council is trying to put Cal Water out of business and, in the process, steal our jobs and livelihoods.

We serve this community because it is what we love to do, and ensuring you and your family have safe, reliable water service is what we are here for. We’d normally never ask for anything extra in return. This Christmas, though, would you indulge us with one small gift: Please let City Council know that there are no circumstances under which you will support a government takeover of the water system and that it should stop playing political games with our lives.

We truly appreciate your support! From our families to yours, Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Juan Cisneros, a Cal Water employee since 2006 and secretary/shop steward of the Local 205 of the Utility Workers of America, signed this letter along with 56 other local Cal Water employees.

So now we have the official hysteria campaign from Cal Water. The hyperbole is going to get so thick, you will need a gas mask. 



City of Visalia ponders public ownership of their water system

28 Dec

Erma Bombeck said, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” She meant, be careful when something looks good, you better know what’s under it.  As I’ve studied the process by which our utility rates are increased, I’ve begun to think about public ownership. It sounds like a simple solution to the ever-increasing rates,  but I’m wondering – is there a cesspool under that lush, green grass? Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a long look and a good sniff.

Recently the city of Visalia, at the direction of their city council, began to investigate the possibility of taking ownership of it’s water system from Cal Water. Having gone through the CPUC rate increase process with past cases, Mayor Steve Nelsen explains in a letter to the Visalia Times Delta, “we realized just how little impact a local government can have on its water supply when the delivery system is provided by a for-profit, investor-owned utility, that is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, managed from their corporate office in San Jose, and governed by the CPUC in San Francisco.”

I hear that. While I’m thrilled that the city of Chico and County of Butte have decided to formally protest this latest Cal Water rate increase, I’m worried the system is very heavily stacked against them. I hope they are ready to take it all the way to San Francisco. I believe they can beat back this latest proposal somewhat, but at this point, our rates are already onerous, and Cal Water wants more.

Mayor Nelsen describes how this process will be an opportunity for the public to learn more about utility ownership.  “Recently, the City of Visalia requested an appraisal of the water system in Visalia owned by a Bay Area firm, California Water Service Company (Cal Water). Once we have that information, sometime around the first of the year, the City Council will consider if the City might benefit from owning and operating its own water system. If it could make sense financially, there will be opportunity for public discussion about whether or not the City should pursue acquisition of the system. Our City Council firmly believes the citizens have a right to information about how a city-owned water system would affect them. Getting the appraisal is only the first, but necessary, step.”

Yes, the citizens have a right to information, but it is obviously not in Cal Water’s best interest to share this information. They don’t want the ratepayers to know the real reason behind rate increases – here Nelsen explains the relationship between rate increases, increased earnings per share, and larger dividends.

“What became abundantly clear is that Cal Water’s primary allegiance is to its stockholders: to improve the stock value and to pay out large dividends to shareholders…To that end, the corporate officers at Cal Water have done a good job managing profits: they have had five consecutive years of increased earnings per share, and have given larger dividends each year since 2010. The market price has increased more than 32 percent, and the net income has increased more than 50 percent in that same time period. Of course, we should not be surprised. Cal Water asked for 89.9 percent rate increases for 2011-2015, and the CPUC approved half of the requested increase — 44.1 percent. These rates have actually increased much more due to automatic increases that the CPUC has authorized Cal Water to make, such as the Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM). Cal Water is guaranteed to meet its revenue requirements as approved by the CPUC, creating a situation of little or no incentive by Cal Water to inform or educate citizens about conservation. When Visalia conserves, meaning Cal Water sells less water in the Visalia district, Cal Water is automatically allowed to increase rates. Increase rates they have, every year, automatically — on top of the CPUC approved rate increase.”

Another interesting point Nelsen makes, and I agree – Cal Water, despite warnings, does not really seem serious about stopping water waste. 

“Though rates are important, water supply and conservation are critical. In April of this year, the Governor of California issued the mandate to Visalia to reduce water consumption by 32 percent, or face up to a $10,000-per-day fine. Cal Water is responsible for establishing and implementing a plan that will result in the mandated reduction. Unfortunately, there has only been a 26.1 percent composite reduction in Visalia. Cal Water has specific data on water use by household, business, and neighborhood, but they have been either unable or unwilling to share that information with the City. They have also failed in aggressively using the data themselves to target high water users. From July to September, the company reports issuing only 190 warnings and no penalties. During the same time, the City of Visalia could only directly address the issue through windshield surveys and citizen complaints. The City warned 1,222 citizens not to over-water, and issued 170 citations to citizens who continued to waste water. And, if a citizen does get a citation, the City implemented a program where they can avoid first-time fines by attending the City’s water school. The program was initiated by the City in order to inform and educate citizens about conserving one of our most vital resources, water.”

Chico did an excellent job of cutting back – Cal Water reported we cut usage by 43%.  Still we were penalized with onerous tiered rates and fines for going over budget? And if you stay at or below your budget, you get a WRAM charge. 

The CPUC reacted to our complaints about WRAM – they have instituted statutory rate increases that will bypass public participation. 

So, Visalia feels they have nowhere to go but public ownership. I think we should pay attention to this conversation.

Story about sports complex built in Santa Rosa with private money – $18 million, self supporting

26 Dec

 I was looking through the Santa Rosa Press Democrat when I found this interesting article posted below.  It makes CARD’s plans for their aquatic center look like a $28 million joke.

CARD wants to put a bond on our homes to pay for a $28 million swimming pool with a roof and stands, to be used mostly for private swim clubs. CARD has already acknowledged, this aquatic center will never be self-supporting, and everybody on the board knows the first bond is only the beginning.

This $18 million center in Santa Rosa will house various sports activities, as well as commercial businesses who will help foot the bills. They will even have meeting rooms for groups.  

As far as I can find, this center is being built entirely with private money. If you can find otherwise, pipe up. 

It’s compared to a similar facility in San Jose which I have actually seen – the Silver Creek Sports Complex. The North Valley Hockey Club has attended many tournaments at this facility, it’s very nice – indoor soccer, hockey, and gymnastics, with a big restaurant right in the middle. Converted from an unused warehouse, that building also houses commercial businesses. It’s in a nice area accessible by bike trail, which doubles as a pedestrian nature trail.

CARD’s plan is for an aquatic center, period. As far as I can tell, no big sponsors have stepped forward, and CARD isn’t recruiting the big corporations like WalMart or Pepsi who offer grants for projects like this. The CARD board has no imagination beyond attaching our homes, for a center the consultant reports will probably be used by less than 15 percent of our town.

When North Valley Hockey came to the city of Chico and the CARD board to ask for such a center as they have since built in Hamilton City,  they were turned away. CARD told them it would be too much competition for Cal Skate, which does not even have a proper hockey rink. Trying to schedule all the groups who wanted to use Cal Skate was getting difficult as well.  I have also sat in conversations with groups like Skatepark Solutions and the group who built the pump track – both were told they must do significant fundraising on their own. You can see on old agendas, CARD has not maintained the skate park properly for a couple of years now – Tom Lando and Michael Worley have both said the community needs to show more support for that facility. The aquatic center people have been given inappropriate  favoritism, anybody with eyes can see that.

Ann Willman, CARD director, has made no bones about her kid being on the swim team.  That’s the kind of ego-centric leadership we have at CARD.  They act as though the aquatic center is a done deal, they just have to figure out a way to put the cost onto the taxpayers, like a booger.

Another thing I notice, this facility in Santa Rosa does not include a swimming pool. Why not? Because, let’s face it, nobody wants to use indoor pools. They’re skanky. In California we swim outside, that’s a no-brainer except for pussies who need heated water. 

Read below, and let us know what you think.

$18 million sports, entertainment complex breaks ground in Santa Rosa

by Bill Swindell
The project, dubbed Epicenter by its developers, will transform an old wine warehouse on Coffey Lane into a 130,000-square-foot destination for athletes and gamers of all stripes. Developers said it will include three indoor soccer fields, a fitness club, bowling center, laser tag, trampoline playground and a sports bar with a 50-foot video wall.

“It’s one of the few sports and entertainment facilities in the country. … There’s very few that are combined,” said Andrew Rowley, chief executive officer of Sports City, which will be the largest tenant at the complex.

“It’s got some panache to it,” Rowley said after a groundbreaking ceremony for the project Monday.

Rowley’s company will operate the three soccer fields and one basketball/multipurpose court, which are slated to open in April. The new fields will be used as well for other sports such as lacrosse — which is growing in popularity — flag football and volleyball.

“Both our youth and adult leagues and children’s programs continue to grow so having additional indoor field and court space is great for the community, but the real benefits of the additional space is that it allows us to provide better league game times,” Rowley said.

While the soccer and other sports leagues will be a big attraction, Epicenter will house a cluster of businesses expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors a year, including repeat customers, said Joe Lourdeaux, vice president of the company, which is made up of local investors. All tenants should be moved in by next summer.

The only similar facility in Northern California is the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose, though that does not have the range of entertainment options as the one planned for Santa Rosa.

The goal is to have “cross pollination” among customers so they will visit different areas, Lourdeaux said.

For example, a mother may want to drop her children off at Rockin’ Jump, a trampoline playground, while she exercises at the Anytime Fitness sports club. An adult soccer team finishing its game might want to go to the Victory House restaurant and sports lounge for post-game beers. The latter facility will have a 50-foot video wall and more than 75 flat-screen televisions for sports viewing for events such as the World Cup and NFL games.

More than 300 parking spaces will be allocated for the project, which will also include a pizzeria and a Starbucks, Lourdeaux said.

“We will make this fun for everyone,” said Lourdeaux, who also serves on the board of directors for the Edgewood Cos., a Lake Tahoe development company. His father, Wally, was an investor at the marina at Lake Sonoma.

“We want to put the family back into family entertainment; to build a place where you can have your kid’s birthday party, your own retirement party, date night, bring your kids during the day and your co-workers during the night,” he added.

The developers purchased the warehouse from Woodstock Properties, an affiliate of the Charles M. Schulz family. Woodstock was extremely helpful in helping to get the project off the ground, Lourdeaux said.

“They graciously held on to this (property) for almost a year until we got everything in place,” Lourdeaux said. Jean Schulz, the widow of cartoonist Charles Schulz, is an investor in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.
The building, constructed in the 1960s, used to be wine storage facility. The remodeled facility will have solar panels, LED lighting, energy efficient mechanical systems and a natural cooling system.

 Other tenants will include a retail sports shop; a facility to house parties, meetings and banquet rooms; and an upscale bowling center that will house 12 lanes with an additional VIP suite with four lanes that can be rented for parties and events.

There will an area for high-tech games, including a theater motion ride utilizing similar technology to the popular Star Tours ride at Disneyland.

When fully opened, Epicenter and its tenants will employ over 250 people, the developers said. AXIA Architects and Wright Contracting are leading the design and construction teams, while Bank of America is the financing partner for the project.

 The project will allow Sports City to expand from its current pair of soccer facilities, one off Piner Road in Santa Rosa and the other outside Cotati off Stony Point Road.

The Cotati site will remain in operation going forward while the Piner Road one will close. The latter suffered with a lack of parking and showers as well as not being climate controlled, which can be difficult for summer league players in the sweltering heat.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or On Twitter @BillSwindell.

The squeaky wheels still gets the grease – state regulators propose an end to The Moonbeam’s draconian water conservation policy

22 Dec

I found the story below on the Fox News website, picked up from Associated Press. A smaller, back page version ran in the Enterprise Record this morning. 

“The state’s overall water conservation target could drop to about 22 percent if all of the 411 eligible water agencies apply for adjustments, he said, adding that the moves come in response to some community leaders who complained that strict conservation targets assigned to individual communities are unfair.”

So what? you say, a drop from 25 to 22 percent. I don’t see that – I see a big old foot in the door. Mine, and yours, city council’s foot, Butte County Board of Supes foot, and other foots from all over the state. We got our foots in the door, and we’re pushing that door, and we ain’t quittin’ any time soon, Bruddah!

Chico cut water usage by about 43 percent right off the bat. But Cal Water set up unrealistic “budgets” – by end of summer, big trees all over town were dying. We kept watering our big trees, having seen our neighbor kill three large, 20 year old redwoods. Those redwoods stood dead next to my house for the entire summer – if they had caught fire, our house would have been a goner. The neighbor finally had them removed, it was sad to watch, and it cost him a pretty penny. 

One day I realized, the honeysuckle hedge that runs about 50 feet down our shared fence was dying because the new neighbor had turned off the drip line the previous owner had set up from his well. It wasn’t even Cal Water, but this neighbor was all on board with the restrictions and killed his yard pretty dead anyway. I realized, I wasn’t just losing a hedge, I was gaining a serious fire hazard, one that would cost money to remove just like the neighbor’s redwoods. I started watering it, regardless of Cal Water’s restrictions – I barely managed to save it. I kept my trees watered – mostly native oaks, but also the evergreens that have protected my house for 50 or 60 years. I was fined about $70 one month, our bill was over $100. 

We are not San Diego, who has no ground water but must depend on transfers from areas like ours, and steal ocean water. When will San Diego learn to live within their means? Southern California and the Bay Area – both with sketchy water supplies, dependent on transfers – flaunted the water restrictions, going over “budget” the entire time. Here in Chico, we were punished with onerous rates and fines even after we’d cut usage by 43 percent.

Fuck you Cal Water, my foot is in the door now, someday it is going to be in your rectum.

From Fox News:

California regulators on Monday proposed relaxing water conservation targets that have required communities statewide to cut use by 25 percent during historic drought.

Communities in hot inland regions and those using new sources, such as recycled water and recently built desalination plants, could be eligible for reduced conservation requirements, said Max Gomberg, climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board.

The state’s overall water conservation target could drop to about 22 percent if all of the 411 eligible water agencies apply for adjustments, he said, adding that the moves come in response to some community leaders who complained that strict conservation targets assigned to individual communities are unfair.

“For right now, drought conditions are persisting,” he said. “We’re proposing modest changes.”

California is in its driest four-year span on record, and officials anticipate a possible fifth year of drought. Weather forecasters say a strong El Nino weather system could drench the state, but one good year won’t be enough to rehydrate the parched landscape.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year required communities throughout the state to reduce water use by 25 percent. State water regulators set individual targets for local agencies to meet, varying between 4 and 36 percent compared with 2013, but those targets will expire in February.

Brown recently extended his executive order, giving regulators authority to enforce conservation measures through October 2016, if California still faces drought in January.

Local community leaders have criticized the individual targets as unfair and unrealistic. In Southern California, local governments argued state officials should acknowledge huge investments in new supplies to prepare for drought.

This year, the San Diego region completed a $1 billion seawater desalination plant, the largest in the Americas. Orange County recently expanded wastewater recycling to produce 100 million gallons of drinking water daily.

“It has been difficult to tell our ratepayers that their investments in local supply projects have not resulted in providing the buffer against drought as intended,” Halla Razak, the city of San Diego’s public utilities director, wrote state regulators this month.

Some environmental groups oppose giving local governments credit for new supplies, saying it might discourage conservation.

The state water board will take public comment on the proposed changes for roughly two weeks. Gomberg said the state water board could hold a public hearing Feb. 2.

Who would have known Feaster was so well connected? Well, that’s the way things work around here – you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours!

21 Dec

What do we know about Paradise police officer Patrick Feaster? 

We’ve seen the films – I tried not to watch, but they’ve played it again and again – the body of a living human being being rolled over by a car and left like a mannequin in the road. A head pops out of the top of the car like a jack-in-the-box, jolts violently, and disappears back into the car. 

Something that bugs the hell out of me is that Feaster never once bends over the woman’s body. I mean, she might have been alive still, needed somebody to say something, comfort her a little. I can’t believe he acts as though she’s not even there. 

It’s a snuff movie, I can’t believe Ch 12 and 7 would just play it again and again. We need to see it? I don’t need to see it – I already know, you don’t want to mess with Paradise police. Ask Robert Funk, whose arm was almost twisted off by Paradise police officer Robert “RJ” Pickering.  Mr. Funk was celebrating his own birthday with friends at his Paradise eatery, when he had to use the bathroom out back. Pickering saw him and said he thought Funk was a prowler. He yanked open the bathroom door and forced Funk out of the bathroom, grabbing his arm and twisting it behind his back as Mr. Funk protested he was the property owner.  I thought that was also incompetence on Pickering’s part. Funk had owned a well-known eatery for years. In a town that size, the cops should know people.  Mr. Funk ended up with a dislocated arm and a pantsfull of his own excrement. He sued the city and won an undisclosed amount, but I just saw RJ in a news piece about a month ago, acting like a spokesman for Paradise PD.

I’ve known little RJ since he was a child, and if anybody had asked me, I could have told them he’s got a suitcase full of problems. But nobody asked me. They really need to do further background checks on these people before they give them the authority to maim, kill or just plain humiliate people.  They should also have to live in the town where they serve, so people know them too.

Patrick Feaster also apparently grew up around here. In fact, he’s very well connected. His dad is with Chico School District – I remembered his name, he’s one of the salaries that adds to the cost of educating your kid, but adds nothing to your kid’s education. But young Feaster has a more well-known relative – former Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan.

This story above is apparently from last year. There is speculation among the comments included in the link that Feaster is getting special treatment, and also that he is too zealous about getting drunk drivers because of the award. I wonder myself – if he saw these folks exit the bar, having been kicked out for being intoxicated and rowdy, why did he let them get in the car? Why didn’t he flash that red light right on the spot? I wonder – did Thomas see the cop car behind him, and lose control of the car? 

And what about the person(s) at the bar, who, knowing Thomas was intoxicated, let him leave in a car? Don’t bars have some responsibility? You’re not supposed to serve an intoxicated person.  It takes some booze for a guy to get that drunk. 

This whole sad affair leaves a lot of questions about how the county deals with their own personnel. We need more outside, non-affiliated oversight here. Butte County is starting to resemble Hazzard County, and Ramsey is starting to look like Boss Hogg. 

UPDATE: This has made a national splash –



There’s a revolving door on the jailhouse at O-ville

20 Dec

You know I hate being negative all the time, it’s nice to have something positive to talk about once in a while. But, I’m a skeptic, it’s hard not to wonder – how long will a good thing last?

Just as I was working myself to a state of total paranoia about crimes in my hood, I see Chico PD has been ARRESTING CREEPS!

From this morning’s Enterprise Record:

“The Chico Police Department made arrest in three separate incidents Thursday night that included burglary and possession of a stolen gun.”

The first arrestee was pulled over for a vehicle code violation early Thursday evening at West First and Walnut. Chico PD officers  also found the man in possession of loaded stolen gun and crank.  The gun had been reported stolen here in town previously this year.

A local man who grew up in Red Bluff and describes himself as “self-employed in Chico”, this guy was just arrested in January of this year for a similar violation – possession of a firearm by a felon, as well as “receiving stolen property not exceed [sic] $950″

Boek was booked into Butte County jail on a variety of weapon and drug charges.”

My question being, why were the charges in January dismissed? 

Why doesn’t the ER ever do the simple homework I just did on this guy – I entered his name here:

I really don’t know if the ER is incompetent or they are just trying to protect the police and DA’s office.

Another repeat offender was picked up later that same night in the same neighborhood as he was “riding a bicycle away from a vehicle with a broken window”  This man was found in possession of bolt cutters – considered a “burglary tool” in the code – and stolen credit cards and “electronics.” 

I’m glad these cops are paying attention, this is just what we need – but this guy was just arrested a month and a half ago for the roughly the same thing – possession of “burglary tools” and drugs – “opiods” – I’m going to guess those had been stolen.

This man was held for just over a month without ever making a plea, and then was for some reason released “o/r” – on his own recognizance – on December 9. He was picked up again just Thursday night, and booked back into jail on Friday, the 18, just over a week after he was released back onto the streets to endanger lives and steal from people.

I must offer my congratulations to his lawyer, a former tenant of mine, Saul Henson.

Thursday night was a busy night for Chico PD! You have to wonder, aren’t there any crimes committed the rest of the week? 

“Police took a report of two residential burglaries Thursday night on the 700 block of Eastwood Avenue and the 1000 block of Cypress Street, both near Ninth Street.

The residents were sleeping during the burglaries, according to a press release. In one incident, a resident woke up and saw a suspect in his bedroom.

The suspect fled in one of the victim’s vehicles. At about 2 a. m. Friday, an officer saw the stolen vehicle on Warner Street near West Second Avenue, according to the release.

Officers pulled over the vehicle and arrested Shilo Squires, 19, of Gridley.

Squires was identified as the subject who was seen in one of the homes. Most of the property from the residential burglaries was in the vehicle, the release said.

Squires was booked into Butte County jail on charges of burglary, possession of stolen property, and possession of a stolen vehicle.”

This is a sad story. Shilo Squires is a kid from Gridley. He has been in trouble in Chico since April of this year, caught driving a car without a license. 

In August he was charged twice in 5 days – first for receiving stolen property. This first case is confusing – actually arrested in July, he was allowed off on his own recognizance. He was rearrested and charged in August, bailed out at $10,000. 

Three days later he was cited for being in the park “after hours.” He was not held, but given a $508 ticket and a court date of September 17 to dispute it. He neither showed nor paid the fine.

Squires had jumped bail by November, the DA issued another warrant for his arrest. He was caught burglarizing these people mentioned above – broke into their house while they were sleeping –  December 18. 

Squires had received “o/r” on his previous charges even though he had prior charges in Butte County, he received bail even though he’d failed to appear several times and warrants had to be re-issued for his arrest. And now they catch him in the act of new crimes.

I can’t help but wonder what the hell is going on at Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s office. Here we are, hiring new cops, paying outrageous salaries and benefits for our hired guns, but when they take the perps to O-ville, they encounter a revolving door.

Furthermore we have this situation with Mad Dog Feaster – yes, I’d like to see Mike Ramsey recalled, so we don’t have to pay his frigging pension.

Nextdoor: Interesting conversation with a woman who claims to be “homeless”

19 Dec

I’ve been stuck in the house the last few days with a cold. Been doing a lot of reading.  Yesterday I read an interesting conversation on the social network site for neighbors, Nextdoor.

A woman has been trying for a couple of months now to start a productive conversation on “Solutions to Homelessness.” I welcome a good conversation on this topic, and wonder why we haven’t had one. I see it goes rude pretty fast.

In October, the woman started the conversation with, “I am starting a new thread because the last thread on homelessness was getting ridiculous! If you care to comment on this thread please give us REASONABLE solutions that would help the homelessness in our community.”

I wondered, how did the previous conversation go off track?

The October thread seemed to be moving along well. Various neighbors chimed in with their feelings about the umbrella that is “homelessness”, their compassion for these people and their frustration. Councilwoman Reneatte Fillmer talked about various agencies that work with “homeless” and “mentally ill” and encourages neighbors to donate to those agencies that need the most help. Other neighbors retorted politely but firmly that these agencies are bringing more “homeless” and “mentally ill” to our area from outside, and we need to make Chico “less hospitable” to these folks.

Then the thread quieted down, and no more remarks were made until yesterday, when a woman named “Teena” wandered into the conversation and began attacking neighbors who expressed any kind of negativity toward “homeless.”  I don’t know if she’s genuine or an actor having a riot of a time, but she seems familiar.

Here’s the most recent message she posted – other messages were directed at other posters, by name, rude, hostile and ugly.

Oh if yr. referring 2 me, I will reply on what I read. And speak my feelings Just like ya people speak yrs. So ya have no room 2 tell me what 2 do. I am very much “CIVIL”. And guess what I finally got heard I got 10 comments back (WOW) & I will ” REPLY”. I am not mean but I & my HOMELESS FRIENDS are very tired of the Community Shit. They know nothing about all of us. Just what they see & assume it’s all the homeless. Yes we are not perfect. But ya people are not down town or anywhere else seeing what I see all hours of the NITE, cause yr. All tucked in yr. Nice warm beds. Do ya people forget what town ya live in? College, ya people have no idea what they do? I watch!!! So back off some


I feel I recognize Teena – she’s snarled at me as I’ve entered the grocery store or rode my bike through the park, she’s gibbered at me in the post office annex when I’ve tried to retrieve my mail, she’s accosted me in the parking lot of various retail centers, telling me I should give her some money because I enjoy the luxury of owning a car.

One day I sat in our car at Safeway, waiting for my husband to come out of the store, watching a disheveled woman meandering the parking lot, seemingly a drunken, random path, sometimes she’d stumble, her legs did not seem so sure.  Except, she was walking very close to and examining various cars, looking inside, eyeballing the doors. I sat watching, waiting to see if she would enter any of the cars, but she disappeared. Was that “Teena”?

In the above post she reminds us, the college students get wild Downtown at night. Some people, myself included, believe the rash of tire slashings has been done by young people, who either live in Chico or come into town to party. Those of us old folks know it’s not just college students, but college age people in general, most of them living in a traditional home and many of them gainfully employed. Yeah, they come Downtown to get drunk, and drunks are not very nice. That’s a separate problem, and I don’t think the city or county is getting a handle on that either.

The problem with these self-described “homeless” is they want to act like that 24-7. They don’t pay bills, they expect to be treated like back-door cousins. They are overwhelming public services meant for local people. They are sending whole parts of town into blight.  They are a black hole on our economy. The use the word “homeless” like a shield. 

As of this morning posters are starting to get angry that this woman is allowed on their private message board. If I could be sure she was genuine, I’d say, “let her blow her mouth.” If she’s for real, she’s her own worse enemy.

I’m happy to see a conversation where people are being honest about their feelings toward this army of the night. I’m glad to see more people express how I feel – things the county and city are doing are actually attracting bad people here, people who think we not only must tolerate their bad behavior but put them up with lodging. We’re supposed to be cheerful and jolly when they growl at our young children, or make obscene threats because we didn’t treat them to their liking.  More and more I see ranters – people who just wander and yell at nobody in particular  – if I acted like that at a city council meeting, I’m afraid Chris Constantin would taser me.

Most Nextdoor posters have expressed a desire to help these people, but “enough is enough,” and “there’s only so much room at the inn...”

I  think it’s interesting that Reanette Fillmer tells us we need to give money to various agencies that deal with these people. Butte County CAO Paul Hahn reported, with Fillmer sitting right across the table from him, that Butte County already spends over half the budget on homeless, mentally ill, and families with dependent children.

Fillmer is a Cal PERS employee. Her interest is funding Cal PERS. Cal PERS is in a deep amount of trouble, having lost another round on the stock market, they are demanding more money from public entities. Council member Randall Stone explains what this will mean to Chico on his Facebook:

I know, Stone is pandering for 2016, just read the article.

Remember, Cal PERS not only owes all those pensions to all those retirees, they  also get salaries, benefits and pensions for themselves. Their salaries are comparable to those in Bell, California, and they pay NOTHING toward their benefits and pensions. Are you getting the picture?

Perpetuating the influx of homeless into this area perpetuates half the county budget Folks. Behavioral Health Director Adrian Kittrell has the highest salary in Butte County – about $269,000/year, out of which he pays NOTHING for his $82,000 benefits/pension package.  And he has the nerve to say he  can’t afford to do outreach. He’s just a stuffed suit who moves between the seat of his car and meeting room chairs. 

I am wary to chime in on the Nextdoor conversation –  whenever I start talking about public compensation around here, somebodies get their nose out and that’s the end of the conversation.  But, I’ll try to keep an eye on it. 




Newsbits: CARD hosts public aquatic center meeting tonight; Council votes to apply for “Intervenor” status in Cal Water rate case

16 Dec

I am staying home this week, because I’m tired of having this dam-ned cold. I’m going to beat it, but that means house arrest with a heating pad and the ginormous size bottle of generic aspirin.

I won’t be able to attend the public meeting CARD has scheduled tonight, but I did get some news from Director Ann Willmann.

Dear Juanita, 

There were 29  people that signed in at the first public workshop. The reports provided by the consultants are the notes from the meeting. There is a sheet included with comments from attendees. There were only a few comments as most of them came through the interactive process that was reported through the documents provided. There will be a final report to the board of directors in early 2016 that will include the information gathered through these workshops. 

 In regards to the upcoming meeting notice, there is a notice on our home page of our website with a large picture. Additional advertising took place via a PSA to other news agencies, an email newsletter to our current customers as well as an email to past attendees. Our goal is to have public participation in the process and I appreciate your feedback regarding available documents. In the near future back up documents will be posted on our website as part of future agenda packets. I have requested the addition of the Shapiro Pool info to the feasibility page.

 Thank you, Ann

I believe the reports she’s talking about have been loaded on the website, I have not had time to check.

I didn’t make it to last night’s council meeting, but watched online. The item regarding the Cal Water rate increase came up after 9:30, and went so fast I wasn’t sure what I heard. I listened to it again today, and I think they voted to apply for “Intervenor” status. This whole thing is worse than trigonometry class – you’re afraid to ask a question because it might just get more confusing.

It sounded at first like council attorney Vince Ewing was recommending “Party” status, saying there was really no difference between “Party” and “Intervenor,” that they are used “interchangeably” in the rules. Then he seems to shift, recommending “Intervenor” status. That’s what Sorensen must have heard too, cause that was the motion I heard – “Intervenor” status. That passed  unanimously.

Merry Christmas Council, I was afraid you were going to load my stocking full of horse puckey again this year.

Ewing also recommended the city file for legal/attorney fees to be paid by the CPUC. See, I told you this guy was way more qualified than me to be doing this kind of work. He is a bright young man with oodles of expensive schooling and he looks really sharp in that suit.

And now, I will leave you for my Max Fleischer cartoons and a cup of hot lemonade.

Chico PD hires 5 new officers, promotes 4 – is this going to solve our crime problem?

16 Dec

 I don’t know if you’ve been “Nextdoor” – a social website for neighbors that was introduced into Chico a few months ago. I signed up, despite a pain-in-the-ass process for which I was first asked to give my social security number or my credit card number but finally opted for a post card sent to my house to “prove” my residency.

I went along with it because I was hoping for a sort of bulletin board about crime in our neighborhoods. I expected the classified ads, the greetings, and now I find there are exclusive neighbor groups who are allowed to pick and choose who they let in regardless of address. But, I have also found some people use it to inform each other of criminal activity. I’ve noticed this type of post is increasing. 

Lately people have reported stuff like home deliveries being stolen or opened and rifled through, cars are being broken into and items stolen, and one man’s back yard shed was jimmied. These crimes have all been reported within a mile of my house. 

The pivotal weakness is that not very many of my neighbors, or anybody for that matter,  have signed onto Nextdoor, so I know there’s stuff going on that’s not appearing on the site. My husband and I used to keep up a chatter with our nearby neighbors, but our hood has changed alot over 15 years.  Lately a lot of my neighbors have moved, new people have appeared who I don’t know. One neighbor who signed onto Nextdoor has since moved, a new woman lives in her house, but the previous neighbor is still registered at the old house. This kind of website needs a good monitor. The monitor I contacted never responded to me. 

But, I see enough to know, crime is steadily increasing in Chico, and the new cops they’ve hired over the last year and the raises and promotions they’ve given have not changed anything. 

In today’s Enterprise Record, I read, “Five new Chico police officers were sworn in and four officers received promotions during a ceremony Tuesday at the Chico Fire Training Center.”

I guess there’s some good news – “The new officers — Jeremy Gagnebin, Jamie McElhinney, Trey Reid, Francisco Salinas and Miranda Wallace — graduated from the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy and will now undergo roughly six months of field training, Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien said”  – this means, they will pay 50 percent of their own benefits and pension. I don’t think that’s enough but it’s better than the 12 percent most cops pay. 

“O’Brien also announced the promotions of Sgt. Jeramie Struthers, Lt. Matt Madden, Lt. Rob Merrifield and Deputy Chief Dave Britt.”  I’ll lay down a five spot right now – Merrifield is spiking – he’s getting a raise now so he can retire soon at a higher pension. 

And this is very telling – “O’Brien’s promotions of Madden, Merrifield and Britt were the first of his tenure as the city’s chief of police, he said, adding that when he stepped into the role six months ago he had to replace half of his command staff.  ‘I had to tap some very specific individuals on the shoulder to come serve at a very difficult time,’  he said, noting strained relations between the Police Department and community, as well as historically low staffing.And each of them answered that call. In that six-month period they have all performed extraordinarily well.’  The Chico Police Department, O’Brien said, is still hiring. The department is authorized to fill 92 sworn positions. About 88 of those are currently filled.

So, O’Brien is aware the public is very pissed off, that’s good. But low staffing? They always say that. They hire more but crime just keeps increasing. They pay themselves too well, according to that front page article run in the ER recently, and I’ve checked – they get paid on a par with San Francisco PD. Been to San Francisco lately? Been shot/mugged/carjacked? Here we have petty crimes committed by a population of scum bags who are allowed to camp illegally in our parks, sit/lie/and beg on our sidewalks, harass our merchants, all despite the creation of endless ordinances designed to give the cops more excuses not to bust any of these people. 

On Nextdoor Chico PD officer Paul Ratto announced they again rousted the permanent illegal camp along the creek and under the bridge at Humboldt and Cypress. 

“Target Officers encounter repeat encampments under the bridge at Cypress Ave. / Humboldt Ave. The Target Team is in an education phase of the new ordinance (9.20.050 CMC) prohibiting subjects from storing personal property in Chico’s waterways. Today, three subjects were contacted and two were arrested on outstanding warrants. Warnings were given regarding the ordinance. Also on scene was Stairways Program Manager Michael Madieros. Sometimes in these situations subjects with mental health or substance abuse issues are identified and can be rapidly housed. Through the Stairways Program these subjects are given a place were their needs and met and treatment can begin.”

Two of them had arrest warrants, the third was illegally camping – why can’t that person be cited or arrested? They hand him over to Michael Madieros – a guy who has made a tidy living for himself because he is willing to deal with these people when the cops don’t want to be bothered. Stairways is part of Butte County Behavioral Health. County Admin Officer Paul Hahn recently reported over half the county’s budget goes to “helping” the homeless and mentally ill. I have no idea what Madieros is paid, but there’s a pack of them down there getting salaries, benefits and pension for continuing to enable and encourage dysfunctional behavior. It just perpetuates their salaries, they don’t care about the consequences this practice is having on the rest of the functional community.

What in the world are we doing, catering to these people, and paying the police more and more money to stand by “meeting their needs”?  O’Brien compliments himself  – “During the past six months, he added, the city has been able to stem the flow of officers leaving the Police Department, which is something O’Brien has attributed to competitive salaries and a “sense of hope brought on by the leadership of the department’s command staff.”

Yeah, “competitive salaries,” competitive to huge cities with outrageous crime problems.  I don’t see any hope down there – I see a train headed for a picnic blanket. 

UPDATE 12/8/16 – Rob Merrifield retires at his spiked pay rate, Item 1.7: