Mayor Sorensen runs a racket

6 Jan

Last month Chico city council brought the “noise” and “disorderly events” ordinances up for an overhaul. Chico PD complained that both these ordinances were straining their workload but needed to be changed so that they could better enforce them.

The Number 1 problem with the noise ordinance was that most people were complaining about construction sites operating before 7 am and after 7pm. So, they extended construction hours from 6am to 10pm.  This, says our mayor, is to address OSHA rules about extremely hot weather.

Mark Sorensen ought to have to wear a t-shirt listing his sponsors – Chico PD and Franklin Paving.  Franklin Paving was a major donor to former Chief Mike Maloney’s PAC, which paved Mark Sorensen, Reanette Fillmer, and Andrew Coolidge’s path to council, so those three will be forever grateful.  During a construction boom, construction companies just want to get that money as fast as they can – they don’t give a rat’s ass about their employees.

As for the “party” or “disorderly events” ordinance, the cops say they needed to drop the section requiring one or more citizen complaints before they are allowed to wade in like Clint Eastwood and bust up a party. They said, and Enterprise Record editor David Little claimed in an editorial, “The primary flaw with the existing law was it required a citizen to sign a complaint, a step that could and sometimes did result in retaliation.”

Little explains, The police said the old ordinance wasn’t doing its job. They’d enacted it just 41 times since it went into effect and hadn’t cited anyone, despite averaging more than 1,700 party complaints each year. That sounds to us like the ordinance is working.

But police say they go back to the same addresses night after night, which to them is a sign that the ordinance isn’t working.”

No, Editor, that is a sign that the cops isn’t working!  1700 complaints and they haven’t cited anyone? They say they go back to the same addresses night after night – the old ordinance allows them to cite on the second complaint.

Eliminating the requirement for a complaint allows Chico PD to pull over and investigate any gathering over 20 people that officers suspect to be “out of control.” If they decide to break up the party, they are allowed to bill the “responsible party” for their “response costs” – overtime etc for every city employee who comes on scene.

The responsible party may very well be the person who hosts the party. But if no one steps forward to take responsibility for the party, the homeowner is considered to be the responsible party. In the case of high school kids partying while the parents are away, this is legitimate. But, how can a landlord be responsible for a party when they don’t reside at the house?  The law limits what a landlord can demand of their tenants – it’s not legal to tell your tenants they can’t have their friends over for a reasonable and orderly gathering. The problem being, here, the police get to decide what is “orderly.”  The landlord hears it later – despite what the tenants have to say.

This ordinance also allows the police to notify the landlord of a “disorderly event” by mail.  All they have to do, is say they mailed the notice, and if a second offense occurs at the same address, they can bill the property owner for “response costs.”

The police say they expect landlords to evict after the first offense.

All this to protect neighbors who were harassed after they placed complaints?

After I read Little’s editorial, I wrote him a quick e-mail asking if he knew of any specific incidences of a citizen being harassed or “retributed” against for making a complaint.

He replied, “At the meeting, an officer mentioned that people who called and signed a complaint sometimes were subjected to vandalism. Specifics may be contained in the video, or I can ask Ashiah what specifics were mentioned, but she’s not in the office right now and I don’t want to pass along secondhand information.”

In past, Little has held my letters, demanded I take stuff out, because he didn’t believe something I said had really happened that way.  I don’t know where he gets off treating me that way, everything I’ve ever told him has turned out to be true. In one incident, he got the other party to admit they had been lying when they initially denied my report. I tell what I see and hear, from meetings at which no notes are taken.  I take copious notes, and I keep them stored, anytime anybody wants to see them, I’ve got piles of notes.  I write down names, I ask more questions, I write and write.

I didn’t want to make him mad, but I thought the coverage of this ordinance has been very sloppy journalism. I responded, “Now listen, I don’t mean to be flip, but what’s the difference between that and “second hand,” or “anecdotal” information?”

His excuse: “Ashiah said she has heard it several times during discussions of the noise ordinance. She can’t recall whether that was in a committee meeting, on Tuesday’s discussion of the noise ordinance (before the party ordinance) or in conversations with city officials away from meetings. I too have heard that residents are hesitant to complain.”

Even I was shocked, this is a new low for Editor Little.

Wanting to give the poor beaten down bastard another shot, I e-mailed the police department on the website:

I have heard there have been retaliations against folks who have complained about their neighbors’ parties – where can I find the record of these complaints?”

I got this response:

 Web PD (web-pd@Chicoca.gov)
 
1/04/16
Hello Ms. Sumner,

I do apologize for the late response to your email.

I am told this is not information that is tracked by us so there isn’t any “record” to refer you to. But you are welcome to look through the media log (public information we provide for the news media, etc) that we have available at our lobby counter.

Regards,

Bret

Chico Police Department”

Well, there you have it – there is no evidence of any complaints of retribution from complainants.  It’s a racket, cooked up by the cops, perpetuated by the mayor, and endorsed by the local daily editor. They are now allowed to bill property owners for doing the job they are already getting paid for.

The city has handed the cops, and fire, very generous contracts. They don’t have the money to pay for the stuff they promised them, so they are turning to the taxpayers.

As a landlord, I screen my tenants, but I still don’t know what I am getting until they have moved into my house. Sometimes they look great on paper, they have friends and relatives who pose as ex-landlords, they use old information that is hard to verify. A couple of the worst tenants I ever had were recommended to me by a former city council member.

What would I do if I found out my tenant was having an out-of-control party? Shouldn’t I, as a taxpayer, be allowed to call the police if the party goers refuse to desist, just as I would call the police if I came home from vacation and found my house had been robbed?

But, for a second incident, I am charged? Here’s the sitch –  I’ve had tenants trash my house as they were moving out because I’d terminated their lease.  I can’t expect taxpayer supported public employees to help me without paying extra?  Would I be charged if my house was robbed twice?

This is another money grab by Chico PD.

And what else really bothers me about this whole thing is the concerted effort on the part of agencies, including the newspaper, that are supposed to work on behalf of the voters and taxpayers.

And then, as if he’s messing with us, Little printed a cartoon Dec. 29 – “The Anecdotal Evidence Detective”.  Ha, ha, ha, joke’s on us.

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