Archive | January, 2016

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.

Public Management Contracts: “FISCAL IMPACT: The PSM Initial Proposal results in a fiscal impact of $82,994 over two years, or $9,222 average cost per employee”

3 Jan
Here's our next Book In Common

Here’s our next Book In Common

It would be so easy at  this time of year to wrap up in a shawl and retire to a rocking chair with a good book. The urge to hibernate through January is almost overwhelming. But, there’s a council meeting Tuesday, and there’s contracts on the table.

The Public Safety Management proposal is available for viewing here:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=231&meta_id=47812

Read it yourself – they want automatic raises and more benefits. Bend over and squeal like a collective pig Chico taxpayers, as if we could stop Sorensen from handing the candy jar to the employees who got him elected. Go down there and shake your fist at that bad, bad man!

Better yet – let’s put our heads together and figure out who we can find to run against Sean Morgan in 2016. Getting rid of Morgan might restore some balance to the council, right now Sorensen and his little friends are on a tear. They are going to lead us into bankruptcy if we don’t do something to curb the salaries, benefits and pensions they are handing to management employees.

I know, you want to hibernate, me too. That’s the best time to make yourself a monster pot of java and stay alert.

Strap yourself in, 2016 may be a rough ride!

2 Jan

I feel overwhelmed by tv and print news stories about “the year in review.”   I don’t like letting the media tell me what were their most important stories, it smacks of tail-wagging-dog.

I let the readers tell me what were the most important stories of the year.  Looking over my statistics for the past year, I found one of my most hit posts was the recent one about Paradise Police officer Patrick Feaster being related to former Butte County Supervisor Jane Dolan. I’m still getting searches for those names and also “recall Ramsey”. We’ll have to see where that sad story goes in 2016. 

I don’t watch county politics as much as city politics, that story about Feaster was sent by a friend.  I see the posts that usually generate the most traffic here are those related to City of Chico management, or mismanagement, whichever way you look at it.  That’s the way it’s always been, pretty much.  This blog really reached a peak under the liberals, when the general feeling around town was, “why would we want to pay more taxes when our city council buys stuff like ‘Spirit Flags’?!”   We thought it would be different under a group of “conservatives” – boy, when will we learn – they all tell us whatever we want to hear, we’re just too damned easy!

People are slowly figuring that out, and “Brown Act” has become one of the most common searches.   I haven’t covered the city’s – really, Mark Sorensen’s – skirmish with Jessica Allen over the Brown Act, because I don’t understand it. The Brown Act seems toothless to me, really, because it depends on the honesty of the elected people, and the diligence of the voters. Excuse me – guffaw – that is a hoot.  I hooted my way through Sorensen’s assertion that they’re not doing anything wrong, just go back to minding your own business people.

People are also coming here to find out about tax increases, in general, but “sales tax increase” and “assessment” are probably the most common search phrases. Posts about CARD’s proposed aquatic center are specifically the most hit.

I think Bob and Jim speak for everybody when they express concern about the upcoming tax measure tsunami headed our way this year. It’s like, knowing the Dark Forces are massing, somewhere out there beyond the stars, trying to go on with your life with one ear pricked up to the sky, one eye turned to the horizon. 

2016 will be a hostile year for the Taxpayer. We have to figure out whether we are going to sit here and be milked like a herd of shackled bovine or whether we will mount counter campaigns and demand the public employees start paying down their own pension deficit, out of the salaries they currently enjoy. 

As always, I will have one ear pricked to the skies and one eye on the horizon, and a megaphone to my mouth to squeal like a pig as soon as I see the rough beast coming ’round at last. You do same!