Archive | February, 2016

Safeway closed down recycling centers because of transient problem? Not because the bottom is dropping out of the recycling business?

26 Feb

The other  day I read an article in the Enterprise Record indicating that the NexCycle recycling centers located at Safeway and other grocery stores around town are closing, due to “customer feedback” regarding criminal activities surrounding these centers. 

I was shocked, because I know there’s a law that says grocers have to provide recycling services within a certain distance of their store, unless there’s already a service located within that distance. Yeah, the story in the ER says the grocers will face fines, but they don’t seem to care.  The customers have spoken!

The article goes on to describe the type of activities surrounding these centers – former and current city council members Tom Nickel and Randall Stone said they found three guys taking a bike apart, hack saws (which are considered “burglary tools” by California criminal code) were found hidden in a dumpster nearby, indicating these people are operating a “bike chop shop” right behind not only the grocery store but the post office annex.

Well duh. These problems have been going on for years. When  I tried to take my household recyclables to the center at Mangrove Plaza a good 20 years ago, the person operating the center asked me if I thought it was a good idea to bring my young children back there. I was perturbed that this person felt she was running a service for transients instead of the general public. We’ve trucked our recyclables to the Work Training Center ever since. There we see other housewives, retirees, other citizens like us instead of druggies and creeps.

But we use the post office annex, we shop at Safeway, we ride our bikes down that back alley past the low-income housing project located behind Safeway Plaza. We see garbage, vandalism to the buildings, graffitti, and last year, somebody lit a fire in the dumpster and we found the back of the store had caught fire. At that time it was suspected that transients started the fire because Safeway was taking on a new policy to kick them off the front doors, no more panhandling tolerated. I haven’t heard anything about any further investigation. 

City of Chico has tried to ignore the problems at Mangrove Plaza and other grocers in town, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on Downtown Chico and One Mile.  I myself have sat in meetings, two feet from former police chief Trostle, telling council committees exactly what I’d  seen down at Mangrove Plaza, and the chief just sat there glaring,  like he want to Feaster me right on the spot. 

Council sat on their thumbs while the post office annex became an overnight homeless shelter, and did nothing when the post office cut annex hours to 7am to 10 pm. That might work for Maureen Kirk, but some people work at night, they like to run their errands at night. And let’s face it – now the transients OWN the post office annex and that entire surrounding area, including private businesses located there, from 10:01 pm to 6:56 am.

So good for Nickel and Stone. But you know what – I don’t believe Safeway acted solely on the directive of the public, or they would have closed that center about 20 years ago. Reading on further in my free online copy of  the Chico ER, I found an explanation that makes more sense.

In a pick-up story from the Monterey County Herald, buried on a back page of the Chico ER, Kathryn McKenzie explains that the closure of recycling centers “around the Central Coast” is being motivated by “historically low levels” of recycled scrap.  Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said,  ‘The recyclers have seen $50 million in revenue just disappear from the marketplace’ due to low scrap values.'”

Furthermore, “An additional processing payment is also supposed to come from beverage manufacturers, but this isn’t covering recyclers’ costs either. And not only that, because so many people are recycling containers for money, the Container Beverage Recycling Fund has been running at a deficit for the past few years, expected to surpass $74 million this year, according to http://www.resource- recycling.com. “

“…so many people are recycling containers for money…” ?  I heard that complaint from a garbage company spokesman years ago, saying it is not worth the cost of providing household recycling in Chico, because more people in Chico redeem their own recyclables. I know, my family resents paying CRV on our containers, we want that money back. But I don’t think they’re talking about families – they’re obviously talking about the armies of homeless that have taken over those grocery store redemption centers for their own little banks.  

I know, if you pay the CRV, why isn’t there enough money to pay everybody? Because the CRV has been robbed to pay stuff at the state level, the way city of Chico robs various funds to pay salaries, pensions and benefits for an  army of bureaucrats. These two little armies are double-ending our CRV fund, and there’s nothing left for those of us who actually paid the CRV when we bought that container. 

How to solve this problem? Well you can think can’t you? They want to raise the CRV that you pay when you buy beverages.

Meetings in Sacramento are involving not just legislators and policymakers, but also grocers, beverage manufacturers, recyclers and others who have a stake in the issue. The good news is that it appears there will be a fix in the state budget that takes effect July 1 to “compensate recycling centers and open them up,” said Murray. Long- term planning to revamp the container recycling program is also underway.

One of the options is that the CRV might be increased — something that hasn’t happened in the three decades since the program began. “ That’s on the table,” said Murray, who noted that the deposit could go up on glass and plastic containers in particular — glass is a less valuable and bulkier commodity, and plastic is more difficult to recycle.

“I’m a big fan of drinking beer from a glass bottle, but I need to be willing to pay the cost of moving it through the system,” he said. “A higher CRV is the way to do it.”

You realize what this means? The state is about to panhandle you on behalf of their homeless indigent friends. 

Advertisements

Answer from Butte County mosquito district director regarding pension liability – $1,803,155

25 Feb

Hello Juanita,

Sorry I was unavailable for your call this morning, we were having our monthly staff meeting.  The District’s retirement administrator is CalPERS.  The District’s management and employees currently pay 3% of the employee share.  Commencing on January 1, 2018 District management and employees will pay 4%.  The District’s health care provider is Anthem Blue Cross through Golden State Risk Management Authority.  District employees are 100% covered and District employee family members are 80% covered under a Anthem Blue Cross high deductible plan.  The District does not offer post retirement benefits.  As of June 30, 2015, the District reported net pension liability of $1,803,155 for its share of the net pension liability of the Plan.

Let me know if you have any other questions.  I’m usually available from 5:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Matt

CARD to go for assessment – how about they pay their own pensions?

24 Feb

CARD has announced plans to assess property owners, not just for  their proposed aquatic center, but for all their mismanagement problems.  Like I predicted, they will throw out a “wish list” of everything from the aquatic center to new ballfields to a regular cornucopia of activities at DeGarmo Park.

Thanks Jim, for doing the research on assessments, I knew they were bad.

From a San Luis Obispo County document, this definition of “assessment.”

An assessment becomes a lien on parcels of real property to pay for “special benefits” the parcels receive from a project. The lien may be paid off by property owners in a lump sum or may be paid annually with property taxes.

This particular document pertains to a proposition to tax the citizens of San Luis Obispo County for a waste water treatment plant. Here’s a more general document regarding California Assembly Bill 218, passed by a very stupid population back in 1996.

http://www.californiataxdata.com/pdf/proposition218.pdf

This law seems to set up reasonable boundaries for setting up new taxes, but the voters should have read it more closely. Since then, just recently really, the legislature has lowered the threshold by which voters can pass these assessments to only 58 percent.

To me, that’s rule of mob. More people than that ought to have to agree on something before it is instituted in law.  This new rule sets up a giant separation of our voters. In other words – This Means WAR. Driven by the Have’s, who got theirs by ripping off the Working Class.

Read it – the more property you have, the more your vote is “weighted” in these elections. Because they pay more, you might argue, based on the value of their property – not true, that’s not usually the way this tax works.  

Remember the “Mosquito Tax”?  Here’s the break-down on that, from the Butte County Mosquito and Vectors District assessment passed in 2014:

“Homes of one acre or less pay $9.69 plus eight cents for each additional acre. Owners of vacant land will pay $2.42 per parcel. Apartment complexes are assessed $3.85 per apartment up to 20, and 97 cents after that. Farmers will pay 8 cents per acre and undeveloped rangeland is assessed 2 cents an acre.”

The rich will not pay the lion’s share of the mosquito tax – the working class will shoulder this burden. While the big property owners will say, “we pay more!” they must bow to the fact that there are more working class and poor in this town than “One Percenters.”  If you buy a home you pay the developer’s assessments, if you rent you pay the landlords’ assessments. We working class taxpayers will pay more than the developers and the landlords, even more than the rice farmers who breed mosquitoes.

The CARD assessment will likewise fall hardest on homeowners and renters.

Ever wonder what the mosquito tax pays for? Well, for starters, we get district manager Matt Ball, at over $125,000 in salary, paying just 3% of his own pension – 70 percent of his highest year’s salary, available at age 55. To do what? Sit around that Taj Majal (we also paid for) out on Otterson Drive, yakking with his $70,000/year secretary, who pays less than 3% of her package as well?

I called the district (that’s 533 – 6038) to ask a couple of questions.   At 9:05 am, the $70,000 secretary who answered the phone told me “we’re in a meeting right now,” and asked for my phone number so  could return my call. I don’t play that shit – I asked her, when can I call back and talk to Matt Ball?

Why don’t you try back about 1:00?” she suggested, without a hint of cheer.

I said I would, thank you! I don’t know whether to believe her or not though – is management really in a meeting, or just come in when they get around to it?  So I e-mailed Mr. Ball, asking him about the pensions. I asked him which entity administered their pensions (CalPERS is not the only one) and what’s their pension liability. We’ll see if he gets back to me. Ball previously told me that district employees only pay three percent of some very generous pension and benefits programs.

Over at CARD, director Ann Willman makes about the same salary as Ball, but pays NOTHING toward her benefits. Wow. CARD’s unfunded liability, for just a handful of management types, as of June 2014, is about $1.7 million. That’s after a $400,000 “side fund payoff” made in 2012.

Ever wonder, who is responsible for these decisions? Well, your county board of supervisors and your city council are among the entities that name the members of the board that governs the mosquito district. The CARD board is elected by the voters, long term member Jan Sneed receiving over 9,000 votes in 2014. These commissions rubber stamp the compensation packages, I often wonder, do they even read them? 

Here’s the thing – it’s not their money.

But, again People – yeah, you the People over there – you are responsible for this mess. These districts have open meetings, they are ruled by the same public information laws as everybody else, all you have to do is start paying attention.  Haven’t you ever wanted to buy a bag of popcorn and attend a meeting? Make a phone call to ask snoopy questions? You know you do! Come on!

All it takes is a little push to knock down a house of cards.

 

 

Chasing my own tail, I finally got an answer out of Butte County Behavioral Health Director about cops in Enloe ER

21 Feb

I got a note from Tim today, asking if I was still up to having meetings at the library. Thanks for asking Tim. Right now I am up to my armpits in family sickness, but yes, I’d like to gas up the old CTA and get ready for Election 2016.

Maybe I’ll be able to think about that in March,  right now I’m sleeping on my living room floor in increments of about 15 – 20 minutes, one ear always ready for the sound of puking or other illness. It’s the dog flu, it’s hit us good and hard, and we’re hunkering down.

You know how nothing else matters when somebody you love is sick?

Thanks though, I’ll get on that, you other taxpayers start thinking about a meeting too.  

And Thanks again Tim, you reminded me, I finally got an answer from Butte County Behavioral Health Director Dorian Kittrell. I had asked him a few questions about procedure.

As I have repeated about 800 times, the police have always used this story that they spend so much time at Enloe Hospital babysitting homeless people (whom they perceive to be “a danger to themselves or the public”, they need more money for stuff like:

  • special radios – they can’t use their cell phones in the hospital
  • a special room, just for them, within the hospital, where they can sit privately while waiting. Supposedly they have all these reports to fill out, they figure while they cool their heels with these indigents they drag in they should be doing paperwork.  The hospital, they say, is willing to provide a space, but the cops say they need money to fix that space up (not sure what exactly that means). 
  • more staff, automatic step promotions and pay increases,  88 percent of their CalPERS, etc.

I sat in at a meeting where Kittrell described Behavioral Health services, and part of their job is to go to Enloe Hospital to collect “people who are a danger to themselves or the public” from the police.  I wanted to find out, how long does it take these BH staffers to show up at the hospital. Why are the police claiming they are stuck with these indigents for hours on end? 

Kittrell answered back, but was slow in telling me anything. He immediately admitted, “I have been working with the new Chief of Police and it has been helpful to have a collaborative relationship with his department.”  Then he suggested we should meet and discuss it. Oh yeah, right – guy makes over $200,000/year in salary, plus health and pension for which he pays about 9 percent of the premium, but he has time to meet with me and answer questions? But he can’t do it in an e-mail? 

They always try to meet – they don’t want to say anything in writing.  I just had to keep asking.  He told me he’d spoken with the police chief, who denied efforts to get a substation. I gave him the link to this interview when I’d asked him, but he just acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about.

http://chicocurrents.net/2015/08/10/459/

Again, I just kept asking and he just kept the conversation going without answering – at one point complaining there is a lack of “beds” for these patients, as if they were having trouble taking them off the cops’ hands.  I realize, I’ve been trying to get the answer to the substation question since last August.

In October Kittrell told me and Maureen Kirk, ” The biggest issue facing people waiting in the ERs is the number of acute psychiatric inpatients beds available at any given time – they are often full.  There are plans for another 120 bed facility to be built in Sacramento but that is two years out.  Since I have come to Chico, I have purchased 4 beds at a Yuba City inpatient facility which has increased the total number of beds controlled by Butte County to 20 (16 in our Chico facility (Cohasset Road facility purchased last year) and now 4 in Yuba City).  In particular, the number of inpatient psychiatric beds for patients that have medical needs (in other words, they need a psychiatric bed but also need hospital level services, e.g. have IVs or need significant wound care, etc.) are in greater need and these types of beds are almost non-existent in Northern California (Woodland Memorial has approx. 20 of these type of beds for the entire North State).

Look at the money  this guy is spending, but the cops are still claiming they spend so much time in Enloe, blah blah blah. I finally had to ask him, just how long does it take one of your staffers to get over to Enloe to collect these people?

I thought he was finally giving me the slip when I got a notice that he would be out of his office for a week, so I sent my questions to Supervisor Kirk, and cc’d Kittrell. He responded immediately, even after his auto-response had said he wouldn’t be able to access e-mail or phone until sometime the following week.  While his previous e-mails were positively chatty, his last e-mail was terse.

Juanita,

 Behavioral Health has staff in the ERs 7 days a week from 2pm to 11pm to serve clients coming to the ER.   Between 11pm and 2pm we respond usually within one hour, often times shorter. (This seems contrary to what he told me previously about having trouble finding “beds”)

 Regarding the rate at the PHF (psychiatric facility), it is approximately 550 per day.

I replied, 

Thanks, Mr. Kittrell, for your patience in answering my questions. 

One hour, oftentimes shorter – the reason I ask, is that Chico PD claims that officers are kept so long at the ER that they don’t have time for other duties. They also claim that  their cellphones/radios don’t work in the hospital, and because they spend so much time there, they need funding for new ones. 

And thank you for answering my other question – $550 per patient per day. 

 – JS”

See, I’m always polite, but I’ll be damned, after raising two kids, if I’m going to let some carpetbagging slicker dodge me on a question. 

So, I almost forgot the other question I had asked him. I had read an article in the ER about Kittrell citing an old law from the 80’s, that extended the amount of time the county is allowed to put a “psychiatric hold” on a patient without their consent, increasing it by about 30 days.  I’d asked, what agency would pay for this, and how much more money per patient the hold would amount to.

There he tells us – the county gets $550 per patient per day for these people they can collect off the street. Get aload of this – the patient does not even have to be “a danger to themselves or the public,” it’s just up to the county doctors to decide when this person is ready to be released. While they collect an extra $550 a day to hold onto this patient. 

I think the money provides too much incentive to hold people who are not really being helped.  I feel Kittrell is more of a fundraiser than a psychiatrist. To my knowledge he doesn’t even use the title “doctor”. Here’s how he signs an e-mail:

Dorian Kittrell, Director

Butte County Behavioral Health

109 Parmac Road, Suite 1A

Chico, CA 95926

Phone: (530) 891-2850

Fax: (530) 895-6549

See, no “DR.” in front of his name. 

This man is supposed to help people with behavioral health issues, but I think he just sees cash cows. 

Is he driving you crazy yet?

 

 

CARD will discuss aquatic center funding options tonight

18 Feb

Chico Area Rec District will meet tonight, 7pm, at California Park Lakeside Pavillion.  From the Enterprise Record:

More about the proposed aquatic center that the Chico Area Recreation and Park District is considering will come up at the next board meeting, 7 p.m. Thursday at Lakeside Pavilion, 2565 California Park Drive.

Aquatic Design Group will make a formal presentation of its feasibility study for a new aquatics center. CARD is paying the Carlsbad company $50,000 for the study, which is supposed to outline what the community wants. It has been gathering community input since last year.

In addition, SCI Consulting Group will discuss possible facilities funding during the meeting.

In 2013, SCI was working with the recreation district when CARD nixed moving ahead with an assessment or parcel tax to pay for new facilities.

With the aquatic center on a front burner for CARD, the board wants to hear about funding options.

Yes, the survey run in 2013 came back “negative,” respondents indicating they would not be willing to fund this center through taxes. It was not so much a survey as a push poll, in my opinion – questions leading toward the conclusion that our kids will all be on drugs if we don’t pay for an aquatic center. 

Aquatic Design Group was unable to find out what “the public” wants because their workshops were only attended by 25 – 30 people, most of whom are members of Aqua Jets. 

The Aquatic Center is “on the front burner”? Wow, that is so funny given the denials I’ve received from staff over the last year or so. 

Why isn’t the skate park “on the front burner”? The skate park already exists, in a state of total disgrace. The group of respectable users that came forward with ideas to change the skate park from a public nuisance to a usable public facility  was told to raise their own money, for a facility that is owned by CARD. But here the board is studying “funding options” for a center that Aquatic Design Group admitted would be used by about 15 percent of our population.

Interesting solid waste proposals merit the public’s attention

15 Feb

When I was home schooling my kids I met Barbara Kopicki of Chico State Associated Students Recycling Program. She and her co-worker Deanna invited us to observe the daily routine. 

Deanna had a “trike” that had been specially built to haul a trailer loaded with Rubbermaid garbage totes around to the various food services at  the college, collecting “clean” food waste – meaning, no meat, no cigarettes, garbage, gum, etc. This she took to a facility at University Farms where they were experimenting with commercial composting. Her dream was to service restaurants. 

I had a 6 year old and a two year old. The 6 year old was full of energy, this was a good bout for him.  The two year old could walk quite well but not very far or fast, so I had to tote him a lot. We had to trot along after Deanna to follow her on her rounds, she explained right from the start that we had to keep up.  We went with her to the various campus eateries, even the cooking school, where the students had racks of freaking pies standing around. No, we were not offered a single bite, talk about good sports.

We finally got back to the office, where Barbara showed the kids her Rubbermaid keeper full of worms, where she threw her lunch scraps every day. 

I don’t know if my kids were interested in recycling, but they really liked Barbara and Deanna. I know Barbara went back to Southern California to start her own family. I don’t know what became of Deanna, but I’m sure she’s somewhere, making things happen.   Seeds they planted here are just popping up.

Tomorrow, Chico City Council will talk about permitting a food composting operation out at the rendering plant south of town on Hwy 99. 

I’ve always worried the rendering plant would come under fire as development moved that way. People are so stupid – they cut off their nose to spite their face just about every day. Like Mark Stemen and his little group who want to get rid of the scrap yard (also on Tuesday’s agenda). Let me ask you this, Officer Stemen, of the Chico Sustainability Task Force, where would you take a crapped out washing machine? 

I know – you’d watch happily with one arm over a crutch because you’re so fat your knee is toast, while a young person who gets paid maybe $15/hour loads it onto a truck and takes it away, having dropped off your new machine. You have no idea – because people like Stemen can’t see past the end of their own nose – that it goes right to the scrap yard. 

No, don’t tell me you sold/gave away that stinking thing? You expect somebody to wash their clothes in your accumulated filth? Get out!  

That’s right, that’s what the scrap yard is for, to properly dispose of stuff people have used beyond it’s usefullness. Some people don’t see any connect between their actions and said consequences, and that would be Mark Stemen.

I imagine Stemen would march on the rendering plant, but it’s too far to drive his enormous gas-guzzling van, and he has other pots to stick his fingers in closer to home. And besides, the rendering plant has come up with a plan of their own – take advantage of a law passed in 2014 that requires commercial food businesses to separate out  their food compost and dispose of it somewhere besides the dump. 

We drive by the rendering plant on trips, right there across from Cycleland Speedway, another landmark placed on the development railroad tracks.  I’ve always expected development to be bad for the rendering plant, ever since I read about a plant in Sacramento that was being sued by a huge developer who wanted to place new subdivisions within a couple of miles. There ought to be some protection for long time businesses like the rendering plant, as well as the scrap yard. What the hell has the city of Chico been thinking, allowing residential development to move into industrial areas, even placing new housing right next door to the fairgrounds and the race track?  What kind of planning is that? 

It’s called a “nudge,” and these public entities do it all the time. They don’t care about individual businesses or even families. My own property is penciled in for 22 houses (!). Former city planning commissioner Kirk Monfort once said from the dais that property owners like us would die someday and our kids would not be able to afford to keep our property, so the city would be able to develop it with high density housing. They’ve permitted high density housing in our low-density neighborhood, moving it in slowly but surely, hoping people like us would just sell. Many of my neighbors have. That’s what you call “nudging.” 

I’m sure the rendering plant is aware of the practice of “nudging,” and bravo for them, there’s their plan – change with the times. Go for it, North State Rendering. 

Meanwhile, there’s a battle going on in Glenn County over a recyling/garbage sorting facility proposed by a woman who owns a piece of property east of Ham City. She has gone through the approval process in Glenn County, but neighbors are protesting, saying she’s too close to Stony Creek. When she approached the city of Chico looking for customers, she was got the back of Mayor Sorensen’s hand, the excuse being, our dump needs the trash. 

Didn’t you just hear me telling you, the dump is closing their septage ponds because they say the dump is full and  they need to make more room for trash? 

Folks in Glenn County are really mad about this new dump –

http://www.stonycreek32.com/

 For several years now, it’s been discussed in the media – the Glenn County dump is full to capacity and slated to close. But, it sounds as though this operation would be located right on Stony Creek in an old gravel mine, that’s a red light.  What will they do?

 I wonder if the Glenn County supervisors could have done more to get the public involved in this discussion before it got so drastic. I know the city of Chico and the County of Butte are also having a lot of behind-closed-door discussions that should be had before the public. Tomorrow night we have the chance to hear more about this proposal, as well as plans to rezone the scrap yard. 

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=234

 

 

 

Response from Behavioral Health Director

12 Feb

An update to yesterday’s post. I had resent my questions, highlighted in green for easy reading, to Supervisor Kirk after I’d received a notice that Kittrell would not be in his office until next Tuesday. He responded, 

With regard to your question in green.    The matter approved by the Board of Supervisors was related to patients in our Psychiatric Health Facility which is an inpatient, acute psychiatric hospital (16 beds).   This facility is run by my department and is funded with State realignment dollars we receive from the State as part of the department’s total budget – most of it Federal and State monies.  This is a Medi-Cal eligible facility so we also receive some Medi-cal reimbursement for Medi-Cal clients.  The particular agency that oversees County Behavioral Health Departments is the California State Department of Healthcare Services.   Also, you inquired about documents or reports.  The staff report related to this particular item that went before the board is available at the Board of Supervisor’s website, as well as video of the BOS meeting.  I have included a link for your convenience.

 http://buttecounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=296&meta_id=48717

 With regard to your questions regarding law enforcement.  I did inquire to the Chico Police and at this time there does not seem to be movement towards a substation.   I would recommend getting in touch with their department for any further details.

Okay, there’s the answer. This is a move to get more money from the state and feds. Kittrell says it won’t cost the county any more – like so many public workers he plays ignorant to the fact that we pay the state and federal taxes too. The report does not include any dollar amounts.

As for my question about the substation, he never really listened to what I was asking. I sent him the link to the interview with “Police Department Business Support Team” leader Jack Van Rossum. I told him the police claimed they spent so much time with drunks and mentally ill people brought in off the street they needed a special room where they could sit and “fill out reports.” They were also asking for special communication equipment because, they say, their cellphones will not work in the hospital.  Meanwhile Kittrell was claiming that BH staffers are sent to Enloe to collect these patients.  That sounds like a disconnect between the Behavioral Health department and the cops. I’ve asked Kittrell one more time, how long does it take for a staffer to get to Enloe to relieve the cops of these patients, we’ll see if he gets back to me. He just seems to be avoiding the question, because, as he told me in a previous e-mail, ” I have been working with the new Chief of Police and it has been helpful to have a collaborative relationship with his department.”

Yes, they collaborate like a string quartet – fiddling while Chico burns.