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- “

“…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. 

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.


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.

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.

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.


 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 –

 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.




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.

 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. 

Whose being mau-mau’d here? Trying to get answers out of public staff, I’m just getting “the business”

11 Feb


I got so many issues I’ve been trying to follow lately, let’s just take a little walk and talk.

Yesterday I tried to pick-up a conversation I’ve been trying to have with county staffers about the programs administered for local homeless, mentally ill, and indigent citizens. I sat in a meeting last Summer at which county administrative office Paul Hahn reported the county spends “over half” it’s budget on these issues. This is frustrating to me because I don’t see any good coming out of their efforts. I see more homeless on the streets, I see more crimes, I hear about more crimes. And lately, I’ve heard more grousing about it from other taxpayers. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve overheard casual questions from fellow citizens about why the “homeless” are allowed to possess obviously stolen shopping carts, why they are allowed to camp along waterways, as well as around public buildings and shopping malls, why they are allowed to have unlicensed (unvaccinated?) dogs, why why why.  I’ve read newspaper reports of the recurring arrests of the same persons for the same crimes, or worse – the crimes escalate, from seemingly petty stuff like driving without a license, to stabbing a woman 54 times in a drug-induced rage.

As you read these reports you have to ask yourself – how many of these street people are on crank? Selling it? Committing crimes in order to pay for it?

Sitting in meetings Downtown, or reading reports from Butte County Supervisor’s meetings, you see the stream of money that is being pissed onto this fire, and you have to wonder – why are all these loonies/druggies running our streets? Where’s all this money going? 

You think you’d just be able to ask a question of these people – good luck!  I’ve been trying to get answers ever since I sat in that meeting with Paul Hahn last Summer. After I heard a police department representative say they spend so much time with street people down at Enloe that they want the city to pay for a special substation inside the hospital,…ess-support-team/

I wondered why. The county  received a big grant to hire more behavioral health staffers. They’d bought a new building over on Cohasset and hired a new  director, Dorian Kittrell, at over $200,000/year, just in salary. All that money spent, and the cops are still stuck at Enloe babysitting street people? The county is supposed to have a special unit, a new building, and funding to pick these people up and take them off the cops’ hands. I wrote a note to my  county supervisor Maureen Kirk last August, asking for an explanation.  She referred me to Kittrell.

He responded, “We are moving along with program implementation in the ERs – Enloe included. We have many of the staff hired (though not all the staff – we are finding some challenges recruiting for the evening shift staff) – and will hopefully be interviewing a new group of candidates next week or the week after. Our IT departments are working together and are almost finished with setting up the secure internet connections in the ERs. Finally, we have completed site visits for Medi-Cal certification and are just waiting for State/Federal response. Our Crisis Manager is working with Enloe to begin setting up training for staff. I am hoping that program start-up (at least at Enloe) will begin in early to mid September. We are also working to get triage personnel in the shelters during this same time frame.

In the meantime, we continue to provide the mobile crisis services at the ER as we always have.

Hope this information is helpful. Let me know if you have any further questions.”

But I kept hearing complaints from Chico PD, wanting more money, using the homeless and street crime as the carrot. In October I asked Kirk and Kittrell why Chico PD was spending so much time with these people given all the money the county was spending on the new building and staff.

Kirk responded, “This is a complex issue. Behavioral Health has grant funding to hire staff to help with the mentally ill in all three hospitals. There are two BH staff at each hospital from 11am – 8pm. The crisis management team is on call 24 hours per day. The new arrangement has helped with the ER problem. I have been told that the Chico PD is not spending considerable time watching over these patients as they had in the past. I would like a correction if that is not true. The biggest barrier is that often these patients need to be placed somewhere when they are discharged. Often, our 23 hour facility is full to capacity. It takes time to identify a placement and often it is out of town.

 The other question is about the new facility. The county has closed escrow and is remodeling this facility. It will be crisis placement for ten clients. It is hoped that they would stay at the most for one month. During their stay, there will be services to get them stabilized on their meds, if needed, counseling and finding more permanent housing. This should be operational in the near future.

 I have not heard about the police substation at Enloe. I will pursue that to find out more about it.

 Behavioral Health is an asset to our community and does an excellent job with the resources that are available to them. The mental health issue and ERs and police staffing expertise are problems throughout the state.”

Kittrell chimed in,

“Maureen, you have outlined this fairly well.   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 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).

 I have not heard anything about a substation at Enloe, either.  I do have a meeting coming up with Chico PD this month and will inquire.”

I responded with a link to the Chico Currents site and the interview with Van Rossum. He responded further,

“I will inquire with PD to get a better idea of when they may stay in the ER.  Generally, if a client is cooperative our staff can assist ER staff in providing care.  There can be times when law enforcement may need to continue to provide assistance – particularly if there is a crime involved or significant risk of danger as a result of the client’s behavior.  Each case is evaluated to determine what is in the best interest of the client and the community and the staff.   It is important to note that while there are behavioral health staff in the ER to assist with clients, the client is in the care of the hospital.  Behavioral Health staff are there to provide assessment, support and assist with psychiatric hospitalization or another disposition for the client.   I have not heard recently of prolonged wait times for PD in the ER but will check in on this issue at my meeting with them later this month.   I hope this information is helpful.  I will be out of the office until Wednesday of next week.  If I receive any further from PD I will share it with you.”

Okay, I know that’s a can of worms, but what I got out of it is, the county spends “over half the budget” on these programs for how many people? And I also see a total disconnect with the city of Chico and especially Chico PD.

Of course neither of them got back to me about this substation business. You know, I get tired of that kind of treatment. It’s very insulting, but of course, we have to treat them with the utmost civility and respect, or they are allowed to blow us off for good.  I try to back off when I feel I’m getting on their nerves.

But lately the “homeless” situation has just been getting so bad. I know it’s not just me – I get searches, I hear from friends, I know other people are more fed up than me. I listened to a very sinister conversation between a retail cashier in North Chico and a customer ahead of me about “getting rid of them.”  I sincerely fear this situation will result in violent attacks on the truly helpless.

I just paid my property tax. I’m a landlady so I am paying for four households, that comes out to a burden. When I think of the upgrades I could make on my rentals with that money – my tenants should be pissed off too. And they are – they are constantly telling me Chico is becoming “unaffordable,” between the utility rates, groceries, daycare, healthcare – all run up by these ridiculous public salaries. When you and your spouse make less than $100,000 between you, it’s tough competing with people who make over $100,000 with one salary. They drive up the cost of everything, just by existing. 

You pay these kinds of rates – you’d expect to be living in some kind of Wonderland, but here we are, looking at filthy bodies laying in piles of trash in our public parks and school yards, walking on sidewalks that make you want to throw your shoes away, wading over bodies at our  retail outlets, dealing with unlicensed-unneutered-unvaccinated dogs – what are we paying for? 

Try asking that!  I have.  Hellllloooooo?

The other day I saw an article in the ER about the county supervisors extending the amount of time a person can be involuntarily held by the Behavioral Health Department. Besides the connotations of “Chattahoochie” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” I was suspicious about the true intentions behind this policy change. I’ll  be honest – I think they just want more money. 

I wrote to Kittrell and Kirk again, reminding them I never got an answer regarding the substation. I try to be nice.


 We never finished the conversation below, you were going to get back to me regarding claims that Chico PD spend so much time in Enloe ER that they need a substation. You were going to inquire with Chico PD .  I didn’t bother you about it because I know your time is valuable, but I’m still wondering if you got an answer. 

 Enloe and the police department both claim huge expense in dealing with mentally ill indigents, but I have never seen the true numbers.  That’s why I’m curious when they say they need a substation at the hospital at more cost to the taxpayers.

 I have another question about a story I read in today’s paper about an extension of the psychiatric hold.  I’d appreciate it if either of you could answer, or refer me to another staffer who has the information.

 How much money does the county get for a person who is held this way? From what agency? 

 Thanks for your patience in answering my questions, Juanita Sumner

I always wonder if I could have worded things better, am I doing something wrong? It’s so hard getting a straight answer out of these people.

Kittrell responded,


 I am very sorry you did not get an answer from me on the question of law enforcement in the ER – I have been working with the new Chief of Police and it has been helpful to have a collaborative relationship with his department.   I would be happy to discuss with you the mutual efforts we are making on collaboration.   I also appreciate your interest in the psychiatric inpatient unit.   I would be happy to meet with you to discuss these issues from the Behavioral Health perspective.  Would you be willing to meet?  I am adding my assistant, Kristy Hanson, to this email so that she can arrange a meeting if that works for you.

A meeting? Why can’t you just answer my question? Or, like I asked, refer me to a staffer? When do I have time to go to a meeting? I had to get up at 5:30 am to post this, as I have a full day of work ahead of me.  I work my ass  off to maintain my properties because after I’m done paying my property taxes I don’t have enough money to hire anybody. I try to stay on top of issues that cost my tenants not only money, but quality of life, and this guy says we need to have a meeting before he can give me a straight answer? 

I get so mad, but I try to be polite. I responded that I don’t have time for meetings, and I asked another question, “where will these people be housed?”

I got a response from Kittrell immediately,

I am out of the office and will return Tuesday, February 16th. Beginning Friday, February 12th I will not have accesss to phone or email. If this is urgent, please call 530 891-2850 and ask for Amy Wilner Asst. Director for Administration.”

I bold faced that notice about him being out of his office because that’s the second time he’s told me that. I guess the commute to his home in Yuba City is rather time consuming.

UPDATE: I got a really nice note from Tim, which I answered here:


Calling all Chico Taxpayers…

9 Feb

Lately I feel public and quasi-public workers are launching an attack on the working public to make us pay their ridiculous salaries and benefits whether they are sustainable or not. Not only are city of Chico, Chico Unified, and Chico Area Rec District asking for tax increases in November, but we’ve got a water rate increase and a garbage tax coming around the bend.  The county is also talking about getting rid of the septage ponds at the dump and making a deal to tote our poop all the way out to the city sewer facility west of Chico – if you have a septic tank, you are about to be forced  onto sewer rates.

The common denominator? Unfunded pension liabilities. I got a figure for CARD’s liability – about $1.7 million, and only for a staff of 33 employees.  I don’t have the most recent figure for city of Chico, but Brian Nakamura once quoted about $64 million. And good luck getting anything out of the school district – they’re not there to educate anybody. But I’ll guess their liability would rival the city’s. 

I never asked the county for their figure, but I know it’s bad because for years now they’ve been complaining that the dump can’t support itself. I know, these conversations are so dumb. One minute, they scream they aren’t getting enough trash, and the county has made a deal and the city is working on same deal that would force the trash haulers to bring all of our trash to Neal Road instead of taking it out of the area for cheaper “tipping fees.” Of course, cheaper tipping fees would be good for us ratepayers, but the county needs the fees to pay their salaries, and yeah, unfunded pension liability. 

But in a separate conversation they say the dump is so full they have to take out the septage ponds. Follow your tail, that’s right, just keep  following your tail…

My supervisor, who shall remain nameless right now cause I am too tempted to call her nasty names, tells me this is okay, “we’re not trying to force you on sewer.” But, I told her, if you make that deal with Chico to take our septage to the sewer facility, you are forcing us on sewer, and we’ll be at the mercy of city of Chico and their unfunded pension liability.

Ask Mark Sorensen, he wrote an extensive blog about how the city has pilfered the sewer fund into the red paying salaries and benefits for employees who have never even been on that side of town. Sorensen took that blog off the Norcal blog site after he became a council member, you can’t find it now, wonder why?  Because under Mayor Sorensen city staff has administered a system called “cost allocation” – if an employee attends a meeting in which the sewer is mentioned, their salary and benefits for that meeting are  taken out of the sewer fund. Yep, an administrative version of walnut shells and peas. Watch that pea, Suckers!

Sorensen has made it clear he will not fix the pension problem, instead, holding employee contribution at 9 – 12 percent and  instituting a “step system” for automatic pay raises and promotions.…ost-per-employee/

For that matter, the county has done nothing to turn their pension liability around. That’s why the weird conversation about the dump, they’re desperate to pay down that pension debt just like all the other public and  quasi-public agencies. They know we need trash service and septic tank owners all over the county are dependent on those septage ponds, and they’re twisting that knife.

Bernie Sanders talks about a revolution – well, you can’t have a revolution if nobody shows up. I’d like to mount a stronger campaign against these grabs, I need some help. 

Do you pay taxes? Of course you do. Do you live in the city of Chico or Chico “area of influence”? That would make you a “Chico Taxpayer.” Get involved. Bring your comments here, or take them to your various elected officials. Tell them you’re a Chico Taxpayer, and you’re fed up. 

I like to quote Arlo Guthrie here, even if he and I would probably never agree on much – but what he said in “Alice’s Restaurant” is absolutely true: “One guy is crazy. Two guys are (politically incorrect). But three guys are a MOVEMENT…”

It’s true, I’ve seen it – politicians don’t listen to one person, unless that person is a BIG donor. They don’t listen to two people. But something magical happens after that third, fourth, fifth person chimes in. Then it’s worth their attention, you might get them to actually DO SOMETHING. 

UPDATE:  I got a note from a fellow Chico Taxpayer regarding the city’s pension liability – as of December, over $99 million. This was apparently covered  in the finance report at the last council meeting, so the exact figure should be in the reports available on the city website. 

Thank you fellow citizen – it’s nice to know somebody is paying attention!

UPDATE UPDATE:  I got a note from another Chico Taxpayer asking about CARD’s staff, what kind of packages they get. I referred them to

As I looked over the information, I see the employee packages are very inconsistent, spread out over more than 33 employees, but wow – how come some people get packages worth over $20,000 and others get packages worth less than $2,000? I don’t know how that money is divvied up, what they get for it, but I know there is no employee contribution. 

What are the issues leading up to November?

7 Feb

The top three searches this week, in order of popularity,  were

  • “torres shelter executive director brad montgomery salary”
  • “joe matz recology”
  • “water rate increase”

I was relieved to read that Chico city council gave the Torres Shelter the back of their hand last Tuesday, offering them the $277 collected by way of those new red-topped meters Downtown. That is a perfect solution for both the Torres and for naysayers who appropriately pointed out that the city shouldn’t collect money without specifying exactly what it will be used for.  It also tells us, point blank, what the community really thinks of the shelters – those meters have been available since August, and they’ve only collected $277? (compared to about $35,000 raised over roughly the same period by the non-charity News and Review). That’s a pretty clear message if you ask me – “Go Away.”

 A letter in this morning’s paper suggests that the Jesus Center and Torres should merge.  Good point. I had always thought there was a board of directors that ran the various homeless agencies in town, but no. They all have their own boards of directors, staff, etc. The Jesus Center has 12 paid employees, the Torres boasts anywhere from 8 to 16 – wow, that’s a lot of people being paid to serve the same hundred or so people a night. Maybe merger would be the best answer.  

I hope the search for Joe Matz, Recology, was out of curiosity over the trash deal the city is working out with the haulers. I had just inquired about the deal, and again Chico city manager Mark Orme assures me he has nothing to report. I’ll speculate here – they are fighting like, well, junk yard dogs, over this deal. The trash companies were given 5 years “notice”, so in that time  they can drag their feet, saying they are doing cost studies, etc. The city is asking for too much, and the haulers know the public will buckle under the rates  they will have to charge to cover all these services – street sweeping? Hazardous trash  pick-up? I told  Orme the public needs to be let into this discussion but as usual he will not respond to that request. I don’t know if he’s just stupid or doesn’t care what the public thinks, but county admin officer Paul Hahn already warned him what would happen when the deal rolls out – “phones ringing off the hook for two weeks…” 

 Of course people are pissed about water rate increases when we have been told that Chico came within half a percentage of meeting it’s water saving goals while other districts around the state are not even coming close. Farmers in So Cal are growing strawberries with water transfers while we are being told to rip out our lawns. Of course, doing their part to spread propaganda, the Enterprise Record sent Heather the Hack over to Cal Water’s open house to act as their mouthpiece. She’s a lawn feeder, that girl. No, she did not ask Pete Bonacich how much he gets in salary or why he doesn’t pay anything toward his benefits. 

I didn’t see any searches about the swimming pool tax, the school bond, or the sales tax increase, but as November draws near, I think the conversation is going to get pretty hot.