There is no accountability

21 May

I got a kick out of David Little’s “Hits and Misses” column today.

“MISS >> We had to shake our heads over the issue of couch fires, not because it’s silly to assign undercover investigators to locations where furniture is likely to burst into flames, but because it wastes our public safety resources.

The fact that many of these incidents happen around the Chico State University campus near the end of the school year is disappointing, considering how hard local educational institutions work to stress civic responsibility, sustainability and recycling.”

Does this man read his own newspaper? There on Page A4, a story about a man arrested, not for setting a couch on fire, but for a “string of suspicious fires”, including an incendiary device thrown through the window of an apartment, a garbage can, and a mattress laying in the back of a pick-up.

Police arrested James Henry Newsome, who was reportedly seen by witnesses prying open a window and tossing something into the apartment that caught fire minutes later. Channel 7 News reported a young woman lived in that room, luckily she was not home at the time. Her room was gutted by fire, leaving her and five of her neighbors “homeless.

The irony here is, this Newsome guy, in one arrest report after another for the last five years, has been described as “homeless” or “a transient.”  He’s been arrested again and again over the last five years, mostly for the continuing harassment of some person who has been granted a restraining order against him. Looking up his name in the Superior Court case index, you find one after another charge of “disobeying a domestic court order” followed by “failure to appear.” One arrest after another at One Mile or City Plaza or various business establishments in the Downtown – Mangrove Corridor. One “dismissal” after another. I don’t know why – the superior court doesn’t give those kind of details in language the layperson can understand.

Newsome is a one-man revenue disaster. Look at his history in the court index, and ask yourself – “what does it cost to entertain a jackass like this in court?” 

Is this why Butte County courts perpetuate this cycle? For the money? And Chico PD? The cops arrest them, they go the court circuit, they end up back on the street.   All the while, the cops, the DA,  the Public Defender’s office and the judges continue to get their paychecks and over 80 percent of their pension and benefits paid by the taxpayers.  Eventually, something really bad happens.

Like that apartment fire – according to Channel 7 –

“The fire was contained to a back bedroom. Firefighters said the house is split into three apartments and 12 college students live there. The back bedroom was gutted. Fortunately the young woman who lives in that bedroom was not home at the time.”

Fortunately?  The frame pushed up against the wall and the pile of ash there on the floor is all that’s left of the young woman’s bed.

Can you imagine having to make this phone call – “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Parents of a College Girl, we regret to inform you that your daughter was roasted to a turn as she slept soundly in her bed, by a guy who’s been in the custody of law enforcement about a dozen times but they’ve never managed to convict him of anything…”

We don’t have a crime problem in Butte County, we have a law enforcement problem.  

This reminded me of the story I saw on Chico Action News about a man who had closed an entire neighborhood down with a threat to set his own house on fire. An undisclosed number of police and fire personnel were on site, getting paid out the ass, for “a couple of hours.”   The media should have to translate that into  $$$$$$.  In the end, “no charges were filed and no arrests were made. The man was transported to a mental health facility.”

I wonder, what mental health facility? Will he be held under the new ruling the county supervisors passed recently, giving the county behavioral health department authorization to hold someone against their will for 45 days? $$$$$$$$$$

Police diffuse situation on Marjorie Ave

From ACTION NEWS NOW (5/16/16)  by Darren Leeds

The Chico Police Department was tied up for a couple of hours Monday evening as they responded to tense and even bizarre situation on Marjorie Avenue.

Police were dispatched to 959 Marjorie Avenue around 4:30pm after they got a call from a man at that address saying he was going to burn his house down.

The Chico PD says the name of the man is not being released. Law enforcement and Chico Fire had to close off Marjorie Avenue just off of Cohasset. The fire department shut off the gas lines to the home and neighborhood.
Police say they were able to get in touch with the man in the home on his phone and had a lengthy conversation with him. After a couple of hours, the man decided to come out of the home peacefully.

McKinnon says, “So we evacuated the surrounding houses in the event that the house caught on fire, and if the houses next to it caught on fire we needed those residents to be out of there. We blocked off the road so any vehicle traffic wouldn’t come down there and get involved. You never know.”

Lieutenant McKinnon says no charges were filed and no arrests were made. The man was transported to a mental health facility.

But if my tenants have a party of more than 20 people, and the neighbors call the cops twice in a certain number of days, I as a landlord am liable for police and fire “response costs,” a minimum of $1,000. This man won’t pay “response costs,” he won’t pay for his stay in the mental health facility, and, I’d bet my last dollar – he won’t quit being an expensive pain in the ass for the taxpayers, cause nobody is going to hold him accountable for his actions. 

I found the discussion following this article, posted at Ch 12 website, very interesting.

Laurie Tozier

Good job CPD for peacefully difusing this situaton and saving the man’s life and property. Best wishes to him on getting help, I hope he has good family.


Gary Martin · California State University, Chico

No charges were filed? We had to be evacuated from our house for two hours, 13 police officers spent over two hours on this call, a fire truck and ambalance were on standby. I could not return to work as the culdesac was blocked off. This is the second time in a vear that Steve has held the police at bay with threats of lighting himself on fire, I hope he gets help before he really does it. He and his wife care for a severly disabled man in a wheelchair, we have small children that live close by what happens to them! Who pays for the cost both monetery and emotional that this man has causes. Ok thanks for listening I am going to go look up JUSTICE in the dictionary

Kathy Childers

This time I hope he gets the help he needs! My son and his family live in that culdesac! Having a mentally ill neighbor should be a disclosable item when you sell a house there!!!

Michael Barns

I agree, I think the landlord of the mentally ill person should be made accountable for not evicting them do to the danger that they invite to the comunity.

Tammy Nelson ·  Client Services Manager at UnitedHealth Group

Police were here longer than he was detained! I hope the landlord is advised of all the police activity at that house, as well as the people that are paying them to care for the disabled! If he was evaluated and he needed help commit him, if he was just trying to avoid getting put in jail put him in jail! When there are no consequences for your actions people continue to do these things and even worse!

Michael Barns

Exactly if the landlords were notified that thier properties were in danger and that the tenants were a nusance maybe the city would be a safer place


 Michael Barns

I think that the Chico PD needs to do welfare check on the wheel chair person I believe his name is Ben and these folks are taking care of him. It does not seem to be a safe environment for a person with limited mobility, I wonder if he is a ssi or ssa receipent please someone in social services check out this story


Stephan Farris ·  Retired Law Enforcement at Retired

Mental health conditions are just that. A health condition and thus protected by law from disclosure. Further, people can’t be evicted for most health conditions. It would be no different than if someone tried to evict you because you had HIV or tuberculosis or some other communicable disease.
While I empathize with the neighborhood and understand the frustration at the impacts it causes to you and your families, what many of you are proposing isn’t right either.

5 Responses to “There is no accountability”

  1. Ryan Locklin May 23, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    Mr. Govt wont be here to save ur property. Its ur responsibility to protect ur land. Private security in a neighborhood is cheap if the cost is shared with the community.

    • Juanita Sumner May 23, 2016 at 8:18 am #

      Chico taxpayers already have a security agency – Chico PD. Over half the city’s budget goes to Chico PD. Citizens pay property taxes, sales taxes, and utility taxes, millions and millions of dollars. Our police officers are paid well beyond the local median income, comparable with major cities with huge crime rates, and get generous benefits and pension, more than 80 percent of it paid by the taxpayers.

      I don’t see the practical use of public and private agencies – it’s a duplication of services. And the citizens just pay, pay, pay.

      I do believe it is ultimately the property owner/resident’s responsibility to protect their homes. I like to know my neighbors, I like to keep an eye out around my mailbox. We lock our house and property up at night, we keep our belongings hidden away. We keep dogs not just because they are wonderful friends but because statistics show dog owners are less often the victims of crime.

      It’s also our responsibility to keep an eye on our police department, and let them know when they aren’t doing the job. I think it’s our job to vote out elected officials who raise the cops’ budget without holding them accountable.

  2. Cu June 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

    I’m a bit surprised by the again thing myself. You think his record in Chico is bad? Look him up in Florence, Al and Las Vegas, Nevada. My family had him arrested 72 times in the course of a year, but they never held him more than 72 hours and he came back every time breaking into my house trying kill me and threatening to kidnap our daughter. He will never change, he will never “get better” because he doesn’t want to. The only people I feel bad for that are tied to him are his children. My daughter and her five half-siblings that they have to grow up with this man as half of who they are.

    • Juanita Sumner June 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

      Good luck, I hope your kids are able to break the cycle.

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