Archive | March, 2017

Bum friendly = business hostile

29 Mar

Welcome to Chico’s newest homeless camp at 2580 Notre Dame Blvd!

My husband and I are landlords, and we’re turning over a rental right now, so we’ve been making a few trips to Home Depot, off Skyway on Notre Dame Blvd.

The store building pictured above was built in the adjacent parking lot some years after Home Depot opened. It housed an office supply business, and later one of those “Dollar” or “99 Cent” stores. It’s been empty for a couple of years now.

Bad planning. There’s another empty building right next door.


I can’t remember what was in this building originally, but now it’s empty and becoming a total eyesore. What’s with all the trash?

So, now we have these two, huge empty buildings. Get a load of the torn canopy on the first building – you know, this city has a code, and people who get paid for code enforcement, and this is all against the code. 

Send a complaint to the city? Read about that here:

I’ve written post after post about trying to get the city to deal with homeless encampments in Middle Bidwell Park. That and a five-spot might get me a cup of coffee. 

What about private property owners? When my  husband mentioned the illegal campers to the checker at Home Depot, the man said, “Again!?!”.   That was it. 

Home Depot is right down the street from the Joel Castle’s “Farm”.

It took the city and county months to roust that camp, even though they knew it was happening all along  – Castle made no attempt to hide what he was doing from the beginning. 

This is  a pattern – a policy – with the county and the city. The county tolerates many illegal camps, one of which was the scene of a horrific murder.

This policy is fueled by revenues the county receives for taking in these people at various facilities. Behavioral Health Director Dorian Kittrell told me the county receives $550 a day for each person they board in one of their facilities.  They are allowed to hold people up to 45 days when they are deemed to be “a  danger to themselves or others.”  When that 45 days is up they are referred to  shelters in Oroville and Chico.  That’s it – “referred” – with no requirements that they check in.  

These people are brought here from towns all over California. Some cities are not as generous as Chico or Butte County, they only tolerate a small  number of “beds” – when they don’t have a “bed” for somebody, they send them here, apparently happy to pay the $550/day just to get these people out of their towns.

You might be used to seeing these people here – go to other towns, you will find places where they don’t have filthy people laying all over their parks and other public spaces, panhandling, urinating and defecating on the ground, shooting drugs in the restrooms. 

Chico and Butte County have become an insane asylum. Business hostile? It’s resident hostile too.

Randall Stone takes responsibility for phony election mailer, says it was legal

24 Mar

City of Chico Elections?

When I found this post card in my mailbox, I did a double take – it looked like an official city of Chico mailer, but I realized – there is no “City of Chico Elections” department.

A couple of readers asked me to follow up on this post – so I sent an e-mail to the county and city clerks’ offices, and cc-d Karl Ory and Randall Stone. I left Ann Schwab off by mistake, but intentionally ignored Tami Ritter because she seems to have to have done a Rumpelstiltskin since losing to Karl Ory, her running mate.

I got an immediate response from Randall Stone, who was able to retain his seat in the election. 

“1) I knew about it.  It is (in part) my mailing and I authorized it (as is indicated on the envelope…that’s not counterfeit).
2) I sent it (in part).  I paid for it (in part).  Both of these details are part of my campaign disclosures.
3) I’m sorry you find it misleading.
4) It is legal (and not uncommon).
5) I don’t know who you should ask and for what purpose.  But if you believe something about it is untoward, I would encourage you to ask anyone you feel appropriate – up to and including the FPPC.
Sorry I can’t be of more help than that.  We get a lot of accusations of violations about any number of things (you wouldn’t believe some of the wild charges that have been levied in the past), including requests for us to file accusations against our “opponents” or detractors.  Generally, I leave these types of requests for others to address.  I haven’t got the time.


The city clerk’s office is responsible for accepting filings from candidates and groups who want to place items on the ballot, but she told me, “I do not have any authority over mailer content and format.”

The city clerk had forwarded my inquiry to the county clerk, who asked me if I wanted to come in to her office to talk about it? What? Why can’t you just give somebody a straight answer Candy Baby? 

She’s still pissed at me over this:

So, there’s election accountability in Chico and Butte County – two women who just won’t do their jobs, and candidates who do whatever they want. And then there’s the voters, who apparently couldn’t care less.

CARD cut employee hours in 2013 to avoid paying for their healthcare

21 Mar

I’ve been cleaning through my drafts file, and here’s an article from 2013 that reports CARD cut a number of employees’ hours so they won’t have to pay Obamacare for those people.  Urseny is so embedded – she didn’t even ask how many people would be cut to 28 hours. She didn’t even bother to talk to those employees about how they would manage. She has never done a follow-up to this story.

Meanwhile, management pays between 2 and 6 percent for benefits packages which range from $25,000 to  $30,000/year.   CARD spends about $500,000/year on management benefits for employees who make as much as $120,000/year in salary. 

Chico Area Recreation and Park District hears about impact of Obamacare

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/30/2013 12:01:24 AM PDT

CHICO — Like many getting acquainted with the federal Affordable Care Act, there are a lot of question marks for the Chico Area Recreation and Park District board and staff.Some of those were answered by Rose Krepelka of CARD’s insurance provider, InterWest Insurance Inc. of Chico.

“I can go for 15 minutes or for four days,” Krepelka told the board last week when she asked how deeply they wanted to delve into the Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare.

She acknowledged there’s a lot of confusion about the new regulations, especially since some affecting businesses have been delayed to 2015.

CARD already provides medical coverage to full-time employees, but more employees will be eligible for medical insurance in 2015 with the new definition of full time.

Obamacare’s definition of full time is working 30 or more hours weekly on a regular basis.

At CARD there are 32 full-time employees, and part-timers vary from 120 to 180, depending on the time of the year and recreational offerings. The full-time-equivalent is 85, according to General Manager Steve Visconti.

Medical care coverage per full-time employee currently costs CARD about $10,000 yearly. With the new definition, CARD was forced to adjust schedules of some employees to keep them part time. Visconti said CARD’s budget couldn’t afford to provide coverage to more employees.

Individuals without medical coverage can start shopping in October, with the coverage launching in January. Individuals without insurance are subject to tax penalties at $95 per adult $47.50 per child. That jumps to $325 adult, $165.50 child penalties in 2015.

CARD’s part-time employees can find insurance from California’s health exchange, called Covered California, or from Medi-Cal, she noted.

Employees will be getting information on obtaining insurance through letters from companies like hers. In addition to that, Krepelka noted there will be “navigators and enrollers” who are trained and certified to help Californians understand Obamacare. Residents might run into them outside a big-box store or at a mall.

Krepelka said the jury’s out on how successful Obamacare will be. People who have been unable to get medical coverage because of their conditions will now be part of the system — and an expense.

Krepelka said the balance built into Obamacare is that young people, who don’t need much in the way of health care, will pay for the older people who are greater users of services.

Likely, existing insurance rates will increase for those already covered as well, she said.

“There’s information coming out weekly,” she noted, including a Californian’s ability to sign up for insurance that starts in October.

Covered California’s website address is The exchange is also on Facebook and Twitter.

In other news, the CARD board approved the 2013-14 budget unanimously and with no discussion, but directors Jan Sneed and Herman Ellis were not at the meeting.

Time to stand up – contact CARD and ask for a copy of the survey

21 Mar

I have been too busy in my personal life to keep up much chatter here, but I’m hoping to post more about the CARD survey next week.

I am also hoping that people will call the CARD office (895-4711) or e-mail director Ann Willmann and ask for a copy of the survey presented to the board on March 16.  The public is entitled to a copy of anything given to the board, so don’t pay for it. 

Once you’ve read it over, be sure to call back and ask questions. I was relieved to see the League of Women Voter’s observer at the meeting last week, she asked pertinent questions  about the survey. One thing she got out of  the consultant was that respondents were chosen on the basis of where they lived.  

Random eh?

We need more people like Margaret Bomberg in our community. Stand up people, or be had.

Caper Acres – four years later, nothing new

20 Mar

Closure of Chico’s Caper Acres is frustrating for city, parents

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/31/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

Conrad Nystrom of Chico celebrates Father’s Day with his sons Sam and Roman at Caper Acres in…

CHICO — The public and the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission weighed in this week on the budget-prompted closure of Caper Acres playground in lower Bidwell Park.Several parents spoke to the commission Monday voicing “disappointment” and “frustration” in the surprisingly quiet way the closure came about, without public input or brainstorming.

And commissioners themselves, still noting Chico’s budget woes, hoped to talk over the matter more. The fact that there was no Park Commission meeting in June, when budget strategies were discussed by the City Council, was a sore point.

Early in July, the city announced Caper Acres would only be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays because of staffing issues. A diminished city staff couldn’t handle cleaning bathrooms, mowing, safety repairs and other actions.

But last week, a local cleaning business called ServPro said it would take over other kinds of park maintenance for free so city staff could attend to the playground. It opened to a six-day operation Tuesday, with the traditional Monday closure continuing.

However, ServPro can only handle the free maintenance through Oct. 1, and a group of local volunteers has started to meet to figure out alternatives for keeping the playground open.

Mom Abigail Lopez, one of the organizers of Caper Acres Volunteers, said she hopes the city can embrace volunteers as do local organizations like the Humane Society.

From a meeting on Saturday that Lopez organized, other ideas surfaced, like a Bidwell Park summit to share ideas.

Acting Park Commission Chairman Richard Ober commended the volunteers on Monday, and asked the matter be placed on an upcoming agenda so “volunteers’ work could be supported.”

“I want to know why the Park Commission and public were not able to weigh in on the closure,” parent Liz Gardner told the commission. She also asked for budget specifics.

Later, Park and Natural Resources Manager Dan Efseaff said he had lost $500,000 from his budget, and has been exploring cutbacks, including ideas about abandoning lawns or pulling down old structures that need to be replaced. He emphasized that it was “an exercise” and not a plan.

“It’s not a pretty picture,” Efseaff said.

Chris Boshazy, representing Service Employees International Union, noted the work — especially tree work — still had to be done, and should be done by city employees, not private tree companies.

The city has set aside $100,000 for contract tree work.

“That $100,000 could hire back someone,” he told the commission. “This is city employee work.”

Boshazy also said the Park Commission had more power than it realizes, handing them copies of the municipal code and job duties.

“The last few months have been extremely frustrating, the way decisions were made and how cuts were made, and the lack of role of the community,” Ober said, asking for a discussion at a future meeting.

“We haven’t been asked as a community to dig deeper into our pockets,” Ober said.

Other topics that came up in regard to Caper Acres included a user tax, asking participants in large events in the park to donate a dollar to Caper Acres, and participating in the Annie Bs fundraising program.

Parents also wanted to find a way so that donations could go straight into a dedicated Caper Acres fund, rather than into the city’s General Fund.

Efseaff noted that Caper Acres has been on the Park Commission’s work plan for several years, with features desperately needing update and replacement.

Reach Laura Urseny at 896-7756,, or on Twitter @LauraUrseny.

CARD survey heavily led, questions close ended – when did 28 percent become “overwhelming support”?

17 Mar

I was surprised to find the CARD board meeting well-attended last night, but I think more people, including city staffers and commission members, were there to hear the discussion  about CARD taking park impact fees from developers. I went to hear the consultant’s report regarding the assessment survey.

Survey? 400 people in a town of over 80,000? I know – but let’s look  at it anyway.

The consultant also spoke of significantly leading respondents, even asking them to choose between pitches at one point.


Can you believe that? The callers actually read these to the respondents and asked them, which one of these pitches would make you want to tax yourself and your neighbors?

Of course, respondents were chosen by demographics – they called people who lived close to various parks, for example, and found those people would certainly support a tax!   

They also reported a very real confusion between CARD parks (ball  fields, playgrounds and neighborhood parks) and Bidwell Park, owned and maintained by the city of Chico.  I think they will try to play that confusion to their advantage. 

I will post more of the survey later.

Portland Loo?

13 Mar

Oh NO!  24 hour bathrooms being vandalized and used for shelter?

Katie Simmons says we need a new solution – Portland Loo?

$100,000 for essentially the  same thing we already have.

The police chief complains resources are strained, he needs more officers. Where will they get the funding? How about Butte County Behavioral Health? 

BCBH director Dorian Kittrell told me the county gets $550 a day for each person they take in off the streets into one of their “beds” – a space at the Butte County Psychiatric Hospital, which he and others call “The Puff.” They are allowed to hold  these people with or without their permission for 45 days. You do the math. They could at least pay for the cop who led their cash cow into the barn. 

I don’t think Chico PD should be responsible for answering these calls, I think Kittrell and Brad Montgomery (Torres Shelter)  and Michael Madeiros (Stairways) should be responsible for going out to deal with people who claim they have no place to live.  These three all get salaries – Kittrell gets over $100,000/year – to deal with the mentally ill and homeless, why is Chico PD wasting time going on these calls? 

City of Chico park employees and public works department employees are often called on to deal with illegal  campers – these people should be also be engaged by BCBH and  those agencies such as Torres Shelter and Stairways. 

And then we should lock  Katie Simmons in a Portland Loo. In Portland. 

CARD meeting next week chock full o nuts

12 Mar

Chico Area Recreation District board will hear from their consultant Thursday. EMC ran a phone survey last month regarding a bond or assessment for CARD.  I would like to ask them for a copy of the results, we’ll see what they say.

CARD board will also be discussing taking over the city’s park impact fees on development. 

That’s Thursday March 16, 7pm, at the CARD center on Vallombrosa. 

$28 million-plus in salaries and another $12 million-plus in pensions and benefits – why does our town look like SHIT?

5 Mar

The Enterprise Record, a propaganda rag that masquerades as a newspaper, ran the following op-ed the other day, as though it was a news story.

Caper Acres needs you

Renovation project a public, private partnership

By Dan Efseaff and Shane Romain

Humpty has not quite fallen, but Caper Acres needs to be put back together again. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be enough, but the citizens of Chico will be able to, and we need your help.

About 60 years ago, members of the now Chico Women’s Club started hatching ideas for a children’s playground w ithin Bidwell Park. After 13 years of fundraising and construction, the efforts of the club with the support and generosity of the Chico community resulted in the official opening of Caper Acres.

Children walked through the castle-like entrance for the first time, the iconic fairy- tale themed playground transformed the world into a magical place where imaginations blossom. Generations of children have had that same experience over the years.

Caper Acres has lost some of the sparkle since its last remodel in the mid-’90s. Recent storms provided dramatic images of the destruction of the Crooked House, yet there’s been a steady crescendo as decayed and unsafe play structures are removed.

Now is the time to recapture that same community support and dedication to bring Caper Acres back to a place where children and their families can create lifetime memories. Your help is needed to make repairs and move forward with the renovation.

The city’s recent financial crisis and the loss of park staffing added to the challenges of the maintenance and critical upkeep of Bidwell Park. We must confront our aging infrastructure. The list is long: Roads, restrooms, trails, fencing and playground equipment that are either decades old or engineered for a smaller population are failing. While deferring maintenance can save money in the short term, the costs mount over time.

For example, our daily safety inspections and repairs of Caper Acres sometimes take hours each day, just to open the gates.

Updates to the park’s facilities will make them safer, more enjoyable, and more cost effective to maintain. The renewal also allows people of all abilities to enjoy this jewel. The new features will help capture the next generation’s imagination and prove to be practical from a cost and maintenance standpoint.

In 2013, the city Parks Division, Chico State University students, and local landscape architecture consultant Melton Design Group collected citizen input to improve Caper Acres, increase safety, and reduce maintenance costs. Public meetings with community members, interviews with teachers and students, moms and dads, citizens and staff, and most importantly, the children that enjoy Caper Acres, produced great ideas.

Multiple generations of Chicoans remember moments in the park presided by Humpty Dumpty and wanting to keep the dream of Caper Acres alive. The effort yielded a beautiful rendering of ideas in the Master Renovation Plan that the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission and City Council approved in 2014.

The renovation plan provides the broad concepts to improve drainage and landscaping, replaced damaged and impractical materials with low maintenance ones, add new features such as a zip line and a Monkey Face climbing structure, and much more.

While the city will provide some funding and staff to oversee the work, in reality the Caper Acres renovation is a community venture with broad support. The phase plan will help us match implementation needs with community resources that have been generously offered.

To make the plan a reality, we will rely on community donations. We have already begun some work. Over the last two years the Parks Division has been able to apply received donations toward the Caper Acres renovation. Those funds have been and are being utilized for a variety of items such as the repaired footings of the Bird Cage, added needed fall material, and removed the aged and hazardous Bunker Hill Mine.

How can you help with Caper Acres?

You can attend the Caper Acres Fantasy Fun Run on May 13. Join us for a volunteer day. Donate to the Parks Division. Buy a Caper Acres brick. Greet other park visitors and garner support. All of these types of efforts help us move forward.

As we embark on this journey, we will share milestones and provide opportunities for public input so that we can continue improving our efforts. We also report our progress to the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission. Interested citizens can get on our mailing list.

For more information and ideas on how you can get involved please email parkinfo@ chicoca. gov or call the parks office at 8967800. Dan Efseaff is the city’s parks and natural resource manager. Shane Romain is parks services coordinator.

I had to answer, so sent the following to the ER letters sections – the appropriate page for opinions such as the above.

According to, City of Chico Park and Natural Resources Director and Park Services Coordinator make  a combined $236,000 in total compensation.   That’s $118/hour, based on a 40 hour week, for two employees to tell us they don’t have enough money to maintain the park. (“Caper Acres Needs You”, 3/3/17) 

According to city Public Works Director Erik Gustafson, the Butte County “Alternative Custody Service” is available for $100 a day and has been used to clean restrooms, perform vegetation removal, and clear illegal encampments. I wonder why this program is not employed for clean-up and repair at Caper Acres. 

The Park Commission has discussed more citations for illegal camping and other violations, “which could add to the park revenue…” while deterring illegal activities.  In 2016, 444 “warnings” were issued to illegal campers, while only 76 were cited. City manager Mark Orme explained to me that “one of the reasons for the high number of warnings is that, in many cases, the occupant moves on and removes items…”  Gustafson told me the city believes these campers are protected by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which pertain to a person’s rights within their home.  

 Welcome to Sanctuary City. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico? CA

I had a little trouble finding these positions on the public pay website because the titles were mis-spelled in the story – the database is spelling sensitive, you have to spell it exactly  right. Whoever was responsible for this story added an ‘s’ to “Park”, I had to drop the ‘s’ before the database would spit it out. Look for yourself, it’s a shocking read. Then look  at our town – does it look like a town that pays out $28 million plus in salaries, with another $12.5 in pensions and benefits?

With a payroll like that, we should be able to eat off the streets, instead, we can hardly drive on them! 

Here’s one of the main problems with Chico Unified School District – board member Eileen Robinson lives in la la land

2 Mar

This letter to the News and Review was written by Chico Unified School  District board member Eileen Robinson, one of the longest standing members of the  school board.  

Let’s do better

You drive your SUV to a 25-unit campground and select a site. You unload your tent, sleeping bags, supplies and your pet. You settle in for a time to visit with your fellow campers and share a campfire. You have two outhouses and two dumpsters to accommodate the most basic of needs.

Next scenario has you pulling and pushing your shopping cart or bicycle into one of 25 campsites. You unload your tent, sleeping bags, supplies and your pet. You are welcomed and settle in to share a campfire and some camaraderie with your fellow camp mates. This campsite restricts placement of outhouses or dumpsters to accommodate the most basic of needs.

In scenario one you leave voluntarily to return home after a few days of rest and relaxation.

In scenario two, government entities declare your circumstance a health and safety hazard and serve legal notice you are to return to the uncertainty of life on the streets of the community where you live.

I hope we will do better than this and find a new “campsite” where people find safety and comfort in numbers, and solace in an understanding community.

Eileen Robinson


Eileen, the reason we have so many transients on the streets is the failure of our schools to prepare children for the reality of the world – work or starve.  The school district is only  now bringing back classes in basic work training such as welding and shop.  For years they steered kids toward the performing arts and the cloudy world of “tech.” A lot of the transients I see repeatedly arrested are from local schools – they “fell through the cracks.”

I had to suffer an appearance by Robinson at a CARD meeting one evening, she was completely unprofessional, disorganized, and demanding.  She’s one of the longest  standing members of CUSD board, and  she needs to go.  Problem is, the public pays so little attention to the school board,  there hasn’t been a real board election in years.

Wake the hell up Chico.