Bums putting the pressure on long time local businesses, meanwhile, $215,000/year city manager demands $63,000/year park rangers carry guns, make arrests

6 Apr

Yesterday I went to Safeway on Mangrove to pick up some groceries, and I had to ask myself – am I shrinking, or are these carry baskets getting bigger? 

So I couldn’t resist, when my checker made the usual small talk, I asked him about it. He didn’t seem too eager to talk at first,  saying the baskets were sent by a contract distributor, that Safeway didn’t really have anything to do with it. 

I said, “That makes sense, I notice there’s usually advertising on them.” I figured, the baskets are probably  free or very cheap to Safeway because of the advertising.  But the word “advertising” loosened my checker’s tongue, he said, “yeah, but with the transients stealing them and leaving them laying all over town, it was becoming bad advertising for Safeway…”  So now they are just plain brown baskets, they don’t even have the Safeway logo on them anymore.

Oooooo! I get it! I actually found one of the old ones in front of my house on Palmetto. I watched it scoot along the gutter for a couple of days before I picked it up and took it back to Safeway. I just walked right in with it and dumped it in the stack by the door as I grabbed a wheeled cart.  I figured a neighborhood kid had stolen it for a prank, and never mentioned it to anybody. 

According to my checker, these baskets were being found in and along Chico Creek, particularly near One Mile. Well, again, that makes sense. The creeks and the park have become illegal campgrounds. 

Yesterday walking my dog in middle park, I noticed another new trail, heading right into a dense tangle of blackberry and other non-native overgrowth. 

Meanwhile, the city of Chico discusses arming park rangers.


“The city is facing increased “criminal behavior” in its parks and public spaces, O’Brien said. Park rangers are encountering a criminal element with “much greater frequency” than in the past.

“’We want both the public enjoying our parks and our park staff to be as safe as possible,’ O’Brien said. ‘The issues in the park include a more sophisticated criminal element, not simply kids trying to sneak alcohol into Bear Hole or people letting their dogs off leash as in years past.’”

When I asked the checker at Safeway if they’d reported their problems to the city or the police, he frowned and shook his head. A sour “yes” was his verbal answer. I offered, “but they don’t do anything?” A sour look and a shake of the head was the answer to that.

If you look at the city’s salaries, available here:


The first pages, sorted by salary, are full of police and fire employees, with salaries over $100,000/year,  plus packages starting at $35,000, as high as $65,000/year. 

Park ranger appears pages later, with a salary of about $63,000/year and a much smaller package.

The story in the paper says rangers have been told they have 15 months to make a decision – do they want to carry a “firearm” and make arrests in the park? Or get another job. 

“On top of that, Orme ($215,000 in salary with an $80,000 benefits package) said there is no dramatic increase in revenue projected that would allow for more city employees, and resources are already limited.”

Look at the government compensation charts for the last few years – police and fire salaries have been going up-up-up.  The city manager’s salary has increased by over $10,000 in the last five or six years. 

I think Mark Orme should have to go out in the park and roust the bums. 


2 Responses to “Bums putting the pressure on long time local businesses, meanwhile, $215,000/year city manager demands $63,000/year park rangers carry guns, make arrests”

  1. Jim April 7, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    It seems that they keep adding to the City Staff. We have a new tree guy, I’m not sure exactly why filling this position or hiring an airport manager is more important than hiring police and firefighters. But they are.

    • Juanita Sumner April 8, 2017 at 4:39 am #

      I think they need a real park manager who should also have experience in tree management. Efseaff was a poor manager and now he’s gone, and I’m wondering – just what is the plan for Bidwell Park? Is it a riparian zone? A playground? A bike trail? What? Right now it’s nothing but a mess and a hideout for criminals. Efseaff was great at hunting up grants, but those require matching funds be spent. For example, they had a grant in line to fix the fish ladders on the creek, they didn’t do the work by the deadline, and lost the grant, having already spent city money on the process. Same with “Monkey Rock”, which some people know as “The Key Hole”. He sent staff up to close trails, but did not designate new trails, so people just ignored the signs and kept using the old trails. Yes, the trails are badly eroded – he blamed park users, instead of doing the maintenance. I always felt Efseaff was trying to make the park into some kind of human-free preserve, and that played well with the people haters that always sign up for the park commission.

      As for tree management – the city has trees on city property, and while that’s nice as long as there’s no problems, neglected trees cause liability. I do like tree lined streets, and I think they could be easily managed by a qualified person(s). Efseaff told city residents they needed to water and care for city trees, that was just insulting. How many people know anything about the proper care of trees? Now we’ve got sick and dying street trees all over town, some of which never should have been planted, others that just needed proper maintenance. That’s going to cost money, and it didn’t have to.

      We’ve gotten too used to employees, including cops and fire, who serve their own interests instead of the public interest. I would say, we don’t need more employees, we need better employees.

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