Is Chico a corrupt town?

16 May

I haven’t been myself lately, haven’t been posting, haven’t been attending meetings – like so many families in  California right now, my family is under a crippling stress. We’re worried about our finances, we’re worried about the town crumbling around us, we can’t even think much about the future, and we worry about our health –  because we can’t afford healthcare.

Today my husband and I got a report that our roof was heavily damaged in the last couple of hail storms, and the shingles all need to be replaced. That’s a huge job for my husband, and the kids can’t always help. The roofer wants over $10,000. So we decided to drive over to the AAA office here  in town and see about making a claim on our policy. We’ve never made a claim to AAA, so we were really disappointed to find out, in that building full of people, there’s nobody to take a claim. You have to phone in a claim. 

Excuse us for being spoiled. When we had our old Allstate agent, Don Fiore, he actually liked us to come into the office, he did everything for us, he was the last of the real service providers.  The AAA building is full of sales people, and clerks to take your payments, but there’s no service there.

What sucked was the drive across Chico.  We had another errand that took us Downtown first. On the eve of Graduation weekend,  we found Downtown looking, well, like SHIT.

When did the city just stop mowing public property?  At their May 2 meeting, the Chico City Council declared  “weeds, rubbish, refuse, and debris to be a public nuisance – ordering abatement and removal, setting a deadline for abatement, and providing assessment of the cost of abatement…”

I looked here at the list of non-compliant, who must abate or pay, but I sure didn’t seen any city properties on this list.

Drive by One Mile, take Vallombrosa toward the Downtown area – look at the “weeds, rubbish, and debris” – and then there’s the bums! One guy looked like a pile of garbage, but as we drove by he sat up. Another man stood astraddle the sidewalk, blocking passersby, going through his shopping cart full of crap. 

All along sidewalks Downtown, especially the area near Rangle Park and the Downtown 7-11, the weeds along the sidewalks are knee-high and covered with stickers. Trash litters the ground everywhere.  Looks great for all those parents and extended family members coming into town – this, by-the-way, has traditionally been the biggest TOT – or “bed tax” – weekend every year.  What I’ve heard lately is, people are finding nicer hotels, willing to drive as far as Willows and Corning, to get a hotel that is not surrounded by the army of the night.

Another big TOT totaller around here was the Concourse D’Elegance. You newcomers don’t even know what I’m talking about, huh? Cause they moved to Butte Creek Country Club, oh, I don’t know – 10 years ago?  That event used to be spread all over the campus and out into the Downtown area, with car lovers coming from all over the state to stay a couple of nights in town. Now they spend their day at the Country Club out on Hwy 99, from which they can be in Corning in about 30 minutes.  Why even drive into bum-infested Chico? 

Our town is really pissing me off lately.  I was trying to forget about Chico, and I made the mistake of reading the Sacramento Bee instead of the Enterprise Record. You see patterns when you read the big newspapers. 

I like to read Dan Walters cause he spoke to my high school journalism class. He tried to get us kids to pay attention, think about our future. He also told us we should stop screwing around and eat our expensive dinners. He impressed me as a guy who cared, and he still seems to be one of the only voices of reason left in the state. Here he is talking about the government corruption that is swallowing California alive.

Chico has a budget of over $100 million, up from about $53 million only a few years ago. Our city manager makes over $240,000/year, PLUS BENEFITS. His predecessor Brian Nakamura made about $212,000/year, and before that long-gone city manager Dave Burkland made about $180,000/year. That’s happened just since 2012. 

We also spend a lot more money on police and fire, but we continue to get mixed signals from our “public safety” officials. In January a consultant’s report said the fire department needed to be a lot more efficient – including a suggestion to close stations that overlapped services. A couple of months later we’re told that new hires made with a grant would be let go – the chief threatening us with slower response times. At about the same time, the police department told us they would cut services if they didn’t get more money – and then about a month ago the chief said he “found” enough money in the budget to hire three more cops.


Tonight city council will discuss a new “property and business improvement district assessment” for Downtown Chico. Is that what they’re doing? Withholding services like landscape maintenance and street cleaning so the Downtown property owners will fold and pay more? They say the assessment will be directed towards:

• Public safety – safety patrols and stewardship ambassadors to support law enforcement  

• Maintenance and Beautification – cleaning team and image enhancements

• Economic Services – advocate on downtown policy issues, address the interests of property owners, and provide information and services to assist in recruitment and retention of tenants/businesses

• Administration – provide daily management to carry out PBID operations

These are the city’s job already. This is what local government is here to provide.  But here they are again – threatening to cut services if they don’t get more money.  

How long before everybody in town has to pay into one of these assessment districts just to be able to call a cop to take a report, or – think ahead – get a firetruck for a house fire? 

This is exactly what Dan Walters is talking about. You folks were so outraged! about Bell California, you don’t recognize it when it’s right in front of your faces.


6 Responses to “Is Chico a corrupt town?”

  1. Don May 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

    Hi Juanita

    I read the weed removal proposal, very interesting.


    On page 4 of the list in the document I found the City of Chico has listed itself as a contributor to the issue.

    016-160-098-000 Lance terrace/Eaton Ave 3.1 acres Owner: City of Chico

    This sets a precedent. If the City acknowledges it owns property that it has failed to clean up and remove weeds and other items, then every piece of City owned property where this problem exists is also a contributor.

    Will the City bill and charge itself for the removal?

    The list also includes Chico Unified School District, twice. One parcel of 50 acres and one of 1 acre
    CARD is also listed

    I also noticed the list includes, Enloe Hospital, Tri Counties Bank, Walmart, Chico State University, California Water Service, and many churches.

    Food for thought.

    • Juanita Sumner May 17, 2017 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks Don, you are more persistent and maybe have better eyes! I forgot to complain about the school and CARD, but missed the city and Enloe owned properties.

      I see this as a dereliction of duty. We were just out at 5 Mile this morning, watching the sprinklers blow all over the asphalt parking lot, the sidewalks around the parking lot ran like creeks. The weeds are knee high along the trails. They maintain the ballfields and the children’s playground that is within sight of the road but the disc golf course is unplayable by my standards – you should probably strap a couple of good tick collars around your legs if you walk the trails around that park.

      they’re trying to press us into paying more taxes, CARD has an assessment in the works, and the city and Chamber of Commerce have discussed a sales tax hike. Former city manager and sometimes city consultant, CARD board member, Enloe Hospital board member, member and former president of Chico Chamber, Tom Lando actually paid for a survey which he said showed that the public supported a sales tax increase. He never made the survey public and he hasn’t mentioned the sales tax for a couple of years now, but he’s voted with the CARD board to put the assessment forward.

      Lando, by the way, gets more than $11,000 a month in pension.

  2. Tim Taylor May 16, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    I feel your pain, I was born in Chico and live here all my life, and see it becoming skid-row. The transit bum’s are taking over the town, and the city letting them do it? Home owners just get tax’s raised when the city needs funds, but not for services, but wages and benefits for the new city royalty who make four times what normal citizen earn.I should go tonight because the council plans to keep cannabis out of Chico, along with any tax dollars that would come with it. Closing fire stations for lack of funds, but denying revenue from sales? I keep saying ” Save America and Hang a politician, party unimportant, they are all crooks”. Good luck with the roof, you might think of asking for some help, your good people.

    • Juanita Sumner May 17, 2017 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks Tim! This has happened in towns up and down California, I hope Chicoans can get wise before it’s too late.

  3. Jim May 17, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    Chico is suffering ‘death by 1000 cuts’ bad decision on top of bad decision done by incompetent can corrupt City leadership.

    • Juanita Sumner May 17, 2017 at 10:33 am #

      Sheesh – good analogy – that’s how I feel as I get my checkbook out to pay my tax bill! Whack! Slash! Hack! Pretty soon I won’t have a hand to write out the checks.

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