Archive | September, 2018

A pretty lackluster bunch of council candidates – at least I know who I’m NOT voting for!

18 Sep

I met Chico City Council candidate Matt Galloway when he was walking my neighborhood the other day.  While he was nice, and eager to talk about issues, he demonstrated very little knowledge of the government system.

I’m disappointed in the whole field of candidates, I don’t think I can support, or  even vote for any of them. Even secretly! The liberals all want to embrace the transients, and all the candidates are build happy. There are really no conservatives running – even the candidates that are hanging around the GOP HQ are promising us more new urban crap, sprawl in every direction, more low-income housing, everything that is wrecking our town. The liberals all actually want MORE homeless services. 

Kasey Reynolds is at least sticking up to the “homeless advocates,” but she says she wants more money for the cops. That’s just throwing gas on the fire.

All the candidates are pretty clueless to our real problems as far as I’m concerned. None of them are talking about the pension deficit. None of them are talking about the state of near bankruptcy we’ve been in since before 2012 – no money to fix or maintain the streets, no money to maintain the park, never enough money to get the cops to do their jobs, but we sure have plenty of money for salaries and benefits!  Plenty of money to remodel city chambers! Plenty of money to put new streets in for developers who haven’t paid any developer fees! Plenty of money to spend trying to attract air service when Redding and Sacramento are less than two hours in either direction.

I have sincerely tried to engage the candidates, most are not approachable.  At least Galloway is approachable, but the city council race is not a popularity contest. At least, it shouldn’t be. Okay it really is. It certainly has nothing to do with real issues.

I first ran into Galloway at GOP HQ on Esplanade. I was picking up YES on Prop 6 signs, and Braden, the manager, asked me didn’t I want some city council signs. I frankly told him I wasn’t sure I’d be voting for anybody for city council, they’re a pack of duds as far as I’m concerned. Especially Coolidge, who had the nerve to make jokes about the spending of Comcast franchise fees, which are tacked onto our Comcast bills like a big booger every month, on a city council chambers remodel instead of fixing the streets used by Comcast. He also voted to declare a shelter crisis, which is a direct hit to our local economy and quality of life.

I told Braden I might support Reynolds, but not really sure. He asked me about Galloway, and I said I hadn’t researched him enough yet. Then he introduced me to Galloway, who was standing at the counter staring at me. They both tried to talk me into taking all three candidates’ signs, asking me, what did I want? Another 4 years of Randall Stone?

That threw me. Randall Stone is not up for election. While I am not entirely happy with Stone’s performance on council, I was shocked Galloway didn’t even know who his opponents are. Then I told him the real problem was our city manager, Mark Orme.

“Oh we got rid of him,” was Galloway’s answer.

What?!” I responded. “Orme is OUT?! since when?” It was then I noticed Braden and the other staffer wildly gesturing, “NO!” There was confusion on Galloway’s part, Braden corrected him, and then Galloway said, “Oh yeah, I mean (former planning employee) Mark Wolfe.” That further troubled me. I told him I liked Wolfe. Mark Wolfe was a guy who would point out an elephant in the room – namely, the amount of money council directed to be spent on studies  that they didn’t pay any mind to. 

I was really troubled that Galloway didn’t know who Mark Orme was – even when I mentioned he was city manager. But I could see why Galloway didn’t like Wolfe – Galloway is a new urban architect. He is associated with the “city within a city” known as Merian Park. That clusterfuck is going to tank our economy, the housing market is going to go into the toilet. So, right there I realized I wasn’t going to vote for Galloway.

But they were interested in what I thought, so I told them. The biggest, most immediate problem we have right now is that the county is  bringing transients and criminals into our town for the $550 a day in “transfer” payments they get from the state prison realignment program (AB109) and the behavioral health system.

I got that dollar figure from BCBH director Dorian Kittrell, but it’s old and I’m thinking it’s more now. 

The stood staring at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about. Galloway started to drone on about how we need to give the cops more money, and I told him I was sick of threats from Chico PD that they can’t EVER do their jobs without more money, more money, more money. I  told him that was a recurring theme every year when the students came back to town, and I was sick of hearing it. I reminded him the median income in Butte County is about $40,000/year, we can’t afford to keep paying these salaries and the outrageous benefits. He changed the subject to the transients blocking business entrances Downtown, as if Downtown is the only part of Chico that matters. 

At that point I realized I was spinning my wheels. I was dirty from doing yards all morning, and riding in the truck with my dogs. So I thanked Galloway and staff and left with my signs.

I had just made it to my house and was talking to my neighbor in my front yard when I saw Galloway turn the fenceline into my long driveway, and I ran out to greet him. My husband was getting ready to do some blowing around our tenant’s house, so I ushered Galloway to the street. I sincerely didn’t want to waste his time, I’d already decided he was out of the running. So I showed him where my husband had posted our YES on 6 sign.

That was another thing that bothered me – nobody at GOP is really pushing Prop 6, Braden had to fetch me some signs out of the back room. Galloway didn’t even want to talk about it. We stood looking up and down my street – potholes, cracks, sections of broken pavement. When you drive or ride a bike on it you can feel whole, block long sections that have separated from the base, and sound like broken crockery. You can see the huge divets where the garbage trucks screech to a halt in front of every house. I was too busy to tell this guy who doesn’t have a rat’s ass of a chance at winning that the garbage franchise money has been going to fix Cohasset Road, instead of the streets in front of our houses. I didn’t have time to tell him about the meeting I attended at which Public Works staffers said they were taking all these long-needed street projects off the fix-it list, in favor of new streets for the Fogarty subdivision and Meriam Park. I guess you can see the improvements on Bruce Road and Highway 32 are directly in front of the new subdivisions, ending abruptly, leaving the driver to sudden narrowing, ginormous potholes, and crumbling edges.

Sitting council member Mark Sorensen told me neither developer has paid any fees toward those projects. Fees are deferred until the project is “built out”. Of course, by that time, the “improvements” are inadequate, traffic has reached a standstill, and we live in a shit hole. Former city employee Tom Varga admitted at a meeting years ago, once we reach “build out” our traffic rating will go to ‘C’, then ‘D’, then ‘F’ – it’s inevitable, he reported, with all this new development. Varga pushed for bike lanes – like the bike lane they just put over Hwy 99 – ever see anybody but transients on that bike bridge? 

I don’t know if our town can be saved. But it’s apparent we don’t have any saviors in this round of candidates. 

 

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A lot of our problems in Chico and Butte County could be solved with term limits on elected officers

11 Sep

I’ve been receiving interesting comments at the “Join Us” page.  I couldn’t ignore the common thread in these comments.  People are questioning the management of Butte County Behavioral Health and Chico Police Department. Scott Rushing, the father of Tyler Rushing, who was shot in an encounter with Chico PD, points a finger at our District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who has ruled each and every shooting by Chico PD as “justified,” resulting in a lot of criticism and a number of lawsuits against the city of Chico.

Mary, who says “ I have experience being on both sides of the equation. I worked for the State hospital system and bcbh,” confirms what I’ve seen – excessive bureaucrat salaries. She says other counties are doing a better job for less money.

“The plain truth is that BCBH facilities employees sit back in their cozy offices, collecting six figure salaries, socializing and planning their own week end retreats and seminars. For the many state tax millions spent on local centers, there isnt much effectiveness. There aren’t any services available for severely mentally ill. The money spent on these inflated salaries could be used to create crisis houses for acute cases. San Diego County has these facilities all over their county. They cost about 1/5 per bed per day of what the full fledged inpatient facilities costs. Each person gets therapy, a visit with a psychiatrist and a social worker planning their release. 21 days is the max stay. And it is intensive and effective. Patients do cleaning and cooking and have chores.”

I agree with her summation.

“We need a new system. Our current BCBH leadership seems to be a mutual admiration society who protect and promote one another yet are living in a bubble supported by way too many mis-spent funds.”

She’s right, go to a meeting sometime, that’s exactly what I’ve seen. It’s literally maddening listening to these idiots bloat about their private life and making crude jokes about what’s happening to Chico. When I complained to Supervisor Maureen “Don’t Let the Screendoor Hit You On the Ass” Kirk about an entrenched homeless camp less than a mile from her own house, she joked about moving to a Del Webb Retirement Village. She also denied that the county takes transfers for the money – $550 a day for a minimum 45 day hold – what an idiot she is. I’m glad to see her go, but I believe her anointed successor Tami Ritter will be even worse. Ritter was a short-term manager of Torres Shelter, but was asked to leave by the board.  I can’t believe Kirk endorsed her, maybe it is time for Maureen to spend a few days in the PUFF. 

This breakdown in behavioral health services, as well as poor management of local shelters, has made for more stress on the police department, I’ll admit that. I get around Chico on my bicycle, I know what the cops have to deal with.  But instead of going to the board of supervisors and asking for an end to the transfers that bring these criminals to Butte County/Chico, the police department meets the problem with excessive force and demands for more funding. They’ve just announced an end to the “Street Crimes Unit,” saying they don’t have enough officers to split between the college campus and the rest of town. They’ve made this threat, in one form or another, through chief after chief – give us more money or we won’t do our jobs…

There doesn’t seem to be any rational, middle ground at Chico PD. Either they ignore the problem, the city of Chico excusing them with “4th and 14th Amendment Rights”, or they plow right in and kill somebody. And Scott Rushing is right – District Attorney Mike Ramsey never holds them accountable for their fatally poor judgement.

As Rushing points out, this has resulted in lawsuits that have cost the city a lot of money. Just tragic waste.

 “Juanita Sumner points out the bureaucracy and increased cost, with little benefit, to civilians in need of mental health services. There are other inefficient departments in Butte County.  Taxpayers are also getting ripped off by the District Attorney Michael Ramsey and law enforcement leadership in your county. There are currently three active lawsuits against the Chico Police Department for lethal officer involved shootings. There is one active investigation by the Department of Justice, Attorney General’s office into the officer involved shooting of Tyler Rushing in Chico on 7.23.17. There are two active lawsuits against Butte County for excessive use of lethal force. There is a current legal action against former Chico PD sergeant Scott Ruppel for strangling a restrained suspect in the back of his police car just 22 days after firing two bullets into Tyler Rushing. Tax payers need to rise up and demand the resignation of Mr. Ramsey. From my point of view, he has promoted a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy in Butte County. Five civilians have been killed by officers in the past 18 months.Tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours are spent defending the aggressive actions of officers. The taxpayers are getting ripped off.”

We need to get rid of Mike Ramsey, who has been in an elected office for some 20 or more years because it’s hard to find a county resident who is both qualified and willing. When a Sacramento attorney ran against Ramsey people complained he was a carpetbagger, but do you really think anybody from Ramsey’s office is stupid enough to run against him? 

What we need are term limits. Here in the city of Chico we have a  term limits measure on the November ballot. It’s not retroactive, and it’s probably too long – three terms. Current council members, like old goat Ann Schwab, would be allowed to serve three more terms before they are out. Three more terms voting against Sit and Lie ordinances while voting for ordinances that  require homeowners to make major energy retrofits. 

What I would like to see for the county is a measure that would term out the long sitting losers like Ramsey and County Clerk Candy Grubbs. They’ve both been sitting in their jobs for too long, Grubbs has actually been caught using staff for her own private gain. It’s time to open the barn door and let out the flies.

 

 

 

YES ON 6 signs and stickers available at GOP HQ, 1540 Esplanade, Chico

8 Sep

Yes on 6 signs — and !stickers! — are available at the GOP headquarters at 1540 Esplanade. Get yours now and post them proudly. We want to let the governor know, we’re sick of paying more for nothing.

 

Follow the money – AB 109 funds not being spent on programs to keep criminals off our streets, it’s going to the General Fund for salaries and benefits

6 Sep

I’ve been trying to tell people for some time that criminals are being  brought into Butte County and especially Chico through the county Behavioral Health Department. People here are disbelieving and skeptical, until they see the reports. I’ve been trying to find more information. Here’s an article from June, 2018, posted in the Redding Record Searchlight, that explains a little further how and why these  “transfers” happen, through the “safety realignment program” known as AB 109.

https://www.redding.com/story/news/local/2018/06/11/grand-jury-wants-know-what-shasta-county-did-ab-109-money/690417002/

In June the Shasta County Grand Jury released a report critical of the misuse of AB109 funds. This is central to our problem in Chico – these funds are not being used to provide extra jail beds or rehabilitative programs for these inmates, they are being “allocated” into the General Fund, which has no restrictions on spending. Therefore, these people are being released due to prison overcrowding and “transferred” to Butte County and whatever other counties will provide “beds” for them. 

“Beds” meaning either a 45 day stint at the Butte County Psychiatric Facility, or any one of various homeless shelters and halfway houses set up with public funding.

Read it for yourself.

https://www.co.shasta.ca.us/docs/libraries/grand-jury-docs/full-reports/2008-2009_Full_Report.pdf

Of course the county suits denied everything – “No we’re not!” 

https://www.redding.com/story/news/2018/07/22/county-rejects-most-grand-jurys-findings-ab-109-spending/816914002/

This Redding Crime group Facebook popped up when I was searching for more about the Grand Jury report. The most recent post was about transients causing problems at the city library. Sound familiar?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1525604334396831/

Read the same stuff happening around Chico – a shop owner beaten in the head with a stick, etc. Read here about a city council meeting being shut down by fascists who will have their way or else.

https://www.chicoer.com/2018/09/04/council-votes-in-chambers-cleared-after-protest/

 

 

 

The rise of Bum Town

1 Sep

My husband and I were floored when we ran into an old friend the other day and he said he and his wife are thinking about moving out of Chico. Our kids grew up together.

“Chico’s just not the same town anymore,” he lamented. What an understatement.

I know this man came here as a college student, but he’s lived here most of his life now, married, raised kids, paid property taxes. As a person who’s lived in this area since early childhood, I’ll say it’s a nightmare. As I wander around town – what was it Woody Guthrie said? I never see a friend I know as I go rambling round.

Many of the older people I knew have  retired elsewhere. Many of the people I knew of my own age have moved out of Chico, staying just close enough to commute to jobs, mostly moving into the outer lying communities  like Paradise, Forest Ranch or Concow. None of their kids seem to be staying in Chico. For one thing, there are no good jobs for young people in Chico. My son and his girlfriend are both employed in Chico, but their bosses hold them to less than 30 hours so they don’t have to pay Obamacare. On that income  they can’t afford to live in Chico unless they want to live in the ghetto and get their cars  broken into every night.

That’s what I’m hearing from a lot of my old friends, Chico is expensive but it’s a s*** hole. Why pay a lot of money to live in a s*** hole? That’s what our friend was saying, the areas surrounding the old subdivision he lives in are like Zombie Town. When I was a kid, that whole part of town was brand spanking new. Now the streets are in lousy condition, as are most of the residential streets in town, and the retail sector’s are trashy and rundown. It’s just a perfect setting for a bunch of bums to move in, take up residence in bus stop shelters and bushes lining the streets. Or in any of a number of crapped out old motels that are not held up to code.

I’ve known homeless people, I’ve been homeless. When I was working and going to college I was always on the verge of homelessness. But I stuck with my family and friends. I lived on my sister’s couch, I lived in my mom’s spare bedroom, and when I was in between Apartments I stayed on Friends couches or in spare bedrooms. I never had to worry about a place to stay, because I wasn’t a dysfunctional drunken drug addict. I didn’t get what I wanted by demanding it and waving around a dirty knife or smashing a bottle on the floor in a grocery store. My friends didn’t have to worry that I would be robbing them while they were asleep.

On the other hand, I did have friends and even family members who robbed me while I was asleep. Sometimes I didn’t have the best judgement in friends and when somebody was in trouble maybe I didn’t realize it was because of their own doing. I did get taken advantage of when I was nice to people sometimes. I had a cousin who wasn’t trusted by any member of the family because she always had a hard luck story but as soon as you were out of the house she was routing through everything you owned and making long distance phone calls.

I learned that people like that never had any remorse for their bad behavior, if you let them they would take advantage again and again. When I was young there was a concept called Tough Love, and it still makes sense to me. You really aren’t helping your loved ones – or anybody – when you don’t hold them to higher standards for their behavior.

A woman who spoke to my health science class in college talked about the concept of “enabling”. Enabling means allowing people to behave badly, whether it’s drug addiction or spousal abuse or just plain dysfunctional Behavior towards friends. Enabling means not holding people accountable for their actions.

The city of Chico, in its Declaration of a shelter crisis, allowing these creeps to physically take over our town, is a classic enabler.

I’ll say most enablers get something for their enabling. Often times it’s just friendship, but in the case of the city of Chico, it’s the funding that comes along with this designation. I can’t remember all the figures I’ve seen and heard but I do remember that city manager Mark Orme mentioned a $450,000 Grant would be available if we congregated all of our homeless services at the fairgrounds. The shelter crisis designation would bring another pot of money, I can’t remember how much.

In closing, I’ll also say, Mark Orme is a big part of our problem. Look at how our town has deteriorated since he came here about 5 years ago. He’s the highest paid city manager we ever had, making over $200,000 in in salary, plus about an $80,000 benefits package.