You know how it goes – you hear about things on the news, but it doesn’t hit you until it’s right under your nose. Until you can smell it.

30 Nov

For years now I’ve been talking about the illegal camping, the defecating, the urinating, the trash, the crime – the smell of Chico. I’ll have to admit, it’s driven me out of Bidwell Park and other “public” areas of town, I avoid non-food shopping, and local restaurants, I don’t attend public meetings anymore – I’ve lost my appetite for Chico. I don’t even like to bike or drive around town anymore.

But when we heard about the problems with the Chico ice rink – lack of “access”, vandalism – my husband got so curious we made a side-trip through Downtown on our way out to run errands the other day. I was shocked. It’s true what that woman said in her letter to the editor – they’ve blocked off all the parking spaces at the plaza with the kind of ugly chain-link fencing you see at construction sites and toxic waste dumps. They’ve installed a fence around the actual rink, and I’m not sure where “observers” are allowed to stand, but if you want to get into that rink, it’s 12 bucks.

But, apparently, it’s free to camp alongside the fence, in the street, we saw the little makeshift tents propped right up against the chain link. It’s free to camp in Bidwell Park, Commanche Creek, the Devil’s Triangle, and any patch of city-owned property around town. We’d been hearing all kinds of news about Commanche Creek – including news of one notorious transient kicked out, by other residents of CC, for sexual assault. So we wound our way over to see what’s become of that mess – wow, just when you think something’s bad, it gets worse. I happen to know some “street people,” and the news isn’t reporting everything that goes on at Commanche Creek, most notably, the rapes. Anybody who takes the time to listen to an “unhoused” person knows that rape is a problem in camps all over town.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind various council decisions, including the redeclaration of the Shelter Crisis Designation. I do know city manager Mark Orme is motivated by money to pay the outrageous pension deficit he and other employees have racked up through unrealistic pension contributions. Council members, some of them also pensioners, are motivated by the money they get from the unions at election time. The unions know the transients not only generate a lot of money in state and federal funding, but they keep the rest of us scared, ready to shell out any amount of money to keep them from pitching their tents in our front yards. Mark Orme reminds me of the Nazi soldier who demands that Sophie make her choice.

Then we have people like Patrick Newman, and people he has misled into believing that the city of Chico has any responsibility for housing anybody. A recent letter Newman penned, blaming anybody who isn’t destitute for the problem, really pissed me off. Newman reminds me of the lady from Dr. Zhivago – “all this house, for just ONE family?!”

She scolds Zhivago for living in a house that could house 13 families – yeah, in conditions no intelligent, hard working person would live in. You work your ass off, build your own place, and the leeches just start marching in. If you have ANYTHING, these people act as though you are the criminal. Having an entitled, soft-handed little perp like Newman tell me I have to give the fruits of my labor to support dead beats, that was just over the top. I wrote a pissed off letter and sent it to Wolcott.

Here’s a story from Aesop:

“One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and begged for a bite to eat.

What!’ cried the Ants in surprise, ‘haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?’

‘I didn’t have time to store up any food,’ whined the Grasshopper; ‘I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.’

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.

Making music, were you?’ they cried. ‘Very well; now dance!’ And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.”

Fellow human Patrick Newman likes to take up his fiddle, damning those of us “housed” individuals for our “materialism”. Well, winter is coming Mr. Newman, it’s time to put down your tiny violin, and get to work.

I have to ask – who wouldn’t have known that Commanche Creek would flood as soon as it started to rain? With rain coming next week, and shanties propped in flood zones all over Chico, our city staff and council are caught with their Shelter Crisis Designation hanging around their ankles.

Old Yiddish Proverb: When the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish. Our Chico fish has eight stinking heads – council and manager Mark Orme.

Something certainly stinks around here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: