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Chico: The squeaky wheel gets the grease – start squeakin’!

20 May

My husband and I were running errands the other day that took us past Depot Park. Wow. What a fucking mess. I know a lot of college students are forced to live in that neighborhood – it’s cheap and they don’t know any better. There are also plenty of families that live in there, single moms and little kids all over the place.

Depot Park is also the train station. No, the train doesn’t stop, but you can catch a bus there at about 4:30 am to connect with trains elsewhere. I’m guessing the train won’t stop there anymore because Chico is well-known as a transient town, Amtrak has complained about people blocking the tracks with garbage, fires, and their own bodies. A friend of ours was on her way to Portland when bums burned the trestle at Edgar Slough and the train was delayed for hours waiting for busses.

Wow – when I realized all our friend sees of Chico when she blast through town is Depot Park, it made me embarrassed. Why is this happening? Yesterday they reported 43 beds at Torres Shelter and 15 pallets open. But they need to build a new site on Cohasset? For folks that just won’t agree to the rules at the established shelters?

Welcome to the State of Lawlessness, brought to you by Chico City Council. These idiots probably can’t balance their own check books, and here they are fucking with our lives. Drug overdoses, car thefts and general mayhem in every direction, and Chico PD has the balls to declare crime is down in Chico? I’m going to guess – they’ve just stopped arresting people. Car thefts are not down, but it depends on the age and perceived value of the car as to whether or not it’s a “crime”. Drug arrests are still a regular event, and there have been three fatal overdoses reported in Chico just this week, but “crime” is down?

And again, town looks like shit for Chico State graduation ceremonies – ever wonder why enrollment has gone down 22% in the last five years? From over 16,000 students to about 12,000. That might help explain so many empty store fronts Downtown?

Not enough housing? You’ve got to be kidding. They build and they build, but rent keeps going up! New and refurbished apartment complexes all over town, but rent per person averages about $600/month. And the city has almost eliminated parking requirements for new housing, meaning, you have nowhere to securely park your car. They are requiring half a parking space per unit, even units with more than one bedroom.

Looking at rentals online, I see there are usually neighborhood ratings as to “connectivity”. Most neighborhoods in Chico receive a low rating here, because there’s nowhere residents can walk out and shop. But Chico continues to sprawl up and out, into areas of town with no services. They think a bike bridge over the freeway is going to correct this situation – how about fixing sidewalks and bringing commercial areas up to grade? Chico is still 30 years behind the Americans with Disabilities Act – many neighborhoods HAVE NO SIDEWALKS. Businesses families need are leaving Chico, the small shopping centers are dilapidated and neglected. Who’s moving here? Smoke shops and liquor stores. What’s “family friendly” about extending liquor service to parks and sidewalks Downtown?

A good title for Chico City Council would be “The Blind Leading the Morons”. They chase the bums from camp site to camp site like Keystone Cops. They refuse to admit we have a major crime problem. They refuse to admit businesses are leaving town because they have to follow their customers. You really think those parking kiosks are there to make the customer happy?,since%20these%20kiosks%20went%20in.

According to Van Overbeek, the parking kiosks went into place to increase parking in downtown Chico and that the kiosks are more cost effective than building a new parking structure. He says the kiosks help create more parking enforcement with the time limits when it comes to people inputting their license plate number.”

No, they’re there because humans can’t issue parking tickets fast enough, the machines make a parking ticket automatic. They’re also equipped to track your car as you move around town, along with the license plate readers we just bought for Chico PD, they will be able to track your movements and send you advertising based on your habits, via that app you have to load on your cell phone. I didn’t guess that, or make it up – they talked about it in meetings, even in the newspaper.

So no Leann, I’m not coming Downtown to buy your overpriced slave labor crap, and not just because of the kiosks. Hey, Kalen, you’re charging twice as much for a deli sandwich as Spiteri’s and The Locker, just because you’re located in Downtown Chico – don’t try to pass that off on me. There are no businesses Downtown that carry stuff I need for prices I can afford. It was funny to read the owners of North Rim Adventures Sports complain that Downtown landlords are the problem – who can afford to shop at North Rim? Chico Chamber CEO Katy Thoma asked me recently if I ever shopped at Colliers – no, they charge too much for stuff I can get at the box stores south of town, or even online, for much cheaper. Really silly stuff, like a drain stop for my tenant’s bath tub, or a new shower head, or maybe some screws to fix whatever. Those nickels and dimes add up to a rent increase, Landlady ain’t a charity operation.

We quit Northern Star Mills after we found our brand of dog food online for about half the price. I shopped in those stores since I was too small to see over the counter, but I won’t be gouged by somebody who’s being gouged by the City of Chico to pay their salaries and benefits.

So yes, I can see why Downtown, why all of Chico, is in trouble. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pensions. That’s all they think about when they make decisions, like the recent decision to halt work on the Bruce Road widening – because they can’t find a contractor to do the work for $23 million? No, I’m going to guess they’ve already “allocated” (dipped into) that funding and there’s not even $23 million left. They promised us new streets when they marketed Measure H, now we get pothole patches and slurry. What next? Parcel tax for the widening of one stretch of road that should have come out of developer fees? According to Mark Sorensen, the developers who gave us the Fogarty and Doe Mill/Merriam Park subdivisions have never paid street/road fees.

Think about that next time you’re sitting in your car trying to get to work or the store. Then write a letter to council about it. The squeaky wheel seems to get the grease around here.

So you thought we dumped the king in ’76?

1 Jul

Already July!  Fourth of July travelers are on the highway – I wonder if they noticed, the gas tax went up today. 

Something nobody seemed to get about SB 1 – the gas tax increase instituted by the state legislature in January 2018 – is that it allows the legislature to raise it at will, no input from the voters. 


It could get worse – in May, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 was ordered for a third reading, not yet scheduled.  ACA1 lowers the voter threshold for [the following italicized portions have been added to the original text] “Bonded indebtedness incurred by a city, county, or city and county city and county, or special district for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure or infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, or the acquisition or lease of real property for public infrastructure or infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, ”  from 2/3’s to 55 percent voter approval.  

Why? Because it was hard to get 2/3’s approval from the taxpayers. So they are changing the rule. What kind of crap is that? Should the legislature be able to just change the constitution without a vote of the people?

Furthermore, do you really think it’s okay for 55 people to tell the other 45 that they must pay a tax for programs they don’t want to support? I think that’s mob rule, and it’s divisive. A community should agree on stuff, not be subject to the loudest bullies in the group. 

Here’s the text of ACA 1

The bar at the top of the page includes the history of the bill, current status (waiting for a third reading), and who voted how. So far it’s been through the Assembly Local Government Committee, and the Assembly Appropriations Committee. I don’t know where it goes next, but I’m watching this page. 

So, this week, when you are trying to enjoy various events, try to remember why we celebrate this holiday. Do some homework, learn something about the process by which they steal your money and ruin your community. 

I’ll tell you what my family did to start the week off right – we watched “Vice”, the 2018 movie about Dick Cheney. Sure, it’s silly and fantastic in places, but it tells, factually, how our government works, and why we have to be on top of our politicians. 

And then we watched the Nixon movie, “Dick,”  which is the best telling of the Watergate story I have ever seen.  I was 12 years old when the Watergate story broke in the newspapers, I remember that was the first time my parents didn’t know all the answers. People were stunned, because they knew nothing about how much power the president really had.  They thought we dumped the king back in ’76, but they were wrong.

Happy Independence Day Everybody!



In Chico we shout down anybody we don’t agree with

7 Aug


On the surface this looked like a nice crowd.  This was the opening prayer.

My husband and I decided to put aside chores this morning to attend a Q&A session with 1st District Congressman Doug LaMalfa at the Elks Lodge here in Chico. I don’t agree with him on very much but wanted to hear what he had to say.

And, it’s a very nice bike ride from our house to Manzanita Place, traveling along Lindo Channel. The temperatures have been hilariously cooler the last day or two, we didn’t even bust a sweat peddling along at 7:30 am.  We had our water and sunscreen and were determined to enjoy the morning regardless of politics.

What I wasn’t ready for, was the crowd that showed up.  You know me, I like to say it like it is, I like to use “colorful language”. But I refrain from standing up and screaming “Shut UP!” or “BULLSHIT!” when somebody else has the floor at a meeting. I mouth stuff and make faces, but I sit down and shut up.  I may be nasty here at the blog, but at public meetings I really try to respect the other person’s right to have their say, including our politicians.

Besides, you have to listen to these people to find out what they’re up to. LaMalfa opened the meeting quickly and courteously, with remarks about the progress Congress is having “reforming” the Affordable Healthcare Act – Obamacare. I had to agree with most of what he said, what I could hear, because at this point, less than 20 minutes into the meeting, the crowd started to go nuts. 

Frankly, I should have guessed what was going to happen, when the red cards went up during the opening prayer. It got pretty ugly, one man shouting “shut up and let us talk” while a woman behind us shouted “Bullshit!” to everything LaMalfa had to say. 

This folks, is public discourse in Northern California. I don’t get out of town much anymore, I don’t know how they do it in other congressional districts, but here we shout down anybody we don’t agree with. 

And here we’re made fun of in the LA Times.

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.