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Robert Marbut fails to address a public sector that looks at “the homeless” as cash cows

5 Sep

Yesterday an old post got an unusual amount of traffic.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2016/02/02/its-good-to-see-people-asking-questions-about-funding-torres-shelter/

Reading this morning’s paper, I see why –

http://www.chicoer.com/social-affairs/20170904/chico-homelessness-to-do-list-revisited-a-year-after-robert-marbuts-visit

Here’s the article from last year –

http://www.orovillemr.com/article/NB/20160923/NEWS/160929822

I don’t think any of the agencies here took Marbut very seriously. This is what Marbut failed to address – a public sector that looks at these people like cash cows. 

 

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What do the Ponderosa Fire and yesterday’s midday Downtown robbery have in common? You got it – the “homeless”

2 Sep

When I saw the news stories about these two incidents, I immediately typed the suspects’ names into the Butte County Superior Court “Smart Search”.  

Ponderosa Fire suspect John Ballenger was arrested in 2009 for illegal camping, arrested since for weapon, dui, hit-and-run, etc.

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/08/30/suspect-arrested-in-connection-with-growing-ponderosa-fire/

Downtown robbery suspect Ethan Young has been arrested numerous times, including failure to obey domestic violence order.  

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/local/butte/a-chico-man-was-arrested-for-trying-to-rob-a-jewelry-store/615621989

Both of these men have an extensive history with local law enforcement, but have been released repeatedly by the court. 

 

Humboldt Fire caused by transients?

21 Jul

You have probably heard about the 100 acre Humboldt (Road) fire that occurred along Hwy 32, just above California Park and the new Forgarty houses on the other side of the road. It came within yards of Cal Water’s new tank.

When my husband and I drove out on Hwy 32 yesterday, we saw that it came from the area where we had reported illegal camping a few months ago.  There was a tent with a tarp, clearly visible from Hwy 32. When we investigated we found a fire pit surrounded with garbage and scattered household goods. The fire pit was well established, lined with rocks gathered from the surrounding hillside.  The site looked as though it was regularly used for years, and very recently.

We reported it and were referred to Office Scott Zuchin, who told us he hadn’t seen any camp there. He offered to set up a neighborhood meeting, but when I persisted in my complaint he got testy. 

Please be more specific then. We may not be speaking about the same location. You may attach photographs to your email if that helps.

I had given him the exact location, and told him it was visible from Hwy 32.  I don’t think these people read an e-mail completely before they respond. Shortly thereafter, the tent and tarp disappeared, but the campsite was never cleaned up.  We saw signs of illegal camping all along Humboldt road, in the exact vicinity of that 100 acre fire, and aside from a poorly organized last minute clean-up of the road by a private group for the Wildflower Century, there have been no attempts made by any city or county agency to clean the garbage out of that area.

I had cc’d  Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk into that discussion because she lives in Cal Park. She is fully aware of the transient camps along Humboldt Road and complained about crime being on the increase in Cal Park. This woman needs to wake up and get off the pot – she’s up for re-election in 2018 and doesn’t have a clue as to the problems she is causing every time she votes to fund some “homeless” program. The county brings these people in here for the stipend attached – $550 a day to pay down a pension debt that has them cutting  staff and closing fire stations. But to these agencies money is like an ice cube in hell – it’s already gone to management salaries and pensions before it even hits  the floor.

Write to Kirk and tell her she has to do something to stop the flood of insanity she’s turned loose on our town – that’s mkirk@buttecounty.net

Safari Inn murder just another symptom of our collective mental illness

20 Jul

I’ve had to turn off the news lately – I’m sick of hearing about the murder at the Safari Inn.

Yes, this is news – a woman brutally murdered at a local hotel. But why aren’t they giving us all the details?

For one thing, the man who was seen coming and going from her bedroom window on the night of the murder,  well known transient Marc Valcarenghi, was on a second probation for grand theft and possession of crank.  He’d been arrested in 2014 and again in 2016 for roughly the same crimes – including possession of a drug known to cause unpredictable and violent behavior. Placed on probation, you ask? Yes, not once, but twice this guy was had by law enforcement and allowed to skitter off into the bushes. 

For another thing, the Safari Inn has always had a questionable reputation despite recent efforts to clean up the outside of the place. Back in the 80’s it looked like a total dive, the city went after them to clean it up, so it looks like a “normal” motel. But see what out-of-towners have to say about it here, complete with pictures:

https://www.yelp.com/biz/safari-inn-motel-chico

I have never seen so many graphic and bad reviews of a motel, and we always checked with Yelp! before we went on road trips. 

What’s creepy is, you can see, the outside of the motel looks pretty harmless.  Check those reviews before you go on the road people – imagine ending up in a place like this in a town like SF or Sa-crap-mento!

Here’s another dead giveaway – the price is so low, transients can stay there on the proceeds of tipping garbage cans. Apparently, the victim was staying there in exchange for cleaning? Did you read some of those reviews? 

I think it’s used mostly by transients and even prostitutes. And let me ask you – the motel employee that talked to both Ch 7 and Ch 12 told them the room was so “trashed” she didn’t find the body right away. The newspaper said the woman had been badly beaten and strangled. How does all that happen in a motel and nobody notices? Nobody calls the cops? Cause it’s pretty common there? 

One person who reviewed this place says the health department needs to give it a look. Ya think?  Another person reported finding syringes and a shopping cart in the parking lot. 

What does it take to get the city to investigate a place like this? For a short time we also had a very high-profile routing by the health department, restaurants all over town were shut down and others started sporting the health department clearance sign. But not motels? 

This murder has caused quite a sensation – we’ll see if it causes anything to  change in city and county policy. 

 

 

City of Chico and County of Butte continue to exacerbate the transient problem

17 Jul

My husband likes to get out with our old dog for a quick walk in Bidwell Park before the heat sets in. He took this picture at a campsite off Bryant Avenue this morning.

Yes that is a very well established campsite along Chico Creek. I presume the man is just asleep but if you’d been watching the news lately you might want to poke him with a stick to make sure.

This guy took over a picnic spot that is supposed to be for day use only. 

Look hard – right behind this guy there is a picnic table. And it’s taken him a few days unmolested there to gather all that crap. And I’m not using the word “crap” loosely, I’m guessing there is human waste in the bushes.

Remember the “Occupy Movement”?  Well here it is folks. 

The other day I read about the new “Harm Reduction Center” being opened at Mangrove and First Avenues. 

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170710/harm-reduction-legal-center-for-homeless-opening-in-chico

“With the help of Butte County Bar Association, homeless service provider Stairways Programming is opening a harm reduction and legal center this week at 1112 Mangrove Ave. It will provide free legal help and therapy to those who are homeless or living in poverty and struggling with severe mental illness or substance use disorders.

“Attorneys will volunteer their time, offering pro bono work 1-4 p.m. every Monday. During the center’s other hours of operation, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Stairways will provide case management and therapy, and trainings for service providers on methods used at Stairways such as de-escalation, said Stairways Executive Director Michael Madieros.

“’Here’s a chance for them to meet with an attorney, get advice … and start to feel good about the justice system and like somebody cares,” Madieros said. “And when they do show up in court, they feel positive.’”

What I’m hearing is another bum magnet opening up within a mile of one of my rentals, just blocks from the retail centers where I (have done) a lot of my shopping for years. Mangrove shopping center is becoming a bum camp, not to mention that alley that runs  behind Cash and Carry between Palmetto and First Ave. And now this. 

“The new program will also serve as a harm reduction center, operating on a model that Stairways Programming has been using for quite some time. It will provide a space in which those who are experiencing homelessness can learn about and understand the harm they may be creating for themselves and their community by their behaviors, and how they can take small steps to be safer.”

Harm reduction? Stairways has been using this model “for quite some time” ? Well, Mike old buddy, it’s not working.  And here’s why.

“The ultimate goal for those abusing substances is abstinence, Madieros said, but it isn’t the starting point. One of those small steps may be teaching someone how to dispose of needles correctly.

It’s about helping people up, rather than pushing or forcing them, he said.

According to the Oakland and New York-based Harm Reduction Coalition, the philosophy meets drug users where they are, accepting that legal and illegal drug use is part of reality and its effects should be minimized rather than ignored or condemned. The conditions of people’s drug use, such as childhood trauma or mental illness, must be addressed along with the drug use itself, which is where therapy and case management plays its part.”

“legal and illegal drug use is part of reality and it’s effects should be minimized rather than ignored or condemned”? These people are mollycoddling junkies.  Is it part of reality to allow people to commit crimes to support their drug habit, and for shills like Madeiros to take advantage of the system for their own profit? Yes, Madeiros receives quite a nice salary for “managing” Stairways. Then there’s “CFO” Megan Harriman, another salary.  Stairways receives funding from various public agencies, including Butte County. 

But they still want us to volunteer, not only our time, but money and supplies. 

When this story popped up there was the usual criticism on Disqus, and Madeiros was quick to come back with a response.

“Harm Reduction is the model of treatment. Stairways provides emergency services to anyone in need but our commitment to Chico is we only provide services and programs to people from Chico. This is not a safe space this is a place people can come and start being accountable for their lives and actions. 
Looking forward to your donation!”

But when I chimed in to ask about site supervision and for a look at Stairways financial reports, I got no reply. 

I don’t know if they received city money for this enterprise, but I know the city had to permit the use of the building, and I’m wondering if the neighbors were asked for input as is the normal routine. 

I have to laugh – the city refuses marijuana dispensaries, but allows these centers to open all over town without any supervision or input from the neighbors. They wait til problems develop, and then they don’t do anything to fix it. 

But it’s Butte County Board of Supervisors who keep approving more and more “beds” and “centers” that bring these creeps flocking. You can start with Chico supervisors slambert@buttecounty.net, mkirk@buttecounty.net, and lwahl@buttecounty.net. 

Downtown Assessment is just another nail in the coffin

8 Jul

Last night my husband and I had a gift certificate for a new restaurant Downtown, and tired as we were, we decided to go for it, Restaurant Week be damned!  We’ve been working hard in the heat lately, we’d put out chicken for bbq but we couldn’t stomach the idea of standing over the grill in 112 degrees.

My patio, Friday, July 7, 2017, about 4 pm.

Luckily (?) for us, the chain place we’d been sent was almost empty, meanwhile, all the trendier places around were swamped with business, 45 minute to hour wait for tables. Oh well, this eatery had good air conditioning, and the meal was free. We ordered. Our server was a nice, professional person, things were clean. 

As we waited for our meal, we entertained ourselves by looking out the big windows, onto Main Street. People were meandering toward the Plaza for Friday Night Concert, some of them carrying lawn chairs. I wondered how these people felt about the bums who were threading along among them,  looking really dirty, and pretty drunk already. We’d seen a couple of cops trying to get a guy off the sidewalk on Second Street.  

A woman walked up with a bike and an enormous over-full back pack on her back.  she was carrying a plastic shopping bag full of other possessions. She hauled herself onto a cement bench sitting just outside the restaurant windows, and gave the phrase “take a load off” new meaning. 

Downtown business and property owner David Halimi came walking down the sidewalk from his Diamond W western wear store, toward the Plaza, looking like the cock of the walk. He’s a funny little guy – likes to wear cowboy boots and a big hat.  But yesterday he was wearing very sensible shoes, and he walked up a block or so and then turned back toward his store, as if he’d just been out for a jaunt. He, Budd Schwab and Bob Malowney (also CARD board of directors) were really pushing that Downtown assessment, and they got it. My husband wondered if Halimi was gloating, I didn’t see that. I saw him looking out at the bums and the filth on the sidewalks, and his eyes were very glazed, and the muscles were working in his jaws. 

As I gazed out on Main Street, my husband, with his back to the front of the restaurant, was watching the side street.  We were  describing the characters we were seeing to each other.  I watched an older woman with a wild mane of bleach-blonde hair cross the street in some pretty outrageous platform shoes, wearing this skimpy little jumpsuit outfit. My husband was watching a man walk along the side street, leaning on parking meters and garbage cans for support. 

And then I noticed the woman on the bench outside the window was changing her clothes. She was just pulling up a pair of underwear when I saw her. She’d been wearing a shirt and jeans, now she was wearing a very stylish looking sun dress.  She left the clothes she’d removed in a pile on the bench, and started gathering up her giant backpack and her other bag. She took her bike by the handlebars and left.

I couldn’t help but wonder where she’d got the dress, looked expensive, like from one of the trendy shops nearby. I’ve heard shoplifting is a problem Downtown, and I wondered – did she just steal that dress and change into it in full view of restaurant windows? Was she using the windows as a looking glass? What? 

She was already gone and the pile of old clothes was still sitting there on the bench. We’d finished our meal and were figuring the tip, cause the staff of this place was very attentive. Leaving the restaurant we realized the food had been pretty poor, cafeteria style, but we’d bolted it because we just wanted to get the hell out of there. We felt bad for the staffers – one cook had come out of the kitchen for his break, and was standing on the street looking at the ragged passersby with a look of disbelief. 

The Downtown assessment is just  the latest in band-aid ideas for Downtown. Yeah, let’s throw more money at it! But every time I go Downtown I see more empty store fronts, I don’t know who the property owners will have to pay their little tax before long. 

 

Butte County supervisors need their heads examined

6 Jul

This morning my husband and I went out early to do chores, expecting the digits to triple by noon or one pm. It’s nice to be able to look behind yourself at a day well spent by 2 pm, and find a shady spot to take a nap or a baby pool to soak your toes until the mercury settles back down a little.

It’s smart to do your shopping early these days. Just that trot from the front door of the grocery store to your car can take the crisp out of a head of lettuce and chop a day or two off the life expectancy of that carton of milk.

Unfortunately it’s not just the heat that makes going out around Chico unpleasant. Transients have set upon our town like some kind of locust plague. You’d think they’d head for the coast, or at least some river town, where the temperatures would be cooler. The temperatures here have proven deadly –

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/local/butte/chico-police-investigating-body-found-behind-ihop/555241431

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20170626/NEWS/170629827

I can only imagine what misery would drive this woman to lay down and die in a cluster of bushes along Hwy 99, trucks rumbling just yards from her body, but I do realize, she had nobody outside her immediate family to turn to.  A $63 million budget for the county Behavioral Health Department and we still don’t have any sort of crisis center or crisis team to deal with people who are in trouble. As we all found out from the Desmond Phillips disaster, calls for help are too often answered by Chico PD officers who may or may not have had one week of training at Butte College in determining, as former police officer Linda Dye put it, “who’s crazy and who’s just faking it…”

Today that was the answer for a young man I feel was determined to take his own life to get help.

As my husband and I rounded the corner out of the deli section of the Mangrove Safeway, my husband stopped to look at  the lunch meat. As I stood by the fancy cheese counter, this 20-something year old man, clean and shaven, with clean clothes, came walking toward us with a very determined look on his face. His expression was almost hostile. He walked straight into the liquor section and I turned my back. Suddenly a young employee brushed by me, smiling in apology. She ran toward into the liquor section saying, “wait, you can’t do that…Sir!”

As I turned, I saw the young man was trying to rip the security top off a liquor bottle. The employee rushed up to him, and around the corner came the manager, who also smiled at me. They know us, we come around the store every couple of days, we walk the same route, buy almost exactly the same items every time.

We saw the young man was argumentative, and there were other employees coming fast on the scene. As we hustled toward check-out, we watched the manager following the young man, who was more agitated, as he walked toward the front of the store. I was glad to have Rafiki and Pete at my check-out, but I worry about my friends at Safeway, having to deal with these people, more and more constantly.

The young man went out the front door, the manager watching at a distance. As we exited the store, we saw Chico’s finest putting the guy in cuffs and leading him toward their car.

We’ve seen similar people at the Safeway plaza – young, clean, new casual clothes, just loitering around the front of Safeway. Once we saw a young guy who seemed to be passed out on the sidewalk outside Kwando, with several empty wine bottles laying nearby.  As we came into Safeway, we watched him ambling up the sidewalk toward the store entrance.

I have to wonder – are these people who have been discharged by the Butte County Psychiatric Facility in Oroville? I have heard they are offered a ride to the Torres Shelter or other facilities, and then just left to their own resources. Many of them have been given prescription drugs, on their own recognizance, which seems, well, crazy to me.

It’s institutionalized insanity. These people are brought here from other cities and counties because we have, as BCBH director Adrian Kittrell describes them, “beds”. Each person come with a sort of dowery – $550 a day. The county is allowed to hold them with or without their consent for a total of 45 days. You do the math, this kind of transparent corruption makes me sick.

But do they treat them?  Well, go out and about around Chico, and tell me what you think. The streets are horrible even for the transients.  I think they seek out incarceration because  it’s meals and a place to get clean and maybe a little safer than sleeping along Hwy 99 or Bidwell Park. At least it’s air conditioned, and you can sit around and smoke cigarettes and not do anything productive.

Including treatment. I’m sure they are interviewed, just enough to glean the personal information required for funding the center. But therapy? I wouldn’t bet on that.

And after 45 days, they are released, by law the county can’t hold them any longer. Unless they make a bee-line for the nearest retail center and boost a bottle of booze, or display any behavior that shows they are a “threat to themselves or others”.

It’s a merry-go-round of insanity, starting with Butte County Supervisors. They all need their heads examined. Garry Cooper pointed out in this morning’s Enterprise Record, it’s all about the pensions and benefits.

 

Public employee unions take advantage of citizens

Here we go again. “Supervisors cut 69 positions” — mentally ill thrown to wolves, fire and public protection saved from cuts, thanks to their generous campaign contributions and vote-getting public endorsements.

“Pension liabilities looming” — both the city of Chico and county supervisors report, after these leaders put the taxpayers’ concerns at the bottom of the totem pole in exchange for public union bribes.

Next comes — “Half cent sales tax increase needed to enhance public safety,” when it is, in reality, needed to pay the over $100,000 per year retirements for these public union members which begins at age 55, 10 years younger than the taxpayers and five times their Social Security retirement.

How about new headlines, like “Supervisors approve term limits for themselves and abolish their CalPERS pension costs paid by taxpayers for their part time jobs” or “Chico leaders hire law firm to set aside public union contracts negotiated under conflict of interest with unions due to campaign contributions” or “Governor and Legislature require all public union retirees work until average age of taxpayers before receiving pensions” or “City leaders pursuing using privatized fire protection firms to same millions in salaries and pension costs” (instead of pursuing Cal Fire help — an even more bloated bureaucracy with a more powerful union able to contribute more to their campaigns.)

Our communities and public safety is being cannibalized by these public unions, and taking more from average-Joe taxpayers to support these exorbitant pensions and ridiculously early retirements is simply abuse of the taxpayer.

— Garry Cooper, Durham