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One man’s story tells the story of Chico

16 Jan

I recently noticed a story in the ER that essentially details what has happened to our town.

This man was sentenced recently for vandalism and “hate crimes” for painting a swastika.  Just now? After running the streets of Chico for 15 years, arrested multiple times for crimes that escalated in violence. Here’s the first case in his Butte County Superior Court File, from 2006 – possession of a deadly weapon.

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0

He was fined and sentenced for charges including failure to appear, but only after this case made it’s way through the court for TWO YEARS. In the meantime, he was charged three more times in 2007, and three times in 2008, for possession of drugs, failure to appear, vandalism, and “willful disobedience of court order...”

Willful disobedience to the court means to me this person is not willing to live within the law, and that should mean he needs to be institutionalized. Instead, the judge released him to go on to a felony weapon possession in 2009, for which he was acquitted? But two more arrests in 2010 result in a felony conviction for “negligent discharge of a firearm...”

Of course he was right back out on the streets in 2012, this time arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse…

His sheet goes on like this until 2019, when he FINALLY comes up for psychiatric evaluation – after the vandalism bender that included the swastika. The court determined he was competent to stand trial, and gave him 6 years for a “hate crime“.

15 years with a record like that, but they finally send him up for 6 years over “hate crimes”. Toward whom? His residence in Chico seems to me one long, extended orgy of hatred toward humankind.

Why does “hate” have to be directed at a certain kind of people before it is a crime? Twice this guy was arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse“, but no conviction? I’m going to guess the victim had no family, felt intimidated, and dropped the charges. I can see the first time being a wash, but what was Ramsey thinking when this guy was brought in a second time for a charge like that? But he gets six years for scrawling a symbol he doesn’t even understand on a wall. There’s ugly, nasty, threatening vandalism all over town. In one night someone busted out car windows at the Enloe parking lot while the owners worked diligently inside to save people’s lives. That is hateful – why aren’t we seeing more arrests and convictions? 

Oh, but gee golly, they are finally clearing the camps at One Mile, I guess we’re supposed to give them a basket of kudos for that! 

Here’s one of my favorite lines,  from Yeats, by way of Didion, by way of Me – “What rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward Chico to be born?” 

You ask your district rep and I’ll ask mine – is Chico still collecting money for the “Shelter Crisis Designation,” and if so, where is it going?

22 Dec

It’s hard not to obsess about the transient camps when they are the first thing you see driving out of your neighborhood. We have to contrive NOT to drive by tents as we go out and about town. Living just a couple of blocks from Bidwell Park is like having a salt patch on a burn, rub it in, rub it in. Having to read letters like this in the paper is a Super Burn.

ENTERPRISE RECORD, 12/12/2020

Merry Christmas, here’s a fine for being homeless.

Is stunning lack of empathy a conservative trait?

Our community members are hurting. They have been burned out, priced out, and driven outdoors. As winter approaches they are living in tents in the park because we have a lack of affordable housing, a lack of shelter space, and a lack of social services in this county.

The conservative “solution” to this problem isn’t to create more space and services, it is to levy a fine on people whose backs are already against the wall. What do they think this is going to accomplish apart from creating a criminal class, and putting the police into contact with a population they have dealt with notoriously poorly in the past?

Can the conservatives not see the ridiculous, and by that I mean worthy of ridicule, nature of their “solution”? These people aren’t rolling in dough, if they were they’d have a house to go too.

I keep hearing conservatives say homeless people are simply lazy and need to pull themselves up. Really? The numbers of homeless are rising nationwide. Did all of these people suddenly decide to abandon their homes and be lazy? Or perhaps is there some systemic pressure that is putting people on the streets en masse?

Speaking of lazy, this conservative “emergency resolution” is about the laziest piece of legislating I’ve ever seen. If this is the best the conservative majority can come up with, Chico is in for a long 2 years.

— Bob Howard, Los Molinos

The first burn is having met Bob Howard as “Mad Bob,” a musician who made his home in Los Molinos years back, but still thinks he is allowed to complain about what we are doing in Chico.  Bob doesn’t have to look at these people, he can live in his romantic imagination – they’re just vagabonds, free spirits! They’re not going to rob his garage while he’s at work, or sell his kid crank at the playground, or stand across the street staring at his wife or college age daughter while they yank off in the bushes. 

The second burn is in agreeing with him somewhat – the new parks ordinance is a lazy and worthless piece of legislation. Read it yourself, I don’t think you need to be a lawyer to see it has no teeth whatsoever, just another discretionary law. Like, move along Buddy, and if I catch you beating off in the bushes outside this sorority house again… well… I’ll counsel you and move you along… again… 

You heard another musician say this. “Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.” And the beards have, indeed, all grown longer overnight. The “conservatives” have done quite the about-face, all the sudden we have to find “some place for them to go.” 

A friend of mine was expressing frustration with a situation in his neighborhood. He lives very near the old Louisiana Pacific lumber yard, where he has seen transients camping for years. People seem to forget how many fires have been started there – an entire building burned down one winter – by transients. My friend and a neighbor of his have not only called the fires in but have run over to the site with picks and shovels to beat the flames back themselves. Right in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood, the city allows illegal campers to threaten homes with elderly and children inside. I’d have to ask Mad Bob – whose backs are against the wall here? 

Why aren’t these arsonists jailed? If you listen to the Chico side of the story, it’s because county DA Mike Ramsey won’t prosecute Chico Muni Code violations. Well, isn’t arson a federal offense? I would guess Ramsey is sick of trying to prosecute for urinating/defecating in public, littering and illegal camping because those are only misdemeanors. With our pathetically inadequate jail and now COVID, they would just be processed and released.  But I can’t believe he won’t prosecute for starting illegal fires. A local transient who fire bombed a college girl’s bedroom was arrested and held, but illegal campers who threaten people’s homes are not?  My friend says the fires are put out and the transients just disappear, no one is held accountable.  I believe this is a Chico problem, starting with cops who are unwilling to do their jobs and council members who are unwilling to push them to do their jobs because the Chico Police Officers Association is a big player in every local election. 

But yesterday I realized that the real lynchpin to this entire problem is the Shelter Crisis Designation, and the annual pot of money received for declaring it. Here’s a question for your district rep: why aren’t they discussing that declaration, and overturning it? Ask if they are still receiving the grant for this designation, and if so, what are they spending it on? 

I’ll  get back to you with my rep’s response, you do same. 

 

Time to sue the county of Butte

13 Dec

Well, you know how I love to say “I told you so…” So, I told you so – despite a lot of tough talk out of the local conservatives, the bum camps have not disappeared from our parks and waterways, in fact, there are more tents in both Bidwell Park and the “Devil’s Triangle” next to the Pine/Cypress bridge today than there were a week ago. The “urgency” ordinance passed last Tuesday by our new, conservative SUPER MAJORITY is toothless. I even got one of the conservatives to say it – “we can’t clear the camps until we find someplace for them to go…”

The real problem, according to Chico PD officer Scott Zuchin, is County DA Mike Ramsey’s refusal to prosecute for Chico Municipal Code offenses. 

As Zuchin reported on Chico First Facebook, “Unless something has changed, any misdemeanor violations of CMC Chapter 9 are filed by the city attorney. The DA won’t prosecute Chico CMC’s. That was the problem from the beginning of adding camping and waterways. Infractions were meaningless and misdemeanors were not getting filed. With regard to being an enforcement tool, the camping and waterways ordinances were a failure.”

Well, there it is, from a guy who actually is charged with enforcing the laws – they’re unenforceable if there’s no cooperation between the county DA and the city attorney. I’m no lawyer, but I forced myself to read the entire ordinance, along with the old ordinance, and I already saw it was vague and left too much discretion to both arresting officers and the court, including the DA.

Lawyer Rob Berry seems to agree, but he constantly lets the city out of any responsibility for the problem.  “That is true, but that, like drug adn mental treatment, is a failure that does not belong to the City of Chico. Our job is to establish and enforce constitutional laws for the benefit of the general welfare of our citizens. Jails, prosecution and the penal codes belong to the county and state. We have to continue to work to find a way to not make them meaningless. By the way, violation of camping and dumping ordinances are also violations of various state and federal laws. The problem is enforcement and meaningful consequences. If a law that makes perfect sense cannot be enforced, we need to change that. Let’s make sure, as a first step, that Chico is not the bottleneck to those changes.”

Rob, old Dog, Chico Staff wrote the ordinance, and the boobs on council passed it. Staff also recommended the Shelter Crisis Declaration and the Consolidation of Services at the fairgrounds. That netted the city over $8 million in state (and federal?) funding. 

Zuchin reiterates his statement, this time explaining the city attorney’s role in this mess. “I totally agree. In this case it will be up to the city attorney to file charges on misdemeanor CMC violations. Problem solved. Use of state and federal laws are obviously another option. However, it will then by up to our local DA or state prosecutor to file the charges. It is my experience that our DA did not file 647e PC or 602 PC violations related to camping. Why? Because the city adopted their own camping and waterway ordinances. So, the problem with enforcement was the city attorney would not file the misdo CMC violations and the DA wouldn’t file penal code violations. That was my experience but perhaps things have changed in the 4 years since I was involved in that process.”

Zuchin admits he’s been out of that loop eversince he got reassigned and hopefully neutered after unloading his service revolver in the back of a 16 year old girl’s head. But I’ll tell you what, things have only changed for the worse. Now we have Sheriff Corey Honea telling us the jail is over capacity because of COVID, even while he’s been sitting on a $44 million grant since 2015, money that was supposed to be used to expand the jail.  I’ll guess that has been whittled away on over-generous salaries and benefits. The county also has an awesome pension deficit, a pot of money melts like butter around here. 

All Berry can do is agree. “No, you are stating the status quo correctly. But this must change. A city has the right and the duty to protect it’s own parks, and has a mandatory duty to the state and feds to protect waterways. Everyone is failing to do so. That cannot stand.”

This a far cry from his comments directly after the meeting. 

“And that, my friends, is how it’s done.Mayor Coolidge and Vice Mayor Reynolds appointed without drama. On the first significant issue, making the Park Regulations enforceable under misdemeanor penalties, the vote was 5-2. How many times have we been on the losing end of this kind of vote. But not tonight. That was 5-2 despite the illogical and inaccurate musings of Huber and Brown, and the unintelligible “explanation” by City Attorney Jared. We win. Watch us reclaim our parks and waterways.”

“CHANGE IS COMING!!!”
 
Reminds me of what Ned Pepper says to Rooster Cogburn: “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.”  Unfortunately, Rob Berry, neither fat nor one-eyed, is also no Rooster Cogburn. 

Berry, a natural mouth piece, has been telling us his new Super Council was  going to sweep this problem out the door with their new, Bad Ass Urgency Ordinance. I imagine he feels like a little boy who got a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking.

Frankly, our whole town just got handed a lump of coal. 

Here’s my idea: let’s sue the county. 

City’s proposed “park rules” ordinance needs more teeth

30 Nov
Tomorrow night our new council will discuss the difference between a “resolution” and an “ordinance”.  If you’ve never read Chico Municipal Code, now’s the time. Here’s a link to the section that will be discussed tonight.
 
According to the Staff report, you can’t enforce a “resolution,” it’s really more of a suggestion, apparently.  
 
 
“regulations in the City’s Municipal Code listed in Title 12R regarding rules and regulations related to City Parks and Playgrounds cannot be enforced by initiating criminal proceedings because they were adopted by resolution and not ordinance. This action will allow additional enforcement tools to address rules and regulations of the parks which are already on the books.”
 
The word “enforcement” comes up 11 times in the report and ordinance, with promises of criminal proceedings “by codifying such rules under the enforcement provisions of the Chico Municipal Code by ordinance., but the exact details of how they will enforce the ordinance never come up in either the report or the text of the ordinance. 
 
“Government Code Section 36900(a) states that violation of ‘a city ordinance is a misdemeanor unless by ordinance it is made an infraction. The violation of a city ordinance may be prosecuted by city authorities in the name of the people of the State of California or redressed by civil action.'”
 
And there it is, “may be”.
 
Hey, I don’t invent this crap, as I’ve been accused, I just cut-and-paste it out of city documents that are available for everybody to read. Unfortunately, judging from comments made on Engaged! Chico, nobody read the ordinance, they just assume it’s going to be a slam dunk and the tents will disappear from the park as soon as the meeting is over. 
 
From Chico Engaged:
 
“I 100% support getting back to enforcing our ordinances which will allow all of us to enjoy our beautiful natural resources together. I am pleased to see items such as this one on the agenda and look forward to its successful implementation! Thank you.”
 
“I fully support enforcement of our laws and ordinances, including in our parks and playgrounds. Let’s get back to not allowing camping, drug use, drinking, etc. in our parks. It’s time they become usable again by the law abiding citizens of this town.”
 
I have to ask these folks – what exactly do you 100%, fully support? Did you read ANY of the ordinance? The staff report promises, “violations of park rules and regulations may be enforced through not only administrative and civil code enforcement but also by criminal code enforcement and charging of violators with misdemeanors under the Chico Municipal Code.”  
 
I believe the words “may be” indicate this decision is up to the officer on scene, meaning, this ordinance is still discretionary. 
 
According to uslegal.com, Discretion is the power of a judge, public official or a private party (under authority given by contract, trust or will) to make decisions on various matters based on his/her opinion within general legal guidelines. It is a public official’s power to act in certain circumstances according to personal judgment.”  Any city employee is considered a “public official.
 
 So I went back to current municipal code, where it’s made pretty clear:
 
 
The park rangers shall be primarily responsible for enforcing the park rules and regulations adopted in this title, subject to the direction and control of the director. However, the park rangers, shall, from time to time, be assisted in enforcing the park  rules and regulations adopted in this title by city police officers.

A violation of the park rules and regulations adopted in this title shall be an infraction punishable by a fine in the manner provided for by Section 1505 of the Charter of the City of Chico.

A fine. Wow, I’m sure transients across Chico are shaking in their stolen boots. Take a look at Section 1505 of the city charter.

Section 1505.   Violations; penalties.
 
A violation of any provision of this Charter or of any ordinance or resolution of the city, or any order issued by any officer, agent or employee of the city pursuant to such ordinance or resolution shall be deemed an infraction unless such provision shall otherwise provide that such violation is a misdemeanor. All infractions shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or as set by ordinance, and all misdemeanors shall be punished by a fine and/or imprisonment not exceeding the maximum penalty allowed under the general laws of the state for misdemeanors. A minimum penalty, not in excess of the maximum penalty provided for herein, may be adopted by ordinance with respect to any particular violation.
 
There it is – “a fine and/or imprisonment…” which is determined at the discretion of a city official. It also says “A minimum penalty, not in excess of the maximum penalty provided for herein, may be adopted by ordinance with respect to any particular violation.”
 
Read the ordinance yourself – there is no “maximum penalty” or any specific action listed in this ordinance. There’s nothing about repeat offenders, nothing about indecent exposure or defecating on the creek, nothing about vandalism or theft. But, here’s an irony – the next agenda item is an ordinance against dumping and prostitution, with specific fines and even threat of arrest. 
 
So, I’ll call this ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CHICO, AMENDING TITLE 12 OF THE CHICO MUNICIPAL CODE BY ADDING CHAPTER 12.18, PARK RULES AND REGULATIONS what it is – another discretionary law that will not be enforced. Just like “sit and lie”.  
 
Of course, this is an “urgency” ordinance, and they’ve put a sunset of “no more than 6 months” on it. So, it’s still in the works. You still have time to chime in on Engaged! and ask them to put some teeth in their new chihuahua. 

City of Chico is management top-heavy, and it shows

31 Aug

Well, I don’t know if the needle giveaway happened at Humboldt Park yesterday. I had a stack of chores yesterday morning, including fix my bike, so I didn’t make it over there to check. I looked at various social media sites today, and there was no mention of it, so I’m  going to guess it just went away. We’ll see.

My bike looks great, and I’m getting the new tires today – all the freaking way from Holland. I guess they love old bikes in Holland. 

I probably won’t ride my bike in Bidwell Park.  What a mess. Tents still line the waterways, along with the requisite trash piles. We’ll see how long it takes council to be good on their word, and whether this new police chief – $20,000/year richer than the old police chief – will clean them out. There’s also a discussion scheduled for tomorrow’s meeting about a “sanctioned campground” at the Silver Dollar. We can’t let them take the fairgrounds, make yourself heard on Chico Engaged.

Yesterday I read Natalie Hansen’s interview with Councilors Brown, Schwab and Huber about social media. Brown is full of shit – I not only email them, I make comments on Chico Engaged. Brown has NEVER responded to even the most polite emails.  I believe she believes any disagreement is “impolite”.  I believe they all look at the sender before they read, and if you’ve criticized them or disagreed with them in past, they just skip your comments. Brown can prove me wrong by reading the Engaged comments out loud. The councilors should have to do that, not the clerk. But Brown has her own agenda, her mind is wrapped up in a Zip-lock bag to keep out any dissenting viewpoints. 

So I write the occasional letter to the editor.

The city of Chico is now being sued by a jogger badly injured in 2017 when a huge tree branch fell on her in Lower Bidwell Park. She was trapped for 30 minutes and had major injuries.

The suit alleges the city does not budget for tree maintenance in Lower Park, which is “traversed by tens of thousands of people every year.” The plaintiff was using an established path, alongside “various recreational amenities, including picnic tables and barbecue pits.” According to the suit, many staffers knew the tree, hanging over South Park Drive, was dangerous, but not only failed to prune or remove it, they didn’t bother to place signs or barricades to keep people away from it.

In 2017 the city budgeted about $45,000 toward “Park Tree Maintenance”.  This year $57,500. For perspective, my family paid $10,000 to have 16 dead trees removed from our property. Bidwell Park has thousands and thousands of trees, many of them dead or dying.

While staff claims to have been cutting positions and costs, the city manager recently hired another management position for Public Works, at $125,000/yr, plus benefits. He created a new management position – Public Information Officer – and is asking council to approve another full time management position – Homeless Coordinator.

Meanwhile staff is “considering” a fire suppression plan after homes were threatened near Annie’s Glen.

Our city is management top-heavy and it shows. The park is horribly neglected.  We need timber cruisers and heavy equipment operators, but we get people who sit in meetings all day.

Juanita Sumner, Chico

 

 

 

Orme, not council, will choose new police chief

14 Aug

City manager Mark Orme, who denied to me recently that he runs our town, should be announcing his pick  for new Police Chief today. Yes, Orme, a guy who was hired by people long since gone, not elected by the voters, will be choosing our new police chief. As of the Ch 7 news this morning, he was down to three candidates from the six announced earlier this week.

Orme claims he will rely on feedback from a “Community panel” – wouldn’t you think that means interested local folks, Chicoans who care? No, Orme chose his “vast array of this community”, all members of the government. Sheriff Kory Honea, District Attorney “Mark” (hey, Natalie, can you proofread your junk?) Ramsey, “police chiefs from neighboring cities such as Redding and Yuba City, non-sworn Chico Police department employees, and a representative from Chico State Univ Police Dept. were involved.”

In the press release, Orme didn’t name all of them, and here’s a question – how many of them live in Chico? And no introduction to the public? He’s not even naming the candidates. 

I’ll tell you why – back in 2015, Orme was vetting candidates for chief, here’s what I found out about one of the guys he was thinking about hiring:

Did illegal ticket quotas hasten Gesell’s exit?

Charges included an illegal speeding ticket quota, spending taxpayer money on vacations and other priveleges for his family, and lying to this employer about seeking other jobs. He was also under fire for the police shooting of an unarmed man.  When all this became public in Chico, that candidate ended up being abruptly dropped from the process, and was later asked to resign from his position in SLO. 

Here’s what Melissa Daugherty had to say about him:

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/chief-concerns/content?oid=17230361

She added a very important point – Chico is just a jump-off for police chiefs to spike their salary for retirement benefits.

“In all seriousness, it’s going to be interesting following this. One of my main concerns with Gesell is that he’s a career cop who is almost 50, which means he’s nearing that formula where he can retire at 90 percent of his highest salary for the rest of his life. Chico’s last two chiefs cut out at that magic number. What would stop this guy from doing the same?”

Right now I think the public is more interested in this hiring than ever. I don’t remember when the public has been so interested in a public process. But Orme apparently has not engaged any community groups, no Chico First, no Stand Up For Chico, just bureaucrats. 

Orme told little Natalie the Reporter that “having the council interview candidates is another way to engage with the public’s interests. If they were voted into office, not only did I get a community panel, but I have community representative giving me feedback.” 

Do you really feel represented by this council, which is split almost down the middle in coming up with a “policing policy” for this town? Do you feel represented by Mike Ramsey, who has declared every single officer involved shooting in Chico “justified”? Does Kory Honea represent you? 

All of those perspectives…will help me in my deliberations in choosing the chief.” Orme said. 

“Hiring a police chief is the most important hiring decision the city manager will make,” Mayor Ann Schwab said, saying she was pleased that “a wide perspective of the community” was considered in the interview process. 

Let’s face it – Orme runs our town, council just sits there waving their hankies. This takes all the pressure off council at election time, and Orme isn’t elected, he does not have to answer to the citizens. They protect each other, and to hell with the public.

Interesting comments from readers

21 Jun

I get comments from people that deserve another look sometimes.

Yvonne asked me what I think about Newsom’s mask order and “other dirty deeds.” Thanks Yvonne, a quick search led me to some answers to questions I already had, and then more questions.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-20/gavin-newsom-n95-masks-byd-chinese-company-california-legislature

The question it answered for me is how California went from a $5.6 billion budget surplus to a $54 billion deficit just over the span of about three months of shut-down. Remember folks, we’re talking BILLIONS here. I don’t think most people could count to a billion in three months, but here Gavin Newsom went through $60 billion plus faster than prune juice through the guts of an 80 year old man. A billion off to China for substandard COVID masks, sheesh, I’d hate to see the governor’s credit card bill.

https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2020/05/07/california-faces-54b-budget-deficit-1282926

Legislators are asking Newsom’s staff for the details of the deal, but they won’t tell. Furthermore, the KN95 masks manufactured by the Chinese are not exactly top rated. In April the FDA updated their recommendations, “limiting the use of certain KN95 masks as suitable NIOSH alternatives in a healthcare setting…” The reason is that these masks have the over the ear straps instead of the tighter fitting around the head straps.

So, Newsom spent a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) on masks that are not the first choice of the FDA, and then won’t tell us the details of the deal.

I’m not sure how to feel about that. I’m still processing the new order that we all have to wear masks. I’ve read all the recommendations, and the N95’s are the only ones I would trust if I were truly afraid of this disease or thought I was in danger of spreading it. In fact, if I believed that, I would stay home. But I don’t believe it. I think this order is more about controlling people than controlling any disease. I will wear a bandana around my face when required to get into a food store, but I can shop online without a mask and that’s going to stick.

I got a comment from Robyn, who took offense to my use of the phrase “bum camp” to describe a place where people who do not contribute anything to society sleep, defecate, urinate, and accumulate large piles of trash, despite laws to the contrary.

I was appreciating this page until I read your term ‘bum camps.’ That’s horrendously insensitive towards human beings. Poverty is not a crime. Stigmatizing our most impoverished only fuels crimes against them.

I think it’s horrendously insensitive to trash the park and other public spaces that are supposed to be for all of us. Transients stigmatize themselves – their stigmata is their absolute refusal to comply with norms the rest of us have agreed to live by. Like, don’t shit and leave garbage on the ground next to a water way. Don’t leave needles on children’s playgrounds. Don’t set up camp in my neighborhood and then creep up to my house in the middle of the night to steal my catalytic converter or rout out my recycling bins.

Crimes against them? The only crimes I hear about against the transient population are assaults and robberies perpetrated by other transients.

Somehow she relates all this to racial injustice and police brutality.

By the way, a 1 or .5 percent sales tax, which is a highly contentious issue for so many people of privilege, is not the issue at hand nationally or globally. Racial justice and police brutality is. It would’ve been nice to see something about that here. Absence is silence, which is complicity with racism and white supremacy. But your “bum camp” comment already indicated your stance.

Here this nice lady is telling me what I’m supposed to talk about on my blog. Do I go to her house and tell her what to write in her diary? She tells me I’m racist because I want to discuss what’s on my mind. I’m a white supremist, because I don’t like people shitting on the ground in the park? Where does she get that?

It’s not okay for me to talk about a tax on “Chico Taxpayers Association” but it’s okay for her to tell me my concerns are not important because my skin’s not the right color – okay Robyn, I get it. When will these people learn how NOT to start a conversation?

Joe sent me some good comments related to the current unrest.

Is defunding police how streets are repaved? Don’t think so.

Good question. From what I understand, these people are not calling for the elimination of police services, but want a portion of the public safety budget to go to other agencies, unspecified. I don’t think the protesters understand how public agencies budget money. They don’t see how much money is poured into these public agencies – the Butte County Behavioral Health Department, for example, gets almost $100 million a year, but we still have old, mentally ill people and drug addicts dying on the streets, and we have a problem with police who don’t know how to handle either. The protesters need to come up with more creative answers than “throw money at it!”

Like Joe says, these agencies just use this angst as the basis for tax measure after tax measure, threatening to cut services if they don’t get more money, more money, more money. “Council’s dog/pony show, sales tax 101, promotes an immoral, unfeasible and regressive grab for people’s money, regardless of timing. “ Yeah, people are hurting right now, including local businesses – hardly a time to encourage people to shop less or shop online.

Here Joe suggests a harsher course than I’ve suggested so far, but I agree when he says, “California Rule be damned.

Best course of action: ALL city workers take a 50% pay cut and totally fund their retirement. California Rule be damned. Money would then be there to REPAVE the streets and address homelessness, lighting and crime.

The California Rule is a blatant taking. It’s like having some bum walk right in your front door and stuff his mangy fist in your cookie jar, take all your cookies, and then declare you have to buy more. The CA Rule says, point blank – the pension deficit will be paid before anything else. That’s what’s happened to our public programs, our streets, our park, The California Rule.

According to Joe Matthews in Zoccalo, “The California Rule is the misleading moniker we’ve given to our most troublesome legal precedent: public employees are entitled to whatever pension benefits were in place when they started work.” Matthews adds, “By requiring ever-escalating retirement benefits that force cuts in public services, the California Rule has effectively made a lie out of every significant guarantee in the state constitution, from balanced budgets to speedy trials.

In other states, Matthews says, “only pension benefits already earned by actual work are protected. California is one of only 12 states that have protected the right to earn future pension benefits for work not yet performed.”

 Joe expresses the frustration I feel, especially when I talk to a person like Robyn. “What’s a citizen like me to do? I don’t protest, pillage, rape, burn or kill!

Robyn, I wonder if you have an answer for Joe? Let him eat chocolate, you say?

Rob Berry, please tell us your plan!

26 May

From Chico First Facebook, 5/26/20, about 12:57pm

Rob Berry uploaded a file.

I am often asked by advocates of the current Homeless Industry, “OK Rob, what is your plan?” Tonight at the City Council meeting, once again, in the second Special Meeting in a week, we will be hearing a verbal report on the City of Chico’s plan to “end homelessness”.

While “ending homelessness” is not and has never been my goal, protecting the interests of the Citizens of Chico is my goal. In order to achieve that goal, we need a plan to end the negative impacts of unmitigated habitation of our parks and public spaces.

HERE IS MY PLAN: It is not perfect, but it is not useless either. All I can do is share it with you, and I will share it with our city council.

Please take a minute to read through this. It is 5 1/2 pages long. I would like you to have this in you mind as you hear tonight from our Homeless Coordinator and City Manager, and of course our City Council members on what they have in mind for Chico. Here is an alternative that most likely will never see the official light of day.

One thing is clear: they cannot tell me I don’t have an alternative plan. Here it is.

But, as if often the case  with Chico First postings, Berry’s comments are immediately followed by a notice, “This content isn’t available right now.” 

So, Rob, please, tell us your plan. 

 

The Homeless Industrial Complex is a failure – how many people will die on Chico streets this winter despite all the money shoveled into the system?

30 Nov

The headlines were conflicting this week in Chico – Black Friday shopping, Thanksgiving fun run, community meals, city setting up a “warming tent”, and a woman found dead along Lindo Channel.

Knowing how extensive our “homeless” services are here, I have to wonder – how does this happen?

The city and county continue to bumble the whole operation. We have services, plenty of them, but they are not coordinated, often compete for funding, and work toward their own instead of the public’s best interests. For example, Tom Tenorio gets a very generous salary out of the Esplanade House, even taking one of the apartments intended for housing a family to supplement his office. I’m reminded of a scene from Doctor Zhivago: “All this office, for just one fat-cat bureaucrat!

There’s alot of competing for funds and in-fighting in the Homeless Industrial Complex. They fight over money like crows fighting over road kill. When Stairways manager Mike Madeiros made a decision not to accept a grant because it would mean allowing transgender individuals into his shelter, Tenorio went on the warpath, complaining that they would lose that grant because Madeiros had refused it. Wow, that was an eye opener about the way these “non profits” are operated – too bad so few taxpayers were paying attention.

We also have disagreements over who will be served.  Madeiros was uncomfortable with allowing transgender or women in his all male shelter, worried about conflicts. Some shelters will not accept inebriated people, so CHAT (Chico Housing Action Team) has had set up “low barrier” shelters in houses around town. The city offers a warming tent, set up this weekend, that is supposed to be open to anyone who is cold. So far these tents have served less than 20 people a night, including city officials  and staffers.

And now Chico Housing Action Team wants to install “elderly” transients in Tough Sheds in a field along the freeway. 

All these programs are competing for money. And, as of this weekend, they are failing in their mission to get people off the street. 

In Chico we have many “low-income” subsidized housing projects. I just found out a huge old apartment building around the corner from one of my rentals is owned by HUD.  We have newer stuff, like Jarvis Gardens in south Chico, and 1200 Park Avenue, both built to house low-income seniors. These are public projects, paid for with tax dollars. 

But again, there is a lack of coordination. The Camp Fire is a good example of how these agencies have failed – here we had truly needy people, a natural disaster, and we couldn’t house them? But we spend millions a year on programs set up for drug addicts and criminals? 

CHAT proposes little sheds built on an empty lot along the freeway. These people are duplicitous. They already run low-barrier shelters in homes spread out across Chico, no noticing of the neighbors – CHAT knows they need to keep this project a secret. They have nothing to crow about – no list of names of people permanently taken off the street into stable housing. No success stories. And every year, several people die out on the street, regardless of all their feel-good fascism.

Now they want to build a project with city support –  they’ve already racked up a pile of $taff Time with their demands.  They want to be let out of the regular building process, sub code, no environmental review, NO FEES. And they are not being honest about how much it will cost to provide sanitary infrastructure. They first said there would be a common bathroom – now they show us plumbed sheds with toilets? Those will all have to be hooked up to sewer, which is not available on the property. There isn’t even water or electricity on the lot. 

But when my family bought a crapped out old house, the city and county, the school district, CARD – they all wanted to get their thumb in our pie, with all kinds of fees and constant inspections. The code enforcement officer, without so much as a smile, told us we had to put more Dap on the toilet because we had male children. She demanded a ladder to climb up on our roof.  She told us we had to  tear down an old building on the property before we could get clearance on the house.  And then she told us the tear  down required yet another permit. 

This is how taxpayers get treated. 

The city of Chico is a mess. Our finances are in the red, we have constant threats of bankruptcy, although, you will only hear about these problems in Chris Constantin’s pitch for a sales tax increase. Constantin and Orme are walking a fine line – trying to tell us what a mess our city is in without taking any blame for that mess.  For years they’ve mismanaged our money, putting most of it into their salaries, pensions and benefits, admittedly deferring maintenance on city infrastructure all the while. Management salaries are at an all time high, and Constantin admitted recently we spend more on cops than other California cities our size. 

The transient problem is just another part of the mismanagement. They allow these bums to trash our parks and creeks, predate on our neighborhoods, and spread drugs to our kids because they are a revenue source. When the city council signed the Shelter Crisis Designation, they got an annual grant worth over $4 million. They got another $4 million for handing part of the county fairgrounds over to the Jesus Center. That’s an annual grant, and it will go up. And they don’t have to spend it on the “homeless”, it just goes right into the General Fund. 

Just like the proposed  sales tax increase. 

So, we need to ask ourselves – why would we hand a tax increase to Mark Orme and Chris Constantin?  They stand over this whole mess, it’s their recommendations that council follows, dumb and blind. The best argument against this sales tax increase is our current management, and how they have mismanaged millions already.

Business hostile city management to hear appeal of Simplicity Village

19 Sep

It’s always interesting to see the search terms by which people find their way to this blog. For about a week now the Yuba County sales tax lawsuit has been at the top of the pile:

yuba county sales tax 1% increase by voters,

homeless in ca chico 2019,

homelessness problem chico,

homelessness chico,

kamala harris corrupt

But this week “homeless” related terms are moving in on the number 1 spot, bumping out the perennial favorite, “kamala harris corrupt”  

When my husband and I went out to run errands the other morning, we noticed the tents had sprung up again at “Devil’s Triangle,” the median next to Little Chico Creek at Mulberry Street. As we made our way out to 20th Street we saw the army of zombies leaving various shelters in the neighborhood, some of them carrying trash bags bloated full of aluminum and plastic stolen from recycling bins. Some pulled mounds of crap in their sagging bike carts. One man walked along behind a stolen shopping cart full of what looked like rags and unrelated objects routed out of garbage cans.

A man stood unabashed, panhandling at the door of Food Maxx. We’ve noticed a lot of stores have finally developed no tolerance policies toward panhandling, but transients still try to slip in unnoticed, walk up to you in the parking lot as if asking for directions, and hit you up.  We walk past these people stone faced. I don’t want to hear their stories, I got stories of my own that keep me awake at night. Spare money? Are you  fucking kidding me? Why would I be shopping at Food Maxx if I had money to hand out on the corner?

Next stop Payless Building Supply to replace some warped and broken old fence boards at one of our rentals. Payless has helped us keep our rental expenses down with low-cost building materials. We do our own work to save money, we know if our rentals are too expensive we won’t be able to find tenants. For years we’ve enjoyed a good relationship with PBS, who also offer credit so you can spread out your payments on big enterprises. This has really helped when we’ve bought old crappers that needed a lot of work before they were even habitable.

PBS owner Frank Solinsky notified us a few months ago that he was appealing a City of Chico decision to place a tiny house “Simplicity Village” on the lot adjacent to the PBS yard. For years that lot has been a problem because the city has turned a blind eye to illegal camping and other activities there. We’ve seen the shanties they’ve built with lumber and supplies stolen from the yard, just a hop over the fence and back. Solinsky has had to add security measures to the cost of our building materials, and I resent that.

I also resent this group not wanting to comply with the building code, or pay the ridiculous fees put not only on developers but any homeowner who wants to do anything to their property, even fix a leaking roof. I stood in the county permits line once behind a lady as she was told she would have to pay 100’s of dollars in permit fees to replace the rotting wooden steps off her kitchen door. 

Chico Housing Action Team, the group that is trying to force the tiny village onto a lot with no plumbing, no infrastructure like sidewalks, and against the city building code. They want put people in sheds with no plumbing, heat or air conditioning. They want a central toilet, but have not explained who will pay to have that facility hooked up to city sewer. They want to be excepted from just about every law on the books.

They say the residents will be carefully vetted, and held to rules of behavior. But there will be no onsite supervision, this group of otherwise dysfunctional transients will be “policing themselves”. I think Solinsky is right to be alarmed with this situation.

When the city council first permitted this pending train wreck, Solinsky hired lawyer Rob Berry of Chico First to bring an appeal before council.  You have to pay to file an appeal, so you have to have money to throw away. It used to be $180, and there was a low-income waiver, but years ago, former council member Andy Holcombe, outraged because our neighbors successfully appealed a decision in our neighborhood,  vindictively went about getting rid of the low-income waiver. It never came to council, he did it “administerially”  Holcombe couldn’t believe that a homeowner would be low-income, yet he champions low-income housing projects like CHIPS and Habitat for Humanity. The hypocrisy in this town is just overwhelming.

Solinsky is a small business owner, and it’s the nickel and dime crap that brings down a small business. As customers walk away  because they don’t like what’s going on in the neighborhood – or paying for it in the price of their goods –  he’s finding himself fighting for his livelihood.

So when Council (scuse me, that was the Planning Commission) rejected his first appeal, he decided to bring it back. I don’t know the process, but I’m wondering if there is a point where he will just sue the city. Anyhoo, council has agendized a special meeting to hear his appeal, on September 24, 6 pm. I don’t know why they need to have a special meeting instead of bringing it up on a regular agenda.

Council will also be discussing Vice Mayor Brown’s recent request to waive user fees for Chico State’s “Lame Debate,” which sucks – everybody else has to pay to use City Hall or City Plaza, just like we’d have to pay to use any facility at Chico State. Brown, Schwab and Morgan are employees of Chico State, which seems like inappropriate influence.

And, of course, there’s a closed session item – “conference with legal counsel” over “anticipated litigation”. Oh, gee, is somebody suing the City of Chico, again?

This special meeting deserves some special attention. Here’s the agenda:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=688