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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.

 

 

 

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Chico Chamber says if we want usable roads and responsible cops we need to shake down with a revenue measure

28 Jan
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Biscuit snoops out another homeless camp in Bidwell Park.  If my husband were a member of Chico PD he’d get extra salary for Biscuit.

My husband and I noticed the bums vacated the park during the inclement weather, but predicted, correctly, they’d be back as soon as the rain stopped.

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There in the front of the trash pile you can see some scorched items – my husband said it was a partially burned pillow and what looked like clothing or bedding.

As soon as I saw this, I thought of the people who were fatally burned in their tent, just a block from my house, on a chilly winter morning a few years ago. They’d been drinking heavily, fell asleep, and the camp fire they had made inside their tent had caught their bedding and immolated them.

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This abandoned hobo camp is just off the main trail. in a well-worn path.

It’s also alarming because it’s within a mile of my house, in a heavily overgrown section of the park, easily prone to fire. This isn’t the first time my husband has come across the remains of a camp fire gone out of control – once we encountered a burned section of grass, at least 12 by 12 feet, right off the entrance to the park from our neighborhood.

The Ponderosa Fire this past Summer was started by a transient who was living illegally at a campground.

The City of Chico has essentially deputized park rangers, given them guns, in fact, required them to carry guns.  Critics predicted that the rangers would become part of the police force and be given other tasks around town. I don’t know if this is true, but I have yet to see or hear about the kind of sweeps they conduct regularly in Redding.

This section of park was cleaned not a month ago by a community group. That is not a solution, it’s enabling behavior. There is too much enabling behavior here. Just recently I saw a piece on the tv news about Salvation Army offering a liaison service for people who need social services. Wake UP! We already spend more than half our county budget on the social services departments, with a $63 million budget for Behavioral Health, and we still need to fund these private agencies (yes SA gets public funding) to act as liaison?

I don’t report the camps anymore – they just send the feel-good volunteer group – complete with $100,000/year staffer – to clean it up, and use it as another example of why the city needs more money. The Chamber of Commerce has launched their anticipated campaign for a sales tax increase – why would I want to give them more ammo?

What we need is a dedicated group to fight the propaganda blitz with facts.  Get your tennis rackets ready, and maybe get that old garbage bag suit you made for the Gallagher show.

 

 

2018: We need to dismantle the Hobo Highway leading into Chico

30 Dec

Another year is coming to a close, I like to scroll over to “Archives” and see what I was doing a year ago.

At this time last year I was posting a lot of pictures of bums camping in Bidwell Park. I’ll tell you what – my husband still hits the park trails with my dog every morning, and even though the weather is dryer than this time last year, he hasn’t found any campers in our section of the park. Yesterday, feeling guilty about taking a shorter walk the day before, he took Biscuit down into the depths, following the meandering bum trails through the overgrowth – not even a trash pile.

One morning about a month ago he found the remains of a camp, but by the time we mounted up on our bike to head to the grocery store later that morning, the camp had been cleaned by a group called Chico Community Watch. They have a city staffer as liaison, kind of a supervisor – which means we essentially pay this volunteer group over $100,000 a year plus pension and benefits. 

Jack Lee, in his blog Post Scripts, has an interesting interview with member Trevor Skaggs here:

http://www.norcalblogs.com/postscripts/2017/10/11/story-pending-chico-community-watch/

The interesting part of the interview is where Skaggs essentially admits that when providing any kind of service for the transients,  “ you kind of setup a slippery slope, you are providing services that make Chico an amenable place for individuals to migrate here from other locations. “

Yes, I feel volunteers like this just exacerbate the problem, while allowing highly compensated city staff to shirk their responsibilities. Why would I want to pay the property taxes that support salaries over $100,000, plus very generous benefits packages, and then wade into the park and pick up human filth? 

And it’s not just the city of Chico – Chico Area Recreation District is currently in talks to take over maintenance of Bidwell Park. CARD has a $7.2 million budget projected for 2018,  $5.2 million spent on salaries and benefits, mostly for about 30 full time employees, who have managed to rack up over $1.7 million in pension deficit. Will they expect volunteers to clean up after the bums?

They will pursue a bond or assessment on our homes in 2018, but haven’t announced yet whether it will be on the general ballot or a mailed ballot. 

I don’t think it’s a permanent solution either – they might chase the bums out of Bidwell Park – temporarily – but they just move to other parts of town. North Chico has had two sprawling homeless camps, one near a trailer park mostly inhabited by elderly people. Residents reported not only illegal camping but public defecation and urination in their door yards, and even threats from transients.

Chico has become a destination on the Hobo Highway, and we need to stop offering the services that are bringing them here. How about a few services for tax paying residents? 

Here’s  the street out front of my house – when do I get some services? 

So yes, I plan to go on complaining about the transient problem in 2018. That’s a resolution. 

 

Homeless agencies fighting like dogs over scraps

21 Nov

The other day I got a mailer from the Jesus Center, their annual fundraising drive. 

The Jesus Center has a long history here in town. The first location that I know of was a building situated down the street from the current location. They offered very spare meals twice a day – sometimes just a slice of American cheese between two pieces of white bread, contained in a sandwich baggie. They also offered Salvation – at times they were accused of asking clients to pray for their meals. 

In the early days the center was privately run, by a local family. By the 1990’s the center had a staff, and a manager – Al Kay, who was very popular in town. He renamed the operation “Loaves and Fishes.”  Kay started to ask for community support, encouraging donations of food. We had a good year in our tomato patch and I took him a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes, for which he thanked me up and down.

But some of the neighboring businesses often complained that the center was bringing in transients, who would wander that length of street, drunk, panhandling, ranting and raving away customers. 

 

We had a rental in the neighborhood, when we were working on it, we bought lunch a lot of times out of the window at Duke’s Liquor – they had really good  wagon-style tacos for about $1 each. I saw what the locals were complaining about – we’d always encounter at least three drunks while waiting for our food, including one woman who would walk up and try to start a fight. The others would just walk back and forth mumbling and smoking cigarettes, which they picked up from the ground.

Around the corner, there was a house full of working girls – yeah, daytime hookers – who would hang around the intersection of Park and 13th wearing the usual clothes, stand at the stoplight smoking cigarettes and engaging passersby, oftentimes running back to the apartment house to meet them in the parking lot.

That corridor has had a problem with transients as long as I  can remember.  Part of the problem was an old building known as the Ice House – at some point, ice was manufactured there. It had been empty since at least the 1960’s, and was a serious public nuisance. It wasn’t only an eyesore, it was a gathering and camping place for the transients, as well as a rat house. 

In the 1990’s, the city and the Jesus Center had an idea that seemed to kill two rats with one stone – let’s renovate the ice house and turn it into a functional shelter, set it up with the county, get some funding, etc.  The old building that had housed the JC had been burned down at some point in an arson fire – nobody was ever even blamed for it, they just moved  along toward relocation.

The ice house was gutted and revamped into a kitchen and dining hall with an office and even a couple of living spaces. And renamed The Jesus Center. 

I was happy about that – like a lot of people, I believed the transient problem was already there, and they needed some center to deal with it. 

I don’t remember when the Torres Shelter came on the scene, sometime around 2000? The city gave them the use of the land, and donors built the shelter, and several groups have tried to run it. 

Both centers started to hit the skids, in my recollection, sometime during the early 2000’s. My husband and I started to notice the JC was looking very run down, with tags on the outside of the building and trash piling up in front. At some point we noticed a broken down old motor home with a tarp pulled half-heartedly over the roof, parked in back of the building. On different occasions we saw different men staggering out of it.  Whenever we’d go to Chico Locker to buy meat or sandwiches, we’d see a surly, dirty group at the picnic table provided for customers, smoking cigarettes, making inappropriate comments. The staff kept them out of the store, but couldn’t keep them off the table.

The trash started to pile up all around that corner. One day not too long ago I sat in the parking lot and watched two really drunk people repeatedly walking out in front of cars that passed through the intersection of 14th and Locust.  They acted as though it was some sort of game.  If they do get hit, it’s an all expenses paid stay at Enloe Hospital.

We were glad when we heard Bill Such had been sent packing and a new, no-nonsense board had taken over the JC. But things did not get better under new director, Laura Cootsoona.  The JC started giving bums sleeping bags, back packs, and other camping supplies that we’d find in piles in Bidwell Park, under various bridges around town and along our creekside greenways. 

I believe locating the Torres nearby was a mistake, they seem to compete for funding. And I don’t think the Torres Shelter board is led by practicality, they are led by Pollyanna fantasies. They don’t hold high enough standards for their clients. They say they have rules – the rules end at the public sidewalk in front of the shelter. The Torres board won’t be responsible for the behavior of the people they attract. 

Neither entity will take responsibility for the rampant illegal camping going on in their area. Neither will patrol the park to get illegal campers to come to the shelter. They sit and collect their salaries and wait for the transients to come to them. 

And North Chico has no open door services – transients are expected to find their way South. The old hotel on Esplanade and the Esplanade House accept clients through the courts, and have long-term programs. The Esplanade House is having internal problems over the current director’s insistence that they accept single drunks – he wants the money, the original founders want to protect the families living there. 

So, right now, our homeless agencies are all fighting among themselves, and it looks like the Torres Shelter will be gone within a year. 

I don’t know if I’ve shed any light on this situation, I’ve had a hard time remembering the timeline. But I do know, the situation is worse now than ever, and all we have is bickering among these publicly-funded agencies. 

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/plan-lacks-transparency/content?oid=25360445

So when I got the annual fundraiser notice from the Jesus Center, I hucked it. I’m tired of supporting this bullshit. 

 

 

 

 

Team Chico Police meeting

12 Nov

Thanks Jim for attending this meeting and sending us this report.  If only more people were willing to attend meetings, maybe we’d be able to force change in the way things work (or in Chico, the way things don’t work)  . Thanks for speaking up Jim.

Wednesday November 8th I went to the Team Chico Police public safety meeting held at Round Table Pizza on Pillsbury. It was mostly a PR type event, several officers and the Chief were there. They talked a little about better security around your business and home. Video cameras were strongly recommended as a deterrent. I have had them at my house for over 10 years.

The Chief said that they will be fully staffed in the coming months with the inclusion of the three park rangers.  So I asked what full staffing means and is that enough. The Chief said that full staffing is what the City Council has approved in the budget, and he gave a political roundabout answer to my second question.

 

They promoted use of the Nextdoor app and the Chico PD app. Be sure to note the serial number of bikes, since that can make a big difference when they stop a transient. The officer said they often run the serial number of the bums bike. Unless there is a report of it being stolen they can’t do much. Same with all your personal property, note the serial number and take photos.

 

They also asked to call the non-emergency number to report any suspicious activity; 897-4900.  They asked to call the non emergency number to report nonemergency suspicious activity. You will still need to fill online reports of theft.

 

Several people made comments about how the bike path is a big crime problem. One apartment manager asked if the bike path could be closed. The Chief said that we would have a very hard time closing the bike path with the pro-bike attitude in Chico, he wants more TV cameras to monitor the problem areas. However he noted that they don’t have the staff to monitor the cameras in real time.

 

Overall I felt like it was a less fulfilling than I expected, however I’m not sure what I expected.

 

Jim Matthews

I boldfaced the non-emergency number because that is big news to me. For the past year or so Chico PD has encouraged the use of their online reporting mechanism, and I’ll tell you right now, that sucked. The citizen was expected to log in, give personal information beyond their name and address, and select a password – oh gee, we all need more passwords cluttering up our lives!  The online reporting scheme sent a pretty clear message to citizens from Chico PD – “We don’t care about your petty problems…”

I guess it’s okay to report a theft online – it’s already happened, and then I assume I’d have a copy of the report. 

I don’t know about cameras, they can  be expensive, and they don’t stop crime, they just get a furry picture that might or might not be identifiable. I see more of them around town, we’ll have to see if that brings up the number of arrests. 

Good question Jim – how much staffing is enough? They’ve given those numbers in past, based on population, and we’ve always been within three officers of full staffing. A question I would like to ask is, will the chief take a pay cut and be willing to pay more of his own pension to guarantee full staffing?

Nextdoor was a disappointment for me – for one thing, they asked me for my social security number to sign up, when I wouldn’t give that, I was sent a post card with a code number to sign up. That’s security? And after I’d already been signed up for weeks, they sent me a notice that said I had to agree to let them mine my personal information and monitor my online activities so they could sell that information to advertisers.

The entire time I was on Nextdoor, I saw more people’s comments directed toward selling some sort of service/products than I saw comments exchanging information about crime. My next door neighbor uses Nextdoor to advertise parties at which she sells stuff like cosmetics and housewares, and my ex-tenant uses it to sell Avon. 

Only a couple of neighbors used it to report stuff like, shed broken into, package stolen at Christmas time, etc. One person posted every “suspicious” person who walked by his house, but that wasn’t helpful. 

All the police “app” amounts to is faster access to the online reporting mechanism. Just put 897 – 4900 on your speed dial!

Sure, record your serial numbers, take pictures – if only for your insurance company, cause the cops aren’t going to get your stuff back, that’s laughable. I don’t own a $2500 bike, so who cares, right?  Most of the stripped bikes I see are less than $150 bikes, and they’re all over town. There’s one hanging in a  tree out at the new subdivision on Hwy 32 East.

Anybody out there with a story about a cell phone or other small electronic device or cash stolen out of a car or house and returned by Chico PD? These people steal stuff that fits in their pocket.

Speaking of what what a “pro-bike” town we are, did Chief have any statistics on how many law abiding citizens actually use that bike path that runs alongside North Valley Plaza and Pillsbury?  It has never been safe, I was accosted there 30 years ago, and I’m sure many people have bad stories about that section of the trail. If it’s going to be allowed to remain, then we should have cops on bikes. All the trails in town should be covered by cops riding in teams on bikes. Having bike trails that are not patrolled by police is just setting up a special highway for criminals to access neighborhoods and then get out quickly.  But Chico PD won’t do bike patrol, and if they do, they want extra pay, like they  get extra pay for speaking Spanish or taking a canine in their car. 

The cops don’t seem so “pro-bike”, I have to wonder where the chief gets that bullshit. I’m guessing he’s got a can of it under his desk. 

I’m sorry to make fun, but this meeting is no different than meetings I have attended in past. They’re telling us crime is our problem, they just come along to take a report afterwards. 

Chico PD make contract demands tonight, here’s a sampling

7 Nov

From tonight’s council agenda (I boldfaced stuff that sounded interesting to me):

Below are the proposals from the Chico Police Officers’ Association to the City of
Chico. MOU Article refer to the existing MOU.
1. Three-year MOU effective January 1, 2018 through December 31,
2020.
2. No COLA or other unit-wide salary increase for length of MOU.
3. Canine Pay. Article 5.10 and 5.7
a. Compensation: Add alternative assignment for Canine
Officer of 10% (Article 5.7D)
4. Specialty Assignments. Article 5.7
a. Traffic Sergeant: Add a Traffic Sergeant assignment at 10%.
(Currently no one is assigned to this position.)
b. FTO Sergeant: Add FTO Sergeant assignment at 5%. (This
assignment would only be paid when there is someone in
the program.)
5. CPOA Time Bank. Article 2.5(A).
a. Add an additional 100 hours to the Union Time Bank on the
city each year such that these hours are not backfilled.
6. Salary Schedule Correction. Article 5.1 and Exhibit B. Remove the
bottom pay step for Sergeant. (Step D or Step F depending on
when employee hired.)
7. Minimum Staffing on Patrol Teams with Mandatory Overtime.
Create a mandate for minimum staffing to protect citizens and
improve officer safety.
a. Mandatory Overtime to only cover sick leave, bereavement,
Administrative leave, and Training
i. A Days – Current Staff (8) Make minimum (6)
ii. A Swing – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
iii. A Graves – Current Staff (7) – Make Minimum (5)
iv. B Days – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
v. B Swing – Current Staff (8) – Make Minimum (6)
vi. B Graves – Current Staff (7) – Make Minimum (5)
vii. C Swing – Current Staff (6) – Make Minimum (5)8. Holiday Hours. Article 6.1 and 6.2.
a. City shall provide hours towards the employee’s Holiday
Time Bank equivalent to the employee’s regular work shift.
9. Sick Leave Accrual Rate. Article 6.4(A)(2)
a. Employees shall accrue sick leave in the amount of ten CIo)
hours per month.
10.Alternative Assignment FTO Clarification. Article 5.7
a. An employee who is assigned on a temporary basis to Field
Training Officer shall receive 5% Alternative Assignment pay
for the time the employee worked such assignment.
11.Education Reimbursement. Article 6.8(1)
a. Provide up to $1,500 per fiscal year for reimbursement of
approved educational programs and training.
b. Cap of $15,000 per fiscal year.
12.Medical Insurance Opt Out. Article 6.3 and Exhibit C
a. Increase payment to employees opting out of City’s medical
insurance plan to $500 per month into the employee’s
medical flexible spending account or deferred compensation
account.
13. Fitness. Article 6.8(H)
a. Add language to MOU allowing employees to work out
during their regular work schedule at the CPD fitness facility
and while maintaining availability for service and subject to
supervisory approval.

Post office annex again shortens hours to deal with bum problems

29 Oct

My family got a post office box about 15 years ago because our mail service to our house was horrible. We had a mail carrier who didn’t believe she should have to suffer any kind of inconvenience in delivering the mail. She was already fighting with several of our neighbors – she wanted them to move their mailboxes from their front porch to the street, so she wouldn’t have to get out of her vehicle. She was driving onto my next door neighbor’s lawn to access her front porch, and my neighbor was understandably annoyed at the mud ruts that were forming across her lawn. 

Our problem was that the title company and recorder’s office had not recorded our address correctly and the mail carrier kept leaving notices saying she couldn’t deliver our mail because it wasn’t addressed correctly. We tried to  get the recorder and assessor to deal with it, but just his past year we found out it’s still a problem – when the house next door burned down, the building inspector’s office and the assessor both contacted us instead of the actual owners. But, we dealt with the mail problem – we got a PO box, and slowly directed all our important mail to that address. 

The post office annex is an easy bike ride through the park, right there next to Safeway Mangrove, so we can get groceries too. But as I’ve posted in past, this is Bum Central. In fact I just complained about the Vallombrosa post office earlier this month:

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2017/10/08/please-stop-feeding-our-bums/

They’d broken the annex door, and I saw two different lock smiths working on it over a period of a week. Now this:

The old sign said 6 am to 10 pm. Before that the annex was open 24 hours.

This is disturbing. Another instance of my rights being abridged for the bums.