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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?

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

 

 

 

Chico Area Recreation District lawyer tells the board what $taff wants them to hear – don’t buy it

24 Jul

I don’t know how many of you read the Chico Enterprise Record, but I only recently  found out – in a town of over 85,000 the ER has a circulation of less than 10,000.  Wow, that was a shock – especially since that would include readers all over Butte, Glenn, and other nearby counties. I grew up reading the ER out in Glenn County, most people had a subscription to both the Sacramento Bee and the ER.  As Chico’s population has almost tripled since my childhood, you’d think the ER would have at least 50,000 subscribers. 

10,000? And that includes people who only subscribe to the Sunday paper.  But, it’s the local daily, so I continue to read it, and send letters to the editor.  It’s better than nothing, and I mean that quite literally.

So yes, I saw the article ER shill Laura Urseny wrote about  a letter I had written to the CARD board. I told them I believe they are spending taxpayer money illegally to promote a tax measure.   District General Manager Ann Willmann had put my letter on the July 18 agenda for discussion, and also asked the district lawyer, Jeff Carter, for his opinion. That’s all a lawyer can give you, his opinion. 

Urseny reported, as I would expect, “Thursday night, CARD attorney Jeff Carter said outside the board meeting that CARD has not violated rules in dealing with EMC because it was a survey of the community and nothing more. The survey did question whether citizens would support any kind of revenue measure.”

Of course Carter says they haven’t done anything illegal – for one thing, they haven’t, yet. That’s correct – after I wrote the letter I finally received a response from Howard Jarvis Association counsel Tim Bittle, who said, “Unfortunately, it is not illegal.  Government Code section 54964 provides, ‘An officer, employee, or consultant of a local agency may not expend or authorize the expenditure of any of the funds of the local agency to support or oppose the approval or rejection of a ballot measure.’ “

He explained, ” Notice two things about that statute. First, it contemplates that the local agency may lawfully hire a ‘consultant.’ Second, the statute cannot be violated before the existence of ‘a ballot measure.’”

Apparently, they can’t violate the law until they have actually written and handed the measure over to the county clerk. But, as soon as that measure is given approval and a ballot title, the district is not allowed to spend any more money on it.

Well, what’s “legal” isn’t always “right”, and I still think this is an important detail when considering passage of a revenue measure. The district couldn’t get support from the citizens, who would have had to put it on the ballot by way of petition, which would have meant there was some support in the community. But that’s not what happened. So CARD has spent over a hundred thousand in taxpayer money putting this measure on the ballot themselves, that is a fact.

They’ve hired consultant after consultant – EMC has been hired twice. The district originally tried to get Aqua Jets swim team to front this measure – for a new “aquatic center.” Then they got a group called Every Body Healthy Body to propose a “megacility” sports center south of town. But a recent survey done by EMC blew up in their faces. It seems the 400 respondents were more concerned about transients camping on their kids’ soccer fields and stealing their wallets, laptops and cell phones from the dugout at ball games. 

According to a report from Ch 7 news,

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/CARD-survey-shows-park-safety-a-top-concern–510232051.html

Rather than new facilities, the majority of people said they just want to feel safe.”

Here’s an interesting quote from that story, because this is what I have seen for over two years now –  “CARD is working on what to put into a possible tax measure.”  They are ready to promise us anything to get us to raise our own taxes.

This is exactly what EMC has been hired to do by  both CARD and the city of Chico – figure out what to tell people to get them to increase their own taxes. EMC blatantly claims to “offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations and ballot measures succeed.” 

Their questions lead the respondents to think the sky is the limit if they pass a tax on themselves.  Tom Lando’s 2012 survey offered a sports stadium, CARD has offered various sports facilities – what they don’t tell us publicly is they are getting deeper into pension deficit because employees aren’t paying nearly enough to support their own demands for these unsustainable pensions. 

You have to read the budgets to see that CARD employees are paying less than 10% for pensions of 70% of their highest year’s salary. General Manager Ann Willman makes roughly $110,000 a year, paying less than $10,000 to  receive a $70,000/year pension for the rest of her life. That is unsustainable unless you get a gullible, lazy and poorly educated public to agree to pay for it. 

In my letter below I said Willmann pays less than $2,000, because that’s what she’s been paying, as a “classic member” of CalPERS. Reading her latest budget message, I see she’s been asked to pay 6% by next year, eventually 7%. Let me be  the first to say, “Big Fucking Whoopee Mrs. Potato Head.” 

These people are like chiggers – they attach themselves to taxpayers, and then they suck you dry, providing you no benefit whatsoever.  

I am not going to let them lie their way to the bank this time, so I wrote the following letter and sent it to the ER yesterday. Let them know how you feel about this grab – maybe you can convince  them to stop spending money on this endeavor, and start using those funds for proper upkeep of facilities we’ve entrusted to them. 

I beg to differ with Chico Area Recreation District attorney Jeff Carter. CARD’s consultant is up to more than a simple survey.  Read EMC’s claims at their website – “Great campaigns don’t just happen. That’s why we offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations and ballot measures succeed.”

CARD has spent over $100,000 on consultants to help them push a tax measure, money that would have been better spent maintaining now closed Shapiro Pool.

In 2017, a survey concluded there was not enough support for the proposed aquatic center to go forward with a tax measure. The most recent survey showed the majority of the 400 respondents are more concerned with safety and lack of maintenance at the facilities CARD already operates.

In 2015 a consultant hired by CARD told them they could bring long-neglected Shapiro Pool back up to code with about $500,000 in repairs. For instance, the filter pump had not been working for years, and the diving board had  been torn out, leaving obvious trip hazards. Instead of doing the necessary repairs to keep the popular facility open, CARD made a $400,000 “side fund” payment toward their pension deficit.

CARD gets over $3,000,000 in property and vehicle taxes, another $2,000,000 in RDA funding. They spend $5,700,000 on salaries, benefits and pensions. Management pays less than 10% toward their own pensions, the manager paying less than $2,000 a year toward 70% of her $100,000+ salary in retirement.

 Join Chico Taxpayers in saying NO to self-service, greed and mismanagement.

Throw the bums out!

5 Jun

Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) recently hired another consultant to run yet another survey trying to get the voters to tax themselves. As usual, the survey was leading and suggestive – but here’s something new – it didn’t produce the results they were looking for. Instead of a fancy new sports complex, the respondents made it clear they want their existing parks cleaned up and properly maintained and they want the transient camps gone. 

I mentioned in a previous post, if you read the comments on various social media sites, or if you happened to read former CARD board member Terry Cleland’s recent letter to the Enterprise Record, you hear complaints of transient camps at soccer fields, transients stealing from snack bars and even personal  belongings from the participants. 

When my son played travel sports, we found ourselves in towns all over California, like Oakland. The manager at the facility in Oakland told us to park and stay within two blocks of the facility, and to report “anything weird…”  Is that what’s happening to Chico? 

But Cleland’s letter sounded a little too in line with suggestions the CARD consultants have made – every  consultant they’ve had has told them, get members of the public to speak for you. As a former CARD board member and a candidate for the board in the recent election, Cleland would be the perfect dupe to put their tax proposal out there, as if it came from the mouths of babes.  Well, here’s my response – let’s talk about a real solution to the transient problem – throw the bums out!

Chico Area Recreation District wants a new tax to provide security at playgrounds. Terry Cleland detailed the problem in his letter, and the Editor has written of families who are moving out of Chico because of this situation.  We have a serious criminal transient problem in our city.

Here’s why.  78% of the nearly $74,000,000 Butte County Behavioral Health budget comes from “intergovernmental revenues” –  money received from other cities and counties to “provide beds” for their mentally ill and drug addicted transients. 

In 2016 BCBH director Dorian Kittrell told me the county received $550 a day for each “client” they took in from cities and counties all over California that do not offer services. He explained in a budget memo that these “intergovernmental transfers” are the main source of funding for BCBH. Transfer patients are held for 45 days, and then released at their own recognizance from either the Chico or Oroville BCBH facility. Many are given prescription medication. They are offered rides to various shelters, but are not required to enroll in any program.

This is a legal form of getting rid of transients – just send them to a mental health facility in another town. Unfortunately, Chico has become that other town.

Our once incredible Bidwell Park, CARD playgrounds, retail areas, the college district, and lower income neighborhoods, are becoming overburdened by this practice of human dumping. We don’t need new taxes or more services, we need to tell our county supervisors loud and clear – stop the transfers.

CARD consultant admits a tax measure might not succeed, will take lots of “education”

29 May

Chico Area Recreation District has hired a consultant, EMC, of Oakland, to help them put a new  tax measure on the 2020 spring ballot. EMC recently conducted a survey of 405 district “likely voters” (meaning, picked and chosen)  and brought the following conclusions to the CARD board at their May meeting.

Click to access Survey+Results+Presentation.pdf

“A parcel tax measure may be feasible for the March 2020 ballot but a bond measure would be a significant challenge.” Furthermore, “Initial support for a parcel tax for local parks and recreation is near the two thirds threshold needed to pass.”

Keep that word “initial” in mind, I’ll get back to that.

“Given the survey findings and the current community climate following the Camp Fire, we recommend that CARD begin an extensive public outreach and engagement effort before placing a measure on the ballot. Informational communications are essential to the community’s understanding of the need for revenue, particularly funds to maintain park programs and safety.”

You may have read that the majority of survey respondents indicated “public safety/safe parks and playgrounds” as their main concern. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media from disgruntled parents – a very common complaint is the play fields their kids’ sports  teams use are becoming illegal campsites, littered with trash, poop, and used needles. CARD has also complained about criminal activity and vandalism at various playgrounds, such as broken glass littering the skate park – bottles and trash thrown over the security fence after closing. 

In order of importance, survey respondents ranked “Reducing crime and homelessness in parks, providing clean, safe parks and recreational programs, and upgrading park safety features would be important components of a parcel tax measure.”  A graph on page 6 makes it very clear – of topics “Homelessness, Public safety, Housing, Street and roads, Public education, Jobs and the economy, Parks and recreation,” 63% of respondents ranked “Homelessness” (whatever that means…) as a “very high priority“, while only 22% ranked “Parks and recreation” as same.

Looking at that list, I only see one category that has anything to do with CARD, “Parks and recreation,” so, if you believe in the results of a survey of less than 5% of the population, carefully chosen to reflect the desired results, you would think very few people in this town give a rat’s patoot about CARD. Doing the math, I find that figure to be 89 people, which is a little more than 1% of the total population of Chico.

There’s doublespeak in this report. They start off saying there’s enough support to pass this tax, but here they reveal it will really take some convincing. They also remind the board, such a campaign needs to be “privately funded“. I love the words, “make sure the voters understand…” 

A parcel tax measure would be vulnerable to opposition. Therefore, a successful measure would likely require a well-coordinated, privately funded outreach effort to ensure that voters understand how additional funding would reduce crime and homelessness in parks, provide clean, safe parks and recreation for local residents, and help maintain the Chico area as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.”

And there you see them listing the priorities respondents chose from their carefully worded survey options, using what the people want to hear, just like Joseph Goebbels. That’s exactly the intention of these surveys – they aren’t out to get your true opinion, they’re out to get you to say what they want, and believe it’s your own idea.

What’s the anecdote to brain washing? 

These are good …

but the truth will set us free! On page 12 of the power point presentation, there’s a graph showing that initial support dropped off as respondents were given “information.” Parcel tax support went from 67% to 59% over the course of the interview, opposition went from 36% to 44%. It shows similar results for a bond. 

The survey questions are provided in the report, give it a read, see how they twist the “information” their way. On page 9, for example, they lead us to believe there would be ” NO money for salaries.”

That is true for a bond, which is restricted to use for facilities, not “operating costs (salaries and benefits)” But a parcel tax is different – they can spend the proceeds of a parcel tax any way they want. 

And here’s the thing – since 2013, CARD’s pension liability has almost doubled. Next post I’ll talk about WHY, and how much money has been diverted from “provid[ing] clean, safe parks and recreation for local residents, and help[ing] maintain the Chico area as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family”  toward staving off the pension tsunami.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.