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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. 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

 

 

Blast From The Past: 2013 article shows city is not really serious about dealing with our crime problem, just giving more money to the cops

18 Oct

Here’s an article from the Enterprise Record, February 2013 – except that MacPhail has retired, has anything changed?

Yes, the police budget has gotten bigger, we have hired more cops, and cops are making more money than ever. Our city council is finally talking about the pension crisis, but isn’t really doing anything about it.  Downtown Chico and Bidwell Park have become disgusting.

What next? We’ll see!

Chico police: Tallying up the cost of south-of-campus raucousness

By ALMENDRA CARPIZO-Staff Writer
Posted:   02/22/2013 01:06:44 AM PST
 

Click photo to enlarge

Chico police Capt. Lori MacPhailAll Chico E-R photos are available
 

CHICO — Out of the estimated 33 square miles of Chico, half of a square mile is receiving much of the attention of the police department.Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., an extra police shift is active, said Chico police Capt. Lori MacPhail. The C Team’s sole responsibility is to focus on south of Chico State University and downtown.

The C Team is made up of one sergeant and seven officers, she said. On those days, there is also an extra dispatcher on staff.

The cost of the C Team to patrol is between $1 million to $1.5 million a year, MacPhail said. Although the amount doesn’t seem too high, it’s important to note Chico police are assigning an entire patrol team to cover half a square mile.

The overall budget for the Chico Police Department is $22 million.

A high percentage of the calls and arrests that occur on weekends are alcohol-related — drunk in public, drunken driving or noise complaints.

From Jan. 12 to Feb. 11, there have been 59 alcohol-related arrests in downtown Chico and south of the university, according to police arrests records. Most of those — 42 — were for disorderly conduct, and the bulk occurred on weekends.

In 2012, there were 1,628 alcohol-related arrests, according to police records. That was a drop from 1,963 arrests in 2011 and 2,145 in 2010.

The Chico Fire Department doesn’t feel much of an economic hit when responding to the south of campus, said chief James Beery. However,

there’s clearly an impact just based on the amount of calls received compared to when students are out of town.Firefighters work two 24-hour shifts in a row, and that doesn’t change on the weekends, he said.

If calls happen to overlap, the department works on a “first-come, first served” basis, Beery said. The department can’t afford to have extra firefighters out there.

Fire Station 1, which covers the area south of the university, tends to respond to more alcohol, drug overdoses and assault calls, he said, but calls run the whole gamut.

There is another issue that police and fire are responding to more on weekends — fights.

When people get “all liquored-up,” there are fights, Beery said.

Some fights are occurring at parties, but officers also see them as people spill out of the bars, MacPhail said.

Although the parties are not getting bigger, they are becoming more violent, she said. People are stabbing each other and throwing things at officers.

Chico police do receive help if things get out of control, MacPhail said.

There’s a good relationship between it and the University Police Department, said Drew Calandrella, CSUC’s vice president for student affairs. University police serve as backup at times.

Costs are important, he said. Everyone is worried about costs — costs relating to assaults, residence halls having to deal with alcohol-related incidents.

However, the focus is on changing the behavior and culture of drinking. That’s an issue for the entire city, not just for south of campus.

MacPhail acknowledges this is not a police department problem, she said. Enforcement isn’t going to be the solution either. There needs to be an examination of the root causes and an open dialogue to find solutions.

Reach Almendra Carpizo at 896-7760, acarpizo@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @almendracarpizo.

City $taff will be as good as we demand

21 Sep

I sent the following letter to the Enterprise Record, regarding a meeting I attended September 11 – the reporter, who I did not see at the meeting, did not post her story until the following week (9/17), and didn’t do any background on Portland Loo. She allows herself to be led by $taff – makes the job easier. 

Committee members Andrew Coolidge and Reanette Fillmer were strangely silent during the meeting, listening to the report. Fillmer asked a couple of questions about Gustafson’s remarks, then left the room right behind me after adjournment. But Coolidge babbled at the reporter – why didn’t he make more comments on the legal record? He told the reporter he thought we needed more public restrooms? This is the guy who told a gathering of Chico Taxpayers that he had taught his own kids to call City Plaza “Bum Park”. When will we get some action out of these idiots? 

When we write letters, make phone calls, show up at meetings. My letter, run in the Enterprise Record today:

Chico Public Works Director Eric Gustafson reported to Chico Internal Affairs Committee (9/11/17)  that Downtown public restrooms are suffering “unsustainable vandalism”.  He suggested the city invest in Portland Loo. 

Portland Loo is a toilet designed to keep criminal activities – including prostitution and drug sales – out of public restrooms. With slats at top and bottom so police (and everybody else) can see inside, they are coated with vandalism resistant paint and made in such a way that they can be routinely hosed out by janitorial staff. They must be connected to water and sewer but can provide  their own lighting. They are supposedly tamper-proof.

The manufacturer lists a price around $250,000, but other cities, including Portland, have found initial costs can exceed $500,000 per unit. Both the city of Portland and the city of San Diego have installed and later removed these devices because of increased crime in the immediate area. In Portland, costs for cleaning the devices were so high – $99,000/year for two units – that water ratepayers successfully sued the city for  $617,588  spent on marketing and maintaining their Loo’s,  the cost attached to city sewer and water bills. 

Why do city staff continue to placate transient criminals? Gustafson is the staffer who told me transients have Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to sleep in Bidwell Park. What about the taxpayers’ rights? 

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

2 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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