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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.

Time to mau-mau the flakcatchers – trash deal isn’t rolling out the way they promised

13 Oct

Over the last week or so I’ve noticed people have come to my blog with searches for information about the new garbage franchise deal the city of Chico cut with Waste Management. 

You know, I’ve been bitching about this deal, here and in the newspaper, since 2012. But, as I predicted, General Public – the guy who always has something better to do than pay attention – has not heard a word about it until he got a card from Waste Management about a week ago.

Friends of mine just told me, as if they were the first ones to figure it out – did I know the city had changed their waste hauler without their permission?! 

I watch the agendas, available here:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas.asp

I wish more of you would do same, instead of waiting until the bad stuff happens, and then bitching about it after it’s too late  to do anything.

I also got a card from Recology, my old carrier, with whom I have been, rentals and all, since about 2000, when I told Waste Management to stay the hell off my property.   I had never signed up for Waste Management willingly – they took my account forcibly from a guy named Tom – remember Tom’s Dispose-All? For whatever reason, the county showed Tom the door, and gave all his accounts to WM – then known as Butte County Dispose-All.

This whole story stinks of racketeering and cronyism. Ask Butte County Landfill manager Bill Mannell what trash company he ran before he got the job at Neal Road dump. 

My service from Waste Management was horrible, so I switched to Recology, and I never had a single complaint in 17 years. As soon as Waste Management took over two weeks ago, I had problems. 

I could have set my watch by  Recology – they came at almost exactly the same time every week. Especially the garbage truck – every Friday, 11:27 am. At that time I knew my recycling bin had already been emptied and I could go out and get my cans off the street. I also knew I didn’t have to leave my cans out the night before because Recology never came to my house before 7am, I had plenty of time to  take the cans out in the morning.

Why is this important? Well I found out yesterday, when I came home from the grocery store at exactly 2pm to find a  transient, at least 4 full drawstring waste bags  hanging from his shoulders, making a move on my still-full recycling bin.

He had just finished taking stuff out of my neighbor’s bin. I pulled my car alongside my can and told him to “get the fuck out of there NOW!”  He immediately put his hands up and walked.  Smart man – I had my hand on that can of Whoop-Ass, and I was about to open it on him. I’m from Glenn County, where people don’t let their mouth write a check their ass can’t cash.

About 40 minutes later, the WM truck showed up and emptied my bin. 

I had a restless night, wondering what kind of town this was getting tobe. So, this morning I wrote a note to Ryan West at Waste Management – that’s rwest1@wm.com.  I cc’d city manager Mark Orme and my just-for-now county supervisor Maureen “I’m moving to a Del Webb retirement community” Kirk:

Hi Ryan,
 

Yesterday we put our bins out by 6am as instructed by our new hauler, but when I came home from a trip to the store at exactly 2pm yesterday I found my recycling bin had not yet been picked up. And here’s just what I’ve predicted – as I pulled along the street toward my driveway a man came along with at least 4 full drawstring bags over his shoulders, went through my neighbor’s recycling bin pulling items out, and then  walked over to my bin and started to raise the lid.  I pulled my car alongside the bin and told him to “get the ‘f’ out of there!” He held his hands out and left.

The recycling truck didn’t show up until after 2:30.

I’m not a paid law enforcement officer, I shouldn’t have to encounter people like that at the end of my driveway.  My husband was worried that I confronted the guy when I told him about it. He’s afraid this person might have attacked me. My kids  and my tenant’s kids and all my neighbor’s kids play in their front yards – we should not have to worry about people like that in our neighborhood.

I never noticed this kind of brazen behavior in my neighborhood before, and I’m going to lay it on Waste Management.  Recology had both our bins picked up by noon, 1 pm at latest. I’m not willing to accept lesser service because of this deal.  We’ve been told we could expect the same service and more!

I’ll tell you one thing, I won’t be putting my recycling bins out at 6am anymore, and I’ll be cleaning anything of “value” out of them before I put them on the street. I’m going to make sure there’s not so much as a plastic water bottle in there anymore. It’s just an invitation to the bums into our neighborhoods, and then they help themselves to anything that ain’t nailed down. 

Thank you for listening to my complaint, I hope it’s the last. I included Mark and Maureen to keep them up on the bum problem, and because they both advocated for the trash franchises. 

Juanita Sumner

But it doesn’t end there! This morning when  my husband took our dog for the usual walk in the park, he found bins all along the street leading to the park that had been put out for pick-up yesterday morning, but were still full. At exactly 2:38 this afternoon, I heard the trucks picking them up. So, those recycling cans were out there for two days, for the convenience of the little army of the night.

When I heard the trucks, I took out my cell phone (because I was outside doing chores in my tenant’s yard) and I wrote them another note.

Furthermore,  trash and recycling bins left out [in my neighborhood] for collection yesterday morning where still full this morning and I just saw the WM truck coming through to get the recycling bins 5 minutes ago at 2:38. 
 
This is not acceptable. 
Juanita Sumner
 

I’m sorry – am I a harpy? Well that’s what it takes. 

Our public employees have taken our fair market system and played it like a fiddle for their own personal gain. Management promised us they’d use the franchise money to fix the streets, but you saw how quickly city manager Mark Orme tried to talk council into using the money to pay down the pension deficit.  Listen – that didn’t happen because many of you squealed about it, and there’s an election coming next year. 

They promised us we’d get all kinds of new services – according to the WM website, all that extra stuff also costs extra.

They threaten us with fines if our can lids are “propped open” – you mean, left open by bums rifling through for valuables while our cans sit in the street for 12 – 48 hours, waiting for pick-up?

They say we have to pay for damaged cans – given the way the trucks handle the bins, and then leave them standing halfway out in the street? 

They say we are responsible for graffiti on the cans, when we are expected to leave them out before 6 am without any assurance they’ll be picked up quickly?

So, yeah, we’re allowed to complain, please do so. 

 

 

 

Time to ring their phones “off the hook” about the trash deal – city manager’s office, (530) 896 – 7200. Ask them why this rate increase wasn’t handled like PG&E and Cal Water rate increases.

11 Sep

I followed the advice of my fellows, Jim and Bob, and wrote the following e-mail to City Mangler Mark Orme and my 3rd District Supervisor Maureen Kirk, and cc’d city attorney Vince Ewing cause I have some questions of a legal nature. 

Good Monday Morning Mr. Orme,   Supervisor Kirk, and Mr. Ewing,

Have either of you seen this Chicoosity Facebook page? (linked  below) Scroll down to the garbage franchise conversation.

Like I told both of you, the public needed to be better informed of this city trash deal, given the lesson that should have been learned when the county rolled their deal out.  Remember what Mr. Hahn said – “phones rang off the hook with complaints for two weeks…”  I see people are just as mad about the city deal – wait until they get their new bills!

Something I realized recently – when PG&E and Cal Water raise rates, they put notices in their bills, a year ahead, and there are public hearings.  Why wasn’t that done with this trash deal? Why didn’t Recology or Waste Management make any attempt to notice customers more than two weeks ahead of roll-out? I just got my postcard on Friday (9/8/17). Why didn’t the city notice customers and hold public hearings?

Those are not  rhetorical questions, so I cc’d Mr. Ewing, maybe he can answer. 

Here’s the link to that facebook page – thanks, at your convenience, for an answer to my questions.  — Juanita Sumner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/chicoosity/

As I was reading that over, I realized, people called the county. You can reach city manager Mark Orme’s office at (530) 896 – 7200.  Be really polite, his underlings don’t get paid as much as he does. He won’t answer your call, but he’ll know about it. 

Make those phone lines dance People!