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JetChico presentation tonight – small airports cannot support themselves, will need heavy subsidization from taxpayers

25 Jul

Yesterday I received this agenda for an Airport Commission meeting tonight:

http://www.ci.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/Agenda20170725finala.pdf

I’ve signed up to received these agendas for various meetings Downtown, they’re usually sent out the Friday before the meeting. Why only a day ahead? Probably because city staff doesn’t  really don’t want the public to get wind of what they’re talking about with JetChico, the group that is working to get taxpayers to subsidize commercial air service at Chico Airport.

jetchico.org

Wanna be Turlock?”?   Really?  Ooooo! Trash talk!  

This group is shady, they don’t say who they are – you have to attend their meetings – at a winery? – to find out what they’re up to. Or you can attend tonight, or you can watch it online.

 

I hope you will – I cannot attend, I’d already committed myself to a work week out of town by the time I got the notice.

Or you can read JetChico’s reports – it’s all there. I read their financing reports, and what I see is, they expect to get most of their money from grants and bonds – tax money.  The reports are pretty damning, and make it pretty clear – small airports cannot support themselves, they need over 50 % subsidization from the tax payers, most of whom will never fly.

 

Humboldt Fire caused by transients?

21 Jul

You have probably heard about the 100 acre Humboldt (Road) fire that occurred along Hwy 32, just above California Park and the new Forgarty houses on the other side of the road. It came within yards of Cal Water’s new tank.

When my husband and I drove out on Hwy 32 yesterday, we saw that it came from the area where we had reported illegal camping a few months ago.  There was a tent with a tarp, clearly visible from Hwy 32. When we investigated we found a fire pit surrounded with garbage and scattered household goods. The fire pit was well established, lined with rocks gathered from the surrounding hillside.  The site looked as though it was regularly used for years, and very recently.

We reported it and were referred to Office Scott Zuchin, who told us he hadn’t seen any camp there. He offered to set up a neighborhood meeting, but when I persisted in my complaint he got testy. 

Please be more specific then. We may not be speaking about the same location. You may attach photographs to your email if that helps.

I had given him the exact location, and told him it was visible from Hwy 32.  I don’t think these people read an e-mail completely before they respond. Shortly thereafter, the tent and tarp disappeared, but the campsite was never cleaned up.  We saw signs of illegal camping all along Humboldt road, in the exact vicinity of that 100 acre fire, and aside from a poorly organized last minute clean-up of the road by a private group for the Wildflower Century, there have been no attempts made by any city or county agency to clean the garbage out of that area.

I had cc’d  Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk into that discussion because she lives in Cal Park. She is fully aware of the transient camps along Humboldt Road and complained about crime being on the increase in Cal Park. This woman needs to wake up and get off the pot – she’s up for re-election in 2018 and doesn’t have a clue as to the problems she is causing every time she votes to fund some “homeless” program. The county brings these people in here for the stipend attached – $550 a day to pay down a pension debt that has them cutting  staff and closing fire stations. But to these agencies money is like an ice cube in hell – it’s already gone to management salaries and pensions before it even hits  the floor.

Write to Kirk and tell her she has to do something to stop the flood of insanity she’s turned loose on our town – that’s mkirk@buttecounty.net

Safari Inn murder just another symptom of our collective mental illness

20 Jul

I’ve had to turn off the news lately – I’m sick of hearing about the murder at the Safari Inn.

Yes, this is news – a woman brutally murdered at a local hotel. But why aren’t they giving us all the details?

For one thing, the man who was seen coming and going from her bedroom window on the night of the murder,  well known transient Marc Valcarenghi, was on a second probation for grand theft and possession of crank.  He’d been arrested in 2014 and again in 2016 for roughly the same crimes – including possession of a drug known to cause unpredictable and violent behavior. Placed on probation, you ask? Yes, not once, but twice this guy was had by law enforcement and allowed to skitter off into the bushes. 

For another thing, the Safari Inn has always had a questionable reputation despite recent efforts to clean up the outside of the place. Back in the 80’s it looked like a total dive, the city went after them to clean it up, so it looks like a “normal” motel. But see what out-of-towners have to say about it here, complete with pictures:

https://www.yelp.com/biz/safari-inn-motel-chico

I have never seen so many graphic and bad reviews of a motel, and we always checked with Yelp! before we went on road trips. 

What’s creepy is, you can see, the outside of the motel looks pretty harmless.  Check those reviews before you go on the road people – imagine ending up in a place like this in a town like SF or Sa-crap-mento!

Here’s another dead giveaway – the price is so low, transients can stay there on the proceeds of tipping garbage cans. Apparently, the victim was staying there in exchange for cleaning? Did you read some of those reviews? 

I think it’s used mostly by transients and even prostitutes. And let me ask you – the motel employee that talked to both Ch 7 and Ch 12 told them the room was so “trashed” she didn’t find the body right away. The newspaper said the woman had been badly beaten and strangled. How does all that happen in a motel and nobody notices? Nobody calls the cops? Cause it’s pretty common there? 

One person who reviewed this place says the health department needs to give it a look. Ya think?  Another person reported finding syringes and a shopping cart in the parking lot. 

What does it take to get the city to investigate a place like this? For a short time we also had a very high-profile routing by the health department, restaurants all over town were shut down and others started sporting the health department clearance sign. But not motels? 

This murder has caused quite a sensation – we’ll see if it causes anything to  change in city and county policy. 

 

 

City of Chico and County of Butte continue to exacerbate the transient problem

17 Jul

My husband likes to get out with our old dog for a quick walk in Bidwell Park before the heat sets in. He took this picture at a campsite off Bryant Avenue this morning.

Yes that is a very well established campsite along Chico Creek. I presume the man is just asleep but if you’d been watching the news lately you might want to poke him with a stick to make sure.

This guy took over a picnic spot that is supposed to be for day use only. 

Look hard – right behind this guy there is a picnic table. And it’s taken him a few days unmolested there to gather all that crap. And I’m not using the word “crap” loosely, I’m guessing there is human waste in the bushes.

Remember the “Occupy Movement”?  Well here it is folks. 

The other day I read about the new “Harm Reduction Center” being opened at Mangrove and First Avenues. 

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170710/harm-reduction-legal-center-for-homeless-opening-in-chico

“With the help of Butte County Bar Association, homeless service provider Stairways Programming is opening a harm reduction and legal center this week at 1112 Mangrove Ave. It will provide free legal help and therapy to those who are homeless or living in poverty and struggling with severe mental illness or substance use disorders.

“Attorneys will volunteer their time, offering pro bono work 1-4 p.m. every Monday. During the center’s other hours of operation, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Stairways will provide case management and therapy, and trainings for service providers on methods used at Stairways such as de-escalation, said Stairways Executive Director Michael Madieros.

“’Here’s a chance for them to meet with an attorney, get advice … and start to feel good about the justice system and like somebody cares,” Madieros said. “And when they do show up in court, they feel positive.’”

What I’m hearing is another bum magnet opening up within a mile of one of my rentals, just blocks from the retail centers where I (have done) a lot of my shopping for years. Mangrove shopping center is becoming a bum camp, not to mention that alley that runs  behind Cash and Carry between Palmetto and First Ave. And now this. 

“The new program will also serve as a harm reduction center, operating on a model that Stairways Programming has been using for quite some time. It will provide a space in which those who are experiencing homelessness can learn about and understand the harm they may be creating for themselves and their community by their behaviors, and how they can take small steps to be safer.”

Harm reduction? Stairways has been using this model “for quite some time” ? Well, Mike old buddy, it’s not working.  And here’s why.

“The ultimate goal for those abusing substances is abstinence, Madieros said, but it isn’t the starting point. One of those small steps may be teaching someone how to dispose of needles correctly.

It’s about helping people up, rather than pushing or forcing them, he said.

According to the Oakland and New York-based Harm Reduction Coalition, the philosophy meets drug users where they are, accepting that legal and illegal drug use is part of reality and its effects should be minimized rather than ignored or condemned. The conditions of people’s drug use, such as childhood trauma or mental illness, must be addressed along with the drug use itself, which is where therapy and case management plays its part.”

“legal and illegal drug use is part of reality and it’s effects should be minimized rather than ignored or condemned”? These people are mollycoddling junkies.  Is it part of reality to allow people to commit crimes to support their drug habit, and for shills like Madeiros to take advantage of the system for their own profit? Yes, Madeiros receives quite a nice salary for “managing” Stairways. Then there’s “CFO” Megan Harriman, another salary.  Stairways receives funding from various public agencies, including Butte County. 

But they still want us to volunteer, not only our time, but money and supplies. 

When this story popped up there was the usual criticism on Disqus, and Madeiros was quick to come back with a response.

“Harm Reduction is the model of treatment. Stairways provides emergency services to anyone in need but our commitment to Chico is we only provide services and programs to people from Chico. This is not a safe space this is a place people can come and start being accountable for their lives and actions. 
Looking forward to your donation!”

But when I chimed in to ask about site supervision and for a look at Stairways financial reports, I got no reply. 

I don’t know if they received city money for this enterprise, but I know the city had to permit the use of the building, and I’m wondering if the neighbors were asked for input as is the normal routine. 

I have to laugh – the city refuses marijuana dispensaries, but allows these centers to open all over town without any supervision or input from the neighbors. They wait til problems develop, and then they don’t do anything to fix it. 

But it’s Butte County Board of Supervisors who keep approving more and more “beds” and “centers” that bring these creeps flocking. You can start with Chico supervisors slambert@buttecounty.net, mkirk@buttecounty.net, and lwahl@buttecounty.net. 

Butte County supervisors need their heads examined

6 Jul

This morning my husband and I went out early to do chores, expecting the digits to triple by noon or one pm. It’s nice to be able to look behind yourself at a day well spent by 2 pm, and find a shady spot to take a nap or a baby pool to soak your toes until the mercury settles back down a little.

It’s smart to do your shopping early these days. Just that trot from the front door of the grocery store to your car can take the crisp out of a head of lettuce and chop a day or two off the life expectancy of that carton of milk.

Unfortunately it’s not just the heat that makes going out around Chico unpleasant. Transients have set upon our town like some kind of locust plague. You’d think they’d head for the coast, or at least some river town, where the temperatures would be cooler. The temperatures here have proven deadly –

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/local/butte/chico-police-investigating-body-found-behind-ihop/555241431

http://www.chicoer.com/article/NA/20170626/NEWS/170629827

I can only imagine what misery would drive this woman to lay down and die in a cluster of bushes along Hwy 99, trucks rumbling just yards from her body, but I do realize, she had nobody outside her immediate family to turn to.  A $63 million budget for the county Behavioral Health Department and we still don’t have any sort of crisis center or crisis team to deal with people who are in trouble. As we all found out from the Desmond Phillips disaster, calls for help are too often answered by Chico PD officers who may or may not have had one week of training at Butte College in determining, as former police officer Linda Dye put it, “who’s crazy and who’s just faking it…”

Today that was the answer for a young man I feel was determined to take his own life to get help.

As my husband and I rounded the corner out of the deli section of the Mangrove Safeway, my husband stopped to look at  the lunch meat. As I stood by the fancy cheese counter, this 20-something year old man, clean and shaven, with clean clothes, came walking toward us with a very determined look on his face. His expression was almost hostile. He walked straight into the liquor section and I turned my back. Suddenly a young employee brushed by me, smiling in apology. She ran toward into the liquor section saying, “wait, you can’t do that…Sir!”

As I turned, I saw the young man was trying to rip the security top off a liquor bottle. The employee rushed up to him, and around the corner came the manager, who also smiled at me. They know us, we come around the store every couple of days, we walk the same route, buy almost exactly the same items every time.

We saw the young man was argumentative, and there were other employees coming fast on the scene. As we hustled toward check-out, we watched the manager following the young man, who was more agitated, as he walked toward the front of the store. I was glad to have Rafiki and Pete at my check-out, but I worry about my friends at Safeway, having to deal with these people, more and more constantly.

The young man went out the front door, the manager watching at a distance. As we exited the store, we saw Chico’s finest putting the guy in cuffs and leading him toward their car.

We’ve seen similar people at the Safeway plaza – young, clean, new casual clothes, just loitering around the front of Safeway. Once we saw a young guy who seemed to be passed out on the sidewalk outside Kwando, with several empty wine bottles laying nearby.  As we came into Safeway, we watched him ambling up the sidewalk toward the store entrance.

I have to wonder – are these people who have been discharged by the Butte County Psychiatric Facility in Oroville? I have heard they are offered a ride to the Torres Shelter or other facilities, and then just left to their own resources. Many of them have been given prescription drugs, on their own recognizance, which seems, well, crazy to me.

It’s institutionalized insanity. These people are brought here from other cities and counties because we have, as BCBH director Adrian Kittrell describes them, “beds”. Each person come with a sort of dowery – $550 a day. The county is allowed to hold them with or without their consent for a total of 45 days. You do the math, this kind of transparent corruption makes me sick.

But do they treat them?  Well, go out and about around Chico, and tell me what you think. The streets are horrible even for the transients.  I think they seek out incarceration because  it’s meals and a place to get clean and maybe a little safer than sleeping along Hwy 99 or Bidwell Park. At least it’s air conditioned, and you can sit around and smoke cigarettes and not do anything productive.

Including treatment. I’m sure they are interviewed, just enough to glean the personal information required for funding the center. But therapy? I wouldn’t bet on that.

And after 45 days, they are released, by law the county can’t hold them any longer. Unless they make a bee-line for the nearest retail center and boost a bottle of booze, or display any behavior that shows they are a “threat to themselves or others”.

It’s a merry-go-round of insanity, starting with Butte County Supervisors. They all need their heads examined. Garry Cooper pointed out in this morning’s Enterprise Record, it’s all about the pensions and benefits.

 

Public employee unions take advantage of citizens

Here we go again. “Supervisors cut 69 positions” — mentally ill thrown to wolves, fire and public protection saved from cuts, thanks to their generous campaign contributions and vote-getting public endorsements.

“Pension liabilities looming” — both the city of Chico and county supervisors report, after these leaders put the taxpayers’ concerns at the bottom of the totem pole in exchange for public union bribes.

Next comes — “Half cent sales tax increase needed to enhance public safety,” when it is, in reality, needed to pay the over $100,000 per year retirements for these public union members which begins at age 55, 10 years younger than the taxpayers and five times their Social Security retirement.

How about new headlines, like “Supervisors approve term limits for themselves and abolish their CalPERS pension costs paid by taxpayers for their part time jobs” or “Chico leaders hire law firm to set aside public union contracts negotiated under conflict of interest with unions due to campaign contributions” or “Governor and Legislature require all public union retirees work until average age of taxpayers before receiving pensions” or “City leaders pursuing using privatized fire protection firms to same millions in salaries and pension costs” (instead of pursuing Cal Fire help — an even more bloated bureaucracy with a more powerful union able to contribute more to their campaigns.)

Our communities and public safety is being cannibalized by these public unions, and taking more from average-Joe taxpayers to support these exorbitant pensions and ridiculously early retirements is simply abuse of the taxpayer.

— Garry Cooper, Durham

 

 

 

 

Downtown Chico on a bender

30 Jun

I had a good shock last night – I went Downtown for Thursday Night Market. I wish I had taken pictures, but we had out-of-town guests, and I was embarrassed of my town.

I realized, I hadn’t been to TNM for probably 10 years. There used to be more fruit and vegetable vendors, with some local “artisans”, people we knew who sold T-shirts and other sundries they’d produced.

Last night I felt like Arlo Guthrie – I never saw a face I knew, as I went ramblin’ round. I remembered how many complaints I’d heard, how our friends one-by-one had let go of their Thursday night booths after years of dealing with Downtown Business Association, who runs TNM.  Too much cronyism, too much infighting, and they had rules they used selectively, like who was allowed to sell oranges, and who wasn’t.

As the number of produce vendors declined, and the number of crap vendors – just junk they buy wholesale – increased, we walked away. Downtown became increasingly unfriendly too – I won’t use the word “homeless” for these people, they’re just a pile of criminals and creeps. Our kids were pre-teens, we felt Downtown was no place for families, particularly after 6 pm.

So, what were we thinking when we took our out-of-town friends with two teenagers to TNM? We were thinking, there’s not much to do in this town, and we’d been holed up with them in the air conditioning all day.  We didn’t dare take them to Bidwell Park – besides the triple-digit heat, there’s the bums, bum crap everywhere, sleeping bags and old drawers hanging from the blackberry vines, etc.  They’d driven four hours to get here, so we hesitated to take them on a driving tour. We knew they wanted to get out and get some exercise before they got in their car again this morning, so we thought, “how bad could it be?” These folks live in a big city, they’ve certainly seen urban images.

It was me who was in for the shock. 

We arrived Downtown just before 8pm, parked at the parking lot that hosts Saturday Farmer’s Market, two big spaces right next to each other, we thought that was a good omen.  As soon as we got onto the sidewalk headed to Main Street, I realized we might have made a big mistake. The sidewalks are dirtier than ever, and wow – those fancy garbage cans the city installed, those cement receptacles that cost who knows what – they’re all beaten to a pulp! Looks like Barry Bonds had a steroidal fit with a titanium bat ( I love you Barry, but yeah, you had a bad temper when you were on the ‘roids!)

The sidewalks were crowded, mostly with transients walking around in various states of filth and intoxication. We had to walk single file, and the noise level made conversation uncomfortable. As we rounded the corner onto Main, we saw what was left of the produce vendors – one or two stalls with peaches and nectarines. If I’d realized that would be the only produce I would have stopped, but the teenagers were hungry and eager to get to the food wagons.  I had heard good stuff about the food wagons, and we’d eaten at one or two of them at other events, so we hustled along.  I did see the Bordin’s, with their honey, but that was  the last of the produce stalls as we wandered into the crap vendors’ area and on to the food trucks.

The live band at the Plaza was very annoying. I’ve heard all that 70’s and 80’s rock – why bother with a band, why not just broadcast Thunder? And does it have to be so loud as to necessitate repeating your order and your name multiple times to the food vendor? 

There we were, right next to the Plaza. At first I could see some families with kids – like us, they seemed to be looking for a safe place to get out at night. But the scene changed rapidly, before my eyes. At 8:30, the macaroni man handed my friends his last order and abruptly closed the door and window on his truck. The other food vendors started to do same. They seemed eager to get the hell out, which was weird – the event is supposed to last until 9 pm, and there were still people all over the street. 

The food area was quickly un-staging, people who looked like transients with “event” shirts were picking up trash  and dragging garbage cans away. I was still holding the trendy cardboard container and plastic forks that came with my Maria’s tamale (bland dry corn meal, stringy shoeleather chicken, flavorless rice, dry pasty beans), so I ran along after them to throw it away. As I walked back to my group, I could see, they were surrounded by drunken shirtless men making their bed on the Plaza grass. 

The band had packed up and split, and suddenly I felt insecure – it was like a scene out of “Escape from New York”.   So we split, ferrying our friends back to their hotel, hoping nothing weird happened to them there.

 I’d bet my last five dollars, after that freak show, they will tell us to visit them next time. 

Thursday Night Market? How about “Thursday Night Mayhem”?  I don’t patronize businesses Downtown anymore because it’s just plain unpleasant. The sidewalks are filthy, my friend was wearing very pretty open-toed shoes. The vandalism – everywhere – is hostile, you feel like you’re walking right into a war zone. The smell of garbage permeates the air – we walked by so many overflowing garbage cans, right outside restaurants, I don’t know how they keep the flies off their customers. And on every sidewalk, we had to walk single file, to keep from literally bumping into dirty, disheveled, intoxicated creeps.

Downtown Chico is in trouble, and no district is going to save it. If you’ve paid attention, you’ve seen one after another initiative that’s been taken, public money thrown in, to bail out a retail sector that refuses to take care of itself. Downtown businesses are not special, they’re not a charity, they’re not a public institution. They make bad decisions – like Thursday Night Market and Friday Night Concerts – but they are continually bailed out with public money. Now certain business owners, led by Ann Schwab’s husband Budd,  want a district with fees directed toward Downtown clean-up and more cops – when will we all be expected to form districts to get city services that we already pay for? 

Wake up Chico, you are being had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARD gives director raise to cover her benefits share while programs are failing and non-management hours are being cut

18 Jun

I’m sorry, I’ve been busy with my own life, and have made a pointed attempt to ignore CARD. The public didn’t seem to be overly worried, so I figured – let them do their worst, maybe a new tax is the boot to the ass the voters need to WAKE UP!

But you know, I can’t turn my head when I read stuff like this – they cut part time workers again, complaining that program revenues were down, but had the absolute gall to raise manager Ann Willmann’s salary.

http://www.chicoer.com/general-news/20170615/card-mulls-over-proposed-2017-18-budget

Urseny wrote,  “In a closed session movement, the board approved a review of Willmann’s performance, approving a raise that covers her CalPERS retirement payment, a little more than $2,000.

Are you getting that? $2,000 for 70 percent of her highest year’s salary, with COLA, at age 55.  This for a woman who has badly mismanaged CARD, following the pattern her predecessor set in place – management salaries go up at the expense of the part time staff who actually run the programs. CARD’s mission needs a closer look – are they there to maintain our playing fields and neighborhood parks, or are they there to raise money to cover their own salaries and benefits? 

They made a poor decision to take over the Chico Creek Nature Center, which was almost $200,000 in debt to the city of Chico for the loan taken to build the $800,000 “classroom” next to the old building that houses the exhibits and poor creatures in cages.  CARD refused to be responsible for the debt – leaving it to be paid by ????? – while they made their plans to profit off the day camps. As badly run as CCNC was, their books in total disarray, at least they kept those camps going, for years.  CARD brought in a new group to run the center, projecting all kinds of profits to pay down their $1.7 million pension deficit, and the new group has already walked away. Meanwhile, the district has closed down after school programs formerly run by CARD – another revenue stream gone. 

“CARD is grappling with a slight reduction in the program-based revenue, primarily because private-based THRIVE education program won’t be using the Chico Creek Nature Center due to space constraints and because Chico Unified School District will not be offering an after-school program at Marsh Junior High.”

CARD is tanking, and the board gives their mis-manager a raise, her salary already over $120,000, plus her benefits package, for which she pays 2 percent. And the raise covers her 2 percent, how nice of us.

Board members Sneed, Mulowney and Ellis are up for re-election in 2018.