Tag Archives: ACE ordinance

“Super Troopers” starring Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle

5 Aug

I attended the first Internal Affairs discussion a couple of weeks ago regarding Kirk Trostle’s request to fabricate a city licensing procedure for bars and restaurants, based on land use regulation, or “zoning.”   This is one of those conversations where almost nobody is saying what they really mean.

As I reported earlier, various people in the discussion have different motivations. The bar owners are all pretty afraid to express themselves. They seemed to be mouthing a line for the city’s satisfaction – don’t bite the hand, and all that.  The committee members, Sean Morgan, Ann Schwab and Tammi Ritter, were all in their separate corners on this, with Schwab doing her best Annie Bidwell impersonation, Ritter seeming to be dragging her feet against over-regulation, and Morgan acting like the moderator of this debate, trying to make sure everybody gets in on the conversation, even if the conversation goes on in perpetuity.

Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle started this conversation, originally wanting an ordinance to go before the public, requiring bars, restaurants, and “any business having to do with liquor”, to pay a fee, based on square footage of the establishment, that would go to the police department.  When Lori Barker  popped his ACE ordinance balloon, telling him it would be an illegal tax on alcohol, Scott Gruendl came to the rescue with an order that staff come up with some kind of zoning regulation that could be applied with no input from the public. 

Yes, this would also generate fees – Mark Wolfe from the planning department said such an ordinance would add “$5,000 – $6,000” to the licensing procedure for each business. I asked where that money would go, but nobody answered. I noticed, Kirk Trostle stiffened up and his face turned red. I didn’t make any friends at the cop shop that day. 

Mark Wolfe also reported that when council ordered him to come up with some kind of marijuana ordinance, he kept track of his time and that of his limited staff. He said they used at least $30,000 worth of staff time on that sinker. I asked him to repeat that figure. Ann Schwab later made fun of me, saying, essentially, that $30,000 is nothing. I hate to tell her, but most of the families in this town live on very little more than $30,000, and many live on less. She makes $80,000+ in a fluff position at the college, a salary that is stapled onto your college kid’s butt. Then she has the nerve to take a salary of around $7,000 from the city of Chico, plus a $21,000 insurance package.  

Ann, you need to step down, you are completely out of touch. Or, at least, please stop wearing shorts to meetings with open front tables. Don’t make me take a picture of what those ham hocks of yours look like under that table. 

But, I digress. 

I told the council I thought they were simply duplicating the duties of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. This really got Trostle’s back up, sheesh he was pissed off. He said, the ABC “has staffing levels from the 1950’s,” claiming they have only two agents for sixteen counties. I’m sure that’s what he said, I wrote it in my notebook right then and there. 

I sensed a case of “Super Troopers.” “Super Troopers” is a very off-color and tasteless comedy movie about a medium sized New England town in which the local police compete with the state highway cops for revenues. Yes, there’s sex, drugs, and inappropriate stuff all the way through, I do not recommend this movie to stodgy buttheads with no sense of humor (“who’s up for mustache rides!”).  But the plot line is still good: the police lie, cheat and steal to get rid of the state troopers all together so they can get their hands on all the law enforcement budget. 

So, I wrote to the ABC office in Redding, where Trostle claimed there’s only two guys sitting around a phone. I just told the guy what I’d heard at the meeting, and he came back with this:

Dear Ms. Sumner,

I apologize for the delay in returning your email.  The Redding District Office covers nine counties (Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, Lassen, Siskiyou, Trinity, Plumas, and Modoc).  The Redding Office staffing levels in July of 2013 were 3 Agents, 1 Licensing Representative, and 2 front office staff.  The Redding District Office is a satellite Office of the Sacramento District Office.  In July of 2013 the Redding District Office was overseen by a Supervising Agent from the Sacramento District Office.  That Supervising Agent was overseen by a Supervising Agent in Charge who was based out of the Sacramento District Office.  Additionally, ABC has two Special Operation Units, one for Northern California and one for Southern California.  These units are available to assist District Offices with enforcement efforts, whether problematic locations, special events, or assisting district offices with handling complaints of ABC licensed locations. 

 If you have any additional questions, please let me know.

 Paul 

530-224-4830  

I thought about forwarding this to the council, Trostle, etc, asking for some explanation. What do you think? I think it’s “Super Troopers.” 

 

Oh God our city is doomed

22 May

Thanks to John Salyer, Stephanie Taber, Sue Hubbard and the other citizens who showed up at last night’s catastrophe city council meeting. 

I went down, but left at 10 pm. I have a rule, and they also made a rule, that these meetings should not go on after 10pm, it’s just counter-productive. I get up too early, can’t always take a nap in midday, and by 10:00, I lose confidence in my motor abilities – you don’t want to be on the road with a woman who can’t tell a big raccoon from a person in the dark. Last night I slowed down because I thought I saw a pack of mice scurry out in front of my car – I screamed out loud – it was leaves blowing across the street. 

Better safe than sorry.

I also have a low tolerance for bullshit – I can’t eat it, I don’t care how much sugar you put on it. And Scott Gruendl is a regular lawn feeder. When he started rambling about his experience with the mentally ill, I made my way toward the lobby. At 10:00, with a full agenda, they had still not made it past Item 4.1.

And let’s talk about Item 4.1. I don’t remember when I’ve seen three items crammed into one before. Item 4.1 was supposed to be three reports from the city attorney, on three different ordinances, all slightly related by way of ALCOHOL. But all three deserving of separate conversations. Instead we got fixated on the sit/lie aspect of the item, and the other two subjects – a “social hosting” ordinance and a fee for “alcohol related businesses” got swept off to the side. Only a couple of speakers mentioned those subjects on a side note.

“Social host” ordinances involve holding the “host” of a party responsible for underage or other problem alcohol consumption. In Chico, when we discussed the Disorderly Events ordinance, Chico PD made it clear they want the city to go after not just the “host” of the party, but the landlord or property owner. That provision failed, I believe, because the city attorney and local property owners groups convinced them it was slippery legal ground. The Disorderly Events ordinance was passed without the landlord responsibility clause, and the cops have been trying to get it back in the door eversince. This “Social Host” ordinance completely lends itself to holding landlords responsible for their tenants’ activities, even though tenants can sue their landlords for harassment if landlord oversteps his right to control the property. 

Chico police officer and president of the Chico Police Officers Association, Peter Durfee, expressed support for both the sit/lie and social host ordinances, as well as a general distaste for landlords. He feels landlords are responsible for their tenants’ behavior.  The Disorderly Events landlord provision fell apart  when they realized, they’d have to notice landlords, some of whom live out of town. How would they identify which houses were rentals, and which were owner-occupied? The impracticalities just started to pile up, and the subject was dropped. That’s how far I expect them to get with any kind of “social host”ordinance.  There are too many subjective decisions to be made – and no, I don’t trust Chico PD to make subjective decisions, I don’t think they are the sharpest pencils in the plastic pocket protector. The salaries Chico pays only attract greed, and greed isn’t a good indicator.

But only a couple of people even mentioned “social host”. Most of the comments were directed toward the sit/lie ordinance, with most of the speakers in favor. It’s hard – I so agree there’s a problem, but I don’t think a sit/lie ordinance will help.

In San Francisco, where they have the ordinance in place, the arrested are processed and back in their own pee puddle in less than four hours. How’d you like to be the shop owner who made the complaint? Last night I watched career homeless man Bill Mash go off on a rant that Colliers is harassing “the homeless.” Wow. If I were the owner of Colliers, I’d get an armed security guard. Bill Mash is unstable. He’s exactly the kind of creep that, as Wayne Cook put it, is “poisoning” the atmosphere Downtown.  He’s hostile, in your face, and bigger than me. One woman said if I didn’t like “looking at” those people, I didn’t have to go Downtown. Maybe she’d like to set up an escort service for small women and children who don’t feel safe around these freaks. It’s a lot more than “looking at” them. 

But a sit/lie ordinance is not going to do it, not when the DA won’t prosecute, whining that he has no space in his jail. They will just be processed at our expense and turned back out on the street. One guy in that article on San Francisco had amassed 10’s of thousands of dollars in fines for the same violation.

Randall Stone also made one of the best points of the meeting – most of the annoying things these people do are already against the law. You aren’t allowed to block a public sidewalk, urinate or defecate in public, have an unruly dog – most of the stuff they do is illegal. But the cops won’t do anything.  Trostle admitted – all a person has to do, is refuse to obey a cop, or even mouth off to a cop, and it’s “malicious,” and the cop can arrest them.

Let me tell you my own personal experience with Peter Durfee, mentioned above. One morning, I woke up to find my neighbor had again had a loud party, and there was one of her friend’s vehicles parked in my driveway, right next to a “NO PARKING” sign. So, at 8:30 on a week day morning, I walked over, knocked on her door, asked if she knew whose vehicle that was, and when she said yes, I asked her very politely to tell them they’d have to move it, it was on my property – thanks! You’ll have to take my word for it, I was perfectly nice and sweet. And then, as I walked away, she said, perfectly audibly, “Or what?”  I turned and told her, “or I’ll have to have it towed.” And I hot-footed it out of there. I don’t like trouble – are you kidding, at my size?

I left the property for about 15 minutes to ride my bike over and  take in one of my tenant’s trash cans – they were out of town for the weekend, and asked me to get their cans in – and when I got back about 15 minutes later, Peter Durfee and his partner were sitting in my driveway, blocking not only my gate but my other  tenant’s driveway. He stayed a half hour, telling me I wasn’t allowed to go to my neighbor’s house to tell her to move her car off my property. He never said exactly what I was accused of, just said, next time I have a “problem” with my neighbor, call him. I still have his card with that message on back. I told him I thought it was crazy that, at a time when the cops were whining short staff, he would come to my house and stay over a half hour, blocking my ingress and egress from my home, over 100 feet onto my private property, harassing me over my neighbor’s trespassing on my property. Officer Fat Ass has no respect for private property rights – I asked him to leave several times and he refused, still blocking my tenant’s driveway as well as mine.  He seemed to be determined to get me to obey him, like some fat little god.  He finally told me that if I ever went to my neighbor’s door again, for ANYTHING, he’d arrest me. In exactly those words, he threatened to arrest me. I went in the house, and he and his partner sat in my driveway for another five minutes, then turned around and left. 

So, there you have the “quality” employees we attract with these salaries, and this fat little creep with the extra chin is the PRESIDENT OF THE CPOA!  Sums it up, as far as I’m concerned.

But even Officer Fat Ass did not discuss the ACE ordinance, the third subject of attorney Barker’s report. The ACE – or “Alcohol Compliance and Education” ordinance should be a dead fish, but the cops keep bringing it back – it’s a fee, that would go straight to the cops, to be used at their discretion. Chief Trostle says he’ll hire a cop to dedicate to alcohol related issues – how vague and – excuse me – unenforceable is that? Is this “dedicated” officer just going to be laying around in some kind of wrapper, to be brought out just for alcohol-related problems? No, they just want another $100,000 + a year to hire a new cop, I got Trostle to admit that at that Chamber function I attended.

Well, Barker shot ACE down last night – she said in 2010 the state legislature passed Prop 26, prohibiting a government from just tacking fees onto stuff without a specific purpose. Prop 26 “defines ‘tax’ as every charge that is imposed by a municipality...”  Furthermore, “alcohol fees were used as an example of what should not be imposed…” 

Any fee must have a specific service that is provided, for example, Barker cited license fees, inspection fees, or a fee for an employee education program that is directly provided by the city.  They can’t just charge a fee and use it as they please. 

Mark Sorensen, feeling his balls last night, asked, “how does this differ from the ABC (Alcohol Compliance Board)?”, and Barker answered that Prop 26 essentially says that the only things a municipality CAN do are things already done by the ABC.

So, we don’t need an ACE ordinance. The cops are just phishing for money, again. We have about a $43 million budget. The cops get $22 million of that. They pay NONE of their pension premium or health insurance.  They repeatedly tell us, they need more money and “new tools” to do their jobs. Talk about “aggressive panhandlers”! 

We need a new council, and a new police chief. Our mayor is incompetent, which is what I tried to tell everybody about our City Manager Dave  Burkland and our Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy, and nobody would listen. Now we have to hear it from an outside. I missed that report, held somewhere around what? 11:30 at night? As if anybody was still awake. And don’t forget, council also approved contracts that continue to pay the “employee share.”

These meetings are agendized without any sense. The ACE ordinance is dead, why was it agendized? Why were three items jammed into one public comment session? Mary even said, “we didn’t think this through” as she realized there were 29 speakers and it was already after 8pm. She wondered aloud how they would sort the comments on these three different issues. She tries to act like a mayor, but she doesn’t have the slightest idea what she’s doing.

Our council is a pack of naked emperors, all buck naked. They expect us to sit and look at their junk and not say anything about their shortcomings? What a pack of useless ninnies.