Tag Archives: Bidwell Park Birthday Bash

This may be a job for Robin Hood

21 Jul

Well, the best laid plans of mice and moms – next time I  tell you I’m going to hand out fliers at an event, tell me to stay home and make a cobbler. 

I want to get the info out, know what I mean? I’ve written letters to the editor, and then there’s the blog. I talk to my friends, I talk to grocery checkers, I talk to anybody who can’t run away. Yesterday I attempted a crowd that was not in the mood to hear about anything “negative.” 

I went over to One Mile a little after 4pm, not really sure what to expect of this “Birthday Bash”. It was about 105 outside, so there were the usual people – the young adult, social crowd, who are turned off to sitting under air conditioners all day, and like to spend their free time under some old trees, next to moving water, listening to music, maybe smoking a little dope, playing a little hacky-sack, seeing, being seen, and meeting others like-minded. They aren’t there to hear about politics, and that’s exactly what’s going on, so I didn’t want to intrude on their non-reality. From what I’ve seen every time I’ve visited Caper Acres since the Monday – Thursday closure, these people aren’t letting locked gates stop them from enjoying the park. 

It being Saturday, there were also lots of out-of-towners. In fact, the only people I spoke to were from elsewhere. I realized something else I should have known – tourists are usually a little friendlier than residents.  I’d make eye-contact, and if they’d say hello, I’d say hello, and as soon as I got my foot in the door, I’d add, ” I’m here handing out information about the park closures,” or something like that. They’d invariably say something along the lines of, “Park closures? I’m not from around here, what’s THAT about?”  They were always sympathetic, and some were actually aware of the pension problems, but none of them wanted to spend their weekend vacation yakking with some stranger about politics, so I never pushed it. 

Funny thing – none of them had heard there was any kind of event, they were just noticing something was afoot, wondering what?  

There was a group of park volunteers, wearing the familiar green t-shirts, their vehicles parked kind of pell mell on the lawn around the concession stand. They were kind of crabby, standing together in a little knot at one of the stands instead of mingling out through the crowd. I wonder if any of them had any crowd control experience, any experience setting up events like watermelon eating contests, etc. One man was testily announcing that there might be too many volunteers present at that time, that the event would be running until almost 10pm and he hoped there would be enough people to finish out the evening. No, they didn’t seem to be very tightly knit or organized.  

At this point I looked around myself and realized, this had not been a good idea.  I realized, I wasn’t going to find anybody there who really cared about what’s going on Downtown enough to do anything about it. I’d seen all the artwork and milled around the stands. The park volunteers had a petition at their stand, but I didn’t have my glasses so couldn’t read it.  I got on my bicycle and headed home to help my husband throw a chicken on the grill. 

Originally I thought I might go back after the sun got low and things cooled off, but I changed my mind.  CARD planned to finish off the evening with an 8:30 showing of “Hugo,” a very depressing sounding Martin Scorsese picture that for one thing has absolutely nothing to do with Chico, Bidwell Park, or the number 108. Whenever I tell people about the CARD movies in the park, they always ask, “Who’s responsible for picking the movies? ‘Bees’? Really?”  

I have to agree. I could think of at least one movie that would have been more appropriate for an annual celebration of Bidwell Park  – “Robin Hood,” outdoor sequences of which were actually filmed in Bidwell Park, an event that has long been one of Chico’s magical moments.You’d think they’d be able to get a week’s worth of activities out of that every year – how about exhibits at locations like the CARD center, the city building, Chico Museum? This movie has not only special interest to Chico, but was nominated for best picture in 1938 and  voted one of the best films of all time in 2001. Errol Flynn and the rest of the cast continue to be popular draws to film festivals.   But CARD will not be showing Robin Hood at all this year – “Hugo” was the last offering of the summer in fact. They only planned two movies, neither of which has any special significance to Chico.

That is my complaint about this recent attempt at “community” – the Bidwell Park Birthday Bash. It was like a robot trying to act like a Human.  I think it was just a last minute attempt to put a smiley face on our town when we don’t really feel very smiley, we’re not happy, and we’re all kind of pissed off at each other. I wish I could say “nice try,” but I can’t mean it. 

 

We need to educate the Siobhan O’Neil’s of our town – Chico doesn’t have a revenue problem, Chico has a SPENDING PROBLEM!

20 Jul

Well, the ER ran another propaganda piece for this city this morning – “Chicoans starting to feel impacts of reduced services…” Really? And how many “Chicoans” did you bother to poll on that?

The talked to a couple of women in Bidwell Park, one of whom, a publicly-paid child services worker, decided to take a smack at the defeat of Measure J.  She says, they’re closing the park because we defeated Measure J. 

“The sisters don’t understand why the city had to lock the gates on the pool’s north side. Both wondered about parking impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods and the hazards for families and children in having to cross the street.

O’Neil said she sees a direct correlation between the park closures and Measure J, a cellphone tax voters shot down during the November election. She had voted in its support.

‘You get what you pay for and what you don’t pay for,” she said. “For pennies a month, we gave up a source of revenue to help with services in an economy that’s still struggling.'”

I love that – “You get what you pay for…” Here’s a woman who admittedly doesn’t “understand why the city had to lock the gates “. What would you expect from a person who’s paycheck comes from tax money?

So, I called and left her a message on her publicly-paid voice mail, inviting her to the next First Sunday meeting of Chico Taxpayers. This is the kind of person we want to engage, the people who believe whatever their friends  tell them, their other publicly-paid friends. I wonder how many people this woman knows, outside her immediate family, who don’t have their snout in the trough? 

This is it Folks. You have seen the enemy, and it is IGNORANCE. 

I’ll be at the park today, handing out these:

park flier

Feel free to print them out and hand them around yourselves, we have to get this information out there. 

Chicoans starting to feel impacts of reduced services

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/20/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — When tree limbs fall in the city of Chico, little can be done these days other than to drag them out of the way and hope they will be picked up soon.

People are tugging on the locked doors of bathrooms in Bidwell Park and find locked gates blocking access to the north side of the Sycamore Pool parking lot.

On Fridays, residents still approach the finance counter at City Hall to pay parking tickets, dog licenses or business licenses only to be told the office is now closed on Fridays.

It’s been two weeks since layoffs were finalized for dozens of city employees, including the entire tree crew, half the park staff, and more than 20 administrative positions.

No departments were spared from budget reductions as the city closed a $4.8 million budget gap, and citizens and city employees continue to realize the impacts of related service reductions.

“I’m trying to stay positive and do the best I can,” said street trees field supervisor Dave Bettencourt. “Public safety is paramount right now. We’ll make it work.”

He’s now doing the tasks of the now-retired urban forest manager, his job and the work of the former four-man crew. Response time for some calls is now triple, Bettencourt said.

When a report is made of fallen branches, he’ll go cut them up, pile them and add it to a list to be picked up about once a week. They used to be picked up the day they fell, he noted. For larger limbs or trees, like the one that fell across Vallombrosa on Thursday night, the city is finalizing an emergency contractor for 24/7 response.

It’s also working on a pruning contract, as growing trees start to obstruct stop signs and lines of sight, Bettencourt said. Summer is also usually when the city does its pruning in school areas, the downtown business area and around the college, but it’s all on hold.

When possible, Bettencourt piecemeals together help from other departments, including park staff, traffic signals and public works. “We are still going to need to maintain,” he said. “We are doing the best we can with what we have.”

He got a phone call recently from the Downtown Chico Business Association, asking what would happen to the decorating of the City Plaza tree at Christmas, a service normally done by the tree crew. “She said, ‘Should I be concerned?'” Bettencourt said. “I said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Some residents are also wondering what the impacts will be months from now, as park closures continue.

“What kind of degradation will happen in six months?” asked Siobhan O’Neil as she walked through the park with her sister Caitie Giusta on Thursday.

“It’s embarrassing,” Giusta said of the closure, noting the park is nationally recognized in travel guides and a major Chico attraction. “Here we have this jewel, and we are shut down 60 percent of the week.”

The sisters don’t understand why the city had to lock the gates on the pool’s north side. Both wondered about parking impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods and the hazards for families and children in having to cross the street.

O’Neil said she sees a direct correlation between the park closures and Measure J, a cellphone tax voters shot down during the November election. She had voted in its support.

“You get what you pay for and what you don’t pay for,” she said. “For pennies a month, we gave up a source of revenue to help with services in an economy that’s still struggling.”

Chico resident Bill Korte cycles through lower Bidwell Park almost daily. After finding the locked bathroom door Wednesday and reading the sign, he acknowledged he is used to not having the amenity because the bathroom is new but he still wishes it was open. “It’s a convenient pit stop for me,” he said.

The parking changes and the bathroom closures are what frustrate resident Cindy Ennes, she said Thursday as she finished her morning stroll.

“Because we are old and we often stop on that 3-mile loop,” she said with a laugh.

Turning serious, she said she’s noticed a significant decline in park patrons since the closures took effect. It saddens her to think the impacts are driving people away.

“I can’t believe what they are saving isn’t lost in the community’s enjoyment of the park,” she said. “I really feel like the city is doing this to punish its citizens.”

Councilor Sean Morgan said everyone has a difference of opinion about what the city’s priorities should be as it faces necessary cuts.

“Branches aren’t getting picked up as quickly … and Caper Acres isn’t open as many days as it once was and the park isn’t as clean as it was, and those are all bad things,” Morgan said. “But so is losing police officers, which is probably more important.”

“From a policy standpoint I have to do what is most important to the city and that is, are the citizens safe?”

The Police Department was slated to eliminate 19 positions as a result of budget cuts, though two community service officer positions were retained.

The City Council also has asked staff to find ways to restore more officer positions.

 

Reach Ashley Gebb at 896-7768, agebb@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @AshleyGebb.

$9,580 in cell phone rebates, and still counting

19 Jul

from Frank Fields 7/17/13

UUT refunds:

UUT cell phone refunds: $9,580

UUT annual refund program: $5,596 (May/June 2013)

Well, I am not excited about the UUT refund total, it doesn’t look like more than the usual number of people. At about $50 average refund, it only looks like the usual 100 people that always come in, myself included. I got almost $40, which puts the average Frank Fields gave me in perspective.

This tells me the process is too onerous for most people to take it seriously. You have to either mail that stack of crap in,  all your bills, all the pages, along with your tax returns, or, you have to find time during the work day to amble on down to the city building and make a personal appearance at the Finance Department window. 

To think, they’re ripping off the poorest people in town.  Maybe Brian Nakamura should grow a mustache, so he can twist it as he rips off the poor and closes them out of the playground. 

I’ve asked Nakamura, cc’ing the full council, to make the process electronic – something you could do over the computers at the library on a Saturday morning – but he just won’t answer.  I’ll get back to that soon. 

But, I do find the cell phone refund total impressive – $9,580 bucks. I didn’t get the number of applicants from Fields, but I’m guessing, that’s more than 100 applicants. Fields told me earlier this year, some of the applicants are businesses, with bigger refunds that kind of  mess up the average, but I’m still guessing, more than 100 people have filed for that refund, and that’s good. I get searches for the information in the blog daily, so I know people are still interested in getting their refunds, whether they will go through the onerous process or not. I wonder, how many people even keep their bills. 

I notice this morning, the city keeps announcing they’ve found this solution and that solution to the park closures, but the main park road and Caper Acres are still closed Monday through Thursday. I hope people get as mad about the park closures as they did about the cell phone tax. I’ll be in the park this weekend, for the Bidwell Park Birthday Scam, handing out fliers with dollar amounts and contact information – I hope we can turn this park closure on Nakamura, show him he messed with the wrong kind of bees.

I’ve reserved the library room for Sunday, August 4, 9am, for our First Sunday Chico Taxpayers meeting. I’ll have an update regarding the park closures, and more ideas for bringing the employees to the table.