Tag Archives: Butte County Behavioral Health

A lot of our problems in Chico and Butte County could be solved with term limits on elected officers

11 Sep

I’ve been receiving interesting comments at the “Join Us” page.  I couldn’t ignore the common thread in these comments.  People are questioning the management of Butte County Behavioral Health and Chico Police Department. Scott Rushing, the father of Tyler Rushing, who was shot in an encounter with Chico PD, points a finger at our District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who has ruled each and every shooting by Chico PD as “justified,” resulting in a lot of criticism and a number of lawsuits against the city of Chico.

Mary, who says “ I have experience being on both sides of the equation. I worked for the State hospital system and bcbh,” confirms what I’ve seen – excessive bureaucrat salaries. She says other counties are doing a better job for less money.

“The plain truth is that BCBH facilities employees sit back in their cozy offices, collecting six figure salaries, socializing and planning their own week end retreats and seminars. For the many state tax millions spent on local centers, there isnt much effectiveness. There aren’t any services available for severely mentally ill. The money spent on these inflated salaries could be used to create crisis houses for acute cases. San Diego County has these facilities all over their county. They cost about 1/5 per bed per day of what the full fledged inpatient facilities costs. Each person gets therapy, a visit with a psychiatrist and a social worker planning their release. 21 days is the max stay. And it is intensive and effective. Patients do cleaning and cooking and have chores.”

I agree with her summation.

“We need a new system. Our current BCBH leadership seems to be a mutual admiration society who protect and promote one another yet are living in a bubble supported by way too many mis-spent funds.”

She’s right, go to a meeting sometime, that’s exactly what I’ve seen. It’s literally maddening listening to these idiots bloat about their private life and making crude jokes about what’s happening to Chico. When I complained to Supervisor Maureen “Don’t Let the Screendoor Hit You On the Ass” Kirk about an entrenched homeless camp less than a mile from her own house, she joked about moving to a Del Webb Retirement Village. She also denied that the county takes transfers for the money – $550 a day for a minimum 45 day hold – what an idiot she is. I’m glad to see her go, but I believe her anointed successor Tami Ritter will be even worse. Ritter was a short-term manager of Torres Shelter, but was asked to leave by the board.  I can’t believe Kirk endorsed her, maybe it is time for Maureen to spend a few days in the PUFF. 

This breakdown in behavioral health services, as well as poor management of local shelters, has made for more stress on the police department, I’ll admit that. I get around Chico on my bicycle, I know what the cops have to deal with.  But instead of going to the board of supervisors and asking for an end to the transfers that bring these criminals to Butte County/Chico, the police department meets the problem with excessive force and demands for more funding. They’ve just announced an end to the “Street Crimes Unit,” saying they don’t have enough officers to split between the college campus and the rest of town. They’ve made this threat, in one form or another, through chief after chief – give us more money or we won’t do our jobs…

There doesn’t seem to be any rational, middle ground at Chico PD. Either they ignore the problem, the city of Chico excusing them with “4th and 14th Amendment Rights”, or they plow right in and kill somebody. And Scott Rushing is right – District Attorney Mike Ramsey never holds them accountable for their fatally poor judgement.

As Rushing points out, this has resulted in lawsuits that have cost the city a lot of money. Just tragic waste.

 “Juanita Sumner points out the bureaucracy and increased cost, with little benefit, to civilians in need of mental health services. There are other inefficient departments in Butte County.  Taxpayers are also getting ripped off by the District Attorney Michael Ramsey and law enforcement leadership in your county. There are currently three active lawsuits against the Chico Police Department for lethal officer involved shootings. There is one active investigation by the Department of Justice, Attorney General’s office into the officer involved shooting of Tyler Rushing in Chico on 7.23.17. There are two active lawsuits against Butte County for excessive use of lethal force. There is a current legal action against former Chico PD sergeant Scott Ruppel for strangling a restrained suspect in the back of his police car just 22 days after firing two bullets into Tyler Rushing. Tax payers need to rise up and demand the resignation of Mr. Ramsey. From my point of view, he has promoted a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy in Butte County. Five civilians have been killed by officers in the past 18 months.Tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours are spent defending the aggressive actions of officers. The taxpayers are getting ripped off.”

We need to get rid of Mike Ramsey, who has been in an elected office for some 20 or more years because it’s hard to find a county resident who is both qualified and willing. When a Sacramento attorney ran against Ramsey people complained he was a carpetbagger, but do you really think anybody from Ramsey’s office is stupid enough to run against him? 

What we need are term limits. Here in the city of Chico we have a  term limits measure on the November ballot. It’s not retroactive, and it’s probably too long – three terms. Current council members, like old goat Ann Schwab, would be allowed to serve three more terms before they are out. Three more terms voting against Sit and Lie ordinances while voting for ordinances that  require homeowners to make major energy retrofits. 

What I would like to see for the county is a measure that would term out the long sitting losers like Ramsey and County Clerk Candy Grubbs. They’ve both been sitting in their jobs for too long, Grubbs has actually been caught using staff for her own private gain. It’s time to open the barn door and let out the flies.

 

 

 

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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. 

City of Chico and Butte County are failing to deal with mental health issues that complicate the homeless situation

19 Jan

 I read a promising article in the News and Review a couple of weeks ago, with everybody fretting over all these police shootings across the nation, about a new local program “that addresses situations in which officers respond to those with mental problems.”

I’ve been trying to follow  this conversation for a couple of years now. At several meetings I attended, including a Police Advisory Board meeting and a local governments joint session, former Chief Kirk Trostle, lieutenants Linda Dye and Jennifer Gonzales, and other members of Chico PD described problems in dealing with the “homeless” and “street people” who are deemed “unsafe for themselves or others.”   When officers are called by a citizen or citizens who have an incapacitated person laying in the middle of the sidewalk in a puddle of their own making, or somebody who is standing in the middle of a local business screaming at the customers, Chico police officers have to make that determination – is this person at risk either of their own injury, or at risk of injuring others? These officers receive training in dealing with the indigent, including a week at Butte College for a sort of mental health cram course.

During the “normal” business day – Monday through Friday 9 to 5 – these people are transported to Enloe Hospital Emergency Room, I assume checked over by a medical doctor, and then handed over to a “support” employee from Butte County Behavioral Health, for transport to the facility on Rio Lindo Avenue here in Chico.  But, after hours and on weekends, there is no “support,” and these folks are simply handed over to the staff at Enloe ER. The police won’t arrest them, because then they’d be responsible for the bill, so these people are free to wander out on their own after the police have deposited them in the ER, leaving hospital staff to clean up. And the bill is left to the taxpayers.

Last year Butte County supervisors received over a $1 million-plus grant for county Behavioral Health. At a subsequent meeting, I watched them parcel most of that grant to two doctors, one of whom will not even set foot in the county. He will administer patients via computer.  Their salaries and benefits took up about half the grant, the rest was supposed to be used to secure those “support personnel”, at salaries of $30-35,000. The last time I talked to Supervisor Maureen Kirk about this, she forwarded an e-mail from a Behavioral Health Department staffer saying they were having trouble filling those support positions. No kidding?

 Lake County received a similar grant, but got more money because they have more poor people there. Here’s an article about how they parceled that out:

BOS approve three-year contract, eight positions for behavioral health

By J.W. Burch IV

jburch@record-bee.com @JWBurchIV on Twitter

UPDATED:   01/08/2015 09:10:14 AM PST
 

LAKEPORT >> A three-year contract for substance abuse services was unanimously approved by the Lake County Board of Supervisors at this week’s meeting.

Totaling a little less than $2 million, the contract be effective from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2017.

The objective is to make substance abuse treatment services available to Medi-Cal beneficiaries, the contract states. State and federal funds will be used for service reimbursements, which were decreased for the county.

“It is possible that amount will change again,” Lake County Behavioral Health Director Linda Morris said.

District 3 Supervisor Jim Steele asked if funds are equally distributed to all counties in the state.

According to Morris, funds are distributed based on a county’s needs.

“So there is a chance for us to change our position,” Steele said.

In other business, the board also unanimously approved a resolution that would add a total of eight positions in the behavioral health department.

Positions include one clinical psychologist, one full-time and six part-time client support assistants.

According to Morris, a clinical psychologist is needed to provide competency and secondary conservatorship evaluations.

Additionally, the clinical psychologist would work in the mental health, as well as the alcohol and drug divisions.

The full-time client support assistant will arrange vehicle maintenance, coordinate departmental transportation schedules, as well as schedule drivers for client transportation.

Enhancement of services to existing Wellness Centers and supporting SB 82 grant services will be the role of the six part-time client support assistants.

Grant services through SB 82 involve diverting potential crisis clients away from local hospitals to centers for peer support, resource planning and referrals.

The expansion “will allow for a reduction in services being provided,” Morris stated. It will also alleviate some of the time spent by local law enforcement agencies on such services.

While the client support assistant positions were planned in the department’s budget, which is expected to range between approximately $5,886 and $7,159, the clinical psychologist position wasn’t.

“However, it will be funded by anticipated savings from other vacant positions,” Morris said.

Contact J. W. Burch, IV at 900-2022.

See that – “ six part-time client support assistants.”  Would you want your son or daughter to be one of those “client support assistants“? With a budget “between approximately $5,886 and $7,159“? Are you getting that – that’s $6 – 7,000 to pay all six assistants! To provide escort for mental patients?

The article I read in the News and Review involved handing out cards to homeless people who have a hard time verbalizing to police. Here’s the full story from California Health Report:

By Lynn Graebner, California Health Report

http://www.healthycal.org/program-aims-ease-encounters-mental-health-consumers-law-enforcement/
When law enforcement and people experiencing a mental health crisis intersect, it’s often not clear to either of them what they are dealing with or how to proceed. A new program in Butte County seeks to make those encounters safer for everyone.

 The Butte County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and local law enforcement are offering cards to consumers of mental health services that can contain any information the consumer feels would be important for a first responder to have. That may include their diagnosis, emotional triggers and emergency contacts.

The back of the card carries the emblems of local law enforcement agencies that support it.

“It invites the officer to step out of an enforcement mode and into a public service mode,” said Andy Duch, a captain at the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

 “When mentally ill people are approached by law enforcement, just like anyone else, they get incredibly anxious,” said Jason Tate, program manager for the Iversen Wellness and Recovery Center in Chico. “Anxiety and fear can lead to a more challenging time.”

And symptoms of mental illness can appear to police as drug abuse. A manic episode, for instance, can look like methamphetamine use and slurred speech can often be mistaken for drunkenness, Tate said. So a white card explaining unusual behavior may change the interaction with a police officer.

 A successful pilot project with cardboard cards was done three years ago. So in April NAMI Butte County started rolling out more substantial plastic ones. Close to 100 have been distributed, said Cathy Gurney, president of NAMI Butte County.

 Some leaders in the mental health community fear the cards will increase stigmatization of the mentally ill, painting them as incapable of speaking for themselves or even dangerous.

 Duch and Gurney anticipate it having the opposite effect. They liken the card to a medic alert bracelet.

 “It legitimizes their crisis,” Duch said.

 “And it opens up a whole new line of conversation,” Gurney said.

 No record is made of who gets a card or what’s on it. The consumer dictates the information to the person producing the card which can even be issued blank with just the law enforcement emblems on the back.

 Shannon Patterson got one for safety reasons. She has bipolar depression and has been homeless for three months. A doctor prescribed her medication that caused her to become deeply depressed. When police took her to a social service department for help she was turned away because she was homeless and staff thought she just wanted shelter, she said.

 The next day she attempted suicide. She had to be resuscitated three times, spent 10 days in the hospital and still suffers hand tremors from the overdose.

 “The system really failed me,’’ she said. So when the white card program emerged she decided to get one.

 “I felt it would be better for me to have that,” she said.

The card lists her name, diagnosis and triggers, such as confinement and loud noises. It also lists numbers for her mental health provider and emergency contacts and her medical conditions including multiple knee and back surgeries and a heart murmur.

 She’s hoping the card would legitimize her medical conditions to staff if she ever had to seek help at an emergency room.

 James Freeland, who is staying in a Chico homeless shelter with his wife after their house burned down, said he thinks the card is a great idea. He has paranoid schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder.  “I’ve been in prison most of my life and this card shows that there are issues on top of issues,” he said.

NAMI Butte County is gradually rolling out the program, wanting it to spread by word of mouth, Gurney said. Her organization will print cards for clients of the Iversen Wellness & Recovery Center in Chico every two weeks and cards will also be printed at the Torres Community Shelter in Chico and the Butte County Behavioral Health Department. The City of San Diego has also expressed interest, Gurney said.

 So far the cards have been well received. The Iversen Wellness and Recovery Center has had about 35 people opt to get one.

 Tate hasn’t spoken to anyone who has used a card with law enforcement yet but said his members seem to really like having them and he has not heard any negative opinions.

 But the cards aren’t for everyone. Corey Chambers is staying at the Torres Community Shelter in Chico while he pursues an internship in the solar industry. He has friends with white cards but does not intend to get one himself. He’s been homeless since May and takes Zoloft for depression. He’s afraid of being classified as mentally ill and thinks the card may add to the stigma he already suffers as a result of being homeless.

 “I’m trying to stay as functional as I can,” he said.

 Leaders in the mental health community have similar concerns.

 “The white card initiative, while well intentioned, is extremely problematic,” said Leah Harris, director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. “It borders on psychiatric profiling, and also reinforces the assumption of dangerousness,” she said.

 Yana Jacobs, senior program officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, feels white cards are another way of keeping people disabled.

 “It creates a picture of someone who is so out of their mind they don’t know where they are,” she said. “Suddenly someone might go from being a PhD at Johns Hopkins to a psych patient who can’t speak for themselves.”

 She contends that people with mental illness are already afraid to call for help when they have a physical health problem for fear they will be shipped off to a psychiatric hospital, she said.

 “If [responders] see psych meds in their possession it invalidates them,” she said.

 Instead of white cards Harris would rather see more mobile crisis teams with peer support specialists and clinicians who can de-escalate situations and connect people with the appropriate care.

Efforts in that direction are underway as well, said Gurney. NAMI California, the California Highway Patrol and the Behavioral Health Directors Association held a summit in November. They are discussing the possibility of standardizing Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement across the state to improve interactions between police and those living with mental illness.

For now Patterson feels a little safer carrying a white card to help her navigate any potential confrontations with law enforcement or county health services in the future.

The News and Review hadn’t printed the whole article, or even a link to the whole article, I had to ask for it.  That was unfortunate, and evidence that people here don’t seem to care about this problem beyond a sound-byte. Notice the criticism – Leah Harris of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery agrees with me, “would rather see more mobile crisis teams…”   But in Butte County, as in Lake County, the mobile crisis teams are staffed part-time and paid less than poverty level income, with no benefits.

The News and Review also printed this editorial the other day:

 Consider a day center

Chico needs a daytime safe space for homeless individuals

This article was published on 01.15.15.
The barriers homeless individuals face to get off the streets are complex and numerous, but when mental illness factors into the equation, things become infinitely more complicated.

As you’ll read about in this week’s cover piece by Assistant News Editor Howard Hardee, mental illness often prevents those in the homeless community from receiving services from Behavioral Health and other public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Those individuals often have an extremely hard time advocating for themselves. But there also are many practical reasons that the aid this population needs is out of reach.

For example, as reported in the story, homeless people have no safe place to store their belongings. Nor do they have transportation to make appointments or a way to keep track of them to begin with.

That’s where the idea of a day center comes into play. Chico is home to many wonderful organizations, such as the Jesus Center, which feeds the local destitute and offers them an opportunity to clean up, and the Torres Community Shelter, which provides a roof for those who don’t have one of their own. However, there is no place for local homeless folks to go during the day. Those who stay the night at the shelter must leave early in the morning, and the Jesus Center is not a place for people to hang out.

Ideally, a local day center would have experts in public health and housing, among others, who would help connect individuals in need with wellness information, housing referrals and job counseling. Lockers for storage, voicemail and message services, and transportation to medical appointments would also greatly benefit this vulnerable population.

The day-center model has been successful in many cities and it’s long past time that Chico’s leaders consider it as an option here, especially since the local homeless population is on the rise. Such a center is a vital part of the long-term efforts needed to help this portion of our community.

I have to ask the editor – would she staff such a center? Would she take a budget of $5 – 7,000 to run it? People are so quick to expect others to make do.

The system in Chico has broken down. We have all these ideas, but nobody wants to do the actual work of dealing with the mentally ill. The money seems to be there, but our “leaders” don’t seem to have any sense in spending it. 

The “homeless problem” is not going to get any better – $1 million grant eaten by management salaries, county having trouble recruiting for the lower paid, “hands on” positions

10 Aug

I sent a note to District 3 supervisor Maureen Kirk, asking about the results of the $1 million grant the county received to beef up Behavioral Health services. I reminded her – Chico PD has complained that there are no staff to take care of people “who are a danger to themselves or others,” the police are in the habit of handing them over to nurses at Enloe Emergency Room. This is not only a problem for Enloe staff and other patients in the ER, it’s a financial problem for the hospital, who does not receive  any reimbursement for these “patients.”   Another problem is, once the police leave, hospital staff is not able to force them to stay, and they oftentimes just leave as soon as the cops are out the door. Problem not solved.

I wrote a rambling note to Supervisor Kirk, complaining that “sit and lie” and “clean and safe” have only driven transients out of the Downtown area and into the rest of town, especially the Vallombrosa and Mangrove corridors. She responded that she knew this was a problem.  She described the city’s strategy as “whack a mole.”  She’s right – they’ve whacked them underground, and they’ve popped up at the CARD center, and Rite Aid parking lot, and the post office annex, etc. That’s just my neighborhood, I can’t say what’s going on around town,  but I’ve also noticed the usual concentration out at East and Esplanade, near the new Raleys, is growing. They had a stabbing in the East Ave Raley’s parking lot a week or two ago, and one morning I witnessed a little hobo fight in the parking lot, where they congregate to turn in their recyclables.  At that time, it just looked comical, now I realize, those dirty old fuckers are packing – they pretty much have to if they don’t want to get stabbed and robbed by another one of their buddies. I told a city committee about similar incidents when I was a college student in Sacramento, and some of them actually made fun of me, acting as though I was making it all up. 

Kirk forwarded my inquiry to staff, and got this answer: 

We are moving along with program implementation in the ERs – Enloe included. We have many of the staff hired (though not all the staff – we are finding some challenges recruiting for the evening shift staff) – and will hopefully be interviewing a new group of candidates next week or the week after. Our IT departments are working together and are almost finished with setting up the secure internet connections in the ERs. Finally, we have completed site visits for Medi-Cal certification and are just waiting for State/Federal response. Our Crisis Manager is working with Enloe to begin setting up training for staff. I am hoping that program start-up (at least at Enloe) will begin in early to mid September. We are also working to get triage personnel in the shelters during this same time frame.
>
> In the meantime, we continue to provide the mobile crisis services at the ER as we always have.

Yeah, I’ll bet they’re having “challenges recruiting for the evening shift staff”! Who wants to do a job like that for $30 – 35,000 a year? Are we talking about people with any training? Well, they likely had to go to college and work long internships to get that training. They’re older people by now, maybe have kids? But they’re expected to do a  job like that, at night, for a salary that won’t even pay the rent. much less car expenses. And what about child care – who has a child care center open all night? Don’t say “the spouse,” a lot of people are single parents these days. On a salary like that, they’d have to be on food stamps to make ends meet.

I’d also like to respond to the comment the staffer made at the end. I won’t call her a liar, but the cops said there is no “mobile crisis service,” and that’s precisely the problem. The cops bring in these lunatics covered in their own excrement, and there they sit in Enloe ER, oftentimes until they become able to motor themselves out the door. Nobody picks them up after 5 or on weekends, that’s the precise problem, but the staffer denies it.  Denial is a major part of this problem.

I asked Maureen Kirk if she actually expected a $30-35,000 employee to deal physically with these people when the $100,000+ psychiatrist they hired won’t even be coming into the same room with them, but she hasn’t got back to me. Kirk makes about $58,000 salary as supervisor and also enjoys health and pension benefits, although I don’t know how much of  that she pays.   I asked her if she would take a night position at Enloe to deal with mentally disturbed street people for a lousy $30-35,000/year.  Maybe she’ll come over to the blog and talk to us about this problem. 

The short of it is, we still have a major problem here,  and it’s not getting any better.