Tag Archives: Chico PD

Joe Azzarito: do not let Orme spend another $22,800 of our money on a survey that is nothing more than a marketing tool for a tax. 

9 Jun

Sorry this post is kind of a mess, I don’t know what’s up with word press, but the settings are whack. It’s kind of hard to read, but try anyway, it’s worth it. 

I’ve heard it through the grapevine that council is currently being “bombarded” with requests to “de-fund the police department”. Well, they are also being “bombarded” with requests and demands to drop the sales tax increase measure. Which, frankly, an intelligent person would see as de-funding the police department, since that department is currently the biggest part of the city budget.

In fact, across California, financial experts are pointing to “public safety” as our financial problem – salaries well over $100,000/year, overtime written into their contracts, spiking by way of accruing vacation and sick time – these contracts are the hole in our little dinghy, and we’re sinking fast.   Management employees are way overpaid, but they’re vastly outnumbered by over compensated public safety employees, who are the primary drivers of the pension deficit or Unfunded Actuarial Liability. 

I’m not saying get rid of the police department, I’m saying, cut the costs and make it viable again. Not only do we need to rework the contracts, we need to train these people to stop pulling out their piece at the drop of a splinter.  As Scott  Rushing has pointed out time and time again, these cowboys cost us a lot of money with their behavior, triggering lawsuits that cost the taxpayers millions. 

So yeah, a demand for new, more sustainable contracts would mean more, better police that protect everybody. 

Here’s one citizen’s demand – thanks Joe Azzarito for answering the call to duty and sending an email to council. Joe points out, this is a regressive tax that hits lower income people harder – people making less than $40,000 a year on the hook for pensions of 70 – 90% of salaries over $100,000/year. He also points out that city staff is misleading the public about the true costs of this measure – starting with another $22,800 for a consultant to run their campaign, on top of $22,800 and plenty of $taff time already spent. Ending with a bond – and none of the money restricted to anything.

And, I’ll point out – the letters Mark Stemen has been circulating are all FORM LETTERS. How much conviction do you think it takes to sign a form letter written by your college professor (the guy who hands you a grade)?  Chico Taxpayers are intelligent enough to come up with their own material, thankyouverymuch.  So, let’s take Joe’s example and get busy “bombarding” council with your thoughts on a sales tax increase. 

 

Chico City Council Members,

As I have said many times before, DO NOT propose a sales tax increase, NOT NOW, NOT EVER. Our citizens can least afford this highly regressive tax increase so that you, city management and city staff can live the good life while we regular citizens suffer with no services that address our needs first. The proposal should never be an unrestricted simple majority tax to begin with. It makes possible uses unconscionable to all of us living day to day but most especially when thousands of local people are out of work, barely affording our housing costs and doing without many necessities. To mislead citizens that this sales tax is a panacea for what ails us is a blatant lie. You know full well that the proceeds from such an increase, quite possibly far less than you anticipate, will not be enough to even cover the revenue bond you hope to float – which by the way, no one talks about except Mark Orme and his toady Chris Constantin.

Trash the sales tax idea, and by the way, do not authorize another survey at gobs of money to satisfy yourselves that wee little people will go for it. Months ago at one of your “dog and pony” open council meetings, I asked Orme why 400 people who were 70% in favor of a tax represented 120,000 people. His answer: “Not everyone votes!”  But I do, and I will remember to vote down every one of your outlandish ideas that do not address real needs and not “make believe feel good ones”. As to your closed meetings, I am totally disgusted at not being able to attend.  How dare you do the crap you do without an audience. I respond to Chico Engaged, which should be changed to Chico Enraged. What is going on is nothing but pandering to a small minority and not at all essential business.

In summation, do not let Orme spend another $22,800 of our money on a survey that is nothing more than a marketing tool for a tax.  Instead, read about the California Rule, as if you did not know what that is, and find a way to cut back 50% or more on all of your salaries, perks, medical benefits and, most especially the tremendous UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY, that city workers should be paying for totally – since from that comes their pensions — their expense not mine. We would when have plenty of money to perform all of our collective needs, not just those of a chosen few.

Joe Azzarito

“you have no right to go into police officers’ personnel records”

19 Mar

Butte County League of Women Voters held a forum last week (March 14) – “Law Enforcement Records: Public or Private?”  There’s been a lot in the news over the past year regarding the protection of police officers’ personnel records.

According to the LWV announcement, “Topics include public access to public records, the process to access records, a review of Senate Bill 1421, alternative means for transparency, public review and oversight, and the role of media in transparency and public access to information.”

I looked into our right to access records on the web, and found the following at AVVO.com a “lawyer directory”.

Question:  Can a person get hold of a police officer personnel record’s that have complaint’s in the file, if so how do I get it. And how long does the police/sheriff dept keep the file after he is no longer working for the department?

If the officer arrested you, you can ask your lawyer to file a Pitchess motion. The police officer has to have either used excessive force, or lied or made a misleading statement in his report. When your lawyer files the motion, if the judge finds that there is good cause, he will order the department to give the names of people who’ve filed complaints. The records on complaints go back five years.

  • Answer From Lewis Robert Rosenblum, attorney from Santa Ana

Your question doesn’t elude to the fact that you were arrested or have a case pending, and I am assuming that you don’t have a lawyer or he would answer this question. So if you don’t have a case pending, you have no right to go into police officer’s personnel records. There is a police officer’s bill of rights protecting them from such intrusions and as the prior answer indicated, you would never get access to their files anyway, only the names of people who might have lodged complaints and only after you have established the threshold requirements that you are entitled to them. Your lawyer won’t get to see the files either.

Wow, “ you have no right to go into police officer’s personnel records.” Police officers have a bill of rights protecting them. Included in that bill of rights is Obama’s proclamation that a cop who feels his life is in any sort of danger is allowed to kill without retribution or accountability.

Some people feel police officers have more right to privacy than the rest of us, while others feel this practice perpetuates bad cop behavior, refusing to hold cops accountable for what would be considered aggravated assault if one of us did it. A cop can even get fired by one city and, unless he is convicted of an actual crime, apply for a job in another city without disclosing anything about why he was fired.

To my knowledge, Butte County DA Mike Ramsey has cleared every officer who has come before him in a shooting incident. Last year he finally charged Chico PD officer Scott Ruppel with aggravated assault for an incident in which he was caught on body cam strangling a restrained prisoner in the back of his squad car.

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/Charges-filed-on-former-Chico-Police-Sergeant–465548443.html

“[Officer] Ruppel’s face was tensed with what appeared to be anger and his upper body moved into the rear of the SUV continuing to press on Rowley’s throat. “

Just three weeks previous Ruppel had fatally shot unarmed Tyler Rushing. Ramsey called the shooting justified.  But I have to wonder – did/does Ruppel have an anger management problem? Ramsey dismissed that notion, saying Ruppel’s behavior in the strangling incident was “understandable” but not “justifiable.”

Regardless, Ruppel was acquitted by a Butte County jury, and allowed to retire with full pension and benefits. If he wants to, he can apply for another job, without telling any future employer about his past record. He could get a job at your kids’ school.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of Desmond Phillips’ death. In Sacramento Black Lives Matter advocates are observing the first anniversary of the shooting of Stephon Clark. In both cases family and friends have complained about having trouble getting records that many people believe should be made public as a matter of routine.

So it seemed like a good idea to have a public forum, allow the public to question our local officials, including DA Ramsey and Chico PD chief Mike O’Brien, as to why these public employees are so protected. I was sorry that I could not attend. But a friend of mine attended and sent me the following remarks. 

There were about 30 or 35 people there.  It seemed about a third or more of the people there were wearing League of Women Voters badges.

Former city of Chico council member Andy Holcombe was moderator. Butte County Sheriff Cory Honea was there to answer questions, with County DA Mike Ramsey and current council member Scott Huber in the audience.

I didn’t see anyone from the ER or N&R, or anyone from the local TV or radio, although the event was being filmed by multiple cameras.

Most of what they talked about you could have got off the Web or through a google search and a lot was a discussion of police response/violence.

The audience was allowed to ask questions.  One person asked why nobody from Chico PD bothered to show up. Holcombe responded that they invited the chief but he said he couldn’t attend and since the chief thought this was a chief level event he would not delegate it to one of his underlings.

Another person asked if Butte County or the City of Chico conducted asset forfeiture and if so what records were available on that.  Honea answered the asset forfeiture question.  I was surprised that he was so matter of fact about it because asset forfeiture is very controversial.  The government can take your property with absolutely no due process. You don’t have to be convicted or even accused of any wrong doing. Honea said both Butte County and the City of Chico use it. He said you can go to the court to get records, but did not elaborate.

One member of Concerned Citizens for Justice said the City of Chico is refusing to release records prior to Jan 2 of this year but there was no conclusive answer to her question. 

Panel member Dave Waddell mentioned the $900/year clothing allowance given to Chico PD officers. According to Waddell,  officers are allowed to keep it for their personal use. It doesn’t have to be clothes. And he said many of the cops use it to buy guns. He was trying to find out what guns they are buying but the city refuses to say.

Waddell also mentioned a “tank” the city bought but Honea quickly corrected him and said it was an “armored vehicle.”

Thanks Rob, I really appreciate you sending me your take on the meeting. I wish I  could get more people to attend meetings and send reports like that. You don’t have to be a journalist to write about what you see, or what concerns you. 

I didn’t find any report in the media, but here’s Dave Waddell on why they needed to have the meeting in the first place.

http://chicosol.org/2019/03/14/butte-county-slow-id-recent-deputy-shooters/

My feeling is that we need a new DA. 

 

Yes, there is injustice in Chico – let’s make some positive changes in 2018

14 Jan

This morning I received a note from the father of Tyler Rushing, the man who was shot by a security guard and finally killed by Chico police when he was found inside a Downtown business late at night. 

“There has been 28 fatal “Officer Involved Shootings” during the years Michael Ramsey has been the Butte County DA and he and his team have likely spent thousands of hours, at taxpayer expense, to investigate these fatal shootings. Three killings in 2017, including my son. The DA will be assigning his team to respond to any legal challenge. It seems that the DA is extremely cavalier with his use of taxpayer dollars.

Chico Police Department Sergeant Scott Ruppel, has chosen to retire, announced in December, 2017, with a very lucrative pension, rather than cooperate with an Internal Affairs Investigation for strangling a restrained suspect in August, 2017. The taxpayer will have to pay this substantial pension to an officer, age 51, for the rest of his life.”

I wasn’t there, and the video footage I saw on the news was confusing and useless, so I don’t know what happened that night. I only know, Scott Ruppel actually did retire abruptly when faced with an internal investigation, and is currently being charged with assault for another incident that happened while he was still with the force.

According to a story from North State Public Radio, “The [assault] charge was filed Wednesday [Dec. 20, 2017] against Sgt. Scott Ruppel by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Ruppel served for 20 years on the force, prior to his abrupt retirement Sept. 14. Ruppel was scheduled to appear before internal affairs investigators the same day. [for the shooting of Rushing]

Wow, I had no idea these investigations were voluntary, and I also wonder why Ruppel was still on the force to strangle a guy in December when he had retired “abruptly” in September. 

There’s things I’ve witnessed that made me want to confront members of Chico PD or even Butte County sheriff, but my husband always says, “you want to end up like Ellen Burstyn in ‘Requiem for a Dream”?

 

 

So you ask me how I feel about these incidents, I don’t know what to say. We have horrible cops, and a piece of crap DA – Ramsey once used county money to have a calendar made for his office, in which he and his staff dressed as the Elliot Ness gang and posed with antique cars. You think he gives a crap about the taxpayers’ money?

But here’s the thing – he keeps getting elected. So do the same trolls that hire our police chief. Whose fault is that?

I’m sorry for Tyler Rushing’s family. I’m sorry for the Phillips. It makes me sick what happened to their kids.  But aside from an open war against the cops, the only resolution I see is elect better people, get more citizens involved in government, and push for better behavioral health services. 

Right now, we have too many people collecting salaries for doing nothing, and too many citizens who believe they don’t have time to do anything about it.  Apathy is a sickness, and it spreads like the flu.

I swear, if I could just get five more Chicoans to attend meetings of various agencies, pay close attention, write more letters to the editors of the paper and comment on this blog about what is actually going on instead of what they think is going on, things would change around here. 

Don’t wait until it’s your kid.

 

Hey – while you are gathering around the tree with a cup of cider in your face, the city of Chico is getting ready to stick it to you in 2018!

22 Dec

I got  the agenda for the January 2 2018 city council meeting

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=279

and here are some immediate observations:

  1. Looking at the police contract up for consideration, I see our cops are hugely overcompensated and given many perks and benies but are still demanding raises. While city mangler Mark Orme insists this contract will only cost $37 more per employee per year, he doesn’t give the figures and he doesn’t even mention how many employees the police department has.  I went to the State Controllers Government Compensation charts and I see cops in Chico make well over $100,000/year, plus nice benefits packages, and I’m wondering – how long can we afford salaries that compare with those in much bigger cities?

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/Cities/City.aspx?entityid=79&fiscalyear=2016#P80f0121adc79480a9f9ed94f9dc3314e_2_oHit0

    2. They’re raising the cost of housing and other fees to pay for it.

    3.  The clerk isn’t posting city council minutes again. She’s only posted selected meetings since about July.  She constantly complains about not being able to use the equipment.  She just got a raise to more than cover her own pension share – which is less than 10 percent.  Presson’s salary is comparable to a police officer.  

Presson always includes a little personal note with the agenda – she wishes all of us and our families a great holiday season! Well, her Christmas, with that kind of salary, much be just ginchee! 

All I want for Christmas this year is for the CalPERS building to implode and collapse back into Hell where it came from.

Image result for calpers building sacramento

As for Chico PD? I hope their kids all grow up and leave.  

As for the rest of you – make a resolution for 2018 to stop putting up with this shit.

 

 

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.

Business Hostile Chico has different standards for different parts of town

18 Apr

Today the Chico Chamber and Police Department are holding a “public safety” meeting at the CARD Center on Vallombrosa. A news reporter was standing out in front of the center in pitch blackness this morning to pitch it on tv. The cops and chamber are desperate to put up a front – they want the public to think they’re on top of the situation. 

This is at least the second meeting they’ve held in the “Mangrove Business Corridor.” While the chamber is supposed to represent businesses (members) all over town, the main focus always seems to be Downtown and the surrounding retail centers, the campus area, and once in a while the Nord Avenue corridor. I’ve never heard of a meeting being held in south or north Chico.

Meanwhile, there are other areas of concern, and it seems neither Chico PD nor the chamber are too worried about it.

0416170917a

This building at 2560 S. Whitman sits vacant for months now between Home Depot and TJ Maxx.

I reported a de-facto transient shelter at a vacant building next door to Home Depot, located on South Whitman next to Hwy 99.

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2017/03/29/bum-friendly-business-hostile/

My husband complained about the transients to a staffer at Home Depot, who indicated the problem was ongoing. (“Again?!”)   When my husband returned a few days later, the transients and much of the larger trash had been removed.  When we went back yesterday we found even more elaborate housing.

0416170918cr

It looks like somebody has been living out of this cardboard box for at least a few days. There’s another “shelter” behind this one. Neither were occupied at the time, but note the knife on the ground.

From the looks of that knife, I’d say, don’t wander too close to this building after dark. Home Depot is open until 10 pm, well after dark. There to the upper left you can see the corner of the HD nursery – our truck  was parked right out front of this building. I wouldn’t park that close at night.

TJ Maxx is open until 9:30 pm, and I’ve seen a lot of women and kids coming and going from that store, some of them parking over toward the abandoned building. Not  that men should have to put up with this stuff either, but having been a mom with tiny tots in tow, I felt particularly vulnerable to these kind of creeps. 

I got other pictures but don’t have time to post now – suffice to say, the trash meanders well into the parking lot, and lines the side of the TJ Maxx building. 

Leo DePaola, the head of Chico “building services” just had a special meeting for Downtown business owners who are angered at having to pay a $150 permit fee to repair vandalized windows.  DePaola, a cranky bastard, stood steadfast on that fee, saying it pays employee costs. He ain’t lying – the city has a pension deficit of nearly  $180 million, you know they got costs! 

The owner of the bra store says she won’t repair her windows if they don’t dump the fee. I wonder is she’s been out to TJ Maxx lately, got a good look at what the city of Chico allows in the fringe zones. I think the city’s attentions toward Downtown are a double-edge sword – I’m pretty sure some Downtown merchants would say they are put under unfair scrutiny.

While others don’t seem to get any scrutiny at all.

Chico PD hires 5 new officers, promotes 4 – is this going to solve our crime problem?

16 Dec

 I don’t know if you’ve been “Nextdoor” – a social website for neighbors that was introduced into Chico a few months ago. I signed up, despite a pain-in-the-ass process for which I was first asked to give my social security number or my credit card number but finally opted for a post card sent to my house to “prove” my residency.

I went along with it because I was hoping for a sort of bulletin board about crime in our neighborhoods. I expected the classified ads, the greetings, and now I find there are exclusive neighbor groups who are allowed to pick and choose who they let in regardless of address. But, I have also found some people use it to inform each other of criminal activity. I’ve noticed this type of post is increasing. 

Lately people have reported stuff like home deliveries being stolen or opened and rifled through, cars are being broken into and items stolen, and one man’s back yard shed was jimmied. These crimes have all been reported within a mile of my house. 

The pivotal weakness is that not very many of my neighbors, or anybody for that matter,  have signed onto Nextdoor, so I know there’s stuff going on that’s not appearing on the site. My husband and I used to keep up a chatter with our nearby neighbors, but our hood has changed alot over 15 years.  Lately a lot of my neighbors have moved, new people have appeared who I don’t know. One neighbor who signed onto Nextdoor has since moved, a new woman lives in her house, but the previous neighbor is still registered at the old house. This kind of website needs a good monitor. The monitor I contacted never responded to me. 

But, I see enough to know, crime is steadily increasing in Chico, and the new cops they’ve hired over the last year and the raises and promotions they’ve given have not changed anything. 

In today’s Enterprise Record, I read, “Five new Chico police officers were sworn in and four officers received promotions during a ceremony Tuesday at the Chico Fire Training Center.”

I guess there’s some good news – “The new officers — Jeremy Gagnebin, Jamie McElhinney, Trey Reid, Francisco Salinas and Miranda Wallace — graduated from the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy and will now undergo roughly six months of field training, Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien said”  – this means, they will pay 50 percent of their own benefits and pension. I don’t think that’s enough but it’s better than the 12 percent most cops pay. 

“O’Brien also announced the promotions of Sgt. Jeramie Struthers, Lt. Matt Madden, Lt. Rob Merrifield and Deputy Chief Dave Britt.”  I’ll lay down a five spot right now – Merrifield is spiking – he’s getting a raise now so he can retire soon at a higher pension. 

And this is very telling – “O’Brien’s promotions of Madden, Merrifield and Britt were the first of his tenure as the city’s chief of police, he said, adding that when he stepped into the role six months ago he had to replace half of his command staff.  ‘I had to tap some very specific individuals on the shoulder to come serve at a very difficult time,’  he said, noting strained relations between the Police Department and community, as well as historically low staffing.And each of them answered that call. In that six-month period they have all performed extraordinarily well.’  The Chico Police Department, O’Brien said, is still hiring. The department is authorized to fill 92 sworn positions. About 88 of those are currently filled.

So, O’Brien is aware the public is very pissed off, that’s good. But low staffing? They always say that. They hire more but crime just keeps increasing. They pay themselves too well, according to that front page article run in the ER recently, and I’ve checked – they get paid on a par with San Francisco PD. Been to San Francisco lately? Been shot/mugged/carjacked? Here we have petty crimes committed by a population of scum bags who are allowed to camp illegally in our parks, sit/lie/and beg on our sidewalks, harass our merchants, all despite the creation of endless ordinances designed to give the cops more excuses not to bust any of these people. 

On Nextdoor Chico PD officer Paul Ratto announced they again rousted the permanent illegal camp along the creek and under the bridge at Humboldt and Cypress. 

“Target Officers encounter repeat encampments under the bridge at Cypress Ave. / Humboldt Ave. The Target Team is in an education phase of the new ordinance (9.20.050 CMC) prohibiting subjects from storing personal property in Chico’s waterways. Today, three subjects were contacted and two were arrested on outstanding warrants. Warnings were given regarding the ordinance. Also on scene was Stairways Program Manager Michael Madieros. Sometimes in these situations subjects with mental health or substance abuse issues are identified and can be rapidly housed. Through the Stairways Program these subjects are given a place were their needs and met and treatment can begin.”

Two of them had arrest warrants, the third was illegally camping – why can’t that person be cited or arrested? They hand him over to Michael Madieros – a guy who has made a tidy living for himself because he is willing to deal with these people when the cops don’t want to be bothered. Stairways is part of Butte County Behavioral Health. County Admin Officer Paul Hahn recently reported over half the county’s budget goes to “helping” the homeless and mentally ill. I have no idea what Madieros is paid, but there’s a pack of them down there getting salaries, benefits and pension for continuing to enable and encourage dysfunctional behavior. It just perpetuates their salaries, they don’t care about the consequences this practice is having on the rest of the functional community.

What in the world are we doing, catering to these people, and paying the police more and more money to stand by “meeting their needs”?  O’Brien compliments himself  – “During the past six months, he added, the city has been able to stem the flow of officers leaving the Police Department, which is something O’Brien has attributed to competitive salaries and a “sense of hope brought on by the leadership of the department’s command staff.”

Yeah, “competitive salaries,” competitive to huge cities with outrageous crime problems.  I don’t see any hope down there – I see a train headed for a picnic blanket. 

UPDATE 12/8/16 – Rob Merrifield retires at his spiked pay rate, Item 1.7:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=649

Nextdoor: interesting news source, seems to be working for some people

24 Nov

Nextdoor, described as the “private social network for neighborhoods,” is an interesting news source. Since I joined a few weeks ago, I’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff that hasn’t shown up in the newspaper.

First there was the “bnb” conversation – “Airbnb” is a website through which you can rent your home out like a hotel. One woman brought up her concerns for her mid-Chico neighborhood, but was quickly struck down by other “neighbors” who turned out to be renting their own homes through Airbnb.  In the course of that quick but “snarky” conversation, I noticed, people seem to have forgotten past conversations about making it illegal to rent out second units in certain neighborhoods, a “disorderly events” ordinance, and most recently, the “social host” ordinance, which allows Chico PD and Fire Dept to assign “response” charges to the owner of a property at which an out-of-control  party took place. Those conversations got downright nasty at times – all stemming from neighbor complaints about rentals.

It is actually illegal to rent a second unit in the neighborhood directly surrounding the college without owner occupation of the property – the city made that ordinance a few years back. Not long after the “bnb” conversation, a woman complained on Nextdoor that the second unit next to her was being “rented illegally,” but she couldn’t get any response from city code enforcement. 

Here’s what’s creepy – within a couple of days, another neighbor posted a response to that woman, saying three code enforcement officers had been over to check out her rental, and found everything was perfectly legal. She gave her name and contact information, encouraging the plaintiff to contact her with future concerns. 

The second unit owner was very nice about it, I think the first woman was way out of line.  This is what Nextdoor has been criticized for – the Big Brother thing. Some neighbor groups have actually been accused of racial profiling and harassment. 

What also caught my attention about that post was – three code enforcement officers? City code enforcement?  Responding to a complaint about a rental? But we have a homeless camp at the median between Park Avenue and Cypress/Pine Streets that goes unattended for weeks. When they finally clear it out, the bums just move farther down the creek bank, you can see the piles of garbage as you motor over the bridge. 

Well, here’s an interesting post from Nextdoor, just posted yesterday, by a man named Ron from the “North  Chapman neighborhood”:

Today, over 300 pounds of trash and metal were removed from a former transient camp right in the middle of our residential neighborhood. The camp was on a vine-covered vacant lot and was first noticed about three months ago. With the help of many neighbors, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, and the Butte County Code Enforcement Division, the transient residents were encouraged to move on. When the camp was cleared numerous bicycle parts were recovered, confirming our suspicion that the site was being used to ‘recycle’ stolen bicycles.

This is posted to encourage others with unwelcome transients camping/squatting in their neighborhood to use the resources available and fight back. I am not unsympathetic to the homeless issue here in Chico; however, a residential neighborhood with children and families is not a suitable destination for those who steal, exchange stolen property, and use illegal drugs.

Thank you to all the North Chapman Neighbors who supported our effort.

Looking at the map provided by Nextdoor, I see the area is in the county, technically, but right in the middle of urban Chico. It’s a part of town the city of Chico has tried to ignore for years, manufacturing a phony story about neighbors who don’t want to be annexed, but never being able to provide any written proof of that assertion. The police seem to think they can’t cross the creek to enforce the law. And it takes the sheriff three months to do anything but “encourage”.

I’ve been on Nextdoor for almost a month, and this is the first I’ve heard of this situation. I don’t know if Ron’s group is working offline, what he’s been through trying to get law enforcement to pay attention to this matter. But, I know there’s homeless camps in the park right alongside my neighborhood, and despite a short-lived high-profile fling at One-Mile, the cops aren’t doing anything about it.

We do see them roust bums at the CARD center once in a while – CARD board member Tom Lando has made requests of the city to pay special attention to the CARD center. That center is used for community classes, children’s and other programs, and people are finding human land mines and garbage piled up around the buildings.  They complain of passed out drunks on the lawn and portico, even sprawled out on benches. Nobody seems to rent that building for private affairs like weddings anymore – in years past, you’d see it decked out almost every good weather  weekend.  The CARD board now has most meetings at their new headquarters at California Park. This is the reason behind the new rose garden – it will have a fence and locking gate, and only be available for paid events, in an attempt to keep bums, as well as the general public, off the CARD property. Because Chico PD  could not enforce the vagrancy laws, despite salaries averaging $100,000 with 88% of their benefits paid by the taxpayer.

Chico PD monitors Nextdoor, and it seems they are responding to certain complaints, even those made casually in conversation. I also find it a good news source – even if there isn’t much chatter in my neighborhood. A lot of my immediate neighbors have joined, but I haven’t seen crimes mentioned. There’s a gal who will watch your pets for $15/day. There’s a lady looking for a plumber, another woman selling a ceiling light. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the woman bitching about her neighbor’s rental – that is to be expected on a site like this. The Airbnb conversation got kind of rude, and I recognized a guy who has come to this blog in past under an alias and tried to bully me. I  felt he was bullying the woman, and she ended up “closing” the conversation. If it were me, I’d have charged right back at him, but the lady was polite and felt the conversation had run it’s course.

I haven’t seen any of these stories on the tv or print media, but I’m guessing there’s at least one reporter lurking in the shadows. You have to give personal information to sign up – I was asked for my social security number or a credit card to verify my address. I refused and was allowed to request a post card be sent to my house with a secret code number. This supposedly proves I’m really a “neighbor.” Unfortunately they mis-addressed it.  The way they sent it, there are five neighbors who could claim my identity if my mailman hadn’t figured it out. So much for security, but at least I didn’t have to compromise my SSN or my credit card. 

We’ll see when the local media finally picks up on this. I notice the Ch 12/24 news shamelessly cherry-picks the daily newspaper, using the same whole phrases from the newspaper stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

David Little: “worst development of all was the advent of an online reporting system for crimes…”

16 Jul
This is a stupid editorial – Little admits the cops have dropped the ball, but instead of blaming poor attitude he blames staff shortages and low pay. He seems to miss what really happened – they let our town sink into a state of disgrace – “drug deals in City Plaza” – demanding bigger salaries and more cops. They got that in January – it’s been seven months, and the crime and homeless situations aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse. There’s still a sign on the post office annex saying, “Due to security concerns…” the annex is locked up tight between 10 pm and 7 am, no getting your mail late at night. That just happened over the last year because the homeless had turned the annex into a fleabag hotel and the cops wouldn’t stop them. David Little isn’t a journalist, he’s a propagandist.

Editorial: Community policing model needs to give hope to victims

The Chico Police Department says it’s going to give “community-oriented policing” a try. Though it sounds promising, we can’t help but wonder if it’s more than just a trendy phrase.

The community policing model is all the rage, and new Police Chief Mike O’Brien is excited about giving it a whirl. He called it a “major change” last week when the department was restructuring in order to implement that community policing model.

It’s not just O’Brien’s vision. Mike Dunbaugh, the interim chief before O’Brien took over last month, was also a big proponent of the community policing model.It’s easy to see why, because it sounds so rudimentary: Police try to fix crime problems that are important to the community.O’Brien said the department will focus on crimes that have eroded the quality of life in Chico, things such as bicycle thefts, home burglaries, vehicle smash-and-grab robberies and criminal activity by transients.

“I hear it from every segment of this community that this is what we need to get a handle on,” O’Brien said last week.Dunbaugh said on his way out that the new structure “simplifies our operation.” It divides the city into three geographic areas — the downtown area, and then the rest of the city east and west of Highway 99.The restructured department is set up to be more focused on patrol rather than administration. As O’Brien puts it, the department will be “more responsive … to the community.”Community-oriented policing is described by the U.S. Department of Justice as a philosophy that uses community partnerships and problem-solving techniques to address conditions that facilitate crime. Citizens will welcome this new model, because many feel crime has gotten out of hand and the Police Department hasn’t done enough to combat it.

Part of the problem was a shrinking workforce as the city budget took a nosedive. As the Police Department was reduced in size, management decided to discontinue many of the things that citizens value — downtown patrols, officers on high school campuses, traffic cops and so forth.

Worse yet, things like downtown crime, bicycle thefts and drug deals in City Plaza barely got the department’s attention.

The worst development of all was the advent of an online reporting system for crimes. If somebody would get a $2,000 bicycle stolen, $5,000 in electronics, or even a gun, victims were told to fill out a form online. In most instances, there was no interaction with a detective or officer. Victims would fill out the form and never hear from the department again.

The great online reporting tool was a black hole of information.

People undoubtedly stopped reporting crimes because it was a waste of their time. The only reason to fill out the form was if you were lucky enough to have insurance.

The message was obvious: Sorry, folks, you’re on your own.

The online reporting system started Jan. 1, 2013. Sure, it saves money, but we’ve yet to see evidence this supposed database of crimes is being used to solve them.

Since a new City Council majority took over in December, the department is growing again. That’s why some of the special enforcement teams, such as downtown patrols, have come back.

What really needs to happen, however, is for citizens to regain confidence that police can help crime victims. Even if the department doesn’t get rid of online reporting, human follow-up — just a call to let victims know the report was seen, and that officers are looking — would go a long way toward mollifying a skeptical public.

Catching a few of the thieves, and then publicly celebrating that success, wouldn’t hurt either. The department needs a few victories.

You get what you accept – Chico, you need to raise your standards!

1 Jul

Yesterday  was the last day to turn in you Utility Tax Rebate application. I wonder how many people applied for that this year.  When I go in to collect my rebate, I feel like I’m making some attempt to hold city council and staff accountable for the mess they’ve got us in. But you can’t hold these people responsible, they just wiggle out. They’re insane – one minute they’re telling us they’re too broke to keep the library open and the next minute they’re more than doubling the city budget  to accommodate their pensions.

I’ll tell you what else is insane – Scott Gruendl has got a new job! He’s been hired as the Assistant Director of Behavioral Health Services for the County of San Mateo. There’s just no accountability for these people. Gruendl just retired from Glenn County Health and Human Services split hairs ahead of being fired for substance abuse. He just got his hat handed to him in the last Chico city election, having led the city on a drug-influenced spending binge for 12 years. 

And now, read back over the stories about his 100 mph+ speeding ticket, and look at all the lies. The guy has got a serious problem with The Truth – it doesn’t fit in his mouth!

Go ahead, have a good laugh at your own expense – this is the guy who kept insisting that Chico was his “hometown” all these years. If you look at his Twitter account here, you’ll see just how sincere that was as he talks about the spendy new homes he’s looking at in the Bay Area.

https://twitter.com/ScottGruendl

“The winner is: Candidate 1 – Upper Market/Castro Home – welcome to the new home of Scott and Nicholas Gruendl..”

Excuse me – barf!  I just can’t stand this kind of carpet bagger.  I knew he was a fake, and there it is. And you won’t hear any of his former friends down at Democratic Headquarters making any excuses for him, they’re pissed at him too. He used to brag to me about having dinner with little Janey-bob MulDolan and her friends – I’m guessing Bob Mulholland wouldn’t admit knowing Gruendl at this point.

My question, and I don’t know where to get a straight answer on this – how does he retire from one public agency and then take a job with another? Will he collect a salary and pension simultaneously? This is a question that needs answering, I just don’t know where to get that answer.

Speaking of crime, Rose wrote a thoughtful note to the ER letters section, encouraging people to take notice of suspicious activity around them and say something to the cops. But, I don’t know how seriously the cops would take my reports.

There was the conversation I overheard at the Mangrove Safeway. We always park our bike near the entrance, where there’s oftentimes a little group of, well, I’ll say it – ne’er do wells – hanging around. I think they’ve been warned not to panhandle, but if they get your eye they’ll start a little conversation – “wow, great bike!” – and the next thing you know they’re asking you for one thing or another. We try not to make eye contact, play deaf, just smile and turn away.  The other day one guy was talking about having beaten up another man who said something he didn’t like – “that’s when I head-butted him!”. I wondered, where did this take place? Here at my grocery store? I kind of doubt it, the Safeway management keeps a tight lid on these guys. A few days later I heard about a stabbing at One Mile.  I realized suddenly how unsafe the park really is. 

Yesterday morning we were driving our car across town to get it serviced, and I noticed, at the corner of 4th and Pine, somebody had raked together a little pile of tree debris and burned it like a camp fire right in the middle of the lane, just north of the intersection. I guess they thought that would be safer than a fire in their side yard? Or maybe they don’t have a side yard? How would somebody get away with this in a town where the cops were doing their job?

When we went Downtown later yesterday afternoon, we found the usual little encampments at City Hall and The Plaza. Some creeps were jumping their BMX bikes off the stage at the plaza, right in the middle of the day. Earlier yesterday they had that “Picnic in the Plaza” nonsense – what a laugh!  That is just a fundraiser for the sales tax increase campaign the city will be running by next Spring.

When we drove by the CARD center I again saw why the CARD board decided to move most of their business sessions out to Cal  Park Pavilion – there is a regular little encampment on the back patio of the CARD center. I’m guessing that a closer inspection would find they are smoking and drinking alcohol and that’s not permitted there. 

People are allowed to gather, but they’re not allowed to loiter. The cops are supposed to have a very clear legal understanding of the difference between those two words. Frankly, all you have to do to get rid of a lot of these people is put on a uniform and talk to them regularly. It makes the creepy ones uncomfortable, you know – like shining light on a cockroach. I don’t have a uniform, or a taser, or even a can of hairspray to protect myself. I don’t get $70,000+ a year to spend my time moving creeps along. I don’t get what amounts to a hand-out for the rest of my life either. I want to see Chico PD doing their job

 

The problem with the online reporting mechanism is, for me, if the crime is important enough to take my time to report it’s important enough to talk to a cop. Having these people tell us, they don’t have time to take reports – that’s the essence of their job. When they tell us they don’t have time to do their job, my mind goes straight to a picture of a pig wearing a cop uniform, stuffing a doughnut into his face.  What else? I sure don’t see them racing through town  catching perps red-handed.  For every little victory you read about in the paper  – oftentimes citizen action or just plain stupidity on the part of the criminal – how many crimes go uncovered and unpunished and will happen again and again? Meanwhile they demand more and more money. 

Whenever we pick up our lunch at Chico Locker, the place is full of Chico public safety workers. They won’t make eye contact, they act nervous and suspicious, like little children whose Momma just discovered a discrepancy in the cookie jar.  It’s GUILT.

This is our fault. We don’t hold these people accountable. Lie in your dirty bed Chico, it’s the bed of your own making.