Tag Archives: Maureen Kirk

Thanks Bob Evans and a WONDERFUL CROWD! for a great conversation – next up, Maureen Kirk, 3rd District Supervisor – February 16, noon to one pm, Chico library

27 Jan
Come on in!

Come on in!

Again I was really gratified to get a wonderful crowd for our visit with Butte County District 3 candidate Bob Evans. I was also thrilled to have three other candidates who take the voters seriously – Alan Petersen, candidate for County Assessor, Maureen Kirk, incumbent Dist. 3 supervisor, and Ryan Schohr, who wants to replace termed out Dan Logue in Assembly District 3.  It’s essential that we engage the people who want to fill these important positions, not only to find out where they stand on various issues, but to communicate to them the issues we feel are important and where we stand.

Sorry the light is bad here, I'm no photographer. There's Alan Petersen over to the right, thanks for coming in to help out Al!

Sorry the light is bad here, I’m no photographer. Bob really took charge of the room, he’s a good speaker.  There’s Alan Petersen over to the right, thanks for coming in to help out Al!

Evans led off with a quick bio, including his life with the U.S. Air Force, his involvement with Life Touch (at one time of Chico’s biggest employers), retirement, and his subsequent interest in a public service position. After running for and serving a couple of years on Chico City council, it was hard, he said, to just forget about community involvement. He talked about his position on the Alliance for California Business, a group that addresses issues relative to California’s business climate. Evans feels over-regulation is a huge issue for the entire state, keeping businesses from moving to California, and putting undue pressure on already existing businesses. “They are regulating us as if we are L.A,” he says, when our air quality here is no where near as poor or warranting of such measures.

He also talked about the “ag mitigation ordinance” that requires what he feels are onerous mitigation requirements for businesses that want to build new on open land – treating all land as agriculturally viable.

Bob’s a good speaker, he’s comfortable with people and listens well, answering questions directly, even if he had to say, “I don’t know!”  He was quick to admit when he didn’t have enough information to have a solid opinion, like on the subject of global warming. But, he reminded us, he’s learning, this was his first speaking engagement, and that he wants to know what people are concerned about. 

I can't say enough how I appreciate people showing up for this speaking tour, including Maureen Kirk, who showed up early and took good notes.

I can’t say enough how I appreciate people showing up for this speaking tour, including Maureen Kirk, who came early and took good notes. That’s Assembly candidate Ryan Shohr to the left of Maureen in the plaid shirt.  This means they care what you think, that’s what it’s all about.

On the subject of the State of Jefferson, Bob said he feels we must have better representation in Northern California. “This is a rural vs urban issue,” he opined, and he’s right, the bigger cities are down South, and get more attention and more tax money than the rest of us. Evans said he feels a serious conversation about “separation” (secession means, from the U.S. entirely) would “get their attention.” And, “if they just laugh at us, we’ll already be down the road [toward legal separation].”  

When asked what unique qualification he had for the job, Bob answered that he gets along well with people, and looks for compromise.  The next question followed the same line – how does he expect to get along with county staff? He said he’d been meeting with staff, and found they’re really ready to share information. Another person asked him about the general health of the county, and expressed concern about “true unemployment.” Bob said he’s making jobs a priority, but this conversation wandered off – we didn’t get to talk about ways we could bring jobs, or what kind of jobs we’d want. Sorry I did not pursue this, I was so busy trying to take notes, I didn’t think to ask many questions.

Bob did talk about conditions he feels are keeping jobs out of the North State – again, over-regulation, mostly from California Air Resources Board and “environmental groups” that are pursuing what Evans feels are onerous land mitigation laws. At this point he was asked what he thought of the whole global warming issue. He answered with my feelings – who do you trust on this issue? There are two camps, 180 degrees apart, equally more informed than the general public – who do you believe? Evans says he believes in conserving resources, but again mentioned, our air and water here in Northern California are still very good, and we should not be held to the onerous regulations necessary in bigger more industrialized urban areas. 

Of course the marijuana discussion came up, a curious audience member wondering what Evans thought of the new ordinance. Citing concern that young people are smoking too much pot these days, Evans praised the pot ordinance and congratulated Maureen Kirk and the Board of Supervisors for a “good job.” He also mentioned he’d been on ride-alongs with the sheriff’s department and seen areas of the county that he felt were  being degraded by pot gardens, both environmentally and civilly.

I had to laugh as he talked about the ride-alongs  – he described my house right here in Chico! He said he’d seen fences and locked gates, with dogs! Well Bob, I will say here – do not approach my gate. You will see a lock, you will see signs that threaten trespassers with physical humiliation, and you will be greeted by a snarling cur. And then there’s the dogs! I’ll also say, I’m looking for a supervisor that values my property rights. I don’t see any, I’m still looking.  

Bob has been all excited about his idea to use Chico Fire Department employees to “patrol troubled areas of town,” meaning, areas where transients are a “problem.” This idea did not go over with our group. One member of the audience described himself as a retired fire chief, retired here from the Bay Area. He tried to offer his knowledge of fire vs police training, saying fire personnel are trained to do physical first aid, but not mental. They are not trained to deal with the mentally ill. Other audience members agreed. 

Al Petersen asked a good question – what’s the overall health of the county budget? Here Evans told us what many already know – both the sheriff’s department and the behavioral health department are very undermanned. Then he talked about an issue that I had been trying to figure out how to bring up – when police or sheriff have to arrest a person who is “unsafe to themselves or the public,” including transients, they often have nowhere to take them but Enloe Hospital. I’ve heard this reported in Police Advisory Board meetings, and, when I had a friend who had to be taken to the ER, this is what I’ve seen – especially on weekends, the Enloe ER is turned into a psycho ward. And here’s the hilarious part – these people are dumped by police or sheriff, and then staff has no right to detain them or demand payment of the bill. This is where Enloe gets the figures for much of the loss they write off to the government every year. 

The county has a special psychological unit, a trained team, that is supposed to meet law enforcement at the hospital and transport these “patients” to the county mental health facility. But they are undermanned, Bob says. This is what I’ve heard from both representatives of Chico PD and Enloe Hospital. I think this is just unacceptable. I’ve seen the payroll for the behavioral health department – the director is a low-paid ($58,000/year) revolving door position, and the “staff” is made up of interns who get less than $10,000 a year, some of them as little as $1,000. I can’t believe some college kid is qualified to transport a mental patient. 

I’ll tell a story here, from the days I lived in Sacramento. I took public transportation all over, and you changed buses Downtown. I would walk up the K Street mall every morning, with a regular herd of bus commuters, to catch the crosstown lines. There I would see regularly a guy dressed in a big white bed sheet, walking calmly along with an insane smile on his blank face. We called him “Jesus,” but his name was Jerry Paddy. He spent his days strolling and occasionally begging up and down K Street, visiting the various parks, the Capitol Rose Garden, Sutter’s Fort, etc.  Nobody ever thought a thing of him, some people even regarded him with affection.

One day, a fellow walking over to visit a patient at Sutter Hospital noticed a man and woman struggling in some bushes at Sutter’s Fort. Thinking it was a sexual assault, the man confronted the pair, only to be stabbed right through the gut with a 12 inch knife. The culprit turned out to be Jerry Paddy, who explained he was having consensual sex with the woman, and when he’d been confronted, he admittedly pulled a 12 inch kitchen knife out of the sleeve of his sheet garment, and ran the man through. The man had died on the sidewalk before passersby could even react. 

This is what we’re dealing with on the streets of Chico – what, you think mentally competent people sleep in a bundle of dirty rags on the ground? It’s been discussed ad infinitum – we have a problem with mentally ill people wandering our streets. I’ve started to see them wandering my residential neighborhood, thanks to the efforts of “Our Town” to shove them out of Downtown with no regard for the consequences to surrounding neighborhoods. Without proper staffing at the behavioral health department, these people are just riding a Ferris wheel back and forth, being taken to Enloe, then waiting for the cops to leave so they can just wander off and end up in the same pile of slop a week or so later. 

I think this is a major issue in Chico. Talk about a job killer. If I was the parent of a new college student, I would not send my kid to Chico. In fact, I’m making plans to send mine out of town right now. The county and the city need to get together on this issue. I don’t want to hear one more report from one more cop who spent a week in a psychology class at Butte College, I want to hear plans to fully fund the behavioral health department and get a real director in there. Look at the salaries for the city of Chico – but the county only offers about $60,000 a year for somebody to run the mental health department? That is literally CRAZY.

Well, the meeting had to come to a close at this point, there was another group waiting at the door.  Bob Evans thanked the crowd and left us with this comment: “According to statistics, 14 percent of the electorate is engaged and educated…that includes you!” He promised, “my goal is to see as many groups as I can.” 

I had to ask Bob privately for his opinion on Cal Water’s rate hike, and I will give you that in my next installment, I got to take Biscuit for a walk. 

Stuff to watch for in 2014

31 Dec

Today, the last day of 2014, I’d like to run over a few things to remember in 2014.

  • After today, city of Chico employees are ‘working without a contract.” Their current contract expires at midnight.   The talks have been going on since last Spring, informally, and behind closed doors. The only “sunshine” we’ve received was at the June 18th council meeting, at which the police proposed that they would pay the “employee’s share” of their benefits (9 percent) if the city gave them raises in pay to cover the expense. That proposal was tossed, thankyouverymuch. Since then, all I can get out of anybody is “I can’t discuss it.”  But, we need to lay it heavy on our council members to make the public safety and management employees pay AT LEAST their 9 percent share, and they better get ready to come up with more than that. CalPERS constantly raises the share they demand from the employer, it’s the employer who is left to decide how much the employee will pay. In this case, that’s your council, and if they don’t come up with some better contracts, well, read on.
  • there’s a primary coming in June, and a general election in November. In the city of Chico, we have three council seats – Sorensen, Gruendl and Goloff –  up for grabs.  At the county, we have two supervisors,  clerk/recorder,  assessor,  auditor,  DA,  sheriff/coroner, treasurer/tax collector, and superintendent of schools all open to challengers.  So far, none of the council members has announced plans to run, as far as I know, and Andrew Coolidge has again thrown his hat in the ring for one of their seats.  County supervisors Larry Wahl (Dist 2) and Maureen Kirk (3) both have opponents – I don’t remember the name of the guy who is running against Wahl, but Bob Evans has filed papers to run against Kirk. Alan Petersen, of the Sutter County Assessor’s office, has announced his candidacy for current Assessor Fred Holland’s job, but I haven’t heard for sure that Holland will be running. Undersheriff Kory Honea will run for Sheriff, but I don’t know if Jerry Smith also intends to run for re-election.
  • CARD is still looking for a way to fund their plans for an aquatic center, telling a small group of wishful thinkers that they needed to wait for the state legislature to pass amendments that would change the voting requirements for new taxes from 2/3’s to 51 percent. Those amendments are expected to be passed by a Democratic majority sometime next month. Meanwhile, a committee has formed to carry the torch to the public, the first meeting will be held Jan. 7 at 6:30 pm, at the CARD center.  Of course, having spent so much time and trouble trying to get Visconti to send me e-mail notice, I will not be able to attend that meeting. I’ve sent a note around to those on my mailing list (if you want to be on that please contact me here) and hope one or more of them will attend, you should too.
  • Chico Taxpayers Association is changing it’s meeting schedule. We realized, the first Sunday of the month falls right ahead of a lot of important city committee meetings that we like to attend and talk about. So, I’ve scheduled the January meeting for the Second Sunday, and we’ll probably be moving it to the Third Sunday before too long. I’ll keep you posted. January meeting – Jan. 12, 1pm, Chico Library.  We are trying to arrange for Butte County Assessor Candidate Alan Petersen to come in and talk to us about the assessor’s duties. 

I hope you will all make a New Year’s resolution to get more involved in local government this year. Like Sue Hubbard always says, it’s locally that you can make the biggest difference. She’s right.