“We Aren’t Safe” and Two Types of Homeless

At both the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters forums and in the News and Review the conservative Republican candidates for Chico City Council duplicated Donald Trump’s strategy of frightening voters into adopting their view on issues by insisting that we aren’t safe in our homes, parks and downtown and that more policing is the solution to this problem.

League of Women Voters City Council Candidates, L - R, Loretta Torres, Jovanni Tecerri, Karl Ory, Mercedes Macias, Randall Stone, Ann Schwab, Tami Ritter, Sean Morgan, Jeffrey Glatz, Jon Scott, Lisa Duarte

League of Women Voters City Council Candidates, L – R, Loretta Torres, Jovanni Tecerri, Karl Ory, Mercedes Macias, Randall Stone, Ann Schwab, Tami Ritter, Sean Morgan, Jeffrey Glatz, Jon Scott, Lisa Duarte

Over and over the Republican endorsed city council candidates, Jeffrey Glatz, Vice-Mayor Sean Morgan and Jovanni Tricerri repeated the claim that Chico residents simply aren’t safe and that we need more police. They argue that we need these police to rid Chico of the homeless “transients” who are to blame for an apparently large, though as yet unspecified, degree of “crime” in Chico. “Transients” is the term conservatives are using in this election cycle to identify the “transient” undesirables who are homeless “by choice” from the real homeless. The real homeless, they acknowledge, may deserve a degree of compassion and support but not those other “transient” types.

Jeffrey Glatz endorsed by local Republicans for Chico city council.

LWV Forum 2016. Jeffrey Glatz endorsed by local Republicans for Chico City Council.

Current Vice-Mayor, Sean Morgan, endorsed by local Republican.

LWV Forum 2016. Current Vice-Mayor, Sean Morgan, endorsed by local Republicans for Chico City Council.

Jovanni Tricerri, endorsed by local Republican Party for Chico City Council.

LWV Forum 2016. Jovanni Tricerri, endorsed by local Republicans for Chico City Council.

This specious distinction between types of homelessness tends toward a distrust regarding the motives and circumstances of the homeless population as a whole. It’s an attitude analogous to the scorn and condemnation adopted by Trump toward immigrants, Muslims, and just about anybody who’s not white and conservative. For this year’s batch of conservative council candidates, the transient homeless are given to crime, and therefore undesirable and that’s why we need more police to get rid of them. Jeffrey Glatz, who apparently equates Bidwell Park with homelessness, is especially adamant about turning the park into a police zone. But how dangerous is it to walk in the park? As have so many of my townspeople, I’ve been walking in Bidwell Park for 20 years and I’ve never been frightened of anything except an occasional threatening dog running off leash.

One Mile, Bidwell Park

A lone park user walks her dogs near One Mile, Bidwell Park.

While Republican city council candidate, Vice-Mayor Sean Morgan, concedes that the real homeless deserve help, he didn’t bother to attend the lecture given at Bidwell Presbyterian Church by Lloyd Pendleton from Utah where they have reduced their homeless population by 91% using the Housing First model. Had he been there, he might have learned something useful. The Church that night was packed with citizens who truly want to help, including four Chico City council candidates: incumbent Council Member Tami Ritter, incumbent Council Member Ann Schwab, incumbent Council Member Randall Stone, and former Mayor and current council candidate, Karl Ory. But neither Mayor Mark Sorenson or Vice-Mayor and council candidate, Sean Morgan, cared to attend, putting in doubt their conservative commitment to the homeless – real or otherwise.

Tami Ritter at the Chamber of Commerce Election Forum

Incumbent Council Member, Tami Ritter, at the Chamber of Commerce Election Forum

Incumbent Ann Schwab listens intently to a citizen at a council meeting.

Incumbent Council Member, Ann Schwab, listens intently to a citizen at the podium during a city council meeting.

Chico City Council candidate, Karl Ory, turns in the Farmers Market petitions.

Chico City Council candidate, Karl Ory, delivers the petitions to the Chico City Clerk that would ultimately stop the Farmers Market eviction.

Incumbent City Councilmember, Randall Stone, at the Chamber of Commerce Forum

Incumbent City Council Member, Randall Stone, at the Chamber of Commerce Forum

A further claim of the conservative candidates is that “no one wants to go downtown anymore because it’s unsafe.” If so, tell me why it’s difficult to find a downtown parking place and why there was a big push to evict the Saturday Farmers’ Market and convert the site into a multi-story parking garage?

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Yes, public safety is important and we do need a police dept. – but not at the cost of neglecting other essential city services that keep our community infrastructure intact and that also provide a sometimes-underestimated degree of public safety. In the older sections of town, our sidewalks are, literally, crumbling, some of which are impassable by wheelchair and a hazard to anyone who walks them, particularly the elderly. Sections of city streets are also in disrepair, pot-holed and irregular, a  hazard that others like myself who travel by bicycle know well. Our city sewer lines are so old that the new roundabout downtown had to be dug up because the old, clay sewer line was leaking. How safe is it to have raw sewage leaking downtown? Sources of pollution, noise, daily traffic jams, and an aging urban forest – all these need our attention and tax dollars.

New roundabout on First St., downtown

New downtown roundabout, First St. and Flume

One of the iconic Sycamores trees falls into the pool. We still don't have an Urban Forester and our tree crew is down to 3. permanent employees.

One of the iconic Sycamores trees falls into the pool. We still don’t have an Urban Forester and our tree crew is down to 3. permanent employees.

More of the same.

Crumbling sidewalk in the “Streets” neighborhood.

More of the same.

More of the same.

Old patched pot-hole.

Old patched pot-hole.

A cyclists commutes surrounded by cars because there's no safe bike lane on Mangrove Ave.

A cyclists commutes surrounded by cars because there’s no safe bike lane on Mangrove Ave.

As much as we may need police, we equally need thoroughfares and sidewalks that are easy and pleasant to navigate. We need more bike paths and lanes so that more people will feel safe enough to get out of their cars and ride a bike where they need to go, thereby reducing traffic congestion, noise and pollution. We need to value all of our city workers, not just the police and fire departments.

The error in the conservative viewpoint regarding safety is that it’s too narrowly focused upon a single solution. They’d be advised to take a more inclusive view. And as for the city’s police and fire department employees who truly want to keep our townspeople safe, maybe they’d be willing to sacrifice a little of their extraordinary salaries and benefits to keep the other services going that also make our town a civil and safe place to live.

Bidwell Park

Bidwell Park in the Fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaMalfa Perpetuates Republican Lies and War On Women

Current Dist. 1 U.S. Rep. LaMalfa, Republican and Democrat Jim Reed vie for District 1 seat.

Current U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Republican (left) and Democrat Jim Reed vie for Congressional District 1 seat.

Last week at the League of Women Voters Forum, our current Representative to the U.S. Congress, Dist. 1, Republican Doug LaMalfa, perpetuated the Republican lie that Planned Parenthood, a women’s health clinic, makes “a profit” from “selling baby parts” from its “abortion industry.” At the start of the forum the League warned the audience not to clap or show support for, or against, any candidate. But when LaMalfa mouthed these shocking lies there was an audible gasp from the people listening that they could not suppress.

Republican Doug LaMalfa,

Republican Doug LaMalfa,

As LaMalfa’s opponent, Democrat Jim Reed, correctly pointed out, Planned Parenthood does not get any federal funding for abortions (see link: http://www.factcheck.org/2011/04/planned-parenthood/.

When asked if he still supports his Party’s Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, LaMalfa unequivocally answered “Yes.”  LaMalfa and Trump think alike.

Vote Democrat, vote Jim Reed for U.S. Congress, District 1.

Democrat Jim Reed

Democrat Jim Reed for U.S. Congress, District 1