Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chief of Police Says to be Vigilant as Property Crimes Rise

Photo by Joe McGarity

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Why does there seem to be more crime these days?  Now that he’s had a little time to settle in, the Fantom Penguin talked to the new Redding Police Department Chief of Police, Robert Paoletti.

“I was born and raised in Lodi, started my career with Stockton in 1993, spent 18 years there.  I was the Patrol Captain and as a Captain, I came up here and sat as a panelist on the Lieutenants’ Exams in Redding and I was impressed with the people in the Department and the professionalism of the organization.  This is kind of always where we’ve come to vacation at Shasta, Trinity and Lake Almanor and when the opportunity came up (which I think I’m the first outside Chief since like 1962), I asked my wife if it was okay that I apply here and she immediately said yes.  There was no thinking or waiting period.  We love the area and so I applied and was lucky enough to get selected to be the new Chief and so far after almost five months I’m very, very happy.”

The Fantom Penguin asked the chief how serving here differed from serving in Stockton.

“The biggest thing that I love about being here is that crime is a big deal.  In Stockton sometimes the public gets a little apathetic to crime because there’s just so much of it.  I think that this is a very safe community.  We do have our challenges right now with property crime specifically.  It’s up significantly from last year, about 15% and it’s going up some more over the first two months of this year.  The officers are working very hard.  We have some great community groups, especially the Business Watch that’s been created on Hilltop Drive, that are working together to combat that problem.  The biggest problem that we have right now is that the jail is full, so we’re arresting these people and they’re out of jail very quickly.  And I know the Sheriff is as frustrated as I am.  We had 151 people in two months account for almost 400 bookings.  So we’re arresting people multiple times.  We arrested a guy at 3:30 in the morning for auto burglary and at 10:30 in the morning for auto theft on the same day.  So when you have that problem and there’s no ramification for the bad action, then I’m concerned about how we’re going to deal with the property crime issues.  So I’ve been trying to get out to the public to push a crime-prevention message; do these things so that you don’t become an easy victim or a target to those people.”

The Fantom Penguin asked if the full jail was the result of “AB 109 Realignment”, a new law that transfers responsibility for certain inmates and parolees from state to local jurisdictions.

“Well, part of it I think is economics.  They’ve closed a floor of the jail that the Sheriff is working diligently to try to get open again.  Not everybody we’re arresting is an AB 109 release, but the jail is full and the AB 109 isn’t helping that.  So when we do arrest somebody with a full jail there’s nowhere to house them and unless they’re non-serial, non-violent or non-sexual they’re not looking at a prison term.  So, it’s going to be a challenge for us.  If there’s no ramification for bad action, usually that bad action continues.  So, it is a concern right now especially with the property crime rate doing what it’s doing right now.”

If there are no consequences for criminals, what then can we as citizens do to protect ourselves?

“Really, everybody needs to look at their own car, property and everything else as if they were the criminal.  What makes them an easy victim?  It’s frustrating for me when I go to a community meeting and somebody says, ‘I got my $3,000 laptop stolen out of my car in front of my house,’ and my response is, ‘Why was your $3,000 laptop in your car in front of your house?’  You have to look and don’t leave your $300 sunglasses on the dash of the car.  Don’t leave your purse in the car.  Install lighting on your house.  Get an alarm system.  Dogs I think are a great crime-prevention tool for burglaries because a dog makes noise.”

The Fantom Penguin also asked the Chief his position on a potential safe camp for the homeless.

“There are some concerns that I have with that.  How are you going to police it?  What’s the security going to look like?  How do you discipline people that don’t follow the rules?  What are the sanitary conditions going to be like?  Even in Iraq, everything’s port-a-johns.  Well, you’ve got to have so many port-a-johns for so many people and they have to be cleaned and who’s going to pay for that?  Are they going to be able to give them shower facilities?  Because when you condense those people so closely are you going to have lice problems or some of those types of problems?  What type of laundry facilities are they going to have?  There’s a lot that goes into making that a viable place to have and where’s that money going to come from?  I don’t know the answers to those questions right now.”

Paoletti summed up his new position like this:

“I’m thrilled as heck to be here.  The big thing for me is, you know, I’m 42 and I’m not leaving anytime soon, so it’s nice for me.  My family actually loves the area.  This is a great department and a great organization and I feel very lucky that I was selected to be here.”

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Christian Bookstore Closes while Writer Breaks Even


Photo by Joe McGarity

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Holy Family Christian Books & Gifts on the corner of Hartnell and Churn Creek in Redding will be closing its doors sometime in April, another victim of the economy.  It was there that the Fantom Penguin sat down with a local author of Christian books, Rev. Jim Wilson who is also the host of the local radio program, PrayNorthstate.  The Fantom Penguin asked him how one goes from the pulpit to the airwaves.

“I wish I knew.  No, the fact is I was a congregational pastor for 16 years and we, my wife and I, launched PrayNorthstate in 2001 and it was the result of a vision that the Lord had given, not just to us but to probably 30 or 40 other pastors and leaders in this area.  At the time I thought that a radio program – I knew that a radio program would be part of the PrayNorthstate ministry, but I thought it was several years down the road and I thought it would be just kind of one corner of the ministry.  And a friend of mine, a pastor in town named Tim Moore, started getting on my case about how I really ought to make a demo tape right now.  And his ministry was an ‘outside the box’ ministry.  It was a recovery ministry.  So I did a little demo tape, twenty-minute demo tape with Tim and his wife and showed it to a broadcaster here in town named Ken Murray and asked him for an opinion.  I said, ‘I’m not asking you to help me get this on the air.  I’m not even ready to do that, but I would like your opinion.’  Ken took it to his boss, Ray Roberts at KQMS and six weeks later I was on the air and have been on the air and we are a top-rated program since April of 2001.”

“We are a ministry that we come alongside anybody who is ministering ‘outside of the box’ and that means basically whatever people think it means.  We are not interested in parochial activities, not that there’s anything wrong with them but that’s not what gets us excited.  Anybody who is stepping across denominational lines, community lines, ethnic lines, anybody that’s trying to pull people together in the name of Christ, we want to help them.  So we’ll just say, ‘What can we do to help?’  We often have visions of our own like the annual bible-reading marathon that takes place at City Hall.  We do programs of targeted prayer.  We’ll go around and bless schools, churches, businesses, even government buildings, always by permission.  We never just barge in and we do those things again across the various lines in the community, the idea being to make for some unity and reconciliation.  And that’s pretty much what PrayNorthstate is.  I do a lot of writing.  I’ve got a couple of books published, in fact you might even be able to see a couple of them behind me here at Holy FamilyLiving as Ambassadors of Relationships is a book on reconciliation.  The Holy Spirit and the End Times is a book about community transformation.  And I’ve got a couple finished that are not published yet and I’ll tell you about them when they’re published.”

How does one get go about getting a book published?  The common wisdom says it is not easy.
“It’s not easy to do, although there are more opportunities than ever today for somebody who wants to go the self-publishing route.  That’s not what I chose to do and it was a pretty much of a serendipity, God-involved thing because I had no idea when I finished my first book how I was going to get it into publication.  And I became friends with an author named Mike Phillips, who lives on the Northcoast and Mike simply spontaneously said, ‘I’m going to write you letters to the people I publish with and see if they might be interested in your work,’ and that, honestly, is how I got published the first time.”

“I’ve gotten letters literally from all over the world, particularly on Living as Ambassadors.  That’s been out longer.  But I get letters from Australia, from South Africa.  I just got a letter from an inmate in a federal prison in Virginia who has read my book.  God only knows how he got hold of it.  But people are saying that my books have changed their lives and that’s obviously very gratifying for somebody who is saying, ‘I think I’ve got something important to say.  I hope I do and I hope God’s in it.’”

“It really is a process of seeking vision rather than my own personal agenda and when God gives me a vision I then begin to use the brains He gave me (I hope I’m using the brains He gave me) to figure out how to do it.  And anybody can do that, but most of us prefer to be a little bit more safe and secure.  I believe (and this is a slogan, admittedly, what I’m about to say), but I believe with all my heart that when you’re with the Lord Jesus, the closer you are to danger, the further you are from harm.  And honestly, I don’t even want to contemplate the alternative.  Because however safe it looks, it’s not.  I try to live my life in as rational and linear a way as possible, but I always begin with seeking a vision from God as opposed to telling Him what I want to do.”

The Penguin asked Rev. Wilson about the challenges faced by local authors.

“It’s very difficult.  The two books that I have published are just about to break even.  I’ve not made any money on them at all, so far.  They’re just about to break even because I had to buy a certain number of them from the publisher – at a very good price but it was a fairly stiff investment and we’re just about to break even.  So, if you’re writing books to get rich, you really ought to get a job.”
Rev. Jim Wilson’s books can be ordered through most national retailers.  They are kept in stock in most locally owned bookstores or can be purchased via Amazon or any authorized Amazon affiliate like TraderPenguin.com

PrayNorthstate can be heard locally:

8:00 am Saturday
in Red Bluff on KBLF AM 1490
in Chico on KKXX AM 940 or 104.5 FM

7:00 am Sunday
in Redding on KLXR AM 1230


Holy Family Christian Books and Gifts is offering up to 70% off selected items and is located at the intersection of Churn Creek and Hartnell.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mission Provides Help and Hope, but not Long-Term Housing

Photo by Joe McGarity



It is sometimes said that people living on the streets have chosen to be there.  After all, they could always stay at the mission if they really wanted to, couldn’t they?  The Fantom Penguin asked Pastor David Honey, Director of Guest Services at the Good News Rescue Mission in Redding.

“Well, the Rescue Mission is part of a group of rescue missions throughout the country and even internationally.  We’re part of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and what we do is we provide emergency shelter on a very foundational level of rescue missions.  We provide emergency shelter and folks that come into the Rescue Mission, the very basic program is that they can stay for thirty consecutive days at the Rescue Mission.  And during that thirty days we ask them to do an intake interview with our resource center.  And we attempt to triage them into a number of programs that we have at which point they can stay much longer than thirty days, as long as necessary to work through whatever program they’ve chosen.  (And I can explain some of our programs in a bit.)  But see, again they can come in for thirty consecutive days.  If they’re out on a ‘thirty-day out’ between, you know, being in and out, then we have severe weather, well they can come back into shelter on ‘severe weather’.  But also they can come in any time during a ‘thirty-day out’ for any other services, three meals a day, clothing exchange, showers, that sort of thing.  So the only thing they lose for thirty days is shelter.  We try to encourage them to get involved with such programs as our basic resource programs like Work Search.  Once they find a job then they would transfer into a money-savings program to try to save money over a period of several months to get enough money to move into some place and then be able to establish a budget during that time as well so that they can maintain that.  So, during those programs they could be here anywhere from four to six to eight months.  We also have our long-term drug and alcohol recovery programs where people can stay up to two years in recovery.  The programs, (called the New Life Recovery Program for Men and Women) go from anywhere from 13 to 18 to 24 months depending on the individual program.  We recently just launched a program that I’m very excited about and it’s called the New Horizons Homeless Recovery Program and that’s part of our Guest Services area.  We are providing . . . trying to surround the individual with a curriculum that gives them life skills, teaches them everything from personal hygiene to personal finance and budgeting, helping them with job-preparedness.  They can get their G.E.D. through our learning center.  So there’s just a number of things that are going on.  Right next door as we speak there’s a class going on in Assertiveness and Communication Skills.  They also teach Anger Management and Batterer’s Courses.  And so we will take some of our clients out on field trips to teach them how to shop, teach them about nutrition, that sort of thing.  And the goal in that program is to help them to transition into independent, healthy living without having to come back so that they can have a job, have a budget, know how to operate their budget, know how to manage their finances, know how to buy the right foods, how to take care of their bodies and personal hygiene and that sort of thing.  So again, that program is called the New Horizons Homeless Recovery Program and so it is for any of our general population that are chronically homeless.  We’re also using a process that we call the Genesis Process (it’s actually not ours, but we’ve been trained in the Genesis Process) and it helps us in our drug and alcohol recovery courses as well as this program to try to help people to indentify the reasons that they drink or they drug or they’re chronically homeless, try to get back into their lives to discover the brokenness, which really, the drinking or the drugging is a symptom and so is sometimes the chronic homelessness.”

The Fantom Penguin asked Pastor Honey where people go when they are on a “thirty-day out” and if he or the mission had a position on the subject of establishing a camp for the homeless.

“Well, I’m part of the Continuum of Care group and we’ve been involved with some of the talks on the camps.  Now there’s two schools of thought on that and I would speak first of all to ‘Is there another program or another place that people go on their “thirty-day out”?’  There is not another shelter.  Years ago they used to use the veterans’ building, the Armory, for shelter when the Mission was closed.  But they closed down many years ago and then asked us to fill in that gap.  We did for many years, but we had to establish some program that would give people incentive to do a program at the Rescue Mission.  So we went from one format to another format and that is the ‘thirty-day in, thirty-day out’.  Now again, when they’re on a ‘thirty-day in’, when they’re here at the Mission, we give them all sorts of opportunities to join other programs that they can stay here for a long term to get some help so that they can have the tools to get into their own place.  If they don’t want to do that, then they’re in the ‘emergency shelter mode’.  That’s really what the Rescue Mission is.  And so you’ll find that in Redding, where we allow them to stay for thirty days, is much longer than most missions do.  Some missions will give them three or four days and then they need to make up their mind as to whether or not they are going to get into a program.  I’m not trying to force people into program, but we’re trying to give them a fair chance to make a decision to get into a program so that they don’t have to rely on rescue missions for emergency shelter.  One of the misconceptions about the shelter is that we should be long-term housing for people and we can’t be.  We’re not set up that way.  We are an emergency shelter, which means that when people are here they need to recognize that they’re in some sort of a housing crisis and I would really encourage them to take advantage of the programs that we have to try to overcome that.”





Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kirk Proposes Homeless Camp at Former Satanic Site

Photo by Joe McGarity




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Times are tough and more people than ever are living on the streets or more precisely in the greenbelt areas tucked away from the streets.  The Fantom Penguin asked Don Kirk his opinion of the homeless situation in Redding, California.

“From what I can see, it needs a campground.  A lot of the people, especially ones that stay at the Mission, are in there for thirty days then they have to go out for thirty days and they have no place to go unless the Hope House will take them in.  And even though from what the police chief says, the Mission and Hope House have empty beds, they claim a lot of time they’re full.”

The Fantom Penguin asked Kirk what was preventing the foundation of such a campground.

“It’s called ‘City Council’.  City Council won’t even bring the matter up on the agenda.  I bring it up during the public comment section probably about eight or nine times now.  I’ve had people come in with me and stand up and the audience applauds sometimes when I’m done speaking about it and the City Council just ignores it.  And as you heard last night, the city can do some things, but what Mr. Kirk wants we just can’t do.”

And why do they have that impression, that it can’t be done?

“That is a good question.  The last police chief didn’t want it at all.  The current one says he favors it.  At the same time some of the answers he gave me when I spoke to him a couple of days ago; he sounds like he’s trying to discourage me from it.  Jones has told me if I bring it up in the public comment section at the council meetings, he would gladly put it on the agenda.  I’ve asked, like I say, eight or nine times.  It’s never got on the agenda yet.  I’m now starting to work on the Supervisors because I understand the Sheriff is actually looking into the possibility of a homeless camp.”

Where could such a camp be located?

“At the north end of Market Street, on the Miracle Mile, on the left-hand side you’ll see a power substation.  Behind there the city, back in the 1970’s, built a campground for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and it’s legally a campground, but the city has closed it up because back in the late 70’s, early 80’s, the Satanic Worshipers went out there and were sacrificing animals and so the city closed it.”

And now is that really true or is that just a rumor?

“That is true.”

At least one other site has been proposed.

“Chris Solberg has spoken with a woman who owns some land across from Win-River and she has said she doesn’t mind the homeless living there but the city, of course, says no way; we’re not going to allow it.  And on top of that, there’s a subdivision back behind it.  It’s called the Henderson Tract.  Some of the members there are NIMBY’s, well they’re all NIMBY’s I guess from what I understand which means ‘Not In My Back Yard’ and will actually go out at night, all by themselves, walking through the bushes looking for homeless people and when they find them they call the police.”

“Some actually want to be homeless, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s others who would like to go the Mission when they can, but when they’re on that thirty day out they have no place to go.  If we had a legal camp, they wouldn’t have to worry about getting a ticket.  They wouldn’t have to worry about the police harassing them.”

“I’m involved in politics.  I want to be on the City Council to try and help people.  A lot of people try and say that what I’m doing is to help me get elected.  I look at it this way here:  It’s helping me get elected, yes.  At the same time, I came into it originally and still plan to try and help people but you can’t help people that much if you’re not in the office.  If you’re in the office, you can help a lot more.”

The Fantom Penguin, as a matter of policy, does not endorse any candidate.

“I’ve been working on this now for over two years.  The last police chief we had was completely against a homeless camp.  He’s told me there’s no way he would ever approve one.  The new one says that yeah we could have one except for the fact that it would have to have restrooms; have to have showers; have to have hot and cold running water; have to have somebody running it; it would have to have police patrol and he just goes on and on.  And yet I look at cities like Sacramento -- has a camp down there.  They don’t have all that.  I look at Seattle.  They have camps up there.  They don’t have all that.  I look at Portland, same thing.  So, I don’t know if he’s saying he supports it and trying to shove me off to the side or what he’s trying to do.  I really don’t know.  I hope he’s sincere.”

It is important to point out that Mr. Kirk’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication.  Furthermore, if Police Chief Robert Paoletti, former Police Chief Peter Hansen, Sheriff Tom Bosenko, Homeless Advocate Chris Solberg, Councilman Patrick Jones or any representative of the Redding City Council, Shasta County Board of Supervisors, Henderson Open Space, Good News Rescue Mission, House of Hope, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America or the Church of Satan wish to dispute any of his claims, the Fantom Penguin will publish your point of view.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Your Community: Jim Reed

Photo by Joe McGarity



The Fantom Penguin presents another interview in the Your Community series, introducing the community to people in important leadership positions.  This publication, as a matter of policy, does not endorse any candidate, but rather offers them an opportunity to share their stories in their own words.  This week:  Democratic congressional candidate Jim Reed.

“This is a whole new ballgame because of a proposition that passed last time.  It’s now an open primary which means the two top vote-getters regardless of party will then face off in the general election.  So it potentially could be two Republicans for instance.”

“So, I’m an attorney, graduated actually as an electrical engineer from U.C. Berkley, moved on to law school, practiced law for about 35 years.  Somewhere along the process the firm I was with, I was doing litigation and the senior partner died who was the tax guy in our firm, so I went back at night and got a Master’s Degree in taxation.  A lot of my practice is in taxation but I call myself a small businessman because I’m basically the senior partner of a law firm out of Fall River Mills with ten employees.  I’ve lived in Fall River Mills for now about 18 years, have a little ranch up there, ran for Congress against Wally Herger in 2010.  Wally Herger had been in office at that point in time 24 years.  Did not win, of course, but came quite close.  I got 43% of the vote in a year that was, let’s say a rough year for somebody who had a ‘Democrat’ next to their name and so I felt very positive after that election that I did get 43%.  Since then we’ve had redistricting, which means some of the counties that were in the district last time are now gone; others are in and in general I believe that the district has gotten more favorable to a Democrat by roughly 3 – 4%.”

“I don’t think the open primary really makes any difference from my perspective.  20% of the voters are what they call ‘Decline to State’ what we used to call ‘Independents’.  And so those are really the target voters in an election like this.  Those are the people that will determine the outcome.  And so even though there’s a considerable majority of registered Republicans over Democrats, again based on my numbers from the last election and the improvement in the district, I feel if I get in the neighborhood of 75% of the ‘Decline to State’ voters I should win.”

The Fantom Penguin asked him what he would do differently if elected.

“Well, there’s two things in that regard:  First of all, because of my tax background and because I think the critical issues that the nation is facing at this point are tax issues (and of course I don’t expect really too much to get done in that regard in 2012, an election year), 2013 could be the key year for changing our tax code.  And it really does need to become more fair for everybody and being a tax expert, I really want to be in Washington D.C. to influence how that works out.  In addition to the tax issues though, one of the big things that I see and I hope that most voters kind of see it this way also; we’re very frustrated with the bi-partisanship that’s going on in Washington D.C. these days.  It seems like no matter who the representative whether they’re a Republican or Democrat they’re more concerned about making points that maybe harms the other side rather than trying to actually accomplish anything.  The art of compromise has somehow been lost in Washington D.C. and I think that’s an ability that I can bring to the office.  I’m a moderate Democrat meaning I see the Republican view often; I see the Democratic view often and I think I’m somebody that can bridge the gap and hopefully help bring the two sides together to get actually something done in Washington for the first time in over a year.”

“I think there’s a couple things as far as issues that’s important to me that maybe people don’t quite understand yet.  Two of the very important things to me are saving Social Security in the form it is today and saving Medicare.  Our seniors have gone 75 years now under Social Security and let’s say 40 years under Medicare.  Those two programs are the programs that have kept our seniors from falling below the poverty line over the last period of time.  Before those two programs the biggest category of people in the poverty level were seniors.  And so both Social Security and Medicare have been very successful programs.  I want to see them kept the way they are.  Of course there is a problem:  Social Security when it was designed back in the 30’s was well designed, was well funded.  The idea was that the payroll tax would be sufficient to fund Social Security forever and the only problem with that is the people in the 30’s that did those actuarial calculations didn’t anticipate that people would be living so much longer today than they were in the 30’s.  So that’s a problem.  We need to adjust for that, but it’s a small problem and I don’t believe we need to throw out the Social Security program such as the Ryan Plan is talking about where it basically allows people to gamble their payroll taxes so that they may do better but they may do worse than Social Security.  Social Security is a lifeline.  We shouldn’t be gambling on that.  We need to make sure that our seniors have at least a minimum that keeps them out of poverty.  So, again we don’t need to raise the age of Social Security to fix it.  We don’t need to reduce the benefits.  If we reduce the benefits of Social Security there’d be people falling below the poverty line.  There’s a cap on the Social Security payroll.  From the first paycheck you get working for a living they take FICA out.  That’s your payroll tax.  And they keep taking it out until you get to $110,000 in any given year and then it stops.  (And by the way your employer matches that amount as well.)  If we simply eliminate the cap so that that same payroll tax continues on beyond $110,000, that completely fixes Social Security.  No other changes need to be make to fix it and it will be viable for not only our generation but future generations as well.”