Apr 152011
 

NEWS-LEDGER WEB ARTICLE

April 15, 2011

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

    The West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual ‘State of the City’ dinner and address on April 14 at the city hall galleria. Several hundred people attended.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon gave the keynote address, in which he covered a lot of ground. The tone was generally more upbeat than his address from 2010, which occurred as the city, state and nation were all still taking blows from the economic downturn.

Some of the topics he touched upon this time:

–  West Sacramento is not pursuing an arena for the Sacramento Kings, who are now negotiating to leave Sacramento for Anaheim. Such a local arena deal has to be led by the City of Sacramento and regional leaders, and not by West Sacramento. “There is no war room where the city council and I have a plot being hatched to build an arena,” said Cabaldon.

– The city is well underway in its efforts to upgrade its levees – including a massive project in Southport along the river. But the proposed federal budget does not include $1 million needed to keep levee design work rolling.

– West Sacramento is coming out of the recession as “one of the most fiscally healthy cities in the region” thanks to what Cabaldon credits as prudent financial management, including deliberate shrinking of the city payroll.

Christopher Cabaldon, mayor of the City of West Sacramento (News-Ledger file photo)

–  Despite this, the city’s budget remains under threat of more “raids” by state government. “Last year along, in local government jobs (in the region), we lost 5,900 of them,” said Cabaldon. “State government increased by 1,400.” The state continues to transfer resources away from local governments. “You will see changes in the scope and level of services you see in the City of West Sacramento. I won’t sugar-coat it.”

–  Fighting Governor Brown’s “dead wrong” plan to abolish redevelopment agencies remains “priorities one, two, three, four and five” for the city, said Cabaldon. The plan would stifle economic growth, he said. And the plan’s dictates for what would happen to local redevelopment agency land is poorly thought-out and would end up transferring wealth away from local taxpayers while inviting “speculation and extortion.”

–  “We’re making jobs,” he told the crowd. Examples include the coming Southport plant for Nihon Shokken U.S.A., a producer of Asian food items, and plans to bring an electric vehicle manufacturer to the Port Industrial plant from Stockton. He didn’t name the electric vehicle maker, a company called EVI, because the deal is not final.

–  The city has put in a strong bid to partner with UC Davis in producing an “innovation hub” that marries the research strength of the university to actual business and manufacturing use, in subjects like food science. The proposal would also include a venture capital company. The city of Davis, too, has put in a proposal for the project, “but ours is better,” said Cabaldon.

–  An economy based on new technology and manufacturing needs an educated workforce, argued the mayor. But he said that after he helped focus efforts on the school district a number of years ago, and voters put a new board in place, “over the last three years, that remarkable progress has slowed.” Much of the apparent improvement in test scores is simply due to changing demographics, said Cabaldon, while in reality there is still an achievement gap – and Latino students, for example, are not becoming “college ready” in the Washington Unified School District. The mayor proposed finding ways to bring math and reading into everyday community life in West Sacramento.

– A “great” Farmers Market is coming to town on West Capitol beginning this season, thanks to partners such as the local chamber of commerce. The market will provide a community gathering point, work experience for local youth, access to fresh produce, and support for local farmers.

–  In the private sector, drawings are in place for an expansion of the Capitol Bowl bowling alley – including an outdoor space. And Southport will soon be home to “The Eatery,” a bistro-style, sit-down restaurant, which will offer a new kind of dining choice to West Sacramento. The restaurant’s website says it will open this spring at the Town Center Plaza (near Nugget and Target).

Copyright News-Ledger 2011

Steve Marschke

Steve Marschke