Category Archives: News

Cash: two candidates lead the pack

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 27, 2013 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

In the field of five candidates running for West Sacramento’s school board right now, only two have thus far reported raising a substantial amount of money in campaign donations. And each of those two candidates is benefiting from support by groups that some people might consider “special interests.”

SARAH  KIRBY-GONZALEZ: Campaign shows support from various teachers’ unions (News-Ledger photo)

SARAH
KIRBY-GONZALEZ:
Campaign shows support from various teachers’ unions
(News-Ledger photo)

 

FRANCISCO CASTILLO Contributors include StudentsFirst executives and charter schools proponents (News-Ledger photo)

FRANCISCO CASTILLO
Contributors include StudentsFirst executives and charter schools proponents
(News-Ledger photo)

According to financial disclosure forms due last Friday at the Yolo County Elections Department, Francisco Castillo leads the pack in raising money to campaign for a school board seat on March 5.

Through Feb. 16, he reported having raised $36,730. This total includes $15,000 from “Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst,” a school reform organization that looks favorably at charter schools, and $10,000 from the “California Charter Schools Assoc Advocates.”

Castillo – himself an executive with StudentsFirst – said the contributions won’t push him to give special treatment to charter schools or to applications to form charter schools.

“I think I’ve been pretty clear before,” he said. “I support better options for parents, whether it’s charter schools or public schools.”

He added that while he supports charter schools, he also believes that if a charter school doesn’t perform, it should be shut down. The campaign donations won’t budge him, said Castillo.

“When making a decision on the board, one of the things I will consider is how to look at all sides of an issue – whether it’s from the teachers, students, charter school advocates or non-charter school advocates.”

Meanwhile, opponent Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez reports having raised $10,465 (not counting donations received after the most recent reporting deadline). She’s a teacher in the Folsom-Cordova school district.

Among her receipts are about $2,000 from the teachers’ union here in Washington Unified School District, $5,500 from the Sacramento City Teachers Association PAC (political action committee), $2,000 from the Twin Rivers United Educators PAC and $1,000 from the Los Rios Federation of Teachers PAC. This list may include some donations received after her campaign fund snapshot that showed $10,465 in funds.

Kirby-Gonzalez was asked whether support from teachers’ unions would influence her decisions as a school board member – for example, when the school board was negotiating with its teachers on a labor contract.

“No,” she answered. “While I have money from the teachers and I’m happy to have their support, certainly this is not about the teachers, it’s about the students. . . Absolutely, I’ll keep money out of it, of course. There may be times I would have to bow out (of a decision) if the attorney says to.”

Also on the list of financial supporters for Kirby-Gonzalez are contributors such as Rebecca J. Lovally, a CSUS professor, $2,000; Sunderland for School Board 2012 committee, $1,000; and the campaign committee for 2012 school board candidate Coby Pizotti, which gave her $350.

Other people on the list of contributors to Castillo’s campaign include Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who gave $500; Cabaldon’s campaign committee, which gave $2,500; David Crane, lecturer on public policy at Stanford, $2,500; several executives at StudentsFirst including Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee, who gave $500; the American Sikh PAC, $1,000; and Donna Lucias of Lucas Public Affairs, $1,000.

[adrotate group=”9″]  Besides Castillo and Kirby-Gonzalez, the others in the race are Katherine Gales, Linh Nguyen and Nicholas Turney. Each of those three reported accepting little or no campaign money from others as of February 16.

Fundraising totals for some candidates will be revised as they file reports later in the campaign season.

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Starting or expanding a business?

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Got questions about starting a business in West Sacramento? Finding financing, or other issues? Classes begin March 14 at the community center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue. Sign up by calling 617-4535 (English) or 492-2008 #213 (Spanish) or 492-2591 #220 (Russian).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

13 arrests in gang crime sweep

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — FEB 27, 2013 —

Lt. David Delaini of the West Sacramento Police Department talks about a sweep done in response to a local wave in car and home burglaries (News-Ledger photo)

Lt. David Delaini of the West Sacramento Police Department talks about a sweep done in response to a local wave in car and home burglaries (News-Ledger photo)

The West Sacramento Police Department just announced an operation this morning in which about a dozen warrants were served — all but one of them in West Sacramento — after an investigation into a string of vehicle and residential burglaries in town.

Lt. David Delaini of the West Sacramento Police Department said about $20,000 in illegal drugs — including methamphetamine and marijuana — were seized, along with cash, an assault rifle and other guns.

“Any time we take guns off the street and drugs off the street, that’s a victory for us,” Delaini told a press conference at about noon today. “You can see the weapons with lights (mounted) on them and you seem some stabbing weapons,” he said, referring to a table of seized items spread out for the press.

____________________

Following is a copy of a press release about this operation from the West Sacramento Police Department:

“The California Department of Justice, Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team (YONET) and The West Sacramento Police Department conducted a collaborative investigation into a burglary ring, stemming from over 80 residential burglaries and 51 vehicle burglaries from December 2012 to present.   These burglaries extended throughout the city and outlying regions.  One state arrest warrant and 12 state search warrants were executed today in an attempt to recover stolen property.  The investigation has resulted in 13 arrests, three assault rifles, four handguns, (several of which were recovered stolen), an active honey oil lab, five pounds of marijuana,1/4 pound methamphetamine, ammunition, and body armor.  Additionally, three locations contained children who were removed by CPS due to their access and proximity to the firearms and drugs.  Everyone arrested will be booked into the Yolo County Jail and juvenile hall.

Guns seized in the West Sacramento-based operation -- some were stolen and at least one was an illegal assault weapon, according to WSPD. (News-Ledger photo)

Guns seized in the West Sacramento-based operation — some were stolen and at least one was an illegal assault weapon, according to WSPD. (News-Ledger photo)

“The operation in West Sacramento was named ‘Operation Red Bandits’ because the members of this burglary ring have been identified as active members of the Norteno criminal street gang.

“‘Operation Red Bandits’ targeted young, street level members who have been committing violent crimes including robberies, home burglaries, car jackings, brandishing firearms and shootings in and around the Sacramento region.  Many of the members identified have prior arrests for firearm related charges.  These gang members and associates have supported their gang life style through illegal sales of methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as stolen property.  These street level gang members have been identified and range in age from 16-20 years old.

“Those arrested face multiple felony charges related to possession of narcotics, narcotics sales and distribution, conspiracy, property crimes (burglaries, possession of stolen property), and violent crimes against persons (ie robberies, carjackings, brandishing and firearms).  Today’s operation will cripple these criminal street gangs and their criminal enterprise network.

Bags of marijuana, and seized cash (News-Ledger photo)

Bags of marijuana, and seized cash (News-Ledger photo)

“West Sacramento Police Department and YONET were assisted by CHP SWAT and High Risk Warrant Entry Team, Department of Justice Task Forces (Placer SIU, MAVMIT), Davis Police Department SWAT, FBI SAFE Streets Task Force, West Sacramento Police Department SWAT, Woodland Police Department SWAT, Yolo County Sheriff’s Department SWAT, Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and the Yolo County Gang Task Force.”

Wrist-mounted slashing weapon with three blades, seized in the raids (News-Ledger photo)

Wrist-mounted slashing weapon with three blades, seized in the raids (News-Ledger photo)

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Turney: communication is key

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER — Feb 20 & 27, 2013 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

NICHOLAS TURNEY: candidate in the special West Sacramento school board election on March 5 (News-Ledger photo)

NICHOLAS TURNEY: candidate in the special West Sacramento school board election on March 5 (News-Ledger photo)

“Better communication” is an important theme for Nicholas Turney, one of five candidates running in a special election March 5 to fill a vacant seat on West Sacramento’s school board.   So it gave Turney “renewed hope” when the current board recently announced that it would make better public communication a strategic priority for the district in 2013.

“They are looking at increasing their communication with the community,” Turney told the News-Ledger. “They want to work on community outreach and their social media usage, so that they can better communicate with West Sacramento – both with the people who have students in the district, and with the residents in general.”

“When I met with the superintendent a few weeks ago, I explained to him that this is something you cannot fall behind on,” added Turney. “We have moved into an era where everybody communicates through their computers or smartphones.”

For that reason, he argued, Washington Unified School District needs to let people register their kids for school online,  advertise campus events over the internet, and make technology more available in the classroom.

Turney also thinks that technology can help WUSD get its message out to West Sacramentans who don’t speak English.

“The way that translation software has come about, you can, with the click of a button, translate a web page from English to Russian, Spanish, Cantonese or whatever,” he said. “That’s another issue I brought up to the superintendent  and the district – we have a lot of people in West Sacramento for whom English is not their language. Having information accessible to them where they can push a button and read it in their own language is so much more helpful. It gets more parents involved.”

[adrotate group=”10″]  Turney said he has attended the past few local school board meetings, and believes the current board is “starting to come together.”

“They really made an effort to spend some time, work together, and come up with this document that has their (strategic) priorities on it,” he said.

Turney, 33, lives with his wife and two kids in the Rivers subdivision in West Sacramento’s north. He has a daughter in kindergarten, and a younger toddler “who is now taking up 95 percent of my time.” Turney is the current homemaker in his household.

The candidate grew up mostly in the East Bay, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from Chico State University. He’s a former adjunct instructor of speech communications at Woodland Community College.

Turney’s interest in running for school board stemmed mostly from his experience when starting to enroll his daughter for kindergarten at Riverbank Elementary School in West Sacramento. After receiving “not the best first impression” of that school, he instead enrolled her in Davis.

“I had trouble getting information from (Washington Unified School District),” Turney recalled. “When I attended registration, and I was still a little uncertain about things. Then I attended the parents meeting the week before school started, and there was no discussion of curriculum.”

“There was a discussion of the social programs that are available to help the students in need,” he continued. “Granted, I am glad those programs are there, because there are a lot of students who need the help. At our neighborhood school (Riverbank), over 60 percent of the students need free or discounted meals. Over 50 percent are English language learners. They have a uniform closet for students who can’t afford to buy their own uniforms. All these things are great to have. . . but when I went to learn about the school, I wanted to learn about what the kids are going to learn at the school. I didn’t get that.”

His candidacy doesn’t have the backing of any local city officials or school board members, but Turney does have the endorsement of the Yolo County Republican chapter. That’s important, he said, because Republican values such as fiscal responsibility would be good for West Sacramento’s school board.

How good are the schools in Washington Unified School District?

“They’re improving,” answered Turney. “It’s a sign that things are potentially getting better. The test scores seem to fluctuate, going up and down, when you look at the data year by year. Overall, they’ve shown improvement over the past.”

The independent study high school just made the ‘800 Club’ (the group of campuses earning ‘800’ scores on the standardized student tests),” he added. “Big kudos to them, because these students are not in traditional schools, for a variety of reasons.”

But, added Turney, “I’ve never really been a fan of standardized testing. There’s no motivation for (students) to do well on the test – it doesn’t affect their grade, or whether they’re going to college. . . I think if they really wanted to judge how students are doing and how teachers are doing in the classroom, they need to look at it over time, and take a more qualitative approach, and talk to people.”

Charter schools can be a divisive issue: some people view them as legitimate alternatives to public schools, and others see them as competing with public campuses and taking resources from them.

“I’m more ‘case by case,’” said Turney. “Since charter schools tend to have more of an overall different theme – some focus heavily on the arts, some try to focus more on languages or whatever – it is going to be case-by-case. They still need to hold to the same standards.”

How does he characterize the fiscal situation of WUSD?

“It’s kind of hard to say, because there hasn’t been a lot of transparency in terms of the available numbers,” Turney answered. “From the comments that have been made by the district and the teachers’ association, it seems like they have been reserved when it comes to spending and cuts. But it’s hard to say what the actual numbers are.”

What does the “job description” of a school board member look like?

“Most importantly, they need to be able to be a communications liaison between the community and the district,” answered Turney. “They need to make sure that members of the community have their voices heard.”

“Additionally, I think a board member needs to function well as a team player,” he added. “If the board can’t work well together, the schools won’t benefit.”

  This concludes the News-Ledger’s interview series for the 2013 special election. You can find the News-Ledger’s interviews with the other four school board candidates (Francisco Castillo, Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, Linh Nguyen and Katherine Gales) at this website.

  Basic election info:
  West Sacramento has a special all-mail election to fill one vacant seat on the school board of the Washington Unified School District. The election date is Tuesday, March 5. As an alternative to mailing your ballot, you may drop it off on the main floor of city hall, 1110 West Capitol Avenue, during business hours up to election day. For more information, call the elections department, 1-800-649-9943.

  Do you like what you see here?

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

 

Join the West Sac Singers

The West Sacramento Singers in a holiday concert inside the Southport Nugget market in December (News-Ledger photo)

The West Sacramento Singers in a holiday concert inside the Southport Nugget market in December (News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Take your vocals out of the shower.

Anyone 18 & up is invited to join the West Sacramento Community Singers, in their third year of entertaining at local events. Especially needed are altos, baritones & tenors, but all are welcome. Rehearsals begin March 3. Go to http://www.meetup.com/West-Sacramento-Community-Singers/ or call 916-376-0756.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

WSPD officer arrested & booked

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — FEB 25, 2013 —

The West Sacramento Police Department has announced the arrest of one of its officers on sexual assault and kidnapping charges.

SERGIO ALVAREZ, accused West Sacramento Police Officer (booking photo, Yolo County Jail)

SERGIO ALVAREZ, accused West Sacramento Police Officer (booking photo, Yolo County Jail)

The alleged crimes are believed to have occurred while Sergio Alvarez was performing duties on patrol. Trouble was discovered on September 24, 2012.

“Information regarding possible criminal conduct by Alvarez came to the attention of the West Sacramento Police Department as the result of a routine field contact by a uniformed patrol officer,” said Lieutenant Tod Sockman of the West Sacramento Police department in a press release. “Alvarez was immediately placed on administrative leave and a criminal investigation was initiated.”

Sacramento police were asked to help investigate.

“The investigation identified six female victims ranging in age from 20 to 47 years old,” Sockman continued. “All of the victims frequented the West Capitol area. Alvarez used his position as a police officer to stop and assault the victims.”

[adrotate group=”7″] Results of the investigation were forwarded to the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, and the Grand Jury issued an indictment. Alvarez “has been served with termination paperwork” and is now in custody in Yolo County Jail, reported Sockman.

Bail was set at $26.3 million, Sockman added at a later press conference.

A tip line for further information from the public has been created. If you believe you may have information, call (916) 617-4775.

(More information on this story will be in the News-Ledger’s Feb. 27 print edition.)

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Cruise aboard the Sea Scout cutter

Former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morris, now the flagship vessel of the West Sacramento-area Sea Scouts (courtesy of the Sea Scouts)

Former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morris, now the flagship vessel of the West Sacramento-area Sea Scouts (courtesy of the Sea Scouts)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

A pair of brunch cruises aboard the former Coast Guard Cutter Morris will serve as a fundraiser for the Delta Youth Maritime Association.

The brunch cruises will be held Feb. 24 & 25, and a dinner cruise is offered on the 23rd. Donation: $75 for brunch or $125 for dinner, tax-deductible. Email sssneptune@gmail.com or call 775-3732.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013