Category Archives: Opinion

Flu season: worse than average

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 23, 2013 —

From Beth Gabor
Public Information Officer
County of Yolo

This year’s influenza season is worse than an average year, and especially bad for seniors.  Seasonal influenza is now widespread in California.  Most influenza being seen this year is covered by the vaccine, and when needed, is sensitive to anti-viral treatment.  The Yolo County Health Department reminds the community that in addition to getting a flu shot every year (especially important for the young and old), everyone should also follow these simple steps to avoid the flu:

•    Wash hands often with soap and water
•    Regularly clean commonly-touched surfaces, i.e. countertops, doorknobs, telephones etc.
•    Don’t share cups, straws or anything that goes in the mouth
•    Avoid touching your eyes and nose
•    Cover nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, and promptly discard used facial tissues
•    If sick, stay home

Other important factors that help prevent getting sick:
•    Get enough rest and stay physically fit to help the body fight off disease
•    Don’t smoke and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke

Flu vaccine is still available and worth receiving this late in the season.  The flu vaccine can be obtained through local healthcare providers, pharmacies and the Yolo County Health Department’s regularly scheduled immunization clinic held every Tuesday, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at 137 N. Cottonwood Street in Woodland.

“We appear to be halfway through an early flu season with rates of influenza-related illness increasing in California,” said Constance Caldwell, MD, Interim Yolo County Health Officer, in a press release.  “Protect yourself, your family and your community by getting a flu shot, washing hands often and staying home when you are ill.  These three steps go a long way in reducing the incidence, and in some cases, deaths related to flu.”

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Editorial: perfect place for a bite



Follow us around Northern California for a minute:

First, think of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The former transit center has been overhauled, and it has become a hub for both locals and tourists who are in search of something good to eat. There are high-end produce stands, seafood selections, chocolates, bread, meats, sweets and specialty items, as well as  restaurants. There’s also a great weekly farmers market, with seasonal offerings from tangerines to freshly-shucked oysters.

The common theme at the Ferry Building is the world class agriculture and fishing grounds of Northern California. In other words, locally-grown food.

Now, step inside the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.

In a way, this is a spinoff of the Ferry Building. Here, near the Napa River are more gourmet treats, including fish, espresso, greens, cupcakes, fine cheeses and specialty restaurants.

Next, consider what the mayors of West Sacramento and Sacramento are up to.

West Sacramento’s Mayor Christopher Cabaldon wants to make this city a “hub” for the food business. Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson wants to make his town a “Farm to Fork Capital,” bringing locally-grown food to local tables.

  Keeping all this in mind, take a look at what’s going on in West Sacramento’s Bridge District. This mixed-use, urban development between the freeway and Tower Bridge will boast a presence that celebrates the river and the Sacramento skyline. Parts of it will have an outdoor atmosphere not so different from the San Francisco Embarcadero.

It’s the perfect place for another mini-Ferry Building and the best farmers market in the Central Valley, don’t you think?

  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 (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Things I won’t miss about the Kings

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor


As I write this, the less-than-beloved Maloof family have apparently sold the Sacramento Kings to a group of wealthy Seattle, Washington investors headed by some hedge fund guy named Chris Hansen. The selling price appears to be about $525 million, which should go a long way in helping the Maloofs pay off about $200 million in debts they have racked up over the years while owning the Kings, not to mention the $6 or $7 million they say they are going to lose on this year’s operation of the team. Other possible buyers are also trying to match or top that offer, but one way or another, it looks like the Kings will finally be leaving Sacramento in the not too distant future.

Looking back on the history of the Kings, it seems like they were always having serious money problems and demanding that the taxpayers of the City of Sacramento foot most of the bill. I remember Jim Thomas (the guy who owned the Kings before he sold them to the Maloof brothers) at one point wanting a $60 million loan from the city and their help in passing a $145 million bond measure so he could build himself a new arena, and if the city didn’t fork over, he was going to move the team. And the Maloofs, of course, have been threatening to move the Kings out of Sacramento and to greener (as in dollars) pastures for ages.

To tell you the truth, as exciting as the Kings once were back in the days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, and “White Chocolate” himself, Jason Williams, I’m not really all that sad to see them go. The Maloofs (or any new owners willing to keep the Kings in town) would only continue to demand more millions from the already cash-strapped City of Sacramento to make possible that seemingly universal demand of all professional basketball teams – a shiny new arena with all the bells and whistles paid for by someone other than themselves.

There was a time when I considered myself to be a pretty loyal Sacramento Kings fan, even though decent seats cost $50 or more and that was just the tip of the iceberg. It also cost a small fortune for parking, bad food at the concession stands, and a few souvenirs for the kids. In fact, by the time my family and I had finished watching a Kings’ game and were stuck in all that traffic trying to get back to West Sacramento, I had easily spent over $250, which is not exactly a cheap family night out on the town.

Anyway, although I somehow managed to live through the days of Billy Owens and Olden Polynice and God only knows how many other not-ready-for-prime-time Kings players, the straw that actually broke my back had to do with a little argument I had with my wife at the last Kings game I ever attended, and it went a little something like this:

“Are you hungry?” asked my wife, noting that it was close to 7 pm and neither one of us had eaten very much for dinner before we left for the game.

“Not really,” I said, “but I am a little thirsty. And since we are in these fancy seats tonight (a friend had generously let us use his season tickets) instead of up in the nose bleed section like usual, I think I’ll ask that waitress to get us something to drink the next time she strolls by.”

“Good idea,” said my wife, digging through her purse and handing me $5. “Get me a bottle of water, okay?”

“Are you kidding?” I asked. “A bottle of water can’t possibly cost $5.”

“I bet it does.” And sure enough (including a little tip for the waitress), it did.

So, a little after halftime, long after my wife and I had finished our $5 bottles of water, we found ourselves thirsty again.

“I’ll go and get us Cokes or something,” I said, “although God only knows how much that will cost.”

“But I just want water,” insisted my wife.

“No way am I paying another $10 for two small bottles of water!”

“Would you stop being so cheap, Daryl. You didn’t even have to pay for the seats tonight.”

“I don’t care, it’s the principle of the thing. Here, give me your empty water bottle and I’ll go fill it up at a water fountain.”

“There are no water fountains in here, Daryl. They want you to buy beer and cokes and bottled water when you get thirsty. They wouldn’t make any money if everyone was hanging out at drinking fountains.”

  “Okay,” I said, determined not to be ripped off any more than necessary by the Maloofs, “then I’ll just take our empty bottles, find a men’s lavatory, and fill them up with water from one of the sinks.”

“What?” demanded my wife, her face suddenly full of horror.

“Now I know for sure they’ve got bathrooms with sinks to wash your hands in this place, even if they don’t have water fountains. I’ll even let the faucet run for a good long time so the water is nice and cold.”

“Daryl, there is no way in the world I’m going to drink Arco Arena men’s restroom water!”

“But why not? I’m going to be getting it out of a sink, not a toilet.”

With that, my wife was up and out of her seat and on her way to purchase her own ridiculously over-priced container of non-bathroom water.

“Okay, okay,” I shouted after her, “then how about this? You can fill up the empty bottles with water from a sink in the women’s bathroom?”

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Others’ views on school board issue


  On the News-Ledger’s “Facebook” internet page this week, we invited comments to last week’s newspaper editorial.

  The editorial (we’ve provided a link below) contrasted the way Washington Unified School District and Sacramento City Unified School District each handled the appointment of a new school board member to fill a vacancy, and suggested WUSD commit itself to more transparency.

  We received the following feedback on Facebook:

  Jenni Zimmerman Yarwood: The constant badgering and belittling of the WUSD board by both the News-Ledger and the mayor is very disheartening and troublesome.

How about being mature, responsible adults and not lowering yourself to elementary schoolyard bullying? How about coming together in a positive way with a workable solution without the constant mudslinging and backstabbing?

Sadly, this kind of behavior is very typical of the media and our government these days and it’s got to stop. We will never come together as a community, a state or a country if this kind of behavior continues. It is this kind of behavior that is literally tearing our country and our communities apart.


  Ardeene Brueske Westvik: Thank you for pointing out that the Sacramento School District managed to appoint a new temporary member without the cost of an additional election. I agree that transparency is always important in any public institution.

  However, I would suggest it is also important when the public is asked to elect a school board. It is shocking to hear about some of the money that is very likely going to be spent to elect members some political figures wish to be placed on the Board. One really wonders what their motives are. Do they actually have some magic answer to make major improvements in the district or is their motive something less apparent?

Having been a district teacher, administrator and school board member, I know there is not a financial reason, nor can school boards make many of the decisions that are now made by Federal and State categorical fund requirements. So if some group is willing to spent as much as $10,000 for a school board position, we need to know where that money comes from.

As our most-read local newspaper, I sincerely request that you make the public very aware of the source of all funding for all candidates running for a seat on the school board. Lets have transparency in all aspects of our public offices.


  Irene Perrigo Eklund: Even more important, why don’t you let the public know where the mayor and our supervisor got the money they spent on their independent expenditure committee and who is putting their name on them.

I read the article in the Bee about the Sacramento appointment and it was pretty much the same process as WUSD used. The mayor has already made the statement that if his candidate would have been appointed, this costly election would not be taking place.

So let’s just be honest about why this special election is taking place. It’s all about politics, power and greed. They surely do not care that the $130,000 price tag [for the special election] will come right from our kids’ classrooms. It is very obvious those involved do not care. Very sad indeed.


  You can find the original News-Ledger editorial here.

  You may comment on this or other local issues by sending a ‘letter to the editor’ to us by email (call 916-371-8030 for email address).

  Or, by mail to:
  News-Ledger, P.O. Box 463, West Sacramento, CA 95691.
  Either way, please include your real name (for publication) and your address and phone number (not for publication).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013


‘Letters to the Editor’ from the News-Ledger edition of January 9, 2013 —


Why not Mark?

In the December 12, 2012 edition of the News-Ledger the front-page article regarding the appointment of Chris Ledesma as the next vice mayor was troubling.  I don’t have anything against  Chris, but I was troubled by the politics behind his selection. Mark Johannessen has been on the council much longer, but he has always been passed over in this position. Why does this happen?

West Sacramento

  EDITOR’S NOTE: At the city council meeting of December 5, Councilman Bill Kristoff nominated Mark Johannessen to be the next “mayor pro tem,” or vice mayor.

  No one seconded that motion. Councilman Oscar Villegas then nominated Chris Ledesma, who was unanimously elected.

  Johannessen is in his second term on the council and has not yet served as mayor pro tem. He declined detailed comments to the News-Ledger, saying the vote was “no big deal.”


Help her!

Almost everyday I see the same woman at the Safeway Shopping Center. She has the same filthy clothes on with the same filthy jacket and matted hair. She has several small bags she carries in a basket all the time. To see her still homeless is a shame on us and our community. I have given her money and said hello, but its hard to tell how much of her is really still there. She has been outside in all temperatures for over a year.

I know this because I have seen her for so long. She sometimes looks at me with these eyes that still speak and seem to be saying “Help.”

I know she has been to the Yolo County Human Services office on Jefferson because I’ve seen her there. I even over-heard a conversation she was having on the phone at the One Spot Career Center inside their lobby, (they let you use the phones free there),. Its supposed to be to find a job thou. I heard her saying, “I’m trying to get back into a board and care. I am staying at a motel and I don’t feel safe”. That was over a year ago.

A Board and Care is a facility for those who require assistance with living and taking care of their ADLS, “Activities of Daily Living.” If she was once at that level of care, she should not be out on the street. It is obvious that she suffers with mental illness. I have never seen her ask for money or with any liquor. I was so desperate for this woman to get help, I recently sent the Mayor Christopher Cabaldon a letter on Facebook. Here’s what it said:

“This woman needs help. She is always at the Safeway shopping center. She is homeless, mentally ill, elderly, filthy and with matted hair. She was trying to get into a board and over a year ago. This I know because of a conversation I over-heard at the Health and Human Services office. She was using the phone at the One-Stop Career Center. She has been seen by social services and law enforcement alike and she still remains in desperate need. If you go over there in the morning between Big Lots and Rite-Aid or in front of Safeway you will see her. Please, Mayor Cabaldon, use the powers within your office to help this woman and the other mentally ill and homeless souls in our community.”

I don’t know if anything will be done, but its a sad day when sick people can’t get the help they are asking for and so desperately needs. West Sacramento is a Mecca for the homeless, addict, mentally ill and just down and out. Maybe its our cheap motels and easy access to the river. One might say just move, but I’ve bought a home here and I like West Sac, but for your everyday person, who cares about these people, its become a depressing place to live.

We have to do something for the homeless. Provide a day shelter, and get the mentally ill help. We need a detox center for the addict. Its just getting increasingly like a set from a zombie movie here, with us just living, shopping and acting as if the “living dead” among us, already are.

West Sacramento

The homeless challenge

Thank you for reporting on the issue of homelessness in West Sacramento and Councilman Mark Johannessen’s ongoing efforts to address the issue and its impact on our community (News-Ledger, Jan. 2).

St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Grace Conference is among the many faith-based groups in West Sacramento who are concerned about how our city and county address the needs of the poor in our community, especially the homeless.  I appreciate Councilman Johannessen’s efforts to push for the development of city policy concerning the poor and unsheltered.

In developing policy in this area, it is important to view the challenges of overcoming poverty and homelessness from the perspective of building a community in West Sacramento that is inclusive of all of its residents.  This perspective begins, I think, with the understanding that the “homeless” are not a problem, but real people, including families with children,  facing tough challenges in tough times.  For example, over the last year, we saw our requests for need increase by 175%.

Every situation is unique and personal to the people affected by poverty.   In developing a policy, the city should include poor and homeless individuals in the planning process.  I have met such persons through the charitable work of St. Vincent de Paul.  They have much to offer for workable solutions because they are living the experience of poverty in our community.

The development of policy should be open and transparent.   There needs to be ample notice of public meetings, and meetings need to be set at reasonable times and places so there can be full participation by all stakeholders.  Mr. Johannessen has taken this approach and the city council should  follow his lead to have all voices heard.  It is also critical that policy be developed with better facts concerning the depth of poverty in our community.  The reported count of only 138 homeless people within city limits does not square with the reality of what we find in our work with the poor.

It is important, too, that policy not look to just one solution but acknowledge the scope of the challenges of being homeless and build upon multiple solutions to address the varying need.  The policy should address systemic change where needed, such as, access to resources through coordinated communication.  We have seen such positive changes in the formation of West Sac Partners, the establishment of 211 telephone assistance, and the work of the Broderick Bryte Community Action Network.

Our Lady of Grace Conference remains hopeful that city leaders will be open to addressing the issue of homelessness as a real and pressing challenge for our community and will work with stakeholders for a policy that is humane, decent, and worthy of the City of West Sacramento.

Conference President
Our Lady of Grace Conference
Society of St. Vincent de Paul



News-Ledger, PO Box 463, West Sacramento CA 95691 (call 916 371-8030 for email address)

Letters must include the author’s real name (for publication) as well as phone number and address (not for publication). Questions? Call (916) 371-8030.

  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 (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

EDITORIAL: same problem, different answer

EDITORIAL from the News-Ledger — JAN 9, 2013 —

In March, West Sacramento residents will vote in a special election to fill a vacant seat on the local school board.

The vacancy was already filled once – last fall, when remaining school board members accepted applications and chose West Sacramento’s Liz Bagdazian to fill the seat. But a number of citizens criticized the way this happened. The citizens, backed by Mayor Cabaldon, gathered the needed signatures to nullify this appointment and send the matter to the voters.

One of the main criticisms leveled at the school district was that it kept secret the list of candidates for the open seat, making their names public only at the final selection meeting. The News-Ledger requested the names ahead of the meeting, but the request was denied.

Let’s compare this to how Sacramento City Unified School District handled a similar school board vacancy in the fall:

According to the Sac City district website, applications for their school board vacancy were accepted until November 14. The next day, the board met to review the applications in open session, with “all applications. . . available at the Board meeting for public inspection.”

Next, each applicant was then invited to make a presentation at the board’s December 6 meeting, and time was set aside on Dec. 20 for final presentations, questions from board members, and a final vote by the school board.

In other words, Sac City invited the public to get to know the candidates and offer questions and comments about them. That could have happened here.

  Now, WUSD’s top officials are professionals with good intentions and they do a good job on many things. There was no villainy in WUSD’s selection process.

The News-Ledger’s main concerns after the West Sacramento appointment were that WUSD officials seemed to view “transparency” as a secondary goal, aiming (not always successfully) just to meet their bare legal obligations. And they did not seem to understand the state’s public record laws, which say that school district records are almost always “public” records and the district is obligated to help the public get the records it wants.

When, as a governmental entity, you try too hard to keep the public at arm’s length, sometimes it will backfire on you.

It would be better if the good people running WUSD were to consciously adopt a new policy of maximum transparency. They should educate their staff about public requests for information, release school board meeting agendas earlier than the minimum legal deadline whenever possible, and so forth. If the district’s law firm doesn’t understand “public records,” WUSD should get a new law firm.

There should be a “transparency” culture, where the public comes first.  The reward will be more trust and goodwill.

And fewer special elections.

  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 (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

They could have been anybody’s kids

NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 26, 2012 —

‘MY BACK PAGES’: Daryl Fisher’s column

So, just what is the “Bushmaster .223 AR-15” assault rifle that was used to slaughter 20 grade school children and six of their female teachers and administrators a week ago last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut?


To begin with, it’s actually a demilitarized version of the deadly M-16 rifle I carried around in the jungles of Vietnam more than 40 years ago. It’s lightweight, doesn’t have much of a recoil, and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has even said it is her favorite gun, “because you can be so accurate with it.” Its makers officially call it a “modern sporting rifle” and one of its best-selling points is that it is set up to handle high-capacity magazines (ten or more rounds) which give the shooter the ability to fire off dozens of bullets without having to take a bunch of time out to reload.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, it is also one of the most popular rifles in the country, with more than 2 million of them having been sold in the last decade alone. They usually cost anywhere from $900 to $2000, although I hear there are some really nice sales going on right now that will make you the proud owner of one for as little as $799.

In addition to being very popular with target practice enthusiasts (like Adam Lanza’s mother, who was the first of her son’s 27 victims), they have become wildly popular with mass murderers. It was the weapon of choice for the two killers who came to be known as the Beltway Snipers back in the early 2000s, terrorizing much of the Washington, D.C., area and leaving 15 people dead before they were caught. And an AR-15 (with a 100-round barrel magazine) was also one of the weapons used to shoot up an Aurora, Colorado theater not that long ago, leaving 12 dead and 58 wounded. Oh, and it was the weapon another crazed killer used in the very recent Clackamas, Oregon, shopping mall shooting that left three dead (including the gunman) and many people in that community too scared to finish their Christmas shopping.

So, as any sane person should finally get around to asking, why in the hell is such a weapon allowed to be in the hands of any American other than a soldier or police officer? Well, apparently it has something to do with the American gun culture, which now has our nation afloat in somewhere between 270 and 350 million guns. No one really knows the exact number, but whatever it is, it’s almost half of all the guns in the world.

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), it also has something to do with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which as I understand it, the Founding Fathers set up to make sure that we could each have our own musket (the kind that takes about a minute to reload) and there would be a well-regulated militia in case the British ever got back on their ships and tried to reclaim their American colonies again.

It’s one thing for a hunter to have a properly registered rifle and shotgun, and for citizens who feel they need a handgun to protect their family and possessions to own one. But to keep accepting close to 10,000 gun deaths every year in this country as simply part of the price we all have to pay for our Second Amendment rights is nothing less than madness.

The NRA, which can apparently make or break some of our most cowardly politicians, also says that we don’t really have a gun problem in this country, just a crazy people problem, and that if we really want to effectively deal with gun violence in America, all we really need to do is get off our butts and buy more guns (that really is what their organization is mostly about you know: selling more guns so they can continue to get more than half of their yearly multi-million dollar lobbying budget from gun manufacturers).

When talking to the NRA and their knee-jerk supporters, they will give lip service to everything from violent video games and movies to our inadequate mental healthcare system (all of which, by the way, should indeed be part of any serious discussion about gun violence in this country). But in their first news conference since that bloody Friday morning in Newtown, their only answer to making sure it doesn’t happen again is to put heavily armed police officers into all our schools, effectively moving future “OK Corrals” from the dusty streets of the old Wild West into our nation’s classrooms.

In reality, meaningful gun control laws can be enacted and can even work, as Australia proved less than two decades ago when they put the safety of their citizens ahead of the profits of weapons manufacturers after a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he had finished, that gunman had killed 35 people and wounded dozens more. It was easily the worst mass murder in Australia’s history, and only twelve days later, Australia’s conservative government announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures, including a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. Polls showed that 90 percent of the public supported those measures, and they have gone a long ways towards making Australia a much safer place to call home.

  On the day I was wounded in Vietnam, 21 of the 28 members of my Aero Rifle Platoon were also hit, and two of them were killed. The scene was unimaginable, with blood and guts everywhere and with trained soldiers in shock from what they had just witnessed and somehow lived through. It was the most deadly and terrifying ambush I experienced during my year in Vietnam and yet it was nothing compared to what those poor little kids and their teachers and administrators had to face at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty kindergarten and first grade students shot dead, with each of their little bodies having been hit at least three times (some as many as 11). Six brave female teachers and administrators also shot dead while trying to keep their precious students out of harm’s way.

And as someone who has seen up-close-and-personal the way a rifle like the Bushmaster AR-15 does its terrible thing, I can tell you that those poor little kids weren’t simply killed – they were blown away!

So, will meaningful gun control laws turn all the bad guys into good guys? Of course not. But all important journeys begin with the first step, and it’s way beyond time that our country and its politicians manned-up and started getting these god-awful weapons and their high-capacity magazines off our nation’s streets and out of our homes and neighborhoods.

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, and Allison could have been any of our kids and grandkids. They should all be home opening their Christmas presents this week, instead of being buried in some lonely cemetery by the completely shattered families who adored them. And each of their lovely, innocent souls deserved so much better from the nation that now mourns them.

  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 (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012