Category Archives: Politics

Mother of alleged gang member discusses son’s charges and her involvement with Broderick is Not a Gang

Editor’s Note: The following was provided by West Sacramento mother Sonia Rodriguez when asked to provide details about her son in a way to humanize the neighborhood youth who, in addition to serious crimes, has been labeled as a gang member, even though she said he was never affiliated with a gang. Some of it has been edited to fit the newspaper.

Name: Elijah Rodriguez
Age:
21 (now) 17 at time of arrest

On May 5, 2012, Elijah Rodriguez was arrested at school around Franklyn Way and Glide Avenue for attempted murder. The charges were dropped to assault with a deadly weapon. He took a deal for 12 years with two strikes.

He was charged with:
CT1 PC 245 (a) (1) assault with a deadly weapon (3 years), CT1A PC 186.22 (b) gang enhancement (5yrs)
CT2 PC 245(a) (1) assault with a deadly weapon (1 year) CT2B PC 12022.7 (a) inflicts great bodily injury (3 years)

Statement from Sonia Rodriguez
I completely understand what my son did was wrong and believe he deserved to go to prison. What he was charged with is a very serious matter that we don’t take lightly. However, I have a problem with a couple things.
The first being the amount of time Elijah got. He took a deal for 12 years. He was threatened with 25 years to life if we went to trial granted there were no deaths in this case. Because of the “safe zone” if this crime would have happened one block over, my son wouldn’t have gotten gang enhancements which added five years to his prison term. I take issue with the 12-year sentence because in 2008 my 17-year-old daughter was hit and killed by a hit and run drunk driver and the offender only got a 9-year sentence and served less than three years for killing my daughter and injuring my daughter’s friend. It just doesn’t seem balanced.
The second thing I have a problem with is my son receiving the gang enhancements and being labeled a gang member. I take issue with the way (the officer) used determined my son was a gang member. The officer has never had contact with my son before this. In court the officer said my son did this to move up in rank with the ‘Broderick Boys’. My son was a dumb kid that did something stupid. This had no rhyme or reason. He wasn’t doing this to be promoted in a gang he was never a part of to begin with. Just because the officer says it, doesn’t make it true. My son is an aspiring rapper and has hundreds of notebooks with raps he wrote. The officer used those as evidence of ‘criminal activity’. The raps were not about rainbows and sunshine, that’s for sure but none on the raps were about gangs or being in gangs. They were stupid raps my son made up, he was a teenage boy. My son is not and was not a gang member. My son was never served with the gang injunction before this. My son has never admitted to being in a gang.
Did my son know kids that said they were in a gang? Of course, these are kids he has gone to school with since preschool through high school. But that is not a crime nor does it make you a gang member. West Sacramento is a very small community. Not every boy in Broderick is a gang member. In prison, my son is not affiliated with a gang. He is considered an ‘other’ meaning he is not in a gang.
However, his paperwork says he is a Norteño gang member and that has caused him problems with other inmates and guards. He has to explain how Yolo County labeled him a gang member but he is not. If he was a former gang member he would be considered a ‘drop out’. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but in prison apparently it is a big deal. It affects how other inmates treat you. My son is okay right now but he is a young impressionable boy with 10 years left in prison. He will have spent a large majority of growing up years around hardened criminals. I can’t say how he will be when he gets out of prison and is a man of 31 years of age. This will affect my son for the rest of his life. Not only while he is in prison but when he gets out and tries to move on with his life.
While in prison he has gotten no write ups and is taking college courses. The last we heard from our son was three weeks ago. He was transferred to a prison in Arizona from The California Correctional Center in Susanville, California. He called us and said they told him he was being transferred again to a prison in Mississippi. We have no further information on his whereabouts. He has been in prison for the past two years. He has 10 more years to serve.
Since joining Broderick is a Community, Not a Gang I have heard story after story about how these kids are being charged as adults, labeled as gang members, and threatened with 25 years to life and offered a deal of 12 years regardless of the crime. It just doesn’t seem right. How can every boy in Broderick be a gang member? Yolo County has the highest direct filing in the state. How can the DAs justify this? If our boys were not criminal gang members before prison, what do they think they will come home as?

Broderick is a community, not a gang: New nonprofit stems from racial profiling of neighborhood boys

By Monica Stark
editor@news-ledger.com

Editor’s Note: This is the first part in a series about the Broderick Boys and neighborhood efforts to bring attention to racial profiling and what community members call unjust sentences. One of the stories in the series will focus on the police perspective.

13059848_10209830114329280_1790195402_nOn Saturday, April 23, West Sacramentans came together at the West Sacramento Police Department to rally against the gang injunction which members of a newly formed nonprofit, Broderick is Not a Gang, say has caused four juveniles to be detained in custody for more than a year.

In June 2015, four youths — Angelo Yabes, 14, Joseph Gomez, 15, Xavier Vincent Perez, 16, and Xavier Westford, 17 — were detained and accused of three separate robberies of pizza delivery drivers despite statements from all the drivers indicating they could not identify who assaulted them. District attorney attempts to charge them as adults and under gang enhancements failed causing all charges to be dropped, only to be picked up against under a “995” (which states the Judge made an error). Yet, Double Jeopardy prohibits a person from being charged twice for a crime. In another attempt to prosecute, on April 7, the DA announced and filed grand jury indictment charges against the four youths as adults.

Their mothers are taking a stand to stop the gang injunction with Broderick is a Community, Not a Gang. This is for the four sons, they say, are being victimized and incarcerated by the gang injunction. The nonprofit will hire legal counsel to overturn the gang injunction in West Sacramento.

The injunction puts several restrictions upon those it affects, including a curfew, making it illegal to associate or assemble with other alleged members, trespassing and drinking anywhere in public view.

Activists say the people of Broderick are a close-knit bunch and that they’ve known each other for years, were raised next door to each other and many have helped raise their children together as well.

Residents of the area say the community has been torn apart by the injunction. “Friends and family members can no longer go to family barbecues or attend each other’s children’s birthday parties,” said a community activist. “They can’t go to the movies together; they can’t attend night school because classes get out after the curfew. This injunction harms the quality of life of our community.”

In a letter to the editor of the Woodland Daily Democrat, Becky Olvera of Woodland, back in 2010 wrote that prior to West Sacramento building James Marshall High School in the early 1950s, students from east Yolo were bused to and attended Woodland High School for years; as were students from Knights Landing, and perhaps also from the town of Yolo. “Those students congregated on campus in their respective city groups. The Woodland students identified and referred to the out of town boys by where they lived. Thus they imposed the identification names, such as the Knights Landing Boys, the Bryte Boys, the West Sac Boys, the Broderick Boys, and the Yolo Boys. Later the Yolo Boys’ name was changed to The Yolo Cats,” Olvera wrote.

She wrote about the beginning of the West Sacramento Gang Injunction Trial. “In 2008 Judge Kathleen White imposed the preliminary injunction, and now the District Attorney’s office is seeking a permanent injunction for a certain area called the ‘safety zone’ in West Sacramento, which I assume incorporates only the streets that once were the streets of the city of Broderick before it became part of West Sacramento. As an interested citizen I sat in on the proceedings the first week when the civil trial began last month. The District Attorney’s office, to put it in the simplest term, intends to prove that a triangle exists. Namely, that the Broderick Boys, Nortenos, and street gangs mean one and the same thing, and that they are intertwined and prevalent in the ‘safety zone’ area.”

Back in 2007, for the same newspaper, the author of today’s News-Ledger article wrote about Billy Wolfinton who went by the name “Bouncer.” Rather than serving all 350 alleged members of the gang, the district attorney served just him. Reisig said that Wolfington, a self-proclaimed Broderick Boy, was seen talking to other gang members at the time the gang injunction was served. “It would be an absolute certainty that he told other gang members,” Reisig said back then. The DA said that Wolfington had a tattoo on his chest that says ” Broderick “, was wearing Broderick ‘s gang color – red – and has been arrested many times in relation with the Broderick Boys for possession of drugs and guns.

But Wolfington didn’t show up in court. And because he didn’t come to court to accept his injunction, Justice Thomas Warriner placed it on the entire neighborhood.

The injunction’s three-square-mile radius which previously included Doss Way, Brookfield, Franklyn Boulevard and Morrison Creek has been extended out to Interstate 80, activists say. Under the provisions of the order, violating any of the activities listed on the junction becomes a crime. For instance, if an employee of a gang member litters or is present on the premises of an uninhabited or abandoned apartment or building, that person is in violation.

Under the West Sacramento Police Department’s list of criteria for gang membership, any two of eleven criteria must be met to be considered a gang member. But the criteria are broad, including items such as: “Individual wears gang clothing/colors” and “Individual displays gang graffiti on personal belongings,” without specifying which colors, clothing or graffiti are considered gang-related.

The organizers of the April event also included members of the National Latino Information and Resource Center, the ANSWER Coalition, the Labor Council For Latin American Advancement, ALF-CIO, the Brown Berets de SacraAztlan, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the West Sacramento Committee To Boycott Driscoll.

Being an election year, the group has continued to take action with a voter registration drive that will impact the Nov. 8 elections. One of the group’s founders, Maria Grijalva, stated she will run for city council. “This November a new wave of West Sacramento residents will be raising their voice with their vote and will end the gang injunction.”

“The reason we formed the nonprofit is that four boys were accused of a pizza delivery robbery. And now they have a $2.5 million bail. Even though there was no violence, they are being threatened with life sentences. Their mothers are the ones who are being directly impacted… A public defender told us that it’s common knowledge that Yolo County uses direct filing to put away Latinos for life and to get rid of them in Yolo County,” Maria said.

Mother Sonia Rodriguez, whose son Elijah is profiled in this issue of the News-Ledger, said she got involved with the nonprofit as soon as she heard about it. “It is too late for my son but I believe this is an issue that will not go away. I speak for the group telling my sons story whenever I am asked, I attend the weekly meetings, I send out donation requests to help fund our efforts, I try and help out whenever and with whatever I can.”

Rodriguez would like the nonprofit to educate the community about the dangers involved in having the gang injunction in West Sacramento/Broderick Area, to remove it, to stop the direct filing on future offenders, and to have an investigation on gang officers as to their evidence gathering. “(The officer’s) word should not be law on our kids; it is too high of a price for our kids to pay for one man to determine. I don’t believe every teenaged boy that gets into trouble is a gang member. I am scared for future generations if this is not done. I don’t believe that having pride in your neighborhood makes you a gang member.”

Further, she said she would like to help change the way the police department interacts with Broderick youth. “I would like to help provide the youth of West Sacramento and Broderick a place they can go to get off the streets, to see a free youth center or free sports center opened in our neighborhood, (not only Southport) so that at-risk, low income kids have easy access to it. I would like to see these kids given a chance in life to succeed. I know it is a lot but you have to dream big. The ultimate goal is to make the Broderick community a better place to live and raise your children.”

Water regulations are recommendations, not mandates

The Stage Three Water Shortage for the City of West Sacramento was lifted on June 1. This change in water regulation has been shared through social media channels and will be in the June utility bill.

It is recommended that watering return to three days a week. This is a recommendation, not a mandate, explained Ryan Burnett, City of West Sacramento Water Conservation Coordinator. “Our hope is to offer more watering while still encouraging water conservation,” he wrote in response to an inquiry from the Ledger after readers questioned this year’s watering schedule. Burnett provided the following recommended watering schedule, as well as current water waste prohibitions:

Recommended watering schedule:
Addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
Addresses ending in 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Water waste prohibitions:
1. Allowing irrigation to run-off to streets and gutters
2. Using a hose not fitted with an automatic shut-off nozzle to wash a vehicle
3. Irrigation of landscape during rainfall
4. Running an irrigation system that applies water to an impervious surface
5. Running an irrigation system that is in disrepair

Municipal Election will take place in West Sacramento in November 


By Jan Dalske for the News Ledger

In the City of West Sacramento (CWS) a municipal election is held on the first Tuesday in November in even-numbered years. This year a municipal election will take place and, two of the current members of the City Council terms as well as the Mayor’s term will expire.
Christopher Cabaldon became the first mayor that was directly elected by the West Sacramento voters in November 2004. He was re-elected in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Voters first elected Mr. Cabaldon to the City Council in 1996. Prior to his election by the voters he had been elected to four single year terms as mayor by the West Sacramento City Council (WSCC). His current term expires in November 2016. There are no term limits in West Sacramento.
Bill Kristoff is the only original member of the WSCC that is still serving. He was first elected by the voters in 1987.This was the year that West Sacramento became incorporated as a city. He has been re-elected every year since his first term.
Beverly “Babs” Sandeen was appointed to the City Council in 2014 when Oscar Villegas left the WSCC to become a Yolo County Supervisor for the 1st District. Ms Sandeen had previously served on the West Sacramento City’s Planning Commission since 2004.
The CWS is what is known as a General Law City. It was founded in 1987. The CWS is governed by a five member city council. The City Council members are elected at large for a four year term. The Mayor is elected for a two year term. Each December, the Council meets and chooses one of its members as Mayor Pro tem.
The candidate filing period for Mayor and two City Council seats is from July 18- August 12.  Interested persons will be invited to apply in person at the City Clerk’s office (City Manager’s Office 1110 W. Capitol Avenue) during normal business hours, 8-5.  Appointments are recommended but not required.  Additionally, qualified candidates must be a registered voter of West Sacramento and at least 18 years of age.  For more information contact the City Clerk’s staff at 617-4500.
The City Clerk serves as the election officer and is responsible for issuance and acceptance of nomination papers, city measures and the publication of necessary legal notices. In addition, all campaign disclosure statements and statements of economic interest filings required by the Fair Political Practices Commission are centralized in the City Clerk’s Office. Source: City of West Sacramento

Largest long-term care union nationwide opened headquarters in West Sac

Dozens of elected officials joined hundreds of caregivers for the elderly and disabled who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015 as they celebrated the opening of their new West Sacramento headquarters on Wednesday, May 11. SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union of long term care workers in the nation with representational responsibility for over 325,000 long term care workers – nursing home and home care workers – throughout California, 20,000 in Sacramento County alone.
The Sacramento office, located at 681 W. Capitol Ave, Suite 100, will serve as the home base for efforts to advocate for improvements to California’s long term care services, economic justice for all Californians in low-wage jobs, among other policy priority issues impacting care workers. With a dozen worker leaders and organizers, the new headquarters also gives the nation’s largest union of long-term care workers a significant footprint in the Sacramento region as represented workers begin contract bargaining with local counties in the coming months.
Some current legislative priorities for Local 2015 include:
-Caregivers Count Bill (AB 2079): Bill which would increase direct care staffing levels at skilled nursing facilities to improve the quality of care for seniors, the infirm, and the disabled.
-Secure Choice Board Retirement Bill (SB 1234): Bill which would require employers to afford California workers a retirement benefit.
-Under the “Dignity Can’t Wait” slogan, Local 2015 will continue to work closely with SEIU State -Council to ensure the 7 percent restoration of hours cut to the In-Home Supportive Services program.

Causeway Celebration Centennial to be held on Saturday, May 14

By Dean Haakenson of “Be Brave Bold Robot”

Image licensed to Zazzle Inc. All unauthorized use is prohibited. 752253d2-a0e8-42b2-a2d8-a94b688c426e

Image licensed to Zazzle Inc. All unauthorized use is prohibited. 752253d2-a0e8-42b2-a2d8-a94b688c426e

In 1916, the Sacramento region had a party to celebrate the then recently completed, long and luxurious Yolo Causeway Bridge. Even at just two lanes wide, it was cause for celebration that a pathway now existed to allow unimpeded automobile (and, I’d imagine, the occasional horse) transportation over the Yolo Bypass floodplain. I will refrain from admonishing any perpetuated car culture less worthy of celebration, but use this sentence to encourage eschewing of the car for fun walks and productive bicycle commuting whenever possible. The causeway, widened over the years and rebuilt to what we use today in 1962, is taken for granted, but the poster they made for the event remains striking: A pleasing deep blue field behind a fantastical illustration of a floating woman and old timey cars on the causeway, blending outward into some flowery filigree. I recently discovered it and it brought me to inspiration: I’d endeavor to stage an event on the centennial of the dates reflected on the 1916 poster, “May 11-14”. May 14, 2016 is a Saturday – perfect. Permission granted to have the show at the old wood infested, historical-feeling Fox and Goose Public House – Mastery. Permission granted by the California State Library to use the poster image – DISCO. Well… BORING PRE-SWING 1916 MUSIC… not quite the same ring as “DISCO”, I suppose… Where was I?

Yes, History. Historical date, Historical poster, Historical building… Historical Fundraiser? YES! DO YOU KNOW that the Sacramento County Historical Society gets most all of their operational funds from viewers like you and me? Historical Society grants are few and far between, so they rely on funds raised, and make and sell those fun paperback history books with sepia photos on the covers, written by people like William Burg. Bill Burg to his friends, he’s written several of those historical society commissioned history books, and some more in depth books of his own, about Sacramento, and the number of commuter trains and the population density that have both shrunken since.
Bill Burg will M.C. this show on May 14 and the funds will go to the Sacramento County Historical Society. Bill is very informative and entertaining when he holds forth historical lecture the likes of which he will in between bands on May 14.

We’ll start the night with an old timey (Historical?) three piece string band, “Jimbo, Johnnie and Junior”. The Stummies next will delight with poppy rock crispness. My band Be Brave Bold Robot will storytell you some folk rock genius? (question mark inserted to simulate humility). The Dirty Feet will reunite to hold forth (good phrase, no?) “Prog-rock” with a very original flavor. And 50-Watt Heavy, renowned local “straight rock”, “rough n’ ready” Rock Band that everybody loves. Lyrically Historical, Historically Informative, Communally Edifying. Please come out.

If you go:
What: Causeway Celebration Centennial
Why: To celebrate history and to raise funds for the Sacramento County Historical Society
Where: Fox and Goose (1001 R St., Sacramento)
When: Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m.
Cost is $10

March Drought Spotlight Honoree – Diane in Southport

By the city of West Sacramento

upcloseWhile running through the neighborhoods of West Sacramento, Diane loved how much color and variety she saw in other people’s front yards. These landscapes seemed like inviting places to relax. Her lawn, however, was just a place to walk by. On a winter day in the second year of the drought, she and her spouse decided to replace their grass and dead tree with a real sitting area, full of colorful plants that would provide variety all year round. Not only is their new front yard beautiful, it requires very little water. In fact, their water usage has been cut by more than half.

Diane used Next Door to inform the city about her drought tolerant yard. If you would like to nominate your yard, or someone else’s, email ryanb@cityofwestsacramento.org or call 617-5025. You can also use Next Door to make a nomination, as well as stay informed about neighborhood events. Visit nextdoor.com to get started.

To learn how you can make the change with your landscape, visit these sites:
Save Our Water – Landscaping 101
Be Water Smart – Top Ways to Save
EcoLandscape California – Design Plans for The New California Landscape
Beyond the Drought – Smart Irrigation Scheduler