Category Archives: Politics

AB 1250 Would Significantly Erode Ability to Provide Services for Most Vulnerable

The County of Yolo sent a letter to the California State Legislature signaling its strong opposition to Assembly Bill 1250 (Jones-Sawyer). At its core, AB 1250 seeks to stop counties from contracting with community-based organizations (CBOs), nonprofits, local businesses and other private providers of quality services on which counties and their residents rely. Counties contract with organizations and businesses that have the expertise, capacity or the ability to deliver services more efficiently.

AB 1250 has passed the Assembly and will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on July 5, 2017.

“We routinely contract for health and mental health care, social services and emergency medical services,” said Yolo County Administrator Patrick Blacklock. “The constraints contained within AB 1250 will jeopardize our ability to provide these vital services to our county’s most vulnerable residents.

Proponents of the bill claim it will not limit contracting with non-government groups, but the clear intent of AB 1250 is to prohibit these private contracts. The bill imposes significant new restrictions and layers of bureaucracy designed to stop counties from contracting for local services. For instance, the bill requires CBOs, nonprofits and local businesses to disclose personal information about its employees and officers, including salary and other private information. This not only raises significant privacy concerns, but it will chill private sector’s willingness to enter into contracts with counties to provide services. It also requires contractors to disclose extensive information on a monthly basis. These auditing and review requirements could create unnecessary gaps and delays in service delivery that can pose detrimental outcomes for the people benefiting from these programs.

By restricting counties’ abilities to provide services in the most cost-effective manner, AB 1250 will also increase costs for taxpayers and reduce funding available for other local services. For many fundamental programs, it will not be a matter of who will provide the service but if they can even be offered at all.

“The role of local government is to determine the most effective way to deliver critical services in our communities,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Duane Chamberlain. “We do not need another mandate that dictates how we govern our county or that impedes our ability to deliver high-quality and cost-effective services to local residents.”

Wildlife Conservation Receives Public Funding at Elliott Ranch

By Jan Dalske

In June of 2016, a California state agency, the Delta Conservancy, awarded the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) a grant of $380,000. The money will be used to implement a habitat enhancement project for the state-listed Swainson’s hawk. The future habitat for this endangered species is Elliott Ranch, in West Sacramento, near the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Swainson’s hawk is not the only species that will benefit from this grant. The ranch will meet its conservation goals while keeping the land planted with productive agriculture. The result will provide a beneficial impact on the local agriculture economy.
The grant is part of California’s public water bond funding which is managed by the Delta Conservancy to restore wildlife habitats in the Central Valley. The Elliott Ranch project will enhance the Swainson’s hawk habitat on 300 acres. The project will expand the hawks’ hunting grounds by restoring a habitat for their prey and converting existing crops to a bird-friendly pasture.
Our farms and ranches, America’s private lands, provide the greatest potential for conservation and management of species like the Swainson’s hawk. Improved accounting tools are being used to demonstrate the value of habitat on working lands. They can help to target areas that have the greatest potential for restoration.
A habitat quantification tool (HQT) which was designed by the EDF and local stakeholders is central to the project. The information obtained will be used to test how the HQT can be used for future restoration or future landowner incentive programs. It measures the impacts of wildlife habitat and the benefits that have been created.
The Yolo Habitat Conservancy, a group that is a partner in the project, will benefit by testing how the HQT can be used for future restoration or landowner incentive programs. The use of public funds can improve restoration projects and obtain the highest environmental return on that investment.
The Swainson’s hawk HQT will measure both habitat quantity and quality. The quality will be based on three attributes: nesting habitat, foraging habitat, and suitability of habitat within the landscape. These habitat attributes will be scored, weighted and combined into a single overall habitat quality score. This score will reflect a consideration of both the project area and the surrounding landscape.
Additional lessons can be learned from the Elliott Ranch project. The ranch will be able to meet its conservation goals while it keeps the land in productive agriculture while providing a positive example for the local agriculture economy.
With the application of the HQT on this site, a multi-species assessment will be used. This single property could be used to assess a variety of species including riparian songbirds, giant garter snakes and Chinook salmon. And in the future the criteria for assessing the habitat for monarch butterfly could be included.
The state of California, as the Delta Conservancy, EDF and various other partners have demonstrated how the use of public funds can be used to target restoration funds for those projects that will offer the highest environmental return on the investment.

Mill Street Pier Opens In Bridge District

City officials gathered for the grand opening for the $1.3 million rehabilitated Mill Street Pier. It is the latest amenity in the emerging Bridge District. Pier sits 25 feet over the Sacramento River providing breathtaking views of the water, downtown Sacramento, and the nearby Barn entertainment hub.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Johannessen, City Manager Martin Tuttle, Julie Alvis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency gathered as the West Sacramento Fireboat “Boat 41” put on water spray show on the river in West Sacramento’s Bridge District, just steps south of the Barn.

West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief hopes to inspire more diverse fire crews as she takes over as Fire Chief in Woodland

By Daniel Wilson

Early in her career, West Sacramento Deputy Fire Chief Rebecca Ramirez, who will take over as the first female fire chief for the Woodland Fire Department on Feb. 27, said she received a compliment that embodied what she and most women desire in their careers.

It came in the form of overhearing an “old timer” on the phone telling someone that she was a woman but that he just considered her a part of the crew.

“That, to me, had always stood out as all I ever wanted,” Ramirez said. “Don’t look at me for my gender or the color of my skin or the way I speak; Look at me as what I can contribute to the organization.”

Ramirez said she has never felt discriminated against as a woman in firefighting. By working as hard as possible and being as selfless and respectable as possible, she feels she’s been able to overcome any barriers she has faced.

“I am glad to be representing women in leadership roles, particularly in roles that are not so typical, [like] the fire service,” said Ramirez, who started her tenure with the West Sacramento Fire Department in 1993. “I think we have struggled in getting women into the fire service as a whole and we need to work on that a little bit. Maybe for people seeing me in that role, some young girls…will realize that fire service is a true opportunity for them.”

Battalion Chief Steve Binns, who’s worked for the West Sacramento Fire Department since 1990, will be replacing Ramirez as deputy fire chief.

As battalion chief, Binns is responsible for working hands-on with the fire crew and running day-to-day operations for the department. In his new role, he’ll work closely with the fire chief to balance budgets, implement new programs and processes and run current programs like consortium training sessions, where all of the county’s fire departments learn to cooperate in preparation for large-scale emergencies.

“It’s just more broad-based, more higher-level looking at things,” Binns said. “I’ve always kind of operated on today and at this [new] level, [I’ll] need to operate more about tomorrow.”

Ramirez said the fire department works diligently to help prepare its staff for the job above them in the case of promotion, so Binns already has some experience with some of the duties of his new role.

“We’re going to definitely miss her,” Binns said. “We’re on a steep learning curve over the next two or three weeks, [but] she’s still going to be in the county, so we’re going to talk often, I’m sure.”

Some of Ramirez’s contributions to the West Sacramento Fire Department will have a long-lasting impact on the city.

In recent years, she was directly involved with improving the city’s Insurances Services Office rating, which ranks the department on its abilities to provide fire protection services and sets insurance rates for city residents and businesses based on the ranking.

She also worked to secure a $1.2 million grant in May to purchase Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses, which are worn on the backs of firefighters and provide them with breathable air while inside a burning building, for the department’s firetrucks.

“She has been an amazing person to work with,” said West Sacramento Fire Chief John Heilmann. “I think I’ve learned more from her than she’s probably learned from me.”

Ramirez’s new role is part of a restructuring of Woodland’s fire and police departments, which are both currently led by Public Safety Chief Dan Bellini.

With the announcement of his retirement, the city decided Bellini’s position should be eliminated in favor of a more traditional set up, according to a Feb. 2 press release from the city of Woodland. The fire and police chief positions were previously combined following cutbacks as a result of the 2008 economic downturn.

“I think it’s good for the county and good for the fire department,” Heilmann said. “I think everyone will benefit in the end.”

Ramirez found out about her new position in early February.

“It was very exciting to find out about it and I was a little overwhelmed by it,” Ramirez said. “The support and the encouragement that I’ve received from the city of West Sacramento has been just truly amazing.”

West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle said he is confident in Ramirez’s future in Woodland and is proud of the legacy she’ll leave behind in West Sacramento.

“Chief Ramirez is a pioneer in fire service and a great role model for women who are pursuing a career in fire,” Tuttle said. “She’s done a great job for us. Her appointment of Woodland expands West Sacramento’s fire department. That’s good, I think in terms of cooperation with other departments.”

Though it will take a while to assess where improvements need to be made and how to approach them, Ramirez said the crew at the Woodland Fire Department will help make the transition a smooth one.

“They’re a very dedicated group, who’s committed both organizationally and on an individual level to the citizens,” Ramirez said. “Their culture is solid, their firefighting skills are solid and the city philosophy is very supportive of the fire department.”

Tuttle said he thinks the West Sacramento Fire Department’s deputy fire chief role is being left in good hands with Binns.

“He’s outstanding,” Tuttle said. “The department won’t miss a beat. We’re going to miss Ramirez, but to her credit, there’s a lot of folks who can step into leadership positions.”