West Sacramentan lines her neighborhood with American flags for the nation’s birthday

West Sacramentan lines her neighborhood with American flags for the nation’s birthday

By Monica Stark editor@news-ledger.com West Sacramento’s Heather Moore decided to line Grande Vista Avenue and Claredon Street with nearly 300 American flags, bringing joy and patriotism to her neighborhood. Neighbor Marie called More »

Joseph “Joey” Lopes Park made official at ribbon-cutting ceremony

Joseph “Joey” Lopes Park made official at ribbon-cutting ceremony

Daniel Wilson dwilson@dwilsononline.com West Sacramento has a brand new park, and on Friday, June 24, it was made official at a ribbon-cutting ceremony where the family of the park’s namesake Joseph “Joey” More »

Serving Senate District 6: Dr. Richard Pan discusses controversy and current legislation

Serving Senate District 6: Dr. Richard Pan discusses controversy and current legislation

By Monica Stark He wanted to go where the people were and he did. Situating his office in South Sacramento across from Florin Road Bingo and the Rice Bowl restaurant, California State More »

 

EDITORIAL: WUSD should know better

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER — SEPT 26, 2012 —

We were disappointed to find that the superintendent of Washington Unified School District, and apparently the district’s lawyers, when offered a chance to walk away from an untenable position, chose instead to dig in and play defense.

The issue – as you may have seen in our separate news article – was a simple request by the News-Ledger for some documents. We wanted to publish the names of the people who were applying to be appointed as the newest school board member.

[adrotate group=”9″]   The district said “no,” initially saying that the list of names wasn’t “public information” because the board hadn’t seen it yet. Later, they said added the reason that there wasn’t, technically, a printed list.

Let’s take the second reason first: yes, WUSD is correct that they don’t have to provide documents to the public if the documents don’t exist. The problem – carefully explained to Dr. Gilleland – is that WUSD send us an email that seemed to acknowledge that there was a list. The email from the district was misleading. Had WUSD told us that the names of the applicants hadn’t been put onto one document, we could have and would have instantly rephrased our request, and asked the district to fax us copies of the applications themselves.

And, you know what? The California Public Records act actually requires government agencies to help members of the public identify the records they need – not to hinder them.

Now, our request for this information was informal and on a short time frame. What happened, happened. What interests us more is the district’s policy: does it truly believe that it can withhold a document from the public for the simple reason that “the board hasn’t seen it?”

In a word, yes. And that’s wrong.

Most documents in the hands of your local government agencies are public, period. There are only narrow exceptions. Anyone running a school district or providing its legal advice simply ought to know this.

Imagine WUSD is right, and imagine they have on file some kind of document they don’t want to go public. Let’s say it’s a contractor’s report saying the roof is about to fall in on one of the campuses, or that somebody embezzled a bunch of money. Under the district’s theory, all they have to do to legally justify keeping such information secret is not give a copy to the school board. They could still brief the board, but as long as they don’t provide the board with a copy, “it’s not public information.”

Please.

Public information is public information. The board is just five guys and gals who do the public’s work. It’s that simple.

  If you comment on this editorial, we may publish your comment in the News-Ledger.

  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 2012

Last day to register to vote

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER —

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is October 22. Call Yolo Elections at (916) 375-6490, visit www.yoloelections.org, or pick up a registration card at the library (1212 Merkley Ave.), post office (various) or the city clerk’s office (third floor of city hall, 1110 West Capitol Ave).

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

District defends withholding of names

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER — SEPT 26, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Several days before the local school board was set to appoint a new board member to fill a vacancy, the News-Ledger asked the district for a copy of the list of the eight people who applied for the position. The goal was to publish the list and give West Sacramento residents a better chance to give their input on the decision.

A district staffer eventually declined to provide the names, emailing that “The Board doesn’t have the list yet, so therefore, it isn’t public information.”

The newspaper didn’t get the applicants’ names before the meeting.

DAYTON GILLELAND, superintendent of the Washington Unified School District (photo from WUSD website)

But the exchange raised a question of policy: does the Washington Unified School District really believe that its information might not be “public information” just because the school board hasn’t seen it yet? California has a fairly powerful Public Records Act that essentially says government documents are “public” unless they fit in certain specified categories of exemption – confidential personnel material or documents involving ongoing negotiations, for example.

The News-Ledger contacted WUSD Superintendent Dayton Gilleland to find out if this “board hasn’t seen it, therefore it isn’t public information” argument accurately reflects public policy. Several telephone calls and email exchanges followed.

The editor asked him:

“I was unable to get an advance copy of the list of candidates for the board appointment. My understanding is that it was withheld because WUSD did not consider this information ‘public’ based on the fact that the board had not seen the information yet. Do you regard that as appropriate and legal?”

After consultation with attorneys, Gilleland responded by email, in part:

“I do feel it was fully appropriate and legal that we would not provide a list, as you requested, when that list did not exist nor had the names of the candidates become ‘public’ prior to receipt by the Board of Education on the day of the interviews. This determination was further affirmed by our legal counsel’s opinion.”

[adrotate group=”10″]   The News-Ledger pointed out that WUSD had in its first email seemed to acknowledge the existence of a list – possibly misleading us – and, had we known there was no list, we could have instantly re-phrased our request and asked for copies of the applicants’ actual applications. And we mentioned that the California Public Records Act includes a requirement that government agencies actively help members of the public to better target their informational requests. We received no response on these points.

Was there any legal justification “within the context of the California Public Records Act” to withhold a school district document based on whether the board had received the same information?

Gilleland didn’t address the Public Records Act. He did cite a portion of the state’s  Brown Act, which talks about the need to post agendas of public meetings in advance. This state law says when a person asks for items in an agenda packet, the government agency shall “cause the requested materials to be mailed at the time the agenda is posted, or upon distribution to all, or a majority of all, of the members of the body, whichever occurs first.”

And that’s about where the dialog left off.

  If you comment on this article, your comment may also be published in the News-Ledger newspaper.

  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 2012

Winners in city video contest — Wicked West Pizza wins an iPad 2

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — OCT 1, 2012 —

FROM THE CITY OF WEST SACRAMENTO —

The top videos entered in the City of West Sacramento’s first-ever video contest have been announced. Each winner receives a $300 gift card, with one of the finalists also receiving the grand prize iPad2.

The video contest, presented in celebration of the City’s 25th anniversary, challenged amateur videographers to produce short videos on such subjects as Living in West Sacramento, Playing in West Sacramento, or Working in West Sacramento. The winners are:

“Living in West Sacramento” category:

  • Ruth Pagano, “A Wonderland”;
  • Peggy Bell, “Cheers to 25 Years of Greatness.”

[adrotate group=”7″] “Playing in West Sacramento”:

  • Kathleen Poe, “The Poe Family at Play in West Sacramento”;
  • Nate Eckler with the Sea Scouts of West Sacramento, “How We Play in West Sac.”

“Working in West Sacramento”:

  • Wicked West Pizza & BBQ, “Take My Order, Maybe.”

Wicked West Pizza & BBQ is also the grand prize winner of the iPad2, drawn from the contest’s category winners.

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we invited local residents and businesses to tell their story about why they have enjoyed living, working, and playing in West Sacramento,” said West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

Winners will receive their prizes at the West Sacramento City Council meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.

You can see the winning videos at the City of West Sacramento’s Youtube channel, here.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

‘Little Free Library’ in Southport

JULIE GOLDMAN, with her daughter Esther next to the gardens at the Main Drain Parkway. And no, that’s not a birdhouse. The mini-library sits along the Main Drain Parkway, which has been taken over by community 'geurilla gardeners' who share the planting as well as the harvest. (News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER — SEPT 26, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Those creative folks living next to the Main Drain Parkway in Southport have come up with something new to the city.

They’ve installed a “little free library” about as big as a good-size birdhouse.

“My husband heard about the idea on NPR, and he came home and told me about it. I was super-excited,” said Julie Goldman, who lives near the Venice Street garden site that’s now home to the library. She and her daughter Esther, age 2 ½, met a reporter there on Monday.

[adrotate group=”7″]   Goldman helped get the little lending library built. One helper was a nearby neighbor, Chris Peek, who teaches wood shop at a Woodland school.

“We told him, ‘if you build it, we’ll decorate it,’” said Goldman. He did, and they did. They used cheap and recycled materials: total cost, about $20. The bookshelf now holds about two dozen books.

“Most of them are from me,” said Goldman. “I talked to the West Sacramento library, and they also put aside a few gardening books for us. I’ve been putting a whole bunch of kids’ books in there.”

Anyone can take a book. They’re encouraged to take a book to read, and leave another.

“Basically, it’s ‘take a book and then return any book.’ Ideally, I’d like people to return a different book. Sometimes I’ll come here and there will be new books here, and I don’t know where they come from,” said Goldman.

Any problems with the “honor system” since the library opened in August?

“They said, ‘oh, the teenagers are going to steal it,’” recalled Goldman. “But so far, so good.”

The library is mounted child-height in the middle of the community’s “guerilla garden” – an informal spot where neighbors grow produce along the Main Drain Canal, and share in both the work and the harvest.

Are there plans to build more “little free libraries” in other neighborhoods around West Sacramento?
“It would be so fun to have West Sacramento become known for all its little libraries,” answered Goldman. “Sometimes I’ll see kids in the neighborhood and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I got a book from here!”

As she spoke to a reporter, up walked a woman and child who walked from a nearby street. They were carrying a book to lend to the library.

There’s more information on the “Little Free Library” concept at www.LittleFreeLibrary.org.

  If you comment on this article, your comment may be shared in the News-Ledger newspaper.

  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 2012

Kids’ concert, instrument ‘petting zoo’

Camellia Symphony flutist Ralph Padgug demostrates the mouth piece of a flute (courtesy of Camellia Symphony)

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER —

The Camellia Symphony returns with a free family concert and kids’ “instrument petting zoo” on Sunday, Oct. 7. The event will take place at the West Sacramento City Hall galleria, 1110 West Capitol Avenue.

This year, the event will include a visual art element for kids to create art related to the musical experience. The art and instrument “petting zoo” begin at 1 p.m. and a one-hour family concert follows at 2 p.m. (classical movie selections from movie scores and highlights of the symphonies summer concert series). For information, call 929-6655 or visit www.camelliasymphony.org.

  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.

[adrotate group=”7″]   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 2012

Yolo’s top five ag crops are. . .

FROM THE WEST SACRAMENTO NEWS-LEDGER — SEPT 19, 2012 —

By Beth Gabor, Public Information Officer
County of Yolo

On September 11, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors received the 2011 Yolo County Agricultural Report – an annual report which summarizes the acreage, production and gross valuation of all agricultural commodities produced in Yolo County in 2011.  The total gross valuation for all agricultural commodities in 2011 was $549,249,669 which represents an increase of 23.8% from the 2010 crop values.

“These production figures reflect an overall higher price per unit for commodities and increases in acreage,” said Yolo County Agriculture Commissioner John Young in a press release.  “Field labor, processing, transporting, marketing and other farm-related services significantly multiply the value agriculture has to our county.  When the multiplier effect of related industries is considered, agriculture contributes well over $1.5 billion to the economy of Yolo County.”

[adrotate group=”9″]   Tomatoes are again the number one cash crop in Yolo. Rice, wine grapes, hay, and walnuts round out the top five, with the only change from 2010 the switch of walnuts to number five in gross value and organic production to number six.  These changes reflect an increase in bearing acreage for walnut orchards, as well as a 28.7% price increase per unit from the previous year.  Almonds, field corn, wheat and sunflower seed round out the top ten commodities for 2011.

For more information on the acreage, production and gross valuation of agricultural commodities produced in Yolo County in 2011, visit: www.yolocounty.org > Departments > Agriculture and Weights & Measures or contact the Yolo County Agriculture Department at (530) 666-8140.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012