Tag Archives: press

Mayor Cabaldon: West Sac is achieving a lot for a city of its size

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 29, 2014 — EDITOR’S NOTE: Continuing with the News-Ledger’s tradition, we’ve invited every candidate running for local office on the upcoming ballot to sit down for an interview that we can share with our readers. That series of interviews for the November, 2014, election finishes up with the following feature interview with Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. Enjoy. — By Steve Marschke News-Ledger Editor

MAYOR CHRISTOPHER CABALDON: "thrilled' to have agricultural research company move to West Sac (News-Ledger file photo)

MAYOR CHRISTOPHER CABALDON: “thrilled’ to have agricultural research company move to West Sac (News-Ledger file photo)

It’s easy to get Mayor Christopher Cabaldon talking about the exciting projects going on in West Sacramento – the recent award from a U.S. mayors’ conference for making preschool widely available, the development of the Bridge District and Washington neighborhood, the coming replacement of the I Street Bridge, the city’s growing presence as a site for the food industry, and so on. But he says these highly visible successes can create a perception in the community that it should be really, really easy, to do the small things. Like put a certain restaurant at a certain intersection. “People say, ‘Why don’t you put X over at the corner of Y and Z?’” he remarked to the News-Ledger in a recent interview. “I don’t have that power.” “The mayor’s job is mostly in enabling,” Cabaldon continued, “and it’s mostly enabling through context-setting. I can make it more likely that a restaurant will locate at that location by doing the following 700 things. Those 700 things include making sure it’s the right zoning – that’s the easy part. I need to make sure there are enough people around it so they can get to it by biking or walking, and there’s adequate parking or it’s served by the bus, and that the sewer connection fee is lower for  a restaurant than for a use that we might not want to have. But if you do all that and it ends up a McDonalds and not an Argentinian restaurant, well, you don’t have the right to make that decision.” But the city is on a winning streak, Cabaldon said. Are he and the council members on the same page here in 2014? “I think we’re in the same book,” the mayor responded. “We want to take the city in generally the same direction, but within that we are on many different pages. I think it’s quite effective because you don’t want a council where all five people have the same opinion every time.” Cabaldon is seeking another two-year term as mayor.  He’s running against challenger Narinderpal Hundal. Cabaldon has served as West Sacramento’s mayor ever since voters decided in 2004 that they would make the job a separately-elected position, apart from city council elections. And he was mayor for several one-year terms before that, when the position was chosen from among the council members. A native of Los Angeles, Cabaldon earned a degree in environmental economics from UC Berkeley and came to Sacramento to work on public policy at the legislature. He found a home here on Meadow Road in 1993. He’s 48 and single currently living near Raley Field in “Ironworks.” Now, Cabaldon’s day job is running a firm that works for “systems-level change” in the state’s education system. “The main project I have at the firm is I am the head of Linked Learning Alliance,” said Cabaldon. “It brings together a bunch of teachers and superintendents and business folks and college folks and civil rights activists (to) improve college readiness for students in California.” Just a year after becoming a West Sacramento resident, Cabaldon ran for city council in his new hometown. “It was a great campaign,” he recalls, “and I fortunately lost. Because the voters said ‘Whoa, we like you, you’ve got a lot of energy, you have some great ideas, but you don’t know the first thing about this place.’ And they were exactly right.” Cabaldon worked on a couple of local county commissions before trying again in 1996. This time he won a place on the city council. He has since morphed into arguably the most prominent city official in West Sacramento history. If Cabaldon gets another term, there are some things he hopes to keep working on – the massive local flood protection project, various development plans, the regional streetcar project and so on. But he sees a couple of new possibilities starting to form as well. One of those is to capitalize on the national visibility West Sacramento earned when it received an award for making preschool “universally” available. The award came from the nation’s conference of mayors. Cabaldon will visit the White House to accept congratulations on the award, and he said various organizations have been paying attention. This presents an opportunity to expand some aspect of childhood education with some new partners, he believes. “It would be terrible to waste that and not go radically up to the next level,” Cabaldon commented. “I think we’ll definitely do more in terms of infants and toddlers, not just four-year olds.” And other new education initiatives may also be possible as well. Also on the radar is an idea for what to do with an iconic old bridge after it’s soon replaced by a new span: “One other project I’d like to take on is the upper deck of the I Street Bridge – to create some kind of linear park or ‘high line’ park,” proposed Cabaldon. Judging by the success of similar bridge-top parks like one in Louisville, he said, such a feature could become a top regional attraction. But in the meantime Cabaldon and other city officials have the small city’s $500 million flood protection to manage, in partnership with the feds and state government. And a burgeoning redevelopment about to encourage along South River Road as new bridges are phased in at the “Pioneer Bluff District.” And other local projects that remain in the works. “If absolutely nothing else happens, we’ve got enough on our plates,” said Cabaldon.   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-Ledger 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 2014

Kirby-Gonzalez believes experience as teacher helps her on school board

NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 22, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez has been on the school board in West Sacramento for less than 18 months, following a victory in a special election held to fill a vacancy. She’d like four more years.

SARAH  KIRBY-GONZALEZ News-Ledger photo

SARAH
KIRBY-GONZALEZ
News-Ledger photo

“We have done some very good things,” Kirby-Gonzalez reports. “Just in that short amount of time, I think one of the biggest things the board has done is (create) the visual and performing arts plan, and that’s now rolled out to our fourth- and fifth-grade classes as well as all the way up to high school. I’d like to see it expanded even beyond that.”

Visual and Performing Arts, or “VAPA,” is one of the district’s top priorities at present. Also on that list are facilities improvements, technology and “recruiting, retaining and sustaining personnel.”

Kirby-Gonzalez said that she is in agreement with that roster of strategic goals, and she enjoys serving on an effective Washington Unified School District school board.

She’s a teacher in the Folsom-Cordova district (where she was a “teacher of the year” in 2011) and her husband works as a police officer outside West Sacramento. They have two kids – not yet of school age – who will go to public school in this city, said Kirby-Gonzalez.

The couple has lived in the Bridgeway Lakes area for about half a dozen years. Kirby-Gonzalez says she grew up in Carmichael and Auburn, going to a Catholic elementary school.

“I went to Placer High School, Sierra College and then Sac State for my master’s credential, she said. I’ve been teaching for 11 years.”

Kirby-Gonzalez, 34, believes that her experience as a teacher helps her as a board member. She notes that in the years before she became a trustee, WUSD had been focused tightly on one thing, and that was achieving high marks in student test scores. As a teacher, she thinks that was short-sighted and the current policy is a better one.

“Standardized test scores had been very, very prominent with the last board – that’s what they focused on,” she commented. “For folks that really understand education and read the research, they know that’s been a disservice for kids, especially our low-income kids. Standardized tests have not helped us in the way we’ve needed.”

Preparing kids for standardized tests often meant stressing rote memorization and neglecting the teaching of writing (since it was only tested at two grade levels), said Kirby-Gonzalez. But now these tests are just one part of a more “holistic” approach. Parental involvement at schools, graduation rates, and dropout are some of the other measures now used on local schools.

In West Sacramento, it’s been the southern-most schools – like Bridgeway – that have led the district in test score results. Does that mean they’re better schools?

“No,” she answered, explaining that test scores are mostly a reflection of “the socioeconomic area” and not of the quality of schools.

Nevertheless, northern schools need more help:

“They definitely have more facility needs because their schools are older,” said Kirby-Gonzalez. “The teachers do a nice job making the rooms look pretty, but you pull off a poster and the wall is falling apart and bad things are happening”

Despite that, she said, some of the north-city schools are doing great things – such as Elkhorn’s partnership with UC Davis that brings teaching help into local classrooms.

What, exactly, does a school board member do besides end meetings on Thursday nights?

“I think one of the biggest things is listening to the community and being visible to the community,” answered Kirby-Gonzalez. “Also, studying policy so that kids are getting the best environment in the classrooms. And also evaluating the superintendent.”

She noted that before she became a board member, WUSD had just been through a recession and had to make serious budget cuts.

“Some of it has come back, but of course we’d like more,” she said. “Now, there’s busing again at the high school. One of the issues was that kids who stayed late at school for sports didn’t have a bus, and now there’s a bus.”

Fixing up school facilities remains a major need.

“We already have our capital improvement plan which identifies over $200 million in needs,” she commented. “That’s a big piece of the puzzle. . . We need expansion – some of our places are overflowing, like Bridgeway (Elementary School). And even the high school is going to need another wing. In terms of new programs, I’d like to see more professional development for teachers.”

Kirby-Gonzalez and her board colleagues have created Measure V, a $49.8 million bond, on the November 4 ballot to try to take a bite out of some of those facilities projects.

The district is doing a good job implementing the new “Common Core” standards, said Kirby-Gonzalez. And she likes the new standards.

“There are people who worry about it being a federal takeover and there are people who worry that it’s too open-ended for kids, but I think on the whole it’s much better than the ’97 standards,” said the candidate.  She added that writing is much more important in the new standards.

Kirby-Gonzalez will try to defend her seat on the November 4 ballot. Also running for two available seats are challengers Norma Alcala and Joshua Alves. You can find more information about her at www.Sarah4Schools.com or on Facebook.

  Do you like what you see here?

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  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 2014

West Sac & Yolo County try pilot project: housing homeless in motel

NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 29, 2014 —

The City of West Sacramento and County of Yolo are about to kick off a $100,000 project to house at least 71 homeless people in a “housing first” pilot project.

The “Bridge to Housing Pilot Project” includes a community cleanup of the city’s north levee area (a longtime dwelling spot for local homeless) on Saturday, Nov. 8. The subjects of the project will move into their new housing on Nov. 12, reports Beth Gabor, spokesperson for the County of Yolo.

The motel chosen to be the new housing site has not been determined, she told the News-Ledger.

Gabor said in a press statement that “the riverbank in West Sacramento has long attracted people experiencing homelessness, especially along what is referred to as the North Levee (publicly and privately owned parcels north of the Broderick Boat Ramp).”

“The North Levee area currently has an established community of approximately 71 people experiencing homelessness, 47 dogs and 22 cats,” she added. “Members of this homeless community have lived there, without trash service or running water, for an average of 4.5 years, with some members homeless there for ten years or more.”

Police and city workers periodically try to clear the area, she said, but the homeless have always returned.

After a community collaboration, city and county officials have decided to try a new approach: putting a roof over the heads of the homeless and then trying to provide them with needed services. This approach is often called a “housing first” model, in contrast to other models that only allow a homeless person into a housing project after the person first meets other conditions such as treating a drug habit.

This “limited population” project includes the following elements, reports Gabor:
Initial Outreach

— North Levee Clean Up Day (November 8) – Requested by the homeless residents as a way to give back to the community for its assistance with donations and the assistance of United Christian Centers, Waste Management, Ethan Conrad and Home Depot, to name a few

— Moving Day (Target: November 12) – Participating members (71 residents already identified) will move to a temporary housing location. There will be opportunities for a pet clinic, public health assessment, laundry, transportation and a move into a temporary housing site

— Pets will be allowed to go with their owners to temporary housing but some may have to pare down; pet owners are aware of this

— Yolo County Animal Services will be providing a cleaning station, immunizations and medication, as well as solutions for pets that may need to be surrendered

— Triage, Assessment and Application – During the 60 to 120 day stay in housing, 71 already identified members will participate in applying for benefits for which they may be eligible, including job training and assistance, chemical dependency, disabled benefits, counseling and other services.  In addition, they will apply for available permanent housing programs for which they may be eligible

— Ongoing Services – Includes mental health, substance abuse, medical services and case management

— Placement in Permanent Housing – Includes ongoing and, in some cases, intensive case management to help them succeed in their new housing.

Partners in the project include the following, added Gabor:

County of Yolo, including County Administrator’s Office, Employment & Social Services, Environmental Health, Health Services, Probation and Animal Services;
City of West Sacramento, including the Police Department and City Manager’s Office; Legal Services of Northern California

  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-Ledger 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 2014

Free bus ride to San Francisco for Giants’ victory parade

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — OCT 30, 2014 —

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since publishing this article earlier this afternoon, we contacted the River Cats and learned that this bus trip is filled up.  A team rep said that season ticket holders were contacted first with this limited offer. The few remaining bus seats, he said, were filled up quickly with other fans.  If you’re interested in going by train, read on.

The Sacramento River Cats will take up to 130 people on two buses from Raley Field to the San Francisco civic center on Friday, in order to celebrate the San Francisco Giants’ victory parade.

The Giants won the World Series this year with a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the decisive final game of the series. The River Cats, beginning this season, are the Giants’ “farm club” in minor league baseball.

The buses will depart Raley Field at 7 a.m. and will return in the afternoon.

If you’re interested in the free bus ride, RSVP to (916) 371-HITS (4487).

To travel separately, the River Cats suggests considering the Capitol Corridor train (http://capitolcorridor.org/tickets/). Look for #531, leaving Sacramento at 8:20 a.m., or #533, departing at 9:20 a.m. Take Amtrak to Richmond and transfer to BART and the Embarcadero Station (www.bart.gov).

Copyright News-Ledger 2014