Tag Archives: West Sacramento

Nguyen: ‘average’ district can improve


News-Ledger’s interviews with candidates in the March 5 special school board election continue this week with local businessman Linh Nguyen —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

With a background in computer engineering and in business, Southport’s Linh Nguyen believes one of the best ways to start attacking any problem is to measure it. And he believes the measurements are clear for Washington Unified School District:


Identify a problem, measure it, attack it (News-Ledger photo)

Identify a problem, measure it, attack it
(News-Ledger photo)

“Statistically, we are average,” Nguyen told the News-Ledger.

Student test scores often have a strong link to a community’s economic level. Look at them both if you want to judge how a school district is doing, he said.

“If we can say that economically, we’re a ‘5,’ but what we’re achieving is a ‘7’ or ‘8’ out of 10, then that’s excellent. But if we’re economically a ‘5’ and we’re achieving at a ‘5,’ that’s just okay.”

West Sacramento’s school district is scoring at about 760 on the API tests, he said, which is about “average” for a place with an “average” socioeconomic level.
Nguyen (pronounced with the “ng” sound followed by “wen,” in one syllable) hopes to earn a seat on the local school board next month and help change that.

“That reflection is on the board – that’s where the buck stops,” he said. “City-wise, you can see there are a lot of successful projects that have been implemented – whether it’s (new developments like) the River Cats, Nugget, Home Depot or Ikea. They didn’t let the ‘average’ or ‘below average’ hold them back. The school district needs to do the same.”

  “As a person who runs my own company, I understand what you need to do when you govern a multi-million dollar entity. We need to define a clear vision. We need to lay out a clear plan of what we’re going to do. We need to always follow up on the plan.”

Nguyen, 40, currently works at home, managing his investment portfolio. His wife is a part-time pharmacist, and the couple has three young kids – the oldest two of which are at Bridgeway Island Elementary School.

“I graduated from UC Davis in computer science engineering,” he explained. “I went back to Silicon Valley and my first job was at Genentech. I worked mostly in high-tech. After we saved some money, we started our own consulting company. But running a company is very intensive, and we were having our first kid. We decided to move to West Sacramento, which is a very good place to raise kids.”

Having two children in the public elementary school and another headed that way has generated some concerns, said Nguyen.

“I think I’m in the same shoes as a lot of parents,” he said. “My kids are in first and third grade. I can see the future coming for them. High school is coming.”

One friend typifies his concern:

“When I told him I was running for the board, the first thing he said is, ‘Great, I’ll support you.’ The second thing he said was, ‘At this point, I wouldn’t let my kid go to River City High School.’ The sad fact is that (the friend himself) went to River City High School, and his wife went to River City High School – not the new campus, but the old one. Something like that speaks volumes about how people perceive the high school.”

Nguyen is concerned by the numbers – and RCHS is higher than the state in some statistics, like expulsion rates, he said.

Between that and issues like bullying and campus security, “I don’t feel my kid is safe to go to this high school” right now, said Nguyen.

How do you fix that?

Nguyen believes that the first step is to identify the problems facing WUSD, whether they be test scores or campus safety.

“I would like the (school) board to acknowledge the problems,” he said. “That’s the first step in solving a problem. Secondly, I would like to know how we are going to measure the issues – for example, what percentage of the kids are leaving the district (to go to school elsewhere)? If we can first do a measurement on that, we can improve it. We don’t (now) have a way to measure that. Just anecdotal evidence.”

Nguyen says he has been to several school board meetings and seen others on cable TV.

“I see a lot of positive coming from the board we now have,” he said. “We could do much better. We have 7.000-plus students in the district. We have an obligation to help these 7,000-plus kids to achieve, to reach their full potential.”

He added that, fiscally, the board is “doing okay with what we have.” And with Proposition 30 passing and bringing more stability to school funding, and with the economy finally improving, he expected the school’s financial climate to start getting better.

How does he feel about charter schools?

Nguyen said he would examine them on a “case by case” basis.

“I’m not encumbered by a political agenda. . . If someone comes to me and asks about a charter school for our district, I would say, ‘show me the empirical evidence.’ When we make a change like that, there’s going to be a financial cost. The research has to support (a need for the charter school).”

Nguyen thinks that voters should look at the time commitment of being a school board member when they weigh their decision of whom to elect.

“One of the basic elements (of the job) is that you have to be willing to put in the time,” he said. “If you look at our city council, they have 22 subcommittees, reaching out to the schools, the River Cats, the port, to Sacramento County. Board-wise, we’re not reaching out to other districts around us. We’re not reaching out to resources we have. We’re not reaching out to UC Davis or Sacramento State.”

“If the board was functioning at an excellent level, we would have a direct path where Sacramento State and Davis and vocational programs would come here and work with the kids, and explain why some subject is important. We want to engage a kid, whether they are going to be a mechanic or an engineer or something.”

With a background in management and in science, Nguyen believes he can help the board do this.
What does he see as a board member’s job duties?

“One of the requirements is that we need a board that’s passionate,” he answered. “Statistically and empirical data-wise, we’re average. That’s a result of our economics. To be successful, we have to be innovative.”

Has Nguyen been endorsed by the mayor or by school board members?

“Purposely, I’ve tried not to coincide with the political side,” he answered. “I call it the political machine. I don’t want to reach out there, because I want to be independent. The first thing is that the school board is for the kids. The second thing is, it’s for the kids. And the third thing is, it’s for the kids.”

Nguyen’s prior involvement in the community include helping to coach youth soccer, baseball and basketball in the elementary school and city leagues. He also helps with the local Cub Scout troop.

The candidate said he is funding his school board campaign with “mostly my own money,” and is also walking precincts.

[Editor’s note: after this interview was published, the candidate notified the News-Ledger that he had picked up endorsements from former WUSD school board members Ardeene Westvik, Dave Farmer and Ed Hocking.]

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Southport: the trouble with beavers

This downed tree is a casualty of a group of beavers who have made their home in the Bridgeway Lakes area. (Photo courtesy of Marty Swingle)

This downed tree is a casualty of a group of beavers who have made their home in the Bridgeway Lakes area. (Photo courtesy of Marty Swingle)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 6, 2013 —

City’s trapper has so far caught five of the pesky mammals

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

“It comes in waves,” reports Dena Kirtley, the City of West Sacramento’s urban forest manager. “It has probably been about three years.”

But now, they’re back:

DENA KIRTLEY Urban Forest Manager City of West Sacramento (courtesy photo)

Urban Forest Manager
City of West Sacramento
(courtesy photo)

“About a month ago, one of my crew noticed some trees that he thought were chopped down with an axe. On further inspection, we discovered it had been beavers.”

The animals have been active “for probably six or eight weeks” in the Bridgeway Lakes area of Southport, chopping down trees. Their preferred species is willow. The animals – perhaps a family – probably came in from the Sacramento River.

“There’s a canal that belongs to Reclamation District 900, just east of Otis Road, south of Marshall,” said Kirtley, who is managing the city’s response. “That’s pretty much where Bridgeway Lakes begins. That canal runs under the road.”

“They’ve taken out several trees at Cherokee in Bridgeway Lakes, and gone around the corner behind some houses and taken out some more.”

Why do the beavers want to gnaw down willow trees in particular?

“They eat the bark and leaves off the portion that falls into the lake,” answered Kirtley. “Their intent is to make the trees reachable so they can get to the bark and leaves.”

The felled trees aren’t immediately being removed by the city.

“We leave the trees where they are, so the beavers don’t down more trees,” said Kirtley.

You might call that an official policy of “Leave it to Beaver.”

If the animals can’t get at willow trees, they will settle for other species, like live oak, she added.

How many animals are there?

“We’re hoping less than 10,” she said. “They move in from the river through the ag canals. It’s like a little highway.”

So far, there has been no problem with beaver dams as a threat to drainage.

The city’s response to the beaver infestation was to show the state Department of Fish and Game that it was taking adequate tree-protection measures, and then get a permit to hire a trapper. Parks workers have tried to protect over 100 area trees with chicken wire – a questionable strategy, allowed Kirtley, because the beavers can always just “move on down the line” to unprotected trees.

A trapper has thus far caught five of the animals. When pressed, Kirtley admitted delicately that the animals are not live-caught. They’re killed by the traps.

  “It’s illegal to transport them,” she said. “Nobody else wants them. They would just be somebody else’s problem, and we are in an urban area. It’s a delicate subject. I’ve had people ask me what happens to the beavers.”

Kirtley said the animals can build aquatic lodges, but they also burrow into riverbanks – and “we think we found one of their nests.” The trapping doesn’t seem to be over.

The good news is that the downed trees will probably rise again.

“Once we think we’ve alleviated the beaver problem, we will remove the felled trees,” said Kirtley. “We’ll make a nice, clean cut below the damage, and the trees will re-sprout and we’ll have new trees.”

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Latest News-Ledger ‘Police Log’

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 6, 2013 —

  News items below are collected from police dispatchers’ notes and arrest reports. The information in them has often not been verified beyond the initial reports. The News-Ledger publishes this feature weekly in our print edition. Look for the special offer at the bottom to subscribe.

Jan., 30, 5:09 a.m.
Staff at a Woodland crisis shelter said a man who told them he lived at a particular West Capitol Avenue motel had phoned them several times, becoming upset. The man said “he had a gun and was going to go to Woodland and shoot (the caller).”

Jan. 30, 6:01 a.m.
A woman said her boyfriend had left his ’69 Chevy pickup truck warming up in her Madrone Avenue driveway with the keys in it. The pickup left without him.

Jan. 30, 11:55 a.m.
Copper parts were stolen from two air conditioning units at Alyce Norman Elementary School. The loss was valued at $6,000.

Jan. 30, 12:16 p.m.
A resident of West Capitol discovered the theft of “hundreds worth of old records” from a backyard shed. It was unknown when the theft occurred.

Jan. 30, 12:58 p.m.
A witness reported a beating happening at a Stone Blvd. park: “a subject with a metal bat or pipe in the parking lot (was) beating on on somebody in the lot. . . the subject was down.”

Jan. 30, 3:31 p.m.
During a vehicle burglary on Jan., 15, someone took a checkbook and some shoes – leaving behind a laptop and other valuables, during an incident at a Harbor Blvd. restaurant parking lot. The victim has learned that a stolen check made out for $60 had since been digitally altered and cashed for $2,500. The person whose name was on the check was not currently on scene.

Jan. 30, 4:11 p.m.
A two-vehicle accident was reported at Jefferson and Lake Washington boulevards. A baby was injured.

Jan. 30, 4:20 a.m.
A car parked on Summerfield Drive was found burglarized and ransacked.

Jan. 31, 4:55 a.m.
A woman reported she was in an argument with a Cummins Way neighbor. The argument was sparked after the second woman’s dog was found chasing the first woman’s chickens, which were roaming loose outside.

Jan. 31, 8:31 a.m.
A parent came to the police lobby. A son’s bike had been stolen from the River City High School campus, and the suspect was caught on video.

Jan. 31, 8:43 a.m.
The police school resource officer was requested by a parent whose son was being bullied at Westmore Oaks.

Jan. 31, 9:16 a.m.
A car on Teal Drive was found burglarized. Gone was $5,000 worth of jewelry donated toward a fundraising walk against cancer.

Jan. 31, 9:19 a.m.
Gas was discovered stolen from a car on Clarendon Street.

Jan. 31, 9:52 a.m.
A citizen came to the police lobby to ask “how to legally put up campaign signs.”

Jan. 31, 10:21 a.m.
A witness said a man was now hiding in some bushes near a Riverpoint Court store. The suspect “was trying to open car doors earlier, and pretended to be on the phone when (the caller) asked him to leave.”

Jan. 31, 6:51 p.m.
A caller reported a case of road rage. The caller “was cut off, and followed home by a man in an unknown-color sedan.”

Feb. 1, 2:46 a.m.
A drunk driver drove up onto a sidewalk on Topaz Road.

Feb. 1, 4:16 a.m.
A man and a woman just walked out of a Harbor Boulevard restaurant without paying their $30 tab. The caller “is the only one at the restaurant, and can’t leave” to follow them on foot.

Feb. 1, 5:20 a.m.
An injured kitten was found near the staff entrance to an Embarcadero Drive business. The county animal services division was requested.

Feb. 1, 8:23 a.m.
An auto parts store on Jefferson Boulevard reported that a man in his 20s, possibly homeless, had tried to buy merchandise with a counterfeit $20 bill. He left on bike.

Feb. 1, 9:03 a.m.
A car was found burglarized on Janet Drive. Gone were a GPS system and registration papers.

Feb. 1, 10:13 a.m.
A man in his 30s was reported to have tried to pass a fake $20 bill at a store on the 3000-block of West Capitol. The suspect was now standing outside the establishment.

Feb. 1, 3:50 p.m.
A citizen said there were “100 juveniles in a standoff” that might turn into a fight near Glide and West Capitol.

Feb. 1, 5:49 p.m.
A Tortola Road man said he was in an argument with his landlady. He “is moving out in the morning and has paid his rent in full, (but) the landlady wants him out tonight and has put his belongings in the trunk of her car.” An officer was requested to mediate.

Feb. 1, 6:54 p.m.
A witness said there men were taking things from a Sandypoint Court construction lot, and putting them into the trunk of a beige Chevy Malibu.

Feb. 1, 11:09 p.m.
A citizen reported that a “bunch of vehicles (are) doing burnouts in the street and driving recklessly” near Park Boulevard and Lakeview Drive. The cars included a black Mustang and a blue and white Ford pickup.

Feb. 2, 1:45 a.m.
A neighbor reported that three men had arrived in two cars on Carolina Avenue – and had urinated on the sidewalk. They were also smoking marijuana, and were now heading to a nearby house.

Feb. 2, 2:25 a.m.
A woman on Michigan Blvd. reported the “strong smell of something burning or melting,” but she refused to evacuate because she was “unable to get her husband out of the bedroom.” Police and fire were dispatched.

Feb. 2, 6:37 a.m.
A Chevy Silverado was repossessed from Twitchell Island Road.

Feb. 2, 8:53 a.m.
A security camera was stolen from a mobilehome park on West Capitol during the night. The thief might have been caught on video.

Feb. 2, 10:24 a.m.
A Sacramento Avenue mobile home resident reported being in a verbal dispute with a plumber. The plumber was now “yelling and threatening” the resident.

Feb. 2, 11:49 a.m.
A citizen told police that there was a man around 60 years old near Riverbank Road, who “appears to be setting up camp on the levee.”

Feb. 2, 3:23 p.m.
An Acura hit a cyclist at West Capitol and Merkley avenues.

Feb. 2, 3:54 p.m.
A Casselman Drive resident reported that someone stole a dog about 30 minutes earlier.

Feb. 2, 6:55 p.m.
A caller reported that he just bought a Chevrolet Trailblazer from a Westacre Road man for $4,700.
But when driving the Chevy away, its axle started coming off.
The man returned to get a refund, but the seller refused.

Feb. 2, 8:43 p.m.
A 6th Street man said his children, age 49 and 21, were trying to break into his car because he wouldn’t give them the keys.

Feb. 2, 10:16 p.m.
A fire with 10-foot flames was reported at 4th and C streets.

Feb. 2, 10:36 p.m.
An Ikea Court restaurant said a couple of men dining at the place were “acting weird (and) really antsy.” The caller “thinks they are getting ready to do a ‘dine and dash.’ (fleeing without paying their bill).”

Feb. 2, 9:44 p.m.
An officer stopped a car for a code violation on Bryte Avenue. In the driver’s seat was a 19-year old Water Street man who appeared drunk and had a suspended license. There was an open bottle of Hennesey whiskey on the floor.
The driver measured legally drunk with 0.8 percent blood alcohol. He was arrested.

Feb. 2, 11:44 a.m.
An officer pulled a 24-year old driver over at Maple Street and Michigan Blvd. The man had two arrest warrants. While searching him during the arrest, the officer located “two fixed blade knives concealed on his belt and metal knuckles,” and also some marijuana in the man’s pants pocket.

Feb. 2, 4:09 p.m.
An officer saw a man in a Jefferson Blvd. parking lot whom he recognized as a subject with a felony theft warrant.
With other police, the officer detained the suspect and searched him.
“I discovered a small metal container in his right coin pocket,” reported the officer. “Upon opening this container I noted there was approximately six small plastic baggies and three contained a white crystal-like substance inside. Per training and experience, I could tell this was methamphetamine.”
The substance later tested positive as meth. The man was also found with two glass pipes he admitted having used to smoke the drug, and a six-inch knife in his backpack. He went to jail.

Feb. 3, 12:03 a.m.
A citizen reported “seven teenage boys walking up and down Venice, banging on things as they walk by.”

Feb. 3, 3:30 a.m.
A Twitchell Island Road resident said two subjects had just tried to break into the house. A screen door was found off.
The resident saw one subject – a man in black pants and a ‘hoodie’ – and heard a second suspect.

Feb. 3, 4:18 a.m.
A man reported that after eating in a Harbor Boulevard restaurant, he went outside “he saw his silver Mercedes keyed all over.” He had a possible suspect in mind.

Feb. 3, 8:52 a.m.
A caller reported an incident the prior night at a C Street market:
A car pulled up and a man got out and “hit him two times in the head with his fist and took (the victim’s) phone and his wallet.”

Feb. 3, 10:17 a.m.
A domestic violence incident was reported on Rockrose Road.

Feb. 3, 12:26 p.m.
A “brindle pit bull” dog was seen “limping and wandering in and out of the street.” It was unknown if the dog was aggressive.

Feb. 3, 1:19 p.m.
A suicide threat was reported in the north part of the city.

Feb. 3, 2:24 p.m.
Someone stole a washer and dryer from the side of a house on Bonaire Road.

Feb. 3, 5:08 p.m.
A citizen reported that there was a bicyclist down in the street at West Capitol and Walnut, unconscious.
It was “unknown what happened — no one hit the bicyclist.”

Feb. 3, 7:42 p.m.
A man reported that two suspects shot at his car as he drove past West Capitol and Harbor.

Feb. 3, 7:58 p.m.
Police received several reports of fireworks being set off near Golden Gate Drive and Oakland bay Drive. They also received one report of several rifle and handgun shots being heard near Ballena Bay Road.

Feb. 3, 9:52 p.m.
A witness said there were about four or five drunk people at 6th Street and the railroad tracks, and “they keep jumping in front of the trains as they pass by. . . They have already dodged two trains.”

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Tryouts for youth soccer team


Tryouts for West Sac Soccer, a competitive program, are scheduled for Saturdays Feb. 23 and March 9. Tryouts will be held at River City High School.

  Tryout times: male and female athletes born August 8/1/2002 to 7/31/2003 meet from 9-10:30 a.m.; 8/1/99 – 7/31/2001, 10:30-noon; 8/1/97-7/31/99, 1-2:30 p.m.; and before 8/1/97, 2:30-4 p.m. For information, email WestSacCompSoccer@gmail.com. $125 fee for season (no additional fees for coaches, trainers or fields).

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