Tag Archives: West Sacramento


‘Letters to the Editor’ from the News-Ledger edition of January 9, 2013 —


Why not Mark?

In the December 12, 2012 edition of the News-Ledger the front-page article regarding the appointment of Chris Ledesma as the next vice mayor was troubling.  I don’t have anything against  Chris, but I was troubled by the politics behind his selection. Mark Johannessen has been on the council much longer, but he has always been passed over in this position. Why does this happen?

West Sacramento

  EDITOR’S NOTE: At the city council meeting of December 5, Councilman Bill Kristoff nominated Mark Johannessen to be the next “mayor pro tem,” or vice mayor.

  No one seconded that motion. Councilman Oscar Villegas then nominated Chris Ledesma, who was unanimously elected.

  Johannessen is in his second term on the council and has not yet served as mayor pro tem. He declined detailed comments to the News-Ledger, saying the vote was “no big deal.”


Help her!

Almost everyday I see the same woman at the Safeway Shopping Center. She has the same filthy clothes on with the same filthy jacket and matted hair. She has several small bags she carries in a basket all the time. To see her still homeless is a shame on us and our community. I have given her money and said hello, but its hard to tell how much of her is really still there. She has been outside in all temperatures for over a year.

I know this because I have seen her for so long. She sometimes looks at me with these eyes that still speak and seem to be saying “Help.”

I know she has been to the Yolo County Human Services office on Jefferson because I’ve seen her there. I even over-heard a conversation she was having on the phone at the One Spot Career Center inside their lobby, (they let you use the phones free there),. Its supposed to be to find a job thou. I heard her saying, “I’m trying to get back into a board and care. I am staying at a motel and I don’t feel safe”. That was over a year ago.

A Board and Care is a facility for those who require assistance with living and taking care of their ADLS, “Activities of Daily Living.” If she was once at that level of care, she should not be out on the street. It is obvious that she suffers with mental illness. I have never seen her ask for money or with any liquor. I was so desperate for this woman to get help, I recently sent the Mayor Christopher Cabaldon a letter on Facebook. Here’s what it said:

“This woman needs help. She is always at the Safeway shopping center. She is homeless, mentally ill, elderly, filthy and with matted hair. She was trying to get into a board and over a year ago. This I know because of a conversation I over-heard at the Health and Human Services office. She was using the phone at the One-Stop Career Center. She has been seen by social services and law enforcement alike and she still remains in desperate need. If you go over there in the morning between Big Lots and Rite-Aid or in front of Safeway you will see her. Please, Mayor Cabaldon, use the powers within your office to help this woman and the other mentally ill and homeless souls in our community.”

I don’t know if anything will be done, but its a sad day when sick people can’t get the help they are asking for and so desperately needs. West Sacramento is a Mecca for the homeless, addict, mentally ill and just down and out. Maybe its our cheap motels and easy access to the river. One might say just move, but I’ve bought a home here and I like West Sac, but for your everyday person, who cares about these people, its become a depressing place to live.

We have to do something for the homeless. Provide a day shelter, and get the mentally ill help. We need a detox center for the addict. Its just getting increasingly like a set from a zombie movie here, with us just living, shopping and acting as if the “living dead” among us, already are.

West Sacramento

The homeless challenge

Thank you for reporting on the issue of homelessness in West Sacramento and Councilman Mark Johannessen’s ongoing efforts to address the issue and its impact on our community (News-Ledger, Jan. 2).

St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Grace Conference is among the many faith-based groups in West Sacramento who are concerned about how our city and county address the needs of the poor in our community, especially the homeless.  I appreciate Councilman Johannessen’s efforts to push for the development of city policy concerning the poor and unsheltered.

In developing policy in this area, it is important to view the challenges of overcoming poverty and homelessness from the perspective of building a community in West Sacramento that is inclusive of all of its residents.  This perspective begins, I think, with the understanding that the “homeless” are not a problem, but real people, including families with children,  facing tough challenges in tough times.  For example, over the last year, we saw our requests for need increase by 175%.

Every situation is unique and personal to the people affected by poverty.   In developing a policy, the city should include poor and homeless individuals in the planning process.  I have met such persons through the charitable work of St. Vincent de Paul.  They have much to offer for workable solutions because they are living the experience of poverty in our community.

The development of policy should be open and transparent.   There needs to be ample notice of public meetings, and meetings need to be set at reasonable times and places so there can be full participation by all stakeholders.  Mr. Johannessen has taken this approach and the city council should  follow his lead to have all voices heard.  It is also critical that policy be developed with better facts concerning the depth of poverty in our community.  The reported count of only 138 homeless people within city limits does not square with the reality of what we find in our work with the poor.

It is important, too, that policy not look to just one solution but acknowledge the scope of the challenges of being homeless and build upon multiple solutions to address the varying need.  The policy should address systemic change where needed, such as, access to resources through coordinated communication.  We have seen such positive changes in the formation of West Sac Partners, the establishment of 211 telephone assistance, and the work of the Broderick Bryte Community Action Network.

Our Lady of Grace Conference remains hopeful that city leaders will be open to addressing the issue of homelessness as a real and pressing challenge for our community and will work with stakeholders for a policy that is humane, decent, and worthy of the City of West Sacramento.

Conference President
Our Lady of Grace Conference
Society of St. Vincent de Paul



News-Ledger, PO Box 463, West Sacramento CA 95691 (call 916 371-8030 for email address)

Letters must include the author’s real name (for publication) as well as phone number and address (not for publication). Questions? Call (916) 371-8030.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Five compete for open seat

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 9, 2013 —

Former board member David Westin and temporary member Elizabeth Bagdazian are not among the candidates —

LINH NGUYEN: business owner from Southport seeks a seat on the Washington Unified School District board of trustees (courtesy photo)

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Five candidates have signed up for West Sacramento’s special school board election on March 5.  The all-mail ballot will ask voters to pick one person to fill the remaining term – almost two years – of former board member Sandra Vargas.

  Vargas resigned in the fall. Her remaining colleagues appointed Elizabeth Bagdazian to fill the slot, but a group of citizens successfully petitioned to overturn that appointment and force the special vote.

Neither Bagdazian nor David Westin, a former school board member narrowly voted out of office in November, are running for the vacancy.

The News-Ledger this week caught up with several of the candidates.

NICHOLAS TURNEY: former college instructor, now a parent & homemaker, is running for a school board seat in West Sacramento (courtesy photo)

The five candidates are:

Nicholas Scott Turney, a self-described parent/homemaker who lives on Watercourse Lane in northern West Sacramento.

Katherine R. Gales, reported as an “education executive assistant” and who lives on Touchstone Place in Southport.

Linh T. Nguyen, who lists himself as a business owner who lives on Huntington Road in Southport.

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, self-described as a parent-teacher and who hasn’t listed a street address. Her Facebook page indicates she works as a teacher in Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

Francisco Castillo, who lists himself as a parent/education advocate and who lives on Ryer Island Street in Southport.

Nicholas Turney, 33, told the News-Ledger he believes that Washington Unified School District “could use a voice more representative of the north area.”

“I’m a former college instructor and I took a leave from teaching to raise our children, so I understand the benefits of having a solid education as a basis for success in the future,” he said. “I’m not affiliated with any board members or civic leaders – I’m a totally independent candidate.”

Turney said he has a kindergarten-age daughter and a son who’s still a toddler.

KATHERINE GALES: works for state education departments, wants to give public service back (courtesy photo)

Katherine Gales, 49, said she has a grandson, two nieces and a nephew of school age.

“I’m running because I have experience and understand education and I’ve been around the block,” she said. “I think everybody should be involved (in public service) at some point in their life doing what they can do. I bring my experience, knowledge and expertise in education to the West Sacramento public schools.”

Gales said she has worked for the state education department for 14 years, and has lived in the city for three. Although she responded to a call for candidates made on Mayor Christopher Cabaldon’s Facebook page, Gales said she has not received the mayor’s endorsement or other political endorsements at this point.

Francisco Castillo, 32, said he was motivated to get involved partly by the experience of having to spend the night in front of Bridgeway Island Elementary School in order to get his child a slot in the kindergarten there.

“I work in a national educational advocacy group called StudentsFirst,” he told the News-Ledger. “I’ve been in West Sacramento about five years.”

His focus includes ensuring preschool access for all children, promoting college and career preparation, and ensuring fiscal responsibility in the district.

FRANCISCO CASTILLO: Professional education advocate, endorsed by mayor & county supervisor (courtesy photo)

“I’m happy to have the endorsements of (new board member) Katie Villegas, Mayor Cabaldon, (Yolo County Supervisor Michael) McGowan, and city councilmen Oscar Villegas and Christ Ledesma,” said Castillo.

Nguyen and Kirby-Gonzalez couldn’t immediately be reached for comment – but the News-Ledger plans to invite all candidates for an in-depth interview before the election.

The website of the local teachers’ union, the Washington Teachers Association, reports that the union has endorsed Kirby-Gonzalez, the teacher.

A sixth candidate filed to run in this race, but withdrew. That was Coby Pizotti, who ran unsuccessfully for one of the seats available in the regular election in November.

  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-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 2013

Free food from Yolo food bank


The Food Bank of Yolo County will distribute free food to eligible West Sacramento and Clarksburg residents on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Distribution will occur from 9-10 a.m. at the County Building, 500 Jefferson Blvd.; from 10:30-11:15 a.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1500 Park Blvd.; 11-noon at the Yolo Housing Authority, 685 Lighthouse Dr.; and noon to 1 p.m. at the Clarksburg Firehouse.

Please bring a bag and attend only one site. For information, call (530) 668-0690.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

EDITORIAL: same problem, different answer

EDITORIAL from the News-Ledger — JAN 9, 2013 —

In March, West Sacramento residents will vote in a special election to fill a vacant seat on the local school board.

The vacancy was already filled once – last fall, when remaining school board members accepted applications and chose West Sacramento’s Liz Bagdazian to fill the seat. But a number of citizens criticized the way this happened. The citizens, backed by Mayor Cabaldon, gathered the needed signatures to nullify this appointment and send the matter to the voters.

One of the main criticisms leveled at the school district was that it kept secret the list of candidates for the open seat, making their names public only at the final selection meeting. The News-Ledger requested the names ahead of the meeting, but the request was denied.

Let’s compare this to how Sacramento City Unified School District handled a similar school board vacancy in the fall:

According to the Sac City district website, applications for their school board vacancy were accepted until November 14. The next day, the board met to review the applications in open session, with “all applications. . . available at the Board meeting for public inspection.”

Next, each applicant was then invited to make a presentation at the board’s December 6 meeting, and time was set aside on Dec. 20 for final presentations, questions from board members, and a final vote by the school board.

In other words, Sac City invited the public to get to know the candidates and offer questions and comments about them. That could have happened here.

  Now, WUSD’s top officials are professionals with good intentions and they do a good job on many things. There was no villainy in WUSD’s selection process.

The News-Ledger’s main concerns after the West Sacramento appointment were that WUSD officials seemed to view “transparency” as a secondary goal, aiming (not always successfully) just to meet their bare legal obligations. And they did not seem to understand the state’s public record laws, which say that school district records are almost always “public” records and the district is obligated to help the public get the records it wants.

When, as a governmental entity, you try too hard to keep the public at arm’s length, sometimes it will backfire on you.

It would be better if the good people running WUSD were to consciously adopt a new policy of maximum transparency. They should educate their staff about public requests for information, release school board meeting agendas earlier than the minimum legal deadline whenever possible, and so forth. If the district’s law firm doesn’t understand “public records,” WUSD should get a new law firm.

There should be a “transparency” culture, where the public comes first.  The reward will be more trust and goodwill.

And fewer special elections.

  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-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 2013