Friday, March 30, 2007

Firefighters: My Final Thoughts

It is hard to just pick a side in this situation. You cannot blame the City Council or the firefighters. The City Council’s job is to provide the most professional employees for the least possible money. That is their job. They have a budget that does not have money in it for everything we want. They will be required to cut other services, which will probably be from the parks and rec. Then they will have others mad at them for cutting those services. Any well run business knows that you have to balance many different departments within a budget and keep up morale at the same time. I am sure that is on the Council’s mind during the negotiations.

The firefighters have a good case as well. They are trying to get their pay scale on average with surrounding areas. That is fair enough for me. I think there have been some very good suggestions for the firefighters on this blog and hopefully they really do look deep into different options for their services. The firefighters have been very honest with the public in what they want. I personally would like to see top pay for our firefighters. If I need them in an emergency, I want the best, not some rookies who have little or no experience at all. Sure, right now if the firefighters quit there probably would be 500 people in line for the job, but we have great people already working for us, their experience is valuable, and we should try our best to keep them.

So we are stuck at looking for the basics. Fire and Police protection are at the very core of basic services for a community. It reminds me of the game Sim City. They have meters to see how happy the community is with different categories including Fire, Police and recreation. Balancing those meters depended on how well your city would grow. That is a tough job and the Council will have to make some hard decisions.

What we need to learn from this situation is how important keeping tax dollars in this city really is. Economic development needs to be on the mind of the City Manager every day. We need to balance our commercial and retail with our number of homes. I hear everyday of people going to Sacramento for shopping. We need to figure out how to keep Woodland residents shopping here and also attract people from Davis and Sacramento to spend their money here. Then we can keep all of the services we need and want.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Would You Like In Woodland

I would like to hear the top five things that you would like to see come to Woodland. It can be anything, but most likely retail stuff. I will start.

1. Black Angus
2. 24 Hour Fitness
3. Fresh Choice
4. Mr. Big and Tall
5. Men's Warehouse

There you go. Let me hear your ideas. (From the looks of my choices, I must be hungry, fat and dressed bad)

School Cafeteria Health Inspection Reports

Well I am pleased to say that the reports all came back good. I thought we would find a mess, but I was wrong and am happy to be wrong. Great job to all of the cafeteria staff in Woodland for keeping our kids healthy. You should be proud that you beat most commercial establishments.

You can view the reports for yourself here!

Email Subscription

The email subscription is now working. I will email you all of my posts daily.

Do you have a right to blog anonymously?

Yes.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the First Amendment right to speak anonymously: "author is generally free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one's privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be...the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. Accordingly, an author's decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment." (McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm)

http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-defamation.php

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Told You So

Today in the Daily Democrat they printed a story about Yolo County cracking down on unlicensed contractors and making a bunch of arrests. If someone bids on or works on a job that costs more than $500 in parts and labor you have to be licensed. Licensing is there to protect the consumers. You can check out my previous post here. You can also check online to see if your contractor is licensed or not!

I could not find the story on the Daily Democrat web page??? I guess you will have to take my word for it or go buy the paper.

Food Bank Tour

This place was simply amazing! They feed 20,000 Yolo county residents every month. It is a well ran operation that strives to operate on the tightest of budgets. They actually distribute their financial summary and have a complete yearly audit that is available upon request.

A common misconception of the food bank is that people go there for food. Actually, they distribute the food to non-profit organizations which distribute directly to the consumers. A small list of those who receive food are: Elderly nutrition, Food Closet, Wayfarer Center, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and many others.

Jose Martinez is the executive director and is a very smart business man as well as a hard worker. He is actually a retired attorney. He took us on a tour of the facility and explained how the process worked. They moved 3 million pounds of food last year. That is equal to 77 semi-truck loads.

The warehouses are packed and they are fairly crammed into the space. They actually have three separate warehouses at the same location which makes life difficult to move the food around. They are looking to move into a larger facility soon to accommodate the operations. PG&E donated insulation for the ceilings of the warehouse and the Rumsey Community Fund donated money for a new walk in freezer. They rely heavily on donations for operations and food.

If you ever get a chance, volunteer some time or just stop by and have Jose take you on a tour. It will give you a fresh prospective on community service.


Above is a picture of the main warehouse where non profits pick up the food.

Above is Jose Martinez (left) Dr. Bill Marble (middle) Mike Gill (right)


This picture is a cleaning, prep and break room.

The Tall And Short Of It

Well if you guessed Neal Peart you were correct. He is about a 1/2 inch taller than the X man!

I wonder who would win in a foot race??

Monday, March 26, 2007

Proposed Workers' Comp Changes Could Cost Billions

There is a proposal by a Workers' Compensation Attorney that represents injured workers, that could cost small businesses billions in California. The story on this was in the Sacramento Business Journal and you can read it here.

I have a slanted view on this issue because I was an insurance fraud Investigator for numerous years. I filmed a ton of people who were supposed to be injured while they did various activities. I have too many funny stories to tell, but I think the best one was when I followed a guy into a 24 hour fitness and obtained some video with a hidden camera. This guy said he could not get out of bed because he had a broken back. Well, inside of the gym I filmed him for 1 hour while he lifted weights. Then at one point he asked me to spot him on the bench press. So while in the process of helping him with 245 pounds of iron he told me about a karate class he teaches at night. Being the investigator I was, I asked him when and where the class was. He kindly told me and even invited me to join the class.

So later that night, I packed up the hidden camera and visited the karate class where I got more video. This time he was doing flying kicks, round house kicks and stuff that I do not even know what to call.

Needless to say that guy got into a little trouble.

If you ever want to hear more, let me know and we can sit down at lunch and I will tell you stories until you can not take any more.

One Lucky Kid

A kid in Marysville is lucky to be alive after a tunnel he was digging with friends caved in on him.

Read the story here.

More Benefits for Disabled Vets

Here is an excerpt from the R & P Report:

A bill (H.R. 1284) that cleared the house last week would instruct the Veterans Affairs department to increase wartime disability compensation for veterans and their dependants. Helping wounded solders receive appropriate rehabilitation became a legislative priority after news reports alleged mismanagement and neglect at the nation's top military hospitals. Another measure (H.R. 1538) aimed at helping disabled vets navigate the outpatient care system cleared a house committee.

Plainfield in the Democrat

Monica Krauth wrote a nice story in the Daily Democrat on Sunday about Plainfield Elementary and their effort to save the gardening program. You can view the story here.

I checked on the current efforts to raise money for the program and to date they have raised $1587.00 from parents. That is pretty good. They have a few other corporate donation pledges as well. One family, who are also local farmers gave a $500 donation.

The best story was of one student, Abby Stevens, who wrote her name on an envelope with her hard earned two dollars inside.

It is great to see the community get behind great projects like this. They still need to raise some more money though. You can find out the details of where to send a check on Matt Rexroad's web page, http://www.rexroad.com/, under community needs list.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Comment of the Weekend

I do not know who Craig Morgan is, but he has figured out what this blog is about. I am going to be deleting comments that have no debate involved. Arguments and name calling will be deleted. I want to see discussions which include, debate, complaints, questions, suggestions, opinions and concerns that the voters of Woodland have. So far they have been really good with the exception of a very few on the Fair discussion.

Anyways here is Craig's comment:

Posted by Craig Morgan
The Fair is Broke? Is that true? No corn Dogs....ah man, I have to go to Dixon now? On another note, I have been reading these post's for the last couple days. I find that there are loyal supporters of the fair board and its CEO, based on their "Volunteer" experience. I have also read from people who have worked there or are still working there; they too have had some insightful opinion as to what is wrong with the Yolo County Fair. Having both opinions come forth is just what this blog is intended for, to find out what Yolo County voters are thinking. What changes they would like to see. What things they want to remain the same or what idea's they might have, that will help the Yolo County Fair grow in a positive way. From the looks of this blog, I know there will be many more great opinions expressed on how to better the Yolo County Fair, I just hope that it can be done in a more civil manner in the future, with a little less bloviating.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Putah Creek Crawdads at Ludy's

I decided to go and check out the Crawdads down at Ludy's with my Dad and my boys. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see how busy it was. I actually did not mind waiting in line for 10 minutes to order. It was good to see a place in Woodland that had something happening.


I think the band has quite a large following, mainly because half of the crowd knew all of the songs. While their type of music is not at the top of my list, they have a way of working the crowd and getting everyone into it. I actually quite enjoyed their music and had a very nice evening.
It seemed like everyone in Woodland was there. I saw Dr. Bill Wagnon, Supervisor Thompson, Jack Devine, Ed Witham CPA and I am sure many familiar faces that I forgot. I could have had my back cracked, my taxes done, discussed county problems and had my web page worked on all at once.
Here is the band.

My nine year old was really impressed with Wayne Ginsburg because he can play his instrument and talk to people at the same time.

There was even a buck tooth sighting. Those ribs were great!

Fictitious Business Name Lookup

Yolo County actually does have something online. You can look up and see who owns a business.

Check it out here.

Sex Offender Database

Megan's law was one of the best things CA could have done to protect the public. I check out this web page all of the time. Now every state is online. Check it out and see if you live near a sex offender.

Megan's Law

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Food Bank Tour

I will be meeting with Dr. Bill Marble at the food bank on Tuesday, March 27 for a tour of the facility. Dr Marble has worked for years serving the needy of Yolo County. We should consider him for a community service award. You can find out more about the food bank on their web page. http://www.foodbankyc.org/index.html

Yolo County Fair Budget

Let me know your thoughts on the budget. The only thing that stands out to me is the maintenance and miscellaneous costs.

Budget

Update 3/24/07

Let me clarify, I have never claimed to know what is going on. I really do not think the public knows and that is why I am going through this process publicly so we can all find out. The more information the public has will make the comments more accurate. The public should not have to just take the word of a government agency that they are broke, we should be able to view the evidence and draw our own conclusions.

Personal attacks should not be made and probably hinder our look into the fair.

Getting Public Records is like pulling teeth

It is no wonder the public often thinks that government entities are on the shady side. It is not easy to get public records from them and it looks like they are hiding stuff when in reality they are probably not. Access to public information is a law and some public agencies either do not know the law or are just being a pain in the butt.

Here are my two latest examples. When I first approached the Health Department for copies of the food inspections they told me it would be $99 an hour for their labor and .29 a copy. After some complaining they dropped the price to just .29 a copy.

I just sent an email to the Fair Board for a copy of their budget. Here is the email response I got in return:

Mr. McCallum: You are more than welcome to make an appointment and I will show you our budget, but we will not let copies leave our office. So please feel free to give me a call


Is that crazy? Why would they not want copies to leave their office?

According to the California Public Information Act we are entitled to copies of the budget and any other piece of public information that we want. They should only charge the actual cost of making copies. Here is a link to the Act.

Here is a pocket guide to the Public Records Act.

UPDATE:
I did respond back to the above email and asked why I could not have a copy of the public record. I did get a response back and they acknowledged that they were incorrect and they did send me the budget. Thank you.

Mr. McCallum: I was incorrect please find budget attached

The point of this was not to roast anyone by any means, it is just an example of the road blocks that the public faces when we try to get public records. If an average Joe had requested this record and got that first response, they probably would have just stopped asking.

I am going to start a new post with the Fair Budget.

Pioneer High School project delays

On March 8, 2007 the WJUSD put out a publication for the Preliminary time line and costs for the athletic fields. You can see it for yourself here.

I have a few questions about this report.

1. Why has it taken so long to get these projects started?
2. Where did all of the measure T money go?
3. How do they plan to pay for the rest of the construction?

I does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why the football program has had a hard time keeping coaches around. Who would want to coach a team that plays on an open field with no bleachers for the fans, no restrooms, no lights and no concession booth?

It is hard for me to believe that things have progressed so slowly and now there is apparently no money left to complete this school. If it were not for Mike Gill giving the school district $125,000 they would not have lights for who knows how many years.

The report states that the lighting could be completed in the summer of 2007 and the artificial track should be completed in 2008.

It also states

  • There is no money for bleacher seating
  • There is no money for a concession/restroom building

The cost of the bleachers right now is $750,000. There is no way the boosters can raise this kind of money, especially without a concession stand. The longer we wait the higher the prices are going to be.

This subject is actually the number one thing people talk to me about. There are numerous other issues here that we will tackle later such as the ag wing and the science wing.

Give me your thoughts...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Taco Bell Inspection Reports

Is this why I always have serious stomach cramps after my extra large Pepsi from Taco Bell? I just thought it was too much soda???

Main Street Taco Bell Report Page 1 Page 2

Pioneer Taco Bell Report



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Online anonymity lets users gets nasty

This was a great article on Yahoo about online forums such as this one. So far 95% of the comments have been constructive so please try to keep it that way. Here is the article.

Everyone who enjoys these blogs should also read The Legal Guide For Bloggers.

Mayor Poll Results

Mayor Poll
Who will be the next Mayor?
Dave Flory (2)
5%
Art Pimentel (4)
9%
Jeff Monroe (25)
57%
Matt Rexroad (10)
23%
Frank Sieferman (3)
7%
Total Votes: 44

It should be noted that I also got one vote.

Illegal Contractors

Yolo County has been cracking down on contractors without a license. If you hire a non licensed contractor and something goes wrong, you will likely never recover any money.

If you want to find out if your contractor is properly licensed you can find out here.

Firefighters turn up the Heat

The Firefighters are out in front of City Hall again tonight in hopes of getting a contract that includes higher wages. They have published a city employee salary comparison with West Sacramento and Davis compared to Woodland.

It is interesting to say the least. This survey does not include benefits or retirement.

You can see it here.

Poll on National Issues

1. Iraq Strategy: Should Congress reduce or eliminate funding for additional troops in Iraq?

2. Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Should Congress pass legislation to expand federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research?

3. Paid Sick Days: Should Congress pass legislation to require companies with at least 15 employees to provide seven paid sick days a year?

Just number your response so we know which topic you are talking about.

Long John Silver Health Inspection

I asked for the last 2 inspections for all of my requests. A few they had scanned and the rest I manually went through the files and marked the reports I wanted copies of.

Let me just say I hope these two Inspection Reports are not the latest. The dates on these two reports are from 04 and 05???

You should be able to click on the picture for a larger image.


Long John report 1. Are you sure that was shrimp?
Report 2

Report 3

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pollutant in Woodland wastewater leads to clean water violation

This story is in the Sac Bee. Read it here.

I wonder how close they are to solving this case. I might make a few calls tomorrow. The story did not say if there is a fine with the violation?

I guess they updated and moved the story link! It should work now.

Wow, they could fine the City $10,000 a day. Here is a portion of the story:

The water quality board could enforce a maximum fine of $10,000 a day or $10 per gallon of the total water treated and discharged into the canal during the time the agency was in violation of the Clean Water Act, Kenneth Landau, the board's assistant executive officer, said Monday.

White House Memento

You can have the White House send you a greeting for a new baby or a birthday for those over 80.

Send your baby's name, address and birth date to:

White House Greetings Office
Room 39
Washington, D.C. 20500

Or you can do it all online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/#

Guess Who?

I am going to start playing this game weekly. I have to figure out a way for some prizes, but for now it will be just for fun. I will post a childhood photo of some Woodlanders and we can all try to guess who it is. Here is the first one.



I like the pink sweater!

Alright, Matt already outed himself.... Wait, that did not sound right. Matt claimed this picture to be his on rexroad.com so the secret photo is out. Bob Huber did a great job altering the photo to put a pink sweater with a blue heart on him!! Thank you for the picture Matt and the sense of humor.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Firefighter letter to the editor

"I Wish You Could Know"

I wish you could know what it is like to search a burning bedroom for trapped children at 3 AM, flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below you burns.

I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 6 in the morning as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late. But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try to save his life.

I wish you could know the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling in intense heat through your turnout gear, the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to do absolutely nothing in dense smoke-sensations that I've become too familiar with.

I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire "is this a false alarm or a working fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?"
Or to call, ""What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life-threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is he waiting for us with a 2x4 or a gun?"

I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead the beautiful five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the past 25 minutes. Who will never go on her first date or say the words, "I love you mommy & daddy" again.

I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the engine, squad car, or my personal vehicle, the driver with his foot pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn chain, as you fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic. When you need us however, your first comment upon our arrival will be, "It took you forever to get here!"

I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years from the remains of her automobile. "What if this was my daughter, sister, my girlfriend, wife or my friend? What were her parent's reactions going to be when they opened the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?"

I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my parents and family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.

I wish you could know how it feels dispatching officers, firefighters and EMT's out and when we call for them and our heart drops because no one answers back or to hear a bone chilling 9-1-1 call of a child or wife needing assistance.

I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically, abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they express their attitudes of "It will never happen to me".

I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain or missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving someone's property, or being able to be there in time of crisis, or creating order from total chaos.

I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, "Is Mommy okay?" not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long time friend who watches his buddy having CPR done on him as they take him away in the Medic Unit. You know all along he did not have his seat belt on. A sensation that I have become too familiar with.

Unless you have lived with this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, we are, or what our job really means to us...I wish you could though.

Steve Trotter submitted this letter: Author Unknown

Friday, March 16, 2007

Many school cafeterias rarely inspected

Great story on health inspections that rarely get completed at school cafeterias. This will go great with my health inspection postings. Here is the story.

I am going to have a poll on the right side of the blog this weekend that will allow you to vote on which inspections I post first.

Here is an example of a Sacramento School cafeteria.

Woodlandjournal.com Exclusive: Dave Flory, "I am running for reelection"


I had a great time sitting down with the Mayor as he reflected back on some good memories and discussed immediate challenges facing Woodland.

Realist: What is your political party affiliation?
Flory: Democrat

Realist: Are you running for city council in the next election?
Flory: Yes, I am running for reelection. But remember a lot can happen in a person’s life between now and the filing period.

Realist: What was your best accomplishment during your previous term as a city council member?
Flory: Assisting constituents with issues of concern they have with City policies and advocating for community outreach. Without government and public communication we are working in a vacuum.

Realist: What was your worst experience as a councilman?
Flory: It was actually one of my first meetings as a councilman back in 1988. We held public hearings on establishing the redevelopment district. The meeting was so large we had to hold it in the Leake room at the library. About 150 members of the public showed up and really let the council know they had fears of eminent domain and property rights. I learned a lot about the community on that night and as time went on, some of the most outspoken people at that meeting have become my biggest supporters.

Realist: What sets you apart from Monroe or Pimentel?
Flory: All of us on the City Council work as a team. We don’t always agree but we all work in the best interest of our community. I have 8 years of experience with the State Legislature working on constituent problems and district legislation. I have 19 years of experience on the Woodland City Council which gives me a unique position of having an in depth knowledge of city and regional government. I have worked behind the scenes to make government more responsible and customer friendly. I work hard in trying to make local government accountable for our decisions.

Realist: Do you want to be Mayor?
Flory: I have been Mayor twice and have really enjoyed it. However, being a member of the City Council is most important no matter who is Mayor. I can be effective whether I am Mayor or a council member working on behalf of my community.

Realist: What do you see as the future economic outlook for Woodland?
Flory: Very Strong. We need to balance residential, along with commercial and retail growth. We are constantly being approached by investor’s who want to bring us retail business. What I don’t want is for us to be building new home’s to accommodate developers. It is important to provide balanced shopping for our residents and attract shoppers from out of town so we collect their sales tax dollars but do not need to provide services for them. We also need to work closely with UCD on economic development and identify potential locations for research and development companies. We will be exploring the unlimited possibilities with UCD.

Realist: How do you plan to deal with the current budget problems that the city faces?
Flory: Since about 1991 the state has taken 21 million dollars from our city to balance their budget this is money that we could have used for infrastructure and to provide additional services. The council has been very efficient in administrating city revenues. I will continue to work with the council in looking at more efficient and cost effective programs. We also need to explore the possibility of having to ask the community for additional fee’s to maintain desired services.

Realist: I have mixed feelings about our community center. It is a very nice place, but at the same time I have children in school where they have cut their classroom hours by 30 minutes a day because they cannot afford to pay teachers. Other programs like gardening for children have been cut. Yet as a community we voted to spend 23 million dollars on sports. What can you do to help our schools?
Flory: I would again support a bond issue to assist our school district with additional infrastructure needs. It is important that we encourage business to support vocational education programs for youth. Were I can, I will assist the school district in exploring additional revenue’s to support our teacher’s and students. I have in the past been able to work with the business community in donating dollars for certain school projects such as children’s gardening and the purchase of athletic equipment.

Realist: Would you help sponsor and or endorse a Measure to raise funding for our local schools? Seeing how easily Measures E, H, I and J passed, seems like with an endorsement from the city council one would easily pass for education.
Flory: Yes, we need to continue our support for capital improvement’s and for operations and maintenance.

Realist: Do you know of any big decisions coming up that will impact Woodland?
Flory: Hiring a new City Manager and assistant City Manager.

Realist: What are you looking for in a new City Manager?
Flory: I am looking for a candidate with a strong financial background, experience in economic development, and believes in public outreach and providing customer friendly service. Our new City Manager will be responsible to carry out projects approved by the community and being a team leader.

Realist: What are your feelings about the firefighters?
Flory: I respect and appreciate the outstanding work they are doing for our community. Their dedication to safety and their profession shows everyday. We are in negotiations with their association and I sincerely hope we come to a resolution that is in the best interest of everyone soon.

Realist: How much money do you anticipate to raise for this coming campaign?
Flory: My first election cost $4,600. I understand that the last City Council election candidate’s spent $30,000 or more. My plan at the moment is to raise and spend $16,000. I plan on walking the whole city door to door.

Other comments from Mayor Flory:
I currently serve on the flood control committee for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. We are now starting to address the flood problems at a regional level. The City Council has agreed to join with Yolo County and the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District to work together on flood solution’s and storm drain issues. We need to speak as one voice on these issues.

There are still area’s in our community that need improved infrastructure i.e.: better street lighting, new and improved sidewalks, traffic signals, safer route’s to school i.e.: bike and pedestrian paths and more convenient bus stops. These issues need the support of the City Council to make it work.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Green Waste Collection Update

The Solid Waste Committee has made a recommendation on green waste collection services that will be presented to the City Council on March 27. The recommendation is being brought forward after ten months of service and rate negotiations with Waste Management.

The recommendation for 2008 and 2009 closely follows the recommendation made by the Green Waste Citizen Advisory Committee. The recommendation includes non-leaf season and leaf season (October 15 through January 15) services, increased composting courses, education, and enforcement of City codes regarding green waste collection. During the non-leaf season, green waste could be placed in the street once a month during a designated period and green waste containers would be used for the remainder of the month. During the leaf season, green waste could be placed in the street or in containers. To protect water quality, the placement of grass in the street would be prohibited.

In 2009, the City Council would reevaluate the effectiveness of the program and recommend continuing with the 2008/2009 services or proceeding to a program with a pruning season collection (instead of the monthly street collections during the non-leaf season) and different street sweeping frequencies.
Questions may be directed to Christine Engel, City of Woodland, Environmental Analyst, 406-5110.

Interview: Art Pimentel, Councilmember


Art has been very kind to give me a short interview looking ahead to the next election and he talks about the future and how he can help shape Woodland. He has also agreed to answer some questions, if you post your real name and the question is worth answering. Constructive comments are always welcome as well.



Realist: What is your political party affiliation?
Art: Democrat

Realist: Are you running for city council in the next election?
Art: Yes

Realist: What was your best accomplishment during your previous term as a city council member?
Art: Advocating for a better quality of life in all the neighborhoods of Woodland. I pride myself on my availability to residents and always doing my research on all issues before the council. I have championed important City policies that impact youth and seniors as well as making Woodland a business friendly community.

Realist: What was your worst experience as a councilman?
Art: The lack of community participation on issues.

Realist: What sets you apart from Monroe or Flory?
Art: We all bring different perspectives to the council. I know I do.

Realist: Do you want to be Mayor?
Art: I would love to serve as Mayor, if the people of Woodland wish for me to.

Realist: What do you see as the future economic outlook for Woodland?
Art: I believe the future is promising. We need to work with County, State, and Federal Government on a flood solution. Almost half of our residents are paying flood insurance and potential commercial lands that should be developed cannot due to a lack of a flood solution. We must find a solution. This is not one governmental entity’s flooding problem, but our entire regions’ problem. The sooner we find a solution that the majority of Woodlanders agree, the sooner we can begin on building “Woodland Technology Park” on the North East Corner of Woodland. Woodland deserves the best paying jobs for its residents and there are options to making this a reality.


Realist: How do you plan to deal with the current budget problems that the city faces?
Art: It is all a balance with the exception of Safety. Public safety will always come first to me. We must tackle issues straight on and without regret. Woodland residents are counting on it.


Realist: I have mixed feelings about our community center. It is a very nice place, but at the same time I have children in school where they have cut their classroom hours by 30 minutes a day because they cannot afford to pay teachers. Other programs like gardening for children have been cut. Yet as a community we voted to spend 23 million dollars on sports and roads. What can you do to help our schools?
Art: We have been working together with our schools to form multi-use facilities agreements when it is appropriate. I have faith in our School District and hope that they will find a solution to future budgetary problems. We all face them and sometimes deal with them in a tough manner.

Realist: Would you help sponsor and or endorse a Measure to raise funding for our local schools? Seeing how easily Measures E, H, I and J passed, seems like with an endorsement from the city council one would easily pass for education.
Art: Yes depending on the use of the monies.

Realist: Do you know of any big decisions coming up that will impact Woodland?
Art: Yes there are many. The hiring of our City Manager, Assistant City Manager as they are two of the most important positions that will assist the council with guidance and direction of our city for the next several years. The Spring Lake Specific Plan to build 4000 dwelling units by 2015, which was approved by the council in 2002. Council should follow and implement the plan that was approved and make small changes only when appropriate. Other important issues; updating our master plan, finalizing our capitol budget, City budget, storm water drainage fees, surface water study, sport park plan, green waste, finalizing the Woodland Property and Business Improvement District (PBID), Court System, Yolo County Fairgrounds.


Realist: What are you looking for in a new City Manager?
Art: An individual who is a good communicator, has strong leadership skills, experienced, and understands our city's heritage.


Realist: What are your feelings about the firefighters?
Art: I support the firefighters in their efforts to show unity and voice their opinions. I support our firefighters to receive an increase in pay, which is average for our area. At the same time we must be able to afford it. I would love to give all of our city employees a 100% raise, but that is not feasible. I am looking forward to a resolution with the firefighters on the April 4th meeting.

Realist: How much money do you anticipate to raise for this coming campaign?
Art: $30K.

Art, thank you for the interview. I hope we are able to have many more discussions during this next campaign.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Jim Smith Editorial

Jim Smith had a good editorial today about our firefighter discussion on this blog. He makes a great point about how important communication is between the government and the public. You can view the article here.

p.s. I tried not to misspell anything... Lucky for me there is a spell checker for the posts.

Would you like to Post a letter?

If anyone would like to write a post, or have a letter to the editor published as a post, please email me at jeff@woodlandjournal.com. I will require that your real name is attached to the article and I will verify it.

Feb or June?

Do you think the city should vote in February or June? I think with bad weather as a good possibility in Feb, the voter turn out could be lower than it already is. Also, who wants to get annoying Christmas election cards in the mail. On the bright side, with enough bad weather, I bet the door to door campaigning would drop significantly.

Anyways, there is a very good possibility that we could be voting early in the year in the near future.

WRG to hold Firefighter Forum

The firefighters will be available to answer questions on April 18th 6:30 pm at Pioneer High School. This is a great opportunity for the community to get a first hand look at the situation. I will be there and I hope you all will make the meeting as well.

The firefighter have updated their numbers so it is easier to read and they have put a FAQ section on their web page. Both links are on the right side of the blog.

From what I have been told, the City can not be there, or comment about the numbers because they are in closed session meetings on the subject.

Woodland Soroptimist Fundraising Dance

Vicki Bourn and Tania Garcia-Cadena, who seem to raise money for everything in town, are putting on a St. Patricks dance to raise money for the Woodland Head Start Program to purchase books for the children. Any program to help the children is a worthy cause in my book. So buy some tickets and go dance!

Here is their press release:

For immediate release: Soroptimist International of Woodland invites you to join them on St. Patrick’s Day as they dance the night away and raise funds for local programs benefiting women and children in the community. Grooveline, Northern California’s premier party band, will be playing a wide-range of music, everything from R&B to Old School, Latin and Funk. The Heidrick Ag Center, 1926 Hays Lane, a major event sponsor, will serve as the location. The party’s from 7:00 – 11:00 pm. Tickets are available, for $15, by calling 661-0763. Grand Prize tickets are also available for a chance to win a wonderful weekend getaway at the Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast, on the Mendocino Coast. Winners need not be present to win and the tickets are only $10 each. Light snacks, a no host bar and an ice cream sundae bar will be available. Gather your friends, put on your green, and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in style.

Local Lizard Takes A Beating

A local lizard was assaulted during a domestic dispute. This was a funny article. The democrat reported on the incident and you can read it here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Comment of the Day

Here is the best comment so far. This guy has done some homework.

FF/ MEDIC said...
You know I sit here and read this and I am actually amazed that the same old stuf keeps coming up. First off, if the city wants to off set the cost, its simple, kick out AMR. Have EMMC not re-new their contract by way of the BOS (Board of Supervisor's) run two man medic units in all stations, thats one firefighter and one paramedic. In addition, the city should run a BLS day care (at least 2 at all times) these units will do out of counties and grunt runs from con home to con home, if there's a back up on the day car or an ALS unit has to go out county, you have on Call EMT-I's to staff an extra BLS unit. I worked in Lake County when we made the transition from all private ambulance that serviced nine fire districts, and now, NO Private transport exsist in Lake County. Woodland can do it. All Lake County departments have tripled in manpower since doing this, and their salaries have gone up big time. My opinion, get rid of private, go with ALS rigs in all stations and run BLS units during 8-5, with a on call after 5PM. Sacramento City and Sacramento Metro have been doing it for years. In 1995 FDNY made a transition to ALS units, I was there during that period for training and the older guys hated it, but the buffs (thats what call a newbie) wanted the challenge and soon before I left, the old guys excepted it and realized it benefited their brothers. The city knows they need to take this to EMCC and request that the BOS not renew, then the city will start making money to pay these guys what they deserve. BTW, Rudy Gulliani worked with the FF Union of FDNY and struck one of the largest pay raises in history, based on bringing in the ALS units in all the houses....Don't get me wrong, we still need a great engine company....Keep up the great work guys, you have my support. Foremr MEDIC / FF

Here is the Translation:

OK, EMCC, they are an advisory board to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) Each County Supervisor has an appointed person from their district, mostly chiefs, MICN's Mobile Intensive Care Nure and a County EMS director which is a MD, Medical Doctor, (emergency medical service). BLS, Basic Life Support, which is an EMT, Emergency Medical Technician. Advanced Life Support, is an EMT-II or Higher, i.e a Paramedic, only two or three counties left in CA still certify EMT-II's. Firefighter = FF MEDIC = ParamedicBTW- By the way! FDNY- OH, Boy...LOL........Fire Departemnt New York, which covers all of the five buroughs, May GOD Bless e'm. Hope that helps, now everyone needs to call the city council and tell them we want ALS Engine Companies, ALS Rigs (ambulances), BLS day car, and kick out private and let the real hose jocky's do the work! That is my word. Good luck guys!

Does this sound like it would work out numbers wise? How do firefighters feel about this? Actually I have no idea what it means, but it sounded good.

Restaurant Inspections

I wish Yolo county had a site like this. Or maybe not. Check out your favorite Sacramento County Restaurant and see how many rats roam the building.

Update: I have decided to help the public with information on Woodland food facilities. I am going to give you a restaurant review with a little twist. I will be posting health inspections from local shops. I am going to start with the roach coaches. I have not seen any reports yet, but I am guessing this should be very interesting.

Follow up 3/14. I have to email the county a list and they will pull and make copies on next wed. So look for the post a week from tomorrow.

Woodland Mall Evacuated?

Has anyone heard what is going on? The entire mall is blocked off and everyone inside has been evacuated.

It turns out to be a gas leak where they are doing construction near the food court.


Skate or Die

Is Woodland willing, ready and able to build a skate park in Woodland. That was a question posed by a young Woodland resident David Brown in a recent blog on Insidewoodland.com. You can read the original post here. David brings up a good discussion that was actually reviewed by City staff for consideration, which would have placed it at the new community center. It was turned down at the time as the staff thought it would need fencing and an attendant at all times along with some other minor issues.

The one issue that also came up was liability. I do not buy that for one minute. How is it that every other city in California can deal with it and we somehow can not figure it out. Davis has a fine skate park with no fencing and no attendants. I intend to request a report from the City of Davis on the Skate park which should include all costs and any liability they have had during operation.

I called Dave Flory and asked him to work with me on a win/win solution and he agreed to do just that. As a matter of fact I just received an email from Mayor Flory and he told me that Commissioner John Murphy is currently working on this issue through the Parks and Recreation Commission and they will be addressing this kind of facility in the General Plan update. He will introduce me to John later this week and I will report on his progress. Thank you Mayor for the help.

I think if we get a park built, most people will be surprised at the demographics that will actually be using the facility. I think most kids will be between the ages of 7 to 11 years old. If this park were located at the community center, it would give a safe and inviting environment for the kids to participate in a growing sport.

Monday, March 12, 2007

FireFighters Compensation: By the Numbers

Here are the numbers that the firefighters are using in their negotiations. View the spreadsheet here.

Obviously I think the City has a problem with Folsom being compared to Woodland, but I am not sure about the others. I am trying to get a spreadsheet from the City so we can take a look and see where the difference is.
Any thoughts as you read these numbers?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Plainfield's Garden Program In Jeopardy

Plainfield elementary is one of Yolo Counties most unique schools. Located in the middle of prime farm land just southwest of Woodland, it is the only Agricultural and Environmental Science thematic school in Woodland. It was recently announced in the school newsletter that the grant was only for a 20 week program and would be shut down with out further funding. Here is the excerpt from the newsletter:

We have been very fortunate to have our children benefit
from participation in Plainfield’s “Growing Together Under the Sun” garden program. Unfortunately, our grant funding only covers a 20-week program, and will quickly come to an end in March. If you have observed the program coordinator, “Ms. Julia,” in action, you’ll agree that she is an amazing teacher! Julia is passionate and focused, getting the kids engaged in learning about plants and science—and eating veggies, too. The staff,
students and the PTA feel strongly about keeping our garden program, and we hope you do, too!
We will need roughly $3,200 to fund the program through the end of the school year. The PTA is asking families to consider making a voluntary
donation of $10 or more to cover the costs. Look for a donation envelope that is being sent home, make out checks to Plainfield
School (note “Garden Program”) and give your donation to your child’s
teacher. Any excess funds will be allocated to the garden program for future expenses. We appreciate all contributions, and donation receipts will be provided upon request (indicate your request on the envelope).
I am sure Robert Ramming would second the motion for this request as he had spent numerous years helping the school with the garden and knows first hand how much the kids love it. Hopefully we can get some area farmers to help out.

Matt Rexroad was kind enough to ad this to the community needs list on his web page which you can view here.

Thank you in advance for any support!

You can send checks to:

Plainfield PTA
20450 CR 97
Woodland, CA 95695
Memo: Gardening

Friday, March 09, 2007

An Event To Remember

I took my son and his friend out to see Mike Bibby and Vicente Escobedo. They brought along a couple of boxing gloves to get signed. When I pulled into the parking lot, it was fairly crowded.






When we got inside I was pleasantly surprised. Stephen Chaudhry sure pulled this together. He has been working hard for the last year getting this event planned.





Here is Chaudhry giving a few directions to the crowd.




I would have to estimate around 500 people showed up, maybe more. They had Ruby Tuesday cooking food and a massage booth set up for some free massages.

If you have the right connections and a cool blog, you get to score some VIP passes.


After a while there were a few celebrity sightings. Mike Bibby roared in riding a classic car to a cheering crowd. He is listed at 210 pounds, but I bet with out those HUGE diamond earrings he only weighs 165. It actually surprised me to see how small he was. Or maybe I am just getting fatter?



We walked around the corner and got some signatures and photo ops with Escobedo. He was a super friendly guy and was also very small.


I got really lucky and had another celebrity sighting after that.
I had to act fast with my camera or I would have missed the opportunity.





Anyways, I was impressed and I did not even stay for the entire thing. Good job Chaudhry!

Let me know who won the arm wrestling between Bibby and Escobedo. My bet is on Bibby.

Firefighter Response

I received a nice call from Eric Zane who is with the Woodland Fire department. We had a good conversation and he actually emailed me over some numbers. They are interesting. He also had some interesting statistics about compensation. I think the confusion starts because there is not a set of comparable cities that we use for the entire city employee base.

The Police average their wages with different cities, the City staff average theirs with a different set and our taxes are averaged with others.

I am going to research this further and will make a post on the numbers.

The firefighters have a web page you can check out here. It is a pretty cool looking site.

I also talked to Eric about going on a ride along or hanging out with them for a few hours and see what they have going on.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Porter Building Costumes: Mystery Solved!

It was weird to read the recent articles in the Daily Democrat and the Davis Enterprise about the new owners of the Porter Building finding some old costumes. They had numerous ideas of how the costumes got there but it was a big mystery.

Well, I put them there!

That's right, it was me. My mother in law, Karen Davis, ran a successful costume shop in the store where Jim's store is currently at. It was called Clyde's Costumes and serviced Woodland with costume rentals for several years. It was a very hip place and I used to hang out there all of the time. In 1994 my Mother In Law passed away suddenly. My wife and I were 17 years old at the time. We ran the shop for one last Halloween. After that we talked to the owner and told him our situation and he let us move everything downstairs and I boarded it up. We had no idea what to do with the costumes and had no place to store them, so they got left behind along with a ton of great memories!

Karen loved being a costume designer. She made probably half of those costumes herself. She worked with the Opera House on numerous occasions making costumes and helping with plays. I saw that the owners were not jumping at the chance to donate the costumes.

I ask that you please donate the costumes to the Opera House. That is where they belong.

I have a ton of photos from the shop when we used to dress up. I will have to dig them up and post a few on here.

Why do the firefighters want more money?

I see the firefighters out picketing City Hall, trying to muster some support with signs such as "just asking for average pay". What do they want the public to do? I would love to have the firefighters make more money, as much as NBA players, but that is not reality.

Here is the problem:
No one knows how much they make, how many hours they work or what kind of benefits they receive.

Where is the data so we can make informed decisions. All we hear are rumors.

So please, firefighters, make a case for the public to support. Someone get me the facts. Here are a few questions I would like to know.

1. How much do you make?
2. What are your benefits worth?
3. How many hours do you work?
4. What towns should we compare with your salaries?
5. If you work 10 days a month, are you actually working 24 hours straight each day? How does that work?

I hear other rumors from several people that 1/3 of the workforce is applying for positions in other cities. That sounded more like a threat than anything.

This is a free country, if you want to go work somewhere else, go ahead.

But if you would like some public support, then get the public the facts!!

I have some interviews coming up very soon with Art Pimentel, Dave Flory and Jeff Monroe that I will be posting. I will ask them questions that get straight to the point about the firefighters situation. It will be interesting to find out where they stand on this issue.