Saturday, June 30, 2007

CA Schools Get New Nutrition Law

The state has finally passed some laws that will ban sodas from being sold at schools and also makes stricter laws for nutrition at elementary schools. You can read the story on News 10.

It is funny to read the comments after their stories. When I think back to High School, we had a soda machine that was $0.25 for a soda. Man did I down a ton of those. Then I had pizza or hot dogs to eat. It was like a tail gate party every day. Funny thing is, I could not gain a pound.

Now look at me, I do the 12 ounce curls all day long and I cannot lose weight??

Median Landscaping

I drive by Gibson and East Street almost on a daily basis. I always wonder why the City would let the landscaping in the middle of the street go to complete waste? Well the other day I as reading through the planning commission agenda,I saw that the Mall is actually responsible for the landscaping on any medians that are in front of the mall on East and on Gibson. the topic at the meeting was how to enforce this contract with the Mall. Numerous attempts to contact the Mall were made regarding this and no response was given.

I think the City should just take over, make it look presentable and then bill the Mall. What other choice do they really have? It has been neglected for a couple of years at least.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Public Records

I always get frustrated when I try to view public documents and I get the run around from public agencies. It happens every time with about every agency. It is just a matter of education by the public agencies to their staff. Here is one such instance.

I hate to keep picking on the Health Department, but it is a great example. When I first tried getting the restaurant inspections I was told it would cost $99 per hour for their workers time and a large amount for copies. I could only come on Wed morning with an appointment.

Here is a guide to the California Public Records Act.

Note on the first page, middle column, it clearly states fees for inspection or processing are prohibited.

Second note the second paragraph in the middle column as well. Access to records is allowed at all times during business hours.

Now take a look at the Health Departments Public File Review Information web page.

Note the following:

1. Review Times: Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Hardly normal business hours.

2. File Review Fees: $99 an hour for time spent by county staff on any day other than Wed and $.28 a copy.
Wow.

They must have not received the memo. Or this page just has not been updated for 2 years, at least according to the date at the bottom of their web page.

Here is another example of the Ag department trying to charge $56 an hour for viewing their public records.

Firefighters Host July 4th Pancake Breakfast



You can get all of the details from this flier or from the Firefighters web page on the right side of my blog. This year the proceeds will go to the Woodland High School Football Boosters. If I am in town, I think I will go and check it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yolo Goes Online With Generic Restaurant Inspections

You can finally go online and check out the Yolo County Restaurant Inspections, but do not cry in your food when you are disappointed on the results.

They do give you a generic violation category and you can click on that to see what types of example violations would fall into that are. Nothing is specific, it does not show you a copy of the actual report and leaves much to desire. I guess I will still have to continue with posting the real reports on here. If you look through these reports and would like to see the real thing, just email me and let me know.

The interesting thing to note here: Where are the Taco Truck Inspections?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Wasting Money? Camp Packer Creek

Here is an interesting waste of money. Camp Packer Creek, which takes up approximately $6000 annually from the City budget, is not even in the city of Woodland. We have been paying for this every year for the last several years, even when we had no funds to keep Hiddleson Pool open in our own City, we continued to maintain a campground in the Sierra Nevada. This really does boggle my mind a little, at a $2000 weekly rate, I could stay at any campground I wish.

Here is an excerpt from a September, 2006 Parks and Rec report:

"12. Park maintenance crews visited Camp Packer Creek earlier this month to
finish up the “wish list” from our landlords, the U.S. Forest Service. With
assistance from the City’s tree department our staff cut down approximately
70 trees throughout the camp which had been marked for removal by the
Forest Ranger. The trees were either dead or dying and needed to be removed
for the health of the forest and to reduce the fuel load in the camp should a fire
come our way. It was a huge project and took three days to accomplish.

13. The last rental group of this year visited Camp Packer Creek in mid
September, so now it is time to send the crews up to begin the winterization
and closing of the camp. Recreation staff assists in this effort and each crew
has a list of closing duties to accomplish. In addition, I hope to hire a
structural engineer to visit the camp this fall to assess the condition of the main
lodge and kitchen. Some questions have come up recently about the integrity
of the floor support beams and pier blocks in this 50+ year old building.
Before we continue with improvements to this area, we need to be sure the
building is stable."

How do you send entire crews up there and cut down over 70 trees and remove them for under $6000?? Where does the money for gas and crews come from?

I could not locate any numbers on the fees collected, but I hear they are close to nothing.

Please, do not dump any more money into this, we have plenty of needs inside of our City Limits...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

3 Gang Supects Arrested For Yesterday's Shootings

According to News 10, 2 juveniles and one 19 year old were arrested for yesterday's drive by shooting in Woodland that left one victim shot. Police say it was gang related. You can check out the story here.

3 Drive By Shootings In 24 Hours

Just when you think things are safe, we have 3 separate drive by shootings in 24 hours. Is this the act of Gangs in Woodland? I hope there is some major reaction by the police on this matter. I will email my contacts to see what is happening in the investigation.

Thank goodness no one was injured in the last two shootings.

Bonanza Books - One Of Woodland's Best Kept Secrets

I have received several emails and a suggestion from my wife about doing a little story on Bonanza Books, so I decided to grab my camera and see this place for myself.


I quickly found out why it is one of Woodland's best kept secret.

Apparently the owner of the building is doing some repairs and trying to stop a bad leak they had last winter. But do not let that discourage you from checking out the inside.





I walked inside and met with Terri Cloutier who was running the store. I quickly found out the official name is not Bonanza Books anymore, it is now Jerry Cloutier's Used Books.

Terri said she has been working in the store for about 1 year and 5 months. Jerry the owner has operated the store for 23 years. The store is much bigger inside than I originally thought it would be.












Terri told me her favorite book is "To Kill A Mocking Bird" among several others. She said the books range from $1 up to a few that cost $70. Here is a picture of the $70 book "The Girls From La Vie Parisienne". Quite a classic...















I asked her about rumors of being able to get your bowling ball drilled in the store. After a little persuasion, I talked her into taking me back to the machine for a few pictures. There it was, a large drill press set up for drilling bowling balls.














They sell all sorts of books from vintage, classic to comics and baseball cards, they really do have it all. I asked her if they really have a million books. She said counting all of their storage, yes they probably have around a million books. On display she said they have many thousands, but she would not count them for me.

I asked her where in the world did Jerry find so many books? Terri said that Jerry gets them at Auctions, Estate sales, Thrift stores, Yard sales, Donations and trades for them. They actually started a store credit program for trading books so you can take in your old books and get store credit for some different ones.

She said they do not advertise much, which might lead to keeping it a secret, but if you are ever in the market for a used book that is hard to find, chances are they have it here.


Here is my favorite picture.



417 First StreetAcross the street from Morrison's Deli....Just down the Street from Corner Drug Store off Main Street.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kings Hire New Coach

The Kings have hired Reggie Theus according to several news reports. He is an interesting choice which makes me believe the Kings are heading into rebuilding mode. Expect to say goodbye to Bibby, Artest and Miller. At least tickets will be easy to get for a while.

Taco Truck Trouble

Finally someone gets the problem with Taco Trucks. A few cities in San Joaquin are going to vote on banning or tightening restrictions on these trucks. You can see the story on News 10 here.

You should just park and watch one of these establishments one time. They do not have running water, so where do they:

A. Wash their hands
B. Get water for cooking
C. Urinate

All serious health concerns.

Alternative Energy Gets A Boost

If you remember back a few weeks ago I posted about Infinia Corp, who produces the Solar Powered Motor. They set out a press release this week stated they have received 9.5 million dollars in venture capitol from Paul Allen's company Vulcan Capital.

This motor is powered by a dish that captures the sun and focuses it to the engine. It costs about half as much as solar panels, takes up 1/10 of the area and produces twice as much power.

Here is their web page.

You can view different news story's about the venture here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Woodland Journal Getting Worldwide Viewers

Readership has been doing well, with most readers from our area or those who once lived here and want to stay in touch. Lately we have been getting a bunch of readers from out of the country, mostly due to the Harrison Jack story I think. It could be my great writing skills, but I think more people like reading about government conspiracies. Anyways, you can check out a map plotting of my last 500 viewers here. It is pretty cool.

Woodland's Storm Drain Water Rate Hike

I am going to reserve my judgment on this until I am able to take a tour of the facilities and hear the exact reasons for the rate hike. It sounds like we do need it, due to new state regulations. The problem here is the Council has to ask the people to vote for it. This could be a very tough proposition.

When asking the public to tax themselves, such as measure E, they usually want something visible and tangible to see the fruits of their labor... A new Senior Center with pictures of all the happy seniors dancing around playing cards and basketball was actually an easy sell.

With storm water, you see nothing, it is a dirty subject, and probably most people do not care. It is not like the rate goes up that much for single family residences, but for seniors on a fixed income, it may pose problems with their vote.

I would like to know what like cities we are comparing our rates with? Are we using the same like cities as the firefighters had to use?

Woodland's Best Kept Secret

I see them from time to time. An unexpected surprise when you walk into a store or drive to an area and I think to myself.... I have lived here my entire life and I never knew this was here. I would like you to email me with ideas for a post on this. It can be anything that people would think is cool or great to visit, but probably never have. I will check them out and take pictures and post it on here. Unless you want to keep it a secret, but if not, email me and tell me about it.

Jeff@woodlandjournal.com

Friday, June 15, 2007

Beating A Dead Horse

Is it just me, or does PG&E have a notice of rate increase on every single City Council Agenda? The new agenda just got emailed to and on line D.1 there is another notice for a Rate Increase. It is crazy.

If you would like to get the agenda for Council Meetings sent to you via email, just email Ana Gonzalez and ask her to add you to the mailing list.

Also on the agenda for June 19th are several other important items for Woodland:


1. Adopt Resolution to Approve Memorandum of Understanding with
Woodland Professional Firefighters’ Association.

2. Ratify Employment Agreement Appointing Mark Deven as City
Manager

Woodland Crime Map

The Daily Democrat posted a crime map of Woodland which shows Burglary, Larceny and Auto Thefts for the month of May 2007. Are there any near your home? Apparently the criminals have not found Springlake yet. Give them time, I am sure they will. It looks like the biggest concentration of criminal activity is near the bowling alley.

Pioneer To Get Bleachers

Well Pioneer will finally get some bleachers. The Democrat reported that the bleachers will get ordered but may not be here and installed in time for the opening game. According to the school board the Lights that Mike and John Gill paid for should be up and operating by the opening game.

No if they could just get some shade and free drinks ordered.

Davis Toad Tunnel

A report by News 10 says that the $14,000 toad tunnel built in 1995 did not work and the toads have disappeared. It was a good try, but maybe a hot metal tunnel was not the best solution. Earlier in the week, The Davis Vanguard wrote about the Solar Panel at the Davis City pool that has never worked. This is kind of funny stuff.

What are we going to hear next?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hmong Case - Twists And Turns

Accusations of US involvement and backing in the case have been submitted to the court in a motion for release on bail from defendant Lo Cha Thao. His attorney claims that a secretive military segment of the US Government was going to provide the Hmong leaders in the US with the arms and weapons needed for the defense of the Hmong people in Laos. Then when the US changed its mind they arrested the Leaders for asking for the arms in the first place.

Wow, I told you this will be a book or a movie one day. I am sure this case is deeper than anyone thought. It will be interesting to watch as this case progresses. Harrison Jack will be in the news for a long time to come. I am sure he and General Vang Pao will have lots to say.

I will post the Court Documents as soon as I get them uploaded.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Follow The Money

I wanted to follow up with where the Firefighter raise came from. Just 2 months ago the City had absolutely no money to go beyond 17%. Now they offered a larger raise around 24% The City would need to set aside around $750,000 for that. Where did it come from? We will have to wait and find out for sure. Here is my guess:

THIS IS ONLY MY GUESS. We will have to wait until the actual numbers come out.

The biggest thing happening in Woodland right now should be the General Plan update. I have not heard a word about it. That is a little funny to me. So it did get me thinking.

I think the City will not do the General Plan update, or the least amount legally possible, like the affordable housing portion. They will require developers to pay for and complete an update each time a large project is contemplated. The developer will have to pay 1 million dollars for an EIR, and some money for the staff to update the general plan.

This would be terrible for many reasons.

1. A developer would have to commit $1,000,000 up front without knowing if his project can even work.
2. They would be out 2 years before they could even get the green light to begin with.

No developer in their right mind would do this. It would turn away tons of prospective projects. If we want to be a City that encourages Economic Development, we need to be ready with open arms to ideas and projects that make sense. Part of this is preparing the general plan to accommodate these needs.

I hope I am wrong, which I could be. But the money came from somewhere.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ads On Fire Trucks

Well, many other fire stations also have money problems much like us. So, the Stockton Fire Chief came up with an idea to make some extra money. He thought it would be a good idea to sell advertising on the sides of fire trucks. While the idea may merit him an A for effort, I highly doubt selling space in public places or on public property is a good thing.

I can already see a big red Fire Truck driving down Main Street with a Vote for Davies and Marble sign painted on it.

Better yet, we could sell a 30 second commercial space at the beginning of every 911 call.

Here is the story on KOVR 13.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Silly Email

I usually never forward spam emails or jokes but this one caught my attention. You should try it.

It says to lift you right leg up and rotate your foot clockwise in a circular motion.

While still rotating your foot, hold out your right hand and draw a number 6 in the air.

Your foot will start rotating counter clockwise. No matter how hard you try, it still does it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Firefighters Have Ratified Contract Offer

Terms of the deal have not yet been released, but the Council did take a wage adjustment offer to the Firefighters and the Firefighters have ratified it. It now goes back to the City Council and they will vote on it. It is rumored to be a little larger than the previous offer. I will post the details when they are released.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Realist's Immigration Reform

There is no right answer to immigration reform, but if I were in Congress, this is what I would suggest.

Since there are nearly 15 million illegals in the United Sates that are draining the taxes we need to quickly give them temporary citizen status. With the following requirements.

1. They must register and have an ID card issued by the USA with a tax payer id number.
2. They must pay $1000 over three years.
3. They are on probation for three years. After 3 years they are full citizens.
4. Any Felony conviction or 2 misdemeanors and they are out of the program.
5. They must pass an English proficiency test after 3 years. This will help them get better jobs and ensure they understand our laws.

This will quickly give the USA money to do several things. The money will come from their fee and the tax revenue from payroll taxes and other taxes. This does not include the savings from fighting and deporting and everything else that costs money.

1. The USA will establish an online employer database with the name and picture of temporary citizen. Every employer must check this online database for free to make sure their employees are in the system and have legal status. Severe punishment for employers who do not follow this including jail time.

2. Secure our Borders. This process will provide plenty of funds to do this.

Then we must establish some work visas for those wanting to work in the US. Maybe a 1 year at a time deal. But charge a fee for this on top of taxes. This will pay for the continued program. Maybe after 4 years they can enter into the temporary citizen program.

We need to not have a revolving door. If they violate the rules are continue to be here illegally then we need strict policy. Those that break the laws need to serve time here in our jails. Again, the fees and new tax revenue will pay for this.

So give me the pros and cons of this. Also any other good ideas out there.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New City Manager Selected


Mark Deven has been selected to be our new City Manager. He was the assistant City Manager of Concord and has previously been the head of the Parks and Rec in Concord. He even brought a skate park to Concord. The Daily Democrat has already released the story so I figured I would post mine as well. The official announcement was scheduled to be later tonight.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Woodland's Harrison Jack Charged With Plotting To Overthrow Laos Government

If this is not a bizarre story, then I do not know what is.

The men, including Harrison Ulrich Jack, a 1968 graduate of West Point who now lives in Woodland and operates a consulting firm, allegedly conspired to to obtain hundreds of AK-47s, Stinger missiles, anti-tank missiles, mines, rockets and C-4 explosive, as well as smoke grenades, to overthrow the Laotian government, all while he was appointed as Yolo County Ombudsman.

You can read the full coverage by the Sacramento Bee on this story. Unbelievable!

This has gained national and international attention and is being shown by every major news station. Channel 3 has been running around Woodland doing interviews and chasing down leads.

Here is the entire criminal complaint.

Here is the story on Channel 3.

Here is the story in the Fresno Bee. Thanks to Anon.

You can read the press release here when Yolo County hired Jack.

Here is my favorite quote.

“The appointment of Harrison Jack signals our Board’s sincere desire to create a “safe place” for employees who have concerns that they may feel can not be addressed through other channels,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair
Mariko Yamada. “We are especially pleased to have Mr. Jack available to our employees with his extensive background in analyzing workplace strengths, weakness and opportunities.”



The other story here:


Many claim that genocide is still a common occurrence in Laos. Rebecca Sommer has a web page
http://www.rebeccasommer.org/ and has done a documentary on the terrible acts taking place in that region. The documentary portion called "Hunted Like Animals" tells of child slavery, rape and other terrible acts against the Hmong people. When you see how terrible it is to help someone and to be still paying the price 35 years later, you can begin to understand where a person like Jack is coming from. I do encourage you to watch this documentary. At least to see his point of view.


I have to believe that there is more to this story, given Jack's background in Vietnam. I would guess he helped recruit Hmong people during that era for the CIA and now feels bad about it. Helping them was his only option.


That is just a guess, I could be wrong, probably am. I still see a movie or book being made from this.

New City Manager

The new City Manager has been selected and will be announced tomorrow night. Stay tuned for further details. I will post everything as soon as I find out who it is.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

La Finca - A Closer Look

Apparently there was an "innocent" party planned at the La Finca last weekend that got out of hand. The Daily Democrat wrote an opinion about the whole situation here. La Finca had previously applied for a conditional use permit to extend their operating hours to allow some type of concerts and a night club type atmosphere. The planning commission had denied that application and that decision was appealed and taken to the City Council. You can read the minutes from that meeting right here.


You can see that they wanted to expand their operating hours to make some money. Nothing really wrong with that in general. But I do not think last weekend was what the Council had in mind. At least it was not what Matt Rexroad had in mind according to his blog entry about the subject.

The Daily Democrat reported that this event was a fund-raiser for the African American fraternity Phi Beta Sigma's chapter out of Sacramento State University. According to the police it was anything but that. The Democrat also reported that the Promoters "Slap Entertainment" and "Picture Perfect Entertainment", market their events primarily through my space and emails. So I decided to do a little my space investigation and find out exactly what goes on at these fundraising events.

After a short investigation I uncovered some interesting items.




Here is the flier for the event that got out of hand.


























Here is a flier for a different event held at La Finca.























Here is the myspace page for the president of Slap Entertainment. You should read through the whole page and follow a few links. You should find it enjoyable as I did.



Here are some pictures of the Slap Entertainment crew at some parties.


















I enjoyed picture 2 the most. It seems the guy in the gray sweater had a message for us.


In case any of you wanted to know, here is the next fundraising event for Phi Beta Sigma.


Here are two other related myspace pages. Turn up the volume if you like rap.


One


Two


I like the second page the best.

Anyways, I think it could go on forever if we really wanted it to. I called Mayor Flory and asked him if we get billed when our Police have to call in help from outside agencies as happened in this case. He said no, we have a coop agreement with surrounding agencies. He also said that he never heard a word about it from the Police. He said if it was a big deal someone would have called him about it.


I think what this whole story boils down to is this: Did the City Council know these types of venues would be held here? Does the conditional use permit allow for such events? Is there a fine for events like this when they get out of hand?


I will pull all of the use permits and complaints on the business on Monday and I will post them for everyone to read.


Any thoughts?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Pioneer High To Lose Vice Principal

Armando Olvera apparently will take the Principal position at Plainfield Elementary. It is almost a done deal and the parents and teachers at Plainfield are thrilled to get him. Several Plainfield teachers have worked with him before at different locations and said he will be a perfect fit for Plainfield Elementary.

Plainfield's current Principal Ruth Barajas has accepted a position as Principal at Beamer Elementary School. Barajas was the Principal at Plainfield for the last four years and has done a great job. Barajas should be a perfect fit at Beamer and will bring valuable help with the Spanish immersion classes. Barajas said she had been thinking about the Beamer position for the last couple of months, but had been preparing for it the last 20 years.

This is yet another blow to Pioneer High, which has been losing quality employees lately including the Head Football Coach and the Principal. For some reason this new school has been struggling to retain faculty.