Thursday, January 31, 2008

Woodland-Davis/Davis-Woodland bikeway is $1.6 million short

In a Davis Enterprise article entitled "Yolo bikeway project short on funding," Cory Golden reported yesterday that "Plans to create bicycle lanes between Davis and Woodland are wobbling along because of lack of funds." (Click the title to access.)

This information came from Tuesday's Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting. Jim Campbell, principal civil engineer for the the county's Planning and Public Works Department, said another $1.6 million is needed to finish the project.

When complete, the Davis-Woodland/Woodland-Davis Bikeway, will run south from Woodland on County Road 99, turn east on County Road 29, and finally south along County Road 99D into Davis. The entire bikeway will be composed of two 12-foot-wide driving lanes and two 4-foot-wide bike lanes.

The first 2.5 miles of the bikeway are nearly complete, they only need to be re-striped when the rest of the project is done. Another two-mile stretch, between County Roads 27 and 29, is set be widened this summer. Work on 1.6 miles of Road 99D is planned for fall. It's the remaining mile, along Road 29, that needs the $1.6 million to finish.

That last section will be more costly because the road's south side cannot be built out because of its location by the North Davis Meadows subdivision, the Davis Municipal Golf Course, a concrete drainage ditch and trees planted for another project. Therefore, eight feet must be added to the road's north side. In addition, four feet of the new pavement must be thicker to support vehicle traffic, not just bicycles.

The county has applied to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) for the balance of the funding - but Yolo's application was one of 26 for bicycle and pedestrian projects needing $23 million from a pot of $10 million available.

The SACOG staff has recommended funding $368,568 for that last stretch of the bikeway, believed to be approved next month. The county is applying to Caltrans to make up the $1.2 million difference. It also plans to approach Davis and Woodland about contributing matching funds to the project.


In late 2006, additional high reflectivity “Share the Road” safety signs were installed in the vicinity of each road intersection along the Davis Woodland Bikeway corridor, as well as other selected county roads that are traveled frequently by bicyclists. “Bike route” signage along all bike routes in the County are in the process of being refreshed.

Maintenance crews continue to sweep bike routes on a monthly basis, and fill potholes that develop.

In July 2007 a new road maintenance request form went on line to provide the public with a convenient way to provide the road maintenance crew with information on maintenance needs on county roads, including potholes, pavement cracks, rough surfaces, debris, etc.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Woodland Biomass named 2007 Business of the Year by Chamber of Commerce

I caught wind of this very important Chamber of Commerce news from today's Daily Democrat: Woodland Biomass will recieve the chamber's 2007 Business of the Year award.

Interesting... considering the source of the mysterious malodor that raised a stink among City of Trees officials last summer has yet to be officially recognized. Maybe this Thursday's award ceremony will be the crowning event.

To bring new Woodland Journal readers/bloggers up to speed (we have many... thanks to the WJUSD issue), I've already posted a couple of stories about the obvious source of our summertime stench. Most recently, two weeks ago, I wrote about the winter return of the fumes when I noticed the wood-burny/composty smell on my morning I-5 commutes during the week of Jan. 14 to 18.

At that time I said it's no secret that biomass plants emit odors. The following is from a 2002 CA State Integrated Waste Management Board report:

"Odor emissions from compost facilities have become a priority concern for facility operators, engineers, urban planners, and citizens living near facilities. Odor complaints can shut down compost facilities and prevent the expansion of existing facilities."

I'm not suggesting that the plant should be shut down. I just find it interesting that there may be reasons why nobody from the city will admit that our stink factory is on the 1700 block of East Kentucky Ave.

Here's a little treasure hunt for you. Click the title of this story. This will take you to the Google page after a search for "woodland CA biomass." Now click on the bold, underlined title "Woodland Biomass Power Ltd." I know I'm spoiling the fun for a few of you, but guess where you end up? That's right, the city's News and Events Web page. The information: "New Green Waste services starting January 2008"

The city hasn't recognized the source of the odors (note that Biomass is linked to the city's Web site), the Daily Democrat refuses to recognize the source (note that today's front page article is about the chamber) and the chamber won't even touch the subject (note that Biomass has been a member for 18 years).

Maybe its the smell of money that's really the issue here. Read this from today's article: "The 2007 Business of the Year is Woodland Biomass Power Plant LTD, a Chamber member for the past 18 years. The company has demonstrated a commitment to safety, the environment and the local community. Woodland Biomass also supports the local Lion's Club, Rotary Club and high school scholarship programs." Hmmm.... donations to the Lion's and the Rotarians.

I realize it's hard to lay any blame on an important member of our community, but let's call a spade a spade. And yes, let's recognize that biomass energy is valuabe, "green," and all that - but let's just admit there's a smell to put up with in our recycling efforts. The smell doesn't really bother me much. It reminds of my burn days in Modesto when I threw all kinds of crap in my "wood" pile.

END NOTE: The Woodland Chamber of Commerce will name this year's Board of Directors and award the 2007 Business of the Year at Thursday night's 76th Annual Installation Dinner. Tim Bofman, general manager for Woodland Biomass Power Plant, will receive the 2007 Business of the Year award for the company. The dinner event begins at 5:15 at the Elk's Lodge, 500 Bush Street, Woodland. Any bets they'll be serving rice?

Woodland Biomass Power Ltd
1786 E Kentucky Ave
Woodland, CA 95776
(530) 661-6095

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

School board meeting to be televised Wed. and Fri.

Last week's WJUSD Board of Trustees meeting can be seen four times this week on WAVE TV, local channel 21. The meeting can be seen its entirety at 10 am and 4 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 30, and again at 10 am and 4 pm on Friday, Feb. 1.

Not much of a city council meeting tonight

Here are the highlights of tonight's Woodland City Council meeting for January 29, 2008. It starts at 6 pm.


1. Approve Revised Job Descriptions for Technology Services Manager and Human Resources Analyst I/II

Commentary: I hope this means more info, like an itemized, current budget on the Web site.

2. Approve Update of the Downtown Specific Plan in Advance of the Update to the General Plan

Commentary: This puts the DSP in line before the GP. The Downtown Survey, based on many of the suggestions on this blog, will soon be distributed to merchants and property owners. There was a slight delay on that, unfortunately.

WJUSD administration level is high compared to state-wide districts

According to public information gathered from Ed-Data, Education Data Partnership, Woodland's school district staffing for 2006-07 included 59 administrative staff amounting to 48.1 full time equivilents. The total student enrollment was 10,690 which made the administrative to pupil ratio 222.2.

This means that last year there was one administrative staff for every 222.2 pupils. For comparative purposes, Carlsbad's district ratio was 367.6 (for a similar sized district) and Turlock's district ratio was 316.2 (for a regional district).

2006-07 Comparative Staffing Levels per Pupil
Click the title of this story to link to WJUSD data page

District enrollment of about 10,690 (+/- 5%), all CA

1. Palo Alto Unified School District
Total pupil enrollment: 10,931
Full Time Equivilent (FTE) administrators: 50.3
Administrators per pupil: 217.3

2. Woodland Joint USD (Yolo)
Pupils: 10,690
FTEs: 48.1
Per Pupil: 222.2

3. Natomas USD (Sacramento)
Pupils: 10,821
FTEs: 47.5
Per Pupil: 227.8

4. Lompoc USD (Santa Barbara)
Pupils: 10,791
FTEs: 41.1
Per Pupil: 262.6

5. Lucia Mar USD (San Luis Obispo)
Pupils: 10,866
FTEs: 39.1
Per Pupil: 277.9

6. Alameda City USD (Alameda)
Pupils: 10,260
FTEs: 20.1
Per Pupil: 352.6

7. Carlsbad USD (San Diego)
Pupils: 10,549
FTEs: 28.7
Per Pupil: 367.6

Regional school districts

1. Woodland Joint Unified School District (Yolo County)
Total pupil enrollment: 10,690
Full Time Equivilent (FTE) administrators: 48.1
Administrators per pupil: 222.2

2. Washington USD (Yolo)
Pupils: 7,097
FTEs: 30.2
Per Pupil: 235.0

3. Vacaville USD (Solano)
Pupils: 13,268
FTEs: 50.6
Per Pupil: 262.2

4. Dixon USD (Solano)
Pupils: 4,088
FTEs: 15
Per Pupil: 272.5

5. Davis Joint USD (Yolo)
Pupils: 8,647
FTEs: 29.1
Per Pupil: 297.1

6. Turlock USD (Stanislaus)
Pupils: 13,944
FTEs: 44.1
Per Pupil: 316.2

Monday, January 28, 2008

An Australia Day story from Woodlander in the Land DownUnder

By Woodlander in the Land DownUnder
Global Correspondent

January 26th is Australia Day - Australia’s National Holiday. Similar to the 4th of July, but here we do not celebrate freedom from the Mother Country; we celebrate the establishment of the first European settlement on the continent of Australia. Though twice since I have been here there have been two national votes to break from England, Australia remains part of the Mother Country, England. Australia Day is celebrated with BBQs, cricket in the parks and backyards with family and friends, fireworks shows that are absolutely outstanding (Perth’s is 30 minutes long, set to music with precision timing) and hundreds of Citizenship Ceremonies throughout the country.

So why bother telling you about Australia Day? I wanted to share some news. Early on Saturday morning, 26 January 2008, I went down to the park near the river with my family to attend the citizenship ceremony for the City of South Perth (which I live in). I attended this ceremony for a very specific reason... I took the oath to become an Australian Citizen. So I am now a dual citizen of the USA and Australia, just like my three daughters.

I don’t feel any different. I don’t have an urge to eat vegemite. I still speak quite clearly with my Californian accent. And I still miss home. But I do think that I am giving my daughters a better understanding what it is to be a citizen of each country. Over the course of their lives I will teach them about the USA and Australia. Some of the Australia stuff we will learn together. Some of the USA stuff will have them baffled, like football and baseball... so different to the sports that they see here more regularly.

One thing that the very formal ceremony left out was the great chant that you will hear from time to time at international sporting events and most definitely on Australia Day during the parties and the fireworks. I will leave you with the chant:

1 voice: Aussie Aussie Aussie
Group: Oi Oi Oi (say the word Toy without the T)
1 voice: Aussie Aussie Aussie
Group: Oi Oi Oi
1 voice: Aussie
Group: Oi
1 voice: Aussie
Group: Oi
1 voice: Aussie Aussie Aussie
Group: Oi Oi Oi

Sunday, January 27, 2008

District office landlord sheds light on building negotiation process

Dan Logue, owner of the WJUSD administrative offices at 630 Cottonwood St., has sent me an email to clarify information presented to the public at last Thursday's school board meeting.

According to the timeline presented by Scott Sheldon, real estate consultant for the district, discussions about the existing space and lease termination occurred between himself and the superintendent on October 30, 2006. The timeline also shows the contacts and discussions with Logue began on April 24, 2006, and continued to November 26, 2007.

In the presentation made by Bill Henderson, attorney for the district, the district board of trustees considered nine options for district office locations on Nov. 20, 2007, including Option 1A and Option 1B - options to remain at the current location owned by Logue. Listed in Option 1A was the potential for a renewed lease at $414,000 a year. It also lists an estimated $750,000 needed for improvements at the site. This information was provided by Sheldon's company, Premiere Commercial.

Logue said in his email that in one of his meetings with Sheldon, that he asked the consultant if the district wanted to extend the lease. The answer was no, so the topic was never mentioned again to Logue. According to Logue, someone reported to the board that he wanted to double the lease. Logue said, "They never asked us about extending the lease. There was no negotiating in good faith, it was a shell game."

The current lease of the Cottonwood building is 65 cents per sq. ft. or about $234,000 a year. Again, the information provided by Premiere Commercial for Option 1A states that a renewed lease would cost the district $414,000 a year. Logue estimates that it will cost the district over $500,000 a year for 30 years in the Blue Shield building. Logue stated, "We were never asked to extend it [the lease], we would have extended it for 65 a sq. ft. or $234,000 a year" - the same price as the current lease.

Logue also had an issue with one claim that purchasing the Cottonwood building would result in payments of $700,000 a year under Option 1B. He suggested that had the district made an offer on the building, which they never did, his company would have sold the property and may have carried the paper on it. Logue said that they could have sold the entire wing of his complex (the district offices and the retail spaces) at $112 per sq. ft. as opposed to the previously reported cost of the Blue Shield building at $242 per sq. ft.

Comparing the Blue Shield building, Logue said, "Instead of a 40,000 sq. ft. building at a total cost of $20M, the district could have had ours at $112 per sq. ft. - including the tenant improvements. Our entire 50,000 sq. ft. wing would have cost them $112 per sq. ft. and the annual payment would be $120,000 a year. And they also would have received monetary credit from leases at $180,000 a year making their total annual payment of only $120,000 a year. And they would own it, saving the tax payers $380,000 a year. Total costs over a 30 year period would be $3.6M instead of $20M."

Logue also took issue with the alleged issue with contamination in the Cottonwood building. In a recent letter to the editor of the Daily Democrat, board president Carol Souza Cole suggested that one of the reasons the board did not choose to locate there was that it was unhealthy.

Logue said, "That statement, which is false, has damaged the value of our property. Our consultant brought the studies [to the meeting] and proved there was no contamination. The air is cleaner than our own homes - and they knew this because they have those reports."

UPDATE ON 1/28/08, 12:20 PM: I have made corrections in two paragraphs that reflect changes in the original information emailed to me. These changes make the costs described for Option 1B more clear and consistent. This option was the purchase of the Cottonwood building. It boils down to $112 per sq. ft. for 50,000 sq. ft. of space and $120,000 a year if financed by Logue and his company.

The steak is on me!

This blog has been very serious lately so I thought I'd serve some lighter fare on this cold, damp Sunday.

Today I went to the supermarket with instructions from my wife to get a pound of lean ground beef. You see... she not only understands the Food Pyramid and the family's nutritional needs, but she's a great manager of the household budget.

As I looked over the nice meat selection, I noticed that next to the variety of ground beef was some plump and tantalizing porterhouse steaks. Mmm, they looked good, and the best part was that they were on sale. Believe it or not... they were on sale for $5 a pound!

That steak looked pretty darn good... I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. I really wanted that steak, but I know my wife gave me specific directions to buy the lean ground beef.

"Surely this steak would make a better meal," I thought.

I just couldn't pass up the deal, in fact, I thought the price was too low for such a nice piece of meat. I rang for the butcher and convinced him to sell it to me for $5.67 a pound. Of course, I had him repackage it so that my wife wouldn't know about the lower price.

Now, let me ask you this: Have you ever bought more than you actually need because the price seemed so good? Unfortunately, this happened to me today. I ordered one million pounds of porterhouse steak. Much to my chagrine, the bill came to $5,670,000.00. But... thanks to some expert advice from the clerk, I put the total amount on my credit card.

Oh well... at least this will feed not only my family, but a few of my closest friends. Therefore, you're all invited to the Saint Valentine's Day barbecue on February 14 at 630 Cottonwood Street. Dinner will be served at 6:30... and remember, the steak is on me!

(This Terrible Parable was brought to you by Woodlanders for Responsible Government*)

*That was a joke, too. W4RG had nothing to do with this shenanigan.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

District Dog and Pony, local paper fail to connect dots in Blue Shield purchase

Today the Daily Democrat published an article entitled "Blue Shield purchase reviewed." (Click the title of this story to access it.) The article written by Lizeth Cazares begins with, "Questions and rumors circulating about the Woodland School Board's purchase of the Blue Shield building, its unseen appraisal, and the buildings high cost were put to rest Thursday night."

Put to rest? I find this summation of the meeting inaccurate and harmful considering a newspaper's First Amendment role in holding government accountable. Apparently - as evidenced by the series of events over the past 15 months - it is the local government's responsibility to safeguard its secrets. The press has a different role in our representative system - to peel away the layers of secrecy and let the public know what's going on. The two roles are often at odds... and that is what provides a "check and balance" that helps define an open and democratic society.

The issue is far from rest. A simple report that a Grand Jury complaint was filed against the school district would demonstrate this. In fact, it was during the public comment portion of the meeting that community member Frank Sieferman told the board that he and Dudley Holman did just that. And despite the Democrat's report that previously unknown answers were provided, the timeline of the purchase provided by Scott Sheldon revealed even more unconnected dots.

The correct and concise summation of the meeting is this: The presentation imploded.

Any keen observer of the meeting would report that the four trustees and the superintendent blew it. They had the perfect opportunity to right a wrong and they screwed up. Their window of redemption closed without illumination. Their chance at deliverence passed while the consultants and the superintendent placed blame on the board. These observations escaped the undiscerning eyes of a young reporter.

According to the Democrat, the district's attorney Bill Henderson "using a presentation he previously shown to the board in a closed session on Nov. 20, explained that the district had nine options when considering moving the central office. Yet, after deciding not to continue renting the current office, due to health concerns related to the shape of the building, and since other options weren't cost effective enough, they were given instruction to negotiate the purchase the Blue Shield building."

What the Democrat failed to connect is that the presentation of location options to the board on Nov. 20 came six months after negotiations to purchase the Blue Shield building began on May 23. Also, the Democrat failed to report that the existing district office is environmentally safe.

Here are the dots:

• Oct. 30, 2006 - Supt. discusses lease termination with consultants
• Nov. 21 - Supt. and board president recommend needs assessment
• Dec. 15 - Consultants contact Wiseman about lease/sale
• Jan. 11, 2007 - Closed session, Board of Trustees (BOT) approve needs study
• Jan. 19 - Supt. discuss scope/process with architects
• Feb. 12 - Open session, BOT approves needs assessment study
• Feb. 16 - Supt. discuss joint use project with Woodland RDA
• Apr. 12 - Preliminary results of needs study
• Apr. 17 - Closed session, BOT approves study of options
• April 24 - Supt. begin discussions on existing space with landlord (ongoing through Nov. 26)
• Apr. 26 - Closed session, BOT updated on options, informed Blue Shield building in escrow
• May 23 - Supt. directs Letter of Intent and negotiations to purchase Blue Shield building
• June 28 - Closed session, BOT hears needs study results, some location options, Blue Shield costs
• July 11 - Supt. meets with Cottonwood landlord and environmental consultant, studies begin
• July 12 - Supt. directs financing process with Government Financial Strategies, Inc. (GFSI)
• Aug. 9 - Closed session, BOT meet at Blue Shield building
• Sept. 21 - Supt. visits different district office sites with consultants
• Sept. 27 - Closed session, BOT updated on Blue Shield negotiations
• Oct. 6 - Supt. emails BOT indicating purchase agreement near completion
• Oct. 8 - GFSI conducts financing workshop with BOT
• Oct. 16 - Architects begin space begin space planning for Blue Shield building
• Oct. 17 - Supt. signs final draft of purchase agreement
• Oct. 25 - Closed session, BOT updated on financing and appraisal
• Nov. 20 - Closed session, BOT given presentation on location options and appraisal
• Dec. 13 - Closed session, BOT discuss purchase agreement, financing options
• Dec. 13 - Open session, BOT approves purchase agreement (4-3 vote)
• Jan. 10, 2008 - Open session, BOT approves financing arrangements with GFSI (4-3 vote)
• Jan. 24 - Open session, BOT approves Certificates of Participation (4-3 vote)

Upon inspection of this process timeline, you will find that negotiations to buy the Blue Shield building started while the property was still in escrow. The single-track negotiations continued before all location options were presented, before a space needs assessment was completed and without any public discussion. The dots also show that a purchase agreement was also reached before all location options were presented and without any public discussion.

It is clear that the "Dog and Pony" presentation made at the board meeting failed to connect dots, and so did Woodland's only newspaper.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Knaggs Ranch to be sold to Sacramento and Yolo groups

According to an article written by Hudson Sangree of the Sacramento Bee, two groups in Sacramento and Yolo counties plan to buy the 2,600-acre Knaggs Ranch along the west bank of the Sacramento River. Aimee Rutledge, director of the nonprofit Sacramento Valley Conservancy, a group dedicated to preserving open space, said her organization and the Yolo Land Trust plan to buy the property to ensure it remains undeveloped and to provide additional flood protection.

Knaggs Ranch is in Yolo County, just north of I-5, across from Sacramento International Airport and the Natomas basin. About a third of the property is in the Yolo Bypass, the rest is in the Elkhorn basin. Click the title of this story to access the article and a diagram created by Bee illlustrator Mitchell Brooks.

The two groups will reportedly pay $14.5 million for the ranch.

To offset part of the purchase price, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency on Jan. 17 moved toward paying $3 million to acquire agricultural conservation easements on 1,771 acres of the property. The easements would prevent development, allowing the land to be flooded when needed. According to the Bee, it is the first time the flood-control agency has reached beyond its borders under legislation signed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Also according to the Bee, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in December supporting the Knaggs Ranch purchase. It is unclear how this acquisition will affect the board's plans to develop about 100 acres in Elkhorn, just south of the Knaggs Ranch and next to the freeway.

The Woodland Journal apologizes for copying and pasting board meeting minutes

In an attempt to salvage the reputation of The Woodland Journal as a place for rumormongering, some corrections need to be made in light of statements made at last night's WJUSD board meeting. Here they are:

Karen Taylor, President of the Woodland Education Association (WEA), reported to the board that rumors on blogs are contrary to the WEA's position on the Blue Shield issue. She stated that WEA does not support the purchase of the building nor buying any new furniture for the existing or any new district office. The clarification was made in response to the following minutes that were copied exactly from

"Karen Taylor, President of the Woodland Education Association (WEA), congratulated the new and returning Board members. She then noted the Association’s appreciation to the Board for their time and efforts put into researching the issues regarding the potential purchase of a building for the relocation of the Central Office."

Also, Jackie Cottingim, Superintendent, reported to the board that rumors only reflect the character of those who spread them. She stated that a recent blog inaccurately described a trip she took to London and India. For the record, Cottingim wants to make it known that the district did not send her on the trip. She was thankful that the board allowed her to take time off for the trip and only a few mininimal expenses were incurred by the district. The clarification was made in response to the following minutes that were copied exactly from

"Dr. Cottingim thanked the Board for providing her with the opportunity to attend the recent global educational colloquium in London and India and stated that the experience caused her to take a different look at education on a global scale and that is was overwhelming to stop and think about what our students are going to be facing on a global scale."

The superintendent also suggested that she responds to all emails and phone calls if anyone would like to ask her about anything. She encouraged all those in attendance to disregard rumors posted on blogs.

On behalf of the entire Woodland Journal staff, I sincerely apologize for copying and pasting exact minutes that were written by WJUSD personnel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Board reveals secret document, confirms lack of public process in Blue Shield purchase

After the superintendent, board president and WEA president chastised blogs and other sources for spreading "rumors," it was one trustee who took full advantage of last night's public forum. Frank Glover spent much of the four-hour WJUSD open session grilling the district's attorney and real estate consultant over purchase agreement details and lack of public process.

During the course of the regular school board meeting, the trustees voted to reveal the anticipated closed-session documents. This amounted to a repeat of a Powerpoint presentation made at a Nov. 20 closed-session board meeting and two sets of stapled documents at a table labeled "Do Not Take." Apparently, there was an appraisal summary made available that revealed a $5 million value of the contested Blue Shield building - the appraisal coming from one source. A company named Blue Ice bought the building for $4.3 million in August.

There was also a timeline provided by Scott Sheldon, a partner of Premiere Commercial, that shows the district started negotiating for the purchase of the Blue Shield building in May, while the Blue Ice deal was still in escrow.

The Nov. 20 documentation revealed nine options for district office location, months after negotiations began for the purchase of the building. Glover also referenced a final draft of the purchase agreement signed in October 17 by the superintendent, but it wasn't until December that the school board approved the purchase in a 4 to 3 vote.

The nine options for district office location included:

Option 1A: Remain at Cottonwood location, continue leasing
Option 1B: Remain at Cottonwood location, purchase building
Option 2: Close a school site, convert to district office
Option 3A: Purchase or lease building in industrial area
Option 3B: Purchase or lease building in commercial area
Option 4: Purchase land and construct new building
Option 5: Condemn Blue Shield building (eminent domain)
Option 6: Buy Blue Shield building, lease land (to buy later)
Option 7: Purchase Blue Shield building and land

The Nov. 20 document showed the superintendent's recommendation for Option 7. Glover pointed out that the other "released" documents were never reviewed by the board, so it is inaccurate to portray them as representing decisions made in closed-sessions. Glover also questioned the terms of the agreement that included a friendly condemnation (eminent domain) as a tax incentive for the seller.

By board consensus, it was directed that eminent domain was not to be part of the purchase agreement. However, Premiere Commercial used the condemnation as a negotiating tool that eventually upped the price to $670,000 more than the appraisal. Glover stated that, " We had no intention of doing eminent domain."

The Nov. 20 document also included a $2.2 million price tag for tenant improvements above the $5.67 million cost for the building. There was no discussion about that additional cost, but several community members spoke against the purchase. Dan Logue, owner of the Cottonwood building occupied by the district, was one of them. He stated that the district had the opportunity to buy that building for $112 per sq. ft. as opposed to the estimated $142 per sq. ft. for the Blue Shield building. Logue also brought an expert who stated the building was environmentally safe (an alleged issue used by staff to dissuade the board from choosing Options 1A and 1B).

Frank Sieferman was another community member speaking out against the purchase and the closed-session process. He confirmed that he and Dudley Holman have filed a complaint with the Yolo County Grand Jury.

Trustees Warren Berg and Rogelio Villagrana also had pressing questions for the consultants, the superintendent and other board members about process. Villagrana opened the evening by stating, "I wanted to make sure [to say] that the letter in the Democrat does not reflect my views."

For that statement, Villagrana was criticized by board president Carol Souza Cole. She said the board should be models for the students in attendance and that the board should demonstrate democracy-in-action. Trustee Rosario Ruiz-Dark added, "Buying the building is the best thing we could have done."

ADDED REPORT (12:45 pm, 1/25/08)

In the meeting, Frank Glover suggested that the board's due diligence in this matter was "a mile wide, but only an inch thick" - alluding to the fact that many issues were superficially addressed during closed sessions, but few issues were investigated and discussed in depth. He brought up the issue of space as an example. "Does the district office really need 40,000 sq. ft.," he asked.

Scott Sheldon stated that there are few available office buildings available in Woodland that can accommodate the district office staffing needs, therefore the options are limited. He said the Blue Shield building best met the needs of the district.

Another Grand Jury complaint filed against school district

A Yolo County Grand Jury complaint has been filed against the Woodland Joint Unified School District. Although the specific charges were not disclosed to The Woodland Journal, the complaint focuses on the purchase of the former Blue Shield building located at 435 Sixth Street, Woodland. After nearly a year of closed board sessions and secret tours, school trustees Carol Souza Cole, Bill Beerman, Rosario Ruiz-Dark and Elaine Lytle voted to buy the Blue Shield building last month.

Since the December announcement of the purchase, Woodlanders have questioned the timing of the deal, the closed-door process, the inflated price tag, the method and costs of financing, the actual need for the space and the relationship of the broker and superintendent.

This is the second known complaint filed against the district this school year. The first known complaint charges the district with wrongful and unethical teacher hiring practices. Trustees Frank Glover, Rogelio Villagrana and Warren Berg voted against the purchase.

As "2007 TU24" nears Yolo County, will Davis pass Asteroid-free Zone Resolution?

According to Don Yeomans, NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office, an object known as Asteroid 2007 TU24 will closely approach Yolo County to within 1.4 lunar distances (334,000 miles) at 08:33 UT on January 29. The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on October 11, 2007. This object, between 150 and 600 meters in diameter, will reach an approximate apparent magnitude 10.3 on Jan. 29-30 before quickly becoming fainter as it moves further from Yolo County. For a brief time the asteroid will be observable in dark and clear skies with amateur telescopes of 3 inch apertures or larger.

Shown above is part of an illustration provided by amateur astronomer Dr. Dale Ireland from Kitsap County, WA. The graphic shows the asteroid's track in the sky during the time of the Yolo County approach. Given the estimated number of near-Earth asteroids of this size (about 7,000 discovered and undiscovered objects), an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Woodland, on average, about every 5 years or so. The average interval between actual Earth impacts for an object of this size would be about 37,000 years. 2007 TU24 will be the closest currently known approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027.

For the January 29th encounter, Asteroid 2007 TU24 has no chance of hitting, or affecting, Yolo County. None-the-less, the City of Davis may determine that an Asteroid-free Zone Resolution is necessary.

For an interactive illustration of this object's orbit click the title of this story. (This is pretty cool.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

YCOE offers facilities and management services to county school districts

Among the many services offered by the Yolo County Office of Education is facilities planning - to assist school districts "with the planning of facilities including the potential impact these facilities will have financially in future years." From the YCOE Web site:

Business, Management & Advisory Services

The primary role of Business, Management & Advisory Services (BMAS) is: to act as the intermediary agency between the California Department of Education (as well as federal, local and other state agencies) and the local school districts in Yolo County; to provide a wide range of services to the school districts and the County Schools Business Services department of the YCOE. In addition, BMAS provides information to the public as required.

BMAS, under the direct Supervision of the Associate Superintendent of Administrative Services, has the responsibility for monitoring and providing assistance to school districts regarding the following activities:

• AB1200/AB2756: Fiscal monitoring of school districts to ensure fiscal integrity.
• AUDITING: AB3627 audit resolution, oversight and follow-up, administration of internal audit, maintenance of records and information for official audits.
• DEBT SERVICE MANAGEMENT: Certificates of participation, property tax collection, local bonding credit data, TRANS.
• FACILITIES PLANNING: Assist the County School Business Services department and the school districts with the planning of facilities including the potential impact these facilities will have financially in future years.
• FINANCIAL PLANNING: Cost analysis, fiscal analysis, fiscal management, budget development, long-range fiscal planning, revenue estimations, cash flow analysis, budget control, creative financing, and cash management.
• ACCOUNTING: Governmental funds, proprietary funds, fiduciary funds, internal controls, student body funds, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll reporting, retirement reporting, fringe benefits, inventory/fixed assets, general ledger, and the Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS) system.
• REPORTING: Local, state, and federal financial and statistical reports.
• RECORDS RETENTION AND DATA ARCHIVAL: Maintain long term record storage for both County Office of Education and applicable school district data.
• DISTRICT PERSONNNEL MANAGEMENT: Provide the reporting and maintenance of records for all statutory deductions and retirement data, individual earning records, and group insurance deductions for all school districts and the Yolo County Office of Education.
• DISTRICT LIASON: BMAS acts as liaison between the California Department of Education and the school districts and maintains all records relating to issuance of Private School Affidavits.

BMAS considers our clients to be the sole reason for our existence as a department of the Yolo County Office of Education. Our primary goal is to "Meet the Needs of Those We Serve" in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Yolo County Office of Education
1280 Santa Anita Court, Suite 100
Woodland, CA 95776-6127
(530) 668-6700

Board set to approve $11,000,000 in Certificates of Purchase

What probably seemed like an easy property purchase of $5.7 million in December, has turned into an $11,000,000 debacle with four school trustees holding the bag. Carol Souza Cole, Bill Beerman, Rosario Ruiz-Dark and Elaine Lytle not only voted to buy the Blue Shield building, they also think the best way to finance the purchase is through Certificates of Participation (COPs). The total payments will start at about $450,000 a year and inflate 3% each year for 30 years - with the district paying $1.06 million in 2038.

Trustees Frank Glover, Rogelio Villagrana and Warren Berg voted against the purchase.

To cover the total interest on the COPs, the district will need about $8.8 million to own the building - however - as reported last week in the Daily Democrat, the district will be selling $10.2 million in COPs to offset agency costs and provide a $880,000 reserve in case they cannot make a payment.

That was last week.

If you attend tomorrow's meeting you will find that the COP total has gone up to $11 million.

The school board will also decide if the Blue Shield purchase documents can be revealed to the public. As reported in an earlier post, only once last year was the public allowed to comment on the purchase - and that window of opportunity was comprised of just a matter of minutes before a vote was cast. Following is the agenda:


(Commentary: This should be worth the price of admission)

2-S. Authorize Staff and Legal Representatives To Present Information And Documents In Public Session Concerning The Process And Decisions Made In Closed Session Leading To The Approval Of The Purchase Agreement For Property Located At 435 Sixth Street, Woodland, CA (Parcel #006-122-07)

Presentation Of Information Item I-1-S Is Contingent Upon The Board’s Approval Of Board Action Item H-1-S.
1-S. Presentation of Process and Documents Used In Consideration Of Purchase of Property Located At 435 Sixth Street, Woodland, CA (Parcel #006-122-07)

1-B. Approve Resolution 29-08:
• Authorizing The Execution And Delivery By The District Of A Site And Facilities Lease
• Lease Agreement
• Trust Agreement
• Certificate Purchase Agreement
• Continuing Disclosure Certificate With Respect To Woodland Joint Unified School District Certificates Of Participation
• Authorizing The Execution And Delivery Of Such Certificates
• Authorizing The Distribution Of Official Statement In Connection Therewith
• Authorizing The Execution Of Necessary Documents And Certificates And Related Actions

Click on the title of this story to access a related Daily Democrat story.

Marlinex: Just another crappy local blog

I caught wind of this from our local blogvine - on January 22, 2008, Marlinex posted "Just Another Crappy Local Blog." The following is her post:

Is my blog just another crappy local blog that fails to meet the expectations of my meager visitors?

I think not! Granted I'm listed in, and our beloved, web-enabled County Supervisor, Matt Rexroad has me listed in a list of community blogs on his site. I'm not community-savvy enough to be on the Woodland Journals' list of sites for "Woodlanders in Touch."

Here's what my site is:

Like the tagline says: Pitbulls, rants and raves from the heart of Woodland, CA
My playground for all things Web 2.0 (Flickr, Twitter, and then some)
A way for me to vent
A place to share craziness overheard
A way for me to keep in touch with my lovely family all over the country
Sometimes the only way I can communicate and keep myself sane
It makes me question my reasoning for maintaining this site for the past several years.

Connect. Create. Communicate.

I knew someday I would be able to do something with that!

(Note: You can now find Hello Happy Pitbulls under "Links for Woodlanders in touch)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A year in the life of the Blue Shield building

This is all of the 2007 minutes pertaining to "Blue Shield-related" items I could find at Please note the Feb. 23 article from the Business Journal that stated Blue Shield once had over 300 employees. Well, one of my questions has been answered... the building was made to hold three times the number of projected district office staff. Here are excerpts from last year's board meetings:

# # #

JANUARY 25, 2007

REPORTS - Trustee Ortiz specifically asked that (for the record), he did not agree with the recent communication the Superintendent recently sent out to the Board of Trustees and Administrative Team, and he shared that he had spoken earlier in the day with the Superintendent about his concerns. He requested a February Board retreat to review ‘Excellence In Communication’, as well as other District-related issues.

Trustee Villagrana stated he concurred with Trustee Ortiz’ comment about communication. He emphasized the need for open communication between teachers, administrators and Trustees.

# # #

FEBRUARY 8, 2007

REPORTS - C.O. ARCHITECT FIRM MOTION WAS MADE by Trustee Lytle and duly seconded by Trustee Ortiz to approve the firm of Brereton Architects to complete Phase I, as clarified by Mr. Scott Sheldon of Premier Commercial to conduct a space analysis, determining the need to either purchase (existing or new space) or build a new facility for the Central Office instead of continuing to spend funds to lease the current facility. The proposal, that was voted on unanimously, will cost $12,800 to be funded from the Special Reserve for Capital Projects.

# # #


Blue Shield of California, one of the top employers in Greater Sacramento, quietly closed its Woodland claims office Feb. 9. The San Francisco-based health plan consolidated the just-more-than 100 claims and customer service jobs still in Woodland into a growing service center in Lodi, said spokesman David Selden. "All the people were given a chance to relocate and most chose to do it."

The WORK FORCE in Woodland has shrunk over the years, from MORE THAN 300 IN 2002 to 225 last year and 104 when the office closed last month. A small corporate office on Sixth Street is still open. Blue Shield has more than 1,300 local workers, most of them in El Dorado Hills.

# # #

March 8, 2007

SUPERINTENDENT’S RPT. - Dr. Cottingim shared the following information during the Superintendent’s Report:

• a joint meeting was held with city officials regarding future potential joint use projects, and staff at the central office have been interviewed by Brereton Architects the past week as part of the space analysis report approved by the Board on February 8;

# # #

JUNE 28, 2007

INFORMATION - The following items were presented during the Information portion of the meeting and did not require Board action at this meeting:

Mr. Ashley Miller of Brereton Architects presented the Board item entitled ‘Report: Space Utilization Study – Central Office.’ Mr. Miller provided a one-page handout summary for the Trustees.

# # #

AUGUST 9, 2007

CALL TO ORDER - Board President Souza Cole called the meeting to order in Open Session at 5:00 p.m. in front of the former Blue Shield Building at 435 Sixth Street in Woodland. The Board President asked Superintendent Cottingim if there were any revisions to the Board agenda.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - The Board President reviewed and orally read the items on the Closed Session agenda. She asked for public participation and no one came forward to speak.

CLOSED SESSION - The Board recessed at 5:03 p.m. and reconvened in Closed Session for a tour of the former Blue Shield Building. The tour of the building ended at approximately 5:35 p.m., and the Trustees drove individually back to the WJUSD Central Office at 630 Cottonwood.

# # #

SEPTEMBER 27, 2007

SUPT.’S REPORT - Superintendent Cottingim shared information and announcements regarding the following items during her Superintendent’s Report:

• A reminder of the special Closed Session meeting on Monday, October 8, 6:00-7:00 p.m., regarding the funding options for the purchase of the former Blue Shield Building;

# # #

DECEMBER 13, 2007

(See The Woodland Journal story below entitled "The meeting: WEA appreciates purchase, Souza Cole, Beerman, Lytle, Ruiz-Dark vote for purchase"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tuleyome protects Putah and Cache Creek Watersheds

Tuleyome is a Yolo County organization whose purpose is to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of the Putah and Cache Creek Watersheds for existing and future generations. In the Miwok tongue, Tuleyome not only refers to an ancient village located along Copsey Creek (a small tributary of Cache Creek in the Excelsior Valley), but to the contemporary residents, the ancient ancestors, and the entire surrounding territory inhabited by the Lake Miwok people. Literally, Tuleyome means “deep-home-place.”

This from the Tuleyome Web site:

The Putah-Cache region is home to the bald eagles, otters, mountain lions, and black bears that draw people to the wildlands. It is also the home of Swainson's Hawks, robins, and meadowlarks found in both agricultural and urban regions. Streams and riparian corridors provide important biological linkages and thousands of acres of oak woodlands, chaparral, and native grasslands in the interior Coastal Range mountains, and seasonal wetlands and vernal pools host dozens of sensitive plant and wildlife species.

Living sustainably in the Putah/Cache Bioregion requires a balance between the human and natural uses of the regional landscape. Our interests are to protect, restore and enhance the aquatic, riparian, and terrestrial environmental values in this bioregion, while maintaining a sustainable human landscape involving agriculture and other traditional uses. The needs of all of the residents in the bioregion are important. Policy decisions in this region must address the needs of both the human and the non-human occupants in these watersheds.

Tuleyome was founded in 2002 as a volunteer advocacy-oriented nonprofit organization that is focused on protecting both the wild and agricultural heritages of the Putah-Cache bioregion, including all or parts of Yolo, Lake, Napa, Colusa, and Solano counties in northwestern California. Tuleyome works to these ends by:

• Identifying, protecting, and restoring the watersheds' environmental resources
• Developing opportunities for public enjoyment of the watersheds, compatible with resource protection
• Instilling a greater public appreciation of the natural and environmental resources within the watersheds, and
• Promoting a long-term sustainable agricultural base in the region
• We conduct our business through strategic planning, research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and charitable projects.
• Our vision is rooted in conservation biology.

Tulyome programs include:

• Ireland Ranch - Tuleyome is developing a management plan for the recently purchased Ireland Ranch, including docent-led hikes of the ranch, access to the Berryessa Peak Wilderness Area for scientific research, as well as recreational, agricultural and cultural studies.
• Capay Valley Hiking Club (YoloHiker) - One of Tuleyome's most successful programs, the Capay Valley Hiking Club has been providing guided outings to the backcountry of the Putah and Cache Creek Watersheds since 1999.
• Teen Rafting - In partnership with the Collings West Sacramento Teen Center and the Woodland YMCA, each year Tuleyome organizes a series of river rafting trips for Yolo County teens, who otherwise would never have the opportunity to enjoy the experience. This the second year Tuleyome has organized the trips, and thus far they have been a great success.

Click the title of this story to access

Tuleyome, Inc.
607 North Street
Woodland, CA 95695
(530) 350-2599

Woodland, Davis papers run cold case stories

The Daily Democrat and the Davis Enterprise both published articles today about cold cases in Yolo County. You can access those under "Links for Woodlanders in touch" at right.

They are both good articles, but what I found most interesting in the Enterprise story was this: "Locally, the Sheriff's Department keeps a partial listing of its John and Jane Doe cases - several with photos, some of which may be disturbing - at its Web site." Click the title of this story to go there.

The following is some information about the John Doe who belongs to the "Mom" tattoo photograph above:

Note from Web page - "These Unidentified cases contains material that some might consider rude, profane, offensive, or otherwise objectionable. Young children, in particular, should not view this website without adult supervision."

CORONER CASE NUMBER: 5298-171-1983
DATE FOUND: 10/5/1983
1 week prior to being found
Consistent with Drowning
CIRCUMSTANCES: A nude male was found floating in the Sacramento River. The remains were retrieved and brought to the Four Season’s Marina in West Sacramento. There was no trauma to the remains.
SEX: Male
RACE: White/Mexican/Asian
HEIGHT: 5’ 4”
HAIR COLOR/LENGTH: Black and slightly balding on the top
SCARS/TATTOOS/MARKINGS/FACIAL HAIR: Facial Hair - Long side burns (tint of gray in sideburns), drooping mustache extending below the corners of the mouth. Tattoos - Left arm, heart and scroll with “MOM” in center; anchor on inner forearm; Spanish style cross on inner left wrist; “EXIE” on left hand. “E+R” or “E+8” on outside of left wrist. Markings - 6x4mm oblong flat discoloration (possible tattoo) below center of right eye
BROKEN BONES/MISSING TEETH: 2 teeth missing (#7 and #26)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

School district disputes follow superintendent, Part 3

A Yolo County Grand Jury complaint was recently filed against the Woodland Joint Unified School district, naming the superintendent and the human resources officer for wrongful hiring practices.

The hiring practice under question was reported in September by the Daily Democrat and The Woodland Journal. The Democrat's report stated, "Upon the advice of veteran teachers at Lee, [Jorge] Jimenez immediately hired a lawyer through the California Teachers Association who discovered an error in his contract with the school district. The contract Jimenez signed for the 2007-08 academic year had wrongly classified him as a temporary teacher, a mistake that had made his dismissal easier for the district to carry out, he said."

That was not the first time a CTA-assigned attorney was hired to investigate district hiring practices. WJUSD routinely hires "temporary" teachers under the wrong EdCode. The Grand Jury complaint charges that the superintendent's office knowingly and falsely hires new teachers under CA EdCode Section 44920 as "Temporary Leave Replacements." The district also makes oral promises that the temporary status will be changed to probationary status within a certain amount of time. This, they claim, is the period they need to figure out the number of teachers on leave who will be returning. New teachers hired far exceed the number of teachers on leave. For example, in 05-06 (the school year included in the Grand Jury complaint) there was a grand total of six 1.00 FTEs on leave in the district. The list of on-leave teachers did not match the list of all teachers hired as temporary replacements.

According to the Lee School Web site, Jimenez is listed as the band teacher. The status of the Grand Jury complaint is unknown.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

City to sell property to Wiseman Associates

During the closed session of next Tuesday's meeting, the city council will be discussing the sale of a city yard to Wisman Associates, the company who previously acquired property from the city to build the under-utilized office building at East and Main. Here is the item:

JANUARY 22, 2008, 5:00 P.M.

ITEM C.1 - Conference with Real Property Negotiators Pursuant to Section 54956.8, Property: 445 Fifth St., Assessor’s Parcel #006-121-04-1, Woodland, Agency Negotiator: City Manager, Negotiating Parties: City of Woodland and Wiseman Associates, Under Negotiation: Price and Terms of Payment

Click the title of this story to access the complete city council agenda. The transaction was previously discussed in another closed session - no details are available to the public.

The meeting: WEA appreciates purchase, Souza Cole, Beerman, Lytle, Ruiz-Dark vote for purchase

Board of Trustees
DECEMBER 13, 2007

Karen Taylor, President of the Woodland Education Association (WEA), congratulated the new and returning Board members. She then noted the Association’s appreciation to the Board for their time and efforts put into researching the issues regarding the potential purchase of a building for the relocation of the Central Office.

MOTION WAS MADE by Trustee Lytle and duly seconded by Trustee Beermann to approve the Purchase Agreement for Real Property: Blue Shield building (Parcel #006-122-07) For A District Central Office, and the result of the oral role call vote was as follows:
Ayes: Trustees Souza Cole, Beermann, Lytle, and Ruiz-Dark
Noes: Trustees Glover, Berg and Villagrana

MOTION WAS MADE by Trustee Ruiz-Dark and duly seconded by Trustee Lytle to approve the Financing Plan for New Central Office, and the result of the oral role call vote was as follows:
Ayes: Trustees Souza Cole, Beermann, Lytle, and Ruiz-Dark
Noes: Trustees Glover, Berg and Villagrana

MOTION WAS MADE by Trustee Lytle and duly seconded by Trustee Beermann to approve the Agreement with Brereton Architects for the New Central Office Plans, and the result of the oral role call vote was as follows:
Ayes: Trustees Souza Cole, Beermann, Lytle, and Ruiz-Dark
Noes: Trustees Glover, Berg and Villagrana

Click the title of this story to access the complete minutes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Woodland stink lingers through winter

As I returned to my commute after my winter break this week, an unwelcome visitor from the north greeted me each morning. "That's odd," I thought, "Woodland only smells in the summer."

At least that's what one blogger said when I posted "Woodland stink solved" in September. Anonymous said, "It's Woodland in the summertime. We have always had our share of odors. It's more of an issue now since much of the eastside of town is populated, no one ever cared before."

So... before the Odor Hotline heats up again (406-5101 on your AM dial), I respectfully submit - again - that I have solved the mystery smell:


It's been known for some time that biomass plants emit odors. Here's an excerpt from a 2002 CA State Integrated Waste Management Board report:

"Odor emissions from compost facilities have become a priority concern for facility operators, engineers, urban planners, and citizens living near facilities. Odor complaints can shut down compost facilities and prevent the expansion of existing facilities. Compost odors are generated throughout the composting process, with the highest emission rates noted early in composting and then again during pile turning or agitation. Moiser et al. (1977) found that aldehydes, alcohols, ketones, volatile fatty acids, terpenes, nitrogen, and sulfur compounds are associated with compost odors. Ruth (1996) quantified the odor thresholds and established irritant levels for a number of compounds found during the composting process (Table 1)."

And - again - I ask, "Why isn't anyone 'fessin' up to the stink?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

School district disputes follow superintendent, Part 2

The following is part of Travis Unified School Board Minutes for Tuesday, December 14, 2004:

The following members were present: President Harry Axhelm, Vice-President Edwin Sanderson, Clerk Ivery Hood, Members Kerrie Pray, Wanona Ireland, and Student Representative Yenny Espinoza. Secretary Dr. Jacki Cottingim was excused.

Others Present: Assistant Superintendents Kathleen Bond, William Taylor, Steve Vaczovsky, Directors Gayle Smith, Lisa Erwin; Lt. Col. Anthony Zucco.


TUTA [Travis Unified Teachers Association] President Nancy Morin [said] that Dr. Cottingim was leaving for a post in Woodland at a time when teachers were “being forced by the Board to discuss and consider strike.” As she has said in the past, teachers are desperate for a cost of living allowance. The API scores correctly reflect the high quality teachers the district employs and they also recognize the district’s ability to pay as such when one factors in the state and federal revenues it receives. During Dr. Cottingim’s tenure TUTA contends that Travis teachers’ average salary has plummeted from number one, to number three in Solano County. She added that TUTA begrudges a pay adjustment to the superintendent, and they resent the management team and school board agenda which suppresses teacher salary while increasing administrators and the superintendent’s salary.

Ms. Morin quoted Dr. Cottingim when she said “we can agree on the numbers of the budget and disagree on the priorities of the budget.” Ms. Morin advised that the quote clearly indicates that teachers are no longer the priority, but that since TEACHERS teach, they should be the priority. They’ve not received COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) since 2001-02 school year, but the cost of living has increased by 6.34%, which essentially amounts to a pay cut.


Teacher Adam Lundy advised the board that teachers had been patient for 2.5 years; they are asked to put students first, but they are not willing to put students in front of their families. He is perplexed by the lack of money in the budget for COLA, yet the district swaps land to build new schools. When he started at Travis, he recalls more collaboration between stakeholders, but now, talk is inadequate. He believes that 2% will not make or break the district.

Teacher Yvonne Bigham declared that she completely lacked confidence in the Business Department. She discussed the high API scores in the district and commented that it is the teachers who are responsible for the accomplishments. She also noted that she believed in the board members’ sincerity and integrity, but that to rely on just one source for the state of the budget was not prudent.

Click the title of this story to access the complete T.U.S.D. minutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Help wanted: Cops, subs top lists for city, schools

City of Woodland Job Openings:

1. Police Officer, Law Enforcement (Open Until Filled)
2. Police Officer Recruit, Law Enforcement (Open Until Filled)
3. Temporary Facilities Maintenance Worker, Parks (Open Until Filled)
4. Utilities Maintenance Worker III, Utilities (Open Until Filled)
5. Redevelopment & Housing Analyst, Housing (Jan 18, 2008)
6. Library Services Director, Library (Feb 08, 2008)
7. Temp. Maintenance Worker, Public Works Maint. (Jul 01, 2008)
8. Temp. Park Maintenance Worker I/II, Parks Maint. (Jul 01, 2008)

WJUSD Job Openings:

Administrative Position
1. Coordinator - K-12 Mathematics (Open Until Filled)
Classified Management Positions
1. Occupational Therapist, Registered (Open Until Filled)
2. Director I, Purchasing & Asset Management (Open Until Filled)
Substitutes (on-call, as needed):
1. Teachers
2. Bus Drivers (training available)
3. Custodial/Maintenance
4. Noon Duty Supervisors
5. Crossing Guards
6. Campus Supervisors
7. Clerical
8. Cafeteria
9. Child Care Attendant
10. Instructional Support Specialists (Aides)
11. Aides for Severely Disabled Students

Countdown to Costco

Based on the number of recent Googlers funnelled into this blog, I suspect many consumers are interested in the opening of the Woodland Costco. The new warehouse is located in the Gateway Shopping Center at I-5 and Rd. 102.

Here's a little company history from

"The company's first location, opened in 1976 under the Price Club name, was in a converted airplane hangar on Morena Boulevard in San Diego. Originally serving only small businesses, the company found it could achieve far greater buying clout by also serving a selected audience of non-business members. With that change, the growth of the warehouse club industry was off and running. In 1983, the first Costco warehouse location was opened in Seattle. Costco became the first company ever to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in less than six years. When Costco and Price Club merged in 1993, the combined company, operating under the name PriceCostco, had 206 locations generating $16 billion in annual sales.

Our operating philosophy has been simple. Keep costs down and pass the savings on to our members. Our large membership base and tremendous buying power, combined with our never-ending quest for efficiency, result in the best possible prices for our members. Since resuming the Costco name in 1997, the company has grown worldwide with total sales in recent fiscal years exceeding $50 billion."

"The Woodland location is scheduled to open on February 22nd," reported Stephanie Bradley, Costco Executive Assistant.

Click the title of this story to access Costco's Web site. Membership information is available there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Arnold's reduced spending concerns local law enforcement officials


Two challenges require our immediate attention as we begin 2008. First, we must close a shortfall of $3.3 billion in the current fiscal year, which will grow to $14.5 billion next year without swift and decisive action. And second, we must take steps to avoid a potential shortfall in the state's cash reserves this July and August, and potentially in March.

These problems are not the result of a fundamental crisis in California's economy. Indeed, we remain a diverse and dynamic economic powerhouse that will continue to grow and lead the world in innovation. These problems are the result of a budget system where there continues to be no linkage between revenues and spending.

FROM "2008-09 STATE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS," JAN. 11 (click story title to link):

Public Safety - The Governor's 2008-09 budget proposal supports the implementation of critical prison reforms, supports law enforcement and funds programs to reduce and prevent gang violence. Highlights include:

• $11.4 billion ($10.3 billion General Fund and $1.1 billion other funds) for CDCR. This reflects an increase of $646.7 million ($172.4 million General Fund) over the revised 2007-08 budget.
• $1.9 billion for CHP. This is an increase of $35.7 million above the 2007-08 Budget. Includes funding to add 120 uniformed positions and 44 support positions ($21.6 million Motor Vehicle Account) to address workload growth associated with population growth.
• $20.1 million General Fund to fund the California Multijurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team (Cal-MMET) Program on a permanent basis. This funding is in addition to the $9.5 million of existing funds.
• $18.5 million in additional funding, for a total of $116.3 million in 2008-09, to replace and upgrade CHP's radio system.
• $7.5 million increase ($407,000 General Fund and $7.1 million Motor Vehicle Account Fund) for the CDFA to operate all Border Protection Stations on a full-time basis, to inspect all vehicles, commercial and private, entering California.
• $5.3 million General Fund to fund the Department of Justice's four existing Gang Suppression Enforcement Teams on a permanent basis.
• $2.5 million in 2007-08 and $35.4 million in 2008-09 to implement the rehabilitation components of the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act (AB 900).
• $1.3 million General Fund to establish the Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy per AB 1381.

Public Safety Budget Balancing Actions:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:
• $17.9 million in 2007-08 and $378.9 million in 2008-09. This grows to $782.7 million in 2009-10. Under the proposed reductions, specified non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders with no prior serious or violent offenses and similar offenses will be placed on summary parole. They will remain subject to searches, seizures, and drug tests by any peace officer but will not be returned to prison without first being prosecuted locally for any new offenses that they commit.

Office of Emergency Services
• $3.1 million in 2007-08 and $8.1 million in 2008-09 for the Office of Emergency Services local criminal justice grant programs.


"From the standpoint of public safety, it's terrifying to me to think of a massive release of convicted felons," said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. "The fact they are characterized as nonviolent or non-serious is not entirely relevant."

"Most of these people copped pleas for some set a mount of time," Reisig said. "Before we made these plea arrangements, we met with the victims and we talked with them on the pros and cons. And most of the time, the victims agreed to a lesser amount of jail time to save them the pain and suffering of having to come to court. Essentially, it was a contract and the governor's plan is basically throwing it out the window. Victims around the state are essentially being misled."

"You're talking about public safety and victims rights and that's not negotiable in my opinion," Reisig said.

"We're not looking at that as a positive for us," said Lt. Charlie Wilts, spokesman for the Woodland Police Department. "Releasing more people prior to the end of their sentence, in our opinion, has a potential to increase crime in the community, especially if they don't have the proper resources."

"I mean if you're going to take the lesser of two evils, you put someone out there who is going to steal my lawn mower and not the guy who is going to knife me for my lawnmower," Wilts said. "It may be an effective way for the governor to reduce the budget but I don't see how it will not have a negative impact on crime statistics and crime activity where these people are paroled to."


While I can empathize with the "cuts," I think it should be pointed out that this year's budget is 9.3% greater than last year's, and the year prior is 7.4% greater than the prior year. Certainly, compensation for the average person has not increased at a rate anywhere near these two percentages. This "cut" is a reduction of 3.4%, which is still a net increase in the budget of 5.9%. As typical of governmental accounting, a reduction of increase is considered a cut, not an increase.

Monday, January 14, 2008

School district disputes follow superintendent

The following is part of a letter from L. Patrick Hearn, Executive Director of the Oregon State Government Standards & Practices Committee, to Donna Cameron, attorney for the Parkrose School District - the former employer of WJUSD Superintendent Jacki Cottingim.

March 27, 1998

Dear Ms. Cameron:

This letter is in response to your correspondence dated March 23, 1998, concerning the Parkrose School District entering into mediated settlement discussions to settle all or several pending and threatened lawsuits against it and board members.


STATED FACTS: The Parkrose School District may enter into mediated settlement discussions to settle some or all pending and threatened lawsuits against the district and members of its governing board.

The following persons are expected to participate in the proposed settlement discussions:

Dianne Harr, board chair since July 1, 1997, board member prior to July 1, 1997;
Mark Gardner, board member before and after July 1, 1997;
Cheryl Jones, board member since July 1, 1997;
Karen Rutledge, board member since July 1, 1997;
Sallie LaValley, board member since July 1, 1997;
Jacki Cottingim, superintendent currently on leave from the district and soon to begin another job in California [Travis Unified School District];
Linda Marshall, attorney for Dr. Cottingim, Ms. Harr, and Mr. Gardner;
Paula Barran, attorney for Dr. Cottingim;
Brian Chenoweth, attorney for Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley;
Davis Morrison, attorney for Ms. Rutledge;
Jeff Austin, attorney for the school district; and
Donna Cameron, attorney for the school district.

The following is a summary of seven current and threatened lawsuits and issues that may arise in the settlement discussions:

1. Rutledge and LaValley v. Parkrose School District, et al. In April 1997, the school board adopted an addendum to Dr. Cottingims contract to allow for a unilateral termination without cause in which event a severance package would be paid. Ms. Rutledge and Ms. La Valley believe that the adoption of the addendum was not in compliance with the Oregon Public Meeting law and have filed a lawsuit against the school district, the five pre-July 1997 board members, and Dr. Cottingim, all in their official capacities, seeking to void the contract addendum and to recover attorney fees.

2. Cottingim v. Rutledge and LaValley. Dr. Cottingim has sued Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley in their individual capacity for defamation. The complaint alleges they were not acting in the course and scope of any official duty or rule on behalf of the school district or school board. The claim arises out of public statements that Dr. Cottingim took more salary and compensation than she was entitled to receive.

3. Nolf v. Batman, et al. Gaynelle Nolf, a former principal employed at Parkrose high school, sued the school district, Dr. Cottingim, and the five members of the pre-July 1997, school board, alleging breach of contract and violation of plaintiff s constitutional rights when she was removed from the position of high school principal and reassigned.

4. Due Process Claim. Dr. Cottingim has sent a demand letter to the school district alleging that her constitutional rights under the due process clause of the United States Constitution were violated and that her employment contract was breached. The alleged violation is that accusations against Dr. Cottingim by Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley were made in public without first following due process requirements or the contractually required complaint process. Additional allegations are that when the board met for a name clearing process, Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley refused to state the accusations for the superintendent, refused to attend the portion of the meeting at which she presented her response and evidence, but still voted against a resolution to exonerate the superintendent.

5. Public Records. Ms. Rutledge sought to obtain copies of W-2 forms for Dr. Cottingim and Mr. Fenstermaker, the business manager of the school district. The school district believed that the total compensation paid to Dr. Cottingim and Mr. Fenstermaker was public information but that the W-2 forms themselves were not.

6. Public Meetings. Statements have been made by Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley that actions taken before July 1, 1997, by the past school board (in addition to the adoption of the contract addendum involved in the lawsuit described in item #1 above) may be subject to a public meetings lawsuit by Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley with possible financial demands directed against past and current board members or Dr. Cottingim.

7. Recall Petitions. Recall petitions have been circulated as to four of the five current board members. Ms. Rutledge and Ms. LaValley presented a peace plan that included a request for mediation of disputes and a commitment that their followers had withdrawn recall petitions against Ms. Harr and Mr. Gardner.

[Relevant statutes, questions and opinions follow. Click the title of this story to access the complete letter.]

Reminder: Brown lids for green waste

January 16 through October 14:
Weekly green waste cart pick up
Weekly street sweeping
MONTHLY street pile pick up

October 14 through January 15 (09):
Weekly green waste cart pick up
Weekly street sweeping
WEEKLY street pile pick up

PUT ALL CARTS AT CURBSIDE ON THE DAY OF YOUR REGULAR COLLECTION. Remember... sidewalks are for walking, curbs are for carts. CURB YOUR CARTS!

There are public workshops to discuss the program scheduled for January January 30 at 6 pm, February 27 at 10 am, and March 26 at 6 pm in the City Council Chambers (2nd floor, City Hall, 300 First St.). To see what week of the month your neighborhood street pick up occurs (from 1/16 -10/14), click the title of this story.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Morgan Hill is a model for community communication

Morgan Hill is located at the southern end of the Santa Clara Valley, in Santa Clara County. It is approximately 21 miles south of downtown San Jose and centrally located approximately 70 miles between San Francisco and Monterey. It was incorported in 1906 and has a population of 34,600.
The City of Morgan Hill's Web site has up-to-date minutes and budgets.
The Morgan Hill's Chamber of Commerce Web site has an up-to-date event calendar and a complete library of newsletters.
The Morgan Hill Downtown Association has an informative site as part of its keen vision: "Recognizing that the downtown is the heart and core of Morgan Hill, it must provide for the preferences of the local and regional population to be successful."
The Morgan Hill Unified School District site has an up-to-date Breaking News section. The most recent story is: "Dr. Alan Nishino, Superintendent, was honored by San Jose Magazine as one of the valley's top educators."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sister City has its own big-leaguer

Yovani Gallardo was born on February 27, 1986, in La Piedad, Michoacan, Mexico (Woodland's Sister City). He's a right-handed pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was selected in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft out of Trimble Technical High School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Gallardo started the 2007 season with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. On June 14, the Brewers called him up to replace injured starter Chris Capuano. Four days later he made his Major League debut against the San Francisco Giants, giving up three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings for the win. He had three walks and four strikeouts. In Gallardo's first at bat in the majors, he hit an RBI double. He is known for his great hitting ability for a pitcher. In 40 at-bats last season, he had an average of .250 and hit two home runs for a total of six RBI.

His final totals for the season include nine wins, five losses, 3.67 ERA, 101 Ks, and 37 walks in 110.1 IP, appearing in 20 games.

Friday, January 11, 2008

School Trustee Glover: "I'm embarrassed"

During Thursday night's school board meeting, trustee Frank Glover apologized to concerned community members and several dozen upset teachers. Glover was one of three board members voting against the purchase of the former Blue Shield building last month. Since then, the issue has drawn much debate here at The Woodland Journal. Rogelio Villagrana and Warren Berg were the other dissenting votes.

Former Woodland Mayor Dudley Holman was one of the community members who spoke out against the acquisition, pointing out that the selling company, Blue Ice LLC, was just formed in July – apparently for the sole purpose of purchasing the building in August. The superintendent, Jacki Cottingim, started negotiating for the purchase as early as August. In a 4-3 vote, the board agreed to purchase the building, located at 435 Sixth Street, for $5.6 million. The building is intended to be used to house the district offices, for which they currently pay $225,000 a year in rent.

Teachers in attendance also voiced their concern over the estimated $565,000 to be spent on new furniture after the relocation of the offices. They claim that new furniture is needed at the schools and that students currently use old, broken-down desks and chairs. Cottingim commented that the district was unaware of the poor conditions and it is up to the teachers and principles to inform her.

The superintendent's disconnect with teachers and classroom conditions is not new. Cottingim took the WJUSD position while in the midst of an unresolved contract dispute with Travis Unified teachers that had lasted several years. She left her post mid-school year, leaving the teachers without an updated contract. During the dispute, many special-interest programs continued to be funded while old classrooms in the district went unattended.

The board also saw an after-the-fact presentation made by Lori Raineri of Government Financial Strategies, the company hired to handle the Certificates of Participation for the purchase. Raineri explained that the certificates work like a combination of leases and loans, with investors buying the certificates from their company.

Glover told The Woodland Journal that he is embarrassed by the entire process. He said, "At the end of the day the board is responsible for the public's money. He confirmed that he has never seen an appraisal, and as far as he knows, none of the other trustees have either. The superintendent claims the appraisal is protected by attorney-client privileges.

Glover apologized for now having his hands tied as a board member. "This is in the community's and teacher's hands now," he said. He suggested that the community has every right to question the board's decision to buy the building.

Trustees Carol Souza Cole, Bill Beerman, Rosario Ruiz-Dark and Elaine Lytle voted to purchase the building.

Click on the title of this story to access a Daily Democrat article on the issue.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

City of Davis says renters can display campaign signs

Here's the start of a Davis Enterprise article written by Claire St. John:

"Iowa chose Huckabee and Obama. New Hampshire voted for McCain and Clinton.

But the big question on everyone's mind is, who will Davis choose?

Davisites can get a better sense of who the city will vote for in California's February presidential primary now that renters can display their allegiances on their apartments and houses.

On Tuesday, the Davis City Council adopted an ordinance that lets renters put campaign signs in their apartment windows and balconies, and, in the case of rental houses, on their lawns. The clarification is just in time for the Feb. 5 primary."

End note: Click the title of this story to access the complete story.

So you think you know English

By Woodlander in the Land DownUnder
Global Correspondent

Almost 10 years ago now, I made the big move to the Land Down Under. You wouldn’t think that settling in would be too difficult. Australians speak English, use a dollar currency, and though they drive on the left side of the road, they drive the same sort of cars. Easy.

Well that is what I thought anyways. As you adjust to life in a new country, you take things slowly, gaining the tools and knowledge that you need to get by in the new land. However, you soon realize that in this English-speaking country things are not quite “right” - you only thought that you knew English. You never thought for a second that every time you turned around you have to ask your husband to translate English for you.

Just to give you an idea of what I mean… here's a little story:
_ _

An Aussie bloke (he would be from Oz) was writing a letter to his make the Pommy Chemist. He wanted to say ta for his Chrissie pressie. Leaning on the boot of his car in the dark, he could barely make out the biro in his hand if it weren’t for his torch. He ended the note by telling his make that the next time he was in town that the amber fluid was his shout. Mind you, this is a fair dinkum story.
_ _

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. The pronunciation of words is sometimes even harder than the translation. When I first moved to Australia, we lived in Brisbane. To say it here you would say “brizben” and be almost correct (not like Briz-bane near San Francisco). Melbourne is probably one of the most mispronounced Australia cities by foreigners. Melbourne is “Melburn,” NOT Melborn. The best one is Indooroopilly. Seriously, that is the name of a suburb in Brisbane. No, I am not joking, it is the name of a suburb! Now, the trick is to have someone say the word before you even make an attempt. Problem is, when they say it, you won’t know which suburb they are talking about. When you hear Indooroopilly said out loud you hear, now wait for it, Indrapily. I have no idea how ‘ooroo’ becomes ‘ra’ in the word.

I will leave it here for now. Moving to a different country is exciting. The learning curve can be enormous. Who knew that moving to a country that speaks the same language that I grew up with would be such a challenge?

Want to know what my story said… you have to ask.

Letterman has writers: Will Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama appear on reunion show?

You may have noticed lately that I've changed things a bit here at The Woodland* Journal.
*(Woodland: Home of Harrison Jack, Dr. Mark Anderson and Red Sox Rookie of the Year Dustin Pedroia.)

Amidst my tinkering* I've been checking on blog visits and page views.
*(Not to be confused with Disney World's Tinkerbell and the Year of a Million Dreams.)

Well*... I've noticed an increase in "hits" from East Coast Googlers since my post about political party statements.
*(Not the one baby Jessica McClure fell in a over a decade ago in Midland, Texas - remember, she was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah... Harpo... Harpo Studios, that's clever.)

So now I'm conducting a little experiment to see how many visits I can generate from blatant name-dropping that you will now witness:*
*(Not the movie starring Harrison Ford and the lovely Kelly McGillis.)

George Bush, Angelina Jolie, Led Zeppelin, Autism, Diablo Cody, Human Growth Hormone, Best Buy: Digital TV Converter, Palestine, Fidel Castro, Breezes Resorts, Pitt Bull, Delta Airlines, NYSE, Henry Paulson, Tom Brady, Martina Hingis, Beyonce, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Prius, Michigan Primary, Arnold Schwar... ah, never mind, I'm bored already.

Oh - if you click on the title of this story, it will lead nowhere. That was just part of the experiment.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


During the recent storm, sometime over the weekend, an unknown burglar (or burglars) broke into the City Hall Annex. Entry was gained on the south side of the old police station. A computer was stolen out of the office. There was nothing valuable on the computer, according to a reliable source.

Apparently, the city manager had intended to report this at last night's council meeting but discussion about the storm preempted the announcement. There are no further details at this time. Stay blogged for updates.

School board to meet Thursday, Jan. 10

WJUSD Regular Board Meeting
When: 5:30 pm (Closed Session), 6:30 pm (Open Session), Thursday, Jan. 10
Where: WJUSD Central Office, Board Room, 630 Cottonwood St., Woodland

Agenda includes:

This is the time for members of the public to address the Board on any item not on the agenda. Comments on the agenda items will be addressed at the time reviewed. In the interest of conducting the public meeting in a timely manner, individual speakers will be allowed three (3) minutes to address the Board. This is a comment period only, and the law does not allow the Board of Trustees to take action on any item not explicitly posted on the agenda in advance. However, Board members may ask for clarification, briefly respond to questions, refer concerns to staff, and/or request that an item be placed on a future agenda.
a. Report from Board Members (Including Student Board Representatives)
b. Report of Woodland Education Association (WEA)
c. Report of Classified School Employees Association (CSEA)
1-B. Review of the 2006-07 Audit Report 08-13
2-B. Governmental Financial Strategies, Inc. Presentation Regarding 08-21 Certificates of Participation


Routine items on the Consent Agenda are enacted by the Board in one motion. Discussion only occurs if members of the Board, Administration or public request specific items be discussed and/or removed from the Consent Agenda:
1-B. Approve Purchases of Items/Services in Excess of $15,000: List 11-08 08-3
3-B. Approve Resolution 21-08: Revision to the 2007-08 Budget 08-2
7-B. Approve Resolution 27-08: Declaration of Intent to Reimburse 08-2 Certain Expenditures From Proceeds of Future Indebtedness

Commentary: There is no agenda item listing the Blue Shield building purchase specifically, however, Item H.2-B sticks out to me since it's about Certificates of Participation (bond sales). As an update, I've emailed the three dissenting board members about the public concern expressed on this blog. Two have acknowledged receipt of the message but have not indicated how they will proceed. I also took a call about the date of incorporaton of Blue Ice, LLC. Apparently the company formed in July.

I know there will be some community members present who want the Blue Shield issue addressed. For those interested in making a public comment, I suggest arriving prior to 6:30 as the board may try to convene earlier. I have a hunch the board will be prepared to table any discussion about the issue. It will be interesting to learn about Certificates of Participation... if it involves a bond measure, it will fail. But offering certificates may be the district's way around a public election.