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Video: Our View - Are Davis, Ly's Elk Grove Job Promises Realistic?

Written By EGN on Saturday, November 22, 2014 | 13:00

November 22, 2014 |

The main pillar of Elk Grove City Council Member-elect Steve Ly's successful campaign for the city's District 4 seat was to correct the city's well-documented jobs-to-houses imbalance.

Ly and his mentor, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, have committed to solving this problem by attracting high paying jobs to the city.  How realistic is this?

13:00 | 5 comments | Read More

Elk Grove Police Investigating Single Vehicle Fatal Collision

November 22, 2014 |

At  1:56 this morning, Elk Grove Police responded to a call of a single vehicle collision on Calvine Road east of Cliffcrest Drive.    

Upon arrival, officers discovered that a red Mazda MX6 travelling eastbound on Calvine Road had driven off the roadway, over the center media, then collided with several trees.  Officers discovered that an unidentified male driver, who was the only person in the vehicle, was deceased.  Identification of the deceased will be made by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

At this time, the collision is under investigation and anyone with information is asked to call the Elk Grove Police Department Traffic Bureau at (916) 478-8148.

11:55 | 0 comments | Read More

Chew's Reviews - The Theory of Everything

By Gary Chew | November 22, 2014 |

Now playing

The biopic genre is commonplace. How many movies have you seen this year that were promoted as being based on a true story? Two of the most recent films I've seen make that boast: Rosewater and Foxcatcher. This review is about another new movie that's taken from real events.

The Theory of Everything is about Stephen Hawking, the noted theoretical physicist. But it's more about his former wife Jane, who wrote a book about her time spent with this extraordinary man stricken by a motor neuron disease.

The couple met at Cambridge University prior to Hawking coming down with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. As you likely know, Hawking has weathered his malady quite well … by not dying. He's still kicking, so to speak. And that is so neat. Bravo, Professor!

Theory slips through highlights of the Hawking's life together much like A Beautiful Mind (2001) did for John and Alicia Nash. Following the onset of ALS, Jane won't walkout on Stephen. They marry and have children while Professor Hawking is physically disintegrating, but still advancing theories about the universe, black holes and the ever popular space/time singularity.

Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) suffers more and more from his malady, but Jane (Felicity Jones) is utterly overwhelmed taking care of her invalid spouse and their young children. How many years go by is not made clear, but eventually Jane's mother (Emily Watson) thinks her daughter needs some time for herself, and suggests Jane return to the church choir for musical R & R. Jonathan, the choir director is a most kind young man and mourning the recent death of the woman he loves. He offers to help Jane with all she must do for her children and Stephen as well. Jonathan (Charlie Cox) makes the offer ... in part ... for his own therapy. But he is quite taken with Jane too.

Theory continues with the Hawkings attempting to withstand the strain of Stephen's notoriety and his terrible affliction. The script pleasantly reveals the indiscretions that ensue even though both the Professor and his loyal wife show admiral grace to one another. Albeit the couple is bonded and in love, Hawking is an atheist and Jane is a believer. It's refreshing to see this on the screen in hopes it might accurately reflect how two people handled the difference each perceived the world … and might influence those who see The Theory of Everything. Staged violence and gore that floods movie houses everywhere much of the time is even more commonplace than biopics.

Some are now tossing out the annual comments about Oscar bait. The Theory of Everything is getting a lot of that. Conversely, the performances in it, for me, are not outstanding. Jones is lovely and well cast, but a tad too mannered and forced with Jane's body language. Redmayne is spot on, insofar as looking like the authentic Hawking, but his recurring flashing of a faint smile doesn't wear well. The toothy grin he flickers so often --- before and after onset of the illness --- may cause you to wonder if Redmayne needed to find something else to go to. He appears in nearly every scene. Maybe a subtle roll of the eyes.

In the good natured back-and-forth between a man who doesn't believe in God and a woman who does, I was taken back to the delicious conflict between television's Fox Mulder and Dana Scully when they searched for the Truth that surely had to be out there somewhere; not unlike developing a theory of everything.

Copyright © 2014 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved

00:30 | 0 comments | Read More

Respectful of the Outcome, Ose Reflects on Role of Outside Money in Congressional Race

Written By EGN on Friday, November 21, 2014 | 13:35

November 21, 2014 |

Just hours after learning the outcome of California’s Seventh Congressional District race, Doug Ose was back to work.

Ose, who learned that the Associated Press had called the race in favor of his Democratic opponent, incumbent Ami Bera, wasted no time in returning to running his business.

“I’m respectful of the outcome, but disappointed,” Ose said in an interview conducted yesterday afternoon.

As a Congressman from 1999 through 2005, Ose said one of the most disheartening aspects of this year's $20 million race, which several sources called the nations most expensive Congressional race, was that much of the money was not from either his or Bera’s campaign. Ose said that aspect of it was very troubling.

“I think the money that came into this race from sources, basically that we were not able to identify is troubling,” he said. “Both Bera and I have no say in the message that those group put on the TV and radio.”

A New York Time story published this summer noted some of the same concerns voiced by Ose: “ “It makes it harder for the campaign to control the message,” said Will Feltus, senior vice president for research and planning at National Media Inc., a Republican media-buying company. “Somebody else can set the message agenda for the campaign.”

Citing his work while he was in Congress, Ose said he had sponsored campaign finance reform legislation and that while he did not object to the amount of money per se, rather its lack of transparency.

“I don’t mind them spending it, but we need to know where it is coming from,” he said.

Ose stopped short of saying that third party money should be limited, but he stressed the sources should be made public.

“I just want to know who it is,” he stressed.

During the campaign, several outside groups purchased extensive TV and radio ads on behalf of both candidates that portrayed the opposition in less than flattering ways.

While saying he believed that the sources of outside money should be made available, he noted that the shear expenses of running any campaign should not dissuade qualified candidates from running for any elected office.

“It is important we get people to run for office who know how to make things happen,” he said.

When asked about any future political plans, Ose noted that at the time of this interview, the results came out just 16 hours earlier and was still digesting the results. However, Ose did not rule out any future political endeavors.

Noting he was being interviewed from the Gibson Ranch park that his company is operating under a 10-year contract with Sacramento County, Ose said that would be his immediate focus.

“Life is a journey, one door closes, another opens,” Ose noted. “I have lots of stuff to do….you move forward.”   

13:35 | 0 comments | Read More

Feinstein delays controversial drought legislation until next year

By Dan Bacher | November 21, 2014  

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced today that she has abandoned the secret negotiations for craft a controversial drought relief bill, but said she will try to pass the legislation next year. 

The delay is a victory by a coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and family farmers who organized an action alert campaign over the past week to defeat the bill. They said the bill would amount to a water bailout for corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that would devastate salmon and other fisheries and family farms. 

“Over the past several weeks I have been working closely with members of the California delegation who expressed interest in reaching a bipartisan agreement on legislation to address California’s drought crisis without violating the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act or biological opinions," said Feinstein in a statement. “Although we have made progress, it has become clear that we will be unable to present an agreed-upon proposal before Congress adjourns this year."

Feinstein also claimed that, in spite of much evidence otherwise provided by opponents of the legislation, that this wasn't "some kind of secret process."

“I deeply believe the people want both parties to work together, and that is the only way we will be able to enact water legislation," said Feinstein. "Claims that this has been some kind of secret process are false. In order to come up with a bill that is ready for public comment, back-and-forth negotiations and consultations are often necessary, including extensive technical assistance from federal and state agencies. That process is ongoing and we have no agreed-upon bill at this time."

She also emphasized that there is a "real human fact" to the current drought, although she failed to mention the people most impacted by the drought - recreational and commercial fishing families, family farmers, and Indian Tribes that depend on salmon and other fish as part of their religion, culture and existence.

“It is important to remember there is a real human face to this crisis," Feinstein continued. Some communities can no longer deliver water to homes. Thousands of residential wells have run dry. And many families lack very basic necessities like water for showers and cooking."

Then Feinstein claimed that the bill wasn't "about corporate agriculture," failing to explain why heavy hitters from the water community, including Tom Birmingham of the Westlands Water District, Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Kern County Water Agency, were all at the table of the negotiations while fishermen, Tribes, family farmers, Northern California legislators and Northern California legislators were completely excluded. 

“California is in a state of prolonged drought, and we must come together to find ways to provide the water necessary for life and well-being. This isn’t about corporate agriculture, this is about California," she said.

Feinstein then took aim at drought bill opponents, concluding, “It’s my hope that groups critical of this effort will strive to be productive rather than destructive. It’s clear that we need to get more water to our cities, businesses, farmers, households, fish and the Delta. And it’s equally important that we continue to protect wildlife and the environment. Only together will we stand a chance of agreeing on a bill that can help accomplish all of these goals.”

Bill opponents greeted Feinstein's announcement with relief - and vowed to stop similar legislation gutting fish protection and Delta water standards in the 2015 Congressional Session.

"We would like to thank the senator for listening to our constituents and we hope that she and Senator Boxer will ensure that all Californians are taken into account during the formulation of legislation in the next Congress," said Tom Stokely, water policy for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

"This bill has been delayed," said Ronald Stork, Senator Policy Director of Friends of the River. "Feinstein said it will be reintroduced and go through the regular order in the new GOP led-Congress instead of being hatched in secret in the back rooms. That's a good thing, but it doesn't matter if California's two Senators are unwilling to stand up to the San Joaquin Valley Congressmen. Somebody has to show some courage."

"The dynamics haven't changed. Feinstein is more than willing to accede to the demands of the Southern San Joaquin Valley Congressmen. Their demands are pretty simple: disrespect the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA)  and other peoples' water," concluded Stork.

On November 18, representatives of California’s leading grassroots water conservation and environmental water organizations, fishing groups and the Winnemem Wintu and Karuk Tribes signed a letter strongly criticizing the legislation.

"We are disturbed by a resurgence of media reports and the potential movement of a  purported 'drought bill' for California," the letter stated. "As we understand it, the draft legislation now being finalized  attempts to reconcile provisions from S.2198 and HR.3964," two bills designed to benefit corporate agribusiness at the expense of other water users."

The groups and Tribes expressed concern that there would be "destructive elements" in the reconciled bill that were in past versions of either or both bills. These include the following:

• Water transfers from the Sacramento Valley are expedited circumventing public processes  in federal environmental laws. 

• Refuges are pushed to turn to groundwater instead of relying on what the Central Valley Improvement Act requires in the way of surface water deliveries. 

• Most benefits are for desert agriculture in the southwestern San Joaquin Valley—not California as a whole—and especially not the area of origin where most of the water comes from: the Sacramento River Watershed. 

• Permanent, devastating impacts on migratory bird and fish populations in California, Oregon, Washington State and Alaska.  

Defenders of the public trust are gearing up for a big battle by Feinstein and the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representative to pass  "drought relief" legislation that serves corporate interests at the expense of fish, wildlife and the people of California during the next Congressional Session.

To read the complete letter, go to this link on the Restore the Delta website: http://restorethedelta.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/EWC-Opposition-Letter-FINAL.pdf

00:50 | 0 comments | Read More

Could Elk Grove Experience More Holiday Shoplifting as a Result of Prop 47?

Written By EGN on Thursday, November 20, 2014 | 16:00

November 20,2014 |

On Tuesday, Elk Grove Police apprehended two shoplifting suspects who were believed to have stolen merchandise from an area retailer. While this case was otherwise unremarkable, it did mark a first for local law enforcement.

The apprehension of these men marked the first time Elk Grove Police detained a suspect in relation to shoplifting, issued a misdemeanor citation, and then released him on his own recognizance. The issuance of the misdemeanor came as a direct result of the passage of Proposition 47.

"This was the first shoplifting arrest (without another crime being involved) that EGPD officers have made since Prop 47," Elk Grove Police Public Information Officer Christopher Trim said. 

Trim noted that EGPD operates a loss prevention program (LPO program) in partnership with several of the stores in the city that permits them to make citizen arrests for shoplifting, then issue the suspect(s) a misdemeanor citation if they are eligible. If the suspect is not eligible for a cite and release, EGPD would be contacted.

Trim said that there have been 15 citizen shoplifting arrests made by retail loss prevention officers since November 5. Comparative statistics for the same period last year were not immediately available.  

There has been widespread speculation several types of crimes will increase since people incarcerated have been released from prison, and the reduced penalties will not act as a deterrent. Trim said that to his knowledge, he was not aware of any security enhancements Elk Grove retailers are making in anticipation of an increase in shoplifting. 

Additionally, Trim noted EGPD traditionally ramps-up patrols in local shopping centers during the holidays. 

"The increased police presence will allow officers to focus on any suspicious activity occurring in and around shopping centers, which historically have experienced a seasonal increase in criminal activity," Trim said. "These increased patrols are not a result of Prop. 47."

The Sacramento branch of the American Civil Liberties union, a proponent of Prop. 47, was not immediately available to comment on its effects. One of its main selling points, which was approved by 58-percent of voters, was the potential cost savings that could be directed toward education. 

One critic of Prop. 47 is former Elk Grove City Council Member and California Assembly Member-elect, Jim Cooper. The retired Sacramento County Sheriff's Department Captain said he expects to see an increase in shoplifting and other property crimes now that many will now be misdemeanors. 

Cooper likened the issuance of misdemeanor citations to parking tickets and that those receiving them will ignore them and not appear in court. 

"The public was duped," he added.


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MLS Meeting Today With Sacramento, Other Cities; What About Elk Grove?

November 20, 2014 |

As announced earlier this week, Major League Soccer will be meeting with representatives from Sacramento, Las Vegas and Minneapolis today to determine which city will be awarded an expansion franchise. In their press release regarding the meetings in New York, the MLS did not include any mention of Elk Grove's bid.

An artistic rendering of Elk Grove's proposed MLS stadium.
Elk Grove, which purchased a 99-acre parcel on Grant Line Road as part of its bid, verbally committed to building a professional-grade $90-million soccer stadium in hopes of luring the expansion club. Even though Sacramento is widely believed to be favored over Elk Grove based on the appeal of its proposed Downtown Sacramento Rail Yard site and the success of the Republic FC, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis has remained undeterred. 

To determine what Elk Grove's status is in relation to today's talks, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, Council Members Steve Detrick and Pat Hume and City Manager Laura Gill were contacted to see if the city has been eliminated from consideration.

As of this posting, Davis, Detrick and Gill have not responded to the inquiry regarding the Elk Grove's status. The MLS has indicated that a decision as who will be awarded an expansion franchise could be made as early as December 6.  

Responding last night was Council Member Hume, who, as he noted, was not in the loop on the talks to bring an MLS team to Elk Grove. Hume nonetheless expressed optimism that the development of an athletic complex could commence 

"My hope still remains that we can move forward with the youth fields, absent any prolonged stadium ideas," he said.  

13:00 | 13 comments | Read More

Elk Grove Police Arrest One Sacramento Man, Cite Another on Suspicion of Shoplifting

Written By EGN on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 18:00

November 19, 2014 |

Two Sacramento men were arrested last night on suspicion of shoplifting merchandise valued at $777 from an Elk Grove retailer.

According to Elk Grove Police, 42-year old Wendell Corey Delaney and 36-year old Dan Thomas were observed shoplifting by an employee at the Rite Aid on Elk Grove Boulevard and Bruceville Road. The two men fled on foot and were seen leaving the parking lot in a gold Acura.

Responding officers located the car on the 11000 block of Bruceville Road and conducted a stop. Upon contact, it was determined the two occupants matched the description of the shoplifting suspects. 

An inspection of the car led to the discovery of two Rite Aid shopping baskets and merchandise from the store. The store employee was able to positively identify both suspects.

Delaney was arrested after a records search revealed he had an outstanding arrest warrant and was booked into the county jail where he remains ineligible for bail. Thomas was issued a misdemeanor citation and released.  

18:00 | 1 comments | Read More

UPDATED- Bera Overtakes Ose; AP Calls the Race For Bera

November 19, 2014 |

Congressman Dr. Ami Bera's lead over Republican challenger Doug Ose in the race for California's Seventh Congressional District widened today according to just released totals from the Sacramento County Voter's Registrar.

According to the tabulation posted as of 3:30 this afternoon, Bera has 92,394 votes to Ose's 90,962 for a lead of 1,432 votes. The previous tallies posted last Thursday had Bera leading by 697 votes. 

Although his lead widened, Bera's total percentage of the vote rose only slightly to 50.39 from last week's 50.2.  

UPDATE: As of this afternoon, all the mail-in ballots have been counted and 4,300 remaining provisional ballots are uncounted. The next report will be posted Friday afternoon.

UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: The Associated Press has called the race for Bera after determining that with 4,300 remaining county-wide provisional ballots, Ose would not be able to overtake the lead.

"It's been my honor serving this community as a doctor for the last nineteen years, and I am grateful I will have the opportunity to continue serving as the representative for California's 7th Congressional District in Congress," Bera said in a statement released by his campaign. 


16:10 | 4 comments | Read More

Pedestrian Fatality Under Investigation by Elk Grove Police

November 19, 2014 |

Elk Grove Police are investigating a pedestrian fatality involving two vehicles that occurred early last night on 8200 block of Elk Grove Boulevard west of Big Timber Drive.       

A pedestrian was attempting to cross from the south side of  Elk Grove Boulevard to the north side, in the middle of the block where there is no crosswalk, when he was struck by two vehicles that were travelling westbound. After being struck by the first vehicle, a Toyota Camry, the driver pulled over to assist. While the pedestrian was lying in the roadway, he was struck by a second vehicle, a Honda Civic, that was also travelling westbound on Elk Grove Boulevard.  

Officers and medical personnel arrived and determined that the pedestrian (adult male) was deceased.  Identification of the deceased will be made by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office.

Both drivers remained at the scene with their respective vehicles after the collision and were cooperating. At this time, there is no indication that either driver was impaired at the time of the collision. Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to call the Elk Grove Police Department Traffic Bureau at (916) 478-8148.

02:30 | 2 comments | Read More

Elk Grove Cell Phone Store Robbed

Written By EGN on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 16:45

November 18, 2014 |

An Elk Grove cell phone store was robbed early last night by an unknown suspect.

According to Elk Grove Police, an unknown male entered the Metro PCS store on Sheldon Road at the Winco shopping center and confronted an employee with what they thought could have a gun in his pocket. The employee complied with the suspect's demands, and gave him an undisclosed amount of cash from the register.

The suspect, who was described as a black male adult, 5`10" - 6`0", 160 - 175 lbs, wearing a black pull over hoodie and grey sweat pants with a black cloth covering his face, fled on foot in an unknown direction. The employee was not hurt during the robbery. 

16:45 | 2 comments | Read More

Elk Grove Woman Robbed at Gunpoint on Driveway

Written By EGN on Monday, November 17, 2014 | 10:15

November 17, 2014 |

An Elk Grove woman was robbed at gunpoint on her driveway late Saturday morning.

According to Elk Grove Police, the 60-year old victim drove home after using the ATM at the Bank of America on Laguna Boulevard and Franklin Boulevard, and parked the car in her Stonelake neighborhood driveway. As she was exiting, a new model four door Chevy with tinted windows and blue paper plates parked in front of the residence and an unknown male exited the car brandishing a handgun.

The suspect forcefully removed the victim's purse from around her neck. After stealing the purse, the suspect fled in the car. 

The suspect was described as a black male adult in his early twenties with thin shoulder length dreads and wearing a dark colored zip up hooded sweater. The victim was not injured in the robbery. 

10:15 | 33 comments | Read More

Nurses Sound Bright Red Alarm, Picket at Hospital For Safe Patient Care

Written By EGN on Sunday, November 16, 2014 | 09:45

By Michael Monasky | November 16, 2014

About 300 registered nurses wearing bright, red T-shirts picketed outside the South Sacramento Kaiser Hospital in the balmy mid-afternoon last Wednesday, carrying babies and walking children while holding picket signs and chanting, “Hey-hey, ho-ho, patient safety is our goal.” 

The demonstration was a repeat of the action held Tuesday, November 11, which was attended by about 400 nurses.

The California Nurses' Association (CNA) has been bargaining with Kaiser CEOs since July 2014, and claims to have brought 39 proposals to the table. Emergency room nurse Chelsea Robinson said that Kaiser has made no proposals. She said that nurses are not asking for more pay or benefits, just that Kaiser fill two thousand regional nursing vacancies.

Robinson reported that since enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, aka: ObamaCare) in 2010, Kaiser has enrolled 422,000 new members, while imposing mandatory 16 hour overtime shifts on the nursing staff. She said that Kaiser holds a $21 Billion surplus, having gained three billion in just the first three-quarters of 2014.

“Kaiser should invest the patient premiums back to the patients,” Robinson said. 

She added that, region-wide, Kaiser works nurses on 8, 10, and 12-hour shifts and that adding mandatory work time endangers patient safety.

CNA is seeking a resolution as soon as possible, hoping that Kaiser management show up, be on-time, and be prepared with proposals of their own, Robinson said.

A Tuesday news release from Kaiser's public affairs office stated that it was“...perplexed about why the nurses’ union is striking. The statement said further, “We have contingency plans in place and are operating with normal business hours and services. Some elective procedures and non-urgent appointments have been rescheduled, and we have reached out to our members to apologize for the inconvenience, and reschedule at their convenience.”

Kaiser has held that the surplus claimed by CNA is the total net worth of the organization, including all its hospitals and office buildings. However, Kaiser's online annual reports only make euphemistic reference to its operating revenues (about $53 Billion in 2013), and otherwise provide no financial details about real estate holdings and other asset descriptions.

Of the 2,000 nursing vacancies in the region alleged by CNA, Kaiser's regional media relations specialist, Chyresse Hill, wrote that Kaiser is “...actively hiring for open positions.”

It was unclear how many nurses walked off the job. A complete picture of Kaiser's income and assets is unknown since The Permanente Medical Group is a privately held corporation, and not required by law to reveal its books to the public.

Another perspective

A possible, left-field explanation comes from an excerpt from a White House transcript of a taped conversation between President Richard Nixon and Chief Domestic Advisor John D. Ehrlichman (1971) that led to the HMO act of 1973. These words are attributed to Ehrlichman: “Edgar Kaiser[,Jr.] is running his Permanente deal for profit. And the reason that he can...[a]ll the incentives are toward less medical care, because...the less care they give them, the more money they make.” President Nixon escaped impeachment by resignation. Ehrlichman became a convicted felon, imprisoned at Safford, Arizona Federal Correctional Institution 18 months for perjury and obstruction of justice.

A representative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation made a rather shocking revelation in a January 2014 radio show that the PPACA was the “last gasp of private health insurance.”

Diane Rehm, host: “So what about the insurers themselves, the insurance companies? What are they doing to prepare for this extraordinary [2014] rollout?”

Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Advisor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: “Everything possible to make it work. The fundamental point, of course, is that the insurance industry supported the law because it saw this as the last gasp of private health insurance in this country. And so if this law doesn't work, it's not clear what comes after that.”

This episode of the Diane Rehm radio show includes remarks by Julie Appleby, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News, (a subsidiary of the Kaiser Family Foundation), who did not contradict Dentzer's statement.

09:45 | 0 comments | Read More

Opinion - Elk Grove’s Voting Structure: Is This What We Meant By Local Control?

Written By EGN on Saturday, November 15, 2014 | 12:00

By Connie Conley | November 15, 2014 |

Something needs to be done regarding how we elect members to the Elk Grove City Council.   We hear the phrase “unintended consequences” all the time for decisions that come back to bite us in the backside.  Over the last two years, we have been bitten big time and it will only continue if we don’t make some necessary changes.  This is just one of them.

We need to have a discussion once again about making a change in our voting system; that being single member districts or SMDs.  [To clarify, currently the four Elk Grove City Council members must reside in the district they represent; however they are elected by voters citywide.] 

Revisiting the concept of single member districts won’t be a popular one with some folks who were very active when our city’s governance was under the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.   However, Elk Grove can no longer be compared to the county of Sacramento.  SMDs are the most common voting system in the United States.   The majority of cities in California have single member districts, and there are very good reasons why.

To quickly address a current hot topic: The city of Sacramento now has a vacancy because a midterm council member was just elected to the CA State Assembly.  Sound familiar?  Because the city of Sacramento has single member districts, the cost for a special election is only $200,000 compared to the medium cost of $500,000 for the city of Elk Grove for the exact same predicament.  If we had SMDs, the cost for a special election would be well under $200,000 because our district voting population is much smaller than Sacramento's. 

With our current election system, and the potential of an appointment to the city council every two years, a single district special election would ensure that the democratic process would not be in jeopardy as it is now. We could ask that a line-item be put in odd years' budget for a special election.  If the money was not used, it could fund other projects or be put in reserves. 

Additionally, the argument that a council member would only care about his or her district would not be the same as it was with the county of Sacramento. Our city is 14 years old now and we have established our own governance history and evolution. For example, our city’s election history is dismal. 

The number of voters who cast their ballots but don’t bother to vote in city council races is deplorable.  For example, in the last election alone, over 30,000 votes could have been cast.  This speaks directly to the voters in our city that appear to be so disenfranchised, they thought it a waste of their time to have a democratic say so in who represents them. Would voter apathy change if the voter actually had a more noticeable relationship with his or her council member? Studies say SMDs are easier for the voters to understand.
As we have seen, three of the council seats, as well as the mayoral seat, have all run unopposed in the last two election cycles.  The only reason qualified candidates don’t run comes down to the almighty dollar.  We need to level the playing field.  Single member districts would accomplish just that for the council seats.  The mayoral seat election would, of course, remain as it is currently.

Because we are facing yet another appointment process, how we are currently electing, or aren’t electing, our city council members, is not working.  Time to ensure other very qualified people have a fighting chance to run for office and win!

In revisiting single member districts, there are benefits we should consider.  Think about it?  Could a long-time community activist have a fighting chance to unseat an incumbent if they only have to campaign in their respective district?  And to be very clear, I am not talking about myself.  Or for that matter, could a newcomer who in a short time is now very well respected, coming forth some with great ideas that have been well received by the community be able to defeat a three-term council member who has overstayed their welcome because they have a war chest?

Does the Elk Grove City Council foster a strong and stable government as it stands now?  One of the strengths of single member districts rests in the close ties between that district’s elected council member and his/her constituents, there is more accountability to your neighbors and to the voters, and certainly there would be more constituency service as the council member would have more time to devote to his/her district.

Additionally, since we don’t have term limits here in Elk Grove, we could maximize accountability because a single council member can be held responsible and can be re-elected or defeated in the next election.

As it stands, with a second appointment process in our very near city’s future, once again the voters don’t have any voice in who represents us citywide.  However, if you had control over your own district’s representative that you could focus on, wouldn’t you be more apt to ensure your vote really mattered before you cast it?

Will we be voting for the new District 1 council member who will make decisions for us over the next two years, including the probability of bringing back the sphere of influence application (SOI)?  No, we will not.  [As a reminder, the first SOI application cost the taxpayers over a million dollars.]

And finally, when we talk about local control, have we really established democratic equality with our current at-large citywide system of voting?

12:00 | 22 comments | Read More

Chew's Reviews - Rosewater UPDATED WITH AUDIO VERSION

By Gary Chew | November 15, 2014 |

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Embed Music - Share Audio - Chew's Reviews - Rosewater
Now we know how Jon Stewart directs a movie. It's like how he dresses on his crazy and perceptive Comedy Central program we've come to love called the The Daily Show. His wardrobe never calls attention to itself … always straightforward and slightly understated. I don't think I've ever seen him wear any power ties or designer jackets that freak-out my flat screen picture.  At the same time, besides being hilariously funny, we have come to learn that the back story of The Daily Show reaches deeply into issues confronting and confounding America. It's where some Americans get their news and don't have to mourn as much getting it. But this is neither about Stewart's taste in clothing nor his program. It’s only to say how he's directed his first movie and the substance he's put to it.

Stewart doesn't get in the way of Rosewater.  Some directors seem to come up to their own camera lens while rolling and “shout” into it, “I'm the man doing this picture by God, and don't you ever forget it!” Stewart just lets his story get in the way, so to speak … a story he's drawn from an original book by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy titled Then They Came For Me: A Family Story Of Love, Captivity And Survival.

 Jason Jones, one Stewart's quasi-correspondents, did a Daily Show interview (Aren't they funny?) with Maziar Bahari in 2009. The bit related to Bahari's reportage prior to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's win in the presidential election that year. Bahari was subsequently imprisoned by Iranian authorities for 118 days after his presentation of the street violence he filmed in Tehran. His Iranian jailers claimed that Bahari was a spy because of the comic accusation Jones had injected into The Daily Show interview. There are no sharp senses of humor in the Iranian power structure it seems. Even Stewart has been accused by Iran State TV of being funded by Zionists and working for the CIA.

 All this would be pretty funny if Bahari, his family and pregnant fiancé hadn't suffered greatly at the hands of Ahmadinejad's subordinates. Much of the picture deals with Bahari's brutal interrogation and intermittent torture. These moments also show how the minds of people who do their duty at the behest of a theocracy work. For me, that's the creepiest part of Stewart’s important motion picture.

The fine Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal gives an excellent performance as Bahari. I best remember Bernal in the striking Alfonso Cuáron film Y Tu Mamá También. Danish-born actor Kim Bodnia is memorably menacing as Bahari’s prison tormentor.

Rosewater's most important takeaway for me related to our constitution's first amendment. You know, all the stuff about freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the separation between that which is religious and that which is governmental. Rosewater gives anyone who sees it a lot to think about … right now and right here.

Perhaps Jon Stewart feels he may have contributed to the ordeal Bahari endured in an Iranian prison.  How cool: a Jew giving support to a Canadian-Iranian journalist who was brought up around strong Islamic religious symbols in Tehran by his mother and older sister.  Stewart begins the film with a young Bahari's remembrance of the redolence and religious significance rosewater.

Jon, if you ever were on the hook, you’re off of it now.
Copyright © 2014 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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Bera Maintains Razor-Thin Lead Over Ose

November 15, 2014 |

Yesterday's tallies from the Sacramento County Voters Registrar showed Dr. Ami Bera maintaining his razor-thin over Doug Ose in the unresolved race for California's Seventh Congressional District race.

Currently Democratic incumbent Bera is leading Republican Ose by 697 votes. Bera has 89,477 votes [50.2-percent] to Ose's 88,780 [49.8-percent].

"I am confident after the numbers released today," said Dr. Ami Bera. "We need to continue to let the Registrar count the remaining ballots, and we know once all votes are tallied, we will win this election."

According to information posted yesterday afternoon, there are approximately 2,000 mail-in ballots and 9,000 provisional ballots to process.

A statement issued by the Ose campaign said "The race between Doug Ose and incumbent Congressman Ami Bera has been a nail biter from the start. The Sacramento County Registrar still has thousands of votes to go through. During this long process, we want to ensure the integrity of our voting system remains intact and that every legal vote is accounted for."


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