Goodbye

Today is my last day at The Record. It has been almost 10 years since I started as an intern, then later became a full-time reporter covering the education beat. After more than two years, I switched beats, covering San Joaquin County government, mostly, since the tail end of 2007.

Until today.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Stockton and San Joaquin County while telling all sorts of stories over the past decade. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all the readers, sources, friends and colleagues I’ve met in the process. And I am proud to have been a part of The Record and the role it plays keeping people informed, both about what is interesting and what matters most to the community.

I may be leaving The Record, but I’m not leaving this community. In a way I’m going back to where I started, covering education. I start a new job next week as the Public Information Officer for the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

So I won’t be contributing to this blog anymore, but you can still find me on my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter. I’ll still have the same cell phone number.

If you need to contact somebody about some news, call Deputy Metro Editor Barbara Zumwalt at (209) 546-8258 or send her an email at bzumwalt@recordnet.com.

Thanks everybody. See you around.

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Transparency at the pump

San Joaquin County’s weights and measures division is celebrating 100 years of making sure the scales and other measuring devices used commercially in the county are accurate reflections of the amount of goods being bought and sold. Today’s story also mentions the important of trusted standards of measurement for the economy.

Building up trust in customers is one of the reasons why Ye Olde gasoline pumps had glass chambers showing how much gas was being delivered. The San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum has one of those old pumps in its collection.

Or, to be more precise, it is a Vizo Cut No. 83 Gasoline Pump made by the Boyle-Dayton Co. of Los Angeles.

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14 common spots in homes where mosquitoes can breed

Courtesy of San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District

Mosquitoes can breed just about anywhere, as long as they have half an inch of water for more than five days. Officials with the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District said the warm weather this winter has started the population growing early. But residents can help slow it down by eliminating breeding spaces in their homes and gardens.

Here are some of those places, and how to keep them mosquito-free:

Record File 2004

Trash bins: keep lids shut tight and drill drain holes in the bottom

Boats: check boat covers every week for puddles

Bird baths and fountains: clean or hose out every week

Rain gutters: keep clean

Tires: drill holes in tire swings, store tires in covered areas

Water bowls for pets: rinse and fill once or twice a week

 

Record File 2007

Water troughs and ponds: stock with free mosquitofish provided by the district

Drains: make sure drains are not clogged

Lighting: check inside and on top of outdoor lights for water

Rot holes in trees: check with an arborist how best to deal with these

Record File 2011

• Chain-link fences: cover fence posts with caps

Water under home: remove using a sump pump

Septic tank: cover vent pipes with fine mesh, cover manhole lids with plastic and place several inches of dirt or sand over most of the area

Wheelbarrows: remove collected water or store them upside down

— Source San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District

 

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The 411 on 211

Today’s story was about a referral database that officials decided would be redundant when San Joaquin County gets a 211 system later this year. Basically, 211 is a phone number people can call to get hooked up to services. There’s a website, too.

I’m told that San Joaquin is the largest county in the state to not yet have a 211 system. But that is expected to happen later this year. Actually, it is expected to go live on April 1. That’s what Kay Ruhstaller told me when I checked in on its status today. She’s the executive director of the Family Resources and Referral Center, which is running the system.

The nonprofit organization is looking for any other nonprofits that have not already signed up to be a part of the system.  They can call (209) 948-1553 and ask to speak to Tran Nguyen.

 

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Advocates planning next steps after immigration decision

Since I filed my story about the response to a judge’s decision to halt executive action from President Obama that would allow millions of undocumented residents to work and live legally in the country I heard that planning is already underway on what to do next in San Joaquin County.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Elvira Ramirez and El Concilio President Jose Rodriguez said the local coalition met this morning.

There will be workshops in Stockton and elsewhere in the county in March for people interested in applying for the two programs can get help, Rodriguez said. One program expands a program allowing people who entered the country illegally when they were children to remain. The other program focuses on parents of citizens and legal residents.

“We are talking about real people with real lives,” he said. And those lives are being put on hold because of the court ruling he said.

But he think it will only be a delay, and encouraged people to count on turning in their applications.

 

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Old investigation into Supes still open

In the past month of brouhaha surrounding the chairmanship of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, there’s been a lot of talk — and some action – about calling for an investigation into whether or not the state’s open meeting laws had been violated at the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

It’s not something that falls under the purview of the Fair Political Practices Commission. But the political watchdog does currently have an “active and open” investigation into members of the Board of Supervisors, according to the FPPC today.  Here’s the original story about the complaint filed in 2012. Here’s a story on the creation of the PAC.

That was the year Measure D failed. It would have extended term limits. The political action committee supporting the measure was primarily funded from the campaign committees of former Supervisor Ken Vogel and current Supervisors Steve Bestolarides and Carlos Villapudua.

An opponent of the term-limits measure thought the three had run afoul of state campaign-finance law and filed a complaint that led to the investigation, which is still open more than two years later.

 

 

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New French Camp VA facility in proposed budget

Local and regional veterans who have had to drive as far away as Palo Alto for appointments in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health system have been pushing for years for the building of new facilities in French Camp.

The latest push has been to make the project a high enough priority to be included in the federal budget. Well that just happened. At least funding was included in President Barack Obama’s proposed FY2016 budget.

It’s inclusion drew bipartisan support from San Joaquin County’s two congressmen, who released  joint statements praising the news.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton:

The president heard our bipartisan call for action and included funding for the French Camp project in his budget for the VA. … I have been pressing the administration since I came to Congress to build this facility. Veterans in the Central Valley are waiting too long and driving too far to get the quality care they have earned.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock:

The inclusion of the French Camp Veterans Affairs clinic in the President’s budget request is a major step forward to bringing high quality healthcare to veterans right here in the Central Valley. … However, it is clear that we must remain vigilant in our oversight to ensure that the project is completed on-time and on-budget. We worked on a bipartisan basis to get to this point, and I’m pleased to see French Camp funding take priority in the President’s budget.

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Former supervisor calls for investigation of current board

The big news from the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors this past month has been on the usually-uneventful selection of its chair. After voting 3-2 to select Kathy Miller as chairwoman on Jan. 5, the board undid than re-did her selection on Tuesday. Here’s that story.

But it’s that first meeting that drew the attention of former Supervisor Leroy Ornellas. He thought it looked like Miller’s ascension to the chair was a done deal before the meeting even started. If that’s true, it would be illegal. On Friday, he sent me a letter he sent to San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber-Salazar and state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Miller said the accusation is completely unfounded, and that its not unheard of for people to call foul if they don’t like the way a vote turns out.

Here’s the letter: Ornellas_letter

 

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San Joaquin County reps. react to SOTU

In the flurry of reactions to come after President Obama’s State of the Union address, were a pair from the two congressmen representing San Joaquin County, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton.

Both mentioned Obama’s plea for bipartisanship.

Denham: “I hope he’ll follow through on his remarks by taking up some of the bills that have already passed the House this Congress to create jobs and extend opportunity for all.”

McNerney: “I support his call for bipartisan work on Capitol Hill, and hope all my colleagues are ready to work towards commonsense solutions for our middle class families.”

Here is Denham’s statement:

“The President spoke tonight about working together to craft bipartisan solutions. I hope he’ll follow through on his remarks by taking up some of the bills that have already passed the House this Congress to create jobs and extend opportunity for all. I hope he’ll heed his own advice when it comes to tackling tax reform and work with us to establish a fairer, flatter, simpler tax code to save American families and small business owners time and money. I hope he’ll remember his comments and come to the table to work out a fiscally responsible plan for much-needed updates to our water and transportation infrastructure.

“I also hope to see the President working to follow through on the intentions of the law he signed last summer to transform healthcare and benefits system for our veterans. One project ready to make a huge difference in the quality of care for Valley veterans is the planned clinic at French Camp. Yet for years, delays with funding and planning have prevented the VA from breaking ground on the project. It’s time for the VA to re-align their priorities and get construction funded at French Camp before the President’s next State of the Union address.”

Here is the reaction McNerney posted on Facebook:

“Tonight’s State of the Union address was one of President Obama’s best. He shared the good news about the national economy, the success of Obamacare, and the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. He discussed America’s leadership in natural gas production and wind power, record graduation rates and more. He promised to veto bad legislation, while advocating for equal pay, a fair minimum wage, and more robust efforts to fight climate change.

“I support his call for bipartisan work on Capitol Hill, and hope all my colleagues are ready to work towards common sense solutions for our middle class families.”

 

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More from Election 2016 preview

The race to replace Supervisor Steve Bestolarides after he terms out is already starting to take shape. Stockton City Councilman Moses Zapien and Stockton business owner Tom Patti are already jockeying for position. Here’s a little bit more about them, in this story.

Both candidates had filed initial paperwork with the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Office last year. Zapien, though, sent out a press release as his official announcement.

Here is that announcement:

Stockton City Councilmember Moses Zapien announced today that he is seeking to represent the residents of San Joaquin County’s 3rd District on the Board of Supervisors which encompasses north and west Stockton neighborhoods, Lathrop and most of the City of Manteca.  Zapien was originally elected to the Stockton City Council in 2012 and has been a vocal advocate for quality of life issues like crime reduction, promoting economic development, improving literacy and cleaning up blighted and disadvantaged neighborhoods.  In addition, Moses has worked on regional issues on the San Joaquin Council of Governments (COG) addressing transportation, farmland preservation, sustainability, land use and housing challenges throughout the county.

Councilmember Zapien’s work in the community has earned him the support of a number of current and former elected officials and leaders in San Joaquin County.  Former County Human Services Agency Director John Vera believes that “Moses’ proven experience, leadership and strong work ethic will be a great asset to the County Board of Supervisors.  He has a unique life experience that allows him to understand the needs and perspectives of people across the social spectrum.”  Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum states that “I have worked closely with Moses on the San Joaquin COG Board and have found him to be an extremely hard working and well prepared board member who understands the regional transportation and planning needs and issues facing San Joaquin County residents.  He will be an honest and effective leader on the Board of Supervisors.”  Stockton City Councilmember Susan Lofthus is supporting Moses because of his “proven leadership, willingness to tackle tough issues like public safety, fiscal responsibility and economic development while being open, honest and approachable to those he represents.”  He is also supported by the Vice President of the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees Claudia Moreno “because of his focus on increasing literacy in the county and spearheading the Little Free Libraries program that promotes reading and education in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the community.”  Zapien has also received the endorsement of former San Joaquin County Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller for “his work in fighting the state’s efforts to ship Delta water to southern California and for his efforts in protecting our local water supply.  Moses has been a vocal advocate for the water needs of San Joaquin County farmers and residents. ”

Born and raised in Stockton, Moses’ parents taught him the value of hard work and service to the community.  After attending the University of the Pacific and the University of Southern California, he joined his family’s denture manufacturing business in Stockton. Following his dreams of becoming an attorney, Moses earned his law degree from the Laurence Drivon School of Law. During law school, he served as President of the Student Bar Association, where he established the Annual Student Bar Gala fundraiser to support student scholarships. Moses is also a graduate of Leadership Stockton and the San Joaquin County Superior Court Community Leadership and Liaison Program.

Moses’ professional experience also includes serving as the Coordinator for Senior Legal Services at El Concilio and working for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, assisting victims of crime. He currently practices immigration law at the Sacramento law firm of Oh and Choi.

Moses is active in the community and serves on a number of boards. He currently serves as President of the San Joaquin County Bar Association, the first Hispanic to hold the prestigious post.  He recently spearheaded the Association’s efforts to establish a free legal clinic to serve the needs of the greater community. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Library and Literacy Foundation of San Joaquin County, and has played an integral part in the Little Free Libraries Stockton movement to establish 100 neighborhood book exchanges in Stockton. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Tiger Elementary School Mentoring Project.  Moses previously served as Chair of the Stockton Civil Service Commission from 2010 to 2012, and on the Board of Directors of the California Young Lawyers Association, as one of 20 attorneys state-wide to represent the interests of young lawyers.

Moses is dedicated to serving the residents of Stockton. During his term, his focus will be on improving public safety, promoting economic development to facilitate job creation, and ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability.

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    Zachary Johnson

    Zachary Johnson has been with The Record since 2005, when he began as an intern fresh out of grad school. He stayed on at the paper and covered education for the next two years. Now he covers, among other things, San Joaquin County Government and ... Read Full
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