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Saturday, March 22, 2008

News and Commentary: Major Hearing of the Gang Injunction Slated For Monday

In a press release issued on Friday, it was announced that on Monday in Woodland, lawyers representing defendants in the controversial West Sacramento "gang injunction" case will argue the court should not allow a Preliminary Injunction in the case as requested by the District Attorney.

A rally will occur among homeowners and community members from West Sacramento at the Yolo County Courthouse on Monday at 1 pm prior to a 1:30 PM hearing where the defense team will attempt to submit more than "100 affidavits from residents of West Sacramento claiming there is no need for the so-called "gang injunction," but the DA is arguing that residents should not be allowed to speak."

The defense will also question the veracity of statements issued by police officers.
"Residents of Broderick, many of them Latino, say the injunction is targeting innocent victims. They have outlined abuses by police, including charges that their families are photographed at picnics in the park, and that their children, while riding home on their bicycles, have been harassed by police."
This will be the first major hearing since a letter from a Senior Investigator from the District Attorney's Office disclosed that the District Attorney Jeff Reisig was dishonest with the court in the first go round of the Gang Injunction and its subsequent court challenges. He also admitted that he was pressured to sign an affidavit in support of the gang injunction this time round.
"As for the current and past Gang Injunction, when gathering intelligence, contacting active members and working with Detective Villanueva, I fully supported these efforts. However, after seeing this become your political benchmark, I have watched this injunction grow into something I did not want to be associated with or a part of, since I felt it had lost its original intent and purpose."
He admits efforts to mislead the appellate court with regard to initial efforts at noticing a single individual who was not high up in the Broderick Boys organization.
"I also feel you misled the appellate court when you argued, as an officer of the court, that serving only one person during the initial injunction was intended to result in the word getting out to the rest of the Broderick Boys. You and I know that the opposite was true and Wolfington was not high up in the organization and was not expected to pass the word to the others."
He also reveals reasons why they selected Mr. Wolfington to notice.
"I remember you telling me that you specifically selected Mr. Wolfington for being a less than “smart person”, you said he was “too stupid” to show up for court, he lived out of the area (in Sacramento) and he would likely not tell anyone."
Rick Gore no longer agrees with the current gang injunction nor does he think it is needed. However, "an affidavit in support of the injunction under penalty of perjury. I did not want to sign it as written since it was not prepared by me and I thought portions of my affidavit were untrue." He signed an affidavit of support for the second gang injunction that is currently in the process of being challenged.

He continues:
"I was called in by DDA Linden a few days later, and was told [Reisig] had ordered me to sign this injunction and I had no choice. Knowing I could be fired for not following this order, I signed it after changing some of the language."
Investigator Gore's acknowledgments call into question the veracity of the gang injunction.

Moreover, the District Attorney's office has always maintained that they have full backing of the public in West Sacramento. Recently those claims at the very least have to be called into question as hundreds of residents have put up signs and walked precincts against the gang injunction. From the start they have claimed that the police department has used the gang injunction to target and harass members of the Latino Community, most of whom have little to do with the Broderick Street Boys street gang.

The District Attorney and other supports have pointed to a fall in crime as a result of the gang injunction. Those are difficult claims to maintain at best, however, it would be interesting to see all evidence laid bare for the public to see. Is there evidence that suggests that the gang injunction works beyond anecdotal rhetoric? Is there evidence that the public in the Broderick Street area--non-gang members--support the gang injunction? Let us see that evidence. I do not mean to suggest that we law enforce by public opinion, however, I have simply grown weary of certain claims made by the District Attorney's office--I simply do not find them credible anymore.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, March 21, 2008

Board Consensus is to Keep Emerson Open

For a group of school board members that were trying to avoid making a decision at midnight, it seems that they did exactly that.

The Davis Joint Unified School Board met last night with a large group of parents and students from both the Emerson Junior High and the Montessori school in attendance. That group considerably thinned out by the time the board reached a consensus.

No final decision was made last night and there was an announced special meeting after spring break at Emerson Junior High itself where parents and students will be able to weigh in.

Last night, a joint team of staff presented the school board with seven different options. The bleakness of the situation was fully laid out by CBO Bruce Colby in terms of the need to cut money, when additional money might become available, and the prospects for future budgets.

Janet Berry and Alan Anderson of the Davis Schools Foundation gave us the good news that they have now raised over $100,000. For those who caught the Vanguard radio show this week, Alan Anderson was one of our guests. You may listen to that radio show by scrolling down the right sidebar and clicking on Wednesday's date.

During the first portion of public comments, students and parents urged the board to save the Montessori program. During the second , portion of public comments, students and parents urged the board to keep Emerson open.

By the end of the evening, it seemed that keeping Emerson open was indeed a distinct possibility. The board consensus favored plan G, precisely because it keep Emerson Junior High open. However, it does create pretty much a crazy configuration, in that one cannot quite figure out exactly how it saves money.

Basically, it takes 9th graders and moves them to high schools. There were expressed concerns about that move and there are a number of advantages to having only a 10th through 12th grade high school. But it is probably better than some of the alternatives given the budget situation.

It then moves Da Vinci high to the Emerson campus--and the Da Vinci program becomes a 9th grade through 12th grade high school. With this selection, all three junior high schools become 7th through 8th grade schools.

The enrollment breakdown is 2,342 for Davis High, 430 for Da Vinci, 500 for Harper, 449 for Holmes, and 346 for Emerson. In otherwords, three very small junior highs.

What I do not understand, is how this exactly saves money. They argue that it saves $120,000 in a site administrator, however, there are moving costs and the costs of a science portable for Da Vinci.

Savings may occur with the economy of scale at the high school program. Having 9th through 12th grade may increase the number of fully loaded course options, it may improve the availability of electives, and it may allow some of the low-enrolled classes to remain sustainable.

The biggest savings may be that according to staff, 9th through 12th grade students are required to have roughly 83 additional instructional minutes per day than 7th through 8th grade students. Because the Junior Highs are 7th through 9th, 7th and 8th grade students receive the same instruction as 9th graders are required to receive. That is of course an academic advantage to have an additional course offering, but eliminating this by having 9th through 12th grade students together presents a way to save money.

There are also big disadvantages. Da Vinci is required now to quickly recruit 9th graders, they no longer can enroll in DHS classes concurrently, they need to lease an additional 100 computers, and they have to maintain current levels of enrollment despite location and staffing changes.

Emerson now effectively becomes a 7th through 12th grade school which may invite problems.

The junior high schools are dangerously small. They are well under capacity and any advantage of economy of scale for the high schools is negated by the small nature of the junior highs.

Also, there remains facility upgrade needs. They are talking about $10 million in facilities upgrades at Emerson, however, most of it is not safety or structurally related. CBO Bruce Colby told the board that Emerson did not qualify for state emergency aid. Currently they only have a few million in the facilities funds.

Finally, as we suspected, the board would be required to find an additional budget reduction of nearly $450K under this option.

One of the more interesting parts of the discussion was the state's process for converted surplus property into general fund money. Basically the school district would have declared that they had no facilities needs, that they have completed all facilities projects. They could then sell Grande or Nugget fields and use the money for the general fund. However, the penalty is steep, as they would not be able to get state money for facilities for the next 10 years. Frankly, I do not understand why the state has such requirements. It seems much easier to raise money for facilities than for the general fund. For instance, they cannot take out a COP to fund general fund programs, but they could take out such a debt instrument to fund facilities.

A final point is that they are going to finally upgrade their facilities master plan which I think has not been upgraded since about 2000. That process will take roughly four months.

In the final analysis here, it seems that the board was not willing to close Emerson. For residents in West Davis, that would be a welcome change of course, but overall it does not make the picture look much less bleak.

In the end, despite the heroic efforts of the Davis Schools Foundation, despite the mobilization of parents and students across the city, we need a hard and reliable source of money and that will require another parcel tax.

While these cuts are painful, we should bear in mind how fortunate we are. Many communities lack the resources to be able to raise money privately to alleviate the pain of these budget cuts. Many communities lack the resources to be able to pass another parcel tax. Many communities lack the political will to do so. It remains to be seen if this community will be able to. My guess is that when push comes to shove it will and as a result, the students will be alright.

The bigger picture is one we also need to look at. We need to fund our education in California in a more reliable way that is not nearly as reliant on demographic shifts or vulnerable to economic downturns. That will be the challenge not for our school board, but for our legislature in the coming weeks, months, and unfortunately, but most probably, in the coming years.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lamar Heystek's Persistence Pays Off in Consensus on Living Wage for City Employees

It has been a long and at times difficult road that Councilmember Lamar Heystek has taken en route to the first step towards a $13 per hour living wage for city employees and city contracted employees.

Some of the same Councilmembers, specifically Stephen Souza and Don Saylor, who praised the persistence and patience of Councilmember Heystek on Tuesday night, had put up roadblocks in the past toward achieving a living wage ordinance.

In Councilmember Lamar Heystek's second meeting on the Davis City Council, on August 1, 2006, he brought up the issue of having a living wage for all businesses in Davis larger than 50 employees. The Council led then by Don Saylor and Stephen Souza voted by a 3-2 margin not to agendize the item for discussion. Instead they encouraged Councilmember Heystek to bring the item back as a Councilmember item--which meant it would not have staff prepared remarks or a recommendation.

When Councilmember Heystek did this back in September 19, 2006, he was excoriated by both Councilmembers Souza and Saylor for "playing politics."

Councilmember Don Saylor was particularly vicious in his criticism:
“There’s just a number of questions about this,” Councilman Don Saylor said. “To bring it up as a discussion is appropriate. To bring it up as a full-blown ordinance for a first reading, that’s not talking about policy, that’s talking about politics in a lead-up to an election.”
It was thus not without irony that Don Saylor remarked on Tuesday night, that this was how he preferred to have the item brought up--with a full staff report that weighed in on how other cities have dealt with living wage ordinances, what the pay rates for such an ordinance might be, and the overall cost to the city in terms of increased wages.

Bill Camp from the Sacramento Central Labor Council and Guy Rinfrow from the United Healthcare Workers both came forward during public comment to press for a living wage.

Don Saylor had first requested a special study to be commissioned on the impact to the city budget and business, but the labor leaders rejected this as a delay tactic. It was in many ways, akin to punting on first down.

Again it was Lamar Heystek who took the lead and spoke passionately about the need for people to be able to afford to live in Davis on what they are earning. In particular, he looked toward at minimum paying people what they could afford to pay if they received affordable housing in Davis. Our pay scale at present does not even pay that amount to the workers earning the lowest wages.

The point was brought up that the City of Davis was pressing UC Davis to bring its food service workers in house, yet how can the city have standing to complain about UC tactics, if they themselves do not practice what they preach.

There was strong consensus on council to bring back a living wage ordinance, with a full economic impact report, for discussion and approval by the summer.

Meanwhile, the council had to determine what to do with two outsourced contracts to landscaping and janitorial services.

Councilmember Don Saylor moved that we approve the contract for another year and then once the living wage ordinance was in place, they could sign a new contract when this one expired. However, this motion did not appear to have support.

Once again Lamar Heystek passionately said that he could not in good conscience agree to an outsourced contract that did not pay living wage. He pushed for the contract to contain a minimum of $13.11 per hour. For a time it appeared that this might be the consensus of three Councilmembers.

However, then Don Saylor moved for a substitute that would expire at the end of the calendar year and thus not extend the contract beyond this year.

One could see that Councilmember Stephen Souza was conflicted on this. Both Councilmember Saylor and Assistant City Manager Paul Navazio pushed him on the item, particularly with their view that the city had not yet done an impact study to see the economic impact of a $13.11 wage. This pressure eventually got to Councilmember Stephen Souza and he joined Saylor and Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson to pass the contract extension by a 3-2 vote. Mayor Sue Greenwald remained firmly with Councilmember Heystek in opposition to any contract extension that did not carry with it a living wage provision.

It seemed clear that Councilmember Saylor thought he was going to get full council consensus, but Heystek and Greenwald remained adamant in their convictions. The same could not be said for Stephen Souza who eventually caved under the pressure of his colleague.

However, this setback should not overlook the great progress made on the issue of living wage. But it is not enough to merely implement it for city contracts. The city of Davis should ensure that employees of large businesses--not the small business that has a handful of employees--but the large businesses that can afford to pay a bit more in salary so that people can afford to live in Davis are paid a living wage.

We are always talking about affordable housing and providing housing for people of moderate means and yet we usually only deal on that side of the equation and never look toward the wages side of the equation. The information that came from this discussion was sobering. Our lowest wage earners for the city do not make enough even to live in affordable housing projects. That simply cannot continue.

Many of these workers live outside of Davis and have to commute 20 to 25 miles to get to work. Thus, the lack of a living wage is not merely an economic issue, but it is also an environmental issue. The amount of carbon emissions and gas consumed indicates that our wage policies in Davis are a detriment to the environment and efforts at curbing global warming.

Were it not for the vision and tenacity of Lamar Heystek, this issue would not even be on the radar. He has exhibited true leadership on this issue that has earned the respect even of those colleagues who have opposed him from the start.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Guest Commentary: Where's the Fire?

Word To The Wise: Where’s The Fire?

By E.A. Roberts


The first ever Senior Academy was held on February 28, 2008. This project was the brainchild of Trease Petersen of the Davis Police Department, and also sponsored by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. Approximately fifty highly motivated seniors attended, which made for some quite lively discussion. One elderly citizen posed a provocative question to Emily Lo of the Davis Fire Department, asking about a recent column that appeared in the Davis Enterprise.

In the newspaper, columnist Rich Rifkin had expressed frustration that a full contingent of fire trucks with equipment would show up along with ambulance service, for a simple medical emergency. His contention was this overkill seemed unnecessary. He has since followed up with another editorial, highly critical of past and present City Council members on a related issue. Sizable salaries, pensions and medical benefits for city fire/police personnel are of great concern. The fear is Davis may be headed for bankruptcy as is threatened in Vallejo.

As it was explained to those of us seated in the audience at the Senior Academy, ambulance service in Davis is contracted out to a private company (AMR) in one location. On the other hand, the city has three fire departments strategically located throughout the community. By the way, it is in need of a fourth station, because of all the new housing developments that have been built in north, south and east Davis over the past several years. The operational area of the city’s fire departments covers not only the city, but Highway 113 and the Yolo Causeway as well.

If a call comes in for a car crash on Route 80, it is not uncommon for the receipt of another emergency dispatch message, while personnel and equipment are at the accident scene. Multiple alarms such as this occur with great frequency, requiring a fire station to “move up and cover” the next request for assistance, without having to go back to the station to pick up what was left behind in either manpower or equipment. This type of “move up and cover” situation in the Davis operational area has happened 800 times in the last year.

Furthermore, every fireperson is EMT trained, which allows them to stabilize a patient if the ambulance has not yet arrived. Ambulance lag time can happen if the call comes in from the opposite side of town from where AMR headquarters is situated. Because the city’s fire department has three stations advantageously located, fire personnel frequently arrive ahead of any ambulance service. That one or two minute discrepancy can mean the difference between life or death for some critically ill citizens. A rapid response time (maximum strived for is five minutes) is all important in a medical emergency.

If the incident in question is an automobile accident, several people may be hurt. This will require far more paramedics than what a single ambulance may carry. Even for a simple medical emergency, one person will take vital signs, while another is doing chest compressions, and another is collecting information, as another quickly collects medications and soothes distressed family members. It should also be noted firefighters get paid whether they are sitting back at the fire station or are out in the field.

Firefighter Lo imparted some other invaluable information as well. She advised the elderly audience to consider preventing falls - the highest incident call the fire department receives. Simple things suggested were the removal of small mats that can be tripped over; installation of grab bars in the shower; or provision of appropriate lighting where necessary. Smoke alarms that can be installed with a ten year shelf life without changing batteries are now available. It was my understanding the fire department will provide and install smoke alarms upon request.

Everyone was advised to have a disaster preparedness plan in place, and a minimum of whatever is necessary (e.g. food, water, batteries, battery operated or hand crank radio) to survive in place for three days. Emergency kits in the form of backpacks can be purchased at Home Depot in Woodland. The kits can then be inserted in a small suitcase with wheels, for easy transport. Emergency contact numbers should be placed under the acronym ICE (In Case of Emergency) in your cell phone directory. A copy of any DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order should be placed on your refrigerator.

Whether or not the reader objects to the liberal salaries fire and police are paid is an entirely separate matter; or that they are allowed to “double dip” (collect a pension from one employer while working for or receiving a pension from another). This subject has come up quite frequently at City Council meetings of late. I can remember Mayor Greenwald repeatedly demanding to know how the city was going to pay for these generous reimbursement packages. Councilman Souza insisted Davis would somehow manage, it always does.

My comment to that is the Davis School Board probably said the same thing in the past. But look at what has happened since - the school district is actually being forced to close schools to make ends meet. I have never believed in engaging in the ostrich syndrome - that allows politicians to hide their heads in the sand. It is important to make some attempt to divert potential disasters. Think HURRICANE KATRINA! “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

However, what do we do now, since these generous salary packages are already in place? It is one thing to complain about what has gone on in the past, but quite another to determine how the city is going to keep paying for it. If I remember correctly, our chief financial officer stated he was certain the city’s budget gap would be closed within the next five years. Yet as Mayor Greenwald pointed out, not taken into account was the payout of employee benefits due and owing in the future. That appears shortsighted at best, disingenuous or downright dishonest at worst.

Also speaking at the Senior Academy was Dave Edwards from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. Identity theft was his main topic of interest. Seniors were warned that because they are primarily the ones with the financial wherewithal, it makes them a prime target of predatory con artists. The elderly were advised to limit the information carried on their person; not to give out date of birth, Social Security or Drivers License Numbers to anyone unless absolutely necessary (especially over the telephone); and to monitor their finances (; 1-877-322-8228) and take quick action if something is amiss.

All trash should be shredded if any personal or financial information shows on it. If your identity is stolen, then the following steps need to be taken: 1) notify the credit card company; 2) contact one of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; Experian: 1-888-EXERIAN; TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289); 3) put a fraud alert on your account; 4) contact each creditor of a fraudulent account (I would advise doing it in writing); 5) report the incident to law enforcement, and get a copy of the police report; 6) contact the Federal Trade Commission (; 1-877-IDTHEFT); 7) close out all tampered accounts. Identity theft destroys the ability to obtain credit, and can subject the victim to harassment by collection agencies. DETER, DETECT, DEFEND.

Detective Bezuglov of the Davis Police Department talked extensively about cyber crime, of which identity theft is the top offense. The number one target are students, followed by senior citizens. Attendees were advised not to do banking online; nor open any emails from an unknown source; and make sure to have security protection for any computer. Nevertheless, thieves can still hack into a computer, so the less personal information on the hard drive, the better.

Thieves can fill out a change of address card, and reroute mail. Thus if your mail goes missing, check it out. “Dumpster diving” at a place of business is commonplace now, which makes it imperative that all documents be shredded. If a business becomes aware that a consumer’s information has been stolen, there is a responsibility to report it to the customer involved. However, if the company does not have the contents of their computer backed up, resurrecting information may not be possible.

There is a device out there that can be purchased called a “key logger”, that can read every stroke made on a computer. It is meant to be used as a parental control device for software, but in the hands of the wrong person, can be used to gain access to personal information. Do not allow anyone, including friends or relatives, to use your laptop or home computer. Beware of wireless connections, as it allows for computer “sniffing” - another name for wireless “phishing” (fishing for personal information on a computer by pretending to be a legitimate financial institution).

Make sure to put your name on the DO NOT CALL list (; 1-888-290-4236), but beware of ensuing telephone surveys. If you give to some charities, they may sell your name to other entities. There are actually websites that sell fake ID’s for any state in the nation. Credit card fraud is committed with a device called a “skimmer”. A dishonest waitress at a restaurant, who takes your credit card away to make payment, can “skim” all your credit card information (name, account number, how much money is available, other account information) in one quick swipe. It is better if you pay cash.

Bank debit cards are not as safe as credit cards. A debit card is not insured, and allows a con artist to reach directly into your account if they can bypass your PIN #, whereas a credit card is covered by federal insurance except for the first $50. By the time Detective Bezuglov was finished speaking about cyber crime, one senior said she was thinking about getting rid of her computer altogether. Clearly for most of us, this solution is not practical, since we use our computers as such an integral part of our lives. Nevertheless, don’t neglect computer security as a regular practice.

Peggy Osborne from the CA Attorney General’s Office warned of Medicare/MediCal fraud. As she pointed out so acutely, when a senior is conned out of their money, it often results in a downward cycle of shame, despair and depression, accompanied by premature death. She warned not to answer the door if the person on the other side is unknown. A clever salesman can talk anyone into some very detrimental schemes.

I had a case not long ago, involving a Russian speaking salesman. This sly swindler sweet-talked a Spanish speaking senior, with Parkinson’s Disease, into enrolling in a completely unsuitable Medicare health insurance plan. My client was promised the moon, that there would be no cost to him (it was on the paperwork), which was an outright falsehood. The insurance company in question has since been reported to the appropriate agency, and the original insurance policy was reinstated. But my client is still on the hook for any medical costs attributable to the period of time he was not covered (one month), which he cannot afford. To have Parkinson’s Disease is expensive.

Caregivers have to be watched diligently. They can steal personal information, medications, jewelry, and/or money. Many seniors will not report the crime because they are in absolute dread of being placed in a nursing home. A Durable Power of Attorney can be a license to steal if it is not carefully crafted and well thought out. Limit the powers given to the absolute minimum as a general rule.

Operation Guardian has been instituted by the Attorney General’s Office in CA, to make spot checks in nursing homes. The current law only requires one inspection every five years. If the Attorney General’s Office receives a complaint, they can send in an agent unannounced at any time of day or night, accompanied by a doctor, nurse and forensic accountant. Charts can be pulled, anything can be inspected. Various skilled nursing facilities have been charged with fraud, neglect, failure to report, and elder abuse. 65% of patients in nursing homes have no one visiting them. If your loved one is in a skilled nursing facility, make spot checks and get to know the staff. Be vigilant.

Last but not least, Ike Iketani from the CA Highway Patrol talked about older driver safety. He reminded the audience that a Request for Reexamination has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with driving ability. Law enforcement looks for a pattern of behavior of cognitive impairment. As of July, using a cell phone in your hands while driving will be illegal. CHP officers are given empathy training, in which actual medical conditions of the elderly, such as neck rotation problems, are simulated. Young officers tend not to cite older drivers because the offender reminds them too much of their own aged mother or father.

New traffic devices are cutting down on car accidents. Some recent pedestrian buttons can be held down longer if there is a need for more time to cross because of a physical impairment. Roundabouts are intended to be “traffic calming” measures, but the blind and disabled don’t always hear or can’t get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Crosswalks are considered a right of way for pedestrians, even if they are not painted as such. The CHP now has airplanes that can target multiple vehicles for speeding. You can feel for the number 5 on your cell phone in the dark in an emergency, because it has a raised bump, and then figure out where the other numbers are from there.

If you should be unfortunate enough to have a flat tire on the freeway, pull over as far to the side of the road as is practicable. Try and make it to the next exit, rather than remain as a sitting duck for another car to hit. It is permissible to drive on the shoulder of the road with a flat tire. If you have a car service like AAA, have them change the flat tire, rather than attempt to do it yourself. It is imperative to always carry a cell phone with you. Even if you don’t have one, you can purchase a very basic type with minutes on it at your local grocery store. It is encouraged to report stolen cars, by calling 1-800 TELL CHP.

Make sure to monitor driving skills regularly, by signing up at the Davis Senior Center, for Car Fit and AAA Roadwise Review. AARP also has some sort of driving course for the elderly. Those with limited driving abilities can restrict their driving to daytime only, avoid freeways or left turns (three right turns make one left turn!), travel to only well known destinations close by, take public transit whenever practical (more on this in a future article). Any sort of medical condition that could cause blackouts (e.g. uncontrolled or severe diabetes) require driving be given up altogether, for public safety.

A thank you to Quiznos, Dos Coyotes, Noah’s Bagel’s, all on Cowell Blvd, for donating food for guests at this event.

LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Be safe, not sorry. Try and head off trouble before it happens. Never hesitate to report criminal activity to law enforcement. Deterrence is vital.

Rebuilding Together - If any senior is in need of safety devices (e.g. toilet risers, grab bars, railings, wheel chair ramps), and lives in their own home in Yolo County, the equipment and installation can be obtained: free of charge to low income folks; a reasonable fee for service program is also available. Please refer Davis seniors to this program if you know of anyone applicable. There is still $10,000 available in community development block grant funding to serve our city's elderly population in this regard.

Anna Zoubak - The lovely Russian lady that received redevelopment funding, to rebuild a modular home on her condemned property, has died. Her disabled adult son will now benefit from the beneficence of the federal dollars generously distributed by the City of West Sacramento.

FRAUD ALERT - You are not going to believe this one! Here is how it works: A bogus clinic with access to real medical information starts fraudulently billing insurance companies/Medicare/Medicaid for treatment never delivered. Patients are not swindled out of money, but medical records have fraudulent treatments difficult to remove/correct because of federal HIPPA regulations. The modified records are then used if a life threatening emergency occurs, and can result in the patient being given the wrong medication. Several deaths have been the result.

FRAUD ALERT - A company is asking seniors to provide extensive personal information, including SSN, Medicare #, financial details, medical information. The customer completes an IRREVOCABLE Durable Power of Attorney that gives the company the right to lifelong access to medical records. A form is signed authorizing and directing the heirs to provide a copy of the death certificate. In exchange for completing the “survey” and participating in the program, the senior is given $1,000 immediately and receives $250/yr for the rest of his/her life.

The packet is extensive and confusing, and improper use/disclosure of the information will put seniors at risk for financial exploitation and identity theft. This appears to be a STOLI operation (Strange Oriented Life Insurance), which may be technically legal. It appears to be a company that purchases information, then may insure the individual or sell the information to a speculator, who could be out of the country (see and search for STOLI).

Elaine Roberts Musser is an attorney who concentrates her efforts on elder law and aging issues, especially in regard to consumer affairs. If you have a particular question or topic you would like to see addressed in this column, please feel free to remark in the commentary section below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Top Vanguard Stories


Topic: Emerson and DJUSD
Guests: Alan Anderson of the Davis Schools Foundation
School Board President Sheila Allen

Call in: 530.792.1648

BREAKING NEWS: Valley Oak Charter School Withdraws Appeal of DJUSD Denial


The Vanguard received a copy of a letter from Mike Egan of the Valley Oak Charter School (VOCS) Founding Group to County Superintendent of Schools Jorge Ayala.

In it the VOCS announces they are withdrawing their appeal of the DJUSD's denial of our charter petition. They also announce that they "will refine the petition, consolidate our efforts and resubmit a new petition to DJUSD in order to be able to implement the school we have contemplated in the 2009-10 school year."

Late last week, the County Office of Education in a Summary Report recommended the County Board of Education reject the charter petition, however, they also offered to have additional dialogue in order to bridge the gap between the proposal and concerns of County Staff. Given the late date however, it would have been difficult for VOCS to accommodate that request.
"We have reviewed the Yolo Countv Office of Education Summary Report Regarding Charter School Petition(s) Appeal Provided by your office. While we appreciate Associate Superintendent Legnitto's offer for additional dialogue, given the preliminary conclusions contained in the Report, the time left before the Board meeting on the 2oth and the type of charter school we desire to establish in the community of Davis, we do not believe an appeal would be the appropriate course to take at this time."
Given the concerns raised by both the county and DJUSD, the petitioners suggest that they will go a different route.
"While we disagree with many of the conclusions contained in the report, and believe our petitions are viable, it is clear that neither the DJUSD Board nor the YCOE Charter School Review Team is prepared to agree. Under the circumstances, even if we were to be authorized by the Yolo County Board of Education or by the State Board of Education, within the current environment of opposition it would be difficult to meet the expectations of our community, our parents, or our staff. Instead, we will continue to work with charter development groups in considering the ostensible reasons for denial contained in the DJUSD resolution and in the YCOE Report. We will refine the petition, consolidate our efforts and resubmit a new petition to DJUSD in order to be able to implement the school we have contemplated in the 2009-1 0 school year."
The petitioners also reiterated their goal of providing "a unique school for a unique neighborhood."
"We believe that VOCS is designed to serve an ethnically, linguistically and economically diverse community unique in Davis, that the staff that support the school have created a strong collaborative culture that should be maintained and that VOCS is a proven educational model designed from a shared vision of success for all students. We remain committed to our mission, to those objectives, and to that goal. To have a school that does anything less would be a disservice to the community, students and staff who have supported the VOCS effort."
The Vanguard remains a strong supporter of both Valley Oak and the Valley Oak Charter School. We are greatly saddened by this news as we have been following this issue for well over a year now and have come to know and appreciate many of the families, children, and teachers that make Valley Oak such a great school for all involved. During these trying times of budget crises, the Vanguard wishes to remind the school board of DJUSD that the future of these wonderful children are in your hands. Many of these students are among the most vulnerable in this entire district and Valley Oak afforded many of them a place not only to learn, but a place where they could excel. We should never let these children and these families down. Sadly this closes a chapter now in the history of this great school district, it is my hope that that chapter can be reborn in the coming years and that we can fulfill our commitment to educate all of our children--including those most vulnerable.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Hundreds of Students, Parents and Community Members March to Save Emerson Junior High

At Central Park yesterday, hundreds of students, parents, and community members marched throughout the park urging the Davis Joint Unified School District not to close Emerson Junior High School.

Carrying a wide variety of signs and bullhorns, the group first rallied at the park, then marched around the park twice, and finally marched from the park across the street to in front of the district offices.

At that point, most impressively, new Superintendent James Hammond addressed the crowd. He told them this was a most difficult decision that they would have to make and that they will consider it very carefully. While, it was not exactly what the large crowd wanted to hear, there was an appreciation that the Superintendent was not hiding in his offices.

Some of the concerns raised by community members were also captured in a letter from the school PTA to the school district.

There were expressed concerns about the risk of commuting by students to other portions of town. The increased crowding of junior highs back to what it was before Harper (although I believe part of the plan is to move 9th graders to high school, so the problem of overcrowding might occur on the high school campus). There are fears that once the school closes, it might now re-open again even if budgeting would allow it.

One of the big concerns is that there has been no taskforce or planning for the closure of the school.

Proponents of Emerson site Education Code 17387:

“It is the intent of the Legislature to have the community involved before decisions are made about school closure or the use of surplus space, thus avoiding community conflict and assuring building use that is compatible with the community’s needs and desires.”

Just as the education code requires a 7/11 commission to sell off surplus property, so would it seem to require some sort of task force before closing a school.

A number of DaVinci High students both joined in the protest and had their own brief demonstration asking for their teachers and programs to be saved.


A few points of commentary that I want to raise at this point.

I listened throughout to people talking about the fact that the seeds for this district's fiscal mismanagement were laid in the past and the public did not pay sufficient attention. I agree with that. However, I do not think the public really understands the depths of those problems that should be laid firmly at the feet of past school boards, past administrations, and past policies. At the same time, I also do not think the public truly understands the work that the most recent past school board did to fix many of these problems.

Unfortunately, despite those efforts as outlined on this blog in the series on the former CBO, the school district has not been able to escape this problem.

Discussions I have had with people close to state government emphasize that the expectation that we will have the economic problem alleviated by the Democratic Legislature may be less than expected. It is unlikely that the legislature would impose 10% cuts, but everyone believes that painful cuts will occur.

That puts the onus on local school district. The Davis Schools Foundation was working hard to get additional pledges for donations. The raising of these one-time monies could be vital to helping to lessen the pain of such cuts.

The school board as we suggested last weekend, should consider an emergency ballot measure for temporary funding relief. I discussed this possibility one of the board members on Saturday and it is something that they are considering. The problem is that the public seems so angry right now that they may not be amenable to yet another tax increase.

I spoke to Freddie Oakley and she told me that such a ballot measure if it were mail-in only, would only cost around $50,000.

Some have floated the idea of recall, but frankly that is the last thing this district needs. First, it would be punishing the students in the form of more payments by the school district. It would also distract the district from other means in which to deal with the revenue problem. Finally, for the most part it would punish those not responsible for the bulk of the budget problem. We can all point to decisions by the board we disagree with, but on the whole, the current board has done a decent job given the magnitude of the problem.

Those who wish to punish the kids for the mistakes that some adults have made, might want to reconsider that. If we all join together, we can probably save the schools and programs that we all like.

The final point I would like to make is that while this may be frustrating for all involved--and I remain a strong supporter of keeping Emerson open as well as the Valley Charter School--I was impressed with Superintendent James Hammond. I remember how former Superintendent David Murphy reacted to criticism and protests. There is little doubt in my mind that he would have hid in his offices, as so many government officials would have done, waiting for the protests to end.

But James Hammond had the courage to address the hostile but generally polite crowd and while he could not assuage their concerns, I think he gained their respect in the process. It would have been nice if Board Member Richard Harris had done likewise but at least he and Board President Sheila Allen attended the rally and can report back to their colleagues tomorrow night the community's concerns.

We all have a stake in the future of Davis schools and we all have to pull together to prevent things like cutbacks in teachers, school programs, and closures of schools.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting