Plastic Bags: Is this thing on?


Image result for plastic bags california

Duped!  bamboozled!  tricked !

On November 8th 2016 48% of Californians voted against the Plastic Bag (Prop 67) law. Perhaps they read the ballot measure. Which allowed retailers to sell plastic bags to shoppers.

On November 9th, Californians began paying retailers like Wal Mart and other supermarkets ten cents for a plastic (reusable bags). But aren’t all plastic bags reusable?


More than 50% of shoppers in upper income area Supermarkets brought their own bags.   At the Trade Joe’s in East Sacramento and the Sacramento Natural Food Coop on R Street, nearly 70 percent of shoppers entered the stores with their own bags. Plastic bags aren’t an option at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Nugget Markets.

On the other end of spectrum, fewer than 5% of the shoppers at the Wal Mart in West Sacramento, and the North Highlands stores brought their own Bags.  Fewer than 10%of shoppers at Viva, Food Co, Grocery Outlet brought reusable bags.  The majority of shoppers paid ten cents for plastic bags.  The average family bought 8 bags. These bags are thicker and larger than the bags they replaced.  There are no store logo’s or signage on these bags.

Learning Curve

Twenty years ago, wearing seat belts became mandatory in the state. Before the law went into effect, 26% of state drivers wore seat belts.  By 1987, 45% of drivers wore seat belts.  The state office of Traffic Safety says 97% of Californians wear seat belts.

The majority of shoppers in the Sacramento Area use plastic bags.  The impact of the new law as it stands today is minimal . Like the seat belt law it will take time.  Before the law was past there were many communities that banned plastic supermarket plastic bags it is very likely the state law overrides the city bands.

 The new environmental law was Christmas for many California’s Supermarket chains.





October 17,1989 5:04 pm San Francisco, Cailfornia

On October 17th 1989 .I was working at a Rental Car Company in downtown San Francisco.  A older couple from New Jersey was returning a Chevy Corsica they rented at the airport,after they learned the 46 story San Francisco Hilton wanted $50 a day to park their car.

As they approached the counter the building shook. I asked them to hold on to the counter.

Across the street from the office is a six story residential building and next door to that building is an 15 story residential building. For a second you could see light between the two buildings as they separated and then slammed together.  Showering the street with glass.   The power went out,  I remember saying, this is the BIG one, which wasn’t comforting to the tourist in the office.

In a small voice the woman said, how do we get to our room?, were on the 34th floor.

After the couple left, I walked the building, colleagues turned on the radios in the cars to hear the news. I couldn’t find any significant damage the building.  In the basement, a small support that ran underneath the sidewalk had separated

The challenge was closing the office.  There were two large electric doors and no one knew how to manually close them.  Everyone quietly decided to stay the night to protect the cars in the building. Ramps were blocked and on every floor, on the radio we all listen to KGO.

The stories were unbelievable.  There were reports of the Bay Bridge collapsing. Which we immediately dismissed. After all we were downtown and  there were no fires, no collapsed buildings.  For us it was a gross exaggeration .

Then there report of a massive fire in the Marina district.   My family lived in Cow Hollow District and the Marina was four blocks away.

If you live in California, you live with the possibility of the big one.

The news on the radio was coming in a massive clip.  Reports of freeways collapsing, and holes in the roadways.   Reports of a massive out of control fire in the Marina made me anxious.   The phones were down,  My wife, son and two month old daughter were home alone. But I’m the boss, I need to stay with the building, but my family ………

One the drivers told me to go home and check on my family.

I have said this several times.  San Franciscans can be aloof (New Yorkers are nicer) but people came together worked together in this crises.  You hear about this all the time, people helping people.  Here in my town ,there were homeless people using cardboard as brooms sweeping glass from the sidewalk   Regular people directing traffic, and people being super kind and patient in SAN FRANCISCO!

Driving home wasn’t difficult at all.  There seem to be people all over directing traffic.  All was well until I hit the wall.   Van Ness Avenue.  At the intersection of Van Ness and Filbert no one was directing traffic.  Cars were crawling.  I could see my apartment building on the other side of Van Ness ,but I had no way of getting there.

Van Ness (101) is the route most people use to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.   30 minutes went by, no one was giving an inch and as I sat, my mind went into overtime. What if the building collapsed on my family?   What if there was a gas leak?  I wanted to turn the radio off, but I couldn’t.  A man and a women walked into the traffic and forced drivers to allow me through the intersection.   I don’t remember thanking them.

As I drove up unto the sidewalk and there they were.  My son and my wife was holding my daughter . I was overwhelmed with emotion. I just needed to see them, needed to make sure they were okay.

I was back at the office in 20 minutes.   As I approached the office, one of the doors was down.  An employee who lived near the office knew how to manually  close the doors.  I traded my Cavalier for a Chrysler Minivan.  I drove southwest to get home which was north west of downtown.

Before stopping home, I parked the van and walked over to Van Ness.   Nothing was moving, I will never forget seeing men and women crying.  Trying their cell phones hundreds possibly thousands of people helpless.    It was true, a section of the Bay Bridge had collapsed. My wife and I talked about moving to Richmond across the bay.  That could have been us, trying to pick up our children in the east bay.

 With cell towers down ,we wouldn’t be able call anyone, hoping that they would protect our children. But what bout their children? their families?   Thousands unable to communicate with their Day Care providers.   That was NOT going to happen to us.  (A few years later we moved to Sacramento)       I picked up my family and went looking for friends who lived alone.

Now before you think,I’m  really nice man.  My purpose was selfish, completely self serving.  I didn’t  want to be called to identify a body and figured it best that we all died together.   I fully packed the minivan, and drove to Daly City for flashlights and supplies.

The Walgreen’s at the Westlake shopping center was a Zoo.  There were many available flashlights but no D cell batteries.  There were mini skirmishes in the store over C cell flashlights.   I lucked out and located four C cell flashlights.  We stopped at a fast food restaurant and returned to Cow Hollow .

On the way home my son peed on the seat of the minivan.

The next morning , I drove to the office and there were several people attempting to return their cars.  People were afraid to drive on the area roadways.  Most of the people wanted transportation to the airport  and nine people wedged themselves in the seven passenger minivan.   On the road ,I noticed one man in my rearview mirror.  Every few seconds he would rise up in the rear seat.

Ooooh, he’s sitting in my sons piss.


Three Quick Old Skol Takeaways from the Earthquake

  1. Cell Towers fall, or are blown away.  Phone lines are underground.  While we didn’t have power for two weeks our landline worked the next morning.  I have a corded phone today.
  2. Most flashlights are powered by D Cell battery.  Avoid purchasing any light or radio that requires Dcell battery.

3. When cell towers are down and power out your plastic is usless.  Keep a some old fashion cash at home.

A small Delta town that was once like Mayberry. Today its more like Twin Peaks


The lonely bridge into town: Isleton’s population has dropped more than 70 percent since its heyday in the 1960s, according to the city’s chamber of commerce president


39 miles southwest of Sacramento lies Isleton,Ca.   Its located in the beautiful Sacramento Delta. The current population of the town in less than 850.  At one time there were three canneries in the area. The  majority of the employees were of Asian. 


Isleton’s last stand

Tweakers, cop scandals and political feuding: how a tiny Delta town went from Mayberry to Twin Peaks

By: Graham Womack/Sacramento News and Review

The dilapidated trailer sat in front of the suspected drug house, transients living inside.

In Sacramento, such a problem might be addressed with a call to the police or city. But this was Isleton, which hasn’t had a police department since 2012 and where the beleaguered local government couldn’t do much beyond ask the property owner that the trailer be removed.

So one resident did the kind of thing that happens a lot in this remote Delta town on the southern edge of Sacramento County: He took matters into his own hands.

One night in the past couple of years, the resident backed up his truck, hitched the trailer to it and took off. The story goes that while the resident was pulling out of town, freaked-out methamphetamine users were bailing out of the suddenly very mobile home.

The trailer wound up on Jackson Slough Road on Isleton’s outskirts. When Gerry Zink, the city’s public works director at the time, got word of the trailer’s location, he hauled it to a gated area at Isleton’s sewage ponds so the tweakers wouldn’t retake it. Six months or so later, the trailer burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances.

Problem solved, Isleton style.

In a tiny city that’s been broke for years, crazy capers sometimes rule the day. Some of these schemes have crippled Isleton in years past. Today, the city is nearly insolvent, with dwindling public services and resources, standing on the brink of bankruptcy or disincorporation.

But old habits die hard.

Now, even the mayor believes that Isleton should just give up, call it quits as a city and relinquish all control—and its very identity—to the county. “We’re on the bubble,” said Mayor Mark Bettencourt. “How much longer do you want to run on that knife’s edge?”

He’s not the only one asking that question.

Located along a bending tributary of the Sacramento River, Isleton is a speck hanging on to a map for dear life and losing its grip. The city still has its loyalists, residents who glimpse new opportunity and remember the city’s storied past, when it was referred to as the “Little Paris of the Delta.”

But the years haven’t been kind to that memory and the small town stands at a crossroads: Suffering wounds both cosmic (the recession) and self-inflicted (we’ll get to those in a moment), the city of Isleton is a tweaker trailer being dragged to the dump.

Can its leaders stop feuding long enough to take the wheel?    

Isleton’s Many Deaths

The city’s two main drags are Main Street and Second Street, which jet off in opposite directions parallel to the levee as one comes into Isleton off Highway 160. They’re rowed with gold rush-era storefronts and clapboard homes in various states of disrepair: chipped, rotting wood; exposed and rusted metal sidings; warped, swollen garages; and lazy, leaning telephone poles. Eerily quiet, even on weekends, it’s as if some natural disaster has chased out most of the townsfolk.

Longtime city residents say it wasn’t always this way.

“Now it’s very quiet and almost seems like a ghost town,” said Jean Yokotobi, president of the Isleton Chamber of Commerce. “But in ’63, you still had a vibrant agriculture industry here. You had several canneries. You had ag workers. The population went up to about 2,500.”

1963 was the year that Yokotobi arrived. Those were the boom times. Settled in the 19th century, the city boasted one of the West Coast’s first Chinatowns. Now the city is more like Chinatown, the 1974 classic about humanity’s existential futility.

Isleton used to be the asparagus capital of the world, specializing in a white variation on the crop, which grew well in the city’s sandy soil. But then technology changed, and the industry retreated in the 1950s. In time, the canneries left, too.

It’s also been years since the Crawdad Festival drew thousands of tourists to Isleton on an annual basis. Started in 1986 by Ralph and Charli Hand, the couple began losing money on the festival and turned it over to the city in 2005. In 2006, with the city and chamber of commerce jointly hosting the festival, $12,000 in deposits went missing, according to a 2008 investigation by Sacramento County’s grand jury. The Hands reclaimed the festival in 2007, and took it out of town for good the following year.

Today, the Crawdad Festival operates in Tehama County.

“There was no choice,” Charli Hand told SN&R. “We didn’t have the money.”

Hand still runs a card room and real-estate office in Isleton, and hopes the city can rebound. “Isleton used to be just like Mayberry,” she said.

Locals say that a lot. But this is Mayberry gone bad. Or maybe this is just what Mayberry would devolve into in real life: Sheriff Andy Taylor contracted out, Aunt Bee persecuted by town gossip, Barney Fife a grand jury investigation waiting to happen.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the Isleton Police Department.

If the retreating asparagus and crawdads cost Isleton its cultural cache, they also leeched the city of crucial revenues.

The general fund shrank to a measly $1,285 in 2012, which in turn left the city vulnerable to bizarre gambits and seedy scandals. In January of that year, either the city or the state stopped paying the department’s workers’ compensation insurance. Stories differ on why this happened.

Dave Larsen, who was both the city manager and city attorney at the time, told SN&R that the state compensation insurance fund canceled Isleton’s policy due to accumulating back debt. Larsen says he tried to negotiate a payment plan with the state and a bailout loan from the county, but was unsuccessful on both fronts.

Others, such as current City Manager Dan Hinrichs, say Larsen mismanaged funds. The council fired Larsen in April 2012, and Larsen subsequently sued the city for wrongful termination and defamation; both sides agreed to a confidential settlement this year.

Hinrichs was appointed to replace Larsen just in time for a series of scandals.

First, Hinrichs recalls, a repossession agent called to ask about a cache of guns a previous police chief allegedly hadn’t paid for. Then, in early May 2012, Hinrichs placed interim police Chief Steve Adams on administrative leave, after Adams reportedly posted on Facebook that he wanted to tell the media of problems in town. A police officer had already resigned after allegedly getting caught having sex with his mistress in a squad car.

The day after Adams went on leave, a different officer attempted to shoot a dog fighting another dog, according to a CBS13 report at the time. Hinrichs told SN&R that the officer missed, with the bullet ricocheting off a curb and striking a bystander’s leg. The department already lacked firearm training and was in danger of losing its state Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, so Hinrichs asked the sheriff’s department to take over, according to a May 10, 2013, news report.

Two weeks later, CBS13 quoted an anonymous source accusing Councilwoman Elizabeth Samano, a Larsen ally, of selling drugs. Speaking to SN&R, Samano denied the accusations and claimed they originated from a woman living near one of her rental properties, whose story she says was coached by Adams.

“He was able to befriend a lady who lived across the street who was willing to say whatever,” Samano said.

Asked if he could recall the drug accusations against Samano, Adams initially denied it. Pressed further, he told SN&R, “I heard allegations, but it was just from the public. I had nothing to base it on, nothing to go forward on, nothing.”

The Isleton Police Department was no longer functioning by September 1, 2012, which is when the sheriff’s department took over, CBS13 reported. Today, the city outsources its public safety for approximately $200,000 a year. About half of that is covered by a state grant.

Discount law enforcement had other costs, though. At a May planning commission meeting, one resident noted Isleton’s “nests of tweakers … [who] steal everything that’s not nailed down,” though another local resident claimed that crime had actually dropped by half between 2013 and 2015.

The sheriff’s department didn’t fulfill multiple public records requests seeking crime statistics in Isleton. According to statistics compiled by the California Department of Justice, only two violent crimes were reported in 2014, the most recent year for which data was available. That year also saw 23 property crimes, half as many as were reported in 2013.

But the Delta area is a hot zone for illegal marijuana grows, according to an August 23 grant acceptance request filed by the sheriff’s department, with the department uncovering 25 hidden grows last year in a 10-mile radius of dense cornfields. The department’s marijuana task force also seized 77 firearms and made 78 arrests, the form states.

Still, the city’s unsafe reputation persists.

Many Main Street storefronts are boarded up and vacant, as are the former police station and one bank. The city’s population is circling the drain at approximately 800, give or take. Today the general fund collects roughly $500,000 a year, compared to a city debt that has reached $1.6 million.

Residents Dave and Julie Amma aren’t optimistic that things will improve. When Dave Amma first met his wife a few years ago, he would tell her how great the city once was, how the Crawdad Festival drew 30 people to his home during those Father’s Day weekends. Julie Amma remembered hearing about how people hopped between five busy bars in Isleton.

“It sounds like everybody would have fun and gather and spend,” she said. “It sounds like those days are long gone.”

City officials are still willing to gamble that that’s not the case.


It takes a Village

Eighteen homes built several years ago stand empty and incomplete, facing each other across a barren divide. Some lack exterior staircases, with loose boards lying in dirt. Inside, the rooms are dirty, the floors unfinished. Red tags underline the shoddy state, three-story vessels in danger of being torn down.

Welcome to the Village on the Delta, Isleton’s latest hope and misstep.

Located on the town’s edge at the Highway 160 entrance, the subdivision is embroiled in litigation and a stalemate between the developer that inherited this project and the city that needs it to survive.

In the early 2000s, the city approved this 300-plus home development. Original developer Del Valle Homes started construction before the 2008 recession hit and the company went under. A different developer, KLD Ventures LLC of Roseville, assumed control in January 2013, but is struggling to get the first crop of 18 houses sold before moving forward with the rest of the subdivision.

The semi-built homes still need, among other things, staircases, sewer hookups and landscaping. The city has given KLD multiple extensions, but work has come to a standstill, say city officials. Additionally, as many as 15 of the homes have suffered additional damage since they were erected.

“We are also certain that there are squatters living in those houses,” Hinrichs wrote in an August 23 report to the city council.

That wouldn’t be the weirdest thing to happen at this site.

Before KLD entered the picture, the city allowed a marijuana grow operation to set up shop and begin cultivating inside the stalled subdivision.

On the heels of a recession that hit the small delta town particularly hard, around late 2010, Delta Allied Growers made Isleton an offer it couldn’t refuse. The marijuana growers assured city officials their operation was legally above board, and promised the city as much as $600,000 in revenue that first year, as well as jobs for 50 people. Isleton’s annual deficit hit $488,181 that year, so the prospect of digging out of that hole seemed like fortune finally smiling on the hard-luck hamlet.

Enter the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, which convened a criminal grand jury investigation into whether city officials violated state and federal laws concerning marijuana cultivation. The D.A. ended up not filing charges, but reported Larsen to the California State Bar Association for conflict of interest allegations.

In a report it released in June 2011, the grand jury concluded that “the city of Isleton was highly vulnerable to a seemingly lucrative proposal, and that DAG exploited that vulnerability.”   It wouldn’t be the last time.

Today, the city has its fiscal hopes wrapped up in Village on the Delta


KLD faces ongoing litigation from its Sacramento-based lender, Socotra Capital, after allegedly defaulting on a $3.48 million construction loan from 2015 to make the requested improvements. In an April 5 letter to Hinrichs, KLD representative Sidney B. Dunmore acknowledged the “unanticipated delays,” but contended they had more to do with “funding issues” than “dereliction on the part of KLD.”

Be that as it may, the city has gotten tired of waiting for its long-deferred dream to be realized, of a housing subdivision that could double Isleton’s population and boost its plummeting tax base.

One house made it into escrow this summer, only to fall out, with the city unwilling to issue final permits or a certificate of occupancy. In his August 23 report to the council, Hinrichs wrote that the city would “red tag” the unfinished homes for a second time in about a year, indicating substandard work and at least the possibility of demolition. Posted notices also went up at the development site in recent weeks, threatening to auction certain lots outside Sacramento Superior Court on August 24, an action that Hinrichs said was postponed two weeks.

These threats appear to be empty ones.

Tearing down the homes “would be a terrible mistake,” Hinrichs wrote. Instead, the end goal is to have the finance company come in and take over completion of the houses. “It will be a hassle with these people, but that is not unusual when dealing with developers,” Hinrichs added.

KLD representatives and a company attorney didn’t return phone messages seeking comment. Adham Sbeih, CEO of KLD’s litigious lender, Socotra Capital, told SN&R his firm remained optimistic regarding the development.

But not everyone is pulling for the project. “I just think they were not built to complement a historic

Flat Broke and Frantic

DeJack’s Country Store is one of the few businesses left open in town. The shop is more like a bodega or mini-mart, with a small selection. Some locals make the drive to the Costco in Lodi to stock up on provisions and only patronize DeJack’s if necessary. On a recent trip, the store’s owner, Jack Chima, introduced himself as a member of the planning commission and explained there would be no council meeting next door that evening at City Hall, as the city’s website indicated.The website hadn’t been updated in years.


Glenn Giovannoni serves on the planning commission, owns a local storage business and could be Isleton’s next mayor. Giovannoni and three other candidates are running for the city council in November: incumbent Councilwoman Pam Bulahan; longtime volunteer firefighter Dean Dockery; and resident Paul Steele, who, according to photographer Victoria Sheridan’s website, organized the Spam-throwing contest at the Isleton Spam Festival in 2014.

The five-member council will appoint the next mayor.

“I was raised in this community so I have a big heart for it,” Giovannoni said. “I’ve always thought Isleton had great potential—and it still has great potential.”

There are people still fighting for Isleton’s survival as a city, but they have different ideas about what could reinvigorate the town.

Samano wants a focus on small businesses and a ban on franchises. Chima would like to attract a manufacturing concern to headquarter in Isleton, to distribute goods throughout the region. Giovannoni and Yokotobi want a renewed emphasis on cultivating a tourist economy, while Hinrichs envisions developing an artist community, similar to Sausalito’s, and is excited by a couple relocating from Oakland to start a beer-tasting room on Main Street.

“Open your business here,” Hinrichs pitched. “You’ve got cheap rents. The crime problem that we have—it’s not 100 percent [taken care of], but it’s under control. I’m told by the deputies that the crime’s no worse here than it is anywhere else in the Delta.”

Still, one can’t help notice what’s missing here.

Across the street from DeJack’s, the Isleton Fire Department has just one paid employee, a part-time chief who also works for the contract paramedic service in town, Medic Ambulance. The city is able to keep an ambulance in Isleton by letting its medics crash for free at the fire station.

In June, local voters approved Measure B, a half-cent sales tax estimated to raise $91,000 to make the chief full-time, purchase much-needed equipment and maybe hire another part-time employee. City officials have also discussed placing another half-cent sales tax on the November ballot to bolster the general fund.

But these are patchwork fixes for a much deeper problem that not everyone thinks can be solved. Zink, the former public works director who retired last year, called Isleton “a pretend city.”

“I talked with the mayor,” he said. “I told him why I left. That was one of the reasons. You never had enough tools, you never had enough equipment. It was always inadequate what you had to really go out there. You need another couple people, but the funds aren’t there.”

The mayor agrees.

“We’re doing them an injustice right now with the levels of services that we’re providing,” said Bettencourt, who isn’t running for re-election in November. “I believe the county can provide a better service.”

That’s easier said than done.

A Sinking Ship


Inside a drab, white conference room located beside City Hall, consultant Ken Dieker said he had good news for Isleton’s elected officials: It would actually cost too much money for the poor city to declare bankruptcy or disincorporate.

“You absolutely are on the razor’s edge of being able to survive,” Dieker told the city council and a small gathering of residents on July 9. “Absolutely. But you’ve made progress.”

With a general fund deficit shrunk down to a manageable $13,000, Dieker counseled Isleton’s finest minds to stick it out and rein in unnecessary spending.

Almost on cue, that’s when things fell apart once again.

Councilwoman Samano asked how the city’s estimated debt of $1.6 million figured into this rosy projection. Dieker couldn’t immediately say.

Commissioner Chima wanted to know whether the deficit amount could change before the budget was finalized. Dieker figured a swing of $5,000, perhaps $10,000.

Commissioner Giovannoni, calling the numbers soft, walked out on the presentation, returning later.

After the meeting, Bettencourt acknowledged his colleagues’ skepticism. “They don’t believe what we’re telling them,” he told SN&R.

Mistrust is a given in Isleton, where years of mismanagement and infighting have fostered an air of straight-up dysfunction. But the stakes have rarely been higher.

While Dieker reiterated the grand jury’s 2008 conclusion that disincorporation would be a costly, time-consuming process, the jury did recommend the city explore that option if it couldn’t provide necessary services to its residents.

If it couldn’t get its act together, in other words.

Perhaps Isleton’s biggest cheerleader, Yokotobi thinks that day won’t come without an irreversible reckoning. “I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere unless it disincorporates,” she said. “We need new blood in here.”

But disincorporation is no quick fix, no magic bullet. It would mean representation by a handful of officials who live outside the area, primarily Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district encompasses six unincorporated areas and four cities, including Isleton.

“The problem is Don Nottoli, who’s done a great job of representing our area, he’s only one of five votes,” Hinrichs reflected.

Nottoli says he and his colleagues want to help, in whatever form that’s possible. “There certainly is a willingness by our board to, I think, not just … help the city get on its feet, but stay on its feet,” he said.

That aid has had its limits, though.

The county has declined Isleton’s loan requests for years, Hinrichs said. Here, things are always precarious, the next fight never that far off. Prior to the July 9 council meeting, Hinrichs told SN&R he was going to publicly censure Samano for creating a hostile work environment. He backed down, and ended up reading a general statement that didn’t name her. Councilwoman Bulahan, a rival of Samano’s, kept echoing what Hinrichs said while Samano sat stone-faced.

Given the stakes, it was a weird meeting. The city is on life support, and its caretakers can’t stop bickering. That kind of drama is why Bruce Pope retired. The city manager before Hinrichs and Larsen, Pope checked out in 2011.

“There’s a lot of conflict for the city,” Pope said. “You have people coming to council meetings, coming to my office screaming and hollering, fire department out of control. … I don’t need this kind of stuff. Semiliterate assholes.”

Forget it, Jake. It’s Isleton.

BMW Driving Burglars

Makes perfect sense in the Silicon Valley. A Dodge would look suspicious

Top: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, Emerson Chaves, Daniel Flores-CastenedaMiddle: Jaime Magana, Francisco Ledesma Aquilar, Gilberto CruzBottom: Raul Cruz Jr., Miguel

Top: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, Emerson Chaves, Daniel Flores-Casteneda
Middle: Jaime Magana, Francisco Ledesma Aquilar, Gilberto Cruz
Bottom: Raul Cruz Jr., Miguel Chipres-Magallon, Gustavo Ayala Garcia Jr.

By: Robert Salonga/San Jose Mercury News

Authorities say they have arrested more than half a dozen members of a gang-based burglary crew investigators linked to more than 200 cases centered in San Jose and spanning a number of Bay Area cities.

The gang crew, reportedly based out of East Palo Alto, was the subject of “Operation Cruz Control,” a yearlong investigation spearheaded by the San Jose Police Department and came to involve 10 other area police agencies. Police are crediting the crackdown on the burglary crew with a 50 percent drop in property crimes in the city’s Evergreen area.

“When you have an active burglary crew committing four or five burglaries a day, to get them off the street makes a major impact,” said Lt. Paul Messier, commander of the SJPD financial-crimes unit.

Wednesday, a multiagency law-enforcement team involving dozens of officers served search warrants at seven locations in East Palo Alto and one in Newark and arrested seven men, and are still looking to arrest two more, according to San Jose police. At least four others are being sought in connection with the operation but arrest warrants have not been issued for them.

The crew is tied to more than 200 burglaries dating back to 2015, primarily in San Jose but also in Milpitas, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, Daly City, Newark and other unspecified locations on the Peninsula.

According to San Jose police, the suspects drove vehicles such as Porsches, BMW’s and Mercedes-Benzes, and stole firearms, cash, jewelry and electronics during the alleged crimes, which occurred mostly in Evergreen.

“We noticed an uptick in burglaries, and we saw a pattern of high-end cars being used in a lot of them,” Messier said.

Residents’ home-security cameras were crucial in helping detectives identify the vehicles and by extension the suspects.

“There’s quite a bit of surveillance video now. (Cameras) are cheaper, more readily available, and the quality is better and better, so we were able to make a lot of these cases,” Messier said.

When the search warrants were served, authorities seized a “large amount” of cash, stolen property, burglary tools, ski masks, and at least one firearm.

Five of the seven suspects in custody, men between the ages of 19 and 25, were booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of multiple burglary counts along with recommended gang enhancements. All are East Palo Alto residents: Ruben Ibarra-Nava, 22; Emerson Chavez, 19; Francisco “Frankie” Ledesma Aquilar, 25; Gilberto Cruz, 19; and Raul Cruz Jr., 20.

The “Cruz Control” moniker for the police operation was derived by the Cruz family thought to be the masterminds behind the burglary racket, Messier said.

Two of the suspects, both from East Palo Alto, were already in jail when they were linked to the burglaries: Daniel Flores-Castaneda, 24, was already in Santa Clara County jail, and Jaime Magana, 25, was in San Mateo County jail.

Police are still seeking two more suspects: 22-year-old East Palo Alto resident Miguel Chipres-Magallon and 23-year-old Newark resident Gustavo Ayala Garcia Jr.

Messier said while there is still more work to do, Wednesday’s bust was a boon for the department’s bare-bones burglary unit, which currently consists of Sgt. Mike Montonye and Detective Ashley Weger.

“We have one burglary detective for a population of over a million people, but Detective Weger and Sgt. Montonye are both very tenacious investigators,” Messier said. “They were instrumental in putting this case together.”

In all, 150 officers from 11 area police agencies participated in the raids: Police from San Jose, Milpitas, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Daly City, Union City, and Newark; the Santa Clara County and San Mateo County sheriff’s offices; the San Mateo North County Regional SWAT Team; and the U.S. Postal Inspector.

“The Tape” Strip Poker Alcohol and Minors? Stockton Mayor Says……


His attorneys released audio recordings of Mayor Silva of an strip poker game he was allegedly  involved in at this youth camp in Amador County last summer.

Mayor Silva from the Beginning -AND  Excessive Noise/Party Complaints from His Neighbors 

Click Link Below for Story


The recording and pictures  were removed from his phone.  His attorneys said he walked in on his camp counselors playing strip poker and that the two minute video was by accident.

( Kinda want to be there, when they reenact video butt dialing-its possible? )

Jackson Are You Ready?

The Hearing will take place today at the Amador County  Courthouse.  This Story has received media attention all over the world.   The press will be there?


What Goes Up…… Tech layoffs more than Double in the Bay

The entrance of the Yahoo campus is relatively quiet after the company announced 2,000 layoffs at their Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters on Wednesday, April

The entrance of the Yahoo campus is relatively quiet after the company announced 2,000 layoffs at their Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters on Wednesday, April 4, 2012. (Gary Reyes/ Staff/archives) (Gary Reyes)

By:Ethan Baron/EastBayTimes

In yet another sign of a slow down in the booming Bay Area economy, tech layoffs more than doubled in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Yahoo’s 279 workers let go this year contributed to the 3,135 tech jobs lost in the four-county region of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and San Francisco counties from January through April, as did the 50 workers axed at Toshiba America in Livermore and the 71 at Autodesk in San Francisco. In the first four months of last year, just 1,515 Bay Area tech workers were laid off, according to mandatory filings under California’s WARN Act. For that period in 2014, the region’s tech layoffs numbered 1,330.

The jump comes amid a litany of other signs that the tech economy may be taking a breather: disappointing earning reports from stalwarts like Apple, an IPO market that has come to a near standstill, a volatile stock exchange and uncertainty in China.

“We’re seven years into this expansion, so at some point we’re going to have a downturn,” said Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner. “My general sense is the tide is beginning to go out. It doesn’t mean a recession is right around the corner.”

Filings under WARN show Santa Clara County took the brunt of the layoffs, with 2,515, while San Francisco had 280, San Mateo 198, and Alameda 142. Outside the four counties, in Contra Costa, the only tech layoffs recorded in WARN filings were in San Ramon, where AT&T cut 104 workers.

The number of layoffs in the tech sector is undoubtedly larger, because WARN notices do not include cuts by many smaller companies and startups. In addition, notices of layoffs of fewer than 50 people at larger companies aren’t required by the act.

While there may be a chill in the air, the tech economy is not in a deep freeze. The Bay Area continues to add workers, although the pace of hiring has slackened and could make landing the next job more difficult.

“As job growth slows and the cost of living remains as high as it is, that’s going to put many people in a difficult position,” Vitner said.

Vitner’s analysis of state employment data showed that Bay Area tech firms added only 800 jobs a month in the first quarter of 2016, after adding 1,600 monthly in 2015 and 1,700 monthly in 2014. “Employment in the tech sector has clearly decelerated over the past three months,” Vitner said.

While rising layoffs and sluggish hiring may recall previous downturns, the numbers today remain far better. In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, the region bled jobs steadily from 2001 to 2004. In early 2008, pre-recession employment growth began slowing more than six months before the region began hemorrhaging jobs. After the 2008 recession, employment fell by up to 32,000 a month for nearly a year.

Today the Bay Area’s total employment of 3,353,600 as of the end of March still reflects job growth, with102,600 workers added from March 2015 through March 2016.

The Bay Area’s skyrocketing tech layoffs reflect a transformation in the sector, said Stephen Levy, director of the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

“We are being increasingly driven by the growth of the large companies,” Levy said. “What you did not see on the list is layoffs from Apple or Google or Facebook or LinkedIn … which are all expanding. This is the era of the large companies.”

As 2016 progresses, smaller tech firms are caught up in a Darwinian brawl, Levy suggested. “Those who have not kept up with their industries’ trends are facing layoffs,” Levy said. “It’s an indication of churn in an increasingly competitive and volatile sector that’s doing well overall.”

Adding to the layoff total are mergers and acquisitions, Levy said. Global tech M&A rose to its highest level ever last year and this year broke year-to-date records by March, according to financial markets platform Dealogic. In May 2015, Singapore-based electronics and chip firm Avago announced the purchase of Irvine chipmaker Broadcom and in January filed with California to lay off 147 workers in Santa Clara, 33 in San Jose and 689 in Irvine.

Wells Fargo’s Vitner cited additional factors that are fueling job cuts and slowing employment growth in the region. Manufacturers in the tech sector aren’t selling as much to China amid that country’s economic troubles, Vitner said. And intensified competition among private companies for funding is leading many to focus on profitability. “In the past, it was all about growth,” he said.

Vitner noted that the WARN Act filings don’t capture jobs lost through attrition. “There is a lot of that,” Vitner said. “When businesses begin to clamp down on costs, one of the first things they do is say, ‘Let’s put in a hiring freeze.’ I feel pretty certain that if you had a pickup in layoffs, then hiring slowed ahead of that.”

More layoffs are ahead. Bay Area tech firms have filed notices for layoffs of more than 700 workers in coming months, including 109 at IBM in San Jose; 204 at Fremont electronics manufacturer Plexus; 71 at Western Digital in San Jose; and 59 at Lockheed Martin in San Jose. Santa Clara’s Intel announced last month it would cut 12,000 jobs globally, and filed notice less than a week later that 296 workers in Santa Clara will be let go effective May 31.

The Republians Pledging Their Allegiance to Donald Trump?

If your a political junkie 2016 has been the WTF? of the decade.  Everyone is scratching their heads.    The Grand Ole Party has had its share of fringe candidates but who could Trump, TRUMP!

Many people are drawn to his celebrity . We know a something about celebrity here in California.

In 2002, Californians were angry. We like most Americans, we took the availability of power for granted.  Push a button and there was power, click a switch and there was light. The problem, as California grew from 30 to nearly 40 million people, power did not keep up with demand. They were no significant power facilities built in the state for years. California was buying  power from other states.  So one day the lights went out. Communities up and down the state suffered brownouts. Many companies invested in back up generators to keep their businesses operating.

While Governor Gray Davis was not responsible for the inaction of the Democratic and Republicans leadership before him.  He was the current Governor, his  explanations did not go over well with Californians.  Not well at all, on October 7th 2003 Governor Davis became the first Governor recalled in California and only the second Governor successfully recalled in the United States.

Enter, body builder, Actor, businessman, Arnold Schwarzenegger  announced he was running for Governor on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.   He was going to improve things in the state.   His rallies where large. While his rivals ,Cruz Bustamantee and Tom McClintock had specific plans for the state. Schwarzenegger said , he would tell citizens after he was elected .

With 48% of the vote Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in on November 17, 2003 he  completed Davis Term . Governor Schwarzenegger approval rating was 89% in December 2003. In 2006, he re-elected. At the end of his term his approval rating of 23% was the second lowest in states history, only one percent higher than Gray Davis.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will replace Donald Trump in the next season of The Apprentice .

The GOP has a Trump problem.  If they support him they risk losing the Senate

.Arizona Senator John McCain’s  seat on the has been safe for many years. A seat he has held for nearly 30 years. Most polls show  him in a statistical tie with his Democratic Rival Ann Kirkpatrick..

“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said, according to Politico. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.”

McCain is not alone. While there are 10 Democrats Incumbents, there are 24 Republicans seats in the Senate.

Washington Democrats wasted no time this week trying to tie congressional Republicans facing re-election to Donald Trump, now that he’s the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Their major focus appears to be the Senate, considering they have to win a net total of four seats to retake control of the chamber, though the more outside chance of also flipping the House now seems more attainable.

Democrats will have plenty of soundbites and video clips of Trump talking about Muslims, women and other politically-sensitive issues in ways that party members will find offensive.

However, linking him and his remarks to vulnerable GOP incumbents right away will be more difficult, considering few have endorsed Trump — the lone Republican presidential candidate after his commanding win Tuesday in Indiana forced out primary rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“There’s no going back for vulnerable incumbents and candidates who’ve pledged to support Trump,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Wednesday. “Now they have the herculean task of explaining their own out-of-touch records while running alongside their party’s new standard bearer: a divisive and dangerous personality.”

Joseph Weber/Fox News Com

The barn door is open, the fences are down . Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee. If your a republican up for re-election and you align too closely with Trump you may offend women and minorities.If you stand to far ,you will offend Trump supporters. With Hispanics and other minority groups registering in large numbers.   By all accounts four states Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Florida will turn from red to blue by 2020.  2016 could turn out the be the least challenging election cycle for the GOP for years to come. The GOP might look to California ,the home of Ronald Reagan, to see its future.  A state where they once were a powerful party.