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Editorial: Don't let one shooting end Second


Published: Tuesday, Sep. 14, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 14A

Second Saturday isn't to blame for the fatal shooting in midtown Sacramento.

The real culprit: late-night crowds of young people fueled by alcohol and hormones, and in their
midst, a criminal element with utter disregard for human life.

That dangerous cocktail could – and does – play out on other nights, in other parts of the city.
That problem ought to be the city's focus.

City, police and midtown business officials certainly need to stay vigilant in tackling issues with
the arts walk turned street party. But they, and the broader community, should resist the
temptation to go into crisis mode and react in a way that not only ignores the actual problem, but
also makes a casualty of one of Sacramento's signature events.
Fortunately, Mayor Kevin Johnson and others seem to recognize the distinction. They vow to keep
Second Saturday going, while convening a task force to figure out what to do about the after-hours
After meeting Monday, officials said they are discussing adding more police officers and seeking
an injunction to keep gang members out of midtown. Already, bars and nightclubs in the central
city are trying to weed out troublemakers by texting descriptions or photos to one another and by
imposing cover charges, said Rob Kerth, executive director of the Midtown Business Association.
The shooting – the city's 24th homicide this year – happened more than two hours after the
official end of Second Saturday. While police say that more people go bar-hopping, loiter into the
wee hours and sometimes cause trouble on Second Saturdays than on other Saturday nights, they
are not, by and large, attending the event itself. Crime reports in midtown and downtown on
Second Saturdays were similar to any other Saturday last summer and this summer, according to
a Bee analysis of police data.

Still, complaints from some midtown residents about rowdy behavior around Second Saturday
have risen in volume, if not in frequency.

In response, state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents cracked down Saturday on public drinking;
40 citations were issued for alcohol violations or urinating in public. Police added five more
officers to the 21 usually assigned, and more strictly enforced the 10 p.m. curfew for
unaccompanied minors, citing 17 teens.
Those changes seemed to be working. Then, shots were fired into a crowd of more than 200
around 18th and J streets. Victor Hugo Perez Zavala, 24, died at the scene, and three others were
wounded in what police call a gang crossfire.
The callous indifference shown by gunfire into a crowd is shocking. Sacramento shouldn't let it kill
Second Saturday as well.

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Editorial: Governor, don't let our foster kids down

Published: Sunday, Sep. 12, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 6E

As much as they may think otherwise, few 18-year-olds are ready to face the world on their own, especially if they come from
broken families and have been reared in foster homes.

Under current law, about 5,000 foster kids each year are sent on their way as soon as they reach
18, whether or not they have jobs, are in school or even have roofs over their heads.

Cops, courts and social services experts know the problem all too well. Many of these kids end up
on the streets, and ultimately become an even greater burden if they commit crimes.

A bill approved with significant support from Republicans and Democrats seeks to help rectify the
situation. Assembly Bill 12 seeks to offer a hand to kids between the ages of 19 and 21, so long as
they agree to remain in school or find employment.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ought to sign this bill into law. Eleven states have adopted or are
considering similar measures.

The bill by Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los
Angeles, comes at a cost, which ordinarily would be a bad idea when the state can't meet its
current obligations.
To ease the strain, the bill would be phased in over three years starting in 2012 for 19-year-olds.
The federal government would help with the cost.

President George W. Bush signed legislation in 2008 providing federal matching funds to states
that provide help for young adults.
There is plenty of evidence that the bill would ultimately save money by helping steer young adults
into jobs and college, away from a hard life on the street.

Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Clovis, helped line up Republican votes, arguing that the state has
a special obligation to these youths who are, after all, state-reared.
The bill requires that in exchange for the state's help, recipients must go to school or get jobs, a
step toward becoming productive citizens.

The Assembly approved AB 12 on a 73-2 vote, and the Senate by a 27-9 margin.
That level of backing is rare for any measure involving spending, particularly spending on social
services measure.

Its broad support reflects a true need that any right-thinking Californian ought to recognize.

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Editorial: With pen stroke, state can lead on health

Published: Thursday, Sep. 9, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 16A

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns Sept. 15 from a six-day trade mission in Asia, he'll have 700 or so bills to sign or
veto. He'll also likely have to contend with a still-not-done budget.

That's why, before he leaves today, he should sign two bills laying the groundwork
for California's health insurance exchange – the major piece of the national health
reform legislation signed by President Barack Obama on March 23.
States need to be ready for business on Jan. 1, 2014.

While Massachusetts and Utah established state-based health exchanges before passage of the
federal health care reform law, California's Senate Bill 900 and Assembly Bill 1602 clearly mark
the most important state legislation since the federal health care reform law passed.
Schwarzenegger should seal California's leadership role by signing the bills sooner rather than
Three years to set up an exchange may seem like a lot of time, but it goes by quickly when you're
trying to set up databases and work with health insurers. In Massachusetts, a smaller state, it took
a year to set up an insurance exchange to provide individuals and small businesses access to easily
comparable insurance plans. And it took time to design a process for approving health
plans, which must meet certain coverage and cost standards.
But it's well worth it. The Massachusetts exchange, which began in 2007, has helped keep
premium rate increases below the national average, reduced the number of people getting free
care at hospital emergency rooms and has given the state the lowest share of uninsured residents
(2.6 percent).
Schwarzenegger's staff was intimately involved in the negotiations on SB 900 and AB 1602, which
passed the Legislature on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25, and they improve on the federal law.
Under California's proposed exchange, 3 million to 4 million Californians – including small
businesses with up to 100 employees – who don't have insurance or have insurance that is
inadequate to meet their current and potential health care needs would be able to comparison
shop in one place for ahealth plan – and access federally funded subsidies to make coverage
Under the two bills passed by the Legislature, Californians would get standardized information
about insurance plans – in an easy to understand format showing what's covered and what's not
and the cost – so they can make informed choices.
Equally important, the exchange would be able to bargain – as large employers and entities such
as CalPERS already do – taking advantage of economies of scale to get better prices for
consumers. This can be a powerful force for price competition in the market to the benefit of all
Californians. Many Californians would be eligible, based on their income, for a federal premium
subsidy to help them purchase coverage through the health benefits exchange. California should
not leave those federal dollars on the table. While some states are suing to block implementation
of the federal health law, California is at the front of the line to make it work for its residents. Even
as the budget remains stalemated, that's an achievement – if Gov. Schwarzenegger signs the two

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Editorial: Pérez dodges a bullet, but bad policy

remains on books

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 12A

Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2010 - 7:09 am
One of the frustrations of editorial commentary is when a politician does the right thing before you have a chance to slam him
for doing the wrong thing.

Such was the situation on Friday morning for this editorial board.

The Bee's Jim Sanders had just revealed that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez was preparing to
enforce a little-known rule that bans voice recorders and videotaping in the Assembly chambers.
This was red meat for a rant, so we quickly typed one up.

"Maybe Pérez ought to let reporters go about the thankless job of covering this once-proud
institution, and consider focusing on his own rules, which say legislators were supposed to have
passed a budget on June 15," the editorial stated.

But then, before we could get it into the paper, Pérez issued one of those "never mind" statements,
saying that tape recorders would be continue to be permitted in the people's chamber as they have
for years.

Pérez may have deflected a missile this time, but the policy remains on the books. If he were to
remove it, he might be in line for – yes, it is always possible – a valentine.

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Editorial: Small town offers voters few choices

Published: Friday, Sep. 3, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 14A

If everything in Isleton were going swimmingly, it might be mere political curiosity that for the second time in a row, there's not
a competitive City Council election.

But the tiny city in southern Sacramento County is still struggling mightily, so the absence of a
real choice for voters is alarming.
Three of the five seats on the council are on the Nov. 2 ballot – and there are only three
candidates. Barring a surprise write-in effort, those three will waltz into office for four-year terms,
and after they are sworn in on Dec. 22, choose a mayor.

They're shoo-ins because three potential contenders – council members Jim Corsaut and Michael
Gomez and city planning commission Chairman Bill Cox – did not submit at least five valid
signatures of Isleton voters by last month's deadline. You'd think the incumbents in particular
would know the drill, but no.
A similar thing happened in 2008 – two seats, two candidates. Incumbent Elizabeth
Samano failed to file election papers in time. This year, she did.
Samano will be joined on the council by Robert Jankovitz, a city planning commissioner,
and Rebecca Villones, a retired teacher. Villones said Isleton residents want new faces on the
council, but she also says she would have "much preferred" that voters make that decision.
The council is an unpaid and sometimes thankless job, and there's a relatively small pool of
registered voters who could run. But the council's decisions still have a big impact on the 800-odd
residents. They packed the meeting room when the council voted recently against allowing
medical marijuana dispensaries, and will likely do so again Wednesday, when the council is
scheduled to decide whether to allow a medicinal marijuana growing operation.

Then, there's the small matter of the city's finances.

A Sacramento County grand jury report in February 2008 laid out the fiscal woes, made worse by
longstanding management and governance problems, in excruciating detail. Things had been so
bad for so long that the grand jury raised the idea of disincorporating Isleton, which became a city
in 1923.

The city's debt stood at $870,000, which the grand jury said could bankrupt the city. The city
managed to refinance the debt through the sale of $1.35 million in 20-year bonds last year, says
City Manager Bruce Pope.
That put the city on firmer fiscal ground, and it has also made some other changes recommended
by the grand jury. Pope and county Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district includes Isleton, said
they believe disincorporation is off the table.
Still, wise and committed leadership is needed to continue steering Isleton to safety. It's too bad
that voters won't get a true say on who could best provide that.
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