Political notebook: Controller dings San Joaquin Valley districts

The Fresno BeeOctober 18, 2013 

John Chiang


State Controller John Chiang sent out a list this week of cities and special districts that he said are tardy in filing required financial reports with the state.

Several are from the central San Joaquin Valley.

"Lindsey" — Lindsay is the correct spelling — didn't file, nor did Firebaugh, according to the list.

Lindsay finance director Tamara Laken had the class to take responsibility for failing to file the 2010-11 Cities Transactions Report, also known as an audit.

"It is an oversight on my part," she said.

Laken has a pretty good excuse in that her predecessor was on medical leave for months, and the previous city manager suddenly resigned, leaving staff to pick up the pieces.

As for the misspelled "Lindsey," Laken said "however you spell it" she still didn't file the audit, but will do so early next week.

Attempts to reach Firebaugh were unsuccessful.

Also on the list is the obscure Friant Power Authority, a group of irrigation districts that has hydro generators at Friant Dam. General manager Bill Carlisle said they file their reports every year, but the state just can't get it straight that the authority moved from Tulare County to Kern 13 years ago, yet keeps dinging it as a Tulare County agency that didn't file.

"We get this every year," he said.

Others on the list: Coalinga-Huron Mosquito Abatement District, Tulare District Healthcare System, Deer Creek Storm Water District, Del Rey Community Services District, Excelsior-Kings River Resource Conservation District, Goshen CSD, Lindsay-Strathmore Cemetery District, Lindsay-Strathmore Memorial District, Porterville Memorial District and Patterson Tract CSD and Atwell Island Water District.

— Lewis Griswold

Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified Steve Mulligan as general manager of the Coalinga-Huron Mosquito Abatement District. He is manager of the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District. 

Vidak rails against high-speed train project

State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, is taking his anti-high-speed rail show on the road, launching what he calls his "Whistle-Stop-the-High-Speed Rail" tour.

In a statement Friday, Vidak cited a recent visit to PFFJ LLC, a large hog farm operated by a subsidiary of Hormel Foods in Tulare County southeast of Corcoran. Vidak said the 420-acre farm supplies about 150,000 pigs a year to a Farmer John processing plant in Los Angeles, and includes a feed mill that produces hog and chicken feed.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has yet to finalize a route for its Fresno-Bakersfield section that would also cross Kings and Tulare counties, but Vidak's statement said the rail route "runs right through the farm" and would displace not only the farm, but the feed mill.

Vidak said he plans to visit other local businesses "being run over by the HSR Authority."

— Tim Sheehan

Fight for west-side water on display

West San Joaquin Valley water battles are leaping onto the big screen and into the sports world this week — both under the heading of "The fight for water."

On Thursday, Olympic boxer Jose Ramirez, who is from the west-side community of Avenal, included the theme in his talk about his first professional fight in the Valley, on Nov. 9 at West Hills College in Lemoore.

He said he wants it to make a statement about the hardship of west-side farm water shortages; the fight card is called "The Fight for Water." The Latino Water Coalition is involved.

Today, an award-winning documentary, "The Fight for Water: a Farm Worker Struggle," will screen at 6 p.m. at the Tower Theatre in Fresno.

The film, produced by Juan Carlos Oseguera, features a 2009 water march by growers and farmworkers. The Latino Water Coalition is a central player in the march.

— Mark Grossi

GOP still recovering from Prop. 187 fallout

Nearly two decades after its controversial passage, Gov. Pete Wilson's Proposition 187 continues to haunt the Republican Party in California and across the U.S.

A new report from Latino Decisions, a firm that analyzes demographics and voting trends, argues California could have remained a presidential battleground state — with Democrats and Republicans vying for more congressional and legislative seats here — were it not for Proposition 187 and later measures that mobilized Latino voters.

Proposition 187, most of which has been invalidated, would have denied various public services to undocumented immigrants. Latino partisanship has grown to more than 70% Democratic since the group first comprised more than 10% of the state electorate in 1996.

The massive shifts could have broad impacts on the nation, with Latinos nationally poised to swing 24 GOP-held congressional seats in 2014 and 2016 in states such as Nevada, Florida, Colorado and North Carolina, said Gary M. Segura, a politics professor at Stanford University who worked on the study.

— Christopher Cadelago, The Sacramento Bee


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