Gov. Brown visits officials in Tulare, Kings counties

The Fresno BeeFebruary 14, 2014 

After a quick stop to chat with farmers at the World Ag Expo this week, Gov. Jerry Brown paid a call on law enforcement officials and educators in Tulare and Kings counties.

Meeting the governor for 45 minutes of serious talk went over well with the law enforcement leaders in Tulare County.

"In all sincerity, it was incredibly positive," District Attorney Tim Ward said.

Brown asked them how law enforcement is managing re-alignment -- the state program that keeps criminals locally incarcerated instead of in state prison, to lower prison populations.

Although realignment has burdened local officials with a lot more work, Ward said he and the other officials told Brown that they handle the load by working together.

"He discussed the positives we are doing and possibly replicating those around the state," Ward said.

Besides Ward, those at the law enforcement chat were Presiding Judge Lloyd Hicks, acting Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, Chief Probation Officer Christie Myer and Visalia Police Capt. Jason Salazar.

Meanwhile, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak said when he realized that Brown's visit with educators would extend into the lunch hour, he volunteered to provide lunch and asked a staffer two days before what the governor would like to eat.

"Something simple," was the answer; they served sandwiches.

Brown spent an hour and ten minutes with superintendents and administrators.

"He listens," Vidak said. "He probes you as you answer. 'How do you know that? What evidence do you have?' I appreciate that."

When Brown arrived, Vidak, an elected official, cracked a joke: "We're about the same age -- I'm running again, too." (Political observers say Brown will seek re-election, but he has not announced.)

Educators said Brown clearly understood their issues.

"No one is fully ready" to test students under the new "common core" standards, Visalia Unified School District Superintendent Craig Wheaton told the governor.

Testing will be entirely by computer and that's never been done before, he said. Statewide, students will be tested in a pilot program, but major issues are likely to emerge requiring expensive adjustments, Wheaton said.

"He listened and understood," Wheaton said -- but the governor did not commit to anything.

Superintendents also told Brown how much they like the new local control of education funding model.

Educators at the meeting included Rosa Carlson, president of Porterville City College, and school superintendents John Snavely of Porterville Unified, Terri Rufert of Sundale Union, Thomas Rooney of Lindsay Unified, Sarah Koligian of Tulare Union High and Clare Gist of Tulare City School District.

The governor later met with Kings County Superintendent of Schools Tim Bowers, district superintendents and others; and Kings County District Attorney Greg Strickland, Sheriff Dave Robinson and law enforcement leaders.

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