Best Of The Best Celebrated at the State Fair

Source: CA State Fair  |  2016-07-29
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Nearly 675,000 people celebrated the best of California during the annual California State Fair, the largest single event in Northern California. The California Exposition and State Fair has a positive $300 million economic impact on the Sacramento region annually, and receives no funding from the government.

As a premiere State-wide event, the State Fair looks at a number of statistics in evaluating its success.  For example, competitive entries increased this year by 21 percent to 21,441 entries compared to 17,753 in 2015. Representing the work of talented Californians, the new photography competition generated 2,256 entries.  As the number of Craft Beer breweries continue to increase in California, the State Fair competition saw an 11 percent increase in Craft Beers vying for the coveted Blue Ribbon, with 1,204 entries. Sponsored by the Tractor Supply Company, the Junior Livestock Sale of Champions experienced a 20 percent increase in funds raised by youth selling the top 56 award winning animals. The $236,400 raised for youth this year was the second highest amount in the past 10 years.

The 2016 California State Fair was packed full of more than 3,000 exhibits and events that featured technology and agriculture and celebrated the best of the Golden State. Advance admission sales were up by 7.2 percent. The Best of California Brewfest drew 2,015 guests, up 31 percent from the previous year’s 1,535 guests.

“For more than 160 years the California State Fair has remained the one constant setting for showcasing the best of California.  From award winning wines, craft beers, fine arts, photography, horse racing, livestock, concerts and entertainment, to technology, science, farming and food, the 2016 State Fair was a huge success,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California Exposition & State Fair.  Pickering added, “in the face of a heat wave and tragic events around the nation, hundreds of thousands of guests came out to celebrate the sense of community, good will and unity that the State Fair provides.”

Paid Attendance decreased by 11 percent to 511,224 from a record year of 577,646 in 2015. Total Attendance decreased by 14 percent to 673,237 from a record year of 787,833 total visitors in 2015. Yet through a period of national tragedy and a local heatwave, business and community pride at the State Fair remained strong during the 17-day run.  According to exit survey data, 92 percent of visitors were satisfied with their State Fair experience, and more than 95 percent felt their State Fair was a good value, up from 74 percent in 2015.


Election Corruption is Now Widespread

Commentary by Katy Grimes  |  2016-07-29

Thousands of voters in the June 7th California Primary election showed up at the polls across the state to discover their political party registrations had been changed.

Hundreds of “dead voters” were recently uncovered in Southern California, the majority of them in Los Angeles County. Some of these deceased voters have even been voting for years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Fraudulent dead voters are concerning, but voter fraud is an even bigger problem in close races where election outcomes are decided by only a handful of votes, says Linda Paine, founder of the Election Integrity Project.

But after the June 7th primary, dead voters may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thousands of Republican and Democratic voters reported to the Election Integrity Project that they arrived at their designated polling stations on June 7th to find that their party affiliation was changed. Most reported being re-registered “No Party Preference,” California’s version of “Decline to State.” Others said their registrations were dropped, or they received the wrong ballot, which in many cases prevented them from voting for President in the primary.

The Election Integrity Project’s Linda Paine said they noticed a pattern in several Southern California counties during Election Day. However, as the polls closed, Paine said they were contacted by large numbers of voters throughout the state upset that their party affiliation was changed, and had to vote using a provisional ballot. What Election Integrity Project wants to know is how many other voters this happened to.

I Se​e Dead People

In 2014, California State Senator Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, was elected Secretary of State. But his race caught the attention of the Election Integrity Project when not one of the 4,681 Los Angeles County polling stations had the vote-by-mail indicators on the check-in rosters on Election Day. Linda Paine said volunteers described chaos at the polls as Inspectors and Coordinators realized there was no way to crosscheck who had already voted.

Election inspectors reported they received a list of 700 names of vote-by-mail voters they were to manually enter onto the check-in roster on Election Day morning. “It is difficult to understand just how this could have happened,” Paine said. “All responsible businesses have procedures in place to ensure quality control so that materials printed on behalf of their company or organization are accurate.” But this did not happen in LA County.

Election Integrity Project volunteers reported that some Inspectors gave up the effort to determine who voted by mail before Election Day and simply gave every voter a regular ballot. Reports also indicated that without time for the Inspectors to ensure the vote-by-mail indicator was in fact placed next to the correct voter, mistakes were made and voters who were regular voters were forced to vote provisionally.

“Provisional ballots are simply regular ballots that are placed in a special Provisional envelope that must be processed after Election Day,” Paine explained. “The processing of Provisional ballots often takes up to 30 days after Election Day. Voters who want their vote to count on Election Day will be disappointed if they vote provisionally. All Vote-by-Mail and Regular ballots are counted before their ballots are counted.”

Los Angeles County Anomalies

Paine said Alex Padilla’s challenger, Pete Peterson, a Republican, lost by about 400,000 votes, of which approximately 350,000 came just from Los Angeles County.

The Election Integrity Project had documented more than 60,000 anomalies and irregularities on the voter rolls in Los Angeles County in 2013. Because the county did not respond to the report, it can be assumed that nothing was done about it, Paine said.

By 2014 the Election Integrity Project provided additional reports to the LA County Registrar. Countless citizens and citizen groups also contacted their representatives on the Board of Supervisors about voting irregularities. The Board authorized an internal audit, prior to the November 2014 election. The audit was ironically underway during the November election when the vote-by-mail data failed to make it to the polling locations.

Linda Paine was contacted by a whistle blower who told her someone in authority must have discovered that the vote-by-mail indicators were missing, but did nothing about it. There are too many checks and balances in place for it to be missed.

Following the 2014 election, armed with five years of data of voting irregularities and anomalies (2011 – 2015), the California Committee for the US Civil Rights Commission reviewed the Election Integrity Project’s research and determined that a public hearing was warranted. On August 28, 2015 California citizens from across the state testified of their eyewitness accounts of “how chaos and corruption was destroying the integrity of California’s election process,” Paine said.

What Happened On California Primary Day?

When Mary (not her real name), a Republican Pacific Pallisades Southern California resident, checked in at her polling location Tuesday June 7th, she was told she was registered “No Party Preference.”

“I’m not a non-partisan voter,” she said. In fact, Mary said many voters at her polling location – Republicans and Democrats – were told they were registered NPP.

Mary challenged the poll workers, and even showed them her Republican Party registration card and Republican Voter Pamphlet she had recently received by mail. “They said ‘Listen lady, you can’t vote. You’re not a Republican,’” Mary said.

Mary said she demanded their names and a signed document saying she couldn’t vote. She demanded the poll workers’ superiors’ name. And then she said it got weird. Mary said the three female poll workers told her they weren’t even from California; they said they had been flown in from Rhode Island to work the California Primary.

Several other voters who also asked for anonymity each said they witnessed poll workers opening the privacy sleeve of voters’ ballots to read the ballot. Instead of putting the ballot through the reader, the poll worker placed the ballots in a box marked “ballots” under the table. Linda Paine said she received many reports of this happening at polling stations throughout the state.

My calls to the Secretary of State’s office were not returned.

Los Angeles County Test Ground

Paine said this pattern was documented in 2012 in Los Angeles County, but not on the large scale as the California Primary Election June 7.

In the 2014 Primary, approximately 1,200 poll workers in Los Angeles “changed their mind about working at the polls,” all at the same time, resulting in a poll worker crisis. Linda Paine said she happened to be at the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office for a meeting, when she overheard two citizens being told they had to speak Spanish if they wanted to be poll workers. She inquired and was told it must have been because all the poll worker positions were filled and they were just looking for interpreters. At the time Linda Paine was told this, robo-calls and emails were being sent to people all over the county looking for poll workers. Something did not add up for Paine.

The Election Integrity Project members called out their volunteer force and asked them to report when they got the emails and calls in order to determine what areas were impacted so that they could provide volunteers in those areas to help. But despite the calls for help in finding poll workers, Paine’s volunteers were turned away and told the positions had already been filled.

Election Anomalies

Paine said the Election Integrity Project members documented June 7 Primary Election Day anomalies, and found disturbing, consistent patterns. “We believe the problem is the Secretary of State’s with Vote Cal system,” she said. “It’s the same problems all over the state.”

The Election Integrity Project is going to compare polling data in the counties with the statewide data, but they are required to purchase this data from every California County, as well as the data from the Secretary of State.

California’s Election Issues

Following the hanging chads incident in Florida in the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which mandated sweeping reforms, including a statewide voter registration system that would eliminate ineligible voters.

But California failed to comply, and for 12 years was the only state that was still not compliant with the act. In 2014, newly elected Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced upon being elected that he planned to have California compliant within the year.

“In California, the attendants relied upon to watch the election system are failing its citizens,” the Election Integrity Project said in a 2014 report. Election watchers are now volunteers, trained by the Election Integrity Project to carefully monitor California’s elections to ensure that each vote is lawfully cast and accurately counted.

The 2014 report by Election Integrity Project found California’s election system had serious vulnerabilities, no centralized computerized system, no statewide voter registration list, poor National Voter Registration Act list maintenance, non-compliance with statutes protecting lawful voters, and suspected voting fraud.

The report also found key election officials were roadblocks to election integrity. “Whether this stems from negligence or design, or a misguided central focus on ‘voter experience,’ the result is the same: Corruption. The injury to lawful voters is patent.”

Katy Grimes is a regular contributor to FlashReport. Read more at http://www.flashreport.org/blog.


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Brown Signs Bill Providing Help for Those Claiming Refunds on Tax

Source: Board of Equalization  |  2016-07-28

A bill sponsored by the Board of Equalization (BOE) to streamline and simplify refunds on tax liabilities is now signed by the governor and will become law January 1, 2017. AB 1856, authored by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh helps taxpayers making installment payments by only requiring they file one claim for refund, rather than one for each installment payment they have made on a single liability.

“Running a business is challenging enough without having to keep track of multiple layers of paperwork,” said BOE and Legislative Committee Chairwoman Fiona Ma. “It is my goal and that of all our members to simplify and streamline our taxpayers’ dealings with government agencies so they can spend more time on achieving success in their business ventures.”

In several cases, BOE taxpayers have been barred by the statute of limitations from recovering all of the installment payments they made to the BOE, even though their tax debt was cancelled or reduced to an amount less than the total payments received—because they made payments after the original claim had been filed, but did not file additional claims to cover the later payments. The new law will allow taxpayers making installment payments to file a single claim for refund before the entire liability is paid in full.

For specific help, please contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.


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State Water Resources Control Board Hearings on WaterFix Begin

Source: California Natural Resources Agency  |  2016-07-28

The State Water Resources Control Board began public hearings on the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) request to add three new points of diversion for California WaterFix. The opening three days of the hearings began with policy statements from the Natural Resources Agency and U.S. Department of the Interior followed by public comment.

The questions before the Board, defined by the members themselves for Part I of the hearings, are narrow: Does the new point of diversion alter water flows or affect water quality such that there would be injury to any legal user of the water, and does the project in effect initiate a new water right? Part II of the hearing, expected to begin in early 2017, will address fish and wildlife, recreation, and other public trust issues.

DWR has presented evidence showing that the proposed change will neither initiate a new water right nor injure any other legal user of water. DWR’s testimony regarding its petition for change to its water right permit and the petition for the new points of diversion include these key points

  • WaterFix would create more flexibility to better balance water quality and water supply (and fish protection which will be discussed in Part II).

  • DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation do not seek a new or expanded water right or any modifications to the water quality standards upstream or downstream of the proposed diversion points.

  • DWR has a proven track record of meeting the Water Board’s Delta water quality standards and WaterFix would operate within the standards established by the Water Board. Meeting existing or future water quality standards would be easier with the flexibility provided by California WaterFix.

  • WaterFix will be operated in real-time. While modeling can perform an assessment of potential water operation effects, water project operators handle complex situations on a daily basis to stay in compliance with water quality standards.

Part I of the hearings is expected to take several months. For regular updates on the hearings, follow the new California WaterFix blog.

California has been dealing with the effects of drought for five years. To learn about all the actions the State has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.  Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at www.SaveOurWater.com.


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Local Craft Brewery Wins Back-to-Back California State Fair Gold

Source: Modular Marketing Agency  |  2016-07-22

Owner Dave Mathis and Head Brewer Andy Armstrong Celebrate.

“Coloma Brown Ale” Victorious for Third Time in Four Years

Since launching in 2012, Rancho Cordova craft brewery American River Brewing Company (ARBC) has won numerous awards for its beers, but none more so than its flagship brew, Coloma Brown American Ale.

For the second year in a row, Coloma Brown won first place in the Commercial Craft Brewing competition for the American Ale category at the California State Fair. Hosted by the Northern California Brewer’s Guild, the competition annually draws in excess of one thousand entries from more than three hundred craft breweries across the state.

The win for Coloma Brown comes on the heels of the California Small Business of the Year award for ARBC this past May.

California is a hotbed of the craft brewing industry. Since 2010 the number of craft breweries in the state has more than doubled to nearly 700. With such an immense amount of competition, ARBC founder David Mathis is justifiably pleased with the back-to-back win.

“With so many worthy competitors also brewing at such a high level, this win really validates all the hard work we’ve put into making truly great beer,” Mathis stated. “Plus, since this is our flagship beer, it means even more.”

ARBC partner and Head Brewer, Andy Armstrong, agrees that the effort was worth the result. “We spent a great deal of time perfecting the recipe for Coloma Brown,” he said, “and that was no easy process. Getting recognition like this from a panel of expert judges two years running demonstrates that we’ve gotten it as close to perfection as it can be.”

Following a recent trend among craft breweries, ARBC has begun canning some of its brews and Coloma Brown may be added to the canning lineup. “So far we have our Lawn Jockey Session IPA, Fire Break Red Ale and Capitol Copper Amber Ale ready to begin canning,” Mathis noted, “It would be fantastic if we were to include Coloma Brown as well.”

American River Brewing Company is located at 11151 Trade Center Drive in Rancho Cordova. For more information and a complete list of awards, please visit their website at www.americanriverbrewco.com.


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Help Reduce the Use

Source: Sacramento Suburban Water District  |  2016-07-21

Rebates are available for water-efficient sprinkler heads, drip irrigation systems, pool covers and WaterSense-labeled weather-based irrigation controllers.

Sacramento Suburban Water District Asks Customers to Help Reduce Water Use by 10 Percent

Sacramento Suburban Water District (SSWD) is asking its customers to keep up the great work this summer and voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 percent and to follow District’s recommended watering day schedule.

“Our customers did a fantastic job conserving water during the drought emergency, and reduced water use by nearly 30 percent from June 2015 to February 2016,”” said Greg Bundesen, SSWD Water Conservation Supervisor.  “We’re now asking them to continue their outstanding efforts by limiting landscape watering during the summer when water use is at its highest.”

The District is asking customers who have addresses that end in an even number (0,2,4,6,8) to water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and those with addresses that end in an odd number (1,3,5,7,9) to run their sprinklers on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  Watering is only allowed before noon or after 8 p.m. through the end of September.

SSWD also has many rebates available for its customers to make conserving water even easier.  Rebates are available for water-efficient sprinkler heads, drip irrigation systems, pool covers and WaterSense-labeled weather-based irrigation controllers.  Weather-based irrigation controllers act like a thermostat for a sprinkler system, and use local weather and landscape conditions to run the sprinklers instead of running according to a preprogrammed schedule. 

Customers who install drip irrigation systems and register their WaterSense-labeled weather-based irrigation controllers with SSWD will not be subject to future watering restrictions.  Complete details and rebate applications are available on www.sswd.org.


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Raley’s Will Remove Artificially Flavored Private Label Brand Sodas

Source: Raley’s  |  2016-07-21

Where we have control over our product lines, we want to offer products that reflect our ongoing vision to infuse life with health and happiness.

Raley’s Family of Fine Stores has announced its decision to eliminate certain Raley’s private label brand soda to advance their vision of health and wellness. This includes all flavors containing high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors, including diet soda varieties.

“This is a bold first step towards improving our private label options for our customers,” said Kevin Curry, Raley’s Senior Vice President, Merchandising & Supply Chain. “Where we have control over our product lines, we want to offer products that reflect our ongoing vision to infuse life with health and happiness. Essentially, we want to make it easier for our customers to make healthier choices.”

A number of studies conducted over the past few decades suggest that consumption of high-fructose corn syrup is connected with health concerns, including a significant risk of weight gain and obesity, an increased risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes, hypertension and elevated “bad” cholesterol levels and liver damage.  Raley’s vision is to infuse life with health and wellness. The company strives to educate customers and provide wholesome Raley’s brand options.

Raley’s has discontinued production of private label soda with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors and will phase-out remaining inventory over the next two-weeks. All Raley’s private label soda with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors will be out of stock by August 1st.

In another first step in providing healthier options to customers, Raley’s eliminated tobacco in 2015. For more information, visit www.raleys.com.


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FBI Seeking “Bandaged Bandit”

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation  |  2016-07-21

Suspect Wanted for Series of Four Bank Robberies in Nevada and Northern California

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking information to aid in the identification and apprehension of an individual suspected of robbing four banks. The young Caucasian male is suspected of the following robberies:

  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    U.S. Bank located at 229 Kingsbury Grade Rd., Stateline, NV 89449
  • Friday, July 1, 2016
    Chase Bank located at 2215 Francisco Dr., El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
  • Thursday, July 14, 2016
    Wells Fargo located at 3935 Park Dr., El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
  • Friday, July 15, 2016
    U.S. Bank located at 1850 Prairie City Rd., Folsom, CA 95630.

The suspect—believed to be in his 20s or 30s—has blonde hair and stands 5’8”-5’10” tall with a large build. He has made an effort to conceal his face by affixing bandages to his nose, chin, and other areas of his face and arms. During the commission of the robberies, the man approached the tellers and either presented a demand note or made a verbal demand for cash while threatening that he had a weapon. After receiving undisclosed amounts of money, the subject fled the locations on foot. Photos of the suspect are available on the FBI’s Wanted Bank Robber website: https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov/robbers-container/2016-07-15.6450756429.

The robberies are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, and Folsom Police Department.

Individuals with information about this man may call their local FBI office or 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-885-5984). Tips may also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov. If the subject is spotted in the community, the public is urged to call 911 and not approach the individual. For more information about individuals wanted for bank robberies in your area, please visit https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov


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Women’s Empowerment Graduates 27 Formerly Homeless Women

Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2016-07-15

Derkisha Wofford performs at her graduation from Women’s Empowerment’s job readiness program for homeless women as executive director and founder Lisa Culp holds her microphone. 
--Photo courtesy Kristin Thébaud Communications

Nearly 100 community members from across Sacramento witnessed Women’s Empowerment graduate 27 formerly homeless women from the comprehensive eight-week job-readiness program at the end of June. The graduates each shared their stories of their rise from homelessness, some through poetry, some through song and some through prose – all wearing tiaras to match their chosen theme “Queens Uplift Queens.”

“I want to talk to the queens,” sang Derkisha Wofford, a graduate. “Whatever you set your heart to, just believe. Don’t give up on yourself. I love you all.”

From graduates’ mentors, families and children, to organization supporters, graduation attendees heard each graduate’s story and future plans. Each woman accepted a certificate of achievement, received a new handbag filled with a day planner and other items designed to help her succeed, and enjoyed a reception, all sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Carmichael.

“Each of our 27 graduates has made incredible strides in just eight weeks,” said Lisa Culp, executive director of Women’s Empowerment. “Though each woman’s story of homelessness is as unique as her fingerprint, they all joined together to create a sisterhood that helped them rise from poverty to self-reliance. Their value is priceless and their potential is limitless.”

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Women’s Empowerment was recently featured on NBC’s TODAY Show and CNN’s Impact Your World for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The 2014 Organization of the Year has graduated 1,349 homeless women and their 3,500 children. Last year, 93 percent of graduates found homes and 83 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded solely through private donations from the community. To donate online: www.womens-empowerment.org.


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Gov. Brown Approves $5M for California Nutrition Incentives Act

Source: Ecology Center  |  2016-07-13

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

After three years of tireless advocacy, the healthy food incentive program Market Match got a boost yesterday as Governor Jerry Brown approved a state budget that includes $5 million for the California Nutrition Incentives Act. The Act is modeled after Market Match, which is increasing access to fresh produce among Californians who are struggling to feed their families, while giving an economic boost to the state’s embattled farm communities.

The $5 million in state funds will attract federal matching dollars through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program (FINI) and double the impact of the state’s investment.

A broad coalition of over 200 non-profit organizations and individuals including Roots of Change, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, American Heart Association, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Hunger Action Los Angeles and the Ecology Center, which administers Market Match statewide, worked over a three-year period to secure the funding. In 2014, the coalition’s first attempt didn’t make it out of the appropriations committee. Last year, the legislature passed the California Nutrition Incentives Act, which Gov. Brown signed, but he then axed the $2.5 million in funding that the legislature proposed for the program.

“With this funding, the state of California has put its money where its mouth is in terms of supporting healthy eating for low-income families,” says Ecology Center Executive Director Martin Bourque. “The demand for Market Match has consistently outstripped the supply of funds. The additional $5 million will allow us to expand the program towards our goal of offering Market Match at every farmers’ market in the state,” he said.

Established in 2009, by Roots of Change, Market Match works by providing CalFresh customers with matching funds when they spend their CalFresh benefits (i.e. food stamps) on fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets. So a shopper who spends $10 of CalFresh benefits at the farmers’ market gets an extra $10 to spend on fresh produce. Participants in the program, both small farmers and low-income shoppers, strongly support the program.

Among low-income customers, 70% report that they are buying more fruits and vegetable, and nearly 80% report that their family's health has improved. 81% of farmers report increased sales and 74% report increased income, thanks to Market Match.

Founded in 1969, the Ecology Center is a nonprofit organization located in Berkeley, California that is actively working to create and promote an alternative food system based on the values of environmental protection, justice, and access to healthy, sustainably produced food for all.


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