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Local Dairymen Take Part in Rose Parade Float inside Valley Scene

Miniatures and Impressions on Display

inside Valley Scene

Volume XXXVII No. 1 • 5 January, 2017

Attorney Cries Foul at Tulare Hospital’s Actions Dave Adalian

‘Orchestrating Everything’

“What’s forming for me is Benzeevi While directors at the Tulare Local coming in and, with Kumar’s help, takHealth Care District (TLHing over,” Amir said. “They’re CD) turned a collective blind the ones literally orchestrating eye to their behavior, at least everything.” two of the District’s leaders With an April trial date worked to illegally remove the looming for the MEC’s lawsuit medical staff at Tulare Regionagainst the TLHCD’s Board of al Medical Center (TRMC), Directors and others, details says Michael Amir, an attorney are emerging that show the derepresenting the dispossessed fendants in the case knew their Medical Executive Com- Dr. Benny Benzeevi action to remove the MEC mittee (MEC). Courtesy/HCCA was illegal and would divert The picture Amir paints is money from construction of one of TRMC failing basic federal safety the District’s long-overdue expansion standards set by the Center for Mediinto a protracted legal defense, care and Medicaid Services, Amir said. and TLHCD CEO Dr. Yorai More concerning, TLH“Benny” Benzeevi and director CD’s directors appear to have Dr. Parmod Kumar turning completely given over their the negative report into an opoversight duties to a private, portunity to rid themselves of for-profit company run by the MEC. Named as co-defenBenzeevi, Amir says, and did dants in the suit are TRMC, so without considering the Healthcare Conglomerate consequences. Associates, which operates Dr. Parmod Kumar “I don’t view them (TLTRMC and is owned in part Courtesy/TLHCD HCD directors) as being bad by Benzeevi, and Professional people,” said Amir. “They just Medical Staff of TRMC, the group gath- didn’t do their job.” ered to replace the MEC.

TRMC continued on 8 »

Devin Nunes Puts Tulare County on the Map Catherine Doe There is only one lawmaker on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team who hails from west of the Mississippi. That person would be our own Congressman, Devin Nunes. The appointment to the transition team came out of Nunes’ and Trump’s several encounters during the presidential campaign. During the primary, Nunes reached out to all of the Republican candidates and Trump was the only one to respond. Nunes’ team started helping Trump in April when the vote in California’s Republican primary actually mattered for the first time in decades. Their first collaboration happened in May and resulted in a successful spring fundraiser in Fresno, which is the bulk of Nunes’ 22nd Congressional District. During his time in Fresno, Trump made a huge impression on local farmers when he sat down and listened to their grievances about California’s water policy, infrastructure and how it adversely affects Central Valley agriculture. Trump

left that meeting saying he was going to fix the Valley’s water problem and that he agreed with Nunes’ assessment that the Central Valley is experiencing a manmade drought. California ended up not making an impact on the Republican nomination as Senator Ted Cruz dropped out three weeks before the primary, making Trump the de-facto candidate. But Trump’s impact was lasting as political signs, rallies and debate parties continued in Fresno and Tulare Counties through the election. During another fundraiser in August at Corky Anderson’s Tulare home, Nunes and Trump spent more time together on the ground and in his private plane as Nunes accompanied Trump on several fundraisers in northern and southern California. So when Nunes got the call a day after the election to discuss the possibility of joining Trump’s transition team, it did not come as a complete shock. Three days later he was part of the

NUNES continued on 4 »

The Tulare County District Attorney, Tim Ward, introduces Fortune, the newest staff member at the DA’s office. Courtesy/Tulare County

Tulare County DA Introduces Therapy Dog,Fortune During the December 20 Tulare County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, District Attorney Tim Ward introduced the newest member of his team, a Golden Retriever. Made possible by the Phil Cline Victim’s Fund, the DA’s office ac-

quired Fortune, a therapy dog, to give comfort to children who find themselves in the victims or witness division. Ward said that the dog is also there for vulnerable adults who may have a court date

FORTUNE continued on 9 »

Cox Calls Visalia Council “Bunch of Dumb***es”

The day before he was sworn in to Catherine Doe join the Visalia City Council, former Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox ex- er winning a seat on the Visalia City pressed his frustration with the council a Council in the November election. He little too bluntly over a hot microphone was sworn into office on the afternoon of December 21 in a priat the supervisors’ Devate ceremony. cember 20 meeting. Each Visalia City “I was at the [VisaCouncil member took lia] City Council meetCox’ comments with a ing last night,” Cox told grain of salt. Supervisor Pete Vander Council member Poel, “and what a bunch Greg Collins said “I’ve of dumb asses.” been called worse.” The comments Mayor Warren Guwere captured in a rebler said, in jest, that he cording of the meeting. wasn’t at that meeting, His comment was “so Phil must have been in reaction to the city council’s paying for Phil Cox. Courtesy/Tulare County talking about the other members.” cadets to go through Outgoing Council Member Amy the Visalia Police Academy with no assurances they will stay with the city. He Shuklian said, “I’ll be sure that when I’m was also in disagreement with the city’s on the dais I’ll be careful what I say.” Meanwhile, Cox said that he didn’t spending Measure N money before reremember his exact words but did exceiving it. All Tulare County Supervisor meet- plain the reasons behind it. He had just attended the December ings are recorded. While the microphone system went live at 9am, the meeting 19 city council meeting the evening bedidn’t start until 9:02. Cox apparently fore as a citizen because he had not yet did not realize that during those two been sworn into office. He listened to minutes the mics were on when he was Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar’s presentation on the COS Police Academy speaking with Vander Poel. Cox lost his supervisorial seat to and said that Salazar did not explain the Amy Shuklian in the June primary, lat- COX continued on 5 »

2 • Valley Voice

5 January, 2017

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From the Publisher’s desk

Happy New Year!

If only to send a message to the remainder of the country, California should vote to secede from the Union. Not that it could ever happen–and its certainly not something I would ever truly wish for–but this would be a shot across the bow of the 49 other states: California is rowing an aircraft carrier called The Future. And we are tired of dragging your obstinate posterior into it. We are weary of being hard at the oars while you try to relitigate or repeal settled law. Oh, I had a fine tirade all lined up–and was practically licking my lips at its prospect over this keyboard. And then in broad daylight some poor deformity of a human being hit our son’s dog on Road 216 in Exeter, knocking the stuffing out of me. Because–without so much as stopping to check–he killed the dog. The dog’s name was Roo. When our son found him outside his door one morning last year, the dog was rail thin, all eyes, terrified–and jumpy as a kangaroo. We gave him a family, and he knew he was loved. More accurately, the driver of the white work truck did not actually kill Roo. We did. We had to put him down. The driver of the white work truck, who resides on the west side of Road 216–and I’m tempted to publish his address here as a public safety precaution–merely crushed Roo’s chest cavity. I wonder where he was going in such a hurry on New Year’s Eve, long before any festivities began. I’ve run over a dog before. It’s a terrifying experience–you certainly know when you’ve done it–and I can never be convinced that the driver was unaware of what he had done. When you know kids and/or dogs are in the road, you decelerate. It seems to me that in some crotchety fit of pique this “man” ran Roo down. Why else not stop to check on his condition? I say a “fit of pique” because this “man,” this work truck driving resident of Road 216 in Exeter, knew Roo. Not only that, he knew Roo was there. He saw my wife and knew she was there walking Roo. But Roo was incredibly irritating. He was a Shepherd mix, a huge dog wont to leaping affectionately into everyone’s arms, and still much of a puppy at approximately two years old. His crime was that he was too friendly–exuberantly so–and his sentence was a mashed thoracic cavity beneath a set of rear wheels. Happy New Year! What this “person” took from our Earth was a terrifically sweet-natured creature. I can’t say he was good with people because he would bowl everyone over–even toddlers–in his eagerness to show his affection. He could not contain himself. He didn’t bark, and he didn’t bite. He wagged his tail. A lot. And he was said to smile. He had a very expressive face. It’s true he was too rambunctious, that he would jump the backyard fence and torpedo through the neighborhood. It’s true, too, that he was often underfoot. But it’s also true that he didn’t deserve such a grisly demise in what seems to me an act of depraved indifference. I will always remember his kindly furrowed brow, his embrace and exuberance. These are good qualities in a dog. Good qualities in a human, too. If you can find them.

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The Valley Voice is your newspaper Published by The Valley Voice, LLC.

Publisher/Editor: Joseph Oldenbourg ( (559) 972-7778


Catherine Doe ( Dave Adalian ( Stefan Barros — sports ( Production/Website: Tony Maldonado (


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5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • 3

Political Fix A Turning Point for All

Of the top ten stories on the Valley Voice’s Facebook page and website, the Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC) and Healthcare Conglomerates Association (HCCA) took up six and eight spaces respectfully. The first article written in March 2016 by reporter David Adalian was a turning point for both the citizen s of Tulare and the Valley Voice. It was a turning point for Tulare because the article finally told the residents the truth about what was going on with their hospital. Mr. Adalian’s follow-up article revealed, among many other things, how the hospital board signed an incredibly sweet deal for Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA), owned by Dr. Benny Benzeevi and his brother, Iddo. That deal, rumored to not have been thoroughly read by some of the board members, made it possible for HCCA to buy the hospital from Tulare, possibly buying it with the District’s own money. As I write, Mr. Adalian is compiling another article on the lawsuit brought by the old Medical Executive Committee (MEC) against HCCA and the hospital board of directors. His article is full of game-changing depositions that will undoubtedly rile up Tulare again and cause HCCA some heartburn. Reporter and Webmaster Tony Maldonado complimented Mr. Adalian’s coverage by researching into HCCA’s new contract with Inyo Regional Hospital in Lone Pine and attending some hair-raising regular TRMC board meetings. At one such meeting, the five members of the board were served with lawsuits, Dr. Kumar was served with recall papers, and a heart wrenching letter was read about an older woman who sat all day in the hospital with a strangulated hernia without care and died the next day. Mr. Maldonado followed up this article by reporting on how a supposed $800,000 line of credit was used to pay off a huge hospital debt without the public’s knowledge. As much as the reporting on the hospital has changed the future of Tulare, it also changed the trajectory of the Valley Voice. An avalanche of threats poured into our email on March 17 before Mr. Adalian’s first article even hit the stands. Bruce Greene, Benny and Iddo Benzeevie’s personal Los Angeles lawyer, threatened “damages here may well be measured by the hour.” The emails from Mr. Greene were so menacing our personal lawyer advised us to stop distribution until we could get counsel from a First Amendment lawyer. By mid-afternoon it looked like we were going to have to pull the paper and pay for a reprint without Mr. Adalian’s article. Then John Sarsfield, a local lawyer and former DA of San Benito County, got on the phone and told us, “at some point you just have to get a backbone and take a stand.” From that point on, we never looked back. Mr. Sarsfield wrote back to Mr. Greene, “The Valley Voice writes stories

Catherine Doe

about government corruption and malfeasance. The subjects of the stories are persons and things that are of public concern, such as allegations of missing bond construction monies, questionable employment practices, improper conduct of elected officials, and the like [...] What is clear is that your client, and presumably its elected board of directors, does not like the public scrutiny it is finally receiving. Too bad.” We called our distributor and told him to finish delivering the paper. Mr. Adalian and Mr. Maldonado continued their relentless reporting on the opaque dealings of HCCA. Their stories raised awareness while two incumbents lost their hospital board seats and a potential $55 million construction-focused cash infusion was rejected by the voters in a 2/3 failure. In addition, the recall of Dr. Parmod Kumar, the board’s longest-serving member, marches on in full swing.

Grace Homes Permanently Closes

The fifth biggest story was in 2016’s first issue and concerned Grace Homes. Sherrie Kuns Fehlman filed a complaint that claims that “The Grace Homes, ‘denied a work environment free of discrimination and/or retaliation’ that ended in her losing her job. The complaint revolves around the actions of The Grace Homes’ current chief financial officer, Phil Luna.” Eleven months later, in December, Sherrie, Gale and Glenda Kuns filed formal suits for damages against Grace Homes and CEO Luna. Sherrie Kuns-Fehlman is suing for sexual harassment, physical assault and creating a hostile work environment. Gale and Glenda Kuns, founders of Grace Homes, are suing for wrongful termination. For decades, The Grace Homes was a well-respected icon of Visalia, dedicated to residential care, education and rehabilitation of troubled adolescent girls, from 12 to 18 years of age. Established in 1987, the facility was the only place in the state that was licensed and had the ability to deal with the emotional needs of sex-trafficked pregnant girls and other victims of sexual abuse. The Grace Homes formally closed its doors last summer. Problems escalated when it was discovered that Gale Kuns had not obtained the proper permits to operate the facility and the agency fell into debt. According to former board member, Phil Mohr, all assets have been sold off and the agency closed without owing money. The mismanagement of Grace Homes occurred before Phil Luna was hired as CEO in January of 2015 and is not part of the suit. The legal problems started in 2015 when the board of directors were made aware of Sherrie Kuns Fehlman’s allegations of sexual harassment. They ordered an investigation and concluded in July of 2015 that, “the Committee finds there was no sexual harassment by Phil Luna against Fehlman resulting in a unanimous decision of complete exoneration of the allegations

against Mr. Luna.” The Kuns’ lawyer, John Sarsfield, said of the board’s conclusion, “Let me guess, the Grace Homes Board exonerated themselves?” The Kuns’ lawsuit goes to court in April 2017. Mohr reacted to the upcoming lawsuit by saying he didn’t think the case would get to court. “I have no idea why they are pursuing this suit. These people are completely nuts and I’d tell them to their face. They need to let it go.” Mr. Luna claims he was only in the same room with Kuns-Fehlman on one occasion and it was in the company of her parents and an employee. Beside one phone call from Kuns-Fehlman, that was the first and last time they ever interacted, making her allegations of sexual harassment impossible. But a request for a restraining order two years prior, in 2013, casts doubt on Mr. Luna’s alibi. Mr. Luna denies that an altercation between Sherrie Kuns and himself ever took place, but the 2013 complaint by a co-worker of Mr. Luna’s wife is eerily similar to Kuns-Fehlman’s’ experience, making it hard to believe she simply made it up. On November 25, 2013, a Civil Harassment Restraining Order was filed against Phil Luna by a woman who worked with his wife. The person seeking protection states, “Mr. Luna started yelling ‘remember who your supervisor is.’”The plaintiff’s supervisor was Mr. Luna’s wife. The plaintiff then states in her complaint, “As Mr. Luna was yelling he shut the door to Ms. Martinez’ office. I felt trapped because he was between me and the door as he was yelling [...] Mr. Luna refused to move from the front of the door and I had to squeeze between him and the door-jam to leave the office.” In Sherrie Kuns-Fehlman’s complaint, that included unwanted touching and inappropriate comments, it states, “Sherrie Kuns then tried to exit the office herself. She tried to pass Mr. Luna on his left side but he blocked her movement with his body.” The day after their altercation, Mr. Luna called Kuns-fehlman into his office and used his position as her boss to intimidate her. Coincidence? That will be for a jury to decide. The court date is set for April 19.

Shock Value

The articles that reached number four and five in popularity landed there for their entertainment and shock value. The number four article was former Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox getting caught on a hot mic calling the Visalia City Council a bunch of dumbasses. How did this happen to a seasoned politician? My theory is that the microphones went on automatically at 9am sharp, but the meeting didn’t start until 9:02. Maybe it was because of the fog. Maybe it is because the county’s clock runs a little fast. But it was during those two fateful two minutes that Mr. Cox spoke openly about how he felt about his future work buddies. Whereas many people speak like this

when they don’t think the entire world is listening, not everyone is an elected official. It should be noted that Mr. Cox was critical of the city council just last year when running against Amy Shuklian while defending his supervisor seat. His criticism of the city council came out in an editorial written for the Visalia Times-Delta. He said that his supporters often asked why Visalia never had enough money to pay for what they need. This elicited some angry responses, such as Mayor Nelsen inquiring that if Tulare County was doing so great, then why was Mooney Grove such a mess. Mr. Nelsen also corrected the record and said that Visalia’s finances are fine and the city has no problem paying its bills. Point being, the hot mic incident wasn’t an aberration. During one of the spring 2016 candidate forums, Mr. Cox said that he has been labeled as arrogant but implored that he really is not. This might serve as a wake-up call because his comments in fact are. The number five story of the year on Facebook was when SeaPort Airlines closed its doors in California in the space of a few hours on January 15. Even the employees were caught off guard. As commented on our webpage, “this whole thing came as a total shock. We were in

POLITICAL FIX continued on 5 »

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4 • Valley Voice


Continued from p. 1 exclusive group that included Trump’s three children and son-in-law and some of his closest friends. The only other executive team member from the West Coast is Billionaire Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, who was an unlikely, but staunch, Silicon Valley supporter of Trump during the election. There are actually two transition teams. One is the transition landing team that is comprised of hundreds of people working in Washington DC to staff the many agencies. Nunes is a member is the Executive Committee of the Transition Team that works out of Trump Tower in New York and Trump’s estate in Florida. This executive committee advises the president-elect on cabinet and other high level appointments and helps shape public policy for his first year in office. Because Nunes works in Washington DC, he participates on the team through private phone conversations with Trump and bi-weekly conference call meetings with the team. On December 16 Nunes flew to New York to work in person with the executive transition team on Trump’s tax policy. When asked how he liked walking the gauntlet of reporters. In his typically understated fashion he said, “I went in a different entrance to stay away from the cameras. I didn’t want any of that.” Nunes helps with many of Trump’s decisions but was tapped for his exper-

5 January, 2017 tise on incolleagues telligence, have been defense, and putting totax policy. As gether a large Chairman of tax restructhe House turing bill Pe r m a n e n t that they plan Select Comon introducmittee on ing to the Intelligence, House floor Nunes’ adin January. vice was He and sought when Speaker Paul deciding to Ryan startappoint feled working low commiton the main tee member principles Congressof the bill man Mike more than a Pompeo as decade ago. director of Nunes the Central initially proIntelligence Devin Nunes. Courtesy/Devin Nunes posed the A g e n c y American (CIA.) It was also Nunes who suggest- Business Competitiveness Act, focused retired Marine Corps General James ing only on the business side of taxes, Mattis as Defense Secretary. Both ap- not personal income taxes. Main elepointments need to first be approved by ments from that bill — which Nunes the United States Senate. called revolutionary, saying it would “do On the local front Nunes is focused away with complicated pieces of the tax on water. That focus influenced his ad- code and let business do their thing” — vice on who to hold the position as the were merged into the House GOP Tax Secretary of the Interior. Reform Bill. “All the West is concerned how Fed“The United States needs to fix its eral lands are managed. We were happy tax system then reevaluate how we go we got a Westerner in to that position,” out and make trade agreements.” he said. The new Secretary of the InteHe said the problem is that Ameririor, if approved by the Senate, will be can products are taxed in other countries Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana. but then other countries’ products don’t As number two at the House Ways face the same level of taxes in our country. and Means Committee, Nunes and his Part of his work on the transi-



tion team is walking Trump’s tax team through the bill and integrating Trump’s own tax plan. As for his first year in office, I asked if Trump will keep tweeting. Nunes said that Trump doesn’t always actually do his own tweets; rather, he has a team, even at 3am. Nunes also dispelled any rumors that Trump doesn’t receive his Presidential Daily Briefings (PDB). He said Trump gets the PDBs just like President Obama did. The problems arose, he said, when different entities wanted their material as part of the briefings, and when that didn’t happen, they spread the rumor that Trump wasn’t getting the PDBs. As for the future administration, almost all of the transition team will find a place in Trump’s administration except for two. Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, removed himself from consideration early December, and Nunes himself prefers to stay in Congress to continue working on some bills many years in the making. President-elect Trump has lived and worked all his life on the East Coast, so it made sense for his closest advisors come from the same neck of the woods. When asked how a member of Congress from such a poor county in California was chosen to help Trump’s transition to the White House, Nunes said, “I don’t see it that way. Tulare County is a great county. I feel sorry for all those people who live in Hollywood or San Francisco. Those are the people who are deprived.”

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5 January, 2017

Political Fix Continued from p. 3

business one day, the next gone.” SeaPort even diverted a plane that left Sacramento for Visalia, stranding its passengers in Burbank. SeaPort’s press release said that it was because of a shortage of pilots, but rumors spread that it was because the planes were repossessed by its lessors. Whatever the reason, Visalia has always had a hard time retaining a commercial airline. As a result of past failed air service, and the dashed high hopes for Seaport, Visalia City Council decided not to court another carrier. The Visalia Airport is still open for business but marketed for corporate, general aviation and air cargo.

Santa Claus Put a Lawsuit In My Stocking

Christmas season for us started a few hours after our Thanksgiving meal when Mercedes and I went to Michael’s Black Friday sale. It was a surprisingly enjoyable experience and it was nice to have some new decorations after enduring the culling of belongings that happens with two forced moves and a house fire. Mercedes and I participated in the


Continued from p. 1 risks of sponsoring potential candidates in the academy. During public comment Cox approached the dais and told the council that after the city pays for a cadet to go through the academy that cadet can go work in another city and the city has lost their investment. “I got no response,” said Cox. “I think they should have been informed.” Cox told Vander Poel as much during the December 20 supervisors meeting. “[..] they want to pre-screen them, [they’re] gonna pay them as employees while they’re stiting in class, and then I know at the end of the academy they don’t have to come work for them,” Cox said. “They can just say ‘F U’ and go somewhere else. I said, does your council know that – does council know that, the people making the decision?” Council member Steve Nelsen explained that the city council was fully aware of the risks and that those discussions had taken place before Cox was

Valley Voice • 5 Visalia Holiday Home Tour for the first time and it will now be part of our regular Holiday repertoire. Besides the Christmas shopping and cookie baking, we went to craft fairs, Exeter’s Christmas home tour and downtown open house on Thursdays, and bought tickets to see the Olate Dogs at the Visalia Convention Center. The Valley Voice sponsored a family for Christmas through the Bethlehem Center and I loved having an excuse to go back to Toys R Us to buy gifts after a five year hiatus. On Christmas Eve my youngest daughter tasted her first champagne, we had duck a la orange for dinner and a platter of pastries from Bothof Bakery for dessert. We finished our night opening one Christmas gift and playing couple rounds of charades. And I almost forgot, we were treated to one more Christmas surprise. Right before our oldest daughter flew home from Oregon to celebrate the Holidays we were served. My dad and his wife were suing us – for the fourth time in two years. As the family historian, I have written seven family genealogies spanning over a 1000 pages covering my mom and dad’s side of the family. Nowhere has any family member ever sued another family member, especially a father suing his

daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. Joseph and I had felt something brewing so we made a simple request through my dad and stepmom’s lawyer that they please leave us in peace over the Holiday season. They have disrupted every one of our Christmases since 2013 and we felt like our family deserved a break. Obviously they did not. Happy 2017!

elected. “I’m not stupid. I know there is a cost involved,” said Nelsen. According to Nelsen and Council Member Collins, before paying for someone’s tuition at the academy the police department heavily screens the cadets and picks those who are local and most likely to stay in Visalia. Nelsen said that by sponsoring cadets through the academy they get dibs on the top 10 candidates instead of getting those candidates at the bottom of their class. Both council members said that, statistically speaking, retention is high. “Jason and his team feel good about the recruits they have chosen to invest money into putting them through the academy. Generally those folks will stay,” said Collins. Nelsen said it is against California law to force a police recruit to commit to working in a certain town even if you pay for their training. Salazar agreed. “What Phil wants is for them to sign a contract, and you can’t do that,” Salazar said. Cox’ experience with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was that

recruits do leave. He said that years ago the Sheriff’s Department was having a difficult time recruiting qualified applicants and decided to pay for some cadets’ training and minimum wage while they worked for the department. “Some stayed and some didn’t” said Cox. “We paid for them and they went elsewhere.” Supervisor Vander Poel said that Cox’ comments weren’t aimed at any one individual council member but originated from a different mindset held by the supervisors. One of Cox’ comments on the recording was that Visalia wasn’t going to see a dime of Measure N money until July but was planning on spending the money now on sponsoring some cadets. “The comment just came from a different mindset of not spending the money before you get it,” said Vander Poel. Vice Mayor Bob Link said that the entire council understands the risk but the goal is to have the police officers in

Website: • Tulare Hospital Board Discharges Entire Medical Staff • Board’s Opponents Strike at Tulare Hospital District During Meeting • Tulare Hospital Board Meeting Erupts in Controversy over $800,000 Loan • Bob and Brenda Burke: Visalia’s Coolest Teachers • Former Long-Time Grace Homes Employee Sues the Ministry • Deal Gives HCCA Right to Buy Tulare Regional Medical Center • Tulare Regional Medical Center: The Story of a Hospital’s Turnaround • UPDATED: Surprises Continue at October Tulare Hospital

Board Meeting • Tulare Hospital Directors Facing Strong Opposition • Grand Jury Releases Tower of Shame Report on Tulare Regional Medical Center Facebook: • Board’s Opponents Strike at Tulare Hospital District During Meeting • Tulare Hospital Board Meeting Erupts in Controversy over $800,000 Loan • Fatima Celebration • Former Supe Cox Calls Visalia City Council “Bunch of Dumbasses” • SeaPort Shuts Down Operations in Visalia, Other California Airports • Grand Jury Releases “Tower of Shame” Report on Tulare Regional Medical Center • Tulare Regional Medical Center: The Story of a Hospital’s Turnaround • Tulare Hospital Board Member Facing Recall Effort • Grand Jury Report Strikes At Tulare Regional Medical Center • The Beautification of Small Town USA

place by the time Measure N takes effect. Collins said that not a month goes by that Visalia is not recruiting police officers due to retirements, promotions and relocations. Salazar said there have been five academies in the last year and a half where they have sponsored cadets and that “Visalia has had a lot of success with the program.” Link did not want to comment on what Cox said but did add that “he is going to have to get along with the council. He is one vote out of five people and we need to respect each other.” Said Gubler, “We’ve all slipped up, made mistakes, and perhaps said things on occasion that we later regret. I’ve known Phil Cox for many years, and he is a good man. I look forward to working with him on the Visalia city council, and he will be a welcome addition.” Audio of Cox’s comments is available on the Valley Voice website at

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6 • Valley Voice

5 January, 2017

Agriculture High-Speed Rail Board Approves Plan, Gets Sued Kevin Hecteman The California High Speed Rail Authority believes it has a viable Central Valley route and funding plan—but opponents disagree, and the project remains controversial in agricultural regions that would be affected by construction. The CHSRA board unanimously approved funding plans last week that cover a Central Valley leg from Madera to Shafter and the San Francisco-San Jose leg, home to Caltrain, a longstanding commuter-rail operation. The plans are required for CHSRA to access money from Proposition 1A, the 2008 bond measure governing CHSRA activities. But Stuart Flashman, an Oakland-based attorney representing project opponents, announced at the CHSRA board meeting that he’s filing suit, claiming the plans don’t comply with Proposition 1A. Flashman sued on behalf of Kings County, the San Mateo County town of Atherton, three nonprofit groups and four private citizens. Flashman’s lawsuit targets Assembly Bill1889, signed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown, which considers a rail segment “suitable and ready” if it can host high-speed trains now or after more improvements are made. The lawsuit seeks to have AB1889 declared an unconstitutional revision of Proposition 1A, and to force CHSRA back to the drawing board. Dusty Ference, executive director

of the Kings County Farm Bureau, said he wasn’t pleased to hear of the funding plan’s approval. “Although we are discouraged by the approval of the plan, we are not surprised that the authority has done such an action,” Ference said. “With the long history Kings County Farm Bureau has had with this project and the authority, we have come to understand that they cannot and will not abide by Prop. 1A, and have done everything within their powers to manipulate Prop. 1A and the Legislature.” The Kings County Farm Bureau is among parties to another lawsuit challenging the authority’s alleged federal exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act. A ruling in favor of CHSRA is being appealed. Ference said he’s no fan of the plan. “Unfortunately, the plan being proposed by the authority, and developed without any local and agricultural feedback, inflicts the highest impact to agriculture compared to other areas, because it does not follow any transportation corridor and meanders through our rural farming area without any regard to the businesses (farms) that it runs through,” Ference said. “We have tried to work with the authority for over five years to seek to minimize the impacts. However, we have had no compromise from the authority, which leaves legal avenues as the only path forward.”

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Colleen Carlson, the Kings County counsel, said farmers and other citizens had come before the county board of supervisors, asking supervisors to “do everything they can to protect them.” “The high-speed rail will go approximately 30 miles—dissecting farmland— through Kings County,” Carlson said. “Agriculture is the basis of our economy here, so it’s devastating.” Kings County resident Aaron Fukuda, who co-chairs California Citizens for High-Speed Rail Accountability, said CHSRA continues to try to acquire right-of-way property via eminent domain. “That process is going painfully slow for them, and (it’s) a painful process for growers on our end,” Fukuda said. He said some of the offers he’s seen were as low as 25 percent of the going rate for agricultural land. Annie Parker, a CHSRA information officer, said the authority has 996 parcels in its possession out of 1,614 needed for three construction areas in the Central Valley. The rail authority said $7.813 billion will be needed for the Madera-Shafter segment. About $2 billion of that sum comes from the 2009 federal stimulus act; that money expires in late 2017 and requires a state match. In 2012, the Legislature allocated more than $7.5 billion to high-speed rail construction via Senate Bill 1029, but Proposition 1A requires several steps before that money can be spent. Parker called the rail board’s action significant “because it allows us to accelerate the work we are already doing to prepare for Silicon Valley to Central Valley high-speed rail service by 2025.” She said the board vote allows the CHSRA to gain access to Proposition 1A bonds for work in the Central Valley and along the Bay Area peninsula. She said the next step is for Jeff Morales, CEO of the authority, to finalize the plans and send them, along with

reports from independent consultants, to the finance director and the chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The CHSRA finance director will then have 60 days to approve the plans. The new lawsuit centers on the definitions of “usable segment” and “suitable and ready” as used in Proposition 1A and AB 1889. “Prop. 1A says that you identify a usable segment,” Flashman said. “You do a funding plan for the usable segment that says, ‘This is how much it’s going to cost to build this usable segment, and that we have all of the funds that we need to build it,’ and you tell where those funds are coming from. And then, what Prop. 1A says is that when the construction is finished, it will be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.” But Flashman said AB 1889 illegally redefines “suitable and ready” to mean that the line will be suitable and ready immediately, or when future capital improvements are funded and constructed, “sometime off in the distant future.” In response, CHSRA spokesman Lisa Marie Alley wrote, “We are in the business of building high-speed rail in California, putting people to work and investing in our future. Our opponents are in the business of filing lawsuits, delaying the project and raising the cost of the program at the expense of the taxpayers.” Ference said he’s not opposed to high-speed rail per se, but “if Kings County Farm Bureau were to support a particular project, it would have to respect the longstanding agricultural heritage and economy within Kings County and the farmers who have spent generations establishing a rich agricultural history.” (Kevin Hecteman is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. He may be contacted at This article reprinted with the permission of the California Farm Bureau Federation.




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5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • 7

Agriculture CFBF President: Congress Got It Right,But Will Regulators? Paul Wenger In the closing hours of the 114th Congress and with one of the last signatures by President Obama on a bipartisan bill sent to his desk, the long-awaited drought bill known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act became reality. This bill will help provide relief to areas of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California that remain drought stricken, even as rain and snow have benefited our Northern California reservoirs, with rivers periodically running near flood stage. The WIIN Act will provide much-needed flexibility in the operation of state and federal water projects. It will put the needs of people on a better standing relative to the rigid interpretations and application of the Endangered Species Act and resulting biological opinions that created a regulatory drought that has exacerbated the four-year drought of 2012-15. Ironically, while many of our congressional leaders were working in a bicameral and bipartisan fashion to help address and hopefully alleviate part of the California water crisis, the State Water Resources Control Board was holding hearings about doing just the opposite: proposing its own regulatory drought, in the form of a Substitute Environmental Document, or SED, for the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The board scheduled five hearings, starting with a Nov. 29 meeting in Sac-

ramento and concluding with another Sacramento hearing on Jan. 3. Hearings were also held in Stockton, Merced and Modesto, where more than 2,000 concerned and irritated citizens showed up to voice their opposition to the board’s proposed water grab in the name of increasing salmon populations. It became clear the issue is not really about salmon, but rather about flushing increased amounts of water out to sea by reducing the amount of water that communities, farms and water districts can capture in reservoirs to provide water during drought. The financial impact to the impacted communities and the people who live in them will be in the billions of dollars. The SED itself has tagged the potential increase in salmon to be 1,103 fish, with an economic impact of $250 million—or $58,000 per fish. The real irony from the SED is that those who wrote it, those who have advocated for increased water flowing unabated to the ocean and those making the final decisions have no financial stake and will feel no repercussions from their own actions. There have been many proposals to increase salmon numbers in the rivers through a comprehensive strategy that includes functional water flows, habitat restoration and enhancement, reduction of predator fish and facilitating more effective spawning outcomes. Farm Bureau has been involved in these discussions. We deny that the issue

at hand is one of farms versus fish. Farmers focus on results, not on process. Unfortunately, the river flow proposals are about process, not about commonsense results. In October, the water board announced plans to follow a similar path for increasing water flows in the Sacramento River as well, again resulting in reduced water storage in reservoirs. It’s almost laughable that the studies show the impact from the increased flow requirements would have little impact in wet years, but significant hardships in dry years. No kidding, they needed to spend money on a study for that? The very reason our grandparents invested in the water system we have today is the realization that there will be periods of drought, and that water stored in reservoirs, combined with groundwater and with wise, efficient use of resources, will see us through. Overarching all these discussions is the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, with Groundwater Sustainability Agencies for the most challenged groundwater basins to be established by July. As I’ve sat through several meetings with water board staff explaining the proposed SED and resulting flow requirements, one of their “solutions” to reduced water availability from surface reservoirs is the increased pumping of groundwater. This would be funny, if it weren’t so seriously scary and flawed.

The good news is that Felicia Marcus, the water board chair, responded to the many requests for more time to respond to the 3,581-page SED. The initial deadline of Jan. 17 has been extended until March 17. The additional two months for comment will help, given how the hearings coincided with the holiday season. The most important thing to do now is to voice your opinion and submit comments. Though counties, cities, irrigation districts, businesses and organizations will submit extensive comments, it will be the individual letters of concern that will help carry the message of how damaging this proposal really is. I have never seen a more complete or broad-based denouncement of something as I witnessed at the Modesto hearing last month. The impacts will be felt by everyone in the affected communities and beyond. Now is the time to fight. Now is the time to stand up and be heard. Our forbearers invested heavily in time and labor during challenging times, to provide us with the water infrastructure we have today. Let’s respect and honor their sacrifices by showing up, standing up and never giving up. As the sign at my farm says: WORTH YOUR FIGHT—Don’t Go with the Flow! This article reprinted with the permission of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

New Congress Likely to Address Regulatory Reform Christine Souza In the early days of the 115th U.S. Congress, lawmakers are expected to address an issue that has been a key concern of farmers and ranchers: unnecessary or duplicative regulation by the federal government. The new, Republican-led Congress will likely take up regulatory-reform legislation early in the coming session. “Regulatory reform is a very broad way of defining the problems that we face—the paperwork, expectations, rules, laws, fees, permits, penalties, including criminal penalties—all of that goes under this big umbrella,” said Josh Rolph, California Farm Bureau Federation Federal Policy manager. With members of Congress set to be sworn in early this week, Rolph said, the transition to a new Trump administration and a Republican-controlled legislative branch leaves “the expectation that things can get done.” “We have a business-minded incoming president, and we expect the new administration to look at WOTUS (a “waters of the U.S.” rule opposed by farmers and ranchers) and other regulations,” Rolph said. “Regulatory reform is a big deal. We have to advocate to bring some more common sense to help us run our businesses.” San Joaquin County winegrape grower Brad Goehring said farmers and ranchers feel overwhelmed by the abundance of costly regulations handed down by government agencies. “It’s just everything. We can hardly make a move anymore without having to wonder what permit we have to file for;

it’s just hamstringing us,” Goehring said. “In terms of regulations such as WOTUS, those things are basically land takings and a violation of private property rights. The government tells you that you can’t use your own land to do this or that, or stay away from this corner of your land, but then they don’t pay you for that land that you just have to let sit idle.” Goehring said he is optimistic about prospects for regulatory reform in the next Congress and under a Trump administration. “The people spoke in this election and they are tired of not just the regulatory arena, but just government in general has gotten too big and cumbersome. It has to be pared back,” he said. Paul Schlegel, American Farm Bureau Federation director of environment and energy policy, said the House of Representatives is likely to debate regulatory-reform legislation during the second week of January. “What we want to do in the process arena is to say, ‘Look, when you develop regulations, you have to be open and transparent and you have to give the stakeholders enough notice and you have to respect state agencies who implement the statutes,’ so there’s a whole series of process-related things,” Schlegel said. “We think if we can improve the process, we can improve the eventual result.” The legislative effort for regulatory reform may involve one or more pieces of legislation, one of which is likely to be the Regulatory Accountability Act, which was introduced in the previous Congress as H.R. 185 by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Farm Bureau has been encouraging

Congress to take up the issue because of agriculture’s experience with the WOTUS rulemaking, a regulation that Schlegel said “allows the federal government to regulate in ways that they have never done before,” with particular impacts on agriculture. Enacted in 2015 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, the WOTUS rule would bring more waterways and wetlands under jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, agricultural groups say. Farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations fear it could bring widespread restrictions on farmland and routine agricultural activities. AFBF has recommended the regulatory reform legislation be amended to include a prohibition on the use of social media by agencies as a means of influencing a rulemaking, citing the EPA “Ditch the Myth” campaign for the WOTUS rule as an example of agency abuse. The EPA came under fire for acting as a vocal and highly politicized advocate for its proposal, rather than as a fair broker that would weigh all public comments impartially. “WOTUS, we feel, goes beyond the SALES, SERVICE, RENTAL AG EQUIPMENT & TRUCK REPAIR

law, but we also feel the conduct of the agency in developing it was inappropriate and in some cases was illegal,” Schlegel said. “What we’re aiming at in the regulatory-reform effort is to try and put some boundaries and some guidelines on what agencies do and how they do it, so that their science is transparent.” In addition, Schlegel added, there are broader questions related to how agencies use science and economic data: how they can be held accountable, how much time they give stakeholders to respond to what has been proposed and how they engage with state regulators. “There’s a whole series of steps that we think can be improved,” he said. The regulatory-reform legislation is likely to pass the House, observers said, but added there will be a need in the Senate to win support from Democratic senators. (Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at This article reprinted with the permission of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

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8 • Valley Voice


Continued from p. 1 MEC Suddenly Replaced

5 January, 2017 scheduled deposition date for the pair, again despite weeks of attempts by the plaintiffs to communicate with them.

‘Cryptic Response’

Fenton eventually took the position that all discussion by the new MEC leaders during meetings, as well as who attended them, is also privileged information his clients may not discuss. It eventually emerged that Walter, who now serves on the replacement MEC, did not find out who would serve with him until he attended the first meeting in January of last year, and that he was asked to serve by Kumar. When asking if members of the community, Board members or others not on the MEC attended those meetings, Baim met with Fenton’s objections again. He specifically asked if Board Chair Sherrie Bell or other TLHCD directors attended, but Walter was instructed not to answer.

Macaluso laid out his vision of what might happen to Tulare Regional: “There is going to be this lawyer and this lawyer, and you know they are going to have all sorts of lawyers in here,” he said. “You’ve got, you know, basically I brought up these—you are going to have so many lawyers in this place, you guys won’t know what is going to happen.” And, he feared those attorneys’ fees would eat away at money the District could spend to complete the unfinished hospital expansion. “All that money that was going to build that tower is going to go pay for lawyers,” Macaluso said. “There was a lot of discussion about lawyers, and it doesn’t always go positive when you’re having physicians talking about lawyers.”

The MEC began its lawsuit after it On November 30, three days bewas replaced—initially at fore the depositions’ origan illegally-noticed meetinally scheduled dates, the ing of TLHCD’s Board defense finally broke its sion January 26, 2016, then lence in a “one-line, cryptic again at a second meeting response.” It read: “We are February 15, 2016. The working on our answer to elected leaders of the MEC, you and should have to you a body that by law must be soon.” (sic) independent from the hosThe next day, the depital administration, were fense demanded the plainMichael Amir. Courtesy/ not notified of the action to Doll Amir Eley tiffs cease the discovery cancel their contract with process, citing a settlement the hospital. Those leaders maintain the conference scheduled for February. Amir action violates the MEC’s bylaws and called the demand “another stunt to District rules. further delay discovery” that ended in Sanctions Threatened Lawyers Wrote At both meetings, the Board then defense attorneys claiming their clients As the depositions went on with a ‘Community Letter’ voted to replace the MEC with a new were unavailable for the early-December two-hour questioning of Dr. Joshua TruAlso deposed by Amir was Tulare committee apparently quickly concoct- dates that had been proposed weeks ear- jillo, also on August 10, the mood was Mayor Carlton Jones, who signed a soed. Attorneys for the MEC, as well as the lier, though apparently never acknowl- somewhat hostile as Fenton called “community letter” California Medical Association and the edged by the defense’s council. continued to make objecto the California Medical Center for Medicare and Medicaid SerIn its filing, plaintiffs describe de- tions Baim found frivolous. Association that took the vices (CMS), have said the move violates fense’s behavior as an “apparent strategy Fenton again told his client organization to task for supseveral state and federal laws intended of running the clock out” as the April not to tell Baim if he’d been porting the former MEC’s to keep doctors free from outside, prof- trial date nears, and Amir’s team worries told to prepare for his deposuit against TLHCD and it-driven influence. the delays will continue if a referee is not sition, prompting a frustratHCCA. More than a dozen The judge presiding over the case appointed by the court. ed and bemused Baim to other community leaders, declined to issue a temporary restraining “Given the prior conduct noted threaten action. including many elected oforder against the MEC’s replacement in above, we are concerned that the upcom“We’ll seek sanctions ficials, also signed the letter, March of last year, citing his concern for ing depositions will be hampered by the against you again,” he told Carlton Jones. Courtesy/ which it now appears was the continued operation of the hospital. same frivolous tactics and positions,” the Fenton. “It is going to be a City of Tulare a public-relations effort by That concern, says Amir, was falsely cre- document reads. Judge David Mathias fun motion.” the TLHCD. ated by the District, which put forth the will rule on a request by the plaintiffs for “Good,” Fenton responded. “We “He confirmed our suspicion it was notion TRMC would close if the MEC a discovery referee at a hearing scheduled will seek sanctions against you.” not something drafted by the commuwere not replaced. Baim, however, eventually got the nity leaders, but by the hospital,” Amir for January 26. “As far as the lawsuit is concerned, A settlement conference is still answers he sought: said of Jones’ testimony. “This (commuone of the primary things the court hung scheduled for February, Amir said. Baim: Did you receive a no- nity letter) is false, not organized by the its hat on was the hospital was going to tice of deposition prior to appear- community leaders.” be closed if the MEC wasn’t removed,” ing here today? The Depositions Amir said that during the deposition Amir said. Trujillo: No. What Amir sees as delaying tactics of former TLHCD Chair Sherrie Bell, That fear was born from a safety re- by the defense are made clear in the Baim: You didn’t, okay. Were Bell confirmed the community letter was port issued by CMS that included a long deposition of Dr. Gary Walter, taken you ever given a copy of a notice drafted by the District’s attorneys. list of safety violations at TRMC, includ- August 10 of last year. When Walter was of deposition that had certain... It also appears Kumar discussed ing issues with the MEC. The Board, in asked by Amir’s co-counsel, certain request for docu- Jones’ deposition with him repeatedits response to the MEC’s suit, claimed Jason Baim, if he had seen ments on it? ly before it occurred, with Jones giving it had to replace the MEC to prevent the the notice of deposition beTrujillo: No. permission to Kumar to have an atCMS from ending its ability to treat pa- fore the day of the deposiBaim then showed Tru- torney call him. Attorney David Krol, tients under the programs it runs. When tion, he said he could not jillo the notice of deposition: who represented Jones at the deposithe CMS was informed of the MEC’s re- recall ever seeing it or a preBaim: Have you tion, was cautious as Amir learned how placement, it responded that the action vious notice. ever seen their attorney-client relawas illegal, Amir said. this document? “OK, so your lawyer tionship formed, object“The judge was under the assump- never gave you this docuTrujillo: I ing to the point Amir aption if he did anything, the hospital ment?” Baim asked. was shown it peared agitated. Benjamin Fenton. would close,” he said. “There is no truth earlier today, Before he could answer, “So I am trying to find behind the statement CMS will close defense attorney Benjamin Courtesy/Fenton Law but not beout, what, just the identity hospital.” fore today. Fenton objected, citing attorney-client of the attorney, who you’re Baim: OK, so privilege. Walter eventually said he had trying to protect, the day before today, you Foot-dragging been told by his counsel he would be before you actually lawyer never saw this docThe events leading up to the removal deposed, but he was not aware he was up,” Amir told Jones. “So, ument or any docu- Sherrie Bell. Courtesy/ of the MEC are coming forth as deposi- required to bring any related documents again, let me ask my quesTLHCD ment like this one? tions from the defendants are finally be- to the deposition. tion. Because I don’t—if I Trujillo: Correct. ing taken after what Amir calls intentionA transcript of the three-hour exdon’t get an answer, I am going to have al delays. That process, described in the amination shows Fenton objecting to to go to court. And I don’t want to do MEC’s court filings, has been hindered all questions regarding defense’s prepathat. I am not trying to threaten you. All ‘All Sorts of Lawyers’ by an apparent lack of preparation by the ration for the depositions, as well as its The testimony of Dr. Frank Maca- I want to know is: Who did you talk to?” defense counsel, as well as last-minute apparent actual lack of preparation. In a later interview, Jones said he luso perhaps best establishes the plainnotices to their clients regarding times Baim to Walter: You don’t re- tiffs’ contention those who now make hired Krol, whom he paid out of his and places their sworn testimony would call being told that or being aware up the replacement MEC knew remov- own pocket, because it would have been be taken, he said. of (the notice of deposition)? ing the original MEC would be rife with unwise not to have counsel during the Defendants in the case were also Walter: No. legal problems, and they discussed it at deposition. apparently not instructed by their attorBaim: Okay. You don’t recall their meetings. “Anytime there’s an attorney in neys to provide documents demanded having any conversations with the room, you need an attorney with “Well, I think everyone, you know, by the plaintiffs, nor had defense counsel counsel about this document? you,” he said. was concerned about potential legal started the search for those documents as Fenton: Well, I am going to challenges,” Macaluso said when asked late as four weeks ago, despite promising object as attorney-client commu- about not following the MEC’s bylaws Signers Didn’t See Letter’s Text to do so months earlier. nications, and instruct the wit- and rules in replacing it. “We just had He also said he had nothing to do According to court filings dated Deness not to answer. a discussion, you know, I said: ‘Well, with authoring the letter to the CMA. cember 16, 2016, the defense has yet to Baim: Did you ever search for somebody is going to challenge this. Instead, he thought he was affirming a confirm the late-January depositions of any documents that you were to Yeah. Yeah—oh, yeah, it’s going to be letter approved by the TLHCD Board in Kumar and Benzeevi. The defense also bring with you to this deposition? challenged. But, what’s going to happen? support of it and the hospital. failed to respond to notices of an earlier Walter: No. How is that going to occur?’” TRMC continued on 9 »

5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • 9

County Urges East Porterville to Connect to Water System Staff Reports County officials are urging property owners in East Porterville to take advantage of a limited opportunity to connect to the City of Porterville*s water system free of charge. The unprecedented opportunity is being provided by a state


Continued from p. 8 “I didn’t write that letter at all,” Jones said. Jones testimony also revealed he did not see the text of the letter before adding his name to the signature page, nor had he seen the letter from the CMA to TLHCD. He said he was asked on short notice to come to the hospital parking lot at night by Kumar to sign the letter. “My intent in signing the letter was I’m signing a letter that was written and submitted by the Board and my signature is just a signature of support,” Jones testified. “And, so when I read the letter, it’s the Board saying these are the issues we’re having, as a community leader will you support our efforts to fix them?”


Continued from p. 1 with their kids or whose children are in the hospital after a crime. According to Ward, there have been 800 child victims of crime in Tulare

agency collaborative to deliver safe and reliable drinking water to these drought stricken homes. For a limited time, East Porterville property owners are able to connect their homes to the newly expanded City of Porterville water system, at no cost. Eligible property owners who partici-

pate in this connection project will bear none of the connection costs, which could easily exceed $10,000 per property. After being connected to the City*s water system, property owners will have a utility account and receive a monthly bill from the City of Porterville for their water service.

Officials urge property owners to act quickly and begin the connection process as soon as possible, and no later than March 1, 2017. Property owners can obtain necessary forms and more information on the process to connect at the Porterville City Hall, or by dialing (866) 284-5142.

Trust Issues

Too much trust and failure to check facts are at the heart of this lawsuit and TLHCD’s other troubles, Amir says, and the testimony of Bell, the district’s former chairwoman, reveals what happened out of the public eye. “What came out of Sherrie Bell was a complete abdication of responsibility to Dr. Benzeevi,” Amir said. “Benzeevi had no experience, and Bell knew it.” Bell’s testimony makes it clear Benzeevi took advantage of board members facing continual financial losses and a community that was afraid of losing its hospital, Amir said. “What she testified was that in 2015 the hospital was in big trouble and were looking to partner with one of these big hospital systems,” he said. “At the last minute, Benzeevi came in with this

company HCCA. He also said he could finish the construction, that he had a construction company.” Bell and the other directors failed to find out if the fees Benzeevi and HCCA demanded were in line with those paid to other hospital administrators. They also failed to practice due diligence regarding Benzeevi’s qualifications to oversee such a large operation. “To me it became clear that sometime in late 2015 or 2014, the Board said here, Benzeevi, you do everything,” Amir said. Meanwhile, the District has been under fire for failing to complete its expansion at TRMC, or to provide accounting of how $85 million in voter-approved bonds for the project were spent. Lack of transparency was at the heart of a recent election that saw Bell and Laura Gadke defeated by two-to-

one margins at the polls, and so it may be that change is coming from the top down at TLHCD. The district is also facing other lawsuits regarding the legality of its conduct, and in late 2016 it laid off 29 employees. Recently, District employees have reported their paychecks bounced, with District officials blaming a change in banks for the dishonored checks. Kumar is also facing a recall effort to remove him from District leadership. He and the District did not respond to inquiries regarding this report. Jones, who took over as mayor just last month, is hopeful the new makeup of the Board will lead to change there, and is taking a wait-and-see attitude. “Everything operates by majority vote,” he said. “With (new directors) up there, let’s see what changes they can make.”

County in 2016. Fortune is named after Army Sergeant Maurice K. Fortune, who fell in Iraq in 2004. Jennifer Lightfoot is the dog’s handler and she is also a victims’ advocate. She is available to bring the dog to the court house, hospital or where

child interviews take place. Fortune’s primary function is to bring comfort to young victims of crime. Ward said that just the presence of the dog serves as a general ice breaker and can relieve stress and aid in the free flowing of information during a child

interview. Fortune had been with the DA’s office for a little more than a week; Ward felt the best place for his first public appearance would be the Board of Supervisors, who have been very supportive of the DA’s office.

10 • Valley Voice

5 January, 2017


The Diplomacy of Donald J. Trump

Mel Gurtov Those of us who appreciate the unconventional have to have second thoughts after watching Donald J. Trump in action. All the more so when it comes to the conduct of foreign affairs, in which Mr. Trump is a novice. Defying convention, which calls for the president or president-elect to call on the State Department for advice and talking points, and on the intelligence community for daily briefings, Trump at any time might decide to pick up the phone and chat with a foreign leader, might Tweet an opinion, or might make an off-the-cuff remark about a controversial issue. Trouble is, any of these acts might run directly counter to ongoing US foreign policy. You can’t flatter a dictator, interject comments about another country’s domestic affairs, praise one country at the expense of another, or bring family into high-level meetings without consequences. Trump has done all these, and more, and as president seems determined to continue the practice. Such practices only make sense when understood in terms of Trump’s “art of the deal” approach to diplomacy. And “the deal” must be taken literally, since Trump clearly sees doing the nation’s business as being equivalent to doing his personal business. Protecting the environment, promoting human rights and social justice, and strengthening international law have no place in the deal. Trump Organization hotels and golf courses outside the US, and Trump’s financial portfolio (Goldman Sachs, Apple, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and other international firms ), spell conflicts of interest in capital(ist) letters. Given Trump’s lack of transparency on his taxes and business dealings, his refusal to establish a blind trust or divest his financial holdings, and his absolutist belief that “the president cannot have a conflict of interest,” we may never know whether or not he is using his position to further “the brand” and his personal fortune.

Here’s What Trump Has Said and Done

China: Trump broke with longstanding precedent again when he held a telephone conversation with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, the first conversation between two leaders since the 1979 US recognition of the PRC and breaking of ties with Taiwan. Contrary to Trump’s insistence that “The President of Taiwan CALLED ME” to offer congratulations, official Taiwan sources said the call had been arranged in advance. Supporting that view, a Washington Post report said the call “was planned weeks ahead by staffers and Taiwan specialists on both sides, according to people familiar with the plans.” In fact, Trump’s pro-Taiwan advisers said they deliberately wanted to send China a message that the old Taiwan policy might change if China’s policies on currency, US investments in China, the trade deficit, North Korea, and the South China Sea did not change. Trump underscored that message by publicly questioning the one-China policy that has guided US-China relations for 40 years. (“I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One

China policy unless we make mark its completion, is opera deal with China,” he said.) ated by a top official in the Leverage, or blackmail? Duterte government: During his campaign, “The man writing milTrump had harsh words for lions of dollars’ worth of China—and in doing so checks to the Trump family revealed very limited unis the Duterte government’s derstanding of Chinese mospecial representative to the tivations, not to mention United States. To argue that reliance only on himself for these payments will be conhis views of China. He said stitutional if they are paid to Mel Gurtov. Courtesy/ then what he has said now, the Trump children, and not that if China doesn’t behave PeaceVoice to Trump personally, is abas he sees fit, he will authosurd. This conflict demands rize trade and currency sanctions. After congressional hearings, and could be an all, who needs China? impeachable offense.” But if Trump now intends to put Turkey: Similarly, the Post also reChina on notice, China is also putting ported, Trump has business interests in Trump on notice. The Chinese press has Turkey, and conveyed compliments from carried stories indicating that although a “close friend” of his to Turkey’s leader, positive US-China relations are most im- Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That associaportant to Chinese leaders, further steps tion, supplemented by Michael Flynn’s that are contrary to the “One China” involvements with Turkey, could lead principle will be resisted. The press has Trump to reverse US policy and expel also reported various negative views of the cleric, now residing in Pennsylvania, US society and politics today, with the whom Erdogan believes is responsible for suggestion that the US has become weak the recent coup attempt. and divided in the course of this electoral Britain: Trump told the British cycle. If the idea of Taiwan independence, prime minister, Theresa May, “If you travwhich most concerns Chinese leaders, ac- el to the U.S., you should let me know,” tually takes shape under Trump, we can an offhand invitation that came only after expect that China’s pushback will be very he spoke to nine other leaders. He later strong. The recent incident in South Chi- compounded it by saying on Twitter that na Sea waters in which a Chinese vessel Britain should name the anti-immigrant picked up a US Navy unmanned re- leader Nigel Farage its ambassador to search drone (later returned) may be just Washington, a startling break with diploa preview. matic protocol. Trump’s Taiwan gambit is reminisIsrael: Trump just can’t wait to show cent of George W. Bush early in his pres- Benjamin Netanyahu just how pro-Israel idency, when he expressed strong support (i.e., pro-settlements, anti-UN) he can for Taiwan and authorized a major arms be. He and “Bibi” are of one mind about sale. But before long Bush accepted the the irrelevance of a just solution to the IsOne China policy of his predecessors and rael-Palestine conflict. So when the US backed off from a shift on Taiwan. It’s not for the first time failed to reject a UN Seclear that Trump will do the same. (The curity Council resolution critical of IsraeHouse recently passed a defense autho- li settlements in occupied Palestine–the rization bill that called for the secretary US abstained–Netanyahu went ballistic of defense to approve annual “senior mil- and Trump followed. Mind you, Obama itary exchanges” with Taiwan.) Trump had only recently pledged $38 billion may just be testing the waters, but more in military aid to Israel over the next 10 likely is that he believes he can pressure years–a huge increase, considering that China into making concessions. He’ll from the 1967 June War to 2015, total find that Beijing does not respond well to US military exports to Israel came to $34 pressure tactics or blackmail. And that billion–in hopes Netanyahu would halt will leave Taiwan out to dry, vulnerable to further illegal settlements. Trump will Chinese threats. no doubt resume the practice of giving Philippines: Then there’s Trump’s aid without conditions. His nominee as talk with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philip- ambassador to Israel, a strong supporter pines, which ended with an invitation to of the settlements, will see that Israel gets visit the US and Duterte’s later statement whatever it wants. that Trump endorsed the anti-drug crackJapan: When Trump met Prime down. According to Duterte, Trump was Minister Abe Shinzo in New York shortly “quite sensitive” to the Philippines’ drug after his election, only one other Ameriproblem and was handling it “the right can was in the room: his daughter Ivanka. way.” That was not Obama’s view, of Trump apparently did not consult with course. Duterte’s crackdown on drugs has the State Department for talking points. caused more than 2000 deaths and sever- For all we know, Trump may have reiteral hundred surrenders by users and traf- ated his view during the campaign that fickers. Obama’s criticism of Duterte for Japan should shoulder more of its defense trampling on civil liberties and engaging burden, leaving open the possibility of Jain vigilante justice while suppressing drug pan’s producing nuclear weapons. trafficking is what got Philippines-US rePakistan: Trump’s phone call with lations off track. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showed toLeft unsaid is Trump’s considerable tal disregard for the sensitive issues that real estate interest in the Philippines, an mark US relations with his government, interest that clearly will conflict with his including relations with India, involvepresidency. As reported in the Washing- ment of Pakistan’s intelligence services ton Post, a newly built Trump Tower in support of the Taliban in Afghanistan, condominium outside Manila, which and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Trump’s sons visited for ceremonies to According to the Pakistani government,

Trump told Sharif that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Sharif invited Trump to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.” Trump’s team would not confirm or deny Pakistan’s account. Kazakhstan: Trump’s penchant for cozying up to dictators (except China’s) shows that he will follow an unfortunate US foreign policy tradition. His call with President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev is indicative: As usual, Trump failed to mention that country’s repressive politics. Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1989, initially as head of the Communist Party before independence. He won his fifth election in April 2015 with about 97 percent of the vote. The Kazakh government claimed that Trump lavishly praised Nazarbayev’s leadership, citing “fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle.’” More intelligently, Trump apparently also praised the Kazakh government’s surrender of the nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviets. Russia: Trump’s love affair with Vladimir Putin remains one of the most bizarre stories in international affairs, though I can’t quarrel with the goal of a reset in relations. But the terms of a reset are critical. Since the start of Trump’s campaign, he has endorsed Putin’s strong leadership (stronger than Obama’s, Trump said), avoided criticism of Russian interventions in Ukraine and the Crimea, agreed with Putin on focusing on ISIS in Syria, and—most extraordinarily—rejected the consensus view of the intelligence community on Russian hacking of the US elections. Furthermore, Trump and his future secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, have large business interests in Russia. Now Trump has embraced the idea of a nuclear arms race; Putin has said “nyet,” but Trump’s bravado gives him license to push for more nukes and other weapons in the context of a much larger military budget.

In Conclusion

Let’s remember one thing about all these forays into foreign policy: Trump has still not been inaugurated. Thus, he is trying to make policy while still a private citizen and, in all the cases above, without a secretary of state or defense. His recent pronouncements on nuclear weapons, Russia, Israel, China, and the United Nations—all via Twitter or telephone, and thus without benefit of expert advice or questions from the press corps—not only reveal a preparedness to make significant, high-risk departures from longstanding US policy. They also subvert the country’s leadership, making it appear that Trump is already in charge. President Obama is fighting back by executive action. But shouldn’t he also pick up the phone to firmly remind Trump who’s in charge? Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.

5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • 11

Comments & Letters

Hospital Accountability: Kumar Recall Rolls On

Citizens for Hospital Accountability For almost one year, Citizens for Hospital Accountability have been working diligently to get our local hospital, Tulare Regional Medical Center, back on the right track. During this time, we have witnessed continual mismanagement and misrepresentation from the Board and the Board’s appointed management company HCCA. This includes the payment of outrageous yearly management fees of over $3 million and a CFO’s monthly salary of over $45,000, plus $8,000 per month travel expenses. There were unsupported claims of record profits and improvements to the quality of care, only to later have employee layoffs and a “one star” and “F” ratings placed on the care. And of course there were the threats of closure of the hospital if the Bond Measure did not pass, the sneaky $800,000 loan disguised as a line of credit, but in truth, was a loan to

pay a delinquent invoice. And the secret $500,000 loan to a bankrupt hospital district, that just so happened to be also managed by HCCA. Since the formation of the Citizen’s group, made up of long-time Tulare volunteers, and with the help of over 63% of the voting public, the ill-conceived Bond Measure was defeated and two Board members have been replaced with two new members, who have vowed to bring back transparency and accountability to our local public hospital. Our next, and perhaps the most important, step is the recall of the longest termed Board Member, Dr. Parmod Kumar. Today, our group submitted 1375 signatures from District 3, demanding the recall of Dr. Kumar. This is significantly more than the 1.049 required signatures to initiate the recall election. Although we are aware of the paid opposition’s efforts to invalidate some of the 1,375 signatures, we are confident

the election’s office will certify our petition and move forward towards the recall election. The purpose of the recall petition was not to cast any disparagement on Dr. Kumar as a citizen or as a skilled physician. The purpose is to wrestle away the unfettered power he has had as the long-standing leader of a Board that has abandoned its fiduciary duty to its citizens. We have no hidden agendas or unspoken goals for the two new Board members, Kevin Northcraft and Mike Jamaica. Nor do we intend to place some type of litmus test on the recall candidate we will endorse. Our only goal is to gain back our trust in a transparent and accountable Board, who will bring back the quality of care we Tulareans have come to expect from our local public hospital, that has serviced our District for over 60 years.

“Respect, that’s what should be for dinner.” Andra Goddard For months, the old Beef Council ad, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” has been humming around in my head, but substituting the word “hate” for “beef.” Because it seems that this is just the thing that has been fueling, “nourishing,” if you will, our society. It grows out of suspicion, fear, distrust, and manifests itself in the ugliest of ways, words and acts of hatred that we would not tolerate from schoolyard bullies but as mature adults seem to have embraced as acceptable, the new norm. Why, how, have we come to this point? What is to be gained by filling one’s heart with such loathing of our fellow man, fellow American, next-door neighbor or possibly family member, that it spills out in shouting insults, violence or threats of violence, and vandalism? It does nothing to improve one’s own physical or mental health, but it does seem to make people think they feel better by this uncontrolled (and thus childish) venting of the sentiment “My way or the highway.” If you’re not like “me” then you have no place here. The “reality tv” world we live in now has replaced one of reason. The comic-book buffoon who will soon reside in the White House is proof of that. Not speaking of political philosophies, or economic or so-

“ “

cial plans, just personality, that is what the American people have decided is the best representative of ourselves, our country, on the world stage, and for posterity. In 2004, people criticized Mr. Kerry as “too serious” to be President, which is exactly what a President should be, but oh how I long for the days of the Bush 43 régime, compared to what faces us. The belligerent bullying and braggadocio of the presumed next President of the United States of America has fostered the suspicion and hatred of much of our country, and done nothing to encourage us to reach out to make personal contact, to research, to ask, to learn, so that we can understand who the “other” really is. Since November 9, acts of violence (physical or verbal) and vandalism have increased against certain minority communities. The new administration does not give much hope that this will be discouraged at an official level, indeed is encouraged, though not overtly. I was not always a Muslim, but I am one now. And, as a WASP who converted to Islam (no, I do yet have my card identifying me as such) I feel the fear of my co-religionists whose skin color, name, or choice of dress makes them more visible. I have been lucky, compared to many I know, in that I have had only one person tell me that

“the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.” I have had friends stopped at US airports and questioned. I know children who have been told to “go back where you came from,” yet they’re native-born Americans, going back generations. One mother, delivering her children to school, was egged as she returned to her car. So much worse has happened, those are just friends of mine. Do we really need to exhibit such hatred for other people? WHY? If you think Islam is such a threat, you don’t know Islam. Have you asked a Muslim what the Qur’an says (in context, its true message)? Have you asked your pastor to invite an imam to come give an informational class? Have you participated in any inter-faith events? Have you tried to know who we really are? No, I think not, or you simply would not act out against us. No one is trying to convert anyone. It’s a simple matter of respect. For one’s self, by acting like the well-mannered Americans our parents raised, and for the people around us, whether they are like you or completely different. Why not try thinking of all we have in common as human beings, instead of trying to erase the differences and subjugating others. Respect, that’s what should be for dinner.

Comments from I want to thank Alberto Aguilar publicly for his awesome dedication on behalf of the residents of this district in researching and exposing the financial mismanagement of the current and immediately preceding administrations. Without his dogged persistence, we would still be in utter darkness.

— Don Manro, on Tulare Hospital Board Member Facing Recall Effort

Salazar I like your comments on respect. These are citizens of your community that allow the police to serve and protect them and yes including law breakers. Once police loose credibility with the citizens they serve it will be hard to do the job of a police officer. Robinson you said that you still have to deal with the suspect that committed a crime regardless whether the are mentally ill on drugs or DUI etc etc. That does not mean you have to use deadly force right away. You wear the uniform, badge and a gun. Citizens expect your good judgement and good decision making in seconds sometimes. And again communicate, de-escalate and diffuse incidents including life and death situations. This makes for officer safety and safety of citizens around as you now have a controlled safe environment. Again police must respect, respect and respect the citizens they serve and protect. Dont act/dress like or wanna be military because you are a civilian law enforcement organization. There are a few bad apple cops that make it look bad for the others serving valiantly. Be safe on your shift and walk your beat/sector so you get to know your area and the people. Remember our armed forces serving worldwide. Hooah!!!

— Ed, on Local Law Enforcement Opens Up About Black Lives Matter and Violence Against Agencies

Veteran’s Corner Prescription Drug Price Reductions Scott Holwell Prescription drugs received through the Department of Veterans Affairs for non-service connected conditions could cost many veterans less under a new rule that kicks in Feb. 27. Currently, the VA charges veterans who do not qualify for free health care $8 or $9 for a 30-day or less drug supply, depending on their category. Those costs were set to increase over time based on a Medical Consumer Price Index calculation. The new plan, however, will categorize drugs into tiers, similar to how medication is handled by Tricare. Tier 1 medications, described as “preferred generics,” will cost $5 for a 30-day or less supply. Tier 2, or “non-preferred generics,” will cost $8 for a 30-day or less supply. Tier 3, or “brand name,” will cost $11 for a 30-day or less supply. Officials estimate that most users will see a 10 to 50 percent reduction in the cost of the drugs they receive from the VA, according to the rule proposal posted to the federal register early this year. A series of seven criteria is used by the VA to determine which generic drugs are on the lower-cost “preferred generics” list, and which drugs are “non-preferred generics” and cost $3 more per 30-day or less supply, according to the rule proposal. For example, generic drugs typically used to treat a common “chronic condition,” such as hypertension, will be on the list, while topical creams, products used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, antihistamines and steroid-containing generics would not because they are typically used on an “as-needed basis,” the document says. The annual drug co-payment cap for veterans in priority groups two through seven is $700. Veterans who meet certain qualifications, including a disability rating above 50 percent or who qualify as low-income, can receive free health care from the VA and are not subject to the co-pay costs. The Kings County Veterans Service Office can complete the DMV Veteran Status Verification Form for the new California Veteran Designation on your driver’s license and also issues Veteran I.D. cards to honorably discharged veterans. Contact Scott Holwell if you would like to receive periodic veteran’s information by email. There are many state and federal benefits and programs available to veterans and their dependents. To determine if you are eligible for any of these benefits, call or visit our office. We can and will assist you in completing all required application forms. You can get information on the Web from the Kings County Veterans Service Office webpage at www. Scott Holwell, retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, is the Veterans Service Officer for Kings County. Send your questions to the Veterans Service Office, 1400 W. Lacey Blvd, Hanford, CA 93230; call (559)852-2669; or e-mail scott.holwell@

12 • Valley Voice

5 January, 2017

California Farm Bureau Announces Winners of 2016 Photo Contest

Ashton James Gutierrez, the first baby of 2017 at Kaweah Delta. Courtesy/KDHCD

Kaweah Delta Welcomes 2017 New Year’s Baby Staff Reports Kaweah Delta Medical Center has welcomed its first baby of 2017. Ashton James Gutierrez was born at 12:34 a.m. on Sun., Jan. 1, at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. Ashton weighed in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches in length. His parents are Ariel Gutierrez, 19 and Isac Gutierrez, 20, of Tulare. Both are graduates of Mission Oak High School in Tulare. The child is the first for the couple and the first grandchild for the couple’s families. Ashton was never expected to be a New Year’s baby. In fact, Ariel’s due date was Dec. 28. Her doctor had scheduled her to be induced at 8 a.m. on Monday,

Jan. 2. But suddenly on New Year’s Eve around 2 a.m., Ariel’s water broke. “It was nerve-wracking and surprising,” said Ariel, who pushed for two hours before Ashton was born. “He was alert and looking at everyone. It’s been amazing and unreal how fast everything happened.” For being the New Year’s baby at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Ashton received a New Year’s diaper cake from nurses at the hospital. As of 12 p.m., 10 babies have been born at Kaweah Delta. Each year, approximately 4,200 babies are delivered at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. Established in 1963, Kaweah Delta Health Care District is the only trauma center between Fresno and Bakersfield.

From soaring vistas to intimate moments of farm life, submissions to the California Farm Bureau Federation 2016 Photo Contest captured diverse perspectives of the state’s rich agricultural and rural tapestry. Farm Bureau has announced the winners of the 35th annual competition aimed at celebrating California agriculture through photography. Capturing a pre-dawn glimpse of a Napa County winegrape harvest, photographer Andrew Lincoln of Napa took home the competition’s top honor, the $1,000 Grand Prize. Witnessing the night harvest “makes for a very surreal environment and very dramatic moments,” Lincoln said. Hannah Gbeh of Jamul garnered First Place and $500 for a portrait of her husband cradling peanut plants on their San Diego County farm. Becky Hanson of Clements earned Second Place and $250 for capturing a colorful walnut orchard in San Joaquin County, and also earned an Honorable Mention for a second photo. Mary Heffernan of Fort Jones won Third Place and $100 for a scene featuring her young daughter with a lamb on their Siskiyou County ranch. Five additional contestants earned Honorable Mentions and $50 for their efforts: Vanessa Alexandre of Crescent City, Del Norte County; Jenny Manuelli of Riverbank, Stanislaus County; Becky Reisdorf of Carmel, Monterey County; Julie Thornton of Potter Valley, Mendocino County; and Susana Velasco of Alpaugh, Tulare County.

Staff Reports In the Budding Artists category for ages 13 and younger, presented by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, 13-year-old Chelsea Davis of Riverdale claimed First Place and $250 for a photo of her 2-year-old brother playing with toy tractors on the family’s Fresno County farm. The Second Place prize of $100 went to 13-year-old Bella Locke of Tulare for a spirited selfie with her expressive 4-H heifer. The contest received hundreds of entries from throughout the state. All eligible participants were amateur photographers and members of county Farm Bureaus in California or supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation. This year’s theme, “Fresh Perspective,” encouraged participants to explore unique viewpoints. In addition to the cash prizes awarded to the photographers, all 12 prize-winning photos will be published in the weekly California Farm Bureau newspaper, Ag Alert®, as well as the organization’s bimonthly magazine, California Bountiful®. The photos will also appear on the organization’s websites (, and and social media pages. The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 48,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Valley Scene

5 January, 2017

Local Dairymen Take Part in California Milk Rose Parade Float Nancy Vigran It’s a New Year’s Day tradition for millions – watching the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. And, each year a million or more from all around the world converge in Pasadena to see one or both, up close and personal. When watching the parade this year, South Valley residents may have found some familiar faces on the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) float. Local dairymen, Joe, Joey and Joseph Airoso, and brothers, Mario and Joe Simoes were chosen to ride on the float. This year’s parade theme was “Echoes of Success.” The CMAB chose “Legacy of Generations” as its float theme, and 11 individuals from five long-time California dairy families rode on the float, representing the 1,300 dairy families within the state. “It’s an honor,” Mario Simoes said of being chosen.

The Simoes

The Simoes are 81-year-old twins, having immigrated to the US from the island of Terceira in the Azores, at the age of 15. They are the eldest of 13 siblings. Their father had worked in the dairy industry in the Azores, and moved the family the US to do the same, hopefully on a larger scale. “We’ve been twins for 81 years,” Joe Simoes said. “I think it’s an honor – they don’t invite everybody [to be involved in the Rose Parade].” The fact that the Simoes are twins, and have been in the dairy industry all of their lives lead the brothers to their being chosen. Joe’s son, Joey, is carrying on the family legacy, as are some of Mario’s children.

The Airosos

Similarly, Joey Airoso’s great grandfather, Charles, moved from the same

ROSE BOWL continued on B3 »

Eleven people from California dairy families represent the legacy of California’s milk including Joe and Mario Simoes of Tulare (from right to left, to the left of the California Milk seal), and Joseph and Joey Airoso of Pixley. The group rode on the CMAB float in the 128th Rose Parade on January 2. Courtesy/Joey Airoso

Bill Mason: Last Living Instructor from Tulare’s Rankin Field

Wanda Cottengim, Mae Reuter and Donna Coleman are three of the local artists with entries in the Miniatures exhibit, currently on display at the Tulare Historical Museum. The exhibit contains work donated as a fundraiser for the museum. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

Miniatures and Impressions on Display at Tulare Historical Museum Nancy Vigran The Tulare Historical Museum rings in the New Year with two art exhibitions – Miniatures, and Tulare County: Varied Impressions. For the 9th annual Miniatures exhibition, 23 local artisans have donated 55 pieces as a fundraiser for the museum and its mission to preserve Tulare’s history. This exhibition is currently on display and runs through March 11, with visitors able to purchase tickets for a chance to win one or more of their favorite original works. For entry, the Miniatures must be 7” x 9” or smaller and are created in watercolor, oil, pastels or any medium the artists prefer. This is the first year entering for Visalian Mae Reuter, who started with art upon retirement. She knew she wanted to work with watercolors. She also works in pencil. “I bought books was before I got a brush,” she said.

And now, with experience under her belt, she has produced some pieces specifically for the Miniatures show. “This is a fun kind of art,” she said, “it’s looser – fast, easy and fun.” Reuter’s friend, Donna Coleman agreed that producing for the Miniatures show takes less time than her regular paintings. She is a regular artist for the show, having entered two pieces this year. Coleman has been painting for 20 years and enjoys working with watercolor and pastels. She generally works on larger pieces, but hasn’t found working the smaller format being too different. Wanda Cottengim of Tulare has been painting since the 1970s. She started with oil and “graduated” to watercolor. “I love color,” she said, which is expressed in her work. A longtime contributor to the Miniatures show, as well as Impressionists,

MINIATURES continued on B3 »

He’s not a Tulare native, nor did he live in the area that long, but Bill Mason did play an important role in Tulare’s history and that of World War II. When Tex Rankin, an aerobatic pilot, barnstormer, air racer and flight instructor, opened a flight instruction school in Tulare in 1940, the 20-yearold Mason, an aircraft mechanic, followed his brother, Sammy, up here from Southern California. The two had previously been working for Rankin in his Van Nuys flight school. The new school opened under contract with the War Department, training US Army Air Corps cadets to fly. The Rankin Aeronautical Academy, Inc. stated operating on Mefford Field, a few months prior to Rankin Field’s completion. Following Pearl Harbor, the need for training became much higher. Mason, who had learned to fly from his brother, quickly filed more flight hours in order

Nancy Vigran to be promoted to a Level 1 instructor at the age of 21. As many instructors as could be found, were needed. “We were civilian instructors teaching the cadets,” he said. “Classes contained five cadets, which took about two months to graduate to move on to the next course. Teaching was pretty intensive.” “When the word came down about the bombing [of Pearl Harbor], we were all shocked,” he said. “Sometimes you were at a low ebb. But, everyone was into it up to their necks, trying to solve the problem.” Mason sited the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo as lifting the spirits in the war effort. With the increased use of the school, more local airfields were utilized for teaching including Hunter Auxiliary

MASON continued on B2 »

Bill Mason is the last known living flight instructor from Tulare’s Rankin Field, where WWII pilots were taught to fly. Mason paid a visit to Rankin Field and the Tulare Historical Museum just prior to the New Year. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice

5 January, 2017

B2 • Valley Voice

Miniatures and Impressions on Display at Tulare Historical Museum Nancy Holley Ready to start the New Year with laughter and joy? Then, Doublewide, Texas, opening January 13 at the Ice House Theatre in Visalia, is for you. Director Peg Collins and her talented cast will entertain you with laugh-out-loud antics. Collins noted, “Each play has a gift and the gift of this play is laughter for the audience. Starting the year with laughter is good for your health.” The play centers on the residents of Doublewide, a small trailer park in the hinterlands of Texas. Curmudgeonly Haywood Sloggett (David Peden) lives across the road from the park. Peden describes his relationship with the Doublewide folks, “They have ruined my beautiful view with their trailers. They are a thorn in my side.” Anxiety erupts in Doublewide when the neighboring town of Tugaloo tries


Continued from B1 Field in Exeter, Tipton Auxiliary Field, Strathmore Auxiliary Field, Tulare Auxiliary Field and Trauger Auxiliary Field in Strathmore. The flight school closed in 1945, following the end of the war. Ten thousand cadets had graduated in some four-anda-half years of the school’s operation. While Sammy Mason stayed in aviation and went to work for Lockheed, Bill Mason wanted to spend time at sea. He was actually drafted after the

weedled his way to annex their park. Typical indepeninto the city mandent Texans, the ager’s job over Joresidents like life the veeta using his good looks and charisway it is with their ma.” Tanner flirts four doublewides first with Georgia and year-round nativity scene. Dean (Marla AlberTo add a bit stein) and then with Joveeta , hoping of spice and allevi- From left to right: Melinda Hatfield, ate the annexation Marla Alberstein, Mike Goodin, and Susan that his charm will win their approval worries, one of the Mathews. Nancy Holley/Valley Voice residents, Baby for annexation. Hovering over the Doublewide resCrumpler (Aaron Johnson) is participating, much to his joy, in a womanless idents and working to help them is Big beauty pageant. His sister Joveeta (Me- Ethel Satterwhite (Pat Jansen). “These linda Hatfield) wishes he wouldn’t take are simple people on a mission. You have his involvement so seriously, but she to see the show to know what the mishas a bigger issue – keeping her moth- sion is, and politics are involved.” Deer Caprice (Susan Mathews) out of the spite the differences of the inhabitants of Doublewide, they stick together. local bar. Leiana Petlewski (Lark) and Tonya Into the mix comes Lomax Tanner (Mike Goodin), a heartthrob with his Rousseau (Starla) round out the cast of own agenda. Goodin explained, “He zany characters, who will bring you an

evening to remember. Collins is proud of her cast that includes Ice House regulars and newcomers Peden and Goodin. Both men are natives of Tulare County, but have been away for some time. Most recently, Peden and his wife were involved in community theatre in Oklahoma. Goodin has worked in the TV industry in LA. All cast members and Collins agree that the show is very funny. Goodin’s comment was typical, “It is pretty over the top. Each character is big and goofy.” Doublewide, Texas runs for three weekends at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia. Evening performances are at 7:30pm on 1/13, 1/14, 1/20, 1/21, 1/27, and 1/28, and matinees are at 2pm on 1/15, 1/22, and 1/29. To purchase tickets go to the Visalia Players’ website at www.visaliaplayers. org, their Facebook page “Visalia Community Players”, or call 734-3900.

war, but following, They boarded the he went on to work ship in France, travon ships, which eled through the were his first love. Panama Canal on to Tahiti, and the He worked his way up to becoming Orient, Mason said. a chief mate for During its Standard Oil. time, Tulare’s After his reRankin AeronautiBill Mason’s Stearman, Big Red. “Most tirement, he and people carry a picture of their wife, chilcal Academy used his wife, Elizabeth, dren or grandchildren,” Mason’s daughter, PT-17 Stearman traveled around the Patricia, said, “he carries a picture of his as its primary craft world on a freighter. plane.” Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice – the only aircraft On that British Mason flew. He latship, the couple were two of a handful er went on to purchase his own plane, of passengers, and spent 103 days at sea. Big Red, and his wife was his co-pilot.

During his visit to Tulare, Mason visited with Gerry Soults, who now lives in Visalia, but worked at Rankin as secretary to the captain in one of the hangers. “Rankin Field wasn’t even there, when I was,” she said. While the two do not really remember each other, they have other memories of the times of Rankin Academy and the war in common. Before his most recent visit to Tulare, Mason last visited the city in 1991 for the last Rankin Field reunion. “Time has changed,” he said. “It’s all too much and different now.”

Coming to the Hanford Fox Theater Robert Earl Keen Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 8 pm - $30 - $35

Golden Dragon Acrobats Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 7:30 pm - $22 - $34

Irish Rovers Sunday, March 5, 2017 7 pm - $25 - $35


Groundhog Day - Thursday, Feb. 2, 7 pm Sixteen Candles - Thursday Feb. 9, 7 pm

(559) 584-7823

5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • B3

Miniatures Continued from B1

and others, Cottengim enjoys painting still life and flowers. Through the years, her family moved around the country quite a bit with her husband’s work, and she took classes everywhere she went. She admits to slowing down some, but still enjoys entering in local shows. All three ladies paint at home as well as in regular group meetings. They find working within a group continues to help them grow, each said. Cottengim is a member of the Tulare Palette Club – Reuter and Coleman are active in the Visalia Art League – and all three are active with Arts Visalia. Reuter’s said she entered the Miniatures show because she wanted to see her work “hang on another wall [than those at home].” “It’s like anything you are proud of,” Coleman said of entering her work, “it’s an accomplishment.” The artists admit to enjoying the competition and opening themselves up for constructive evaluation of their work. However, Coleman said, artists are usually very self-critical. Cottengim admits

Rose Bowl Continued from B1

island in the Azores to the San Joaquin Valley in 1912. Joey Airoso is proud to continue the legacy with his parents and his children. Airoso’s father, Joe, was unable to attend the parade due to recent ear surgery. However, Joseph, Airoso’s son, participated alongside his father as he does in the family business. This is the second year the CMAB participated in the parade with a float. The decision, made by the organization’s board, is good for marketing, Airoso said. “We’ve got to show people from the urban areas what we are doing, and get our message out more,” he said. “It’s a way to get the seal out more.”

Real California Milk Seal

The CMAB seal, which represents “Real California Milk,” is highly important to the industry and California dairymen. It is important for Californians to think California milk and milk products first and appears on products made of California milk. “There’s a cow milked in each of the 50 states,” Airoso said. However, California milk and dairy products are shipped to many states, as well as countries around the world, while being produced in the most highly regulated state, he said. But, “any time you advertise any dairy product, it’s a benefit,” he said. “The seal,” Airoso said, indicates the product “was made in California, under the stiffest regulations of any in the country. Our creamery, Land ‘O Lakes, procures the highest quality milk

to never being completely happy with everything. “I will not sign [a piece] until it’s done, and then I will not touch it again,” Reuter said. Coleman said she will still touch up her art, after signing. Every artist is different, they all agreed. And each of these artists vividly remembers their favorite piece. For Reuters, it was a commissioned piece of a huge statue in Tulsa, OK. It was a gift from someone who was retiring to his boss, she said. “I had never painted a statue before,” she said. “It is a very large piece and hangs on wood paneling in his [the boss’] office. I did him [the commissioner] proud, I think.” For Coleman, she said her painting which was the most emotional was one of her dad, who has passed away. A favorite, because of her work involved, was of a horse in harness with a misty background. And, for Cottengim, her favorite was painted many years ago, she said. It depicted an old building that was falling down with three rusted cars. She sold it, she said, but has repainted it three times, and has kept one of her renditions.

Both Coleman and Cottengim also have work entered in the 13th annual Tulare County: Varied Impressions show, which opens with an artists’ reception on Tuesday, January 12. Entries for this show must represent Tulare County, or the City of Tulare. Coleman’s watercolor in the Donna Coleman sits with her Impressions painting, “Wading the South Fork,” entered in the museum’s exhibit which opens January show is a view 12. Nancy Vigran/Valley Voice of South Fork in With 55 entries to choose from, there is Three Rivers. Cottengim’s is one of an some artwork for most anyone’s taste, Exeter persimmon orchard near the end including still life, birds, cats, horses, of the season. flowers, shells, barns, trucks and farm There are 36 entries in the Impresequipment, and much more. sions show, which is a non-judged show. All art exhibitions in the Heritage Each artist is limited to one entry. The Art Gallery of the museum are open to show runs through February 25. Most the public and free. The museum is open pieces are available for purchase. to the public Thursdays through SaturTickets for the Miniatures drawing days from 10am – 4pm. are $5 for one and $10 for three entries.

- anywhere. “This state ships milk, everywhere. There’s not a place with cleaner milk.” To Mario Simoes, the seal means, “it is the real stuff,” he said. “It’s not made out of almonds [or anything else],” not that he has anything against almonds, he added. Joe Simoes said he feels the same way.

always,” he said. However, the regulations are of major concern, and the cost of those regulations. And, then there are the animal rights protestors – they don’t want you to consume anything that comes from an animal, he said. Airoso questions the ability for California dairyman to operate in 20 or 40 years from now.

Dairy Cows

In speaking with the Simoes brothers and Joey Airoso, there is little doubt that they think highly of the dairy cow as an animal species. “There is no better animal than a cow,” Mario Simoes said. “They are the hardest working animal around.” Well, that and the people who own and run dairies, perhaps. “Anybody who survives [in the dairy industry] this long has made a lot of sacrifices,” Mario Simoes said. “Taking care of the herd takes 24-hours a day,” Joe Simoes said. The Simoes operate dairies in Tulare and Tipton, now with their children. They worked together for more than 25 years and then, independently built up their own, individual dairies. They and their extended families now operate dairies with a total of some 10,000 cows in the family. Joey Airoso’s Pixley dairy operates with more than 2,000 milking cows on the same land that his great grandfather worked more than 100 years ago. Now, being operated by the 4th and 5th generations in California, he has concern about the future of the dairy industry in the state, although this is the best state, weather-wise, to operate a dairy, he said. “The health of the herd is as good as

The CMAB Float

Joining the Simoes and Airosos on the CMAB float were dairy family members from Petaluma, Lakeview and Nuevo. “People are increasingly conscious of where the food they feed their families comes from. It begins here in California

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where real families for generations have successfully produced real wholesome, nutritious milk kissed by the California sun and served around the world in the cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream we all love,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. The five dairy farm families on the float will ride alongside a life-size animated Holstein cow and floral depictions of products that have made California the No. 1 dairy state. The float will also utilize natural décor materials, including food and fiber co-products such as cotton seed and almond hulls, reflecting some of the many sustainable on-farm practices dairy producers implement each day, according to the CMAB.

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Calendar Now - January 7: 32nd Annual Trains Show at the Porterville Historical Museum Open Thursdays - Saturdays from 10am - 4pm - Annual holiday event - miniature train show at the museum, produced by the Friends of the Museum. Open regular museum hours and included in donation price of $5 for adults; $1 for students. The Porterville Historical Museum is located at 257 North D. For more information, visit, or call (559) 7842053. Now - March 11: 9th Annual “MINIATURES” Exhibition/Raffle Fundraiser Thursdays - Saturdays from 10am 4pm - Twenty-three local area artists have donated 55 original miniature works of art, created solely for the Tulare Historical Museum show. During the run of the exhibition, raffle tickets will be on sale in the THM Gift Shop, for a chance to win your favorite pieces. Tickets are $5 each, or 3 for $10.

January 12: Opening Reception of the 13th Annual “Tulare County: Varied Impressions” Art Exhibition 5-7pm - THM is always excited for the return of this very popular show. Seen through the hearts and eyes of 36 local Tulare County artists, this fantastic show depicts their “impressions” of what Tulare County means to them; a beautiful county with a wonderful 165 history, which we are all proud to live in. Held in the Heritage Art Gallery at THM. “Tulare County: Varied Impressions” will run from Jan. 12th-Feb. 25th. The reception is open to the public and free of charge. Admission to Heritage Art Gallery exhibitions are free. January 12: Visalia Chamber Travel Presentation - Italy 12:00pm - Reflections of Italy - preview for the Sept. 7-16 trip. Highlights: Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice, Assisi, Perugia, Milan, Tuscan & Umbrian Countryside, Florence, Murano Island, Venice and Milan. For more information, call (559) 734-5875, or visit

The drawing will be held March 15, January 12: Visalia Chamber and winners will be notified March Travel Presentation - Iceland 16-31. 12:00pm - Iceland: Land of Fire & Proceeds from the raffle will help Ice - preview for the July 26-31 trip. THM’s mission to preserve Tulare’s Highlights - Reykjavik City tour, history. Admission to Heritage Art Hveragerdi Geothermal Park & Hot Springs, Mt. Hekla Volcano, WaterGallery exhibitions are free. falls, Lake Kleifarvtn, Blue Lagoon, January 7: Tulare Public Library Golden Circle, Thingvellir NationFirst Saturday Friends of the Lial Park, Stokkur Geyser, Icelandic brary Used Book Sale horses & farm tour. For more infor10am - 2pm - held in the Olympic mation, call (559) 734-5875, or visRoom of the library. For more inforit mation, call (559) 685-4508. January 13: Porterville’s First Ever January 10: The Business of Pot Bad Art Show 8am - Panel discussion on Prop 64 1-4pm - Calling all entries - acby the Visalia Chamber of Comcepted that the Porterville Art Asmerce and Visalia Economic Desociation Gallery, 151 N. Main St. velopment Board. “The Business of Categories: Reject Work, Tongue in Pot” will feature employment law Cheek, Commercial Junk. Student attorney Brett Sutton of Sutton entries are free; all others are $3/each Hague Law Corporation; assistant or $15/total with up to three entries district attorney Kerri Lopez of the in each category. For more informaTulare County DA’s Office; captain tion, call Bill (559) 782-9265; or Brian Winter of the Visalia Police Frances (559) 539-3243. Department; detective Tim Johnson of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office January 14: Winter Trout Derby and a representative of the Califor- 8-10am - The fish are jumping and ready for the 3rd Annual Winter nia Highway Patrol. Trout Derby. Children ages 15 and The forum is free and will be held under are invited to Plaza Park Pond at the Cafe 210, 210 Center St. For to compete for a catch of their own. more information, call the Visalia Reel ‘em in! Prizes will be awarded to Chamber of Commerce at 734-5876 the top three total stringer weights or the Visalia Economic Developin each category. Participants need ment Corporation at 733-3737.

January 2017 Lun

Please call 713-4481. Reservations


Tuesday 3 Turkey and provolone on soft loaf with lettuce and tomato, tomato bisque soup, fresh fruit

9 Lemon pepper chicken with rice pilaf, vegetables, fruit and roll


23 Pastrami on rye with split pea soup and fruit

10 Pork tenderloin


4 Lasagna roll ups with 5 Chi spinach, ricotta and Italian sausage in marinara sauce with Caesar salad, garlic bread and

11 Salisbury steak

with mashed sweet with mushroom, grapotatoes, vegetables, vy, mashed potatoes, salad and fruit vegetables, salad and roll

17 Parmesan en-


bean las w

12 A

with serve ench verd

18 Broccoli soup with 19 S

crusted chicken grilled ham and breast with macaroni cheese with fruit and and cheese, salad and chips fruit

mea garli

24 Chicken and spin-

26 C

ach lasagna with layers of marinara sauce and mozzarella served with

30 Minestrone with

31 Oven baked BBQ meatballs sandwich, mari- chicken with ranch style beans and macanara and melted mozzaroni salad with fruit rella on a sub roll with salad and fruit

25 Meatloaf with

mashed potatoes and Mexi gravy, vegetable, fruit pork rice, and rolls with

DAILY SALAD Option: Chicken Caesar Salad available as a meal replacement.

to bring their own fishing poles, bait and tackle. Divisions: #12986 7 yrs & under #12987 8 – 15 yrs. $7 in advance, $10 day of event (as space allows).

Luncheon. This event provides an opportunity for VUSD and VPIE to recognize outstanding partners from across the community who have given of themselves and/or their busiFor more information, contact Visa- ness to support education. lia Parks & Recreation 345 N. Ja- It is our opportunity to say “Thank cob St., call (559) 713-365, email You” and recognize their amazing, or visit www. work. Luncheon will be held at the Visalia Marriott. RSVP by January 16 by calling (559) 734-5876. January 17: League of Women Voters Tulare County Unit meeting 11:30am - Sustainability issues - Climate change. RSVP by Friday, Jan. 13 to Mary Ann Bringhurst, (559) 732-1251 or newellgb@hotmail. com. Meeting held at Sa Tres Bien in Visalia.

January 20: Tulare Chamber of Commerce 133rd Annual Banquet 6-9pm - Honoring the Man & Woman of the Year, Small & Large Business of the Year. Held at the Heritage Complex, International Agri-Center. Tickets are $60. For tickets and more information, visJanuary 19: Visalia Partners in it, or call Education Luncheon 12:30pm - Visalia Partners in Ed- (559) 686-1547. ucation and the Visalia Unified January 20: Lemoore Chamber of School District are hosting the Commerce 59th Annual Banquet second VPIE Partner Recognition 6pm - Honoring Citizen of the Year,

nch Menu / Visalia Senior Center

s must be made one business day in advance by 12 PM.


ili verde with rice, ns, salad and tortilwith fruit

Albondigas soup

h Beef meatballs ed with cheese hiladas in salsa de


Weekly Salad Option:

6 All meat pizza with

Cobb Salad With Chicken, tomato, avocado, lettuce and bacon bits with ranch and feta cheese

olives, bell pepper and mushrooms with salad and fruit

13 Cheeseburger with

Taco Salad—in taco bowls with lettuce, tomato, condi- lettuce, ground beef, black beans, ments and pickle corn with Mexican cheese and salserved with chips and sa fruit

20 Chili beans with

Chef Salad—with diced cheeses, corn bread, potato sal- black olives, ham, tomato and at sauce, salad, ad and fruit hard boiled eggs with ranch dressic bread and fruit ing

Spaghetti with

Chili Colorado –

27 Chicken parmesan

ican style braised with mashed potatoes, in red sauce with vegetables, salad and fruit beans and tortillas fruit

Perfect Chicken Garden Salad Chicken, walnut, dried cranberry salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Chicken Taco Salad—in taco bowls with lettuce, chicken, black beans, corn with Mexican cheese and salsa

Business of the Year and Organization of the Year. Held at Tachi Palace Blue Oak Conference Center. Tickets are $65; $55 prior to January 9. For tickets and more information, call (559) 924-6401, or email January 24: Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Visalia Fox Theatre 7:30pm - Celebrating over fifty years of joyous traditional spiritual acappella music led by their founder, Joseph Shabalala. Multiple Grammy awards including Best World Music & Best Traditional Album. Became famous collaborating with Paul Simon on his 1986 album, Graceland. Accompanied Nelson Mandela to Norway to receive 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Concert held at the Visalia Fox Theatre. Tickets on sale now - $29-$55. For more information, visit January 26: Third Annual Central Valley Career and Resource Expo

9am - 1pm - Senator Andy Vidak and US Congressman David Valadao team up with Tachi Palace to bring together jobs and potential employees together at this third annual event. What makes this Expo different is that all booth participants have current job openings. Serious job applicants come to the Expo because they know their chances of landing a job at this event are much higher than many job fairs. Last year’s Expo featured over 80 employers, and over 300 job applicants attended. Held in the Tachi Palace Bingo Hall, 17225 Jersey Ave. For more information, contact Claudia Salinas in Vidak’s Hanford district office at 559-585-7161 or Claudia.Salinas@ January 27: Robert Earl Keen at the Hanford Fox Theatre 8pm - The Houston native with the effortless voice, raspy twang and prolific pen has inspired and influ-

enced an entire generation of Lone Star poets, including popular Texas favorites like Cory Morrow, Cody Canada, Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers, in the 30-plus years that he has been releasing music. Tickets on sale now $30-$35. Tickets and more information visit www.foxhanford. com, or call (559) 584-7423.

guished alumni. Tickets $25. For more information, call (559) 7912319 or email,

MARCH March 9: Foreigner at the Visalia Fox Theatre 7:30pm - 40th Anniversary Tour performing songs such as Cold as Ice and I Want to Know What Love Is. A portion of the proceeds benefits The Creative Center in Visalia.

January 28: 5th Annual Tea & Fashion Show - Love to Wear Red 11:30am - 2pm - Soroptimist of Tulare - “Take Care of Your Heart,” guest speaker Duane Iwamura, director of Medical Imaging, Interventional Radiology and Cardiac This show was sold out in 2008! Cath Lab at Tulare Regional Medi- Tickets on sale now - $50-$125. cal Center. Brought to the Visalia Fox by RainHeld at the Tulare Community maker Productions. Church, 1820 N. Gem St. Dona- March 18: Kellie Pickler at the tions $20/person. Tickets and more Visalia Fox Theatre information, (559) 731-5693. 8pm - Presented by Hands in the January 28: Nelson Illusions at the Visalia Fox Theatre 7pm - Nelson Illusions is a one-ofa-kind theatrical spectacle that combines rare & original illusions from around the world with award winning, jaw-dropping magic. Tickets $11-44. For more information, visit

fEBRUARY February 10: Midnight Star and the Original Mary Jane Girls 8pm - Eagle Mountain Casino welcomes popular 80’s group Midnight Star along with their special guests, the Original Mary Jane Girls. Formed at Kentucky State University in 1976, MIDNIGHT STAR began as a self-contained party band in the P-Funk/ Earth Wind and Fire mode. Tickets start at $30 and are available through Eagle Mountain Casino’s web site at or the gift shop (800) 903-3353. February 12: Los Yonics y Los Caminantes 8pm - Eagle Mountain Casino welcomes Los Yonic’s y Los Caminantes. Tickets start at $30 and are available through Eagle Mountain Casino’s web site at or the gift shop (800)903-3353.

Community. Kellie Pickler grew up immersed in country music in the small town of Albemarle, North Carolina with the words of Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton shaping her musical footing. At the age of 19, she first gained fame as a contestant on the fifth season of “American Idol.” Tickets on sale now - $40-$83. For more information, visit March 29: Vince Gill with Lyle Lovett at the Visalia Fox Theatre 7:30pm - After teaming up for a series of concerts in 2015 and 2016, Gill and Lovett saw that the shows were so successful that they decided to extend the tour.

A portion of the proceeds benefit Tulare & Kings County Suicide Prevention Task Force. Tickets on sale now - $44-$106. Brought to the Visalia Fox by Rainmaker Productions.

CONTINUOUS Sundays: Barmageddon Tulareous Open Mic, 9pm-12:30am Our weekly open mic has a great selection of local comedians and musicians. Comedians will have approximately 10 mins of stage time and musicians get three songs. Sign ups start at 9 PM, Show starts at 9:30 PM, Ends around 12:30 AM. No Cover.

February 25: Porterville College Foundation 7th Annual Hall of Mondays: Bridge Club, 9:30amFame Reception 6pm - at the Student Center hon- 2pm oring former athletes and distin- 210 W Center Street Visalia, CA

5 January, 2017

B5 • Valley Voice

Visalia Holds Youth Football Championships Stefan Barros The California State Championships for Youth Football made its way to Visalia, and the Central Valley had five representatives in that game. The five players were from Tulare and Kings Counties and all played this year for the Tulare Tarheels under Head Coach Brent Beck. Beck also happened to coach their state championship team at Visalia Community Stadium. The five players include; Xavier Hailey (Tulare), Max Brown (Tulare), Willie James (Tulare), Luttrell Young (Hanford), and Matthew Sanchez (Tulare). All players are 13-14 years of age and will be going on to high school next year. Beck believes that the reason why these got this position isn’t just due to their physical abilities, but their ability to think the game. “They all have a high football IQ, they’re all athletic in their own right. Max and Matthew play on the line, but

they’re athletic, they’re great athletes, they’re great kids who have great parents. They’re all dedicated and have been captains throughout the season.” Beck went on to talk about what these players will need to work on or change once they move on to high school football. “They’ll just need to continue working hard. It’ll be much more competitive on the field at the next level. But I can see all five playing at the Division one or two level in college. They all have potential.” Even though these five players have the potential to play in college, Beck still believes there are some aspects that can improved upon. “One of the hardest things to be in football is to be a vocal leader. That’s something they’re missing right now. I’d love them to develop that part of their game. They have leadership skills on the field, but this would make them complete leaders.”

Central Valley Youth Football players: Max “Bubba” Brown, Willie “VJ” James, Xavier “X” Hailey, Luttrell “Trell” Young, Mathew Sanchez.

Beck was impressed with the talent of this group of players as soon as he laid eyes on them. And it started fairly young. “Their talent was apparent when I first saw them. I coached Willie at the nine year-old level. I always admired

Xavier’s game from afar. Luttrell played in the Hanford association and knocked us out of the playoffs in 2013. I’ve also know Matthew. I’ve coached his brothers in the past.”

WHCC Raffle Tickets on Sale Staff Reports Tickets are on sale now through the end of January for a steer raffle fundraiser to benefit the West Hills College Coalinga baseball team. The raffle prizes include $1,000 worth of beef from Harris Ranch as well as a range of cash prizes. “This is a great opportunity to fundraise for our team and a chance to also benefit the community,” said Stefan McGovern, Head Coach of WHCC’s baseball team. A limited quantity of 200 tickets will be on sale for $50 per ticket. The Grand Prize will be a ½ steer, 400 pounds of Choice Beef. The winner will be able to customize what cuts they receive, including 5-10 premium steaks— filet mignon, T-bone/New York, Ribeye/ Prime-Rib or Top Sirloin— as well as other cuts of meat ranging from brisket

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to ground beef. Non-premium meat options to choose from will include round steak, chuck steak, stew meat, beef short ribs, beef soup bone, roasts, ground beef, tritip, brisket, tender flank, flank steak, skirt steak and ball tips. Meat will be available for pickup by the winner at the Lemoore Meat Locker. The grand prize winner will also have the option to pass up the meat prize for the top cash prize if they do not want the meat. The 2nd prize winner will receive a $500 cash prize, the 3rd prize will receive $300, and the 4th prize will receive $200. Tickets will be available for purchase until all 200 have been sold. To purchase tickets, contact Stefan McGovern at (559) 934-2458 or

Local Habitat for Humanity volunteers traveled to Nicaragua to build homes in early December, joining teams from other parts of the state. Courtesy/Deanna Saldana

Local Habitat Volunteers in Nicaragua At Habitat for Humanity, we work hard to provide homeownership opportunities for families in our local community. Decent and affordable housing is vital, allowing families to build strength, stability and self-reliance. So why does a group of Habitat volunteers from California travel to Nicaragua to build houses? It is because the need for decent housing is a global problem that Habitat for Humanity takes on every day in over 70 countries. Every year, Habitat for Humanity International plans numerous “Global Village” trips in countries all around the world. In early December, two local Habitat volunteers, Michele Figueroa and Zach Green, joined a team from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento and traveled to Nicaragua to help build two houses for families in a small village. The houses in Nicaragua are different than those Habitat builds in California. The total living space is approximately 400 square feet with cinder block walls and a concrete floor. The front and back walls each have one door and two windows. The roof is made of corrugated metal. The house is wired for electrical but does not have any plumbing; Habitat constructs an outside “cleaning station” with running water and an “out-house” that can also doubles as a shower stall. The differences, although significant, did not over shadow the similarities that Michele and Zach experienced during the nine-day trip. The desire of

Deanna Saldana families to provide for their children is universal; they want shelter, security and good health. The Nicaraguan families worked with the volunteers to help build their homes and shared emotional stories about their lives and how Habitat is making a difference. The children gathered around the volunteers, playing games and enjoying magic tricks by one of the volunteers. The sharing of laughter and tears became a daily occurrence. Near the end of their trip, the volunteer team had the opportunity to visit an established Habitat community nearby to see completed houses and speak with the families who live there. “Kids are kids everywhere,” said Michele as she shared stories of the children engaging the volunteers with stories of their home, their family and friends. A house dedication and celebration ended their last work-day in Nicaragua. “It was a transformative experience,” said Zach “Anyone can join a Global Village trip or work with Habitat locally. The experience will change how you think about affordable housing.” Zach and Michele are already planning their next volunteer days with Habitat for Humanity here in Tulare and Kings Counties and talking about next year’s Global Village trip. Go to for more information about Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties and to see the Nicaragua Global Village photo album.

5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • B6

Education Enrollment Open at Sequoia Union Elementary Staff Reports Parents and guardians who would like to enroll their children at Sequoia Union Elementary School in Lemon Cove may take advantage of an open enrollment period from Jan. 3 to Feb. 9. Student applications are available online at Sequoia Union, which offers classes from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade, began the process of converting to a charter school in 2015. All grades will be under a charter umbrella by the 2017-18 school year.

Enrollment is not on a first-come, first-enrolled basis. Each application will be date and time stamped to ensure that it is received before the deadline of noon Feb. 9. Students will receive priority for enrollment in the following order: • Students currently enrolled at Sequoia Union • Students who live within the traditional boundaries of Sequoia Union prior to the conversion. • Children of school employees • Siblings of existing students • Students who reside outside

the district. Parents and guardians who are interested in learning more about Sequoia Union are encouraged to take a school tour. Tours will be offered at 9 a.m. Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. Call the office at (559) 564-2106 to reserve your spot. Spanish translation will be provided. Also, an informational meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 and again, Spanish translation will be available. To ensure a quality educational experience for all students, Sequoia Union

will follow an established growth plan that includes adding the majority of students in grades kindergarten through third grade. However, if your child is not in one of these grades, parents are still able to submit an application. If the number of student enrollment requests are greater than the number of spots available, a lottery will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 9 in the gym, located on campus at 23958 Avenue 324. For more information, please go to

Brenda Thames Named West Hills College Coalinga New President Staff Reports After an extensive nationwide search and comprehensive interview process, West Hills College Coalinga has named its next President: Brenda Thames. Thames will officially begin her duties as the WHCC president February 1, 2017. She brings to this position over 19 years of experience in higher education along with a passion for developing the capacities of individuals, institutions, and communities. “I am honored and absolutely delighted to be joining the West Hills College Coalinga family,” said Thames. “WHCC has a long history of providing access, educational opportunity, and academic excellence to the communities on the West Side of the valley. Students are the central focus of the college and this core value is the very heart of our work. I look forward to becoming part of the community and joining with the exceptional faculty and staff of WHCC in the relentless pursuit of student success.” Thames currently serves Modesto Junior College as the Vice President of Instruction has previously served in a broad spectrum of positions at Modesto

Junior College, American River College and at the Los Rios Community College District Office including adjunct faculty, tenured faculty, faculty coordinator, department chair, program director, dean, and vice president of Student Services. Thames is also a 2016-2017 Fellow with the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. In 2014, she completed the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. In addition to her extensive experience within the community college arena, Thames has over five years of experience as a mental health clinician in county social services, county mental health and California Department of Corrections. Thames earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Sociology and Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from USC. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Education with a concentration in Community College Leadership at Oregon State University.

Dr. Stuart Van Horn Chosen as West Hills District Chancellor Staff Reports After an extensive nationwide search and comprehensive interview process, the West Hills Community College District Board of Trustees has selected Dr. Stuart Van Horn as the district’s next chancellor. The district’s current chancellor, Dr. Frank Gornick will retire June 30, 2017 after 23 years of service to the district. Van Horn will officially begin his duties as chancellor July 1, 2017. Van Horn brings 32 years of community college service to this position and is currently serving as the interim president for West Hills College Coalinga where he oversees the college operations, administrative teams, and accreditation efforts. Reflecting on the chancellor search and its process, Mark McKean, president of the WHCCD Board of Trustees said, “The entire Board was very pleased with the process and the outcome. We are looking forward to working with Stuart and building upon the success that West Hills has become known for. I believe he

is the right person to carry on the task of serving our students.” Prior to his appointment as the WHCC interim president, Van Horn served as WHCCD Vice Chancellor of Educational Services and Workforce Development where he lead the implementation of strategies and direction of efforts for the following WHCCD departments: Educational Services, Workforce Development, Curriculum, Child Development Centers, Categorical funding and Grants, State and Federal programs, Information Technology, MIS reporting, and Westside Institute of Technology. “West Hills is a remarkable place and I am truly honored to be selected as district chancellor,” said Van Horn. “This is a district of doers and high achievers who are collectively dedicated to student success. I look forward to continuing our relentless pursuit of student success and am grateful to our elected board and our college community for their support and confidence in me.”

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel (left) pictured giving donated computer to Thomas Morgan, senior at Tulare Western High School (center) with Principal Kevin Covert (right).

Tulare County Supes, Rotary Clubs Deliver Computers to Youth The Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Tulare County Office of Education, The Rotary Club of Visalia and Office Depot partnered together to deliver 75 computers to worthy children. School officials nominated children to receive computers based on their outstanding character and good citizenship. The County of Tulare contributed 75 computers and matching flat screens that were due to be sold as surplus. The Rotary Club donated funding so that the surplus computers could be

Staff Reports given away to worthy children. Tulare County Purchasing tested the computers, erased all sensitive files and proprietary software, and installed fresh Windows operating systems. County staff, Rotarians and other volunteers met at the Tulare County Surplus Store on December 14 to load up vehicles with the computers and delivered the computers to school sites throughout the County.

In-State Demand for UC Merced Admission Hits a Record High The University of California, Merced, received more than 18,000 applications from California high school seniors seeking admission for Fall 2017 — a 10.1 percent increase from the previous year, or the largest percent increase in the UC system. The vast majority of the 21,509 applications to UC Merced were from California students, according to preliminary data released today (Dec. 19) by the UC Office of the President. UC Merced and UC Irvine had the highest increases in total first-year student applications, with each experiencing a 9.3 percent increase over last year’s total — triple the systemwide growth rate of 3.1 percent. “It’s extremely rewarding to see our campus continue to attract a record number of qualified students for admission,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “We believe the numbers are reflective of the strides we’re making in research and innovation, and the transformative education-

al opportunities we offer our students.” The increasing demand comes at a time when UC Merced is beginning to be recognized on a national level. “The strong application growth demonstrates that Merced continues to be a destination for students seeking outstanding possibilities in undergraduate research, internships and degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Jill Orcutt said. UC Merced’s applications from California high school seniors also reflects the campus’s diversity, with all ethnic groups showing an increase in applicants over Fall 2016. The number of American Indian applicants showed the largest growth, with a 16.4 percent increase. Hispanic applicants rose by 15.5 percent and African-American applicants by 13.4 percent, each the largest such increase within the system.

5 January, 2017

Valley Voice • B7

Visalia’s Heritage: The Miniature Rose Rosie Bonar, UC Master Gardener As you travel north from Hwy 198 on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia, you pass the County Courthouse on the left. Surrounding the Courthouse are several rose beds containing a variety of types and colors of roses. As you continue northward and merge onto Main St. you soon pass over Mill Creek at Fairway, where a narrow drought tolerant garden showcases several California natives. Continuing east you happen upon the Ralph Moore Memorial Garden on the corner of Main Street and Hall. All three of these gardens are demonstration gardens maintained by the county or city and the Tulare/Kings Master Gardeners. The Master Gardeners use these gardens to learn, demonstrate, and share that knowledge with the public. In January there are two Saturdays when the public can come to the gardens and learn more about roses, especially pruning.

The Ralph Moore Memorial Rose Garden

The Ralph Moore Rose garden was established in 2003 and dedicated to Ralph Moore. Ralph Moore is considered by many to be the “Father of the Modern Miniature Rose”. Mr. Moore bred over five-hundred new miniature roses and

has been honored by the Royal National Rose Society of Great Britain and the American Rose Society for his accomplishments. Some have compared him to Luther Burbank because of his innovations. Because of the hybridizing program that he developed he was able to develop new lines of roses that others thought were impossible. The Ralph Moore Rose garden has over 300 of his roses, from climbers, tree roses, bushes, and creepers. Since he was the one who developed the roses, he had the privilege of naming them. When you come to the rose garden take the time to smell the roses and notice their names. They are named after his wife, daughters, friends and others he chose to honor. His “Ann Moore” was one of his award winning roses. Rosarians from around the world know his name and know of his accomplishments. To rosarians, Ralph Moore put Visalia on the map! Visalians should be proud of Ralph Moore’s accomplishments. We are proud to be the guardians of his roses.

What is a Miniature Rose

So, what is a miniature rose and why is it so special? Miniature roses are members of the rose family but they are dwarf (miniature) in every respect. The leaves, flowers, roots, thorns, bushes, and even the space between the

leaves, are all miniature. They can resemble the floribunda roses that have clusters of flowers or, they can resemble tea roses, which have a single flower on a stem. They can climb or creep or be a bush or tree. There are even teeny dwarf miniatures!

How to Care for Miniature Roses

Because miniature roses are still roses, their care is similar to the care that you would give to a regular-size rose. They require sunlight, proper irrigation and some pruning. Because of their smaller root systems, proper irrigation is very important. Dry dusty conditions are an invitation for mites to attack. So miniatures should be monitored carefully during our hot summer months. Because they are smaller, pruning is a little easier on the hands. The method of pruning is similar to pruning larger roses. Roses should be pruned in the winter (between Christmas and Valentine’s Day) by cutting out dead wood, cutting overlapping and crowded branches, and creating an open or vase like structure that allows air circulation into the center of the plant. You should not prune away more than about one third of the growth.

Upcoming Rose Pruning Demonstrations: To learn how to prune and to get

some hands on experience in rose pruning, bring your pruning shears and gloves for a free rose pruning demonstration by the Tulare-Kings Master Gardeners. You will also learn more about planting bare root roses, pest management, tool care and general gardening information.

Upcoming Master Gardener Rose Pruning events:

HANFORD: January 16, 9:0011:00 am - Rose pruning Demo at Old Grangeville Church near Hanford, 14060 Hackett St. (Hackett St & Grangeville Blvd) VISALIA: January 21, 10:00 am Noon - Rose pruning Demo at Tulare County Courthouse (Mooney Blvd and Burrel Ave), and Ralph Moore Rose Garden (Main St. & Hall) For answers to all your home gardening questions, call the Master Gardeners in Tulare County at (559) 6843325, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 and 11:30 am; or Kings County at (559) 852-2736, Thursday Only, 9:30-11:30 a.m. You can also visit our website to search past articles, find links to UC gardening information, or to email us with your questions: UC_Master_Gardeners/ For more information about roses consult the MG website: http://ucanr. org/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners/Roses,_Roses,_Roses_863/

Profile for Valley Voice

Valley Voice Issue 84 (5 January, 2017)  

Valley Voice Issue 84 (5 January, 2017)  


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