to the News-Ledger website only on April 14. You can read more on this story in
the News-Ledger print edition on April 20.)
By Steve Marschke News-Ledger Editor
The West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce
hosted the annual ‘State of the City’ dinner and address on April 14 at the
city hall galleria. Several hundred people attended.
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon gave the keynote
address, in which he covered a lot of ground. The tone was generally more
upbeat than his address from 2010, which occurred as the city, state and nation
were all still taking blows from the economic downturn.
Some of the topics he touched upon this time:
-- West Sacramento is not pursuing an arena for the
Sacramento Kings, who are now negotiating to leave Sacramento
for Anaheim. Such
a local arena deal has to be led by the City of Sacramento
and regional leaders, and not by West Sacramento.
“There is no war room where the city council and I have a plot being hatched to
build an arena,” said Cabaldon.
-- The city is well underway in its efforts to upgrade
its levees – including a massive project in Southport
along the river. But the proposed federal budget does not include $1 million
needed to keep levee design work rolling.
-- West Sacramento is
coming out of the recession as “one of the most fiscally healthy cities in the
region” thanks to what Cabaldon credits as prudent financial management,
including deliberate shrinking of the city payroll.
Christopher Cabaldon, mayor of the City of West Sacramento
(News-Ledger file photo)
-- Despite this, the city’s budget remains under
threat of more “raids” by state government. “Last year along, in local
government jobs (in the region), we lost 5,900 of them,” said Cabaldon. “State
government increased by 1,400.” The state continues to transfer resources away
from local governments. “You will see changes in the scope and level of services
you see in the City of West Sacramento.
I won’t sugar-coat it.”
-- Fighting Governor Brown’s “dead wrong” plan to
abolish redevelopment agencies remains “priorities one, two, three, four and
five” for the city, said Cabaldon. The plan would stifle economic growth, he
said. And the plan’s dictates for what would happen to local redevelopment
agency land is poorly thought-out and would end up transferring wealth away
from local taxpayers while inviting “speculation and extortion.”
-- “We’re making jobs,” he told the crowd. Examples
include the coming Southport plant for Nihon Shokken U.S.A.,
a producer of Asian food items, and plans to bring an electric vehicle
manufacturer to the Port Industrial plant from Stockton. He didn’t name the electric vehicle
maker, a company called EVI, because the deal is not final.
-- The city has put in a strong bid to partner with UC
Davis in producing an “innovation hub” that marries the research strength of
the university to actual business and manufacturing use, in subjects like food
science. The proposal would also include a venture capital company. The city of
Davis, too, has
put in a proposal for the project, “but ours is better,” said Cabaldon.
-- An economy based on new technology and
manufacturing needs an educated workforce, argued the mayor. But he said that
after he helped focus efforts on the school district a number of years ago, and
voters put a new board in place, “over the last three years, that remarkable
progress has slowed.” Much of the apparent improvement in test scores is simply
due to changing demographics, said Cabaldon, while in reality there is still an
achievement gap – and Latino students, for example, are not becoming “college
ready” in the Washington Unified School District. The mayor proposed finding
ways to bring math and reading into everyday community life in West Sacramento.
-- A “great” Farmers Market is coming to town on West
Capitol beginning this season, thanks to partners such as the local chamber of
commerce. The market will provide a community gathering point, work experience
for local youth, access to fresh produce, and support for local farmers.
-- In the private sector, drawings are in place for an
expansion of the Capitol Bowl bowling alley – including an outdoor space. And
Southport will soon be home to “The Eatery,” a bistro-style, sit-down
restaurant, which will offer a new kind of dining choice to West
Sacramento. The restaurant’s website says it will open this spring
at the Town Center Plaza
(near Nugget and Target).