Know your neighbor: Land Park resident invites everyone to learn more about “proud Americans”

“Proud Americans: Growing Up As Children of Immigrants.”

Land Park resident Judie Fertig Panneton was born the child of immigrants. Her mother was from Poland and her father was from Holland. Both her parents were also Holocaust survivors.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, all Panneton wanted was to be like all the other American kids and fit in.

“When I was a kid I didn’t want to be a child of immigrants; I didn’t want to have parents that were Holocaust survivors,” she says. “It was very painful to watch my father have a number on his arm and to know there was horror behind it.”

Now years later, Panneton has realized she is proud of the fact she is a child of immigrants, thanks in part to the research she conducted while writing her new book, “Proud Americans: Growing Up as Children of Immigrants.”

Touching Stories
Panneton decided to write “Proud Americans” as she had always felt different and wondered if there were other children of immigrants who felt the same way. Through her journalism background and curiosity, she decided to start interviewing other children of immigrants to see if they had the same feelings.

Over seven years, Panneton interviewed about 50 people for her book, many of which are from Sacramento. For example, she interviewed Board of Supervisors District 2 Representative Jimmie Yee, who in his story talks about how poor his family was growing up. And Tony Xiong, one of 10 children of Laotian immigrants, grew up in a poor Sacramento neighborhood, battled hunger, violence and the lure of gangs who is now training to be a police officer.

“You interview these people and they just become part of you sometimes,” Panneton says about her experience. “I was very touched by a lot of the stories. And I learned from all of them – that was a great part of it too … Not only do I hear these special stories and memories, but I get to learn about history and people’s lives and how they made a go of it.”

Panneton said although many of her book’s subjects come from Sacramento, it wasn’t done on purpose – it just happens that Sacramento is that diverse. In fact, she makes reference to the fact that Sacramento was named the most diverse city in the United States by Time magazine in 2002, and for that reason she asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to write an introduction for her book.

(From left) Author Judie Fertig Panneton poses with “Proud Americans” subject Dorothy Mitsu Takeuchi during a past book signing event. Photo courtesy Judie Panneton.

Spreading the Word
Through her project, Panneton said she has learned that some of the most proud Americans are children of immigrants, and their families really appreciate what America brings to their family.

“I also take away that being a child of immigrants is actually an honor. You just don’t realize it sometimes,” she adds. “There are some people who certainly have embraced it from the moment they were born in the family they’ve been in, but there are others that don’t realize how great it is until they’re older.”

Panneton hopes to spread this message across to others. For instance, she has done talks at California State University, Sacramento and colleges on the East Coast about her book, and has made the book available to some CSUS and high school educators to use in their curriculum.

She may develop “Proud Americans” into a play. As she sees many of these stories as looking through the window of someone’s home, she believes her book would format itself well to theater. “I’m not moving on from this book because it lives in my heart and my soul and I’d still like to build upon it,” she said.

In July, Panneton was part of a presentation of citizenship certificates to 14 new children of immigrants at the Old Schoolhouse in Old Sacramento. “My message to them was you go to school and you’re going to want to fit in with your friends and that’s all good, but remember your parents sacrificed a lot to come to this country, so be proud of them, too,” she says.

To continue spreading the word on what she’s learned, Panneton will be conducting three presentations through the Sacramento Public Library in October – Pocket Greenhaven Library on Oct. 10 from 6:30-8 p.m.; South Natomas Library on Oct. 17 from 7-7:30 p.m.; and Arden Dimick Library on Oct. 20 from 2-3:30 p.m.

For the library events, Panneton plans to have read four to five stories from “Proud Americans” and open up a discussion with attendees. She also hopes to have some of the people from her book attend the library events so attendees can meet them.

“I hope people come to the events at the library because it’s always a great opportunity to form a little community in a room and have really special time spent together sharing ideas and memories,” she says. “I would love to see everybody come out and join together as a community and talk about this great country of ours.”

Save Mart Supermarkets lead $1 million fund-raising effort for local pools

What is more satisfying on a hot summer day than a cool dip in a swimming pool? Everyone can relate but sadly with severe budget cuts needed across municipalities nationwide, many children only look longingly at their local community pool with disappointment.

SAVING SUMMER. Save Mart Supermarkets is leading an effort to keep community pools open this summer. / Photo iStockphoto

SAVING SUMMER. Save Mart Supermarkets is leading an effort to keep community pools open this summer. / Photo iStockphoto

Save Mart stores in Sacramento want to change that and help local families be able to enjoy their community pools by the time the mercury starts to rise in the Valley. Through the “Help Save Mart Save Our Pools” campaign, Save Mart has pledged to match up to $500,000 in donations from businesses and the community at large, thus potentially making $1 million dollars available to support pool maintenance and programs within the City of Sacramento.

Beginning on Valentine’s Day, Save Mart will kick off its community fund-raising campaign in partnership with the City of Sacramento.  Businesses and the community at large are asked to give generously at their local Save Mart stores by purchasing a paper “Help Save Mart Save Our Pools” icon for a $1.00 or more.  The campaign will run for two months from February 14 to April 10, ending just in time for the City to begin maintenance needed for the pools to open on time.

Save Mart supports the communities where it does business and after reading the New York Times article, the Sacramento City pools seemed like the perfect opportunity for Save Mart to give back to the neighborhoods surrounding its Sacramento stores. “Every bit helps,” explained Steve Junqueiro, President and Chief Operating Officer of Save Mart. “We’d love to see businesses join us as a sponsor, but we’d also love to see kids in those neighborhoods be inspired to hold car washes or lemonade stands and then donate their money to their local Save Mart where we can double their effort through our matching commitment.”

“For Sacramento, this opportunity comes at the perfect time. Every day, community pools across the country are closing their doors as funds dry up,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “But thanks to ‘Save the Pools’, Sacramento has the chance to bring back a traditional summer activity for families and become a model for how public-private partnerships can succeed. I look forward to working with Save Mart on a campaign that will be a huge win for Sacramento.”

Community pulls out checkbook to save Clunie Hall Community Center

When the City of Sacramento announced this fall that the Clunie Hall Community Center, located at 601 Alhambra Boulevard at McKinley Park, was in jeopardy of closing this July due to city budget issues, a community-wide campaign was launched to keep it fully operating. Residents and business owners of East Sacramento, members of McKinley Library, and McKinley Park enthusiasts didn’t waste any time to save their 75 year-old iconic building.

SAVED! Local businesses and residents stepped up to save the Clunie Community Center, which houses the McKinley Library. The iconic East Sacramento structure celebrated its 75th birthday last October. / Image courtesy, Friends of McKinley Library. Painting by East Sacramento artist David Lobenberg

SAVED! Local businesses and residents stepped up to save the Clunie Community Center, which houses the McKinley Library. The iconic East Sacramento structure celebrated its 75th birthday last October. / Image courtesy, Friends of McKinley Library. Painting by East Sacramento artist David Lobenberg

“We have $29,000 for this fiscal year to pay for everyday maintenance such as the heating, air conditioning, janitorial and part time staff for the Clunie Center. We could not guarantee that we could continue to allocate that much for the building,” explained Lori Harder, City Administrative Manager of Parks and Recreation. “The potential of closing the community center and eventually the adjoining McKinley Library, those two things happening were very alarming for the community around McKinley Park. So members of the community stepped up to raise funds and manage the building.”

Friends of East Sac rally

The initial rally to help raise funds came from members of the non-profit group, Friends of East Sac. According to the organization’s Website, the funds represent the committee’s commitment to support those in need and the community.

“Friends of East Sacramento – with the support of every of East Sacramento and Midtown neighborhood association, Councilman Steve Cohn, the Friends of McKinley Library, the city, and donations by hundreds of neighbors – has stepped forward with a 3 year plan to provide non-profit management for the Clunie,” the Website stated. “This will help ensure that the McKinley Library could continue to stay open. The Friends of East Sacramento will model the operation after the very successful Sierra 2 Center in Curtis Park. The nonprofit model of the operation of public facilities is growing nation-wide. But keeping it open and managed by a nonprofit takes start-up money.”

Successful drive

The rebel cry was a success. Within four months, Friends of East Sac, led by East Sacramento resident Cecily Hastings, collected over $60,000 from local businesses, residents, and park supporters to help pay off the City’s $45,000 operating budget.

“We got the call right before the Christmas break and I can tell you, in the past four years we don’t get that kind of good news too often anymore with all the closures of parks and recs. So yea, it was a great Christmas present,” said Harder. “Without the group’s efforts, the Center was most likely to close in July, along with the library inside.”

“We’ve established a $60,000 building fund because this is an old building and we’ve already figured out it’s a money pit,” said Hastings at a City press conference held on Jan. 17 with Mayor Kevin Johnson, Councilmember Steve Cohn and Nancy Cornelius from McKinley-East Sacramento Neighborhood Association (MENA). “We want to restore it to its glory of probably what it was 75 years ago.”

Blueprint to follow

THE CLUNIE HALL COMMUNITY CENTER is an icon built in memory of a Sacramento businesswoman who served the community. In 1934, Florence Turton Clunie’s estate bequeathed $150,000 to build the center – over $2.5 million in today’s dollars. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

THE CLUNIE HALL COMMUNITY CENTER is an icon built in memory of a Sacramento businesswoman who served the community. In 1934, Florence Turton Clunie’s estate bequeathed $150,000 to build the center – over $2.5 million in today’s dollars. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

At the press conference, Mayor Johnson said the work in East Sacramento is “a blueprint that challenges other areas of the city.”

Harder expanded on the Mayor’s sentiments by adding that this action by residents and businesses in East Sacramento is a community model that the City hopes will continue to emerge to help keep parks and community centers open as the budget deficit continues to chip away at those assets.

“We do have several other community centers that are (scheduled) to close, so we put out calls to non-profits and big local corporations if they want to talk to us about taking over responsibility of other community centers, to keep them open for community meetings, programming for kids, teens and adults,” Harder said. “A great example of this model is the Sierra 2 Center, run by the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association. It makes the Curtis Park neighborhood one of the most unique communities in Sacramento.”

Negotiating a transition

Currently organizers of Friends of East Sac are in negotiations with the City to take over the Center and run the facility at a lower cost than the city has. Organizers believe that, with proper management, the Clunie Hall Community Center could bring in $100,000 a year.

“We are working with their advisory committee to finalize the lease and transition base. They have people with facility management, grant writing, and marketing skills,” Harder said. “We hope the transition will be sometime by this spring or by July. We have great faith this organization will do a superb job in maintaining this center.”

“I bring my family out here to enjoy the park all the time, and this Center has served the community and has enhanced the lives of others in so many ways,” said supporter Robert Schmitt. “We know these are difficult times for many people, but this is a place that anyone can come and benefit from such as the McKinley Library, and the events held inside. I’m glad we have a community that cares so much.”

Clunie by the Numbers

The Clunie Hall Community Center was named for a life-long Sacramento resident, Florence Turton Clunie, wife of pioneer and state congressman Thomas J. Clunie. She was a notable Sacramento businesswoman in her own right. Upon her death in 1934, her estate donated $150,000 for the building of a community center and pool in McKinley Park. The City of Sacramento pitched in an additional $20,000 to establish the McKinley Library at the north end of the new building. Both opened to the public in late 1936.

The Center boasts a beautiful lobby with an art deco look, reminiscent of the 1930s when it was built.

Annual attendance:

Classes organized by Parks and Recreation with private instructors: 5590

Estimated number of people through rental activity (community and nonprofit meetings and events, weddings/family events, library programming, etc.): 33,753

Examples of classes:


Piano for Beginners

Spanish 4 Toddlers

New Salvation Army child development center opens

In continuing its efforts to meet human needs without discrimination, The Salvation Army recently opened its new child development center at the southwest corner of Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard.

The event included a ribbon cutting to officially open The Salvation Army’s new child development center at the southwest corner of Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard. The ribbon was made of paper and included colored hand prints of children. / Photo courtesy, The Salvation Army

The event included a ribbon cutting to officially open The Salvation Army’s new child development center at the southwest corner of Broadway and Alhambra Boulevard. The ribbon was made of paper and included colored hand prints of children. / Photo courtesy, The Salvation Army

The $3 million, 14,000-square-foot, two-story, Oak Park area facility replaced a 2,400-square-foot modular building that had housed The Salvation Army’s day care center at the site for the past 24 years. Prior to October 1986, the organization’s day care services had been provided in downtown Sacramento.

Funds for the structure were raised through a diligent, three-year capital campaign and ground was broken for the center last September.

The campaign was led by John Frisch and Diane Mizell, co-chairs for the campaign and other projects of the organization.

In celebration of the new facility, about 100 people attended a grand opening event, which featured a short program, a tour of the facility and refreshments prepared by food crews of The Salvation Army’s shelter on North B Street.

The event, which was held in triple-digit temperatures on Wednesday, June 22, was commenced with an introduction and opening prayer by Maj. Tedd Lowcock, who serves as co-pastor of the Sacramento Citadel Corps of The Salvation Army, along with his wife, Maj. Cindy Lowcock.

During the program, Tedd Lowcock introduced the event’s emcee, Maj. Doug Riley, who expressed his gratification with the new center, which is six times larger than the old education building, which was demolished to provide space for the present center.

“It’s hard to believe that it was just last September when we gathered here with shovels in hand to break ground for this amazing new center,” Riley said. “When looking at this beautiful new building, it’s even harder to imagine the old temporary, modular building that stood on these grounds for more than 20 years. Remember what it looked like? Small, single-story, well maintained by our staff, but a bit tired and woefully out of date for the needs of our children. Now look at what an amazing environment these children will have to learn and grow. And this is just the outside of the building.”

The program, which concluded with a ribbon cutting and a closing prayer by Cindy Lowcock, also included brief speeches by Frisch, Mizell, Panorea Audis from Supervisor Phil Serna’s office, Councilmembers Jay Schenirer and Kevin McCarty, and Keith Hart, who represented Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office.

The event was additionally highlighted by music played by a brass band and the presence of a group of children who would be attending the center.

As a show of appreciation to the donors who helped make the construction of the building possible, the children sang a song as part of the program.

David G. Bentley, director of business services for The Salvation Army’s Del Oro Division, said that one of the highlights in the efforts to have a new child development center constructed at the Alhambra Boulevard site was the accomplishment of acquiring financial assistance in a down economy.

“We started this capital campaign in 2008, when the economy took a nose dive,” said Bentley, who organized the day’s program. “It was a very difficult time to raise money. As (people) look at this building, they are just in awe that we got this thing done, and the children who will be utilizing this facility will have a first-class building for learning opportunities.”

Bentley, who has dedicated 27 years of service to The Salvation Army, added that the completed structure is “absolutely vital” for many local, financially struggling parents and their families.

“These are low income families who utilize this program and in this economy, this (program) is vital for parents who are either single parents or what have you, to go back to school, go for job interviews or even working, for them to have a safe environment for their children to be at while they’re away from them,” Bentley said. “Then with our after school program, schools are cutting left and right, and we’re hoping that we can fill the gap for those children for computer lab, music programs, media programs. We really feel strongly that we have to reach out, especially to that Oak Park community.”

Due to the much greater size of the new center, children, ages 3 to 5, will be able to receive age specific care and instruction.

The center’s day care service, which is licensed through the state of California for 75 children, is provided on the first floor of the building, and is divided into three separate rooms that are designed for 25 children per room. Each room is designated for a specific age of a child.

This building, which provided many preschool, childcare, after school and parent education programs during its 24 years of use, was replaced by the Alhambra Boulevard campus’ new child development center. / Photo courtesy, The Salvation Army

This building, which provided many preschool, childcare, after school and parent education programs during its 24 years of use, was replaced by the Alhambra Boulevard campus’ new child development center. / Photo courtesy, The Salvation Army

In the previous structure, children met together in a single room.

The upstairs portion of the building is mainly the site of an after school program for children, ages 6 to 12. The program provides assistance with homework and presents the children with a safe after school environment.

Future plans for the center, which is open weekdays from 6:45 a.m. to 7 p.m., is to add music education programs, a media room and possibly a game room.

The drive to add music education programs to the center is headed by Sonja Stires, the director of programs for the Alhambra Boulevard campus.

Having such programs, Bentley explained, is very beneficial for children who attend schools that no longer have funding to provide similar programs.

The Salvation Army’s Alhambra campus is also home to a community center, a gymnasium with basketball leagues, and a chapel with a congregation of about 175 people who attend services on a weekly basis.

Bentley, who was involved in all stages of the project from its planning and construction to the building’s dedication, said that the new child development center was without question, a great investment for the community.

“A building of this size and of this quality, I believe will stand the test of time and be around, and our programs will serve our community for as long as we are around,” Bentley said.

And Riley emphasized, “It’s not about the building. It’s about the relationships and the opportunities we’re creating.”

Progress made in regional arts education plan in Sacramento schools

Mayor Kevin Johnson held his weekly press conference on March 29 to celebrate the accomplishments of‘Any Given Child,’ a program created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to provide arts education and arts experiences for schools.
Designed for students in grades K-8, Sacramento was chosen as the inaugural partner city for ‘Any Given Child’ in Oct. 2009. Planning of the program has been completed and implementation is currently in progress.

The program is housed under Mayor Johnson’s ‘For Arts’ Sake’ initiative and uses resources from Sacramento’s school system, along with those of local artists, local arts organizations, and the Kennedy Center to create a long-range plan for arts education specific to the Sacramento community.

Sacramento Unified and Twin Rivers Unified School Districts were the first school districts chosen to launch this program.

“’Any Given Child’ has provided Sacramento with a tremendous opportunity to expand student access to the arts and strengthen arts education across our community. This year’s progress has proved to be a success and we look forward to a continued partnership with the Kennedy Center to help provide arts education to students for years to come,” Johnson said.

Kennedy Center Director of National Partnerships, Barbara Shepherd, was on hand to discuss national expansion of the ‘Any Given Child’ program, which seeks to bring access, balance, and equity to each child’s arts education, using an affordable model that combines the resources of the school district, local arts groups and the Kennedy Center.

With the assistance of expert consultation services provided by Kennedy Center staff and other professionals, community leaders are developing a long-range plan for arts education that is tailor-made for the Sacramento school district and community, and allows for local expansion of the program.

“Sacramento has been a model launch city for this initiative,” said Darrell M. Ayers, vice president of Education at the Kennedy Center. “Working with Sacramento’s Any Given Child Governing Council has helped us further shape this program. It’s been wonderful to see the unyielding support for the arts and for arts education in the Sacramento region, both through the Mayor’s commitment and through local arts organizations and individuals. We have now expanded the program to Springfield, Missouri; Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada with additional cities to come.”

By partnering with local arts organizations and using existing resources, the program aims to create little administrative overhead, remaining affordable. The first phase of the program, a comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources and needs assessment by Kennedy Center staff and consultants, began in October of 2009 in Sacramento.

A review of the community and the school system revealed that 93% of area teachers believe integrating more arts into education will help them meet some of their classroom challenges. 71 percent of schools surveyed through ‘Any Given Child’ do not provide arts education programs. Based on this information, a plan was created that built arts education back into the school day, through providing professional development for teachers and connecting community arts educators with classrooms and schools.

A total of 36 classrooms are working with seven residency artists from the Sacramento community.

Students in these classes are receiving hands-on arts education experiences in many different arts genres. Classroom teachers have been able to take advantage of supplemental lessons with online interactive learning modules and videos developed by the Kennedy Center such as those available on The goal is to provide a tapestry of arts education, weaving together existing arts classes with available outside resources.

By the end of the school year, arts experiences in the form of in-school arts assemblies will have reached 39,463 students in a total of 129 assemblies throughout the two school districts.

The program will be expanding in the next school year to provide an even deeper arts education experience for Sacramento’s K-8 students.

As part of the ‘Any Given Child’ initiative, Sacramento has had access to Kennedy Center arts education resources, including professional development opportunities in the arts and arts integration for teachers and artists; resources on the Internet including lesson plans, interactive modules, and videos; and other arts education programs from the Kennedy Center.

Mayor Johnson launched his arts initiative, ‘For Arts’ Sake’ in 2009 to bring the arts community together, find ways the City of Sacramento can support the arts, and develop a strategy that will enable the arts community to withstand these challenging economic times.

Council Member Cohn addresses Kings/Arena situation

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Sacramento City Council Member Steve Cohn’s monthly newsletter to District 3.


Sacramento City Council Member Steve Cohn / Photo courtesy

Sacramento City Council Member Steve Cohn / Photo courtesy

Kings/Arena Update



As anyone knows who either lives in Sacramento or follows our media, the Kings have asked the NBA for a six-week time extension of the March 1 deadline to file a request to move the Kings to Anaheim.

As Mayor Johnson said, “This means one thing: They are trying to cut a deal to leave. They don’t have a deal yet, but they hope to in the next few weeks.”

Time will tell whether this is the end of Sacramento’s partnership with the Kings. If so, it’s been quite a ride. Since opening night on Oct. 25, 1985 at the original, temporary Arco Arena, through the 1988 opening of the current arena, until Feb. 28, 2011 when the last game was played in “Arco Arena” (now “Power Balance Pavilion”), it has been a roller coaster ride for the team and our community.

For more than a decade, this community sold out each and every home game, despite consistent last-place finishes, some forgettable lineups, and only two playoff appearances in 14 years. Then in 1999, the Kings started a run of playoff years that reached a peak in 2002, when the Kings were indisputably the best team in the NBA, and but for poor officiating and free throw shooting, would have won the NBA Championship. Not even the most casual of Sacramento sports fans will ever forget the glory team of Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Peja Stojakovic and a great cast of bench players who would dive to the floor for every loose ball and fight for every rebound. They were a team that Sacramento could truly be proud of, playing unselfishly and harmoniously, making the collective whole so much greater than the sum of its parts. A reflection of our community, which may not be as photogenic and glamorous as our big coastal city brethren, but is the most livable big city in America.

Who in Sacramento hasn’t said when defending our fair city that we may not be the best place to visit, but we are the best place to live?

Yet even during the team’s heyday, there were signs that Camelot was not going to last forever.

First, it was the former owners’ unsavory demand for favors that led to the Council’s approval of a $73 million loan in 1997. (To set the record straight, the Kings have made every payment on that back-loaded loan, though the balance remains at $67 million).

Then there were several failed attempts to finance a new Downtown arena, culminating in the disastrous Measures Q/R in 2006. Although the sales tax measure was decidedly one-sided in favor of the Kings, the Maloofs still weren’t satisfied and through a series of public relations gaffes, indirectly helped defeat the measure by an astounding 80-20 margin.

Those of you who have followed my career on the Council know that I opposed the Council loan and Measures Q and R. I have not taken a religious position that forever would prohibit the use of public funds for an arena, but I have consistently stood up for taxpayers to ensure that any arena financing deal show clear benefits to the City and its taxpayers, and not a hand out to pampered professional team owners or players.

So where does Sacramento stand now? I agree with our Mayor and others who say that the goal here is bigger than basketball. Today, we will work hard to keep the Kings, using every remedy short of public subsidies possible. That’s why I shared a magical moment with 17,000 other Sacramentans who sold out the Kings game on Feb. 28 and showed the Maloofs what a real home town advantage can be.

But the path to a new entertainment and sports complex will not be an easy one. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Council unanimously agreed to select the ICON-Taylor development team to take the next three months to work with city staff to analyze and come up with a finance plan for a new sports and entertainment complex.

Council also gave direction that a plan would need to take the Natomas community into consideration. If a new arena were to be built somewhere other than Natomas, there would need to be a project to make up for the loss in that area.

The Council did not approve a development contract or location.

I believe that the best team was chosen to get straight answers on financing. I reiterated at the Feb. 8 Council meeting that for me it comes down to financing. I’ve never been convinced that an arena can be built without some public financing.

The development team plans to move forward even with the most recent news that the King’s ownership are in talks to move the team to Southern California.

ICON is a Denver based company that has built several arenas and sports facilities throughout the world. David Taylor, a local developer has been the driver of much redevelopment in Downtown Sacramento, including the U.S. Bank Tower on Capitol Mall, new City Hall, Esquire Plaza and the Sheraton Grand Sacramento. The team also includes New York based Turner Construction, Populous, a Kansas City, Missouri sports architecture firm and Dan Meis, who designed the Staples Center in L.A.

I’ll keep you posted on these arena developments, but as always, I welcome your ideas as well.

Visit Council Member Cohn’s website at for up-to-date news. For questions or comments, call (916) 808-7003 or email

Mayor Johnson and STAND UP Hold First ‘State of Schools’ Meeting in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Mayor Kevin Johnson and STAND UP held the first ‘State of Schools’ meeting in Sacramento at the Guild Theater. Mayor Johnson was joined by Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, in a conversation on the urgent need for reform in Sacramento’s public schools.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

Today’s meeting focused on the condition of public schools in Sacramento and issued a call to action. The meeting was sponsored by the Black Parallel School Board, Greater Sacramento Urban League, Sacramento Chapter for 100 Black Women, Sacramento NAACP, and the Sacramento Observer in honor of Black History Month.

Currently, less than half of Sacramento schools are meeting academic targets. While Sacramento’s public schools have shown slight increases in academic achievement over recent years, Mayor Johnson believes that the gap is not closing quickly enough.

Johnson stated, “Over the last seven years, city school third graders have improved by an average of two percent per year. This may sound positive, but think about it from this perspective: at the current rate, it will take 20 years before close to 80 percent of our third graders are on grade level. That’s an entire generation.”

Nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, Russlynn Ali has dedicated efforts to underscoring the urgent need to prepare all students for academic success in this global economy.

Mayor Johnson concluded the meeting with a call to action for everyone in the packed Guild Theater to sign up to become members of STAND UP. One priority for STAND UP this year will be recruiting members for their organization and connecting with people who believe in shared core beliefs.

The goal of STAND UP is for Sacramento to have one of the finest public education systems in the nation.

STAND UP will focus on five key pillars of great school systems—accountability, parent engagement, human capital, high quality school choices, and effective policy.

The “State of Schools” is the first in a series of monthly meetings STAND UP will hold throughout the year.

In his State of the City address last month, Mayor Johnson identified education reform as one of his top priorities for 2011. Today’s meeting represents the latest effort to make progress toward his education agenda.

For more info on STAND UP visit

Sacramento Public Safety Meeting, March 10

Please join Mayor Kevin Johnson, Police Chief Rick Braziel, and Council Member Darrell Fong for the Mayor’s Office Hours and a Public Safety town hall meeting.  The agenda for the meeting is:
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

When: Thursday, March 10  

5 p.m. – 6 p.m.:  The Mayor’s office will host an open office hours to answer questions and concerns. 

6 p.m. – 7 p.m.: The Mayor’s Office, Chief Braziel, and Council Member Fong will host a town hall discussion focused on public safety in District Seven.

Where: Didion School, Multi Purpose Room, 6490 Harmon Drive, Sacramento

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson responds to inquiry on city-county consolidation opportunities

At his weekly press conference on Nov. 5, Mayor Johnson received questions regarding the topic of potential consolidation opportunities between the city and county.

“Our community should always seek new ways to make government more effective in serving our citizens,” he said. “This is especially true in tough times. I think it’s worth having a robust dialogue on how the region can work better together. Consolidation has been one topic many folks have been exploring, and I encourage us to continue this conversation in an open, inclusive and transparent way.”

Johnson noted that he has no specific plan, process or timeline on the issue, but hopes to foster further dialogue in concert with leaders and citizens across the city and region.

‘Hero of the Hudson’ comes to town to kick off ‘Sacramento Ready’


Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III joined Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at City Hall to kick off “Sacramento Ready,” a citizen education and emergency preparedness initiative.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson presents Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger with the Key to the City of Sacramento. Sullenberger was in town with his family to help the mayor kick off a new citizen education and emergency preparedness initiative. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson presents Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger with the Key to the City of Sacramento. Sullenberger was in town with his family to help the mayor kick off a new citizen education and emergency preparedness initiative. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Stephen Crowley

The retired American airline transport pilot who is best known for landing US Airways Flight 1549 – after both engines had been disabled – in the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City last year, is also a safety expert and accident investigator.

With the modesty and gentle humor for which he is known, the “Hero of the Hudson” spoke to the assembled emergency preparedness groups from organizations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, local law enforcement and disaster relief groups.

“I’m often asked how I felt, being thrust into the limelight,” he said. “Actually, it was a lack of thrust on my part that put me here.”

Sullenberger discussed the events of January 15, 2009 – when his Airbus A320 struck a flock of birds, disabling both engines and creating an emergency situation that required landing the crippled airplane in the freezing waters of the Hudson River. Amazingly, there were no fatalities.

“I served in the Air Force, but I never saw combat,” he said. “I always wondered if I’d be able to rise to the occasion should I ever be placed in an emergency situation.”

He gave credit to the preparedness training both he and his crew had received over a lifetime for “The Miracle on the Hudson.” He spoke of having to force himself to be calm, to compartmentalize all his training and experience and to focus on the task at hand – all while depending on and trusting his team in an extreme situation.

“Jeff Skiles was my co-pilot, but he is more than that. He is a fully qualified pilot,” Sullenberger said. “One of the things he did was start to automatically call out altitude and air speed. He assisted me in raising the nose for the landing. Our flight attendants, Donna, Doreen and Sheila had little time to prepare everyone, but they did so. Patrick Carton, the air traffic controller, kept giving me the information I needed as I needed it.”

After landing the crippled aircraft, both Sullenberger and Skiles turned to each other and said, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.”

Another key to survival was the immediate action of “first responders” in New York and New Jersey.

“Since 9/11, these groups had practiced many different scenarios,” Sullenberger said. “Many of the emergency responding agencies had already conducted drills. In three minutes and 55 seconds, the first boat arrived.”

Sacramento Ready is a sustained preparedness campaign that will guide residents to become prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster.

“In Sacramento, there is a sense of civic duty,” Sullenberger said. “I commend you for that. None of us know what tomorrow may bring. Avoid complacency. I never knew what two minutes, 28 seconds of my career might change everything. Each of us has that responsibility to remain vigilant.”

“Sacramento is the second most ‘at-risk’ community behind New Orleans,” Johnson said. “With Sacramento Ready, we have a chance to really set ourselves apart. If we don’t do our part (to become prepared for an emergency), we won’t step up when the situation arises.”

For more information about Sacramento Ready, visit