Wait Time Scandal Shows DMV Still Doesn’t Get It

Commentary by Tim Anaya  |  2018-08-16

DMV wait times are unbearable under normal circumstances.  They are certainly ill-equipped to handle more than 23 million people expected to come through their doors through 2020.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Benjamin Franklin famously said that there are only two things certain in life – death and taxes.  In California, you could add a third – hatred of the DMV.

Anyone who has ever signed up for a driver’s license or register a vehicle knows just how inefficient, and at times hostile, the DMV can be.  They cling to outdated thinking, as if their primary mission is registering horse buggies to drive on California’s roads.

The DMV is the poster child for an unaccountable government bureaucracy – and the current scandal over astronomical wait times at DMV offices shows they still don’t get it.

The federal REAL ID, enacted in 2005, requires California to change its state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards to meet new federal requirements.  By October 2020, every Californian will need a REAL ID to fly on an airplane or enter a federal government building.  You must go to the DMV in person for ID verification before you can get one.

DMV wait times are unbearable under normal circumstances.  They are certainly ill-equipped to handle more than 23 million people expected to come through their doors through 2020.

Both Democrats and Republicans are outraged.  They grilled DMV Director Jean Shiomoto at a committee hearing this week.

San Francisco Democrat Phil Ting said that he was shocked after visiting a DMV office in his district.  “What we’ve been hearing are horrific wait times of six or seven hours.  That’s unacceptable.”

Laughably, in a July letter to lawmakers, DMV says that “the current statewide average wait time once customers check-in with the ‘Start Here’ window is 23 minutes for customers with appointments and 1 hour 23 minutes for customers without appointments.”

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, told Shiomoto at the hearing that, “you have perpetuated the feeling that people can’t trust your agency.”  She’s right, and the Director inspired no confidence in lawmakers at 2 Capitol hearings this week that the agency can turn things around any time soon.

Predictably, Shiomoto asked lawmakers for more money at this week’s hearing – another $26 million.

The state has already given the DMV $70 million in additional funds to open more offices, expand hours, and hire additional personnel to handle the influx.  The DMV estimates it will need to spend over $220 million over the next 6 years to process all the applications.  That money clearly won’t address the other problems identified in this week’s hearings, namely the poor customer service culture and outdated/inefficient thinking that goes into department operations.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson was fed up after receiving numerous angry complaints from constituents.  He authored a request for the State Auditor to audit the DMV’s activities and how they are spending these additional resources.

Patterson’s audit would be one expenditure of public funds that’s actually worth every penny.  Taxpayers deserve to know just how bad things really are at the DMV and a nonpartisan audit is needed to document this and outline steps to reform the beleaguered agency and its operations.

Despite lawmakers showing their lack of confidence in Shiomoto’s leadership, the audit request failed to get enough Senate Democrat votes to pass (the request needed 4 votes each from the Assembly and Senate), despite bipartisan votes in both houses.  It’s a shame that something both parties seemingly agree on falls victim to today’s toxic political climate.

The DMV has long been overdue for a complete overhaul, and most important, an attitude adjustment.  Hopefully, the Real ID wait time scandal will be the catalyst that forces much-need change upon a stubborn department clinging to the ways of the past.

Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.

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Alice Cooper: Rock’s Super Villain

By Rich Peters, MPG Editor  |  2018-08-09

Alice Cooper recently kicked off his “Paranormal Evening” tour. He is set to play locally at Jackson Rancheria on Wednesday, August 15 and his new live album A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris drops on August 31.

A Paranormal Evening with the Godfather of Shock Rock

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - “You can’t shock an audience anymore - that died a long time ago,” said Alice Cooper. One of the originators of shock rock, Cooper understands that times have indeed changed since he spearheaded a movement in the early 70s but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to embrace his role as the bad guy.

Rock’s villain began playing out his own dark vaudeville in the earliest days of his career. “That started from the very beginning; that was always with us,” said Cooper. “I think because we were art students and that was something I saw as being essential for rock and roll. I would see all these bands - that were great bands - and they were all heroes and I just kept thinking, ‘Where’s the villain?’”

That’s when Cooper took it upon himself to become that villain and change rock and roll forever. “Every parent in America did not want their children to see this character,” said Cooper. “People would make things up…by the time you got into town you were the worst person ever. We found that funny.”

In a life well before the internet and social media, the stories took on lives of their own. “The more of the misinformation, the bigger we got. The parents hated us so much that the kids liked us.”

From guillotines and blood to the black attire and mascara, it was all about giving the crowd something that they had never experienced before. “And if you really look at it, it was just really a lot of fun,” recalled Cooper. “The audience was really having fun with us. There was nothing satanic about it.”

Times may have changed, the stage antics may be a little less shocking, and the internet may have depleted art, but that won’t stop the Godfather of his craft from putting on a vintage performance. “It will be a very similar show (tonight) to the one in the 70s except now it will be accepted a little more as excitement and entertainment more than just shock value.”

One way that Cooper has been able to continue performing at a high level for the better part of five decades is by interjecting his band with youth and energy. He prides himself not only on theatrics but on the quality musicianship that got him there to begin with.

“Everybody in my band is top of the line,” he boasted. “Glen Sobel, our drummer, just got voted best drummer in rock and roll. Nita (Strauss) just got voted best female guitar player. So I’ve kind of got a premier band. That makes such a big difference to me when I get on stage that my band can blow just about anybody off the stage.”

Cooper recently kicked off his “Paranormal Evening” tour. He is set to play locally at Jackson Rancheria on Wednesday, August 15 and his new live album A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris drops on August 31. For more information visit www.alicecooper.com.

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2018 California State Fair Celebrates Many First-Ever Moments

California State Fair Release  |  2018-08-09

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top enjoying the wildlife. They headlined the fair playing at Papa Murphy’s Park in front of a packed crowd.

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The California State Fair has wrapped up our 2018 season, which featured the theme “Don't Miss A Moment.” As we reflect upon the 17 days of the Fair, which ran from July 13-29, we celebrated many first-ever moments that happened on the CA State Fairgrounds. The California State Fair is a place where memories are made which represents the best of what California has to offer; both nationally and globally.

“The CA State Fair has enormous roots as a beacon of the achievements of Californians and our multicultural threads,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California State Fair. “We measure success by the many positive experiences of our fairgoers and our competitors.” Judging by all of the experiences listed below, the 2018 California State Fair was a huge success.

When it comes to competitions, the CA State Fair was proud to showcase culture and host its inaugural statewide youth mariachi competition. Ten ensembles throughout the state were invited to compete, ranging from first graders to college students, and our judges represented some of the strongest mariachi talent in California, including celebrity judge, Anthony Gonzalez, the voice behind Miguel in Disney’s Coco. In the end, Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando (Los Angeles County) won first place and as part of their reward they played on stage with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán to a sold out crowd. For a complete list of the winners, prizes, and competitors click here.

One heartwarming first, that we are especially proud of, was the SMUD Cares at the Fair Giving Monday. The CA State Fair partnered with local utility company SMUD and the Elk Grove Food Bank, each Monday of the Fair, to restock the empty food shelves that are common during the summer months. Fairgoers donated nearly 29,000 lbs. of food to help feed hungry families served by the Elk Grove Food Bank. In exchange for the food items the Fair provided free admission to the donors.

There were plenty of first-ever exhibits as well. Silent Disco was a popular “Cool Spot” to visit in Expo Center. Over 26,000 fairgoers danced with headphones to the songs of their choice, creating memories, and taking lots of selfies in the process. Tiny Homes were showcased during the first weekend at the Fair to a large, interested crowd. In the California Building, fairgoers enjoyed the new Life’s Big Ag-Venture game and the National Geographic exhibit, The Future of Food, which visually explained how California helps feed the world. Also sprinkled throughout the fairgrounds were selfie stations for guests to capture their best pics for social media.

Other firsts happened over at Papa Murphy’s Park, which included concerts and being the new home of the CA State Fair Cornhole Championship on the final day of Fair. The S.M.O. Tour, Kidz Bop Live 2018 and ZZ Top with special guest George Thorogood and The Destroyers were the first three concerts held on the sports field during the CA State Fair's 17 day run. Before his July 26 performance, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons toured the fairgrounds and got up-close to some of the CA State Fair's furriest animals.

Food and drinks saw their share of firsts too. There were six new food vendors for Fairgoers to enjoy. The Speakeasy Whiskey Lounge was a new site that was home to live music and a chance to use a secret word (hence the term “speakeasy”) to get a special drink made. Over in the California Building, The Taste of California Experience Classes expanded to give fairgoers knowledge about wine, cheese, olive oil, and honey.

To help battle the heat of July, the CA State Fair made a conscious effort to help our guests find relief by creating 20 "Cool Spots." These were either air conditioned buildings, fans with misters, full body misters, and shaded areas where a mobile device could be charged. As another way to stay cool and pay homage to the Oscar-nominated film “Lady Bird,” the Fair offered the “Lady Bird Experience Package” which was admission and unlimited rides on the “Log Ride.”

 The Carnival area, which is operated by Butler Amusements, had some firsts of its own. The CA State Fair held its first-ever “Gender Reveal” on the giant Ferris Wheel (It was a girl!). Butler Amusements was also excited to announce it had its three largest ride days ever (including all the fairs and festivals they attend) during the last two Saturdays and final Sunday of the CA State Fair.

There were other great community outreach firsts too. The Rescue Dog Dive Day with Splash Dogs had 39 rescue dog participants; with the prize money being donated to a local animal shelter and two dogs adopted. Out At The Fair also became an official CA State Fair event this summer for the final day; featuring Out At The Races and a Diva Drop bungee-jump.

During Sacramento Navy Week, Admiral Scott Jones and CEO Pickering joined together in a touching wreath laying at Cal Expo's 9/11 Memorial. This was even more significant because Admiral Jones grew up in Sacramento. The Cal Expo Police Department also connected with the CA State Fair community in a new and unique way. Most nights of the Fair, the public was able to feed the police horse and canines, or sit on one of the police motorcycles.

The 2018 California State Fair becomes a mini-city each day, and highlights the best of what California has to offer. Attendance ranged from 20,000 to 60,000 a day for a total of 572,250 this year. Extreme heat for 9 days of the CA State Fair contributed to a decrease overall in attendance; with guests spending over $8.5 million in food and drink purchases. While county fairs celebrate their local communities, the CA State Fair showcases the achievements of people state-wide. This year competitors entered the Fair from 57 of California's 58 counties. Since many of the young competitors and exhibitors at the Fair can only travel to Sacramento in the summer, when they are not in school, the CA State Fair is held in July. We want to thank everyone who attended this year and extend an invitation to come out to the 2019 California State Fair.

Source: California State Fair

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - As many as 17 large wildfires are burning in California, destroying homes and other structures, forcing thousands of people from their homes. The American Red Cross is on the ground, providing shelter, relief supplies and comfort for those affected.

Over the weekend the Mendocino Complex Fire grew to 267,000 acres and is only 33 percent contained. The fire has destroyed 130 structures, including 67 homes. It is now the fourth largest wildfire in state history. The Carr Fire has burned 160,000 acres and is 43 percent contained. The sixth most destructive fire in California history, the fire has destroyed more than 1,500 structures, including 1,080 homes. The Ferguson Fire, which has closed Yosemite National Park, has burned more than 89,000 acres.

Large wildfires are also burning in Washington and Oregon where Red Cross disaster workers are providing shelter for those affected.

In California, more than 1,000 Red Cross disaster workers and nine emergency response vehicles are responding to the fires. The Red Cross has more than 20 shelters open and has provided more than 6,700 overnight shelter stays. Red Cross workers have also provided more than 73,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 18,200 relief items. Health and mental health disaster workers have provided more than 6,100 services and caseworkers are meeting one-on-one with people to assist them in getting the help they need.

As evacuation orders are lifted in some areas and people return home, the Red Cross will continue working closely with state and local officials to ensure people get the help they need.

STAY IN TOUCH People can reconnect with loved ones through both the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell and by using the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App. The Safe and Well site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand including shelter locations and severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crisis by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter, or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37864, Boone, IA 50037-0864.

You can also help people affected by the California wildfires. Donors can designate their donation to the California wildfires relief efforts and the Red Cross will honor donor intent. The best way to ensure your donation will go to a specific disaster is to write the specific disaster name in the memo line of a check. We also recommend completing and mailing the donation form on redcross.org with your check. The Red Cross honors donor intent, and all donations earmarked for California wildfires will be used for our work to support these disasters.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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Former Athletics and Giants pitcher to make an appearance for River Cats game on August 10

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Former Sacramento River Cats, Oakland Athletics, and San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito will be at Raley Field on Friday, August 10, 2018 to sign autographs for fans and throw the ceremonial first pitch.

The River Cats will host a pregame VIP meet and greet with Zito, which will include those who have purchased a Giant Pack. He will also be available for autographs on the concourse after throwing out the first pitch.

Barry Zito began the 2000 season with the River Cats, the franchise's first year in Sacramento, and made his Major League debut that same year with the Oakland Athletics. Zito spent seven seasons with the Athletics before signing with the San Francisco Giants after the 2006 season. Two World Championships highlighted his seven seasons with the Giants. Zito was a member of the Nashville (Triple-A Oakland) roster in 2015 and pitched six shutout innings at Raley Field during the team's series against Sacramento that year.

The fan-favorite Giant Pack includes a Senate level seat for each of the 13 biggest River Cats games of 2018 and is available for just $299 (an $800 value). Fans who purchase the package are also guaranteed premium giveaway items for the 2018 season, including a limited edition Madison Bumgarner Sactown jersey t-shirt. A full list of included game dates is available online at rivercats.com.

Giant Pack buyers will also receive exclusive access to a presale for the 2018 exhibition game on March 24 at Raley Field between the Sacramento River Cats and the San Francisco Giants. Presale date has not yet been determined.

For more information, please call the River Cats ticket hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487) or email tickets@rivercats.com.

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Coast is Clear in Mendocino County

By Visit Mendocino   |  2018-08-08

Celebrate National Motorcycle Week (August 14-20, 2018) on Mendocino’s scenic Highway 1. Photo courtesy Visit Mendocino County

MENDOCINCO, CA (MPG) - Tourism to Mendocino County remains 100 percent operational with all major highways, lodging and attractions unaffected despite the flank of wildfires located in the region’s wilderness areas, according to Visit Mendocino County.  As of August 8, 2018 only six percent (6%) of the Ranch Fire is located within Mendocino County.  www.VisitMendocino.com.

Northern California’s crown jewel, comprising 4,000 sq., miles -- roughly the size of Delaware, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined – reports that its 90 miles of Pacific coastline, 11 wine appellations and inland tourism areas are open for business.  The Mendocino Complex Fire remains in a remote wilderness region 60+ miles east of the coastal destinations of Fort Bragg and Mendocino.  

California Scenic Highway 1 and Mendocino’s “Inspiration Highway” 101 welcome visitors, along with the county’s 450+ hotel properties and 90+ wine tasting venues.  Key tourism sites including the cities of Ukiah, Hopland and Willits as well as the nearby attractions of the City of 10,000 Buddhas, Ridgewood Ranch (home of Seabiscuit), the Skunk Train, Vichy and Orr Hot Springs and the ancient redwood forests of Montgomery Woods State Reserve remain untouched.  

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Two fireworks nights and an appearance from Barry Zito highlight quick homestand

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento River Cats will welcome the El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres) to Raley Field this weekend (August 9 – August 12) for the final time this season. The season’s tenth homestand is presented by Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, and includes Thirsty Thursday, Orange Friday fireworks featuring an appearance by former San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito, Sutter Health Fireworks Saturday to go along with Faith & Family Night, as well as and K-LOVE Sunday Funday.

Thursday, August 9 – River Cats vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

·         Game Time: First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Raley Field gates will open to all fans at 6:00 p.m. 

·         Broadcast: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live online at rivercats.com and on the River Cats radio affiliate Money 105.5 FM.

·         Thirsty Thursday – Craft Beer Edition: 12-oz craft beers are just $5 in the beer garden, and 12-oz beers are just $2 in the Sactown Smokehouse BBQ area!

·         Tito’s Shuttle: A free shuttle service, courtesy of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Part of the Spare The Air Road Relief Program, the shuttle makes stops at deVere’s, Punch Bowl Social, and Sauced before arriving at Raley Field for the game. More route information, including times, available at rivercats.com/parking.

·         Canned Food Drive: Supported by Bush’s Baked Beans, donate canned goods at the ballpark which will benefit local Sacramento area food banks.

Friday, August 10 – River Cats vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

·         Game Time: First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Raley Field gates will open to all fans at 6:00 p.m. 

·         Broadcast: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live online at rivercats.com and on the River Cats radio affiliate Money 105.5 FM.

  • Food Trucks: It’s Nacho Truck food truck will be on the Toyota Home Run Hill.
  • Barry Zito Appearance: San Francisco Giants postseason hero Barry Zito will be at the ballpark to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

·         #OrangeFridayLive music from Robby James and the Streets of Bakersfield and $2 off craft beers in the Knee Deep Alley from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., postgame fireworks, and of course, orange Sactown jerseys.

Saturday, August 11 – River Cats vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

·         Game Time: First pitch is at 7:07 p.m. Raley Field gates will open to all fans at 6:00 p.m. 

·         Television Broadcast: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on CW31/KMAX. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m.

·         Radio Broadcast: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live online at rivercats.com and on the River Cats radio affiliate Money 105.5 FM.

·         Faith & Family Night supported by K-LOVE: Live pregame music in the beer garden from Thrive Worship of Bayside Church, and a Q&A with River Cats players who will discuss how their faith has impacted their baseball career.

  • Food Trucks: Drewski’s and Bacon Mania food trucks will be on the Toyota Home Run Hill.

·         Saturday Night Fireworks: Enjoy themed fireworks shows after every Saturday game, courtesy of Sutter Health.

Sunday, August 12 – River Cats vs. El Paso Chihuahuas

·         Game Time: First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. Raley Field gates will open to all fans at 12:00 p.m. 

·         Radio Broadcast: Today’s game will be broadcast live online at rivercats.com, and on the River Cats radio affiliate Money 105.5 FM.

·         Sunday Funday: K-LOVE Sunday Funday features pregame player autographs and Kids Run the Bases after the game.

Tickets are still available for all games and can be purchased online at rivercats.com, over the phone by calling (916) 371-HITS (4487), emailing tickets@rivercats.com, or by visiting the Round Table Pizza Box Office at Raley Field.

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