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Water Policy, Public Education, Economic Development and Rural Broadband Among Topics of Discussion



With the help of its official Secretariat (OCED), the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley conducted its 2019 Q1 Board of Directors meeting on March 15th in Madera, CA.


The meeting began with welcome addresses delivered by Andrew J. Medellin, Mayor, City of Madera and Max Rodriguez, Chairman, Madera County Board of Supervisors. Each cited the importance of collaboration and regionalism for the continued advancement of the San Joaquin Valley. Thereafter, Caglia Environmental was recognized for its generous sponsorship of meeting expenses.


The Public and Board Member Comments section of the agenda included the following: information on State legislation related to the California Farm Bill; a brief address from Sonya Logman, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom; an update on the California Earned Income Tax Credit program; the recognition of prospective Partnership Board Members representing the private sector in Madera County who were in attendance; comments related to rural emphasis areas reflected within the California Economic Summit scheduled for Fresno on November 7-8, 2019; and a quick report on Governor Newsom’s recent death penalty moratorium.


Partnership Lead Executive and OCED Interim Executive Director, Ismael Herrera, provided a brief update on the Partnership Sustainability Subcommittee. He reported a change of authorship for AB 1274 and updates from the March 13th Sustainability Subcommittee meeting which consisted of a draft value proposition and preliminary inventories of regional foundations and anchor institutions.


A brief legislative update was provided by Matt Rogers, representing U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. Following Mr. Rogers, the Board heard from Sandra Garcia, representing U.S. Representative Jim Costa, CA-16; Jennifer Hidalgo, representing California State Senator Anna Caballero, District 12; Mika Petrucci, representing California State Assemblymember Frank Bigelow, District 5; and Kristina Solberg, representing U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.


The first presentations of the day were queued up by Board Deputy Co-Chair Karen Ross who provided brief introductory remarks on important water policy updates. Board Member DeeDee D’Adamo then delivered a presentation the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan; San Joaquin, South Delta, and Sacramento Tributaries; and Voluntary Agreements.  Jeff Payne, Director of Water Policy, Friant Water Authority then gave an overview of his organization’s Voluntary Agreement on the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.


Board Member Patty Poire introduced a panel of Kern County educators who delivered a presentation regarding the early college program at McFarland High School. Romeo Agbalog, Liz Rozell, Abel Guzman, Aaron Resendez, and Brian Bell each explained their role in developing, implementing, as assessing the success of this educational model in Kern County. Board Member Dr. Carole Goldsmith concluded the panel by providing an update to the Board on AB 30 and encouraged it to consider supporting the legislation as it would support ongoing implementation of college and career access pathway programs. For more information, read AB 30 related materials

A brief overview of Opportunity Zones was provided by Kaina Pereira, representing the California Governor’s Office for Business and Economic Development. Given pending Federal guidelines that have not been finalized for the OZ program, Mr. Pereira was only able to cite guidelines established by the State of California. He did, however, share the interplay between OZ and Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs). Mr. Pereira ended by informing the Board about a March 18th OZ Investor Summit scheduled at Stanford University. The Partnership was represented at the event by Lead Executive Ismael Herrera

The final presentation of the day was queued up by Kim Dolbow Vann, California State Director, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development with introductory remarks on the availability of funding for rural broadband infrastructure. Rocky W. Chenelle then gave presentations on USDA’s ReConnect and Distance Learning & Telemedicine grant programs. There was lots of commentary by Board Members about the applicability of these funding programs in the San Joaquin Valley.

The next Partnership Board meeting is scheduled for June 21, 2019 in Kings County.