The St. John’s is running and the Sierra Nevadas are covered in snow, so if you are not paying attention to the meltdown going on in Washington DC in the House of Representatives, 2023 is looking like it’s going to be a good year.
But what about 2022?
The most popular stories in the Valley Voice for 2022 concerned the Kings and Tulare County District Attorneys. Both DAs were up for re-election but had vastly different outcomes.
Out of the Valley Voice’s top ten stories, four involved former Kings County DA Keith Fagundes.
After revelations of a sexual harassment lawsuit, hostile work environment, and the existence of an investigation into violating county policies by using taxpayer funds to pay for services from his brother and sister, Fagundes suffered a shocking loss to an unknown former employee and lawyer, Sarah Hacker.
Hacker, was sworn in as the county’s new district attorney Tuesday afternoon, January 3.
Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward (TCDA) received a lot of bad press this year, though not as bad as Fagundes, with the second most popularly read article about two fentanyl drug smugglers being released from jail and the TCDA seen as partially to blame.
Others minor stories in 2022 involving Ward were more accusations of favoritism, an accusation of bias lobbed by Benny Benzeevi, and an accusation of not complying with an evidence review concerning the murder of Donna Jo Richmond, for which Oscar Clifton ended up dying in prison – and who some believe was framed.
Noteworthy, is that while incumbent Fagundes lost his race, Ward ran in Tulare County unopposed – which usually means his constituents are generally satisfied with his job performance as the county’s top lawyer.
Probably the biggest story covered that did not get reader’s attention was the election of Emmanuel Soto, only the second Hispanic elected to the Visalia City Council – a town that has been a majority Hispanic for decades.
And the biggest story that wasn’t even written was the fact that Tulare County will no longer be represented in the United States Congress. Even Kings County has their representative in David Valadao — but now that Rep. Connie Conway has finished her term, Tulare County will have no native son or daughter representing their interests in this congress or in any congress in the future for a very long time.
Besides Valadao, who hails from Hanford, Tulare County is represented by Rep. Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield and Rep Jim Costa from Fresno.
Valley Voice’s most widely read articles for 2022
The most popular article of 2022 was hands down Kings County DA Fagundes under investigation for using taxpayer money to pay sister, brother.
Through Mark Pratter’s dogged investigation, he uncovered Fagundes’ shady arrangement with his sister by diving into a drove of financial documents he got with a Public Documents Request from Kings County. The documents showed that Fagundes was continually taking his staff on “retreats” and using his sister’s home on the coast, who in turn was paid thousands of dollars of Kings County taxpayers’ money.
The second most popular article was Blame game starts after suspected fentanyl traffickers released, skip court appearance. Though the Tulare County’s DA office seemed to have dropped the ball on this case, there was plenty of blame to share in the drug smugglers release.
The following eight articles round out the most read of 2022:
- Tulare parent’s lawsuit seeks justice for disabled son
- Evidence mounts in allegations of Kings County DA Fagundes creating a hostile work environment
- GWHS murder investigation uncovers international narcotics, firearms ring
- Tulare County Sheriff Detectives Solve Nearly 30-Year-Old Murder of 10-Year-Old Girl
- Sarah Hacker enters race for Kings County District Attorney
- Tulare City School District faces federal COVID lawsuits
- Milan Institute, KMPH station owner set for Tulare County court battle
- Hacker, Fagundes enter into battle royale for Kings County DA
Honorable mention goes to:
- WinCo facing transgender discrimination lawsuit
- Sarah Hacker headed towards an upset victory for Kings County District Attorney
- Former Tulare hospital CEO to ask for bail reduction
- Judge orders state AG to prosecute seven cases formerly handled by Kings County DA
- Homeless in Visalia: A personal view
- Poll Reveals Salas Leads Valadao by Eight Points
- Settlement in sexual harassment suit against Kings County $1.1 million
- Kings County DA Keith Fagundes responds to challenger’s claims
- TC Sheriff’s Office and DA accused of Selective Prosecution