Political Fix: 2023, a year in review

The big stories worldwide in 2023 included how AI is going to take over the world a la Terminator, how a new class of wonder drugs result in rapid weight loss – until you stop taking it and all the weight comes back – and the horrendous attack by Hamas on Israel, and then Israel’s retaliation that has killed 22,000 people in Gaza.

We saw history being made when a United States President was indicted for the first time in March: news that was greeted with a collective yawn. By October, he was indicted on 91 felony counts – that was then greeted with a bump in the polls for his 2024 presidential campaign.

Then, Representative Kevin McCarthy became the first House Speaker to ever be voted out of the post. It resulted in his resignation.

But for me, the biggest story in 2023 was the dissolution of the PAC 12 Conference.

I grew up going to Cal Bear football games and following the Pac 8, that expanded to be the PAC 10, and finally the PAC 12.

I then married a man who had attended Cal Bear games since he was 5 years old and lamented every time the PAC conference expanded – complaining bitterly that the two Arizonas were not even on the Pacific Coast. When Colorado and Utah joined the Conference he about had a stroke.

But he would have never imagined the whole conference imploding as it did one day this year in August.

As my oldest son and I looked up from our beers in a bar in Eugene, the home of the Oregon Ducks, an announcement scrolled at the bottom of the screen saying that the PAC 12 had essentially dissolved with only two teams remaining, Washington and Oregon State.

The collapse snowballed when UCLA and USC abruptly left the conference when the PAC 12 commissioner had not nailed down media rights in a timely manner, deepening my long dislike for the two Southern California universities.

The last regular season PAC 12 game on November 25 was played ironically by my alma mater, Cal against rival UCLA. And after 50 years of disappointments, Cal played a stellar game upsetting UCLA 33-7.

Even the announcers regaled tearfully how they had built their entire careers announcing PAC 12 games and now it was all over.

I was right there crying with them.

Moving Forward

The demise of college football aside, it’s hard to take a trip down memory lane while a sizzling 2024 election cycle is brewing. The drama started during the Christmas holiday with the on-again-off-again Congressional District 20 candidacy of Vince Fong, and it likely won’t stop until the General Election in November.

Open seats are a rarity and this year we have three: Assembly District 33, Assembly District 32 and Congressional District 20, McCarthy’s seat.

To find out if your favorite local candidate is ready for prime time, don’t miss the Assembly District 33 forum on January 12 and the Tulare County Supervisor forum on January 25.

The AD33 forum will take place at the Tulare County Office of Education, 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia and the Tulare County Supervisor forum will be in the Ponderosa Hall, College of the Sequoias, 915 S. Mooney Blvd. Visalia.

All candidates have agreed to participate except Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel.

A sad goodbye

In June of 2023, the Valley Voice celebrated its tenth anniversary of award winning journalism under new ownership. I used the opportunity to set the record straight on who actually started the paper 44 years ago.

Carmalita Jarvis came home one day from her job as an appraiser in Kings County in the summer of 1979 and announced to her passel of seven kids, “I’m going to put out a newspaper that tells the truth.”

After several frustrating attempts to write for the Visalia Times-Delta, Ms Jarvis published the Valley Voice, modeling it after the Village Voice in New York, which she had admired in her youth for its personal touches and independence.

Through the years many readers have forgotten that it was Ms. Jarvis who brought in John Lindt to work at the Valley Voice and not the other way around. Mr. Lindt worked at the paper another 20 years after she left to start a new paper and then retired from journalism.

Sadly, Ms. Jarvis-Conn passed away at 91 years old on Christmas. Mary Jarvis, her youngest daughter and a lawyer, had this to say about her mother.

“We are fortunate to have a mother who was always ahead of her time in so many areas. We were encouraged to secure our education at any cost, to appreciate the arts and learn an instrument and above all to be kind. Loyalty to Country and honesty were stressed, but the courage to question authority was a given. An expectation we all fulfilled at different challenges in our lives, lives we owe to her without question!!”

Valley Voice’s top ten stories of 2023

  1. Ag giant, neighbors and authorities clash as Tulare Lake refills

The re-emergence of Tulare Lake made national news and no one in Kings County knew exactly what to do with it. As the crisis loomed, the fighting and finger-pointing were turning ugly. Boswell Company was accused of cutting a hole in a levee that Boswell’s neighbors said was done intentionally to protect the farming giant’s cropland and business offices at the expense of others.

  1. The Pump House, Visalia’s legendary dive bar, faces peril as owners fight in court

Owners Nate Cary and Jacob Gayer filed lawsuits against each other, accusing the other of breaches of fiduciary duties and negligence. The case was mediated, then dismissed on November 2.

Cary said he just “wanted it all over with and out of there.”

In the terms of the mediation according to Cary, Gayer owns Cary’s house that was used to buy the bar in the first place. Cary owns half the land under the bar.

According to the terms, Gayer is supposed to pay off the house in five years, then Cary will surrender his half ownership in the land and get the deed to his house.

“It’s going in the other direction though,” said Carey.

  1. Hanford man leaves employees, vendors hungry for pay

George Sousa, owned four locations that all opened and closed in 2022 and 2023 Junior’s Sports Bar and Parrilla and Adobowl in Visalia; Junior’s Express Grill and K&J FroYo and Kafe in the Hanford Mall. What he left behind was hundred of thousands of unpaid bills and a lot of short changed employees and vendors.

In an interview with the Voice, Sousa denied the claims made by employees and vendors as either false or resolved.

He said that none of his employees have gone unpaid.

“No one works for free,” Sousa said.

  1. Lindsay High basketball volunteer charged with sex offenses against student, parents sue district

Krizlynn Balboa, a volunteer working with the Lindsay High School basketball program allegedly engaged in a relationship with a minor student at Lindsay High over a four month period. She was arrested in May and charged with six felony counts of sexual penetration of a minor and a misdemeanor count of child molestation.

Separately, the student’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the Lindsay Unified School District and school officials. The suit claims Lindsay Unified officials were negligent in allowing Balboa to interact with students, and failed to report the relationship to authorities when they reasonably should have known one had been established.

The suit also claims the district did not notify the student body or community once criminal charges were filed. The Valley Voice discovered the criminal case and lawsuit after a regular search of court dockets.

  1. Hostile workplace complaints filed against Kings County District Attorney Sarah Hacker

Multiple complaints of employment discrimination agains Kings County District Attorney Sarah Hacker were filed with California’s Civil Rights Department by aggrieved employees, the first step required before lawsuits can be filed. Hacker is staring down multiple potential lawsuits for creating a hostile work environment and allegedly using homophobic slurs during a meeting with two Kings County peace officers.

  1. Groundbreaking held for new Mearle’s Drive-In & Theater
  2. Embezzlement “occurring for a number of years” at Tulare Healthcare District’s Evolutions Gym
  3. Gen Z taking a pass on having kids
  4. FBI allegedly investigating Chavez family over suspected fraud
  5. Kaweah Health named in employment discrimination case

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