Vidak's News & Views: February 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

In this Issue:

Note from Andy
Team Vidak Out & About
Valley Career & Resource Expo
Latest Poll Showing Majority of Voters Want to Stop High-Speed Rail
“…just another pitiful whitewash”
Request to Audit High-Speed Rail’s Bloated Costs Defeated
Andy Makes Top of California Small Business Honor Roll
Help to Pay for College: It’s FAFSA Time!
Upcoming ‘Cash for College’ Workshop
February Deadlines for Fellowships & Scholarships
Tune In & Tune Up: $500 SMOG Check Repair Vouchers
Highlights of Andy’s February Calendar

Howdy Friends –

“Water, water everywhere, nor any a drop to drink.”

That is the true state of our state under a governor who, despite his rhetoric in the State of the State address, continues to put his pet bullet train boondoggle ahead of reliable water storage for all Californians.

Californians made it very clear that they wanted major surface water storage projects built when they approved the $7 billion water bond in 2014. That is why I am proud to be a co-author of a bipartisan measure which re-enforces the voice of the voters.

Assembly Bill 1649, by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), urges state agencies to speed up the construction of major water storage projects, like Temperance Flat Dam and Sites Reservoir, consistent with the goals of the water bond.

We must do everything in our power right now to capture future rainfall and improve our water infrastructure as quickly as possible so that we don’t again experience the devastation of this epic drought.

Most of the recent rainfall will flow out to the ocean, instead providing desperately needed drought relief to the Valley, because California hasn’t invested in major water storage and delivery in over fifty years.

We also need to stop flushing millions of gallons of precious storm water out to sea. Recently, a bipartisan coalition of legislators and I sent a letter to state and federal water regulators expressing the critical need for increased water flows. To read the letter, click here.

It’s well past time to build new surface water storage and to stop wasting storm water.


Andy's signature


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Team Vidak Out & About

Image of Kings County Administration Officer Deb WestKings County Deb West Honored

Kings County Administration Officer Deb West (left) received a Senate Certificate from Team Vidak District Representative Rogelio Caudillo in recognition of her 10 years of service to Kings County, and well wishes for her new position with San Joaquin County.

Image of Kings County Administration Officer Deb WestLemoore Business of the Year

Lemoore’s Best Western Inn & Suites was recognized as the “2016 Business of the Year“ by the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce at the Tachi Palace.

Lemoore Chamber of Commerce CEO Jenny MacMurdo said the business has contributed a lot to the local community, including charitable giving to many local organizations such as Kings United Way, the San Joaquin Valley Squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation and the Kings County Fair. Best Western has also donated to the Lemoore High School Choir and “Every 15 Minutes,” which is a program that shows high school students the effects of driving under the influence.

In recognition of their selection as “Business of the Year,“ and for their commitment to their community, Team Vidak District Representative Rogelio Caudillo (right) presented a Senate Resolution, from Andy and Assembly Member Rudy Salas, to Best Western Inn & Suites Lemoore General Manager Frances Perkins.

Image of Kings County Administration Officer Deb WestHanford Bullpups on Parade

Hanford High Bullpups Varsity Football Team defeated Bonita Vista 33-21 on Dec. 19 in the 4AA state championship bowl game at Neighbor Bowl, capping a 14-1 season.

That followed a second straight Central Section Division III championship and a win in the NorCal 4AA championship bowl game for the Bullpups.

The celebration continued one month later with a Parade and Ceremony to honor the Bullpups. Andy was in attendance to present a Resolution to the Team with Assemblymember Rudy Salas, as well as Certificates of Recognition to the players and coaches.


  • William Fishbough, Superintendent, Hanford Joint Union High School District (seated)
  • Josh Young, Head Coach, Hanford High Varsity Football
  • Andy
  • Assemblymember Rudy Salas

Bottom left:

  • William Fishbough, Superintendent, Hanford Joint Union High School District (standing)
  • Hanford High Bullpups Varsity Football Team (standing)
  • Francisco Ramirez, Vice-Mayor, Hanford City Council
  • Assemblymember Rudy Salas
  • Andy
  • Doug Verboon, Chair, Kings County Board of Supervisors
  • Sebastian Silveira, Senior Field Representative, Congressman David Valadao

Bottom Right:

  • Hanford High Bullpup Band and Colorguard

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Valley Career & Resource Expo

Image of  Central Valley Career & Resource ExpoTeam Vidak partnered with U.S. Congressman David G. Valadao, The Wonderful Company, Tachi Palace and San Joaquin Valley College for the Central Valley Career & Resource Expo on January 27 in Lemoore.

“With high unemployment in the Valley, connecting people looking for a job with people who have jobs to fill is a top priority,“ said Andy.

What makes this Expo different is that all booth participants had current job openings. Last year’s Expo featured nearly 80 employers, and hundreds of job applicants attended.

In addition to employers with jobs to fill, San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) provided job-seekers with free career development workshops at the Expo.

Image SJVC Expo

“Heart-felt thanks to all the folks that invested many, many hours to bring this Expo and hundreds of job opportunities to Valley job-seekers,” said Andy.

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Latest Poll Showing Majority of Voters Want to Stop High-Speed Rail

Image of the Hoover Institution logo

According to the latest Hoover Golden State Poll, a 53 percent of Californians said they would vote to end High-Speed Rail, while only 31 percent support High-Speed Rail.

Vidak has been fighting to stop High-Speed Rail since he was elected to serve in the Senate in 2013, including introducing legislation, bill amendments, independent audits and court review requests.

Following are links to more information on some of Vidak’s efforts to stop High-Speed Rail:

“Poll after poll shows California voters want to stop throwing taxpayer-dollars down the rat hole that is High-Speed Rail,” said Andy. “This latest poll ought to be a reality check for the governor, and others, who continue to stubbornly ignore the will of the People.”

To read more, click here

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Request to Audit High-Speed Rail’s Bloated Costs Defeated

Image of California High-Speed Rail Authority LogoOn a party-line vote, California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) last month rejected Andy’s request to audit the California High-Speed Rail (HSR) Authority’s secretive internal process for estimating the costs to build the controversial bullet train project.

Andy was inspired to request an independent review by the State Auditor because of a recent LA Times article that revealed that the HSR Authority kept secret for two years a report that showed cost overruns in the billions of dollars.

The report proved that the HSR Authority misled the Legislature and the public about a $9 billion discrepancy between estimated and actual costs, and hid that discrepancy until it was pressured by the Speaker of the Assembly to release the report.

“The High-Speed Rail project is the most expensive megaproject proposed in the history of California and the nation. Scientists, engineers and tunneling experts all confirm that High-Speed Rail will be behind schedule and over budget,“ said Andy. “Taxpayers deserve to know what the actual costs are likely to be and the best way to find out is to let the State Auditor, who is independent of party politics, do her job.”

To read more, click here.

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“…just another pitiful whitewash”

Image of Assemblymember Patterson at HSR hearing

Andy delivered separate letters to the chairs of two legislative committees urging them to allow opponents of High-Speed Rail (HSR) to have a fair opportunity to be heard during upcoming hearings on the controversial project. For copies of the letters, click here.

“Some of the past HSR oversight hearings have been nothing more than political theater and productions by project proponents and their supporters,” said Vidak. “Most of the time HSR opponents are not invited to testify or are relegated to the general public comment section of name, organization and position.”

Unfortunately, the Democrat chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee did not honor Andy’s request to invite opponents to participate in the hearing. Instead, he allowed testimony by appointees of the governor, his administration and an employee of High Speed Rail for well over an hour.

High-Speed Rail opponents from the Valley, as well as Assemblymember Patty Lopez (D- San Fernando), were relegated to public comment segment at the end of the hearing, and were only given a minute each to speak.

“Despite Assemblymember Jim Patterson’s tenacious effort to make the Assembly ‘oversight’ hearing on High-Speed Rail a genuine review, the majority party rigged it so that it was just another pitiful whitewash,“ said Andy.

To watch the hearing, click here.

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Andy Makes Top of California Small Business Honor Roll

Image of the California Small Business Association LogoAndy earned top marks on the California Small Business Association (CSBA) and the California Small Business Roundtable (CSBR) 2015 Legislative Honor Roll for his “continued non-partisan efforts to promote small business growth in California”.

The CSBA/CSBR Honor Roll evaluates legislators’ participation and interest in small business events and priorities. Legislators were recognized in one of three categories - Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, or Cum Laude - based on each legislator’s record of:

  • holding one or more small business advisory councils in their district;
  • honoring a small business owner from their district at California Small Business Day, which is hosted by 25-plus small business organizations;
  • interaction between legislators and their staff with CSBA - such as using CSBA as a resource and carrying one or more small business bills; and
  • voting on CSBA priority legislation.

Andy is on the Summa Cum Laude Honor Roll, the highest rank category.

“California small businesses create jobs and are the backbone of our economy. They deserve the support of the State Legislature,” said Andy.

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Help to Pay for College: It’s FAFSA Time!

The deadline for parents and college-bound students to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is March 2.

FAFSA is the most important part of the financial aid qualification process. It is used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute toward the cost of attending a college, community college, technical, or vocational school, and whether a student qualifies for grants, loans or work study.

All federal and state grant and loan awards are determined by the FAFSA, and nearly all colleges use the FAFSA as the basis for their own financial aid awards.

Below is information on where parents and students can get help with FAFSA.

Upcoming FAFSA Workshops

Univision, in partnership with local educational institutions, is holding FAFSA workshops on Saturday, February 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the following locations:

El Nino Logo FRESNO
Fresno State - Kremen School of Education
5005 N. Maple Ave., Fresno, CA 93720

Reedley College
995 N. Reed Ave., Reedley, CA 93654

College of the Sequoias
915 South Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277

West Hills College
555 College Ave., Lemoore, CA 93245

Larry E. Reider Building
2000 K St., Bakersfield, CA 93301

For more information, please call Fresno County Office of Education at 559-497-3862.

“The (FASFA) process can be confusing, and if not completed properly, can cost students and their families the opportunity to access federal dollars that help make college educations possible,” said Andy. “These workshops bring the experts together in one place to help make applying for financial aid easier.”

For more information on FAFSA, visit

Upcoming ‘Cash for College’ Workshop

Cash for College LogoCash for College is a statewide program that brings together local schools, college financial aid experts, and community organizations to provide college-bound high school seniors and their families hands-on help applying for financial aid.

To find a Cash For College Workshop near you, click here.

*IMPORTANT* Copy and paste CCFC2016 into “Search for Events.” Add a city to find the workshops in your area.

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February Deadlines for Fellowships & Scholarships

Image of California Senate Fellows Program Logo

Application Deadline: February 8

The California Senate Fellows program was established in 1973 to provide participants with insight into the legislative process. The fellowship program's primary goals include exposing people with diverse life experiences and backgrounds to the legislative process and providing research and other professional staff assistance to the Senate. The program is jointly sponsored by the Senate and the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State).

Eighteen California Senate Fellows are selected to serve as full-time Senate staff for 11 months beginning in October. Fellows are assigned to a Senator’s Capitol Office or to a committee office and work as part of the public policy staff team in the Capitol. Responsibilities include helping develop legislative proposals, researching and analyzing bills, responding to constituent inquiries, and writing press releases and speeches.

Anyone who will be at least 20 years of age and a graduate of a four-year college or university is eligible to apply. There is no preferred major. Individuals with advanced degrees and those in mid-career are encouraged to apply. Although no previous political or legislative experience is necessary, applicants should have a strong interest in public policy and politics. A five-week orientation provides background on state government, the legislative process, and major policy issues.

Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $2,627 plus health, vision and dental benefits. They also receive graduate units from the Sacramento State Government Department.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Image of The Maddy Institute Logo

The Wonderful Public Service Fellowship

Application Deadline: February 26

The Wonderful Public Service Fellowship aims to foster the next generation of Valley bi-partisan leaders and problem-solvers by helping San Joaquin Valley students obtain their graduate degree from top graduate programs and return home to apply what they have learned to make the Valley a better place.

Two $56,000 Fellowships will be awarded. To qualify, students must be working on Master’s Degree in the fields of public policy/public administration, urban planning, business, or social work and must have a Valley connection.

The recipients of Fellowship are expected to return to the San Joaquin Valley during the summer to do a paid summer internship and after he/she graduates, work in a Valley-based government entity, social service entity or non-profit for at least two years.

Deadline to apply for the Wonderful Public Service Fellowship is February 26.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Image of PG&E Logo

Application Deadline: February 29

PG&E annually awards ten scholarships of up to $20,000 per year for up to five years, and 90 one-time $2,000 scholarships.

The STEM Scholarship program is open to high school and college students pursuing a major in a STEM (Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.) field. In selecting scholarship recipients, PG&E looks for students who:

  • Demonstrate academic achievement
  • Have a financial need (students are required to apply to FAFSA)
  • Exhibit personal or community leadership

However, those attributes are not required.

To apply, candidates must simply meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age and be a high school senior or graduate, and have received a GED certification or be a current postsecondary undergraduate student; and
  • Plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire 2016-2017 academic year; and
  • Live within the PG&E service area.

For more information and to apply, click here

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Tune In & Tune Up: $500 SMOG Check Repair Vouchers

Image of Valley Clean Air Now logo

Valley Clean Air Now (CAN) sponsors FREE car clean up events - Tune In and Tune Up - to help eliminate mobile source pollutants generated by older, “out of tune” cars in the San Joaquin Valley.

If your vehicle is deemed a Gross Polluter (GP) and you live in The San Joaquin Valley, CAN will give you a $500 voucher for emission related repairs at a local certified STAR certified smog shop. The $500 can only be used for diagnostic testing or smog repair work.

No paperwork, reporting and/or government entities are involved or will be contacted. Valley CAN only collects vehicle/participant data for internal reporting. If you think your vehicle is in need of smog-related repairs, bring it to the one of the scheduled Tune In & Tune Up events near you for a free emissions test. Click on the event for address, times and more information:

February 6 Porterville Fair
February 20 Kern County Raceway Park
March 19 Mosqueda Community Center (Fresno)
April 23 West Hills College (Lemoore)
May 7 Kern County Fairgrounds (Bakersfield)
May 21 Fresno Fairgrounds
June 11 International Agri-Center (Tulare)

For more information on the Tune In & Tune Up program, click here.

Highlights of Andy’s February Calendar

California State Senate seal

 2/1  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/3  Senate Committee on Education Hearing – State Capitol
 2/4  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/5  Kern County Cattleman/Cattlewoman Association Banquet – Bakersfield
 2/6  Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Dinner – Bakersfield
 2/8  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/9  World Ag Expo Opening Ceremonies – Tulare
 2/16  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/18  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/22  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
 2/23  Joint Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee and Assembly Water, Parks
 & Wildlife Committee hearing
 2/24  Senate Committee on Education Hearing – State Capitol
 2/26  7th Annual Community Awards Dinner – Reedley
 2/29  Senate Floor Session – State Capitol

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