Sacramento, CA… Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, today commended the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for making meaningful progress on reforms since he and his fellow Committee members held oversight hearings in 2015 to examine the agency’s operations. The CPUC is responsible for regulating California’s private for-profit water, phone, electric, and gas utilities – including San Diego Gas and Electric – as well as various transportation service providers. Current CPUC President Michael Picker took over as head of the agency in January of 2015.

“President Picker came in front of our Committee last year and said he was committed to turning things around at the CPUC,” said Senator Hueso. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am pleased with progress made to date. Many of the reforms implemented by the Commission over the course of the last year were in direct response to criticism leveled by our Committee members. It is gratifying to see an agency take such criticism to heart and follow through with meaningful change.”

Among the important reform measures the CPUC enacted in 2015, Senator Hueso noted the creation of an Internal Audit Unit, greater Commissioner engagement in administrative oversight, the development of an organization-wide strategic plan, and a new regulatory compliance tracking database. According to the CPUC’s new Annual Report released today, the Commission in 2015 adopted 584 formal decisions on energy, water, safety, telecommunications, and transportation matters, and held 307 days of evidentiary hearings to gather factual evidence from parties to proceedings, as well as input from the public.

“What is important now is to keep the momentum going,” said Senator Hueso. “Senator Leno and I have co-authored SB 215 this year, which would strengthen CPUC oversight and accountability by overhauling rules governing communications between the agency and the companies it regulates. We hope to work with the Commission, the Governor, and all interested stakeholders to make our bill as strong as it can be.”

SB 215 is a follow-up measure to SB 660, which was vetoed by Governor Brown last year, and has been revised to address several of the points in the Governor’s veto message. SB 215 was unanimously approved by the State Senate last Tuesday, January 26th, and is currently pending referral to a policy committee in the State Assembly.

“The goal is to have a CPUC that we can trust to fulfill its mission, which is to ensure safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates,” Hueso added. “We need the Commission to succeed in order for California to succeed. The Legislature, the Governor, and the CPUC must be partners to ensure we improve the agency’s performance, protect Californians from harm and implement groundbreaking policies, especially the aggressive renewable energy and energy efficiency goals enacted last year by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León’s SB 350.”

The Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee will hold a follow-up hearing this spring to further examine recent CPUC reforms and help orient the Commission toward improved operations in the year ahead. The Committee will give special attention to what role the CPUC can play in helping prevent future gas leaks like the one at SoCalGas’s Aliso Canyon storage facility in Porter Ranch.


“The Design-build process acts as a single entity and is responsible from the budgeting to the design and construction portion,” stated Senator Hueso.  “In today’s cost conscious construction industry, this method is a win-win for all of those involved as the Design-Build team has the same goal and takes full responsibility to complete a project in a timely and efficient manner.  Authorizing hospitals to utilize this method will cost less; projects will be produced faster and will help many families take advantage of the hospitals facilities earlier.”

Under the design-build methods, a single contract covers the design and construction of a project with a single company that acts as both the project designer and builder.  The design-build entity arranges all architectural, engineering and construction services and is also responsible for delivering the project at a guaranteed price and schedule.

“California Healthcare Districts are working to expand access to critical health care services to meet community needs,” said Ken Cohen, Executive Director of the Association of California Healthcare Districts. “Design-build authority gives Districts an important tool to develop hospital and clinic infrastructure efficiently and effectively. We greatly appreciate Senator Hueso’s leadership in helping Healthcare Districts prepare for the future of health care delivery.

“SB 957 provides healthcare districts with the ability to utilize an efficient and cost-saving project delivery method that ensures a highly skilled and trained workforce, most likely made up of California residents, will build these hospital and clinic facility projects,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council. “We look forward to working with Senator Hueso and the Association of California Healthcare Districts on this legislation that will improve the quality and access to healthcare facilities for California residents.”

The bill is co-sponsored by the Association of Healthcare Districts and the California Building Trades Council. SB 957 is also co-authored by Senators Jerry Hill and Lois Wolk.


Presale tickets and family value packs are now on sale throughout the Valley for the 2016 California Mid-Winter Fair, which kicks off February 26 with a theme of Hay Bales and Cow Tales.

Tickets are available at Sonic Burger in El Centro; Goyal’s Circle K, Brawley; the fair box office and all Rabobank locations in the Valley. This year, for the first time, Family Value Packs are available at all ticket sales locations.

In addition to the displays and competitive activities throughout the 10 day run, the year’s fair will feature top notch grandstands entertainment including Country superstars Little Texas (Thursday March 3) and Tiranos del Norte during the Dia de la Familia (Sunday February 28). Both superstar acts are free with fair admission.

“Since their debut album in 1992, Little Texas has sold over 7 million albums, earned 3 Grammy nominations, won a CMA Album Of The Year award and earned the title ‘The Hardest Working Band In Country’ by playing over 300 shows a year,” according to the group’s website

Tiranos del Norte is a Baja California group that regularly appears at Mexicali’s Fiestas del Sol. The group, established in 1986, has recorded a number of albums and cds in the past 25 years and is a popular attraction on both sides of the border.

And back for a return engagement (Friday February 26) is that cross between a hard metal and Mariachi group, “Metalachi” which has entertained fair audiences over the past two years. The group recently appeared on America’s Got Talent television show.

Other entertainment includes “True Willie—A Salute to Willie Nelson” (Saturday February 27), “Fandago—a Salute to ZZ Top” (Wednesday March 2) and “Yesterday—The Beatles Tribute” (Friday March 4)

Other grandstand activities during the fair include High School Madness (Monday February 29), a Jazz Fest (Tuesday March 1), Sprint Car Racing (Saturday March 5 with a separate ticket required) and the Redneck Rodeo that features truck and farm equipment competition (Sunday March 6).

There are several different ways to buy presale fair tickets. The $60 Family Value Packs, a value of more than $190, consist of two adult and two children’s California Mid-Winter Fair admissions, $70 in fair coupons, two carnival WOW wristband coupons and two adult and two child admissions to the 2016 San Diego County Fair.

Individual presale tickets ($6 adult, $4 child 6-12 and $5 senior 60+) as well as $20 carnival WOW coupons redeemable for carnival wristbands are also currently on sale.  All presales, which are savings of up to 25 percent off regular ticket purchase prices and up to 40 percent off carnival coupons, will end February 25.

After that date, regular admission prices apply.


Holtville Tribune 02-05-16

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Tribune Sun Page 01.qxd


Tribune Weekly Chronicle 02-04-16



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