News

Monday, March 26, 2018

As published in: Westside Connect

Never apologize for being a farmer

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2018 11:09 am

BY ADAM GRAY/21st DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE

As someone who was born and raised in the Valley, the economic and social values of agriculture are part of who I am. Accountability for our actions is part of our way of life. If you don’t work hard, you don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately, folks in Sacramento don’t always remember the rules of the game. They demonize successful farmers as “Big Ag.” They claim we waste water, forgetting that irrigation is what puts food on their tables. That’s not waste – it’s hard work.

They want us to make sacrifices they would never ask of other industries, and they want us to make them without any of the help they provide to other industries. When Hollywood started filming more of its movies outside of California, the Legislature provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of incentives to bring them back.

I once asked if we could do something similar for the dairy industry, which is being forced to either consolidate or leave the state. My proposal went nowhere.

Farmers in the Valley know the truth, but even we are guilty of sometimes buying into Sacramento’s untrue narrative. When now-Senator Kamala Harris was running for office, she came to Modesto to meet and discuss agricultural issues at a round-table forum. As local farmers introduced themselves, each one qualified their success by referring to their operations as “small, family farms” even though many were large operations.

When it was my turn, I felt compelled to share an observation with the Senator: Valley farmers feel the need to apologize for their success. Surely, major companies in the Bay Area are not referring to themselves as “small, family tech firms.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

As excerpted from: The Los Angeles Times

Californians appointed to state posts could soon be barred from writing checks to lawmakers who vote on their nomination

Last year, [Lucy] Dunn, the president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, was confirmed for a third term on the influential transportation panel. Three months later she contributed to a political campaign for the current Senate leader, Kevin De León.

Dunn's contributions are allowed by state law, but some believe such payments undermine public confidence in the appointment process. That concern is behind a new proposal by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) to outlaw contributions to senators by political appointees for up to a year between the time they are chosen by the governor until their required confirmation by the Senate.

"The state Legislature should safeguard the public's confidence in our government institutions," said Gray, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.

"We have adopted a number of limitations and transparency measures in other areas, but the contribution activities of political appointees — who have a personal financial interest at stake — to state senators during the confirmation process remains almost entirely opaque," Gray added.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

As excerpted from: The Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County leaders OK low-barrier shelter, plus a bold plan to help the homeless

BY KEN CARLSON

February 27, 2018 04:05 PM

County supervisors discussed a broader plan Tuesday developed by representatives of business, nonprofit groups, the faith community, local government and a consulting firm that's donating time to the initiative.

The county will begin a process of finding a location for a 60-bed permanent access center for the homeless, offering services such as case management, substance abuse and mental health services and assistance with legal issues, employment training and job search. In the cold winter months, the center will also direct the homeless to available beds in local shelters.

The permanent center will replace the temporary low-barrier shelter, which would be operated under a three-year nonrenewable lease.

Supervisors gave approval to distribute $2.5 million in state funding secured by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, to the United Way for operating the low-barrier shelter for three years. The Stanislaus Community Foundation has pledged $1 million for building the shelter.

Local groups participating in the permanent access center will need a financing plan for operation and maintenance. Funding could come from private donors, grants and other sources.

David Crotty, senior vice president of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, the Bay Area design firm providing pro bono services to the county, said he believes the plan can be successful in reducing homelessness.

"Some people say this is impossible," Crotty said. "It is, of course, impossible if you don't try."

Friday, February 16, 2018
As excerpted from the Modesto Bee:

How Modesto’s homeless could find a home in converted shipping containers

BY KEVIN VALINE

Focus on Prevention Leadership Council Chairman Brad Hawn provided an overview of the project:

He said the shelter will be constructed out of converted shipping containers. He said the 40-foot-by-8-foot containers will have four bedrooms, each with its own door, window, air conditioning and heating unit, and fire sprinklers. Interior walls will separate the bedrooms.

Hawn said nonprofits would play a big role in the project. He said one would serve as the fiscal agent for the project and lease the land from Stanislaus Food Products. The nonprofit — which he declined to name — would hire another nonprofit to operate the shelter and day center.

The Stanislaus Community Foundation has committed $1 million toward building the center and day center. The money would be from the $1.4 million the foundation received last year from local business leaders to further the aims of Focus on Prevention.

And the Board of Supervisors would be asked to commit $2.5 million to cover three years’ of the project’s operating costs (that does not include the outreach and engagement center). The $2.5 million is what Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, helped secure in this year’s state budget for Stanislaus County to tackle homelessness.

Modesto is not providing funding, but Hawn said the project will rely on the police department for help if problems or concerns develop with the shelter and day center.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

As excerpted from: The Modesto Bee

We had a deal. Without Sites, Temperance you’re breaking a promise

BY ADAM C. GRAY

In 2014, I asked you to support Proposition 1, $7.5 billion water bond written during one of the worst droughts in the state’s modern history.

It certainly wasn’t perfect. I would have preferred significantly more than the $2.7 billion it provided for water storage, while others would have eliminated water storage funding entirely. But Prop 1 was a product of compromise and negotiation – something we need a lot more of in today’s political climate.

In typical Sacramento fashion, we had ignored a problem until it became so large that we could not possibly ignore it anymore. If there was a silver lining to the drought, it was that water became a priority again.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

As excerpted from: California AG Today

Assemblyman Adam Gray: Real Changes Needed for Water Future

December 6, 2017

Everything is On Table For California's Water Future

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Now is the time to unite and plan California's water infrastructure. That’s what Adam Gray told California Ag Today recently. Gray is the California State Assembly representing the 21st Assembly District, Merced and Stanislaus Counties. He said there is an urgent need for unification in regards to California's water and the need for real changes to be made for future generations.

Monday, October 23, 2017

In this horror flick, we’re playing the part of Victim No. 1


BY MIKE DUNBAR

mdunbar@modbee.com

At the climax of most horror movies, the mask gets ripped away and we see the face of the villain – Jason, Leatherface, Freddie Kruger, Jerry Brown.

We’re living our own slow-motion horror movie, in which the state has been plotting for years to steal the water that sustains our lives and a third of the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s economy. The plot is really boiling now, so let’s pull off some masks.

Governor Puppetmaster – Gov. Brown waited until 11:48 last Sunday night to veto Adam Gray’s Assembly Bill 313 – which would have inserted some fairness into resolving water disputes. As it is, the State Water Resources Control Board staff writes the rules, brings the charges then decides the cases. Disagree with their decision? Then the dispute moves to the board’s governor-appointed commissioners; no wonder it never loses.

The agency is cop, prosecutor, judge and appellate court. That’s fair in North Korea, not so much in Northern California.