Tretheway Aide Blasts Sac Bee Article

THE BUZZ was cc’d on the following e-mail sent to the Sac Bee reporter, Mary Lynne Vellinga, who reported and wrote last week’s front-page article about Natomas, the recent crime wave & affordable housing:

Mary Lynne—

I gave myself some time to reflect and breathe a bit before writing, but I am frankly disappointed about your article on inclusionary housing. You told me that the article would take a “global approach” to the issue of inclusionary housing. The article did not come close to that end. First, you did not quote a single person who lives in inclusionary housing, and so you failed to even look and investigate the working people of Sacramento who have benefitted from this policy. Second, you ignored facts. If you were looking at the area with the most amount of affordable housing you would have examined the central city, which has by far the highest amount of inclusionary housing in the city. Even though Sacramento police told you there is no correlation between crime and inclusionary housing, you ran a graphic showing where recent robberies took place and their proximity to complexes that offer inclusionary housing, implying there is a correlation. And finally, you ignored all the jurisdictions surrounding Sacramento and their policies. A “global approach”, and frankly a responsible journalist, would have looked at other jurisdictions in the Bee’s subscriber area to see how other jurisdictions have addressed the issues of affordable housing.

But what was most disturbing to me is the hypocrisy of the Bee. On June 17, 2008 the Bee lamented that the City of Sacramento should “take mixed-income housing citywide.” Then, a month later, the Bee declares, “Natomas crime wave raises question about low-income housing,” implying with their headline and graphics that people who live in affordable housing are the cause of a sudden increase in home invasion robberies that recently took place in Natomas, and for which police have made 12 recent arrest. I wonder why the Bee a month ago advocated for a policy that last week it is saying causes additional crime.

It is truly unfortunate that some people look at inclusionary housing as code for racist attacks, and hopefully you read some of the comments posted about your article and were equally disturbed. Take the following one by screen name “sacisforsaps”

is there any doubt….

the crime wave is roughly 75% black (I’ve given up on your race completely), 15% mexican (Yeah I know we stole Cali from you guys and it’s rightfully yours *rolls eyes*), and 10% white (those really scary whites that look like the guy on the cover of the honey combs cereal box)

I don’t know what disturbs me more…this comment, or the fact that 4 out 5 people found this comment helpful.

For some reason the Bee has committed itself to destroying the great work that the City of Sacramento as well as countless community members have done in Natomas. From your October 30, 2007 article “A paved-over plan?: In North Natomas, visions of a community neighborhood got lost in a caroriented suburb” to the most recent article about inclusionary housing, the Bee only looks at the negative sides of Natomas, and fails to point out the 38 new parks that have opened. Never mentions the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center, which is a joint project between Natomas Unified School District and the City of Sacramento that offers first rate student performance and professional performances by the Sacramento Ballet. You did not discuss the new fire station that opened, the improvements along Del Paso Road, of the nearly $4 million of capital investment in the Regional Park. You have decided that your narrative will be “Natomas is a broken promise” and take whatever data you find, not analyze it, or put it into perspective, and publish it.

And not just publish it, but on a day that Senator Barrack Obama, the presumptive Democratic Nominee for President met with General Petraeus, and Texas evacuated towns because of an incoming tropical storm, the top story on the front page of the Sacramento Bee is Natomas has affordable housing….disappointing.

But it is clear that the Bee has a real interest in Natomas, so given your commitment to a “global approach,” I think you should start to look at things globally.

Start with the attendance center that opened in Natomas . The City of Sacramento , in partnership with the Natomas School District , opened the Inderkum H.S. Attendance Center on November 27, 2007 and it ran through the school year. Below are the statistics from the Inderkum Center :

480 students brought it (over 70 of them were brought in by Patrol Officers over the last 3 months, the other students were brought in by School Resource Officers)
23 were on probation
20% 9th graders
27% 10th graders
23% 11th graders
19% 12th graders
23 – 2nd time repeat truants brought in
13 – 3rd time repeat truants
1 – 4th time repeater

1,674 students were brought into all 3 Attendance Centers

Attendance has improved at these school sites and the Sacramento Police is currently working on a comprehensive evaluation of the program.

The library that is currently under construction in North Natomas will be a great amenity for the Natomas community. This building is collaboration with Natomas Unified, the community college and the city of Sacramento . When completed the 22,645 square foot facility will not only have over 140,000 books but 49 open access computer stations, four express checkout stations, a computer lab with 36 computer stations, and a mobile lab with 20 wireless notebooks. Even though you were not able to be at the ground breaking, even though we sent you a press release, I look forward to seeing you at the grand opening in Fall, 2009.

I look forward to your coverage of these issues, and telling the whole story about inclusionary housing in the future.


Daniel Roth
District Director
Office of Councilmember Raymond L. Tretheway
915 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
phone: (916) 808-7339
fax: (916) 264-7680
[email protected]

And the reporter Mary Lynne Vellinga responds:


Thanks for your input. I of course disagree. Whether your office likes it or not, there’s a lot of worry and discontent in Natomas, both with the way the plan turned out and with the current crime trends.

Actually, I did compare Natomas to the central city in my original draft. But ultimately my editor thought the comparison to other single family neighborhoods favored by families with children was more appropriate. If you think about it objectively, I’m sure you’ll agree that she was correct.

Obviously, including all income groups in a community is a laudable goal. But we can’t put blinders on and refuse to examine any possible flaws and problems. It would be more productive, perhaps, to try to figure out what works and doesn’t, and to learn from any mistakes.

I’m going to be following up with more on inclusionary housing,
so if you or any of the other people on your lengthy CC list would like to talk to me about it, I’d love to listen.


Anyone else care to chime in?


  1. Anonymous says

    It would be interesting to see how many Natomas houses for sale are from people leaving out of fear and/or disgust that their neighborhoods have gone downhill.

  2. Anonymous says

    Mr. Roth’s comments are deplorable, but coming from his office, it is not surprising, using the race card is disturbing, many people can fairly question housing policies without being a racist,further he is factually wrong, Tercina apartments received almost 300 calls for police action last year, 1 per day, a check on a crime map will show that property and other crimes happen nearby, also from 2000 to 2003 Natomas Park had very little crime, and after several large low income units went in, we saw a shift in crime, that stat doesn’t lie. What cop did he talk to, every cop I know says the opposite. Ask the residents on Duckhorn about crime in their community. Look up at night at see where the helos are flying. He points out many fine aspects of Natomas, he is correct for that, we should be proud, but to bash a reporter is a joke, will he now complain if people start asking why test scores are lower in Natomas than Rocklin or Davis. Why do so many kids not attend school properly. Lastly, what a joke to use selected hateful speech from the Sacbee web site in response to her article, thus backing his argument, only in politics can such stupid behavior exist. I hope more people will strongly rebuke him.

  3. Anonymous says

    Mr. Roth’s statment is just more proof that our elected leaders and city officials are not listening to our concerns. They don’t hear us! Rather, they choose to believe nothing is wrong. And all that is wrong with Natomas is not real but perceived….


  4. Anonymous says

    It is amazing how easily someone can be called a racist. Why is it racist to point out that the majority of crime is being committed by a certain race which only makes up a small minority of people in the area?

  5. Roth’s comments “DEPLORABLE”!? ou are being WAY too nice to him. His words should be ACTIONABLE — like in a COURT OF LAW.

    I am a Natomas resident since 2000. I helped BUILD this sucker with my tax dollars. I CELEBRATE the Bee for finally getting real with the city council. I wrote Mary-Anne and Melanie Sill a personal email thanking them for the article. [Now if they would just get rid of Marcos Breton.. I know, I know, baby steps Watch hew will write a column about Natomas Buzz now saying what a God-send it is and how nasty my site is–he is so predictable it is pathetic].

    Ok I digress.

    Roth said: “For some reason the Bee has committed itself to destroying the great work that the City of Sacramento as well as countless community members have done in Natomas.”

    Excuse me? “Great”? You call Natomas “great”? When the only thing for families to do is play frisbee golf and skateboard? When building more box stores was more important to you than building a community center? A gym? A bowling alley? A job training center? You call not having a single unbroken bike trail in the community “great”? You call paying exorbitant supplemental taxes for amenities we now need to “convince” you and your greedy developers to build “great”??

    Now you have proven in aces why Tretheway should be recalled. Instead of hanging your head in humility and admitting you BLEW it, you’re citing the presence of the Charter School and its successes (whose success only Charlie Leo, teachers, students and PARENTS should take credit for, not YOU!).

    And then you cite the worst Sac Bee comments you can find as evidence Mary somehow misrepresented the truth and only fed into racial stereotypes? In your heart of hearts do you REALLY think ANY of those kids who pulled off all these recent crimes are from well-to-do households with engaged parents and active moral compasses? Really? If you do pal, you should not be serving these district in ANY capacity.

    Finally, we want you to remember something. YOU WORK FOR US. Not vice versa. You have no right to attack media articles on OUR behalf. WE pay YOUR salary. WE will tell you what WE think is right or wrong, not vice versa. WE agree with Mary-Anne. And many of US think there is NOTHING “great” about this community EXCEPT for the residents who live here who have been working their asses off to polish the TURD you and your developers built since 2000.

    Time for you and Ray to get to work REBUILDING NORTH NATOMAS. You owe us BIG TIME and we ARE going to collect.

    Thanks for sharing Buzz. Tretheway rep’s decision not to CC me on this message goes to show just how “inclusionary” his ideology is. He is more discriminating than the Bee posters he quotes here.


  6. Anonymous says

    District Director Roth and Councilmember Tretheway are not listening to their constituents. Why don’t they talk to the young man who lives in one of the affordable housing projects in North Natomas who has stated that there are over 30 drug dealers in his complex alone. A correlation between an increase in crime and a decrease in school test scores is obvious when you hear about systemic societal issues such as these. Yes, we all moved to North Natomas because of the parks, proposed library, community schools, etc. However (if we can sell our underwater homes) we will also move out if the crime issues are not fixed.

  7. Anonymous says

    Boy! You get to be called a racist when that is what you are. COme one people, stop acting like the person who says, some of my best friends are….
    The problem is not the race of the children committing the crime! The problem is that there are children committing these crimes. My kids and I were in west sacramento yesterday and quess what? There were white kids there causing trouble. The problem is not race but instead class. Lets refocus our energy toward giving these kids positive things to do including summer jobs or engaging them in some other fashion with positive role models. If you work in the classroom, you see what kids will grow up to be trouble and race has nothing to do with it. Education and and having a person who really gives a darn about you does. If these kids were engaged and could be kept from being bored AND broke, these crimes would never be committed.

  8. I would love to see a poll. Given what you know now, would you STILL have purchased your home in Natomas?

    Mr Trethaway and his ‘aides’ need to realize that we are getting sick and tired of them telling us how good we have it while we KNOW otherwise. Its almost like they hope if they keep telling us its all great that we will just begin to accept that it is.

  9. Anonymous says

    No correlation between “inclusionary housing” and crime? Please!

    It is going to take concerned community members to hold the mayoral candidates and Ray’s feet to the fire to get things turned around. My family and I are 6-year residents of Westlake, and I am appalled by the police and fire coverage (or lack thereof) on our side of the freeway. I feel that we’ve been used and used hard by developers who’ve had carte blanche with the rubes we have representing us. I still think that Natomas can be turned around, and I believe a critical mass of concerned, vocal community members is being reached. THINGS ARE NOT OK, RAY.

  10. Anonymous says

    I am one of those people that hear the complaints, but also know (having lived in Natomas south and north for over 15 years) how fast this area grew and how slow the wheels of progress take to get things done. I enjoy a lot about No. Natomas including the many parks, and the shopping (finally we have what Laguna has) and the terrific neighbors. The way people are talking it’s like the world has come to an end. Are we that impatient? Where did we get it in our heads that we need what we want and we need it NOW? Is everything perfect? No. Is it good? Yes, that’s why we are here. I work in NUSD and I can tell you we need to hold the district more accountable on student behavior, that leads to many of these incidents in the community. There are things we can do together. Our teachers need more support. Playing the constant blame game is depressing and a waste of time.

  11. Anonymous says

    I’ll say it again. Why is it racist to point out the FACT that a minority is committing a majority of the crimes, and not just in this area, but nationwide?

  12. Readers,

    As owner of this blog I would appreciate comments be limited to your own opinion ABOUT A POST and not that of another reader’s comments.

    Thank you,

  13. Someone needs to send Mary Lynne and the Bee’s editors back to journalism school and make them take a class on statistics. Chapter 1: Correlation does not equal causation!

  14. Well said klasko.

    While we like seeing the Sac Bee finally cover Natomas, we feel the article was poorly reported.

    Roth’s letter makes these points effectively and the reporter’s response is just plain rude.

    Now that the Bee knows we exist, perhaps it can implement more comprehensive coverage including some of the good things going on up here!

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