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Hundreds of children helped through coat drive

HANFORD — Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) joined with community partners Thursday for the annual Kings County Coat Drive to provide winter coats to hundreds of children.

Salas partnered with the Professional Latin American Association and Kings County Community Action Organization (KCAO) to facilitate a donation from Southern California Gas to purchase 400 coats to distribute to children and teenagers who needed them. 

“When we come together as a community we can make a difference,” Salas said. “No child should have to endure the cold of winter without a coat. I want to thank Southern California Gas and all of the partners who volunteered their time, resources and energy to help hundreds of kids stay warm and dry this winter.”

Salas joined Jeff Garner, executive director of KCAO, at the KCAO Child Enrichment Center in Hanford to provide the children with winter coats.

“KCAO is grateful to continue our partnership with Assemblymember Rudy Salas to distribute coats to children in Kings County,” Garner said. “It is a joy to see firsthand the smiles on the children’s faces when they put on their new coats. This is a project that we always look forward to.”

In addition, hundreds more coats were distributed at the Rosa Parks Learning Center in Hanford and at the KCAO Dolores Huerta Head Start Center in Corcoran. Salas teamed up with the Corcoran Police Department to distribute coats throughout the community.

“Because of Assemblymember Salas’ generosity, many children will have a warm coat for the winter that otherwise wouldn’t have,” Corcoran Police Chief Reuben P. Shortnacy said.

Since the annual coat drive was started by Salas, over 1,200 winter coats have been provided to residents throughout Kings County.

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women.

Maybe he could, but not everyone can.

The candidate who openly bragged about grabbing women's private parts — but denied he really did so — was elected president months before the cascading sexual harassment allegations that have been toppling the careers of powerful men in Hollywood, business, the media and politics. He won even though more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, and roughly half of all voters said they were bothered by his treatment of women, according to exit polls.

Now, as one prominent figure after another takes a dive, the question remains: Why not Trump?

"A lot of people who voted for him recognized that he was what he was, but wanted a change and so they were willing to go along," theorizes Jessica Leeds, one of the first women to step forward and accuse Trump of groping her, decades ago on an airplane.

The charges leveled against him emerged in the supercharged thick of the 2016 campaign, when there was so much noise and chaos that they were just another episode for gobsmacked voters to try to absorb — or tune out. "When you have a Mount Everest of allegations, any particular allegation is very hard to get traction on," says political psychologist Stanley Renshon.

And Trump's unconventional candidacy created an entirely different set of rules.

"Trump is immune to the laws of political physics because it's not his job to be a politician, it's his job to burn down the system," says Eric Dezenhall, a crisis management expert in Washington.

Now Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of assaulting teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is waving that same alternative rulebook.

Long a bane to establishment Republicans, Moore is thumbing his nose at calls by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP members of Congress to drop out of the campaign, and accusing them of trying to "steal" the race from his loyal insurgents.

As for Trump, the president who rarely sits out a feeding frenzy is selectively aiming his Twitter guns at those under scrutiny.

He quickly unloaded on Democrat Al Franken after the Minnesota senator was accused Thursday of forcibly kissing and groping a Fox TV sports correspondent, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, during a 2006 USO tour.

Yet Trump has been largely mum as Washington Republicans try to figure out what to do about Moore. McConnell and company have zero interest in welcoming an accused child molester to their ranks nor in seeing their slim 52-48 Senate majority grow even thinner should Moore lose to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election Dec. 12.

Trump did support moves by the national Republican Party to cut off money for Moore. But he hasn't said whether he still backs Moore's candidacy.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pressed repeatedly on the matter this week, would say only that Trump "thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be."

As for the allegations against Moore, Sanders said Trump finds them "very troubling."

As for Franken, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that Trump had merely "weighed in as he does on the news of the day" when jabbing at the senator.

But Trump's broadsides at Franken served as an open invitation for critics to revisit his own history of alleged sexual misconduct.

Leeds, for her part, called the president "the walking definition of hypocrisy."

Look no further than the bipartisan howl that greeted Ivanka Trump's statement this week about Moore for a demonstration of the perilous crosscurrents around Trump on the issue.

"There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children," Trump's daughter told the AP, adding that she had "no reason to doubt the victims' accounts." She did not call for Moore to leave the race.

Liberals and conservatives both pounced. Those on the left noted she had waited a week to chime in and had never given similar credence to the claims of her father's accusers. Some on the right faulted her for buying into unproven accusations.

Liberal movie director Rob Reiner tweeted: "Ivanka believes Roy Moore's accusers. But the more than 12 women who accuse her father of sexual abuse are all liars. The difference is? ..."

The sexual assault drama is playing out as a painful sequel for Leeds and other women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to accuse Trump of harassment and more — only to see him elected president anyway.

"My pain is everyday," Jill Harth, a former business associate who claimed Trump put his hands under her dress during a business dinner in 1992, tweeted in October. "No one gets it unless it happens to them. NO one!"

It's the same for those who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, their charges once written off as "bimbo eruptions."

"I am now never goes away," nurse Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978, tweeted Friday.

Even in the current charged environment, when every new allegation can produce screaming headlines, Trump may well be able to go his own way — and take a hands-off approach to Moore.

"Trump's base likes him when he's gratuitously ornery: Insulting war heroes, Gold Star families and the disabled have all been good for him, so what does he gain by strongly opining on Moore?" asks Dezenhall. "Nothing that I can see, so as a guideline, he doesn't need to do all that much."

Helping in more ways than one

Thanksgiving is always a time to be thankful for what we have, and it is also a time to give to those who may not be as fortunate.

Local nonprofit organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Center and Kings Community Action Organization and other volunteers are lining up their donations in an effort to make the holiday season more enjoyable for families and individuals in need.

Alice Roberts, the office volunteer coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul Center, said the organization distributed its Thanksgiving baskets filled with food to families on Thursday and delivered a few extra baskets on Friday as well.

Right now, Roberts said the center is taking monetary donations to help purchase a variety of items and is also accepting food and clean and new clothing. She said she’s glad there are so many local organizations that will help feed and clothe those in need.

“There are so many people in our community who are in need,” Roberts said. “You never know when a person can lose a job or lose their home in a fire.”

Roberts said even if people can’t give monetarily, they can always volunteer their time because even just a few hours a week is helpful. All she asks of the community is to remember those who need the help.

“I just think about how I would want someone to treat me,” Roberts said. “If we can alleviate the situation for someone else, we should.”

She also encourages parents to teach their kids the value of giving to charities; she said it could be as easy as donating toys they no longer use to the center so families can come and pick some out for their children.

Roberts said the center is also a location where families can sign up children for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program.

Jeff Garner, executive director for Kings Community Action Organization, said during the months of November and December the organization has a big need for new coats, clothes and toys that benefit preschool children and families at the Barbara Saville Women’s Shelter.

KCAO also has a food bank that always welcomes food and monetary donations, Garner said. He said the organization relies heavily on what they get from the community because the need is always there.

“We are able to do a lot of good things with the food bank donations,” Garner said. “We are able to use the cash to provide food resources throughout the entire year.”

This year, Garner said KCAO is even having a movie night at the Hanford Fox Theater on Dec. 2 that will benefit the food bank and promises a fun night for the whole family.

Walt Kendall is part of a group of volunteers who have been providing free Thanksgiving meals at the Lemoore Senior Center and delivering meals to shut-ins all over Kings County for the past 16 years.

Kendall said around 100 people usually volunteer and the group purchases and prepares all the food, which includes all the Thanksgiving staples like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, green beans and pumpkin pie.

An endeavor like this is no easy feat and Kendall said the dinner has relied on donations from individuals, churches and organizations for the $12,000 cost.

“This is a good way to give to those without a place to go,” Kendall said.

Council to finalize awarding of cannabis permits

HANFORD — A public hearing will be held Tuesday during the Hanford City Council meeting to discuss awarding cannabis permits to three companies looking to locate medical cannabis businesses in Hanford’s Industrial Park.

At the last council meeting on Nov. 7, the Hanford City council moved forward with the process of awarding 21 permits to three companies, including:

  • Caliva - one cultivation permit, one manufacturing permit and one distribution permit
  • Genezen - one cannabis campus permit, 14 cultivation permits, one manufacturing permit and one distribution permit
  • Premium Extracts - one manufacturing permit

Council voted unanimously to award the recommended number of permits to Caliva, Genezen and Premium Extracts, but the decision will not be final until a there is a public hearing on the matter during the Nov. 21 meeting.

The public hearing will be the time for residents and any member of the public to voice their opinions, comments or concerns to the council.

After the public hearing, the next steps for the cannabis companies would be to obtain conditional use permits and undergo an environmental analysis.