Jeff Jardine

Jeff Jardine: The survey says? Modesto safer than Capitola, Nevada City

L-R, Ernie Foote, bureau board treasurer; Modesto Javier Espin Gimenez of Spain; Maria Sandone of Spain; Dana Hohn, visitors' bureau executive assistant. Traveling in the United States, Gimenez came to Modesto specifically because the city's name matches his own.
L-R, Ernie Foote, bureau board treasurer; Modesto Javier Espin Gimenez of Spain; Maria Sandone of Spain; Dana Hohn, visitors' bureau executive assistant. Traveling in the United States, Gimenez came to Modesto specifically because the city's name matches his own. JENNIFER MULLEN / jennifer@visit

From the emails, voice mails and other trusted sources:

THE SURVEY SAYS – Modesto residents are generally thrilled when some publication completes one of those horrible-places-to-live lists and the city escapes mention.

Telegraph Today, an online site that produces lots of lists on lots of topics, recently named California’s 10 most dangerous cities, based upon violent-crime rates generated by law enforcement agencies.

Joyfully, Modesto isn’t on it. The top 10, in descending order, are: Oakland, Oroville, Desert Hot Springs, Compton, Stockton, Irwindale, Emeryville, Nevada City, Arvin and Capitola.

Shouldn’t one of them have been setting for the new “American Crime” TV show instead of Modesto?

MODESTO VISITS MODESTO – Recently, travelers from Italy and Spain dropped in to the Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau downtown.

Normally, you’d think, “So? Aren’t visitors supposed to drop in to visitors bureaus?” This one had a catch, according to Jennifer Mullen, the agency’s executive director.

“The couple from Spain were on holiday in California and made a special trip to Modesto … because the gentleman’s first name is actually ‘Modesto,’ as was his father’s.”

So, Modesto, welcome to Modesto. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

“They were so happy; we made sure they left with plenty of great items from Modesto,” she said.

To add to the intrigue, Feb. 24 was Saint Modesto Day in Spain.

ANOTHER SURVEY SAYS – A recent survey by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times polled 1,505 Californians about a host of topics ranging from their political preferences in upcoming elections to feelings about the University of California administrators’ proposed tuition hikes, and opinions about the California dream.

The methodology involved not only the usual demographics (age, male or female, races and incomes) but also included geography. Some of the key findings:

▪  State Attorney General Kamala Harris is the early favorite in the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Barbara Boxer in 2016, but she remains unknown to the majority of the state’s voters.

▪  Everybody seems to hate the idea of higher UC tuitions, except for the administrators trying to raise them. And by opposing them, Gov. Jerry Brown wins a popularity contest over UC Chancellor Janet Napolitano, who wants them.

▪ Da gov’s popularity rating is at 64 percent, but that doesn’t make him a favorite for the presidency. Hillary Clinton drew 49 percent overall, and 57 percent among Latinos surveyed.

▪ Californians who live along the coast are loving life and plan to stay in the state. Folks in the Sacramento and Central valleys, not so much. They, meaning we, are more likely than our coastal comrades to want to exit, stage left.

YET ANOTHER ONE – Modesto Junior College made the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s 2014 top 10 list for threats to free speech on campus, per the Huffington Post. School employees stopped student Robert Van Tuinen from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day in September 2013. FIRE aided Van Tuinen with his lawsuit against the school, which it settled last year for $50,000 and agreed to eliminate so-called “free speech zones” on campus. And FIRE chastised school officials for retaliating against two instructors, William Holly and Leslie Beggs, who supported Van Tuinen.

MJC is joined on FIRE’s list by the University of Iowa; The U.S. Department of Education; Georgetown University; California State University, Fullerton; Brandeis University; Chicago State University; Marquette University; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and the Kansas Board of Regents.

CURTAINS UP – A couple of upcoming performances worth noting:

First, “The Journey: The African American Experience” by Sankofa Theatre Company comes to Modesto High’s auditorium for a matinee beginning at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Modesto City Schools and Enochs High Black Student Union are co-sponsors. Tickets at $10 for adults and $5 for students are available by calling (209) 683-9049.

And later this month, “Mariachi Girl,” a bilingual musical written by Roxanne Shroeder-Arce of Texas, takes the Foster Family Theater stage at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Directed by Modesto Junior College’s Wes Page, it tells the story of a young girl who wants to play mariachi music, defying the Mexican tradition of being a male-only endeavor. The dialect will be primarily in English, but most of the songs will be sung in Spanish. Page is adding video elements that will bridge both languages. The play will be preceded by a quick primer for the audience on Spanish words that will be used in the play. Liliana Hernandez, a 2014 “Valley’s Got Talent” performer, has the starring role.

Public performances are scheduled for March 21-22 at the Gallo Center for the Arts, with additional shows for schoolchildren. Visit for show times and ticket information.

Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at or (209) 578-2383. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJardine57.