Ken James

Back Photographer

Ken James is a 24-year veteran photojournalist who started his career with the Fairfax Newspaper Group in Sydney Australia. Since relocating to California in 2002, Ken has contributed to many newspapers and wire services such as Bloomberg News, United Press International (UPI), The New York Times and San Francisco Examiner. In 2005, Ken spent six months covering the Iraq war and later documented the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Ken has actively covered state politics and gubernatorial elections, including the 2003 Recall. Besides covering national and local news events, Ken contributes monthly photo essays to Comstock’s and Sacramento Magazine. For more, visit www.kjamesimages.com.

By this person

Fire Drill

A proactive approach to managing fire systems could save you thousands

The walls are freshly painted. Fashionable new light fixtures hang from the ceiling. It’s got the right zip code, the right floor plan, the right price. Think you’re ready to buy that commercial property? Unless you have peered behind those walls and assessed all that’s happening above those lights, fire protection experts say you shouldn’t sign on the dotted line.

Apr 1, 2011 Christine Calvin

Safety Knot

Cities scrape for police, fire funding

Cities nationwide have welcomed hoards of elected officials who will have little time to celebrate their appointments before confronting daunting financial challenges. Among Capital Region cities, public safety budgets and all they encompass — cuts, swollen pensions, potential new fees, layoffs and department closures — have become the most contentious load to bear.

Jan 1, 2011 Christine Calvin

Hidden Homes

Compact residential goes vertical in midtown alleyways

Tucked in an alley between 17th and 18th streets in midtown Sacramento is the first of what could be an emerging pattern of townhomes. Three bright yellow garage doors mark the entrance to two 1,200-square-foot units poised over a 615-square-foot one-bedroom space.

Dec 1, 2010 JT Long

Working Lunch with Jeff Starsky

As mayor of Folsom, Jeff Starsky says it’s his job to keep people thinking positive and keep consumer confidence high. As far as his city is concerned, he seems to be doing a good job.

Sep 1, 2010 Douglas Curley
Segiun Moreau Napa Cooperage

Aging Gracefully

An oak by any other name is not just another barrell

Just as winemakers won’t put just any old juice in a barrel, they won’t use any old barrel either. For one wine, it’s French oak. For another, American. For yet another, Hungarian. In some cases the wine goes into a steel tank and never touches oak of any kind.

Sep 1, 2010 Robert Celaschi
Deon Taylor founded Deon Taylor Enterprises in 2004.

Movie Mogul

Film maker sets up shop in Sacramento

Building a $50 million company from the ground up in six years doesn’t take a rocket scientist, but it does take one hell of an entrepreneur. Deon Taylor, the 36-year-old mettle behind Deon Taylor Enterprises, is that kind of guy.

Jun 17, 2010 Christine Calvin
Candidate Ami Bera, an internist and former chief medical officer for Sacramento County, is running against Dan Lungren for Congress.

Election Dissection

How safe is Congressman Dan Lungren

Two years ago, I wrote in this column saying that Republican Congressman Dan Lungren might be in trouble in the November 2008 election. It seemed like a stretch at the time. Lungren had won re-election in 2006 with 59.5 percent of the vote against a weak Democrat, emergency room physician Bill Durston. However, a look at party registration trends showed that the district was trending Democratic. By 2008, the large registration edge enjoyed by Republicans this decade had all but disappeared.

Jun 1, 2010 Tony Quinn
Mexican national Yulithza Ortiz (center) strands outside the Memorial Auditorium surrounded by family after his U.S. citizenship ceremony last month.

Immigration Reform

Arizona laws spark local dialogue

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, he vowed that if elected he would take up George Bush’s failed 2007 effort to reform the nation’s immigration policy, secure U.S. borders and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons who had lived in America for years. Since then, however, issues such as health care reform have pushed immigration to the back burner.

Jun 1, 2010 Rich Ehisen

Brain Attack

The financial aftermath for stroke victims

Nearly 800,000 Americans have a new or recurrent stroke each year, making it the leading cause of disability in the U.S. What’s more, health problems are a principle driver for mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, leading to billions in financial impact.

May 3, 2010 Bill Romanelli

Jet Setting

Fuel costs impact aviation

With jet fuel going for $5.83 per gallon for full service at Sacramento Executive Airport and $5.75 per gallon for full service at Mather Airport, the $4.99 price tag for the product at Davis Flight Support serves as the initial draw for pilots looking to fill up their corporate jets and chill out near Napa or Sacramento.

May 1, 2010 Christine Calvin

Euro Trash

European-style bottle reuse launches stateside

Bruce Stephens might be on to something. And if his estimates — and the optimism and faith of dozens of investors — prove accurate, his wine bottle washing company could provide a hefty return on investment, dozens of Stockton jobs and low-cost wine bottles for environment and budget-â?¨conscious wineries.

Mar 1, 2010 Christine Calvin

McNamara’s Peace Garden

From D.C. to a walnut farm in Winters

How many farmers can say they spent their childhood bowling at Camp David or playing football with the Kennedy clan on the White House lawn? It’s the path Craig McNamara, 60, has taken from Washington, D.C., to his 450-acre organic walnut farm, and, at times, it was torturous.

Mar 1, 2010 Rich Ehisen
Kevin Johnson gets face time with constituents at a town hall meeting at George Sim Community Center.

Mayor, May I?

Kevin Johnson's shot at a strong-mayor initiative

From the moment Kevin Johnson began his 2008 campaign to unseat Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, he promised that, if elected, he would shake things up at City Hall. Now, slightly more than a year into his tenure, nobody can deny he has kept that promise.

Jan 1, 2010 Rich Ehisen
The El Dorado Hills Town Center mostly houses small independent merchants and a handful of national chains.

Plea Market

Retail along Highway 50 looks to fill some gaps

No part of the region has been immune to the retail woes that come with a lagging economy, but the Highway 50 corridor — Rancho Cordova, Folsom and El Dorado Hills — entered the slowdown crippled by its own geography.

Nov 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli
Manufacturer Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. recently completed a major expansion in an enterprise zone and added jobs.

Baiting Clean Tech

How local economic developers are getting creative

On paper it looks like the Capital Region has the makings of a world-class clean-tech hub: access to policy makers at the Capitol, access to innovative research churning out of UC Davis, and housing that’s affordable for green-collar workers. What this equation doesn’t account for, however, is how fast California is losing its competitive edge to other states and the global economy.

Oct 1, 2009 Ken James
Kaiser Permanente's Dr. Walter Kinney has been at the forefront of cervical cancer research and development.

Early Times

Can the medical community eradicate cervical cancer in your lifetime?

Cervical cancer in the U.S. has been declining for the past 50 years, and with recent advancements in prevention and screening, doctors imagine the cancer could be eradicated from America’s population within your lifetime. It’s a lofty ambition with a major caveat: It is almost entirely dependent upon the participation of the nation’s underserved women.

Oct 1, 2009 Christine Calvin
This UC Davis employee rides her bike on County Road 102 nearly every morning from her home in Woodland.

Safety Path

Woodland and Davis look to protect commuter cyclists

In October 2007, 60-year-old Francisco “Willie” Lopez was doing what he had done almost every morning for 30 years. He pedaled along County Road 99 from Woodland to his job in the finance department at UC Davis. A car hit and killed him on that country road before he made it to his desk.

Oct 1, 2009 Ken James
Researchers have found that decision making can exhaust the brain.

Brain Exam

A play-by-play of your body's most important organ

What’s your brain doing right now? What was it doing when you woke up, got hungry, went to work, danced, made love, got angry, got happy, fell asleep and dreamed? Judith Horstman is a local writer and frequent Comstock’s contributor. Her new book, “The Scientific American Day In the Life of Your Brain,” chronicles hour-by-hour what goes on in your brain through a typical day and night.

Sep 1, 2009 Judith Horstman
From May 2008 to May 2009 the price of lumber and plywood fell 13.8 percent nationwide, and suppliers such as Pacific Coast Building Products' Anderson Lumber are grappling with the aftermath.

Material Witness

Construction costs' momentary lapse of reason

The cost of lumber, steel, asphalt and other construction materials has been on a wild ride since the early part of this decade, but don’t be fooled by the relatively placid prices in 2009. Industry players say it’s likely just a brief respite before the roller coaster starts climbing again.

Aug 1, 2009 Adam Weintraub