October 21, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

CD 21: Valadao, Huerta face off in debate — Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta clashed sharply over water, air quality, immigration and political attack ads during their Thursday evening debate hosted by KGET-TV 17. The pair, vying for the 21st Congressional District seat, displayed different styles during the hourlong exchange. Bakersfield Californian article

CD 10: Eggman closes gap in Modesto-area House race, experts say — The race for the Modesto area’s seat in Congress is now a toss-up, two national analysts say, thanks to Democrat Michael Eggman’s gains on incumbent Republican Jeff Denham. Modesto Bee article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown off to Yale Law School reunion; will receive big honor — Jerry Brown is taking a long-weekend respite from the campaign to attend his class reunion at Yale Law School, where the Democratic governor will receive the prestigious Award of Merit, his spokesman said. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Nonpartisan analysts put Issa, Denham, Knight congressional races in toss-up category – National political analysts are becoming increasingly convinced that congressional Republicans running for re-election in California are in danger. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report is now declaring that the race between Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. and Democrat Michael Eggman is a toss-up, meaning that is one of the most competitive races in the nation where either of the candidates has a good chance to win. McClatchy Newspapers article

Voter registration is highest San Joaquin County registrar has ever seen – Voter registration is the highest it’s been in years, this election will change life as we know it, and voting in the future is likely to look a lot different. And elections aren’t rigged. Stockton Record article

Election 2016: Karen Goh wants to improve Bakersfield’s image – For the first time in over a decade, Bakersfield will soon have a new mayor. Kyle Carter and Karen Goh both are vying for the spot to lead Kern County’s largest city. While it’s largely a ceremonial job, as the office of mayor has little official power, Goh says she wants to use the position to improve Bakersfield’s image. KVPR report

Michael Fitzgerald: A smart switch to ‘Reefer Sanity’ – Stockton government is turning over a new leaf — and it’s marijuana. The council placed on the ballot Measures P and Q, which would end Stockton’s cannabis dispensary ban. P would double the number allowed to four (two existed before the ban). Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Q&A: Candidates for Merced mayor – The Merced Sun-Star asks questions to Merced mayoral candidates Necola Adams and Mike Murphy.  Another candidate, Noah Lor, did not respond to the paper’s questionnaire.  Merced Sun-Star article

Q&A: Candidates for Merced City Council District 5 – The Merced Sun-Star asks questions to Merced City Council District 5 candidates Daniel Emilio Sabzehzar and Matthew Serrato. Merced Sun-Star article

Gloves come off in Stockton District 2 race – Try following this dizzying sequence of political counter-punching. First thing Thursday morning, City Councilman Dan Wright’s campaign issued a one-page news release questioning Mayor Anthony Silva’s recent endorsement of Steve Colangelo, Wright’s “controversial” political challenger. Stockton Record article

Crime down in Atwater, but public safety remains key political issue – It’s not every day a prominent Realtor and former city councilman uses a public forum to say his community is “going in a sh–hole.” Andy Krotik, director of government affairs for the Merced County Realtor Association, saidduring a meeting Oct. 6 that he was concerned about the public’s safety in Atwater. Krotik, who later said he regretted his choice of words, said his goal was to push law enforcement and community safety to the forefront of the political discussion in Atwater heading into the upcoming election next month. Merced Sun-Star article

Chin seeks to influence Hanford election — Former Hanford Mayor Dan Chin has been off the City Council since 2012, but that doesn’t mean he’s removed himself from the political scene. Chin is the man behind Hanford Now, a general purpose committee that is spending money on a negative advertising campaign against District C City Councilman Gary Pannett, who is running for re-election. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Donors pour record $450 million into California initiatives – Political donors have spent a record $450 million to support and oppose 17 November ballot initiatives in California, beating the state’s own record for the most spent on propositions in a single year, campaign reports filed Thursday show. AP article;

Dan Walters: Gavin Newsom sponsors two ballot measures, readies run for governor – Gavin Newsom’s name isn’t on the Nov. 8 ballot, but California’s lieutenant governor has a lot riding on the outcome. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Pity the plastic bag: Will California seal its fate with a ban? — In the confounding manner of direct democracy, California voters in November will ponder two opposing initiatives, each sponsored by the plastic bag industry—which has spent more than $6 million to put them on the ballot. One, Prop. 67, is a referendum—an attempt to block the bag ban by asking voters whether they agree with the new law. The plastic bag industry is hoping to convince enough Californians to vote no, thereby preempting the ban. Another, Prop. 65, would redirect the 10 cent bag fee consumers pay, so that rather than stores reaping the benefit, it would instead go to an environmental fund administered by the state Wildlife Conservation Board. The plastics industry is backing this one, a smack-down to the grocery industry. CALmatters article

When running for U.S. Senate, it’s good to be the highly visible California attorney general – While trumpeting endorsements is nothing new for a campaign, the publicity Harris received after the arrest of backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer demonstrated the political advantages high-profile incumbents have while they are appealing to voters for reelection or higher office. LA Times article

Vaping on the verge: With Prop 56, California could start taxing e-cigs like tobacco — Proposition 56 is best known as the measure to dramatically boost the state’s relatively low cigarette tax. But it also would start to tax e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine like tobacco—which both sides say could trigger a similar push nationwide. CALmatters article

Tulare supervisors oppose some state propositions – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors, following recommendations from staff, voted to take opposition against state Proposition 64, which decriminalizes possession and growing marijuana for personal consumption, and 57, which gives nonviolent felons serving a sentence an opportunity for early parole. Visalia Times-Delta article

President Barack Obama stars in TV ad for Kamala Harris — President Barack Obama, whose summer endorsement of Kamala Harris dealt a stinging blow to U.S. Senate rival Loretta Sanchez, is appearing in a new statewide TV ad touting Harris’ accomplishments.  Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Strange provisions in Proposition 60 — Proposition 60, the measure requiring use of condoms in adult films, has a couple of noteworthy provisions that could be precedent setting for future initiatives–one not so good; the other, interesting and different, if perhaps unconstitutional. One item deals with enforcement of the condom law and reinforces the idea of citizens substituting for government agencies to bring lawsuits against business concerns. The other deals with punishment for initiative proponents for bringing forth an invalid initiative. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Ben Boychuk: California about to go to pot — Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot, appears likely to pass. Too bad. Californians suffer from plenty of delusions as it is without additional help from a mind-altering substance, legal or otherwise. Boychuk column in Sacramento Bee

Robin Abcarian: These two pot farmers believe that good old-fashioned branding is key to post-legalization success –  As soon as I began paying attention to marijuana last year, I started bumping into the guy in the white robes and the flowing beard. Abcarian in LA Times

Leaders stress importance of National Voter Registration Day — The last day to register to vote is Monday (Oct. 24) and Sacramento elected officials want to ensure every eligible voter in Sacramento — and beyond, registers to vote before the deadline. Vida en el Valle article


Officials find cross-border tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego —  U.S. and Mexican authorities on Thursday confirmed the existence of a clandestine cross-border tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego. The tunnel’s entrance was found near Tijuana’s A.L. Rodríguez International Airport, said a source with Baja California’s Public Safety Secretariat. LA Times article

U.S. Border Patrol’s new chief begins tackling uncomfortable questions – As the new chief of the troubled Border Patrol, Mark Morgan faces any number of complex problems, from corruption in the ranks to a new surge of children and families streaming to the border. LA Times article

Other areas

Questions about character dominate Northern California congressional race between Rep. Ami Bera and Sheriff Scott Jones –  In a Northern California swing district, mudslinging and allegations of wrongdoing have been the focal point of what will likely be one of the tightest congressional races in the state. LA Times article

Man who hit Mayor Johnson with pie calls charges ‘trumped up’ — Sean Thompson, the activist facing assault charges after shoving a pie into the face of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, criticized the charges against him Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Marijuana, assisted suicide, fracking – Colorado’s freewheeling initiative days may soon be over — Come election season, Colorado voters routinely face an eclectic array of ballot initiatives that has made it a national laboratory for big ideas. This is the place that first granted women the right to vote and more than a century later legalized marijuana. And this year, voters will choose whether the state will launch the nation’s first universal healthcare system and allow the terminally ill to end their own lives. But while this freewheeling exercise in citizen democracy is invigorating to many, others believe it has gone too far. So they introduced Amendment 71 which many fear will change everything. LA Times article

Sanders tells soda tax opponents to stop using his name – Saying that consuming too much sugar is a serious health problem, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told the soft drink industry to stop using his name in ads fighting proposed soda taxes in the San Francisco Bay Area. AP article

Mark Harris: Anita Hill, speaking truth to power – The UC Merced continuing lecturer and director of pre-law studies writes, “To many, professor Hill is a hero for speaking out during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings.” She will be at UC Merced on Monday. Harris op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Presidential Politics

Smittcamp, Harris among business leaders touting Trump economic plan — Two central San Joaquin Valley business leaders and 99 of their colleagues from across the nation have signed an “open letter from business leaders supporting Donald Trump” that touts the Republican presidential nominee’s economic plan. Sanger resident John Harris, the owner and CEO of Harris Ranch, and Fresno businessman Bob Smittcamp, the chairman and CEO of food processing company Lyons Magnus signed the letter, which says the Trump economic plan is “comprehensive and far-reaching. Fresno Bee article

Undocumented immigrants flex political muscle in presidential election – This political season has unleashed an unprecedented level of activism among many undocumented residents, who say fear and uncertainty have spurred them to act. People like Razo are canvassing streets, championing social media campaigns and manning phone banks to mobilize voters ahead of the election. San Jose Mercury News article

This election is much more than Trump vs. Clinton. It’s old America vs. new America – The dramas surrounding the Trump campaign have sometimes obscured an underlying reality of 2016: Trump and Clinton are running for the same job, but they are talking to and being sustained by two different Americas. LA Times article

Are Sanders’ supporters still feeling the Bern? — Nearly 2.5 million Californians voted for Sanders in theDemocratic primary.  Now, Sanders is calling on his supporters to back key issues — and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But some Bernie backers are still making up their minds about that last ask. KQED report

As Sacramento goes, so goes the nation — The four-county region has backed the winner in every presidential election since 1972, when a majority of local residents picked eventual winner Richard Nixon over George McGovern. That’s 11 straight times – and 40 years of elections – picking the winner. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories – Top Stories

Fresno approves downtown revamp that supporters hope will spark ‘greatest comeback’ — New plans that backers hope will spark a continuing renaissance for downtown Fresno won the unanimous approval of the Fresno City Council on Thursday. Fresno Bee article

State rail authority reduces size of future bullet train stations — The California bullet train authority has told its design engineers that the future system would have shorter trains and smaller station platforms, reducing the capacity of individual trains by roughly 50% and potentially the capacity of the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Report: Hanford barely in the black on city-owned properties – The city of Hanford is in the property management business, but it’s barely keeping its head above water financially on the properties, according to a report prepared recently by city staff. The report shows the city is collecting annual rents of $295,161 on 14 properties, and spending an estimated $258,420 on insurance, utilities and maintenance costs. Hanford Sentinel article

Visit Yosemite Madera County reports record summer visitorship — Visit Yosemite Madera County, a visitor’s bureau that promotes tourism in Yosemite and Madera County, had a record number of visitors to its new center over the summer. The Business Journal article

Seasonal hiring underway in Hanford – It is that time of year again and local businesses are in the process of gathering their troops in preparation for the holiday season. Hanford Sentinel article

McClatchy reports quarterly loss — McClatchy reported a widening third quarter loss Thursday amid a continuing decline in advertising revenue, continuing a decade-long trend. Sacramento-based McClatchy said it lost $9.8 million during the quarter, compared to a loss of $1.1 million a year earlier. Sacramento Bee article

Stockton Measure M quarter-cent sales tax would fund recreation programs, libraries – Stockton residents this November will have a say on whether to approve a quarter-cent restricted sales tax increase to go toward funding libraries and recreation program and services in the city. Measure M is projected to generate $9 million a year and $144 million overall for library and recreation services, including after-school programs, homework centers and children’s storytimes. Stockton Record article

Livingston plans to fill frozen positions in new budget – With the budget adopted on Tuesday, the city looks to add a Police Department office assistant, a wastewater operator and other potential positions, according to Samra. The city continues to outsource areas of the planning, engineering, public works and other departments, the budget shows. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno Chaffee Zoo withholding money from Africa contractors – Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corp. is withholding funds from its prime contractor on the African Adventure project a year after the project opened. The contractor, Harris Construction, is owed 5 percent from the construction portion of the project, about $2 million, and in a letter to some of its subcontractors accused zoo officials of not making the payments. Fresno Bee article

Visit California signs million-dollar marketing deal with Chinese airline – Visit California, the Sacramento-based nonprofit group that helps develop the state’s tourism marketing programs, has signed a million-dollar deal with Asia’s largest airline to promote Chinese visits to California. Sacramento Bee article

2016 Tulare County Fair sets records – The 2016 Tulare County Fair attracted nearly 120,000 visitors and generated $1 million during the Junior Livestock Auction. Visalia Times-Delta article

Big Fresno Fair exceeds 600,000 attendance for second time – This year’s Big Fresno Fair exceeded 600,000 attendees for the second time in its history, and saw increases in concession sales and record proceeds from the Jr. Livestock Auctions, the fair announced. Fresno Bee article

Blogs stir hateful reaction to church on rescue mission meal service – Merced’s Central Presbyterian Church shut down its Facebook page after receiving vulgar and hateful messages over an incomplete and misleading account, spread on social media, alleging that church members complained about the Merced County Rescue Mission serving meals to the homeless. Merced Sun-Star article

Tax board’s executive director lost her job without a vote from elected leaders — Facing scrutiny over reports of misspending, California’s elected tax board earlier this year chose to replace its executive director with one of its longtime administrators. But the Board of Equalization did not actually vote on the leadership change, according to a department spokesman. Sacramento Bee article

Placer County conservatives on transportation sales tax plan — Measure M, the Keep Placer Moving initiative, will need a two-thirds yes vote to pass. It’s a tough hurdle in a largely Republican county where voters are known to be fiscally conservative. But congestion problems have led some low-tax advocates to offer support for the measure. Sacramento Bee article

A fix for LA’s homeless crisis isn’t cheap.  Will voters go for $1.2 billion in borrowing? – For years, many Los Angeles residents have watched with alarm as homeless encampments spread across the city, from the sidewalks of skid row to alleys in South Los Angeles, behind shopping centers in the Valley and even  on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. Next month, voters will have to decide whether these concerns are strong enough to approve a new tax to fight homelessness. LA Times article

Housing ballot measure would worsen affordability crisis, study funded by opponents concludes – A Los Angeles ballot measure pitched as a way to provide good jobs and less expensive housing would instead worsen the city’s affordability crisis, according to an economic analysis released Thursday by the measure’s criticsLA Times article

In yet another giant media merger, AT&T may be trying to buy Time Warner Inc. — After its acquisition of satellite television service DirecTV, telephone giant AT&T Inc. might be setting its sights on an even bigger prize, Time Warner Inc. LA Times article

Rolling from one job to the next – Work camping combines elements of the gig economy, telecommuting and contingent labor, and attracts older adults seeking more money and more meaning from life. New York Times article

Advertising company founder Brad Boling dies — Brad Boling, founder of Boling Associates, one of Fresno’s leading advertising firms, died Saturday after fighting surgical complications. Mr. Boling was 66. Fresno Bee article

Thirty years of ‘greet, seat and measure feet’ — Thirty years ago, gas cost under $1 per gallon. “Top Gun” inspired thousands to sign up for the Navy. Lionel Richie sang “Say You, Say Me.” And Ron Fox opened the Shoe Box at Vintage Faire Mall. Modesto Bee article


Congressman Jim Costa: Food does not come from a grocery store – The Fresno Democrat writes, “Lawmakers must build on bipartisan consensus to increase development of regional solutions while working together to make policy changes and provide resources to fix California’s broken water system. As Valley residents, we must continue to educate people across the state who do not understand how our food is produced. Our livelihoods – and theirs – depend on it.” Costa op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

State water plan is ‘idiocy,’ Oakdale Irrigation District official says – Members of an often-divided irrigation board joined together Wednesday in a united vote condemning a state proposal to reduce amounts of water normally used for farming. “It’s a water grab under the guise of preserving a fish population that is not sustainable,” said Linda Santos, an Oakdale Irrigation District board member. And at least for once, all other board members agreed. Modesto Bee article

Mark Drew: New legislation key to water management – The Sierra Headwaters Director of California Trout writes, “In signing AB 2480 into law, Gov. Jerry Brown fundamentally shifted the way our state approaches storing and moving water, a shift that is vital in this era of climate change. AB 2480 recognized an essential truth: the natural water storage systems found throughout the Sierra Nevada are just as critical to our state’s water security as are dams, tunnels and aqueducts. Drew op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

West Side bean farms yield healthy bounty – Stanislaus County is the nation’s leading producer of large lima beans, the main type grown these days. Merced and San Joaquin counties also grow beans, which sit in the West Side sun for about two weeks after the bushes are cut down. Modesto Bee article

Here’s how the drought is impacting investment markets – For those with a financial stake in water, drought can mean boom or bust, depending on the investment. And even without a specific market to trade water, there are numerous ways to invest in it – from buying land with water rights to stocks in water-dependent companies to municipal bonds. KQED report

Drought’s grip to Southern California to tighten with La Nina, forecasters say — After five years of withering drought, government forecasters say California is once again headed for a warm and dry winter, especially in Southern California.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tulare correctional deputies to wear body cameras – As the nation demands more transparency from law enforcement, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux is on the forefront of answering that call, he said. The department was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase body-worn cameras for correctional deputies. Visalia Times-Delta article

Law enforcement summit puts students in officers’ shoes – Showing students that law-enforcement officers never know what to expect when doing a traffic stop, and seeing how the kids reacted in various situations, were among the points of the exercise. Wilbur and her accomplice, Sheriff’s Department Explorer Mariah Alvarado, sometimes were armed, sometimes not. Almost always, they were noncompliant, to say the least. Modesto Bee article

Sex offender arrested for fatal shooting of Modoc County Sheriff’s deputy — The man suspected of fatally shooting a Modoc County Sheriff’s deputy Wednesday was identified on as Jack Lee Breiner, 47, of Alturas, Modoc County Undersheriff William Tex Dowdy said in a press conference Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Teen arrested after second clown threat — The Hanford Police Department arrested a second teenager Thursday in connection with social media threats involving clowns attacking local schools. Hanford Sentinel articleFresno Bee article


More information in hand, Borgeas, Brandau now support Measure X – After initially saying they couldn’t support Fresno Unified’s Measure X bond measure on the November ballot, Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas and Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau are now on board. The change came after the district gave its board of trustees a report that outlined potential projects that would be funded by Measure X dollars. Fresno Bee article

Fresno Pacific University, Bitwise partner to offer new tech degree – A new degree at Fresno Pacific University will respond to the Valley’s demand for educated information systems professionals. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems begins in January 2017. Classes will be held at Bitwise Industries’ downtown hub. The classes at Bitwise will give students the ability to connect with entrepreneurs and innovators while they learn. The Business Journal article

Students can begin applying earlier for college financial aid – This fall, new federal reforms may ease the anxiety and deadline pressure surrounding what has been a dreaded chore for many families – applying for college financial aid. EdSource article

OK Produce partners for student-run fruit stands — OK Produce is teaming up with the Fresno County Office of Education [FCOE] to bring fruit and vegetables straight to consumers on school campuses via student-run produce stands. The Business Journal article

Health/Human Services

Nearly half of uninsured Americans eligible for Medicaid or other subsidies — Nearly 12 million of roughly 27 million non-elderly people who lack health insurance – 43 percent – are eligible either for Medicaid or financial assistance for marketplace coverage, according to a new issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Emilia Reyes: Fresno County’s babies get badly needed help – The First 5 Fresno County Executive Director writes, “In Fresno County, babies are dying before their first birthdays. Think about that for a minute. Our babies are suffering and dying. Tragically, the needle has barely moved in decades and one thing is abundantly clear: Business as usual is not going to save babies. That’s why the California Preterm Birth Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco, has chosen to invest millions of dollars into Fresno County to radically change our approach and find a solution that will change the outcomes.” Reyes op-ed in Fresno Bee

Land Use/Housing

Fresno landlords to face heftier fines if rentals don’t get fixed — The Fresno City Council has adopted an ordinance to identify landlords with chronic health and safety violations at their rental properties — including doubling the fines that can be levied on them for failing to fix the problems. Fresno Bee article


Surprising local officials, state approves $34.6 million for Highway 180 project — The California Transportation Commission has voted to advance $34.66 million in funding for the State Route 180 East project, surprising local transportation officials who felt “all hopes of moving forward with this project were lost.” The Business Journal article

Elon Musk challenges regulators to catch up to Tesla’s driverless car technology – According to Elon Musk, driverless car technology is a problem that’s pretty much solved. As he’s made clear numerous times, the regulators need to catch up. And they might want to start moving faster, because Musk isn’t slowing down. LA Times article

Will Metro’s sales tax reduce your time stuck in traffic by 15 percent? Maybe – in 2057 —  As cars and trucks crawl along a congested Southern California freeway, a dark-haired driver rests her head on her hand in frustration.  The narrator’s voice breaks in with a tantalizing suggestion: If Los Angeles County voters approve a tax increase for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Nov. 8, they will reduce their time stuck in traffic by 15% a day.  LA Times article

Other areas

Library opens a new chapter for London – On a Saturday morning amidst a throng of elected officials, men in suits and community leaders, the day really belonged to 8-year-old Marco Jaimes. The Kings River Elementary School third-grader – and those like him – were what motivated former London resident Robert Isquierdo Jr. to invest three years in getting a new library built for this small Tulare County community of less than 2,000 residents. Vida en el Valle article

Kris Clarke: I had to go to Finland to imagine how to fix Fresno – The Fresno State associate professor and docent at the University of Helsinki writes, “I grew up Fresno and fled at 18. While the social and political culture felt oppressive (especially to an existentialist queer teenager), back in 1980, the city still functioned rather well. No one went through your garbage at night and there were few empty shops, unlike the ghost strip malls that line many main avenues today. I returned three decades later with a new perspective on my hometown and how it treats its citizens. What changed my mind was immigrating to Finland at age 24. Clarke op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Donald Trump displays a debatable commitment to democracyThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Donald Trump’s statement that he will keep us “in suspense” over accepting his increasingly likely defeat could be nothing more than a cry for attention. But those who hang on Trump’s every threatening word might not make the distinction.

Modesto Bee – Donald Trump’s statement that he will keep us “in suspense” over accepting his increasingly likely defeat could be nothing more than a cry for attention. But those who hang on Trump’s every threatening word might not make the distinction.

Sacramento Bee – The 2016 campaign is heading into the final few days, mercifully. But once again, voters are reminded of the starkly different visions of Clinton and Trump, and the partisan times in which we live. We do, however, hold out some hope for a little post-election clarity, and that the Senate will hold hearings on and confirm a judge who clearly is qualified, Merrick Garland.