November 4, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

CD 21: Court documents refute claims in Valadao attack ad — Congressman David Valadao’s newest attack ad against Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta paints him as a chainsaw-wielding madman who used intimidation to try to take a woman’s land and water well. The problem: several of the ad’s claims are false, according to Kern County Superior Court records. Bakersfield Californian article

New poll finds support for pot, bilingual ed, gun control – A new Field-IGS Poll suggests voters are headed toward legalizing recreational marijuana, hiking taxes on cigarettes, beefing up the state’s already tough gun laws and freeing more nonviolent offenders by overhauling the state’s parole system. San Jose Mercury News article

Valley politics

CD 21: Outside money fuels negative ads in Valadao, Huerta race — As Election Day draws closer, the race between incumbent Republican David Valadao and Democratic challenger Emilio Huerta in California’s 21st Congressional District is heating up. FM89’s Joe Moore reports both sides have turned recently to negative TV ads in an effort to gain an edge. KVPR report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

New poll finds voters poised to pass Prop 57 and revamp California’s prison parole rules — Fifty-seven percent of likely voters in a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey backed Brown’s Proposition 57, and only 31% were opposed. While earlier polling showed an even wider lead, the proposal has had consistently solid backing throughout the campaign season. LA Times article

Californians sharply divided on death penalty ahead of historic vote – Competing ballot measures that would bring historic changes to California’s fractured death penalty system are both on the cusp of passing in Tuesday’s election. Sacramento Bee article

Death is likely for both death penalty measures on California ballot, poll finds — There are more voters in favor of a ballot measure that would repeal the death penalty in California than one that attempts to speed up executions, but neither proposition has attracted the majority of votes it needs to pass come Tuesday, a new poll finds. LA Times article

California death penalty propositions 62 and 66: Condemned inmates, victims’ families speak out — Sitting on a couch at his home in this remote farm town last week, Charles Erbert thumbed through a well-worn Bible to find the passage that captures his perspective on the most emotionally charged issue on November’s ballot: California’s death penalty. San Jose Mercury News article

Linda Klein: Could Prop 66 increase risk of executing an innocent inmate – The president of the American Bar Association writes, “The ABA is sympathetic to the frustrations of the families, victims and defendants who have suffered from the massive delays and inefficiencies in California’s death penalty system. But people deserve changes that will address the problems effectively, not diminish the fairness and accuracy of our justice system. We should not cut corners in the administration of the death penalty. Unfortunately, that is what Proposition 66 would do.” Klein op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Here’s why California is on the verge of legalizing pot – Californians are set to legalize recreational marijuana in Tuesday’s election, two decades after voters approved cannabis for medicinal purposes, according to a new poll. Sacramento Bee article

Robin Abcarian: If you think the war on drugs is a miserable failure, you should vote to legalize pot – If the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passes Tuesday, it will do many things. Mainly — and most important to people who are sick of wasting public dollars fighting a hopeless battle against a substance that is used by millions of Californians — it will legalize and regulate marijuana. Abcarian column in LA Times

Opponents of marijuana legalization say licensing requirements laid out in ballot measure are inadequate — Opponents of an initiative to allow recreational marijuana use in California said Wednesday that its extensive licensing requirements would not include websites, including Weedmaps, that provide guides to cannabis stores, varieties and doctors without handling the product. LA Times article

Prop 53: Cortopassi’s race nears finish line as showdown with Gov. Brown draws big bucks— Dino Cortopassi, who grew up in a poor east Stockton neighborhood before ascending to prominence and wealth as a farmer and food processor, is in the final days of a campaign against Jerry Brown and state bureaucrats that stretches back two years. His stated mission: To slay the “debt dragon” that he believes will devour the state. Stockton Record article

Backers of tobacco tax tout Medi-Cal boost – Health advocates stopped in the Northern San Joaquin Valley this week to respond to campaign ads claiming the Proposition 56 tobacco tax is a gift for special interests. Modesto Bee article

Kamala Harris adds to huge cash advantage in California’s U.S. Senate race – New campaign finance reports show Kamala Harris has raised more than $14.5 million in her race for California’s U.S. Senate seat. That’s more three times the nearly $4.5 million raised by her competitor, Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Capital Public Radio report

Loretta Sanchez is losing her grip on California’s U.S. Senate race, new poll finds – Democrat Loretta Sanchez’s wave of attacks against her rival and attempts to win over Republicans have failed to turn around her fading campaign for U.S. Senate, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.  LA Times article

It passed overwhelmingly in Montana and Colorado, and now activists want Californians to speak on money in politics —  It’s not easy to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Congress can’t do it alone, and unless the court reverses itself, the only other avenue is changing the Constitution. For national groups hoping to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision that altered how much corporations can spend on politics, they know it’ll be a slow, state-by-state slog they hope passes through California when voters consider Proposition 59 on Tuesday. LA Times article

Joel Fox: What will the propositions cost? — All statewide ballot measures receive an analysis from the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office as to the fiscal effects of the initiatives. That got me wondering what it would cost Californians if in the unlikely event an unrestrained electorate decided to vote Yes on all 17 measures. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

City Hall GOP: A new generation of Republican mayors focuses on pragmatic solutions, not politics – Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin jumped into politics with a management background when she took on the task of running a city of 520,000 residents, California’s largest inland metropolis. Now one of California’s most popular local Republicans—frequently mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate—Swearengin is credited with helping to rescue Fresno from fiscal disaster. City Journal article

Democratic statehouse supermajority could hang on this San Gabriel Valley race — In a presidential election year, down ballot races like those for the California Legislature can be overlooked by voters. But there are about a dozen races statewide that could give the Democrats a supermajority, when one party controls two-thirds of the legislative seats. KPCC report

Could sodas be the next plastic bags? – Next Tuesday, voters in three California cities will consider adding a tax on sodas this November. San Francisco, Oakland and Albany all have local measures on their ballots that would tax distributors one-cent for each ounce of sugar-sweetened beverages. Capital Public Radio report

Republican super PAC’s anti-Bera ad misleads on Iran deal – The super PAC working to defend the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has an advertisement claiming that Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, is “putting Iran on a path to get nuclear weapons” by supporting the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Sacramento Bee article

Kevin Johnson on the witness stand? Pie-in-the-face trial scheduled — Pastry-wielding activist Sean Thompson hit Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in the face with a coconut cream pie in September. Now he wants to put him on the witness stand. Thompson appeared for a preliminary hearing Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, where a judged denied a motion to reduce his felony charge to a misdemeanor. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

How California may hand Clinton the popular vote – even if she loses the election – Hillary Clinton has built up such a disproportionate lead in California that it’s possible — should she end up losing a few key battleground states — that she could get more votes than Donald Trump nationwide but still lose the presidential race. Sacramento Bee article

Before Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer criticized Donald Trump, he invested in his casinos – Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who positioned Donald Trump as the leading antagonist in his multimillion-dollar effort to register voters and advance a progressive agenda nationally, was an investor in Trump Entertainment Resorts, federal records show. Sacramento Bee article

Brik McDill: Two who personify the worst in America — Feeling depressed lately? A little cynical? Me too. The Donald likely will not stop his attacks on Hillary Clinton and her administration once he’s lost the election. And Hillary’s her own walking billboard of greedy, grubby corruption. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

That Supreme Court stonewall may not crumble anytime soon – The idea of denying Hillary Clinton a court pick has been quietly simmering in conservative circles as Republicans held firm in their refusal to take up President Obama’s nomination. New York Times article

William Bezdek: After the GOP implosion, a postmortem is vital – The retired Bakersfield physician writes, “If you are like me, you cannot wait until this election is over and we can return to a civil society. I suspect that, considering the implosion within the Republican Party, we will be going through a period of evaluation with profound criticism of both the leaders and grass-rooters of the party. This very well might lead to either a three party system or the complete demise of far-right conservatism.” Bezdek op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Melania Trump says she wants to reduce online bullying: ‘Our culture has become too mean and too rough’ — Even as Donald Trump assails political correctness, insults opponents in harsh late-night tweets and draws bipartisan rebukes for racially tinged insults, his wife vowed Thursday that she would devote her energy as first lady to reducing online bullying and promoting more civil discourse in American society. LA Times article

Joel Torczon: Catholic vote could make a difference Nov. 8 – The Bakersfield resident and lifelong Catholic writes, “If every Catholic would properly form their conscience so as to vote for politicians who support a culture that fulfills Pope Francis’ call for a “just society (that) recognizes the primacy of the right to life from conception to natural death,” perhaps the jokes at future Al Smith dinners will return to being civil and light-hearted.” Torczon op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories – Top Stories

Monitor: Drought ends in nearly one-fourth of California – The U.S. Drought Monitor showed nearly one-fourth of California out of drought on Thursday, the best such showing for the parched state in more than three years. Water officials who oversaw mandatory water conservation by cities and towns emphasized three-fourths of the state remains in the five-year drought. AP articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

State Controller: Central Valley could become tech hub for water-saving technology – California State Controller Betty Yee was in Fresno on Thursday encouraging Central Valley entrepreneurs to build a healthy business community in the Fresno area that would rival other well known technology and science hubs in the state. Fresno Bee article

Dan Walters: Kids not getting enough sleep? Start school later – Notwithstanding after-school sports and other potential arguments against making the change, the core purpose of a public school system is to educate its young charges, preparing them to become productive citizens via higher education or employment. And if, as the research consistently shows, starting school very early in the morning substantially interferes with that mission, making the change should be a no-brainer. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Index shows job gains in North Valley, but many still struggle – The second annual North San Joaquin Index reported decent job growth in 2015 but continued lags in income, education and other measures for many residents. The report, released Thursday in Tracy, showed that Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties continued their slow recovery from the downturn that started in 2008. Nonetheless, household income remains below the pre-recession level and well below what Californians as a whole make. Modesto Bee article

U.S. economy creates 161,000 jobs in October; wages get big boost – U.S. employers added a decent 161,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9%, from 5%, according to government figures released Friday. It was the final report on a lukewarm but durable economy before Americans choose a new president next week. AP article

Bakersfield council approves extra expenses on road projects, Kern River report – Lawsuits and unforeseen work have added nearly $3.6 million so far to the costs of the city’s major road projects, but on Wednesday the Bakersfield City Council voted with no discussion to foot the bill. Bakersfield Californian article

Groups drops suits against Walmart in Visalia, Porterville – In what appears to be a coordinated retreat, the mysterious groups who have bankrolled years of legal battles to stop construction of Super Walmart stores and other non-union grocers, are throwing in the towel this week – at least in the Visalia and Porterville cases. For some, the legal wrangling has gone on for a decade and together cost developers, tenants and cities millions of dollars. Visalia Times-Delta article

Chukchansi tribe sued over two years of unpaid rent for upscale Fresno office – The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians is being sued by owners of the office building that houses the tribe’s headquarters for not paying rent for more than two years. A lawsuit, filed Oct. 28, said the tribe hasn’t paid $749,699 in late rent and interest dating back to April 2014 under its lease with River Palm Partners, owners of the River Bluff office park at 8080 N. Palm Ave. that overlooks the San Joaquin River bluffs. Fresno Bee article

Wells Fargo says the SEC is also investigating its accounts scandal – Wells Fargo & Co. confirmed Thursday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has joined the growing number of state and federal agencies investigating the company’s sham-accounts scandal. LA Times article

Valley foreclosure rates fell in August — Valley foreclosure and mortgage delinquency rates continued to fall in August, according to new data from real estate information firm CoreLogic. The Business Journal article

Run a small business? Diverse? Here’s how to tap $1 million fund – The Fresno Community Development Financial Institution will receive $1 million in lending and grant money from Wells Fargo during a check presentation Friday to help diverse small businesses grow. Fresno Bee article

Cycling classes unlike anything Fresno has seen coming soon — Spin class on steroids is coming to Fresno. Classes with stationery bikes are nothing new at gyms, but a new breed of these classes is happening in dark “theaters” with nightclub-style lighting, lots of loud music and instructors who are more like motivational speakers. Fresno is about to get two such businesses: CycleBar, a national franchise, and Ride54, a local company that offers cycling and strength training. Fresno Bee article

Salida restaurants face steep charges for wastewater service – Restaurants send grease, oils and other stuff down the drain, and that requires higher-than-normal treatment in the local sewer plant. That is the stated reason why restaurants in Salida received eye-popping bills this fall from the Salida Sanitary District. Modesto Bee article

California’s energy goals will require more advanced energy workers to fill gaps – Just over a year ago, Governor Jerry Brown approved California State Senate Bill 350. The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 mandates a doubling of the energy efficiency goals set out in Assembly Bill 32, which passed in 2006. Clearly good for the environment, these bills create a path to a cleaner future for California but they don’t directly address the issue of building a workforce to meet that goal. California Economic Summit report

Tre Borden: Who’s best to tell Sacramento’s success story? – The consultant, entrepreneur and art enthusiast writes, “Telling our story effectively will require us to do something many cities struggle to accomplish: setting an agenda that involves the whole community, one that is designed to benefit everyone. It is crucial that we take advantage of this opportunity by developing bold strategies and diverse coalitions that can leverage our region’s greatest assets and strengths.” Borden op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Kings EDC hands out annual awards — Local companies and organizations were recgonized by the Kings County Economic Development Corp. for making significant contributions to Kings County’s economy. Hanford Sentinel article

One Arizona group goes to court for the disabled – more than 1,500 times — Kimber Lanning, who owns a music shop in Phoenix, was surprised when she was served with papers earlier this year that alleged she had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act over signs marking van-accessible parking spaces. NPR report


Buddy Mendes: Without water, the San Joaquin Valley withers – The chair of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and farmer who residents in Riverdale writes, “Current water policy has brought us to a critical point in California’s future, and decisions related to these policies will test the morality and character of our state leaders. For many longtime residents and newly arrived families in the San Joaquin Valley, it’s not the drought that poses the biggest threat to their livelihood. The biggest threat is government decisions that deny water to this agricultural region.” Mendes op-ed in Fresno Bee

What will convince Californians to keep conserving water — For year companies have targeted consumers with advertising that leverages social pressure – like saying seven out of 10 people prefer a certain brand of toothpaste or laundry detergent. More recently, that kind of thinking has been used not just to sell products, but also to change behavior. KQED report

San Francisco had most rainy October days since 19th century — Forecasters say San Francisco’s 12 days of rain in October were the most in a single month in more than a century. AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

SWAT teams sweep through Fresno, arrest 36 Strother gang members – Ten federal, state and local SWAT teams swept through Fresno early Thursday, arresting members and associates of the southwest Fresno Strother Street Boys Gang on charges of trafficking in and stealing firearms as well as selling drugs, including methamphetamine. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento police accountability falls on former cop who rose from poverty — Francine Tournour, Sacramento’s sole civilian police watchdog, stood tall and taciturn Tuesday night in a gray pantsuit in front of the City Council dais, a no-man’s-land between politics and the people. Sacramento Bee article

Bomb squad detonates homemade fireworks on downtown Stockton street — Authorities called out the bomb squad Thursday morning to a downtown Stockton street corner after a Highway Patrol officer discovered homemade explosives in a vehicle he had pulled over for a traffic stop, police reported. Stockton Record article

Minority groups unite following wave of South Sacramento robberies — South Sacramento community leaders have formed a new coalition to unite minority groups against violent robberies targeting local Asian American residents, as well as other issues in their neighborhoods. Sacramento Bee article

California family says claim filed to urge police reform — An attorney for a widow who filed a claim Thursday against a San Diego suburb where her husband was killed by police says the family wants to send a message that police across the nation must do better when dealing with people in mental crisis. AP article

Two counties, same challenge: How data is helping reshape California jail systems – Nineteen California counties are operating under a court-ordered jail population cap and, as a result of the high incarceration rates, are also experiencing budget issues. CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative (J-SCI) is working with four counties to find ways to promote improved public safety outcomes while lowering the reliance on jail using data-driven evidence. California Forward article

Another Oakland police officer charged in sex scandal — A former Oakland police officer has been charged with misdemeanor crimes in a sex scandal involving a teenage girl that has embroiled several local law enforcement agencies. AP article


UC Merced leaders look back at attack – A year after a stabbing attack that shook UC Merced, little about the campus’ emergency protocol has changed, because it worked well, campus leaders said. Merced Sun-Star article

Family of student who led UC Merced attack unable to find answers – This week, during a 90-minute interview with the Merced Sun-Star, Mohammad recounted how since Nov. 4, 2015, he and his family have been at a loss to understand what happened. How did their son, a student who excelled in science and planned to study medicine, go from one day calling his mother to make plans to come home, to the next launching an attack that provoked his own death? Merced Sun-Star article

Community college students need more help transferring to CSU campuses, report finds – Too many students at California’s community colleges are confused about how to transfer to a California State University campus and remain unfamiliar with a new degree program designed to help them with the move, according to a report by a research organization at Sacramento State University.  EdSource article

State Board says there must be a better way to measure test scores — In an unexpected move, the state board postponed approving the method for determining a key element of its new school accountability system on Wednesday, potentially delaying by weeks or longer the release of the first district and school “report card” that it had promised for early 2017. EdSource article

 Critics allege ‘dark money’ is funding Fresno Unified Measure X ads – As Tuesday’s general election nears, two Fresno Unified school board members are continuing their campaign against the district’s $225 million bond measure – alleging on Thursday that it’s being funded by “dark money.” Fresno Bee article

Merced College snuffs out tobacco on campus – Last month the Merced College Board of Trustees unanimously decided to adopt a policy change for a tobacco-free campus, meaning any tobacco products will be prohibited. Merced Sun-Star article

California Community Colleges aim to instill entrepreneurial mindset to next generation – Here in California, 98 percent of companies are small businesses which provide 82 percent of the private sector jobs according to the Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Division. Those small businesses cross all sectors from handmade goods like those offered by Gordon to technology development and maintenance to services and apparel. The California Community Colleges are responding by working with business, industry and other workforce organizations to address the skills gap in California. California Economic Summit report

Fresno State students can now dial 211 for help – Fresno State students will now be able to dial 211 and get access to campus resources through the Project Health, Opportunity, Prosperity and Education (HOPE) program, Fresno State spokesman Eddie Hughes said. Fresno Bee article

State’s science classes to emphasize hands-on discovery – California public school kids will learn science in a completely new way next year. The Golden State now becomes the first in the country to take on this new approach. Science will no longer be about memorizing facts and writing essays. Now it’s all about experiments and hands-on exploration. KQED reportLA Times article

Record number of local school measures on this year’s ballot – Have you noticed more local bond and parcel tax measures on your ballot? There are a record number of them this year in California, more than in any presidential or gubernatorial election in the past 10 years, according to the California Local Government Finance Almanac. More than half of these measures are for schools. KQED report

Down payment assistance program expands for state school employees – California Housing Finance Agency recently announced changes to its Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program, allowing local teachers to get up to $7,500 in down payment assistance for their first home. The program includes educators at public charter schools, school district offices and county continuation schools. Visalia Times-Delta article

LA Unified school bus struck by stray bullet on its way to pick up students, police say – A Los Angeles Unified school bus that was just minutes away from picking up its first students of the day was struck by gunfire in South L.A. Thursday morning, district officials said. LA Times article


How crane festival took flight — The roots of this weekend’s Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival, now celebrating 20 years, can be traced all the way back to February 1989 and a young Department of Fish and Game employee who was just a few days into a brand new job. A biologist coworker invited Bruce Forman to what is now the Isenberg Crane Reserve, along Woodbridge Road west of Interstate 5. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services 

San Joaquin trauma center to begin accepting some patients Saturday — Beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, San Joaquin General Hospital will again be accepting major trauma patients for treatment. The geographic area those patients come from will be limited but still represents all of Stockton and up to four out of five cases in the county. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: The woman who gave up her ‘parts’ — It’s called the BRCA1 mutation — the scary-high predisposition to get breast or ovarian cancer made famous by actress Angelina Jolie. Christine Moulton has it. And, like Jolie, Moulton had to take seriously radical measures to avoid a probable rendezvous with the “Emperor of All Maladies.” Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Every year of smoking causes DNA mutations that make cancer more likely — Attention smokers: For every year that you continue your pack-a-day habit, the DNA in every cell in your lungs acquires about 150 new mutations. Some of those mutations may be harmless, but the more there are, the greater the risk that one or more of them will wind up causing cancer. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno City Council agrees to hit slumlords in the wallet — Landlords who have been cited by Fresno inspectors for health and safety violations on their rental properties now face significantly higher penalties if they fail to make the required repairs. Fresno Bee article

Acampo neighbors protest proposed farm labor camp – Wearing stickers adorned with “stop” signs, dozens of residents expressed concern over a man’s plan to build a farm labor camp in Acampo at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds Thursday night. After hearing the concerns, the San Joaquin County Planning Commission unanimously approved delaying a decision to approve driveway access for the applicant to a later, unspecified date. Stockton Record article

Public gives input at Lemoore general plan meeting — Lemoore residents, including city and department officials, gathered Tuesday evening to give their input about priorities in Lemoore at a general plan update meeting. Hanford Sentinel article


Allegiant Air planes fail 4 times more often than those operated by other U.S. airlines – Allegiant Air’s aircraft are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other U.S. airlines, an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times has found. In 2015, Allegiant jets were forced to make unexpected landings at least 77 times for serious mechanical failures, the Times’ first-of- its kind analysis of federal aviation records shows. Tampa Bay Times article in Fresno Bee

Other areas

Will judge reconsider decision giving Visalia family custody of 3 American Indian girls? — The grandparents of three American Indian girls whose parents were killed in a head-on collision south of Fresno are speaking out in a custody battle with nationwide implications. They say the girls should live with relatives who are members of a Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in Placerville – not with relatives in Visalia who have temporary custody of the girls. Fresno Bee article