April 10, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Kern County sheriff a defiant California maverick on immigration — Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood was hiking along the bluffs overlooking Bakersfield last year when he got a call from Gov. Jerry Brown. “What are you trying to do to me?” the sheriff said Brown asked him. “What are you trying to do to me?” Youngblood shot back. A Republican in one of the reddest counties in the state, Youngblood had riled the Democratic governor when he announced that his department would defy the Trust Act, a law signed by Brown that restricts cooperation between local law enforcement officials and federal immigration agents.  LA Times article

McCarthy outlines a busy, maybe tense, April work period — After a two-week respite for Congress, April is shaping up to be a month of long nights, nods to the GOP base and divisions on both sides of the aisle. That’s according to a memo sent to members Thursday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield.  Roll Call article

State budget

Interactive: The Bee’s April income tax revenue tracker — The interactive chart below (or click here) shows daily and cumulative state income tax revenue for the month, as well as total year-to-date revenue for the current fiscal year and 2013-14, based on numbers from the state Controller’s OfficeSacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Bill Whalen: Kevin Faulconer could be state GOP’s best hope in 2018 — Looking down the road to 2018, the most attractive statewide GOP candidate may be San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the only Republican leading any of America’s 10 largest cities.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee


Sacramento Bee: State goes it alone on immigration, too – Immigration isn’t just a California problem, and it speaks volumes that, on this as on so many other issues, California is going it alone.  Sacramento Bee editorial

California may shield immigrants charged with drug crimes from deportation — Now, in a state that has both liberalized immigration laws and eased punishments for drug crimes, legislators will soon consider a measure that could shield immigrants from such consequences.  LA Times article

Other areas

Republicans propose new gas tax amendment – The amendment would guarantee that California abides by Proposition 42, which voters passed in 2002. That measure allocated state gas tax revenues to road repairs and public transportation. Republicans say, starting in 2010, some of the money began to be diverted to the state’s General Fund. Capital Public Radio report

Dan Walters: Three kinds of Senate oversight – As the Legislature reconvened in January, the new leader of the state Senate, Kevin de León, declared that he would make “oversight” – examining how governmental agencies and programs are working – a high priority.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California Assembly passes bill to save pets used for research – More dogs and cats used for medical research could avoid early deaths under a bill passed by the California Assembly on Thursday.  Capitol Alert

Joel Fox: Extending Prop 30 by camouflage — What if the attempt to extend Prop 30 was disguised as a slightly different measure – would that take the onus off of the promise that a “temporary” tax is continuing? That’s one discussion going on in Sacramento.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Sacramento Bee: A few questions about Kevin de Léon’s big climate change measure — Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon is offering far-reaching legislation to combat global warming. It’s an important bill. But legislators need to ask some basic questions before they approve it.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Bob Huff: Harris is falling short on gun backlog – The Republican leader of the California Senate writes, “The public deserves to know if the attorney general spent money that was to be used to clear the backlog on some other purpose. We also need specific answers for how she will eliminate the backlog in the remaining year.”  Huff op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Several state officials subpoenaed in Calderon corruption trial — Federal prosecutors have served subpoenas on about 10 staff members in the California Legislature who may be called as witnesses in the August corruption trial of former state Sen. Ronald Calderon, Capitol sources confirmed Thursday.  LA Times article

State-by-state battle waged over ‘conversion therapy’ bans — There have been several setbacks this year for a state-by-state campaign to ban so-called conversion therapy for gay, lesbian and transgender youth. But the White House is now officially an ally, and activists are hopeful of long-term success as they make a case that such treatments can have devastating consequences. AP article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Valley cities could see steep residential water cuts under state plan — Gov. Jerry Brown may have ordered a 25% cut in water use statewide due to the ongoing drought, but a host of Valley cities could have to do even more. Clovis, Visalia and Hanford are among the Valley’s biggest water users, and as a result, may have to meet a 35% water conservation goal under a proposed plan released this week by the State Water Resources Control Board.  Fresno Bee article; Merced Sun-Star article; Modesto Bee article

State regulators: California water use will never be the same – This is the summer that California’s relationship with water – often wasteful – will undergo permanent change. That was the message delivered Thursday by the state’s top water officials, days after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the first-ever mandatory statewide cutbacks in urban water use.  Sacramento Bee article

Group threatens suit over Stockton Unified contract – The group behind a landmark lawsuit that changed the way teachers are evaluated in Los Angeles is warning Stockton Unified officials it will sue the district if a tentative contract deal reached last week does not factor student progress into teacher evaluations.  Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley economic index shows accelerated growth in March – Central Valley economic growth was on an upswing in March, according to the latest San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index produced by the Craig School of Business at Fresno State.  The Business Journal article

Opposition to Kern library privatization gets more organized – A substitute teacher with a love for libraries is trying to mobilize opposition to privatization of the Kern County Library Department. Miranda Lomeli-O’Reilly’s Advocates for Library Enhancement group is inviting the public to an organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Beale Memorial Library on Truxtun Avenue.Library supporters from as far away as Ridgecrest are planning to attend.  Bakersfield Californian article

California Forward report highlights revenue options for investments in education and infrastructure — State leaders, meanwhile, are being confronted with tough questions about how to avoid the fiscal pitfalls of the past—and what it will take to build a sturdier foundation for lasting prosperity. A report released by California Forward for consideration by the California Economic Summittakes aim at these challenges, highlighting a set of investments in human capital and infrastructure that will be essential to growing economic opportunity across the state—and identifying a range of options for funding them. California Forward article

Fresno real estate ready for positive year – Fresno real estate is ready to rock and roll. Speakers at the 12th annual Fresno Real Estate Forecast, organized by the Economic Development Corporation, in downtown Fresno on Thursday night talked about record transactions and investments, tightening inventory and the need for development.  Fresno Bee article

HCEA chief: We’re down but not out – Hydrogen Energy California has had problems lately, but it would be premature to terminate the $4 billion clean-coal plant proposed for eastern Kern County, the project’s top executive said this week in an email to regulators and potential customers.  Bakersfield Californian article

Chukchansi casino gaming commission relieved of duties – The Chukchansi tribal council has laid off its gaming commission because the tribe’s closed-down casino has no gaming to regulate, a council leader said Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

McDaniel to host grant-writing workshop to steer away from using discretionary funds – District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel made a promise during his nearly two years on the campaign trail. “I feel like the discretionary funds shouldn’t be used toward nonprofits because that $40,000 needs to benefit every constituent,” McDaniel said, referring to the annual $40,000 each supervisor receives to spend on projects of their choosing.  Merced Sun-Star article

Airbnb: San Francisco double-dipping on taxes.  SF: Airbnb not following rules – If you thought the spat over Airbnb paying its taxes was over, think again. On Wednesday, the short-term rental company went on the offensive. In a letter to its hosts in San Francisco, it accuses the city treasurer of attempting to double-dip on tax collection by sending “threatening letters” to people who rent out their homes and rooms.  San Francisco Chronicle article

FCC’s net neutrality rules open door to new fee on Internet service – Recently adopted net neutrality regulations soon could make your monthly Internet bill more complicated — and potentially more expensive.  LA Times article

Clovis bank building sold for $2.15 million — A Clovis building leased by Wells Fargo bank has been sold for $2.15 million. The buyer was real estate investment firm Rugby Hancock, LLC, according to Lee & Associates which announced the sale Tuesday morning.  Fresno Bee article


California farmers mount PR campaign to counter backlash over water use — In an effort to push back, industry officials began meeting in recent days with politicians, business people and journalists. They posted graphics online showing an alternate interpretation of agriculture’s water use, and they plan to run Internet ads.  Sacramento Bee article

Water officials uncertain about just how tough to get with users – Water experts have long said a get-tough approach works better than asking residents to change behavior voluntarily. LA Times article

California faces ‘Dust Bowl’-like conditions amid drought, says climate tracker – With a slew of statistics projected on the slideshow behind him, California’s state climatologist had a stark warning during a Thursday presentation on the severity of the drought.  LA Times article

The next crime wave in farm country: Stealing water — Madera County sits smack in the middle of the state, and its mostly farms. As in many parts of the Valley, wells have gone dry here and water prices have soared. Thieves, who’ve been increasingly targeting rural farms, are starting to understand that anything water-related is a potential bonanza.  KQED report

Air quality improving, but threatened by drought, report shows – California’s air quality has improved substantially in the past few years, but the ongoing drought is having a troubling impact on the levels of particulate pollution, according to a new report released Thursday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Garcetti pushes LA to conserve more water with ‘Save the Drop’ — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday announced what he called an “unprecedented outreach campaign” in the city’s continuing effort to get residents to use less water amid California’s drought.  LA Times article

John Laird: Gov. Brown has a long-term water plan – The secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency writes, “This is not a plan that has been hidden — it was the cornerstone of the water bond efforts last year, the basis of revised water system operations, a motivation for the groundwater management act, and the guidepost for expenditures in the governor’s last two budgets.”  Laird op-ed in Fresno Bee

Mark Cowin: California should stretch urban water supplies before cutting water for farms – The director of the California Department of Water Resources writes, “A 25 percent cutback in urban water use – as Gov. Jerry Brown imposed last week – is less a hardship on California residents than an adjustment to a new reality.” Cowin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Corcoran at water conservation crossroads – Finding themselves behind other Kings County cities’ water conservation rules, Corcoran leaders are fast playing catch-up. The impetus? Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order mandating a 25 percent statewide cutback in urban water use in the next nine months.  Hanford Sentinel article

Will freeway oleander survive the drought? — For decades, billowing rows of oleander bushes have stood duty on California freeways. Will they survive this summer, possibly the most parched season in modern history?  Sacramento Bee article

Drought exacerbates California’s shrinking cotton crop — The cotton crop in California has been shrinking for the last decade, but this year’s planting could be the smallest since early last century. California’s cotton dates back to the early 1900’s. The crop thrives in the San Joaquin Valley’s rich soils and dry warm climate.  Capital Public Radio report

Adapting to drought, longtime Sacramento linen cleaning business cuts water use — As they have been doing for the past 92 years, workers at Shasta Linen Supply in Sacramento were doing the laundry on Thursday. That would be laundry for nearly 1,000 customers in Northern California’s medical and restaurant industries.  Sacramento Bee article

Once-disputed Borba dairy being sold off — The 1,500-acre George Borba & Son dairy that caused so much strife in the late 1990s when its developers came to Kern from Chino is no more. The Borbas sold the land and are now in the process of auctioning off the entire operation — every cow, barn, milker and fence.  Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Former Fresno deputy police chief Foster, 6 others indicted – A federal grand jury indicted former Fresno deputy police chief Keith Foster and six others on Thursday, charging them with a variety of drug-trafficking offenses involving marijuana, oxycodone and heroin.  Fresno Bee article

Sheriff’s office unveils body cams for Wasco deputies – Many law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented the use of body cams for their officers. As of March 20, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office is among them, though in a limited capacity for now. Seventeen deputies who work in Wasco now carry their own cameras on their chests.  Bakersfield Californian article

BPD: Officer who parked in disabled space was responding ‘in haste’ to possible burglary – The Bakersfield Police Department said Thursday the reason one of its vehicles was seen parked almost diagonally across a parking space designated for disabled drivers earlier this week — touching off criticism on social media — was because officers were responding to a report of a possible burglary.  Bakersfield Californian article

Chukchansi arrests back before Madera judge, who will decide: Who’s in charge? – – A Madera County Superior Court judge will hear Friday from lawyers seeking to dismiss criminal charges against 15 defendants involved in the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino office raid on Oct. 9 that sparked the casino’s evacuation and closure.  Fresno Bee article

‘Disturbing’ video shows deputies beating man after horse pursuit – A group of San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies are seen in a video shot Thursday repeatedly kicking and punching a suspect at the end of a bizarre horseback pursuit in a scene the county’s sheriff described as “disturbing.”  LA Times article


Committee passes bill to boost state university funding to avoid tuition increase – California lawmakers say they’ll try to give more money to the state’s universities in an effort to avoid tuition increases. A bill to do just that was unanimously approved by the Senate education committee Wednesday.  Capital Public Radio report

Kamala Harris urges debt forgiveness for Corinthian students – Joining a group of student loan recipients who have refused to repay tens of thousands in debt they racked up at schools owned by Corinthian Colleges, Attorney General Kamala Harris is calling upon the federal government to forgive loan debt for borrowers who attended the troubled for-profit chain.  Capitol Alert;LA Times article

More state aid stabilizes school district finances – Recent infusions of state aid, and the prospect of more to come, have – not surprisingly – improved the financial stability of California’s school districts, the Legislature was told Thursday.  Capitol Alert

Black leaders call on Fresno schools to protect students from hate speech — A group of concerned African American pastors, community organizers and other leaders is calling on Fresno Unified leaders to make clear that Fresno’s African American community and its children won’t be targeted with hateful comments at the city’s schools.  Fresno Bee article

Most Californians support serving breakfast to students during school day – California voters strongly support serving breakfast to students during the school day, with most linking a nutritious morning meal to improved academic achievement, according to a new statewide poll.  LA Times article

Fewer graduating from community colleges – Locally and across the state, community colleges are seeing a decrease in the number of students graduating with a degree or certificate, according to a new report. At West Hills College Lemoore, 41.4 percent of students completed a program or transferred to a university in the 2013-14 school year, about six percent lower than in 2011-12.  Hanford Sentinel article

Student numbers up, teacher numbers down – In Visalia and Tulare school districts, student enrollment is on the rise. Visalia Unified has since 2011 seen an increase of 706 students, for a total 27,974 this year, as Tulare’s high school district has grown by 85 students, and Tulare City School District has ballooned by 198. Visalia Times-Delta article

Art appreciation helps young children learn to think and express ideas — Teachers in a number of districts in California are using classic works of art to inspire some of the youngest students to observe closely, think critically and discuss respectfully – all key elements of the Common Core approach to learning.  EdSource article


PG&E won’t appeal $1.6 billion penalty for deadly blast – California’s largest power utility says it won’t appeal a record $1.6 billion penalty from the state for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in a San Francisco suburb.  AP article; LA Times article

State regulator says PG&E may be too big to operate safely — On a day when the California Public Utilities Commission levied a record $1.6 billion penalty against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, the regulatory agency’s president said the utility continues to have gas-system problems, is able to shrug off even the harshest sanctions the state can muster and may be too big to operate safely.  San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article

Stanislaus River pact would end local defiance – The Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts are optimistic that state water officials on Friday will approve a compromise that should satisfy local farmers and fish advocates and keep Tulloch Lake high enough for recreation until fall.  Modesto Bee article

Local oil producer wins long-running legal case against neighboring company – A Bakersfield oil producer has prevailed against a much larger company in a three-year legal battle centering on alleged misuse of materials used to plug underground fissures.  Bakersfield Californian article

Ocean acidification triggering devastating extinction, study finds — Ocean acidification triggered by massive volcanic eruptions helped cause the worst mass extinction in the history of life on Earth, according to a new study.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Fresno Bee: 40 years of life-saving for UCSF Fresno — We know that UCSF Fresno’s contributions to Valley health care sometimes go unnoticed. Let’s give it what it has earned: our thanks and a standing ovation.  Fresno Bee editorial

Doctors at UC student health clinics start strike — Unionized doctors began a rolling strike Thursday at student health clinics on UC campuses, accusing the university of unfair labor practices during negotiations for the physicians’ first contract.  LA Times article

Michael Alexander and Rosemary Caso: Don’t cut coverage for 1 million children – Alexander, president and CEO of United Way of Fresno County, and Caso, president and CEO of United Way of Tulare County, write, “With the May deadline for finalizing California’s budget looming, our state leaders need an answer from the U.S. Senate on whether it will deliver on more than a half a billion dollars in annual federal funding promised to California families for their kids’ health insurance coverage.”  Alexander/Caso op-ed in Fresno Bee

New 16-bed facility at VA Mather Center opens for veterans in crisis – The VA Northern California Health Care System unveiled a new facility Thursday for veterans with mental health needs as a tide of criticism continues to rise nationwide over unacceptably long wait times for U.S. veterans seeking care for behavioral health conditions.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento VA hospital struggles with waits for certain care — The Sacramento hospital had the highest percentage of appointments delayed by at least a month among VA centers in California and ranked sixth-worst nationally out of 150 full-service VA hospitals.  AP article

State toll spikes from West Nile — California saw a record number of deaths from West Nile virus last year, and health officials say the state’s drought might have contributed to the spike. Among the deaths was one in San Joaquin County, a woman in her 60s, who died Oct. 17. She had lived in rural north San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno City Council says no to grant for farmland planning — A divided Fresno City Council said no Thursday morning to a state grant for farmland preservation. The issue was whether to give the city planning department a green light to apply for a state Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program grant of $100,000.  Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Tenants, advocates rally against unsafe conditions in Fresno rentals – A coalition of tenants and housing advocates gathered outside Fresno City Hall on Thursday — three weeks before a revised ordinance on blighted properties goes before the City Council — to urge city officials to do more to protect the health and safety of renters.  Fresno Bee article

To meet LA veteran housing goals, governments go into action mode – After decades of neglect of L.A.’s homeless veterans, federal, state and local officials are pulling together to try to get them off the street by the end of the year.  LA Times article


Dozens of intruders have breached California airport fences — There have been at least 82 incidents in which people reached the airfields of the international airports serving San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Diego between January 2004 and January 2015, according to an Associated Press investigation. AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Therapists help burned Fresno firefighter Pete Dern stand – Physical therapists helped Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern stand for a few minutes on Wednesday afternoon to help his recovery after falling through the roof of a burning garage.  Fresno Bee article

Stockton Record:  Change mayor’s pay rate? If so, do it next term — We encourage the Salary Commission to study the issues earnestly and come up with what it views as the proper salary for the mayor of Stockton. Whatever that salary change (if there is one) amounts to, it should be implemented when the next mayoral term starts in January 2017.  Stockton Record editorial

Fresno City Council changes mind on medical marijuana growing – The Fresno City Council is reversing course on an ordinance that would have allowed limited indoor cultivation of medical marijuana. The deal appeared to satisfy no one. KVPR report

Stockton Record: Thunder helped change Stockton’s sports scene – As Stockton transitions in hockey, moving from the ECHL to a higher level of competition, we should be grateful for what the Thunder did for Stockton. Stockton Record editorial

Lemoore board says ‘no’ to audio recordings – Should city advisory committees be forced to have their meetings recorded and made available to the public? The Lemoore City Council held a discussion Tuesday after several downtown businesses asked that the Downtown Merchants Advisory Committee be exempt from meeting in the City Council Chambers where their meetings can be recorded.  Hanford Sentinel article

Cal Fire director ‘repulsed and embarrassed’ by academy scandal – Cal Fire’s Ione Academy scandal came up during Thursday’s Senate budget subcommittee hearing when Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen asked department Director Ken Pimlott, “Have you been able to in any way to investigate other of the sites, other institutions, other locations, other camps, just to see if there have been any problems there? Have you heard of any reported, or is this all we’re dealing with now?”  Sacramento Bee article

Fig Garden residents will vote whether to keep Fresno city fire station – Ten years ago, Fig Garden residents voted to put Fresno city firefighters at the Fig Garden Fire Protection District station in the middle of one of Fresno’s oldest neighborhoods, but that could soon change.  Fresno Bee article

Joe Mathews: California needs more old people — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is traveling to California this weekend with designs on stealing away some of our state’s businesses. So why don’t we return the favor by developing our own plans to steal away some of Florida’s greatest assets—old people?  Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Orange County judge who gave child molester reduced sentence is asked to resign — On Thursday, three Orange County supervisors called on him to resign, thousands signed petitions condemning his actions and conservative talk show hosts revised their programming to discuss the case and news blog.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We know that UCSF Fresno’s contributions to Valley health care sometimes go unnoticed. Let’s give it what it has earned: our thanks and a standing ovation.

Merced Sun-Star – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon is offering far-reaching legislation to combat global warming. It’s an important bill. But legislators need to ask some basic questions before they approve it.

Modesto Bee – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon is offering far-reaching legislation to combat global warming. It’s an important bill. But legislators need to ask some basic questions before they approve it.

Sacramento Bee – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon is offering far-reaching legislation to combat global warming. It’s an important bill. But legislators need to ask some basic questions before they approve it; Immigration isn’t just a California problem, and it speaks volumes that, on this as on so many other issues, California is going it alone.

Stockton Record – As Stockton transitions in hockey, moving from the ECHL to a higher level of competition, we should be grateful for what the Thunder did for Stockton; Change mayor’s pay rate? If so, do it next term.