April 10, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Some cry foul as state lawmakers collect public pension checks and legislator’s salaries — Republican state Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa has emerged as a leading voice in the Legislature against skyrocketing debt piled up by public pension systems. But some in the pension reform movement say the former Orange County treasurer may be contributing to the problem: Moorlach receives an $83,827 government pension check from the Orange County Employees Retirement System while making $100,113 a year as a senator. LA Times article

What’s the impact of local gun laws? – California voters could be asked this fall to approve new statewide gun restrictions if an initiative championed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom qualifies for the ballot. Some California cities aren’t waiting to enact a key provision of the law — a ban on possessing magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. But it’s hard to measure what, if any, difference these so-called high-capacity magazine bans make in curbing day-to-day gun violence common on the streets of major California cities. KQED report

Minimum Wage

Anita Chabria: Minimum wage battle stirs passion for victors – The Sacramento resident and freelance contributor writes, “It was the passion of the people bumping up against the pragmatism of politics, bushy eyebrows and all. After Gov. Jerry Brown announced legislation to raise California’s minimum wage to $15, Burger King worker Holly Dias, ‘wrapped up in the moment,’ she says, gave him an awkward hug as a ‘way of thanking him for everything.’” Chabria in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Cathleen Decker: California’s politics, unlike New York’s, are mainly a TV affair – The reality is that California political events are not exactly up to snuff compared with those in other states. The upcoming Republican and Democratic primaries — the first to really matter in California in, oh, 44 years — will give the state a chance to show off. Let’s not hold our breath. Decker in LA Times

BART director got concealed gun permit, cites risks from activists — A member of BART’s board of directors has a license to carry a concealed handgun in public after telling authorities his role as an elected official requires him to decide “controversial issues” and that he particularly fears violence by Black Lives Matter activists, public records show. San Francisco Chronicle article

Daniel Zingale: Young adults focused on issues but are not voting – The senior vice president The California Endowment writes, “While young adults are more active than previous generations, this surge of activist energy hasn’t translated into the place where it can make a difference: the voting booth.” Zingale op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Dan Morain: Panama Papers, Campbell Soup and the American way — For John Thomas Dorrance IV, Julie Faris would be another face in the crowd, though in some small way, Faris helped create Dorrance’s gilded life. John Thomas Dorrance IV is the great-great-grandson of the man who built Campbell Soup Co., an all-American brand. As is the American way, Campbell Soup seized an opportunity to shave costs by shutting its cannery in south Sacramento after 66 years of operation, and issuing Farris and 700 workers their final checks in 2013.  Morain column in Sacramento Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Courts said to struggle under weight of Prop 47 filings — It was seen as a chance for a clean slate and a remedy for California’s overcrowded prisons and jails. Proposition 47 allowed current and ex-felons with nonviolent theft and drug possession offenses to petition to have their crimes reclassified as misdemeanors. Petitioners jumped at the opportunity, applying for resentencing and reclassification in a wave that flooded courthouses across California by the tens of thousands – more than 200,000 petitions and applications were filed in the 13 months after voters approved Proposition 47 in November 2014, including more than 10,000 in Sacramento Superior Court, according to the state’s Judicial Council. Sacramento Bee article 

Clovis water savers soon won’t benefit from lower rates — In a move that even Clovis city officials agree is unlikely to bolster water conservation efforts, the city is changing its water rate structure so that residents using less will pay more. Fresno Bee article

Attention geeky government watchdog: This website’s for you – Kern County’s new financial disclosure website is a time-sink for the curious, full of brightly colored graphics that can be tweeked a thousand ways. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno city, downtown merchants focus on Fulton Street crime, security – A trio of break-ins at a downtown Fresno bicycle shop within a span of less than two weeks is focusing the attention of merchants and the city on perceptions of security in an area where millions of dollars are being spent on revitalization. Fresno Bee article

‘Deferred maintenance’: City looks at Stockton’s most-pressing projects – Though Stockton officials acknowledge a five-year estimate of $970 million for “deferred maintenance,” the nearly $1 billion figure is hardly limited to repairs of existing facilities around the city.  The figure, Deputy City Manager Scott Carney said last week, also includes numerous items Stockton will require in the years ahead as the city grows in population and as it seeks to expand and restore services to residents in its post-bankruptcy era. Stockton Record article

San Francisco mayor plans crackdown on homeless campus citywide – In the wake of the fatal police shooting of a homeless man on Shotwell Street in the Mission District, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is declaring all homeless tent encampments to be safety hazards and has ordered his department heads to draw up plans for a systematic citywide takedown policy. San Francisco Chronicle article

Unionized hotel workers balk at LA exemption that cuts their wages — San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Santa Monica have all adopted union waivers in their most recent minimum wage laws. L.A. city officials are expected to indicate whether they will include such an exemption in their own $15 minimum wage at a hearing next week. LA Times article

Big investments in Potter World and other attractions will pay off for Southland economy — Southern California theme parks have broken records on spending and attendance in the last year, but most of the jobs created and supported by theme parks and other tourist attractions are minimum-wage, entry-level positions, such as ride operators, waiters, bartenders and cooks, economists say. LA Times article

Blair Leatherwood: Sacramento needs an independent, full-time film commissioner – The local actor writes, “We need an independent, full-time film commissioner able to freely represent and promote this city. We need an inventory of facilities and locations that can be readily accessed and permitted for use. We need more and better training of the talent in town so any production company – union or not – can know that anything they need is already here. The fixes won’t be easy, and they won’t happen overnight.” Leatherwood op-ed in Sacramento Bee


 Will La Nina follow one of the strongest ever El Ninos? — It’s possible that by next fall, the tropical Pacific Ocean could seesaw into a state that is roughly El Niño’s opposite, forecasters say. Called La Niña, this climate state comes with its own set of global impacts, including higher chances of a dry winter in drought-plagued California and warm, wet weather in Southeast Asia. KQED report

Eric Wesselman, Jim Anderson and Dru Rivers: Better water plan would yield billions of gallons a year – Wesselman, executive director of Friends of the River; Anderson, founder of Foundation Capital; and Rivers, co-owner of Full Belly Farm, write, “We have advanced dozens of positive solutions available at friendsoftheriver.org. Three would yield 539 billion gallons per year – four times what we’d get from new dams.” Wesselman/Anderson/Rivers op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California schools, communities not immune to lead in water — An Associated Press analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data shows that nearly 1,400 water systems nationwide including dozens in California reported lead levels exceeding the government’s allowable level of 15 parts per billion at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015. AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Michael Fitzgerald: Here’s how not to hire cops — The real problem is retention; cops are retiring or quitting at such a high rate the city can barely make net gains. Because the cash-strapped city can’t match what other cities pay. Voters can order the city to hire cops all they want, but without addressing the fundamental labor market problem here the effort will be futile. You can’t force cops to work here. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Striving for the badge: 1,300 police hopefuls brave rain for shot at joining Stockton force — Conducted roughly every six months, the test typically attracts about 700 applicants, and one in every 100 are hired, department spokesman Officer Joe Silva said. This year, however, more than 1,300 applicants took part in the agility test. Department officials said some applicants came from as far away as Chicago, Philadelphia and Idaho. Stockton Record article


Sanger teen invited to meet Obama at White House Science Fair — When Sanger High sophomore Talie Cloud started working on her science fair project two years ago, she didn’t suspect that it would take her to the White House Science Fair and a meeting with the president. Fresno Bee article

A place to call their own: Pacific veterans benefit from generous grant – There’s a long sofa and a big-screen television. In the other room, there’s a full-size refrigerator, not a small dorm special, and a microwave oven. More important than the amenities, however, is having a place to call their own. Thanks to a grant of $8,500 from the Home Depot Foundation, University of the Pacific veterans now have a gathering place on campus, which they call the Veterans Resource Center. Stockton Record article

For Valley coach, educator Bill Griffin, ‘It was always about the kids’ — Bill Griffin helped build the San Joaquin Valley’s thriving high school sports scene and touched many with his down-to-earth approach to education leadership. But some may say that his biggest legacy is a coveted white cowboy hat. Fresno Bee article


Lois Henry: Efficient air pollution district flummoxes Sacramento auditors – Only in Sacramento. A special state audit came out recently that found the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District — well known for charging the lowest fees in the state and making extensive use of federal and state grants — charges the lowest fees in the state and makes extensive use of federal and state grants. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

California energy-saving standards for computers expected by 2018 — All computers sold in California could be required to adopt stricter state energy standards by 2018, cutting computer energy consumption by as much as half, according to new regulations being proposed by the California Energy Commission. Sacramento Bee article

Debate swirls over striped bass role in rivers’ salmon population – Irrigation districts in Stanislaus and nearby counties are renewing their claim that reducing bass numbers would do much more for salmon than the state’s proposal to boost reservoir releases. They warn of major losses in jobs and income if less water goes to farms and cities. They suggest raising the catch limits for bass, or even no limit at all. Modesto Bee article

Toxic mine may be next Superfund site – An old gold mine with a sad past may become the first highest-priority federal Superfund cleanup site in the central Mother Lode. Stockton Record article

Steve Lopez: Next Coastal Commission showdown: Sonoma County beach access — The distance was only about 30 miles, and the trip took less than an hour. But every time Efren Carrillo’s family packed a picnic lunch and drove from the landlocked town of Roseland to the Sonoma Coast, the experience was thrilling. Lopez column in LA Times

El Dorado forest sees rebirth after devastating King Fire — The day after an arsonist pleaded guilty to setting the massive King Fire in September 2014, dozens of volunteers gathered Saturday near Stumpy Meadows Lake to help bring the forest back to life. Sacramento Bee article

Sekita Grant: California communities reap benefits from clean air policies – The environmental equity legal counsel at The Greenlining Institute writes, “By supporting affordable housing near public transportation, clean vehicles, reliable transit, solar panels and more, California climate investments are already helping us address long-standing community issues while helping families cut their energy bills.” Grant op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Scientists alarmed by death of coral — Researchers believe that bleaching, which they attribute to heat stress compounded by climate change, is threatening more than a third of the planet’s reefs. New York Times article

Health/Human Services 

New HUD guidance on criminal records puts landlords in a bind — Landlords who have a blanket ban on renting to people with criminal records could be charged with violating the federal Fair Housing Act, under guidance issued last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, a landlord who fails to screen prospective tenants for criminal records and rents to one who robs or hurts a neighbor could be sued by the victim. San Francisco Chronicle article

Stanislaus’ Miracle League baseball opens for kids with disabilities — Even steady showers couldn’t dampen the sunny smiles surrounding opening day of the new Miracle League of Stanislaus County. The baseball league for children with physical and mental disabilities held the unveiling of its new specialized field Saturday morning amid persistent rainfall. The downpour meant the teams couldn’t play, but they could still show off their jerseys and celebrate the accomplishment eight years in the making together. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Kings County to hold workshops about Quay Valley project — The proposed Quay Valley new town in rural Kings County appears to be moving forward, because the county is holding informational meetings for the public to ask questions. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Haggard laid to rest in private service – Kings aren’t typically laid to rest this humbly. Neither gilded carriages nor bolt-upright sentries were anywhere in sight at Merle Haggard’s funeral Saturday at his ranch in Shasta County. Bakersfield Californian article

Robert Price: Bakersfield was on his mind at the end – Merle Haggard’s attorney sent me a Facebook message Tuesday night. We’d spoken before, a year ago, about my request for permission to publish some of Merle’s photos in a book. He briefly reintroduced himself. Then he wrote, “Do you have time for a call tomorrow?” Price column in Bakersfield Californian

Latino civil rights leader Ben Benavidez recalled as strong advocate — For many in the central San Joaquin Valley, the name Ben Benavídez is synonymous with César Chávez. For decades, Mr. Benavídez, who died April 4 at his Fresno home at age 69, was a force in the local civil rights movement. He also was a controversial figure, criticized by some for his aggressive tactics, including intimidation and refusal to back down. Fresno Bee article

Q&A with Tracy Martin: ‘I’d go to the cemetery and struggle with him not being there’ — Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, still feels the pain of that time. He’s delivering the 30th Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture Tuesday night at Cal State Bakersfield. He spoke with The Californian this week about his foundation and how he’s coping after his son’s death. Some responses have been edited for length and clarity. Bakersfield Californian article

 Veteran gets flag flying again at Modesto’s King-Kennedy center — The U.S. flag was flying at the King-Kennedy Memorial Center in west Modesto on Friday for the first time in several years thanks to the volunteer efforts of Collins Electrical Co. and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 684. Modesto Bee article