April 13, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

State lawmakers take aim at UC brass’ lofty salaries – State lawmakers from both parties are sending the University of California an angry message by advancing a bill to cap compensation for UC employees at $500,000 under penalty of losing public funding.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Race relations in California better than elsewhere in U.S., voters say – A half-century after the Watts riots laid bare deep racial divisions in Los Angeles, nearly two-thirds of California voters say race relations in the state are better than elsewhere in America even as they acknowledge persistent tensions, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.  LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Pension initiative may empower local reforms — The leaders of two local pension reforms, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, are working with a coalition on a statewide initiative to help local governments make cost-cutting pension reforms.  Calpensions article

Other areas

Lawmakers address California’s deeply fragmented mental health system – Lawmakers are trying to address the inconsistency of policies and approaches, but activist groups often disagree about the appropriate balance between protecting patients’ civil liberties and forcing treatment on people who may be in danger or pose a danger to others because of severe mental illness.  LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: There’s no time like April to talk about tax reform – Tax reform is always a sensitive and politically explosive issue. But with Democrats in control of both houses of the Legislature and a governor who will not be running for re-election, there’s no better time than now for policymakers to show the courage to tackle one of the state’s most vexing problems. Sacramento Bee editorial

Hillary Clinton launches second bid for White House – Hillary Clinton officially launched her long-expected campaign for the White House Sunday, attempting for a second time to become the first female president in the nation’s history.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Fresno Armenian leaders praise Pope’s acknowledgement of Armenian genocide — Pope Francis’ remarks urging the world to recognize the slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a century ago as “the first genocide of the 20th Century” drew unanimous praise Sunday from several prominent leaders of Fresno’s Armenian community.  Fresno Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

As wells dry up, Monson hopes for more than talk about a fix — Monson has been trying for years without success to get help with its drinking water problems, which have involved contamination in the past. In this fourth year of drought, the lack of indoor plumbing is spreading again through the rural San Joaquin Valley, just as it did last year. At Quintanilla’s property, there is a sight now common in many small towns — stacks of bottled water cases outside the door.  Fresno Bee article

George Skelton: In California, rights to water exceed supply – It’s arguable whether California has enough water to meet its actual needs. But it clearly does not have enough to match people’s expectations. And one reason is simple. Government historically has over-promised — not exactly a new concept.  Skelton column in LA Times

Jobs and the Economy

Working, but needing public assistance anyway – Nearly three-quarters of the people helped by programs geared to the poor are members of a family headed by a worker, according to a new study by the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California. As a result, taxpayers are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald’s and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses. New York Times article

Rick Scott: ‘Can I convince you to move to Florida?’ — Florida Gov. Rick Scott touched down in Southern California on Sunday for a business recruitment trip, then jumped on the phone to sell the virtues of the Sunshine State.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Barry Broome: Florida governor has a losing message for California companies – The president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council writes, “California is the seventh-largest economy in the world. We are 40 percent of all U.S. innovation, and we offer beaches, too. Our state needs to begin addressing business climate issues sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, we still offer the best value proposition in the world.”  Broome op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Turlock council takes up food trucks – The City Council will try once again Tuesday night to deal with the issue of mobile food vendors downtown. That issue is among changes in zoning rules that could come up for a vote at the meeting, which also could bring tighter rules for outdoor watering this year.  Modesto Bee article

Potential pot entrepreneurs pay for cannabis career tips at Sacramento seminar — The Cannabis Career Institute, founded by a Los Angeles marijuana activist and pot deliveryman known as “The Cannabis Warrior,” held a daylong Sacramento program on how to open cannabis businesses, from niche bakeries and organic gardens to marijuana distribution services. Sacramento Bee article

Amazon, Google and more are drawn to home services market — Some of the biggest names in e-commerce, along with a growing pool of start-ups, are vying for a chunk of the fragmented, quotidian, heretofore entirely local market of electricians, plumbers, dog walkers and other manual labor, known broadly as home services.  New York Times article


Merced Irrigation District’s Sweigard talks drought with state, federal officials – John Sweigard, the Merced Irrigation District general manager, provided local perspective on the state’s historic drought while serving as a panelist during a formal discussion with top water officials from around the nation.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Diego County farmers warn water reduction rules will be ‘devastating’ – A water district serving farmers in northern San Diego County has asked state water officials who are devising cutback regulations for the same exemption given to farmers in the Central Valley.  LA Times article

Bakersfield Observed: Drought – The long drought and the fight over water has revealed a glaring weakness facing California farmers: As a group they have done a terrible job of explaining the importance of what they do.  Bakersfield Observed in Bakersfield Californian

LA County still has a long way to go in water conservation, study finds — Los Angeles residents and city leaders express pride in the significant cuts in water use they have made. Per capita water demand dropped countywide about 16% between 2000 and 2013. But a new UCLA study found that L.A. County still has a long way to go.  LA Times article

U.S. Forest Service investigates expired permit Nestle uses to draw water out of California for bottled water – The U.S. Forest Service is investigating an expired permit that Nestle has been using to draw water out of a national forest in Southern California for its bottled water business.  AP article

Some earlier droughts that challenged California — The worsening drought in California is one in a series of water crises that have challenged the state in the last century. Here is a breakdown of those earlier droughts from The Times’ archives.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno police detective, felled by cancer, remembered for service, commitment to others – Detective Edgar Valle-Sandoval spent much of his nearly nine-year career with the Fresno Police Department helping other officers who had suffered serious injury, illness or emotional distress. More recently, though, Valle-Sandoval was the recipient of that help as he battled his own illness — pancreatic cancer. He lost that battle Sunday, at age 41. Fresno Bee article

LA murder saga costs city $8 million — The tests mark the latest twist in a legal saga that led last month to the city of Los Angeles agreeing to pay Obie Anthony, 40, more than $8 million. His lawsuit and other court documents portray an investigation and prosecution rife with problems — including the withholding of potentially exculpatory evidence, perjured testimony and the ignoring of leads that pointed to a different suspect.  LA Times article


Parents more worried than kids as California rolls out Common Core — Folsom Hills Elementary School students don’t seem nervous about taking new computerized math and English tests in the coming weeks. Their parents are a different story.  Sacramento Bee article

A Great Awakening for history and social studies — For history and social studies teachers in California, the Common Core State Standards are welcome allies in their struggle to liberate their subject from a decade of inattention and irrelevance.  EdSource article

Cortopassi Awards: Innovation, passion, commitment garner teacher awards — The Cortopassi Family Foundation has announced this year’s five Excellence in Teaching award winners, honored for their exemplary work teaching math and science throughout San Joaquin County.  Stockton Record article


Scathing audit slams PUC’s gas safety efforts since PG&E blast – The California Public Utilities Commission’s gas safety enforcement efforts have deteriorated since the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, undermined by an atmosphere of mistrust in the agency, outmoded technology and a lack of vision among top officials, according to a scathing new audit.  San Francisco Chronicle article

15 years after Erin ‘Brockovich,’ town still fearful of polluted water — Fifteen years after the film showed triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for contaminating its water — and nearly 20 years after the settlement itself — Hinkley is emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find resolution.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Many small firms face health insurance rate changes under Obamacare – What kind of rate increases small businesses will face is hard to estimate. Rates vary from region to region, and the Affordable Care Act mandates more healthcare services that some older insurance policies did not.  LA Times article

UC clinics in Southern California will remain open amid doctors strike — The student health centers at five University of California campuses in Southern California, where unionized doctors are on strike over contract negotiations, will be open on Monday, according to university officials.  LA Times article

Tulare planners to consider health care facility permit — The Tulare Planning Commission will consider approving a permit to build a primary care facility in West Tulare during a regularly-scheduled meeting set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Council Chamber, 491 North M St. Driven Construction is seeking the permit, on behalf of Community Health Clinic, to build a 7,379 square-foot facility at the northwest corner of Tulare Avenue and West Street.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Gift of life: For teen, giving 3-year-old half sister a kidney was ‘right thing to do’ — Seven months ago, on Sept. 2, Marissa donated one of her kidneys to save her sister’s life. The little girl had spent more than half of her life in hospitals beginning when she was about 15 months old. Originally diagnosed with nephritic syndrome, Alexis was discovered to have Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease in which the kidneys fail to properly filter blood.  Stockton Record article

Land Use/Housing

Soaring rents spark growing calls for rent control — Four decades after tenants won rent control in some of the Bay Area’s biggest and most left-leaning cities, the movement is creeping back to life in the suburbs, spurred on by a runaway rental market that has priced out blue collar workers, young families and seniors.  Oakland Tribune article


Passenger complaints soar for Frontier Airlines —  As Denver-based Frontier Airlines continues the transition to becoming the nation’s newest ultra-low-cost carrier, the rate of passenger complaints has soared.  LA Times article

Report gives U.S. airlines lower marks across board — Think flying is getting worse? A pair of university researchers who track the airline business say it’s a fact. More flights are late, more bags are getting lost, and customers are lodging more complaints about U.S. airlines, government data shows.  AP article

Other areas

Cellphone traffic tickets are way down in California, but why? — Tickets for illegally talking on a hand-held cellphone and texting while driving have fallen a startling 25 percent over the past three years, puzzling safety officials, police and motorists — all of whom believe these forms of distracted driving remain rampant.  San Jose Mercury News article

Love Merced dropping September event — Organizing projects for the estimated 1,200 to 1,500 volunteers at Love Merced has become tough, but that’s a good problem to have, according to event organizers.  Merced Sun-Star article

Homeless for years, Sacramento senior finds ‘dignified’ life in new apartment – Janice Moore was homeless on Sacramento city streets for six years. Thanks to the city’s help, she now lives in her own apartment. The 69-year-old calls her new home “dignified.”  Sacramento Bee article

Goodbye Thunder — The Stockton Thunder era came to an emotional end on Saturday night amid some tears, plenty of memories and one big surprise for the capacity crowd and their favorite player.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Questions for Kevin de Leon’s climate change measure.

Sacramento Bee – Tax reform is always a sensitive and politically explosive issue. But with Democrats in control of both houses of the Legislature and a governor who will not be running for re-election, there’s no better time than now for policymakers to show the courage to tackle one of the state’s most vexing problems.