April 14, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 John Myers: Clear poll, murky politics on California’s teacher tenure laws — It’s a risky proposition for politicians to sit on the sidelines when public frustration or anger mounts over something, especially in a state like California where voters wield immense power through the ballot box. And yet, a new public poll suggests all the ingredients are there for a political explosion on the value, even the existence, of tenure protection for the state’s public school teachers.  Myers in KQED; ‘Unions critical of poll on teacher tenure and seniority-based layoffs’ in LA Times

 Renteria part of Clinton leadership team – A Valley politician has found a spot in Hillary Clinton’s leadership team.  Amanda Renteria lost to Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) in last year’s 21st Congressional District race but she has been named Clinton’s national political director.  ABC30 (Fresno) report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Joe Mathews: Were Harris’ motives really political? — “You can’t be too rich or too thin,” Wallis Simpson is reported to have said. Or too cynical. Especially about politicians. But you can see too quick to see politicians’ actions as primarily political when they’re not. That’s what has happened in the reaction to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ decision to ask a court to block the Sodomite Suppression Act. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Other areas


California Senate seeks to clarify right to video police conduct – Alarmed that some bystanders have been detained by law enforcement for videotaping police officers during use-of-force incidents, the state Senate on Monday approved legislation that would clarify the right of people to photograph officers as long as they are not interfering with official duties.  LA Times article

 Video: Activists urge California legislation on police stops, deaths — Incensed with what they called police interactions often motivated by race and marred by violence, activists rallied outside the California Capitol on Monday for legislation to better record and share when police officers pull people over or are involved in deaths.  Capitol Alert

 Vaccine exemption:  California SB 277 opponents vow to pull kids from school if bill passes – As he seeks to push his controversial vaccine bill through another committee vote Wednesday, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is expected to confront a legion of even more determined opponents than he witnessed last week when Senate Bill 277 cleared its first hurdle. Contra Costa Times article

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologizes for vaccine ‘holocaust’ remark — Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has apologized for describing as a “holocaust” a rise in autism cases he believes is linked to vaccinations, walking back a remark that framed an incendiary debate over a California bill requiring shots for most school children.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

 Online gaming: Horse racing’s role heats up — Legalizing internet poker in California could be stopped in its tracks this session because of an intense dispute involving the thoroughbred horse racing industry.  Capitol Weekly article

 Ban chewing tobacco at baseball games? Voters like the idea – A new poll by market researcher Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates shows about two-thirds of city voters support the proposal. The telephone survey of 503 city voters was conducted in late March and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 State Senate calls for swapping Father Serra statue with one of Sally Ride —  A divided California state Senate voted Monday to request that the statue of Father Junipero Serra in the U.S. Capitol be replaced with one of NASA astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.  LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

 Decision in San Juan Capistrano case may set water rate precedent – An appellate court ruling due by next week could put a glitch in plans to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of slashing urban water use by 25% statewide.  LA Times article

 Coalition proposes voter-approved funding for Kern libraries A coalition of groups is preparing, Lomeli-O’Reilly said, to launch a signature-gathering effort to fund a 1/8th cent sales tax to support libraries. It would take 40,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, she said.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Jobs and the Economy

 Have home sales upended economic theory? – Basic economic theory says a commodity’s price should increase if demand for it grows and supply shrinks. So why didn’t Bakersfield home prices rise last month? Maybe local real estate isn’t that simple.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Modesto council gets sneak peak at budget – The City Council will get a sneak peek Tuesday at Modesto’s upcoming budget. And during a workshop after the council meeting, members will hear about city officials’ latest effort to tackle graffiti.  Modesto Bee article

 Downtown upgrade on Riverbank horizon – A revamped vision for breathing new life into downtown will go before city leaders Tuesday, including the idea of an overpass to future shops and apartments at the former cannery site.  Modesto Bee article

 UC Berkeley students jump on board campaign for $15 minimum wage – Students across the Bay Area are jumping on the nationwide movement for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, with a rally and march billed as “The Fight for 15 goes to College” planned for UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Wednesday.  KQED report

 Florida governor drops in to lure away California businesses – Florida Gov. Rick Scott is in California this week trying to grab business from West Coast ports, high-tech companies and tourism. It’s a political throw-down that has Gov. Jerry Brown’s office suggesting that Scott is poaching.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 New brew pub coming to downtown Visalia – Visalia may not have much water this summer but at least it looks like we will have beer. Brothers Matt and Mike McWilliams plan to open the town’s second brewery/restaurant combination in Downtown Visalia this fall. Swaggers Brewery will celebrate the craft beer explosion sweeping the country in a portion of the former Surplus City building on Main Street.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Kimpton chain will operate Sacramento Kings’ downtown hotel — The Sacramento Kings said Monday that the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants chain will run the 250-room hotel the team is building adjacent to the new arena at Downtown Plaza.  Sacramento Bee article

 Jail reforms, health funding among LA County budget plan priorities — Los Angeles County officials plan to spend more than $100 million over the next year to reduce abuses in the county’s crowded jails, improve treatment of mentally ill inmates and divert others with mental health issues from entering lockups.  LA Times article

 Officials: Growers bogarting taxes owed to California — The California Board of Equalization says the medical marijuana industry isn’t paying the taxes it owes.

The Board of Equalization staff and board members -including George Runner recently met with marijuana dispensaries, nurseries, and growers in Humboldt County. Capital Public Radio report

 New Quad Knopf digs ‘symbolic’ of Visalia firm’s comeback – This year, in recognition of “recent growth and long time community support,” the Cen Cal Business Finance Group named Quad Knopf Small Business of the Year. Today the company is once again thriving, operating since March 2014 from a new headquarters, a restored former warehouse building in Visalia’s eastern downtown district. The Business Journal article

 Sacramento Bee: How to get beyond Equal Pay Day – Fair pay shouldn’t be a civil rights issue for half the population; every day should be equal pay day. Women deserve more than small change.  Sacramento Bee editorial


Valdez Anderson: McDonald’s tries to get off cheap – The minister at St. Stephen’s AME Zion Church in Sacramento writes, “McDonald’s wants to have it both ways – claiming corporate credit for a $1 above the minimum wage increase, while distancing the company from responsibility for the poverty conditions for 750,000 employees who work at 12,500 McDonald’s U.S. franchises.” Anderson op-ed in Sacramento Bee




Ellen Hanak: Five things to know about water – The senior fellow and Center Director at Public Policy Institute of California writes, “We marked the launch of the PPIC Water Policy Center by convening a panel of leading experts to discuss key issues in state water policy. Before the panel discussion, I gave a brief opening talk called ‘Five Things You Need to Know About Water.’ Here is a summary of the five points.  Hanak in Fox & Hounds

 Tulare County wells failing at rapid clip – A significant number of wells that are going bad is qualifying Tulare County residents at a rate of two bottles of water a day to help, according to county health officials. For the week ending March 25, there have been 976 Tulare County wells go dry since January 2014 — 14 additional wells from the prior week. That’s scary news for users relying on well water, which is roughly four in 10 Tulare County residents.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Taps run dry in Fairmead, ‘Watch, I get nothing’ – Reporters flocked to the Valley town of East Porterville last year where over 600 private wells went dry. This year many other towns are facing a similar plight, including the community of Fairmead. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero visits the community and finds an aging population with people whose basic needs are on the brink.  KVPR report

 Almonds really not that thirsty, supporters say – Pundits point out more water was poured onto the state’s roughly 1 million acres of almonds than consumed for indoor urban uses. It takes about a gallon of water to produce a single almond, they complain. So how does it feel to become the whipping boy for drought finger pointers?  Stockton Record article


Water rationing cut of 15 percent in Southern California could bring higher bills – A board committee of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California recommended Monday that the water wholesaler cut deliveries to the 26 cities and water districts it serves by 15% this year. It’s a plan that, if approved by the full board on Tuesday, would mean higher water costs for areas that don’t take significant conservation measures.  LA Times article; AP article

 Mike Dunbar: Getting a little feverish doing drought math – Journalists are notoriously poor at doing math, especially drought math. Consider this quiz.  Dunbar column in Modesto Bee


San Jose preparing tough drought plan – As California braces for a fourth year of record drought, the city of San Jose is getting serious about cutting down on outdoor watering, weighing new restrictions on residents’ ability to irrigate their lawns, plants and trees, and weighing significant constraints on new lawns.  San Jose Mercury News article

 California’s cycles of drought – Scientists say that in the more ancient past, California and the Southwest occasionally had even worse droughts — so-called megadroughts — that lasted decades. At least in parts of California, in two cases in the last 1,200 years, these dry spells lingered for up to two centuries. The new normal, scientists say, may in fact be an old one.  New York Times article

 Higher water rates on tap as utilities cover losses from drought – Planning to save water this year to help with the drought? Don’t expect to save money. Water departments across California, including dozens in the Bay Area, are now looking to raise rates — in many cases by double digits — to shore up revenues as customers use less water during dry times and water sales plummet.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Satellite imagery, photos bring home magnitude of California drought – Here are three satellite images from NASA of the Lake Tahoe region, from February 2011 to February 2014, showing the diminishing amount of snow. KQED report

‘Fab’ Fresno kids come up with fabulous water-saving idea — Drought-plagued Fresno may soon get a lot smarter about its use of water thanks to a handful of local sixth-graders with a passion for learning. Noah Arsitio, Corben Beaty, Jeffrey Forbes, Evan Murai and Daniel Shin are Riverview Elementary School students headed to St. Louis next week to match their engineering skills and knack for research against some of the best young minds in the world.  Fresno Bee article

 Beyond almonds: A rogue’s gallery of guzzlers in California’s drought — California is parched. Wells are running dry. Vegetable fields have been left fallow and lawns are dying. There must be some villain behind all this, right? Of course there is. In fact, have your pick. As a public service, The Salt is bringing you several of the leading candidates. They have been nominated by widely respected national publications and interest groups.  NPR report

 Bruce Maiman: To respond to California’s drought, we need to follow the facts – People on all sides have sharpened their axes to grind on whatever they dislike, distorting data and reality and making it that much harder to find a fair solution. What’s needed is a cleansing moment of clarity.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee

 With his well nearly dry, a farmer draws on his resolve – It was done. Over. No more waiting for rain, hoping for snow. The 32-year-old farmer in the barber’s chair said his well wouldn’t make it to summer.  LA Times article

 Sacramento area’s school fields, landscaping likely to go brown this year – Sacramento-area schoolyards are expected to become more golden than green as drought restrictions take hold and the weather warms.  Sacramento Bee article

 Tom Elias: Both logic and illogic in Brown’s drought plans – There is both sense and nonsense in the $1 billion drought relief package announced by Gov. Jerry Brown in a parched Sierra Nevada Mountains meadow that usually is covered in deep snow on the date Brown walked through it. But the rationale behind the single largest part of the package is fundamentally contradictory.  Elias in Visalia Times-Delta

 Gerawan Farming takes labor case to 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno —  Gerawan Farming, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s leading tree fruit and grape growers, is headed to the 5th District Court of Appeal Tuesday as part of a longstanding labor dispute with the United Farm Workers union.  Fresno Bee article

 Don Curlee: State board updates farm labor policy — The California agency that governs labor relations for farm workers has just set policy that shores up its fundamental purpose, ensuring the right of workers to decide if they want to join a union or not.  Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

 Wine, grape growers urge fee renewal – California winegrape growers are now voting whether to renew for another five years an assessment on their crop used to battle Pierce’s disease, the glassy-winged sharpshooter and other grape pests.  Stockton Record article

 Mexican government raids farm labor campus in crackdown on abuses — The Mexican government has raided at least three squalid, makeshift farm labor camps in recent weeks, rescuing about 250 adults and children and posting videos of the operations — rare enforcement actions that suggest a more aggressive tack by federal labor authorities. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Fresno police auditor: Keith Foster case shows department needs more training – A Fresno Police Department reeling from the spectacular fall of its No. 2 cop needs more training, more diligence and more sunlight, says the city’s police auditor. Rick Rasmussen on Tuesday is unveiling seven recommendations designed to restore public trust in a department listing badly since the March 26 arrest of then-Deputy Chief Keith Foster on federal drug-trafficking charges. Fresno Bee article

 Former NFL player Lawrence Phillips suspected of killing cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison – Former Nebraska star running back Lawrence Phillips is suspected of killing his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison over the weekend. Phillips, who played for the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins after college but had numerous off-field troubles and run-ins with the law, is suspected of killing cellmate Damion Soward, according to a prison news release. Bakersfield Californian article; LA Times article; AP article

 Bakersfield cop on leave after accused of tickling dead man’s feet – A Bakersfield police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave after he allegedly tickled the feet of a man shot dead by police and said, “tickle, tickle.”  LA Times article

 Memorial set Wednesday for fallen Merced police officer – A memorial set for Wednesday in Merced will honor the life of Officer Stephan Gray, who died in the line of duty 11 years ago, the Police Department confirmed.  Merced Sun-Star article

Oakland’s Citizens Police Academy aims to strengthen community relations — There’s now a waiting list of people who want to learn the nuts and bolts of policing. The academy covers topics ranging from dispatch and patrol to policies around use of force. The Oakland Police Department hopes it will help build some badly needed bridges to the community.  KQED report


 Science, math and art valued more than technology in education poll – Providing computers to public school students is important to California voters, but not as crucial as other factors affecting education, including a more intense focus on math, science and the arts, according to a new poll.  LA Times article

 Bakersfield City School District teachers to vote on tentative contract Tuesday – Teachers in the Bakersfield City School District will vote on a 7 percent salary increase Tuesday after months of contract negotiations. The raise would, if teachers and school board members approve it, be implemented as a 3.5 percent increase in 2014-2015 and a 3.5 percent increase in 2015-2016.  Bakersfield Californian article

 New agency to support schools still taking shape – California’s newest but still unformed state education agency took a small step closer to becoming operational when its five board members met for an all-day meeting in Sacramento Monday. But what the agency will actually do and how it will function have yet to be determined.  EdSource article

 Assemblymembers Jim Patterson, Bill Brough, Frank Bigelow and Melissa Melendez: Assembly bill benefits parents saving early and often for college – Patterson (R-Fresno), Brough (R-Dana Point), Bigelow (R-O’Neals) and Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) write, “The College Savings Tax Relief Act is California’s opportunity to help hard-working parents keep more of the money they are already saving for college. It will also help to lighten the debt burden facing graduates. We can and should make it easier for parents who want to invest in their children’s future.” Patterson/Brough/Bigelow/Melendez in Fox & Hounds


 Forum focuses on San Joaquin rivers — No fewer than four rivers deliver life-sustaining water to San Joaquin County — and that doesn’t count innumerable smaller creeks and sloughs. But just once a year is there a community conversation about the condition of those rivers.  Stockton Record article

 Health/Human Services

 End in sight for spread of measles that started at Disneyland — California public health officials are anxiously counting the days until Friday, hoping no new measles cases surface so authorities can declare the widespread Disneyland-based outbreak over.  Sacramento Bee article

 Report: U.S. prescription drug spending jumped 13 percent in 2014 — U.S. spending on prescription drugs soared last year, driven up primarily by costly breakthrough medicines, manufacturer price hikes and a surge from millions of people newly insured due to the Affordable Care Act.  AP article; LA Times article

Other areas

 Steven Mayer: Black eyes for Bako? – Last week was not a great week for Bakersfield’s national reputation. First came the video that went viral. You know, the one showing a little boy running in the aisle of a downtown store. A man, later identified as the boy’s father, is seen chasing and striking the toddler squarely in the face, knocking the boy flat on his back. Then, hot on the heels of that disturbing video, Californian reporter Jason Kotowski on Friday broke a ghoulish tale about a Bakersfield police officer being investigated for “manipulating” the remains of a man who, just hours before, had been shot to death by other BPD officers.  Mayer column in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – There’s no time like April to focus on tax reform.

Sacramento Bee – A dispiriting start to the 2016 race for White House; Fair pay shouldn’t be a civil rights issue for half the population; every day should be equal pay day. Women deserve more than small change.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Manteca steps up in drought battle, pipeline explosion took lives and other issues.

Upcoming Events

 The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Great Valley Center are sponsoring a seminar, “Alleviating Food Deserts in the Valley of Plenty,” at the CSU Stanislaus Faculty Development Center in Turlock on Friday, April 24, from 9-11:45 a.m.  Free, but advanced registration required at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/alleviating-food-deserts-in-the-valley-of-plenty-registration-16436102826.  



Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

 Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge atwww.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

 Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

 LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

 Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

 Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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