April 16, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Supreme Court to hear challenge to Obama’s immigration action — President Barack Obama’s effort to revamp immigration policy through executive action after Congress failed to is getting its own scrutiny Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, U.S. v. Texas, over deferring deportations of undocumented immigrants, is at the center of a national debate on immigration that is roiling the 2016 presidential campaign. McClatchy Newspapers article 

California GOP gets hotel for Cleveland convention in a city far away – Even in a year in which California will likely factor heavily in the Republican presidential primary, to be a Republican from a blue state is to suffer certain indignities. The California Republican Party confirmed on Friday that its hotel assignment for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer is in Sandusky, Ohio – about 60 miles from the convention hall. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Lisa Green and Pat McGrath: Brown’s initiative does crime victims no favors – Green, the Kern County district attorney, and McGrath, president of the California District Attorneys Association, writes, “The governor’s initiative is an ill-conceived plan that undermines victims’ rights, destroys their trust in the system, and diminishes their hope of justice. This week, as we reflect on our community’s support for victims of crimes, we should all reject the governor’s initiative to reduce victims’ rights.” Green/McGrath op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Joel Fox: Long ballot blues — With expected November ballot measures falling away because of political pressure, costs and legislative deal-making, the concern of an extremely long ballot has diminished somewhat but a long ballot still could confront voters. The length of the ballot could play a role in determining outcomes of some of the measures, especially appearing at the end of the ballot. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Border agents uncover third tunnel in El Centro section in a year — The U.S. Border Patrol said it discovered on Friday a 142-foot long tunnel from the U.S. to Mexico, two miles east of the Calexico East port of entry. According to the agency, it is the third tunnel found in its El Centro Sector in the past year. KPBS report

Minimum Wage

Megan Bronson: Don’t panic: Raising minimum wage makes sense – The Fresno State senior and opinion and politics editor for The Collegian writes, “By 2023, California will have a $15 minimum wage. Thank God. It is time for minimum wage to become a livable wage. There are many criticisms floating around about this measure. Some of them have merit. Others are just ignorant. So let me put some of the ignorant ones to bed.” Bronson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Other areas 

LA City Council votes to stop doing business with North Carolina and Mississipii over LGBT laws – In the wake of controversial North Carolina and Mississippi laws that critics say discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to refrain from conducting business with the two states. LA Times article

California nurses ‘Feel the Bern’ – The “Bernie Bus” is coming. A bright red charter bus plastered with an image of the Vermont senator among a sea of nurses is expected to cross the California state line in early May. Sacramento Bee article

With Hillary Clinton in California, Bernie Sanders goes up on TV – With Hillary Clinton landing in California for a pair of high-dollar fundraisers, rival Bernie Sanders on Friday will air his first TV ad in the state. Sacramento Bee article

Trump may thunder, but his Bay Area fans mostly keep it muted – In the politically correct and proudly liberal Bay Area, support for the Republican front-runner might seem unusual. However, polls show Trump the clear GOP favorite here. His proponents, in many cases, are simply choosing to stay quiet to avoid being vilified by friends and neighbors. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Young Democrats find a topic that connects with millenials: Massive debt — Millennials might look at California Rep. Eric Swalwell and think he’s just another member of Congress, albeit one who looks younger than most of his colleagues. But then he talks about his nearly $100,000 in student loan debt. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

‘Wonderful’ idea? Company proposes overhaul of Lost Hills schools – In a first for the region — and possibly the state — The Wonderful Company has proposed sweeping education reforms in the rural farming town of Lost Hills by converting the city’s only school district into a charter. Bakersfield Californian article

Road complaints persist as Merced County cities consider sales tax – Officials acknowledge the county’s 1,700 miles of paved roads have been in poor condition for years. Some of the most remote roads were in such bad shape, they’ve been turned back to gravel or given to property owners to maintain. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates steady in Valley – Unemployment rates remained fairly steady in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region in March and stayed below March 2016 rates, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the March jobless numbers, followed in parentheses by the February 2016 and March 2015 rates:

  • Fresno– 10.6 percent (10.4, 11.7)
  • Kern– 11.6 percent (11.0, 11.7)
  • Kings– 11.4 percent (11.3, 12.3)
  • Madera– 10.5 percent (9.9, 12.3)
  • Merced– 12.5 percent (12.5, 13.5)
  • San Joaquin– 8.8 percent (8.8, 13.1)
  • Stanislaus– 9.6 percent (9.3, 10.7)
  • Tulare– 12.4 percent (12.1, 13.5)

California adds 4,200 jobs, while unemployment drops to 5.4 percent, lowest in 9 years – California added 4,200 jobs in March, the Employment Development Department reported Friday. The uptick pushed unemployment in the state to 5.4%, down from 5.5% a month earlier. March marked the state’s lowest unemployment rate since July 2007. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Fresno unemployment falls to lowest level for March in 9 years – Fresno County’s unemployment rate increased slightly between February and March to 10.6 percent, but fell to its lowest March level in nine years, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development DepartmentFresno Bee article

Kern’s jobless rate rose again in March, to 11.6 percent – State figures released Friday suggest unemployment widened in Kern for a sixth consecutive month in March, reaching a seasonally unadjusted 11.6 percent, the highest in a year and well above September’s 8.4 percent. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced tallies nine straight months of new manufacturing jobs – Continued job gains in manufacturing pushed Merced County’s unemployment rate down 1 percent in March compared with the same time last year, according to job market analysts. Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus County reports slight unemployment increase – The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County rose slightly to 9.6 percent in March – up 0.3 percent compared with the prior month but down 1.1 percent from last year, according to state Employment Development Department data released Friday. Modesto Bee article

Fresno real estate headed for another healthy year — Fresno’s real estate market hit some highs in 2015 with record commercial retail sales, new construction in the industrial sector and a fourth straight year of rising home prices. But the big question is: Will it last, or will it hit another bubble? Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

California minimum wage hike hits LA apparel industry: ‘The exodus has begun’ – Over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China and Vietnam. Now, Los Angeles firms are facing another big hurdle — California’s minimum wage hitting $15 an hour by 2022 — which could spur more garment makers to exit the state. LA Times article

Report: Kings County needs extra firefighters – Currently, there are four Kings County Fire Department stations — Stratford, Island District, Hardwick and Burris Park — that are staffed with only one person during each eight-hour shift, meaning the firefighter can’t start spraying water on a fire until backup arrives. That situation needs to be fixed, according to a critical Kings County grand jury report released earlier this month. Hanford Sentinel article

Enron redux: Shell bilked California in energy crisis, judge finds — Fifteen years after blackouts swept the state, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge has found that a division of Shell Oil engaged in fraud and market manipulation during California’s energy crisis, with company traders joking on tape about burning the evidence if they were ever caught. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco to require Lyft, Uber drivers to obtain business licenses — For the first time, San Francisco is going to require the 37,000 Lyft and Uber drivers who work in the city seven or more days a year to obtain a business license. San Francisco Chronicle article

Lyft gaining on Uber as it spend big on growth – In January, Lyft said it raised $1 billion, which is helping fuel the spending spree and steal market share from Uber Technologies Inc. To keep costs in check, Lyft has promised investors to cap its losses at no more than $50 million a month, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. San Francisco Chronicle article

What economic benefit does LA really get from its half-cent transportation tax? – In his state of the city address Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the economic benefits of big investments in transportation projects. KPCC report

Pacific salmon may be scarce, pricy in stores this summer — Salmon caught off the Pacific Coast may be harder to find in stores this summer and cost more with tight restrictions imposed on fishermen who anticipate pulling fewer of the prized catch into their boats, officials said Friday. AP article

McClatchy, three other major media companies form advertising network – The McClatchy Co. and three other major media companies on Thursday announced the formation of Nucleus Marketing Solutions, which aims to connect national advertisers to audiences across multiple digital platforms. Sacramento Bee article

Quig’s is quitting downtown, but the BBQ truck could rise again — The availability of juice-drippin’, hot-smokin’ Southern-style barbecue just got a little tighter in downtown Bakersfield. That’s because on Friday, Scott Quigley, the owner of Quig’s BBQ food truck at the Garces Circle in downtown Bakersfield, closed his kitchen on wheels in preparation for a move to the East Coast with his wife and their 4-year-old daughter. Bakersfield Californian article 

The final frontier: Cheap space travel — Coming on the heels of a couple of revolutionary rocket landings by SpaceXand Blue Origin, the 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., was abuzz last week with talk of a new golden age of space travel. LA Times article 

Stockton Art Scene: Momentum swinging in favor of downtown walls — Momentum is changing the face of downtown this coming week. The extensive mural project is a collaboration between Ten Space and Placeholder Magazine funded in part by grants from the Stockton Arts Commission. Stockton Record article


Mike Dunbar: More storage, political consensus key to solving water woes – I’ll say it again: The only way to get more water is to store it when we have it. We need more conservation, smarter water management, more desalination; but until we can store more water, arguing over it will just makes our mouths dry. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Fresno County farmers donate record amount of food – Fresno County farmers donated a record 25.5 million pounds of food to the needy last year, up 75 percent from 2014, according to food bank officials. Fresno Bee article 

Scientists confirm: El Nino a disappointment in still-too-dry Southern California — The National Weather Service has confirmed what many Southern Californians suspected during a scorching February: El Niño, and its badly needed rainstorms, are pretty much kaput. LA Times article

Stanislaus Grown updates local food directory — Stanislaus Grown has published its third annual directory to the county’s fruit, nuts, cheese and plenty more. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stanislaus County purchase to enhance response to terrorist incidents and crime scenes – Stanislaus County’s Office of Emergency Services, on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department, is buying a specialized vehicle prepared to respond in the worst disasters – chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive. Modesto Bee article

Questions remain from chaotic events – Relatives of the man who was fatally shot by Stockton police during a carjacking earlier this week still are searching for answers. Stockton Record article

Sexual assault most underreported crime – Sexual assault remains the most underreported crime in the U.S. as stigma, shame and victim-blaming keeps people from coming forward, advocates say. Stockton Record article

Corcoran Police Department seeks to inform citizens — If you’ve ever wondered why the police were in your neighborhood, you’re in luck. But only if you live in Corcoran. Back in mid-to-late 2011, police departments in Hanford, Lemoore and Corcoran adopted the Records Information Management System (RIMS) designed by California-based Sun Ridge Systems Inc. Corcoran police Chief Reuben Shortnacy said his department added an extra feature called Citizen RIMS about two and a half years ago. Hanford Sentinel article


High court’s turn in fight over California teacher tenure – Teachers across California may have breathed a sigh of relief when an appellate court upheld job protection that has long been considered sacrosanct. But the court’s unanimous ruling that found teacher tenure is constitutional and doesn’t deprive students of a fair education may not be settled if the state’s highest court decides to review the case, which has ramifications for more than 6 million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers. AP articl

UC Berkeley provost resigns amid criticism, citing wife’s health – Embattled UC Berkeley Provost Claude Steele, criticized in recent months by students and faculty for his light-handed approach to disciplining employees who violated the university’s sexual harassment policy, announced his resignation Friday. Steele cited his wife’s poor health as the reason he is leaving. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleKQED report

Fresno State offers one-way ticket to law school – A new partnership between Fresno State, Fresno City College and San Joaquin College of Law will give Central Valley students a streamlined pathway to law school. Visalia Times-Delta article

Here’s how a plan for free community college for LA Unified grads could work – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has set a goal of ensuring all graduates of L.A. Unified high schools can attend one year of community college tuition-free starting in 2017, pledging to raise roughly $1.5 million from the city’s business and philanthropic communities to help make it happen. KPCC report 

Sacramento Bee: Katehi’s effort to alter search engine results backfires spectacularly – UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s effort to alter search engine results has backfired spectacularly, as is evident by countless tweets, postings and articles. Sacramento Bee editorial

UC Davis student sit-in comes to quiet end – The five-week student takeover of a lobby outside the office of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi came to a quiet close Friday. The two dozen or so students who made up the rolling occupation on the fifth floor of Mrak Hall cleaned the carpets and cleared their provisions from a staff refrigerator. Sacramento Bee article

Hanford High student gets $40,000 surprise — High school senior Emma Van Fossen was sitting quietly Friday morning in an audience of fellow students at Hanford High when she was asked to come forward and be interviewed about community service for a documentary. Fresno Bee article

Los Banos superintendent to resign, take county position – Superintendent Steve Tietjen started tearing up while thanking the Los Banos Unified School District staff Thursday night during a statement in which he announced his intent to resign. Los Banos Enterprise article

VTD Student News: Should teachers have guns at schools? — Imagine a classroom. Now imagine that same classroom with a teacher who has access to a gun. Do you feel safer? Do you feel at risk? Local students answer that exact question in this week’s episode of VTD Student News, the Visalia-Times Delta video series where local students are the stars. Visalia Times-Delta article


Two-year project will study air pollution in San Ysidro from cars idling at the border — Long lines of idling cars waiting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border are a part of life in San Ysidro. Concerned about the neighborhood’s proximity to the world’s busiest land port of entry, a local community development agency has launched a study to analyze the health risks associated with air pollution at the border. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Covered California acts to ensure everyone gets a primary care doctor — In an attempt to improve patients’ decision-making, Covered California is now requiring all types of health plans to assign a primary care doctor to their members. KPCC report

Zika virus isn’t here, but West Nile is, San Joaquin agency warns – With the recent wet weather hitting the Central Valley, the San Joaquin County Mosquito & Vector Control District is asking residents to be vigilant this spring and summer to help reduce the spread of mosquito-borne disease. Stockton Record article

California courts step up oversight over psychotropic medication use in foster care — California’s judicial leaders on Friday took a major step toward reversing the foster care system’s rampant use of psychiatric drugs, approving a slate of new safeguards to make juvenile courts here the country’s most careful and inquisitive monitors of psychiatric care for abused and neglected children. San Jose Mercury News article 

Vicken Y. Totten: Measure H will retain benefits Kaweah Delta training — Isn’t it worth paying on average $48 per $100,000 of assessed valuation of real property within the district per year in a new tax to have this capability in your own back yard? Please vote YES on Measure H. Totten op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

This LA County panel is facing scrutiny for reinstating a social worker later charged in boy’s death – A Civil Service Commission decision allowing a Los Angeles County child welfare manager to return to his job just months before he was charged with falsifying records in the torture death of a child is placing new scrutiny on the panel. LA Times article 

Land Use/Housing

Quay Valley meetings scheduled for Kings – Quay Valley, the futuristic city proposed for the wide-open spaces of southern Kings County, is still on the table. Kings County is hosting two public meetings next week to give local residents a chance to weigh in on the concept, which is still in the early stages of review by the county’s community development agency. Hanford Sentinel article 

In cramped and costly Bay Area, cries to build, baby, build – San Francisco does not have enough places to live. Sonja Trauss, a local activist, thinks the city should tackle this problem by building more housing. This may not sound like a controversial idea. But this is San Francisco. New York Times article

Fate of Hanford kiosks up in the air — To some, the yellow-roofed kiosks in Hanford’s Civic Park are a cheerful sight, a place to kick back, buy a hot dog, sit down and relax. To others, they’re an eyesore whose time has come and gone. Should the city give them a makeover in an attempt to attract new tenants, or should they be torn down and replaced with something else? Hanford Sentinel article


The Numbers Crunch: What’s up with teens today? Fewer want to drive — Fewer than 1.1 million Americans 16 and younger had driver’s licenses in 2014, down from 1.7 million in 2009. The number is the lowest since the 1960s, when our population was far smaller, says the Federal Highway AdministrationThe Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Fresno Bee: What triggered Fresno County supervisor to shoot off his mouth? – The angry attack on a community water by Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chairman Buddy Mendes on April 12 was unprofessional and unbefitting someone who is supposed to represent all constituents. Fresno Bee editorial

Tatiana Vizcaino-Stewart: Merced must invest in keeping youth moving in the right direction – The worker with Building Healthy Communities Southwest/East Merced County writes, “Youth are the future. They will lead this city one day. Will they be ready? What are we doing today to help them prepare for tomorrow? In the coming weeks, we’ll see what the City Council is doing to get ready for the future. In November, we’ll see how residents feel.” Vizcaino-Stewart op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Hunters angry over changes at state Fish and Wildlife agency says panel no longer represents them — The number of Californians who hunt has dwindled to less than 1% of the population, but some who still carry rifles outdoors complain the state commission overseeing them has become too cozy with the animal rights movement. LA Times article

Should ‘Beautiful Kern’ be the county’s official song? – This may just be the longest-studied decision in Kern County’s history. According to a report the Kern County Board of Supervisors directed the Kern County Board of Trade to study whether the song “Beautiful Kern” should be the county’s official song on March 16, 1965. Bakersfield Californian article

Dean Eller: Jenny’s miracle: We got to see her glorious homegoing – The president and CEO of the Central California Blood Center writes, “I certainly rejoice with all those parents who get their children back and live long and productive lives. I also rejoice knowing Jenny fulfilled her heavenly father’s assignment on Earth. I can live with that. Now that is a miracle!” Eller op-ed in Fresno Bee