April 19, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Lawmakers seek to tighten bullet train oversight, suggesting growing concern about project – A key state legislative committee on Monday unanimously approved a Republican-led bill to strengthen oversight of the California bullet train, a sign of growing bipartisan concern about the project. LA Times article

Congressional candidates Huerta, Rogers show good money in reports — Emilio Huerta has turned in an impressive fundraising report for the first quarter of 2016 in his quest for the 21st Congressional District. The Bakersfield Democrat raised more than $142,000 and has around $116,000 in his campaign account as of March 31. And he’s done it all since early January. Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian article

Dan Walters: New bill would protect school contractors in no-bid deals — Protecting contractors from having to repay funds they received from such questionable deals is another matter altogether. While some may have acted in good faith, it’s evident that others got caught doing something they should have known was unseemly and shouldn’t have done. The pending bill would, in effect, reward them for bad behavior. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics 

First Look: Four Bakersfield candidates featured in second round of ‘Mayoral Mondays’ — With 18 more candidates to interview, radio hosts at The Californian wasted no time getting to know their next mayor this week. On Monday’s “First Look with Scott Cox,” four of the 25 candidates were interviewed individually during a speed-dating type question-and-answer session known as “Mayoral Mondays.” Bakersfield Californian article

Deputy Sheriff’s Association endorses Shuklian for Tulare supervisor — The Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Association endorsed Amy Shuklian for the Tulare County Supervisor District 3 seat. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Would-be independents joining the American Independent Party could blame California’s voter registration card — Although Californians now register to vote in more places than ever, most still rely on something that’s been around for generations and is increasingly seen as imperfect: the voter registration card. LA Times article

Supreme Court is divided over immigration case that affects families – 
A divided Supreme Court considered President Barack Obama’s far-reaching immigration program affecting 4 million people Monday as hundreds of chanting protesters gathered outside. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times articleNPR reportNew York Times article 

California farmworker families await Supreme Court immigration ruling – UC Davis student Lizbeth Cuevas stood outside the highest court in the land on Monday as the Supreme Court examined whether President Barack Obama can protect as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Excited and anxious, Cuevas showed up in Washington, D.C., on behalf of two of those people: her parents, both farmworkers in California. Sacramento Bee article

Outside Supreme Court immigration arguments, voices for families — As the Supreme Court on Monday weighed the legality of two executive orders on immigration, Sayra Hernandez, a 16-year-old from Mexico, stood outside the courthouse with her sister and mother. The family has a deportation date scheduled for April 29. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

California could see uptick in arrivals of unaccompanied children crossing the border — Immigration experts are warning that California could see a spike in arrivals of unaccompanied children crossing the border this year, following a quiet year in 2015. KPCC report

Immigrant kids placed with adults who are in U.S. illegally – The vast majority of immigrant children who arrive alone at the U.S. border are placed by the government with adults who are in the country illegally, federal data reviewed by The Associated Press show. AP article

Foon Rhee: Listen to some true stories of refugees in Sacramento — Sacramento County has a long and proud tradition of welcoming refugees. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Other areas 

Sacramento Bee: Special interests seek to limit right to know – Legislators give lip service to the public’s right to know about government operations. But too often, for the right special interest, they’re willing, eager even, to limit access to information. Sacramento Bee editorial

Joel Fox: Betty Yee: Tax reform is hard, start the conversation now – Previewing the coming report from her Council of Economic Advisors on Tax Reform, state Controller Betty Yee said California needs comprehensive tax reform that must generate job creation to produce a healthy California economy. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Steven M. Crass: Fresno man’s Bee commentary leads to bill that saves California jobs and businesses – The lawyer with Baker, Manoch and Jensen in Fresno writes, “What started as a simple Bee op-ed piece has led to the creation of Assembly Bill 1948 – a real opportunity to have meaningful change. The bill amends a current statute (and doesn’t create a new one) to make the penalty better fit the violation. If the bill passes, it will limit the penalty for a violation of a meal period to the penalty contained in the statute that deals with meal periods.” Crass op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Man barricaded in car outside Capitol posted incident on Facebook — A man who barricaded himself in a parked car blocking L Street beside the state Capitol on Monday had become so odd and frightening in recent weeks that his roommates secured a restraining order against him Thursday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Tom Fife: Trump’s nomination could well boil down to YOUR vote — The Republican presidential nomination hangs in the balance and the fate of the nation may well be in the hands of the Republican voters. Maybe right here in Visalia? You never know … I suspect we are close to Ground Zero and maybe even sitting atop it. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: We need a nickname for Trump — Are you following all the whining, crying, and gnashing of teeth by Trump lately about a “rigged system?” Poor Donald, he clearly doesn’t understand exactly how the political party nominating system actually works. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

San Joaquin County job market still growing – San Joaquin County’s job market remained strong in March with seasonal hiring boosting farm employment and additional gains in transportation and warehousing jobs and health care, state employment officials said. Stockton Record article

Water flows in Fresno, Visalia for recharge – For the first time in more than two years, water is flowing inside the Friant-Kern and Madera canals for groundwater recharge and farm irrigation. But the shimmering liquid that is being shunted from the canals into local ditches does not signal an end to the California drought. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

California’s workers’ compensation costs dropping – The good news, at least for California employers, is that the 2012 overhaul of the state’s system of compensating workers for job-related illnesses and injuries appears to be having its stated effect. Although the changes – a deal between employers and unions that drew Gov. Jerry Brown’s blessing – increased cash benefits to disabled workers, it also cracked down on medical costs. Sacramento Bee article

CalPERS reopens door to tobacco industry investments – CalPERS said Monday it would consider reinvesting in the tobacco industry, setting in motion a process that could take up to 24 months before any deals are made. Sacramento Bee article

Hanford Costco project to officially break ground this week – A ceremonial groundbreaking for the long-awaited Costco project in east Hanford is scheduled for Wednesday. Hanford Sentinel article

Study: California, Hanford not small-biz friendly – A study ranked Hanford in the bottom 10 percent of small U.S. cities in terms of how good an environment it is to start a small business in. Hanford Sentinel article

BART facing $400 million deficit over next 10 years — BART’s tentative new labor pact will guarantee “no strikes” for the next five years, but how the aging and budget-strapped system will pay for 10.8 percent in raises and other goodies remains to be seen. San Francisco Chronicle article

Supreme Court rejects challenge to Google’s online library of books — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge to Google Inc.’s online book library from authors who said the project makes it harder for them to market their work. AP article

Registration open for Lemonade Day Modesto — This year’s Lemonade Day Modesto will take place on a Lemonade Lane of sorts. Since Modesto joined the nationwide Lemonade Day program in 2012, the entrepreneurial skill-building event for youth had featured booths located around the city. Modesto Bee article

Slowest quarter in two years for LA start-up investment – The first quarter marked the slowest period for investment into Los Angeles start-ups in two years, with just under $400 million going to about 50 companies. LA Times article

LA Convention Center books 30 major gatherings for 2016, a 30 percent jump from last year – The Los Angeles Convention Center has booked 30 major conventions for 2016, a 30% increase over last year and a new record for big multi-day gatherings at the city facility. LA Times article

Southern California home prices surge in March; sales inch up — Southern California home prices jumped 5.6% in March, as buyers fought over a meager supply of homes for sale and bid up values. The six-county region’s median price hit $449,000 last month, up from $425,000 a year earlier, real estate data firm CoreLogic said Monday. LA Times article

Valley Business Bank reports record first-quarter profit – Valley Commerce Bancorp, the Visalia-based parent company of Valley Business Bank, reported a profit of $1.1 million, or 38 cents per share, the most profitable first quarter of any year since the company was established in 1996. Fresno Bee article 

Fatal Lyft accident tests its insurance coverage — Eighteen months after an accident claimed the life of a 24-year-old Sacramento man taking a Lyft ride home on a rainy night, his mother and boyfriend are suing the San Francisco ride company. They claim that Lyft is dragging its heels on taking financial responsibility for a crash that the California Highway Patrol says was the Lyft driver’s fault. San Francisco Chronicle article


Cities get water wise with deal – Water from Packwood Creek flowed into the recharge basin just east of the city limits Monday morning, marking the start of the exchange between the Tulare Irrigation District and the city of Visalia. Visalia Times-Delta article

Gerawan Farming to appeal ag board ruling in UFW case – Gerawan Farming of Fresno has vowed to appeal a recent decision by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board that rejected an attempt by the company’s workers to oust the United Farm Workers union. Fresno Bee article

John Lindt: Ag land prices dropping like fruit – Lindt takes a look at ag land prices, Visalia’s Perfection Pet Foods growing again, and other issues.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta 

State Assemblyman Bill Dodd and Jim Wunderman: We can better deal with drought with more data – Dodd, a Napa Democrat, and Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, write, “By making California’s existing water data open, transparent and publicly accessible, we could significantly improve our drought resilience. The problem isn’t a lack of information so much as a lack of accessible, user-friendly data. That’s why Assembly Bill 1755 is so important.” Dodd/Wunderman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Taxpayers group faults water rate notices — The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says formal notices sent by the city of Stockton about a proposed water rate hike are invalid because they imply that only property owners may file protests — not renters. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

License plate readers capture loads of data. How long do cops keep it? — The Los Angeles Police Department is among dozens of California’s law enforcement agencies that have failed to make their license plate surveillance policies public, despite a new state law requiring disclosure. KPCC report

Stockton swears in 399th officer — With the addition of Ben Olson, the department has 399 sworn officers. People of Stockton voted to tax themselves to increase the police force to 485 officers in 2017 (from 365 in 2014), and the department has been trying to increase its ranks. Stockton Record article


Some local schools unprepared for gun debate – With the implementation of new school safety legislation in California, Visalia Unified School District and every other school district in California is faced with deciding the best way to keep students safe. Should someone other than a law enforcement officer be armed on a school campus? Visalia Times-Delta article 

Parlier Unified cuts 17 teachers and staff to avoid red ink – Parlier Unified will lay off or buy out 27 teachers and staff to avoid a deficit next year, Superintendent Edward Lucero announced Monday in a letter to parents. Fresno Bee article 

Stories told of targeted African American students at Modesto schools — A mother and grandmother whose African American students were subjected to hate crimes at schools in Modesto spoke poignantly of the legacy of prejudice. Modesto Bee article

UC Davis chancellor to answer questions in public forums – UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi will meet with community leaders and students in coming weeks to answer questions about a string of recent controversies that have dogged the school, she said in a statement released to The Sacramento Bee on Monday evening. Sacramento Bee article 

UC Merced lab to lead UC system’s drone research – UC Merced has been chosen to take the lead in determining how drones should be used and regulated across the University of California system, officials announced Monday. Merced Sun-Star article

K12 Inc.: California Virtual Academies’ operator exploits charter, charity laws for money, records show — Frustrated with the quality of their neighborhood schools, parents, teachers and civic leaders have founded hundreds of California charter schools, combining locally sourced ingenuity with the public funding that state law allows them to command. California’s largest network of online academies is different: Although the schools are set up like typical charters, records show they’re established and run by Virginia-based K12 Inc., whose claims of parental involvement and independent oversight appear to be a veneer for the moneymaking enterprise. San Jose Mercury News article 

Napolitano tells UC panel on sex harassment to try again — University of California President Janet Napolitano rejected a committee’s conclusion Monday that UC policies on sexual harassment and assault are adequate and that faculty and students simply need to be better informed about what they are. San Francisco Chronicle articleAP articleLA Times article 

Former Fresno High teacher pleads no contest to sex with student — Former Fresno High School teacher Darren Klassen pleaded no contest Monday to having unlawful sex with a student and agreed to spend five years and eight months in state prison. Fresno Bee article

Calaveras narrows new nickname choices — After months of gathering community surveys and suggestions, Calaveras High School has narrowed the search for a new school nickname. On Monday, TV station CBS Sacramento reported the high school in San Andreas will decide among “Skulls,” “Reds,” or “Red Tail Hawks,” and also consider having no mascot at all. Stockton Record article

Facebook removes Chowchilla school page for impersonation – A Facebook page posing as the official page for Chowchilla Union High School was removed by the social network Monday after school officials and other community members reported it for inflammatory posts. Merced Sun-Star article 

Report: State not tracking mental health services for special ed students – Already, the California Department of Education has said it doesn’t want to do it and doesn’t need to do it. But for the second time this year, a strongly worded report has called for the department to keep track of the $400 million a year that school districts are supposed to spend on mental health services for special education students and produce an annual report on their outcomes. EdSource article 

Groups sue Antelope Valley school district over atheist scholarships — Two groups are suing the Antelope Valley Union High School District for allegedly not informing students about scholarships aimed at non-religious students. LA Times article

USC president’s aim in teaching a classics course is to ‘light a fire’ for humanities —  C.L. Max Nikias hasn’t taught a full-time course since becoming USC’s president nearly six years ago. But in his return to the classroom this semester, the former electrical engineer didn’t focus on circuits or radar but on the ethical implications of the Greek tragedy “Antigone,” demonstrating how one character in the play delivers a fatal, self-inflicted wound. LA Times article


Turlock Irrigation District aims to lock in lower fuel prices – The Turlock Irrigation District might try to lock in low prices for part of the natural gas for electricity plants. The district board Tuesday will consider having the staff negotiate a 10-year contract amid a glut of gas around the nation. The fuel would supply 6 percent to 10 percent of TID’s total energy demand, also served by wind, hydroelectric and other sources. Modesto Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: City Hall needs to get the lead out – Sacramento officials have badly mishandled lead contamination at a city-owned gun range at Mangan Park, failing repeatedly to put public safety first and foremost. Sacramento Bee editorial

Feds to restore grazing allotment health stats in reports – Federal land managers have agreed to restore information about grazing allotments not meeting rangeland health standards in 13 western states after a public lands advocacy group complained about the omission.  AP article

Gas from closed landfill powers Valley facilities — For the first time in Fresno County, a privately held company is harnessing landfill gas and converting it into electricity. The landmark project supplies 100 percent of the power required to operate many of the Caglia family-owned facilities. The Business Journal article

Health/Human Services 

Glitches prompt Covered California to drop some pregnant women – Lynn Kersey has some advice for pregnant women who bought health insurance policies from Covered California: Don’t report your pregnancy to the state agency. Sacramento Bee article

Girls Love Mail sends handwritten notes to women fighting breast cancer – After finishing her cancer treatment in 2011, Mulligan gave back by founding Girls Love Mail, a volunteer effort that collects and sends handwritten, supportive letters to thousands of U.S. women who’ve been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento County fentanyl-related fatalities at 12, could grow — The number of fentanyl-related fatalities reported in Sacramento and Yolo counties rose to 12 on Monday after county officials said a previously undetermined death was reclassified as caused by the painkiller. Sacramento Bee article 

Doctors’ message to Asian Americans: Watch out for diabetes even if you’re young and thin — To prevent the insidious disease from gaining ground among the country’s fastest-growing minority group, doctors and health advocates are trying to increase diabetes testing and treatment for Asian Americans, including Chinese, Indians and Filipinos. Diabetes is largely preventable, experts say — but only if people know they are at risk. LA Times article 


GET, local government make local bus stops wheelchair accessible – Officials with the Golden Empire Transit District, the City of Bakersfield, Kern Council of Governments and advocates for the disabled gathered at a renovated bus stop along Coffee Road to draw attention to upgrades made to dozens of local bus stops. Bakersfield Californian article

Mayor tours Turlock by city bus for Try Transit Challenge – This is the week to spot Turlock city leaders taking a spin on city buses. The Try Transit Challenge runs through Friday, a public prod to public officials ahead of a move to overhaul branding, paying, routing and customer service. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Opinions vary on new round-about on Modesto’s McHenry Avenue – The area’s newest round-about opened Saturday afternoon as a temporary traffic fixture at the intersection of McHenry Avenue and River Road, just across the Stanislaus River in San Joaquin County. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Staggering drop in VTA bus ridership may signal dramatic changes — Despite a Santa Clara Valley population and jobs boom, ridership on buses and light-rail trains has dropped a staggering 23 percent since 2001, forcing the Valley Transportation Authority to consider its biggest shake-up ever in transit service. San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Fresno County trying to learn more about probation chief’s ouster – Fresno County supervisors are continuing to learn about probation Chief Rick Chavez’s forced departure last week, and are considering strategies to change the way that position is overseen. But the reason for removing Chavez remains under wraps. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize — Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer PrizeMonday for a portfolio of drawings on topics that explored gun violence, marriage equality, terrorism and the state of the American political system. Sacramento Bee articleJack Ohman’s cartoons: ‘Witty, pointed and poignant’ in Sacramento Bee

Los Angeles Times awarded Pulitzer Prize for San Bernardino terrorist attack coverage — The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize, American journalism’s top honor, for its coverage of last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Columbia University announced Monday. LA Times article‘How the Times covered the San Bernardino terrorist attack’ in LA Times 

Bakersfield Californian: Please save us from this song — We hope the Supervisors take on at least one item of utmost concern: That wretched song. We’re talking about “Beautiful Kern,” which was first nominated as Kern County’s official song 50 years ago, back when the county was celebrating its 100 years of incorporation. But we just can’t have this. Nobody will want to sing it. Nobody will want to sit through it. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Religious group sues to remove outdoor urinals at Dolores Park — Littering might be most people’s biggest problem with Dolores Park, but one local religious group hates those new urinals so much that they’re suing the city to get them removed. San Francisco Chronicle article

Former Merced County auditor dies at 75 — Friends and family of James “Jim” Ball remember the former Merced County auditor, among other titles, as an avid golfer, an outdoorsman and a family man. Ball died April 12 at age 75. Merced Sun-Star article

Book club members settle suit over ejection from Napa wine train — A group of mostly African American women, who were kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train for allegedly being loud and boisterous, have settled their race-discrimination lawsuit for a confidential sum, their lawyer said Monday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – We hope the Supervisors take on at least one item of utmost concern: That wretched song. We’re talking about “Beautiful Kern,” which was first nominated as Kern County’s official song 50 years ago, back when the county was celebrating its 100 years of incorporation. But we just can’t have this. Nobody will want to sing it. Nobody will want to sit through it.

Fresno Bee – Legislators give lip service to the public’s right to know about government operations. But too often, for the right special interest, they’re willing, eager even, to limit access to information.

Merced Sun-Star – Legislators give lip service to the public’s right to know about government operations. But too often, for the right special interest, they’re willing, eager even, to limit access to information.

Modesto Bee – Legislators give lip service to the public’s right to know about government operations. But too often, for the right special interest, they’re willing, eager even, to limit access to information.

Sacramento Bee – Sacramento officials have badly mishandled lead contamination at a city-owned gun range at Mangan Park, failing repeatedly to put public safety first and foremost; Legislators give lip service to the public’s right to know about government operations. But too often, for the right special interest, they’re willing, eager even, to limit access to information.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: New streak started for female athletes, waiting is the hardest part on road construction, and other issues.

Maddy Events

Sunday, April 24, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: Unintended Consequences: Do Open Meeting Laws Undermine Good Decision Making?”  Guest: California’s Little Hoover Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, April 24, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Sunshine (Laws) in the Valley: A Good Thing?” – Guests: UC Merced professor Nate Monroe, former Visalia Times-Delta editor Paul Hurley and Fresno-area attorney and former City Attorney for the City of Fresno. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, April 24, at 7:30 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV) and UniMas 61 (KTTF) – El Informe Maddy Report: “Higher Education Issues in California” – Guest: Erica Romero, executive director of Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez.

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.

Community Events

  • The 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit will be held at Bitwise South Stadium in Fresno on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration launches March 1.  More information: Jenna Chilingerian at jennac@csufresno.edu.


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 challenge — The 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 at www.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/