April 21, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: Big emotions drives two major bills in California — Californians are fairly apathetic when it comes to politics, as demonstrated by their abysmally low levels of voting. That said, Californians do get agitated when political issues involve life and death, either real or perceived. And the Legislature is experiencing two issues saturated with raw human emotion – the rights of the terminally ill to end their lives and those of parents to not have children vaccinated.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Religion complicates California vaccine debate – Nick Johansen arrived at a Capitol hearing on vaccinations last week carrying a Bible. Johansen, who said he hasn’t yet decided whether to vaccinate his 10-month-old daughter Savannah, argued government shouldn’t impose a reverence for science over his faith in God.  Capitol Alert

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

‘Intolerant Jackass Act’ proposed in response to anti-gay initiative – A proposed state ballot measure that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians infuriated one woman so much that she filed her own measure with the state attorney general’s office: the “Intolerant Jackass Act.” LA Times article

California transgender bill spurs initiative for ‘bathroom privacy’ – Privacy For All, the group targeting Assembly Bill 1266, on Friday submitted a proposed 2016 initiative that would mandate people in government buildings use facilities in accordance with their biological sex. It would allow people who feel their privacy was violated – or who chose not to use a facility because of a violation of the measure – to sue the government for damages and attorney’s fees.  Capitol Alert

Other areas

John Myers: The most popular politician in East Bay Senate race is … Jerry Brown? – No matter who voters in California’s 7th State Senate District select in the special election on May 19, one thing’s for sure: It will be a Democrat who cozied up to the political warmth that radiates off Gov. Jerry Brown these days. Myers in KQED

Bill revised after adult cyclists balk at helmet requirement – A bill that would have required all bicycle-riding adults to wear a helmet in California has been scaled back following wide opposition from numerous bicycling organizations.  LA Times article

New bill could legalize paid carpooling – Carpooling is one of the most popular services transport network companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar offer, but it faces a problem. Under California law, paid carpooling is prohibited. Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is hoping to change that. LA Times article

Nonprofit hopes $25,000 prize lures LA schools’ District 5 voters – A nonprofit voter group has a plan to turn around traditionally abysmal turnout for a key election to the Los Angeles Board of Education: It’s going to pay one lucky voter $25,000.  LA Times article

California legislator tests pot ‘breathalyzer’ — Those who get stoned and then get behind the wheel would be more likely to get busted under legislation Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, promoted on Monday by publicly taking a drug test, though he called the event’s timing a coincidence. Capitol Alert

Sacramento Bee: Concealed carry info shouldn’t be hidden – Permission to walk around with a gun isn’t something that Californians view lightly. Elected officials, who control concealed carry permits, have abused their power in the past. Now a Merced Democrat and gun rights groups want to make it harder to find out who is getting these permits, and the effort should be stopped in its tracks.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Prosecutors seek to admit new evidence against former Sen. Calderon – Federal prosecutors who last year charged former state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon with corruption asked a court Monday to be allowed to bring in additional evidence, including allegations of tax fraud.  LA Times article

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can the GOP learn from California? — Jim Brulte, California’s Republican state chairman, has sobering but useful words for his party’s 2016 candidates now focused on winning over a homogenous and very conservative primary electorate. If they don’t learn from what happened to the GOP here, they may doom themselves to repeating its decidedly unpleasant experience.  Dionne column in Washington Post

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Brown calls tiered-water ruling a ‘straitjacket’ for conservation efforts — An appellate court Monday struck down a Southern California city’s method of charging water users based on a tiered-rate system, a potential setback to municipalities across a parched state laboring to curtail water consumption under Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent order.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article; AP article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article

Eminent domain becoming more frequent for high-speed rail in Valley — Under pressure to deliver property to construction contractors, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the state are increasingly taking off the gloves and going to court under eminent domain law to get the land needed for a bullet-train line through the central San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Stockton on track to meet budget projections – Nearly two months after Stockton’s exit from Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the city is on track to meet its general-fund fiscal-year budget projections, even if first-quarter numbers for 2014-15 do not necessarily show that to be the case.  Stockton Record article

Public safety at center of Eric Garcetti’s new $8.57-billion budget — Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday released his proposed $8.57-billion budget for the next fiscal year, a plan that would preserve funding for at least 10,000 police officers on Los Angeles’ streets and boost anti-gang initiatives, among other measures.  LA Times article

What Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris have said about CalPERS conflict-of-interest concerns – CalPERS board member J.J. Jelincic last week publicly challenged his exclusion from board discussions and decisions about performance and pay for fund executives. The policy is based the advice of Attorney General (and U.S. Senate candidate) Kamala Harris, who saw potential conflicts of interest for Jelincic, a CalPERS employee on loan full-time to the board. Several years ago, then-AG Jerry Brown expressed similar concerns.  Sacramento Bee article

Holly Culhane: Victory in discrimination trial no cause to celebrate — The nearly month-long drama that unfolded in a San Francisco courtroom captivated Silicon Valley’s attention and exposed — for all the world to see — the dark underbelly of one of California’s most prestigious industries. And while the defendant company won the legal battle, there is little cause to do a victory dance at the goal post.  Culhane column in Bakersfield Californian

San Diego hires expert for stadium deal –  San Diego announced Monday the hiring of investment banker Citigroup and law firm Nixon Peabody to negotiate a possible stadium deal with the Chargers.  U-T San Diego article

Comcast to meet with regulators in bid to save Time Warner Cable deal – Comcast Corp.’s turbulent bid to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. shifts into high gear this week, some 14 months after the blockbuster $45-billion deal was unveiled.  LA Times article

Report: Small LA County cities seize large amounts in civil forfeitures – A handful of small Los Angeles County cities seize large amounts of cash and cars using a controversial federal law that allows them to confiscate property even when owners aren’t charged with a crime, according to a report published by an advocacy group that promotes decriminalization of drugs.  LA Times article


‘New normal’: Scientists predict less rain from here on out – What’s gone wrong with the weather? Ever since California began drying out four years ago, Noah Diffenbaugh and his crew of earth scientists at Stanford University have been working on that question. They’re on a mission, like detectives breaking down a psychological profile of a bad guy — only this hunt is done with calculators and computer models. San Francisco Chronicle article

State funding for larger reservoir above Millerton? Crowded field competes for it – Will there be competition for the state bond money that could help pay for $2.6 billion Temperance Flat Dam near Fresno? Yes. That’s probably the only simple answer you may see over the next 18 months as the process unfolds to fund water-storage projects.  Fresno Bee article

Clovis adopts new water-consumption rules – Clovis City Council members approved plans Monday night that they hope will cut water use 36% citywide, an amount dictated by the state. Fresno Bee article

Drought not likely to cause higher grocery bills – Even though the price of water is skyrocketing in California and experts predict farmers will fallow about a million acres this year, your grocery bill is not likely to go up. California farmers are making choices to insulate consumers from the drought. Daniel Sumner, an economist at UC Davis, offers an example illustrating what’s happening.  Capital Public Radio report

Strong demand, not drought, drives almond plantings – They say money doesn’t grow on trees. But Rabobank’s recent research report on California’s almond crop suggests otherwise. With last fall’s crop down 12 percent due to poor pollination conditions and drought pressures, strong global demand has pushed prices to record levels.  Stockton Record article

Water bills for Cantua Creek will be paid by state – The state has provided Fresno County with $120,000 to buy water for residents of Cantua Creek. The community of about 71 homes and 275 residents was going to be without water beginning next month if funding was not found to pay for Cantua Creek’s water supply.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield council to mull watering cuts – A restrictive, three-days-a-week residential landscape watering schedule, Bakersfield’s latest response to the historic four-year state drought, will likely become reality at Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lake to go dry, as a way to save water – Few are more aware of the need to conserve water in the midst of California’s historic drought than those who manage Bakersfield’s shrinking water supply. Last week, the city’s Department of Water Resources stopped the flow of water into Truxtun Lake west, the smaller sibling of Truxtun Lake east.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Diego County farmers pleased at changes in water cutback rules – After a vigorous effort to alert the state water board about what they saw as the unfairness of proposed drought rules, San Diego County farmers were pleased at how the rules were modified.  LA Times article

William Shatner: Solve California’s drought problems with Seattle pipeline — Actor William Shatner is hoping to save California from further drought by proposing an enterprise of his own — importing water from the Seattle area, where rain is plentiful.  LA Times article

Bill would require water submeters on new apartments — California lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the installation of water meters in each unit of newly constructed apartments. Capital Public Radio report

Beverly Hills studies tougher water regulations – Under increasing pressure to slash water use during California’s ongoing drought, Beverly Hills is preparing to toughen watering rules and could decide to ban the refilling of pools and set fines as high as $1,000 for water wasters.  LA Times article

Cesar Chavez will receive military honors — Countless words have been written about the legendary farm labor organizer and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. But the labor leader’s service in the U.S. Navy is rarely highlighted. On Thursday, the 22nd anniversary of his death, final military honors will be rendered at the 116-acre property, now the home of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.  Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno’s not Ferguson: Why are police shootings and complaints down? – After years of community complaints about the Fresno Police Department, the numbers of complaints and officer-involved shootings are trending down. Until Monday’s accidental shooting of a cadet by another cadet at a gun range, it had been six months since there was an officer involved shooting. Both police and community activists say a shift in the national mood about law enforcement is driving the change but question whether the change will last.  KVPR report

Stanislaus County District Attorney changes officer-involved shooting policy – Officer-involved shootings around the country have come under public scrutiny, fueling claims of racism and raising questions about law enforcement policy, public transparency and honesty in investigations of the officers’ actions. The most recent officer-involved shooting in Stanislaus County last month was controversial because it involved an off-duty Ceres police officer who was in a Modesto park, at night, with the wife of the man he fatally shot. That officer lost his job Friday.Modesto Bee article

Prop 47 backers put a new face on victims of crime – Flush from their successful campaign in support of Proposition 47, the ballot initiative that made drug possession and other nonviolent crimes no longer a felony in California, a coalition of community activists and private foundations is now pushing to change policing and sentencing laws throughout the state.  LA Times article

VIDEO: John Legend praises California’s Prop 47 as model for criminal justice — Evoking at times the civil rights struggle, Grammy-winning singer John Legend praised California’s Proposition 47 on Monday as a model for the rest of the country to rectify what he considers misguided tough-on-crime policies.  Capitol Alert

Correctional officer shot on grounds of North Kern State Prison – A correctional officer was shot in his torso Monday night on the grounds of North Kern State Prison and he was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.  Bakersfield Californian article

Officer’s fatal shooting of knife-wielding man determined within Bakersfield Police Department policy — A Bakersfield Police Department Critical Incident Review Board determined an officer’s fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man at a downtown hotel last month was within department police and state and federal guidelines.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Joaquin County requests depositions be kept out of public view – San Joaquin County is asking a federal judge to throw out the subpoenas of two Department of Justice employees whose emails to the county Sheriff’s Office are pegged as evidence in a lawsuit claiming the county agency improperly deleted missing persons’ records of cold cases.  Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: Kamala Harris’ police reforms should be only the start – Every week seems to add urgency to the push to restore trust in law enforcement. Last week, California Attorney General Kamala Harris suggested a place to start.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Supreme Court may reconsider what is ‘violent felony’ in ‘80s-era law – The Supreme Court served notice Monday it is ready to reconsider the reach of a 1980s-era law that imposes an extra 15-year prison term on “armed career criminals.”  LA Times article

LAPD officer charged with assault in videotaped beating – A Los Angeles Police Department officer has been charged in connection with a videotaped incident in which a man alleged he was beaten and kicked while being held down by other officers in South L.A., authorities said Monday.  LA Times article

Mirkarimi gets conviction expunged in domestic violence case — Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s conviction for grabbing and bruising his wife’s arm, which nearly cost him his job and made him the first sheriff in San Francisco history to be legally barred from carrying a gun, was expunged from his record Monday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Questions, answers about police officers who confuse weapons — Some questions and answers about officers who mistakenly fire guns when intending to use stun guns to incapacitate, not kill, suspects.  AP article


UC President Janet Napolitano takes budget fight to Valley leaders – University of California President Janet Napolitano is hoping to light a fire under Fresno leaders and business people. Her cause is simple: Let’s get lawmakers to pour more dollars into the UC system. Fresno Bee article

As UC tuition increases, so does university administration — Rising university tuition costs have been a hot topic in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers have tangled with UC executives over budgets, spending and state investment levels in higher education.  Grizzly Bear Project article

Stockton Unified trustees approve teachers contract – After nearly coming eyeball to eyeball on the brink of a strike, the prospect of a mass walkoff of teachers was put to rest for once and for all – for this year, at least – when Stockton Unified trustees voted Tuesday evening to approve a tentative contract agreement.  Stockton Record article

Inconsistent training leaves special education staff struggling — Every day in special education classrooms across the state, teachers and aides oversee students whose emotional and behavioral disabilities can trigger violent confrontations. In some cases, teachers and aides wrestle these students to the floor, pin them against classroom walls, and escort or drag them into seclusion rooms.  EdSource article

California teachers union, school boards oppose dyslexia testing bill — A new bill would require all kindergarten to third-grade students be screened annually for learning disabilities, specifically for dyslexia. KPBS report

Le Grand given state money for vocational learning — The state recently announced its plan to award $307,641 to the Le Grand Union High School District, a tiny school district made up of one rural high school. The money will pay for Le Grand High School to develop and begin a program meant to tie core classes like math and English to vocational learning.  Merced Sun-Star article


Dry, warm conditions keep California’s national forests parched — California’s dwindling snowpack and warmer temperatures continue to increase the risk of fires in already parched national forests. With the state’s snowpack at only 5%, water resources in the 18 national forests in California are low and trees are water-starved, said climatologist William Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  LA Times article

Report: Bay Area ill-prepared for coming superstorm’s floods — With California stuck in a remorseless drought, most people in the Bay Area probably aren’t worried about getting too much rain. But a new report claims they should be. In a study released Monday, the nonprofit Bay Area Council argues the region is ill-prepared for a rare but inevitable superstorm powerful enough to drop 12 inches of rain in a week. San Jose Mercury News article; AP article

Health/Human Services

Scope maker warned Europe about contamination 2 years before LA infections — Nearly two years before superbug outbreaks hit UCLA and Cedars-Sinai medical centers, the maker of the scopes involved was already warning hospitals in Europe about the risk of such patient infections.  LA Times article

Raw fish linked to Salmonella outbreak in California — Raw tuna in sushi could be to blame for a Salmonella outbreak that has already sickened 25 people from California and elsewhere. LA Times article

New genetic tests for breast cancer hold promise – A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast andovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensive that most women could get it.  New York Times article

Breast cancer in U.S. could rise 50 percent by 2030 — New breast cancer cases in the U.S. are forecast to rise by as much as 50 percent by 2030, government researchers reported Monday.  LA Times article

Charles Bacchi: State needs to know more about drug prices – The president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans writes, “Groundbreaking treatments for pervasive diseases such as hepatitis C could cure millions of Americans, but staggering prices eclipse this potential. California has made significant gains in increasing access to health care, but to sustain this progress, we must address affordability.”  Bacchi op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Land Use/Housing

From forever to ‘for sale’ — A disputed property just west of Brookside is apparently for sale by the very group that once pledged to preserve it forever. Behind the locked gate and the no-trespassing signs that guard the property is a Realtor’s sign indicating the 50-acre parcel is for sale.  Stockton Record article


Five teams pre-qualified to bid for high-speed rail construction in Kern County — Five teams of contractors have been pre-qualified to compete for a contract to build a third stretch of high-speed rail route from the Tulare-Kern county line to just north of Bakersfield.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Other areas

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims disputes account of what caused gun range fireball – Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims on Monday disputed accounts of what triggered Friday’s fireball at the sheriff’s gun range, saying the county equipment operator was smoothing dirt, not digging, near the PG&E natural gas line that ruptured.  Fresno Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno blast: Workers didn’t look for utilities before digging, agency says – A preliminary investigation by a state utility agency revealed Fresno County workers who hit a gas line, triggering an explosion that injured 14, had not checked for underground utilities before work began, officials said. LA Times article; KQED report

Kern Fair board gives elephant rides two more years – On a vote of 6 to 3, the Kern County Fair Board of Directors decided Monday to invite elephant rides back to the fair for two years, with the caveat that the attraction will be discontinued at the conclusion of the contract. An amendment that addresses public safety concerns was approved as well.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco poised to ban performances by exotic animals – San Francisco is poised to ban performances using bears, lions, elephants and other wild animals and join dozens of other places that have some kind of prohibition on using exotic animals for entertainment.  AP article

Gena Lew Gong: Vang murder shows need to address domestic violence – The president of Central California Asian Pacific Women writes, “We want all domestic violence victims to know they are supported. We also want them to know that outside help and intervention are available, if needed. One life lost due to domestic violence is one too many. Let us work together as a community to ensure this never happens again.”  Gong op-ed in Fresno Bee

Former Fresno Bee reporter Diana Marcum wins Pulitzer Prize for LA Times – Former Fresno Bee reporter and columnist Diana Marcum won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing Monday for her coverage of the drought for the Los Angeles Times. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Elected officials in Merced County feel the heat from fire training – Nearly a dozen elected officials from around Merced County stood in a building over the weekend as firefighters set it ablaze.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Francisco mayor watches as homeless break camp for new center – They were getting spots in San Francisco’s new Navigation Center, situated at an old high-school site at 16th and Mission streets. It’s a one-stop complex, the first of its kind in the nation, where campers can sleep while they are routed into housing, rehabilitation, employment and other services crucial to keeping people off the streets.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Vatican goes on offensive to defend Serra — The Vatican is mounting a campaign to defend an 18th century Franciscan missionary who will be canonized by Pope Francis in the U.S. against protests from Native Americans who have compared his conversion of natives to genocide.  AP article

Locals celebrate 420 — Governed by stringent county and city ordinances, there isn’t much of an established marijuana scene across the landscape of Tulare County. But on Monday, that didn’t stop employees-turned-420-fairies at Visalia’s Phatmanz Alley Smoke Shop from slipping on green fishnets, tutus and glittered wings for a day of discounts and celebration. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, he should keep in mind that it won’t be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.

Sacramento Bee – Permission to walk around with a gun isn’t something that Californians view lightly. Elected officials, who control concealed carry permits, have abused their power in the past. Now a Merced Democrat and gun rights groups want to make it harder to find out who is getting these permits, and the effort should be stopped in its tracks; Every week seems to add urgency to the push to restore trust in law enforcement. Last week, California Attorney General Kamala Harris suggested a place to start.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Successful crime sting important, state spelling champ crowned and other issues.