April 23, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

California scores lowest on Moody’s fiscal ‘stress test’ – California, whose state budget is highly dependent on volatile income taxes, is the least able big state to withstand a recession, according to a “stress test” conducted by Moody’s Investor Service. Sacramento Bee article 

Brand, Perea lead Fresno mayor money chase — It looks almost certain that Lee Brand will be atop the fundraising heap in the Fresno mayoral race when the first campaign finance reports come out. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Dan Morain: Jerry Brown’s lofty aspirations come face to face with the law – On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown, a champion of the air board’s effort, was at the United Nations in New York extolling the Paris Accords. In Sacramento, there were inconvenient developments. Righteous though California’s fight against climate change is, nagging questions persist. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown touts climate work, prematurely declares rival dead — On his claims of climate leadership, Gov. Jerry Brown won plaudits. On his boast of political longevity, he raised at least one pair of eyebrows. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Kern faces federal lawsuit over 2011 redistricting – The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which criticized the redrawing of political boundaries five years ago, filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the County of Kern for allegedly violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by redistricting. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield mayoral candidate may have steered into some trouble – Mayoral candidate Benjamin Weigel drives a school bus for a living, for the Bakersfield City School District. And on April 6, when Weigel visited The Californian to tape a video interview with reporter Theo Douglas, he drove the school bus and parked it in front of the newspaper office. That struck us as interesting and it’s not the first time we’ve seen school buses parked on city streets, so we started looking into it. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield mayoral candidate profile: Karen Goh — Karen K. Goh, 60, President/CEO, Garden Pathways.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield mayoral candidate: T.J. Esposito — T.J. Esposito, 36, Owner of Blue Sky Media and marketing manager for Patriot Bail Bonds and Adios Bail Bonds. Bakersfield Californian articl

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sacramento Bee: Voters should tie support for income tax hike to school reforms – Lots of money will be raised for education if voters approve the Proposition 30 extension. We all want our schools to be well-funded, but we shouldn’t be naive. If voters and families don’t step up and say what they want, the only loud voice in the room will belong to the teachers’ unions. Which we support, but not necessarily for free. Sacramento Bee editorial 

California’s next senator could be a Latina.  Could her past mistakes get in the way? — Rep. Loretta Sanchez‘s easygoing, neighborly style has won over Orange County voters for two decades, but that blessing has come with a nettlesome curse: the occasional, stinging political gaffe. LA Times article

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez: Law isn’t a gift to gun makers – The Orange County Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate writes, “In 2005, I voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“Sanders, Sanchez and the firearms industry,” Dan Morain, April 17). It makes gun manufacturers and distributors liable for violating state and federal law, but not for the criminal, unlawful or negligent acts of those who use their products. The law does not grant blanket immunity to gun manufacturers and distributors, or give the gun industry protections that are not equal to other manufacturers of consumer goods under federal law.” Sanchez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas 

She hasn’t smoked pot, but California’s weed czar ready to roll – Two decades after California voters authorized medical marijuana, the state’s massive cannabis industry is entering a new era. New laws mandate a sweeping regulatory regime. People such as Zyszkiewicz, accustomed to operating on the margins of legitimacy, are puzzling over how to get on board. At the center stands Lori Ajax, a career Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control official who is swapping policing booze for overseeing bud. Sacramento Bee article

McCarthy previews bill to hold addiction treatment programs accountable – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy previewed legislation to evaluate federal opiate addiction programs on Friday at a Walgreens in the northwest, as store officials promoted new medication disposal bins and the coming availability of an opiate overdose reverser without a prescription. Bakersfield Californian article 

Donald Trump calls California independents urging switch to GOP – Donald Trump on Friday issued a robocall to independent voters in California, urging them to re-register as Republicans in order to vote for Trump in the state’s primary election. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

Hillary Clinton names California leadership team — With the Democratic presidential nomination in sight, Hillary Clinton on Friday named her leadership team for California. Heading up the effort as the June 7 primary approaches is Buffy Wicks, a Placer County native who served as a campaign and White House adviser to President Barack Obama. Wicks was executive director of Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super PAC, and has experience working in California. Sacramento Bee article 

John Kasich slates a San Francisco town hall ahead of California’s GOP convention – On Friday, word came that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be holding a town hall April 29 in San Francisco, hosted by the Commonwealth Club. The event at the prestigious speaker’s forum will be moderated by Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. LA Times article

Ethics panel approves $3,000 fine against San Diego County supervisor over SeaWorld vote – The state Fair Political Practices Commission has approved a $3,000 penalty against San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox for votes he took on the California Coastal Commission involving SeaWorld. LA Times article

Obama sidesteps ‘genocide’ in new Armenia proclamation – President Barack Obama on Friday soothed a key foreign ally but antagonized some Americans with long memories, by issuing an annual proclamation commemorating the 1915 expulsion of Armenians from present-day Turkey that studiously avoids the term “genocide.” McClatchy Newspapers article

Young, old mark Armenian genocide:  ‘We have come back from annihilation’ – A ceremony Friday at Fresno City Hall commemorated the 101st anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, in which as many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire over several years. Fresno Bee article

Black Panthers unveil 50th anniversary plans with eye to future — As a high school senior in Sacramento, James Mott cut class to watch the Black Panthers march into the state Capitol in their leather jackets and berets, carrying shotguns. Mott couldn’t resist falling in behind them, and now he is at the front of the line as the Black Panther Party cranks up to mark its 50th anniversary celebration, beginning with an all-day symposium Saturday at Laney College. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Phil Unruh: Who’s protecting valuable libraries from terrorism? – The Fresno State student writes, “Any time a library is destroyed, world heritage loses pieces to the puzzle of its history.” Unruh op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories 

Lawsuit over Delta flows: Feds fail in oversight role, environmentalists say – Environmental groups sued federal regulators on Friday for allowing river flows in the fragile Delta to decline below levels that would normally be required even in the driest of years. Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Fresno Unified’s legal bill in leaseback case approaches half a million — Since Fresno Unified School District was taken to court in 2012 over a no-bid school construction contract, the district has paid nearly $500,000 in legal fees related to the case. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Deal clears way for $3.6 billion Sacramento road, transit tax measure – Sacramento leaders have negotiated a compromise they say clears the way to put a $3.6 billion sales tax measure on the November ballot for countywide transportation improvements. The measure would increase county sales taxes by a half-cent for 30 years. Sacramento Bee article

 ‘Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet’ job fair draws thousands – An estimated 400 veterans, students and general job seekers attended the annual “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” jobs and resources fair Thursday at West Hills College Lemoore. Hanford Sentinel article

Stanislaus County asks state Supreme Court to consider deputy’s discrimination case — Stanislaus County wants the state Supreme Court to review an appellate court’s decision on a sheriff deputy’s disability case because it affects how employee discrimination cases will be resolved in the future.  Modesto Bee article

LA city and county polls diverge sharply in support for funding homelessness programs – With homelessness rising throughout Los Angeles, elected officials at both the city and county level say they may soon ask voters to pay higher taxes to help move people off the streets. A pair of polls released Friday suggest they could get very different answers. LA Times article

Wasco set to lose major retailer – The Kmart in Wasco will close this summer as part of a cost-cutting move by its parent company to shutter 78 stores nationwide, or about 5 percent of its total, including 10 Sears locations. Bakersfield Californian article

John Lindt: Nordstrom makes cuts, Tulare goes solar – Nordstrom will lay off up to 400 workers at the corporate headquarters in Seattle, according to press reports. Also, The Tulare Public Utilities Commission agreed with a staff report to move forward on three key green energy measures this week. Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Guy Fieri officially out of Bakersfield – It’s now 100 percent over: Guy Fieri is no longer associated with Johnny Garlic’s. Bakersfield Californian article

Starting them young: Lemoore’s business academy – The Lemoore Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA) held a Shark Tank competition Wednesday at West Hills College Lemoore. It was the first major activity since the academy, which is for middle and high school students, launched this year. Hanford Sentinel article

How aerospace is making a comeback in Southern California — In the last few years though, the region’s aerospace industry has been making a comeback by focusing more on technology, though it is still considerably smaller than it once was. KPCC report 

Meet McDonald’s other Ronald – this one from Patterson – McDonald’s has a new face in a nationwide social media campaign. He’s from this West Side city and his name is Ronald. And, yes, he’s been jokingly asked a million times if his name is Ronald McDonald. But judging from his broad smile, he doesn’t seem to mind. Ronald Williams, 23, is one of 22 employees of the fast-food giant whose images and stories are on Twitter and Facebook to promote its Archways to Opportunity scholarship program. Modesto Bee article

Jeanne Gaia: Stating the case for Stockton on the verge of something big – Presently, Stockton is experiencing a new youthful energy seizing the stagnant downtown, poised to inject new life into where it all began, and generating renewed pride in our community. So that when we say, “I’m from Stockton,” people will exclaim, “Oh Stockton! That’s the new happening place to be!” Gaia op-ed in Stockton Record

Uber settlement leaves questions over the rights of contract workers – If a judge approves the settlement, Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts could receive payments of $8,000 or more from the settlement, based on miles driven. In another concession, they will for the first time be able to solicit tips. But the settlement does not change their employment status as independent contractors — meaning they will not receive any protections commonly reserved for employees, such as health insurance, expense reimbursement or overtime wages. LA Times article 

San Jose: Three people owe library more than $10,000 for overdue books — Three people owe the San Jose Public Library more than $10,000 for overdue or lost books, seven more racked up fines totaling more than $5,000 and nearly 130 face penalties of at least $1,000, records obtained by this newspaper show. San Jose Mercury News article

Rev. Jesse Jackson continues push for diversity in tech industry — Two years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson set his sights on Silicon Valley. He promised to push tech companies and venture capital firms to prioritize diversity and inclusion, and to add more employees from historically underrepresented groups like women and people of color. But the progress he’d hoped for hasn’t happened yet, and Jackson is growing restless. San Francisco Chronicle article

Tony Robbins to the rescue, again, in Burlingame woman’s crisis — After enduring the death of her 97-year-old roommate and friend a month ago in Burlingame and agonizing about where she might live next, 85-year-old Georgia Rothrock can now breathe easier — thanks to a name becoming familiar in Bay Area philanthropy, Tony Robbins. San Francisco Chronicle article


Kern to receive more state water this year – Kern County farmers and water purveyors who buy water from the State Water Project will get 60 percent of their contracted amounts this year, up from the previously projected 45 percent, the Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article

John Michelena: Many farmers had no choice but to grow almonds – Why almonds? As water became far more expensive and complicated to obtain during the drought, many farmers were desperate to find a crop that could cover the increased costs. With prices rising, they rushed to plant as many almond trees as possible. Besides, almonds offered labor-saving advantages in irrigation and mechanization. Michelena column in Modesto Bee

San Joaquin County grape acreage dips – San Joaquin County, which has the largest winegrape acreage of any California county, saw a small decline in all types of grape plantings in 2015, federal farm officials recently reported. Stockton Record article 

Storm boosts Sacramento’s season rainfall to 84 percent of average – A storm that moved through the Sacramento area Friday broke a more than weeklong dry spell and delivered a respectable soaking, especially in communities to the east. Sacramento Bee article

Robert Price: Sound Off: Here’s why those precipitation numbers don’t compute — There’s a name for readers who tabulate and compare these daily rainfall totals: “retired.” Which is not to say I don’t appreciate the laser-focus attention on this popular and well-read feature. I do. My advice, however: stop it. The numbers are not going to add up. Here’s why: Rainfall stats from the previous day will have changed by the time the next day’s numbers are entered. Price in Bakersfield Californian

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Teen charged with hate crime on Fresno Sikh man commits suicide — A 17-year-old accused of beating a 68-year-old Sikh man and running him over in December has committed suicide, the Fresno County Coroner’s Office confirmed Friday. Fresno Bee article

Kern D.A.: Use of deadly force reasonable in shooting of suspect who threatened wife and officers – The Kern County District Attorney’s office has found Delano police acted within the law in the shooting of an armed man who had fired at a residence and threatened officers before leading them on a chase in June of last year. Bakersfield Californian article

Tim Ward: Cold Case Homicide Unit a first step toward justice – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “According to the Department of Justice, Tulare County’s unsolved homicide rate is between 30-49%. We need to bring answers and justice for these victims and their families. Some of our municipal law enforcement agencies are battling back from the economic downturn, they are facing recruiting challenges, and they are stretched thin. In order to better support our local law enforcement’s detectives, I have formed our first Cold Case Homicide Unit.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta


Kings school districts benefit from Costco, other developments – Not only will Costco add sales tax money to the city of Hanford coffers but also to local school districts who will collect developer fees from Costco and the other planned commercial development in the area. Hanford Sentinel article

Innovation spurs Roosevelt Junior High students to world finals – Modesto students have invented a vehicle that can travel with no motor and no pedals, carrying two people. It costs less than $145 and promotes recycling. Their contraption is not so much an engineering marvel as an example of innovative thinking. It was brainpower that propelled the team and its vehicle into the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Now they have to discover a way to get there. Modesto Bee article

Lodi Unified tables later start time – After months of surveys, forums and even heated discussions, the Lodi Unified School District has, for now at least, decided not to change the starting times for its high schools. The discussions showed, once again, a divide between what parents think and what students think, if survey results are to be believed. Stockton Record article

Expert questions if UC Berkeley athletics department is doing enough to combat sex assault – As the University of California, Berkeley hires an outside investigator to probe allegations that a female former member of the rowing team was the victim of sexual assault by a teammate, an expert Friday questioned whether the athletics department is doing enough to change its culture. San Jose Mercury News article

Police arrest two after alleged assault on Gaston school officials — Police arrested two people suspected of assaulting two Gaston Middle School officials Friday. Police said a 15-year-old student and a 19-year-old were each arrested on suspicion of battery on a school official. Fresno Bee article


After 99 days of Rough fire, Sequoia National Forest shows new growth — In a blackened section of Grant Grove, a tiny green sapling – just days old – pushes through the ashen soil. The thumbnail-sized tree sits defiantly in the shadow of its parent, a thousand-year-old giant sequoia scorched in last year’s Rough fire. Fresno Bee article

Trying to keep up with dead trees in California forests – On a recent trip through the forest near Camp Nelson, the view of the trees for miles was marred by the site of countless trees cut down in recent weeks and piles of ash where U.S. Forest Service crews burned fallen limbs. In fact, some of the fires were burning while crew members watched and then smothered the remnants of fires to ensure they didn’t touch off wildfires in this very dry forest. Visalia Times-Delta article

SoCal Edison to renew Kings County franchise – Southern California Edison has been providing electricity to Hanford and Armona for 50 years. Under a proposed franchise agreement with the county, it will keep doing so for another 30. A 30-year extension of the utility’s franchise to operate in Kings County is expected to be approved at Tuesday’s Kings County Board of Supervisors meeting. Hanford Sentinel article

Trees fall in Fresno, Madera as storm blows in — Strong winds in a spring storm caused trouble throughout Fresno and Madera on Friday, knocking down trees, blowing pieces off a church mosaic and forcing at least one high school sporting event to be relocated. Fresno Bee article

Mike Wade: What’s eating the salmon? – The executive director of the Sacramento-based California Water Coalition writes, “Water managers have been saying for years that California’s salmon population is under attack by non-native predatory fish. Now there is science to prove it.” Wade op-ed in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services 

John G. Taylor: In search of hospitable hospitals – The former Fresno Bee reporter and editor and owner/operator of The JT Communications Co. LLC writes, “Most hospitals were not founded with the mandate of putting more feet on the street – sending out multilingual social workers and educators, creating transitional housing for the homeless, lobbying governments to increase green grocers and green space, safely accessible to the public. That was the presumed province of government agencies and community organizations. But better care at lower costs means systemic reinvention.” Taylor op-ed in Fresno Bee

Supervisors take last step in Kern Medical Center management change – On Tuesday Kern County supervisors will take the final step in the long process of creating the Kern County Hospital Authority and transferring control of Kern Medical Center to the independent government agency. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare Regional Medical Center chairwoman awarded $38,000 from doc – Tulare Regional Medical Center chairwoman Sherrie Bell has been awarded $38,829 in attorney fees, which stemmed from an ongoing battle with local doctors. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Proposed LA County law would make pharma pay for drug, sharps disposal — The ordinance would require pharmaceutical companies to design, manage and pay for the collection and disposal of unused prescription medicines and sharps. It would be the largest such program in the nation. KPPC report 

San Joaquin General called baby-friendly – Ten years ago, San Joaquin General Hospital was one of the lowest-rated facilities in the state in regards to its maternity ward. This week, the hospital achieved a complete turnaround as it earned a Baby-Friendly designation from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Stockton Record article

Foods loaded with sugar, salt, fat? Bring it – As definitions of what’s healthy change, consumers are turning back to ingredients they once avoided, and manufacturers are rushing to catch up. New York Times article

Amy Chubb: Amy’s war: One woman’s battle with mental illness and its snipers – The Coarsegold resident writes, “’Nothing is there – nothing is there – nothing is there – nothing is there,’ she murmured half-heartedly and with an infinitesimal sense of hope, like a grain of sand on the beach. ‘Nothing is there,’ she repeated, because everyone, from doctors to family, said it was hallucinations. They had grown tired of unabated picking at her chin and finger in her mouth, pulling out imaginary pieces of plastic, wavy metal, beads, rubber bands and ribbon.” Chubb op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Orange County won’t spray for West Nile mosquitoes, for now — Orange County’s Mosquito Vector Control District voted Thursday against aerial spraying to combat mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus for the time being, but the board could decide later that it is necessary. KPCC report 

Allergy drugs may hurt your brain, study shows — It’s the season when allergy meds can be lifesavers, but a new study might make some think twice before they reach for them. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Land Use/Housing

Contractors hired for first Centennial Corridor demolitions – It’s almost curtains for 47 vacant properties in the path of the future Centennial Corridor freeway segment, all of which are owned by the City of Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article 

In neighborhood’s embrace, a triangle of land may become park — A dusty triangle of vacant land in east Bakersfield is well on its way to becoming a private pocket park next year, after a flurry of donations from Chevron, the city’s police union and the Mayor Harvey L. Hall Family Foundation. Bakersfield Californian articl


Video: High-speed rail authority announces plans for Merced stop – A news conference is held to announce plans to make a stop in Merced along the California High-speed rail at Assemblyman Adam Gray’s office in Merced, Calif., Friday, April 22, 2016. Merced Sun-Star videoMerced Sun-Star article 

Merced Sun-Star: We have to fight for our seat on high-speed rail — Did state officials really think they’d get away with trying to throw us off the train? Merced Sun-Star editorial

Brighter hopes for bringing ACE to Modesto, high-speed rail to Merced – The Northern San Joaquin Valley heard rumblings Thursday of new developments for commuter and high-speed rail transportation. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, said that he and Valley legislators are working on drawing state transportation funds to bring ACE passenger rail to Modesto. He told the Modesto Bee’s editorial board that he’s working on the effort with state senators Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, and Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca. Modesto Bee article

BART’s new train car crashes at Hayward test facility — One of BART’s new train cars overshot the end of the track and ran into a mound of dirt at a Hayward testing facility on Friday — another setback for a transit agency that has been dealing with aging infrastructure and a mysterious track problem crippling trains. LA Times article

The Numbers Crunch: Sacramento’s public transit may be better than you think — Everyone, it seems, is dumping on Regional Transit. Trains and stations are dirty, even unsafe. Buses and trains don’t run late enough, and their schedules don’t link up. Fares are too high and are going up again. Safe to say, RT has more than its share of problems with service and finances. But in a new detailed study, public transit in Sacramento comes out looking not so terrible. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Shelter pets and veterans are a popular match – A small program to pair veterans and shelter pets has proved so popular, it’s run out of funding. The program, Pets for Vets, is a partnership between the Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation and Kern County Animal Services in which Friends pays all adoption fees for veterans and their families. Bakersfield Californian article

Wounded Fresno parks worker hailed as hero — David Harvey, a recreation supervisor at the city’s Frank H. Ball Park in southwest Fresno for more than 30 years, was one of 19 city employees to receive the quarterly awards from their department heads at Thursday’s City Council meeting. Fresno Bee articl 

Meet Kern’s first poet laureate — Don Thompson might not think of himself as a poet, but his new appointment as Kern County’s first poet laureate should confirm the fact, if his dozen or so poetry books and even more unpublished works hadn’t already. Bakersfield Californian article 

Stanislaus County seeks public input on new Modesto courthouse — Stanislaus Superior Court officials have released the second in a series of online surveys seeking the public’s input on how to design the new $267 million courthouse in downtown Modesto. Modesto Bee article