April 24, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: California preschool spending a big conflict – In the broadest sense, this year’s version of the annual budget wrangle pits Gov. Jerry Brown, who wants to keep a lid on spending and build budget reserves, against his fellow Democrats in the Legislature, who want to spend more. The sharpest skirmish is likely to be over demands to ramp up spending on a confusing welter of “early childhood” programs that serve nearly a half-million children now and cost about $3.5 billion. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Dianne Hardisty: Does Phil Wyman actually think he can win? He does — What makes Phil run? Why after years of failed political campaigns has Republican Phil Wyman of Tehachapi once again declared himself a candidate — this time for California’s open U.S. Senate seat? The answer is simple: He thinks he can win. The 71-year-old former Kern County legislator bristles at suggestions he is not a serious candidate. And like a machine gun, he fires off his past, decades-old legislative accomplishments as evidence he has what it takes to win the race and represent Californians in the Senate. Hardisty in Bakersfield Californian

Valley politics

Stockton City Council candidate Sam Fant to face felony charges — Sam Fant, who is running for City Council, is scheduled for arraignment early next month in Stockton on felony conspiracy and election fraud charges. Stockton Record article

Donald W. Blount: Local political season is upon us — Let the games begin. For the full slate of City Council and Board of Supervisor candidates, there are more than enough issues to keep you busy. However, you must articulate your positions clearly (no smoke or mirrors or baloney, please) so voters can make the choice they feel is best. We do not want to miss voting for the candidate we favor the most. Blount column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Bob Weiss: After daughter’s death, a chance to reduce gun violence – Weiss, who has dedicated his life to reducing gun violence since the death of his daughter, writes, “Since her death I have found myself at a loss, wondering what I can do to ensure that no parent has to go through the pain that my wife and I carry with us. I have watched in frustration as too many politicians have responded to the shootings in Santa Barbara, Newtown, Charleston and Virginia Tech with cowardice, polarization and senseless rationalization. But now, California has a chance to change all that. The Safety for All initiative led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom puts the power back in the people’s hands.” Weiss op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Kevin R. Johnson: Latest battle over comprehensive immigration reform lands in Supreme Court – The dean of the U.S. Davis School of Law writes, “Whatever the outcome of United States v. Texas, congressional action is necessary to reform the immigration laws. As most knowledgeable observers agree, the mass deportation of the millions of undocumented immigrants who are parts of our communities simply is not feasible. Consequently, some kind of path to legalization of undocumented immigrants is needed. Most informed observers further agree that reform of the legal immigration provisions of the laws is needed. Last but not least, many Americans believe that we need better enforcement measures.” Johnson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Mexican immigrant in the country illegally becomes U.S. citizen after military service – Daniel Torres, who was living in the United States illegally when he enlisted in the Marine Corps by using a false birth certificate, became a U.S. citizen this week. LA Times article

Raised in the U.S. without legal status, he attains the American dream – in Mexico — Hernandez is one of more than 500,000 people ages 18 to 35 who have returned to Mexico since 2005 after spending significant time in the U.S., said Jill Anderson, an independent researcher and activist in Mexico City who has studied the phenomenon. Although some were deported, others, like Hernandez, voluntarily returned. They are often called “los otros dreamers,” or “the other dreamers.” LA Times article

Other areas 

Concealed gun permits soar in Sacramento County – When Scott Jones became sheriff of Sacramento County in 2010, there were approximately 350 civilians licensed to carry concealed handguns in the county. Today there are nearly 8,000. That means statistically, in any sizable gathering – at the grocery store, a ballgame or church – at least one person is likely to be packing legal heat. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: Steinberg’s $1.4 million state war chest unfair in mayoral race – In a very real sense, the race for Sacramento mayor is not a fair fight. Former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg has a massive fundraising advantage over his main opponent, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

For Donald Trump, California is key – and polls look good – In his quest to win the GOP presidential nomination and avoid a contested party convention this summer, Donald Trump is banking on California.  Several polls of likely Republican voters show Trump in a strong position to win a majority of the 172 delegates in the June 7 primary. LA Times article

Jack Ohman: Life on the campaign trail through California – Now that California is officially Politically Relevant©, we’re going to be receiving a lot of attention from the various Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. What might the race for California look like? Ohman in Sacramento Bee

Bill Whalen: Delegate count dominates last weeks of primaries – Does that mean April’s final vote sets the stage for a more peaceful five last weeks on the primary trail? No. In fact, it might have the opposite effect. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee 

The most influential person on the coastal commission may be this lobbyist — The California Coastal Commission faced a scheduling nightmare when its monthly meeting landed in San Diego at the same time as Comic-Con. With 130,000 costumed revelers headed to town in July 2012, hotels were booked, and the panel was in a jam. Then Commissioner Wendy Mitchell saved the day, managing to secure 23 rooms at the Marriott Marquis, a prime waterfront spot adjacent to the convention site. Turns out she had some help: At Mitchell’s behest, the reservations actually were made by Susan McCabe, one of California’s most powerful lobbyists. LA Times article

Debra Saunders: Who wants to be offended today? — America is a country of strivers. Alas, having attained so much success, many Americans now strive to be offended. Polite agreement to disagree is gone. Now people log on to social media where they discover words that offend their delicate sensibilities. Then they make sure everyone knows they are aggrieved. Sometimes the perennially offended even win a trophy for their troubles — such as the scalp of ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Anti-abortion activist with Davis roots protests outside Sacramento Planned Parenthood — David Daleiden doesn’t take it personally that state law enforcement agents searched his Orange County home earlier this month. But the seizure of equipment and footage he used to produce a controversial series of undercover videos about Planned Parenthood seems to have fired up the now famous anti-abortion activist for a fight. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

Stockton library tax might come before voters — Voters in Stockton may get the chance this fall to decide whether to increase the city’s sales-tax rate to support public libraries. Kathy Hart, president of San Joaquin Delta College, said exactly that during her closing comments at a board meeting last week. Stockton Record article

Kern River Valley economy rises with the river – It doesn’t seem to matter that the predicted El Niño storms never quite materialized in the southern Sierra. Compared to the past three tourist seasons, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year. Bakersfield Californian article‘Californian staffer rides the Kern’s white water poetry’ in Bakersfield Californian

Jobs and the Economy

Finally, some relief for Bay Area renters – San Francisco rents are still stunningly expensive, but they seem to have plateaued — thanks to new construction, seasonal factors and the “Twitter effect.” San Francisco Chronicle article

With El Nino dangers passed, focus shifts on homeless river dwellers — A March count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority documented more than 600 people living in the San Gabriel, Rio Hondo and Los Angeles rivers and tributaries. Largely out of sight, the camps for years attracted little public notice. But their hidden environmental costs were out of proportion to their numbers. LA Times article 

Joel Fox: LA and CA economic forecast: Upbeat but cloudy — California is shockingly business unfriendly but it hasn’t stopped economic growth or a positive assessment of the Los Angeles and California economy Beacon Economics co-founder Chris Thornberg said at the third annual Forecast LA. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Chargers kick off initiative with rapturous rally — What happened Saturday at the corner of 13th and K Streets was exactly what should have been expected – a raucous, upbeat start to the signature-gathering campaign for the Chargers-sponsored citizens’ initiative that is aiming to garner support for a tourism tax hike that would help finance a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center in the East Village. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Brew fans raise a glass to inaugural fest — Lodi Beer Fest CEO Bill Armstrong surveyed the crowd at the Lodi Grape Festival grounds Saturday afternoon and declared the inaugural event a hopping success. Stockton Record article

Cushy recliners expected to lift Lodi box office take — You know those springy movie theater seats? The cloth-covered models that recline, sorta, if you lean back and stiffen your spine, or the kid behind you kicks hard enough? Forget that. Such seating will soon be history at Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas, which this past Friday planned to unveil the first two screening rooms outfitted entirely with cushy power recliners. Stockton Record article


Aubrey Bettencourt: California desperately needs new surface storage – The executive director of the California Water Alliance writes, “California’s water system desperately needs new surface storage to operationally balance demands for ecological water use with the needs of California’s cities, farms and even the wildlife refuges that depend on water imports. That means we need new federal legislation with provisions that (Matt) Weiser finds radioactive, but many thoughtful and caring Californians deem essential.” Bettencourt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno County correctional officer stabbed by inmate – Fresno County jail inmate who was involved in a police shooting nearly two months ago is now facing new felony charges after he allegedly stabbed a correctional officer with a “jail-made weapon” Saturday, sheriff’s Lt. Joe Smith said. Fresno Bee article

Kings jail expansion nearly complete – The newly expanded Kings County Jail is nearing completion, solving the facility’s ongoing shortage of space for inmates and staff. After AB-109 prison realignment went into effect on Oct. 1, 2011, the jail was inundated with nonviolent offenders who would otherwise have served their sentences in state prisons. In 2012, a whopping 990 inmates were released early due to crowding, compared with 31 the previous year. Hanford Sentinel article 

High-profile police beating prompts change of Bay Area police agency body cameras — If it weren’t for a private overhead security camera, there would have been no video record of deputies pummeling a cowering Stanislov Petrov. The episode highlighted how the accelerating adoption of body-worn cameras by Bay Area police still leaves a central question only partially answered: How — and how often — should they be used? San Jose Mercury News article

Lewis Griswold: Tulare County sheriff hires first female pilot after deadly crash — Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has hired a new pilot, allowing the air support unit to fly again after a crash claimed the life of a pilot and deputy in February. Michelle Simoes of Tipton will be the first female pilot in the air unit who is not a volunteer. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Jeff Jardine: Racist or righteous? ‘Asinine’ mall incident leaves police chief shaking his head – Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll called it “asinine all the way around.” Asinine, because a 20-something African American man sat smoking marijuana in theVintage Faire Mall parking lot one morning in December. Until further notice or unless the person has a medical marijuana card, that remains illegal. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Modesto pays $25,000 in mistake over missing person case — Modesto has paid $25,000 to settle a claim filed by the wife of a disabled man whose missing person case police admit they mishandled. The claim says the man died after being assaulted while he was missing. Modesto Bee article 

Filmmaker spends 7 years documenting life inside Soledad prison — Usually, when journalists try to get into a prison to talk to inmates, we’re lucky if we’re able to get a few minutes for an interview with a “model prisoner.”  But Noel Schwerin talked her way into spending seven years filming inside Soledad prison, with unprecedented access to both inmates and prison staff. KQED report


Fresno Bee Education Buzz — California FFA state conference is April 23-26 in Fresno; Fresno Christian High online newspaper wins another national award; two Fresno State programs get good news. Fresno Bee article

Small district, big growth: Fairfax schools propose bond — Spurred by a looming population spike, Fairfax Elementary School District officials will for the second time in six years ask voters this June to approve a multi-million dollar school construction bond. Fairfax will seek $19 million to build a new school, necessitated by the pending approval of a new apartment complex and the potential for another 300 to 400 homes to be developed in the area. Bakersfield Californian article 

Students of color nudged toward health careers — Smedley was one of more than a dozen African American health professionals to speak at the third annual Minority Health Professions Mentor Program, a free event hosted by a local nonprofit called Yes2Kollege Education Resources. While a goal was to bolster pursuit of careers in the medical profession among black students, the event drew many other students of color. Sacramento Bee article

Anita Chabria: Impact of pepper-spray incident on two students – The freelance contributor writes, “Ian Lee was a teenage freshman at his first protest when he was pepper-sprayed at UC Davis in 2011. He was one of the kids sitting on the sidewalk in the photos. Tom Zolot was a senior standing nearby on the quad that day “advocating for a more just world and not willing to leave until we got it,” he said. He was hit with the aerosol as well. Neither was surprised to learn that the university tried to bury mention of the incident on the Internet. Chabria column in Sacramento Bee


Solar plane crosses Pacific to Bay Area on trip around the world – A solar-powered airplane flew over the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday, offering San Franciscans a rare glimpse of the aircraft as it completed its flight over the Pacific Ocean as part of an attempt to circumnavigate the world. San Francisco Chronicle article

Family Dollar Stores to pay $307,000 for environmental violations — Family Dollar Stores Inc. has been ordered by a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge to pay $307,000 in civil penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects following an investigation into the firm’s handling of hazardous waste. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Mike Klocke: Pain that isn’t ‘wasted’ — The words emblazoned across the front of their shirts speak of a courageous commitment: “We Don’t Waste Our Pain.” That’s not to say the pain of losing children does not endure. That’s simply not human nature. But a small group of Stockton women who have suffered the agony of loss are doing all they can to help comfort others who have lost young loved ones — to crime or to natural causes. Klocke column in Stockton Record


Fresno Bee: North Valley leaders fuel bipartisan fast track to success – If you want to see what real political leadership looks like, head north in the Valley, where it’s on display. Lawmakers and supervisors in Merced, Modesto and Stockton want to be part of California’s high-speed rail project. Fresno Bee editorial

Veterans Boulevard project in Fresno marches on – A portion of Veterans Boulevard has been finished southwest of Herndon and Polk avenues, and the rest of the project continues to progress, according to The Bee and the city. Fresno Bee article 

Northern California towns lack resources to handle oil train spills, fires — Rural officials like Duerksen have been worried for decades about the chlorine, ammonia, propane and crude oil transported through their northern California communities by BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad. But a dramatic surge in production in oil fields in the Midwest and Canada increased the volume from about 10,000 railroad tank cars in 2008 to nearly half a million in 2014. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

David Mas Masumoto: Documentary captures Masumotos in real life – A documentary about our family and our farm will be aired nationally on PBS in late April and May. When we were first approached by the filmmakers, we asked ourselves: Why us? Who cares? Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Lois Henry: Good news for Kern animals and a legendary lawman — Mark your calendars for Friday at 10:30 a.m. if you’d like to attend the dedication of a gravestone for a long forgotten, larger-than-life Kern County lawman at Union Cemetery. Harry W. Bludworth was a Sheriff’s deputy here from about 1875 to 1882. Also, Wings of Rescue is satisfied that the Kern County Animal Services shelter has addressed its health issues and will again fly county shelter animals to new homes starting next month. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Love Modesto event spreads message of hope throughout city – Modesto was feeling the love and spreading the love far and wide Saturday morning. The annual citywide community service event Love Modesto brought out some 5,000 people to clean, serve, help and encourage in close to 100 projects around the area. Started in 2009, the self-improvement drive has grown each year, attracting some 1,200 volunteers its inaugural year. Modesto Bee article

Kern Turns 150: How local families first ended up here — All year, The Californian has been serializing historical accounts of Kern County’s founding and development to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of its official creation by the California Legislature. We asked readers to help tell the story by recounting how their families ended up here. Below are some of their stories. Bakersfield Californian article 

Hughson Arboretum saying goodbye to founder Sturtevant — The Hughson Arboretum and Gardens will say goodbye to its founder and welcome its future April 30. Margaret Claudia Marsh Sturtevant, who turned parts of the family farming operation into the arboretum over two decades, died Jan. 9 at 96. Modesto Bee article

Lori Gilbert: Horse racing demise at County Fair hits hard — Now the track will go dark, and I, for one, will miss it all: the people in the horse business, the crowd at the grandstand, where you’d always run into someone you knew, and the splendid beauty of horses running. The memories are indelible, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to experience them. Gilbert in Stockton Record