April 26, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: Tax boosts would also affect poor — It’s fairly certain that the 2016 California ballot will include at least one, and perhaps several, tax increase measures. It will be a presidential election with a relatively high turnout of voters, which would increase the odds of passing new taxes.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Kristin Olsen: We need your voice to help secure water supply – The Assembly Republican leader from Modesto writes, “Two votes that will affect the lives of literally everyone in our region will take place at the state Capitol on Monday. It is vital that people in our communities travel to Sacramento to make our voices heard.”  Olsen op-ed in Modesto Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republican Tom Del Beccaro announces U.S. Senate run — Tom Del Beccaro, a former chairman of the California Republican Party, announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Sunday, promising to focus on the state’s uneven economic recovery and punishing drought in his bid to succeed Democrat Barbara Boxer. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Other areas

‘Odd couple’ battles it out for Senate seat — It’s hardly your typical political matchup — pitting a missionary’s daughter backed by Planned Parenthood and nearly every major Democratic lawmaker against a close confidant of Gov. Jerry Brown, who is counting on independents and Republicans to carry him to Sacramento.  Contra Costa Times article

New California Supreme Court surprises analysts early – Although it is still too early to assess the impact of Brown’s appointees, “it tells us they are not voting as a bloc,” Santa Clara University professor Gerald Uelmen said. LA Times article

Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris face different obstacles –  It is one of the oddities of this campaign season: In races for two of the most sought-after political offices in the country, two Democratic women are running virtually unchallenged, their tasks both boosted and complicated by the veneer of inevitability. LA Times article

U.S. official denies report of Islamic State plot in California — CNN reported on Saturday that the FBI was investigating a possible Islamic State-inspired terrorism plot in California but a U.S. law enforcement official in Los Angeles denied there was any such threat. Reuters article

Willie Brown: A properly predicted Clinton campaign conflict — My prediction that Hillary Rodham Clinton was inviting nothing but trouble by announcing early that she’s running for president is starting to come true.  Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Correspondents dinner: Obama takes jabs at 2016 hopefuls – A presidential election just getting into gear provided President Barack Obama plenty of new material to work with on the night he describes as Washington celebrating itself.  LA Times article; Reuters article

Michael Fitzgerald: The ‘national security party’ stiffs vets – Many congressional Republicans never met a foreign intervention they didn’t like. Some are flat-out warmongers. Sure, some Dems, too. Hillary included. She’s strangely hawkish. But Republicans increase Pentagon funding even though — because Washington is still operating under the constraints of the sequester — that means they must cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, social welfare programs and everything else. But veterans? Our young whom their policies send off to war? The wounded and the traumatized and the elderly in need of care? Those they stiffed this week. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Victor Davis Hanson: Clinton vs. Clinton — The problem with Hillary Clinton’s various progressive campaigns is that they will be logically waged against people in her own family. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Jack Ohman: Sit back and watch the primaries, unless you have a few million to get into the game — As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling ended representative democracy a few years ago. So now we have a pretend primary process, and we have a new schedule to contend with. Let’s look at the calendar. Ohman in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Drought doesn’t stop nation’s most ambitious salmon revival in San Joaquin Valley — Young salmon glide through shallow riffles in the San Joaquin River, not far from busy shopping centers, swift Fresno traffic and a golf course. The southernmost salmon stream in North America might seem like an afterthought in city life here, but don’t let that fool you. The San Joaquin is home to the nation’s most ambitious salmon-river restoration — bringing back both fish and a river six decades after they died. Fresno Bee article

City Hall officials: Full speed ahead on Fulton Corridor project – Fulton is a corridor on the move — though it’s pulled in opposite directions. Fresno City Hall officials say work will soon begin on turning the six blocks of Fulton Mall into a two-way street friendly to cars, pedestrians and economic bonanzas. A general contractor to oversee the $20 million project should be selected by late summer. The first chunks of mall concrete could be flying by the fall. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield officials explore luring more business downtown – From the days of Brock’s Department Store to the time of Woody’s Toy Circus to today, Bakersfield’s traditional downtown shopping district has been seen as a retail center. Councilman Terry Maxwell, whose area includes downtown, wants it to be more than that. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Spurred on by the spear: Organizers thrilled by debut – On a scale of one to 10, Kelly Olds rated the first San Joaquin County Asparagus Festival “an 11. It exceeded my expectations.” “I’m really, really excited,” said Carol Noceti, who helped save the 29-year-old Stockton event from extinction. “I really am. I’m almost speechless.”  Stockton Record article; Mike Klocke column in Stockton Record

Building restoration could be icing on the ‘cake’ – It’s been more than a year since workers removed the exterior stucco from a century-old building downtown to reveal what one historical preservationist described as “a neoclassic wedding cake.” Now it looks like the cake is about to be frosted. Bakersfield Californian article

Public, private sector wage gap heavily favors many LA city workers – Among the city workers who are currently threatening to strike amid contract negotiations that have stalled over pay and other issues, many collect salaries higher than those who do similar jobs in both the public and private sectors, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found. LA Times article

Tiny Modoc casino tribe adopts white men in failed attempt to profit — The newcomers have divided the tribe and stoked a conflict over tribal revenues that has consumed an outsized amount of time and money in state and federal courts. The U.S. Postal Service even had to decide recently which of the feuding members was entitled to receive the tribe’s mail.  Sacramento Bee article

Lois Henry: Unique bottle unearths Bakersfield’s brewing history — Bakersfieldians love their beer. When a city our size outranks Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and even the “Big Easy” as one of the nation’s top beer markets, you know we have some serious brew love goin’ on. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Adult beverages coming soon to Starbucks in Modesto — It looks as if some Starbucks restaurants in Modesto will be joining those in Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and other areas where you’ll soon be able to stop in for a beer or a glass of wine. Modesto Bee article

Festival signals food trucks’ rising popularity in Sacramento — Lines were long at the eighth SactoMoFo food truck festival Saturday, in what may be the last time the event is held under the concrete canopy of the Capital City Freeway at Sixth and W streets. The festival continues to grow in popularity, with 15,000 patrons expected to sample the offerings this year, said festival founder and director Paul Somerhausen. Sacramento Bee article

With legalization, lawyers turn to the business of pot — Lawyers and pot dealers have long intersected in criminal court, but as marijuana goes mainstream, attorneys have been working to keep sellers and growers legit. Marijuana divisions are popping up at law firms to advise pot shops on where they can locate, what their websites can say and how to vet new clients. AP article


David Mas Masumoto: The story of water – The story of water is not a simple linear narrative. We face a wonderfully complex future. We are witnessing a revolution and we must cultivate our resiliency. It makes for a great story and we are living it with every drink.  Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Sacramento Bee: California water use numbers should flow freely – If we’re all in this together, we need to know who is using how much water – no matter whether it’s corporate farms siphoning rivers or underground aquifers, apartment complexes irrigating landscapes or industrial and power plants piping in water. Secrecy and misinformation breed suspicion, and that only makes it more difficult to come up with smart and fair solutions. Sacramento Bee editorial

California drought tests strength of Gold Rush-era water rights — As California stretches into a fourth year of drought, regulators are expanding their reach and running into resistance from holders of some of California’s oldest and strongest water rights.  Sacramento Bee article

Storm brings around three-quarters of an inch of rain to Fresno area — Storms that rolled into the central San Joaquin Valley early Saturday morning brought around three quarters of an inch of rain to the Fresno area, and enough snow in the Sierras to close Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park. Fresno Bee article

Two great documentaries about fruit are screening next week –  A documentary about Central Valley peach grower/author Mas Masumoto and his family farm will be screening at the Japanese American National Museum as part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. “Changing Season” documents the life of this busy second-generation farmer as he and daughter Nikiko negotiate the tricky businesses of family and farming in the 21st century. LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Almond joy? Not out on Horseshoe Road — The drought continues and growers keep planting orchards. Residents of Horseshoe Road east of Oakdale want to talk to government officials and growers about falling water levels and newly dug wells. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Lauren Michele: Why knock almonds? Alfalfa consumes twice the water – The founder of Policy in Motion writes, “When you consider that California produces 80 percent of the world’s almond supply and that alfalfa uses more than twice the water almonds do, then the almond math starts to change.”  Michele op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Critics take aim at Nestle bottled water plant in Sacramento — Nestlé Waters North America has operated a bottling business in southeastern Sacramento since 2010. The company buys water from the city of Sacramento to produce and fill bottles of its Pure Life Purified Drinking Water. Nestlé also churns out bottles of its Arrowhead Mountain Spring product at the plant, using water that is delivered from springs in Placer, El Dorado, Tuolumne and Napa counties. Members of a coalition called Crunch Nestlé have organized protests outside the plant on Younger Creek Drive, most recently last month. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento County eyes urban-farm ordinances — Sacramento County is crafting two urban agriculture ordinances. One will allow urban farmers to sell produce on their property. The other would allow urban farmers to take advantage of tax breaks. (These tax breaks have been approved by the city in its urban-ag ordinance and are awaiting a county vote). Sacramento Bee article

Lawrence McQuillan and Aaron White: Water market offer better approach to conservation – The Independent Institute officials write, “Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 order for a 25 percent reduction in urban water use follows unprecedented restrictions from the State Water Resources Control Board in March. Such top-down mandates would be unnecessary if California followed more innovative approaches already working in other places plagued by drought.” McQuillan/White op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Strength, solace, safety tips shared at Modesto rally for crime victims — Supporting and in some cases remembering crime’s victims took center stage in Modesto at the Victims’ Rights Rally and Family Safety Fair on the courthouse lawn. Modesto Bee article


College for the masses – New studies show how a four-year degree greatly benefits even ​weak students.  New York Times article

Former Columbia College president sues over firing, alleges discrimination – District officials and board members remain legally barred from discussing personnel reviews or giving their reasons for the firing, done under the “for cause” clause of Dennis Gervin’s three-year contract. But that silence may end if the lawsuit filed by Gervin, 54, now a Modesto Junior College biology professor, proceeds to trial. Modesto Bee article

Steve Lopez: Struggling student a victim of high fines and misdemeanors — Eduardo Lopez, 22, has not caught many breaks in his young life. If anything, that’s made him more determined to succeed. The all-star soccer player wants to finish college, he wants to be a firefighter, and he wants to help get his family out of the hole it’s been in from the day he was born.Lopez column in LA Times

Merle Haggard finally gets that high school diploma — Saturday afternoon, following the pre-concert soundcheck four hours before his Fox Theater performance, Merle Haggard finally clutched a blue-and-white framed sheepskin.  Bakersfield Californian article


Eastern Sierra community lives with devastating reality of year-round fire season — As California enters its fourth year of drought, communities across the West are confronting a new reality — a year-round fire season. Perhaps nowhere are the consequences as obvious as in Swall Meadows, where the 300 residents are now shoveling ash instead of snow. San Jose Mercury News article

Health/Human Services

Health fair in Livingston provides free exams to medically underserved — Despite Saturday’s early showers, Livingston Community Health gathered a crowd of people seeking free medical screenings at its annual Spring Health Fair. Merced Sun-Star article

Renee Sankus: Schoolchildren deserve better protection from pesticides – The parent who lives in Stockton writes, “I know firsthand about the problems pesticides can cause. During my pregnancy and for the first 10 months of my son’s life, we lived near agricultural fields in San Joaquin County and witnessed the heavy use of pesticides.”  Sankus op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Raising speed limits spur safety concerns — At least 10 states have taken legislation this year to increase maximum speed limits, according to AAA. Critics say higher speeds means bigger danger on the roads. AP article

Other areas

Reinvent South Stockton summit begins discussion to bring about change – Rays of warm sunshine burst through the dark, heavy clouds hanging over the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds on Saturday afternoon, representing a ray of hope for those trying to bring brighter days to the troubled south Stockton community. Stockton Record article

At-risk neighborhood: Some feel under siege, but others say it’s getting better — Geographically, it’s a tight little neighborhood — roughly 18 isolated blocks of older single-family homes southwest of the county fairgrounds. Few motorists zipping up and down busy South Airport Way even know it’s there, tucked between the four-lane expressway and a Union Pacific rail yard. Like so many similar neighborhoods south of the Calaveras, the older families all used to know each other, and there was a strong community bond. But longtime residents say it’s changed all that has changed on the leafy streets outlined by East Seventh, Ophir, East 10th and South Sacramento in recent years as new families have moved in. Stockton Record article

Modesto Bee: Relationships keep communities out of trouble – In Ferguson, Mo.; Oakland; Cleveland; Brooklyn and elsewhere, the protests that erupted following tragic deaths at the hands of police didn’t spring from a singular shooting. They built, like steam in a closed pot, that needed just one more moment to blow. We don’t think that will happen in Modesto or elsewhere in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee editorial

Local groups, businesses team up to overhaul home of retired Army vet — Along came Greg Collins, and soon after him, dozens of carpenters and other volunteers. With the help of several local businesses and nonprofits, they performed about $100,000 worth of repairs and improvements to Marlow’s home on Judd Street on the western outskirts of Rosedale. Bakersfield Californian article

Donald Blount: When all reading is totally hip — I have been back at work for about 10 days since taking about a month off to recover from hip replacement surgery. The surgery went well, or so I was told, and after literally just 26 hours in the hospital I went home to recuperate, rehab and rest. I read nine books, eight nonfiction, in less than 30 days. And none were picture books.Here is my reading list.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It was despicable that fair and sensible legislation to protect small businesses from being blackmailed by unscrupulous lawyers suing under the guise of helping the disabled was gutted April 22 in a state Assembly committee.

Modesto Bee – In Ferguson, Mo.; Oakland; Cleveland; Brooklyn and elsewhere, the protests that erupted following tragic deaths at the hands of police didn’t spring from a singular shooting. They built, like steam in a closed pot, that needed just one more moment to blow. We don’t think that will happen in Modesto or elsewhere in Stanislaus County.

Sacramento Bee – If we’re all in this together, we need to know who is using how much water – no matter whether it’s corporate farms siphoning rivers or underground aquifers, apartment complexes irrigating landscapes or industrial and power plants piping in water. Secrecy and misinformation breed suspicion, and that only makes it more difficult to come up with smart and fair solutions