April 27, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: California lawmakers want even more tax breaks — Dozens of bills to create new loopholes – exemptions from taxation, tax credits and taxable income deductions – have been introduced and if enacted, could cost the state treasury additional hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Same-sex marriage opponents urge Supreme Court to go slow – Same-sex marriage opponents acknowledge they face a tough task in trying to persuade the Supreme Court to allow states to limit marriage to a man and a woman. But they are urging the court to resist embracing what they see as a radical change in society’s view of what constitutes a marriage, especially without more information about how same-sex marriage affects children who are raised by two fathers or two mothers. AP article; ‘Kennedy vs. Scalia: The voices of the Supreme Court in the division over gay marriage’ in Washington Post

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Time to put the brakes on add-on fees for minor traffic citations – Soaring municipal fees are turning traffic tickets into such major expenses that many can’t get their car out of the impound lot. People shouldn’t lose their transportation to work over an illegal left turn. Sen. Robert Hertzberg’s SB 405 aims to fix that. Sacramento Bee editorial

Judge Kennedy’s long road from Sacramento to landmark gay marriage case – Anthony M. Kennedy was a 44-year-old appeals court judge in Sacramento — a Republican appointee and happily-married Catholic — when he first confronted the question of whether the Constitution protected the rights of gays and lesbians. LA Times article

Margaret Bengs: Voters and legislators, not judges, should decide gay marriage – The former Sacramento Bee contributing columnist writes, “A victory won by a fair fight is accepted. One that is rigged is resented. If gay marriage is imposed on the nation, it will likely be by a 5-4 margin. As in California, one judge’s opinion could strip away the voice of millions of Americans. And the social divide that the high court would purportedly solve by nationalizing gay marriage will not end, but deepen.”  Bengs op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Democrats, several of them Californians, were ‘Party of No’ in House budget fight –  As a parade of budget proposals whizzed through Congress this year, Rep. Ami Bera and 30 other lawmakers voted, at the very least, consistently. No on the four Republican budget plans. No on the Democratic alternative. No on the Black Caucus budget. No on the Progressive Caucus budget. LA Times article

Analysis: Why Armenian Genocide recognition remains a tough sell — More than 20 nations have recognized the Armenian deaths as the result of a genocide. The list includes France, Germany, Canada and Russia, according to a list maintained by the Armenian National Institute, but not Israel or the United Kingdom. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

In California, drought widens economic split – The fierce drought that is gripping the West – and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California – is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. New York Times article

Corinthian Colleges to shut down all 28 remaining campuses — Corinthian Colleges will shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses, displacing about 16,000 students, less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation.  Heald College campuses in Fresno and Salida are affected.AP article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Modesto Bee article; Fresno Bee article

Merced County jail releases on the rise since realignment — The number of inmates released from early from Merced County’s two jails has increased each year since 2011 when the state implemented Assembly Bill 109, also known as the State Prison Realignment Act. The average daily inmate population has increased in Merced County each year over the same time period, according to numbers obtained by the Merced Sun-Star. Merced Sun-Star/AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Merced offer new transparency tool on city’s money matters — The Merced City Council got its first look last week at a new transparency tool available to anyone with Internet access. Chief Financial Officer Brad Grant gave the council a tour during Monday’s regular meeting of the online tool called OpenGov. The tool allows anyone who’s interested to look at the city’s bank account as it changes in real time. Merced Sun-Star article

Retirees get voter-OKed pension cut overturned — A retiree group won a big victory last month. Reversing a superior court ruling, an appeals court overturned part of a voter-approved San Francisco pension reform in 2011 that ended higher payments to retirees when investments have “excess earnings.”  Calpensions article

Gallo Center poised to close books on best season yet – Success breeds success at the Gallo Center for the Arts, which will mark another best-ever season in ticket sales when the 2014-15 books close this summer. It also breeds pressure to keep the momentum going. Modesto Bee article

Fitz’s Stockton: A ghost town on Main Street – If you don’t know this spot, well, yes. Exactly. The Main Street mall is a party to which nobody came. It is remarkably devoid of people for a city’s Main Street. Even Stockton’s sprawl-sapped Main Street. There’s more action in the ghost town of Bodie. The Main Street mall is a failed experiment in urban renewal. It was funded by Uncle Sam. Back then planers believed banishing cars would revive downtowns. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

Truckers could stay home from nation’s biggest ports complex – Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation’s busiest port complex in Los Angeles and Long Beach could stay home Monday in a long-running labor dispute. AP article

B.J. Mitchell: System helps libraries improve service – and reduce costs – The retired librarian from Tehachapi writes, “There is, in fact, a better way to approach library budgets than to place the future of libraries in the hands of people who do not necessarily understand their purposes. This is just a thumbnail sketch of the program, but it is an important breakthrough in the budgeting process.” Mitchell op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


San Jose’s new drought rules: How they will affect you – The San Jose City Council last week enacted sweeping new water conservation rules in response to California’s drought. The new rules take effect immediately and will continue until March 31, 2016.  San Jose Mercury News article

George Skelton: Import our water from wetter climes? It’s a pipe dream —  It only were this simple: Build a pipeline to Seattle and solve California’s water problems. Better yet: Lay pipe to the Great Lakes. Or sink pipe on the ocean floor and siphon water from Alaska. While we’re at it, tow an iceberg down from the Arctic. All these ideas and more have been suggested over the decades. Let’s get right to the point: They’re all nutty. Politically and financially unfeasible. Skelton column in LA Times

Drought promotes renewed interest in water tech — Although low water prices and a lack of financial incentives to conserve have long made the market for water-saving technology sluggish, the drought is sparking renewed interest by venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in technology that could help ease the state’s perennial water shortfalls.  San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Downside of police body cameras: Your arrest hits YouTube — Police departments around the country have been moving with unusual speed to equip officers with body cameras to film their often edgy encounters with the public. But the adoption of these cameras has created a new conflict over who has the right to view the recordings. New York Times article


School officials fight new cap on reserves – Local school officials plan to protest a new law Monday they argue could put local schools in harm’s way should economic conditions drastically worsen. The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last June, would cap school district reserves in certain years as part of an overall budget plan that has meant more money for many districts. State officials said only extreme economic conditions would trigger the cap. Bakersfield Californian article

City College battle prompts bills to rein in accreditation panel – As state officials sift through the aftermath of the near-closure of California’s largest public college, a San Francisco lawmaker is proposing to rein in the state’s only community college accreditation commission — though it’s not clear that the state has the authority to regulate the private, nonprofit commission.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Federal government urges K-12 schools to comply with Title IX – The U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance on Friday reminding K-12 school districts that, like colleges and universities, they also must have systems in place to address sexual harassment and ensure equal opportunities for male and female athletes. EdSource article

Buchanan High part of team that won international robotics competition — The Buchanan Bird Brains of Clovis won the international title of the FIRST Robotics Competition Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri in an alliance with three others teams. It was an impressive feat for the team from Buchanan High School, which has never even won a regional competition. The Clovis team had been to the international competition four other times. Fresno Bee article

Monday Q&A: Modesto City Schools launches districtwide recycling effort, hopes to reduce carbon footprint – Changing perceptions and habits about recycling can seem like a tough task, but Modesto City Schools officials say it can be done with a districtwide program to encourage students and staff to reduce, recycle and repurpose. Modesto Bee article

Franklin’s Junior Scientists try teaching the little kids — Franklin Elementary School fifth- and sixth-graders took a turn being the teacher for a morning, showing younger kids what makes a solid different from a liquid. Modesto Bee article


Nepal-size earthquake in California could kill 1,800, study found — Can a massive earthquake like the one in Nepal this weekend occur in California? The short answer is yes.  Like Nepal, California is situated at the intersection of huge pieces of the Earth’s crust and is prone to seismic activity. There have been quakes in California larger than Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude temblor that killed thousands.  LA Times article

Graffiti artists’ move to national parks shocks nature community — Saraiva is of a new generation of graffiti artists who regard nature — not just the built environment — as their canvas. They tag national parks, then post photos of their work on the Internet. Those acts infuriate outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom are otherwise fans of graffiti art. LA Times article

Ask TBC: What’s the latest on Isabella Dam fixes? — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still in the pre-construction, engineering and design phase of the project, a phase that started in 2013.  Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services

Signing up late for Medicare Part B can trigger a lifelong penalty — Confusion can cause people to sign up late for Medicare Part B, which can lead to a hefty penalty that sticks with you for life. For example, one recent caller to the Medicare Rights Center help line reported enrolling late for Part B and, as a result, paying an additional $52.45 a month, or $629 extra a year. LA Times article

San Joaquin General Hospital creates Charitable Foundation — San Joaquin General Hospital has been operational for more than 150 years, but it has never had its own foundation — until now. The hospital has created the Charitable Foundation, aimed at educating the public about its services, as well as securing funds for much needed improvements. Stockton Record article


Golden Gate Bridge officials seek help in addressing drones — The agency that manages the Golden Gate Bridge is asking Sen. Dianne Feinstein for help in restricting the rising number of remote-controlled drones that have been buzzing the famous span. AP article

Other areas

Bee Investigator: Big rigs, trailers: Where can they park? — Big rigs weighing more than 10,000 pounds are prohibited from parking in residential neighborhoods for any purpose other than making pickups or deliveries. Trailers, like the ones used to haul cars, as well as other “oversize vehicles” have a few more exceptions. Modesto Bee article

Sequoia Cycling Classic returns with strong community support — With a passion for cycling, and a strong sense of community support, Luigi Cristallo sat front-and-center in Downtown Visalia Sunday and cheered for his fellow cyclists He was also cheering for the much-anticipated Sequoia Cycling Classic, which surfaced after a seven-year break. Visalia Times-Delta article

Haircuts for the homeless — One of the city’s most unconnected demographics benefited greatly Sunday thanks to social media, namely Facebook, illustrating once again that many Stockton people care about those living on the streets.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – U.S. needs to hold fast to our true friends in the Middle East.

Sacramento BeeSoaring municipal fees are turning traffic tickets into such major expenses that many can’t get their car out of the impound lot. People shouldn’t lose their transportation to work over an illegal left turn. Sen. Robert Hertzberg’s SB 405 aims to fix that.