April 4, 2015


Receive the Maddy Daily in your inbox every morning! To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an email to Ana Melendez at ajovelmelendez@csufresno.edu.

Political Briefs

Top stories

Half a million California immigrants seek licenses, exceeding projections — A surge of undocumented immigrants seeking driver’s licenses has caught the California Department of Motor Vehicles off guard and underscored the massive interest in the new program. Just months after driver’s licenses became available to immigrants living in California illegally, the product of legislation advocates had pursued fruitlessly for years before prevailing in 2013, 493,998 have sought licenses. The number has surprised officials who spent months bracing for an influx of new customers by hiring staff, opening new DMV offices and extending hours. Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown releases emails from private account — In an unusual disclosure, Gov. Jerry Brown late Thursday released 113 pages of emails from his personal account to staff, a collection evincing a governor who works late, appreciates brevity and holds a keen interest in media coverage of his administration. Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Surprise Assembly winner Mathis learning the ways of Sacramento — On his 21st birthday, when most of Devon Mathis’ contemporaries were still in college, working a job or trying to figure out what to do in life, he was an Army National Guard sergeant in Iraq leading a small team searching for roadside bombs. Mathis sees a lot of similarities between his time in the military and his new job — Republican state Assembly member from Visalia representing a district centered in Tulare County.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Harris bars press from campaign kickoff – the question is why – When U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris held a campaign kickoff in San Francisco this week, the media was barred — an unusual move that has some people complaining she’s shielding herself from the press. San Francisco Chronicle article

Joel Fox: California following Massachusetts model when it comes to voters and voting? — New statistics show a big jump in “no party preference” voters in California while registration in both major political parties has declined. While this change in voter registration mirrors some national trends, California may be heading boldly in the direction of another thickly populated blue state – Massachusetts.  Fox in Fox & Hounds


Low turnout for DREAMers driver’s licenses in Arizona — Fewer than half of the young immigrants who became eligible for an Arizona driver’s license after a lengthy legal battle have obtained one, according to state data.  AP article

Other areas

Fresno County Supervisor Poochigian urges President Obama to recognize Armenian genocide — Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigianwrote a letter to President Barack Obama last month urging him to reverse the U.S. stance and recognize the Armenian genocide.  Fresno Bee article

Carson talks about need for conservative reform, but mum on possible presidential run — Dr. Ben Carson, a potential GOP candidate in the upcoming presidential election, spoke to a sold-out Wilson Theater crowd in downtown Fresno on Friday about his humble beginnings and the nation’s need for a conservative overhaul.  Fresno Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

$25-billion Sacramento-San Joaquin delta tunnel project reexamined – Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is overhauling its proposal for a controversial tunnel project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta in the wake of doubts about whether water exporters can meet stringent federal conditions for operating the system over a 50-year period.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown’s drought plan goes easy on agriculture – Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic order to curb California’s water use largely bypasses agriculture, the state’s biggest water user, setting off debate about whether growers are getting a pass.  LA Times article; Washington Post article; Capital Public Radio report; San Francisco Chronicle article

Stockton Unified, teachers reach tentative accord — A marathon bargaining session that began Thursday morning and extended into the wee hours of the following day finally bore fruit just before 1:30 a.m. Friday, with Stockton Unified and the Stockton Teachers Association agreeing to tentative, undisclosed contract terms.  Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Officials say North Fork negotiations ‘futile’ post-Prop 48 –The North Fork Mono Rancheria Indians contend that Gov. Jerry Brown is acting in bad faith by not negotiating a new compact for thetribe’s proposed casino and resort project near Madera, and the tribe wants a federal mediator to intervene.  Fresno Bee article

Job growth in March slows sharply, reflecting cold weather, cooling economy — After months of strong job growth, hiring in March slowed sharply to its weakest level in over a year. Employers added 126,000 net new jobs last month, just half of what economists had forecast and ending a yearlong streak of 200,000-plus job gains a month. LA Times article

Union caucus recommends dockworkers approve tentative contract – A dockworkers caucus recommended that union members approve a tentative labor agreement with shipping companies that ended months of labor strife at West Coast ports.  LA Times article

Fresno Bridge Academy to expand with $12.2 million USDA grant – Two years ago, Valeria Leon was attending Reedley College part time, working slowly toward her dream of becoming a health care interpreter while caring for her young children alone. The 22-year-old Fresno resident worried she wouldn’t make it, struggling to navigate school without being able to afford child care. Then she got a phone call. The person at the other end explained to Leon that she could get help through the Fresno Bridge Academy, a program contracted by the county’s Department of Social Services that works to get people off public assistance and into meaningful jobs.  Fresno Bee article

Is Bakersfield’s Pyrenees Bakery on the block? – Unless Kern County has another landmark bakery specializing in sourdough and sweetdough breads, it looks like Pyrenees French Bakery is up for sale.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno cabbies still fuming over ride-sharing services – Months after asking city officials to help even the playing field between ride-sharing services and traditional cab companies, Fresno taxi drivers say they have yet to see any changes.  The Business Journal article

Two Coco’s, one Carrows close in Bakersfield – Two of Bakersfield’s three Coco’s Bakery Restaurants closed Friday, along with the city’s only Carrows, as part of a series of cutbacks under new corporate ownership. Bakersfield Californian article

Trucking school expansion into Merced shows a drive to succeed – Barry Bither has been teaching folks how to handle vehicles, large and small, for 35 years. Pretty soon, Bither and his sons, David and Matt, will be teaching truck drivers in Merced. The three recently opened Advanced Career Institute on Ashby Road near Highway 99. It’s the third school for the Bithers, who also operate businesses in Visalia and Fresno.  Merced Sun-Star article

With costs set to rise, Placer County considers fire cuts – Despite drought conditions that have elevated wildfire risks this year, Placer County officials are considering whether to shutter one rural fire station and eliminate several positions to save money as it faces higher state firefighting costs.  Sacramento Bee article

Airbnb cuts ties with rental firms in Los Angeles — Amid mounting pressure from housing advocates and community groups, Airbnb is cutting ties with some of its biggest money-makers. LA Times article

Banks raising credit card borrowing limits for subprime customers – The nation’s major banks are more readily raising borrowing limits for credit card customers — including those with blemished credit histories — and are facing higher risks as a result.  LA Times article

Apple co-founder Wozniak will talk technology in Fresno – Technology icon Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer in 1976 and designed the landmark Apple II computer, is coming to Fresno in October as part of theSan Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series.  Fresno Bee article

Tesla sets delivery record, but still lags Elon Musk’s goals — Tesla Motors said it set a new company record for the most cars delivered in a quarter, with 10,030 vehicles in the first three months of 2015.  LA Times article


Bakersfield draft ordinance would limit watering to three days a week – With the state drought in its historic fourth year and snowpack measurements at 60-year lows, Bakersfield’s water clamp-down is tightening, albeit slowly. At a special meeting Wednesday, Bakersfield’s city water board will consider sending an emergency ordinance to the City Council limiting outdoor landscape watering to three days a week.  Bakersfield Californian article

More water restrictions likely in Merced County communities – Further water restrictions are already in the works for Merced County residents ahead of the order earlier this week from Gov. Jerry Brown to cut back water use in cities and counties by 25 percent.  Merced Sun-Star article

Water restrictions hit golf courses, cemeteries, homebuilders – Cemeteries and golf courses are struggling to limit the brown patches and keep their trees alive. Landscapers and nurseries are trying to educate customers about drought-tolerant alternatives to vast stretches of lawn. Homebuilders are dealing with rules requiring drip lines around new construction.Sacramento Bee article

Californians with century-old water rights face restrictions – Farms and other Californians that have been shielded from water reductions because of century-old claims could face new restrictions, the State Water Resources Control Board said Friday.  AP article

Nestle called out for bottling, selling California water during drought – Nestle is wading into what may be the purest form of water risk. A unit of the $243 billion Swiss food and drinks giant is facing populist protests for bottling and selling perfectly good water in Canada and drought-stricken California.  Reuters article

What does a 25 percent urban water cut really look like the California – Gov. Jerry Brown has mandated a 25 percent cut in urban water usage. This chart shows total annual developed water use in California in million acre-feet before and after such a cut.  Sacramento Bee article

Water agencies preparing for mandatory restrictions – Governor Jerry Brown has mandated California reduce its water use by 25 percent. And the state water board says it will give water agencies conservation targets based on how well they’ve saved water so far.  Capital Public Radio report

Mark Baldassare: PPIC sets up water policy center – The president of the Public Policy Institute of California writes, “The Public Policy Institute of California announces the launch of the PPIC Water Policy Center. Led by PPIC senior fellow Ellen Hanak, the center will spur innovative water management solutions that support a healthy economy, environment, and society—now and for future generations. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.” Baldassare in Fox & Hounds

UC Merced professor named to water advisory group – A UC Merced professor has been named to the new Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center, which was established this year in an attempt to help meet the state’s need for timely information and innovative water management during its record drought.  Merced Sun-Star article

Farm Beat: Riverbank offers healthy food for low-income people — Two items this week on efforts toward healthy eating: One is about the Riverbank Certified Farmers Market. The other involves dairy farmers and the NFL.  Modesto Bee article

Caltrans fast-tracks water projects – The California Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it has allocated emergency funding to continue to install smart sprinklers on state property in response to California’s protracted drought.  Stockton Record article

Brian Melley: Paltry snowpack forces skiers to higher ground amid drought – We’ve trudged through deep powder, braved icy slopes and weathered rain, wind and snow in an annual quest to reach a ski cabin in the wilderness of Sequoia National Park for the past 13 years. We always had skis on our feet — until this year.  Melley in Visalia Times-Delta

Big water users like Beverly Hills, Newport hit hardest by Brown order — Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic mandate for cities to cut water use by 25% is going to hit some communities much harder than others.  LA Times article

Making Sacramento a haven for honeybees – This buzz is all over town. Sacramento now is officially a “honeybee haven,” thanks to a City Council resolution. Passed in early March, the measure recognizes Sacramento as a place where bees can thrive and feel at home.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Facing federal drug charges, Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster resigns from department — Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster, who is facing federal drug charges, has resigned from the department effective immediately. A news release from Foster’s attorney, E. Marshall Hodgkins, said that “after much reflection, and on the advice of counsel, (Foster) has determined that his effectiveness in the department would be severely limited even if he is ultimately exonerated of the federal charges currently pending against him.”  Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Fresno DA: ‘Everyone got bamboozled with Prop 47’ – Fresno County’s new top prosecutor, Lisa A. Smittcamp, addressed area business leaders Friday at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs & Issues” breakfast. Recent voter approval of Proposition 47, she said, “is the biggest thing impacting the criminal justice system today.” “Everybody got bamboozled with Prop 47,” Smittcamp said. “It’s not working out.”  The Business Journal article

Fresno County DA Smittcamp will take active role in solving problems — Move over, Police Chief Jerry Dyer. Step aside, Sheriff Margaret Mims. There’s a new crimefighter in town named Lisa Smittcamp, and she promised Friday that she won’t be sitting on the sidelines while gangs, drugs and violent crimes ruin Fresno County communities. Fresno Bee article

Court amends punishment policy for mentally ill inmates – California prison officials said Friday they are changing state policy so mentally ill inmates who act out can get counseling instead of being automatically sent to isolation cells or kept in prison longer.   AP article

Judge’s order for inmate’s sexual reassignment may be appealed – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is debating whether to appeal a federal judge’s order granting a prisoner sexual reassignment surgery.  LA Times article

Hanford car burglaries continue to climb — The Hanford Police Department said nine more cars were burglarized in the city this week — bringing the total to 36 in two weeks.  Hanford Sentinel article

San Francisco chief moves to fire 7 more officers over text messages – San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said Friday that he will seek to fire seven of 14 officers accused of sending and receiving racist and homophobic text messages that came to light during a federal corruption probe. An eighth officer deserves to be fired, Suhr said, but has already resigned. San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

Lawyer’s fee in CHP beating case sparks courtroom drama, divided loyalties – As outrage grew, Pinnock’s outspoken attorney Caree Harper was at the center of the story. She decried the officer’s actions, demanded justice for her client and rallied community groups to Pinnock’s defense. Harper ended up securing a settlement in which the officer resigned and the CHP gave her client $1.5 million. But that victory last year has given way to vitriol and bitterness.  LA Times article


Better off TED? Nah, try Bakersfield College’s Renegade Talks — Inspiring the community 10 minutes at a time, Bakersfield College returns with another series of Renegade Talks on Thursday. Modeled after the popular TED talks (5- to 15-minute discussions on a wide variety of topics focused on changing attitudes and lives), Renegade Talks tap BC faculty, each bringing an amazing stockpile of inspiring wisdom.  Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced’s Bobcat Art Show muse to retire – The woman who has overseen art shows at UC Merced since before there was a gallery – or even a school – will retire at the end of the year. Those in the Merced arts community say they’ll miss Gail Benedict, the founder of the Bobcat Art Show and head of Arts UC Merced Presents. She says she hopes she left a mark – the reason she moved to Merced in the first place.  Merced Sun-Star article

Appeals court upholds yoga program in Encinitas public schools –  The teaching of yoga in Encinitas public schools does not represent an illegal attempt at religious indoctrination, an appeals court ruled Friday.  LA Times article

Courtnie Chan: Student club aims to offer ‘more service, real change’ — In early December, nine members of the message group met at a restaurant and established NMR to be a leadership and community service club for junior high and high school students in the Turlock area who want to become more active citizens.  Chan in Modesto Bee


PUC president opposes reconsidering San Onofre cost agreement — The president of the scandal-rocked Public Utilities Commission has rejected a call from a powerful lawmaker to reopen a financial settlement that apportioned nearly $5 billion in costs for the June 2013 permanent closure of the damaged San Onofre nuclear power plant.  LA Times article

Tom Steyer and Henry Cisneros: Businesses can’t ignore warming, sea level rise – Steyer, an advanced energy advocate, and Cisneros, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, write, “The Risky Business Project report offers cities and businesses an opportunity not only to assess the dangers we face, but to consider how we can be part of the solution. We can and should take steps now to reduce our energy and water use, make buildings more sustainable and more efficient and incorporate climate risk into our decision-making. By making changes at the local level, we can inspire action on the national and international stage.”  Steyer/Cisneros op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Lemoore will pay more for solar project – As the city works to complete its overdue $12.8 million solar energy project, the Lemoore City Council will consider approving $135,000 of extra costs on Tuesday.  Hanford Sentinel article

As quakes rattle Oklahoma, fingers point to oil and gas industry — At a packed town hall meeting days later, Ms. Cooper said, state officials called the shocks, including a 5.7 tremor that was Oklahoma’s largest ever, “an act of nature, and it was nobody’s fault.”  Many scientists disagree. New York Times article

Health/Human Services

Emanuel Medical Center will close primary care clinics in Turlock, Patterson — About 3,800 patients will need to find new doctors with the closure of the Emanuel Family Practice office on West Monte Vista Avenue and a sister clinic in Patterson. The clinics are set to close May 8.  Modesto Bee article; Modesto Bee editorial

Harneet Sindhu: Old is gold: How teens can help seniors – The sophomore at Clovis North High School writes, “Many teens still do not know what Alzheimer’s is, why it happens, who it happens to and when. In fact, most teens seem to be oblivious to the fact that our seniors need attention and care. If teenagers don’t treasure the value of our elder citizens, how will they grasp the knowledge and wisdom they need to be the successful leaders of our country?” Sindhu op-ed in Fresno Bee

Land Use/Housing

Downtown Hanford zoning changes encourage more housing — Are hipsters about to descend on the downtown areas of Kings County’s cities and towns, bringing trendy new apartment buildings and chic new bistros? Uh, not exactly. But they could if they wanted to.  Hanford Sentinel article


North County Corridor plans around the corner – The next major step for a future expressway north of Modesto should come in July, when leaders unveil results of environmental studies for the North County Corridor. Narrowing several path options to a final route would follow about a year later, with construction not long after. Modesto Bee article

The signs, they are a-changing — Come next year, Bakersfield will suddenly look a lot larger to drivers on the main north-south route, Highway 99. Crews working for Caltrans, the state transportation agency, will replace 197 overhead signs on Highways 99, 58 and 178 in city limits, and 48 ground-mounted signs throughout Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Skin will be grown for injured Fresno firefighter Pete Dern — A biopsy of skin from Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern has been sent to a cell-processing plant to grow the firefighter’s own skin to help in his recovery. The new skin will be used as skin grafts for Dern, who was burned over 70% of his body on Sunday when he fell through a garage roof while fighting a house fire and was engulfed in flames.  Fresno Bee article

Former Madera County Supervisor Harry Baker has died — Harry Baker, a former Madera County supervisor and longtime Oakhurst-area civic leader who in recent years made news for his arrest on child-molestation charges, died early Friday, said his attorney, Roger Nuttall. Fresno Bee article

Modesto’s Great Valley Museum fully, officially open at last – The Great Valley Museum will open for good Saturday, offering planetarium shows and live animal exhibits from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and special hours and programs for local schools’ spring break.  Modesto Bee article

Merced County Fair breaks ground on new building — It’s called the Hilmar Cheese Co. Barn, but Merced County Fair officials said Friday the first new construction on the Merced County Fairgrounds in three decades will be more than just a place to house pigs.  Merced Sun-Star article

All-American City: Stockton a finalist again – Stockton is a finalist for an All-American City award 11 years since it last received the recognition. The National Civic League bestows the designation onto communities that are developing innovative solutions to pressing issues. Stockton Record article

Newell Bringhurst: ‘McFarland, USA,’ my kid brother, my motivation to run – The retired professor of history and political science at College of the Sequoias writes, ““McFarland, USA” also evoked memories of my youngest brother who distinguished himself as an outstanding middle and long-distance runner. Like the impoverished Hispanics portrayed in the movie, my brother overcame significant obstacles of his own. Most evident was his small size and slight build — the result of chronic childhood illnesses.”  Bringhurst op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

U.S. suspends funding for troubled L.A. County emergency system — The U.S. Commerce Department on Friday suspended funding for an increasingly problem-plagued Los Angeles County emergency communications system, noting the project is “severely behind schedule.”  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – McDonald’s pay raise offers workers a break.

Modesto Bee – We need more, not fewer, health care options; First, we must have faith in a better way.

Sacramento Bee – McDonald’s pay raise offers workers a break.