August 1, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories 

Analysis: Drought bill déjà vu strikes (again) – You can be forgiven for thinking that the latest round of dueling federal drought bills sounds familiar. It is. On July 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed on a mostly party line vote on a bill introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, entitled the Western Water and American Food Security Act. On Wednesday, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the California Emergency Drought Relief Act in the U.S. Senate. Hanford Sentinel article

AD 31: Arambula tops Olivier in early race fundraising — New campaign finance data shows that Democrat Joaquin Arambula is off to a strong start, posting far bigger fundraising numbers than Republican Clint Olivier. Both are vying to replace Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who is termed out at the end of next year. Arambula raised $150,000 in the 10 weeks between the start of his campaign and June 30. He had around $138,000 in his account at the end of June. By comparison, Olivier raised around $42,000 in the first six weeks of his campaign. He has $40,000 in his account. Fresno Bee article 

Valley politics

Merced districts may group incumbents together — The local election districts to go into effect next year in Merced have the potential to pit members of the City Council against one another as they all live on the north side of town. Three members of the council will reach their term limits next year. But if the proposed maps are any measure, it’s likely more than one of the remaining four incumbents would have to face off for a council seat. Merced Sun-Star article

Campaign is launched to recall Patterson councilwoman — A campaign is underway to circulate a petition for a ballot measure to recall Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten. The City Council on July 14 called for Lustgarten to resign over her conduct at the Hammon Senior Center and because of threats officials said she made to other city officials. Modesto Bee article 

Mathis mixes it up with constituents — Assemblyman Devon Mathis spent Friday night fielding questions and comments on topics as varied as California’s drought, tax breaks for small businesses, government deregulation and even online “ride hailing” through Uber. Visalia Times-Delta article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Newsom has $5.5 million for 2018 California governor’s race – California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom reports that he has already banked nearly $5.5 million for a possible run for governor that’s still more than three years away. AP article

Political Climatology 2016: California Politics Podcast – This week’s California Politics Podcast takes a closer look at some new polling data on Californians and climate change, and the possible connection to the 2016 elections. California Politics Podcast in KQED 

Recall election history bodes ill for Richard Pan opponents – Incensed by a new law mandating full vaccination for schoolchildren, some Sacramento-area voters are attempting to boot from office Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the pediatrician who authored Senate Bill 277 months after winning a bruising campaign in 2014. If history is any guide, the odds are against them. But that doesn’t mean Pan shouldn’t take it seriously, those familiar with that history say. Sacramento Bee article

Scott Lay: Opponents on vaccination bill continue the fight — Opponents of SB 277, the vaccinations bill, received the green light to begin collecting signatures to ask voters to recall State Senator Richard Pan. Backers need 35,926 signatures by December 31, which is 20% of the votes cast in the election of Pan in 2014. The last successful recall effort was that of Gray Davis in 2003, and the last one to qualify for the ballot was of Jeff Denham in 2007, when he was a state senator. Lay in Fox & Hounds

Mike Huckabee to address California Republican convention — Republican Mike Huckabee, the folksy former governor of Arkansas, will fill a lunchtime speaking slot at the California Republican’s fall convention in Anaheim, officials said Friday. Capitol Alert


Other areas

Joel Fox: Testing all the arguments on SB 350 — The Public Policy Institute poll boosted the argument for state governmental action on climate change – or so it seemed. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Some central San Joaquin Valley voters love Trump, but enough to vote for him? — While some Valley voters love the billionaire real-estate mogul and his seemingly unscripted rhetoric, in most cases it feels more like a fling than a true romance. The reason? Most say they don’t like Trump enough to actually vote for him. Fresno Bee article 

Poker stars come to Fresno, Clovis to support online poker legislation — Is online poker coming to California? The matter has been kicking around Sacramento for years, but so far it has been a losing bet.  But this year, there is newfound hope that some compromise can be reached and legislation passed to approve the practice. To help matters along, poker celebrities are touring the state to support online poker. Fresno Bee article

San Francisco ballot measures this fall: housing, lobbying, development — San Francisco voters will have a chance this fall to weigh in on measures ranging from a proposed pause in the construction of market-rate housing in the Mission to limiting the availability of short-term rentals through companies such as Airbnb. San Francisco Chronicle article

Garcetti raises record $2.2 million in first quarter of re-election effort — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti raised $2.227 million during the first quarter of his 2017 re-election campaign, an amount that sets a record for incumbent mayors’ early fundraising in the era of the city’s modern campaign-finance regulations, his campaign consultant said Friday. LA Times article

Release of recordings by anti-abortion group blocked by judge – A federal judge on Friday blocked the release of any recordings made at meetings of an abortion providers’ association by an anti-abortion group that previously revealed secretly recorded videos of a Planned Parenthood leader. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Decision on gay scout leaders settles the issue – or not — Although the Boy Scouts of America announced this week that it would lift its blanket ban on openly gay adult leaders, the policy includes a religious exemption: Individual church-sponsored troops still can deny leadership positions based on sexual orientation. The compromise, which comes two years after the Scouts lifted a ban on openly gay youth, was greeted this week with applause as well as skepticism, indicative of the divisive debate over how to balance gay rights and religious rights. LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

George Hostetter: Drought is changing Fresno’s role forever — The water revolution sparked by the Great Drought took center stage at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting. But I almost missed the show. Let’s take this in six steps. Hostetter in Fresno Bee 

San Joaquin River restoration timetable extended – After missing ambitious deadlines to restore the San Joaquin River, federal leaders this week extended deadlines to 2030 and beyond while holding down federal appropriations funding to less than $50 million annually. Fresno Bee article 

Gas prices could fall to under $2.50 a gallon in California – Gas prices may soon begin falling to levels not seen since the Great Recession in 2008 to under $2.50 a gallon in California and — gasp! — to below two bucks nationwide. That would be a pleasant shock on the West Coast, coming just two weeks after rising nearly 75 cents overnight in Southern California to $4.30 a gallon. If refineries continue producing at full capacity, the switch over to winter-blend gas in the fall/winter months, which is cheaper to produce and lower in demand.  San Jose Mercury News article


Jobs and the Economy

California tax officials float state-run bank for marijuana industry – With legalized recreational marijuana possibly on the horizon in California, tax board officials signaled their interest Friday in forming a state-run bank that would allow pot-industry operators to transition from what has traditionally been a cash business. Access to financial institutions is difficult given the federal prohibition on the drug. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Modesto increasing curb appeal along Tenth Street – The city is increasing the curb appeal along one downtown block with planter boxes with trees, decorative cement that looks like brick sidewalks, tables with umbrellas for outdoor dining, pedestals displaying public art and other improvements. Interim Deputy City Manager Brent Sinclair said the improvements are part of the city’s vision to redevelop Tenth Street from Modesto Centre Plaza to the Tuolumne River. Modesto Bee article 

Merced supervisors spend less this year from discretionary funds – At the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year, Merced County supervisors handed out less money from their discretionary funds than the previous year, ending with a total of $271,584.95 in expenditures. Though the supervisors spent less, they also ended up with less than the previous year. The end balance is $398,050.21, compared with last year’s $435,330.78. Merced Sun-Star article 

Oil refinery profits in California set a record — Oil refinery profits set a California record of $1.61 a gallon in July as consumers in the Los Angeles region paid as much as a dollar more than the rest of the nation. LA Times article

Alley Cats struggle with thieves — Alley cats roam in and out of shadows. They cuddle the walls and step lightly to stay under the radar. However, thieves making their way into the Alley Cats wrecking yard in Visalia, are anything but stealth. Yet, they’ve managed to get away with thousands of dollars in car parts, stereos, tools and vehicles over the last 15 years. The owners of Alley Cats, Eric and Holly Wittig, have had enough. Visalia Times-Delta article

Daniel Borenstein: Contra Costa supervisors dip their hands in the public till one more time – Pushed by Mary Piepho of Discovery Bay and Karen Mitchoff of Concord, the supervisors decided last week to continue allowing double-dipping on car expenses, collecting an auto allowance of $7,200 a year plus a mileage reimbursement for most trips at 57.5 cents a mile. It should be one or the other, but not both. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

U.S., Pacific Rim trade talks fail over dairy, sugar – Top trade officials for the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries on Friday failed to conclude a major free-trade agreement — a setback for President Obama and his bid to clinch a deal that has been marked by repeated challenges at home and abroad. LA Times article 

La Rosa celebrating fruits of family’s labor – On a hot day in many Bakersfield neighborhoods, listen closely and you can hear them — the four bells of the paleteria carts carrying La Rosa fruit and ice cream bars. That’s the siren call of a sweet local tradition going strong since 1980. Bakersfield Californian article

Rocket crash investigation raises questions on FAA’s safety oversight — Newly released evidence in the investigation of last fall’s crash of an experimental spaceship over the Mojave Desert is raising questions about whether federal aviation regulators are protecting the public as companies launch more rockets. LA Times article 

Homelessness in Orange County: More single adults and fewer families; vets unchanged — A push to house the chronically homeless and homeless families in Orange County has brought down their numbers – but the number of veterans living on Orange County streets is unchanged and the number of single adults who are homeless has shot up, according to a report to the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness Friday. KPCC report; LA Times article



Fruit grower Dan Gerawan’s decades-long fight with UFW – The widely watched struggle between Gerawan Farming and the UFW has altered the labor-grower battlefield — overthrowing the state’s right to impose labor contracts through a mediator and revealing internal rifts and shortcomings at the board charged with keeping labor battles peaceful and brief. LA Times article 

How to you report California water waste with a smartphone – Seen somebody wasting water? Don’t know who to call? The state of California can help. State water officials this week launched the drought-inspired website Save Our Water (, which allows anyone in California to report water abuse with a simple touch of their smartphone or other digital device. San Francisco Chronicle article 

As California cuts water use during drought, concerns rise over city trees dying and falling – As Californians and the communities they live in cut back water use and let lawns turn brown, arborists and state officials are worrying about a potentially dangerous ripple effect: City trees going neglected and becoming diseased or even falling. AP article

Too many dead trees: Sierra sawmills face a backlog — Now Sierra Forest Products is the only sawmill left in the entire southern Sierra. And it has gone from a two-shift operation to one. But this year, because of wildfires and the drought, Duysen could easily use two shifts. His log deck outside — where the logs are stacked several stories high before being milled — is almost full. KQED report 

Study: Shasta Dam expansion feasible but financing unclear — A long-awaited study requested by Congress concludes that enlarging Shasta Dam in California by 18.5 feet is technically and economically feasible, though the Bureau of Reclamation declined to make a formal recommendation to move ahead with the project. The study found the most viable expansion option would cost an estimated $1.4 billion and provide an economic benefit of $30 million annually from increased salmon populations, water supply, flood control and recreational opportunities. AP article

Pastors to circle Valley to pray for rain – Every two weeks, Hernandez and other pastors are leading prayers at a different church in another drought-stricken Valley town. They plan to end the tour in October, back where they started in Porterville. Fresno Bee article 

San Diego City Council committee to hear proposal to raise water rates — A proposal to raise water rates in San Diego by nearly 17 percent next year is scheduled to go before the City Council’s Environment Committee next week. The city’s Public Utilities Department has suggested increasing rates to customers by 9.8 percent beginning in January, and an additional 6.9 percent next July 1.KPBS report 

What drought? The lawns are plenty green in El Monte — At a time when state water officials are urging residents to allow their lawns fade to gold or offering rebates to tear them out, El Monte’s city-operated water utility has yet to reduce the number of days residents can water because of severe drought. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Report: Thousands of rape kits untested — Although a recent investigation by USA TODAY reports thousands of rape kits have gone untested across the nation, local officials say that’s not an issue in Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

Juvenile justice system failing Native Americans, studies show — State courts are twice as likely to incarcerate Native teens for minor crimes such as truancy and alcohol use than any other racial and ethnic group, according to the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. And juvenile detention facilities around the country have a disproportionately high number of Native American youth, according to an Indian Law and Order Commission report. NPR report

Former San Francisco inmates file claim that deputies forced them to fight — Three former San Francisco county jail inmates have filed a legal claim against the city and county charging deputies with forcing them to fight each other for entertainment while they were locked up. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento crime-fighting camera detects stolen car — A stolen car detected with a Sacramento police crime-fighting camera led Thursday to a pursuit and arrest of a suspected car thief in Meadowview. Sacramento Bee article

South LA pastors launch outreach campaign to battle gang violence — Twitter and Instagram were filled over the past week with alarming hashtags like #100days100nights after a gang reportedly vowed 100 days of violence to avenge the death of a man who was killed in South Los Angeles in mid-July. Now, pastors in the community are trying to get a different campaign to take effect: 100 days of peace and prayer. LA Times article


Claim filed against school district, county in connection with boy’s collapse at Delano school – A civil claim has been filed against the Delano Union School District and the county of Kern in connection with the death of a 13-year-old boy who collapsed during a physical education class. Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced study sheds light on challenges faced by parents of autistic children – Parents of children with autism deal with great amounts of stress. Nikko Da Paz, a Los Banos resident, can tell you. Da Paz is the mother of a 9-year-old with autism. She also happens to be leading a new study at UC Merced that looks at the mental and physical distress faced by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Merced Sun-Star article 

Sacramento educators sharing teaching strategies – Mari Edwards and Elizabeth Karl sat on a bench sharing notes Friday about what they’d learned during the first half of the California Teachers Summit at Sacramento State. The women were among 15,000 pre-kindergarten to 12th grade current and future teachers who met at 33 locations around the state to share strategies for teaching the Common Core — California’s new standards in English and math. Sacramento Bee article

Students give presentation at Lawrence Livermore lab— Two Stagg High School students discussed their scientific findings after a two-week biotechnology program at Lawrence Livermore National Lab on Friday afternoon. Stockton Record article 

Search for new LA Unified superintendent takes initial step — The Los Angeles Board of Education is taking its first steps toward launching a search for a new superintendent, a process that has been on hold for the past nine months. LA Times article

Bear Creek builds new football field — The genesis for a new field began in December 2013, Sahyoun said, and was set into action after bond money from Measure L — which goes toward school improvement and safety needs — was approved by voters in north Stockton as part of the Lodi Unified School District. As a whole, the project cost around $2 million, Sahyoun said. Stockton Record article



Brown declares state of emergency for California wildfires – Gov. Jerry Brown is declaring a state of emergency throughout California as wildfires rage in the parched state. Brown says in a declaration issued Friday that the severe drought and extreme weather “have turned much of the state into a tinderbox.” AP article; Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Firefighter killed, hundreds flee as California blazes burn – Blazes raging in forests and woodlands across California have taken the life of a firefighter and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes as an army of firefighters continue to battle them from the air and the ground. AP article

Willow fire grows to more than 4,000 acres – The Willow fire northeast of North Fork entered its sixth day Friday and has consumed 4,394 acres, federal authorities said. That’s up about 25% from Thursday. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Two wildland fires burn in Tulare County – As fire crews continued battling a fire that has burned about 1,900 acres over nearly two weeks in theSequoia National Forest, a second wildland fire broke out Thursday north of Three Rivers. Visalia Times-Delta article 

New waste disposal services starting for Clovis customers — Waste disposal company Republic Services will offer new recycling services for residential and commercial customers in Clovis as part of a new 10-year contract with the city. Fresno Bee article

Environmental group seeks injunction to stop fracking in California – A national environmental organization went to court this week demanding an immediate halt to hydraulic fracturing and other intensive well-stimulation methods until California petroleum industry regulators can consider new scientific findings of troubling health and environmental threats. LA Daily News article 

Anti-fracking picket, rally planned on bluffs — Three groups opposed to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a controversial oil extraction technique used in Kern County and petroleum-producing areas elsewhere, will hold an informational picket and rally Saturday morning in northeast Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article

Federal regulator dismisses nuclear plant complaint against Edison — Federal regulators dismissed a complaint against Southern California Edison that accused the utility of failing to seek approval for changes to the San Onofre nuclear power plant that ultimately led to the facility’s permanent closure. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Cheap health services across the border attract many — Medical services and over-the-counter drugs can be inexpensive in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Merced Sun-Star article 

Sacramento Bee: Calorie counting is hot, sugary drinks are not – We can understand why the American Beverage Association is alarmed by the calorie-cutting trend. But that cannot be a reason to turn back the clock on progress. Sacramento Bee editorial

Larry Patten: Don’t be intimidated by huge words —  I work at a Fresno-area hospice in the area of bereavement support. By background, I’m a pastor and therefore not — not! — a medical expert. When I read about our patients and their various illnesses, I feel as if I’m living in another country. It’s a place where everyone else speaks a language unknown to me. My ignorance is frequently on display! One word recently stood out because it was so darn long . . . Thrombocytopenia. Patten op-ed in Fresno Bee


Land Use/Housing

Hundreds of vacant lots in Sacramento may benefit from urban ag ordinance — The ordinance would establish agriculture incentive zones where vacant lot owners would enter into a five-year contract with the city to allow farming on a vacant lot in order to be taxed at a lower, agricultural tax rate. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas 

Fines reduced in more than half of 2015 fireworks citations — At least 23 of the 42 citations issued in Bakersfield for illegal fireworks this year were reduced to about a third of their original $1,500 fine. At least five other citations were dismissed, and warrants were issued in at least eight cases, according to records obtained by The Californian. It’s unclear what happened in six of the cases. City Attorney Ginny Gennaro expressed disappointment in the reduced fines of $480. Bakersfield Californian article 

San Francisco’s new urine-resistant walls seem to be keeping things dry – The city’s famous new pee walls seem to be doing their job. Thursday night at 16th and Mission, where the weekend starts early, action at the wall was shockingly calm. People flooded out of the BART station at regular intervals, loudly chatting and laughing. A half-dozen homeless people settled into their nooks and crannies for the night. And the wall — it stayed relatively dry. San Francisco Chronicle article

Firefighters stung by vandalism to memorial – Efforts are underway to restore a monument that was recently vandalized at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Instruments of peace – At first, they represented “little” guns and swords. Now, those electric violins and their bows generate a growing sense of hope, community, cooperation, musical skill and higher grades in school. They also attest to the positive impact one devoted volunteer can have on young lives. Stockton Record article

Fred Prudek: My Armenian experience – The Clovis native writes, “During my first year of teaching at TSA in 2005, it was the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, ‘Medz Yeghern’ (The Great Crime) on April 24.I stood in line for hours with over a million other pilgrims waiting to reach the memorial site, situated on a hill above the city. Watching, waiting and listening to the singing of Armenian folk songs accompanied by traditional musical instruments, made me thankful for the privilege of teaching this ancient race of honorable people.” Prudek op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – We can understand why the American Beverage Association is alarmed by the calorie-cutting trend. But that cannot be a reason to turn back the clock on progress.

Modesto Bee – We can understand why the American Beverage Association is alarmed by the calorie-cutting trend. But that cannot be a reason to turn back the clock on progress.

Sacramento Bee – We can understand why the American Beverage Association is alarmed by the calorie-cutting trend. But that cannot be a reason to turn back the clock on progress.

Upcoming Events

  • The Better Blackstone Association will hold a street festival, “Come Imagine the Possibilities for Blackstone …,” on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Susan B. Anthony school parking lot in Fresno from 5-8 p.m. More information: Call (559) 485-1416 or email
  • “Unlocking Renewables: A Summit,” which will explore the clean energy potential in the San Joaquin Valley, will be held at Fresno State on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Featured speakers include state Sen. Anthony Cannella and Ken Alex, senior policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and director of the Office of Planning and Research. More information:
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link. 

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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