August 1, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

These six major issues – and 1 unknown – will confront lawmakers returning to Sacramento — California’s two-year legislative session will come to a close at the end of August, which means the next few weeks will see a sprint of public policy infused with interest-group politics on as many as 1,500 bills. Even with a large number of issues on tap, a few key policy battles likely will garner the most significant attention. Here are a few worth watching. LA Times article 

As showdown looms, Tom Steyer airs TV aid ripping oil industry in California – With an end-of-session brawl looming in the Legislature over California climate programs, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer on Monday will start airing a television ad accusing the state’s oil industry of putting profits over the health of children. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Kennedy groups puts $2 million into fight against pot-legalization measures — Facing well-financed campaigns to legalize recreational pot, a national coalition that includes former Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure in California. LA Times article 

Amid weed wars, stoned-driving laws still half-baked — There are certain telltale signs that a person is stoned: bloodshot eyes, forgetfulness, ravenous late-night cravings. But the November ballot measure that would legalize recreational pot in California says nothing about how police should detect tokers who climb behind the wheel. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas 

From tampon taxes to overtime pay, California Legislature weighs bills geared toward women – Summer recess is over for the California Legislature. Lawmakers will be back in the Capitol today to begin a final month of work before adjourning for the rest of the year. Among the bills still left to consider are several related to helping women. KQED report 

Donald W. Blount: Filters, prisms and issues of race – Race was the issue at last week’s meeting of The Record’s Reader Advisory Committee and it was interesting to be part of a discussion that included people of various ethnicities explaining their point of view and others attempted to understand it. Blount column in Stockton Record 

Stockton marchers want 90 days of peace — 30 days of peace — PEACE! The call went out Sunday in Victory Park as about 100 people of diverse backgrounds, all ages, from all walks of life gathered to focus on “unity in the community” and, most notably, a 30-day moratorium on violence in Stockton. Stockton Record article

Presidential Politics

Cathleen Decker: Here’s how Democrats are trying to reclaim patriotism from Republicans – and how Trump helps – A sea of waving flags, standing ovations for generals and admirals and praise for police officers and President Reagan made last week’s nominating convention here unlike any Democratic conclave in recent memory. In tone and content, whole stretches resembled a typical Republican convention — for good reason. The convention represented an effort by Hillary Clinton and fellow Democrats to reclaim ground lost as far back as the 1960s by taking advantage of Donald Trump’s idiosyncratic candidacy. Decker in LA Times 

Only 9 percent of America chose Clinton and Trump as nominees – While Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton will represent the entire country, those who voted for them are a small part of it. New York Times article 

Fight with Kahn family tests Trump’s ‘say anything’ strategy – Donald Trump’s presidential bid has thrived on controversy of his own making. Now, the Republican nominee kicks off the first full week of the general election campaign having put his strategy of saying the politically unimaginable to its greatest test yet. AP articleNew York Times articleWashington Post article 

Young voters hate Trump, so why aren’t they flocking to Clinton? — Despite all of those factors seemingly in her favor, Clinton faces a few problems getting them to vote for her. San Francisco Chronicle article

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News Stories

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Poll finds many Californians lack internet access – Whether you can go online at home depends in part on your income, age and the language you speak, according to a new Field Poll conducted for the California Emerging Technology Fund. Sacramento Bee articleEast Bay Times article 

Weed-strewn acreage is focus of spat between Fresno, feds, park supporters – A weed-infested patch of mostly empty land in southeast Fresno, conditionally donated by the National Park Service to the city about 10 years ago, is the focus of a developing spat between the federal government, the city and a community organization that wants Fresno to build a regional sports park on the site. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

SEIU plans to ‘educate the community’ at two events – Several members of the Service Employees International Union 1021 plan to attend two National Night Out locations on Aug. 2 to pass out pamphlets about the ongoing labor dispute with San Joaquin County, and event organizers are not happy. Stockton Record article 

Fitz’s Stockton: Airbnb users loving Stockton yacht — A Bay Area travel writer recently raved about staying in a Stockton yacht available through airbnb. I checked it out. Guests stay in the 46-foot luxury yacht Island Oasis as they would a hotel room. Only this yacht bobs in a berth at Village West Marina. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record 

CalPERS funding gap may grow under new trend – Twice in recent decades CalPERS fell below 100 percent of the funding needed for promised pensions, and twice CalPERS climbed back. But since a $100 billion investment loss in 2008, the CalPERS funding level has not recovered. Now with about 75 percent of the projected assets needed to pay future pensions, CalPERS has had low investment earnings during the last two fiscal years. Experts expect the trend to continue during the next decade. Calpensions article 

If you’re parking in downtown Sacramento this fall, better bring a calculator – Parking at night in Sacramento is about to be more costly and, for many, pretty confusing. The city will extend street meter hours to 10 p.m. downtown and 8 p.m. in a slice of midtown on Sept. 1, although there will be a one-month grace period before ticketing starts in October. Sacramento Bee article 

Youth employment program is more than a job — It was back in June, as the teenage boy tells it, that he was in a park in Weston Ranch one day when he happened to find a gun in a garbage can. The boy, who already had a past criminal infraction on his record, says he brought the gun home and held onto it. And there it remained, he says, right up until the day it was discovered during a probation search of his residence. A stint in Juvenile Hall followed. The boy would not be released until July 20. Fortunately, however, the 15-year-old since has been able to salvage his summer working in a youth jobs program funded by the city for the second consecutive year. Stockton Record article

Homeless tent camps sprouting all over Oakland — Tent encampments, once seen largely as a San Francisco phenomenon, have jumped across the bay and are spreading far and wide in the shadows of Oakland’s booming neighborhoods. San Francisco Chronicle article 


Don Curlee: Food grab goes global — An effort to control the world’s food supply by tying the hands of grocery stores and supermarkets has raised its head, propped up by the international labor movement. If California farmers aren’t nervous, they should be. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta 

John Holland: Blackbirds, honeybees get help on the farm — Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees, and how farmers are helping both to thrive. First off, a few dairy farmers in the San Joaquin Valley took part this spring in an effort to protect the tricolored blackbird. The species has taken to nesting in large concentrations in feed crops, in lieu of its much-reduced natural habitat. Holland in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

National Night Out takes on more significance – Law Enforcement leaders throughout San Joaquin County feel the annual event carries added significance this year given the increased scrutiny over officer-involved shootings, incidents of civil unrest in cities through the nation, and a series of retaliatory attacks on police officers. Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones, Tracy Police Chief Larry Esquivel and Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson all agreed that community engagement and interaction are more important than ever before. Stockton Record article 

Visalia Police Department cracks down on alcohol-related crime — With the help of grant funding, the Visalia Police Department is gearing up to crack down on alcohol-related crime. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Ex-LA Sheriff Lee Baca’s dilemma: Withdraw his guilty plea or face prison? — Fomer Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca returns to federal court on Monday facing a difficult decision: Withdraw his guilty plea for lying to federal investigators or accept the likelihood of a significant stint behind bars. LA Times article


Sara Sandrik: Get your kids ready to return to school — Excitement is building throughout the Merced City School District as we prepare to welcome students back to class on Aug. 15. I can hardly wait to see all of our 18 campuses filled with bright young minds and smiling faces again! While teachers, administrators, and support staff are getting ready for the first day, there also are some steps families can take to ensure everything goes smoothly. Sandrik column in Merced Sun-Star 

Terror threat not deterring California students from studying abroad — Early indications suggest the threat of terrorism isn’t causing students to stay home. And experts note that the number of American college students flocking to Europe, which rose rapidly in the 1990s, continued to climb even after deadly bombings on trains in Madrid and London in 2004 and 2005. East Bay Times article

Startup among latest efforts to help teachers afford Bay Area housing — Recent Stanford grads Alex Lofton and Jonathan Asmis founded San Francisco-based Landed to help out all sorts of homebuyers. They currently operate throughout California with hopes to expand, but in the last five months they’ve focused on promoting their company among Bay Area teachers and school districts. With their entrepreneurial approach, Lofton and Asmis hope to combat a growing problem in Silicon Valley as teachers struggle to get by amid runaway rents and tech industry prosperity. San Jose Mercury News article 


Wildfire near Prather damages homes, burns 1,800 acres; Highway 168 reopens – A wildfire burning in the foothills near Prather has damaged an unknown number of homes as firefighters faced extreme fire behavior and triple-digit heat for the second day. The Goose fire burned 1,800 acres and was 5 percent contained by Sunday evening, said Johnny Miller, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Fresno Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services 

Efforts continue to improve lives of children – The initiative to make sure county youth stay in schools, avoid poverty and grow to be successful adults gained a little more steam last week. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the formation of a Children and Youth Task Force, with board chair Moses Zapien and supervisor Kathy Miller serving in the group as chair and vice chair, respectively. Stockton Record article 

Dr. Asma Tariq: Vaccinations lead to healthier lives – The graduate of Kaweah Delta’s Family Medicine Residency Program writes, “Getting vaccinated is an easy and effective way of staying healthy. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what I have learned about vaccinations/immunizations.” Tariq op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

Olivia Garcia: Youth program shapes local teens, volunteers — A friend I much admire recently tagged me on Facebook with photos of Kern County teens who had just completed a trek up Old Smokey, a challenging hill on the U.S. Marine Corps base, Camp Pendleton, in Southern California. Nearly 30 Kern County teens were part of that uphill hike, and they were among approximately 300 youth representing different areas of the southwestern states. They were all there as part of the annual Devil Pups Youth for America 10-day program that takes place at Camp Pendleton in the summer. Garcia column in Bakersfield Californian

Land Use/Housing 

Adult club owners seek permit for downtown Modesto site — A Beverly Hills-based corporation wants to open an adult cabaret in downtown Modesto, featuring erotic dancing by strippers and other entertainment in the building that once housed Hero’s Sports Lounge and St. Stan’s Brewery at Ninth and L streets. Modesto Bee article

Other areas 

Readers want child fun, basic goods and services in wish list – Merced residents expressed a desperate wish for youth activities. We need some indoor fun for children, parents say. Our readers had some specific ideas of what that entertainment would look like. The list included: a racetrack or drag strip, possibly out at Castle Commerce Center in Atwater; Boomers, a family entertainment center with activities such as mini golf, bumper cars and arcade games; a roller rink; a water park; a bowling alley; and a Dave & Buster’s, a restaurant coupled with an arcade. Merced Sun-Star article

Ask TBC: Has the Kern coroner’s office really run out of room for bodies? — The Californian got a tip that the Kern County coroner’s office had run out of room for bodies as a result of a spike in violent crime. So we asked Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ray Pruitt if that was true and how common that is. The morgue was at capacity last week, he said, but hadn’t been forced to rely on its backup options for handling bodies. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Speeches are fine, but the governor and legislative leaders need to roll up their sleeves, start counting votes and get everyone on board with a workable plan for hitting long-term climate targets. For a state on the road to existential climate disaster, we’re relying on an unsettlingly shaky vehicle.