August 10, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s bill issues fall by the wayside in last month of legislative session – The last month of the Legislature’s biennial session began with many major issues on the agenda, but one by one, they are stalling out, including the future of cap and trade. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

McCarthy, a ‘Never Hillary’ supporter, urges GOP unity — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy implored a group of Republican women Tuesday to get out the vote this November, even if they don’t like Donald Trump, arguing Hillary Clinton would be worse for the country and local down-ballot GOP candidates need the turnout. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley politics 

Residents show support for Stockton Mayor Silva even as troubling new accusations surface – Mayor Anthony Silva received rousing and nearly unanimous support from residents at Tuesday night’s jam-packed City Council meeting, the first meeting since his arrest last week on explosive charges involving playing strip poker with teenagers, illegally recording the game without their consent, and supplying alcohol to minors. Silva has denied all charges. Stockton Record article; AP article 

David Williams: Catfish rule has to go and McCarthy can make it happen – The president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance writes, “Taxpayers across the country hope House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s time at home during Congress’ August recess will remind him of his fiscally conservative roots and why he went to Washington in the first place.” Williams op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Bredefeld starts Fresno council race in strong financial position – Gary Bredefeld is starting the November race with more than $37,600 in his campaign account; Jeremy Pearce’s campaign is starting underwater. He’s $1,967 in the red counting his campaign debt. The numbers were as of June 30, and reflect the point where the two finalists finished the June primary race – and the point from which they are essentially starting the fall campaign. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

LA sheriff joins high-profile opponents fighting anti-death penalty ballot measure –  Top Los Angeles County officials including Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey have joined a November election battle, announcing support for preserving California’s death penalty and reforming the state’s appeals process. LA Times article 

Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 – When we put out our first Top 100 list, we wanted to give a mischievous, behind-the-scenes view of players in state politics that the public usually doesn’t see. We succeeded, we had fun. Seven years later later, we’re still having fun – okay, not as much as before – but we think this list has value and is becoming something of an institution.  At least, that’s what people tell us. Capitol Weekly article 

Joel Fox: Funding Medi-Cal by initiatives — Medi-Cal spending has exploded and along with the state obligated to take over part of the federal health care funding next year, hospitals and health care providers are scrambling to look for new sources of money. In California, that means a trip to the ballot box and revenue raising initiatives. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas 

Trade group trying to kill bill making state-run retirement accounts a worker benefit – An investment industry trade group is trying to kill a California bill that would make retirement savings accounts an almost universal benefit for workers in the state, saying that plan will be more expensive than lawmakers anticipate and could ultimately cost taxpayers. LA Times article 

Bill limiting campaign money to tax board amended to call for study — Faced with strong opposition from a member of the Board of Equalization, state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has for a second time amended a bill that would have imposed tough new campaign contribution limits on board members to avoid conflicts of interest. The new bill simply calls for a study of possible new limits. LA Times article 

Smita Rouillard: Disastrous drug price hikes hurt Fresno and California – The physician in chief at Kaiser Permanente Fresno writes, “The pharmaceutical industry has entirely escaped the transparency requirements and other regulations that cover the rest of the health-care sector. Physicians, health plans, hospitals and more all report on spending – but the industry that’s driving up prices for everyone is allowed to operate in the dark. We need to end the era of drug-company secrecy and begin to collaborate on how to achieve reasonable drug prices and bring sanity back to health-care costs. Senate Bill 1010 from state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) will help us do this.” Rouillard op-ed in Fresno Bee

Presidential Politics 

Trump sparks uproar by saying ‘maybe there is a way’ for ‘2nd Amendment people’ to keep Clinton from naming justices — Donald Trump told supporters in North Carolina on Tuesday that there might be something supporters of gun rights could do to stop Hillary Clinton from naming Supreme Court justices, prompting critics to charge that he was suggesting his rival could be shot. LA Times article; New York Times article; McClatchy Newspapers article 

Joe Altschule: Let me count the ways Trump continues to disintegrate — Again, and again, Donald Trump proves that he lacks the temperament, the capacity, the necessary maturity and the discipline to be seriously considered to be our president. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

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News Stories

Top Stories

Time is money — $50 million – for high-speed rail delays in Fresno area — Construction delays connected to the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s slow pace of acquiring land to build its first Fresno-Madera segment have ended up costing the agency about $50 million. Fresno Bee article

Drought, lower prices eat away at Fresno County 2015 crop values — Fresno County’s overall crop value fell to $6.61 billion last year from a high of $7 billion in 2014 as the region battled drought, lower commodity prices and production issues. The drop was a disappointment, but not a surprise, as the 2015 Fresno County Crop Reportwas presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Jobs and the Economy 

Deal or no deal – California card rooms, tribal casinos battle over new rule — The latest dispute centers on California law that prevents Las Vegas-style or “banked” card games except on tribal lands. A banked card game exists when the players are betting against the house, or bank (think Vegas blackjack), rather than against each other. Sacramento Bee article 

SEIU vows to keep appealing to San Joaquin County supervisors – Service Employee International Union 1021 members have vowed to continue attending San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meetings until they are offered a better contract. Stockton Record article 

Kern supervisors back plan to bring temporary housing to fire victims – An effort to bring 71 manufactured homes to Kern County for families displaced by the Erskine Fire got support Tuesday from the Kern County Board of Supervisors. Bakersfield Californian article

Erskine Fire: Residents wonder whether rebuilding is worth it — The Erskine Fire that broke out in the mountains near Kern County in June burned around 50,000 acres. More than 280 homes were reduced to rubble by the fire displacing thousands of people. Now those residents are trying to figure out whether rebuilding is worth it. KVPR report 

Sacramento Bee: New compacts deal in casino workers – Gov. Jerry Brown and Indian tribes that own casinos in California deserve praise for striking deals that offer workers a better chance at organizing. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Price of gas drops in Fresno — The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Fresno dropped 23 cents over the past month, the AAA reported Tuesday in its monthly check.  Fresno Bee article 

Not a pretty sight after homeless encampment in Riverbank cleared — The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department cleared a homeless encampment along the Stanislaus River in Riverbank on Friday, according to a post on the Riverbank Police Services Facebook page. Modesto Bee article 

Think Amazon’s drones are a gimmick? Think again – Amazon doesn’t reveal much, but a little sleuthing suggests that drone delivery may be central to the online retailer’s long-term strategy. New York Times article 

Contra Costa supervisors put transportation tax on November ballot – Contra Costa County supervisors on Tuesday gave their official blessing for putting a half-cent transportation tax on the November ballot. East Bay Times article 

Faulty readings may have led to incorrect bills, says Southern California Gas Co. – Faulty readings on devices attached to automatic meters may have led to incorrect bills for tens of thousands of Southern California Gas Co. customers, utility officials said Tuesday. LA Times article 

Fresno’s beer scene is exploding – check out these 6 new places – If you thought Fresno’s craft beer scene was hopping, check out what’s coming next. A slew of new beer-based businesses are in the works, from a restaurant pairing tacos with beer – and tequila on tap, too – to a brewpub by the people who run Riley’s Brewing Co. and Elbow Room. Fresno Bee article 

Cradle to Career to use grant to help youth in Fresno County – Local organization Cradle to Career received a $710,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation, which will advance its goals of improving children’s lives in the Central Valley, said Cradle to Career spokeswoman Linda Gleason. Fresno Bee article


State grant will keep water flowing in El Porvenir in west Fresno County — Residents of El Porvenir in western Fresno County, threatened with water shutoff this month, will get financial relief from the state. Fresno Bee article 

Local organic farmers face challenges to meet demand — For local organic farmers, meeting consumer demands is challenging and time consuming — but they aren’t giving up. “We don’t see the trend changing. We see the trend continuing on organic production [going up] in our county,” said Kings County deputy agriculture commissioner Steve Schweizer. Hanford Sentinel article

Fallowing lawsuit against Oakdale Irrigation District remains on track — A judge on Tuesday refused the Oakdale Irrigation District’s request to throw out a lawsuit challenging the district’s stalled fallowing program. Modesto Bee article

 Cow belches help drive California dairy industry lobbying blitz — Cow dung and cow stomach gas: not just smelly, but also politically loaded. Hence a new California dairy industry campaign pushing back on California’s recommendation to regulate a naturally occurring source of methane. Sacramento Bee article 

White House honors Tulare County water advocate — Local advocate Susana De Anda recently received an award from the White House for her work bringing clean water to San Joaquin Valley communities. She’s the co-director and co-founder of the Community Water Center, a non-profit that lobbies policymakers, pursues grants and helps communities organize around gaining access to safe drinking water. KVPR report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Modesto police give demonstration of three drones – In discussing and demonstrating its three unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, on Tuesday morning, Modesto police emphasized that the camera-equipped, remote-controlled aircraft are eyes in the sky, not spies in the sky. Modesto Bee article 

40,000 plants likely largest marijuana bust in San Joaquin County history — Law enforcement agents on Tuesday night were investigating a huge marijuana growing operation found inside an otherwise vacant east Stockton warehouse. The plants were so numerous that they had not yet been counted by 8 p.m., but authorities tentatively estimated about 40,000 plants at various life stages. Stockton Record article 

Judge refuses request to uncuff jailed defendant in Stanislaus death penalty case — A Stanislaus County judge has decided that Mark Edward Mesiti will remain shackled while in jail as he prepares to represent himself in a death penalty case. Modesto Bee article

Judge criticized in Stanford assault case to make another sex-crime ruling – A judge is set to make his first key decision in a sex-crime case since receiving criticism for the light sentence given to a Stanford University swimmer who sexually assaulted a woman while she was passed out. LA Times article 

Kathryn Steinle’s family fights to keep lawsuit against San Francisco alive – A city that releases a prisoner usually can’t be held responsible when the former prisoner harms a random victim. San Francisco officials cited that long-standing legal doctrine in asking a federal magistrate to dismiss a lawsuit by the parents of a woman who was shot to death by an immigrant who had been freed from city custody 2½ months earlier. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LAPD officer charged in assault quietly avoids jail time under plea deal with prosecutors — The videotaped assault was so alarming, one Los Angeles police official called it “horrific.” The victim later said he was afraid he was going to die. The LAPD and the civilian Police Commission came down hard on Officer Richard Garcia, saying he violated department policies when he kicked and punched Clinton Alford Jr. during an October 2014 arrest in South Los Angeles. The district attorney came down even harder, taking the rare step of filing a felony assault charge against an on-duty officer.  Garcia faced up to three years in jail if convicted. Then the case quietly came to an end. LA Times article


UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi steps down under pressure – UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi resigned Tuesday following a three-month investigation of her actions that found she had violated numerous university policies, exercised poor judgment and failed to be candid with UC President Janet Napolitano and others, the university announced. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial; KQED report 

‘Get me off the Google,’ UC Davis chancellor urged communications staff – In the end, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi was done in largely by pepper spray and ego. Although she faced serious allegations when UC President Janet Napolitano suspended her in April, the investigative report into her actions that was released Tuesday found the most damning evidence was a near-obsession with her own reputation, something that began when she first assumed the chancellor’s post in 2009 and escalated following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students by campus police. Sacramento Bee article 

Fresno State to open Visalia satellite campus – Fresno State is opening a new satellite campus at College of the Sequoias in Visalia that will one day allow South Valley residents to get a bachelor’s degree without going to Fresno. Luz Gonzalez, a Fresno State alum with 30 years of experience in teaching and administration, has been named the dean of the campus. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article 

Voters may OK $225 million bond for Fresno Unified, but will school board? – While school board members are typically the biggest proponents of bond measures, concerns about public trust amid a federal investigation of Fresno Unified has some of its own trustees wary about a $225 million bond proposal. Fresno Bee article 

Dual language programs could get boost with initiative on November ballot – With a growing number of parents embracing the value of their children learning a second language, nine more dual immersion programs are coming to L.A. Unified when schools open next week. Among the additions are one in Armenian and another in Arabic, giving the district 65 such programs, a 25 percent increase over the last three years. EdSource article 

Fresno City College to offer ‘Pokemon Go’ class – Combing through Fresno’s endless supply of Pidgey, Rattata and Paras can now earn you college credit. Fresno City College announced over the weekend a new walking class that will center on “Pokémon Go,” a mobile game that requires players to walk the Earth in search of tiny monsters and landmarks. The craze has rocked the gaming world, earning a reported $200 million in its first month. Fresno Bee article 

First-day jitters: New superintendent to the rescue – on his first day at Stockton Unified, too – As school bus No. 45 rolled up to one of its stops at Panella Park in northeast Stockton early Tuesday, a handful of young, glassy-eyed students were greeted by a warm presence. “Welcome, good morning,” Stockton Unified School District Superintendent Eliseo Davalos said as children found their seats. One mother stood anxiously outside on the grass. Stockton Record article 

Program aims to teach girls math through dance – Dance and math may seem like an unlikely combination, but the Kern Dance Alliance, set to offer a program pairing the two to help improve middle school girls’ test scores, is eager to demonstrate the link. Bakersfield Californian article

Students learn web development and networking skills – As the web continues to grow, so do job opportunities in the Central Valley. West Hills College Lemoore offers career technical education courses in areas like web programming and now networking so students can gain skills and knowledge that can lead to employment.Hanford Sentinel article 

Jones denies supporting recall of school board member – Los Banos Unified School District Board Trustee Tommy Jones said he is not supporting the recall efforts against Trustee John Mueller. Los Banos Enterprise article 

LA Unified projects a record 75 percent graduation rate for Class of 2016 — The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Tuesday an estimated 75% graduation rate for the Class of 2016, up from 72.2% last year. LA Times article 

State reaffirms LA Unified violated funding formula — The California Department of Education is sticking with its ruling in May that Los Angeles Unified has underspent, by hundreds of millions of dollars, money it should have used to increase and improve services for high-needs children under the state’s new school funding law. In reaffirming its decision, the department gives the district until the 2017-18 school year to comply. EdSource article


PG&E convicted of obstructing blast probe, breaking safety laws — Nearly six years after a defective natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes, a federal court jury convicted Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Tuesday of obstructing the federal probe of the blast and of violating pipeline safety laws both before and after the disaster. San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article; KQED report

Fresno Chaffee Zoo works to preserve Valley turtle population — Northern California’s only native turtle is in danger. In an effort to keep the northern western pond turtle from dying off the Fresno Chaffee Zoo is involved in a repopulation program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Save Animals From Extinction Program. The turtles aren’t on display, but hidden behind the zoos exhibits where they’re being studied. KVPR report 

California agriculture is largest source of nitrogen pollution in the state – Nitrogen is essential for growing crops and producing food, but too much of it pollutes the water and air. A new assessment looks at nitrogen’s impact in California and how it’s affecting human health and the environment. Capital Public Radio report 

Tulare supervisors approve dead-tree removal projects — Two projects seeking to remove more than 1,300 dead and dying trees near Tulare County roads may start as early as next week. Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services

Disease rates likely to fall as new vaccination law takes effect, medical experts say – Mississippi hasn’t had a case of measles since 1992. West Virginia last saw measles – a highly contagious virus that kills an estimated 314 people worldwide every day – in 2009. Now, with California’s new vaccination law rolling out shot by shot, the state joins Mississippi and West Virginia to become the third in the nation to adopt stringent vaccination school entrance requirements. And medical experts say disease rates are likely to fall in California as they have in those states. EdSource article 

Voters in Tulare to weigh in on hospital expansion, after stalled construction project – This month in Tulare, voters are being asked to weigh in on a big issue – whether or not to support a $55 million bond measure for hospital construction at the Tulare Regional Medical Center. The hospital last issued an $85 million bond back in 2005 to fund a new tower for the hospital. But the project went out of control, and construction stopped as the money ran out, with the tower incomplete.KVPR report 

Heart-lung machine keeps baby alive at Valley Children’s Hospital — The louder Xavier Angel Briones Rodriguez cried in his crib at Valley Children’s Hospital, the bigger his mother’s smile grew. Every cry or coo made by the 3-month-old gave Janet Rodriguez of Corcoran reason to celebrate: Her son’s lungs are healthy. Fresno Bee article 

Kern County warns against contact with Lake Ming water – Kern County Public Health Services has issued a “no contact advisory” for Lake Ming effective immediately following tests that found the water containing potentially harmful levels of bacteria. Bakersfield Californian article 

Fowler citrus company encourages healthy eating in national campaign – Bee Sweet Citrus of Fowler has partnered with Produce for Kids in a campaign to encourage families and their children to eat healthy. The national campaign called Power Your Lunchbox Pledge is aimed to inform families of healthier after-school snacks and everyday dinners. Fresno Bee article 

Report: Two out of five stars for Hanford hospital – Adventist Medical Center Hanford received a two-stars-out-of-five rating based on scores in seven different areas of care, according to a report released last month by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Hanford Sentinel article 

Forgotten ‘General Hospital’ star fought battle to live on her own in Fresno as senior citizen — Five months before Melinda Cordell, 74, died of malnutrition, she sued the owners of Somerford Place in northwest Fresno for locking her up with Alzheimer’s patients against her will for 18 months. On Tuesday, lawyers for the estate and nursing home reached a confidential settlement in Fresno County Superior Court that has no admission of liability. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Ken Carlson: Stanislaus County general plan directs job creation to cities, addresses groundwater concerns — Anyone who mentions an update to Modesto’s general plan invites the slings and arrows of public opinion. Not so with an ongoing revision of Stanislaus County’s general plan, or its 20-year blueprint for growth. Carlson in Modesto Bee 

Pocket park, women’s  shelter get crucial city permits — The Bakersfield Board of Zoning Adjustment voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve conditional use permits allowing construction of a privately owned east Bakersfield pocket park and a 30-bed shelter for women and children downtown. Bakersfield Californian article 

Despite concerns, Sacramento’s pot growing plan inches forward — The council’s law and legislation committee moved forward with a conceptual plan to allow indoor cultivation of marijuana in commercial, industrial and agricultural zones in Sacramento – with a possibility of granting conditional use permits for limited facilities operating just outside of residential areas. Sacramento Bee article


Modesto considers report on restarting air service — Modesto officials will get an update Wednesday on a consultant’s study on what it will take for the city to restart commercial passenger flights at Modesto Airport, which has been without such service since June 2014. Modesto Bee article 

Late-night trains to serve downtown Sacramento arena — The Capitol Corridor service has announced it is adding late-night trains in downtown Sacramento as an alternative to driving for people attending events at the new downtown arena. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

New Madera County morgue building gets approval from supervisors — Madera County supervisors approved a funding package Tuesday that will pay for construction of a new morgue. Supervisors approved a plan to build a $533,000 facility in a 5-0 vote. Another $49,000 will pay for a video camera security system.Fresno Bee article 

Lois Henry: Government secrecy only helps the government – By now, I shouldn’t be amazed (disgusted) at the lengths to which some government agencies will go to keep the public’s business out of the public’s eye. But the California Department of Social Services stands out for its relentless efforts to shield itself and its social workers from public scrutiny. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

$250,000 effort could upgrade meeting chambers for Modesto council, supervisors – Modesto and Stanislaus County officials believe it’s time to upgrade the chambers at Tenth Street Place used for City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings. Modesto Bee article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Doubts about a deadly drop zone – Over the weekend, while Stocktonians were preoccupied with the arrest of their mayor, two people died at Skydive Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo. Two more people, that is. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Atwater names new chief; city manager to retire – Frank Pietro, an Atwater native who rose through the ranks to become his hometown’s top cop and later guided the city out of dire financial straits, has decided to retire, the Sun-Star has confirmed. The move may appear abrupt, he told the Sun-Star on Tuesday, but Pietro, who has been both police chief and city manager, said he’s been planning his departure for several months. Samuel Joseph, a 19-year veteran with the Atwater Police Department, has been named interim chief of police effective immediately, and Pietro will stay on as city manager until Dec. 31. Merced Sun-Star article 

Kern museum rethinks unpopular logo — A new logo is a no-go — at least for now — at the Kern County Museum, recently renamed Kern Pioneer Village. Zoot Velasco, who assumed the top job at the county-owned museum in early July, said Tuesday that community opposition to a rough draft of the new logo has convinced him to return to the drawing board. He will present more logo options to the board of the foundation that runs the museum at its Aug. 22 meeting. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Social media and TV have saturated us with stories about the Olympics, but ratings are lackluster. Is it partly because the big picture is uncomfortable?

Merced Sun-Star – Social media and TV have saturated us with stories about the Olympics, but ratings are lackluster. Is it partly because the big picture is uncomfortable?

Modesto Bee – Social media and TV have saturated us with stories about the Olympics, but ratings are lackluster. Is it partly because the big picture is uncomfortable?

Sacramento Bee – The drama surrounding UC Davis’ embattled chancellor has been unworthy both of her stature, and of the campus. What’s required next is a steady hand; Gov. Jerry Brown and Indian tribes that own casinos in California deserve praise for striking deals that offer workers a better chance at organizing.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: More skydiving deaths in Lodi, a life lost too soon and other issues.