August 11, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Legislators agree to audit of $15 billion Delta tunnels project – State legislators from both northern and southern California Wednesday approved a financial audit of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15 billion Delta tunnels project. The request by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, and state Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis, cleared an audit committee with the support of several legislators from the Los Angeles area, which would receive water diverted through the 40-foot-wide tunnels. Stockton Record article; Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

CD 10: Denham’s support for Trump draws fire from Democratic rival – Rep. Jeff Denham’s opponent in the Nov. 8 election pounced on the news that the incumbent will vote for Donald Trump for president.  Democrat Michael Eggman’s campaign said the announcement, which the Republican made in a guest column in The Modesto Bee, confirms he is out of touch with voters.  Modesto Bee article 

The money is starting to roll in on California’s 17 ballot propositions. A lot of it — Political professionals who run California ballot measure campaigns always worry about how to get the attention of voters. And it all starts with a lot of money. Through early August, almost $200 million has been collected for campaigns to support or oppose propositions on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot. LA Times article

Valley politics 

Chavez has early edge to take over Quintero’s council seat – To call Luis Chavez the early favorite in the Fresno City Council District 5 special election this November would be stating the obvious.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Joel Fox: Poll says many will not vote in Senate race; how will that play in 2018 gov race? — According to the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll 28% of those surveyed will not vote in the U.S. Senate contest between Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris and Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. The Republicans who refuse to vote total 50%, while 34% of Independents said they wouldn’t vote. If these numbers hold true all the way through the election, I wonder what such a reality might do to the campaign strategies of those running for governor in 2018. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Get signatures, make money: How some gatherers are making top dollar in this year’s flood of ballot initiatives — When Tim Ecker decided to leave his construction job and work full time as a signature gatherer six years ago, the $1 or $2 a signature he was paid by ballot measure campaigns meant he could make a decent living. He took every gig he could get. But this year, when several of the 15 petitions he circulated fetched $5 a signature, he worked 10-hour days, six days a week outside farmers markets and grocery stores to ride the streak as long as he could. By mid-May, Ecker, 55, was making $3,000 a week and saved up enough money to take the rest of the year off.  LA Times article

Other areas 

In California’s climate debate, lawmakers push for more authority – With negotiations over extending California’s landmark climate change programs struggling during the last month of the state’s legislative session, lawmakers are once again pushing for changes at the agency responsible for making the greenhouse gas reductions work. LA Times article 

California mayors voice support for climate proposal – A bipartisan group of California mayors, including Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin,  is urging lawmakers to approve legislation from Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that would extend the state’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  LA Times article

California family leave bill revived after Hernandez exits panel – Stalled California legislation ensuring new parents can take time off without fear of losing their jobs will get another chance. Sacramento Bee article 

Lara drops key parts of bill on religious colleges — After intense opposition from the state’s religious schools, the author of a controversial bill that would have exposed private religious colleges in California to anti-discrimination lawsuits has agreed to remove a key provision. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Sacramento Bee: The bill Pharma wants to bottle up – So far, only one state – Vermont – has managed to get a law past the Pharma lobby, and it’s weak.  SB 101 would be much harder to gain if it passes. Let’s hope it does and becomes the national template the industry is so afraid of.  Californians deserve an explanation if medication is going to cost this much.  Sacramento Bee editorial 

Dean Bonner: Climate change and partisanship — Today, the state is prepared to meet the reduction targets set forth in AB 32. As policymakers debate how to further reduce emissions, a strong majority of Californians continue to favor these targets. But now there is a wide partisan divide. An overwhelming majority of Democrats (80%) are in favor, compared to a majority of independents (56%) and fewer than half of Republicans (44%). Bonner in Public Policy Institute of California blog 

John Santry: Coastal bill restricts talk, and housing, too – The executive vice president of Shopoff Realty Investments in Irvine writes, “Democrats and Republicans agree: Ex parte communications are a practical avenue for applicants to ensure that projects get a fair Coastal Commission hearing.” Santry op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Berkeley balcony tragedy survivors plead for new law – Aoife Beary paused as the anguish became too much. She tried to stifle the sobs as she pleaded with California lawmakers on Wednesday to support a bill she hopes would prevent the kind of tragedy she endured. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Legislation to halt overmedicating foster children moves forward – A key piece of legislation that would curb the overprescribing of psychiatric drugs to California foster care youth unanimously passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday morning. San Jose Mercury News article 

Rosa Aqeel and Kim McGill: Bills would end criminalization of youths – Aqeel, associate director of PolicyLink, and McGill, an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, write, “We cannot stand for schools that have become pipelines to prisons and unfair policing practices that leave too many young men of color trapped in a cycle of incarceration. The appropriations committees should vote for AB 2298 and SB 1052 and Brown should sign SB 882 into law and take a crucial step toward ending the criminalization of California’s youth.” Aqeel/McGill op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Obama administration set to remove barrier to marijuana research — The Obama administration is planning to remove a major roadblock to marijuana research, officials said Wednesday, potentially spurring broad scientific study of a drug that is being used to treat dozens of diseases in states across the nation despite little rigorous evidence of its effectiveness. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

As voters talk, the collapse of Trump’s support becomes clearly audible – Many gauges measure the rapid drop in Trump’s support this summer: Polls show the Republican nominee losing nationally and in most battleground states, prominent Republicans have publicly defected, and GOP elected officials rarely rush to his defense. Twenty women, mostly swing voters sitting at conference tables in Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix on Tuesday night, provide another.  LA Times article 

These voters don’t trust Clinton or Trump, and they’re the deciders — Swing state undecided voters don’t like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and their choice ultimately comes down to whom they can trust. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

California’s rich-poor gap: The reality may surprise you – Income inequality within California may not look like what you would expect. Regions such as Orange County and the Bay Area, despite their notable concentrations of wealth, are some of the more equal in the state. By far, the most unequal California region is the Central Valley, where high-income households make 14 times as much as poor households. CALmatters article

Report: Fresno could avoid 260 deaths a year with better air quality – Fresno could avoid 260 deaths a year with better air quality, according to a new report by the American Thoracic Society (ATS). The report, released Wednesday by the ATS and New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, found that the Fresno metro area endures an estimated 672 yearly “morbidities” – major health issues including chronic bronchitis, hospital admissions for heart and breathing problems, and emergency room visits for breathing problems – because of bad air. It also found that Fresno could avoid 390,551 “impacted days” of restricted activity, acute respiratory symptoms, and work and school loss. Fresno Bee article 

Bakersfield water users let conservation slip in June, July – As the state has relaxed its grip on local conservation standards, city water system customers have let their water savings slip, from nearly 25 percent in June to nearly 17 percent in July, the City of Bakersfield Water Board learned Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto City Council votes 6-1 to raise water rates – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday approved water rate increases that call for the monthly bill for the typical single-family home to increase by as much as 77 percent over five years. Modesto Bee article 

Central Valley remains most affordable area to buy a home – Five Central Valley counties and one in southern California were the most affordable areas in the state to buy a home during the second quarter of 2016, according to a report released Wednesday. Kings County took the top honor where 56 percent of the potential homebuyers could afford to purchase the county’s median-priced house at $212,660, according to the California Association of Realtors. A buyer would have to make at least $41,697 annually to afford the home. Fresno Bee article 

Job creation gets boost through Opportunity Stanislaus – People working to create jobs in Stanislaus County celebrated the completion of a $5.1 million fundraising effort for the cause. Leaders of Opportunity Stanislaus, formerly the Stanislaus Business Alliance, announced Tuesday evening that they exceeded the goal of $5 million in pledges by 2 percent. Modesto Bee article 

Head of California’s medical marijuana bureau visits Coalinga – The woman spearheading a statewide effort to regulate the booming but controversial medical marijuana industry is traveling across California to learn more about pot – and teach industry insiders about the state’s lawmaking process. Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento’s Blue Diamond bets on Rio Olympics – Alone among Sacramento companies, Blue Diamond Growers is betting big on the Summer Olympics, using the Rio de Janeiro Games as the platform for a major marketing effort. Sacramento Bee article 

Turlock addresses farmers market, roads, crime – Turlock tackled its most ticklish topics in a marathon City Council meeting that touched on the dueling farmers markets, a booming entertainment venue, downtown parking, fixing city roads and crime fighting.  Modesto Bee article 

X-Fest hopes to keep the vibe alive in Stockton – For the first time in its history, X-Fest won’t be taking it to the streets. The outdoor music festival moves from its downtown Modesto home to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton this year. Modesto Bee article 

PG&E plans to build new Service Center in Lemoore – PG&E plans to build a new 12,600sf Service Center in Lemoore consolidating both the existing Lemoore facility and the Coalinga center. The plan was approved this week at the Lemoore Planning Commission. Hanford Sentinel article 

Google to secretly test wireless internet delivery in Silicon Valley cities where Google Fiber is delayed – Google’s plans to deliver fiber-based ultra-high-speed internet in Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Jose have been put on hold – and now the firm plans to test its wireless alternative in those cities.  San Jose Mercury News article 

Rams sell Coliseum capacity for Dallas, Seattle games — The Rams are going above and beyond for their home games against the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. Due to high ticket demand for those games in particular, the Rams will make seats available in areas of the Coliseum they originally planned not to sell — mostly the upper level corners. LA Times article 

Coach and Michael Kors deliver another blow to department stores – On Wednesday, Michael Kors said it would reduce the amount of merchandise sent to department stores.  The day before, Coach said it planned to pull its purses and other goods from 250 of these bricks-and-mortar stores – about 25 percent of such locations.  LA Times article 

Hotel industry study critical of Chargers stadium plan — The Chargers’ plan for a downtown stadium-convention center will not generate enough meeting business to justify an increase in the hotel tax, concludes a new study funded by the tourism industry. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Expert who investigated Flint, Mich., water now looking into Fresno supply – Two recognized experts in drinking water contamination and water chemistry – including the professor who led the investigation into lead contamination in Flint, Mich. – are working with the city of Fresno to find solutions to the corrosion of galvanized residential plumbing in the northeast part of the city. Fresno Bee article 

Hanford farmworker vanpool program expands — Farmworkers and growers participating in a Hanford-based vanpool program are expected to expand access to safe, reliable transportation under a rule change announced this week by the U.S. Department of Labor. Hanford Sentinel article

Family tradition keeps growing at Koda Farms — Tradition is very important to third-generation Merced County rice farmers Robin and Ross Koda, siblings who operate the southernmost rice farm in California. On a couple thousand acres near South Dos Palos, Koda Farms produces Japanese and heirloom varieties of rice coveted by foodies, chefs and sushi lovers around the world. The Business Journal article 

Waterwise: Lack of residential water signups in Doyle Colony — Supervisor Mike Ennis said he was frustrated with the residents of Doyle Colony who have failed to sign up to be connected to the new water delivery system. Ennis, whose district includes Doyle Colony near Porterville, said about 200 homes out of 500 have signed up to become new water users. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Modesto Police Department has first full-time recruiter – No longer wanting to just keep on keeping up, the Modesto Police Department has its first full-time officer recruiter in Sgt. Chris Adams. Adams, a 14-year department veteran who has been a recruiter as one of his collateral duties, started the position full time on July 11. He supervises a team of other sergeants and officers who do recruiting among other work. Modesto Bee article 

Oildale gunman had expressed sympathies with ISIS, family told investigators – A 30-year-old Oildale man who gunned down his uncle and a family friend last month was an ISIS sympathizer who referred to family members as infidels and celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to court filings. Bakersfield Californian article

Two Oakland cops face suspensions for ‘hate speech’ texts – Two Oakland police officers who exchanged racist and homophobic text messages are facing suspensions, and the Police Department will conduct “refresher training” for all officers on the city’s nondiscrimination policies, officials said Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Robert Braley: City places higher priority on Centennial Corridor than our safety – The resident of Bakersfield’s Westpark neighborhood writes, “Councilman Terry Maxwell is pushing for 100 new police officers over the next five years to help stem the bleeding of our citizens. City management says they can’t afford more cops. Maxwell claims the money is there — it is just a matter of priorities. Maxwell is right. Braley op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Victim’s brother: Police showed ‘no interest’ before south Sacramento killing — Shortly after midnight Monday, Chris Moran crawled out of bed to accompany his brother in dealing with a raucous party around the corner from the south Sacramento home they shared. Within the hour, Moran found himself frantically using blankets and duct tape to try to stop the blood from escaping from the three holes in his brother’s chest. Sacramento Bee article 

San Francisco Police Department proposes social media policy following sexual exploitation scandal — The San Francisco Police Department and labor union representing its officers have agreed on a policy governing social media use by city police. The proposed department general order comes following a sexual exploitation scandal involving several Bay Area law enforcement agencies and dozens of law enforcement officers alleged to have had sex with a woman who works in the sex trade and was trafficked as a child. KQED report

LA settle suit with police sergeant who alleged retaliation for speaking up against racism — Los Angeles will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by a police sergeant who alleged that he suffered retaliation after speaking up about racism in the Los Angeles Police Department. LA Times article 

San Francisco police handling of Alzheimer’s patient debated — San Francisco police officers who responded to a physical altercation between two residents of an elder-care home handcuffed a woman who has Alzheimer’s disease and little ability to communicate before taking her away in a patrol car over the objections of the home’s staff, records show. San Francisco Chronicle article


With tuition heading up, state will audit UC president’s office – Spending at the University of California’s Oakland headquarters has nearly doubled in recent years, and official staff counts vary by nearly 500 people, depending on who’s doing the counting. So on Wednesday, state lawmakers authorized an audit of UC’s Office of the President to determine whether its $686 million annual budget — more than twice that of the Legislature — is money well spent. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Fresno Unified board votes to put $225 million bond on November ballot – The Fresno Unified School District board voted 6-1 Wednesday to put a $225 million bond measure on the November ballot. The money would be used to attract and retain quality teachers and repair and upgrade schools, according to Fresno Unified Chief Operations Officer Karin Temple. It also might be used to build a new school in the southeast area. Fresno Bee article

Black Lives Matter becomes focus of Fresno Unified teachers rally – National racial tensions became the focus of Fresno Unified’s annual back-to-school event on Wednesday, as Superintendent Michael Hanson called on the community to help the school district’s struggling minority students. Fresno Bee article 

UC Davis’ Katehi gets $424,360 ‘parachute’ common for university presidents – After resigning Tuesday as UC Davis chancellor under a cloud of controversy, Linda P.B. Katehi will take advantage of a University of California perk that allows campus leaders to receive chancellor-level pay with few responsibilities for one year. Sacramento Bee article 

UC Davis chancellor knew she was out of time – UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi decided to step down Tuesday rather than attend an upcoming Board of Regents meeting on her fate after learning that her boss, UC President Janet Napolitano, had already weighed in with a 15-page letter spelling out the reasons she had to go. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Visalia charter students get hands-on Common Core lessons – As student Jacquelyn Brooks shears a sheep on her charter campus’s farm, she’s getting a hands-on lesson in agriculture that is part of the high school’s focus on careers in agribusiness. In math, Jacquelyn and her classmates at Visalia Technical Early College(VTEC) built a pig pen, using geometry and algebra they learned in theirfreshman class. In English classes, students discussed what they read and then worked together to create board games or other projects based on them. EdSource article 

Merced College forced to buy new equipment with police change – Merced College officially adopted its temporary contract with the Merced Police Department this week, noting the college had to purchase all-new equipment and come to an understanding with the Los Banos Police Department for aid in emergency situations.Merced Sun-Star article 

Quick start for nearly shuttered Acacia charter schools – Dozens of Acacia Elementary Charter School teachers escorted their young students to the parking lot on Wednesday afternoon to their waiting parents, ready to share stories about the first day of school that almost wasn’t. Just a few days ago, these same parents were unsure if their children’s school would even be open. Stockton Record article 

The Grade: Air rifle range resurrected; ‘Godless liberal’ running in Kern High School District — Until recently, a basement storeroom at East Bakersfield High School was a littered mess of broken down copiers, leftover desks and supplies. That was until a teacher’s kid found out that storage area was a firing range and chose to return it to its former glory for his Eagle Scout Project. Also, At least one candidate has emerged for Chad Vegas’ KHSD seat. Jen Bloomquist, who filed candidacy papers Aug. 1 and has described herself as a “Godless liberal,” has been critical of Vegas’ ideologies and political leanings. Bakersfield Californian article 


Thousands of lives could be saved in California by stricter air pollution limits, study finds — More than 2,000 Southern Californians die early each year from polluted air, and the region would benefit the most of anywhere in the country from reducing ozone and fine particle pollution below current federal limits, a new study has found. LA Times article 

Forest of fatalities: After 70 million tree deaths, worst ‘still to come’ – The catastrophic tree loss has taken out 66 million pines and other conifers and more than 5 million oak trees and tanoaks, which are relatives in the beech family. Nearly 60 million more water-starved trees are teetering. The dead and distressed woodlands represent a small fraction of the state’s billions of trees. But the problem is acute because large concentrations of trees—hundreds of acres of forest—are being wiped out. And experts expect the situation to worsen. CALmatters article 

State, Kettleman City advocates settle dispute over toxic waste landfill – The state Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with two environmental groups that ends a civil rights complaint over an expansion permit for Chemical Waste Management’s Kettleman Hills hazardous waste landfill. Both sides said the agreement is historic. Fresno Bee article 

San Bruno will urge judge to name court monitor for PG&E – The consequences of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s criminal convictions for violating pipeline-safety rules and obstructing the investigation into the 2010 San Bruno disaster might not be limited to the modest fine of up to $3 million set by federal law. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Mineral Fire consumes 5,000 acres near Coalinga – The Mineral Fire burning west of Coalinga consumed nearly 5,000 acres overnight and remained just 10 percent contained. Smoke was drifting toward Fresno on Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Faulty hot tub wire caused devastating Valley Fire, Cal Fire says – The deadly Valley fire that ripped through Northern California last fall was caused by a faulty residential electrical connection used to power a hot tub, state investigators said Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Hanford Mall to embark on $3.7 million solar project – Hanford Mall plans to install $3.7 million worth of solar panel arrays on its roof later this year. The installation should provide enough power to supply a significant portion of the mall’s power needs, said Manager Joanne Doerter. The Business Journal article 

Lloyd Carter: Selenium still poisons Valley, Delta, nation – The president of the Valley Save Our Streams Council writes, “Selenium is a trace element and a necessary micronutrient for humans and other creatures. It is widely touted as a nutritional aid and may help battle cancer. But it was selenium that killed the fish and birds at Kesterson, triggering deformities and death. Scientists soon learned that even very small amounts of selenium – less than two parts per billion in water – could quickly move up the food chain and impair fish reproduction and harm birds.” Carter op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Downtown ‘water’ rescue for woman in hyacinth-choked slough — This just might have been the first water rescue in Stockton where there wasn’t any water in sight. Firefighters on Wednesday morning helped a woman escape from a dense jungle of water hyacinth floating atop Mormon Slough, near Lincoln and Lafayette streets. Stockton Record article 

Health/Human Services

Third Zika virus case confirmed in Merced County — A third case of the Zika Virus has been confirmed in Merced County by officials at the Merced County Department of Public Health. Merced Sun-Star article 

Danny Morrison: Who deserves blame for Kern’s teen pregnancy rate? All of us – I challenge the school districts and elected officials to give our children more options to deter them from elevating our teenage pregnancy rates. Times are a-changin’ along with the methodology, but the biology is the same. Teenagers will continue to love one another. Now we have to show them how to love in return. Who deserves the blame for Kern County’s teen pregnancy rate? All of us. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian 

Mini-clinics may offer solution to California’s dental woes – About 200 Harmon Johnson students have enrolled in the virtual dental home program, which has been in place there and at 50 other schools, senior centers and long-term residential care facilities statewide since 2010. A University of the Pacific report released earlier this month backs the clinics’ model, which proponents say is an affordable way to offer much-needed dental care to low-income Californians who wouldn’t otherwise have a place to go. Sacramento Bee article

Fresh produce prescription programs impact diet-related disease – As health care providers struggle to reduce the tsunami of diet-related disease washing over communities, a national movement is pairing hospitals and community clinics with local farmers markets through fresh produce prescription programs. California Health Report article 

Modesto clinic dedicated in honor of homeless man – Wednesday, Golden Valley Health Centers honored Alfred “Al” Hunt by dedicating the Corner of Hope clinic on Sixth Street in his memory.  Hunt, a Golden Valley board member for four years, died last year in Missouri, where he was caring for his sister.  Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Coastal Commission is resolving temporary cash flow problem amid state audit – California Coastal Commission officials said Wednesday that the powerful land use agency is quickly resolving a temporary cash flow problem partly triggered by the timing of grant payments and reimbursements. LA Times article 

Joe Mathews: The walls are too high in the kingdom of Ventura — Ventura County is the most verdant of California kingdoms. Just ask its princes and princesses — those fortunate enough to be able to afford to live there. The nearly 900,000 residents can pretend that they live in the country, with parks or farmland always nearby. The Kingdom of Ventura’s cities remain separate developments on the landscape — they haven’t sprawled and melted into each other, like cities do elsewhere in Southern California. Mathews in Bakersfield Californian


High-speed rail work on Fresno highways moves along, but at higher costs — Contractors for the California High-Speed Rail Authority have started widening the shoulders of Highway 180 north of downtown Fresno, preparing to detour traffic for the eventual excavation of a trench that will carry the high-speed train tracks under the freeway. Fresno Bee article

Other areas 

Modesto manager accuses city of gender bias – Modesto’s longtime solid waste manager, Jocelyn Reed, said City Hall has a culture that discriminates against female employees – especially older ones and those who are assertive – and said a report that calls for eliminating her job is riddled with errors and falsehoods. Modesto Bee article

Modesto takes second look at fireworks ordinance — The city will make a serious effort to revamp a new ordinance that lets it issue $1,000 administrative citations to property owners and property management companies whose tenants set off illegal fireworks. Modesto Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: A robust, but efficient city fire department — We all want to be safe from fire. But before rushing into an unaffordable spending spree – staffing each firehouse costs about $2.4 million a year – council members ought to keep some important points in mind. Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – 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 – We all want to be safe from fire. But before rushing into an unaffordable spending spree – staffing each firehouse costs about $2.4 million a year – Sacramento City Council members ought to keep some important points in mind; So far, only one state – Vermont – has managed to get a law past the Pharma lobby, and it’s weak.  SB 101 would be much harder to gain if it passes. Let’s hope it does and becomes the national template the industry is so afraid of.  Californians deserve an explanation if medication is going to cost this much.