August 12, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

DEA pot decision reverberates in California legalization campaign — The Obama administration’s decision Thursday to keep marijuana classified among the nation’s most dangerous drugs divided campaign operatives in California’s cannabis legalization debate. Wayne Johnson, campaign consultant for No on Proposition 64, said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has again validated the opposition’s deeply held skepticism about legalizing marijuana. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: In minutes, two committees secretly dispose of hundreds of bills — The “appropriations committees” of both legislative houses decreed, in a matter of minutes, the fates of nearly 500 bills Thursday. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics 

Michael Fitzgerald: Why they still support Mayor Silva — I was intrigued on Tuesday to see 15 or so people belly up at the council meeting and give Mayor Anthony Silva their full-throated support. It seemed a tad … untimely. Sort of like joining the Fatty Arbuckle Fan Club after that woman scandalously died in bed with him. Mr. Arbuckle, may I have your autograph, sir? Fatty, you da man! But Silva’s supporters have their reasons, as I learned Thursday when I stood outside a Mariposa Road Kmart and talked to all comers. And some reasons make sense. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Other areas 

Marijuana has growing influence in state Capitol – Even though the federal government has decided to retain marijuana as aschedule I drug, California’s marijuana industry is gathering steam. Gov. Jerry Brown approved regulations for medical cannabis last year and voters will weigh on legalizing recreational pot this fall. As the industry expands, so has its influence in the state Capitol.KQED report 

Bill letting California end Daylight Savings Time clears committee — Californians could be spared from changing their clocks twice a year, as a bill to let voters suspend Daylight Saving Time advanced past a key committee on Thursday. Sacramento Bee article 

Drug pricing bill amended, legislative whistleblower bill halted in key California committee – A drug pricing transparency measure underwent broad amendments while bills to protect legislative whistleblowers and declare Uber and Lyft cars noncommercial vehicles failed in a key legislative winnowing on Thursday. Sacramento Bee article 

No lower fines for drivers who roll through red lights on right turns in California – An effort to reduce the fine for drivers who don’t fully stop at a red right before turning right was killed Thursday by the Assembly’s appropriation committee. LA Times article

California bill would limit sex offenders playing ‘Pokemon Go’ — Now one of the California Legislature’s most avid players wants to ensure sex offenders don’t use the game to lure victims. Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, will amend her Assembly Bill 2682 so it would ban registered sex offenders from using the app with the intent of preying on kids, like by trying to lure minors to a specific location “for the purposes of meeting.” They’d need to respect buffers preventing them from getting within a certain distance of kids. Sacramento Bee article 

Assembly panel blocks bill toughening penalties for fentanyl traffickers — A bill that would have imposed stiffer penalties on traffickers of the drug fentanyl was shelved Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Sacramento Bee article 

Lawmakers weaken bill to ban behind-the-scenes communications at Coastal Commission – A stalled bill to prohibit behind-the-scenes communications at the California Coastal Commission survived in the Legislature Thursday, but lawmakers weakened it with amendments that would allow the controversial practice to continue for developers and elected officials. LA Times article; Steve Lopez column in LA Times 

Legislation to improve tracking of mental health services for California’s foster kids moves forward – Legislation that would require better transparency and tracking of mental health services for foster kids in every California county unanimously passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday. San Jose Mercury News article 

Sorry, Maya Dirado: You’ll have to pay taxes on that Olympic medal – For an Olympic medal winner from California, call it the thrill of victory and the agony of taxes. And it won’t change when they return from Rio de Janeiro, after an effort to exempt their winnings from state taxes was killed on Thursday by a legislative panel. LA Times article

Recall effort for SEIU Local 1000 leaders falls flat — A recall petition to oust SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne R. Walker and three other top union officials has failed to gather enough signatures to force an election. Sacramento Bee article 

Court didn’t rule on claims of unwanted sexual advances by Sheriff Scott Jones — Republican Scott Jones, a congressional candidate in Sacramento County, is accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a subordinate. Tosca Olives, beginning as a 26-year-old sheriff’s deputy, claimed about 30 inappropriate encounters with Jones from 2003 to 2005. While Olives herself did not take formal action, her accusations were tucked in a lawsuit brought by four deputies against the Sheriff’s Department claiming retaliation.Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics 

Victor Davis Hanson: Hillary embraces ‘neoliberal’ Republicans fleeing Trump – Clinton versus Trump is a war of NPR, CBS and the New York Times against the National Enquirer, conservative talk radio and the Drudge Report. Clinton supporters such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, onetime Bush officials Hank Paulson and Brent Scowcroft, and billionaire Meg Whitman certainly have nothing in common with Republican Trump supporters such as Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh. Culture, not just politics, is rapidly destroying – but also rebuilding – traditional political parties. Hanson column in Fresno Bee 

Local man offering a ‘TrumpStart’ – Not everyone in Bakersfield is taking this whole — how to say? — Hillary Clinton presidential campaign lying down. OK, so a lot of people aren’t. But Bakersfield resident Pat Brown, owner of Lifetime Fitness, is doing something about it besides voting in November. Bakersfield Californian article 

Richard Johanson: Maybe it’s party time, friends – third party – The chair emeritus of the Fresno Business Council and founder of Johanson Transportation Service in Fresno writes, “This nation is at a crossroads. For all too many, the question is whether or not our existing political party structure can recapture the confidence of the electorate. Can their leaders demonstrate that they have the internal integrity required to fulfill their responsibilities? The alternative before us is quite simple. Is it the creation of a new political party comprised of a nationwide body of stewardship-oriented consensus builders capable of reaching mutually acceptable solutions to complex issues? To pose the question another way, is it party time?” Johanson op-ed in Fresno Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno water complaints were hidden from city officials, mayor says — A former Fresno water plant operator used a private email server and cell phone to hide complaints of discolored or tainted water from his bosses, city officials said Thursday. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report 

Kern sheriff to seek $1.3 million to keep deputies on street — Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood will ask Tuesday for $1.3 million more than the Board of Supervisors has said it will give him this fiscal year. But Youngblood said he isn’t looking for more staff. The money, he said Thursday, would only replace the 53 deputy sheriffs he expects to lose to retirement and other public safety agencies over the next 16 months. And that’s only if he’s lucky. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

Home prices rise in Kings County — Just like the rest of California, it’s getting more expensive to buy a home in Kings County. According to CoreLogic Inc., a real estate research firm, the median price of homes in Kings County jumped to $203,000 as of June, a 9.7 percent increase over last year. Hanford Sentinel article 

Low inventory said to drive up home prices in Sacramento region — Home prices in the Sacramento region continue to climb, driven by low inventory, according to the monthly report released Thursday by the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Sacramento. Coldwell said the median sale price of a home in the tri-county region – Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer – last month was $345,000, up 9 percent from a median of $317,000 in July 2015. Sacramento Bee article 

Building boom resumes in San Francisco as tech firms crave office space – After a six-month period during which it seemed as if demand for tech office space had stalled out, fast-growing companies are once again fanning out across the city in search of space, according to developers and brokerage firms. That has emboldened commercial builders to dust off blueprints and prepare to break ground on office projects that just a few weeks ago seemed likely to be on hold for a while. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Reality check: Manufacturers returning to U.S. may mean jobs for robots, not people — Here’s a little reality check on the current presidential campaign and promises by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to bring back jobs from overseas. LA Times article


New questions over California water project — Critics and a state lawmaker say they want more explanations on who’s paying for a proposed $16 billion water project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, after a leading California water district said Brown’s administration was offering government funding to finish the planning for the two giant water tunnels. AP article

Robin Abcarian: A tour of California’s water supply lays bare tension between farmers and fish — The offer was too tempting to refuse: Westlands Water District, the ethically challenged agency that often finds itself in the news for all the wrong reasons, invited me on an aerial tour of its watershed. From high above, I would be able to see the public works projects that have allowed the San Joaquin Valley to bloom, cities to explode and the natural environment to implode. Abcarian column in LA Times 

San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years – Robert Haskins walked across a vast expanse of cracked mud, littered with old beer bottles and millions of tiny clam shells, that in most Augusts would be 50 feet underwater. But the San Luis Reservoir, the vast inland sea along Highway 152 that is a key part of Silicon Valley’s water supply, is only 10 percent full, its lowest level in 27 years. San Jose Mercury News article

Farmworkers fight for overtime pay and better working conditions — The sun has just nosed above the horizon when Maria Espinosa (not her real name) ties a bandana over her face to protect herself from pesticides and dust, and reaches for a blackberry bush. Paid by the amount of berries she picks plus a $3-per-hour wage, Espinosa works feverishly for 10 hours, stopping only briefly for short breaks and lunch. For that day in early May, Espinosa would receive no overtime pay. California Health Report article 

Does the new La Nina forecast mean a dry winter for California? — According to a new forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, it’s likely that the La Niña weather pattern will show up this winter. The likelihood that it will show up this winter is the same as last month: a 55 to 60 percent probability. That’s a downgrade from June, when it was 75 percent. KPCC report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Tulare County sheriff busts human trafficking ring — Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said a human trafficking organization has been dismantled with the arrest Thursday of the alleged ringleader who used the internet to lure vulnerable girls and young women.Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

California gang database plagued with errors, unsubstantiated entries, state auditor finds – A California gang database maintained by law enforcement agencies is rife with unsubstantiated entries, names that should have been purged long ago and glaring errors, a state audit released Thursday found. LA Times article; Center for Investigative Reporting article 

Probation statistics show increase in use of force at LA County juvenile halls – Use-of-force incidents at Los Angeles County juvenile halls have increased in recent months, but probation officials say it’s unclear what’s behind the rise. LA Times article 

Former Kern deputy who escaped custody last year has walked away from rehab facility — A former Kern County sheriff’s deputy who made national news after escaping from custody in his second of three arrests in the span of a week last year walked away from a rehabilitation facility on Sunday. Bakersfield Californian article 

Chief Robert Jackson leaves Turlock Police Department – Chief Robert Jackson has voluntarily left the Turlock Police Department, City Manager Gary Hampton announced Thursday afternoon. Thursday was his final day on the job. A police captain has been named acting chief. Modesto Bee article

Simulator helps Sacramento cops learn when, and when not, to shoot – The Police Department’s new Force Option Simulator is outfitted with five large screens that immerse officers in 50 interactive scenarios. It’s designed to train officers and students enrolled in the Sacramento Police Academy to make use-of-force decisions under pressure. Sacramento Bee article 

Being a cop in challenging times — There’s the national news – police facing criticism and protests for highly publicized officer-involved fatal shootings involving civilians; police themselves being shot and killed by people with a vendetta – and then there’s 39-year-old Alsie Ortega. Hanford Sentinel article 

At Turlock academy, no role-playing as in deadly Florida case — Nothing like the role-playing that left a 73-year-old woman dead in Florida on Tuesday night will occur at the upcoming Citizens Academy on law enforcement, Turlock police assured this week. Modesto Bee article 

More grows linked to massive marijuana operation; 4 more arrested, $200,000 seized after new raids — Authorities raided two new locations and made four more arrests Thursday in connection with a massive marijuana growing operation that is believed to be the largest ever uncovered in San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article 

California Senate confirms Scott Kernan as head of state prison system — The state Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Scott Kernan as head of the state prison system amid hopes by members that he will continue to seek reforms to reduce recidivism. LA Times article 

Courts overturn sentences for two California death row inmates and uphold another – Top courts weighed in Thursday on three long-running capital murder cases in California, throwing out two death sentences while affirming a third. All three inmates had been convicted of murders that took place 15 to 35 years ago. LA Times article 

Kate Steinle killing: Murder trial in high-profile San Francisco killing not likely until months after election — Lawyers in court Thursday on the shooting death of Kate Steinle said the murder case that ignited a furious national debate over illegal immigration won’t go to trial until next year, long after the presidential election. San Jose Mercury News article


How education stacks up in San Joaquin County – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors held its second evening study session Thursday night, and the meeting drew a larger audience this time around to discuss the topic of education. The session, held at the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Wentworth Education Center, touched on topics including an overview of K-12 education, early childhood education and career-related initiatives that are benefitting students in the region. Stockton Record article 

The basics behind the state’s new school improvement system – For the past year, EdSource has followed the development of the new school improvement and accountability system that the State Board of Education is leading. The 10-question primer that follows provides an overview of the work so far and what lies ahead. EdSource article 

Interim Merced College presidency comes with $50,000-per-year raise – A contract approved this week pays Merced College interim President Susan Walsh at a rate of about $50,000 more a year than she was making last year as the campus librarian, according to records. Merced Sun-Star article 

College district administrators receive $545,000 in raises – Administrators, managers and executives at the Kern Community College District received a pay bump totaling more than $545,000 Thursday. Four of those administrators at Bakersfield College, the district’s flagship campus, are also getting stipends on top of their regular salary. Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced police chief leaving for new job – UC Merced’s police chief is leaving for a job at UC Riverside after just a year in Merced, according to campus officials. Michael Reese, vice chancellor for business and administrative services, said Albert Vasquez is headed to Riverside to serve beginning Sept. 12 as the executive director of enterprise risk management. Merced Sun-Star article 

New year, new superintendent for Visalia Unified — “As a teacher, as a principal, and certainly as a superintendent, you have first day jitters,” said Superintendent Todd Oto. “This is my first full year as superintendent. We’ve done lots of good work which will make for a great year.” Visalia Times-Delta article 

Yosemite Community College District board member Anne DeMartini by board for email to workers — For the first time in memory, the Yosemite Community College District board censured one of its own, board member Anne DeMartini, claiming misuse of power in treatment of a YCCD office worker. Modesto Bee article 


PG&E files plan to shut down Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant – A joint proposal calling for the shutdown of California’s lone remaining nuclear power plant was formally submitted by Pacific Gas & Electric to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

SoCal hit with worst smog in years as hot, stagnant weather brings surge in hospital visits — Southern California is experiencing its worst smog in years this summer as heat and stagnant weather increase the number of bad air days and drive up ozone pollution to levels not seen since 2009. Where pollution is worst, in the Inland Empire, hospitals and asthma clinics are reporting increases in patients seeking treatment for respiratory illness, their breathing difficulties exacerbated by the persistent heat and pollution. LA Times article 

Mineral Fire grows to 7,050 acres, is 25 percent contained — The Mineral fire west of Coalinga had burned 7,050 acres by Thursday evening as firefighters struggled to bring it to 25 percent containment in rough, hilly terrain. A spokeswoman for Cal Fire said six structures are threatened by the blaze, and a home and an outbuilding have been destroyed. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

California teen birth rate dives, but Valley remains among highestCalifornia teen birth rates have declined to record-low levels, but the central San Joaquin Valley continues to be have some of the highest rates in the state. Valley teen rates remain stubbornly high, ranging from 38.9 in Kings County to 43.7 in Tulare. Fresno County’s rate is 39.1. Fresno Bee article 

DEA moves to make more marijuana available for medical research – Federal authorities Thursday announced they were standing firm on a 46-year-old policy of classifying marijuana as a dangerous narcotic with no accepted medical use. But in a seemingly contradictory decision, the Drug Enforcement Administration also said it was lifting long-standing restrictions on cultivation to facilitate research of marijuana’s potential effectiveness as medicine for a range of conditions. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial 

Fed up with insurance, doctors bolt the system to get more patient time – Dr. Lorraine Page, believe it or not, makes housecalls. One place she makes calls on is the home of Ann Caponio. Visiting Caponio’s one-bedroom apartment in Half Moon Bay, California,  you can tell she’s a knitter: baskets of wool and hanks of yarn adorn the room, and in the corner sits a wooden spinning wheel. KQED report 

Groceries offered in exchange for Tulare hospital bond voting — The Yes on Measure I campaign in Tulare last week offered voters a chance to win $100 in groceries for placing their ballots in the mailbox. The problem is, it may be illegal to offer a financial incentive to vote. Fresno Bee article 

52-year-old woman is first West Nile case in Stanislaus County this year — Stanislaus County health officials have reported the first local case of West Nile illness this year. Officials said a 52-year-old Modesto woman tested positive for the virus. Health Services Agency spokesman Jim Ferrera said the woman was not hospitalized. The woman’s name was not released. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Bike and Build is pedaling a message — As the first wall of a home being built by Habitat for Humanity went up, a woman took a second to appreciate the significance of the moment. “Guys, someone is going to live in this,” she said to her teammates. For the fourth year, a group with Bike and Build made a stop in the city to help Habitat for Humanity of San Joaquin County build one of its homes in southeast Stockton. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Modesto, Sonora courthouse projects may inch forward – Projects to build new courthouses in Modesto and Sonora may be able to complete their current phases but not proceed to the next ones, as state courts officials work on solving a funding crisis for new courthouse construction. Modesto Bee article 

New think tank seeks to connect Fresno’s great minds – Before an idea can turn into reality, it must be shared. To facilitate collaboration and the free flow of ideas, local hotel broker Roger Story is assembling Fresno’s brightest minds to create the Story Think Tank. The Business Journal article 

Watson picked as new Lindsay council member — Lindsay City Council has a new member and the city has officially named a new city manager. Brian Watson was selected as the fifth council member, being chosen over Lora Cortes and Seferina Villareal. William Zigler, who had served as the city’s interim city manager for more than a year, accepted a new contract and he now holds the position officially. Visalia Times-Delta article

Happy 125th birthday, Hanford — Hanford celebrated its 125th birthday at Thursday Night Market Place with a party that included a giant cake, singing, dignitaries and live music. The Hanford Chamber of Commerce participated, as did Main Street Hanford and other officials. Hanford Sentinel article 

Mel Wingett, former San Joaquin County administrator, remembered as kind, genuine — Former San Joaquin County Administrator Melvyrn Wingett, known to most as Mel, is described by colleagues as genuine, kind and a great leader. Wingett, who had been with the County Administrator’s Office from 1985-1994, first as assistant county administrator and then becoming head of the office in the early 1990s, died in Stockton on July 31 at the age of 84. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Merced Sun-Star – If this presidential campaign is ever to get around to policies instead of personalities, Detroit is where that might have started.

Modesto Bee – If this presidential campaign is ever to get around to policies instead of personalities, Detroit is where that might have started.

Sacramento Bee – Hillary Clinton can be too wonky for her own good. But her policies offer a far better chance to boost the prospectsof the vast majority of Americans than Trump’s; We needed clarity on marijuana. Instead, most of what the DEA gave us was just more smoke.