August 14, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Kamala Harris’ summary miscasts measure – Does Harris’ summary invent an unjustified description? It certainly appears so. Did she do it for political reasons? Whatever her motives, it could backfire. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California senator proposes immigration holds on felons in country illegally — Outraged by the recent killings of two California women allegedly by immigrants in the country illegally, a state lawmaker has proposed legislation to require law enforcement agencies to notify immigration officials of the pending release of any convicted felon improperly in the U.S. LA Times article


Gov. Brown 

Governor signs Perea’s business filing procedures bill — Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1471, a measure authored by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) and sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The measure, signed into law on Wednesday, is designed to improve the efficiency of existing and future Secretary of State’s (SOS) business filing procedures. The Business Journal article


Valley politics

Former Golden Plains school trustee indicted for perjury — A former trustee of the Golden Plains Unified School District board has been indicted by the Fresno County criminal grand jury for perjury and false declaration of candidacy, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday. Fresno Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Back in Sac: California Politics Podcast – The final sprint of the California Legislature’s work for 2015 is about to begin, and there’s a lot on tap before the final gavel falls in early September. On this week’s California Politics Podcast, we assess some of the biggest debates coming to a statehouse near you — from climate change to special session work on health care and beyond. California Politics Podcast in KQED

Joel Fox: Top 5 taxes you may see on the 2016 ballot – While the legislature gets together next week with the opportunity to have that debate, most likely any tax measure on the 2016 ballot will come via the initiative process. As I wrote previously, situations and strategies change. What’s being discussed most heavily today is not necessarily what will be pushed to the ballot for voters to decide in 2016. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Stephen Eide: Pension reformers have the momentum – The senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute writes, “Reformers should continue to take the high road and trust that the facts are on their side. If framing this as a debate over the “uncertainty” of public retirement benefits is the best that defenders can do, there may yet be hope for the cause of fiscal stability in California.” Eide op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Lawyer: Immigrant family detention still lengthy and unsafe — Immigrant rights lawyers say families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are often detained for long periods and that their detention is unsafe and violates a ban on holding children in secure facilities. AP article


Other areas

California right-to-die debate heads to court — With efforts to legalize doctor-assisted suicide stalled in the California Legislature, the contentious issue of providing end of life treatment to the terminally ill is now headed back to the courts. Contra Costa Times article; KQED report 

Darius Assemi: Here’s how to fix California’s roads, bridges and highways – The Fresno resident and member of the California Transportation Commission writes, “In the long run, we must evaluate a usage-based fee that replaces, not augments, the gas tax. My colleague on the California Transportation Commission, James Madaffer, has taken the lead on exploring a usage-based vehicle miles traveled system that will adequately finance our transportation needs. Concurrent – and inextricably linked – with development of new revenues, we must adopt reform and accountability measures.” Assemi op-ed in Fresno Bee

Ashley Swearengin: California is remarkable but faces challenges – California Forward is launching what will be a series of bipartisan conversations in front of public audience. The event is titled: “Money, Schools, Jobs and You–A Bipartisan Conversation.” Four thoughtful Californians will lead these conversations: two Republicans and two Democrats. Democrats Chuck Reed, the former San Jose Mayor, and Marshall Tuck, who is Educator in Resident at the New Teacher Center; Republicans Pete Peterson, who is the director of the Davenport Institute at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Ashley Swearengin, Mayor of Fresno. CA Fwd has been interviewing these leaders in advance of the events. Today, we’re sharing our interview with Mayor Swearengin. CA Fwd website

Bill Whalen: It’s time for California to reconsider term limits – I break with many a Republican in that I’m no fan of term limits. In a free society, voters should be free to stick with what they like. Besides, I’d point to two troubling consequences in California. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee 

Lee’s re-election bid draws big bucks from tech leaders — Ed Lee has pushed for many business-friendly policies during his tenure as San Francisco’s mayor and it seems to be paying off — both for him and his handpicked supervisor. San Francisco Chronicle article

Carly Fiorina: Parents should not be forced to vaccinate their children — GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina said Thursday that parents should not be forced to vaccinate their children against diseases like measles and mumps, although she added that public school systems can forbid unvaccinated children from attending. Washington Post article


News Briefs

Top Stories 

Forecasters ‘unanimously’ expect strong El Nino, giving hope to parched California – A historic El Niño is almost certainly coming, government forecasters said Thursday, raising hopes that California could see a wet winter. Sacramento Bee article; The Business Journal article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article; NPR report

U.S. growers worry over China’s economy – California’s growers are casting a wary eye toward China, their third-biggest trading partner, because the devaluation of its currency is expected to make pistachios, almonds and other farm products more expensive. LA Times article

Stanislaus County government hopes to change lives with massive construction of jail and rehab facilities — Andrea Conklin’s story of going from drug addiction to recovery set the tone for Thursday’s dedication of a Day Reporting Center for Stanislaus County, which is part of the new era of public safety realignment. Conklin, 39, was in the first group of people released from state prisons in November 2011 under the statewide initiative that makes lower-level offenders the responsibility of counties. Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy 

CalPERS, CalSTRS took big losses on energy investments, report says — The California Public Employees’ Retirement System posted losses of just over $3 billion, a 28% decline, on its largest oil and gas investments; the California State Teachers’ Retirement System lost about $2.2 billion on its largest energy assets, down 27%, the report said. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Modesto to tax prepaid cell phone services – It will cost Modesto cell phone users more next year to buy prepaid minutes and data because the city will start charging a 5.5 percent utility users tax on the purchases. Modesto Bee article 

Sacramento closes deal for Kings arena financing — Finally and officially, the city of Sacramento has become a partner in the construction of the new Kings arena, enabling the half-finished project to avoid a possible cash shortage and loan default. Sacramento Bee article 

More than half of Americans have gone 12 months without a vacation – More than 135 million Americans, or 56%, say they haven’t taken a vacation in the last 12 months, compared to 126 million Americans, or 52%, who reported going without a vacation for a year in 2014, according to a telephone survey of 1,000 Americans. LA Times article

Uber’s car-leasing program might violate state rules, PUC says — The California Public Utilities Commission is looking into whether Uber and other ride-sharing companies are violating state rules by allowing drivers to use leased vehicles on the job. LA Times article

Apple reports little progress in workforce diversity efforts – Apple more than doubled the number of women, blacks and Latino workers hired in the last year, according to a report released Thursday, but the result was only an incremental improvement in its overall workforce diversity figures. LA Times article 

Tour provides maritime front-row seat – Cargo ships lining the Port of Stockton waterfront Thursday morning provided just a hint of the $1 billion of freight that crosses its docks each year. Stockton Record article

LA taxpayers, lawyers to share $92.5-million telephone tax settlement — Los Angeles could pay up to $92.5 million to taxpayers and attorneys to resolve a lawsuit over a city telephone tax that has endured nearly nine years, under a class-action settlement that was granted preliminary approval by a Superior Court judge Thursday. LA Times article 

Coalition seeks community benefits as part of Raiders development plan — A coalition of community groups called on the prospective developer of a new football stadium at the Oakland Coliseum complex to make a written commitment to include good jobs, affordable housing and other community benefits as part of the project. Contra Costa Times article

Sacramento Bee: A car deal fuels the green economy — One hundred and fifty jobs may not be much in an economy the size of California’s. But the comeback of the luxury car company Fisker Automotive is still something to celebrate. Sacramento Bee editorial



Kristin Olsen: Water solutions apparent, but we must act – The Assembly Republican Leader from Modesto writes, “I urge the governor to reject the outdated, unrealistic and costly Delta tunnels projects in favor of solutions that will increase supply and reliability such as storage, desalination and water recycling — moving them out of endless years of bureaucracy and into construction where they can begin to meet the needs of California’s families and economy.” Olsen op-ed in Stockton Record 

A huge El Nino could devastate Southern California – The importance of the powerful storm of 1997-98 is now coming into focus as scientists say the weather pattern is returning to Southern California with a vengeance. LA Times article

State official: Don’t count on El Nino droughtbuster – State climatologist Michael Anderson warned California residents Thursday not to count on El Nino to end an historic four-year drought.  Hanford Sentinel article; KQED report

#drylandsCA team finds the drought’s hard lesson: When water is life – The lake where Robert and Sarah Godfrey were fishing wasn’t one of the pretty ones. All around this part of the Sierra near Tamarack, famous for its snow, when it does snow, there were full lakes surrounded by pines. But they’d come to Spicer Meadow Reservoir. Here, even before an epic drought made the shoreline look lunar, the wind howled most afternoons and the trees were sparse and twisted. LA Times article 

Drought aid takes a new turn – The state is making a new pot of money available to local families hurt by drought, but it comes with a twist: You have to be on a failing well and you have to be low income. Hanford Sentinel article

State offers cash for ‘turf and toilet’ rebate – The California Department of Water Resources on Thursday announced two new rebate programs to help residents replace inefficient toilets and tear out water-guzzling lawns to conserve during the state’s drought. Merced Sun-Star article; ‘Tips for removing your water-chugging lawn’ in Visalia Times-Delta

Sacramento water conservation hit 37 percent in July – Sacramento-area residents cut their water usage by 37 percent in July, continuing the trend toward water conservation as ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown. Sacramento Bee article

Bear attacks man at Mariposa County home — A 67-year-old man fought off a black bear that attacked him on his porch Thursday in the Midpines area of Mariposa County, officials said. The state is seeing an uptick in bear encounters, likely a result of California’s relentless drought that’s sending the animals into populated areas to forage for food, officials said. Fresno Bee article; AP article; Merced Sun-Star article

UC Davis seeks to turn a little water into wine – The main vineyard at the University of California, Davis, currently relies on 4 to 6 gallons of water to produce each gallon of wine. As soon as next year, researchers hope new technologies can reduce that vineyard demand to as little as 1 gallon of water per gallon of wine. Sacramento Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Questions raised over why inmate killed at Folsom prison was in general population despite decades of death threats – Despite decades of attacks and death threats, California prison officials moved inmate Hugo “Yogi” Pinell out of a segregated housing unit and into the general population in the last couple of weeks, his lawyer said Thursday. Pinell, 71, was moved without notification to his attorney and despite concerns that he would be targeted by rival gang members, Oakland attorney Keith Wattley said in a telephone interview. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Hanford ranked high in officer study – Hanford ranked high in a report released last month of the 30 best cities nationwide to work as a police officer. ValuePenguin, a New York-based company that provides information on credit cards, insurance and other products, put Hanford in 14th place in its list of the 30 best cities to be an officer, based on median salary, cost of living, amount of crime and more. Hanford Sentinel article 

Stockton police hit street to talk about crime – Officers from the Stockton Police Department knocked on Bancroft Way doors Thursday morning to discuss stopping violence throughout the city. The department routinely canvasses neighborhoods where violent incidents occur in an effort to reach out to the community and let residents know there are resources for them to report crime, said Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman for the department. Stockton Record article 

Officers in collision able to return to work – One Stockton police officer returned to work Thursday and two others were expected to return following scheduled days off after they sustained minor injuries in a collision Wednesday while responding to a call involving an armed robbery suspect. Stockton Record article

Claim filed against Kern County in connection with fatal crash involving deputy — A wrongful death claim has been filed against the county of Kern in connection with a crash in which a deputy’s patrol car collided with a motorcycle, killing its driver. Bakersfield Californian article

Crime spike in Richmond: A challenge for community policing? — Armed robberies are up 26 percent this year. And another shooting death last week brings the number of homicides in the city to 11 so far this year — the total number of homicides for all of 2014. While Richmond’s community policing strategy has been a bright spot in the national conversation about race and police, the current uptick in violent crime has residents and police on edge. KQED report 

Merced County officer charged with assault on paid leave — A Livingston police officer, who has been accused of felony assault by a public officer for an incident in 2012, is on paid administrative leave, the Merced Sun-Star has learned. Merced Sun-Star article



Bakersfield College president under fire for bucking bureaucracy – The employment contract of Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian remained in limbo Thursday even after supporter after supporter lauded her tenure at a Kern Community College District board meeting. And the reason her job may be in jeopardy, according to documents obtained by The Californian, is that Christian has bucked district bureaucracy and focused on the success of Bakersfield College to the exclusion of the needs of the district’s two other campuses. Bakersfield Californian article

Back to school: A new kind of test results — Students and parents will notice some changes when they return to school after summer break. Local districts are preparing for the first-ever scores released under the new Smarter Balanced test, planning ahead for new vaccine legislation and opening new facilities on campus. Fresno Bee article

Districts prepare for shortage of substitutes – The San Joaquin County Office of Education was slated to host a substitute teacher’s fair next weekend, with the hopes of bringing in hundreds of willing educators to fill in classrooms over the course of the new school year. Nearly as quickly as it was announced, the fair was canceled. Stockton Record article 

Science, art camp sneaks in language for English learners — As elementary students swayed like seaweed and waddled like penguins in a dance lesson during an ocean-themed camp, they were soaking in something they probably didn’t realize – lots of English language. EdSource article

Hearing set for Manteca Unified trustee accused of fraud — A preliminary hearing for a Manteca Unified school-board member accused of using false addresses to get elected and also facing charges of welfare fraud has been set for early next month, but a plea agreement could come before then, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Stockton Record article



PG&E pays California $300 million toward penalty for pipeline blast — California’s biggest power utility says it’s paid a $300 million penalty to the state’s general fund for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed more than three dozen homes in suburban San Francisco. AP article 

Sierra wildfires in eastern Fresno, Tulare counties continue to grow – Two Sierra wildfires sparked by lightning continued to spread Thursday in Fresno and Tulare counties, pushing smoke into the Valley and sparking air advisories. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Firefighters making big gains on 36-square-mile Jerusalem fire — Firefighters reported big gains Thursday in their battle with a Lake County blaze that had shown little inclination to slow its relentless advance. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Millions to fund outdoor recreation, conservation — Millions of dollars in funding, which will be used to promote outdoor recreation and conservation, will be distributed to all 50 states this week, the U.S. Department of Interior announced Thursday. Visalia Times-Delta article


Health/Human Services

Should California doctors be required to use drug monitoring database? — News from Kentucky and New Jersey along with campaigns in other states have rekindled interest in California efforts to force physicians to use the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System — California’s electronic monitoring system known as CURES. KQED report

Hospital CEO announces new job during town hall — Ash Gokli will be leaving his position as chief executive officer of Memorial Hospital in Los Banos. The announcement came during a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Los Banos Community Center that outlined the progress the rural facility has made in providing services to patients. Los Banos Enterprise article
Land Use/Housing 

Colleen Battistoni: Time to give urban farming a try in Visalia – The Visalia resident writes, “Let’s teach our children about the value of farm-to-table. Let’s inspire the sciences and move beyond technology in our daily lives. Urban farming really could be the sustainable wave of the future in food production. Just think if Visalia could help pave the way towards such an exciting endeavor?” Battistoni op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta



Josh Pedrozo: Don’t count Merced out on high-speed rail facility – The member of Merced City County and mayor pro tem writes, “The Castle site would be given to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for free, similar to the way in which property for UC Merced was deeded to the university. More importantly, Castle has the second-longest runway in California – making this location the only multi-modal site proposed by any applicant.” Pedrozo op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

FAA: Pilot reports of drone sightings more than double — Pilot reports of drone sightings so far this year are more than double last year, government regulators say, raising concern about the potential for a deadly collision. AP article

San Francisco Bay Area commuters make big shift away from cars — Workers in the San Francisco Bay Area made the nation’s most dramatic shift from commuting via automobile to using alternative transportation between 2006 and 2013, according to a new Census Bureau report. Capitol Alert

Q&A with Caltrans: A look at the Highway 58 mudslide — When two inches of rain falls in the span of one hour in Kern County, something bad is probably going to happen. Sure enough, on the evening of June 12, a thunderstorm opened up over the Tehachapi Mountains, washing tons of mud, rock and debris into the westbound lanes of Highway 58, west of the Highway 202 cutoff to Tehachapi. Bakersfield Californian article


Other areas 

Modesto truck driving school owner says he regrets crime – Standing in the yard of his Modesto trucking school Thursday morning, Turlock resident Kulwinder Singh Dosanjh choked up as he talked about the criminal mistake that has him facing possible prison time. “I’m sorry. … I shouldn’t have done it, it ruined my life,” the 58-year-old owner of Mid California Truck School said, referring to his role in helping a driver illegally obtain a commercial trucking license in 2013. Modesto Bee article 

First Look: 50 Wendy’s Words Libraries now established in Bakersfield — Three years after local humanitarian and children’s advocate, Wendy Wayne, lost her battle to cancer, more than 50 little libraries have popped up around town in her honor. The libraries can be found in countless front yards around Bakersfield, looking like oversized dollhouses that add a splash of color to surrounding neighborhoods. Bakersfield Californian article 

Hanford councilman Francisco Ramirez under fire — One week after a controversial Hanford City Council vote, Councilman Francisco Ramirez has become the subject of numerous rumors and a complaint filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission. Ramirez, who was elected last year to represent Hanford’s southeastern District D, was one of three council members who voted on Aug. 4 to allow movie theaters to operate outside of the downtown area. Hanford Sentinel article

Blight, old clothes and a Danish fugitive: Inside cities’ fight against donation bins — With the bins have come blight and other problems, local officials say, not to mention a rash of complaints about overflowing drop boxes that often attract jettisoned mattresses, broken furniture and piles of garbage. Dozens of cities, including Stanton, have passed laws in the last couple of years to ban them. LA Times article

Stanislaus mayors appoint Oakdale’s Tom Dunlop to LAFCO — Mayors throughout Stanislaus County on Wednesday selected Oakdale City Councilman Tom Dunlop to represent cities on the Local Agency Formation Commission. He replaces Hughson Mayor Matt Beekman, whose controversial ouster in July from the growth-guiding panel provoked outcry. Modesto Bee article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeePolice reform gets a jump-start in California.

Sacramento Bee – One hundred and fifty jobs may not be much in an economy the size of California’s. But the comeback of the luxury car company Fisker Automotive is still something to celebrate; OMG – drugs have risks and side effects.
Stockton Record – “Con artist” can’t trump San Joaquin County Fairgrounds’ progress.