August 16, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: California’s warring education factions dueling over federal rules — The political war over the direction of California’s public schools has a new front in Washington, D.C., where the warring factions are trying to persuade the U.S. Department of Education to tilt their way on accountability. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Court sets California gun-carry case on path to Supreme Court – A federal appeals court rejected a challenge by gun groups Monday to California’s requirement of a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home, clearing the way for a final test in the U.S. Supreme Court. San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown moves to slip cap-and-trade into major climate bill — In a bid to preserve California’s cap-and-trade program beyond 2020, Gov. Jerry Brown has quietly proposed amending major environmental legislation to expressly authorize the regulation’s extension. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Michael Fitzgerald: Suddenly a stickler for the rules – It would be a lot easier to take seriously Mayor Anthony Silva’s allegation that a council majority violated the Brown Act had Silva not displayed a contempt for the rules throughout his tenure. Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record 

Many San Joaquin County council, mayoral races set — The races for city council for cities in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties are becoming more clear, but in two cities deadlines to file for office have been extended for candidates to file for the Nov. 8 election. Stockton Record article

Local school board election candidates are in — Local school board elections are fast approaching. Here’s who’s filed so far. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Joel Fox: Business rallying to Proposition 51 — California’s housing crisis is a major reason members of the business community are supporting the state school construction bond, Proposition 51. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Bid to referend new California gun laws is a long shot — Grassroots gun rights advocates in California aren’t just furious about the gun control billssigned by Gov. Jerry Brown in recent weeks. They’re taking action. The Second Amendment supporters hope to use California’s referendum process to delay seven new laws until voters can be asked to overturn them in November 2018. But the effort they started Friday faces long odds, and even people who support them doubt they will succeed. Capital Public Radio report

Other areas

Opponents try to block California vaccination law as school starts – As Sacramento area school districts step up efforts to ensure that kindergartners and seventh graders get vaccinated so they can attend class, a federal judge in San Diego is weighing whether to temporarily block the law that eliminated parents’ ability to exempt their children from shots by citing personal beliefs. Sacramento Bee article 

What the oil industry wants in a California climate change deal – The oil industry’s lead advocate at the California Capitol says the industry supports Governor Jerry Brown’s effort to extend the state’s fight against climate change – but only with some significant changes. Capital Public Radio report 

Body camera footage of police officer killings could be kept private under bill passed by state Senate – Video or audio footage showing the deaths of police officers in California will not be made public unless their immediate family agrees to release it should a bill passed Monday by the state Senate become law. LA Times article

California moves to limit taking property from people not convicted of crimes – People not convicted of a crime would be shielded from having some assets seized by law enforcement under a bill that passed the California Assembly on Thursday. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; KQED report 

Californians on pace to buy 1 million guns in 2016 – The soaring gun sale totals—which show 554,203 firearms sales through late July—come in the wake of mass shootings in Orlando and Dallas, followed by calls for gun control legislation. KPCC obtained the new data from the California Department of Justice’s gun tracking system, the Dealer Record of Sales (DROS). The system shows gun sales on track to surpass 2015 nearly everywhere in the state. KPCC report 

With barbiturates and martini, Sonoma man among first Californians to die under end-of-life law — In his prime, Tom House was a sturdy, independent type, a private pilot and former Marine who ran an insurance business in the Bay Area for decades. Well into his 80s, he was still jogging several miles a day, chopping wood, making meals, doing his own laundry at his retirement home in Sonoma County. But four months ago, his once-robust body began giving out. Hobbled by heart disease, colon cancer and failing eyesight, House, at age 94, decided it was time. Sacramento Bee article 

Kelly Davis: ‘I’d rather be free than entombed in my own body’: One ALS patient’s choice to employ end-of-life law — Last August, my sister Betsy asked if I knew anything about using bitcoin, a form of virtual currency. It took me a while to realize why she was asking: She wanted to buy a lethal amount of drugs and she didn’t want the purchase to be traceable. Davis in LA Times 

Dan Walters: California State Bar reform bill stalls as negotiations break down — After negotiations broke down late last week, you can add much-needed reform of the State Bar to the no-fly list, along with Gov. Jerry Brown’s transportation tax, housing reform and reauthorization of the state’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Project to modernize California’s Political Reform Act takes stage in LA — Lawyers, public servants, students, academics, good government reform groups, and concerned citizens made Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday the center of a statewide discussion to modernize California’s landmark political ethics law and encourage more people to participate in the political process. California Forward report 

Joe Scoto: Proposed legislation could slash local farm worker income – The owner of Scoto Brothers Farming in Merced writes, “While I appreciate that our state is the nation’s leader in protecting workers, AB 1066 undermines that leadership because it erodes employee income. Legislators with no deep understanding of farming should not be allowed to destroy the positive relationships and respectful work environment on my farm.” Scoto op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

Lawmakers act to protect those who rescue animals from hot cars – Californians would be immune from liability if they break a car window or enter a vehicle to rescue an animal in danger of serious injury or death from heat under a measure approved Monday by the state Senate. LA Times article 

Foon Rhee: Lane-splitting bill barely moves the needle – Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat, finally won legislative approval for a bill this session, and it landed on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk last Wednesday. But the measure – which only calls for educational guidelines, maybe – is a shell of his original proposal. That’s too bad. Rhee in Sacramento Bee 

Lynn Wu: Banning real jail visits punishes inmates’ families – The staff attorney and Juvenile Justice Policy and Projects Manager at the Prison Law Office writes, “Families and friends now have two options to ‘see’ their incarcerated loved ones: Those with a webcam, credit card and high-speed internet access can call from home, paying as much as $1 a minute. Others must travel to the jail and use a grainy video screen. The Legislature has a chance to right this wrong.” Wu op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Actors may soon keep their ages confidential on entertainment job websites – Addressing concern about age discrimination in Hollywood, the state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would allow actors to keep their ages from being disclosed on websites that provide employment services to the entertainment industry. LA Times article 

Some of California’s House Democrats are getting new numbers after a hacker posted their info — Phone numbers and email addresses for at least some of California’s 39 House Democrats were among the details published online last week after the apparent hacking of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. LA Times article 

Tech companies to employees: Please vote! We’ll give you the day off — Silicon Valley is gearing up to rock the vote this November. And for many valley techies there will be no excuses — such as a pesky job to report to — to keep them from the polls this year. San Jose Mercury News article 

Do you know your ABC’s? You’ll need them for San Francisco ballot measures — San Francisco voters will have the chance — or perhaps the better word is burden — to vote on 25 local ballot measures in November, the most in 23 years. Each San Francisco measure is assigned a letter, and this year only Y and Z are left out of the mix. San Francisco Chronicle article

Former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter sued by family charging fraud over immigration status of adopted kids — Long before Duncan L. Hunter served 14 terms in Congress, he ran a law practice serving underprivileged families in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San  Diego. Now a case he worked on decades ago has prompted a lawsuit  in San Diego Superior Court against the the former House Armed Services Committee chairman. LA Times article

Presidential Politics 

Trump to have expensive fundraiser in Tulare – A lunch and VIP meeting in Tulare with Donald Trump, Republican presidential nominee, will demand top dollar. The lunch calls for $2,700 a plate and $25,000 for a VIP meeting. The event is set for noon on Aug. 30. The location was to be released when a reservation is made. Several messages to organizers seeking additional comments were not immediately returned. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Donald Trump calls for ‘exteme vetting’ and an ideological test for would-be immigrants – Since Donald Trump called for temporarily banning Muslims from entering the U.S., he has tried to expand, narrow or otherwise redefine the polarizing proposal that helped win him the Republican primary but has posed a greater challenge in the general election campaign. On Monday, he added a phrase to his policy lexicon: “extreme vetting.” LA Times article; New York Times article; Washington Post article; Sacramento Bee editorial: ‘Trump’s alarming ideas on terrorism’; LA Times article: ‘What Donald Trump means when he proposes ‘extreme vetting’ for would-be immigrants’

Donald Trump to be nominee of two parties on California ballot — Donald Trump will be presented to California voters on Nov. 8 as the nominee of two different political parties, after leaders of the ultra-conservative American Independent Party voted to select the New York real estate developer as its standard bearer. It will be the first time a presidential candidate is listed on the California ballot as the choice of two parties in at least 80 years, state election officials said. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases — California’s drought is costing farmers an estimated $603 million this year, although the impact is far less than a year ago, according to a study released Monday by UC Davis. The latest annual survey by UC Davis researchers shows that the reasonably rainy winter has eased the effects of the drought, even though considerable shortages persist in crucial areas of the San Joaquin Valley. Sacramento Bee article; The Business Journal article 

Kern supervisors to consider ‘absolute’ hiring freeze — The Kern County Board of Supervisors will consider some drastic policy changes Tuesday to the way the county hires staff and manages department budgets. County Administrative Officer John Nilon, in a report to the board, is asking whether to implement an “absolute” hiring freeze and require county departments to get rid of “vacant funded” positions that have been on the books for more than 24 months. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

Merced agreed to tax-sharing deal How Merced and Merced County decide to split tax dollars may sound boring, but it’s a “really, really big deal,” Merced’s city manager said Monday. Merced City Council unanimously adopted a tax-sharing agreement with the county the same day, and now the ball is in the county’s court. The board of supervisors meets Tuesday and the agreement is up for adoption. Merced Sun-Star article 

First asphalt goes down on Fulton Street restoration – Construction crews spent part of Monday laying down several hundred feet of asphalt on Fulton Street north of Inyo Street, marking a modest milestone in the conversion of the former pedestrian-only Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno back into a street for automobile traffic. Fresno Bee article 

Push for healthier food could push some stores off food stamp program – In an effort to increase healthy eating options for underprivileged Americans, Congress voted to increase the number and variety of foods required for sale at stores authorized to accept food stamps. But critics warn the way the U.S. Department of Agriculture is implementing the law could force tens of thousands of small convenience stores to stop accepting food stamps. McClatchy Newspapers article 

The mystery behind California’s high gas prices – By one estimate, the unusually wide gap between California’s gasoline prices and the national average has cost the state’s drivers more than $10 billion. A panel of fuel-market experts convened by the state government has tried for months to pinpoint causes for the high prices. It will meet again Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Modesto, cycling’s Tour of California may be partners again – The Amgen Tour of California has asked Modesto to apply to host a stage start for the 2017 bicycle race. It would be the first time since 2011 that some of the world’s elite riders take to Modesto streets as part of the multi-day event throughout the state. Modesto Bee article 

Astros extend player development contract with Fresno Grizzlies – The Fresno Grizzlies MLB partnership with the Houston Astros has been extended through the 2018 season. Last week, officials announced the two-year extension of the Player Development Contract (PDC) between the Fresno Triple A team and major league club. The Business Journal article 

John Lindt: Downtown’s Palace Hotel getting makeover, Tulare in new battle over Matheny Tract – John Lindt takes a look at business happenings in Tulare County.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta 

New initiative aims to help small businesses with LA permitting burdens – Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell wants to expedite conditional use permit renewals for existing restaurants and make them more affordable. O’Farrell in June introduced a plan that would, among other things, assign a dedicated case manager for small businesses and require all departments to work together. LA Times article 

Super Bowl: Of $240 million boost, San Jose got 12 percent — Super Bowl 50 provided a $240 million boost to the Bay Area economy, according to a study released Monday by the host committee. San Jose Mercury News article

Marjaree Mason Center names Top Ten honorees — The Marjaree Mason Center announced the list of honorees for the 33rd annual Top Ten Professional Women and Leading Business Awards. Honorees are chosen for being community role models who have raised awareness for domestic violence. They span business, medicine, education and government work and were selected by a judging committee from nominations from community members. Fresno Bee article


State Senate to vote on overtime pay for farm workers – California has more than 800,000 farm workers. A proposal requiring employers to pay farm workers overtime after they work eight hours in a day or 40 hours a week may get a vote later this week in the state Senate. Capital Public Radio report 

Water-sharing plan takes step forward – Never before has San Joaquin County agreed to share its prized groundwater with outside interests. That could change in the coming months, as county leaders move closer to finally considering approval of a one-time experiment with the East Bay Municipal Utility District. It is very modest experiment, involving a very small amount of water. Stockton Record article 

California agriculture company grows housing stock for employees — Last year, the Central Coast grower and shipper Tanimura & Antle faced a situation for the first time in its 32-year history. The company didn’t have enough employees for the upcoming harvest season, which meant they would have to bring in immigrant farmworkers on H-2A visas. To prepare for the workers, the company began building housing. But they changed course after they started talking to their seasonal workers at their growing operation in Yuma, Arizona. California Economic Summit report

Stanford develops chiclet-sized device that purifies water using sunlight – A tiny black tablet could prove to be a very big deal from impoverished countries to the Pacific Crest Trail. Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have developed a tiny, Chiclet-sized device that uses solar energy to disinfect water. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Jails are ‘hot as hell’: Does Constitution guarantee air-conditioning for prisoners? – Judges from Arizona to Mississippi to Wisconsin have declared over the years that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids incarceration in decidedly hot or cold temperatures. Still, prison reform activists encounter deep resistance in their quest to cool the nation’s cellblocks. New York Times article 

Another defendant in Keith Foster drug-trafficking case takes plea deal — Another defendant linked to former Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster’s alleged drug trafficking ring has signed a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

Just five ‘Operation Baby Face’ suspects remain in custody – Six of the 15 suspects linked to a human trafficking ring in Tulare County remain in custody. Late last week, 70 sheriff’s deputies participated in “Operation Baby Face,” a human trafficking sting that resulted in the arrest of multiple suspects accused of exploiting 23 teenagers and 29 adults in Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Acting San Francisco police chief makes case for keeping his job – Making the case to become San Francisco’s next police chief, Acting ChiefToney Chaplin said Monday that his experience as a street cop and gang fighter in the city’s roughest neighborhoods gives him the perspective necessary to guide the department at a time of great change and intense scrutiny. San Francisco Chronicle article 

U.S. appeals court upholds $2-million verdict against LA County Sheriff’s Department – A federal appeals court Monday upheld a $2-million jury verdict against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for a man who suffered brain injury after being severely beaten in a West Hollywood jail. LA Times article


Change to vaccine law keeps some Fresno students out of class – Fresno Unified’s vaccination rate is high, with less than one percent of families filing for exemptions before the new law ever took place. But for families leery of vaccinations – or for those who didn’t know a lack of proof would mean their students would be turned away on Monday – the return to the school year was a stressful one. Fresno Bee article 

Key education bills still alive – and some that aren’t – The Legislature has less than three weeks to act on important remaining education bills. Many of the major education bills that were introduced at the start of the year, such as teacher evaluation reforms, either have died or, like more money for college preparatory courses, been incorporated into next year’s state budget. Here’s a status report on nine of the survivors and three of the deceased. EdSource article

Bryon Schaefer: Kern High School District’s priority: Getting, keeping kids in the classroom – The Kern High School District superintendent writes, “Current research devoted to student attendance reinforces the crucial role it plays in a successful education. All of the data points to the same conclusion: good attendance correlates to improved grades, test scores, and a reduction in student dropouts. Attendance is now considered a better predictor of test scores and dropouts than academic grades. Our mission is to graduate students prepared to succeed in the workplace and the post-secondary level. Schaefer op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Dana Murphy: Every school day counts in a child’s life – The director of Human Services for Kern County writes, “In order for students to get the most out of the education system and be able to maintain an acceptable level of self-sufficiency as adults their school attendance is vital. A missed school day is a lost opportunity for a student to learn. Students who attend school regularly at an early age not only are likely to graduate from high school but do well throughout their school years.” Murphy op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Karin Klein: Limits on school district reserves hurts students — What happened to local control is best control? The answer: In California, the powerful teachers unions have the most control of all. Klein in Sacramento Bee 

Parents say Modesto teacher attacked their son — A Modesto family whose 8-year-old son was grabbed by his teacher, hard enough to scratch his back through his shirt, is speaking publicly about the incident, which was investigated by Modesto police as well as Modesto City Schools. Modesto Bee article


Man arrested on suspicion of arson in wildfire that has devastated Northern California community – Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said late Monday that Damin Pashilk, a county resident, had been arrested and booked on multiple counts of arson in connection with the Clayton fire and other fires in the area during the last year. LA Times article; AP article;San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article

What’s behind Lake County’s back-to-back wildfire catastrophes? Blame the drought — Will it happen every year? That question hangs in the air as Lake County residents suffer through catastrophic wildfire for the fourth time in two years. This time, the fire is surging even after a relatively wet winter and spring in Northern California. And experts say it’s a reminder that California’s five-year drought has left communities throughout the state vulnerable. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

California wildfires: Where have the most fires raged this year? — Through Monday, 270,744 acres have burned statewide this year. But 85 percent of that has occurred south of the Bay Area, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. San Jose Mercury News article 

Health/Human Services 

3 million Californians will be uninsured in 2017, report estimates – Health reform has greatly expanded the number of Californians with insurance, but slightly more than 3 million residents will remain uninsured in 2017, according to a new report. California Health Report article 

Doctors unprepared as states legalize medical marijuana – As the number of states allowing medical marijuana grows — the total has reached 25 plus the District of Columbia — some are working to address this knowledge gap with physician training programs. States are beginning to require doctors to take continuing medical education courses that detail how marijuana interacts with the nervous system and other medications, as well as its side effects. KQED report 

Acetaminophen use in pregnancy linked to kid’s behavioral problems – Acetaminophen, long the mainstay of a pregnant woman’s pain-relief arsenal, has been linked to behavioral problems in children born to mothers who used it during pregnancy. LA Times article 

Diarrhea illness has Stanislaus County health officials concerned – Stanislaus County health officials are warning the public about another contagious illness after noting a spike in cases this year. The county has seen almost a five-fold increase in Shigella infections. The intestinal bug causes diarrhea, often with traces of blood. Stomach cramps and fever are other symptoms of the highly infectious illness, which usually lasts four to seven days, but also can cause more serious complications in rare cases. Modesto Bee article

Golden Valley founder honored for 45 years of service — After being part of Golden Valley Health Centers for 45 years, Alicia L. Dicochea attended her final board meeting last week, reflecting on the years of service she has provided to the community. Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing 

Trash, animals, exasperation: An Oildale trailer park gets inspected — They saw units with broken windows, an open sewer pipe and evidence of a fire less than a day old. They encountered an owner who said the situation was exacerbated by the area’s homeless and a manager who said residents don’t listen when told to clean up. The inspection of the Manes RV Park by state officials Monday offered a glimpse into the fight to clean up dilapidated housing and the obstacles in the way. Bakersfield Californian article


Santa Monica loses another round in effort to close its airport —  The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday rejected an appeal by Santa Monica to overturn a recent FAA decision that required the city’s embattled airport to remain open at least until 2023. LA Times article

Other areas 

Judges of the Fresno County Superior Court Executive Committee: Fresno County court committed to treating everyone fairly – No matter what may bring someone through our doors, judges and staff alike remain committed to treating everyone fairly, making impartial decisions, following the law, and fostering community relationships that promote equal access to the court for all Fresno County residents. Op-ed by Fresno County Superior Court Executive Committee in Fresno Bee 

Merced SCPA taking a break to kick ringworm – The Merced SPCA will be closed for a couple of weeks while volunteers work to eradicate a stubborn ringworm fungus that’s infected a handful of kittens. Merced Sun-Star article

Jeff Jardine: Modesto’s city flag contest idea comes with usual ripple effect from critics – When it comes to ideas, there are two kinds of people: Those who have them and those who rip those who have them. Such became obvious when The Bee’s Kevin Valine wrote about the city of Modesto’s contest to create a city flag. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Iconic Bakersfield High School water tower comes down — For more than eight decades, Drillers have walked in the shadow of an iconic water tower many regard as an unofficial landmark. On Monday, construction crews secured cables and chains to the tower, hoisted it from its concrete base and tipped it to the ground. Bakersfield Californian article

New area code for Sacramento still a mystery — At a public hearing at Sacramento City Hall on Monday, officials said the new code would go into effect in late 2017 but didn’t say what that number would be. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Pharma scored another win last week, gutting a drug transparency bill in California. But a November ballot initiative looms and consumers are eager for a remedy.

Sacramento Bee – Donald Trump was supposed to give a major speech Monday on his strategy for defeating the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. What he delivered was a repackaging of past vague proposals about fighting jihadists abroad and even more alarming ideas about combating extremism at home; Let’s get the training wheels off Sacramento’s bike plan, finally.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Two super Simones, pot busts continue and other issues.