August 17, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Poll: California voters favor tax hikes on tobacco, top earners — Voters strongly favor ballot measures to increase tobacco taxes and extend a temporary income tax on the wealthy, according to a new poll. Sacramento Bee article

Bill to allow more felons to vote heads to Jerry Brown — California could soon restore voting rights for tens of thousands of felons who are not serving their sentences in the state prison system. The state Senate on Tuesday passed Assembly Bill 2466 by a vote of 23-13, sending it to governor’s desk for consideration. The controversial measure clarifies that anyone convicted of a felony who is not currently imprisoned or on parole is allowed to vote. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Valley politics

Stanislaus Supervisor Bill O’Brien to run for treasurer-tax collector – Gordon Ford, Stanislaus County’s treasurer-tax collector, says he will retire from office after finishing the last two years of his current term. That has opened the door for County Supervisor Bill O’Brien. The three-term supervisor, who didn’t seek re-election this year, says he will run for treasurer-tax collector in 2018 and recently filed a campaign intention statement with the Registrar of Voters office. Modesto Bee article 

City council races firm up – Rumors have been swirling over whether former Lemoore Parks and Recreation Director Joe Simonson was angling for a seat on the City Council. It’s official: Simonson’s name will be on the ballot on Nov. 8. That adds a layer of intrigue to Lemoore city politics because of the controversy surrounding Simonson. Hanford Sentinel article 

Two millennials challenge incumbents for Kern Community College District board — Two 20-somethings will try to unseat longtime Kern Community College District board members Kay Meek and Dennis Beebe in November, while Trustee Romeo Agbalog will run unopposed. That’s how the district’s races shaped up when the filing deadline passed Friday.Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Sanchez ranks at the top for missed votes, flails in Senate race – Sanchez missed more than a fifth of House votes last year, the highest of anyone in the California delegation and the third highest in Congress, according to, a website that tracks congressional votes and legislation. With a shot at the first open U.S. Senate seat in California in 24 years, Sanchez is trailing rival Democrat and state Attorney General Kamala Harris by 15 percentage points, according to the Field Poll and by 18 points according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll, both published last month. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Michael Bloomberg hosting New York fundraiser for Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate bid – Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is dabbling in California’s historic Democrat-vs.-Democrat U.S. Senate race. LA Times article

Tom Steyer, a political force, ponders his options – While media reports keep predicting that billionaire Tom Steyer will run for California governor in 2018, Steyer says he has not made a decision yet. There are a lot of factors to consider first, including the coming election, said the 59-year-old former hedge fund manager. Capitol Weekly article

PoliGraph: Pro-tobacco tax ad mostly rings true — Proponents of a ballot measure to increase tobacco taxes by $2 are airing a TV ad explaining why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and American Academy of Pediatrics support Proposition 56. Sacramento Bee article 

GOP’s ‘Dave the Bear’ shares name with burlesque dancer — California Republicans attempting to embarrassDemocrats for their inability to address the state’s transportation needs launched a campaign featuring “Dave the Bear,” a stuffed animal stuck in the state’s notorious traffic. However, the campaign they created may cause some confusion with another hairy beast. Dave the Bear is also the name of a popular male burlesque performer based in Europe. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas 

California lawmakers, faith leaders begin fast in support of overtime pay for farm workers – California lawmakers and religious leaders will fast over the next 24 hours in support of a bill that would phase in overtime pay for farm workers in four years. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: A second chance to do right by families – Despite California’s renowned paid family leave program, parental leave is a distant dream for many small business employees. With the revival of a bill that had fallen prey to internal feuding, lawmakers have another shot at doing right by them. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Dan Walters: Tax relief bill for distressed California homeowners deep-sixed – Senate Bill 907, which had won unanimous approval of the state Senate, died in just a few seconds last week, and that angers Peggy Spatz. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Court says fed can’t prosecute for legal medical pot use — In a potential legal breakthrough for medical marijuana, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department cannot prosecute anyone who grows, supplies or uses the drug for medical purposes under state law because Congress has barred federal intervention. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Bill to ease tax payments by medical pot shops moves to governor – Cut off from the banking system by federal law, medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to pay their taxes in cash rather than by electronic transfer under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown. Sacramento Bee article

Real-life repercussions confront lawmakers haggling over cap-and-trade program’s future – Now, with two weeks left in the legislative session, there has been a renewed push to spend at least a portion of the auction revenues. But lawmakers see missed opportunities in jump-starting the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. LA Times article 

An oil industry lobbyist wrote the request to audit the state’s main climate change industry – When Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) renewed his request this month to audit the state agency in charge of spending billions of dollars generated from California’s primary climate change program, he knew what the response from his opponents would be. LA Times article

Those soliciting sex could have cars seized under Eggman bill –  “Johns” who are caught paying or attempting to pay for sex statewide may have their vehicles impounded as part of a bill intended to curb sex trafficking by creating a law focusing on demand. Stockton Record article 

Joel Fox: An attempt to get public financing of campaigns through back door — Sen. Ben Allen’s SB 1107 wants to allow public funding of campaigns, something voters prohibited years ago. Fox in Fox & Hounds

From schlock to shpilkes, Yiddish for legislators — As Sen. Bob Hertzberg presented a bill dealing with sale or lease of public property on the Senate floor Monday, he referred to the “shpilkes” experienced by local officials when the state abolished their redevelopment programs a few years ago. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics 

California Republican donors largely shun Donald Trump — Republican candidate Donald Trump, though, has collected a relatively small amount in the state to date. Through June, Trump raised $2 million from California donors. By comparison, in the last presidential campaign, then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney had raised $25 million from Californians through June of 2012. Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

California water districts: We can handle more years of drought — The large majority of urban water districts across California have told the state they should not be forced to reduce water use this year because they have adequate water supply to endure three more years of drought, the State Water Resources Control Board announced Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article; Stockton Record article; Modesto Bee article; East Bay Times article

Kerns supervisors freeze hiring, give CSO greater personnel control — Kern County’s top administrator will take control of hiring from individual department heads in a sweeping change to the agency’s power structure, supervisors decided Tuesday. The county will also move to a hard hiring freeze in general fund departments and eliminate all vacant positions that have been on the books for an extended period of time. Bakersfield Californian article 

City, county approve tax-sharing deal key to growth near UC Merced — Merced County and the city of Merced officially have a revenue-sharing agreement, paving the way for development near UC Merced as the campus moves forward with plans to double its size and capacity. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley communities try to find just the right balance on public safety taxes – Throughout the Central Valley, communities are grappling with how to keep their towns safe with enough cops and firefighters on the beat. Many have found that traditional revenue sources simply aren’t enough, and are turning to special taxes. But how they are doing so diverges down several different paths. Community reaction to tax increases seems to plays a big role in how local political leaders decide to act. KVPR report

Kern sheriff likely to get $1.3 million to train new deputies — Kern County supervisors said Tuesday they were inclined to give Sheriff Donny Youngblood $1.3 million to launch a training academy designed to hatch 53 new sheriff’s deputies over the next 16 months. But, motivated by the county’s budget troubles, supervisors pushed for ways to limit how much the Sheriff’s Office actually spends and to require the new deputies to stay with Kern County after graduation. Bakersfield Californian article 

Merced-area stores could be hurt by food stamp changes – New federal regulations intended to promote healthy eating could make it harder to use food stamps at convenience stores – a change that opponents say will leave disadvantaged people with fewer places to buy groceries. McClatchy Newspapers/Merced Sun-Star article 

Food stamp rolls drop as some states end federally-funded benefits early – Food-stamp enrollment in the U.S. is declining from record levels, in part because some states are ending benefits earlier than they have to. Bloomberg article 

Bethany Clough: Collect Coffee Bar, new restaurants open at Campus Pointe — Collect Coffee Bar is one of several new businesses in a second wave of openings at the shopping center anchored by Maya Cinemas at Shaw and Chestnut avenues. TofasMediterranean Grill, Hino Oishi Japanese and teppanyaki restaurant, Nutrishop and Pieologyare open. Farm Fresh Bowls is coming soon, opening a second location of its little drive-thru in Visalia selling healthy breakfast and lunches in bowls. Clough in Fresno Bee 

Turlock farmers market fracas – drone, punches, arrest of manager — Turlock Certified Farmers Market manager Derek Griffin was arrested on a charge of battery Saturday at the Turlock fairgrounds after an altercation with a community member photographing booths with a drone. Modesto Bee article 

Nuts owner says Modesto’s baseball future is good — Modesto Nuts Owner Michael Savit, aware of the major changes ahead in the California League, maintains the city’s professional baseball future is bright. Modesto Bee article 

New Sacramento parking regulations disgruntle residents and business owners — The Sacramento City Council approved changes to parking hours and time limits this spring. The City has missed the mark in both regards according to some people who live and work in parts of the midtown area. Capital Public Radio report


Northeast Fresno residents hire lawyers to help them in dispute over water — Fresno officials will meet Wednesday evening with residents in the northeast part of the city to discuss ongoing concerns about discoloration and lead contamination in water coming from homeowners’ faucets. But residents who are increasingly dissatisfied with the city’s response – and distrustful about the answers they’re receiving – are getting a legal hand from a potent team of attorneys who specialize in class-action injury, product liability and environmental cases. Fresno Bee article 

Michael Fitzgerald: The ‘Big Empty’ at San Luis Reservoir — Boy-is-that-reservoir-dry stories are common nowadays, but I never made the pilgrimage to one until reader Bud Grafius texted me about San Luis Reservoir. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

As drought continues, Northern California towns run out of water — Pasenka, population 112, is an out-of-the-way place where rustic ranches grace grass-covered hills rolling west toward Mendocino Pass. Since the lumber mill closed in 1992, the Tehama County community 130 miles (210km) north of Sacramento has been settling into bucolic tranquility. A water crisis has triggered a rude awakening. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Number of women in jail is growing faster than men – On Wednesday, the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called theSafety and Justice Challenge released a report that found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons. New York Times article 

Two new officers bring Stockton police ranks to 414 – Stockton police added two new officers to their ranks Tuesday afternoon. Deputy Chief Rick Salsedo swore in Officers Michael Gandy and Justin Van Lone during a badge-pinning ceremony in the Community Room on the second floor of the Police Department’s downtown headquarters. The new additions brought the number of police officers in Stockton to 414, the department’s highest staffing level since 2009. Stockton Record article 

Charges filed against alleged traffickers — Felony charges have been filed by the District Attorney’s Office against three men accused of organizing a human trafficking ring in Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article

Man fatally shot by Stockton police pulled gun while fleeing, authorities say — A veteran Stockton police officer fatally shot a man who was armed with a loaded handgun Tuesday afternoon during a confrontation behind the Jamestown Plaza shopping center in central Stockton, authorities said. Stockton Record article 

Off-duty jailers can carry gun without permit, appeals court says — Jail guards in Stanislaus County and elsewhere have the same right as patrol deputies and state prison guards to carry a concealed weapon when off-duty, appellate justices decided in a ruling affecting most California counties. Modesto Bee article 

Officer fatally shoots a person in South LA after emotional Police Commission meeting — A Los Angeles police officer shot and killed someone Tuesday afternoon during a traffic stop in South L.A., hours after activists and others made an emotional appeal for police officials to release more information about a high-profile shooting last week. LA Times article


Local health officials urge updated immunization records this fall – Local health officials are urging students to update their immunization records before Wednesday. Without their shots, students can register for classes but wouldn’t be allowed to attend, according to Debbie Wood, coordinator for Bakersfield City School District’s Health Programs. Bakersfield Californian article 

Christine Lizardi Frazier: Schools must now provide data on chronic absenteeism – The Kern County superintendent of schools writes, “Today marks the start of a new school year for the majority of Kern County’s 180,000-plus schoolchildren. It’s a perfect time to address the importance of ensuring kids are in school all day, every day.” Frazier op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Modesto City Schools board steps up to move the needle – Trustees will spearhead a fresh effort to even the playing field for students in Modesto City Schools, drawing on district data and community feedback to address longstanding differences in discipline and achievement. Modesto Bee article 

Lois Henry: Kern High School District has some explaining to do – Someone at the Kern High School District had better lose their job. And it better not be KHSD Police Chief Joe Lopeteguy. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Nan Austin: Keeping college-goers going takes some work – Our local university will welcome many of its freshmen Wednesday with move-in day at the dorms. California State University, Stanislaus has a week of activities planned to help the new kids on the block get to know campus geography and services. Austin in Modesto Bee 

Modesto Police: Downey staff members assaulted; citations issued – Several students assaulted staff members at Modesto’s Downey High School on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. Modesto Bee article

UC Berkeley chancellor resigns post – The University of California, Berkeley chancellor, who critics alleged was too lenient when handling sexual harassment cases involving high-profile faculty members, resigned his post Tuesday. AP article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Bills call for uniform AP exam credit policy for California community colleges – All of California’s 113 community colleges could be required to award college credit to incoming students who scored a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams, under a bill currently before the state Senate. EdSource article 

More high school students starting the year as … community college students — Pasadena Unified is one of the first Southern California school districts that have taken advantage of a new law that allows high school students to take community college classes on a high school campus during the school day. KPCC report 

In Santa Monica, parents are paying $1,000 for a boot camp to get their kids ready for kindergarten – The summer school students plopped down on an orange mat and listened as teacher Elizabeth Fraley read aloud to them from a book. As she pointed out different animals, they took turns pinning the lion and polar bear pictures on a cork board. They had already gone through parts of a book  — front cover, back cover, spine — as they sat outside on the grass in Santa Monica. People walked by with their dogs. One floated past on a hoverboard. The children, ranging in age from 31Ž2 to 5, were engaged in more serious pursuits. They were at KinderPrep, a $1,000, weeklong boot camp designed to prepare them for the rigors of kindergarten. LA Times article


Back to school means spikes in ozone pollutants, experts say – School started this week for most Merced schools, which for parents and guardians means long lines of cars and waiting during drop-offs and pick-ups from school. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said the lines of idling cars contribute to air-quality issues in Merced. Merced Sun-Star article 

U.S. cities that have the most to gain by tackling air pollution – Los Angeles, Riverside (California), Pittsburgh, Phoenix and New York top the list for highest potential gains. Lead author Kevin Cromar told NBC News the cities that stand to gain the most are “those with the highest levels of pollution and the largest populations.” That is, heavily populated cities with moderate pollution would see more of an impact than small cities with higher pollution. Fresno and Bakersfield are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively. Next City article 

Potentially harmful algae found in parts of Isabella Lake and Kern River — What’s going on in Kern County’s water? One week after officials issued a no-contact advisory for Lake Ming following the discovery of potentially harmful bacteria there, county health officials on Tuesday issued a cautionary notice after finding potentially harmful blue-green algae in parts of Isabella Lake and the Kern River. Bakersfield Californian article 

Buildings burn, residents flee as out-of-control brush fire burns 18,000 acres in Cajon Pass – A brush fire exploded out of control Tuesday in the Cajon Pass, scorching 18,000 acres as walls of flame forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate and destroyed an unknown number of homes in several rural San Bernardino County communities. LA Times article 

Health/Human Services 

Valley vector and health officials need federal money for Zika fight — Rep. Jim Costa joined local mosquito control and health officials at a Clovis park Tuesday to talk about strategies for fighting Zika and the need for money to keep the efforts going. The Obama Administration has asked for $1.9 billion in emergency supplemental funding for development of a Zika vaccine, but the request has become tangled in politics, Costa said. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Land Use/Housing 

Tulare supervisors approve new marijuana ordinance – A new interim zoning ordinance will put the kibosh on new medical marijuana businesses and restrict those already operating in Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Food truck ordinance now on Bakersfield council’s plate – The Bakersfield City Council will talk about how to regulate food trucks Wednesday amid concerns by brick-and-mortar restaurant owners that they’re taking away business. Bakersfield Californian article 

Burning apartment building that trapped family may not have been legal — A mother and her children narrowly escaped their burning apartment Monday after they were briefly trapped behind a chain-link fence outside their home. Their building may not have been zoned for residential use, nor was the vacant lower section properly maintained to keep out the squatters who likely started the blaze. Fresno Bee article


Almost $391 million in cap-and-trade dollars awarded to public transit projects across California — Transportation officials have selected 14 public transit projects across California for a slice of proceeds from the state’s auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits, almost $391 million in spending between now and the summer of 2018. LA Times article 

State puts Sacramento’s streetcar dreams back on track with $30 million grant — Sacramento’s downtown streetcar project got a life-saving boost Tuesday with the announcement of a $30 million grant from state cap-and-trade funds. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Feds buy land in Clovis for Veterans Administration shuttle, possible offices — The Veterans Administration Medical Center has plans to expand into Clovis in the coming years. Its near-future footprint is limited to a parking lot for a park-and-ride shuttle to the facility at Clinton Avenue and Fresno Street in central Fresno, said Cenethea Lofbom, Fresno Veterans Administration Medical Center spokeswoman. Fresno Bee article 

Merced names acting city attorney — Merced City Council unanimously approved a contract with a law firm that will temporarily oversee the city attorney’s office as the city looks for a permanent employee. Jolie Houston of Berliner Cohen, which has offices in Merced and San Jose, was named acting city attorney on Monday. Merced Sun-Star article 

Thousands of feral lime green parakeets call Bakersfield home — Bakersfield is known for agriculture, country music and oil. But what if I told you people are flocking to Kern County to birdwatch? Well it’s the truth and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports they’re looking for a bird nonnative to the region that calls the city’s tall palm trees home. KVPR report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.

Sacramento Bee – The Gitmo test for the president; Despite California’s renowned paid family leave program, parental leave is a distant dream for many small business employees. With the revival of a bill that had fallen prey to internal feuding, lawmakers have another shot at doing right by them.