August 18, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

George Skelton: Gov. Brown’s attempt to save the planet and his bullet train won’t fly — Gov. Jerry Brown needs to decide: Which does he really want to save? Our planet Earth? Or his choo-choo? He can’t handle both — at least not in the few days remaining before the Legislature wraps up its two-year session Aug. 31. And maybe never. Skelton column in LA Times 

State Senate proposes new plan to spend cap-and-trade money – With two weeks left in the legislative session, Senate leader Kevin de León is making a new effort to unsnarl a two-year budget gridlock over money generated from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The $1.2-billion spending plan, released Wednesday, would include money for cleaner cars, energy efficient upgrades and urban parks. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Extended election deadline arrives — The filing deadline to run for many of Merced County’s elected offices closed last week, and the rest closed at the end of the day Wednesday. Races in which the incumbent did not file for re-election continued to Wednesday, according to David Sullivan, the assistant registrar of voters for Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

If California legalizes pot, will TV ad be far behind? — For California voters, the way legal pot would be advertised in California figures to be a central feature of the Proposition 64 campaign. Whether and where consumers could encounter pot ads touches overarching worries about whether kids will be exposed to the pitches. Sacramento Bee article 

5 things to know about legalizing recreational pot in California – California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Will it be the fifth to legalize recreational pot this November? We traveled to Sacramento to host a live event about the pros and cons of Proposition 64, which would legalize adult use of cannabis. KPCC report 

Transgender Californians aim to pre-empt ballot struggle — The $1.2 million Transform California campaign is attempting to sway public opinion long before Californians might ever vote on any ballot measure that could restrict rights – like access to bathrooms and locker rooms – now granted to people whose gender identity doesn’t match the sex on their birth certificate. Call it preventive politics. CALmatters article

Other areas 

New transportation funding plan calls for gas tax hike of 17 cents per gallon – Two Democratic lawmakers unveiled a $7.4-billion transportation plan late Wednesday, the latest effort to break through a yearlong logjam over the state’s funding woes. The plan, highlighted by an increase of 17 cents per gallon in the gas tax, comes from Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) and Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) in an attempt to unify the disparate proposals the pair had previously introduced in their respective houses. LA Times article 

Suit filed to permit Californians carry guns openly in public – After losing a challenge to restrictions on carrying concealed firearms, gun owners in California filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to block a state law that prevents most people from carrying guns openly in public. LA Times article 

Drug companies win round over pricing in California Legislature – Legislation meant to discourage sharp increases in drug prices is dead for the year after the author pulled the measure Wednesday, blaming recent amendments that “have made it more difficult for us to accomplish our fundamental goal.” Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Internet poker bill undergoes last-minute changes ahead of showdown vote – A long-delayed bill that would legalize Internet poker in California is being amended to address concerns by a group of Native American casino operators who had opposed the measure, setting the stage for a possible vote in the state Assembly on Monday. LA Times article 

Jeff Merwin: Overtime bill bad for farmworkers and farmers – The president of the Yolo County Farm Bureau writes, “Assembly Bill 1066, recently gutted and amended to reintroduce a defeated measure, would give farmworkers the same overtime pay as other employees, kicking in at more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. California’s agricultural workers now get overtime pay for work of more than 10 hours a day and 60 hours per week. While you might think that this is somehow unfair or discriminatory, I encourage you to consider these facts.” Merwin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Here’s how to do more than lament plight of the poor – Democrats and Republicans lament the plight of the working poor. Now legislators have a golden opportunity to give those individuals a hand at minimum cost. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Attorneys for Rep. Ami Bera’s father seek probation, not prison, for campaign money scheme — Defense attorneys are asking a federal judge to rule out prison and instead order a sentence of a fine and probation for the 83-year old father of U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), who has pleaded guilty to illegally funneling some $260,000 to his son’s congressional campaigns. LA Times article 

On eve of Bera sentencing, Scott Jones floats campaign finance reforms – As Rep. Ami Bera’s father prepares for sentencing Thursday for election fraud, the candidate’s Republican challenger Scott Jones is proposing a set of campaign finance changes aimed at the Democratic incumbent. Sacramento Bee article 

Carmen Morales-Board: Improving safety and accountability starts with training – The nurse practitioner at Kern Medical writes, “My response to public employers who don’t want workers to be empowered with knowledge about safety plans, workplace violence, whistleblowing, and worker rights is: too bad. The public’s safety and our lives are at stake. We should all support knowledgeable, informed, and empowered public servants. I urge the legislature to pass AB 2835 and Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it.” Morales-Board op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics 

Interested in lunch with Donald Trump? It will cost $2,700 – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will visit Tulare for a fundraiser at the end of this month. The event will be on Aug. 30, Tim Clark, California state director for the Trump campaign, said Wednesday night. Fresno Bee article 

Michael Khus: Trotting out officers for partisan politics poisons military – Khus, who teaches advanced placement U.S. government and politics classes at Clovis East High School, writes, “The 2016 presidential election has already stretched political norms and rules of behavior to the breaking point. When it is over, experts will attempt to sort out which events may have changed our democratic election system for better and for worse. One impact that may prove to be troubling is the practice of using retired military officers for partisan purposes, including speeches at party conventions.” Khus op-ed in Fresno Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Bay-Delta plan would shrink ag in Merced, report says — A state board’s proposal to help fish populations by increasing water flows down the Merced River would hurt the local ag industry, according to a new report done for the Merced Irrigation District. If the State Water Resource Control Board’s proposed Bay-Delta Plan is approved, the reportpredicts Merced County’s economy would shrink by up to $231 million. Merced Sun-Star article 

Fewer Californians were uninsured in 2016, but medical costs remain a concern for many – Nearly three-quarters of Californians who didn’t have health coverage before the Affordable Care Act are now insured, yet many are still concerned about their medical expenses, according to a report released Thursday. LA Times article

Transgender bathroom policy comes under fire at Clovis schools meeting – The Clovis Unified school board Wednesday night revisited requests for alternative physical education coursework and bathroom facilities in response to parents concerned about a state law allowing transgender students to use the bathroom consistent with their identity.Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Macy’s in Visalia at risk of closure, analyst report states — Macy’s in Visalia is at risk of closing due to weak sales, Morningstar Credit Ratings said Wednesday. The store is one of 28 nationwide identified by Morningstar as having sales below the company per-square-foot average – a standard industry measure – and at risk of being closed. Fresno Bee article;Visalia Times-Delta article; The Business Journal article 

Fresno home sales and price tumble in July – Fresno County home sales and price stumbled in July as housing affordability continued to erode making it harder for buyers to afford a home. In Fresno County, home sales fell 13 percent month-over-month, but was up a slight 1.2 percent compared to last year, according to the California Association of Realtors. The median home price fell to $235,700 in July compared to $241,000 in June. Fresno Bee article

Merced County seeks spike in new homes – The number of housing starts in Merced County more than doubled in the first half of 2016 compared with last year, the biggest such increase in the central San Joaquin Valley, according to a report released Wednesday from a building industry publisher. Merced Sun-Star article 

Mark Salvaggio: Blaming board for any crime increase is unsound – The Kern County supervisor writes, “Psychologist Brik McDill’s recent Community Voices article lambasting Kern County Supervisors David Couch, Mick Gleason, Mike Maggard and Zack Scrivner for their stance on public safety funding is short on a lot of facts.” Salvaggio op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

American Apparel is said to be considering moving manufacturing out of California — Struggling retailer American Apparel is eyeing a move out of its downtown Los Angeles manufacturing facility for a lower-wage part of the country, according to two sources familiar with the company. LA Times article

Foster Farms names new leader – Foster Farms announced Wednesday that Laura Flanagan, a leader at ConAgra Foods, will become its next president and chief executive officer. Flanagan 48, will take over Aug. 29 from Ron Foster, a grandson of company founders Max and Verda Foster. He will remain on the board of the Livingston-based business, according to a news release. Modesto Bee article 

Cisco Systems’ restructuring to cut 5,500 jobs — Cisco Systems said Wednesday it will cut approximately 5,500 jobs in a restructuring plan as it moves toward more software and subscription services and focuses on the high-growth potential from areas such as security and cloud technologies. San Jose Mercury News article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Tech boom reaches record heights in Bay Area – The Bay Area now has a record number of technology jobs that surpasses even the peak of the dot-com years, a surge fueled by a hiring binge over the past four years. And despite worries about a potential slowdown, experts are saying a “Tech Bubble 2.0” doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. San Jose Mercury News article 

Some Fed policymakers believe economy may be ready for another interest rate hike, minutes show — Some Federal Reserve policymakers said at their most recent meeting that the economy appeared ready for another small increase in a key interest rate, according to an account released Wednesday. But several other officials said the Fed should wait before nudging up the rate until incoming data “provided a greater level of confidence that economic growth was strong enough to withstand a possible downward shock to demand,” said the minutes of the central bank’s July meeting. LA Times article 

Oakland: ‘Big Soda’ spending big money to fight tax – The beverage industry so far has poured $600,000 into a campaign to fight a soda tax in Oakland, according to campaign finance records, and the effort has plenty of backing from mom and pop shops. East Bay Times article 

Growth at Naval Air Station Lemoore – Growth and water are hot topics across the state, but they also hit home for Naval Air Station Lemoore, where new squadrons will arrive early next year. Navy Capt. Monty Ashliman spoke Wednesday afternoon at the Downtown Visalia Rotary lunch meeting. He talked about the importance of NAS Lemoore, its growth and the environment on and around the base. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Ex-NFL top pick David Carr sells Bakersfield home for $2.1 million — Former NFL No.1 overall draft pick David Carr has completed the handoff of his Bakersfield home, selling the custom estate for $2.1 million. Sitting on more than half an acre of grounds, the property centers on a single-story main house with six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms in more than 8,000 square feet of living space. A resort-style swimming pool with a raised spa, beach entry, a swim-in grotto and a waterslide are among the features of the grounds. LA Times article


East Bay MUD water experiment gets broad support — San Joaquin County water commissioners took the first formal step Wednesday toward approving an innovative experiment to store water below ground and share a portion of it with Bay Area residents. Stockton Record article 

Expert says better chemistry key to solving northeast Fresno water woes – A noted national expert in water-system engineering said Fresno still has considerable work ahead of it as it deals with persistent water problems in the northeast part of the city. Fresno Bee article 

Farmer’s Almanac sees a rainy winter for Northern California, drought for rest of state — The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting that Northern California will see above-normal rain this winter while the rest of the state will continue to experience drought conditions with little precipitation.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Mayor’s attorneys release interviews with teens on eve of court date – Anthony Silva’s attorneys have shared audio interviews they conducted in recent days with teenage participants in an alcohol-fueled game of strip poker that Stockton’s mayor is alleged to have participated in last year at his annual summer youth camp in Silver Lake. Stockton Record article 

Stockton police release new details in deadly officer-involved shooting — A new wave of protests were being planned Wednesday after the Stockton Police Department released dramatic new details regarding a deadly officer-involved shooting that occurred Tuesday afternoon behind the Jamestown Plaza shopping center. Stockton Record article 

Witness: 18-year-old ran from LAPD before officer shot and killed him in south LA – A man who witnessed Tuesday’s deadly police shooting in South L.A. said he saw an 18-year-old run from an officer before he was shot, then saw a gun near his body. LA Times article


Fresno State’s Castro focuses on inclusion, diversity on campus – Fresno State President Joseph Castro focused his annual address Wednesday on boosting diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. The university has been holding monthly inclusion and equity meetings, where professors, students and others can talk candidly about how to address sensitive issues on campus. Fresno Bee article 

Educating each other: Business, schools come together – The plan is so simple: Schools create educated workers. Businesses hire them. But in Stanislaus County, where fewer than one in five residents (18 percent) have a college degree and another one in five (19 percent) never even finished high school, businesses can struggle to find qualified candidates. Helping schools became a way for businesses to help themselves under an alliance proposed six years ago by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the Stanislaus County Office of Education. Modesto Bee article 

Fresno State put in 10 million hours of community service in last decade – Fresno State students, faculty and staff have provided more than 10 million hours of community service in the last decade, the university announced. And for the seventh consecutive year, Fresno State contributed more than one million hours of service in the academic year, according to a Report on Service Impact by the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. The Business Journal article 

Stan State students unpack, meet the president – Families who pulled into the dorm parking lot at California State University, Stanislaus for move-in day found rolling carts, willing helpers – and even bottled water and handshake from the college’s new president. “I never met the other president – and here you are!” graduate student Jessica Contreras told President Ellen Junn. Modesto Bee article 

UC President Napolitano says chancellor resignations offer fresh start – Rumors raged, but few expected she would support two resignations in quick succession — and leave the campuses without permanent leaders just days before the new school year starts. Then UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi stepped down last week, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Napolitano called the sudden vacancies an opportunity for a new start. LA Times article 

UC Berkeley invested in consultants to boost chancellor’s image – As UC Berkeley prepared to eliminate hundreds of jobs and take millions of dollars in loans to help balance its flagging budget, the campus also paid more than $200,000 to “improve the chancellor’s strategic profile nationally and internationally,” The Chronicle has learned. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Big scholarship lets Fresno teen attend her dream university — Just weeks after Clovis North graduate Sarah Jackson visited her dream school, New York University, she was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. The 17-year-old opened her email on May 13 and learned she had been awarded a $100,000 scholarship that will be doled out to her in $25,000 increments over the next four years. The donor is Ronald McDonald House Charities/Hispanic American Commitment to Education Resources, funded by Hispanic McDonald’s owner-operators. Fresno Bee article 

Schools try to get more students to read – Some local schools are trying to get more students to pick up a book rather than pick up their iPhone or Android. Lemoore High School and Pioneer Middle School are trying to bring more students into the library by offering book clubs, book fairs and having the most popular novels available. Hanford Sentinel article 

The Grade: School board races shape up; Bakersfield Christian High School unveils arts center – Filing deadlines have closed and the  school board candidacies are settled for the November general election. Here’s how local ballots shaped up. Also, Bakersfield Christian High School will unveil a new multi-million dollar fine arts center Thursday as it kicks off the 2016 school year. Bakersfield Californian article

Marching band returns to Bakersfield College after 20-year absence — The Renegade Band returns to the field this fall, putting the finishing touches on the revamping of the college’s entire music program. A new for-credit music class for the band has been added to the college’s fall schedule, which begins Saturday; the band will be directed by Tim Heasley, who until now has been serving as adjunct faculty in charge of the drum line and drum and bugle corps since 2008. Bakersfield Californian article


Homes burn, thousands flee as out-of-control brush fire chars more than 25,600 acres in Cajon Pass – An explosive brush fire that ripped through canyons and flatlands in the Cajon Pass in less than a day continued to ravage hillsides and reduce homes to ash and rubble Wednesday, leaving even veteran firefighters bewildered. LA Times article

NASA: Last month was Earth’s hottest in recorded history – Earth just broiled to its hottest month in recorded history, according to NASA. Even after the fading of a strong El Nino, which spikes global temperatures on top of man-made climate change, July burst global temperature records. AP article

PG&E challenges criminal convictions linked to probe of blast – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. wants a federal judge to throw out its convictions for safety violations uncovered during an investigation that followed the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, arguing that there was no evidence the company or any of its employees knowingly broke any laws. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Kings Canyon cave stays closed in clash between Forest Service, private firm — The manager of the Boyden Cavern in the Sequoia National Forest is at odds with his landlord over who will foot the repair bills for a pedestrian bridge badly damaged in last year’s devastating Rough Fire. Until that issue of jurisdiction gets settled, no one is able to step foot into the natural wonder that is Boyden Cavern, a cave in Kings Canyon. Fresno Bee article 

Recommended evacuations issues for communities near Cedar Fire — A raging wildfire fire east of Glennville has burned 600 acres and triggered recommended evacuations Wednesday in Alta Sierra, Slick Rock and Shirley Meadows communities as the county endures another blaze in what has been an especially destructive fire season.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Man accused of Lake County fire steps into edgy courtroom – More than a half dozen sheriff deputies, bailiffs and probation officers stood guard Wednesday as the man perceived to be Lake County’s public enemy No. 1 appeared in court to face charges that he unleashed a devastating wildfire along with 11 other blazes in the rural lakeside community. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Lake County’s Rocky Fire sparked at illegal pot grow — The faulty water heater that sparked the Rocky Fire in Lake County last year was at the site of an illegal marijuana grow operation, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Health/Human Services

Obamacare patients filled more prescriptions but paid less for drugs, study finds – Patients who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act are filling significantly more prescriptions while paying less for their drugs, according to a new study that credits the health law and adds to evidence of its benefits for previously uninsured Americans and those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. LA Times article 

As insurers balk, U.S. makes new push to boost Health Care Act – Facing high-profile withdrawals from online insurance exchanges and surging premiums, the Obama administration is preparing a major push to enroll new participants into public marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act. New York Times article 

Merced County teen birth rate falls, but still among state’s highest — California teen birth rates have declined to record-low levels, and while the central San Joaquin Valley continues to have higher rates, Merced County is trending lower than many other Valley counties. Fresno Bee/Merced Sun-Star article

California’s most fragile children will get to keep doctors under new bill – California advocates and legislators are now fighting to make sure J.C. and 30,000 other medically fragile children like him can keep the health services that have, in many cases, helped them survive. The state agency that runs the children’s services program has been moving to change it for the past two years. Initial proposals called for moving the children into Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income insurance program, and forcing them to change doctors after the first year. Now, a state bill proposes a compromise: allowing the children to keep their doctors while still moving them to Medi-Cal managed care. California Health Report article 

Jeff Jardine: Swarms of mosquitoes bugging, scaring people in Oakdale — With West Nile and Zika virus cases active in the county, mosquito bites can be extremely harmful and potentially lethal. Mosquitoes are, indeed, a problem that needs to be dealt with. City departments aren’t equipped to handle the infestations and rely on the abatement district.Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Land Use/Housing

Fresno Bee: When will Fresno get serious about slumlord housing? – It’s indisputable that Fresno has turned a blind eye to shoddy rental housing and allowed slumlords to basically do what they please without significant penalty. Residents should not be forced to wait any longer for the task force to step up and do the right thing. Fresno Bee editorial 

Bakersfield council recommends keeping food trucks 75 feet from restaurants – Restaurateurs and business owners hungry for change joined members of the Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday in critiquing a draft food truck ordinance they agreed should be more precise and protective. Bakersfield Californian article 

Feds reject housing plan meant to help minorities stay in San Francisco – The Department of Housing and Urban Development has rejected San Francisco’s neighborhood housing preference plan, which will have an immediate impact on the city’s attempt to use policy to stem the exodus of African Americans and members of other minority groups from neighborhoods that are rapidly gentrifying. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Katie Valenzuela Garcia: Put environment justice into planning – The member of the California Air Resource Board’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee writes, “We have an environmental health crisis in our state, and we can’t afford to continue to make land-use decisions that harm our communities.” Garcia op-ed in Sacramento Bee


High-speed rail touts savings on Kings River bridge — The contractor for the Kings County section of the bullet train may soon start the first major structure in the county – moving closer to building the Kings River bridge east of Highway 43.The bridge turns out to be not only a dramatic first step into the Kings County portion of the 60-mile CP2-3 section but a key test for the bidding process of this phase of the controversial project that was bid at $1.2 billion, well below engineers estimates of $1.5 to $2 billion. Hanford Sentinel article 

A $652-million project to move LAX runway will be scrapped after lawsuit – A proposal to move the northernmost runway at Los Angeles International Airport closer to homes will be shelved indefinitely under an agreement announced Wednesday, ending a key lawsuit challenging the planned modernization of LAX. LA Times article

Other areas 

San Francisco pot dispensary vibe: The country club of cannabis clubs – Real estate broker Marty Higgins disliked the head shop vibe on his trips to local medical marijuana dispensaries, so he created an upscale dispensary, Harvest on Geary Boulevard, that opened in the spring. Last week, he went even more posh, announcing the creation of San Francisco’s first private cannabis club. San Francisco Chronicle article

Hanford fire rating could lower insurance bills — An upgrade in the rating for the fire suppression effectiveness of the Hanford Fire Department could eventually lower insurance rates for Hanford homeowners, according to a local insurance provider. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It’s indisputable that Fresno has turned a blind eye to shoddy rental housing and allowed slumlords to basically do what they please without significant penalty. Residents should not be forced to wait any longer for the task force to step up and do the right thing. 

Sacramento Bee – Insurers are the latest threat to Obamacare; Democrats and Republicans lament the plight of the working poor. Now legislators have a golden opportunity to give those individuals a hand at minimum cost.