August 2, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

CD 10: Trump looms in Modesto-area race for Congress — Democratic candidate in the 10th Congressional District race Michael Eggman has raised barely a third as much money as incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham, but he has a wild card to play: Donald Trump. Eggman is trying to portray Denham as an ally of Trump, the billionaire presidential candidate whose habit for making controversial statements has not abated. Modesto Bee article 

Dan Walters: Building California schools now big business, big money and big politics — Building and refurbishing the schools that house 6 million California kids has become very big business. Local school districts have issued many billions more in voter-approved bonds to match state grants, and property taxes have been hiked to pay for them. The school construction tab is likely to increase even more because a $9 billion bond issue has been placed on the Nov. 8 ballot by a coalition of school groups, developers and the construction companies that profit from school contracts. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown sells his Oakland home for loss — Gov. Jerry Brown is no longer an Oakland homeowner. The governor and First Lady Anne Gust Brown closed on the sale of their Oakland Hills home last week, completing the journey that began late last year when the first couple moved into the historic governor’s mansion in Sacramento. LA Times article 

Valley politics

Harry Armstrong, long-serving Clovis councilman, now serving from home — Harry Armstrong, the undisputed dean of elected officials not only in the central San Joaquin Valley, but in all of California, is still a member of the Clovis City Council – even though he’s not physically present at meetings. Armstrong, who will be 86 in October, has been participating via phone following a monthlong stint in Community Regional Medical Center, where he battled a nasty case of pneumonia, and some recovery time at home after being discharged. Fresno Bee article 

New and familiar faces in Visalia council race — Visalia voters will vote by district for the first time this November and will see some familiar faces on their ballot along with some newcomers. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Supporters of California gun control initiative have big fundraising lead over opponents – Tapping some high-profile donors, supporters of a California gun control initiative on the November ballot have a huge head start over opponents in campaign fundraising, according to financial reports filed Monday with the state. LA Times article 

Competing death penalty ballot measures reel in $6 million – Campaign contributions poured into dueling death penalty campaigns in California, reaching more than $6 million as of June 30, according to the latest campaign finance reports. LA Times article 

State teachers union has given more than $13 million to extend income taxes on wealthy Californians — California’s largest teachers union has given more than $13 million to the effort to extend income tax hikes on California’s highest earners, according to newly released state campaign finance reports. LA Times article

Nearly $66 million in campaign cash to kill a prescription drug ballot measure in November — Opponents of a ballot measure that would limit how much pharmaceutical companies can charge state agencies for prescription drugs had nearly $66 million on hand in June. LA Times article

Other areas 

California lawmakers propose competing approaches to combat human trafficking – More than 30 bills this legislative session alone have attempted to combat a multibillion-dollar industry that now operates as much online, if not more, as it does on the streets. But much of the legislation, still pending as lawmakers return to Sacramento for their final month of deliberations, varies in its approach to the problem. Critics say the competing proposals present a difficult path forward. LA Times article 

Joel Fox: The Legislature’s back and there’s gonna be trouble … hey la, the Legislature’s back — Welcome back, legislators! You have one month to complete work on this session’s bills before adjournment and the beginning of election sweepstakes. Will the state’s swiftly changing political dynamics alter the old rules about passing controversial legislation? Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Sacramento Bee: Stop fighting transparency – Legislation would withhold body-cam footage from the public if it shows cop being killed, without permission from slain officer’s family. It’s the latest in a series of police-backed bills aimed at limiting transparency. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Steve Lopez: Something stinks in Sacramento – You know how some people hold their nose before jumping into water? You might want to hold your nose before jumping into this story. Lopez column in LA Times 

Legislature sends foster child, immigrant protections to governor – The California Legislature has approved bills that would protect foster kids from parents who sexually trafficked them and block courts from considering the immigration status of plaintiffs in personal injury or wrongful death claims. Capital Public Radio report 

After domestic abuse claims, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez on medical leave — A California assemblyman who lost his committee assignments amid domestic violence allegations is taking an extended absence from the Legislature for undisclosed medical reasons. Assemblyman Roger Hernández, D-Baldwin Park, was absent Monday as members returned to the Assembly floor on Monday to launch the final month of the legislative session. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Bill to ban private communications by California’s coastal commissioners gets sidetracked – A bill to ban behind-the-scenes communications by members of the California Coastal Commission stalled in the Assembly on Monday after a committee report concluded that the measure might cost the powerful land use agency hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. LA Times article 

Could California Legislature take lame-duck vote on gas taxes? – California lawmakers are back at the state Capitol for their final scheduled month of work this year. They’re scheduled to adjourn by midnight on Aug. 31st. But at least one major issue could stretch into a rare lame-duck session. Capital Public Radio report


California Senate votes to end ban on ballot selfies — The California Legislature wants voters to be allowed to post photos of their marked ballots on social media. The Senate voted 31-8 on Monday to repeal a rarely enforced law that makes it illegal to post a photo that shows how someone has voted. AP article

Presidential Politics 

The Khan family’s road to confrontation with Donald Trump — Khizr and Ghazala Khan were born in Pakistan. In 1976, their second son, Humayun, was born in the United Arab Emirates. The family moved to the U.S. in 1980 and settled in Boston, where Khizr studied law at Harvard University. The family moved to Maryland, where Humayun went to high school and later attended the University of Virginia, where he joined the ROTC program. Humayun, who dreamed of becoming a military lawyer, graduated with a degree in psychology and joined the Army. He was deployed to Iraq in 2000, and quickly climbed the ranks to captain. LA Times article

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News Stories

Top Stories

California fishermen win key ruling over Delta water supply – A group of commercial fishermen won a potentially significant court ruling in the seemingly endless battle over California’s water supply and the volumes of water pumped south through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Sacramento Bee article 

City: Councilman’s call to add 100 officers not ‘fiscally feasible’ – Downtown Councilman Terry Maxwell’s call to add 100 Bakersfield Police Department officers over five years is fiscally unfeasible and could lead to “widespread” city layoffs and cuts to fire and parks services, according to a City Hall analysis.Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto poised to raise police pay – Modesto’s police officers and detectives are poised to receive pay raises of as much as 11.5 percent over 2 1/2 years as well as other increases that eventually will cost the city’s general fund as much as $2.44 million annually. Modesto Bee article 

Clovis City Council Oks pay raise for its members after paring it back – The Clovis City Council decided Monday to give its members a raise, but pared it back when members decided their raises shouldn’t exceed what they gave to city employees. The measure will increase members’ salaries by 6 percent, from $1,289 to $1,367 per month. The raise will take effect after the next city council election, in March of next year. Fresno Bee article 

Dan Walters: California pension funds caught in ever-tighter income-outgo squeeze – However governments respond to the pension crunch, it’s not going away. Outlays will continue to increase and continue to outstrip inflow from employers and employees, making them even more dependent on investment earnings or taxpayers to close the gaps. Thus, California’s unfunded pension debt, at least $300 billion now and as much as $1 trillion with lower earnings assumptions, will continue to grow – and that doesn’t count another $100 billion-plus in unfunded obligations for retiree health care. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

SEIU Local 1000 Oks strike vote amid talks with Gov. Jerry Brown — California’s largest state employee union has taken the first step to strike, authorizing a membership vote amid ongoing contract negotiations with the Brown administration. Sacramento Bee article 

Many more elderly people are dying in poverty than we thought, new measurement shows – Though no empirical measure can truly illustrate the day-to-day reality of being poor, the reduced number of poor children under the supplemental poverty measure is of course good news. There is though a darker side to this more accurate accounting: When including out-of-pocket healthcare costs, more elderly Americans are classified as living in poverty.Bloomberg article

San Francisco’s landmark tower for rich and famous is sinking and tilting — The Millennium Tower, a leading symbol of San Francisco’s new high-rise and high-end living, is sinking — setting the stage for what could be one of the most contentious and costly real estate legal battles the city has ever seen. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Food blogger convention to return to Sacramento in 2017 — The International Food Bloggers Conference, held for the first time in Sacramento over the weekend, will return to town in 2017. The Convention & Visitors Bureau had lobbied to bring the conference to Sacramento, where it could highlight its “farm-to-fork” marketing and education initiative to writers who could then spread the word through blogs. Sacramento Bee article 

MLS says expansion fee to surpass $200 million — When Sacramento started its pitch for a Major League Soccer franchise, the expansion fee was expected to be a little more than $100 million. Now, with soccer’s popularity continuing to rise, it looks like the price of admission could be nearly twice as high. Sacramento Bee article 

Older people stay in the workforce: ‘This is not a blip’ – More and more adults older than 65 are still employed, whether for personal satisfaction or because of economic realities. New York Times article 

After Yahoo, these tech firms look ripe for a sale – Tech mergers also are in full swing at the moment. So far this year, there have been more than 5,000 deals announced worldwide valued at $355 billion, by far the most merger activity of any industry, according to the research firm Dealogic. One reason: Many tech companies have struggled with execution, unforeseen competition, management turnover and other woes. That’s prompted disaffected investors to keep pushing share prices lower, leaving the companies with market values that are well below their highs and luring buyers. LA Times article 

Big Sacramento employer SolarCity to merge with Tesla – SolarCity Corp., the solar-energy company that’s become a major Sacramento area employer, agreed to a $2.6 billion merger Monday with electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. The deal represents a marriage between two companies overseen by Elon Musk. While he’s best known as chief executive of Tesla, he’s also chairman of SolarCity. Sacramento Bee article 

Elon Musk tests Wall Street’s appetite for unprofitable cash-burning ventures – With his latest move, Elon Musk is challenging Wall Street to determine whether merging two of his high-flying but unprofitable companies will help bolster their performance or double their risk. LA Times article 

Golden 1 Center nears opening as construction hits two-year mark — Two years to the day after beginning demolition of the former Downtown Plaza, the Sacramento Kings have entered the final stretch in the construction of their new $534.9 million Golden 1 Center. The team is less than two months away from completing the new facility, as about 500 construction workers pound away for 18 hours a day in downtown. Sacramento Bee article 

Ryan May: Bad info about lending can have big effect on low-income communities – The local real estate investor and Bakersfield resident writes, “Misinformation about lending and equal credit opportunities can have a profound effect on low-income communities. Home ownership is a cornerstone of economic mobility, and without a stable group of homeowners, neighborhoods can be left vulnerable to blight and disrepair.” May op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Virgin Galactic gets space tourism rocket operating license – Virgin Galactic says it has received an operating license for its space tourism rocket from the Federal Aviation Administration. Virgin Galactic says the operating license awarded by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation will ultimately permit commercial operations. AP article 

Proposed San Francisco tech tax dies without making it to November ballot – A proposal by three members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisorsto ask voters to make technology companies pay for measures intended to close the city’s wealth gap died in committee Monday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Comcast sued for $100 million in Washington state lawsuit over deceptive practices — Comcast is being sued for $100 million by Washington state in a lawsuit alleging that the cable giant illegally deceived its customers in order to pad the company’s bottom line. LA Times article 


California water conservation returns to local leadership – Most communities in drought-stricken California stayed on target for saving water in June, the first month that abandons a state-mandated approach to conserving that puts local leaders back in charge, officials said. AP article 

Northeast Fresno water tests show more homes with lead in samples – More than 40 homes scattered across northeast Fresno are testing positive for lead above acceptable levels as the city continues to try to figure out what’s causing corrosion of galvanized water pipes in residences. Fresno Bee article 

Friant water organizations sign memorandum of agreement – The Friant Water Authority and Friant North Authority have signed a memorandum of agreement that sets forth a path of cooperation for the two organizations. Legislative and regulatory affairs, communication, water operations and technical analysis are a few of the areas the two organizations intend to work together on and share resources. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Brik McDill: When crime gets worse, supervisors, it’s on you – God bless you, Leticia Perez, for being the one member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors who stood up for public safety. Well done. And shame on you David Couch, Mick Gleason, Mike Maggard, and Zack Scrivner, for refusing to put a one-cent tax on November’s ballot to specifically fund the sheriff’s and other safety departments. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

One officer, three trainees join Stockton Police Department – The Police Department added one new officer and three trainees to its ranks Monday, maintaining a force of more than 400 sworn personnel. As of today, the Police Department has 412 sworn officers as it continues its climb toward its goal of 485 officers by June 30. Stockton Record article 

Seeking a better bail system, San Francisco turns to computer algorithm — San Francisco is seeking to modernize its bail system by using a computer algorithm to predict whether a defendant might re-offend or bolt if freed from jail, an effort to reform long-standing practices that many in the city’s justice system believe penalized the poor and opened up potential racial bias. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Atwater police officer arrested on felony assault allegation – A veteran Atwater police officer faces a possible felony assault charge in connection with an off-duty fist fight last month at a North Merced home, law enforcement officials have confirmed. Merced Sun-Star article 

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office loses veteran K-9 – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office unexpectedly lost Jimmy, one of its sheriff’s dogs, on Saturday. Jimmy was 8 years old. Fresno Bee article 

Riverbank residents offer deputies thanks, prayers and treats – A group of residents got a jump on National Night Out by visiting Riverbank Police Services deputies Monday morning with prayer, words of thanks and a variety of food and beverages. Modesto Bee article

Deputies in San Francisco beating stole suspect’s gold chain, took ‘trophy’ photo, lawsuit claims – A group of Alameda County sheriff’s deputies tackled a surrendering car thief suspect, beat him with batons, stole his gold chain then took a “trophy” photo of him bloodied on the ground, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Northern California on Monday. LA Times article 

Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca withdraws his guilty plea, clearing the way for a high-profile trial — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca withdrew his guilty plea Monday to a charge of lying to federal authorities during an FBI investigation into the county’s jails, clearing the way for a high-profile trial. LA Times article 

Coroner: Man booked into jail died of meth intoxication – Methamphetamine intoxication caused the death of a man who died in a hospital a week after being booked into the downtown jail, according to a coroner’s office news release Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Man suffering from Alzheimer’s is released from LA County Jail and found dead two days later – A 71-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease who was reported missing by his family has been found dead in downtown Los Angeles — two days after he was arrested then released from jail on his own recognizance, authorities said Monday. LA Times article 

Family of man killed by Oakland police files suit against city — The family of a man shot dead by four Oakland police officers as he carried a toy gun filed a federal lawsuit against the city Monday, saying the killing violated his constitutional rights and was the result of poor police training. San Francisco Chronicle article


Merced College paid private investigator – After a Merced County sheriff’s deputy declined to collect fingerprints to trace a letter disparaging of Merced College administrators, the college hired a private investigator to do so, according to documents obtained by the Sun-Star through a public records request.Merced Sun-Star article 

Five molestation victims reach $5.4 million settlement with Fresno-area school district – Five students who accused a former superintendent/principal of the Orange Center Elementary School District of molesting them inside his office during the 2013-2014 school year have settled their civil lawsuits against the district for $5.4 million. Fresno Bee article 

Five things to know about California’s new science standards — California public schools are in the middle of a four year roll-out of the Next Generation Science Standards. As teachers, administrators, students, parents and the general public struggle to understand the big changes, here are some of the most important things to know. KPCC report 

Report calls out some charters for biased policies – More than one in five California charter schools deter disadvantaged and low-performing students from attending their campuses through restrictive admissions policies and burdensome parent requirements, according to a report released today by the ACLU of Southern California and the nonprofit Public Advocates. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Helping foster kids succeed, one laptop at a time — After years of abuse at home, 19-year-old Dennisse Aldana of Los Angeles was placed into foster care when she was 17. Like many foster kids, she lacked the tools needed for today’s digital world. Even the most basic tool in a young student’s life — a laptop computer — was out of reach. “All throughout high school I didn’t have a laptop, and I felt like I was limited to what I could really accomplish in class,” recalls Aldana. KQED report 

Karin Klein: New state schools report card is colorful, but confusing — California has waited years for a better school report card, but it doesn’t have one yet. This one makes us feel like a foggy day – color-tinted, but foggy. Klein op-ed in Sacramento Bee 


Goose Fire near Prather continues to feed off triple-digit heat — A wildfire in the foothills near Prather continued to burn largely out of control in triple-digit heat Monday, with 303 people evacuated and an untold number of homes damaged by flames, authorities said. Fresno Bee article 

Goose Fire causes hundreds of animal evacuations – The Goose Fire burning in the foothills of Fresno County near Prather has burned more than 1,800 acres. It’s threatening 400 structures and has forced hundreds of people to evacuate. The blaze is 15 percent contained. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that people aren’t the only evacuees. KVPR report 

Big Sur wildfire covers 63 square miles; some evacuations lifted – Thousands of firefighters continued hacking away Monday at a wildfire near Big Sur that grew to more than 63 square miles, as new fires continue to crop up around the dry state. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Disappearing icons: Re-imagining the national parks after climate change — Many national parks were chosen for, and even named after, the country’s iconic natural sights, like sequoia trees, everglades and glaciers. Now, as the climate warms, many of these icons are beginning to disappear. As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year, it’s grappling with a monumental challenge: what will be left in the national parks 100 years from now? KQED report

PG&E gas leak at Delta’s McDonald Island still a puzzle — Seven weeks after it was first discovered, a small natural gas leak at Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s storage facilities on McDonald Island remains a bit of a mystery. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

A dramatic shift: Tulare patients choosing Kaweah Delta — While Tulare-area residents still prefer to go to TRMC emergency room, the number going to Kaweah Delta has doubled over eight years while the number using TRMC increased 7%. The emergency room is important to a hospital’s financial health because it funnels patients into longer stays in critical care areas. Last year, for example, almost half of TRMC’s inpatients entered the hospital through the emergency room. Visalia Times-Delta article

Pension cuts, federal aid put Tulare Regional Medical Center in black – Last year’s operating profit of $5.4 million, by far the largest in the 10-year period, comes in the first full year of the management of the hospital by HealthCare Conglomerate Associates and its founder, Yorai (Benny) Benzeevi, who is now the hospital’s CEO. Some of that profit is attributable to a reduction of the size of the workforce from a little over 500 people to 400 and other moves to create a more efficient operation. Visalia Times-Delta article

Spending: Yes vs. no — The committee supporting Tulare Regional Medical Center’s Measure I has spent more than 20 times the amount spent by those opposing it. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Tulare Regional Medical Center: Hospital hopeful to lift doubt — In the 65 years since it opened, the Tulare hospital has mended the bones, delivered the babies, performed the surgeries and cured ailments common and rare of thousands of people. Maria Grijalva is one. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Merced County reports first cases of human Zika virus – Merced County health officials on Monday said they have confirmed the county’s first cases of the Zika virus. The Merced County Department of Public Health said two unrelated residents became ill after traveling to countries identified with active Zika transmission. Both residents received medical care after experiencing mild symptoms and both have fully recovered, the department said in a news release.Merced Sun-Star article

First case of human West Nile virus reported in San Joaquin County – As officials warn that West Nile Virus activity is the highest it has been since arriving in the county 12 years ago, the first human case of the year has been reported. San Joaquin Public Health Services said Monday that a woman in her late 60s is the first confirmed human with the infection in 2016. Stockton Record article 

Grant to help post-trauma recovery in south Stockton – The Healthier Community Coalition of health care, government and community groups recently received a grant for $850,000 for Healing South Stockton, an initiative aimed at identifying residents suffering from trauma and linking them with clinical services and community support. Stockton Record article 

Rabid bat found in downtown Fresno — Fresno County health officials said a dead bat discovered last Tuesday in downtown Fresno has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found by public health staff near the corner of Van Ness and Merced avenues. Fresno Bee article 

Setting the body’s ‘serial killers’ on cancer – After a long, intense pursuit, researchers are close to bringing to market a daring new treatment: cell therapy that turbocharges the immune system to fight cancer. New York Times article 

Concussions, heat-related illnesses are concerns for local football coaches – Sports medicine is taken seriously on the high school football fields of Modesto. For two years, players have worn helmets with sensors telling if they are involved in collisions that might cause a concussion. Heat exhaustion is another concern as teams hold workouts for the fall 2016 season. Modesto Bee article

Virus hunting: UC Davis researcher heads global effort to avert the next Ebola or Zika outbreak — From Ebola to West Nile to Zika, potentially epidemic viruses lurk everywhere. For the past seven years, tracking, mapping and trying to thwart the next deadly virus outbreak has been the focus of Dr. Jonna Mazet, a UC Davis wildlife epidemiologist and veterinary science professor. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Jeff Jardine: Downtown cabaret plan sure to rile Modesto’s morality police – A cabaret in Modesto. Wow! Joel Grey … Liza Minelli …. Quality, big-time Broadway entertainment! Uh, hold on a second. It’s not going to be that kind of cabaret, if permitted at all. This one would be more like “Striptease” with Demi Moore – exotic, erotic strippers and whatever else – in the old St. Stan’s Brewery downtown. And not just anywhere downtown. The building is kitty-corner across Ninth Street to the city’s marquee hotel, the DoubleTree (or would it become the Double-D?). Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Harbor Pointe Apartments opens in Clovis — A sliver of land in Clovis that had a vacant house on it for years has been transformed into a small 48-unit multifamily community called Harbor Pointe Apartments. The first 12 apartments at the complex, on the northeast corner of Temperance and Ashlan avenues, were released last week for occupation. Fresno Bee article 

Finishing touches applied to downtown’s Cal Weber 40 apartments — Tenants will begin moving into a new affordable housing development in downtown Stockton by the end of the month, with renovation nearly complete of two buildings whose combined age is more than 200 years. Stockton Record article

Other areas 

Bakersfield firefighters issue 83 citations, seize more than 600 pounds of illegal fireworks in July – Bakersfield firefighters issued 83 citations, seized 625 pounds of illegal fireworks and made two arrests in connection with illegal fireworks usage in July. Firefighters said Monday there were 23 fireworks-related fires during the month, and they responded to a total of 864 fireworks-related calls. Bakersfield Californian article 

State archives launches Facebook page showcasing California history — A new Facebook page was launched by the California State Archives on Monday to showcase the state’s history, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. Fresno Bee article 

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The tide may just be turning on voting rights, just in time for the November election that is one of the most consequential in decades.

Merced Sun-Star – Fred Ruiz did great work on the UC Board of Regents for 12 years, voicing the viewpoints of San Joaquin Valley residents and educating fellow regents on the challenges that families face here. He wisely didn’t seek reappointment at age 73 because of the great demands of this service. But he parted with a message to Gov. Jerry Brown: There should be someone from the Valley “to be a voice to the regents.”

Modesto Bee – Fred Ruiz did great work on the UC Board of Regents for 12 years, voicing the viewpoints of San Joaquin Valley residents and educating fellow regents on the challenges that families face here. He wisely didn’t seek reappointment at age 73 because of the great demands of this service. But he parted with a message to Gov. Jerry Brown: There should be someone from the Valley “to be a voice to the regents.”

Sacramento Bee – Legislation would withhold body-cam footage from the public if it shows cop being killed, without permission from slain officer’s family. It’s the latest in a series of police-backed bills aimed at limiting transparency; The tide may just be turning on voting rights, just in time for the November election that is one of the most consequential in decades.