August 21, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

John Myers: California congressional races wasted money on TV, says analysis — The modern history of political campaigns really begins with the advent of the 30 second television ad and its ability to blast out messages to a wide audience. But a new report suggests it’s missing the mark, and flags two 2014 California contests as among the worst when it comes to wasting cash. Myers in KQED

Dan Walters: Prop 39’s criticism isn’t valid – Kevin de León, the president pro tem of the state Senate, and billionaire Tom Steyer have an odd-bedfellows political alliance. Currently, they are pushing de León’s bill that would greatly expand California’s program of reducing carbon emissions, the most controversial feature of which would be a 50 percent reduction in the use of petroleum-based auto fuel. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


State budget

Firefighting tab at $133 million – California has spent $133 million fighting wildfires since July 1, about a third of its budgeted amount. The figure includes the costs of suppressing major blazes across the heat- and drought-ravaged state during the past month. Capitol Weekly article


Valley politics

Rep. Jeff Denham endorses Jeb Bush for president — The former Florida governor is finding an ever-increasing amount of local support from the mainstream wing of the party. Already, he’s been endorsed by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and is backed by some in the Valley’s agricultural sector, a group that not only is influential, but also has money. Now, add Rep. Jeff Denham to Bush’s list of Valley supporters. Fresno Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Former Los Angeles mayor’s listening tour comes to Los Banos — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stopped in town Thursday as part of a “listening tour” some have viewed as his precursor to launching a campaign for governor. Villaraigosa spent six hours in Los Banos speaking at a breakfast, visiting Merced College, Los Banos Campus and touring Morning Star Packing Co., one of the larger employers in the city. Los Banos Enterprise article

Rocky Chavez get rocky response at CoCo GOP — 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez was in Walnut Creek on Thursday evening to take questions from the Contra Costa County Republican Party – and many in the crowd didn’t like some of his answers. Political Blotter

Turning up the heat: California Politics Podcast — This week’s California Politics Podcast examines some new clashes over climate change legislation and a news story looking back at one 2012 environmental ballot measure. We also discuss Gov. Jerry Brown’s careful choice of words on how to fund transportation. California Politics Podcast in KQED


Other areas 

Laurel Rosenhall: Ad blitz heats up climate change fight – The oil industry helped Democrat Jim Cooper win his first election to the Legislature last year. Now it’s seeking his help fighting Democratic leaders in the state Capitol. Cooper is one of a handful of potential swing votes the oil industry is targeting as it tries to kill a controversial proposal to cut in half the amount of petroleum California vehicles use by 2030. Rosenhall in CALmatters

Joel Fox: On SB 350 – what’s the hurry? — Will passing the mandate to cut petroleum use 50-percent in 15 years result in lines at gas stations like California experienced in the 1970s?  I don’t know, but the California Driver’s Alliance, which opposes SB 350 argues that if the bill becomes law gas rationing could result. Gas rationing could lead to those frustrating long lines at gas stations. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Political watchdog group approves hefty campaign fines — California’s political watchdog agency approved large fines Thursday against two state senators and a campaign committee that spent $3.3 million backing Gov. Jerry Brown in 2010. AP article 

California Senate acts to require adoption of research dogs and cats – University laboratories that use dogs and cats for research in California would be required to offer the healthy animals for adoption before euthanizing them under legislation approved Thursday by the state Senate. LA Times article

Anti-abortion group asks judge to release new videos — Videos an anti-abortion group secretly recorded with officials at a California company that provides fetal tissue for research could be released as soon as Friday if a judge sticks by her preliminary ruling.  AP article

Sacramento Bee: Time to step up privacy of personal digital data – There’s a big difference between deciding to relinquish one’s personal information, knowing that it might be used for advertising, and having police take that information without permission to search for evidence of a crime. That’s why Senate Bill 178, now in the Assembly, is so important. Sacramento Bee editorial

California bill aims to warn consumers about recording TVs — Readers who scanned the user manual for a new Samsung smart TV may have been surprised to learn their household conversations could be recorded without their knowledge. State Assemblyman Mike Gatto certainly was. AP article

Undecided California Democrats critical to Iran deal spend the summer asking voters their views – With the largest delegation and with DeSaulnier among nearly two dozen Golden State Democrats who have yet to publicly commit to a position, California has become critical turf this summer as lawmakers home for a six-week recess ask their constituents how they feel about the diplomatic effort. LA Times article 

Victor Davis Hanson: Big government as the new Terminator — Social observers from Aristotle and Juvenal to James Madison and George Orwell have all warned of the dangers of out-of-control government. Lately, we have seen plenty of proof that they were frighteningly correct. Hanson column in Fresno Bee


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Scientists see link between global warming, California drought – New research shows the fingerprints of global warming in worsening the California drought and suggests a future of more dryness for the suffering state. McClatchy Newspapers article

Three Merced County supervisors excused from Williamson Act vote for conflict, one forced to vote anyway – Three Merced County supervisors excused themselves Tuesday from voting on an action regarding the Williamson Act because they had conflicts, but because the vote required three “yes” votes to pass, one supervisor with a conflict voted anyway. Merced Sun-Star article


Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto’s sales tax measure survives legal challenge – Modesto appears to have prevailed in a legal challenge brought against it over Measure G, the city’s one-half percent sales tax increase that will appear on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article

Uber’s driver screening practices fuel political debate on rider safety – The ride-hailing revolution holds the potential to radically change the way people get around. But the political battle over Uber and Lyft in California has focused on something more obscure: fingerprints. LA Times article

Compton officials have been illegally inflating their pay, district attorney says — Compton’s mayor and council members have been illegally boosting their salaries for years by paying themselves for commission meetings that sometimes lasted only about a minute, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. LA Times article

ACLU again accuses Laguna Beach of targeting the homeless – A lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California accuses Laguna Beach of trying to push homeless people, particularly those with disabilities, out of the city. LA Times article 

Silicon Valley start-ups lead the way toward more women in workplace – As Silicon Valley struggles to add more women to its predominantly male workforce — and to support their careers once they’re there — some young technology companies are demonstrating how it’s done. LA Times article 

Rogue drones cause concern as sales surge – The falling price and exploding popularity of consumer drones are causing growing concern about the nation’s newest consumer craze. Rouge drone operators are becoming a nuisance, invading sensitive and private air space, and regulators are nearly powerless to stop them. KVPR report

Mail election will decide fate of special fire serve tax for Burbank Paradise district — Burbank Paradise Fire District is trying the hard way to increase its revenue to fund emergency services. In a mail election, registered voters are deciding whether to support the Measure C proposal to collect an additional $27 a year from owner-occupied homes. The special tax requires two-thirds approval. Modesto Bee article



El Niño likely to bring planet’s hottest year – The El Niño strengthening in the tropical Pacific is not only boosting the odds of rain in parts of California this winter, but it’s driving up global temperatures. San Francisco Chronicle article

Water officials may reclassify east Kern basin as ‘critically overdrafted’ — The state Department of Water Resources is proposing to declare the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin “critically overdrafted” and taking public input on it. DWR would be making official what’s already known about the east Kern basin, but it’s still noteworthy, said Alan Christensen, Kern County chief deputy county administrative officer for water resources. Bakersfield Californian article

Water district to challenge penalty – A water district accused of taking water illegally will have a chance to fight a proposed $1.5 million fine — the first of its kind during the drought. The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, which delivers water to 47 square miles of farmland and the community of Mountain House, asked for a hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board. Stockton Record article 

Documentary about Merced County farmworkers march on DVD — A film about the 2009 march Merced County farmworkers staged to draw attention to their struggle is now on DVD. The feature-length documentary “The Fight for Water: A Farm Worker Struggle” tells the story of the four-day march that started April 14, 2009, and took farmworkers, farmers and other supporters 50 miles from Mendota to the San Luis Reservoir. Merced Sun-Star article 

Drought brings soul searching to California winemaking — From the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, to El Dorado in the Sierra Foothills, to Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast, the drought, now in its fourth year, has affected every area differently. Some regions have been hard hit, like eastern Paso Robles on the Central Coast and the Central Valley, source of much of the grapes that go into cheap bulk wines. But other regions, like the North Coast, are bearing up well. New York Times article 

Lawsuits chase popular almond milk, part of national trend in food labeling claims — In the crowded dairy case, there’s long been a gusher of alternatives to traditional cow’s milk. Soy milk. Rice milk. Coconut milk. Cashew milk. Goat’s milk. Hemp milk. Even oatmeal milk. And then there’s almond milk, which is rapidly slurping up a bigger share of the American market. Now, the popular nondairy beverage is also being targeted by class-action attorneys, part of a larger wave of food-related lawsuits, many of which are originating in California. Sacramento Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge: Modesto attorney accused of murder cannot represent client while in custody – A judge on Thursday said a Modesto defense attorney accused of murder cannot represent his client in a murder trial while in custody. But Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova will wait to decide whether attorney Frank Carson can represent his client in the trial while out of custody. Modesto Bee article 

NAACP president faults Bakersfield Police Department for abuse charge — The president of the local NAACP branch is blaming Bakersfield police for the felony spousal abuse charge filed against him. Patrick Jackson, 27, told KGET Channel 17 that Bakersfield police intentionally targeted him because he has spoken out on behalf of others against injustice. Bakersfield Californian article

LAPD urges officers to be community guardians, not warriors on crime – Departments across the country are taking steps to replace the warrior mentality with a different approach, one that emphasizes protection over suppression, patience instead of zero tolerance. It’s a fundamental shift, one that could affect issues such as how often officers fire their guns and the way they walk down the street. LA Times article

Social media is reshaping policing and conversations about crime – The two men lay motionless on the sidewalk outside a South L.A. carwash, pools of blood spilling from their heads. With the paramedics still on their way, people crowded around the men and pulled out their phones. Before detectives arrived, an image had been posted to Instagram, then circulated on Facebook and Twitter. LA Times article 

Veteran Fresno police officer charged with child abuse, placed on leave — A Fresno police officer was placed on leave after he was charged with misdemeanor child abuse, Chief Jerry Dyer said. Fresno Bee article 

Placerville police pleased with body cameras, hope to add more — After a test period proved successful, Placerville police want to expand the use of body-worn cameras. Sacramento Bee article



Assembly approves bill giving students exit-exam reprieve — Thousands of California high school seniors blocked from fulfilling their graduation requirements got an assist from the Legislature on Thursday as Assembly members passed a bill giving students a reprieve from a phased-out test. Capitol Alert; AP article; LA Times article

Interactive map: How much is that California college public education going to cost you? – Mouseover locations for undergraduate annual in-state tuition and living cost estimates at these 23 California State University and nine University of California campuses (doesn’t include UC San Francisco and UC Hastings). Rates do not reflect the slight differences in estimated on- and off-campus transportation costs. KQED report

Community colleges could require sexual assault disclosures — The California Senate has approved legislation requiring community college applicants to disclose if they’ve been previously expelled for sexual assault. Transfer students would also need to share if they were expelled for rape or sexual battery at other schools or are currently undergoing an expulsion review. AP article

Clovis Community College celebrates accreditation — Clovis Community College celebrated a new name, a new logo and new programs on Thursday. The college, formerly known as Clovis Community College Center and before that, Willow International Center, received accreditation to expand to full community college status last month. The expansion means the school will receive about $1.3 million more in funding each year to grow programs and enrollment. Fresno Bee article 

Teachers at San Francisco Catholic high schools ink contract after close vote – Teachers at four Catholic high schools were sharply divided as they approved a contract with San Francisco’s archdiocese. San Francisco Chronicle article

Common Core yet to emerge as major issue in presidential campaign — So far, at least, the Common Core has not become a major issue in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign. One reason is surely the result of the near total eclipse of most substantive policy discussions in the GOP presidential contest by the presence and pronouncements of Donald Trump. EdSource article 

Leslie Beggs: Modesto Junior College, colleges exploit underpaid adjunct professors – The equal rights commissioner for Stanislaus County writes, “Although college instructors are often envied for having tenure, high salaries and sweet benefits packages – not to mention summer vacations – those benefits are for tenured professors, who account for less than one-fourth of all faculty nationwide. More than 50 percent of college teaching staffs are made up of adjuncts, but only a masochist could envy them.” Beggs op-ed in Modesto Bee

Interim experience helped Siegfried for CSU Bakersfield AD job – Thirteen months ago, Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried didn’t even apply when Cal State Bakersfield’s athletic director job opened. He didn’t think he was ready. Now he’s ready, and the university’s administration agrees. Bakersfield Californian article

National honor gives history teacher at Hickman, Modesto Junior College a summer job in Congress – Time off means time to learn for Modestan Richard Vanden Bosch, an American history aficionado who returns to his Hickman Middle School classroom with more to teach after working on Capitol Hill as the 2015 James Madison Congressional Fellow. Modesto Bee article

Compton Unified fights a lawsuit over children’s ‘demons’ — Students who say trauma from abuse and violence requires special attention at school demanded that the Compton Unified School District immediately have teachers, administrators and staff undergo training to recognize and understand the effect of such incidents. LA Times article



July was warmest month on Earth in 136 years, NOAA says – Another month, another record high for global temperatures, U.S. government scientists announced Thursday. Earth’s average surface temperature for the month of July was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit (or 16.61 degrees Celsius). That made July the hottest month since meteorologists began keeping track way back in 1880, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article 

Battle against Rough fire intensifies as blaze bears down on Hume Lake – The Rough fire burning throughout national forest and park land in eastern Fresno and Tulare counties is tightening its grip on Hume Lake, authorities said Thursday. The blaze, which started with a lightning strike July 31, grew by 1,500 acres overnight, reaching 32,414 acres as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday. It remains 3 percent contained. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report; ‘To escape Rough fire, backpackers make a rigorous trip out of the woods’ in KVPR

Fire burning between Tracy, Livermore now 45 percent contained – The Tesla Fire, burning southwest of here along Tesla Road near Corral Hollow Road, has burned 2,500 acres and was 45 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon, according to Cal Fire. Stockton Record article

Letters pouring in opposing increased flows on Merced River – Local governments, politicians and organizations continue to send letters to the State Water Resources Control Board opposing increased flows on the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers to accommodate native salmon populations. Merced Sun-Star article

First wolf pack found in California in nearly a century – State officials have confirmed that a gray wolf pack is now established in Northern California, a family that includes two adult black-furred wolves and five pups. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Initiative aims to increase electric vehicle fleets in California, West Coast — California’s highly publicized push to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on its roadways – an effort strenuously touted by Gov. Jerry Brown – has helped boost the perception that the Golden State is a lone voice in the wilderness promoting the proliferation of green vehicles. A recent announcement that drew relatively little attention in California says otherwise. Sacramento Bee article


Health/Human Services 

Study raises questions on early-state breast cancer treatment — As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer – Stage 0, as it is commonly known – a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well. Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes. New York Times article 

Time to switch? Consumers with low-cost Covered California plans can expect to pay full cost for ER visits, hospitalization – People who pay as little as $1 a month for the lowest-cost health plans through Covered California should be aware of a benefit change for 2016, health advocates said. Starting Jan. 1, bronze plans won’t cover emergency room visits or hospitalization until the customer reaches the out-of-pocket maximum, which will grow to $6,000 for individuals and $12,000 for families. Modesto Bee article

Scope maker Olympus investigates Pasadena infections, denies FDA violation – Medical scope maker Olympus Corp. said Thursday that it has reached out to a Pasadena hospital that suspects the company’s devices spread a superbug infection to at least three patients. LA Times article

UC San Diego study: Chantix doesn’t significantly help smokers quit — The latest research from UC San Diego shows the popular smoking cessation drug, Chantix, has no significant impact on the rate in which Americans stop smoking. KPBS report 

Coke to disclose details on its health efforts — Coca-Cola says it will start publishing information about its health and nutrition efforts after it was criticized for funding a group that many felt touted the company’s message. AP article


Land Use/Housing

Stockton General Plan discussions to resume Thursday — The stalled process that was supposed to have led to the charting of a new course for the future of Stockton is about to be restarted. After months of inactivity, Stockton’s Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public workshop next week at City Hall in a bid to establish new momentum toward fixing a 7-year-old General Plan that just about everybody says is outdated. Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: Region Blueprint isn’t a failure — A smart policy is only as good as the elected leaders willing to stand up for it. That’s the main takeaway from a new study of the Sacramento Region Blueprint – an ambitious “smart growth” plan that won national acclaim. Sacramento Bee editorial



Firms sign on to hyperloop idea — Hyperloop — the futuristic idea of transporting humans long distances in vacuum tubes at near-supersonic speeds — picked up additional business support this week, according to the website The tech site said that Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which has plans to build a test track loop in southwestern Kings County in 2016, signed agreements to work with design firm Aecom and engineering company Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum. Hanford Sentinel article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas 

A call to action: Shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline – For young men of color in Stockton, there are two choices: prison or death. Those were the words of City Councilmember Michael Tubbs, but they were delivered by playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith during her enthralling one-woman performance about the “school-to-prison-pipeline” Thursday at University of the Pacific’s Long Theatre. Stockton Record article

Los Banos Fire Chief apologizes to D.A.’s office — Los Banos Fire Chief Tim Marrison apologized this week for comments he made in a newspaper article stating the Merced County District Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute some homeless arrested for starting structure fires. Los Banos Enterprise article

Stockton Record: Lobbyist rules could serve as guideline – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has passed an ordinance that would place realistic expectations on lobbyists. Stockton Record editorial 

Michael Fitzgerald: A course in inequality – Golfers at the city-run Van Buskirk golf course say the city’s northside course, Swenson, gets preferential treatment. They’re “greens with envy.” It’s the old complaint, applied to golf: The city neglects the south side. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Judge suggests he may side with most of Berkeley’s cell phone law — A federal judge suggested Thursday that he would strip Berkeley’s cell phone ordinance of its most far-reaching language — telling customers the devices may pose radiation dangers for children — but might leave the rest of the city’s warning message intact, over industry objections. San Francisco Chronicle article

California state government emails linked to Ashley Madison site — The government email addresses of nearly 50 current and former California state workers were included in a list made public by hackers of users of Ashley Madison, the online dating site for married people. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Cal Fire and disciplined Academy employees settle dispute — Three former Cal Fire Academy managers named in a scandal that rocked the department have settled their disciplinary appeal cases. Meanwhile, a judge rejected a request by three other former employees to throw out the actions taken against them. Sacramento Bee article 

Oakland blocked from suing to keep Harborside pot dispensary open — Oakland has no right to challenge the government’s attempt to shut down the huge Harborside medical marijuana dispensary even though it would cost the city millions of dollars in tax revenues, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee“Pink Viagra” really benefits its makers.

Merced Sun-Star – Smoke is ugly, but invisible ozone is a greater danger.

Modesto Bee – Smoke is ugly, but invisible ozone is a greater danger.

Sacramento Bee – There’s a big difference between deciding to relinquish one’s personal information, knowing that it might be used for advertising, and having police take that information without permission to search for evidence of a crime. That’s why Senate Bill 178, now in the Assembly, is so important; A smart policy is only as good as the elected leaders willing to stand up for it. That’s the main takeaway from a new study of the Sacramento Region Blueprint – an ambitious “smart growth” plan that won national acclaim.

Stockton Record – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has passed an ordinance that would place realistic expectations on lobbyists.