August 22, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Federal judge orders Obama administration to release detained mothers and children – A federal judge ruled late Friday night that the Obama administration has just over two months to begin releasing hundreds of migrant mothers and children who have been locked up in government family detention centers as they await their asylum hearings. McClatchy Newspapers article; LA Times article; New York Times article

Brown, cities scrap over bill on wind-down of redevelopment — California cities and Gov. Jerry Brown have had a rocky relationship ever since lawmakers, pushed by Brown, voted to abolish an anti-blight program over the objections of local leaders who called it a vital tool to improve their constituents’ lives. Four years later, a new post-redevelopment fight between cities and the Governor’s Office confronts lawmakers as they hurry to finish their work for the legislative year. Capitol Alert


Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown says Hillary Clinton must slay email controversy — Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails is “almost like a vampire” and the presidential candidate needs to “find a stake and put it right through the heart.” LA Times article


Valley politics

Former Tulare County Sheriff Wittman fined for 2010 campaign violations — Former Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman’s 2010 campaign committee and its campaign treasurer, Wayne Bixler, were fined $466 for violations related to his reelection bid from that year, the state’s political watchdog ruled this week. Fresno Bee article


Immigrants become activists during Dream Summer – It was the first day of Dream Summer, an annual program that brings young immigrants from across the country to Los Angeles for a 10-week crash course designed to produce the next generation of immigrant rights leaders. LA Times article

Woman’s killing throws Santa Maria into national immigration debate — The Central Coast city is home to many workers at Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as to laborers who tend to the vast agricultural fields that produce the nearly half-billion-dollar annual strawberry crop. Residents like to remind outsiders that Santa Maria is actually a bigger city than the more storied Santa Barbara to the south. Santa Maria is also changing demographically: 70% of the population is Latino — a big leap from 1990, when it was 45%. Now the city is dealing with a big-city problem that’s receiving national attention. LA Times article 

Phil Fullerton: Valley churches must answer cries from boat people – The Fresno resident and retired lawyer writes, “As Christians, Jews and Muslims, as U.S. citizens and members of the Fresno community, we must answer this cry of humanity and respond by vigorously calling for a new federal policy, and when it comes by accepting these people in our towns: family by family, church, mosque and synagogue by synagogue. It is time for action, a time for compassion. As Americans we can do no less.” Fullerton op-ed in Fresno Bee

Other areas

Joe Mathews: Top 10 reasons Arnold is not Donald — I keep getting emails from friends with a link to a Washington Post piece arguing that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump are, politically speaking, basically the same person. And I keep scratching my head. Huh? It’s hard to think of what they have in common. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Tom Steyer plays it coy about spending money to boost climate bills –  As the battle over the ambitious climate change proposals pending in the Legislature heats up, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has been notably coy about how much he intends to spend to boost the bills’ prospects. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Friday Shorts: California citizenship; drought and wildlife, lawsuit settled — Some people consider California a sovereign state. In fact, there has been a series of initiatives filed to recognize the state as such, requiring the California flag to be flown above the American flag among other changes. Perhaps, California is achieving the status of a sovereign state de facto rather than de jure – in fact rather than by law. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Activists come up with a plan to end police killings.  Here it is — On Friday, prominent black activists offered an answer that has been in the works for months, introducing a comprehensive policy platform to end killings by the police in the U.S. and said they will track and hold 2016 candidates accountable for their stances. LA Times article

Feinstein asks Obama to bypass Congress to create three desert monuments – U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she has asked President Obama to bypass Congress and create three new national monuments in California, giving federal protection to more than 1 million acres of mountain ranges, sandy expanses and forests lying roughly between Palm Springs and the Nevada border. LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories 

Judge limits evidence for Kings County suit over high-speed rail — A judge in Sacramento this week limited the kinds of evidence that attorneys for Kings County will be able to present in a trial next February in their case against the California High Speed Rail Authority. The suit centers on whether bullet-train plans comply with requirements of Proposition 1A. Fresno Bee article

Judge denies challenge to Modesto sales tax measure — A judge has denied the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association’s legal challenge of Measure G, Modesto’s one-half percent sales tax increase that will appear on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates rise slightly throughout Valley – Unemployment rates rose slightly throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley in July, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Jobless rates ranged from a low of 9.6 percent in Fresno County to a high of 11.7 percent in Tulare County.  Here are the July jobless rates, following in parentheses by June 2015 and July 2014 rates:

  • Fresno – 9.6 percent (9.3, 11.1)
  • Kern – 10.0 percent (9.9, 10.3)
  • Kings – 9.8 percent (10.2, 11.4)
  • Madera – 9.9 percent (9.4, 10.9)
  • Merced – 10.8 percent (10.4, 12.4)
  • San Joaquin – 8.9 percent (8.5, 10.6)
  • Stanislaus – 9.4 percent (9.3, 11.1)
  • Tulare – 11.7 percent (10.9, 13.0)

Fewer without jobs in California, San Joaquin Valley – California’s jobless rate dropped to 6.2 percent in July, down from 6.3 percent in June and is at its lowest level since February 2008. A year ago, California’s jobless rate was 7.4 percent. But the unemployment rate remains higher than the national average. U.S. unemployment remained at 5.3 percent in June and July, the lowest it’s been since April 2008. Unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley also declined over the past year and remains higher than the state average.  AP/Modesto Bee article; Sacramento Bee article

July unemployment inches up across most of Valley — Unemployment rates ticked up between June and July across the central San Joaquin Valley, but the percentage of the workforce without jobs in each of the Valley’s counties remains lower than a year earlier. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article; Hanford Sentinel graphic 

Kern’s overall jobless rate remains nearly steady despite shifts — Kern’s unemployment rate inched upward to a seasonally unadjusted 10 percent in July, up from 9.9 percent the month before, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday. This apparent stability belied significant shifts in the county’s labor force between June and July. Bakersfield Californian article 

Merced County jobless rate up in July — The unemployment rate in Merced County climbed a few tenths of a percentage point in July, but at 10.8 percent it remains more than a point lower than the same time last year, the Employment Development Department reported Friday. Merced Sun-Star article 

Seasonal layoffs boost San Joaquin County jobless rate – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in July, mostly due to the summer furlough for public school workers and a normal seasonal lull in farm jobs, state employment officials reported Friday. Stockton Record article

California transit agency says federal grants blocked over public employee pension plan — California transit agencies say the U.S. Department of Labor is blocking as much as $1 billion in vital grants unless the agencies agree to violate a state public employee pension reform law. San Jose Mercury News article

Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Al Smith retires – Al Smith, Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive officer, is retiring after 10 years with the 1,200-member business group. The 77-year-old Smith was initially hired as an interim CEO, replacing former CEO Steve Newvine. But his short-term stint turned into a second career for the man who spent 47 years in the radio business. Fresno Bee article;The Business Journal article

Valley-based businesses earn places on Inc. 5000 list — Six Valley-based businesses have earned a spot on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private businesses in the nation. Fresno Bee article 

Compromise of 2011 has benefitted California, Amazon – “I can now confirm that we have over 10,000 jobs in California,” Ashley Robinson, a spokeswoman for Amazon’s Western operations, said this month in an interview at The Sacramento Bee. Most of those jobs fall within the five “fulfillment centers” built in Tracy, Patterson, Redlands, San Bernardino and Moreno Valley, accounting for more than 5 million square feet of space combined. Sacramento Bee article

Stock market suffers worst one-day drop since 2008 – Stocks on U.S. markets fell sharply for the second straight day Friday along with major indexes worldwide as continued worries about the slowdown of China’s economy and the devaluation of its currency weighed on traders. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 530.94 points — its worst one-day drop since November 2008 — to 16,459.75. LA Times article; AP article

Home care workers could finally get overtime pay – A new federal court decision has cleared the way for home aides in California and around the country to begin receiving overtime pay for their work. LA Times article

School at forefront of downtown Stockton revitalization – The single-story building at 633 E. Market St. has been home through the past eight decades to a string of disparate businesses and has been used for an array of unrelated purposes. It’s been a furniture warehouse, according to the website, which archives Stockton history. It hosted a business called Mail-Me-Monday of Central California. It was home to an advertising agency. But Debbie Eison, executive director of the K-5 TEAM Charter School, sees something different when she stands beneath the soaring ceiling and peers up at the rafters inside 633 E. Market. Stockton Record article 

Lemoore to continue retail attraction effort — The Lemoore City Council is continuing its push to promote the city and attract new retail development. The council voted 4-0, with Councilman Ray Madrigal absent, to approve a $60,000 contract with the CrisCom Company valid through Aug. 31, 2016. The contract includes $18,000 for government affairs efforts on behalf of the Lemoore Police Department, and $42,000 for business development and attraction services. Hanford Sentinel article 

Modesto’s State Theater expanding concessions, cocktail options – Raise your glass, the State Theatre is expanding its cocktail capabilities. The historic downtown Modesto venue is expanding the rest of its concessions, as well, doubling the area to serve patrons, and plans to add more food options down the line. Modesto Bee article 

Tulare County plans to buy Visalia Cigna building – Tulare County Board Of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Aug. 25 to hear testimony on the county’s plan to purchase the Cigna building at 5300 W Tulare Ave in Visalia for $16.97 million. The building is 180,679 square feet, about half vacant. That portion will be used by multiple county departments says Jean Rousseau, county administrator. Visalia Times-Delta article

State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani: Keeping criminals out of the driver’s seat – The Valley Democrat writes, “I am introducing Senate Bill 372, which will serve as the first statewide policy on both taxicab and transportation network drivers. The bill would prohibit the hiring or retaining of any driver who is required by law to register as a sex offender. Failure to comply would trigger a fine up to $5,000 for both the driver and the company or a three-month jail sentence for the driver, or both.”  Galgiani op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Uber is on growth fast track, leaked documents show – According to details from a leaked document published Friday by Reuters wire service, Uber is a global force. Total ride-share bookings are showing explosive growth, from $688 million in 2013 to a projected $10.84 billion this year and $26.12 billion next. That’s nearly 38 times bigger in just four years. LA Times article

Modesto’s biggest outdoor music festival rages on — Music, dancing and fire – lots of fire – are all part of the late summer ritual that is the Xclamation Festival. The downtown Modesto street party, known as X-Fest, has become one of the region’s largest annual music festivals. The outdoor bacchanalia regularly attracts more than 15,000 to hear more than 100 bands on more than a dozen stages. Now in its 16th year, the outdoor block party is boasting a lineup filled with hip-hop heavyweights and returning favorites. Modesto Bee article

Michael Hiltzik: Public pension shocker: Shutting a pension plan actually costs taxpayers money — The experience of states that did exactly that shows that taking these steps sharply increasespension costs to taxpayers while providing employees with markedly poorer retirement benefits. Hiltzik in LA Times

Sandy Banks: What did LA get from ’84 Games? An Olympic-size boost for kids — Los Angeles still is reaping the dividends of that extravaganza, which ended with a surplus of more than $232 million. Our city’s share — $93 million — funded the LA84 Foundation, which for the last 30 years has bankrolled local youth sports programs. Banks column in LA Times


State Supreme Court will decide UFW, Gerawan labor dispute — A long-running dispute between the United Farm Workers and Reedley-based fruit growerGerawan Farming is heading to California’s highest court. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield city manager urges consumers to keep saving water as conservation dips – Water conservation by users in the city’s system dipped slightly in July, City Manager Alan Tandy said Friday, urging consumers to redouble their efforts as Bakersfield’s drought-stricken summer enters its final month. Bakersfield Californian article 

Drought health hazard: Not enough water to keep down Central Valley dust — The drought has been contributing to a dust bowl in Central Valley farm country. The dust, in turn, exacerbates the region’s already-high rates of asthma. To keep dust down, farmers usually use a watering truck, spraying the roads to knock down the dust and comply with air pollution rules. But now, in the fourth year of a crippling drought, the approach is changing. KQED report 

Feds release extra water to save Klamath salmon from disease — With water scarce in Northern California’s Klamath Basin, a federal agency is again releasing cool, clean water into the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead. AP article

Water district wants to set your shower to music to make it quicker during drought – The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has rolled out a “Water Lover’s Station” on the Pandora website and app featuring many songs about water and rain, with the goal of getting people to take shorter showers. It’s the MWD’s latest effort in its #TakeATurnCA water conservation campaign. LA Times article

A local operative in the water wars – Aubrey Bettencourt had no idea she’d end up as a front-line operative in the state’s water debate. As a history major at Westmont College, she planned to work in federal law enforcement or national security. But her family’s local farming roots exerted a powerful pull that brought her back to Kings County and got her involved as a full-time advocate for agriculture, the importance of water to grow crops and the significance of preserving the state’s $46-billion-a-year agriculture industry. Hanford Sentinel article 

Drought rules: What you can water and when in Bay Area – Each Bay Area water district has passed its own rules on how residents can and can’t use water. Find out if you’re following – or flouting – those requirements. KQED report

Districts form water association, name new director – While a new water association has been formed, a new executive director has also moved into position. On Friday, officials with the newly formed South Valley Water Association announced that eight southern San Joaquin Valley water contractors have bound together by common interests to make up the new association. The district has also appointed Lower Tule River and Pixley Irrigation District General Manager Dan Vink as executive director. Visalia Times-Delta article

Scientists use wasps to protect citrus crops from disease – They look like grains of black sand inside a prescription vial. But each speck is a wasp that is lethal to the offspring of the Asian citrus psyllid, an aphid-size bug that spreads the bacteria that cause Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease. If California’s $1.8 billion citrus industry is to buy enough time to stave off the disease, which has decimated citrus crops in Florida, Mexico and Brazil, those vials may as well be hourglasses. LA Times article 

Projects cut Mather Airport’s water, energy use – California’s drought has all kinds of groups looking to reduce water use – even those that spend their time in the air. The Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a variety of environmental conservation changes Friday at Mather Airport in Rancho Cordova that have lowered energy, water and natural gas use. Sacramento Bee article

GMO bill gets farming support — Three years after California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have required mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms used in supermarket foods, the debate over GMOs is back in full force — this time, at the federal level. Hanford Sentinel article 

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge tells California to explain empty psychiatric beds while prisoners wait for care – A federal judge Friday ordered California to explain why it has hundreds of empty beds in its psychiatric hospitals but a backlog of mentally ill inmates in prisons waiting for care. LA Times article 

Lawsuit over license plate scanners heading to California Supreme Court – Two advocacy groups suing the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for access to data from automated license plate readers have won a chance to argue before the California Supreme Court. LA Daily News article

Prop 47 gives former felons a new chance – Proposition 47 reduced many nonviolent felonies — such as drug possession and theft charges — to misdemeanors, and it allows people previously convicted of those crimes to petition a court to wipe those felonies from their record. For Jackson, it’s an opportunity to literally wipe the slate clean, something that could allow her to pursue career opportunities once out of reach. KQED report

Investigation into San Joaquin County Jail death continues – The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said Friday it will take several weeks to determine how a woman died Wednesday while in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail. Stockton Record article

Virtual shooting range: San Joaquin County sheriff to purchase new training system – The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office is hoping a new virtual shooting range simulator and training system will help deputies hone their skills in the field. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of a new $75,000 system that will replace the department’s current system, which is more than 30 years old. Stockton Record article

State Bar requests jurisdiction over Frank Carson’s office – The State Bar of California filed a lawsuit Friday against local defense attorney and murder suspect Frank Carson to assume jurisdiction of his law practice. Modesto Bee article

Modesto group keeps up fight against human trafficking – In 2012, Debbie Johnson left her post as a pastor to launch Without Permission, a nonprofit committed to sex trafficking victims within Stanislaus County. The organization works to combat sex trafficking and heal the people who’ve been scarred by it. Without Permission works in three areas, she said: prevention, prosecution and protection.Modesto Bee article 

Clerk receives $10,000 reward for information leading to manhunt suspect’s demise – A convenience store clerk who alerted authorities to the location of manhunt suspect Benjamin Peter Ashley received a $10,000 reward from the Kern Law Enforcement Association and Secret Witness program Friday. Bakersfield Californian article; Bakersfield Californian editorial

Bakersfield police shooting of armed man found within department policy – Two Bakersfield police officers who fatally shot an armed man who pointed a gun at them and ignored repeated orders to drop the weapon were found to have acted within police department policy and state and federal guidelines. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced County tries again for jail renovation funding – Merced County will again try to win state money to renovate and expand the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on Sandy Mush Road to increase security and provide treatment programs to inmates. Merced Sun-Star article 

Shifting explanation of fatal shooting by San Jose police draws criticism — The shooting has generated debate in San Jose and sparked questions both about the police tactics used and why the official narrative changed so significantly. LA Times article

Local NAACP president pleads not guilty to spousal abuse charge — The president of the local branch of the NAACP pleaded not guilty to felony spousal abuse Friday morning for allegedly punching his wife in the face and breaking her front two teeth. Bakersfield Californian article


Fresno State receives record high applications – Fresno State announced record enrollment numbers on Friday. About 30,800 students applied to the school this year – twice the application average for California State University campuses. The number of applicants is a near 6,000 increase since 2010. The school currently enrolls more than 23,000 students. Fresno State President Joseph Castro delivered his State of the University address at the Save Mart Center on Friday. Castro also announced growing graduation rates. Fresno Bee article

Fresno Unified releases cost of convocation – Fresno Unified School District officials have released information regarding the cost of its annual convocation, more than a week after a trustee publicly inquired about funding for the event. The event – a school year kick-off rally that is mandatory for teachers and other staff – was held at the Save Mart Center Aug. 12 and cost the district about $27,000. The cost, though, was entirely covered by outside sponsors. Fresno Bee article 

It’s true: Kindergarten is optional in California – Some kids who skip kindergarten have to play catch-up when they enter first grade: to learn how to hold a pencil, count to 100 and begin tackling spelling. Educators and state lawmakers who want to close this achievement gap say it’s time to do away with optional kindergarten for California children. They are backing legislation to make it mandatory.LA Times article

Is there still room for play in California kindergartens? — The new Common Core State Standards require kindergartners to learn more words and read short sentences fluently. Teachers will also do more with informational books and do less with all those fun storybooks. KQED report


Rough fire destroys Kings Canyon Lodge; acreage nearly 42,000 acres – The Rough fire, which has burned nearly 42,000 acres, has claimed its first structure, the Kings Canyon Lodge. But thus far the fire has spared Hume Lake Christian Camps. Officials reported that firefighters had created important fire breaks near the facility to protect it. Fresno Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article; Visalia Times-Delta article; AP article; KVPR report

The Numbers Crunch: Waiting, worrying and preparing for ‘The Big One’ — The threat of the “Big One” is just part of living in California. If and when it happens, all bets are off. Still, it’d be nice to get that few extra seconds to try to survive. Sacramento Bee article

Cal Fire starts hotline for reporting drones — Worried about drones interfering with firefighting aircraft, CalFIRE has started a hotline for people to report intrusions by unmanned aerial vehicles at fire scenes. The number is 1-844-DRONE11. A recording asks callers to provide the date and location of the drones, and the name of the person flying it, if known. Callers may remain anonymous.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

2 million Obamacare enrollees eligible for more financial help – More than 2 million people with coverage on the health insurance exchanges may be missing out on subsidies that could lower their deductibles, copayments and maximum out-of-pocket spending limits, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health. KQED report

California’s Obamacare exchange criticized for not fixing enrollment, tax errors – In response to blistering criticism from a consumer group, California’s Obamacare exchange vowed to fix longstanding enrollment and tax-related errors that have blocked consumers from getting coverage for months and left some with unforeseen bills. LA Times article 

Data Tracker: Crafting a new health plan tax not an easy exercise – The main goal of the Legislature’s special session on health care involves crafting a replacement for the current tax on managed-care organizations to help pay for health care for the poor. How to do that, exactly, is causing plenty of headaches at the Capitol. Sacramento Bee article 

Ana Ibarra: Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Funds raised are helping researchers better understand ALS – Never had I seen a fundraiser trend on social media like the Ice Bucket Challenge did. It was new and refreshing, literally. And just a year later, we are seeing results from the popular ALS campaign. Scientists at John Hopkins University announced a new breakthrough in ALS research, partly crediting the interest and funds raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge. Ibarra in Merced Sun-Star 

Dr. Ken Bird: Fresno County Health Officer flies in for a house call – The Fresno County Health Officer writes, “A county health officer is very much like a primary care medical provider except that his or her patient is an entire community. My patient is Fresno County. In comparison to other such patients in the state, mine is rather young, quite poor, not so well educated, faces many obstacles to access to health care, suffers excessively from obesity, diabetes, violence, mental health disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases, breathes polluted air, and is at high risk of delivering preterm infants who have an unacceptably high risk of dying during their first year of life.” Bird op-ed in Fresno Bee

Diabetes drug shows first protection from heart complications – For the first time, there’s evidence that a diabetes medication, Jardiance, reduces risk of the complications that are the top killer of diabetics: heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular damage. AP article

Visalia bubble baby heads to UCLA for gene therapy — After much consideration by her parents, a Visalia baby is scheduled for gene therapy, an experimental type of stem cell transplant, to cure her weakened immune system. They’ve run out of options. Visalia Times-Delta article


Long-awaited Bakersfield bullet train meeting arrives next week – The bullet train’s proposed new path through Bakersfield — a route that’s quicker, shorter, less elevated and would impact hundreds fewer property owners — will get its first public airing Tuesday afternoon. The three-hour open house is the first of two agreed on by city officials and the California High-Speed Rail Authority in December, when Bakersfield agreed to drop its lawsuit in exchange for the agency considering a new “conceptual alignment.” Bakersfield Californian article

Questions arise over Merced high-speed rail committee – Plans to design a stop for California high-speed rail are expected to ramp up in the coming months, and elected officials and residents are questioning whether the city has done enough to put together a complete steering committee. Merced Sun-Star article

Hearing on rail improvement, expansion packs room in downtown Modesto — Residents and community leaders from as far as Santa Clara, Castro Valley, Fresno, Sacramento and even Mount Shasta filled the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place in downtown Modesto on Friday morning for a hearing on improving and expanding passenger rail service. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento’s light-rail extension opens Monday with big questions — Sacramento Regional Transit’s long-awaited $270 million Blue Line light-rail extension to Cosumnes River College starts regular service Monday, carrying with it some big questions. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento’s opportunity to improve cycling — The city’s new bike czar should be an ambitious person on a mission with a track record of implementing a modern bicycle master plan. But beyond that, whether it’s the mayor, the council or a combination, Sacramento’s bike-able future needs a champion in City Hall. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Other areas

Stockton Record: Survivors, Stockton need to settle Bank of the West lawsuits – We urge all concerned — the Holt-Singh family, the living hostages, the attorneys, the police officers and department leadership, city officials, the press and Stockton citizens — to be respectful of differing views, strategies and approaches in what already is a painful moment in Stockton’s history. The pain can be eased if the sides can settle. Stockton Record editorial

Letters against Hanford councilman disputed – Following Mayor Russ Curry’s attempts to publicly read defamatory letters aimed at Councilman Francisco Ramirez, a Sentinel investigation has raised questions about who actually wrote the letters. Hanford Sentinel article

David Mas Masumoto: The value of struggle – While growing up, I wasn’t the brightest student and had some language and speech issues (for example, I thought the letters R and W were the same and could be used interchangeably). In school, my parents encouraged me to toil. They supported me yet never helped with homework and certainly not with class projects. Education was about hard work, exertion and trials. If I didn’t understand something, they quietly reassured me that struggle was good. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee 

Tense times in government offices after Ashley Madison email leak – Anxiety was high Friday in state, county and city offices after hackers released lists of dozens of government email addresses in California that were used to access the Ashley Madison online dating site for married people. Los Angeles County officials launched an investigation after 19 county email addresses were found on the list. Officials in Sacramento warned state workers of possible consequences after nearly 50 state government email addresses were also included. LA Times article

Inglewood cannot claim copyright over council videos, judge says – A federal judge found Thursday that YouTube videos using snippets of Inglewood City Council meetings do not violate copyright law, and dismissed an unusual lawsuit the city had filed against the resident who created the videos. LA Times article

Feds: Gang that couldn’t shoot straight defrauded IRS — A federal grand jury has indicted three Valley residents on fraud charges related to an alleged scheme to supply unqualified armed guards to IRS facilities in Fresno. The Business Journal article

Stray cat at your home? Kings animal control charges to accept cats — Debora Jacobs lives in a rural area just outside Hanford. For years people have dumped unwanted cats near her home. Jacobs tries to take care of as many of the cats as she can but sometimes enough is enough. Hanford Sentinel article

Naimat Khan: People-to-people contact best way to clear up misconceptions The Pakistani journalist visiting Modesto as part of a journalist exchange program writes, “Actual person-to-person interaction can help remove stereotypes. And there are many stereotypes involving America and Pakistan that have helped foster misconceptions of what both countries are really like.” Khan in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian During a relentless pursuit of a suspect thought to have murdered a popular Tehachapi dentist, kidnapped three men and shot and wounded a pair of Kern County Sheriff’s deputies, only one word comes to mind — dedication.

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – All aboard! That was the consensus during a public hearing on the prospect of providing better passenger rail service to our region before a full house at Modesto’s City Hall on Friday. What wasn’t discussed, at least in detail, is just who will pay for a ticket to the future.

Sacramento Bee – Sacramento’s new bike czar should be an ambitious person on a mission with a track record of implementing a modern bicycle master plan.

Stockton Record – We urge all concerned — the Holt-Singh family, the living hostages, the attorneys, the police officers and department leadership, city officials, the press and Stockton citizens — to be respectful of differing views, strategies and approaches in what already is a painful moment in Stockton’s history. The pain can be eased if the sides can settle.

Upcoming Events

  • The California Air Resources Board will hold a public work group to discuss the development of an Off-Road Mobile Agricultural Equipment Trade-Up Pilot Project in the San Joaquin Valley at the Fresno County Farm Bureau on Wednesday, Aug. 26, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.  More information about the program:  More information about the work group: Meri Miles at 916.322.6370 or Michelle Buffington at 916.323.8748 or
  • Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will be the featured speaker at the fourth annual State of Our Children event at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building on Thursday, Sept. 3, from 7:30-9:15 a.m.  More information is available here.
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at 

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link. 

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here. 

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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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