August 23, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Cathleen Decker: Democratic women seek to regain lost ground in Sacramento – In an alarming turn for the state’s dominant political party, women are vanishing from its legislative ranks, traditionally the training ground for federal or statewide office. California in 2003 was fifth among states ranked by the percentage of its Legislators who were women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. But the state now finds itself mired in a surprising 20th place. Decker in LA Times

Dan Walters: California’s high fuel taxes and bad roads – A cogent – and perhaps unanswerable – question punctuates the political machinations over raising billions of new dollars to repair California’s deteriorating highways. How is it that California motorists are paying some of the nation’s highest fuel taxes, but the highways they use are among the nation’s worst? Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Michael Fitzgerald: ‘Assessing’ Stockton’s murky mayoral race — Less than one year remains until the primary election. Yet while several candidates have declared, including Mayor Anthony Silva, the race has not gelled. Even at this late date (late for a candidate to form a committee, elicit commitments, begin to fundraise) some potential candidates are holding back. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Other areas 

Fact check: Ad misleads on gas reduction law – The California Drivers Alliance, a group funded by the Western States Petroleum Association, is running a radio ad opposing Senate Bill 350, which would require the state to reduce petroleum use in motor vehicles by 50 percent by 2030, among other measures. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Morain: An oil fight unlike any other — In California, Chevron, Tesoro and other oil giants are acting as if the end is near. The grim reaper, as they see it, comes in the person of Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist, and his buddy, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. The instrument of their demise is de León’s Senate Bill 350, which would require Californians to cut gasoline consumption by up to 50 percent by 2030. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Jessica Levinson: The insulting view of ‘the women’s vote’ – The professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, writes, “While the problems with this phrase are numerous, it may be helpful to think about it through this lens: The phrase assumes that all women care about the same issues, and therefore that the way to obtain ‘the women’s vote’ is simply to appeal to female members of the electorate on a few key issues. Levinson op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Chuck DeVore: Close the loophole on unjust civil asset forfeiture – The former California state assemblyman writes, “Justice – fair play – as well as public confidence in law enforcement, is far too important an asset to throw away on continuing cash forfeitures under federal law. SB 443 is worthy of unanimous support in the Legislature.” DeVore op-ed in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories 

In San Joaquin Valley, drought fight has landed in cities – The San Joaquin Valley now battles California’s epic drought in cities as much as its nation-leading farm fields. From Bakersfield to Modesto, people struggle to meet some of the highest state-ordered cutbacks anywhere in California. Some cities are coming up short of state-ordered goals – which could ultimately result in fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 a day. Fresno Bee article 

UC Merced expansion delayed by budget cuts, online classes — The campus — which differs from most other new campuses in its focus on graduate degrees and research — was meant to add college degrees and economic growth to an area that needed both, but it has developed more slowly than planned as more students have turned to online courses and state funds have dried up. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

LAPD denies increase in homeless sweeps; skid row advocates say otherwise — While city officials have been wrestling with new ordinances to make it easier to break up camps — first enacting them in July, then suspending enforcement while they consider modifications — police have been testing strategies for getting homeless people’s property off the streets, the groups say. LA Times article

Paul Wright returns to lead Turlock Chamber of Commerce — Past Turlock Chamber of Commerce leader Paul Wright will serve as interim president and chief executive officer of the chamber following the retirement of Sharon Silva on Aug. 15. Modesto Bee article 

Aileen Voisin: Kings’ custom-built home quickly taking shape — Blink once, blink twice, blink three times. But nothing changes. Even on a day with blinding, blistering heat, the body of work – this Golden 1 Center sports and entertainment complex that encompasses four city blocks and remains in its skeletal stages – is not a mirage. This is really happening. Voisin column in Sacramento Bee

Lydia Petitjean: State pension funds are recovering – The school secretary in the Roble Elementary School District and president of its California School Employees Association chapter writes, “Here’s a reality check: The state’s pension funds are on the road to recovery, the governor and Legislature have enacted significant pension reform, and the ballot measure attacking retirement security is on life support.” Petitjean op-ed in Sacramento Bee


John Laird and Henry T. Perea: California Water Fix is vital to Valley – California Secretary for Natural Resources Laird and Assemblymember Perea (D-Fresno) write, “We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to create a reliable water supply for the Central Valley. Residents in our community and throughout the state should rally together and support Gov. Brown’s California Water Fix. Our preparation for future droughts depends on it.” Laird/Perea op-ed in Fresno Bee

San Joaquin County officials: Some groundwater ‘critically overdrafted’ – Groundwater in east San Joaquin County remains “critically overdrafted,” state officials announced last week. That means, according to a report presented to the California Water Commission, that the area shows “obvious and significant negative impacts from chronic groundwater pumping.” The label is nothing new. San Joaquin County was first declared to be “critically overdrafted” in 1980. Stockton Record article

The great El Nino of 1997-98, and what it means for the winter to come – The weather phenomenon developing in the Pacific has the potential to become one of the most powerful on record, as warming ocean waters surge toward the Americas, setting up an atmospheric pattern that could bring once-in-a-generation storms this winter to drought-parched California. Here’s a guide to understanding the last major El Niño as California prepares for this one. LA Times article

New generation of young farmers increasingly college educated, but indebted – At one time, young farmers inherited the family’s fields or gained valuable experience working neighboring crops. Today, driven by more complicated organic farming practices and agricultural technology, they’re increasingly winning their farm smarts in classrooms or during an internship, and either leasing or buying farmland from non-family members. Sacramento Bee article 

Why not fix Isabella Dam while water is low? – As the water level in Isabella Lake sinks ever lower, it’s not uncommon to hear a refrain repeated by area residents that goes something like this: Why doesn’t the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fix Isabella Dam now, while the water is low? Bakersfield Californian article

California drought may exacerbate wildlife-human encounters — The scarcity of food in the wild has been blamed for unusual animal activity during California’s drought including a recent bear attack, mountain lion sightings and an uptick in orphaned animals. AP article

Sacramento Bee: Maybe the drought is the new normal – Californians can’t wait years for the law to force cooperation. We must adapt. We will – it’s what we do – but we need to realize that nature gives no one a free pass. Sacramento Bee editorial

Naraghi Lake is Modesto Irrigation District customer — Whether because of imposed restrictions such as limits on lawn watering or personal choices such as taking shorter showers, the drought has made people more water-conscious. It was in the back of Margaret Hall’s mind when she noticed last month that water levels at Naraghi Lake on Oakdale Road had increased significantly. Modesto Bee article 

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bay Area police releasing details on officer-involved deaths — Seeking to correct misinformation and quell community outrage, Oakland police for the first time showed select media the body camera videos from two recent controversial deaths. The same day, the San Jose Police Department publicly acknowledged misstating the circumstances of an officer-involved shooting. They originally that said a man suspected in a murder case had reached for his waistband before officers fired, but the man had not done so. Oakland Tribune article

 Lewis Griswold: Tulare County deputy rescues woman far from home — Tulare County Sheriff’s Deputy Osvaldo Gomez is a hero in the eyes of the family of an elderly woman he found lost, confused and far from home. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said he thinks “it was pretty fantastic” how the deputy responded. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Stockton Police Department: New training focuses on difficult scenarios — The Police Foundation’s independent review of the Stockton Police Department’s response to a 2014 bank robbery and hostage crisis highlighted the need for law enforcement agencies to train for the unexpected. Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones recognized the need for increased training months before the review was completed. He said his department is now taking steps to implement that kind of training. Stockton Record article 

New police dog donated to Bakersfield — The Bakersfield Police Department would like to announce the addition of a new police canine by the name of Maverick, a 1 year old, Belgium Malinois, from Hungary. The purchase of Maverick was made possible by a benevolent donation from local residents,Carol and Jack Craig. Bakersfield Californian article 

Conflicting narratives emerge in Modesto-area killing – The case made national headlines Aug. 14, when prosecutors announced charges against Frank Carson and eight others – including three current and former California Highway Patrol officers – and released a 326-page arrest warrant affidavit laying out the claimed conspiracy. Since then, two narratives have emerged. Sacramento Bee article

Affidavit lays out theory of Korey Kauffman killing — A detailed, sometimes rambling arrest affidavit lays out the case: Modesto defense attorney Frank Carson and eight other suspects – including one former and two current California Highway Patrol officers – conspired to murder Korey Kauffman, a scavenger and thief who prosecutors say was killed March 31, 2012, on Carson’s property in Turlock.Modesto Bee article


Fresno Bee: California’s teacher pipeline needs a boost — We should have seen it coming. The numbers warned us. But like a bright and promising kid who forgot the summer reading assignment, California is scrambling as the school year opens, scurrying in this case to get qualified teachers to helm its classrooms. Fresno Bee editorial

Modesto Junior College’s $18 million high-tech center opens on East Campus — After a decade of planning and two years of construction, Modesto Junior College opened its $18 million Center for Advanced Technologies, nicknamed CAT, on East Campus on Friday, just in time for the first day of fall semester Monday. Modesto Bee article

Algebra camp aims to boost college entry for African-American teens — Dozens of African-American teenagers just finished a six-week algebra program at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ Youth Center in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood. The program is part of the Summer Algebra Institute, one of 18 math academies statewide funded by California State University in an uncommon partnership with 18 African-American churches this summer. In sites located from Sacramento to Whittier, each enrolled around 550 students. KQED report


Rough fire grows to over 47,000 acres; still 3 percent contained – The owner of the Kings Canyon Lodge, which was reduced to rubble Friday morning by the Rough fire, said Saturday that firefighters did nothing to battle the blaze as it bore down on the 78-year-old lodge. It was the first structure claimed by the fire, which as of Saturday had spread to 47,079 acres on national forest and parkland, and still was only 3 percent contained. Fresno Bee article; KQED report

State pushes forward on renewable power – At a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power plant west of Stockton, greenhouse gases flow from a stack as the air shimmers from heat, with no dirty cloud of pollution in sight. In the distance, wind turbines spin slowly under a cloudy sky. And nearby in the city of Antioch, local schools are celebrating the addition of solar panels to their roofs and parking structures. CALmatters article 

How Edison uses water to store excess power — Nestled high in the Sierra mountains among the pine and fir trees, a little-known man-made wonder may help resolve a pressing energy concern: how to store wind and sun power that the grid increasingly can’t handle. LA Times article


Airlines upscaling amenities for high-paying fliers — Flush with record earnings, airlines are trying to keep the profit-party going by investing heavily in pampering high-paying customers while squeezing more people into the already crowded economy section. LA Times article 

Other areas

A train ride, a gunshot, and then: ‘Let’s go’ — They were childhood pals on a European jaunt, three young Americans who began the day as tourists and ended it as heroes praised by the presidents of two countries. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Ceres steps up its fight against blight – The city is more than a month into a revitalized effort to address neighborhood blight in its many forms. It’s targeting problems such as abandoned vehicles; graffiti; overgrown weeds; curbside trash piles; and empty, dilapidated – in some cases uninhabitable – homes that draw squatters, drug users and other criminal activity. Modesto Bee article

Fresno dog park temporarily closed for cleaning as precaution — Concern over a bacterial infection that has affected nearly a dozen dogs in Fresno has led a rescue and shelter organization to temporarily close its dog park for cleaning. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Nation’s onetime defenders are now the ones needing protection — They dodged bullets and mortars to storm the beaches at Normandy, Anzio and Okinawa. They slashed through the jungles of hellholes like Burma and New Guinea. They sank enemy ships in the Pacific. Or they worked to support those who did to defeat Germany, Italy and Japan in World War II. But now, the veterans of that war whom we so admiringly call our Greatest Generation are among our most vulnerable. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Fresno community activist Rosellen Kershaw, 91, dies — The story has closed on the life of Fresno’s Rosellen Kershaw, a community volunteer of uncommon energy who never got over her love affair with the printed word and the public libraries that fulfill the democratic right to read. Mrs. Kershaw died Thursday at the California Armenian Home. She was 91. Fresno Bee article

Mike Klocke: News (and views) from around our communities – Taking a look at some recent local news — with a side dish of views. Klocke in Stockton Record 

Report details potential nepotism in Sacramento Utilities Department — The city of Sacramento’s Department of Utilities may employ more than 40 workers with relatives in the department, raising the risk that some employees could receive preferential treatment, according to the city auditor. Sacramento Bee article

Compton officials deny improperly inflating pay; D.A. investigating ongoing — Compton city officials could face criminal charges for paying themselves thousands of dollars a month to sit on commissions that often met for only a few minutes, a top prosecutor in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We should have seen it coming. The numbers warned us. But like a bright and promising kid who forgot the summer reading assignment, California is scrambling as the school year opens, scurrying in this case to get qualified teachers to helm its classrooms.

Modesto Bee – 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 – We should have seen it coming. The numbers warned us. But like a bright and promising kid who forgot the summer reading assignment, California is scrambling as the school year opens, scurrying in this case to get qualified teachers to helm its classrooms; Californians can’t wait years for the law to force cooperation. We must adapt. We will – it’s what we do – but we need to realize that nature gives no one a free pass

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. 

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

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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