August 23, 2016


Top stories

California polling places as we know them would be a thing of the past if this measure becomes law — Sweeping legislation at the state Capitol would make the future of California elections dependent on a major expansion of absentee ballots, one that would give local officials the power to close thousands of neighborhood polling places. LA Times article

Debate over farmworker overtime pay continues at Capitol – A passionate debate over farmworker overtime pay will return to the California Assembly, where it faltered earlier this year, after the state Senate on Monday advanced a revived version of the proposal. Assembly Bill 1066 passed 21-14, largely along party lines, with Democrats arguing the measure would right a historic wrong and Republicans voicing objections to changes that they said would be ruinous for farmers. Sacramento Bee articleAP articleLA Times article

Democratic voter ranks surge in California heading into presidential election — The California Democratic Party added about 700,000 voters between January and July of this year, a 10 percent increase that is significantly higher than the rise in registered Democrats during previous presidential elections, according to new data from the California Secretary of State. The Republican Party in California added about 130,000 voters, a 3 percent increase, between January and July. The number of voters not stating a party preference rose by about 70,000, or 2 percent. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Political left assails Costa over Trans Pacific Partnership – Rep. Jim Costa is getting some flak from his left flank, and the reason is the Trans Pacific Partnership. Costa on Monday met with a delegation of progressives from areas such as labor and politics at his downtown Fresno office. As he did, protesters loudly rallied against him on the sidewalk below, just across the street from the Convention Center’s new Exhibit Hall. Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: Police consultant: Why cops want Silva to resign – Lee Neves, the political consultant to the Stockton Police Officers Association, explains why the police called for Mayor Anthony Silva’s resignation early on. Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record

Vandals deface sidewalk, sign in hate crime at Stockton Unified candidate’s home — Doug Vigil stepped outside of his home in west Stockton on a bright and warm Sunday morning to take out the trash. But as he glanced at the outside of his home, he was stopped dead by what he saw. And it took a few seconds before he realized he had been the victim of a hate crime. Using black spray paint, vandals had written “No special ed on board” on the sidewalk leading to the front door of the home where he has lived in for 15 years. A notary sign on the front lawn was covered with the word “Quit.” Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Restoring voting rights sought for California disabled people — As the November presidential election neared, it looked like David Rector would once again be unable to vote. Five years ago, a judge ruled that a traumatic brain injury disqualified him. AP article

Other areas

Dan Walters: California court opens door to changing public employee pensions — California’s perpetual debate over public employee pensions has always revolved about what’s called the “California rule” – a series of court decisions that seemingly prohibit any changes in pension benefits once they are granted. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s housing fast-track plan stumbles as shortage worsens – California has an immense shortage of housing, and every day it gets worse because we’re not building enough to keep up with even a modest level of population growth. The shortage has driven housing costs through the roof, especially for working-class and poor families, and is atop the list of California’s truly important issues with water and transportation. However, as with those other deficiencies, another legislative session will end soon without decisive housing action. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

‘An exercise in threading the needle’: Lawmakers perform balancing act to move climate legislation forward — In this year’s debate over California climate policy, much of the attention has centered around a proposal to extend and expand the state’s mandate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But it’s another piece of legislation that’s generating the most drama, becoming the focus of an intense political tug of war over who controls the next era of environmental regulation and which communities will benefit. LA Times article

Don Cameron: Climate change is real to farmers in California – The vice president/general manager of Terranova Ranch in Fresno County writes, “It’s clear that for us to remain resilient in the face of uncertain new weather patterns, we need to invest in new systems that will alleviate drought, heat and severe storms. Already, California makes a suite of programs available to the state’s farmers through existing climate policies. However, these programs designed to help us adapt and stay financially solvent may be at risk if Senate Bill 32, the climate initiative being considered by the Legislature, does not move forward this year.” Cameron op-ed in Fresno Bee

Who decides on greenhouse gases: Voters or lawmakers? — “The fundamental things apply … As time goes by.” That lyric from the classic film “Casablanca” could certainly apply today in the continuing, fundamental battle between environmentalists and a major part of California’s business community over legislation containing stricter measures to curb greenhouse gases. Capitol Weekly article

‘All-gender’ bathroom bill heads to Jerry Brown – The day after a federal judge blocked the Obama administration’s guidelines regarding bathroom access for transgender students, a bill requiring single-user bathrooms in California to be labeled “all-gender” cleared its final legislative hurdle and is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Sacramento Bee article

Bill would grant job protections to community college instructors – Adjunct faculty at California community colleges could get collective bargaining rights under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown that supporters call the first of its kind in the nation. Sacramento Bee article

‘Right-to-try’ experimental drug bill again appears headed to Gov. Brown – A bill that would allow terminally ill people to obtain experimental drugs appears headed to Governor Brown’s desk for the second year in a row. Brown vetoed a similar measure last year, but supporters believe conditions are right for him to sign it this time around. KPCC report 

Sacramento Bee: Adam Gray’s internet poker bill is a losing hand – AB 2863 has lots to offer gambling interests, but not much for Californians. Sacramento Bee editorial

Reversal of death sentence reflects leftward tilt of California Supreme Court — For the first time in decades, the state high court has a majority of moderately liberal judges, and Monday’s result reflected that. The Brown appointees do not always agree with each other, but they appear to be gently pushing the court in a new direction. LA Times article

City and county managers’ salary changes, fringe benefits must be announced before they’re approved – In the continuing fallout from the city of Bell’s financial scandal, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill requiring city councils and county boards of supervisors to publicly announce pay and benefit increases for government executives before they are approved by a vote. LA Times article

Bill barring employers from asking about juvenile crimes moves out of state Senate – A California bill that would bar employers from asking job candidates to disclose juvenile crimes has cleared the Senate floor and is headed back to the Assembly for a final vote. LA Times article

Legislature moves toward landmark reforms at Public Utilities Commission — Nearly a year after Gov. Jerry Brown bucked lawmakers and vetoed a series of measures aimed at reining in the troubled California Public Utilities Commission, the governor faces a new package of CPUC reform bills. This time, though, he’s already on board. KQED reportLA Times article

Judge blocks Obama rule on transgender bathroom access — A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the country. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

A colossal bundle of cash draws Clinton to California — Clinton is substantially easing her campaign schedule in the coming days to rub elbows with the stars and other deep-pocketed donors during fundraisers at the country’s most exclusive vacation retreats and communities.  Some of the biggest money will be raised over the next couple of days in California, where Clinton is arriving fresh off an East Coast swing through Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.  LA Times article

Donald Trump, shifting immigration tone, stresses a ‘fair’ approach – Donald J. Trump, tempering the tone of his hard-line approach to immigration for a general election audience, avoided repeating his previous call for mass deportations on Monday and instead said he wants to come up with a “really fair” plan to address the millions of undocumented immigrants now in the country. New York Times articleLA Times article

A rise in populism fuels Trump’s campaign, says columnist — Columnist, historian and former Fresno State professor Victor Davis Hanson was back in town Monday to speak before a packed house at the Fresno Rotary Club’s lunch meeting. The far-reaching talk tackled international topics like the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group and Brexit shock, but focused primarily on the current American political climate. Fresno Bee article

Joe Altschule: Big scandal coming over Trump’s foreign debt — This campaign is about to see Trump fall into a scandal over his finances and his taxes. Very credible news is just coming out that Trump is heavily in debt to the Saudi royal family in the amount of hundreds of millions of dollars, with reason to believe that his tax returns would reveal two more important bombshells insuring that Trump will never release his tax returns. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: WikiLeaks may yet sink Clinton’s campaign — Sometime during the next 80 days or so, Hillary Clinton supporters may be forced to question every aspect of their candidate and her fitness to serve as president, that is at least, if Wikileaker Julian Assange is true to his word. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Settlement talks collapse in Yosemite National Park trademark clash — Efforts to settle the dispute between the federal government and Yosemite National Park’s former concessions company over trademarks have stalled, foreshadowing a potentially costly and time-consuming court battle. The failure of mediation efforts between Justice Department attorneys and their DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite was laid out in a court filing last week in which the two sides resumed combative trial preparations. McClatchy Newspapers article

California court decision keeps teacher tenure protections — In a victory for teacher unions, a divided California Supreme Court decided Monday to let the state’s teacher tenure law stand. The high court decided 4-3 not to review a lower court ruling that upheld tenure and other job protections for teachers. That ruling came in a lawsuit by a group of students who claimed that incompetent teachers were almost impossible to fire because of tenure laws and that schools in poor neighborhoods were dumping grounds for bad teachers. AP articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee editorialEdSource article

Jobs and the Economy 

No joy in Sam Lynn: Bakersfield baseball has struck out – Seventy-five years of history and a steady flow of nearly 10,000 professional baseball games in Bakersfield will come to a screeching halt next month. Minor League Baseball announced Monday that the Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks, another team in the California League, will cease operations when this season ends, with two High Class A franchises moving from the Cal League to the Carolina League. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton council meeting will address plan for homeless – Mayor Anthony Silva’s plan to address Stockton’s homeless crisis will be vetted by the City Council on Tuesday. Silva has proposed converting an old motel or apartment complex into low-cost housing. Mental health and substance abuse counseling would be provided there. The goal would be for each resident to become self-sufficient after one year. Stockton Record article

Arena? Check. Now where’s the rest of that promised downtown Sacramento development? — With just weeks to go before the opening of Golden 1 Center, a Sacramento Bee review of critical downtown redevelopment sites shows there’s a packed pipeline of major projects in the planning or construction stages. Sacramento Bee article

California auto sales nearing 2005 record – Statewide new-car registrations in this year’s first half totaled 1.05 million, up 2.8 percent from the first six months of a strong 2015. In its quarterly statewide sales report released Monday, the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association projected 2016 sales to come in at 2.1 million, close to the all-time record of 2.15 million set in 2005. Sacramento Bee article

Alameda man chooses homelessness: ‘I just love sleeping outdoors’ — For many homeless in the Bay Area, living on the street has come after a series of hardships. But for Sam Stone, it’s partially a choice. “I just love sleeping outdoors, that’s the bottom line,” said the 64-year-old man with long flowing hair and a scruffy gray beard. “I breathe so much better. I can see the stars right here.” San Francisco Chronicle article

For seniors, a hotline to Uber with GoGoGrandparent — After her family and doctor insisted that she stop driving, Ursula Moore began racking up big bills. Taxis or other paid rides to her job, where she sees psychotherapy clients, to doctors’ appointments and to stores added up. Then a friend told her about GoGoGrandparent, a hotline that allows people who don’t have smartphones to summon an Uber ride. San Francisco Chronicle article

Affordable-rent demand could slow construction in San Francisco, report says — Requiring private developers in San Francisco to rent 20 percent of units in new apartment buildings at below-market prices would slow down construction of housing, the city controller concludes. San Francisco Chronicle article

Santa Monica could reach highest sales tax rate in country if measure approved — Santa Monica currently has a 9.5 percent sales tax rate. The popular beach city is proposing to increase the sales tax by one half of one percent to help pay for community services. On top of that, Los Angeles County is proposing to raise the sales tax by a half cent for transportation projects and programs. Together, the measures would put Santa Monica in Chicago’s top rate category. KPCC report

Wells Fargo to pay $4 million to settle charges of illegal student-loan practices — Wells Fargo has agreed to pay more than $4 million in fines and rebates over allegations that it charged illegal fees to student-loan borrowers. LA Times article


California professor launches study on drought’s health impact — Kurt Schwabe at the University of California Riverside plans a statewide study to assess the drought’s effect on human health. Schwabe, a professor of environmental economics and policy, has been awarded a $284,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct the study. It will involve a detailed analysis of data already collected on public health, which will be correlated with weather data to determine the drought’s influence. KQED report

Fresno water division under scrutiny gets new leader — Fresno is hiring a new assistant director of public utilities to shore up compliance with legal and regulatory requirements for the city’s water operations division. Brian Spindor, a civil engineer, now works for HDR Inc. in Washington state. He will start his job in Fresno on Sept. 12. According to an announcement from the city, Spindor will be responsible for overseeing Fresno’s water and wastewater facilities. Fresno Bee article

Dairy officials blast air board over proposed methane-reduction goals — California dairy officials have launched a new public relations blitz aimed at pending legislation sponsored by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) that would mandate a 40 percent overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — including a 75 percent reduction of dairy methane emission by 2030. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

When jail becomes a death sentence – In life, San Diego County residents Heron Moriarty and Jason Nishimoto never crossed paths. In death, they became brothers of a sort. Both took their own lives after suffering acute episodes of mental illness. Both died before ever making a court appearance. Relatives say both men shared one more common bond: that jail officials didn’t respond to repeated warnings that the men were desperately ill and in danger of suicide. KQED report 

$750,000 settlement reached in death of California inmate pepper sprayed in face – State and Amador County officials have agreed to pay out $750,000 to the parents of an inmate who died after being blasted in the face with pepper spray by prison guards despite the fact that he breathed through a tube in his throat and was securely locked in his cell. Sacramento Bee article

Where the death penalty still lives – As capital punishment declines in the U.S., a fraction of the country generates an alarming number of death sentences. What this new geography tells us about justice in America. New York Times article 

State Assemblymember Rob Bonta: California’s broken bail system punishes the poor – The Alameda Democrat writes, “California’s bail system punishes people for being poor. If you can’t afford bail, you will sit in jail, even if you were arrested for a traffic ticket. If you have the money to pay bail, you can get out of jail, no matter how likely you are to flee or commit another crime.” Bonta op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Video shows LAPD officer kicking and punching in controversial South LA arrest — The video shows a Los Angeles police officer rushing toward the middle of the South L.A. street where two officers were holding a man on the ground. Officer Richard Garcia swings his right leg and kicks the man hard near his head. Over the next 10 seconds, the video shows Garcia knee the man in the back, and elbow and punch him in the head. LA Times article

Stanford sex assault judge bows out of upcoming sex case — 
A California judge under fire for a light sentence given to a Stanford University swimmer has recused himself from making his first key decision in another sex crimes case. AP article


Fresno State students return to a changing campus – Fresno State students began their fall semester Monday, greeted by some new buildings and ongoing construction. The university has a record 24,500 students – up from 24,136 last year – including 3,350 first-time freshmen and 2,150 transfer students. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article 

Students cross UC Merced’s symbol of strength – New students at UC Merced took part on Monday in the annual ceremony of crossing the Scholars Lane Bridge, a landmark that has been ingrained in the campus’s identity. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno Unified improves test scores districtwide but minority students lag – For the first time, every grade level that took standardized state tests in Fresno Unified saw gains in all subjects. Thirty-one percent of students in the district are proficient in English and language arts, while 22 percent are proficient in math. Collectively, that’s a 10 percent increase since last year. Fresno Bee article

Kern High School District police chief files $2.2 million claim alleging retaliation — Joseph Lopeteguy, the whistle-blowing Kern High School District police chief who alleged his boss and colleagues misused a law enforcement database, filed a $2.2 million claim against the district Monday alleging district officials retaliated against him. Bakersfield Californian article

Whistleblowing Kern High School District police chief takes leave, replacement appointed – Joseph Lopeteguy, the Kern High School District Police Department chief who blew the whistle on alleged administrative misuse of a law enforcement database, took a personal leave of absence late last week, Superintendent Bryon Schaefer said Monday. Dave Edmiston, a longtime KHSD police officer, took over as acting chief late last week, while Schaefer is providing “civilian oversight,” Schaefer said. It’s unclear how long Lopeteguy will be on leave. Bakersfield Californian article

Thousands start school without vaccinations as new law rolls out – While a new state law requires children to be vaccinated to attend public or private school, thousands of California students are filing into classrooms this month without the required immunizations. San Francisco Chronicle article

Community leaders working to end chronic absenteeism – Community and educational leaders kicked off the school year Monday at West High School by urging kids to show up to class while bringing attention to School Attendance Awareness Month. Absenteeism begins early. One in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students is chronically absent nationwide, missing 10 percent or more of the school year, or about 18 days of instruction, according to the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office. Bakersfield Californian article

At Fresno State, linguists work to save a Native American language – Linguistics professors and students at Fresno State are hard at work on a mammoth task – saving the language of the Chukchansi tribe of Mono Indians. One thing makes their task especially difficult – there are only 12 speakers of the Chukchansi language left. We talked with professors Brian Agbayani and Niken Adisasmito-Smith about their work, and the challenges of not only documenting the language for posterity but also keeping alive and in active use. KVPR report

Most Hughson middle schoolers return to campus after bullying threat – A texted death threat to a Ross Middle School student kept more than a dozen Hughson students home Thursday, the day trouble was promised, but this week absences are down and most appear linked to an outbreak of flu. Modesto Bee article

Bakersfield College ranks at the bottom of the list for best and worst community colleges — Bakersfield College didn’t rank in the top 100. It didn’t even rank in the top 200. BC received an overall ranking of 639 out of 821. Although BC didn’t do too well, it is one of the cheapest community colleges on the list, ranking 39 overall for “Cost and Financing.” Bakersfield Californian article

Stanford limits undergrads’ consumption of hard alcohol on campus — In a move to put an end to a burgeoning culture of boozing, Stanford University announced Monday that it is banning consumption of hard alcohol by undergraduates at campus parties. San Francisco Chronicle article


Several structures in Spear Creek area damaged by Cedar Fire – The Cedar Fire damaged several structures Monday in the Spear Creek area as it continues to consume acreage almost a week since it erupted east of Glennville. According to firefighters, fewer than 10 structures were involved, but it could be several days before it’s safe for an assessment team to determine the extent of the damage. Bakersfield Californian articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Winds shift Cedar Fire toward Wofford Heights; 19,629 acres burned — Two helicopters dropped water overnight on the Cedar Fire in an effort to protect the community of Wofford Heights on the northeast side of Lake Isabella. No structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, the U.S. Forest Service reported Monday morning. Fresno Bee article

Scramble to prevent fire, smoke damage at Hearst Castle – Historic Hearst Castle was bathed in smoke Monday as firefighters made a stand against a blaze that raced across dry timber and grasslands in San Luis Obispo County and came within a couple of miles of the tourist destination. San Francisco Chronicle article

Delta fishermen gear up for another fight – The latest controversial proposal to weaken protections for the striped bass, a popular Delta sport fish, is scheduled to be heard on Thursday by the California Fish and Game Commission. Stockton Record article 

Environmentalists to sue San Bernardino and Colton over killing of threatened fish – A coalition of environmental groups Monday announced plans to sue a regional water treatment authority and the cities of San Bernardino and Colton over the repeated stranding and killing of Santa Ana suckers, a fish on the federal threatened species list. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

New partnership aims to go ‘cradle to grave’ in Fresno – Over two dozen non-profit groups and local governments, from school districts to local hospitals have pooled their attention and resources together as part of a new effort – the Cradle to Career partnership. It links efforts from early childhood education to jobs readiness and efforts to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.  KVPR report

New clues in the mystery of women’s lagging life expectancy – It is now a grim fact that the life expectancy of American women is stagnant, but the reason for this remains a mystery. A team of researchers has now come up with an important clue: Where women live matters just as much as who they are. In fact, in a study to be published this week in SSM Population Health, they found that many common demographic traits — whether a woman is rich, poor, unemployed, working, single or married — might not be as important as the state in which she lives. New York Times article

UCLA study: Menopause makes women age faster? – Here’s a hot flash: Menopause can make you age faster. In not-so-welcome news for women, two new UCLA studies indicate that menopause – and the insomnia it often causes – can speed up aging in women, possibly increasing a woman’s risk for aging-related disease and earlier death. Sacramento Bee article

Daniel Weintraub: State succeeds with lower teen pregnancy rate – Public health experts are still debating whether teen pregnancies and births contribute to poverty or are merely its result. But it seems pretty clear that having a child at a very young age makes it more difficult for young women to get the kind of education or training they need for a life of self-sufficiency. So the drop in teen pregnancies and births is a trend that should be more widely recognized – and celebrated. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee

How a broken, $1 billion state program leaves Californians with cavities — The government spends more than $1 billion annually on California teeth, offering dental coverage to 13 million low-income residents who qualify for Medi-Cal services. But, most California dentists refuse to participate in the Denti-Cal program, leaving patients with impossible wait times that lead to expensive health consequences. Capital Public Radio report

EpiPen price rise sparks concern for allergy sufferers — A steep increase in the price of the EpiPen, a lifesaving injection device for people with severe allergies, has sparked outrage among consumers and lawmakers who worry that parents won’t be able to afford the pens for children heading back to school.  New York Times article


Jeff Jardine: Regional airport concept didn’t fit Modesto 30+ years ago, still doesn’t today – The mere fact that Modesto and Stockton are still fighting not for Valley air supremacy but merely for passenger service existence after all these decades tells you what a tough market the Valley represents for carriers. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Parking rates soar at SFO — Flights in and out of San Francisco International Airport are soaring to record highs — and so is the cost of parking. In a move that flew under the radar, the Airport Commission has hiked parking rates this summer at SFO’s increasingly popular long-term garage by $7 a day, to a new high of $25. That’s a 40 percent increase over the $18 daily rate that has been charged since 2013.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Carmen George: Fresno boy starts baking business to buy mom a house and make people happy – Eight-year-old Jalen Bailey was saving some of his money for a KitchenAid. His mom taught him to save for the “good stuff,” and he’s running a bakery. But someone recently donated the machine he wanted for mixing cookie dough and cake batter, so he’s back to saving up for the rest of the good stuff on his good list. No. 1 on that list: A house for himself and his single mom. They live in a small rental apartment in central Fresno. George in Fresno Bee

Former Merced County Supervisor Linn Davis dies – Former Merced County Supervisor Linn Davis was a man who knew how to work through disagreements and hear others out, his former colleagues said. Davis died on Saturday morning. He was 73. Merced Sun-Star article

Merced residents celebrate diversity at city’s first gay pride event — Dozens of people sang, danced and waved flags Sunday afternoon at Applegate Park during Merced’s first gay pride event organized by the Merced LGBT Community Center. Merced Sun-Star article

Another multi-patient illness strikes skid row as 14 are transported to hospitals — Three days after 18 people were rushed to hospitals from downtown’s skid row, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to another multi-patient medical emergency there on Monday. The patients may have shared an illicit drug or other intoxicant, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department, but the source of the illnesses has not yet been identified. LA Times article