August 24, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

George Skelton: Legislature’s action on ‘right to die’ bill is fair and square – They’re making lots of sausage now in the California Legislature as it rushes to adjourn for the year. Rules are being stretched. Hurdles lowered. And why not? All’s fair in love and war and legislative games-playing. A prime example is the fight over the “right to die” bill. Skelton column in LA Times 

On talk radio, recovering politicians seek second act – It has been years since politicians could rely solely on nightly television news to reach their intended audience. The radio shows – which vary from news- and caller-heavy to outrage-fueled, reactionary formats – permit would-be candidates to remain relevant in their markets at a time of increasingly fractured media, said Eric Jaye, founder and president of Storefront Political Media in San Francisco. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown says Joe Biden should give ‘serious consideration’ to presidential run — Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview aired Sunday that Joe Biden should give “very serious consideration” to running for president, while expressing less certainty that Hillary Clinton will become the party’s nominee. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Obama will leave legacy with Bay Area federal court employees — For the next decade or longer, President Barack Obama’s political legacy in the Bay Area may be easiest to detect inside federal courthouses in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. San Jose Mercury News article

San Jose mayor, council members violate law they voted for — The City Council unanimously approved a tougher election reporting law four years ago aimed at shining a brighter light on who is funding the campaigns of San Jose’s elected leaders. But just about everybody who has run for office in the past two years has ignored it. San Jose Mercury News article 

Ruben Macareno: Change will show its face in 2016 – The chair of the Tulare County Democratic Party writes, “There will be some change in 2016. How much change? That will depend on Democratic and Latino voters’ ability to place individuals on the ballot and get passed voter apathy and getting them to the polls.” Macareno op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

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. CALmatters article

States may not have legal right to cut Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood clinics – The secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how fetal tissue may be used for medical research spurred Republican governors in several states to announce a cutoff of Medicaid funds to the group’s clinics. But it is not clear they are permitted to do so under federal law. LA Times article 

Nearly 700 presidential candidates include dozens from California — Dissatisfied with the 23 presidential candidates you’ve been hearing about? Don’t worry — you’ve got at least 650 more to choose from, including a few dozen Californians. Contra Costa Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

Jerry Brown says California’s groundwater management ‘not aggressive enough’ — Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview aired Sunday that California is not aggressive enough policing use of the state’s groundwater, promising stepped-up oversight in future years. Sacramento Bee article

California limits hybrid rebates to households earning less than $500,000 – Hundreds of Californians with household incomes of $500,000 or more have collected state subsidies for buying electric and hybrid cars under a program that is criticized as a taxpayer handout to the wealthy. LA Times article

Stockton sues to close pot dispensaries — The city filed two lawsuits last week aimed at preventing a pair of medical-marijuana dispensaries, one of them already closed, from operating in Stockton in violation of an ordinance that was adopted by the City Council more than two years ago. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Tech sector faces serious challenges if the stock market slide continues – If stocks continue sliding this week, that could put a drag on investments in technology companies, which have been strong this year. Acquisitions could pick up as initial public offerings slow. The coming weeks should help determine whether the outlook is as bleak as some fear for start-ups, venture capitalists and tech stock investors. Here’s a look at some of the key questions. LA Times article 

As minimum wages rise, restaurants say no to tips, yes to higher prices — Restaurant owners, customers and staff have long railed against the tyranny of tipping, but like a love affair gone bad, it has proved difficult to quit. Now, prompted by a spurt of new minimum wage proposals in major cities, an expanding number of restaurateurs are experimenting with no-tipping policies as a way to manage rising labor costs. New York Times article 

Brown aides urge CalPERS to speed up rate hike –CalPERS took another step last week toward a gradual long-term rate hike, a move to lower the risk of big investment losses as the maturing pension system enters a new era. Calpensions article

Fresno boutique real estate firms personalize housing experience — Fresno real estate brokers with a desire to help clients buy and sell houses a little differently or more creatively than big box companies are opening small boutique firms to do business their way. The housing recovery is a factor, helping brokers feel more confident to move out on their own, lease office space and bring on agents. But having the flexibility to personalize their work, or brand, with clients is the driving force behind these designer offices. Fresno Bee article

Brian Wynne: Don’t prematurely limit the potential of aerial drones – The president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International writes, “Drone technology is developing rapidly and the next innovative use may be just around the corner. To continue reaping the economic benefits, we need to do all we can to support the growth and development of this industry rather than restrict it. Otherwise, California risks losing its innovation edge, plus billions of dollars of economic impact.” Wynne op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 X-fest parties hard in downtown Modesto – Modesto’s biggest outdoor music festival threw itself a rager for its 16th birthday. Thousands streamed into downtown Modesto on Saturday evening for the Xclamation Festival, known as X-Fest. Revelers came from across the Central Valley and the Bay Area to hear 150 bands on about 20 stages. Modesto Bee article

Valley Brew back to beer basics — Valley Brewing Co., founded as a microbrewery in 1994, in recent years has been operating as a tap house, serving a selection of 30 craft beers on tap from outside brewers. But now it’s getting back to its roots. Stockton Record article


The drought’s hidden victim: California’s native fish – Last summer, a narrow, rock-rimmed stretch of the Sacramento River near here turned into a mass graveyard for baby salmon. Upstream releases of water from Shasta Dam were so warm that virtually an entire generation of endangered winter-run Chinook was wiped out. The eggs never hatched, or if they did, the emerging young soon died. A similar disaster could unfold this summer.  LA Times article

Don Curlee: Ag something to cheer about — Cheering for the home team is a little harder when it’s losing, but agriculture in California is a perennial winner, so why is its fan base not larger? Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta 

LA’s shade balls go viral – but the Internet has mixed opinions — The so-called shade balls are designed to form a cover and protect the water from UV rays and algae. They also reduce evaporation, which is important amid California’s drought. But there was something mesmerizing about all those balls rolling out of the truck and bouncing down into the water. They went seriously viral. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes — In one case after another, USA TODAY found police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges. In the process, they quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing. USA Today article

Merced County residents plan to thank police officers — Deanna Escalante says the good work police officers do many times goes unnoticed. For this reason, the Los Banos woman is organizing a “small gesture of appreciation” on Thank an Officer Day, to be observed Sept. 19. Merced Sun-Star article


Raising graduation bar poses challenges for school districts — Graduating more college-ready students ranks as one of most important education initiatives in California, leading Los Angeles Unified School District to implement a sweeping plan requiring all students to complete a college-prep curriculum before they earn a diploma. EdSource article

New national poll shows majority oppose Common Core standards — A new national poll shows that the majority of respondents oppose teachers using the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach. That contrasts with the findings of statewide polls that show much stronger support in California for the new standards. EdSource article 

More than 2,000 students move into UC Merced housing — Dylan Basco pushed a dolly cart loaded with clothes, books, video games and more books Sunday morning into the Cathedral Hall dormitory elevator, the first steps of his new college life. Merced Sun-Star article

Here’s what happens when you ask parents multiple-choice questions — More white Americans dislike standardized testing than blacks and Latinos, according to a new poll. Disdain for standardized testing is nothing new. But the poll released Sunday by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup complicates this perception with its racial breakdown. LA Times article


Favorable weather allows firefighters to directly fight Rough fire — Favorable weather Saturday and Sunday allowed firefighters to attack the Rough fire directly from the ground. Kevin Slusarski, a U.S. Forest Service information officer assigned to the Rough fire, said burning operations were successful and firefighters want to take advantage of recent light winds. Fresno Bee article

Dude, where’s my earthquake warning system? – For years Californians have been hoping for some kind of warning system that would provide even a few seconds to prepare. Japan has it. Mexico has it. But don’t expect to see it in California for a while. KQED report

Few signs of summer’s earthquake in Napa, Vallejo – Except for a few buildings that still have scaffolding as workers brush in finishing touches, there’s really not much to see anymore for those hunting signs of quake damage. The piles of rubble have been cleared away, and streets that were so buckled that kids were using them like skateboard ramps have been smoothed out. Nearly all the businesses that had to close after the quake have reopened. San Francisco Chronicle article

Lawmakers hope to hash out differences at Lake Tahoe summit — The lawmakers convening Monday for a major Lake Tahoe conference confront a Capitol Hill conflict over how best to protect the beloved mountain region. McClatchy Newspapers article

Garbage ‘patch’ is much worse than believed, entrepreneur says — It is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a mass of plastic floating debris estimated to be twice the size of Texas and concentrated between California and Hawaii. But to Boyan Slat, the 21-year-old Dutch entrepreneur who is orchestrating what he envisions as the largest ocean cleanup effort in history, “patch” is far too gentle a term. He prefers “ticking time bomb.” San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Fresno County supervisors to decide animal control contract – Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday will discuss a three-year, $3.76 million contract with a new animal control contractor that has its roots in animal rescue. Fresno Bee article 

Americans, Briton who subdued gunman on train receive France’s highest honor — France said a big “merci” to three Americans and a Briton who overpowered a gunman on a high-speed train, giving the four men the country’s highest honor in a ceremony at the presidential palace Monday. LA Times article; New York Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Californians can’t wait years for the groundwater law to force cooperation. We must adapt. We will – it’s what we do – but we need to realize that Mother Nature gives no one a free pass.

Sacramento Bee – Three buddies on interrupted vacation inspire us.

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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