August 25, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Gov. Jerry Brown hails sweeping climate legislation, plans to sign both measures into law — Flanked by legislative leaders, Gov. Jerry Brown said new measures approved on Wednesday would be a milestone for the state’s climate change policies.  “This is a real commitment backed up by real power,” he said during a Capitol news conference. Brown and top lawmakers spoke with reporters shortly after the Legislature gave their final stamp of approval to the two bills, a stark change in fortune after they appeared to lack the necessary support earlier this month. The governor has said he plans to sign the bills. LA Times article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article 

‘Hey, Margaret’: Jerry Brown scolds Fresno sheriff in voice mail – In his effort to pass a ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early release, Gov. Jerry Brown has turned to direct confrontation – scolding a California sheriff in a voice mail for what he called a “malicious” mailer opposing the measure. He accused Mims of employing “scare tactics that I think are unbecoming of a public official, and certainly will not build the kind of mutual respect and trust that we all need to do our jobs.” Sacramento Bee article

In California’s Democrat-dominated Capitol, it’s Senate vs. Assembly – Forget Democrats and Republicans – the divide most likely to make an impact on the outcome of this session is the perpetual rivalry between the Senate and Assembly. It’s a long-running tension, built naturally into the bicameral setup of the legislative process, that might wax and wane with differences in the relationships between house leaders and policy priorities. But it tends to flare up again at the end of every session as each house gets its hands on the other’s bills, holding some for ransom and enacting their revenge for slights, real or perceived. Sacramento Bee article 

Gov. Brown 

George Skelton: With new climate legislation, Gov. Brown gets even with the oil industry — Gov. Jerry Brown got mad and one year later has gotten even with the oil lobby. It’s a textbook example of what can happen in a representative democracy when a leader is willing to settle for realistic goals. It’s what results when one doesn’t get too greedy and agrees to compromise. Skelton column in LA Times

Valley politics 

Demonstrators push Denham on gun laws; gun-rights rally ahead — As part of a broader movement to keep pressure on members of Congress during recess, more than two dozen people rallied for gun-law reform outside Rep. Jeff Denham’s Modesto office Wednesday.  Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Pot research firms say Prop 64 would spike weed sales — Two groups studying the cannabis economy say legalizing recreational marijuana in California will provide a $1.6 billion boost in revenues from expanded retail marijuana sales. Sacramento Bee article 

The ‘mostly false’ argument that could derail legal weed in California – California’s upcoming ballot initiative to legalize marijuana appears likely to pass, with recent polls showing support for the measure standing at 60 percent or higher. But opponents have lately seized on a new message that they hope will convince Californians on the fence to vote “no” in November: the idea that legalization would lead to a flood of marijuana advertising on television.Washington Post article 

Judging the judges: Recalls may become easier, but is that better for California? – Some experts think we may be entering an era in which judges increasingly fear losing their jobs over unpopular decisions — and that may influence how they behave on the bench. CALmatters article

Other areas

Assembly sends second climate-change measure to governor — Securing the second piece of a two-part climate change package, California Assembly members on Wednesday passed a bill intended to increase oversight of the state’s powerful Air Resources Board and recalibrate climate policies toward poor communities. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Joe Mathews: Unlikely partnership propels climate change policy – Fledgling alliance between Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia and state Sen. Fran Pavley shows generational change and a shift in focus from reducing greenhouse gases to ensuring poor communities get their fair share of climate-related investments. Mathews in Sacramento Bee 

Marcos Breton: Is California really progressive? The vote on farmworker overtime is a test of our values – This is the week that California’s progressive values will be put to the test. Are these values genuine? Or do they exclude the state’s most vulnerable workers because legislators typically eager to support labor causes will deny laborers who are poor and of Mexican origin? Breton column in Sacramento Bee

California could decriminalize prostitution if Gov. Jerry Brown signs these two bills – The state Assembly on Wednesday took bold steps to decriminalize prostitution,sending two controversial bills to Gov. Jerry Brown that supporters say would protect victims trafficked in the sex industry. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article 

California could soon expand the definition of rape as a result of Stanford sexual assault case – California lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would expand the legal definition of rape so it includes all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault. The law would allow a judge to consider the definition of rape in the sentencing phase of a case. The expanded definition also allows victims more access to social services. LA Times article 

Some California felons would get more time to ask for lighter punishment under bill headed to governor’s desk – Felons eligible to reduce their punishments under a 2014 statewide ballot measure would get extra time to make that request under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday. LA Times article 

California bill limiting asset seizures by police headed to Jerry Brown – A deal struck between California legislators and law enforcement to limit asset seizures of suspected criminals is finally headed to the governor. Sacramento Bee article 

Sex offenders would have to disclose email addresses and usernames under bill sent to governor – Sex offenders would be required to report their email addresses, usernames and other Internet identifiers to law enforcement under a bill California state senators sent to the governor Wednesday.LA Times article 

Cop gun-storage bill inspired by Kate Steinle killing heads to Gov. Brown – Aiming to crack down on cops who leave weapons in their cars, the state Senate on Wednesday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require officers to lock up guns in unattended vehicles. East Bay Times article

Dental victory tempered for grieving family: ‘How many more kids have to die?’ – As a bill named in memory of his 6-year-old son heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, Tim Sears looks at his family’s foray into Sacramento politics with mixed emotions. CALmatters article

Legislature Oks selfies at the ballot box – Voters in California would be free to snap a selfie with their ballots if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill passed by the Assembly on Monday. Sacramento Bee article

Bill to protect widows from foreclosure passes in the Senate and heads to Gov. Jerry Brown – A bill that would grant California widows and widowers greater protections against foreclosure heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk after passing the state Senate on Wednesday. LA Times article 

Joel Fox: How the voters feel about climate change legislation — However, new polling by the California Business Roundtable indicates that the voters might not be so supportive of new regulations if they heard a complete explanation of the law’s effects. Maybe the climate change debate should go to voters. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Victor Davis Hanson: Once a melting pot, U.S. must step back from apartheid brink — For some reason, contemporary America believes that it can reject its uniquely successful melting pot to embrace a historically dangerous and discredited salad-bowl separatism. Is there any evidence from the past that institutionalizing sects and ethnic grievances would ensure a nation’s security, prosperity and freedom? Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Presidential Politics 

Amid turmoil, Sanders outlines next step for his revolution — Bernie Sanders is hoping to redirect the energy behind his insurgent presidential campaign, and so on Wednesday he launched Our Revolution, an organization aimed at recruiting volunteers and like-minded candidates to preach his core message, that America’s political and economic systems are rigged to favor the wealthy. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Happy birthday, National Park Service! You’re overcrowded, underfunded – National Park Service sites in California, both real and imagined, challenge the agency as it celebrates its 100th anniversary Thursday. The existing parks must manage more tourists – and their cars. The 809,029 visitors to Yosemite last month marked nearly a 19 percent jump over July 2015. Sequoia, Kings Canyon and others have posted similar increases.McClatchy Newspapers article

California test scores rise in second year of new standards — Public-school students’ standardized test scores in math and English were up across the board this year in California, with students in every grade and from every ethnic group showing improvement, according to results released Wednesday.San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article; EdSource article; Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

San Joaquin County applies for $4.49 million in funding for homeless assistance — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has begun a shift toward funding permanent housing projects for the homeless rather than transitional housing projects, and San Joaquin County has begun to adjust to that shift. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an application for $4.49 million from HUD’s 2016 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grant Program. Stockton Record article 

Two of Fresno mayor’s top staff promoted into new City Hall jobs – In recent months, two of Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s top staffers have quietly transitioned into new jobs at City Hall as she approaches the end of her second term. Swearengin and City Manager Bruce Rudd say that the promotions of Georgeanne White to assistant director of the public utilities department and Kelli Furtado to assistant director of the development and resource management department are based on their skills and department needs – and not a “soft landing” for the mayor’s staff as Swearengin approaches the end of her time in office. Fresno Bee article

Stockton Record: Trampling on John Muir’s grave – It’s crystal clear now: Delaware North is a despicable, money-grubbing company that has no qualms trampling all over one of the nation’s — and nature’s — true showcase spots. Stockton Record editorial 

Report: Valley foreclosure rates fell in June – According to the latest report from CoreLogic, the rate of Fresno area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.51 percent for June, a decrease of 0.14 percentage points compared with June 2015. The Business Journal article 

Debate heats up over health of Fresno’s rental market – A rebounding economy had rents in many major metropolitan markets around the country hitting an eight-year high in July, according to the latest report from the U.S. Labor Department. But another report issued last week by a Wisconsin company claims Fresno is bucking that trend. The Business Journal article 

Appeals court upholds Tehachapi Walmart EIR; project can move forward – Walmart once again looks to be a go in Tehachapi. The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno announced Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 24, that the City of Tehachapi has adequately addressed environmental issues related to the project. Tehachapi News article 

A’s owner taking a look at waterfront site for new ballpark — Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.” San Francisco Chronicle article

Marijke Rowland: Modesto let the X-Fest party slip through its fingers – X-Fest may not be for everyone, but for thousands it is a fun night out in the Central Valley and an annual chance to dispel the ever-present and insidious “There’s nothing to do in the valley” myth. A safe and secure X-Fest, which is what the event has proved itself to be for 17 years now, is something to be championed. While there are plenty of people who no doubt say good riddance to its departure, the truth is this year Modesto’s loss was Stockton’s gain. Rowland in Modesto Bee 

Sacramento scores a big win in play for Bay Area tech companies – Sacramento is taking a fresh stab at poaching high-tech jobs from the Bay Area, marketing itself as an affordable but talent-rich locale for companies choking on the high cost of doing business in San Francisco and San Jose. The fledgling effort scored another success Wednesday, albeit a small one. Sacramento Bee article 

Weedmaps – a Yelp for pot – is riddled with suspicious reviews — Millions of consumers treat Weedmaps like the Yelp for pot, relying on the Irvine company as their definitive guide to marijuana dispensaries, varieties and doctors. But a key feature — user reviews of pot businesses — may be tainted by thousands of potentially fraudulent comments, a flaw in the company’s software revealed. LA Times article


Why California’s current drought is different from the past — In 1987, California was at the beginning of what would be a six-year drought — the second driest in the state’s history. Fittingly, that same year Peter Gleick helped to co-found the Pacific Institute, a global think tank that would become a leader in global environmental and California water issues. KQED report 

Visalia, Tulare have same state-approved water saving target – The county’s two largest cities now have the same state-approved water conservation target. Tim Doyle, Tulare’s water utility manager, said local administrators received state approval for a 20 percent reduction target. California Water Service, the owner and administrator of the Visalia water system, announced the same reduction. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Grower takes new approach to almond harvest — Dust rises as machines harvest almonds up and down the Central Valley. Except on 10 acres southwest of Modesto, where a new method is getting a look. Billy Lyons created a test plot that is not harvested the conventional way, with one machine shaking the nuts to the ground and another picking them up. The work is done by a modified olive harvester that strips the almonds from the branches and tosses them into a gondola without hitting the dirt. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Community Justice advocates tout success of pioneering juvenile program – Fresno County juveniles who find themselves on the wrong side of the law are getting a second chance through a program that is more likely to keep them out of trouble and at a lower cost to taxpayers than the conventional court system, advocates of the Community Justice Program say. Fresno Bee article 

Illegal drugs are flowing into California’s most guarded prisons – and killing death row inmates — Six death row inmates died between 2010 and 2015 with detectable levels of methamphetamines, heroin metabolites or other drugs in their system, according to Marin County coroner records. LA Times article 

Merced County sheriff’s detectives launch new Facebook page — Merced County sheriff’s detectives have a new Facebook page to provide an additional means of direct communication with investigators working some of the area’s most serious criminal cases. The page, “Merced Sheriff Investigations,” launched Aug. 10 and is monitored by sheriff’s detectives. Detective Sgt. Chuck Hale said he plans to post a variety of information. Merced Sun-Star article 

Arraignment delayed again in hit-and-run that claimed Stockton officer’s life — The arraignment for a man arrested after a Saturday hit-and-run in Escalon that left an off-duty Stockton police officer dead has been delayed for a second time. Stockton Record article 

Merced deputies help a kindergartner be ready for school — A night that started with Merced County Sheriff’s deputies seizing weapons and drugs from a Winton home ended with them helping a 5-year-old boy get ready for his first day of kindergarten. Merced Sun-Star article

Jeff Jardine: Fresh Levy case news recalls Modesto’s manic 2001 media invasion – One afternoon just a week shy of 15 years ago, I walked along 16th Street downtown and came upon one of the last vestiges of the strangest and perhaps busiest Modesto summer on record. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Mayor’s anti-gang effort tries to improve reading to reduce crime – The Sacramento Mayor’s Gang Prevention and Intervention Task Force plans to zero in on children’s suspension rates and reading proficiency as part of its effort to curb gang activity in the city, Khaalid Muttaqi, the program’s director, announced Tuesday night to the Sacramento City Council. Sacramento Bee article 

San Jose: Council members question police staffing ‘emergency’ — San Jose’s highly anticipated vote next week to declare a public safety “emergency” — a union-backed plan to justify reassigning 47 police detectives to street patrol — is raising eyebrows at City Hall with some calling it a publicity stunt to incite fear and win support for a November ballot measure. San Jose Mercury News article 

Lawsuit alleging excessive force by LAPD at black USC student party settled for $450,000 — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a $450,000 settlement of a lawsuit by USC students who alleged that LAPD officers in riot gear used excessive force and falsely arrested attendees at a predominantly black off-campus student party. LA Times article 

Competency hearing sought for former LA Sheriff Lee Baca – Prosecutors in the case against former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca have asked a federal judge to determine whether Baca is fit to stand trial. LA Times article 

Appeals court overturns jury verdict that cleared Anaheim police in shooting of unarmed man – A federal jury decision that absolved Anaheim police in a shooting of an unarmed man was influenced by inflammatory, graphic and irrelevant evidence and must be overturned, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Wednesday. LA Times article


Valley schools show improvement on new student tests, but most still lag state — Valley school districts have improved state test scores since last year, but still are falling behind California’s average. Fresno Bee article; Modesto Bee article; Stockton Record article; Merced Sun-Star article 

Higher test scores, yes, but no narrowing of achievement gap – Smarter Balanced test scores for all California student subgroups nudged upward this year, in tandem with average statewide gains in math and English language arts. But parallel progress won’t narrow the wide disparities in achievement between low-income and Hispanic students and their white, Asian and wealthier classmates. And for African-American students and for English learners, the achievement gap slightly widened, according to results that the Department of Education released on Wednesday. EdSource article

Smarter Balanced scores show more California 11th-graders ‘college ready’ — The number of 11th-graders who are judged ready for college-level coursework or are on track to become ready climbed slightly compared with last year, results from the state’s latest Common Core-aligned tests show.EdSource article 

Kern High School District takes no action against employees accused of accessing sensitive database — Kern High School District trustees took no action Wednesday against two employees who sheriff’s officials recommended pressing criminal charges against for allegedly misusing a sensitive police database. After the meeting, Superintendent Bryon Schaefer said a third-party investigator is looking into the situation. Bakersfield Californian article


More evacuation notices as Cedar Fire grows – An evacuation notice was issued for parts of Kernville on Wednesday as the Cedar Fire has burned another 1,216 acres for a total of 22,739 acres since the blaze erupted Aug. 16. Bakersfield Californian article

Cedar Fire destroys six Tulare County cabins; more could be lost — Six cabins have been destroyed by the Cedar Fire in Tulare County, officials said Wednesday in the first confirmed report of structures being destroyed by the blaze. More could be lost as the fire continues to spread and firefighters are able to get into areas already burned. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Solar power facility goes live in Kings — A 1,000-acre solar power facility on 25th Avenue near Lemoore began generating enough electricity this month to power 45,000 homes. The 100-megawatt Mustang project, developed by Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., began delivering electricity to Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy in the Bay Area this month. Hanford Sentinel article

San Bernardino County rejects a controversial solar power plant proposed for Mojave Desert – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has rejected a controversial solar plant proposed for the Mojave Desert’s Soda Mountains, citing concerns that the project would destroy habitat and block ancient trails used by bighorn sheep for thousands of years. LA Times article 

Italy and California share earthquake risks, though geology differs — Like Italy, California is a restless landscape straddling two major tectonic plates. But while our earthquake risks are similar, the seismic forces that underlie both regions are quite different. Our homes, churches and schools tend to differ as well. San Jose Mercury News article 

Fresnan shaken, but unharmed, in Italy earthquake — When a powerful earthquake struck in central Italy in the wee hours Wednesday, Fresno resident Lee Ann Eager was among those tossed from her sleep. Eager, president and CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corp., is vacationing in Italy and was in Rome when the magnitude-6 quake happened at 3:36 a.m. local time (6:36 p.m. Tuesday evening in California). Fresno Bee article 

Mike Connor: Park Service keeps up with our diversity – The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior writes, “As we celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service, we hope to inspire new audiences by ensuring that our parks and monuments accurately reflect our myriad cultures. It’s up to all of us – regardless of color, age or sexual orientation – to become passionate about conservation and these incredible places.” Connor op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services 

EpiPen maker faces scrutiny over 450 percent price hike of vital allergy drug – Any parent who has a child with food allergies knows how vital an EpiPen can be. But as the price of the life-saving drug has increased to more than $600 for a two pack, some families can’t afford the injection that helps reverse an allergic reaction. McClatchy Newspapers article; Sacramento Bee editorial; New York Times article 

Stockton Record: Health care gem – south Stockton clinic helps underserved community – There is a new health care gem in south Stockton. While the facility is arguably overdue, it is prepared to meet the needs of an underserved community. Stockton Record editorial 

Tulare Regional Medical Center rating upgraded – Tulare Regional Medical Center has now been profitable for 28 straight months, according to financial figures presented to the board during Wednesday’s standing-room only meeting at Evolutions. Visalia Times-Delta article 

With gene test, some breast cancer patients can skip chemo: Study – In a boost for the concept of precision medicine and genetic testing, a major study published in The New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday has found that some early-stage, post-operative breast cancer patients can avoid potentially dangerous and expensive chemotherapy with only a slightly lower survival rate and without the cancer spreading. KQED report; New York Times article

California foster children overprescribed psychotropic drugs – A state audit is highly critical of the way state and county departments monitor the prescribing of psychotropic medications to children in foster care. The California State Auditor reviewed statewide data and case files from Los Angeles, Madera, Riverside and Sonoma, and found some foster children were prescribed psychotropic medications in amounts and dosages that exceeded state guidelines. Capital Public Radio report

Valley health centers awarded for high performance – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesissued 163 awards to California totaling $13,074,002 to invest in health center quality improvements. Below is a list of Tulare, Kings, Kern and Fresno counties health centers which received awards. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Public health officials upgrade Isabella algae warnings – The Kern County Department of Public Health has raised its water contact advisory from “warning” to “danger” for the Kissack Cove area of Lake Isabella, and has issued a new warning at Isabella’s Paradise Cove.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Avoid eating seafood from Half Moon, Monterey bays, California officials say — Consumers should not eat rock crabs from Half Moon Bay or rock crabs, mussels, oysters, clams and scallops from Monterey Bay, according to theCalifornia Department of Public Health. High levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin, have been found in the organisms, making them unsafe for human consumption. KPCC report

Land Use/Housing 

Janine Nkosi: Other communities hold slumlords accountable, so why not Fresno? – The lecturer of philosophy at CSU Fresno and member of the Mayor-Council Code Enforcement Task Force writes, “For 130 years, Fresno officials have protected slumlords, yet we expect our most vulnerable residents to trust those who wear the city emblem. Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles and countless other cities throughout California have implemented routine interior-inspection programs – but not Fresno.” Nkosi op-ed in Fresno Bee


Long undercounted, Bakersfield is ‘Next 5 Exits’ no more – Depending on which way they’re traveling, freeway motorists coming into Bakersfield may be getting a skewed, funhouse mirror perception of the city’s size based on two Caltrans signs along Highway 99. The city might seem considerably smaller to drivers going in one direction than to those going the opposite way. Bakersfield Californian article 

Santa Monica council votes to close the city’s airport by July 2018 — The Santa Monica City Council first voted to shut down the airport in 1981. That effort stalled before takeoff, but on Tuesday, Santa Monica’s elected officials again pledged to close the historic facility that was once home to Douglas Aircraft Co. but is now the roost of several hundred propeller and jet aircraft, including those owned by celebrities such as actor Harrison Ford. It won’t be easy, however, as the legal opposition from aviation interests and the federal government has not waned since that first attempt 35 years ago. LA Times article 

Other areas 

Caltrans pays $850,000 to settle Highway 99 wrongful death suit — The California Department of Transportation agreed Wednesday to settle a wrongful death lawsuit by paying $850,000 to the parents of 24-year-old Regan Johnson, who was killed in July 2012 by a drunken driver while working on a nighttime paving project on busy Highway 99 in Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

What kind of indoor recreation should Hanford have? — As city leaders kick around the idea of building an indoor recreation facility next to The Plunge, the questions are popping up: What do people want? What would make sense financially and what would draw large numbers of participants?Hanford Sentinel article 

Pioneer Village debates its name and logo — A new leader, a new name, a new mission statement, new admission/ rental pricing. And that’s only a partial list of the “new” at the museum dedicated to Kern County history, all at the hands of CEO Zoot Velasco, a “change agent,” according to his official bio. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Hillary Clinton must steer clear of foundation. 

Sacramento Bee – Mylan is pushing legislation – including a bill before Gov. Jerry Brown – that could mean greater use of EpiPens and, of course, bigger profits. And Big Pharma wonders why so many have such a dim view of the industry;

Stockton Record – It’s crystal clear now: Delaware North is a despicable, money-grubbing company that has no qualms trampling all over one of the nation’s — and nature’s — true showcase spots; There is a new health care gem in south Stockton. While the facility is arguably overdue, it is prepared to meet the needs of an underserved community.