August 25, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

California officials eying stock market plunge, hoping it won’t last – As the market continued its drop Monday, officials began glancing around for their seat belts. More than most states, California depends heavily on taxing the wealthy, pulling about half its income tax revenue from just 1% of residents in recent years. A sustained, significant fall in capital gains could mean a return to budget crises, and the turmoil on Wall Street is a reminder of that vulnerability. LA Times article 

State Senate Oks drone privacy regulations, blocks body camera bill – Lawmakers in the state Assembly approved a measure Monday that would restrict the use of drones over private property without the owner’s permission. But a bill that would require local law enforcement agencies to set up policies governing their use of body cameras fell flat after facing criticism from some Democrats that it did not go far enough. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; AP article


Gov. Brown 

Gov. Jerry Brown takes aim at oil companies over ‘highly destructive’ product — Gov. Jerry Brown, in the midst of a tense political battle over climate change legislation, sharply criticized oil companies on Monday for selling a “highly destructive” product. LA Times article 

John Myers: Jerry Brown’s climate campaign meshes well at Lake Tahoe summit — Perhaps the stunning blue lake waters were the inspiration for Gov. Jerry Brown to offer a crystal-clear message at Lake Tahoe’s annual environmental summit: Opponents in the political fight over climate change better be ready. Myers in KQED



Hearing set for immigrant charged in San Francisco slaying — A San Francisco judge is set to hear evidence in a shooting death at a local pier that became a flashpoint in the national immigration debate because federal authorities had requested city officials keep the suspect locked up. AP article


Other areas

Tobacco bills fast-tracked to Senate floor – A package of anti-tobacco bills, including one raising the smoking age to 21, was fast-tracked to the Senate floor by the chamber’s Appropriations Committee on Monday. LA Times article 

California could ban smokeless tobacco in pro baseball — California lawmakers are voting to ban a once-common practice in Major League Baseball, the use of chewing tobacco. The state Senate on Monday approved a bill prohibiting the use or possession of smokeless tobacco products on the playing field during a professional baseball game or practice. AP article

Jim Earp, Matt Cate, and Chris McKenzie: Road fix must put real dent in repair backlog – Earp, executive consultant for the California Alliance for Jobs; Cate, executive director of the California Association of Counties; and McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, write, “No one likes to talk about raising taxes. But it’s undeniable that the current funding is insufficient. The longer we wait to address these needs, the worse they become, and the more expensive they are to fix. We need to address our transportation needs this year.” Earp/Cate/McKenzie op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Former California legislative leaders back contested climate legislation – Facing a mounting opposition campaign from industry groups, supporters of two tough legislative proposals to combat climate change are calling on former Senate and Assembly leaders to help push the bills over the finish line. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: How would carbon cut impact us? – Nancy McFadden, a top aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, last week dismissed as “ridiculous” fears that Brown’s push to reduce oil-based fuel use in California by 50 percent would mean gas rationing. She spoke during a conclave to support two measures that would commit California to making deep reductions in carbon emissions over the next few decades. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: Déjà vu in the special session: Taxes vs. reforms — Watching the maneuvering to pass a transportation revenue package in the special session, I can’t help but think of the observation by that great philosopher Yogi Berra who said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” The legislative scrum over a legislative roads fix is similar to the struggle to find common ground before Proposition 30 was put on the ballot. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Lawmakers act to make cheerleading a sport in California — The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would eventually classify competitive cheerleading in high school as a sport so it would receive the same recognition and regulations that protect the safety of other athletes. LA Times article 

Sacramento Bee: Lawmaker’s favor for labor hamstrings UC – Sen. Ricardo Lara’s bill for AFSCME would raise costs for UC.  Sacramento Bee editorial


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories 

High-speed rail continues to gobble up Fresno buildings — Two more buildings in downtown Fresno are coming down this week as crews continue to clear a path for California’s high-speed rail project. Fresno Bee article 

Water use in Bakersfield hits and misses state’s conservation targets – Customers of California Water Service Co. in Bakersfield deserve a pat on the back: They not only met but far exceeded the state’s conservation mandate for July. Unfortunately, customers of the city of Bakersfield water system did not meet its state mandate, City Manager Alan Tandy reported last Friday. City customers, primarily in the southwest, used 32 percent less water compared to 2013, shy of the 36 percent target. Bakersfield Californian article


Jobs and the Economy 

California bill would close ‘insidious’ wage gap between men and women – In an attempt to narrow the “insidious wage gap” between men and women, the California Legislature is on the verge of passing a stronger equal pay law that supporters believe will be the toughest in the nation — but some say still doesn’t go far enough. Oakland Tribune article 

Regulatory reorganization would expand staff at local oil office — The number of oil regulators assigned to work in Bakersfield would grow by as many as 20, a 25 percent increase, as part of a statewide reorganization intended to modernize California’s oversight of petroleum production. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare council selects business recruitment firm – The Tulare City Council has selected Retail Strategies as its business recruiting partner. Deciding to spend one-third of its business development budget, council opted for Retail Strategies, agreeing to a three-year, $100,000 contract. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Jose mayor changes position on police officers paying training costs – Amid a hot mayoral race last year, Mayor Sam Liccardo pledged he would “insist” that the city’s next police contract require officers who leave San Jose within several years of graduating from the police academy to pay back a portion of their training costs. But a one-year tentative agreement with the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, expected to earn unanimous approval at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, makes no mention of this provision. San Jose Mercury News article

13,000 fall into homelessness every month, report says – About 13,000 people on public assistance tumble into homelessness every month in Los Angeles County, according to a new study that experts say provides the clearest picture yet of extreme poverty in the region. LA Times article

Tiny houses for homeless at center of legal fight – The running legal and political debate at Los Angeles City Hall over how best to manage street encampments is turning to a new issue: tiny, curbside homes on wheels. LA Times article

Investment pros urge caution – Area investment professionals sought to reassure clients Monday after three rocky days on Wall Street. Stockton Record article; Sacramento Bee article

Will the Fed raise interest rates anytime soon? Investors say no – As markets jitter and stock prices fall, investors increasingly are betting that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates this year. Their conclusion is a striking rejection of the Fed’s stated plans — and it appears premature. New York Times article

Union leaders file grievance against Haagen, Albertsons and Vons – Union leaders have filed a grievance against grocers Haggen, Albertsons, and Vons for illegally laying off and reducing hours for workers, failing to fully inform them about job protections and failing to adhere to legally binding protections negotiated by their union. LA Daily News article

Second-highest paid LA County employee in 2014 didn’t work a single day — The second-highest paid Los Angeles County employee made nearly $790,000 last year, but he didn’t show up to work a single day, newly released salary data show. Dr. Gail V. Anderson Jr., the former chief medical officer of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, was paid $787,250.91 in pay and benefits in 2014, according to the salary data from L.A. County.  LA Daily News article

Unhappy California state scientists plan pay protest — Fed up over wages well below market and what they say is salary-sparked turnover in their ranks, a group of California state scientists is planning something unusual for state workers in professional classifications: a rally to air grievances at the Capitol. Sacramento Bee article

LA poised to approve policy that would allow Uber, Lyft at LAX — After weeks of debate over the potential risks and benefits of app-based ride services, Los Angeles is poised to allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate side-by-side with taxis, picking up and dropping off passengers at the West Coast’s biggest airport.  LA Times article

As Napa cheers quake recovery, some question tourism focus — The commercialization of Napa as a vacation and day-trip destination is a lament many locals voiced well before the earthquake, but Techel admitted that not all the construction work going on downtown is earthquake repair. San Francisco Chronicle article



Dan Walters: Seawater could be an answer to drought in California – Yes, desalinated water is more expensive, but even at about $2,000 an acre-foot – the price Poseidon will be charging its customers – it’s scarcely a half-cent per gallon. And for arid Southern California, it makes a lot of sense – perhaps more sense than spending billions of dollars on a couple of pipes that won’t increase supply. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

How California’s pesticide regulator spun a concerned community — Ventura County politician Steve Bennett wanted answers. He and his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors looked to Henry Gonzales to explain why the California Department of Pesticide Regulation had allowed strawberry farmers surrounding a local high school to use a potentially cancer-causing pesticide at unusually high levels. Center for Investigative Reporting article

Merced dairies hope for positive results in USDA milk market hearing – Dairy farmers and organizations in Merced County are awaiting a U.S. Department of Agriculture public hearing next month they hope will put the state’s milk industry on the same playing field as in other states. Merced Sun-Star article 

Consumers shell out more for eggs, prices soar in California — Consumers are shelling out more for a carton of large eggs as benchmark prices in California have gone up by 150 percent in a year. Last August, a dozen large eggs cost $1.45 and a year later the price is $3.61 for the same carton, according to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Open house planned for Drought Resource Center – Community Services Employment Training will hold an open house on Thursday to introduce the public to its Drought Resource Center. The center, at 185 S. Leggett St. in Porterville, offers services and referrals for Tulare County residents affected by the Valley’s drought, including free use of public showers, sinks and portable toilets. Visalia Times-Delta article

Canned peach industry hangs on in Modesto area – Peaches of the Late Ross variety weighed down limbs in an orchard east of Ceres last week. They made it through a summer of reduced water supplies and had the full shape and color sought by canneries. Modesto Bee article 

One good thing about the drought? Lake Tahoe water clarity — While scientists worry about warming water and receding lake levels, the lack of rain has prevented dirt and grit from washing into the lake. Fires burn in the distance, but Tahoe’s clarity has only improved. Sacramento Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

3 judges appointed by Democrats will hear California death penalty appeal – The constitutionality of California’s death penalty system will be reviewed next week by a panel of three Democratic appointees on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. LA Times article 

Inspection: Inadequate medical care at California prison – After years of federal oversight, medical services at a California state prison still fail to meet constitutional standards, according to an inspection released Monday. Care provided to nearly 4,000 inmates at California Correctional Center in Susanville is inadequate, the state inspector general said. The report blames the prison’s remote location in northeastern California for a lack of doctors. AP article

Robbery suspect killed by Bakersfield police had long criminal history — The robbery suspect shot dead by police Saturday night has a long criminal history including convictions for burglary and assault on a peace officer. Bakersfield Californian article 

Prosecutors ask court to keep Modesto defense attorney, 4 co-defendants in jail – Prosecutors are asking a judge to deny bail to a Modesto defense attorney and four co-defendants when they return Tuesday for their continued arraignment. They argue that releasing the five charged with murder would give them the opportunity to carry out threats against witnesses. Modesto Bee article 

Clovis police officer arrested for alleged domestic violence — Clovis police confirmed the arrest Monday of Officer Christopher Paul Hutchison on domestic violence allegations. Fresno Bee article

Puppies in prison — Kevin Johnson had been searching for a meaning — a way to make a difference and atone for his crimes while behind bars. And a few weeks ago, he found it — he is one of seven California Health Care Facility general population inmates chosen to participate in the prison’s new puppy raising program. Stockton Record article



UC Merced gets funding to give help to undeclared – A new grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help UC Merced establish support services for first-generation and low-income students who have yet to declare a major, the university announced. Merced Sun-Star article

California Senate acts to exempt Class of 2015 from high school exit exam — The state Senate on Monday approved emergency legislation that would allow California high school seniors who are part of the class of 2015 to graduate without taking an exit exam after the state cancelled the test for this summer. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Grant to help low-income, disabled students at University of the Pacific – University of the Pacific announced Monday that it will receive a $1.4 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help 200 first-generation, low-income or disabled students attend college. Stockton Record article 

Fresno State’s Smittcamp Program accepts new high school graduates – Fifty high school graduates from throughout California make up the 17th class of President’s Honors Scholars in the Smittcamp Family Honors College at Fresno State. The Honors College selected the 50 freshmen from more than 500 applicants, said director of the Honors College, Dr. Saeed Attar. Fresno Bee article

Nick Strobel: Just the sort of 21st leader Bakersfield College needs – The astronomy professor at Bakersfield College writes, “In a sort of “Back to the Future” way, our current president, Dr. Sonya Christian, is following Grace Van Dyke Bird’s example of leadership and has been met with the same warmth and enthusiasm at Bakersfield College and many, many people in the community because of her style of leadership.” Strobel op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Benioff takes hands-off approach with donations to San Francisco schools — The list of high-tech moguls looking to disrupt, remake, revamp and ultimately “fix” public education is long — from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, not to mention William Hewlett and David Packard, to name a few. In San Francisco, the big name in education philanthropy is Marc Benioff, but his patience and hands-off approach to change are a departure from many of his peers. San Francisco Chronicle article



Emergency declaration urged for Rough fire – Fresno County supervisors will discuss declaring a local emergency Tuesday for the Rough fire in the foothills east of Fresno. The fire has consumed nearly 52,000 acres, destroyed a popular lodge near Kings Canyon National Park and threatened the Hume Lake Christian Camps. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Grant Grove slowly reopens in wake of Rough fire — Public facilities at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks began reopening Monday as efforts to contain the Rough fire increased. Fresno Bee article

Camps escape damage from Rough fire — The Rough Fire in the Sierra and Sequoia national forests has spread to nearly 50,000 acres, but for the time being two summer camps in the areas have avoided destruction. Visalia Times-Delta article

Lawmakers review fracking study as activists demand ban — Natural resources committees in the Senate and Assembly today will hear from experts on a new scientific review of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Sacramento Bee article


Health/Human Services

Tulare couple pledges $1 million to Valley Children’s Hospital – Valley Children’s Hospital announced Monday the renaming of its emergency department waiting room in recognition of a $1 million pledged donation by Manuel and Kathyrn Mancebo of Tulare. The Mancebos, owners of the former Kings County Truck Lines based in Tulare, have been known for their philanthropy. Fresno Bee article

Carmen George: After son heals from skull surgery, Oseguedas give to others — Surgeons at Valley Children’s had to cut Cole’s head open from ear to ear and remove a piece of his skull to allow room for his brain to grow, ensure he doesn’t go blind and make his irregular-shaped head look “normal.” As the one-year anniversary of his surgery approaches in September, the Oseguedas held a fundraiser last week at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Co. in downtown Fresno for Cranio Care Bears. George in Fresno Bee

First San Joaquin County West Nile case this year reported — Health officials on Monday announced a man in his 50s has been confirmed as the first human in San Joaquin County to be infected with West Nile virus this year. Stockton Record article

Daniel Weintraub: What’s bad for the bottom line is good for our waistlines If you want to know about Americans’ changing food preferences, read the business page. A spate of “bad news” stories in recent weeks and months might actually be good news for the long-term health of the country. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee 

New breed of paramedics treats patients before emergencies occur — Modglin is part of a new cadre of “community paramedics” working in a dozen pilot programs across California. Their jobs are to treat patients before they get sick enough to need emergency care. The paramedics are still first responders, just deployed to prevent a crisis rather than react to one. LA Times article 

Foon Rhee: Sounding the alarm on city ambulances — This one has bugged me ever since I looked into it: Why do we need two Sacramento city firefighters in ambulances? Since they’re responding to medical calls – not battling blazes – the public would be served just as well by staffing ambulances with paramedics or EMTs. Making that change would also save taxpayers a lot of money – in the neighborhood of $400,000 per ambulance per year. Rhee in Sacramento Bee


Other areas 

Robert J. Thompson: Unreasonable traffic fines violate constitutional rights – The former Fresno County traffic court judge writes, “The recent decision by the California Judicial Council to stop charging fees and fines to drivers contesting traffic tickets was the right thing to do. And the proposed law granting one-time amnesty for some unpaid traffic tickets is a good start, but not enough. There is much more work to be done. We must continue to undo unfair fines set by the Legislature that harm low-income people and disproportionately affect communities of color.” Thompson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Bakersfield fireworks ban coming back for more debate – The fight over banning fireworks in Bakersfield will continue, at least for another month. That’s when the Legislation and Litigation Committee tasked with making a recommendation to the full City Council will discuss the issue again. Bakersfield Californian article 

Council expects to look outside for next Merced city manager – Two Merced councilmen said this week the city needs to hire a new top administrator from outside of City Hall. The firm hired to recruit a city manager in Merced recently posted the position on its job search page, where prospective city leaders can submit an application. Merced Sun-Star article

Cindy Garman: Resign. Appoint. Rinse. Repeat – Before everyone goes bonkers over alleged conspiracy theories regarding the appointment of a new county assessor, it might be helpful to have some history, context and salient facts on the matter. Garman in Stockton Record 

Amid rising disgust, San Francisco scrambles to flush stench from streets — San Francisco’s streets are becoming one big toilet — with druggies, drunks and the mentally ill openly defecating on downtown’s busiest boulevards. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento to throw parade for heroes of French train attack – Three men credited with foiling a potential massacre on a French train last week when they tackled and beat unconscious a man armed with an automatic rifle will receive a hero’s welcome in the form of a parade when they return to Sacramento, officials said. San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article 

Despite vehicle-tracking system, Caltrans employees speeding more – The number of Caltrans vehicles in the system driven 80 mph or faster for at least six minutes shot up, from an average 46 per day in October to 82 per day in April. And this despite widespread knowledge that the vehicles were monitored and “GPS TRACKING DEVICE INSTALLED IN THIS VEHICLE” stickers on the driver’s-side window. Sacramento Bee article 

Is that Ann-Margaret? Bakersfield film shoot under way — Hollywood might be more than 100 miles away, but sometimes it’s closer to Bakersfield than that. Cast and crew from Los Angeles holed up in the sixth floor of the Stockdale Tower on Monday, preparing to film a scene for an independent movie to be released next year. Bakersfield Californian article 

Phil Serna: Homeless lawsuit can’t get in way of safety on parkway – The chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors writes, “We need to challenge those elements of the settlement that effectively neutralize our ability to dissuade illegal camping on the American River Parkway, and that compromise our ability to protect public health, safety and well being. To do otherwise is to neglect our most important responsibility.” Serna op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento eyes its own walk of fame — The Sacramento City Council is set to vote Tuesday on Resolution No. 2015, which would green-light the creation of a Sacramento Walk of Stars. The project would be a Sacramento spin on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with large blue stars adorning stretches of central-city sidewalks to commemorate famous Sacramentans. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We marvel at the heroics of Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos.

Merced Sun-Star – We marvel at the heroics of Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos. 

Modesto Bee – We marvel at the heroics of Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos. 

Sacramento Bee – Sacramento officials can’t lose sight of bigger needs, such as downtown housing and safer bicycling; Sen. Ricardo Lara’s bill for AFSCME would raise costs for UC.