August 27, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

California voters support increasing tobacco tax, raising minimum wage —  About two-thirds of California voters support increasing the state cigarette tax by $2 a pack, and a similar percentage would back a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report

Brown administration opens door to cigarette tax, with a caveat – Responding to the Legislature’s renewed attempt to fund healthcare through a cigarette tax, a Brown administration official signaled support if the revenue is properly targeted. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article


Gov. Brown 

Brown to sign equal pay bill – California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office says he will sign equal pay legislation moving through the state Capitol. Capital Public Radio report

Brown signs legislation to grant diplomas — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Wednesday that would no longer require the California exit exam as a requirement for high school seniors who graduated in 2015 and help those who were denied college because they did not pass. Stockton Record article; Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

George Skelton: Brown blew his best chance for president — Gov. Jerry Brown won’t be running for president. Don’t be silly. He has already run the course. And now he’s a geezer. Anyway, his chief advisor, wife Anne Gust Brown, would kill him. So it’s not worth asking about. But that’s too bad, in a way. Because, age aside, he never has been in better position to run. Skelton column in LA Times


Valley politics

Protestors gather outside Salas office — A group of Valley residents gathered outside the Hanford office of Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, on Tuesday to protest AB 15, a bill that would allow physician-assisted suicide for some patients with a terminal diagnosis in California. Hanford Sentinel article



Asian ‘anchor babies’: Wealthy Chinese come to Southern California to give birth – It’s called “maternity tourism.” Pregnant women travel to the United States, usually on tourist visas, so that their children will be born U.S. citizens. In Southern California, they often live with other pregnant women in suburban homes. Maternity tourism is particularly popular with wealthy women from China. LA Times article

Bill requires prosecution of transferred immigrants — Seeking to prevent another tragedy like the July killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier, Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday proposed legislation that would prevent California cities from accepting federal transfers of immigrant prisoners unless local prosecutors commit to pursuing felony charges. AP article 

The loaded term ‘anchor babies’ conceals complex issues – The loaded term “anchor babies” has become a lightning rod of the 2016 presidential campaign. LA Times article

Bay Area workers, immigrant rights groups protest ‘$500K green cards’ program for San Francisco hotel — While San Francisco is celebrating the impending restoration of the Tenderloin’s Renoir Hotel by foreign investors seeking U.S. citizenship, hotel workers and immigrant rights groups today expressed reservations about the project. Contra Costa Times article


Other areas

Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 List — Another Top 100 list is history. That odd sound you hear is our vast editorial staff shrieking with joy as they collapse with exhaustion. What started out as fun a few years ago has turned into hard work, but we think it’s worth it: The rundown is more complete, more detailed and more representative of the state power structure as we see it.  Capitol Weekly article (includes 1-50); 51-100 ranking 

Hundreds of bills face life-or-death decisions – The Senate and Assembly appropriations committees will act on hundreds of bills Thursday, deciding whether or not to move costly measures to the house floors by a legislative deadline. Capitol Alert

Dan Morain: Mixing ice cream, martinis and votes – Political fundraising always leaves a stench, but it’s particularly gamey at the ends of legislative sessions when legislators decide the fate of hundreds of bills that affect interests and individuals who fund campaigns. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Alex Khan and Robert Nash: Students get an education on power of Capitol lobbyists – The students are McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento writes, “If AB 1200 eventually reaches his desk, we hope Gov. Jerry Brown will seize the opportunity to bring greater sunshine to the state procurement process. Californians deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent in a fair and effective manner. Our year-long efforts advocating this bill have been quite a learning experience. In the next few weeks, we will see if the good guys can still triumph in today’s political system.” Khan/Nash op-ed in Sacramento Bee

George Hostetter: Trump and private property: What’s yours is really his? – The Trump for Running Horse saga was dead from the get-go. We just didn’t know it for months. My guess: So, too, is the Trump for President saga. This, too, will take time to sink in. Any Fresnan who wonders how Donald Trump, running hard for the Republican presidential nomination, has come to dominate the news media these days need only look in the mirror for the answer. Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Before there was the Donald, there was Arnold — Donald Trump has used his wealth, his celebrity and his blunt manner of speaking to blast his way to the top of the polls in the GOP presidential race. It’s a phenomenon that’s had pundits — and some voters — scratching their heads. Except in California, where larger-than-life celebrity candidates are, like, so 12 years ago. KPCC report

Lawyer: Feds spent lavishly wining and dining ‘Shrimp Boy’ — Federal agents spent over $1 million during their investigation of alleged racketeering by an organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown, much of it plying their suspects with food and drink at fancy hotels and restaurants, a defense lawyer said in a court filing Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article

LA wants more details about business groups that donate to city campaigns —  In the quest to make city elections more transparent, the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission is exploring whether to demand more information from businesses and other groups that donate directly to local campaigns. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

UC fails to reach $25 million incentive to add Californians – Lawmakers’ attempt to entice the University of California to enroll 5,000 more Californians by promising an extra $25 million has failed this year — in-state admissions actually declined — but the state’s offer will stand for one more year. San Francisco Chronicle article 

California Supreme Court won’t hear Fresno Unified leaseback case – The California Supreme Court has denied Fresno Unified School District’s request to review an appellate court decision that criticizes the district’s use of a no-bid contract. Fresno Bee article 

One Valley school district’s unorthodox educational approach: No more grades — As students head back for another year of school, one small district in the valley is on the cutting edge of education. The Lindsay School district has eliminated grades and grade levels. School leaders say the scheme has transformed education. KVPR report


Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County home sales at 9-year high – San Joaquin County home sales reached a nine-year high in the first six months of the year, RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday. The real estate data firm tallied 3,377 single-family home and condominium sales in the first half of the year, up from less than 3,000 in the same period of 2014. That was the highest number since 2006 when the county recorded 3,978 home sales from January through June. Stockton Record article 

City unveils Grow Modesto Fund – Officials will unveil on Thursday the Grow Modesto Fund, a $500,000 program to provide loans to small businesses that can’t get conventional bank loans. The fund is a partnership among Modesto, the nonprofit Fresno Community Development Financial Institution and the Stanislaus Business Alliance. Modesto Bee article 

California’s rents skyrocketing, report confirms — Not only does San Francisco have the nation’s highest rents – a median of $3,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment – but three other California cities are in the top 10, a new report by Zumper, a nationwide rental listing service, says. The report provides new fodder for burgeoning political debates in the Capitol and many city and county governments over how soaring housing prices can be tempered. Sacramento Bee article

U.S. economy likely grew more in spring than first estimated – The U.S. economy likely gained more momentum in the spring than the government previously estimated. The question now is whether shrunken global stock markets and a sharp slowdown in China will weaken the economy in coming months. AP article 

Hobby Lobby starts work at Fresno site, demolishes former crime scene – The machinery ripping down buildings on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno this week is making way for what will become a Hobby Lobby store. The work also marks the destruction of the scene of a crime that left an 85-year-old shoe repairman dead. Fresno Bee article

LA Council delays vote on bid for 2024 Olympics — Los Angeles City Council members delayed a decision Wednesday on whether the city should continue to pursue the 2024 Summer Olympics, saying they needed more time to review budgetary and planning documents that Mayor Eric Garcetti disclosed this week. LA Times article 

Gallo agrees to buy Monterey County winery — E.&J. Gallo Winery announced another coastal acquisition Wednesday – Talbott Vineyards in Monterey County. The Modesto-based company did not disclose the price for the winery, which it described as “one of California’s largest and most esteemed producers of 100 percent estate-grown wines.” That means the grapes, chardonnay and pinot noir, in this case, are grown on the same property where the wine is made. Modesto Bee article 

Parking at a meter? There’s an app for that — Feeding a parking meter in downtown Stockton is about to become a lot easier, and searching for spare coins will be a thing of the past for those with a smart phone. Starting Tuesday, the city has announced, a mobile app will become available at that will enable users to pay for their downtown parking with their phones. The new technology is available though the city’s parking manager, SP Plus Corporation. Stockton Record article

Unstable market could cut the flow of venture capital to start-ups – Venture capitalists, mutual funds and wealthy individuals for several years have paid increasingly higher prices for shares of privately held technology companies, seduced by a 6-year-old stock market rally that seemed to promise future profits. But with stock markets around the world looking ugly after a plunge that began Aug. 20, some start-up investors are doing double takes. LA Times article

Hector V. Barreto: Fresno homes will get discounted Internet – The chairman of The Latino Commission writes, “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is now following a similar model as it rolls out the ConnectHome initiative in 28 pilot markets, including Los Angeles and Fresno. By partnering with private broadband providers and community-based training organizations, ConnectHome hopes to connect 275,000 additional low-income households.” Barreto op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Turmoil on Wall Street means confusion in San Francisco Financial District – The world, which was supposed to end on Wednesday, didn’t. At least not in the Financial District of San Francisco, where the stock market continued to do what it does best, which is confuse people. The average investor had no idea what was happening. That put him in league with all the experts. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Intuit launches new round of job cuts — Shares of Intuit rose Wednesday after the finance software company disclosed a fresh round of job cuts that would bring the total number of employment reductions launched this year to about 550. San Jose Mercury News article 

Burbank-Paraside voters approving special tax by slight margin – A measure to increase a special tax in Burbank-Paradise Fire District could pass by a slight margin. Voters are supporting Measure C by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin in an incomplete count. Tuesday was the last day to return ballots for the all-mail special district election. Modesto Bee article

In line at Krispy Kreme, you get to know Bakersfield — No inducement — not even a year’s supply of iced glazed — is worth standing in line for a week in this heat at the soon-to-open (but not that soon) Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. That’s what you’re thinking as you drive to the Northwest Promenade, air-conditioning blasting even at 8:30 a.m., to see for yourself the beginnings of a tent city sprouting up in the shadow of Kohl’s, on the edge of the city’s most suburban of suburbs.  Bakersfield Californian article



There’s no drought of cash for California farmers — California’s growers enjoyed near-record revenue for their crops last year, despite dropping their harvest by 640,000 acres in 2014, a new study suggests. Agricultural employment soared to a record 417,000 jobs, largely because gains in the Central Coast, deserts and Sacramento River Valley overcame losses in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a report by the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Oakland. LA Times article 

Crowdfunding campaign started for California drought relief – A coalition of non-profit organizations and businesses has started a crowd-funding campaign called the California Drought Relief Fund to provide assistance to families affected by the state’s unprecedented drought and wildfires, said Dianne Saenz of Climate Nexus. Fresno Bee article

Thinking outside the pipe – Last month, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney ripped the governor’s twin tunnels plan, calling it “misguided” and wasteful. The Democrat from Stockton wasn’t alone. Elected officials representing this area have been highly critical of state water policy, as well as federal drought relief legislation pending in the House and Senate. Stockton Record article

Tulare County still No. 1 in ag – For the second year in a row, Tulare County has led the nation in sales of agricultural goods, but some tied to the agricultural industry here aren’t jumping for joy over the No. 1 status. Visalia Times-Delta article

Judge denies attempt to block extra water for Klamath salmon – A federal judge has denied a request by agricultural water providers in California’s Central Valley to block emergency water releases to protect Klamath River salmon from the drought. AP article

Merced County prepares for El Nino – Merced County agencies are not optimistic about an El Niño rainy season, but they’re sprucing up flood management plans just in case. Merced Sun-Star article 

LA cuts water use 21 percent in July, easily beating state target – Los Angeles residents cut their water use by 21% in July, surpassing the mandatory conservation standard set by state regulators to combat the drought, Mayor Eric Garcetti said. LA Times article 

First Look: Show hosts talk Assemblyman Gatto’s newly proposed irrigation bill, ABX2-14 — On Wednesday’s final segment of “First Look,” Californian columnist Lois Henry talked about her latest column highlighting ABX2-14, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, that requires labels on consumable products irrigated by contaminated water. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced workshop to focus on lawns, drought — Merced city officials are planning a free workshop Saturday to discuss ways to keep lawns healthy during the drought, among other topics. Merced Sun-Star article

LA supervisors enjoy multiple car washes per week amid drought — Most Los Angeles County supervisors have their take-home cars washed two or three times a week, even as officials are urging residents to sharply cut back on water use during California’s drought. AP article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Surveillance system seized in connection with officer-involved shooting – Police have seized a surveillance system that apparently captured footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting at an Oildale Subway sandwich shop over the weekend. Bakersfield Californian article 

LAPD’s long-awaited body cameras will hit the streets Monday — After nearly two years of fundraising, testing and negotiating policy, Monday’s rollout marks a significant moment for the police department’s long-awaited body camera program. The city plans to purchase and deploy more than 7,000 devices in the coming months, making it the largest in the country to use the cameras on a wide scale. LA Times article

Public backs greater access to police records, ACLU poll finds – California voters widely support lifting the veil of secrecy that prevents the public from learning about police disciplinary matters or viewing footage from body cameras, according to a poll released Wednesday. LA Times article

Kern supervisor Perez named to state corrections board – Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez to a seat on the 13-member California Board of State and Community Corrections. Bakersfield Californian article

Reports: Multiple witnesses say local NAACP president assaulted his wife — Multiple witnesses, including his son, told investigators the president of the Bakersfield branch of the NAACP punched his wife in the mouth with enough force to knock out her front teeth and send her to the ground, according to police reports. Bakersfield Californian article 

Defendant speaks of Turlock man’s slaying, providing gruesome details in recent ‘revelation’ — Korey Kauffman huddled in the fetal position on the ground, trying to protect himself as two men pummeled him. Then, a gunshot rang out. When authorities recovered Kauffman’s body in the Stanislaus National Forest more than a year later, not much was left behind except for a bullet with a mushroomed tip found in his pants. These were some of the harrowing details that were discussed this week in testimony and arguments during a lengthy bail hearing for five people charged with murder in Kauffman’s death. Those defendants include a Modesto defense attorney, his wife, a former California Highway Patrol officer and the two owners of a Turlock liquor store. Modesto Bee article



UC Merced chancellor optimistic about next decade — UC Merced entered its second decade of instruction Wednesday, when classes started for an estimated 6,600 students. The university released a statement the same day from Chancellor Dorothy Leland, who touched on the campus’s plans for expansion despite hurdles. Merced Sun-Star article

CSU Stanislaus adopts shield logo, motto, Stan State to brand growing notoriety – California State University, Stanislaus President Joseph Sheley used his fourth start-of-school address to launch new tags for the Turlock campus, which has captured national notice over the past year for student support and economic value. Modesto Bee article

State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores — California Department of Education officials have repeatedly cautioned against comparing students’ scores on past state standardized tests with forthcoming results on tests aligned with the Common Core standards. The academic standards have changed and the tests are different, making comparisons inaccurate, they and others have warned. EdSource article

Author Armen Bacon named Fresno State’s 2015 Top Dog — Author and education administrator Armen Derian Bacon will receive one of Fresno State’s 2015 ‘Top Dog’ awards at the Fresno State Alumni Association’s annual Awards Gala Oct. 9 at the Save Mart Center. Fresno Bee article

Joe Mathews: School enrollment process shouldn’t be this tough — With a new school year comes another fraught season of student enrollment. After years of hearing political rhetoric about the centrality of educational access to California’s civic life, I’ve been surprised to discover, as a father, all the official hurdles to putting your kid in public school. Mathews in Bakersfield Californian

Back to school: Know the warning signs of bullying — For many children, the start of a new school year can be very stressful, especially if they’ve been victims of bullying in the past. Mayo Clinic Children’s Center psychologist Dr. Bridget Biggs says parents and caregivers should know the warning signs. Mayo Clinic News Network article in Merced Sun-Star

Study finds peak months for college students’ first drug use — College students tend to try stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin for the first time in November, December or April, according to the examination of 12 years of government survey data. They may believe the attention deficit disorder medications will help them ace their exams, even though there is no medical evidence that such drugs enhance performance and such drugs can be addictive. AP article



State to investigate PG&E’s corporate attitude toward safety, security — A series of safety or security incidents at Pacific Gas & Electric Co. facilities in the wake of a deadly 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno – including an April 2015 pipeline blast in Fresno that killed one person and injured 12 others – have put the utility in the crosshairs of the California Public Utilities Commission. Fresno Bee article 

Rough fire grows to 56,000 acres, 25 percent contained — With the Rough fire moving toward higher elevations and the threat to the Hume Lake community easing, fire commanders are sending some crews home and bringing in others to move the fight deeper into the forest. Fresno Bee article 

Utilities overseer says it’s too poor to release emails promptly — The California Public Utilities Commission — which has a $5 million ratepayer-funded war chest to defend itself in state and federal corruption probes — is pleading poverty when it comes to turning over e-mails that the state attorney general’s office is seeking in its investigation. San Francisco Chronicle article 

NASA satellites confirm sea levels are on the rise — It’s now clear that sea levels are rising around the world. An international fleet of satellites is showing that they have already risen an average of nearly 3 inches since 1992, with some ocean areas showing a rise as great as 9 inches, and an unavoidable sea level rise of at least several feet is coming, say NASA scientists who are analyzing the satellite measurements. San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report; LA Times article


Health/Human Services

Poll finds Californians happier with their health care — Nearly two years after the major elements of the federal health care law went into effect, California voters say they’re happier with the way the state is running its health care services, but the cost of coverage continues to be a problem, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle article


Land Use/Housing 

Stockton’s General Plan reboot finally gets rolling – Tonight at City Hall, the General Plan process gets a restart after stalling for the first eight months of 2015, and it’s not a moment too soon, say advocates for slow growth, the environment and affordable housing. Stockton Record article

Fultonia West taking shape south of Tower District — A couple of lots that have sat empty on Fulton Street, just south of the Tower District, since 2011 are finally undergoing a transformation into new live and work spaces. The walls are going up on a 31-unit complex, just north of Belmont Avenue, called Fultonia West. Fresno Bee article

Paul Tsamtis: Central Sacramento has enough low-income housing – The founder and member of the Washington Park Neighborhood Improvement Group writes, “Lavender Courtyard would run counter to President Barack Obama’s policy of dispersing low-income projects throughout communities. If it is built, this project would be more of the same. (Sacramento City United School Board member Jay) Hansen needs to support Sacramento’s future with planning that considers all aspects and impacts of any new project. Tsamtis op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Report confirms California’s traffic gridlock — As the Capitol’s debate over raising money to fix California’s dilapidated roadways heats up, a new report from Texas A&M University declares that the state’s motorists put up with some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion. Six of the nation’s 10 most congested roadways are in the Los Angeles-Orange County region, the university’s Transportation Institute concluded. Capitol Alert; LA Times article


Other areas 

Public asked to help with Lemoore director hiring — In an effort to hire the best possible candidate, Lemoore officials are offering the public a chance to help select the city’s new public works/planning director. Hanford Sentinel article

Anthony Sadler speaks briefly at Sacramento City Hall, calls attention ‘overwhelming’ – After days of crushing media attention, hometown hero Anthony Sandler appeared publicly for the first time since returning to the United States during a news conference at Sacramento City Hall Wednesday, saying the entire experience has been overwhelming. Sacramento Bee article

Carmen George: Day promotes random acts of kindness to remember Molly Griffin, killed in Fresno accident — Random acts of kindness were no random occurrence for Molly Griffin. Emily Krieghoff, who was in the car with Griffin when she was struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver in northeast Fresno in February, says her best friend shared her kindness all the time. George in Fresno Bee 

Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern moves to rehab center — Fresno Fire Department Capt. Pete Dern, hospitalized for 150 days since falling through a roof while fighting a house fire, moved into the burn rehabilitation center at Community Regional Medical Center Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Tulare’s deputy city manager placed on paid leave – Margee Fallert, Tulare’s second highest city administrator, has been on paid administrative leave for four months, making it two high-ranking officials who are away from their jobs and costing tax payers a little more than $22,500 monthly. Visalia Times-Delta article

Veteran AP journalist tabbed to lead Merced Sun-Star newsroom – An accomplished journalist and San Joaquin Valley native with experience in reporting and editing jobs across the United States and Latin America has been named managing editor of the Merced Sun-Star. Michelle Morgante, who has served in various news and management roles with The Associated Press since the early 1990s, will join the paper Sept. 8. Joe Kieta, editor of The Modesto Bee and the Sun-Star, announced her appointment at a staff meeting Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article 

LA City Council committee votes to ease penalties in homeless ordinance – A key Los Angeles City Council committee on Wednesday moved to soften a controversial new homeless sweeps law, voting to omit arrests and fines for people who refuse to give up their property or put it in storage. LA Times article 

Drownings on Sacramento’s major rivers are nearly double yearly average – Figures released this week by the Sacramento County coroner support the perception that 2015 has been the worst year in recent memory for drownings on Sacramento’s two major rivers. Sacramento Bee article 

Alleged gunman befriended Bakersfield TV meteorologist — Bakersfield has a personal connection to the fatal on-air shooting of two journalists Wednesday in Roanoke, Va.: the chief meteorologist at KGET 17 News, Alissa Carlson. Carlson said in a video posted on KGET’s website that she worked with the alleged gunman from 2002 to 2004 at a television station in Greenville, N.C. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California lawmaker’s favor for labor hamstrings UC.

Sacramento BeeKeeping it classy on the Wine Train; China’s woes ripple around the globe.

Stockton Record – West Nile’s biggest adversary: Your prevention.