August 27, 2016

31Aug

Political Stories

Top stories

Federal judge denies injunction against California vaccination law for schoolchildren – A federal judge has denied a request for a preliminary injunction against a new law that requires children in California’s public and private schools to be vaccinated unless they have a medical waiver from a licensed doctor. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Money and marijuana: Donors with ties to industry give to legalize pot – A web of campaign committees, nonprofits and wealthy individuals has funneled at least $6.6 million so far to the main Yes on 64 campaign committee. The pro-legalization effort involves eight fundraising accounts, at least three of which are linked to corresponding organizations. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown acts to block state money for coal terminals — Gov. Jerry Brown, urging local governments and the state to eventually eliminate coal shipments through California ports, signed legislation on Friday prohibiting the California Transportation Commission from funding new bulk-terminal projects. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics 

Mims will seek fourth Fresno County sheriff term in 2018 – Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, first elected as the county’s top cop in 2006, will seek a fourth term in 2018. Mims, who was unopposed for a third term in 2014 – as she was for her second term in 2010 – has made no secret of her decision, which was long ago made. Then again, she hasn’t shouted it from the rooftops. But it’s going to happen. Fresno Bee article 

Questions arise over Gastelum’s District 5 Fresno council candidacy – Tony Gastelum is one of three people seeking to fill the remaining two years of Sal Quintero’s Fresno City Council term, but a lease agreement has led to questions about whether or not he actually lives in the district, which is a requirement to run. Fresno Bee article 

Looks like the Granville empire is getting behind Bredefeld — In the primary election for the District 6 Fresno City Council seat, Granville Homes and the Assemi family spread the wealth, giving money to three of the four candidates. This week, Granville may have indicated it’s all in for Bredefeld, who is facing Pearce in November. Fresno Bee article 

Power couple racks up property tax debt on Bush house, other properties — Bakersfield political consultant Mark Abernathy, and wife, Cathy, are behind on their property taxes again. Five properties owned by the influential political couple — including the house where Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush once lived for a short time — haven’t had their property tax bills paid for two or three years. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

PolitiFact CA: Big Tobacco blowing smoke in claim about California’s Prop 56 — Opponents of Proposition 56, California’s proposed $2 per pack cigarette tax hike, are flooding radio airwaves with attacks on the measure. PolitiFact CA article 

Sen. Boxer’s ‘farewell tour’ a thank-you to California — With less than five months remaining in her 24-year run as one of the state’s two senators, Barbara Boxer stopped by the Presidio on Friday to relive past triumphs — and remind everyone that she still has clout. San Francisco Chronicle article

Immigration 

Border Patrol seizes more than $3 million from cars; two arrested — More than $3 million destined for Mexico was found in two cars Tuesday, the largest cash seizure ever made by U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego County, authorities said Friday. LA Times article 

Other areas 

Sacramento Bee: Farm work overtime is small price to pay – It is time to cleanse the stain of past exploitation from California’s 21st century farm industry. Sacramento Bee editorial 

California’s new climate bill may dampen growth but it won’t cripple the economy – California’s landmark climate bill, passed by the Assembly this week, has earned the ire of business groups that say it will cripple their industries. The law will not be a moneymaker for everyone, but it probably won’t wreak havoc on the economy either, research shows. LA Times article 

Judge rejects request to suspend California’s right-to-die law – California’s right-to-die law for terminally ill adults remained in effect Friday after a judge rejected a group of doctors arguments that patients could be coerced to end their lives. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento Bee: Three bills that must make it to the governor’s desk – With the session ending Wednesday, state lawmakers have a busy few days ahead. Before they go, here are some bills that they really need to get to the governor. Sacramento Bee editorial

California bill would let women get a year of birth control at once – California women would be able to get up to a 12-month supply of contraception under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown. The state Senate on Friday passed Senate Bill 999, which extends the current limit of 90 days. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: After long road, a change in the air – Without mentioning petroleum, this week’s climate legislation could force massive reductions in oil use. Getting to this point has taken some 40 years.Sacramento Bee editorial 

Will election year politics delay trial for accused double cop killer? – Nearly two years have passed since Sheriff’s Deputies Danny Oliver and Michael Davis Jr. were killed in a bloody, two-county rampage, and now the trial of the suspect in their deaths is likely to be delayed by election-year politics. With Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones – Oliver’s boss – running for Congress, lawyers for suspect Luis Enriquez Bracamontes won a four-month extension of time last week allowing them to file a request to move the trial out of Sacramento by Jan. 17. Sacramento Bee article

Smartphone cases that look like guns will be outlawed under bill signed by Gov. Brown – Cellphone cases made to look like guns are a new fashion trend but they may also put owners at risk, so their manufacture and sale will be outlawed in California under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times article (scroll to article) 

Hollywood skyscrapers and other large LA developments could get fast-tracked under law signed Friday – Four proposed mega-projects in Los Angeles could be fast-tracked under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday. The measure aims to speed up any lawsuits under the state’s primary environmental law governing development against large projects that also pay high construction wages and meet certain greenhouse gas and renewable energy standards. LA Times article 

No more killer whales: Legislature sends measure banning orca breeding and performances in California to governor —  California theme parks would be banned from breeding orcas or featuring them in performances for entertainment purposes under a bill the state Senate sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday. LA Times article 

After losing authorship, Connie Leyva gets final word on her bill — Sometimes lawmakers turn their attention to undercutting rivals in the other house – and sometimes they circle the wagons for one of their own. On Friday, the state Senate rallied around Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, who suffered a series of stinging legislative losses in the Assembly Appropriations Committee earlier this month, including having her name stripped from one of her bills. Sacramento Bee article 

Judge rules University of North Carolina can’t enforce transgender bathroom restrictions – A judge ruled Friday that two students and an employee must be allowed to use restrooms matching their gender identity at University of North Carolina campuses, and he said they have a strong chance of proving the state’s bathroom-access measure violates federal law. LA Times article 

Presidential Politics 

Still stumping for Trump – How has a month of mostly bad national press surrounding GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump affected his Kings County supporters? Not much. Hanford Sentinel article

News Stories

Top Stories

‘Separate but unequal’: Report names Fresno-area schools among most economically segregated in U.S. — The income disparities between Fresno Unified and its surrounding school districts are so great that a new report labels the district among the most economically segregated in the country. Fresno Bee article; Foon Rhee: ‘Economic divide between schools shortchanges our kids’ in Sacramento Bee 

UC Merced students back in town, a boost to local economy – Thousands of students moved into Merced for the first time or returned after their summer break this week, and their spending money came with them. It’s not clear exactly how much UC Merced students spend in retail shopping and at restaurants, but businesses in town began to see a bump in sales this month, according to Frank Quintero, Merced’s economic development director. Merced Sun-Star article 

At Cal State, student homelessness has been hidden until now – Cal State, the nation’s largest public university system, has embarked on an unprecedented effort to identify and count its many students who, like Candler, quietly juggle classes, multiple jobs and the anxiety of figuring out where to sleep at night — those who dutifully show up at classes but then curl up in their cars, shower at the gym and shuffle between couches and motels. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

State attorneys reach tentative deal for 14 percent pay bump — A tentative agreement has been reached between state government’s legal corps and Gov. Jerry Brown. The agreement includes, among other things, a 14 percent salary increase for the state’s lawyers phased in over the next two years. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Fire Department celebrates new hires, promotions — For just the second time in eight years, the Fresno Fire Department welcomed new recruits to the ranks as 16 firefighters graduated from training on Friday. Fresno Bee article 

Price hike for one diabetes drug costs CalPERS millions – The price for just one brand-name insulin drug called Lantus has risen by 50 percent over three years, according to a California Healthline review of data provided by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). CalPERS spent nearly $4.7 million more on the injectable vials of insulin in 2014 than it did in 2012, even though the overall number of prescriptions declined. The pension system paid about $564 per prescription in 2014.  KQED report 

Local credit unions see growth — Kings County-based credit unions are seeing strong growth in both deposits and loans say company officials. The county’s two home-grown, nonprofit financial institutions – FAST Federal Credit Union with $141 million in capital and Kings Federal Credit Union at $105 million – are growing their memberships attracted by better deposit rates than banks. Hanford Sentinel article 

Being clueless in the kitchen leads to food business — Brian Anderson recently opened PFS Meals, a to-go service aimed at healthy food, in downtown Modesto. Modesto Bee article 

Sciabica marks 80 years of pressing olive oil in Modesto — A big crowd pressed into Nick Sciabica & Sons on Friday to get some of the olive oil it has pressed for 80 years now. The Modesto company honored its 1936 launch with 36 percent discounts on some of the bottles. It also invited several of the area’s other food producers to sell their fare in the parking lot. Modesto Bee article

Agriculture/Water/Drought

Almond farmers unshaken by lower prices, cooling markets amid bumper crop – Almond harvest has begun in the San Joaquin Valley and with it comes the hope of better prices, expanding markets and stronger consumer demand. This year, the industry will need all the help it can get. Demand has cooled in markets like China where the nuts were a hot commodity. Prices plummeted to half of the $5 a pound the nuts fetched last year. Now, with harvest under way, growers could be looking at a bumper crop. Fresno Bee article 

Recycled water project launches on West Side – West Side farmers broke ground Friday on a water project that is truly ground-breaking. It will provide the Del Puerto Water District with highly treated water from the sewage plants in Modesto and Turlock. The district, with about 45,000 acres along Interstate 5 from Vernalis to Santa Nella, has been especially hard-hit by drought and fish protections. Modesto Bee article 

Wawona supplying peaches for McDonald’s smoothies – If you’ve had a McDonald’s peach smoothie lately, you can thank a central San Joaquin Valley farmer. The Smittcamp family, operators of several food businesses, including Wawona Frozen Foodsand Wawona Packing, is supplying the major fast food chain with peaches for their line of summer smoothies. Fresno Bee article 

Michael Hiltzik: Claremont wants to kick its private water company out of town.  Good idea — The citizens of Claremont, fed up with the private company that provides their water, voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to seize its water system by eminent domain and convert it to a municipal utility. A Los Angeles state judge has just wrapped up a trial over whether that’s legal and is expected to issue a ruling sometime in the next three months. Water users who still get their supply from private companies should be rooting for him to give Claremont a green light. Hiltzik column in LA Times

Criminal Justice/Prisons

‘We with the SPD are better for knowing Justin’: Police mourn fallen officer – A mile-long procession of public safety vehicles rode in silence to the entrance of the Bear Creek Community Church on Lower Sacramento Road on Friday morning, leading a black hearse containing the body of Justin Kepler, a popular officer of the Stockton Police Department. Stockton Record article 

San Jose: Police, political rhetoric revving high heading into crucial vote – This much seems to be clear: the San Jose Police Department is so understaffed that its most basic function, street patrol, is in peril.Heading into Tuesday’s City Council vote on whether to declare a state of emergency to keep those patrols afloat, the perceived stakes of the current situation are at odds, with police officials and the union pressing urgency at every turn and some council members expressing fatigue over being battered with “crisis” rhetoric. San Jose Mercury News article 

Jail inmates file class action suit over ‘excessive’ phone fees – Jail inmates and their families have filed a class-action suit against Contra Costa and several other California counties, accusing jails of overcharging phone fees and essentially extorting inmates. East Bay Times article 

Jaycee Dugard loses court case against federal parole officials – A federal appeals court decided by a 2-1 vote Friday that Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped as a child and held by a parolee for 18 years, cannot hold federal parole officials liable for failing to supervise her abductor. LA Times article 

Bakersfield woman appointed warden at North Kern State Prison — Kelly Santoro, 49, of Bakersfield, has been appointed warden at North Kern State Prison, where she has been acting warden since 2015 and served as an associate warden from 2009 to 2010 and as a correctional counselor from 1997 to 2001. Bakersfield Californian article 

Oakland police sex scandal: Activists asking if cops will be charged — Activists and relatives of a teenage woman at the center of a San Francisco Bay Area police sex scandal say they want to know if any of the more than two dozen law enforcement officials implicated earlier this year will face criminal charges. AP article 

Former deputy appears in court for allegedly violating probation — Four months following his sentencing on drug and assault charges, former deputy Edward Tucker appeared in a Kern County courtroom for allegedly violating probation by walking away from a court-ordered rehabilitation facility. Bakersfield Californian article

Education

Fresno State names Mitsubishi exec Top Dog — James E. Brumm, retired executive vice president and general counsel of the international car company, Mitsubishi, is Fresno State’s Top Dog this year. Fresno Bee article 

Overflowing schools leave parents frustrated, kids ‘heartbroken’ – Less than a week after his first day at Ronald Reagan Elementary School, 8-year-old Christian Millsap had been booted. “Two days ago he comes home in tears and hands me a note saying, ‘I got kicked out of school,’” Christian’s father, Robby, said. But it wasn’t because Christian had acted out, pulled a little girl’s pigtails or even did anything that would warrant discipline. It’s because the school had too many students. Bakersfield Californian article 

Victor Davis Hanson: Campuses desperately need unity czars, not diversity czars — Campuses desperately need unity czars, not diversity czars. Otherwise, we will end up as 50 separate and rival nations – just like other failed states in history whose diverse tribes and races destroyed themselves in a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog war with one another. Hanson column in Fresno Bee 

Hundreds flee Acacia charter schools’ sister campuses amid fiscal, criminal allegations – Charter schools run by the same troubled company that runs two Stockton charter schools last week saw a wave of students opting instead to attend public schools in Livermore. Stockton Record article 

Fresno State football player says he nearly died at workout; family has questions — Fresno State football player Shane Gama says he nearly died during a summer practice. More than a month later, his family awaits answers from the university about what happened. Fresno Bee article 

Local schools show improvement for state test – Some Kings County school districts improved on state tests but many are still falling behind the state’s average. Hanford Sentinel article

Riverbank teachers deal done at last – Contracts for teachers, counselors, management and district office staff for 2015-16 include a 5 percent hike in salary and stipends, and raise employee health benefits $2,400 to a maximum of $10,000. The board also passed contracts for 2016-17 with 4 percent pay raises. Modesto Bee article 

Students learn more from attractive teachers – even in online courses – Multiple studies have already shown that attractive people are judged more positively than those considered homely, a phenomenon known as the attractiveness stereotype. But a new study shows that not only are attractive teachers rated more favorably by their students, but students might actually learn more from them. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Marinello will pay $13.5 million — An insurer for the shuttered Marinello Schools of Beauty has agreed to pay $13.5 million to settle allegations that the cosmetology school ripped off the federal student loan program, the U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

California bans ITT tech from accepting new students — The for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services has been banned from accepting new students at its 15 California locations under an emergency decision issued Friday by the state Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. LA Times article 

UC Berkeley suspends plans to build Global Campus in Richmond – Just five months after receiving a $1 million donation to back efforts to build a UC Berkeley international research complex in Richmond, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said the project has been indefinitely suspended. San Francisco Chronicle article 

University of Chicago strikes back against campus political correctness — The anodyne welcome letter to incoming freshmen is a college staple, but this week the University of Chicago took a different approach: It sent new students a blunt statement opposing some hallmarks of campus political correctness, drawing thousands of impassioned responses, for and against, as it caromed around cyberspace. New York Times article

Energy/Environment

California’s new climate rules, explained – Following more than a year of legislative toing and froing, California’s leaders agreed this week on how ambitious the state will be in the fight against climate change after 2020. Short answer: very. KQED report 

Containment increased on Cedar Fire, evacuation levels lowered for certain areas — Firefighters have reached 20 percent containment on the Cedar Fire and lowered the evacuation level of several areas Friday morning. Bakersfield Californian article 

Firefighters stop ‘forward progression’ of Range Fire threatening Bear Valley Springs – At the end of a day of evacuations, intense smoke and many fire retardant and water drops, firefighters Friday evening said they halted the “forward progression” of the Range Fire at an estimated 550 acres. Tehachapi News article 

Officials show interest in local energy production – A survey commissioned by a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit organization found residents in three Central Valley counties want a choice on their electricity service provider. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Modesto Bee: State fights itself over fish, but we could be the real losers — Fish & Game Commission won’t allow anglers to keep more striped bass, the very fish that have been decimating the salmon and smelt populations. Modesto Bee editorial

Steve Lopez: Five weeks and 1,100 miles foster a great desire to watch over California coast —  It was late on a chilly night when I descended a winding mountain road to Shelter Cove, one of the few California coastal communities I’d never visited. I checked into the Inn of the Lost Coast, dropped my bags on the floor of my room and opened the back door to see how close I was to the water. Lopez column in LA Times

Health/Human Services 

Derek Carr launches campaign to help pediatric healthcare networks – Oakland Raiders quarterback and Valley Children’s Supporter Derek Carr and his wife, Heather, announced Thursday the launch of DC4KIDS. The campaign will help pediatric healthcare networks provide high-quality care to the more than 1.3 million children, says Carr in a news release. Bakersfield Californian article 

David Christensen: Skilled, loving hands provide ‘amazing’ care for baby Jaxson – The senior vice president for medical affairs and chief medical care of Valley Children’s Hospital writes, “No two days at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera are the same. And I have the privilege of seeing the amazing and wonderful things that happen here every single day. The day Jaxson Bermele and his family came to Valley Children’s was no exception.” Christensen op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Concussions up, high school football participation down — High school football participation in California is down 7 percent over the past decade, with some schools dropping teams or even their entire football programs, according to hospital and high school athletics statistics compiled by this newspaper. Every other major high school sport has seen participation grow over that period and for the first time boys and girls track and field has more athletes, knocking football off that pedestal. San Jose Mercury News article

Land Use/Housing 

Who owns the view? Property owners restrict river access – Years of visitors leaving behind dirty diapers, beer cans and broken glass has forced locals to close public access to their private land. The issue isn’t just isolated to Three Rivers. Trash and vandalism at Lake Kaweah has also troubled those maintaining the natural landscape. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Site plan for Los Banos Walmart ‘Academy’ approved — The Los Banos Planning Commission has approved a site plan for a 3,000-square-foot training building for a Walmart training center. The modular Walmart “Academy” building will be used to train Walmart management employees in the region, Los Banos Senior Planner Stacy Souza Elms said. Los Banos Enterprise article 

California ski resort and Forest Service say let’s make a deal — A Sierra Nevada land swap that would add 1,317 acres to three national forests in exchange for about 30 acres serving the prominent Mammoth Mountain ski resort is nearer completion.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Modesto, Sonora courthouse projects on life support – It’s now official. The projects to build new courthouses in Modesto and Sonora and elsewhere across California can finish their current phases but not proceed to the next ones as state courts officials work on solving a funding crisis for new courthouse construction. Modesto Bee article 

Federal and local officials meet in Modesto to combat mail theft – A Postal Inspection Service agent said it a couple of times Friday morning at a meeting about mail theft: “We’re not going to arrest our way out of this.” Similarly, after talking about obstacles to prosecution and punishment – including Assembly Bill 109 realignment and Proposition 47 – Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager said, “I honestly don’t know that we can fix the problem if we don’t have the deterrent. It may be much more useful, then, to educate citizens.” Modesto Bee article 

Labor Department sues grower over crash that killed 4 Merced County women – The U.S. Labor Department is accusing a garlic grower of violating worker safety and transportation laws in connection with a 2015 van crash that killed four women on a Merced County highway. LA Times article 

My Valley, My Story: ‘I just like getting high’ – Earlier this summer, we told you about the public health benefits of the Fresno Needle Exchange, which makes clean syringes available to drug users. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, here’s one of those users—a 56-year-old man named Michael, interviewed at the needle exchange. KVPR report 

From frozen fish to ‘bloodsicles’:  How zoo animals beat the heat – When the temperature hits triple-digits, keeping ourselves and our pets cool may be the main priorities for us humans. But zoo animals enjoy a cool-down, too, and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo has some creative solutions for helping beat the heat. KVPR report 

Golden Gate Bridge turns to texts to reach those in crisis – In another attempt to reach those in crisis, and young people in particular, the Golden Gate Bridge’s board of directors announced Friday a partnership with a texting hotline. Sign posts on the bridge will list a number that people can text with the keyword “GGB” that will connect them to a counselor who can provide resources and consolation. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LA City Council asks city attorney to draft ordinance to ban synthetic drug ‘spice’ — The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved an emergency motion directing the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that would ban the manufacture and sale of a synthetic drug that may be linked to dozens of overdoses in downtown’s skid row. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down: Detectives come out of retirement to solve a 1996 cold case murder. Nathan Bond, 10, hits the big time by reciting the Constitution; Jalen Bailey, 8, is a philanthropist and baker; Fresno State students are signing up by the dozens for the new minor in Hmong language studies. Meanwhile, the makers of life-saving EpiPens gouge the public. 

Modesto Bee – Fish & Game Commission won’t allow anglers to keep more striped bass, the very fish that have been decimating the salmon and smelt populations.

Sacramento Bee – It is time to cleanse the stain of past exploitation from California’s 21st century farm industry; Three bills that must make it to the governor’s desk; Without mentioning petroleum, this week’s climate legislation could force massive reductions in oil use. Getting to this point has taken some 40 years.