August 30, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Historic climate-change bills in California go down to the wire — With the deadline for lawmakers to finish their work less than two weeks away, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate leader Kevin de León are working feverishly to pass what they call the year’s most important legislation — measures that both men believe will enhance their political legacies. Contra Costa Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial

As drone use spreads, California lawmakers push for control – One proposed law would prohibit drones from flying above schools, prompted by concerns that kidnappers or child molesters could obtain images of students. Another would bar their use above prisons, responding to the possibility that they could deliver contraband to inmates.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown 

Brown seeks to broaden California’s clean-energy reach in the West — Gov. Jerry Brown is working on an ambitious plan for transmitting electricity across state lines and bolstering California’s role in the region, according to energy officials. LA Times article


Valley politics 

Bill McEwen: Madera County developers show their hands during school recall election – My four decades of reporting have taught me that large campaign contributors expect to influence their winning candidates. The fact that developers are underwriting the recall campaign suggests that it is more than just a grass-roots reaction to the loss of a popular superintendent. In addition, there are big unanswered questions about a school construction financing agreement that the Golden Valley board hammered out long ago with a previous developer that sought to build on the land now owned by Riverstone. McEwen in Fresno Bee

Donald Blount: Assessing the political machine — Welp, the political machine rolled on last week with the appointment of San Joaquin County Supervisor Steve Bestolarides as county assessor-recorder-county clerk. I have nothing against Bestolarides and selfishly, because I live in San Joaquin County, I hope he does a great job. But this system of county assessors retiring early and someone being appointed to the position has got to go. That alone reduces the power of voters and enhances the power of the cronies. Blount column in Stockton Record



Trump’s deportation idea similar to 1930s mass removals — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for mass deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, as well as their American-born children, bears similarities to a large-scale removal that many Mexican-American families faced 85 years ago. AP article


Other areas 

Pro teams push California to offer high-stakes raffles – California’s major league sports clubs and a leading raffle vendor are lobbying state lawmakers for the exclusive right to conduct charitable gambling at professional sports venues to sell raffle tickets that pay out half the proceeds as prize money and send the other half to charities of their choice. It would apply to 18 professional sports teams, 23 minor league teams and at several golf and racing events in the state. AP article

Victor Davis Hanson: Race, gender and politics in the 21st century — Our 21st-century postmodern culture says that we can become whatever we declare ourselves to be. But age-old realities suggest that only nature determines our gender and race.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Can California’s recovery keep its momentum? — After falling harder than most regions, the California economy has been one of the brightest spots in the U.S. economy — currently the most stable in the world — and experts say the underlying fundamentals point to continued growth. Whether California can maintain that momentum is a more complicated question. LA Times article

California death penalty, struck down over delays, faces next test – Whether California’s application of the death penalty is so drawn out and arbitrary that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment will be argued on Monday before a federal appeals court in Pasadena. New York Times article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article

A future of dams: Floodgates open to add barriers to combat drought – Driven by drought, California stands ready to build a water system for the 21st century. Ideas are flowing: conservation, recycling, desalination, aquifer recharge, floodplain restoration, storm water capture. But the biggest, most expensive, most popular item of all is the foundation of the 20th century water system — dams. Even if El Niño rains bring a bounty of water to the state this winter, the momentum for dam building is unlikely to fade. San Francisco Chronicle article


Jobs and the Economy 

Unclaimed property: The state holds around $7.6 billion – Maybe they’re alive, maybe not. Maybe they’re still in business. They could’ve moved. Quite possibly, they just don’t care. Whatever the case, central San Joaquin Valley businesses, governments and individuals are leaving a lot of money on the table. The total is more than $70 million in cash in Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties. In addition, there are a few million shares of tradeable assets and the contents of close to 2,000 safe-deposit boxes. Fresno Bee article

In strategy shift, CalPERS looks to cut financial risk – Even its staff acknowledges in a recent report that despite fast-rising contributions from taxpayers, the pension fund faces “a significant amount of risk.” To reduce that financial risk, CalPERS has been working for months on a plan that could cause government pension funds across the country to rethink their investment strategies. LA Times article

New approach for Modesto’s second sales tax campaign – Voters will decide in November whether they want to pay more in taxes with Measure G, Modesto’s one-half percent general sales tax increase. But this campaign will be low-key. (Measure G pros, cons) Modesto Bee article

Valley companies find success at Fresno Food Expo — This year’s event set a record for the number of buyers: 914. The previous year, the show attracted 702 buyers representing major retailers, restaurants, school districts and foreign buyers. Wade said the time he spent with importers proved to be the most successful. Fresno Bee article

Hilmar Cheese’s only CEO retires after 31 years – Twelve dairy farmers asked John Jeter in 1984 to research their idea for a cheese plant. “This was designed to be a tiny thing,” Jeter recalled last week about the plans for Hilmar Cheese Co. Tiny it’s not. The Lander Avenue plant has grown to be the biggest in the world, with Jeter in the top post from the start. He will retire Monday after 31 years that included building a second plant in Texas and becoming a major global player in cheese byproducts. Modesto Bee article 

If LA bids for the 2024 Olympics, will taxpayers be on the hook? – When Los Angeles City Council members vote on pursuing the 2024 Summer Olympics this week, they will be deferring an issue that will probably return to haunt them: Whether city taxpayers should be made liable for budget overruns on the event, which is expected to cost at least $5.8 billion. LA Times article

Gerald Haslam: Investing for ‘impact’ and to make the world a better place – Bonny Meyer and visionaries like her are not interested in the temporary resolution of problems. They are trying to create an infrastructure that allows greater opportunities and better living conditions long-term for all. Haslam op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Volunteers work to get Storyland ready for grand reopening — More than 170 people donated their time Saturday at Storyland in Fresno to help renovate the park for its reopening on Labor Day weekend, said Bruce Batti, vice chairman of the Storyland/Playland board. Fresno Bee article

Huge fire at north Modesto company causes $2 million in damage – A multiple-alarm fire at a north Modesto building materials company Saturday morning spread quickly and sent plumes of black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles. Modesto Bee article

San Diego takes aim at Chargers’ Carson plan — With the Chargers refusing to negotiate a stadium deal in San Diego this summer, the city has begun portraying the team’s proposed Carson stadium as flawed and vulnerable to lawsuits while declaring a competing stadium proposal in Inglewood a superior project. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Sacramento parks staff shrunk as acreage rose — Sacramento has more parks than it used to, but those parks are less well tended. Total park acreage in Sacramento has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years. At the same time, the number of employees responsible for cleaning bathrooms, mowing lawns, emptying garbage cans and performing other maintenance tasks has dropped more than 15 percent, according to city data. Sacramento Bee article


California takes new approach on water regulation for pot farms — Little is a supervisor in a unique state effort that identifies growers willing to work with authorities to monitor water use and environmental impacts from marijuana cultivation. The compliance program signals a shift in regulatory oversight of an industry that has existed in a murky legal area since California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. Sacramento Bee article

When wells run dry: Califoria families cope in drought – Millions of Californians are being inconvenienced in this fourth year of drought, urged to flush toilets less often, take shorter showers and let lawns turn brown. But it’s dramatically worse in places like Okieville, where wells have gone dry for many of the 100 modest homes that share cracked streets without sidewalks or streetlights in California’s Central Valley. AP article

Vance Kennedy: Don’t need data to know big pumps can lower water table quickly – The retired U.S. Geological Survey scientist who lives in Modesto writes, “The removal of groundwater has been widely recognized as a problem. But you cannot remove groundwater that does not exist. Groundwater must be recharged, but the methods of doing that have had far less research than is needed. That lack of investigation must be corrected.” Kennedy op-ed in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Dozens under observation as Legionnaire’s disease hits prison – Dozens of San Quentin prisoners were under observation Saturday after an inmate was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, prompting a weekend halt to visitors and limited drinking water supplies at the Northern California lockup. AP article 

Stockton Police Department: Hundreds of applicants endure physical, written tests — For some, the hardest part was jumping over a 51Ž2-foot wall. The biggest challenge for others was lugging the deadweight of a sand-filled dummy more than 30 feet. And for the rest, it was simply having enough energy in reserve to complete the closing 500-yard run. Stockton Record article

Modesto Bee: Too many deaths, too many guns in Modesto – Perhaps our best remedy is to concentrate on curtailing violence – with or without guns. It might seem like weak tea, but parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, volunteers and others must help train young people in conflict resolution; steer them away from violence and death. Modesto Bee editorial

Rev. Beverly Brewster: End prolonged solitary confinement for California’s youth – The Presbyterian minister writes, “California’s youths must no longer be subject to inhumane and unnecessary solitary confinement. California’s youths must be remembered. Let’s put an end to this pointless cruelty and make California a more just and humane state.” Brewster op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Chowchilla bus kidnapper James Schoenfeld’s own words add insight to crime — The questioning began in the afternoon with parents like Joan Brown. “Jeffrey, Jennifer? Where are you? Come on, you guys. I know you’re hiding. Don’t play games with me now.” Fresno Bee article

Coroner: Wasco inmate died in a ‘natural’ manner – A Wasco State Prison inmate who perished Wednesday morning was found to have died in a “natural” manner, the Kern County Coroner’s office said Friday in a news release. Bakersfield Californian article 

Fresno City baseball player, former Edison star Deondre Howard killed in shooting — Fresno City College baseball player Deondre Howard was killed in a shooting early Saturday morning in northwest Fresno. Fresno Bee article



Dan Walters: Fads rise and fade in schools — Education, like other human activities, is subject to ever-changing whims, fads and notions. That seems to be particularly true in California, whose political climates evolve very rapidly. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled — Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected though still below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing. AP article 

Bakersfield College president’s fight with district has deep roots – It’s no secret Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian’s job is on the line. The Californian reported earlier this month that her boss, Kern Community College District Chancellor Sandra Serrano, wasn’t happy with her management style. Bakersfield Californian article

Tuition scam targets Fresno State students — A phone scam that’s targeting Fresno State students is pressuring them to send money or risk being dropped from the university, Fresno State said Saturday. Fresno Bee article 

New Ceres campus home to adult education classes, part of regional effort – Of all the cuts to education during the Great Recession, classes for grown-ups likely took the hardest hit. The patchwork of offerings given at neighborhood schools fell apart in most places, chopping off the bootstraps long used by low-income parents who wanted to get ahead. This year, however, California has brought back adult ed, targeting modest funding to groups that consolidate the hodgepodge of agencies offering such classes. For this area, that consolidation has its hub in Ceres. Modesto Bee article

Schools on military bases in desperate need of repair — At Murray Middle School, on the local naval base in Ridgecrest, a kids basketball court sits just 7 feet away from locked school buildings containing asbestos. On the first day of school this term, there was a power outage that also set off campus fire alarms, which administrators say happens four to six times a year. The school is one of 11 California campuses at the top of the federal government’s list of 160 schools on military installations due federal funding to make major facility repairs. Bakersfield Californian article


As wildfires rage and budgets dwindle, more federal funds sought for firefighting – The record wildfire season scorching the West is prompting renewed calls for Congress to change how it funds firefighting, a push that comes as the head of the Forest Service said the agency would soon exceed its firefighting budget for the year — again. LA Times article

Rough fire grows slightly, evacuation warnings remain for Wishon area — The Rough fire, which has charred national forest and park service land in eastern Fresno and Tulare counties for nearly a month, grew to 61,316 acres by Saturday morning. The blaze is still 25 percent contained. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which is now the second largest in California. Fresno Bee article 

Earth Log: Rough fire can take your breath away — Forget about natural splendors at Cedar Grove in rugged Kings Canyon National Park. The stifling air last week was more like Beijing in January than a Sierra vacation spot in August. Fresno Bee article 

Health/Human Services


USC siphoning off much of Alzheimer’s project funding from UC San Diego —  In the latest twist in the ongoing dispute over a prestigious Alzheimer’s disease research project, USC is siphoning off much of the project’s funding from UC San Diego. LA Times article

Akhilesh Pathipati: Doctor-patient relationships evolving with technology – The Stanford medical student and Harvard graduate writes, “The rise of health systems has changed the nature of medical practice. Providers and patients will always have a unique relationship, but that relationship is evolving. This is an opportunity to create a system that better meets patients’ needs.” Pathipati op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Hanford officers build new UCP playsets — Several Hanford Police Department officers put aside their usual duties to do some manual labor for a good cause. The officers worked together to purchase and build two new playsets Friday morning at the United Cerebral Palsy Parents & Me center in Hanford. About two weeks ago, most of the UCP’s previous playset was stolen during a weekend. Only a few parts were left behind. Hanford Sentinel article


Land Use/Housing

Michael Fitzgerald: These legs were made for walking – I should point out — now that Stockton’s General Plan process, the process of planning the city’s future, has started again — those two fine limbs: the legs. Legs are the most basic mode of human transportation. Walking is important to our physical, social and likely to our cognitive well-being. Legs: don’t leave home without ’em. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Dollar General proposal for Columbia faces organized opposition — Hearing the words “Dollar General,” Steve Calden first mock-choked himself, then made a cross with his forefingers as though trying to ward off a vampire. A bit theatrical, yes, but in keeping with the thought many residents and businesspeople in this community and Columbia State Historic Park share. Modesto Bee article



10 options for South County Corridor to be unveiled — A third round of public workshops is coming for the South County Corridor, a future expressway linking Highway 99 near Turlock to Interstate 5.Modesto Bee article


Other areas 

Californian analysis: Spay-neuter efforts are saving lives at shelters – Kern County’s stray and abandoned pets aren’t out of the woods yet. But a review of 18 months of data shows a glimmer of long-term hope that, after years of failure, this high-kill community might be turning things around. The question now is, can the progress be sustained? Bakersfield Californian article

Armen Bacon: Celebrating William Saroyan — My mother knows of my obsession with William Saroyan, and as I begin this essay, she is quick to remind me he ate dinner once at our home in the late ’50s. Neither of us can fill in the narrative of how or why he showed up at our doorstep. Not knowing, of course, creates mystery and intrigue, a sheer heyday for my imagination, although such vague recollection disappoints the yearning to discern details or anything that might bring him back to life. Bacon column in Fresno Bee

Jeff Jardine: Last wish granted to late Modestan – President George W. Bush visited Matthew Cunningham in hospital after brain surgery. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Oleander coyote no figment of neighborhood’s imagination — Think Sasquatch. Think Bigfoot. OK, let’s not go crazy. Think the Oleander Coyote. The world is full of mysteries and the picturesque Oleander neighborhood in central Bakersfield has experienced one of its own nocturnal mysteries for more than a year. Bakersfield Californian article

Joyce Terhaar: Wearing the mantle of heroism — In a matter of moments, three young men from Sacramento created history and changed the course of their lives. Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos are known to the world now. Their courage in the face of a terrorist attack on a high-speed train bound for Paris saved lives and ensured that Moroccan national Ayoub El-Khazzani is in custody. Terhaar column in Sacramento Bee

Compton mayor’s charity tie-in to State of the City talk raises eyebrows — When Compton Mayor Aja Brown delivered her first State of the City address last month, the city arranged for residents to watch the event on a big screen at a local gym. Attendees at the free viewing were offered hot dogs and potato chips. But those who were willing to shell out at least $100 to a local charity were invited to a more exclusive gala at a city-owned community center, where guests were treated to wine, stuffed chicken breast and cheesecake before the mayor’s speech. The beneficiary of that event was a charitable organization founded by the mayor and her husband. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – Perhaps our best remedy is to concentrate on curtailing violence – with or without guns. It might seem like weak tea, but parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, volunteers and others must help train young people in conflict resolution; steer them away from violence and death.

Sacramento BeeFar-reaching climate bills warrant approval;

Upcoming Events

  • Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will be the featured speaker at the fourth annual State of Our Children event at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building on Thursday, Sept. 3, from 7:30-9:15 a.m.  More information is available here.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will hold its Fresno seminar at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in Fresno on Thursday, Sept. 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  More
  • The Wonderful Company will hold information sessions in Avenal and Wasco for area nonprofits, churches, religious organizations and local government agencies interested in applying for the Wonderful Community Grants initiative.  The Wasco event will be held at Wasco City Hall on Monday, Sept. 14, from 10-11 a.m. The Avenal event will be held at the Avenal Recreation Center on Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.   More information:
  • CA Fwd will hold an event on “Money, Schools, Jobs and You – A Bipartisan Conversation in Clovis” at the Center for Advanced Research Technology on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 6-8 p.m. Speakers are Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin; former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed; Pete Peterson, executive director of Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership; and Marshall Tuck, Educator in Residence, New Teacher Center.  Event is free but registration is required.  More information:
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

This document is to be used for informational purposes only. Unless specifically noted, the Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno does not officially endorse or support views that may be expressed in the document. If you want to print a story, please do so now before the link expires

Funding for The Maddy Daily is made possible by grants from The Wonderful Company and BNSF Railroad and generous donations from you, our subscribers.