August 6, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Embattled Stockton mayor disputes charges — Mayor Anthony Silva battled back Friday afternoon, calling himself a “victim,” accusing the district attorney of a “calculated and politically motivated” crusade against him, charging the media with sensationalism, and denying the mountain of allegations he is facing. Stockton Record article; AP article; ‘Full text of Mayor Silva’s news conference’ in Stockton Record; ‘Mayor Silva’s Spanos Park neighbors recall parties’ in Stockton Record; LA Times article 

California lawmakers called out for taking tobacco money — What do Gov. Jerry Brown, Assemblyman Adam Gray and state Sen. Isadore Hall have in common? They’re Democrats among a slew of California lawmakers who have accepted money from tobacco companies in the last two years. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California Politics Podcast: Legislature’s last lap — The Legislature’s last big month of 2016 and the clash over climate change and more. We also discuss the political fallout from the missing Democratic assemblyman, and our weekly political side dishes. California Politics Podcast

Other areas 

In wake of Stanford sexual assault case, lawmakers once again pitch mandatory prison time – New laws in response to high-profile incidents have contributed to scores of mandatory punishments in California going back decades, decisions that put the state at the forefront of the tough-on-crime movement that led to dramatically increased sentences for criminals but also presaged an era of prison overcrowding that led federal judges to conclude such conditions were unconstitutional. LA Times article 

Gun rights group sues over California lawmakers’ addresses — A California gun rights group filed a federal lawsuit in Sacramento on Friday after the Legislature’s lawyer blocked a blog post that listed the addresses of lawmakers who recently supported gun control legislation. Sacramento Bee article 

Matt Cate, Chris McKenzie, Michael Quigley: Fix our crumbling roads and bridges – Cate, executive director of California Association of Counties; McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities; and Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, write, “The Legislature’s “special session” on transportation is more than a year old. Action to deliver more revenue and ensure it will be wisely spent fixing our roads is long overdue. Any further indecision is, in fact, deciding to waste taxpayer money, put motorists at risk, drive more companies out of business and more jobs out of state.” Cate/McKenzie/Quigley op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Prison not recommended for Rep. Bera’s dad in election fraud sentence — A battle appears to be looming between federal prosecutors and probation authorities over whether the father of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, should go to prison for election fraud involving the finances of his son’s campaign committee. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: A murky bid to block Coastal Commission transparency — It’s unclear why a perfectly reasonable bill to deter backroom influence on the California Coastal Commission was derailed in the Assembly last week. Sacramento Bee editorial

Presidential Politics 

Cathleen Decker: In complicated Ohio, Trump and Clinton swap voters as they vie for a key state — Clinton is going after Republican-leaning suburbanites put off by Trump’s demeanor and is trying to persuade blue-collar white voters that Trump is a hypocrite on trade and business issues. Trump has set his sights on those blue-collar Democrats with a campaign heavy on expressions of grievance for decades of manufacturing declines. Decker in LA Times

News Stories

Top Stories

Yosemite, Sequoia and other National Park jewels draw record crowds on its centennial — As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday Aug. 25, visitors are about to break attendance records at Yosemite and other parks for the second year in a row. More than 4 million people visited Yosemite last year, the highest total ever, and the number of visitors through June of this year eclipsed last year’s total for the same period. Likewise, more than 307 million people visited Park Service properties last year, and this year’s figures suggest another record in the making. Sacramento Bee article

Public or private? ACLU slams Fresno-area charter schools for being exclusionary — Several Fresno-area charter schools, including the nationally recognized University High, have been cited in a report by the American Civil Liberties Union for being exclusionary despite state law that requires them to be open to all students.Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Visalia council puts half-cent sales tax on ballot — The Visalia City Council voted unanimously this week to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot. To pass, the measure would require a 50 percent plus one majority of city voters. Called the Essential City Services Protection Measure, it would generate $10.8 million per year. Fresno Bee article 

Hobby Lobby is opening in Fresno. Here is what the fuss is all about — The Hobby Lobby grand opening at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8, could be the most anticipated store opening in Fresno this year. The craft and home decor store’s first location in Fresno has its fans giddy with anticipation. Fresno Bee article 

New general manager for Rabobank Arena — Jon Dorman, the general manager of Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield’s largest public entertainment venue, is out after less than three years at the helm and AEG employee Steve Eckerson is in, City Manager Alan Tandy said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

After opening Shanghai Disneyland, Disney Imagineering lays off theme park designers – Nearly two months after opening its latest theme park, Disney Imagineering laid off some of the designers and builders who dream up the company’s parks and attractions. LA Times article 

Five things we learned from the surprisingly strong July jobs report – The second straight month of surprisingly strong job growth shows the labor market has regained its health after a springtime stumble, and economists welcomed the news after recent signs of weakness in the broader U.S. economy. LA Times article

Medical pot can get you fired — Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 — but employees who use the drug, with their doctors’ approval, can still lose their jobs, a federal judge has ruled. San Francisco Chronicle article 


Avenal boxer Jose Ramirez donates to effort for new water storage – Champion boxer Jose Ramirez donated $3,300 on Friday to the effort to develop new surface water storage facilities in California. Ramirez, a native of Avenal, said the money will be used to help defray the cost of his hometown’s membership in the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority. Fresno Bee article 

EPA clarifies secondhand ‘report’ of lead in Fresno resident’s urine — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week that a “report” of a Fresno resident testing positive for lead in urine wasn’t a formal notification to the agency from the resident, but instead was secondhand information in a bulk email sent out Tuesday to members of a group concerned about discoloration and lead contamination of water in northeast Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

Central Valley farmers paid to grow wildlife habitat – The Environmental Defense Fund, along with a partner organization, has launched the Central Valley Habitat Exchange, a voluntary program that gives landowners — farmers and ranchers — incentives to create wildlife habitats on their land. KQED report 

New warehouse near Ripon shows wine industry is growing – A massive warehouse will rise at the Franzia Winery near Ripon, adding a reported 60 jobs to a California industry that is thriving. Modesto Bee article 

John Michelina: Why have we forsaken Kennedy’s vision for feeding the world? – California’s agriculture and its water system are headed for disaster. Using San Luis Reservoir as it was originally envisioned is integral to keeping that from happening. California should return to what we know works. But I’m not sure this can be straightened out when we, as a nation, forget the words of leaders such as President Kennedy, whose vision was firmly fixed on the future – a future with adequate water for farming. Michelina column in Modesto Bee 

Olive oil industry receives grant while table olives settle on price — California’s growing olive oil industry got some good news this week while the state’s table-olive growers continue to struggle with declining acreage. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Deputies’ use of force in shooting gun-wielding Rosamond man within policy — Two deputies who shot and injured a shotgun-wielding man in Rosamond last month were justified in their use of force, a Kern County Sheriff’s Office Incident Review Board has determined. Bakersfield Californian article

‘High-ranking’ Merced gang member’s death appears accidental, police say – A 30-year-old Merced man, believed to a “high-ranking” Norteño gang member, died early Friday after suffering an apparently self-inflicted gunshot while running from a police officer, the Merced Police Department said. Merced Sun-Star article 

Family sues city of Sacramento over fatal police shooting – The family of a man shot dead by Sacramento police last month filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday saying he was victim of excessive force and didn’t need to die. Sacramento Bee article 

Thinking life a thief, police warn of car burglaries — A laptop computer, an iPad and two credit cards were among the items police saw in plain view inside vehicles parked downtown Friday, as they inspected more than 100 to warn motorists who might be in danger of being ripped off. Bakersfield Californian article 

Gang, narcotics task forces begin merger – Following years of working hand-in-hand, Kings County’s task forces dedicated to investigating gangs and drug-related crimes may soon be housed under one roof. Hanford Sentinel article 

New federal indictment accuses ex-LA Sheriff Lee Baca of obstructing justice, lying to authorities – A federal grand jury on Friday indicted former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on charges of obstructing justice and lying to federal investigators concerning operations at the troubled county jail system. LA Times article 

Kings sheriff’s department to receive new senior monitoring system — Every day Kings County’s seniors and disabled rely on a check-in system few people know about but is an integral part of their lives and well-being. The Are you Ok program (RUOK) — which calls and checks on seniors and disabled people home alone — has been run by the Sheriff’s Office for 18 years and will be replaced by the sophisticated CARE Call Reassurance program (CARE) in November. Hanford Sentinel article


Fresno State now accepting spring transfer applications – Fresno State is accepting undergraduate student applications for the spring 2017 semester from new upper-division transfer applicants enrolled at eight Central Valley community colleges. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Visalia-Porterville named some of least educated cities in U.S. by national study – Visalia and Porterville were recently deemed some of the least educated cities in the United States, according to an analysis by personal finance websiteWalletHub. Visalia Times-Delta article

Danny Morrison: It’s almost Attendance Awareness Month.  But is Kern County truancy-aware? — Kids that are failing school may miss school. Kids that miss school find trouble. Kids that find trouble get pregnant, go to jail or both. Those same kids will ultimately become a burden on our local economy in some way, shape or form. Kern County must get its truancy numbers under control now or suffer the consequences long-term. I just hope we aren’t too late.  Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

Students learn industrial maintenance skills — Since the College of the Sequoias Hanford Center first opened in 2010, it has worked on building up what is offered here, including some major programs like its industrial maintenance training program. Hanford Sentinel article 


Slashing potential fine deflates PG&E pipeline safety trial – A lot of the air has gone out of the criminal case against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. with federal prosecutors’ stunning decision this week to slash the maximum potential fine by nearly 99 percent — from $562 million to $6 million — if PG&E is found guilty of violating pipeline-safety laws. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Cooler temperatures could boost Valley air quality — Temperatures are going down in the San Joaquin Valley, with Friday putting an end to a streak of 13 consecutive days with highs over 100 degrees and signaling relief from very poor air quality. Fresno Bee article

Kern loses fire engine to Sobranes fire – Kern County fire engine No. 21 burned up in the Sobranes Fire in Northern California recently, according to Fire Chief Brian Marshall. Bakersfield Californian article

California Fish and Game Commission to weigh in on spotted owl, Delta bass — Should the northern spotted owl – whose federal conservation status in the 1990s hit the state’s timber industry – receive even more protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act? And if anglers are allowed to take more non-native bass from in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, will more endangered fish survive? The California Fish and Game Commission will consider those two questions later this month. Sacramento Bee article 

LAX accepts $4 million grant to cut carbon emissions — Los Angeles International Airport will receive a federal grant of about $4 million next month to help reduce pollution from airplanes on the ground. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Sacramento County resident becomes first in state this year to die of West Nile virus – A Sacramento County resident who was over age 65 became the first person in California to die of West Nile virus this year, the state Department of Public Health announced Friday. Sacramento Bee article 

The Tulare Regional Medical Center turnaround – The 500 people working in the hospital that some say was destined to close are the some of the same 500 workers now helping make it profitable the last two years. They’re the employees of Tulare Regional Medical Center. Visalia Times-Delta article

Human cases of West Nile virus reported in Kern — The first human cases of West Nile virus this season have been reported in Kern County, the Kern County Public Health Services Department announced Friday. Two people have been diagnosed with the illness, living in zip codes 93304 and 93311, health officials said.Bakersfield Californian article 

James “J.D.” Grothe/Jon Tremayne/Claudia Krausnick: Hospice is well run; we’ll keep it that way – Grothe, chair of the Community Hospice board of directors; Tremayne, chair of Community Hospice Foundation board of directors; and Krausnick, president of Friends of Community Hospice, write, “DeSha McLeod and her staff have acted fairly and responsibly though several doctors chose not to continue serving our Hospice families.” Grothe/Tremayne/Krausnick op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Denise Gibbs, former SCAP leader, no longer at helm of residential care center — Denise Gibbs, the former leader of a controversial housing agency in Modesto, was dismissed this week from her management job at a senior assisted living center in Manteca. Modesto Bee article


Caltrans steps up weed efforts after fires scorch Fresno highway roadsides — A day after a series of small fires scorched weed-infested embankments along Highway 41 through central Fresno, City Councilman Clint Olivier said the state’s transportation department is planning a major cleanup of unsightly dry grass and brush that can fuel those blazes. Fresno Bee article

Top roboticist quits Google’s self-driving car unit — A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project. New York Times article 

Other areas 

Hanford cat, duck rules get green light — A series of rules that would limit people’s ability to feed feral cats and ducks in Hanford are on the verge of being adopted. The Hanford City Council voted 5-0 to move forward with proposed ordinances that would clamp down on people who feed feral cats and ducks. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

 Sacramento Bee – It’s unclear why a perfectly reasonable bill to deter backroom influence on the California Coastal Commission was derailed in the Assembly last week.