August 7, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Valley GOP leader wants party’s immigration stance to be less offensive — It’s been a hard, two-decades-long fall for California’s Republican Party, and one of the major reasons has been its alienation of Latino voters. Some in the party say tweaking the immigration plank of the state party’s platform might help matters. Fresno Bee article 

Brown’s climate message: ‘California’s burning: What are you going to do about it?’ — Gov. Jerry Brown, who called a state of emergency last week and visited the area Thursday, blamed climate change for hot weather that contributes to drier forests and increased fire danger. Capitol Alert; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article


Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown’s trifecta: Politics, Catholicism and advocacy — When Gov. Jerry Brown traveled to the Vatican to attend Pope Francis’ conference on climate change, the Democratic governor allowed one of his most extended public glimpses into how Catholicism helped shape his career. Capitol Weekly article


Valley politics

Macauley running for Tulare County supervisor — Ted Macaulay said he had a great time in the 12 years he spent as an Exeter City Council member, but last year he decided not to run for reelection. “I left the city in a good place, and I wanted to get some new blood on the City Council,” he said Thursday. Now Macaulay is hoping to be the new blood — this time on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, if voters next year choose him to fill the District 1 seat currently held by Allen Ishida, who has announced he will not run for reelection and has launched a campaign to become California’s next governor. Visalia Times-Delta article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Summer suspense: California Politics Podcast – Who knew one week could offer so much political intrigue, from the cloud of scandal to the potential for a 2016 ballot measure smackdown? This week’s California Politics Podcast examines the new chapter of corruption allegations revealed this week in San Francisco, and whether the case — or the media frenzy — has legs. California Politics Podcast in KQED


Sacramento Bee: Even people with criminal history should have right to vote – Criminals live on the outskirts of society. Now, thanks to the ACLU’s suit and Padilla’s action, citizens who have a history will have the right to step into the public square and be heard, if they care. Sacramento Bee editorial



GOP debate: Bay Area residents weigh in on candidates’ stance on sanctuary cities — A significant spotlight shined on the Bay Area during Thursday night’s first GOP debate after moderators raised questions surrounding sanctuary cities and the shooting death of former Pleasanton resident Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant. San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Who wins in California politics: Uber or taxis?– Uber, the ridesharing service that’s provoked a wave of new regulations, beefed up itslobbying efforts and stirred the ire of taxicab companies, has become a fashionable mode of transportation for politicians in California, campaign filings show. And Democrats, who have been accused by their GOP counterparts as seeking to stifle innovation by placing curbs on the industry, were big-time customers. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Misleading bond issue fades away — California’s politicians love to affix catchy names and acronyms to their nostrums. Were their labels subject to truth-in-advertising laws, however, many would be forcibly discarded. Examples are legion, but the biggest whopper of recent vintage was calling a $15 billion bond issue “economic recovery bonds.” Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Ben Boychuk: Defenders resort to excuses and euphemisms for Planned Parenthood — With every video that comes out depicting how Planned Parenthood peddles aborted human remains, the rationales become more strained and the defenses more desperate. Boychuk column in Sacramento Bee

Debate was The Trump Show, to GOP’s dismay – The Republican presidential debate will be remembered as The Donald Trump show, a fitting if troubling showcase for what the party faces as the attention-grabbing real estate mogul dominates its 2016 campaign. McClatchy Newspapers article; LA Times article


News Briefs

Top Stories

Courts launch amnesty program on old traffic tickets People who never paid the fines on their old traffic tickets are getting a break: Starting Oct. 1, they can pay them off at half the amount owed, or even 80% off if they are low-income. There’s ifs, ands or buts, however. Fresno Bee article

Plague found in child camping in Yosemite National Park — A child has contracted the plague after a camping trip to Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, prompting state health officials to launch an emergency investigation and perform an environmental evaluation to determine if the bacterial disease has spread. San Francisco Chronicle article; ‘Here’s how to avoid exposure to the plague’ in LA Times; Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Applying to a UC campus? Now you can choose among six gender identities – if you want to — Starting this fall, students applying to the University of California will have the option to choose among six gender identities listed on undergraduate admissions forms: male, female, trans male, trans female, gender queer/gender non-conforming and different identity. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

Index: Valley economy primed for continued growth in coming months – The Central Valley’s economy should continue to grow in the next few months, with manufacturing posting healthy gains, according to the latest business conditions index from the Craig School of Business at Fresno State. The Business Journal article

California’s baby boom will become a senior boom – Although its overall population growth continues to slow, California’s senior population – those 65 and older – will nearly double in the next 15 years, a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California concludes. And that trend, PPIC says, is “clearly indicating an increased demand for health and support services.” Sacramento Bee article

U.S. employers add 215,000 jobs in July; 5.3 percent unemployment — U.S. employers added a solid 215,000 jobs in July, signaling a steadily rising job market and likely nudging the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates in September.  AP article; New York Times article 

New retails on Blackstone Avenue reviving Fresno’s core – Fresno’s Blackstone Avenue business corridor is bouncing back. Recent opportunities for retailers to obtain large properties or build new is helping to draw local and large national businesses to one of Fresno’s main streets between McKinley and Sierra avenues. Fresno Bee article

Gluten-free P*DE*Q bakery closing, will focus on wholesale business – P*DE*Q Bakery and Bistro is closing its storefront location in Clovis, but it will continue its wholesale and online business selling gluten-free food. Fresno Bee article

Bolthouse Farms appoints new president and general manager amid expansion push – There’s a popular notion about Millennials — that text-happy group of night owls born between the early 1980s and 2000 — that farming executive Scott LaPorta is only too happy to dispel. Bakersfield Californian article

Amid backlash, lawsuits, more delivery startups converting contractors to employees – In the latest demonstration that tech startups are bending to mounting pressure to reclassify their workforce, meal delivery service Sprig announced Thursday that it will convert its contract delivery drivers to employees. San Jose Mercury News article

Will Uber drivers get class-action status for employment case? – A lawsuit by Uber drivers seeking to be deemed employees could become a bludgeon against the ride company or end up as a mere mosquito, depending on the outcome of a court hearing in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle article

Justice Department asks judge to block enforcement of homeless camping ban —

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday urged a judge to block enforcement of an anti-camping ordinance in Boise, Idaho, by employing the rationale from a seminal Los Angeles homeless-rights case. LA Times article

Hospital bed device advances in business startup contest – Charlene Solomon’s idea for lifting immobile patients on hospital beds won the first regional round of the Stanislaus Innovation Challenge on Thursday night. Modesto Bee article

#ILookLikeAnEngineer spreads from Twitter to billboards — Women across the tech industry took to Twitter early this week, posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Now they hope to take their stereotype-defying mantra to a crowdfunded billboard overlooking San Francisco. LA Times article

Clements district fire tax measure draws heat — Clements fire officials say a special tax before voters would raise district revenues about $30,000 a year, just enough to cover current expenses and give them the ability to keep up with the cost of living. Area farmers and business owners, however, say reading the fine print of Measure J paints a far different picture — landowners with large acreage could face hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in new taxes. Stockton Record article



Odds of wet El Nino winter jump for San Francisco, but not for farther north — While Southern California remains on track for a wet winter, the forecast for Northern California is still cloudy. The strengthening El Niño that’s expected to bring moisture to at least the southern part of the state is already stirring surprise showers there. Last month, Los Angeles and San Diego set rainfall records. San Francisco Chronicle article


Katherine Miller and Skip Thomson: Delta tunnels plan is still flawed – The members of the Delta Counties Coalition write, “Californians are thirsty for answers, but with more than $15 billion on the line and pressure to find a statewide water solution, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial praising the repackaged twin-tunnel plan and implying that “anything is better than nothing” is concerning in light of growing statewide opposition.” Miller/Thomson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Merced firefighters train, work to conserve water – County and city firefighters in Merced are doing their part to help conserve water by implementing new practices while training. Merced Sun-Star article

Ken Carlson: Failed wells spell misery for Valley residents – Stanislaus County has received 22 applications for a temporary water supply program for homeowners with failed wells. Keith Boggs, assistant chief executive officer, said Thursday that the county and Self-Help Enterprises are working on program logistics and securing a contractor for tank installations. Carlson in Modesto Bee

Judge halts release of names of DWP customers who got grants to replace lawns — Heeding the call to conserve water, tens of thousands of Southern California residents and businesses replaced their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping with the help of $340 million in grants from the Metropolitan Water District. LA Times article

Dairies ready to milk pricing hearings — Tom Barcellos expected the news, but he still was happy when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a series of hearings on proposals to have the federal government set the prices California dairies are paid for their milk. Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

U.S. Marshals Service joins manhunt — The U.S. Marshals Service has joined the manhunt for a suspect accused of killing a man and firing at deputies in eastern Kern County, ramping up the number of law enforcement personnel searching at any one time to as many as 150. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Body cameras an important step – The body cameras now worn by Stockton police officers do not need to be a cure-all. But they must be more than a panacea. In short, they must be utilized with one overriding goal: to establish truth. Stockton Record editorial 

Breckinridge remains out at Tulare police — Jerry Breckinridge is still “unavailable” at Tulare police, making it nearly 10 weeks he has been off the job. Visalia Times-Delta article


Court to review request for explanation from Stanislaus County judge — The court will review a defense attorney’s request for a written explanation from a judge who removed himself from a death penalty case last month. Modesto Bee article

Children in boot camp abuse investigation suffer lasting damage, lawyer says — A two-month investigation that included searching the cellphones, computers, vehicles, photos and belongings of camp leaders led to the arrest of four officers from the South Gate and Huntington Park police departments earlier this week. LA Times article



Stanislaus State among Priceton Review’s top colleges in academics, student life — California State University, Stanislaus, once again takes its place on the Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s best 380 colleges, rounding out a decade on the prestigious register. It also ranks highly on two measures of student comfort and sits on Princeton’s measure of the best colleges in the West. Modesto Bee article 

Mark Arax: Pay to Play: The makings of a Fresno Unified scandal – The lease-leaseback scandal now threatening to undermine Fresno Unified isn’t really about bricks or mortar or a method of construction that confounds easy understanding.  Rather, at the heart of the matter lies the relationships – I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine – that binds together the main players.  Arax in 

Bill McEwen: Connecting the dots in Fresno Unified school construction contract controversy – Bottom line: Superintendents serve at the pleasure of the trustees. Richard Spencer has been very generous in his support of the superintendent and those trustees loyal to Hanson. A reasonable person might wonder if this support influenced the selection of contractors in a district with $280 million to spend on renovating and building schools. McEwen column in Fresno Bee

What schools and parents need to know about transgender students — As increasing numbers of transgender students become open about who they are, “Schools in Transition” — a guide created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Spectrum, the Human Rights Campaign Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, in addition to the National Education Association — is intended to be a road map. EdSource article

New Clovis university one step closer to full accreditation — California Health Sciences University in Clovis has moved to the second of three steps needed for full accreditation, following the WASC Senior College and University Commission’s annual meeting in July. Fresno Bee article 

Report calls early school start a problem for student health — Five out of every six middle schools and high schools nationwide start classes earlier than 8:30 a.m., making it difficult for teens to get the sleep they need to be healthy, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington Post article

Keith Law: Merced College shouldn’t saddle students with Higher One’s fees – The member of the board of directors of the Community College Association writes, “During the 2013-14 academic year, Merced College’s administration chose to contract out the distribution of student aid to Higher One, a publicly traded for-profit company. It did this without input from affected students.” Law op-ed in Modesto Bee



Some evacuees from California wildfire return to find ruins — About 800 of the thousands of people who had to evacuate from a huge and fierce Northern California wildfire have been allowed to return, but for some the relief quickly turned to grief when they found only remnants of the places they fled a few days earlier. AP article

How a dam’s destruction is changing environmental landscape – Like a giant cookie disappearing bite by bite, a massive and once-mighty concrete dam is quickly disappearing in a tucked-away corner of Monterey County. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Edison ‘disappointed’ with judge’s ruling in San Onofre case – Southern California Edison called a judge’s ruling that the utility violated rules in its communication with state regulators a “disappointment” and defended its actions, saying executives did not realize they had done anything wrong. LA Times article 

PUC hit with fresh criticisms over dealings with Edison – California’s scandal-ridden utilities commission was slammed with fresh criticism after a state judge accused Southern California Edison of wrongful dealings with regulators that put customers on the hook for $3.3 billion. LA Times article

Assemblyman, PUC head clash over San Onofre record — A months-long dispute over details of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s closure has set the chair of a California Assembly committee overseeing utilities against the California Public Utilities Commission. Sacramento Bee article

Bark beetle associated with tree mortality, study shows — The Sequoia National Forest has been experiencing drought effects for years, but dramatic surges in bark beetle-associated mortality are increasing, according to a recent report. Visalia Times-Delta article


Health/Human Services

Lemoore Senior Center still waiting for grant — A $1.4 million grant to improve the Lemoore Senior Center is finally moving forward after months of delays and red tape. As the Lemoore City Council learned during a study session on Tuesday, the work didn’t end when the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant was awarded in October 2014. Hanford Sentinel article

Yelp adds Medicare, other data to review of doctors, hospitals — Most people turn to Yelp, the popular consumer review site and mobile app, when they’re looking for a late-night takeout restaurant or a great spot for brunch. Now, they’ll be able to search the site for quality information about doctors and hospitals. Sacramento Bee article 

Even with insurance, Medicaid recipients still go to ER for dental problems – States that provide Medicaid adult dental care still have high rates of dental patients who show up at hospital emergency departments, particularly in urban underserved areas, according to a study released this weekKQED report

Diane Sobkowicz: E-cigarettes threaten the public’s health – The board president of the American Heart Association’s Sacramento division writes, “Every day, more California teens try e-cigarettes, many of them not knowing they are flirting with a deadly, lifelong addiction. It is urgent that we pass legislation now to address this looming public health threat.” Sobkowicz op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Breast cancer survivor turns post-surgery aggravation into invention — Battling cancer – four times in nine surgeries – didn’t turn Cinde Dolphin brittle or resentful. Nor did getting laid off three times from corporate jobs set her back. Instead, her resilience has taken her on an unexpected odyssey that started in a remote African village and landed her in the world of small-business owners. Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing

Chase, crimes against homeowner’s house and car led to Amberton wall – The defense rested Thursday in Bakersfield’s Amberton wall case — but not before southwest homeowner Michael Hansen, the final witness, explained why he had a wall built on his private property, blocking a walkway connecting that subdivision to Stockdale Estates. Bakersfield Californian article

San Joaquin County planners OK indoor soccer complex – Friends and family of a Stockton couple who plan to open an indoor soccer complex on Tomahawk Drive filled the San Joaquin County Public Health Auditorium on Thursday night to support the project. After nearly two hours of debate and discussion, the small room erupted in applause after the San Joaquin County Planning Commission unanimously approved the complex. Stockton Record article

Jerrold Jensen: Make sure you get the full story on Visalia chickens, goats — Three months ago, over 20 residents near the epicenter of the illegal goat crisis sent a petition to the City Council opposing efforts to legalize farm animals in Visalia. They clearly understood the potential for hostility between neighbors. Jensen op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Placer County ordinance boots homeless camp from government property — Dozens of homeless people camped out on the grounds of the Placer County government complex in north Auburn were forced to leave Thursday as a new ordinance took effect banning unauthorized camping on county-owned land. Sacramento Bee article



Ontario faces heavy lifting to get airport back on its feet — Now that Ontario has regained control of its airport in a deal struck with Los Angeles, the small Inland Empire city faces a substantial challenge to revive a struggling facility that has lost more than a third of its passengers since 2007. LA Times article


Other areas 

Flood damage to Fresno County building about $1.5 million — The bill for last week’s flood in the Fresno County Hall of Records is estimated to be about $1.5 million, county officials say. Fresno Bee article

Kern pits take off with Wings — Wings of Rescue will stop in Bakersfield Friday, and when they take off, shelters in Bakersfield and around Kern County will be lighter by 18 pit bull dogs and at least 35 smaller pooches. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto to work with La Loma residents on parks — Modesto will work more closely with La Loma neighborhood residents to deal with vagrants who camp overnight, take drugs and drink alcohol, relieve themselves in public and engage in other illegal behavior at Moose and Kewin parks. Modesto Bee article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We will miss Jon Stewart, who spoke truth to power in a comedic voice; California leads on quitting coal. 

Sacramento Bee –Criminals live on the outskirts of society. Now, thanks to the ACLU’s suit and Padilla’s action, citizens who have a history will have the right to step into the public square and be heard, if they care.

Stockton Record – The body cameras now worn by Stockton police officers do not need to be a cure-all. But they must be more than a panacea. In short, they must be utilized with one overriding goal: to establish truth.