August 9, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories 

Prompted by Sodomite Suppression Act, bill would raise initiative filing fees tenfold — A bill in the state Senate would raise the filing fee for a proposed ballot initiative tenfold, from $200 to $2,000. Opponents say the measure, Assembly Bill 1100, will stifle citizen participation in the political process. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Bee: Feinstein-Boxer water bill offers hope for Valley and California – For all the pain this miserable drought has caused, perhaps some good could come of it. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Democrats’ most refined legislation yet to help shape California’s water future. Fresno Bee editorial



At San Diego, at least, the border has become more orderly — Donald Trump’s portrait of a border out of control doesn’t square with what people see every day in and around San Diego, the nation’s busiest point of entry. AP article

Cross-border airport bridge to open in December — The great majority of cross-border travelers who use Tijuana’s A.L. Rodríguez International Airport are Mexicans — and U.S. Latinos with ties to Mexico. Now, developers of a new privately operated cross-border bridge connecting directly to the Mexican terminal hope the project will broaden U.S. interest in flying out of Tijuana to destinations across Mexico. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Other areas

Steve Lopez: Legislator says she has an answer to state’s housing crunch – No public official in California has been as committed to doing something about these realities as Toni Atkins, who has introduced or supported several bills now pending in the Legislature. So last week, I took the train to San Diego, where Atkins used to serve on the City Council, to learn more about how and why housing became an obsession for her. Lopez column in LA Times

Key links to halls of power in Yee case: ex-school board member – It started as a run-of-the-mill FBI investigation into alleged gang activity in San Francisco’s Chinatown and mushroomed into a political corruption case that brought down a state senator and pointed fingers, but no criminal charges, at Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials. San Francisco Chronicle article

Seeking an edge in the crowded GOP field, Carly Fiorina seizes on gender controversies — Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina bristles at the suggestion that she gets any special treatment as the sole woman among the 17 Republicans running for president. But at the same time, as she seeks to shore up support in the polls, she has made a point of vocally wading into GOP gender controversies. LA Times article


News Briefs

Top Stories 

Price, risk weigh heavily on farmers who would draw from Delta water tunnels — These farmers, along with a handful of large, urban water agencies in western and Southern California that also rely on water shipped through the Delta, would shoulder the entire cost of the tunnels, $15.5 billion at last count. Whether they’ll agree to do so is shaping up as a close call. Although the urban agencies – including the influential Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – appear to support the project, the sprawling agricultural districts that will tip the scales aren’t so sure. Sacramento Bee article

Study: California’s prosecutors don’t reflect diverse state — According to a study by the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, whites represent nearly 70% of prosecutors while Latinos represent only 9%. And a majority of prosecutors across California are white men. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Dan Walters: California has big housing shortage – California’s severe housing crisis is easy to describe – supply too low, prices too high. The state’s population is still growing, albeit slowly, and as it adds about 350,000 bodies each year, it needs at least 150,000 new units of housing to keep pace. We’re not meeting that standard. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

For good or bad, Bright House customers in Kern could feel impact of Charter deal — All 100,000 Kern County customers of Bright House Networks LLC will transition to a new service provider as part of a major merger-acquisition involving some of the nation’s largest cable TV and Internet companies — but only if state and federal regulators decide the deal is in the public’s best interest. Bakersfield Californian article

Senate report urges government crackdown on airline fees — The government should crack down on airline fees for things like seat reservations, checked baggage and ticket changes or cancellations, which are often unfair or hidden from consumers, according to a Senate report released Thursday. AP article



Fresno’s lawn care services fight not to dry up with drought – Lawns across Fresno are drying up with the drought as homeowners choose not to water them, and lawn care businesses may be going dry with them. Yet there may be life in both. Fresno Bee article

River that runs through downtown San Jose goes dry; fish and wildlife suffer — The river that runs through America’s 10th-largest city has dried up, shriveling a source of civic pride that had welcomed back trout, salmon, beavers and other wildlife after years of restoration efforts. Over the past two months, large sections of the Guadalupe have become miles of cracked, arid gray riverbed. Fish and other wildlife are either missing or dead, casualties of California’s relentless drought. San Jose Mercury News article 

Jeff Jardine: Cat-astrophes and other drought-related effects — The drought surfaces in other ways that aren’t necessarily top of mind and that don’t draw as much attention from the politicians or the media. They range from health concerns to animal behaviors to legal issues. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Donald W. Blount: Maybe I’m all wet, but … — I guess I should not complain. Stockton Municipal Utilities Department recently exceeded its water conservation mark, hitting 41 percent savings in June compared to a year ago. That was well beyond the 28 percent targeted. Blount column in Stockton Record


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Susan Sward: Open police disciplinary records Police should focus on rooting out officers guilty of egregious conduct. Opening disciplinary records would help make this happen. Sward in Sacramento Bee 

U.S. ‘supermax’ prison: ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’ is seen as ‘inhuman and degrading’ — The court’s refusal to extradite Damache highlights the conflicting perspectives on incarceration between the U.S. and Europe. Some European nations see the U.S. prison system as a barbaric anomaly in a country that has often insisted on the protection of human rights around the world. LA Times article



Teacher shortages spur a nationwide hiring scramble (credentials optional) In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers. Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers. New York Times article

Velma Montoya: UC regents were too generous to Yudof – The former UC regent writes, “The usual rationale for sabbatical pay for high-ranking college and university administrators is to provide college teachers, who have temporarily left the classroom to serve as administrators, with time to retool before returning to teaching. Full-time, non-academic, university administrators, such as finance directors or general counsels, are not granted this perquisite.” Montoya op-ed in Sacramento Bee

State bar urged to require unaccredited law schools to disclose graduation, dropout rates – Legislators and legal experts are urging California bar officials to require the state’s unaccredited law schools to be more transparent to give prospective students a better idea of their chances of becoming an attorney. LA Times article 

Charter school board may get rare perk – pay — Charter schools, unlike big school districts, don’t usually pay their board members. But trustees of a single charter school in Del Paso Heights will start receiving $600 a month if a proposal to amend the school’s bylaws gets final approval. Sacramento Bee article 

Larry White: Reading, writing, arithmetic – and FUN! — In the past decade or two, much of the enrichment of former school days has disappeared. Due to legitimate budgetary issues and the political climate of nuts and bolts learning structure dictated from on high, there seems to have been something lost in the process. School still needs to contain an element of excitement and even, a little bit of FUN! White column in Stockton Record



Explosive Rocky fire a warning for drought-parched state — The historic four-year drought has transformed a California that is always fire-prone into something even more dangerous and volatile. The state’s hills and valleys — made up largely of chaparral, heavy brush, manzanita and oak — are as dry as they have ever been, according to laboratory measurements of moisture. The studies, done every year by state forestry biologists, show fuel moisture lower than levels normally seen in September and October, the driest time of the year. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Two large fires rage in Sierra, Sequoia National Forests – Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service are battling two major wildfires growing in the Fresno and Tulare counties portions of the Sierra National Forest and the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sequoia National Forest. Fresno Bee article

Calorie-burning firefighters eat, drink plenty to battle state’s wildfires — As fires continue to burn around the Sacramento region and the rest of the state, the folks fighting them staff 24-hour shifts, beginning around 8 a.m. Before leaving base camp, they line up for a 2,000-calorie breakfast of rich foods like sausage patties, hash browns and scrambled eggs. Yogurt, oatmeal and fruit round out the menu. Sacramento Bee article

Panel scrutinizes levee plan – A state plan to prioritize levee upgrades in the Delta is drawing criticism from independent scientists. The little-noticed plan is supposed to funnel public money toward levees where upgrades are most needed to protect people, property, infrastructure and a large share of California’s water supply. That’s as opposed to funding all levees equally, achieving the same level of flood protection throughout the estuary. Stockton Record article

Tulloch Lake dropping early to cool Stanislaus River fish – Fish concerns will force Tulloch Lake to drop sooner than water agencies had announced in a milestone spring accord, while construction work meant to ensure that 7,000 people won’t run out of water for drinking and fire protection has not yet begun. Modesto Bee article

Climate change: Future Bay Area’s weather will be more like San Diego’s — Like San Diego weather? Stick around several decades and we just might have it. A glimpse into our future reveals a Bay Area whose weather feels a lot like California’s balmy border city. Seattle could feel like present-day San Jose, forcing hipsters to shed their beards and knit beanies. A future Sacramento may have armpit stains the size of small nations. San Jose Mercury News article


Health/Human Services

Training for family medicine doctors moving, growing – The family medicine residency program at Kern Medical Center is winding down, with five residents having recently begun their third and final year of training at the county hospital. After they graduate, the program will cease to operate there. Bakersfield Californian article 

Accessing care especially difficult for Latinos on Medi-Cal — Even though Latinos make up nearly half of California’s 12.5 million Medi-Cal enrollees, a report by the independent California HealthCare Foundation found that 36 percent of the Spanish-speaking Medi-Cal population has been told that a physician won’t take them, compared to 7 percent of the overall Medi-Cal population. Even those who speak both English and Spanish reported similar difficulty accessing doctors. AP article

Modesto may join alliance to develop Stanislaus County veterans center – Stanislaus County, Modesto and a nonprofit foundation could forge an alliance to develop and operate a veterans service center. Under an emerging plan, the county would contribute $313,000 annually and Modesto could kick in $80,000 a year for the facility, which would serve as a meeting place for veterans groups and a one-stop location for obtaining services. Modesto Bee article

For underserved patients, hygienists treating cavities is something to smile about – The new procedure is part of a broader initiative to expand dental care by dispatching hygienists to preschools, senior centers and other locations that serve children and adults who may not have access to a dentist. In this new model of dental care, called virtual or tele-dentistry, hygienists work remotely but in consultation with dentists, who review X-rays electronically and decide which teeth should be filled. LA Times article 

Camp Erin lets kids be kids through the grieving process — Camp Erin is a bereavement camp for children and teens who have lost someone close to them. So amid the hikes and games is time to share and grieve. Community Hospice has run Camp Erin at Camp Jack Hazard in the high Sierra for two summers now. Modesto Bee article


Land Use/Housing

Code enforcement designed to fight blight – Fred Sheil, a longtime south Stockton housing activist, was in a particularly pessimistic mood last week. For the past 25 years, Sheil has watched the perennial problems of blight, crime and disrepair linger or worsen, leaving him to wonder when or if he will ever see ongoing change for the better in Stockton’s most challenged sections. Stockton Record article

San Joaquin County supervisors: 12 rodeos on property are too much — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors said last week that more work needs to be done on an amendment that would allow more rodeos to be held on agricultural properties. Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to direct the county’s community development department to draft text that increases the number of rodeos allowed to six from four, instead of the originally requested 12 events. Stockton Record article



Grand jury report critical of Kings County’s suits against bullet train draws fire – A grand jury report that criticized the Kings County Board of Supervisors for its lawsuits against the California bullet-train project is drawing fire in the sparsely populated Central Valley farming community. LA Times article

Shoppers talk high-speed rail even as they shop for nectarines — The newest alternative route being worked out with the help of Bakersfield city officials could send the passenger bullet trains into a station built close to the intersection of F Street and Golden State. Conceivably, such a major development would alter the area’s business landscape in a significant way, by possibly razing old buildings like the seemingly luckless, box that once housed a Montgomery Ward department store, and replacing it with restaurants, a travelers’ hotel, a Starbuck’s-style coffee house or other retail outlets. Bakersfield Californian article

North County Corridor environmental study delayed — A major milestone in the North County Corridor planning process for an expressway skirting Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale has been delayed again, with public release of key documents in late September or early October and a public hearing expected in November. Modesto Bee article


LA maps out sweeping transportation overhaul — First it was a ban on plastic bags. Then came the workplace prohibition on e-cigarettes. Now the Los Angeles City Council is embarking on a new and controversial exercise in behavior modification: Getting more Angelenos to give up, or at least reduce their reliance on, the automobile. LA Times article


Other areas

Michael Fitzgerald: The darkness of inner ‘incarceration’ — Earl A. Smith grew up angry. His mother rejected him. His father made “mistakes.” Teachers didn’t care if he failed. Stockton segregated him to the Stribley Park area. Smith became a remorselessly violent thug. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

‘A trailblazer for our entire country’ — The story of Bill Jones’ pursuit for his own family is inspiring, courageous and heartbreaking. The gay civil rights activist, most well-known for being the first single man in California to adopt a child in 1969 and a graduate from University of the Pacific, will dedicate a new Rainbow Resource and Study Room at the university’s campus this afternoon in Stockton. Stockton Record article 

Critics fear LA sidewalk repair proposal will burden nonprofits, charities — Twin parkway trees towering over Mt. Salem-New Wave Fellowship Church, a single-story, store-front ministry on South Los Angeles’ Central Avenue, shade parishioners from the punishing summer sun. But under a proposal now being debated at City Hall, the lush side-by-side ficuses could pose a financial threat to the 65-member congregation, which includes a mix of seniors and blue-collar families of modest means. LA Times article 

Gerald Haslam: Tracing Merle Haggard’s trip from boxcar to icon — Today Haggard’s boxcar sits amidst the houses of historic Latino vaqueros, of prosperous Chinese entrepreneurs and Afro-American pioneers, the symbol not of an outsider’s accomplishments, but of a gifted native son’s climb from the outskirts of a complicated society toward the reshaping of its dynamic social core. Haslam in Sacramento Bee


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – For all the pain this miserable drought has caused, perhaps some good could come of it. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Democrats’ most refined legislation yet to help shape California’s water future. 

Sacramento Bee – For all the pain this miserable drought has caused, perhaps some good could come of it. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Democrats’ most refined legislation yet to help shape California’s water future; Shrimp Boy’s dish is best served cold.