December 1, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Vote results prime new Legislature for GOP, Democratic cooperation –The Democrats’ failure to win a supermajority in either the Senate or Assembly, after capturing both just two years ago, is expected to produce a more centrist agenda and give more clout to moderate Democrats and Republicans.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Smoking tax hike would punish poor – A new proposal to raise California’s taxes on cigarettes by another $2 per pack raises a question: How far can government go to oppress otherwise legal behavior it deems to be unacceptable without violating personal liberties?  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joshua Pechthalt: Proposition 30 tax hike is working and must be kept in place – The president of the California Federation of Teachers writes, “Contrary to the anti-tax and anti-government rhetoric popular in some quarters, Proposition 30 is working, and has provided a road map for other states facing similar cuts to education and essential social services. It is sound economic and social policy, and making it permanent leaves a lasting legacy of which we can be proud.”  Pechthalt op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Senator to re-introduce health insurance bill for undocumented immigrants — It’s the beginning of the new legislative session in Sacramento on Monday, and one lawmaker isn’t wasting time. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) is re-introducing a bill to extend health insurance to all undocumented immigrants.  KQED report

Other areas

Dan Walters Daily: All things possible when California Legislature returns – All things are possible, and many things are impossible, as the Legislature begins a new session, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

With executive action, Obama risks losing Chief Justice John Roberts – President Obama always knew his plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation would enrage Republicans on Capitol Hill who oppose most of what he does. But by claiming the power to forge ahead based on his executive authority, the president may well lose the one conservative he still really needs: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.  LA Times article

A push to increase LA voter turnout – Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson is looking to persuade voters to hold all city and school board elections in even-numbered years, when higher-profile state and federal contests are on the ballot. The move is part of a push to increase voter participation, particularly among young adults and people of color.  LA Times article

George Miller, Contra Costa’s liberal lion, leaves legacy in D.C. – When he is gone, California will have lost a booming voice in Washington, a master legislator dubbed “Big George” by former President George W. Bush, a liberal lion often compared to his late friend Sen. Edward Kennedy. He has left a long trail of pathbreaking legislation, from the Affordable Care Act to No Child Left Behind to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, the law that gave the environment a guaranteed share of California’s precious water.  San Francisco Chronicle article

A helping hand departs Sacramento City Hall – A remarkable streak comes to an end at City Hall this week. After 20 years, Steve Cohn’s run as a member of the City Council is over.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: A junior class of legislators for Sacramento region – Sacramento’s clout will ebb on Monday when newly elected legislators take their oaths of office, a result of the churn brought about by term limits.  Sacramento Bee editorial

After days of heated Ferguson protests, a somber vigil in Oakland — After a week of often raucous and violent Bay Area demonstrations protesting a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black teenager, families of people killed by Bay Area police gathered Sunday evening near Lake Merritt to call for more accountability from law enforcement.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Supreme Court to weigh job protections for pregnant women — The Supreme Court is to consider the case of a former United Parcel Service employee who sued after being placed on unpaid leave when she became pregnant.  New York Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

Hospital brings rehab care and jobs to downtown Modesto – About 16 months after opening its doors, a downtown Modesto hospital is filled with patients and has almost 400 employees on its payroll, the chief executive officer said.  Modesto Bee article

Black Friday weekend sales slump amid holiday bargain marathon — Holiday promotions that debuted as early as October led to a sharp decrease in Black Friday weekend sales, as some consumers took a breather from buying, according to industry data released Sunday.  LA Times article; AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Vallejo first to test no pension cut in bankruptcy — What happens when a bankrupt city does not cut its largest debt, pensions, is getting its first test in Vallejo, which has higher average pensions and higher CalPERS rates than the two larger cities still in bankruptcy, Stockton and San Bernardino.  Calpensions article

Army of Amazon robots ready to help fulfill orders on Cyber Monday — The robots — more than 15,000 of them companywide — are part of Amazon’s high-tech effort to get orders to customers faster. By lifting shelves of Amazon products off the ground and speedily delivering them to employee stations, the robots dramatically reduce the time it takes for workers to find items and put them into boxes for shipment.  LA Times article

Sanger pulls out of recession, connects with community — The city of Sanger was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy four years ago when the recession left the small eastern Fresno County community with 10 abandoned home developments, high unemployment and a weak economy on top of mounting debt. But instead of declaring a financial crisis like other California cities and some cities nationwide, Sanger leaders found a way to turn their fortunes around.  Fresno Bee article

Merced County business partners, now neighboring mayors, to exchange ideas – Stan Thurston and Jim Price are business partners, friends and colleagues with similar political views. And now they are the mayors of two of Merced County’s largest cities, leading to a potential marriage of ideas and collaboration between Merced and Atwater. Merced Sun-Star article

J.D. Heiskell to shutter Tulare mill — With less wheat being grown in the Central Valley, J.D. Heiskell plans to mothball its Tulare mill next year. That’s the word from CEO Scot Hillman who said the move is likely to happen by March. The company is building a new office nearby. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Francisco buyers starting to think twice on high asking prices — Listen up, beleaguered buyers. According to Paragon Real Estate, rationality may be returning to the San Francisco property market.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Valley rainstorm could last until Thursday, impact ski resorts – A long-awaited storm is expected to hit the central San Joaquin Valley starting Monday and lingering possibly into Thursday. And if China Peak Ski Resort gets at least 2 feet of snow this week, it could open as soon as Saturday.  Fresno Bee article; Bakersfield Californian/AP article

Sacramento to speed up water meter installations — City of Sacramento officials plan to speed up installing water meters at homes and businesses, aiming to beat a state-mandated 2025 deadline by five years and potentially saving millions of dollars.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Manson would be latest high-profile killer to marry while in prison – Even if the marriage does occur, Manson is not allowed conjugal visits. Manson would be the latest high-profile California killer to tie the knot behind bars.  LA Times article


Stanford teams with teacher union CTA to train for Common Core — Stanford University is joining with the state’s largest teachers union to prepare schools for new learning goals that will change the way California students are taught and tested.  LA Times article

LA Unified to offer students Chromebooks in addition to iPads — Los Angeles school officials want to give schools more choices in equipping students with new computers, part of an ongoing evolution of the district’s approach to buying and using technology. Under a new plan, 27 schools that were originally set to receive iPads, made by Apple, now will also have the choice of choosing a less-expensive Chromebook, which uses a Google operating system.  LA Times article

Positive discipline gets boost in district plans — With a big push from the state’s new approach to education spending, many California school districts appear to be ramping up investments in positive approaches to discipline.  EdSource article

Anticipation high among Sacramento State basketball programs for student arena vote — Sacramento State men’s basketball coach Brian Katz can’t vote in this week’s student referendum that, if passed, will finance construction of an event center on campus. But that hasn’t stopped the Hornets’ seventh-year coach from dreaming a little.  Sacramento Bee article


Environmental groups try again for microbead ban in California – Rinse and repeat — that’s how environmental groups are responding to their narrow defeat this year in the California Legislature on a bill to ban microbeads, the tiny plastic particles in a wide variety of skin cleansing products.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Merced College to chop sick trees — Officials at Merced College said crews will soon begin removing about 80 trees on campus that stand near power lines and are now unhealthy or damaged because of years of pruning.  Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Prop 65’s warning signs of chemical hazards may require more detail — The ubiquitous, state-mandated warning signs about potential chemical hazards in bars, gas stations, parking garages and dozens of other locations may be in for a change. Acting on orders from the governor, a state science agency is working on proposed regulations to make those generally ignored placards more meaningful to consumers. But not everybody’s on board.  LA Times article

Zenefits, a Bay Area online broker, rattles health insurance industry —  Software company Zenefits is the fastest-growing startup in recent memory, but selling computer applications isn’t how the company earned that superlative. Instead, Zenefits has morphed from a skeletal 15 employees into an army of nearly 500 and counting — its revenue growth outpacing that of many valley software giants — by upending the health insurance industry.  San Jose Mercury News article

Surgery residency program coming to Kaweah Delta — New physicians are anticipated to be drawn to Tulare County through Kaweah Delta’s recently accredited surgical residency program.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

Investors scoop up apartments as rents rise, vacancies fall in Sacramento area — The Sacramento real estate market has been a bargain basement for out-of-town investors for the last few years. They bought single-family homes by the thousands, scooped up warehouses by the dozens, and purchased entire city blocks of office space, often at rock-bottom prices. Now with vacancy rates falling and rents on the rise, they’re snapping up apartments.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Merced to look at communication – The Merced City Council will discuss how it can better communicate with the public during Monday’s regular meeting, when it will also address whether those speaking during the public comment period are being treated fairly.  Merced Sun-Star article

Community forums discuss Ferguson, justice and race in Sacramento – Ever since Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, died at the hands of Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, dozens of Sacramento community leaders, clergy, law enforcement and youths have been meeting monthly to address concerns raised by the Missouri incident and to develop strategies to keep it from happening here.  Sacramento Bee article

Supreme Court to debate whether Facebook threats are free speech – Victims of domestic violence and champions of unfettered free speech on the Internet will be pitted against each other Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court debates whether to make it harder to prosecute those who post threats directed at their ex-spouses or others on Facebook. LA Times article

Carrier suit over Fresno Bee work status begins — A trial is expected to begin Monday in a class-action lawsuit by newspaper carriers against The Fresno Bee alleging that they were wrongfully classified as independent contractors rather than Bee employees.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Water bond’s $7.5 billion must be spent wisely.

Sacramento BeeSacramento’s clout will ebb on Monday when newly elected legislators take their oaths of office, a result of the churn brought about by term limits.