December 26, 2014


Political Briefs

Top stories

California gears up for migrant driver’s licenses — While tens of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally are gearing up to apply for a long-sought driver’s license in California starting Jan. 2, others are being urged to think twice.  AP article

Politicians use ‘ghost campaigns’ to fight specter of lost funds – In politics, money matters, and plenty of out-of-work politicians want to hang on to their campaign cash for as long as they can. But state election law requires candidates to close their campaign accounts and disburse the money within two years after losing an election or being termed out of office. Unless they’re planning to run for another office.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown, governor of California, takes second chance to shape court — Mr. Brown is again seeking to remake a court that to this day is viewed by legal scholars as among the most influential in the nation, with one study proclaiming it the state court most followed by other appellate judges. And once more, the ever-unconventional Mr. Brown is roiling the waters with a series of head-snapping, if decidedly more applauded, choices for this tribunal.  New York Times article


Valley politics

 Connie Conway ties knot with long-time beau in Tulare – Former Assembly Member Connie Conway, R-Tulare, married her longtime beau Craig Vejvoda of Tulare. The wedding date — 12-13-14 — should make it impossible to forget an anniversary.  Fresno Bee article


Other areas

Californians to Watch in 2015: Teacher tenure, taxes on union executive’s 2015 agenda — Now, as the first Latino executive director of the powerful California Teachers Association, the 61-year-old product of public education and long-time teacher-activist confronts a new year brimming with tensions born of politics and plenty.  Sacramento Bee article

Oakland police protestors smash windows, vandalize Christmas tree — Undeterred by chilly weather or the Christmas holiday, dozens of antipolice demonstrators marched through downtown Oakland on Thursday evening — some smashing windows of businesses in Jack London Square, throwing bottles, and even tearing ornaments and lights from a large Christmas tree —in the latest round of protests against what they see as police violence toward minorities.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Bay Area protestors cool to police union call for dialogue — A day after the leaders of three Bay Area police unions denounced the “vilification” of officers in recent protests against the killings of black men, one group of protesters reacted coolly to the union leaders’ call for a “constructive dialogue.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

William Endicott: Atkins’ kiss made a profound statement about our evolution — Those people who see it as their mission to dictate how other people live their lives got Proposition 8 on the 2008 ballot to ban gay marriage in California. It passed, but ultimately was thrown out by a federal court. The ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Fortunately, that’s why we were able to see a photo that ran last May of Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, kissing her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, after being sworn in as the new speaker of the state Assembly.  Endicott in Sacramento Bee


News Briefs

Top Stories

 DMV delays rules on driverless cars as it seeks more input on safety – Self-driving cars may be the vehicles of the future, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles is still trying to figure out how to regulate them. The DMV will miss a New Year’s deadline set by a state Senate bill to establish regulations for driverless cars.  LA Times article

Growth on the horizon — After spending the past few years in an economic doldrums, things appeared to begin turning around this year with new developments from major retailers like Costco and Hobby Lobby on the horizon.  Hanford Sentinel article


Jobs and the Economy 

Congestion at ports of LA, Long Beach is putting a damper on economy — Brutal congestion at the nation’s busiest ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach is throwing a kink into an economy that’s finally kicking into high gear. The months-long bottleneck is hurting retailers and other businesses that aren’t getting their shipments on time as massive ships from Asia anchor off the Los Angeles coastline waiting for the docks to clear.  LA Times article

Record attendance within reach for Fresno Chaffee Zoo, thanks to tiger cubs – It was a year marked by new tigers, construction of the future Africa exhibit and fingers crossed over whether voters would renew Measure Z and provide funding for new projects at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  Fresno Bee article

The minimum wage debate through the eyes of self-made laundromat owner – The struggles of his employees and customers echo his days as a latchkey kid, clothed in his cousins’ hand-me-downs. But his family’s self-made wealth makes him keenly aware of the opportunities afforded by hard work. He understands the pressures of poverty — but also the pathways out.  LA Times article

Bridging the gap between haves and have-nots on Christmas Day – The Christmas morning contrast between the fresh-scrubbed teens and the homeless they came to visit was greater than the distance between the former’s Stockdale High School and the latter’s South Union Avenue tent camp.  Bakersfield Californian article

Chinese entrepreneurs aim to become technology power players — China’s technology industry, much like China in general, is undergoing a transformation. Entrepreneurs speak of an innovation “golden age” fueled by a mobile-device-obsessed culture, upward economic mobility and an influx of capital from investors locally and abroad.  LA Times article

West Sacramento mayor puts his mortgage where his mouth is — West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon made a promise a few years to a group of developers: If they’d help the city finance and launch redevelopment of the riverfront area, Cabaldon would be among the first to buy a home there.  Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers promise to help strapped oil-patch towns — Relief could be on the horizon for strapped public services in the Northern Plains’ booming oil patch, as elected leaders in Montana and North Dakota move to steer more money into the region during the states’ upcoming legislative sessions.  Modesto Bee article



Erik Vink: Revised plan for Delta tunnels is still a bad idea – The executive director of the Delta Protection Commission writes, “The tunnel plan fails to protect and enhance the unique Delta values, even with the recent proposed changes. Given all these concerns, more innovation, thought and solutions are needed to minimize impact to the Delta before the plan can move forward.”  Vink op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Changes in Visalia water regulations begin in January — The city of Visalia’s fall and winter water regulations for residents changes Jan. 1 and no watering is allowed during January or February.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

LAPD wrongly reclassified some serious crimes as minor, Times review finds — The Times reviewed dozens of cases the Los Angeles Police Department initially documented as serious but later downgraded to minor offenses. A third of the time, the decision to reclassify the incident was wrong, The Times concluded.  LA Times article

Paul Singh helps Stockton police — Barely five months after that horrific July afternoon when 41-year-old Misty Holt-Singh died as a hostage in the Bank of the West robbery and car chase, husband Paul and daughter Mia joined police in their 15th annual Christmas morning expedition Thursday.  Stockton Record article



Year in Review: College of the Sequoias works at keeping accreditation – The big news this year was few headlines on COS accreditation as college officials and students worked to get the school compliant with recommendations from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges — which has the authority to revoke and restore accreditation at two-year colleges.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Stockton Record: Pacific students log countless hours to help community — The college experience is about much more than textbooks, lectures, study sessions and tests. It’s essential that students enter the workforce after graduation with life experiences and empathy toward others. We salute the students for their efforts, and the university for making such outreach a focus.  Stockton Record editorial

UC Davis newspaper struggles to resume print publication — The longer UC Davis’ student newspaper remains out of print, the more difficult it seems to revive the nearly century-old institution on paper.  Sacramento Bee article

M.B.A. programs start to follow Silicon Valley into the Data Age — Graduate business schools have picked up the digital ethos of experimentation and new ventures. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, 150 elective courses are offered; 28 percent of those did not exist last year.  New York Times article



Sacramento Bee: Public Utility Commission appointees need to fight to change to behemoth agency – Under Picker and the other Brown appointees, the California Public Utilities Commission should become a model consumer agency, one that helps lead the state toward smart and expanded use of renewable energy.  Sacramento Bee editorial

State utility regulators to focus on safety after lapses — Amid safety lapses across California, state regulators are getting tough with the state’s power companies.  LA Times article

Napa’s surprise fault line triggers earthquake study of region — It marked the first time since the 1971 Sylmar earthquake that a temblor in California has caused surface rupture in a residential area. Now, the Napa County area is becoming a laboratory for scientists trying to better understand how faults work and the damage they can create.  LA Times article


Health/Human Services

Medicare penalizes Fresno’s two biggest hospitals for infection rates, patient injuries — The two largest hospitals in Fresno are losing 1% of their Medicare payments as part of a federal program that penalizes hospitals for excessive infection rates and patient injuries.  Fresno Bee article

Golden Valley Health Centers to create ombudsman program for staff – Golden Valley Health Centers’ board of directors is reviewing recent allegations from staff members and will create an ombudsman program to build trust within the organization, according to a statement released Wednesday.  Modesto Bee article

Doctor claims she was fired after advocating for Golden Valley clinic patients – In a wrongful-termination lawsuit, the former chief medical officer of Golden Valley Health Centers said she was fired for opposing policies that would undermine care for low-income and indigent patients.  Modesto Bee article

Upcoming psychiatric health facility receives approval — The Merced County Department of Mental Health recently received funding and approval for the construction of a 24-hour Crisis Residential Unit, which would serve as an alternative to the hospitalization of patients in emotional crisis.  Merced Sun-Star article



Surf Air exec: Sacramento may be next stop — Surf Air is a members-only airline that serves a handful of California cities, but has plans to grow substantially in the next few years. In terms of a business model, it’s a lot more like Netflix, the online membership entertainment service, than it is like traditional air carriers Southwest or United.  Sacramento Bee article


Other Areas

Top stories of 2014: A space disaster, a hero cat and a Bakersfield boy becomes majority leader – There was the shocking mid-air breakup of SpaceShipTwo, the hero tabby who saved her young master from a menacing dog and yet another huge ascension in power for a Bakersfield native son. Here, in order, are what we concluded were our top stories of 2014.  Bakersfield Californian article

Top stories of 2014:  National honors and a yearly scourge among most memorable – As the year winds down, The Record will count down the top 10 stories of the year, as voted on by staff. Today, The Record recounts Nos. 6 through 10, and there will be one per day through the rest of the year.  Stockton Record article

Giants-Grlzzlies breakup was biggest Valley sports story of 2014 — The year 2014 was an interesting one for central San Joaquin Valley sports as off-the-field developments concerning the Fresno Grizzlies and Fresno State’s athletic hierarchy eclipsed anything that took place on the field. And the year’s most celebrated local athlete did not compete on two legs but four hooves.  Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: A most unusual visitor to the port — Most ships calling on the port carry interesting people from interesting places. But they are not interesting ships. Bulk cargo ships are just big hollow-bellied boxes. The Japanese ship Pacific Spike, now unloading steel rails at Dock 19a, is different.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani’s claims about killing police officers are out of bounds.

Merced Sun-Star – The killing of two New York police officers on Saturday as they sat in a patrol car on a Brooklyn street is a reminder that the men and women who put on a badge face unthinkable risk every day.

Modesto Bee – The killing of two New York police officers on Saturday as they sat in a patrol car on a Brooklyn street is a reminder that the men and women who put on a badge face unthinkable risk every day.

Sacramento Bee – Under Picker and the other Brown appointees, the California Public Utilities Commission should become a model consumer agency, one that helps lead the state toward smart and expanded use of renewable energy.

Stockton Record – The college experience is about much more than textbooks, lectures, study sessions and tests. It’s essential that students enter the workforce after graduation with life experiences and empathy toward others. We salute the students for their efforts, and the University of the Pacific for making such outreach a focus.