December 3, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

No UC tuition increase under Senate Dems funding plan — Tuition at the University of California would stay flat, Cal State students would get paid to finish faster and California’s two university systems would expand the number of students they enroll under a plan Democrats in the state Senate unveiled Tuesday.  Capitol Alert; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

House Republicans, Costa join for last-ditch shot at California water bill — House Republicans joined by Fresno Democrat Jim Costa late Tuesday started a last-ditch maneuver to pass California water legislation that’s friendly to farmers and frightening to environmentalists.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Gov. Brown

Democratic adviser says Jerry Brown has opportunity to change tax policy – Garry South, the Democratic strategist, has not always had the warmest relationship with Gov. Jerry Brown. But in a panel conversation in which South was asked to look ahead Brown’s fourth term, he offered the Democratic governor some advice.  Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Brown key to 2016 tax measures — The key to which major tax measures will advance to the ballot very well could be Governor Jerry Brown. It may not seem unusual for proponents of tax increase proposals to want a popular, re-elected governor to support their agenda. However, the key to getting Brown on board is not so much for his endorsement but for his influence with certain powerful political players.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Numbers reflect dismal voter turnout — Final voter turnout numbers from the Nov. 4 general election are trickling in and the news is bleak.  Capitol Weekly article


John Boehner suggests leaving immigration out of 2015 budget talks – Hoping to prevent a government shutdown by opponents of President Obama’s immigration plan, House Speaker John A. Boehner floated a proposal Tuesday for funding most of the government — but not the immigration agencies — through the end of the 2015 fiscal year.  LA Times article

Mexican consul, lawyer discuss local impact of Obama’s executive action — President Obama’s recent announcement that he will take new Executive Action on undocumented immigrants is already reverberating throughout the valley’s large immigrant communities.Jessica Smith Bobadilla of San Joaquin College of Law and Vicente Sanchez Ventura, the head Consul of Mexico in Fresno join Valley Edition host Joe Moore for more on this topic.  KVPR report

Other areas

As new Legislature begins, Speaker Atkins takes aim at UC tuition – Amid the feel-good proceedings of the Legislature’s swearing-in ceremony, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins sent a clear signal Monday of a brewing policy showdown: the proposed University of California tuition hikes.  LA Times article

Senate leader Kevin de Leon proposes slashing rival’s key program – Two days after lawmaker John Perez left office, longtime political rival and Senate leader Kevin De Leon proposed Tuesday to make deep cuts to a scholarship program seen as a key part of Perez’s legacy as state Assembly speaker.  LA Times article; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Dan Walters: Stealthy bill on schools boomerangs — Senate Bill 858 was one of dozens of “trailer bills” that were drafted in secret, given only cursory public notice and then hastily passed by the Legislature in June because they were supposedly “necessary to enact … provisions of the Budget Act of 2014.”  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Luther Cobb: Tax hikes on smokes save lives – The president of the California Medical Association writes, “The Save Lives California coalition – which includes the CMA, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, SEIU California, Health Access California and the California Hospital Association – is committed to reducing the number of preventable deaths and keeping our patients healthy.” Cobb op-ed in Sacramento Bee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee election challengers hard to find – State Sen. Mark Leno’s early exit from the mayoral sweepstakes has Mayor Ed Lee’s critics casting about for a candidate for next year’s election — but at this point, persuading someone to jump in is a hard sell.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Bill Whelan: In strange presidential race, Fiorina could compete — The thought of Fiorina setting her sights on an office higher than the one that eluded her in California? Stranger things are bound to happen in what could be a very strange presidential election.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

State water leaders project 10 percent deliveries next year, but that could change — Encouraged by the wet weather forecast, the state this week projected a 10% delivery of river water next year to the State Water Project and its two major customers, Southern California and Kern County. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Unsteady incomes keep millions of workers behind on bills – The Federal Reserve says that more than 30 percent of Americans report irregular incomes that sabotage efforts to budget and save. Unreliable work hours are cited most often.  New York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto council approves $1.6 million in pay increases – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday approved pay increases for 327 employees that eventually will cost the city more than $1.6 million annually. These employees also will receive additional paid time off that will cost the city nearly $370,000.  Modesto Bee article

‘Governing’ magazine looks at Stockton bankruptcy – Liz Farmer, a writer for D.C.-based “Governing” magazine, was in Stockton before the city’s plan to exit bankruptcy was approved by Judge Christopher Klein at the end of October. Farmer’s article on Stockton appears in Governing’s December issue, and ends on about as optimistic a note as possible given what the city has endured.  Stockton Record article

To afford a typical LA-area home, you must earn $95,513, study says — In Los Angeles and Orange counties, a buyer needs to take home $96,513 annually to reasonably afford a median-priced home, which was $481,900 in the third quarter. A quarter earlier, you could have purchased a typical house while making about $10,000 less.  LA Times article

Visalia Oks ‘campus-style’ research park – The Visalia Planning Commission approved a development recently that will round out its business research park zone west of the city. First brought before the city by Visalia developer 4Creeks Inc. last November, the Square at Plaza Drive aims to attract a variety of technology and office-oriented businesses at the southwest corner of Plaza Drive and Crowley Avenue.  The Business Journal article

Sprouts to open in Bakersfield Feb. 25 — Sprouts Farmers Market has set an opening date for its Bakersfield store Feb. 25. It will be the 21st Sprouts in Southern California, the company announced Tuesday. The 25,000-square-foot store will be at 10650 Stockdale Highway and employ some 100 full- and part-time people.  Bakersfield Californian article

BOE: Statewide gas consumption rises for first time in eight years – California’s gasoline consumption, which has been trending slowly downward, increased nearly 1 percent in fiscal 2013-14, according to the state Board of Equalization. It was the first increase in eight years.  Sacramento Bee article

Store brings farm bounty to downtown Modesto – Sisters Marie and Angie Rodin opened a store Tuesday on the ground floor of Tenth Street Place, the six-story headquarters for city and Stanislaus County government. The business, Rodin Ranch Farmers Market, offers fruits, nuts and other items from their family farm and others in the area.  Modesto Bee article

Soccer commissioner sees expansion decision in first half of 2015 — Sacramento soccer fans could have to wait until as late as next June before learning if the city will be awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno-area nonprofits kick off day of giving – The holiday shopping season started with Black Friday and rolled into Cyber Monday. Then, there was Giving Tuesday — the kickoff to a season of charitable giving.  Fresno Bee article

Beleaguered taxis get a bit of a break on red tape – The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors approved three changes to rules governing taxis that aim to help make them more competitive against ride services Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, whose drivers are not licensed or regulated by the city and who use their own cars.  San Francisco Chronicle article

LA to consider regulating Airbnb and other short-term home rentals — Residents who offer rentals through online sites such as AirBnB, VRBO and Homeaway may soon face new regulations in the city of Los Angeles.  LA Times article

California investors square off over $2.3 billion sale — The State of California and a group of private investors accused each other at a trial Tuesday of breaking an agreement over a $2.3 billion plan to sell 11 state properties and have the state lease them back.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento task force will plan new downtown performing arts center — As Sacramento struggles to find the money to finish long-awaited cultural facilities, Mayor Kevin Johnson made it clear Tuesday that the focus of the coming months will be creating a plan to build a new performing arts center downtown.  Sacramento Bee article

Federal judges deal mixed hand to tribe’s bid for Amador casino — Federal judges far from California dealt a mixed hand this week to a long-debated casino proposed for the Amador County foothills near Ione.  McClatchy Newspapers article


Storm drenches California, but it’s only a drop in state’s drought – The first major Pacific storm of the season drenched much of California on Tuesday, slaking a parched and dusty region, but still leaving the state deep in a historic drought.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Storm hammers southern California but spares Valley of major problems – The National Weather Service said up to 6 inches of rain was possible in parts of Southern California by the time the storm ends Wednesday. In the central San Joaquin Valley region, the storm proved to be far less threatening.  Fresno Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article; Stockton Record article

Storm causes some flooding in Merced and county – Merced received 0.66 inches of rain early Tuesday, with a promise of more Wednesday. The largest amount of precipitation in some time has triggered some localized flooding in the city of Merced and scattered portions of the county.  Merced Sun-Star article

Report: California drought threatens groundwater – Three years of drought have taken a heavy toll on California groundwater supplies, with hundreds more wells being dug this year, one of the driest on record, a state report released Tuesday said. Over 350 new wells were dug in both of the agriculturally rich Fresno and Tulare counties, more than any other part the state, the California Department of Water Resources reported.  AP article

Rain soothes Californians, but state reservoirs in bad shape – The recent storms are doing wonders for the California psyche, but it will take more than a few days of rain to pull the state out of its precipitation doldrums.  San Francisco Chronicle article

State and local water conservation measures dry up – Statewide water conservation efforts, which were more than halfway to meeting the voluntary 20 percent savings goal called for by the governor in April, slacked off in October, a trend also seen locally.  Bakersfield Californian article

California loses ground in drought water-saving — Californians are losing ground on compliance with a state goal to cut water use by 20 percent during the drought, according to statewide water-use figures released Tuesday.  AP article; U-T San Diego article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

Stockton Record: Slow motion water accord – In the wonderful world of California water, combative arguments are the norm and litigation flows like a faucet that was left on before a two-week vacation. So we’re going to, ahem, “conserve” our outright praise for San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the primary parties in a water agreement that was announced just before Thanksgiving.  Stockton Record editorial

Panelists at workshop stir water contention — An exhaustive discussion of future rules that could change the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers; the Valley’s farming backbone; and the state’s economy ended with a workshop moderator pausing and calling for reflection.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Kern supervisors grudgingly approve new jail contract – Kern County supervisors on Tuesday approved a $100.5 million construction contract for an 822-bed addition to Lerdo Jail — but not very happily. That’s because the public works project — the county’s largest in more than a decade — poses a major fiscal challenge for Kern County in the decades to come.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare sheriff touts changes at department – Since being appointed Tulare County’s sheriff in October of last year, Mike Boudreaux said he has spearheaded efforts to “rebuild” his department.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Morse, deputies timecard dispute spills into unrelated case – A timecard dispute between the Merced County district attorney and the sheriff’s detectives who earlier this year arrested his son received its first judicial review on Tuesday, but the judge’s ruling did not settle the controversy.  Merced Sun-Star article

Tulare County death row inmate died of natural causes — Death row inmate Charles Keith Richardson, 52, one of two men found guilty in the rape and murder of 11-year-old April Holley in Tulare County, has died.  Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article


White House’s college rating system controversial even before completion – The Obama administration is developing a national rating system for colleges and universities to provide more transparency and give students and taxpayers a better sense of where to spend their education funds.  LA Times article

Fresno Unified tops other big California district in teacher pay study – Fresno teachers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than many of their California peers over a 30-year career, according to a report released Wednesday by a national organization seeking to reform teacher preparation and pay.  Fresno Bee article

Ex-LA Unified chief says he knows nothing about FBI iPad investigation — Former L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said Tuesday that he didn’t know anything about an FBI investigation into an L.A. schools contract for iPads. The contract with Apple was at the center of a $1.3-billion effort to provide computers to every student, teacher and campus administrator. On Monday, federal agents seized 20 boxes of documents from the nation’s second-largest school system.  LA Times article; AP article

UC Merced Connect:  Physics group focuses on innovation — From understanding how groups of atoms behave at ultra-low temperatures to modeling how flocks of birds organize, UC Merced’s physics group is helping solve many of the world’s mysteries and using the knowledge to improve technology – from computing to solar energy conversion.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star


New air standard nationwide, but Valley still heart of ozone harm in U.S. — People in the San Joaquin Valley have breathed unhealthy levels of ozone on more days than any place in the country — more than Southern California in the South Coast Air Basin.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Edition:  Will proposed EPA limits to ozone pollution safeguard the Valley? – The San Joaquin Valley has struggled to meet the current 8 hour standard for years – in fact the valley is already an “extreme nonattainment zone” – and the new more stringent rules make reaching compliance even tougher.   To answer what this means for you and your family we speak with Seyed Sadredin, Executive Director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control DistrictKVPR report

Stockton City Council finds climate right to clear the air – Completing a lengthy and arduous reversal of course from the sprawl-friendly days of 2007 to the economic and environmental realities of the present, the City Council unanimously approved a plan Tuesday night intended to clear Stockton’s air in the years ahead.  Stockton Record article

They’re here: Oil pipeline terminal near Bakersfield receives first train shipment – The unit trains have arrived. A mile-long train carrying some 70,000 barrels of oil sat waiting to be offloaded Tuesday near the new Plains All American Pipeline LP rail terminal about 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: Rail shipments of volatile oil should be transparent – So, 140,000 barrels of potentially explosive crude oil chugged through the heart of Bakersfield on two separate mile-long trains in the past few weeks, or days, and no one seems to have alerted local safety folks, you know, just in case something erupted in a giant fireball. Bakersfield Californian article

Senator calls on Gov. Jerry Brown to halt crude oil trains in ‘treacherous’ California mountain passes — Sen. Jerry Hill on Tuesday called on Gov. Jerry Brown to halt the transport of crude oil on trains and other hazardous materials “through our most treacherous passes.” The request by Hill, D-San Mateo, comes in reaction to a corn train derailment last week in the Feather River Canyon that sent train cars and corn spilling down an embankment into the river.  Capitol Alert; KQED report

Diablo Canyon at issue as panel gauges nuclear safety – With several faults nearby, federal regulators need to reassess seismic standards at California’s last operating nuclear power plant and determine if its operating rules are sufficient in light of earthquake risks, says a former California state senator.  AP article

Turlock Irrigation District holds hearing on electric rate proposal – No one complained Tuesday about the small increase proposed for residential electricity customers of the Turlock Irrigation District, but some other parts of the package did get attention.  Modesto Bee article

State court may tighten review process for building giant homes – In a case that could redefine the scope of California’s environmental laws, the state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on whether the rules exempting most proposed single-family homes from public review apply to a computer magnate’s plan to build a nearly 10,000-square-foot home with a 10-car garage on a steep Berkeley hillside.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Boxer makes one last push for climate-change agenda – Sen. Barbara Boxer opened a push Tuesday for a bipartisan bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the handful of days before she forfeits the gavel of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee to a Republican who wrote a book calling climate change a hoax.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Oil industry document reveals plans to fight clean-energy initiatives – The West’s leading trade group for the oil industry has collaborated with, and in some cases funded, an array of groups to combat what it calls “aggressive anti-oil initiatives,” according to a presentation obtained by climate activists and shared with this newspaper. San Jose Mercury News article

Yosemite launches new website – The website, which can be found at, provides a way for community members and interested parties to participate in the celebrations surrounding the anniversary that will take place throughout the 2015 calendar year.  Merced Sun-Star article

New nature preserve opens in Tulare County — Central California is home to some of the state’s most beautiful areas from Yosemite Valley to high sierra lakes to rolling foothills. Lovers of that last topography have something to cheer about this winter as a new nature preserve in Tulare County is about to open to the public for the first time. KVPR report

Blunt report finds LA isn’t keeping up with removing trash — The streets, alleys and empty lots of Los Angeles are so dirty with trash that it threatens the city’s image and makes some areas appear “unsafe and ungoverned,” according to an internal report obtained by The Times.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Poll: Nearly 1 in 10 say California Obamacare exchange not working well — Nearly four in 10 Californians say the state’s health exchange isn’t working well as the second open enrollment gets underway, a new survey shows.  LA Times article

Fears of more heroin overdoses as price of antidote soars — A popular form of a drug that has been freely handed out in San Francisco for more than a decade to reverse heroin overdoses has doubled in price, raising concerns that the sudden spike will limit the use of what has become an effective tool against drug deaths nationwide. San Francisco Chronicle article

No Southern California hospital on federal Ebola treatment list — Four California hospitals have been included on a federal government list of 35 facilities “designated as Ebola treatment centers.” Two — UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center — are in the Sacramento region. Two others — UC San Francisco Medical Center and Kaiser Oakland Medical Center — are in the Bay Area.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Stockton family traumatized again after organ donor ID mix-up — Mike Hernandez, a husband and father of three, died suddenly last spring. The Stockton native was just 48 years old. What happened as he lay dying in a Sacramento hospital bed and during the immediate aftermath of his death has left his family confused, angry and in anguish.  Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: Calorie counts on menus have been due in California for years — Californians should cheer the new federal rules requiring calorie counts on menus, and not just because more than 60 percent of us are overweight.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Truvada, a pill to fight HIV, stirs controversy among gays —  It would have seemed the stuff of fantasy in the dark days of the 1980s, when an AIDS diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence: a pill, taken daily, that could protect against HIV infection. But today, such a drug exists. The blue tablet, marketed as Truvada, has been available to people at risk of being exposed to HIV since 2012.  LA Times article


Airport director optimistic Bakersfield will get more connections – Kern County Airports Director Richard Strickland delivered a story of hope to the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. He hopes that a strengthening major airline industry and the development of new fuel-efficient jets will mean more flights connecting to Meadows Field Airport.  Bakersfield Californian article

Independent report calls Bay Bridge tests ‘unscientific,’ ‘erroneous’ — An independent report released today sharply criticized official tests of high-strength steel rods that secure the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, concluding the analysis was flawed and that some bridge parts should be replaced.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Zero tolerance remains in Fresno County medical marijuana ordinance – Fresno County supervisors made no significant changes Tuesday to the county’s highly restrictive medical marijuana cultivation ordinance despite hopes from advocates that it could be altered.  Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Bakersfield NAACP group discusses Ferguson incidents in Tuesday meeting – Being proactive, not reactive, was the focus of discussion at a Tuesday meeting held by the NAACP to decide what the community should do following a grand jury’s non-indictment of a white police officer who shot and killed a black teenager in Missouri. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced LGBT center asked to take down rainbow flag – Staff at Merced’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center say they’ve taken down a rainbow flag from a flagpole in front of the building after being asked to remove it by the building’s owner. Merced Sun-Star article

Local case mimics one before Supreme Court – In light of the U.S. Supreme Court mulling over whether to narrow the definition of a criminal threat, San Joaquin County is dealing with its own violent Facebook rants where the issue of free speech comes into play.  Stockton Record article

Merced looks at how to increase dialogue with residents – The council decided with a 6-0 vote to ask staff to look at press releases, city newsletters and other methods as ways to better keep residents in the loop and inform them about public safety efforts, as well as increase the number of Neighborhood Watch programs. Councilman Tony Dossetti was absent.  Merced Sun-Star article

Alert system would target California drivers in hit-and-run crashes — Drivers who flee the scenes of crashes in California could see descriptions of their cars and license plates displayed on freeway signs under a proposed expansion of the Amber Alert system.  LA Times article

LA city attorney asks judge to stop smartphone app for pot, alcohol — Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer announced Tuesday that he’s taking legal action against Nestdrop, a smartphone app that offers medical marijuana delivery.  LA Times article

Castellanoz Munoz appointed to Tulare council – Maritza Castellanoz Munoz received full support from the Tulare City Council, getting appointed Tuesday to fill the vacancy created when Ben Brubaker accepted a position to join the chamber of commerce despite having being the top vote-getter in the Area 2 seat race.  Visalia Times-Delta article

George Hostetter: Toastmasters: A boon for Fresno and the Valley — I got a phone call early this fall from Fresno Deputy Police Chief Bob Nevarez. “George! Are you in the market for a good story?” Nevarez said. “Always, Bob,” I said, “What do you have?” “Toastmasters.” And so began an interesting journey.  Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Lodi-area man charged with trying to join ISIS may be mentally ill — Indicted terror suspect Nicholas Teausant may be schizophrenic and will be sent to a federal medical facility to evaluate his mental state to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – State Sen. Lara’s office for immigrants comes from the heart, but at what cost?

Merced Sun-Star – Californians should cheer the new federal rules requiring calorie counts on menus, and not just because more than 60 percent of us are overweight.

Modesto Bee – Californians should cheer the new federal rules requiring calorie counts on menus, and not just because more than 60 percent of us are overweight.

Sacramento Bee – Californians should cheer the new federal rules requiring calorie counts on menus, and not just because more than 60 percent of us are overweight; The Federal Election Commission is seeking public comments about the most pressing issue before it: campaign finance disclosure. Seize the opportunity to be heard.

Stockton Record – University of the Pacific deserved a berth in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament; In the wonderful world of California water, combative arguments are the norm and litigation flows like a faucet that was left on before a two-week vacation. So we’re going to, ahem, “conserve” our outright praise for San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the primary parties in a water agreement that was announced just before Thanksgiving.

Visalia Times-Delta – With the rain pouring through our city streets, and thoughts of the current drought at least momentarily off our collective minds, we can now comfortably turn our attention to the long history of flooding in Visalia — and not feel silly about it.