December 30, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California plastic bag ban referendum has enough signatures, backers say — Extending the fight over California’s ban on single-use plastic bags, manufacturers and other opponents of the law on Monday submitted what they said were enough signatures for a referendum that would dispose of the ban before it can take effect. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Janet Napolitano pushes UC to the front of California budget battle — Last month, University of California President Janet Napolitano broadsided Gov. Jerry Brown with a threat to raise tuition by more than a quarter over the next five years unless UC receives more money from the state. Her move launched one of next year’s most contentious budget battles, if the heated debate over state funding and the university’s cost structure that followed is any indication.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown looks to carry on his family’s legacy building California — Brown is focused, at least in part, on endeavors that would outlast him: a bullet train linking the Bay Area with Los Angeles, a proposal for twin tunnels to move water around the state, bolder efforts to battle climate change. He ties these forward-looking projects to the pioneering drive that led his ancestors to California.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Brown uses subsidiarity as a dodge — Ostensibly, the “Local Control Funding Formula” overhaul of school finance that Gov. Jerry Brown championed is about putting more money into schools and concentrating much of it on schooling poor and/or “English-learner” students. A big component of the LCFF is what Brown calls “subsidiarity,” a religious theory about the worth of the individual that he’s reinterpreted as relying on local government and school district officials to make decisions.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Governor 2014: Valadao coasts, drought spurs regulation, Tandy skates after skirmish — The year in politics and government featured all kinds of fights in all kinds of venues — at the ballot box, in council chambers and even on an ice rink. Here’s the news our pols made in 2014.  Bakersfield Californian article

2014: Voters call for change — Even with California’s low voter turnout in the November election, Kings County voters made a decent showing for some key local contests. Hanford voters in particular made their voices heard by electing three new council members and defeating Measure S, a sales tax increase intended to bolster public safety and other essential city services.  Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jerry Brown won in most battleground districts where Democrats lost — Democrats would have maintained their legislative super-majorities if Gov. Jerry Brown’s top-of-ticket coattails had extended further into other races on the Nov. 4 ballot. Capitol Alert


How Obama’s immigration plan is expected to roll out — President Obama’s new set of immigration policies could affect as many as 5 million people, including the possibility of a three-year reprieve from the threat of deportation for parents of children with legal status. The new year will see those policies coming into effect, potentially creating dramatic changes for those who are in the U.S. illegally. LA Times article

Other areas

State agenda 2015: It’s all about water – and a few other things — Our state legislators won’t know exactly what’s on their agenda until mid-January when committee chairs lay out their priorities, says state Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, but “we can see what freight trains are coming.” And from talking with all of Bakersfield’s state pols, those freight trains are the divvying up of water bond money, making possible fixes to new groundwater legislation and — depending on the issue — either relaxing or tightening regulations.  Bakersfield Californian article

‘Redskins’ school mascots would be phased out under bill — A California lawmaker is attempting to force four high schools in the Golden State that use “Redskins” as their mascots to abandon the controversial name. Alejo’s bill would specifically affect four holdout schools that are the remaining campuses in the state using the mascot. Those schools are Gustine High School in Merced County, Calaveras High School in Calaveras County, Chowchilla Union High School in Madera County and Tulare Union High School in Tulare County.  San Francisco Chronicle article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Bakersfield residential water use down 20 percent – With about two weeks until the city water board considers voluntary odd-even watering days, statistics show many local residences used significantly less water last month — though officials said that’s partly due to colder winter weather.  Bakersfield Californian article

Why the U.S. will power the world economy in 2015 – The United States is back, and ready to drive global growth in 2015. After long struggling to claw its way out of the Great Recession, the world’s biggest economy is on an extended win streak that is edging it closer to full health. But the new year doesn’t look quite so bright in other major countries.  AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Stockton Record top stories of 2014, No. 2: Bankruptcy ruling goes Stockton’s way – Finally, on Oct. 30, with only Franklin Investments still seeking full repayment from Stockton, Klein issues his ruling: Stockton can emerge from bankruptcy, and Franklin will have to settle for recovering about 12.5 percent of its investment.  Stockton Record article

California, feds disagree on state’s population – California’s demographers and those at the federal Census Bureau politely disagreed during the first decade of the 21st century over the number of Californians – and they are at odds again.  Sacramento Bee article

You might not notice new gas tax – With gas as cheap as it’s been, many Californians might not even notice what’s about to happen. But on Thursday, or soon after, the price of fuel is likely to go up perhaps 10 cents per gallon. Stockton Record article

Valley construction sees bright spots in 2014 – Despite an overall drop in permit values, the Central Valley’s construction industry saw marked improvement in 2014, especially in some key commercial sectors.  The Business Journal article

New extended-stay hotel coming to Bakersfield – Value Place, an extended-stay hotel brand, has signed an agreement to build a 124-unit, four-story hotel in Bakersfield. The expansion, announced Monday by Value Place, will be with Bhattal Enterprises, a Bakersfield company already operating fast food restaurants and gas stations in the area.  Bakersfield Californian article

Law professor chosen to take over California Department of Fair Employment and Housing — Gov. Jerry Brown has tapped attorney Kevin Kish to lead the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, filling a vacancy atop an agency under scrutiny for its own employment record.  Sacramento Bee article

California judges sue CalPERS pension system over contributions — A group of judges is suing California’s public pension system Calpers and the state of California over claims their pension contributions have been almost doubled unlawfully.  Reuters article

BART cuts Wi-Fi service, prompting threats of legal action — BART announced Monday that it had terminated an agreement with its Wi-Fi provider, but while the transit agency says it was simply ending a trial period, the company’s CEO accused BART officials of illegally backing out of a long-term contract.  San Francisco Chronicle article

More help needed for Stanislaus charities – The holiday giving season is drawing to a close, but many Stanislaus County charities still are scrambling to provide food, clothing and shelter to the region’s needy residents.  Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Ringing out the new year no fun for Stanislaus man — Typically, during the holidays, people will leave a store and drop a dollar bill or coins into the red Salvation Army buckets in front of the major retailers, getting a “Merry Christmas” from the bell ringers in attendance. Mike West thinks he might have dropped in something far more valuable than a feel good contribution, and he isn’t feeling very good about it.  Jardine in Modesto Bee


Farmers preparing for frost – Some of the coldest weather to hit the Valley in more than a year is on the way, and citrus farmer Bob McKellar is hoping he’s ready for it.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento Valley’s powerhouse rice crop one step closer to cap and trade — California environmental regulators are exploring how rice farmers can reduce carbon emissions, paving the way for crops to become part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program and affecting one of the Sacramento Valley’s powerhouse agricultural industries.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno gang crackdown ends, but concerns linger – Some community leaders said the crackdown resulted in police targeting people of color. Plus, they said the tactic is a patch that doesn’t really help solve Fresno’s gang violence problem, leading to arrests but leaving unsolved the causes that fuel such violence.  Fresno Bee article

LA police investigating possible ambush of 2 officers – Los Angeles police are investigating whether gunfire in South Los Angeles on Sunday night was aimed at two officers responding to a call, officials said Monday.  LA Times article

Report finds gun deaths of officers jump 56 percent — The number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms in the U.S. jumped by 56 percent this year and included 15 ambush assaults, according to a report released Tuesday.  AP article

Thomas C. Knowles:  Cops aren’t your enemy – they know the system is broken, too – The Kingsburg native who has worked in law enforcement for 40 years writes, “In the wake of the recent protest in cities across the country, in the wake of the police-involved deaths, and in the wake of the assassination of the two NYPD officers, I fear that we’ve lost sight of just how complicated the challenges are for cops on the streets of such a diversified country.”  Knowles op-ed in Fresno Bee

Stockton Record: For 45 years, he served – The death of longtime Stockton Police Officer and department employee Jimmy Pendergrass is almost too much to fathom.  Stockton Record editorial

Interim warden appointed to post — The interim warden at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy has been appointed to the position officially by Gov. Jerry Brown.Incoming Warden Jerome Price had taken the reins in 2012 after Deuel’s former warden, Ron Rackley, was transferred to Stockton’s California Health Care Facility. Stockton Record article


Year in Review: Schools change approach to curriculum – This year saw big changes in how local schools tackle curriculum. Students got more hands-on and focused in their learning with the college and career readiness program, Linked Learning. And a new way to approach curriculum was also adopted with Common Core State Standards, which were implemented statewide at the beginning of the current school year.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Year in Review: Common Core standards – For many local educators, one of the education developments most on their minds this year is the Common Core standards.  Hanford Sentinel article

Berkeley High students trying to change district’s sexual harassment policy – A group of students at Berkeley High is working to change the school’s sexual harassment policy. Senior Liana Thomason founded BHS Stop Harassing after she felt an administrator, in a schoolwide assembly, blamed sexual harassment on the way girls dressed.  KQED report

Police: Teen held after Facebook selfie at Sunnyside High — A 16-year-old Fresno boy was arrested Monday after allegedly photographing himself with a gun at Sunnyside High School and posting the image to Facebook, police Sgt. Paul Cervantes said.  Fresno Bee article

District allows high school teams to wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts — Facing possible legal action, a Northern California school district has rescinded its ban on a group of high school basketball players who had planned to wear “I can’t breathe” T-shirts during warm up in a tournament.  LA Times article


San Jose’s foam food container ban hitting nearly all restaurants now — More than a year after San Jose became the largest city in the state — and perhaps the nation — to dump foam food containers, the ban finally goes into effect Thursday for most smaller restaurants.  San Jose Mercury News article

Health/Human Services

Red meat cancer link explained — Red meat elevates the risk of cancer because it contains a chemical that’s unnatural to human biology, according to a new study by UC San Diego scientists.  U-T San Diego article

Land Use/Housing

San Francisco fails to follow up after evictions – San Francisco supervisors have passed a number of laws in recent years aimed at curbing evictions of rent-controlled units. Most of them put restrictions on what property owners can do with a building once they have forced a tenant to leave. Yet the city doesn’t actively track what happens with these buildings after someone is evicted, leaving it up to the former tenant, neighbors and the public to make sure property owners follow the law.  San Francisco Chronicle article




David Lazarus: Airline changes to frequent-flier programs snub rank-and-file patrons — This was the year in which airline passengers learned where they really stood with the big carriers they’ve been loyal to over the years.  Lazarus in LA Times


Other Areas

Merced homeless camp to be cleared, Caltrans says – The California Department of Transportation confirmed Monday that plans are afoot to clear out the homeless encampment near the Bradley Overhead on State Route 140, but advocates are asking that the department hold off at least until the end of January.  Merced Sun-Star article

Judy Case McNairy and Phil Larson combined for 28 years as Fresno County supervisors – Supervisors Judy Case McNairy and Phil Larson will walk out the door with 28 years of Fresno County government experience between them when they are replaced next week by their successors, Buddy Mendes and Brian Pacheco.Fresno Bee article

Kern 2015: County government will have to do more with less – Oil. Water. Jails. Money. Kern County will spend 2015 charting new courses for Kern Medical Center, oil, gas and water regulation and its own financial future.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield 2015:  City to tackle road projects, park additions and police response times — In 2015, Bakersfield is taking its act on the road, literally, as crews forge ahead with a plethora of Thomas Roads Improvement Program major highway projects.  Bakersfield Californian article


George Hostetter: Some thoughts on City Hall issues – Two dozen quick thoughts on Fresno City Hall.  Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Cal Fire puts 16 workers on administrative leave amid sex probe — Cal Fire officials put 16 workers on administrative leave Monday after receiving preliminary results of an investigation into allegations that firefighters had sex with prostitutes at the Fire Academy in Ione.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Person of the Year: Big and small, they made 2014 unforgettable – When we asked members of The Californian’s Sounding Board to offer their choices for 2014 Person of the Year, no man, woman or child was off-limits. No species, either, apparently. Bakersfield Californian article

Atwater code enforcement officer fired after filing harassment claim – A code enforcement officer whose 15-year tenure with the city was marred by accusations of harassment and timesheet fraud was fired two days before Christmas – the second time city officials have terminated him in four years.  Merced Sun-Star article

High court still unsure about violent video game ruling — A U.S. Supreme Court justice who cast one of the deciding votes in 2011 to overturn California’s ban on sales of violent video games to minors says it was the toughest decision she’s made on the court, and she’s still not sure it was the right one.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Tulare County on display at State Capitol — Those planning to pay the State Capitol a little visit might also want to stop near the governor’s chambers, where a brand new exhibit showcasing what Tulare County has to offer is fresh on display.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Former Modesto councilman Dave Geer dies at 72 — Former Councilman Dave Geer died Sunday in his west Modesto home of natural causes. He was 72.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – It was a transformational year for our country and state.

Merced Sun-Star – Hacking away at Christmas is no laughing matter.

Modesto Bee – Hacking away at Christmas is no laughing matter.

Sacramento Bee – Fifty years after the Watts riots, we do learn, history does matter; It’s one thing for a mayor to champion priorities or be a cheerleader for his city. It’s something else to put their own financial well-being at risk. So West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon deserves credit for keeping his promise to buy into a new riverfront housing development – a pledge many of his constituents may have forgotten he even made.

Stockton Record – The death of longtime Stockton Police Officer and department employee Jimmy Pendergrass is almost too much to fathom; Cheers and jeers on Stockton police officers playing Santa in annual gift deliveries, a great gesture by Stockton church and other issues.