December 4, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Latest California drought bill causes new dust-up – A new California water bill slated to hit the House floor next week would boost irrigation deliveries to farms south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, nudge along planning for new dams and capture more storm runoff for human use. It would not authorize dam construction, repeal an ambitious San Joaquin River restoration plan or last longer than the state’s current drought. And whether it survives or dies will almost certainly be up to the Senate, where California’s two Democrats are feeling the heat from every corner.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Proposed GOP overhaul of California water laws looks dead — A last-ditch effort by Central Valley Republicans to push an overhaul of federal water policy through Congress during this session met with opposition Wednesday from at least one California senator, all but ensuring that the bill will die until next year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics

California’s GOP congressmen flex muscles with new water bill — After the collapse of secret negotiations that sought to change federal policy to send more water to Central Valley farmers, California’s Republican lawmakers have come up with Plan B: a completely new water bill. It’s an early sign of the rising power of Republicans who will control both the Senate and the House in January.  KPCC report

It’s official:  Valley turnout for last month’s election was beyond dismal — Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth on Tuesday certified the county’s election results, so now it’s official: turnout was beyond dismal in last month’s general election. It was 39.24%.  Fresno Bee article

Granville ups political donations, and its president says it’s a sign of things to come — It’s no surprise that Granville Homes made political donations this year. The Fresno-based company has been doing that for years. What may be of note is just how much Granville contributed to candidates and parties, and just how far and wide that money was spread.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Court strikes down voter-approved law on felony arrests again — A voter-approved state law requiring police to take DNA samples of anyone arrested for a felony is an intrusive measure that violates privacy rights under the California Constitution, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Gov. Jerry Brown considering expanding Medi-Cal to immigrants – Gov. Jerry Brown is considering expanding state-funded Medi-Cal coverage to residents shielded from deportation under President Obama’s new immigration policies. Nancy McFadden, the governor’s top policy aide, said that possibility is under review by the Brown administration, but implied that the potential cost would be a factor in the decision.  LA Times article

17 states sue to stop Obama’s immigration plan — Texas and 16 other states sued the federal government and immigration agencies in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to try to derail President Obama’s executive action deferring deportation for up to 5 million people, arguing it was unconstitutional and would worsen the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.  LA Times article

Other areas

Multimillion dollar California Senate shortfall behind layoffs – The California Senate faces an estimated budget shortfall of $3 million to $4 million through June, a top Senate official said this week, offering the first detailed explanation of the fiscal problems behind last month’s layoffs of 39 Senate employees.  Sacramento Bee article

California Assembly committee assignments shape power – The way power gets parceled out always generates plenty of interest in Sacramento, so people are busy dissecting the committee chairmanships Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, handed out on Wednesday.  Capitol Alert

California Assembly announces committee chairs – A new California Assembly class has been sworn in – and now members have begun to receive the committee assignments that will guide the fate of legislation and shape the power dynamics of the Democratic caucus, including Valley Democrats Henry T. Perea (Agriculture), Rudy Salas (Accountability & Administrative Review), and Adam Gray (Governmental Organization).  Capitol Alert

Special elections loom for California Senate — A day after terming out of the Assembly, Compton Democrat Isadore Hall returned to Sacramento on Monday, sitting in the back of the Senate chambers and then hitting the town to mix it up with past colleagues and interest group representatives.  Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Voters skeptical of major tax system overhaul — While much attention has been paid to potential tax measures on the 2016 ballot, working in the background is an effort to overhaul the state’s tax system. The recently released Public Policy Institute of California poll shows how difficult a task that could be.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

House approves one-year extension of $45 billion in tax breaks — The House overwhelmingly approved a one-year extension of $45 billion in tax breaks, mostly for businesses, after bipartisan efforts on a longer-term extension fell apart close to deadline.  LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Mandatory DNA collection during arrest is unconstitutional, court says – A state appeals court decided unanimously Wednesday that California’s practice of taking DNA from people arrested for felonies — though not necessarily convicted or even charged — violates the state constitution.  LA Times article; AP article

Fresno makes list of Top 10 Markets to Watch in 2015 – Fresno has done it again. It made a list, but this time it’s a good list. Trulia, a San Francisco company that compiles real estate data, has listed Fresno as No. 3 on a list of the top 10 housing markets with strong housing activity to watch in 2015.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

State controller audit raises concerns about Atwater finances – Two state Controller’s Office audits of Atwater’s finances were released Wednesday, painting a troubling picture of the city’s financial practices and declining revenues.  Merced Sun-Star article

California says carbon permits sell out at auction with Quebec — California officials said Wednesday that industrial firms spent nearly $407 million in the latest quarterly auction of carbon emissions permits, the first auction run with the Canadian province of Quebec. All of the permits were sold, a total of nearly 34 million allowances. Each allowances gives a firm the right to emit a ton of carbon.  Sacramento Bee article

Congress could soon allow pension plans to cut benefits for current retirees – Congress could soon allow the benefits of current retirees to be cut as part of an agreement to address the fiscal distress confronting some of the nation’s 1,400 multi-employer pension plans.  Washington Post article

Indiana restaurateur bringing teppanyaki to Campus Pointe – Teppanyaki restaurant Hino Oishi Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse has signed a lease for a 6,600-square-foot space at The Square at Campus Pointe in Fresno. Developed by Lance-Kashian & Co., the retail center’s close proximity to Fresno State and the Save Mart Center was a major draw for restaurant owner Jason Lin.  The Business Journal article

Rent-to-own market good in Madera, Tulare counties – Madera and Tulare counties were named among the top ten in California with the most promising market for homebuyers not quite ready for a mortgage.  The Business Journal article

Self-employed find it’s not easy to get a mortgage – Despite often earning higher incomes, self-employed borrowers have a harder time getting a mortgage than their salaried peers, according to a new study out Thursday. And as the ranks of the self-employed grow, that’s hindering the housing recovery.  LA Times article

LA poverty rate greater than California, nation – New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that poverty is greater in Los Angeles County than in the state or country as a whole, with 18 percent of individuals falling below the poverty line. KPCC report

High-rise planned near Sacramento arena – A major California builder with deep Sacramento ties has submitted plans to the city for a 26-story headquarters and office tower on J Street across the street from the planned downtown arena and hotel.  Sacramento Bee article

LA officials take a step toward legalizing street vending – A committee of Los Angeles lawmakers took a step Tuesday toward legalizing street vending, vetting a basic framework for how sellers who ply their trade on sidewalks or in parks could get city permits.  LA Times article

Silicon Valley homeless no longer welcome in ‘the Jungle’ — Veiled by the yellow willows and brush along a forgotten creek bed in San Jose, hundreds of people jerry-built a treehouse and constructed underground bunkers and ramshackle lean-tos to form one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments. After years of halfhearted cleanups, city officials on Thursday plan to begin shutting down the Jungle for good.  LA Times article

California HR chief exemplifies government change — Want a state job? Can’t figure out how to apply? Maybe you’re in state government. Your department seems like a grinding, bureaucratic machine and you’re just grease. Richard Gillihan says he understands. It’s his job to fix all that. And more.  Sacramento Bee article


Want the facts on ag water use? Join the debate – It seems like a simple, verifiable fact necessary to inform drought discussions: How much of California’s water supply goes to agriculture? Trying to answer that tidy little question leads straight into controversy. California’s age-old water wars are heating up amid punishing drought, and that bubbles all the way down to the definition of what “applied water” really means.  Hanford Sentinel article

Farmer: ‘I will take 20 inches of rain’ – Though there was some concern about too much rain all at once with citrus season hitting full steam, growers say they will gladly trade some fruit on the ground for water in the reservoirs. “We need the rain. I will take 20 inches of rain,” said Gary Caviglia, a citrus landowner in Ivanhoe. “There are concerns, but I can’t see anybody turning down rain.”  Visalia Times-Delta article

California rain has Yosemite waterfalls flowing again — The recent storm may have caused havoc for freeways and some flooding, but it brought new life to Yosemite National Park’s waterfalls, which are flowing again after being dry for several months.  LA Times article; Stockton Record article

Heavy downpours slow traffic, set Sacramento rainfall record – Wind and heavy downpours caused power outages and flooded roadways throughout the Sacramento region Wednesday. But the storm also boosted Sacramento’s rainfall total for the season to above average and set a new record for rainfall in a calendar day at Executive Airport.  Sacramento Bee article

Odd-even watering days are on the way in Bakersfield — Bakersfield residents will be asked — and could be told — to water their landscaping every other day starting next year, the city water board decided Wednesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County officials:  825 water well failures — County officials continue to receive reports of failed domestic wells, a likely effect from the drought gripping the state. As of Monday, county officials have received reports of 825 wells failures, an increase of 10 from the previous weekly report.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno Police Chief Dyer launches crackdown on gang violence after shootings increase – Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer announced Wednesday that officers will be out in “full force” over the next three weeks to curb an increase in gang violence over the past month and a half.  Fresno Bee article

Louis Medina: Contentious Prop 47 to be discussed at Dec. 9 meeting – The representative on the Kern County Human Relations Commission writes, “As both sides of the Prop. 47 debate continue, Kern County’s Human Relations Commission, which evaluates social justice issues to ensure the equitable treatment of all Kern County residents, is inviting stakeholders to come together in a Community Engagement Meeting called ‘Understanding the Impact of Proposition 47 on Our Community.’”  Medina op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

The race gap in Bay Area police departments – In our own analysis of data collected from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics’ police force questionnaire from 2007 — the most recent comprehensive data available — at least 10 cities in the region have police forces that are more than 30 percentage points more white than the general population of the communities they serve.  KQED report

Psychologist testifies as to school shooter Bryan Oliver’s mental state — A psychologist testified Wednesday morning that Bryan Oliver has bipolar disorder and experienced a “disassociative” episode the day he opened fire with a shotgun in a Taft Union High School classroom.  Bakersfield Californian article

Two surrender selves in Chukchansi casino office raid — Two more men reportedly turned themselves in to authorities and bailed out of jail in connection with the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino tribal gaming office raid almost two months ago.  Fresno Bee article

Beck faults officers in killing of unarmed man — Three Los Angeles police officers violated department rules for using deadly force when they fatally shot an unarmed man following a high-speed chase last year, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has found.  LA Times article

Oakland, San Francisco protestors denounce police killing of Eric Garner — Protesters gathered in Oakland and San Francisco on Wednesday evening to call for police accountability in the wake of a grand jury declining to indict a white New York City police officer in the video-recorded choke-hold death of Eric Garner, a black man stopped for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in July.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Alameda County sheriff says drones won’t spy on protestors — Hoping to put an end to protests from privacy advocates, Alameda County’s sheriff said Wednesday that he won’t use a pair of newly purchased drone aircraft to monitor demonstrations or conduct surveillance of ordinary citizens.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Former Berkeley chancellor says tuition increase helps low-income students – While politically unpopular, increasing tuition at the University of California is necessary to maintain the system’s economic and racial diversity, according to former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.  Sacramento Bee article

Sen. Lara proposes giving lawmakers some control of UC system – Alarmed by a proposal to raise tuition at University of California campuses by up to 5% annually for five years, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) on Wednesday proposed a constitutional amendment be placed on the 2016 ballot to strip the UC system of its historic autonomy and give lawmakers new controls as they see fit.  LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: State’s disinvestment in UCs, CSUs gets the attention it deserves – There’s nothing like the start of a good conversation. This week, as state lawmakers gathered for a new legislative session, public higher education became the talk of the town at long last.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Fresno State online program combats sexual violence – In an effort to inform students about the issue of sexual violence on college campuses, Fresno State is implementing an interactive online program known as the Haven program.  Fresno Bee article

UC Merced chancellor at White House summit – UC Merced is set to present a report at the White House today on its efforts to support underserved students and help them graduate. This will be the second time UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland takes part in the College Opportunity Summit.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton Record: Legislature should approve Eggman’s bill to study four-year campus in Stockton – Kudos to Rep. Susan Eggman. She wasted no time in the 2015-16 state legislative session, introducing a bill on the first day that would require the state to weigh the feasibility of establishing a California State University campus in Stockton.  Stockton Record editorial

Alice Quan Yoshioka: Adult education programs need more money to help California’s neediest – The member of the California Council of Adult Education writes, “Gov. Brown and legislators can take an important step this year to preserve access to K-12 adult education by guaranteeing funding for these critical programs. Doing so will send the message that California is serious about helping immigrants, the unemployed and others in need of vital state services.”  Yoshioka op-ed in Sacramento Bee

State rethinks how to report test scores – California policymakers say they intend to create a different system for reporting results of the upcoming tests on the Common Core standards than parents and schools have become used to in the era of the No Child Left Behind Act.  EdSource article

CSU trustees begin Sacramento State presidential search at campus meeting — California State University trustees, CSU Chancellor Tim White and an advisory committee of faculty, students, alumni and community leaders listened to members of the campus community as they described the characteristics they would like to see in the next president.  Sacramento Bee article

How LA Unified got its iPad contract — Has the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $1.3-billion iPads-for-all program handled properly? This question has been debated for more than a year — and took on new urgency this week after FBI agents removed 20 boxes of records from school district headquarters.  LA Times article


‘First Look’: Reporter, columnist discuss trains of oil arriving in Bakersfield – Californian reporter John Cox was on a mission Tuesday morning to find the train carrying barrels of oil that was reported to have arrived in Bakersfield on Thanksgiving Day. He found a mile-long train carrying some 70,000 barrels of oil near the new Plains All American Pipeline LP Rail terminal about 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield.  Bakersfield Californian article

California bans coyote hunts that offer prizes — California officials on Wednesday banned coyote hunting contests that have sparked a culture clash between wildlife advocates and ranchers who offer cash and other prizes to marksmen who killed the most animals.  AP article; LA Times article

Rim fire defendant’s case will likely focus on investigator interviews — Lawyers for Keith Matthew Emerald want to know why officials failed to record a phone call in which he recanted his admission to starting a campfire believed to have sparked the Rim fire that burned into Yosemite National Park last year.  Fresno Bee article

Tricolored blackbird listed as endangered — Wildlife officials took unprecedented emergency action Wednesday to protect the tricolored blackbird, a once-prolific songbird that declined 78 percent in the San Joaquin Valley over the past six years.  Stockton Record article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

California rescues salmon trapped in Yolo Bypass — Dozens of Chinook salmon were rescued Wednesday from a dead-end journey into the Yolo Bypass, the latest of their species to be fooled by a plumbing problem that has gone unfixed for decades.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Health spending grew 3.6 percent in 2013, slowest pace on record, U.S. says — Health spending in the U.S. grew in 2013 at the slowest rate ever recorded, a new government study indicates, marking the extension of a historic slowdown in medical spending that began after the last recession.  LA Times article

Covered California attempting to calm immigrants’ fears — Covered California is trying to reassure immigrant communities their information will not be turned over to immigration authorities if they sign up for health insurance.  Capital Public Radio report

California public health chief Ronald Chapman to step down — The head of California’s Public Health Department, which was recently criticized for failing to investigate thousands of nursing home complaints, is stepping down from his post at the end of January.  Sacramento Bee article


Caltrans ribbon-cutting set for Arboleda Road, Highway 99 project — A ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday will celebrate the completion of the $127 million highway upgrade and interchange in Merced County, the California Department of Transportation said in a news release.  Merced Sun-Star article

Other Areas

Livingston council questioned over China trip – A trip to China that included the mayor, the city manager, a council member and his wife, and a city public works supervisor was the subject of scrutiny at a City Council meeting Tuesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno Bee: Pacheco and Mendes have a chance to right a wrong – One of the first orders of business when Brian Pacheco and Buddy Mendes join the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in January should be mustering the four votes needed to accept a $2.06 million state grant to make the assessor’s office more efficient.  Fresno Bee editorial

Stockton dispatchers to handle Lodi fire calls – An agreement between Stockton and Lodi will further an increasingly regional approach to providing fire and emergency medical dispatch services, a trend that will improve safety and efficiency, officials say.  Stockton Record article

Mayor Johnson: Deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown ‘not isolated incidents’ – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson issued a statement Wednesday following a grand jury’s decision to not indict New York City Police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of Eric Garner.  Sacramento Bee article

George Hostetter: Thoughts on the mayor and the chief – I hate to admit it, but I’m confused. Fresno City Hall did it to me. This is a bad state of affairs, me being The Bee’s City Hall reporter.  Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Turlock Mayor Lazar looks back on 22 years in office – Mayor John Lazar has been packing up mementos in his City Hall office. Among them: a 1976 photo of himself as a congressional page. That service at age 17 sparked an interest in government that led to Lazar’s election to the Turlock City Council in 1992. He went on to serve for 22 years, the last eight as mayor, and will turn over the gavel to Mayor-elect Gary Soiseth on Tuesday night.  Modesto Bee article

Hot stuff for Bakersfield firefighters – Bakersfield firefighters are used to helping people, but they almost always do it with their shirts on. Not this time.  A dozen city fire firefighters have bared their toned torsos for a calendar to raise money to send young burn victims to camp. Since the calendar’s debut in September, nearly $25,000 has been raised in sales and sponsorships, said Battalion Chief — and Mr. April — Anthony Galagaza.  Bakersfield Californian article

Joe Mathews: In California, vampires aren’t just in the movies — Sure, California has everything. But where would you find a murderous, Farsi-speaking, chador-wearing vampire riding her skateboard around an oil city? Kern County, of course. If a place could win an Academy Award for acting, I’d nominate Kern for an Oscar.  Mathews op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Curry named mayor, Ayers vice mayor of Lemoore — After bidding farewell to three outgoing members Tuesday night, the Hanford City Council selected Russ Curry to serve as the city’s mayor for the next year.  Hanford Sentinel article

Kathy Shick: Library system must be priority – The president of the San Joaquin County League of Women Voters writes, “The League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County strongly concurs with The Record editorial (Nov. 7) on the library that stated ‘it is important to move forward with goals that will enhance services and foster literacy.’ We also agree with Bill Maxwell, who urged that we fund the library properly.”  Shick op-ed in Stockton Record

Modesto woman’s documentary about Assyrian refugees in Iraq goes viral — A Modesto woman’s short documentary about Assyrian refugees in Iraq has been viewed about 90,000 times since being posted online less than two weeks ago.  Modesto Bee article

Photographer selected as Stocktonian of the Year — Tim Ulmer has been there quite a few years, his camera poised to capture the surprise reaction when the Stocktonian of the Year winner is announced. This time, he needed to shoot a selfie.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Like rain, good news can come in buckets, and we saw plenty of that on Monday with uplifting moments and a good hire.

Fresno Bee – One of the first orders of business when Brian Pacheco and Buddy Mendes join the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in January should be mustering the four votes needed to accept a $2.06 million state grant to make the assessor’s office more efficient; Voters should voice their views on campaign finance disclosure.

Merced Sun-Star – If you want campaign spending limits, then speak up.

Modesto Bee – If you want campaign spending limits, then speak up.

Sacramento Bee – There’s nothing like the start of a good conversation. This week, as state lawmakers gathered for a new legislative session, public higher educationbecame the talk of the town at long last; The Sacramento region has no excuse to let up on conserving water.

Stockton Record – The state Legislature should approve Assemblymember Eggman’s bill a study a four-year campus in Stockton.