December 5, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

House votes to declare Obama’s immigration actions ‘null and void’ — House Republicans approved a measure Thursday that aims to block the Obama administration from moving to shield millions from deportation, a largely symbolic legislative response to the president’s new immigration policy that reflects lawmakers’ limited options.  LA Times article; AP article; McClatchy Newspapers article

Number of immigrants deported from U.S. dropped sharply in last year – The number of immigrants deported from the U.S. fell sharply in the last year, a decline driven by the Obama administration’s struggle to handle the surge of Central American migrants and its continuing shift in deciding whom to deport.  LA Times article


Other areas

Dan Walters: A long series of blunders for Kevin de LeónKevin de León, president pro tem of the state Senate for just a few weeks, has already run up a remarkable string of political missteps and gaffes. And that’s why Capitol insiders are beginning to speculate on how long de León can last – especially since Democrats have a pro-tem-in-waiting named Bob Hertzberg, a former Assembly speaker just elected to the Senate. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

‘Revenge porn’ conviction is first under California law – Three years ago, Noe Iniguez and his girlfriend broke up. That’s when he decided to get even, prosecutors said. This week, he became the first person in California to be convicted for “revenge porn” and was sentenced to a year in jail.  LA Times article

Mary Savala: Hey, public officials, treat your constituents with respect – The vice president, natural resources, of the League of Women Voters of Fresno writes, “The election is over, but hey, public officials, please don’t forget the pledges you have made to the public to represent all of us. You talked about concerns for the prosperity and health of our community. We like to believe that you want to be there for everyone in your jurisdiction. Don’t forget us now that you are in office.”  Savala op-ed in Fresno Bee

Shoeshiner gets the boot in California’s Capitol – It stirred a variety of emotions at the state Capitol on Thursday when Eddie Wright, who has shined the shoes of lawmakers and lobbyists for 22 years, announced that he had been laid off.  Sacramento Bee article


News Briefs

Top Stories

Fresno State’s Joseph Castro sets target for speeding up graduations at D.C. summit — Fresno State President Joseph Castro says he wants to bump up student six-year graduation rates to 70% by 2024, the first time he’s set an official target for getting students through the university more quickly. The most recent university figures show about 52% of Fresno Students graduate within six years. Just 16% complete their degrees within four years.  Fresno Bee article

Nation’s most stressful ZIP Codes: Mendota makes top 10 — California is represented among the top 10 in a list of the most stressful ZIP Codes in the United States. Mendota (93640) ranks third in the recent ranking by real estate website and frequent list maker Movoto. The Fresno County city, population 11,014, “had a headache of stress scores across the board … an unemployment rate over 25%, over 42% of families below the poverty line and an average workweek of over 42 hours,” according to the website.  LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin makes pitch for growth plan and inner-city rebirth – Mayor Ashley Swearengin on Thursday made a strong pitch for Fresno’s new blueprint for growth and inner-city rebirth. And she did so in a mere hour, a feat that may come to be viewed as remarkable as the complex 2035 general plan update continues its journey to City Hall’s finish line.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto council Oks plan for businesses to stop paying tax – For more than a dozen years, Mistlin Honda has paid a few hundred thousand dollars in city business license taxes despite not being within Modesto’s city limit.  Modesto Bee article

Few rules mean hefty payoffs for some California public employees — Although the salaries of government employees are public, most taxpayers know little about whether these paychecks, which typically represent more than a third of communities’ spending, are fair. No statewide standards govern how local pay is set, leaving the public in the dark about whether their city managers, for example, are paid appropriately for the job and the community.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Stockton Record: Pension increase? – We can assure Americans that the city of Stockton has not once again turned on the pension faucet. All of the above had to do with another local governmental agency: San Joaquin County.  Stockton Record editorial

Matthew Covington: California cities need a solution to pension mess – Covington, a managing director with Conway MacKenzie, writes, “The costs of municipal bankruptcies are borne not just by the creditors who invested in these cities, but also by residents hit with plummeting property values and deteriorating services. California can do more to protect its citizens from these failures. Let’s put systems in place to ensure this dangerous game isn’t played again.” Covington op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Poverty, taxes and milk among California economy facts in LAO rundown – The good wonks at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor’s office have published their annual CalFacts guide to the nation’s largest state, and it is marbled like a fine steak with fascinating facts. It’s worth your time to read it in its entirety by clicking here, but in the meantime here are some tantalizing tidbits.  Sacramento Bee article

Sprucing up downtown Modesto’s curb appeal – The Downtown Modesto Partnership has a plan to improve the city center’s curb appeal by having business owners work together to keep the area clean and attractive.  Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Nonprofits lose Stanislaus County Fair alcohol sales – Sometimes, life really doesn’t seem fair. Even at the fair. Last month, three Turlock nonprofit organizations received letters informing them they would no longer be allowed to sell alcohol at their booths at the Stanislaus County Fair. Among them, the Turlock Veterans of Foreign Wars post, which began selling beer there more than a half-century ago.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

San Francisco reveals nearly $22 million surplus – San Francisco is booming, and so are city coffers. The city, whose economic fortunes have gone up and down since the Gold Rush, finished last fiscal year with an annual operating surplus of almost $22 million.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Southland adding jobs at rapid pace but many have low pay, reports say – Southern California job creation has grown rapidly over the last two years, but the recovery has been dominated by lower-paying service jobs in retail and food services, according to new research.  LA Times article

Fast-food protests: March in downtown LA, cities nationwide — Fast-food workers and their supporters rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday as part of a wave of protests planned in 160 cities around the nation advocating for $15-an-hour pay.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

As LA weighs regulation, Airbnb touts its economic impact in city — The tech firm — which typically keeps its data close to its vest — says that it has just under 4,500 “hosts” in the city of Los Angeles and that they earned a combined $43.1 million through the service from May 2013 through April 2014.  LA Times article

Millennials stand on shakier financial ground than older generations — California’s millennials experience greater unemployment, earn less money and are far more likely to still be living with their parents than young adults from earlier generations, according to a new comprehensive analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau.  LA Times article

Cherri Senders: Fight inequality by shopping wisely – The founder and publisher of Labor 411 writes, “In the same way that consumers have created pressure for a wide array of green products and healthy foods, we can push corporate America toward practices that reward the hard work of its dedicated employees. The formula is simple: Spend more money at businesses that provide good jobs, and less at those that offer poverty wages and paltry benefits.” Senders op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Madera Realtors to strengthen practices and relationships in new year — Realtors have to comply by a new set of professional standards as members of the National Association of Realtors by June 2015. The new and re-elected officers of the Madera affiliate is gearing up for the changes by encouraging its 200 members to strengthen relationships, be better government advocates and to get involved in the community.  Fresno Bee article

SACTO announces program to help avert business closures — SACTO, the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization, said Thursday it is launching a program to ward off business closures and help area companies expand.  Sacramento Bee article

Sale of Sacramento Kings chairman’s software company approved — Sacramento Kings Chairman Vivek Ranadive’s software company has gone private. While Ranadive was in India on a basketball goodwill tour, shareholders overwhelmingly approved the $4.3 billion sale of Tibco Software Inc., his Palo Alto technology company, to a private equity firm.  Sacramento Bee article



Study: California drought most severe dry spell in at least 1,200 years — California’s current drought is pretty exceptional — like the driest in about a millennium — according to an article published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by scientists with the University of Minnesota and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. But how could they know that? There weren’t a lot of rain gauges in California in 800 A.D. — at least, not the plastic kind. So authors Daniel Griffin and Kevin Anchukaitis looked to tree-ring samples from California blue oaks.  KQED report

It’s official: California storm didn’t cure the drought —  Despite a “respectable” amount of rain this week across all of California, it wasn’t enough for federal agencies to improve the state’s drought picture, new data released Thursday show.  LA Times article

Farmers sought to provide bee habitat — Bees, both domesticated honey bees and wild native bees, play an important role in pollinating food crops, affecting up to one third of the food we eat. But land development is eliminating much of the natural habitat needed to support these helpful insects when orchard and field crops are not in bloom.  Stockton Record article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bakersfield Californian:  Lerdo decision had to be made – Kern County Supervisors are right to be uneasy about spending the money to upgrade the Lerdo jail, but it’s clear the work needs to be done.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

New contracts seek to retain Lemoore Police Department officers – In an effort to retain Lemoore Police Department staff, the Lemoore City Council approved about $230,000 in pay increases Tuesday for police officers and sergeants.  Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento Bee: A fairer way to investigate officer-involved shootings — There are ways to evaluate death-in-custody cases that don’t rely on local DAs, primarily using outside experts to remove the appearance of bias. They would be trained lawyers, officers, or panels of both. It would be important that they not have a connection to the local agencies or an incentive to protect those under review.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Pentagon gives California police grenade launchers, snow shoes – Southern California is mired in more than three years of drought, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is prepared for snowy conditions after it received 1,600 parkas for camouflage, 500 snow shoes and 132 snow trousers in March from the U.S. Department of Defense.  LA Times article

Court reluctantly upholds murder conviction despite request for lawyer — Jade Anderson didn’t kill anyone, but she was convicted of murdering a man who had been choked unconscious by her companion, shortly before Anderson stole the dying man’s wallet and cell phone. Now a federal appeals court has reluctantly upheld the San Leandro woman’s conviction and prison sentence of 25 years to life, despite concluding that the police probably ignored her request for a lawyer.  San Francisco Chronicle article

ATF stash house stings were legal, federal appellate court rules — Federal agents who lured suspects into plotting a robbery of a fictitious drug stash house did not commit “outrageous” misconduct, a federal appellate panel ruled Thursday, reversing a district court judge’s finding that the two men’s due process rights were violated when they were nabbed in a sting.  LA Times article

Tulare County Sheriff’s Office gets $21,000 for police dogs – As part of their second fundraiser, local Jack in the Box restaurants spent most of November raising money to help the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department add police dogs to their force. By the end of the campaign, the restaurants had raised more than $21,500.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Psychologist: Oliver was not aware of his actions during shooting — Bryan Oliver’s alternative persona, not Oliver himself, formulated a “disassociative plan” he carried out in shooting at students at Taft Union High School, psychologist Dr. Thomas Middleton said Thursday.  Bakersfield Californian article

White calls for police officer firings, wants grant jury convened over Stockton shootings – Former City Councilman Ralph Lee White hosted a town-hall meeting Thursday in which he said a number of Stockton police officers should be fired and a grand jury convened to investigate 24 officer-involved shootings that occurred in the city over the past five years.  Stockton Record article

Livingston official calls bullet found near home gang threat — A Livingston planning commissioner filed a police report this week after he claims to have found an assault rifle bullet near his front door.  Merced Sun-Star article

New LA County supervisors poised to back sheriff’s oversight panel —  In a significant shift in policy, a majority on the newly configured Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors now supports creation of a civilian oversight commission for the embattled Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  LA Times article



UC’s rising tuition sparks bill to end college system’s autonomy – Angered by rising tuition and fat executive pay at the University of California, a bipartisan pair of state senators introduced a bill Thursday to wrest control of decision-making at UC and end its 166 years of autonomy.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Michael Fitzgerald: A silver bullet called Stockton State – There’s the knowledge economy, and there’s working in the fields. The difference between the two can be expressed in three words: Stockton State University.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Sacramento State students reject fee hike for new arena – Sacramento State students overwhelmingly rejected a $438 annual fee increase this week to build a 5,000-seat arena on campus, joining a wave of discontent over increasing costs at public universities across California.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno State holds forum on grand jury decisions in Ferguson, New York City — Fresno State professors and students discussed recent grand jury decisions in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both killed by police, at a hastily organized open forum Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

Stockton Unified students imagine the possibilities – Sapphire Young isn’t sure if she knows the whole alphabet yet. She’s only 5, she points out. But as she expertly clicks through one correct letter after another Thursday at Victory Elementary, it’s obvious that what’s disguised as a game on her small HP Notebook is actually a sophisticated language and literacy program that’s systematically developing Sapphire’s critical language skills.  Stockton Record article

On Campus: Schools for teachers face new grading system – In the fast-shifting education landscape, remaking teacher training programs lies just over the horizon. The changes proposed continue what, for some, is a queasy slide – from a tradition based on measuring how hard everyone tries toward the business metric of evaluating results. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento school for homeless children gets dramatic makeover – It was a day for homeless kids to dare to dream of becoming chefs, bankers, physicians and athletes. On a soggy, blustery morning at Sacramento’s Mustard Seed School, an emergency educational program for children whose families are homeless or transient, Monica Perez, 8, put a scrub suit over her Hello Kitty shirt and declared, “I’m a doctor!”  Sacramento Bee article

Gustine school principal slashed with box cutter; suspects sought — Gustine police are searching for two men who slashed the face of Gustine Elementary School’s principal Thursday afternoon.  Merced Sun-Star article



Texas-to-Kern oil pipeline proposal resurfaces — Houston-based Kinder Morgan is rekindling discussions aimed at opening a 200,000-barrel-per-day oil pipeline from Texas’s Permian Basin to southwestern Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Sen. Kevin de León leading delegation to Peru on climate change — State Senate leader Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) will head a delegation of California officials attending a weeklong conference on climate change starting Sunday in Lima, Peru.  LA Times article


Health/Human Services

How the flu vaccine turned out to be a poor match for this year’s flu – On Thursday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the flu shots and nasal sprays distributed this year may not be a good match for the most active virus now circulating in the U.S.  LA Times article; KQED report; AP report


Land Use/Housing

Granville’s latest downtown Fresno project: The Lede — GV Urban, a division of Granville Homes, has unveiled a new name for its Metropolitan Museum Block project next to the old Fresno Bee building in downtown’s Mural District. The residential project on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Stanislaus Street is called The Lede, which rhymes with feed. It’s a journalism term that refers to the first sentence or paragraph of a story.  Fresno Bee article

House rehab questioned, delayed by Merced council — A Neighborhood Stabilization Program project drew some ire this week, as the Merced City Council held off on spending more to rehabilitate a house in central Merced than the home would be worth on the market.  Merced Sun-Star article


Other Areas

‘In God We Trust’ spreads — Modern technology and good old-fashioned determination are swelling the numbers of cities and counties nationwide that post “In God We Trust,” the nation’s motto, in their chambers. Specifically, In God We Trust, the nonprofit founded by Bakersfield Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan about 12 years ago to champion this idea, is gaining an increasing amount of traction from — wait for it — email blasts and targeting counties instead of just cities.  Bakersfield Californian article (second item)

Tulare Supervisor Ishida looking for alternate – Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida is looking for somebody fill in for him during Tulare County Association of Government board meetings. The job of the District 1 supervisor’s alternate had been handled by Paul Boyer, but he’s leaving to return to the Farmersville City Council after winning a seat in November’s general election.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Photo Gallery: The beauty of Kern – after the rain — The sky, the mountains, the water — everything looks a little different after rain falls in Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian photo gallery

El Dorado ordinance fuels debate outcry over pot-growing boom – The tense public hearing was three hours in Tuesday when a friend pushed Joyce Hall in her walker to address the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. The frail, 100-pound woman rose, grasped the lectern with both hands and began to cry.  Sacramento Bee article

Patsy Ouellette: What unfolded in Ferguson is clearly a tale of two Americas – The Bakersfield resident writes, “If some of us don’t understand the outrage in Ferguson, (some of us being a euphemism for white people) maybe it’s time we looked a little closer.” Ouellette op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Police killings prompt activists to seek ‘new civil rights movement’ – Now, activists are counting on the rage behind those words to spur a movement that would force the country to confront the interlocked issues of race and policing and press the government to automatically take control of cases of alleged police abuse.  LA Times article

Protestors take to the streets again in Oakland, San Francisco – Swarms of chanting protesters swept through Oakland and San Francisco for the second straight night Thursday to castigate authorities for the killings of unarmed black men by police. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento judge approves mental tests for terror suspect — A judge in Sacramento has formally approved plans to send indicted terror suspect Nicholas Teausant to a federal facility for mental testing, a move that promises to further delay the case.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Kern County Supervisors are right to be uneasy about spending the money to upgrade the Lerdo jail, but it’s clear the work needs to be done.

Fresno Bee – California’s public universities deserve attention and investment; Finally, California will get calorie counts on menus.

Merced Sun-Star – There are ways to evaluate death-in-custody cases that don’t rely on local DAs, primarily using outside experts to remove the appearance of bias. They would be trained lawyers, officers, or panels of both. It would be important that they not have a connection to the local agencies or an incentive to protect those under review.

Modesto Bee – There are ways to evaluate death-in-custody cases that don’t rely on local DAs, primarily using outside experts to remove the appearance of bias. They would be trained lawyers, officers, or panels of both. It would be important that they not have a connection to the local agencies or an incentive to protect those under review.

Sacramento Bee – There are ways to evaluate death-in-custody cases that don’t rely on local DAs, primarily using outside experts to remove the appearance of bias. They would be trained lawyers, officers, or panels of both. It would be important that they not have a connection to the local agencies or an incentive to protect those under review; Sacramento City Councilman Steve Kohn leaves a lasting legacy.

Stockton Record – We can assure Americans that the city of Stockton has not once again turned on the pension faucet. All of the above had to do with another local governmental agency: San Joaquin County; St. Mary’s, Tracy on the verge of winning section football championships.