December 9, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

House-passed drought bill likely to sink in Senate — House Republicans who have scrambled all year to complete a California water bill throw a Hail Mary pass Tuesday with legislation that’s drawn a presidential veto threat and resistance from the state’s two senators. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Gov. Jerry Brown cutting down on number of speeches — California Gov. Jerry Brown has a reputation for being frugal with taxpayer money, but now he is also cutting back on the number of speeches he gives. Brown’s aides said Monday that when he takes the oath of office Jan. 5 for his fourth term, his inaugural speech in the state Assembly Chambers in Sacramento will also serve as the governor’s constitutionally required annual report to the Legislature, also known as the state-of-the-state address.  LA Times article; Capitol Alert; John Myers in KQED

Valley politics

Modesto Bee: Denham breaks ranks on slap at Obama — Rep. Jeff Denham was on the wrong side of a meaningless vote last week to challenge President Obama’s executive action on immigration. By wrong side, we mean he voted with the Democrats. But it was the right decision, and we applaud not only his vote but also that Denham had the courage to stand up against his party.  Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Mark Baldassare: California – State of Change – The president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California writes, “As leaders from government, business, and philanthropy gathered last week to discuss California’s future, we were reminded once again that these are exciting times in our state. The discussions were part of PPIC’s full-day conference, California—State of Change, and they highlighted both the advantages our state enjoys and the major challenges ahead.” Baldassare in PPIC


Ed Lee commits extra funds to help undocumented immigrants – Mayor Ed Lee committed an additional $1.1 million in public funds Monday to help undocumented immigrants defer deportations, get on a path to citizenship or access services such as health care as San Francisco works to implement President Obama’s recent revisions to the country’s immigration practices.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Deported Central American immigrants often delivered back into danger An undocumented adult or child from Central America typically crosses into the United States through Mexico. But because they’re not from Mexico, authorities can’t just send them back across the border.  KQED report

Other areas

Plan to release report on CIA interrogation tactics prompts warnings – The most extensive review of U.S. intelligence-gathering tactics in generations is set to be made public Tuesday and is expected to reignite a post-Sept. 11 public debate over the use of torture to combat terrorism.  LA Times article; New York Times report

Groups merge to form big California biotech lobbying group – The Bay Area biotech industry’s advocacy organization is merging with another group to become a newly created organization that will represent all of California’s biomedical industry.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Historic moment for black, Asian caucuses — California’s Legislature has reached a historic moment for diversity. Latino elected officials are still wining seats in the Assembly and Senate as demographics shift favorably in their direction, but this election year brought a surge in California’s other ethnic caucuses.  Capitol Weekly article

Berkeley protest swells to more than 1,000; closes I-80 – More than 1,000 protesters marched through Berkeley on Monday night, confronting police outside their headquarters before heading west and blocking Interstate 80 off and on throughout the evening before being herded off by police.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Berkeley mayor: Better communication needed with protestors – As Berkeley gets ready for a third night of protests arising from the police killings of African-American men in Missouri and New York, Mayor Tom Bates says he’d like to see some sort of communication between city officials and march organizers to head off the kind of unrest the city has seen the past two nights.  KQED report

Looting, freeway closures put attention on protests, not message – The boon to the movement: The freeway seizures and vandalism ensure attention. The vexation: The attention centers on the freeway seizures and vandalism, not the message.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; AP article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Danny Morrison: The difference between blue violence and black violence – The Bakersfield radio personality writes, “So I thank you, Mr. Giuliani, for your interest in the ills that currently plague the black community. I hope this helps you understand that violence from a police officer is different than violence from a random black citizen. Blacks killing blacks is pure ignorance. But blues killing unarmed blacks is pure injustice.”  Morrison op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Unrest over race is testing Obama’s legacy – Mr. Obama has not been the kind of champion for racial justice that many African-Americans say this moment demands. In the days since grand juries in Missouri and Staten Island decided not to bring charges against white police officers who had killed unarmed black men, the president has not stood behind the protesters or linked arms with civil rights leaders. New York Times article

Poll: Americans have sharply differing views of Brown, Garner cases – Decisions by grand juries to not indict police officers involved in the deaths of black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City have drawn very different reactions from Americans, particularly whites, according to a poll released Monday.  LA Times article

Leland Yee, Darrell Steinberg make Citizen Hotel’s naughty-nice list — If Santa dispensed with the coal and started punishing people with FBI investigations, his methodology would be closer to the Citizen Hotel’s moral sorting. The Sacramento hotel has posted its annual naughty and nice list in the window, and a few of the names on there should ring familiar to California politics watchers.  Capitol Alert

Dan Walters: Big changes are needed in California State Bar – The state licenses and regulates dozens of professions and occupations – doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, architects, dentists, contractors, barbers, cosmetologists, just to name some. Lawyers are conspicuously absent from that list.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

‘Six Californias’ backer to co-produce reality show — Coming soon from the producer of “Six Californias:” a reality show about Silicon Valley startups struggling for success. Yes, Atherton venture capitalist Tim Draper’s Draper University of Heroes – the San Mateo school/ecosystem/incubator/ashram he founded in 2013 to nurture tech innovators – has partnered with Ugly Brother Studios to produce a show that will follow students as they build and launch a Silicon Valley startup.  Political Blotter

Joe Altschule: Numbers disprove ‘failed’ presidency — Americans can be extremely proud about the performance of our national economy. If you didn’t see the news last week, we added 341,000 jobs in November. The October number was corrected to add 41,000 more jobs to its already encouraging figure. In all the past three months have seen an average of 266,000 new private sector jobs. All this has happened while the Republicans are moaning and groaning about a “failed” Obama presidency. Really? Failed? But wait, there’s more.  Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: U.S. stands low in new world order — The educational and governmental policies of Barack Obama, hawked here by Joe Altschule, only serve to ensure the U.S. will hold a low position in the rapidly evolving, “new order.”  Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

News Briefs

Top Stories

Kern pension unfunded liability tops $2 billion – Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association struggled again in the 2013-2014 fiscal year to escape the dramatic impact of the 2008 financial crash and recession. The agency, which manages the employee retirement system for Kern County workers and the employees of a number of other special districts and agencies, has just less than 61 percent of the funds it needs to pay for the future pensions of all the current retirees and workers enrolled in the retirement system.  Bakersfield Californian article

Feds: Don’t blame California drought on warming — Don’t blame man-made global warming for the devastating California drought, a new federal report says. A report issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said natural variations — mostly a La Nina weather oscillation — were the primary drivers behind the drought that has now stretched to three years. AP article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno one of nation’s neediest cities, study shows – Fresno has one of the highest proportions of people in need among large American communities, according to an analysis by The city ranked 147th out of the 150 largest cities in the United States in an analysis of data for a range of different economic and social factors. The lower the ranking, the worse off a city is in the survey.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto eyes raises for third labor group – Modesto City Employees Association members are in line to receive pay raises totaling 3 percent. These are the same raises the council approved last week for the Modesto Confidential and Management Association and the Modesto Police Non-Sworn Association.  Modesto Bee article

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac detail plans for 3 percent down-payment mortgages — Housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Monday detailed plans to once again back mortgages with down payments as low as 3%, saying the move to make home ownership more accessible contains safeguards to protect against abuses that led to the subprime housing market crash.  LA Times article; AP article

Clovis pays $2.8 million for land to build civic center project – Clovis City Council members approved a land deal on the fringe of Old Town Monday night that has been years in the making. The City Council voted unanimously to buy property for an enlarged library, senior center and transit system hub.  Fresno Bee article

Byer California to open Saturday at Outlets at Tejon — Byer California, which offers contemporary women’s and girls’ sportswear and dresses, will open Saturday at the Outlets at Tejon.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus Innovation Challenge reaches finals – The Stanislaus Innovation Challenge comes down to four finalists Wednesday night – people with bright ideas that someday might be business successes.  Modesto Bee article

Todd Gillenwater: Biotech industry needs to be nurtured – The president and CEO of California Healthcare Institute writes, “We must also find new ways to foster the innovation economy and remain world leaders in the life sciences. That future will not get built on its own. The heavy lifting belongs to us.”  Gillenwater op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Golden 1 credit union will send $18 million back to its members — As a year-end token of thanks, this one is huge. Sacramento-based Golden 1 Credit Union is announcing today that it will “give back” $18 million this week to more than 500,000 of its members statewide.  Sacramento Bee article


How California’s water rights make it tough to manage drought — After three years of historically dry and hot weather, the images of California’s drought have become familiar: empty fields, brown lawns, dry stream beds. But for every one of those scenes, there are other parts of the state where water has been flowing freely and the effects of drought are hard to see. It’s all tied to California’s system of water rights — the complex hierarchy that governs who gets water during a drought and who doesn’t. KQED report

Jose Antonio Ramirez: Don’t treat Valley’s people as if they are disposable – Livingston’s city manager writes, “For years, we have heard platitudes and promises – but now we need follow-through on the commitments. The people of Livingston and the Central Valley need California elected officials to support drought relief legislation. There are seven days left to take action. Please use them to show your colleagues from other parts of the country that we do matter.”  Ramirez op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Protection for tricolored blackbirds raises fears, questions among dairy leaders — The dairy industry across the San Joaquin Valley is worried about California’s new endangered species protection for the tricolored blackbird, which gathers in dairy silage fields here. And dairy leaders are disappointed because they had been trying to help save the bird for years.  Fresno Bee article

Merced supervisors to discuss groundwater ordinance, economic agreement — The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hold its first public hearing for a proposed groundwater ordinance, in addition to considering an economic development agreement between the six cities and county.  Merced Sun-Star article

Water top issue for California Farm Bureau leaders – With California farmers pushed to the limit by the state’s drought, water-supply issues were top of mind for California Farm Bureau Federation officials opening the advocacy group’s annual meeting Monday in Garden Grove.  Stockton Record article

Animal deaths spike on Sierra roads as drought hits habitat – Fourteen deer and four black bears, including a cub, were hit and killed in the six-day period on the two highways in Placer and El Dorado counties, according to California Highway Patrol and Caltrans statistics. Several unidentified animals and a dog or coyote were among the reported accidents. In one incident multiple dead animals were found in Placer County. The carnage is happening, wildlife managers say, because fires and drought have left huge swaths of the mountains bare, forcing large animals to roam farther and cross more roadways to find decent habitat.  San Francisco Chronicle article

LA backpedals on proposal to ban growing genetically modified crops — Los Angeles lawmakers reversed course late Monday on a proposed ban on the growth of genetically modified crops that had previously faced nearly zero resistance within City Hall.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Justice Department tightens rules on using racial profiling – Amid heightened national attention to police behavior, Attorney General Eric Holder unveiled new federal guidelines Monday restricting the use of profiling by federal law enforcement officers.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Psychologist, defense attorney spar regarding school shooter’s state of mind – A psychologist testified Monday that Bryan Oliver fired upon classmates as revenge against perceived bullying, and then spent the next three hours parrying a barrage of questions from Oliver’s attorney.  Bakersfield Californian article

Pleasant Valley state prison officer dies while on duty – A Pleasant Valley State Prison correctional officer died Monday morning after complaining of chest pain when he showed up to work at the Coalinga prison, the state prison system said. Donald Daniel, 47, showed up to work and informed his supervisor that he was experiencing chest pains. He was transported to the Coalinga Regional Medical Center where he later died.  Fresno Bee article

Bruce Maiman: Police seek to build more trust with their communities – ‘There needs to be more engagement.” That was the general sentiment Saturday morning among participants of the Roseville Police Department’s community outreach effort – Coffee with a Cop.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee

‘I won’: Former deputy settles with Tulare County — A former Tulare County sergeant who accused the Sheriff’s Department of rampant sexual harassment and discrimination has settled her lawsuit with the county.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Teacher pay ranking revised, Fresno Unified still tops California big-city districts — The authors of a report published last week showing how well teachers in big city districts are paid revised their rankings, putting Fresno Unified at No. 36 among the 113 districts studied. The district was initially ranked No. 29.  Fresno Bee article

Interim dean named to Fresno State science and math college – Fresno State entomology professor Dr. Andrew Lawson was appointed interim dean of the university’s College of Science and Mathematics.  The Business Journal article

LA Unified will seek outside legal advice regarding FBI probe of iPads — The Los Angeles Unified School District will retain an outside law firm to provide advice on a FBI investigation of the system’s iPads-for-all program.  LA Times article

University eyeing Visalia for four-year institution — Marymount California, on a new mission to establish multi-site campuses in the state, is looking at a location in the San Joaquin Valley, in Visalia, a city of 125,000 that currently has but one university — evangelical-based Fresno Pacific University — offering upper level classes.  The Business Journal article

High turnover in school district leadership — Two-thirds of the superintendents of the state’s 30 largest districts have been in their posts for three or fewer years, according to an EdSource review. Ten have been in their posts for less than a year. Only two – Long Beach Unified’s Chris Steinhauser and Fresno Unified’s Michael Hanson – have been on the job for more than five years.  EdSource article

Demystifying computer code time well spent – Not an app for that? Don’t be so sure. Students at Nightingale Elementary joined millions worldwide trying their hand at writing computer code, part of a global initiative aimed at demystifying coding in hopes students might consider careers in computer science.  Stockton Record article

Vice principal to resign in wake of arrest, release — A Tevis Junior High School vice principal who was arrested in August but ultimately not charged for carrying a concealed gun on campus has resigned, effective next June 30.  Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto City Schools denies Waldorf-inspired charter school – Modesto City Schools voted against an arts-oriented charter school after staff members questioned its financial viability and board members said they could not support its lack of alignment with state standards.  Modesto Bee article

California board forces Sacramento City Unified into mediation with teachers – The California Public Employment Relations Board on Monday forced the Sacramento City Unified School District into mediation with teachers over allegations that the district unilaterally changed health care providers in violation of a labor contract. Sacramento Bee article

A storybook ending for McKinley choir — With a $2,500 donation from Dignity Health, the McKinley Magnet Elementary School is officially going to Disneyland to participate in its Magic Music Days workshop next spring.  Bakersfield Californian article


Modesto Bee: Who will power Escalon, Ripon and Manteca? – Should the residents Ripon, Escalon and Manteca buy their electricity from a company that has reliably provided it for nearly a century or from themselves? After eight years of debate, this tough question could be decided by Wednesday.  Modesto Bee editorial

LA mayor calls for mandatory earthquake retrofitting for thousands of buildings — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday proposed the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history that would require owners to retrofit thousands of building most at risk of collapse during a major earthquake.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Blue Shield moves into Medicaid with Care 1st deal – Looking to seize on the massive expansion of Medicaid, Blue Shield of California said it has agreed to acquire Monterey Park health plan Care 1st for an undisclosed sum. Until now, nonprofit Blue Shield hasn’t participated in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for lower-income people.  LA Times article

Kern Medical Center update: Staffers ready for Ebola, budget picture brightening — Kern County supervisors got a taste Monday of the preparations Kern Medical Center has made to handle a potential Ebola case they hope will never come.  Bakersfield Californian article

Arvin residents come back home despite health concerns — After being forced to evacuate in March because of a gas leak, eight Arvin families are finally returning to the place they call home. But, as Fm89’s Diana Aguilera explains, some residents are still concerned about the situation.  KVPR report

Closure of Auberry nursing home leaves empty spot in foothill town — Val Stringer misses her buddies at Wish-I-Ah Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre. Every Friday for 34 years, Stringer and a group of volunteers had gone to the nursing home to sing and pray with the residents. But now the residents are all gone from the nursing home, which was cited in October by the state Department of Public Health for poor conditions that posed “immediate and serious risks” to the people living there.  Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno Bee: Don’t rush to a vote on Fresno development plan – We ask the mayor and other plan supporters to stand firm in their convictions, but allow residents adequate time to learn about this proposal. If it is as sound as advertised, we’re confident that the votes for approval will be there.  Fresno Bee editorial

Housing authority gets $121,000 to help homeless vets – The Fresno Housing Authority is set to receive $121,000 from the U.S. departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs to assist homeless veterans in securing permanent housing.  The Business Journal article

Developer to build homes in Hickman, not duplexes – A Modesto developer will build 30 single-family homes in this community in eastern Stanislaus County, instead of duplexes for low-income tenants, a project manager said.  Modesto Bee article

New appliances disappearing from troubled California housing agency — A missing stove might sound like a mundane problem, but it’s part of a disturbing trend: New stoves and refrigerators are disappearing mysteriously throughout Richmond’s troubled public housing projects.  Center for Investigative Reporting article


Denham moves to block high-speed rail funding — Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, continued to try to hinder California’s bullet-train plans by asking the House Appropriations Committee to block federal funding for the project.  Stockton Record article

Other Areas

Downtown LA fire may have been intentionally set – The fire engulfed a towering residential project, raining ash on much of downtown Los Angeles and lighting the predawn sky a smoky orange.  LA Times article

New Atwater mayor, councilmen take oaths – There were a few new faces on the dais here Monday after the winners of the November election took their spots on the City Council. Jim Price, 63, took his place on the dais as mayor next to new councilmen Brian Raymond, 33, and James Vineyard, 57. Longtime Mayor Joan Faul administered the oath of office to each.  Merced Sun-Star article

Barwick steps away from Tulare City Council – Skip Barwick says the achievements of the Tulare City Council during his four-year tenure came as a result of collaborative efforts.  Visalia Times-Delta article

SPCA shows off new West Visalia location — Valley Oak SPCA Executive Director Tami Crawford couldn’t wait to show off her organization’s new location Saturday in West Visalia. At 4,000 square feet, the new location features two surgery tables with space for a third, a large lobby, offices for veterinarians and administrators, a prep room, and space for animal recovery and public viewing.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We ask the mayor and other general plan supporters to stand firm in their convictions, but allow residents adequate time to learn about this proposal. If it is as sound as advertised, we’re confident that the votes for approval will be there.

Merced Sun-Star – Rep. Jeff Denham was on the wrong side of a meaningless vote last week to challenge President Obama’s executive action on immigration. By wrong side, we mean he voted with the Democrats. But it was the right decision, and we applaud not only his vote but also that Denham had the courage to stand up against his party.

Modesto Bee – Rep. Jeff Denham was on the wrong side of a meaningless vote last week to challenge President Obama’s executive action on immigration. By wrong side, we mean he voted with the Democrats. But it was the right decision, and we applaud not only his vote but also that Denham had the courage to stand up against his party;Visiting editors sound off about nuts and staying safe out there; Who will power Escalon, Ripon and Manteca?

Sacramento Bee – What’s unfortunate is that these violent demonstrations are distracting from the real issue: We have a problem in this country at the intersection of law enforcement and poverty and race; Democrats should stand up to the NRA and confirm Vivek Murthy.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on caring local people helping to bring holiday joy, the Stockton-Lodi agreement on fire and emergency dispatch services and other issues.