Dianne Feinstein tries yet again with California water bill — Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday relaunched a big California water bill, in what might be cast as the triumph of hope over experience. Unveiling her third proposal in the past two years for ways to divide California’s water supply among many competing interests, Feinstein packaged her latest 184-page measure as a reasonable compromise that draws the best from past Capitol Hill efforts. McClatchy Newspapers article
California senator proposes 15-percent medical marijuana sales tax – With the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue on the table, California lawmakers are pursuing a 15 percent medical marijuana sales tax this year. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article
Gov. Jerry Brown makes budget the latest battleground on climate change – Gov. Jerry Brown is looking to make good on a promise to curb California’s petroleum use by shifting away from new legislation and instead tucking his fuel-reduction goal inside the state budget. LA Times article
Insurers back proposed California health plan tax — Most of California’s health insurance companies said Wednesday they’re supporting Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to restructure a tax on health plans. As the administration worked to line up votes, state Assembly and Senate committees heard a generally supportive message from the industry that would pay the tax. Support from insurers, and their assurance that premiums won’t rise, is critical to winning support from the needed two-thirds of lawmakers. AP article
BART: Parking fees may rise as much as $30 for O.co Coliseum, Oracle Arena events — BART wants to crack down on people using the parking lot at its Oakland Coliseum station as free parking for events at the O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena and may soon charge as much as $30 during events there. Contra Costa Times article
After five years, Brown appoints new consumer advocacy director at CPUC — Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Elizabeth Echols on Wednesday to direct the California Public Utilities Commission’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates. The division is dedicated to protecting consumers and has been without a permanent director for more than five years. Interim director Joe Como retired in December. KQED report
Jeff Jardine: Big crowds, big issues burn ears of elected in Modesto, Columbia — Either way, the crowd participation and energies reaffirmed the idea that at the local level, at least, voices – and many loud ones – are difficult for the electeds to ignore. Jardine column in Modesto Bee
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Could California’s 16-year-olds be casting ballots? — A bill before the Legislature would amend California’s constitution to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to cast ballots exclusively in school district and community college board elections – the very races, proponents argue, in which Californians under 18 have the most at stake. They still wouldn’t be able to sway congressional or legislative contests or help pick the next president. Sacramento Bee article
Federal program that issues smartphones to new immigrants raises questions – A federal government contractor is issuing smartphones to immigrant families released from two massive Texas detention centers as a way to ensure that they are able to contact case managers and reach their U.S. destinations. LA Times article
Powerful casino tribe raises concerns with California fantasy sports bill – The daily fantasy sports industry’s string of easy wins in the California Legislature may be about to end. The leaders of a pair of politically influential Southern California tribes with major casinos have sent letters to “express our concerns” to Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, the author of fast-moving legislation that would regulate popular daily fantasy sports games such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Sacramento Bee article
Dan Morain: A doctor digs deep in quest for ways to save lives — Dr. Garen Wintemute digs deep into his wallet to keep the lights on at a squat, nondescript building near the UC Davis Medical Center, understanding lives of people he will never know could depend on it. The building is unmarked, intentionally so. Wintemute figures it’s best not to advertise where he and his staff conduct their research into the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it. Police have urged caution. Morain in Sacramento Bee
College freshmen are more liberal and keen on political activist, survey says – Today’s American college freshman is more liberal, less religious and increasingly committed to civic involvement and political activism than her predecessors in previous generations, according to a national survey released Wednesday by UCLA researchers. LA Times article
Cathleen Decker: As a long race beckons, Tuesday winners Trump and Sanders face challenges — With a roar of discontent toward the political establishment, New Hampshire voters sent the presidential contest into what seems likely to be an extended march that will quickly move to territory far less hospitable to Tuesday night’s big winners, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Decker in LA Times
George Skelton: Bernie Sanders blazes a trail to the root of political evils — Whether he’s your candidate or not, give Bernie Sanders credit: He has made inherently corrupt, high-roller campaign financing a central issue of his presidential bid. Skelton column in LA Times
California Government Today:
State report questions UC Merced expansion plan – UC Merced’s plan to double the size of its campus by 2020 got a splash of cold water Wednesday with the state Legislative Analyst’s Office releasing a report questioning the project. University and city officials, however, said they were confident the expansion will go forward. Merced Sun-Star article
Clovis Unified school board to revisit controversial dress code — The Clovis Unified school board will revisit its controversial dress code after concerns that the strict policy breaks state law protecting gender expression. Fresno Bee article
Jobs and the Economy
More visitors – and cars – in Yosemite last year than during any other — More than 4.1 million people visited Yosemite in 2015, the first time in history the park has eclipsed four million visitors in a year, according to new statistics from the National Park Foundation. Sacramento Bee article
Modesto eyes $5.4 million deal for fire engines, ladder trucks — Modesto is considering spending nearly $5.4 million over 10 years to lease five new fire engines and two new ladder trucks from Wisconsin-based Pierce Manufacturing. Modesto Bee article
A battle may be brewing between food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants in Bakersfield – Now, food trucks like Curbside Kitchen, Pita Paradise, Quig’s BBQ and others are staking their claim to mealtime turf in downtown Bakersfield. And many more trucks are said to be on their way. But the local trend has some proprietors of brick-and-mortar restaurants more than a little nervous. And a battle may be brewing between the two camps after a letter from the Downtown Bakersfield Development Corporation was sent to City Manager Alan Tandy’s office asking the city to look into the matter. Bakersfield Californian article
Bakersfield home prices hold steady in December – Bakersfield home prices held steady in December even as supply grew and demand fell, according to a new report. Appraiser Gary Crabtree’s preliminary report for that month says the median price of an existing single-family home in the city was unchanged from November at $215,000. That price represented a 10.3 percent increase from December 2014, a year-to-year jump Crabtree wrote off as a statistical “outlier.” Bakersfield Californian article
Pop-up businesses finding foothold in Stockton – The brick-walled storefront in the B&M Building has sat vacant for years, gazing out at Janet Leigh Plaza toward the waterfront, a conspicuously empty space waiting to be filled in a downtown struggling to achieve its potential. But for three hours Friday night, the ground-floor space that dates at least to the 1870s will come alive with 1980s and ’90s music, Champagne, wine, appetizers and tiara crafting. Stockton Record article
Fresno’s Aplos lands $4 million from local venture capital firm – Local software company Aplos recently secured $4 million in funding from new venture capital firm San Joaquin Capital. The Fresno-based business provides software specifically for the nonprofit sector and has grown rapidly since its 2009 founding. The Business Journal article; Fresno Bee article
Oak Grove playground plans on hold – Believing Micke Grove Regional Park has the potential to be an economic engine for the region, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors are hoping the parks department can secure enough funds to complete a long-awaited groundwater recharge project there. And until they know the answer, a playground project in another park is on hold. Stockton Record article
Lot may get new commercial building – The building was to have been nearly 88,000 square feet, environmentally friendly inside and out, a $25 million medical palace plunked right smack in the middle of Stockton across from St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Stockton Record article
San Diego voters will decide on minimum wage increase — Voters will get a chance on June 7 to decide whether the city should have a higher minimum wage than the $10 an hour required by the state. City Council members voted Monday to place incremental minimum wage increases up to $11.50 on the June primary ballot. LA Times article
Tech-fueled job market powers record boom for Silicon Valley: report — The economy and job market in Silicon Valley chalked up an “astounding” year during 2015, but the region’s boom cooled during the final three months of last year, according to a new Silicon Valley Index report released on Wednesday. San Jose Mercury News article
Fresno chamber honors Stan Oken, entrepreneurs — The Fresno Chamber of Commerce honored a longtime civic leader and three entrepreneurs Wednesday during its annual Valley Business Awards and Installation Luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article
Sacramento Utilities Commission favors water, wastewater rate increase – Sacramento’s Utilities Rate Advisory Commission on Wednesday night passed a water and wastewater rate increase proposal along to the City Council for consideration. Sacramento Bee article
Yahoo lays off 107 Sunnyvale employees, who will depart by April – Yahoo has notified 107 employees in its Sunnyvale headquarters that they will be laid off. The cuts are part of the beleaguered tech giant’s plans to reduce its global workforce by 15 percent, as it struggles to increase its share of worldwide advertising revenue. San Francisco Chronicle article
An ‘unauthorized diary’ of Silicon Valley, from its underbelly — You probably think of Silicon Valley as a land of tech moguls and quick fortunes. But a new collection of essays is challenging readers to see another side of California’s iconic boomtown, through the eyes of its factory workers, ice cream cart pushers and metal scrappers. Even a swimming pool installer who predicts who’s going to strike it rich based on the backyard pool. KQED report
Congressman Kevin McCarthy: Too much rain is going to waste – The Bakersfield Republican and U.S. House Majority Leader writes, “We know it makes no sense to waste water, especially as Valley residents endure this terrible drought. Sadly, federal and state regulators are letting this precious moment slip by, letting water flow out to the Pacific Ocean.” McCarthy op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Lawsuit challenges union rights – Lawyers for a Central California packing house and a northern California nursery said Wednesday that they’re challenging a 40-year-old state law that essentially allows unions to trespass on agricultural businesses to recruit members. Visalia Times-Delta article; LA Times article
Modesto farmers could face water rate hikes – Modesto-area farmers would pay more for water this year under a proposal allowing customers a say in the process. Modesto Bee article
Lodi grape crop, prices down slightly in 2015 – Lodi area grapes harvested and crushed last fall for wine, juice and other products totaled more than 670,000 tons, down slightly from the 675,000 ton harvest of 2014, federal and state farm officials reported Wednesday. And average prices were also down about 2 percent to just under $607 per ton, according to a preliminary report from the California office of the U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Stockton Record article
For Valley groups, the World Ag Expo is the fundraiser of fundraisers – People from around the globe come to the three day event to experience the latest in agricultural technology. All these farmer types get hungry and that’s why food is a big deal at the show. Think giant steak sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and beer. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that for some community groups all those hungry people make for a big fundraiser. KVPR report
Granules from Australia help with water use – Elizabeth Miller completes a seemingly gravity-defying demonstration to promote Water Saving Granules at the World Ag Expo. Miller even gives foreshadow commentary. Visalia Times-Delta article
Compost machine at World Ag Expo: Sweet smell of success — You wouldn’t think there would be much innovation in the world of composting. The folks at Midwest Bio Systems want to change that. The company, based in Tampico, Illinois, brought its uniquely designed equipment to the World Ag Expo. Fresno Bee article
Spotted at World Ag Expo: A jacket with a built-in fan. How cool is that? – Straight out of Japan comes a novel of idea for beating the Valley heat. The Zippkool shirt and jacket was introduced to an eager crowd Wednesday at the World Ag Expo. The jacket has two small, battery powered fans its base. The fans blow air on your body to cool you down. Fresno Bee article
Lemoore residents concerned about water quality — Lonie Katashima is concerned about her brown laundry, primarily because it should be white. The Lemoore resident uses a water softener at her Siena Way home, but when two loads of white laundry recently came out ruined with brown spots, she made some calls. Hanford Sentinel article
Tulare County sheriff’s deputy, pilot killed in fiery crash near Springville – A veteran Tulare County sheriff’s deputy and a civilian pilot were killed Wednesday afternoon when their single-engine plane crashed near Springville in Tulare County. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, looking visibly shaken at an evening news conference in Visalia, identified the men as Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, of Visalia, and pilot James Chavez, 45, of Hanford. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article; LA Times article
B.T. Lewis and Taymah Jahsi: Stop using social media to monitor south Fresno’s protestors – The leaders of Faith in Community write, “We need a strong ordinance to be passed by our Fresno City Council that would require a surveillance-impact report or surveillance-use policy adopted for the public to review to inform our decision-making, to ensure safeguards against abuse are in place. This reflects a continued lack of oversight by the administration of our city.” Lewis/Jahsi op-ed in Fresno Bee
Chowchilla police officer fired after arrest on sex-crime allegation – Tyler Hormel, a Chowchilla police officer charged with sex crimes allegedly involving minors, was fired Wednesday from the Police Department, the city announced in a news release. Merced Sun-Star article
Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca pleads guilty in jail scandal – Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying to federal investigators, a stunning reversal for the longtime law enforcement leader who for years insisted he played no role in the misconduct that tarnished his agency. LA Times article
Civil trial begins in fatal shooting of Marine veteran by Sanger police — Nearly four years after Sanger police shot an unarmed man 11 times, a federal civil rights trial began Wednesday to determine whether three officers were justified in killing 46-year-old Charles “Charlie” Salinas, a Marine veteran with a history of alcoholism and mental illness, and a desire to die. Fresno Bee article
K-9 teams back patrolling Turlock streets – Fresh from five weeks of training, Turlock’s two police K-9 teams started patrol duties Wednesday, bringing dogs back on the force after a four-year absence. Modesto Bee article
San Francisco Police Department’s Suhr seeks OK to arm some officers with stun guns – The San Francisco Police Department is seeking to equip about 5 percent of the department with stun guns under a revised policy proposed Wednesday by Chief Greg Suhr in the aftermath of the recorded killing ofMario Woods in the Bayview neighborhood. San Francisco Chronicle article
Sirhan Sirhan, JFK’s killer, is denied parole a 15th time — For the 15th time, officials on Wednesday denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, after hearing from another person who was shot that night and had called for his release. AP article
Video: Joseph Castro applauds 10-point improvement in Fresno State graduation rate – Graduation rates at Fresno State have improved more than 10 points to more than 58 percent, says Fresno State President Joseph Castro in this video. That is the six-year rate for completion. Fresno State is above the CSU average. Fresno Bee video
Fresno State no longer under federal eye for Title IX gender equity — Fresno State is no longer under the nearly 25-year eye of federal Title IX investigators, university President Joseph Castro announced Wednesday morning. Fresno Bee article
Tulare Union High School will change Redskins mascot – Tulare Union High School will not be known as theRedskins much longer. A press release on behalf of Tulare Joint Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Sarah Koligian stated that the school will change its mascot to comply with Assembly Bill 30, which bans the name “Redskins” as a school mascot. Visalia Times-Delta article; Fresno Bee article
Teachers to Fresno Unified: It’s time to sign a contract – More than 500 teachers packed into Fresno High School’s auditorium Wednesday to show support for the Fresno Teachers Association at the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting. Fresno Bee article
With money tight, chancellor says UC Berkeley must ‘reimagine’ its future — UC Berkeley is facing an unsustainable budget deficit and will launch an extensive review to “reimagine” its fundamental structure, the university chancellor announced Wednesday. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; AP article
One way to improve kindergarten attendance: Take the school bus — Students who ride the school bus in the critical first year of formal education – kindergarten – are absent less often and have lower odds of being chronically absent, a key indicator of future academic success, according to a new study. EdSource article
UC Merced professor lands $1 million grant – A UC Merced professor has earned the school’s first-ever W.M. Keck Foundation Award, officials announced Wednesday. Professor Victor Muñoz’s approach to advancing biomedical research was selected for the award, worth $1 million over the next five years, according to a news release. Merced Sun-Star article
Teachers criticize way district mainstreamed special ed students – Just months after rolling out a program integrating scores of special education students into general education classrooms, Panama-Buena Vista Union School District teachers are crying out in frustration over a lack of preparation, training and breakdowns in communication. Bakersfield Californian article
Charter school groups complain to LA Unified, then score some new schools — After formally complaining that the Los Angeles Unified School District is treating them with increasing unfairness, charter school operators caught a few breaks at Tuesday’s school board meeting. LA Times article
Coastal Commission fires executive director over objections of hundreds of supporters — The California Coastal Commission fired its executive director Wednesday — a decision made despite an overwhelming show of public support for the land use agency’s top official. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article; New York Times article
Sacramento Bee: Nation burns while justices fiddle on climate change – There is little good news in the U.S. Supreme Court’s shameful decision on Tuesday to temporarily block President Barack Obama’s to curb emissions from coal. Sacramento Bee editorial
Rooftop solar producers face a cloudier future – Losses at rooftop solar companies have risen as some states have withdrawn their support, and cheap natural gas isn’t helping. New York Times article
Yosemite investigates reports of faulty tree trimming by PG&E contractors — Officials from Yosemite National Park are looking into reports from Wawona residents that tree trimmers contracted by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. have damaged the area during their work. Fresno Bee article
Education may cut risk of dementia, study finds – The risk of developing dementia is decreasing for people with at least a high school education, according to an important new study that suggests that changes in lifestyle and improvements in physical health can help prevent or delay cognitive decline. New York Times article
Major study finds risks for dementia vary between ethnic groups – The risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia is significantly higher in some racial or ethnic groups than it is in others, according to results announced Wednesday of the largest and longest study to look at the issue. San Francisco Chronicle article
Yolo County confirms case of Zika virus – A Yolo County person has tested positive for Zika virus after recently returning from international travel, according to a county news release issued Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article
Clay Farr: Ban youth tackle football and keep our kids CTE-free – The former Bakersfield resident who now lives in Ventura writes, “Football is a great game, but I now believe it should not be played by anyone under the age of 13. The safety and the health of our children should come first. I strongly encourage parents and community leaders to ban youth tackle football in Kern County.” Farr op-ed in Bakersfield Californian
James Mousalimas: Premature birth causes future concern – The superintendent of schools for the San Joaquin Office of Education writes, “Nowhere else in California has a higher premature birth rate than Stockton. Every year 10.2 percent of Stockton babies are born too early, according to the 2015 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Babies who survive an early birth often face a lifetime of health and mental problems, including intellectual delays. Mousalimas op-ed in Stockton Record
Judge to hear Kings County’s challenges against high-speed rail — Thursday could be another day of reckoning for California’s high-speed rail plans, as a judge in Sacramento will hear arguments in a long-running lawsuit over whether the proposed bullet-train system can comply with requirements of Proposition 1A. Fresno Bee article
Sacramento’s vision: Self-driving cars take passengers to light-rail trains – Imagine tapping your smartphone to summon a computer-controlled car – with no human driver – to chauffeur you to a light-rail station for your commute or a trip to the doctor or shopping mall. Sacramento officials say they think that futuristic scenario, seemingly far-fetched at the moment, has a chance of becoming reality. Sacramento Bee article
Who’s the driver of that Google car? Feds ready to say it’s the computer — Google Inc.’s self-driving system, controlled by artificial intelligence, could be considered a car’s driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. LA Times article
Kings County roads to reduce speed limits — The Kings County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a measure to decrease speed limits across several county roads. Hanford Sentinel article
Southwest Airlines makes bid to serve Long Beach Airport – Southwest Airlines, the nation’s most popular domestic carrier, has submitted an application to begin daily service out of Long Beach Airport starting later this year. LA Times article
Divided Bakersfield council narrowly supports cutting fireworks use on July 1 – A conflicted and somewhat inflamed Bakersfield City Council gave first reading Wednesday to two ordinances that would limit the use of legal fireworks and fine violators. Bakersfield Californian article
Safety agencies consider regional dispatch — Local public safety officials are working on a plan that would put all of their dispatch services under one roof in Lemoore. Police Chief Darrell Smith said he recently met with the heads of local law enforcement agencies and fire departments to assess their dispatching needs. Hanford, Corcoran and Kings County currently maintain their own dispatch centers. Hanford Sentinel article
LA will pay a white parks worker nearly $3.8 million in a racial bias lawsuit — Five years after a white city parks worker accused a former supervisor of disparaging his skin color, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a multimillion-dollar payout to satisfy a court judgment in the racial discrimination lawsuit. LA Times article
Joe Mathews: Tough Tehachapi mountain range defines California — Don’t mess with the Tehachapis. California has taller, more famous, more beautiful mountain ranges. But none are tougher, or more important. Mathews in Sacramento Bee
Valley Editorial Roundup
Sacramento Bee – Ever contrarian, New Hampshire voters scrambled the presidential race again; There is little good news in the U.S. Supreme Court’s shameful decision on Tuesday to temporarily block President Barack Obama’s to curb emissions from coal
Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “Californian’s View of State Regulation and the Environment: Too Much, Too Little or Just Right?” – Guests: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Dean Bonner. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Adapting to Climate Change: Implications for the Valley” – Guests: John Capitman, executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, and Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, Feb. 14, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Clean Energy Alternatives” – Guest: Margarita Fernandez – Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the California State Auditor. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez.
The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel. Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area. You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.
- Fresno State President Joseph Castro and other university officials will hold a Community Conversation in the West Hills Community College conference facility, 555 College Ave., Lemoore on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.Seating for this free event is limited, so RSVPs should be made by February 26 at www.fresnostate.edu/presidentrsvp using the code “Lemooreforum.”
- The International Green Industry Hall of Fame will hold its sixth annual conference and induction ceremony at Buchanan High School in Clovis on March 9. Registration information is available here.
Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge – For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance. However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs. Budget choices affect us all. Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from. Next 10 California Budget Challenge
Next 10: Federal budget challenge — The Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms. Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.
Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone? Next 10 California Water Challenge
LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link. http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/
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Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials. The list is available here.
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