February 12, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Newsom says launch to raise money, form plan to restore state’s greatness – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he is launching his 2018 gubernatorial campaign not only to get a head start on raising money, but also to craft a substantive plan to restore California to greatness.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article;AP article; John Myers in KQED; Sacramento Bee article

California cops, cities offer new medical marijuana bill — With one eye on a looming effort to legalize recreational marijuana in California, organizations representing the state’s cities and police officers are pushing a Sacramento-area lawmaker’s bill to regulate medical cannabis.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics 

After Fresno City Council win, Soria campaign treasury ends year in the black — It obviously goes without saying that it’s good to win. Just ask newly elected Fresno City Council Member Esmeralda Soria. The District 1 representative, who officially took her seat last month, received around $63,000 in campaign contributions — after Election Day. That was enough cash to retire her campaign debt, pay off the remainder of the money she loaned to her campaign, and to get a nest egg of around $55,000 for her reelection, should she pursue that four years from now.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Police support for Harris: A warning sign to Villaraigosa — Her announcement Wednesday of the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s support underscored that a paramount goal for Harris in the opening phase of her Senate run is to keep former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa from joining the race — or at least to make the contest more difficult for him should he decide to jump in.  LA Times article


U.S. considers detaining more mother, child migrants — An almost-abandoned practice of holding migrant mothers and children in prison like settings is not only back but also is surging as the U.S. government continues to struggle with the wave of migrants fleeing violence in Central America.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Senator calls for mandatory helmets for California cyclists — A California state senator says she wants to require all bicyclists to wear helmets for their safety. Sen. Carol Liu on Wednesday announced a bill, SB 192, that will require bicycle riders to wear helmets or face a $25 fine.  Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers push for tighter leash on CPUC – Two Bay Area state senators are proposing bills for greater oversight and transparency at the California Public Utilities Commission in the wake of revelations that executives at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. colluded with top officials at the regulatory agency for favorable rulings.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Furor over $250-a-plate party honoring former CPUC head — Former state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey — whose home was recently searched by investigators looking into possible corruption at the agency — will be feted Thursday night with a $250-a-plate fundraiser for UC Berkeley’s public policy school.  San Francisco Chronicle article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Valley cities, counties are hopeful, but unsure, about high-speed rail’s economic effects — A new economic report prepared by a former Kings County supervisor outlines lingering uncertainty among Valley city and county leaders over how California’s high-speed rail project could benefit their communities.  Fresno Bee article

Kings nixes proposed cooperation with high-speed rail – Kings County supervisors have been adamant about their opposition to high-speed rail, and a vote at Tuesday’s board meeting was no exception. The supervisors unanimously rejected a proposal from John Lehn, Kings County Economic Development Corp. CEO, to enter into discussions with California High-Speed Rail Authority officials to fund a business relocation assistance program for any local enterprises that might be forced to move by the current alignment.  Hanford Sentinel article

San Joaquin’s underground supply sinks toward 1992 low point – An invisible “savings account” beneath our feet just keeps shrinking, with groundwater dropping to levels not seen since the end of the last major drought. A report made available Wednesday shows that San Joaquin County’s precious groundwater last year fell virtually as low as it did in 1992, which has long been the benchmark that local officials use to measure the severity of other dry years. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Bakersfield council settles fire fund tax, votes to appeal Harb decision — The Bakersfield City Council approved settling a three-year lawsuit with Kern County over how to share property taxes paid for fire protection, in one of two decisions on high-profile legal cases made during closed session Wednesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Ports to stop unloading cargo for four days amid labor dispute — Shipping companies said they will stop unloading ships at West Coast ports for four of the next five days because they don’t want to pay overtime to workers they allege have deliberately slowed operations.  LA Times article; Stockton Record article

Merced County should restore loyalty bonuses, independent review says – Merced County should restore a $750 loyalty bonus to its veteran employees, an independent fact-finder determined in a report released to the public Wednesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

AT&T cuts about 65 Bakersfield jobs – AT&T recently slashed its Bakersfield workforce by about 65 positions as part of a consolidation of company operations in Southern California. The cutbacks at a call center at 5101 Office Park Drive were intended to improve customer service and increase efficiency, a company spokesman said Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Foreclosure action kicks up in January – Foreclosure activity in San Joaquin County rebounded sharply in January and is partly a reflection of a nationwide trend of a “spring cleaning” by lenders moving to clear problem mortgages from their books, RealtyTrac Inc. reported today.  Stockton Record article

Home health aides protest revocation of overtime pay – About two dozen protesters demonstrated outside the Bakersfield office of the California Department of Industrial Relations Wednesday to protest the state’s decision to back away from requiring overtime pay for home aide workers who care for the elderly and disabled. Bakersfield Californian article

Visalia council to discuss Rawhide’s lease – The Visalia City Council will hold a special meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss the Visalia Rawhide’s lease on the baseball field at Recreation Park.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Turlock visitor’s bureau will get new operator – The task of attracting visitors to the city will fall to new management. The Turlock Chamber of Commerce announced this week that it will end its contract to run the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. The City Council will seek proposals to take over the program, which is funded by the city hotel tax at $249,235 this year.  Modesto Bee article

Sacramento Container expanding Kingsburg plant, adding 40 jobs – At Sacramento Container Corp. in Kingsburg, business is booming. Inside the company’s cavernous manufacturing facility, it’s a beehive of activity: machinery is humming, multiple assembly lines are running and employees are working three shifts around the clock five days a week.  The Business Journal article

Hobby Lobby coming to Fresno? – Sierra View Plaza, a struggling strip mall near the intersection of Blackstone and Sierra avenues, could be the new home of Fresno’s first Hobby Lobby.  The Business Journal article

LA Business Council endorses Garcetti’s proposed minimum-wage hike – A Los Angeles business group announced its support for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed boost to the minimum wage Tuesday.  LA Times article

Pay for CHP dispatchers up 8 percent – Total pay for CHP dispatchers rose 8 percent in 2014, compared with the average 5 percent wage increase for all workers covered by the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, state payroll data show.  Sacramento Bee article

Analyst recommends California officials boost efforts on unclaimed property – California state officials may have a conflict of interest – or at least the perception of one – when it comes to reuniting people with their unclaimed bank account balances and other property, the Legislature’s non-partisan budget analyst finds in a new reportSacramento Bee article

Startup homebuilder breaks ground in Visalia – Joe Leal, president of San Joaquin Valley Homes, likes to call his company “a homegrown homebuilder.” A Tulare native, Leal founded San Joaquin Valley Homes in 2013, together with partners Jim Robinson and Randy Merrill. The Business Journal article

FCC approves sale of Fresno radio stations 95.7, 104.1 and 105.5 to One Putt Broadcasting — The Federal Communications Commission has approved the deal to allow One Putt Broadcasting — owners of the local radio stations Jewel FM, 940 ESPN, KYNO and 790 ESPN2 — to add three more stations to its group. They have purchased 95.7 The Fox, New Rock 104.1 and The Game 105.5 from Atlanta-based Wilks Broadcasting. Adding the stations now gives One Putt an estimated audience of more than 300,000 listeners.  Fresno Bee article

Kwirkworld in River Park to close — Kwirkworld, the River Park store selling novelties such as neck ties for dogs and Darth Vader purses, is closing. Owner Kirk Psenner says he plans to close the 5-year-old store in mid- to late-March. He is returning to selling real estate in Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

State high court orders trucking firm to pay drivers almost $1 million — An Oakland trucking company that discouraged drivers from taking meal and rest breaks, deducted an hour’s pay from their daily shifts and treated some of them as unpaid trainees will have to pay them nearly $1 million in damages after the state Supreme Court rejected the company’s appeal Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

McClatchy announces digital restructuring — The McClatchy Co. announced a reorganization of its corporate hierarchy Thursday as the owner of The Sacramento Bee speeds up its transition to a digital company in the face of declining prospects for its print newspapers.  Sacramento Bee article



Merced County farmers say it’s ‘crunch time’ for rain – Bob Giampaoli of Le Grand, president of the Merced County Farm Bureau, said it’s getting to be “crunch time” for receiving normal amounts of rainfall in this area. He said he was grateful for the weekend rain, which will keep farmers from irrigating in the short term, but is worried about future prospects as the fourth year of drought continues to unfold.  Merced Sun-Star article

Dan Walters Daily:  How will California spend water bond? – Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature are deciding how the $7.5 billion water bond is spent, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Tulare’s World Ag Expo, Day 2: Water conservation for sale – With the demise last year of PureSense, a pioneering irrigation technology company based in Fresno, several vendors at the World Ag Expo in Tulare had no trouble capturing the interest of their former customers.  Fresno Bee article

Drones make headway at World Ag Expo — The giant tractors with tank treads were there, but inside one of the huge tents Tuesday at World Ag Expo in Tulare, there was more compact technology on display: drones. The little buzzing hovercraft that could one day drop Amazon packages into your waiting hands can also do precise aerial surveys of farms.  Hanford Sentinel article

At World Ag Expo, innovation leads to a tractor fashion show – Fashion is a high dollar business, with million dollar runway shows across the globe. This year at the largest agricultural expo, the world of farming is borrowing an idea from the fashion industry, with a special show of its own. KVPR report

Water wise: 698 gallons of water go into every burger – Tulare farmer Mark Watte called for producers and growers to be more involved in the process and to stand up for the agriculture industry while speaking at a water workshop held at the 2015 World Ag Expo Wednesday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

California reservoirs benefit from recent storms — National Weather Service forecasters in Sacramento have updated reservoir totals after the recent storms.   Meteorologist Michelle Mead with the National Weather Service in Sacramento says an eight-station index of Northern Sierra reservoirs has been in a boom-and-bust cycle. Capital Public Radio report

Valov named Tulare Farmer of the Year — Jimi Valov said he knew something was up when a contingency of orange-clad volunteers showed up at the Tulare Christian School food booth at the World Ag Expo Wednesday. His suspicions gave way to surprise.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Van Jones: Finally, a movement to roll back the prison industry – The founder of #cut50 writes, “Today, we are seeing the rise of a new movement – one that aims to roll back the prison industry by using hard science, objective data and innovative models that work.”  Jones op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Fresno Unified trustees slam district split proposal – Fresno Unified school trustees on Wednesday gave a blistering review of a plan pitched several months ago to split the school district in two, calling the proposal incomplete and without proof that two smaller districts would improve achievement.  Fresno Bee article

Susan Gubernat: Those who gained from low tuition are stiffing today’s college students – The English professor at CSU, East Bay writes, “How do we – the graying-out population with secure jobs and retirement plans, houses and vacation retreats, not to mention millionaires with offshore bank accounts and lawyers to find tax loopholes – have the gall to look at today’s younger generation and tell them what worked for us cannot, and will not, work for you?”  Gubernat op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Too many teen moms shunted aside by schools — Imagine this bleak scenario: You’re a 15-year-old girl in Fresno. You’re pregnant, unmarried and you’re either from a low-income or immigrant family. Probably both, the statistics say. You may be a foster child. If you live in the Central Valley, the public schools charged with educating may well push you aside.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Senica Gonzalez: It’s a daily struggle to pay off student loans – The Citrus Heights resident writes, “Let this be a caution to those taking out massive student loans pursuing their master’s or doctorate degrees. Make sure you know the real story and educate yourself thoroughly before committing to those loans.”  Gonzalez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stanford tuition rising this fall — Stanford University will hike its tuition this fall by 3.5 percent, bringing it to $45,729, the campus announced Wednesday. The new fees will raise the undergraduate tab to $60,427 for next year, a total that includes $14,107 for room and board and $591 for a mandatory health fee.  San Jose Mercury News article

Technology takes hold in the early grades – Whether solving math puzzles to help a penguin waddle across a computer screen or sounding out words in Mr. Sounders’ virtual classroom, K-2 students are increasingly embracing technology in California schools.  EdSource article

San Francisco schools superintendent to receive 27 percent pay raise — San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Richard Carranza will see an extra $65,000 in his annual paycheck — a 27 percent raise granted unanimously by the school board Tuesday night. The bump in pay brings Carranza, in his third year as superintendent, to $310,000, starting July 1.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Comic Roseanne Barr jumps into UC Davis fray, says she hopes campus ‘gets nuked’ — Comedienne Roseanne Barr jumped headlong this week into the tensions at UC Davis, tweeting that she hopes the Davis campus “gets nuked” after student senators overwhelmingly voted to seek UC divestment from Israeli-tied businesses and two Jewish student organizations suffered hate crimes last month.  Sacramento Bee article



CPUC proposes $5.6 million fine against PG&E for 2012 demolition fatality in Bakersfield – State officials want Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to pay $5.6 million to settle issues related to the 2012 death of a demolition worker at the utility’s former power plant along Coffee Road.  Bakersfield Californian article

Cap-and-trade: Transportation fuels on the block – For the first time, permission slips to sell an array of fuels used in California – and which account for nearly 40 percent of the state’s carbon emissions – will be put on the auction block as part of the state’s landmark law to curb climate-changing greenhouse gases.  Capitol Weekly article

California oil regulator cites ‘serious concerns’ on data collection — Pressed by lawmakers about failing to shield protected aquifers from waste generated during oil drilling, California’s state regulator overseeing the oil industry conceded Wednesday that his agency is falling short.  Capitol Alert

Health/Human Services

California measles outbreak spreads to Canada –  Ten measles cases in Canada stem from a visit to Disneyland, health officials announced Wednesday, meaning the California-centered measles outbreak has spread to yet another country.  LA Times article

BART riders may have been exposed to measles – Northern California residents should be aware of potential measles exposure from a confirmed patient who traveled from Contra Costa County to San Francisco via Bay Area Rapid Transit while infectious, officials say.  Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Sunday is the last day for open enrollment through Covered California – Covered California is counting on the human penchant for procrastination to add tens of thousands of new enrollees to the ranks of residents who buy health insurance through the virtual marketplace. The state administrator of the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, will close its second yearly period of open enrollment Sunday at midnight.  Sacramento Bee article

Cancer patients, doctors sue to allow physician-assisted death for terminally ill – A group of cancer patients and physicians filed a lawsuit Wednesday to clarify the ability of mentally competent, terminally ill patients in California to obtain prescription drugs from their physician to hasten their death if they find their suffering unbearable. LA Times article

MAP Point at the Pov prepares to help Fresno’s needy — A portable building designed to make a permanent difference in the lives of Fresno’s most vulnerable residents was unveiled Wednesday. Community leaders gathered next to a trailer on G Street south of downtown to announce the creation of MAP Point at the Pov. Fresno Bee article

Stockton Record: Do it for our vets — Funding for French Camp veterans’ facility in president’s proposed budget must be approved.  Stockton Record editorial

Second top boss leaves California public health department — Another top leader at the California Department of Public Health is stepping down, a move that comes only 10 weeks after the director announced his departure.  Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing

Helping neighborhoods flourish focus of Stockton General Plan meeting – The city’s effort to recast its long-range plans for growth and development began in 2014 with a series of public workshops focusing on topics that included downtown redevelopment, transportation and the environment.  Stockton Record article

Apartment living growing — Apartment living is poised to grow as a lifestyle instead of being just a temporary living situation, a Fresno apartment expert said. Why?  Fresno Bee article


George Skelton: Whatever road is taken for highway funds, there’s a need for speed — Fuel-efficient cars are great for the air and the planet. But they’re lousy for our highways, especially those battery-powered vehicles. Let me remind you why. The more gasoline we buy, the more gas tax we pay. And it’s the gas tax that funds road repairs, smoothing the pavement and filling those jarring potholes.  Skelton column in LA Times

Sacramento International Airport adds 2 new destinations — Fliers from Sacramento International Airport got a double dose of new flight destinations this week, both in-state and a hop across the country. JetBlue announced Wednesday that it is adding nonstop flights between Sacramento and Boston, starting June 18. The summer-season flights will operate Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Legendary coach and Fresno State Bulldog Jerry Tarkanian dies at 84 — Jerry Tarkanian, the colorful, successful and controversial Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach and Fresno State graduate known for giving second chances to players with checkered pasts and his unyielding battle with the NCAA, died Wednesday morning. He was 84. Fresno Bee article; NPR report

Rebuilding, improvements likely to be mentioned – Wednesday, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce announced that this year’s State of the City event will be held May 21. It will be the third State of the City speech for Silva and the 17th time the event has been held. With this year’s event still more than three months away, Silva said Wednesday afternoon he has not yet fully developed the theme of his speech. Clearly, though, he already has several ideas.  Stockton Record article

Downtown Merced gets scores of bike racks – Downtown Merced is home to 52 new bike racks this week after city workers finished installing them Wednesday, and two of those racks replaced car parking stalls on Main Street.  Merced Sun-Star article

California city hopes a little humor might slow down drivers — A Northern California city is using humor to get drivers to slow down and pedestrians to pay attention. The city of Hayward has placed traffic signs along a downhill boulevard that read “35 — It’s a speed limit, not a suggestion” and “Heads up! Cross the street, then update Facebook.” Another sign warns: “Downhill: Use eyes, brakes, brain.”  AP article

State employee charged with bringing loaded gun to office — A former state worker accused of bringing a loaded gun to the secretary of state’s office made an innocent mistake, his attorney said Wednesday after the man was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a weapon in a state building.  AP article



Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – A tale of tax evasion from the new gilded age.


Merced Sun-Star – The tragedy of Kayla Mueller’s death can only be grasped by understanding who she was – a 26-year-old woman who was making a difference in the most dangerous place on the planet.


Modesto Bee – The tragedy of Kayla Mueller’s death can only be grasped by understanding who she was – a 26-year-old woman who was making a difference in the most dangerous place on the planet.


Sacramento Bee – Imagine this bleak scenario: You’re a 15-year-old girl in Fresno. You’re pregnant, unmarried and you’re either from a low-income or immigrant family. Probably both, the statistics say. You may be a foster child. If you live in the Central Valley, the public schools charged with educating may well push you aside; President Obama seeks a declaration of war – and national unity.


Stockton Record – Funding for French Camp veterans’ facility in president’s proposed budget must be approved.