February 13, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California budget could face new strain from Obama immigration action — President Obama’s executive action on immigration may have a major impact on California’s budget, according to reports issued by legislative analysts on Thursday. The action could shield from deportation millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally, including hundreds of thousands in California. That would result in many becoming eligible for government services like public healthcare. Others could receive help through state programs that provide caregivers or cash assistance for the elderly and disabled.  LA Times article

Supporters increase push for California aid-in-dying bill – Signaling a big fight ahead over a bill that would allow doctor-assisted suicide in California, a group in favor of the measure has retained three Sacramento lobbying firms.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Stockton Record: McNerney’s campaign finance move an idealistic longshot — We applaud Rep. Jerry McNerney’s inentions, even if his attempt at campaign finance reform is the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass from his own end zone. In other words, it’s not going to work.  Stockton Record editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Villaraigosa, mulling Senate run, informed by private polls — As he considers a run for the U.S. Senate, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is consulting a growing pile of public-opinion polls on the race. But unlike traditional polls funded by candidate campaigns or news organizations, the recent surveys were paid for by outside groups and released online through blogs and other media.  Capitol Alert

VIDEO: Jerry Brown says Newsom ‘smart to start early’ — One day after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his candidacy for governor in 2018 – more than three years before the election – the office’s current occupant on Thursday praised Newsom’s timing.  Capitol Alert

Bill Whalen: California should be more than an ATM in 2016 — Meanwhile, here’s a proposal for dealing with the sad state of California as little more in national politics than a big piggy bank. Regardless of political affiliation, we can agree that most anyone who can write a check upward of $30,000 (the asking price these days for candidates trying to fund super PACs) has money to burn. Why not place a dollar-for-dollar levy on donations to a political group totaling more than, say $5,000, with the proceeds going to civics education and voter outreach projects?  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee


Obama’s immigration program to start, new ‘Dreamers’ eligible to apply – As soon as Feb. 18, newly eligible immigrants will begin applying for relief under the extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. After Obama’s announcement in November, the program is now being expanded to include those who arrived before age 16, known as “Dreamers”, regardless of how old they are now.  KVPR report

Homeland Security chief implores immigrants to ‘step forward’ — Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson on Thursday asked immigrants in Los Angeles to “step forward” and apply for President Obama’s expanded deferred action program.  LA Times article

Other areas

Democrats list their House members most at risk in 2016 – Getting an early start on shoring up at-risk members, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday released a list of 14 it deems most vulnerable in next year’s elections. Five of the Democratic members of Congress on the list – none from the Valley — represent districts in California and all overcame challenges in last year’s elections, most in costly elections that drew national attention.  LA Times article

Muslim leaders want California lawmaker to apologize for remarks – California Muslim leaders are calling on a state assemblywoman to apologize and retract an online comment she made about Islam. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, took to Twitter earlier this week to voice her outrage over the killing of American humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was taken hostage by the Islamic State prior to her death. Melendez, a U.S. Navy veteran, called the news “gut wrenching.” Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Deuce Bigelow’s political imbroglio plays out on Twitter, Facebook – Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the phone call Wednesday between Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and comic actor Rob Schneider played out on social media.  Capitol Alert

VIDEO: McCarthy statement on Keystone Pipeline passage – The Republican-led Congress gave final passage on Wednesday to a bill to approve the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline, a measure that next goes to President Barack Obama, who has vowed to veto it.  Reuters article

Protestors try to spoil swanky party for ex-CPUC chief – Some 250 guests packed a downtown San Francisco ballroom on Thursday night to honor Michael Peevey, the embattled former California Public Utilities Commission president who is under investigation for possible corruption at the agency. Outside, a dozen protesters tried to spoil the fun.San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento Bee: Ex-PUC chief’s tribute made everyone look bad – The veteran politicians involved should have known better. Thursday night’s fiasco just made everyone look bad. Maybe future students of public policy will glean a teachable moment from it.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Obama taking action against cyberthreats – President Obama will announce an executive order Friday intended to improve the way companies share information about potential cyberthreats with one another and the government, part of a White House push to elevate concerns about cybersecurity and react to a rash of high-profile attacks. LA Times article; AP article; New York Times article

Obama arrives in Bay Area for 20th time as president – The Bay Area visit is Obama’s 20th as president and his first of 2015. While most of his Northern California stopovers have been strictly campaign cash grabs, this visit could have policy implications, with Obama attending a series of high-profile cybersecurity meetings.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Stephen Orfei: This is a crucial year to combat cybercrime – The general manager of the PCI Security Standards Council writes, “On Friday, the White House is hosting a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University on how to keep us all safe from cybercriminals throughout the world who work tirelessly to wreak havoc on our economy. This summit is bringing together experts from across many fields to brainstorm on how to prevent cyberattacks in the future and stay one step ahead of the bad guys. What is at stake in this discussion is the future stability of the global economy, our national security and the individual security of us all.”  Orfei op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Barbara Boxer cameos on ‘Parks and Recreation’ — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer may be headed for the exit next year, but in the world of NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” she’s still going strong come 2017. Capitol Alert

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Congress pressures both sides in ports dispute – Congressional Republicans and Democrats are working together to reach a rapid resolution of a labor dispute that’s clogging West Coast ports. With crop exports from regions like the Pacific Northwest and California’s Central Valley particularly at risk, more than a dozen lawmakers united Thursday in support of port peace. If nothing else, the rare show of bipartisanship underscored the enduring importance of maritime trade.  McClatchy Newspapers article

More than half of Merced County’s undocumented workers don’t have health insurance, research finds – Fifty-four percent of undocumented immigrants in Merced County go through their day without any type of health insurance, according to new data. This research found that maintaining a large population of uninsured residents is harmful, not only to those who lack coverage but also to a community’s overall health and economy.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno, Valley join nationwide program to boost global exports, investment – The Fresno region is among seven U.S. metropolitan areas joining a $10 million project to help cities improve exports of their products on a global basis as well as develop opportunities for foreign investment in local industries.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Jobs and the Economy

Growers worry about economic damage from ports slowdown – Central Valley growers are becoming increasingly alarmed at a port slowdown they say has disrupted almond and citrus exports. Warning of food rotting on the dock and millions of dollars per day in lost produce sales, agricultural trade groups have called on state and federal officials to help resolve a labor dispute delaying shipments through West Coast ports.  Bakersfield Californian article; Sacramento Bee article

California small businesses: ‘Collateral damage’ in port dispute – By one estimate, the congestion could cost retailers up to $7 billion this year. And that pain is being felt throughout California.  KQED report

Construction projected as Fresno’s fastest-growing job sector through 2022 – The construction industry, still struggling to regain its prerecession footing, is expected to be the fastest-growing employment sector in Fresno County into the early 2020s, according to new 10-year employment projections from the state Employment Development Department.  Fresno Bee article

Merced Fire looks to extinguish brownout policy – It’s that time of year for budget talks in Merced, and City Council is asking if now’s the right time to end its policy on Merced City Fire Department brownouts, a practice that entails leaving one fire engine unstaffed for the occasional shift.  Merced Sun-Star article

Council picks $2.7 million in project for Modesto – The City Council is zeroing in on how it wants to spend a few million dollars in extra money from last year’s budget. Council members at a workshop Tuesday made these selections: purchasing graffiti surveillance cameras, funding repairs and maintenance at fire stations, replacing failure-prone high-voltage streetlights with more reliable ones, updating the general plan, cutting the parasite mistletoe out of city trees, helping a group build a baseball field for disabled children and providing funding for the Park Partners program.  Modesto Bee article

Realtors: Homes less affordable in Madera County last quarter – Madera County proved increasingly unaffordable for homebuyers in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors. Madera was one of three California counties, including San Francisco and Merced, that saw a quarter-over-quarter drop in affordability in the period. The Business Journal article

City Beat: New downtown Bakersfield drive starts – Inspired by the campaign to save Bakersfield’s historic Fox Theater 20 years ago — an effort that racked up $100,000 with a $1-at-a-time theme — two members of Bakersfield Young Professionals announced a new drive at Thursday’s State of Downtown Breakfast. Jason Cater and Lauren Smoot, both members of the BYP, told the Downtown Business Association about a new, $150,000 downtown revitalization campaign, launched by the Downtown Bakersfield Development Corp.  Bakersfield Californian article

Dilemma for Oakland officials: Job or a living wage – East Oakland has been starving for commercial development for decades. After nine years of assembling the pieces, the city is close to landing a deal that would bring a Walgreens and 106 jobs to a part of town where the unemployment rate is twice as high as other parts of the Bay Area. But to keep the deal alive and open a store near the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Seminary Avenue, city officials were confronted with a dilemma: Was it worth sacrificing one of the city’s core ideals to bring jobs to a neighborhood desperate for help? San Francisco Chronicle article

Court says health workers get second meal break after 12 hours – Workers in California are entitled to a 30-minute meal break after five hours, and — if they work really long shifts — to a second meal break when they go over 12 hours. But in 2000 the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission passed rules allowing workers in the health care industry to “waive” the second break — we’re using quotes because the voluntary nature of the waiver is in dispute — for those really long shifts.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Plans for NFL-caliber stadium in Inglewood advance quickly — Plans to build an NFL-caliber stadium in Inglewood — a well-guarded secret just weeks ago — are moving at lightning speed and could get approval from city leaders as soon as at a Feb. 24 council meeting.  LA Times article

$96 million California IT project late, flawed, busting budget – Another flawed multimillion-dollar state computer project has busted its budget and made work it was supposed to streamline even less efficient, according to a scathing state auditor’s report released Thursday.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Design plans approved for Kings arena hotel complex, condo tower – A 16-story hotel and condo tower planned for the downtown Sacramento arena complex got the green light from the city’s Planning Commission on Thursday, a pivotal step that allows the Kings to begin construction of the project.  Sacramento Bee article

Cupertino bets big on Apple spaceship campus — The hotly anticipated construction project gives Cupertino an iconic building and cements its relationship with the world’s most valuable company. But it also promises to inject sleepy Cupertino with thousands more high-tech workers, intensifying traffic, and links the city’s future even more closely to the company and its fortunes in the turbulent tech industry.  San Jose Mercury News article

MLS rules out Vegas for next expansion — Sacramento’s competition for a Major League Soccer expansion team has lost a contender. MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in a letter Thursday that “given the timing of our expansion rollout and the uncertainty as to when we might be able to move forward in Las Vegas, we are no longer considering Las Vegas as an expansion market until after 2018.”  Sacramento Bee article

Virgin Galactic to build satellite-launching rocket in Long Beach — Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is opening a facility in Long Beach to build and design the company’s new satellite-launching space vehicle.  LA Times article


Dan Walters: Old water conflicts open again – Exactly six months ago, the Capitol’s politicians were hailing a new era of bipartisan comity and cooperation with the overwhelming passage of $7.5 billion in bonds to improve the state’s water supply. Now, however, the money must be spent and some of the state’s age-old conflicts over how water should be managed are re-emerging, along with the Capitol’s perennial jousting over who will control the allocation of funds.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

‘Megadroughts’ predicted to ravage the Southwest – The Southwest, including California, along with the Great Plains states, will endure long-lasting “megadroughts” in the second half of this century, worse by far than anything seen in the past 1,000 years, a team of climate experts said Thursday. The driving force behind the devastating droughts? Human-induced global warming, the team reported.  San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article; LA Times article

Extreme drought in Northern California just got 10 percent better —  In rare good news on the California drought, extremely dry conditions in northern parts of the state improved by 10% after a series of strong storms.This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor reports extreme conditions throughout the state dropped from 77% last week to 67%. The positive change occurred mostly in northwestern California and the Santa Cruz Mountains between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. LA Times article; Capital Public Radio report

World Ag Expo brings big money to the region – The World Ag Expo in Tulare isn’t only about the latest in farm technology. It’s also about bringing outside dollars into the Valley.  KVPR report

Tulare’s World Ag Expo, Day 3:  1,800 of students join first-ever show tour — The World Ag Expo in Tulare wrapped up its three-day run on Thursday with capacity crowds, including more than 1,850 students from throughout the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Four Asian citrus psyllids found in Tulare County — Four more more Asian citrus psyllids have been found in Tulare County. The psyllids are capable of carrying and spreading huanglongbing — also known as “HLB” — a bacteria that can infect and eventually kill all variates of citrus trees.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Ag labor shortage fuels tech innovation – Any venture investor will tell you problems drive innovation, and nowhere is that more apparent than with the shortage of field workers fueling new automation ideas.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Mexico and Walmart launch initiative to improve lives of farmworkers — The Mexican government and Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, have announced steps to improve the lives of the nation’s farmworkers, two months after a Los Angeles Times investigation detailed labor abuses at Mexican agribusinesses that supply major U.S. supermarket chains and restaurants.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Merced County gets four more deputies amid frustration over pension packages – Merced County residents in unincorporated communities plagued by frequent reports of gang activity will soon have four additional deputy sheriffs patrolling their streets.  Merced Sun-Star article

Michael Fitzgerald: Foul man, flawed system – I am anti death penalty. Death penalty states suffer the same crime rate as states without. So it’s no good as a deterrent. The endless appeals torture victims’ families. The process costs taxpayers a fortune. The dysfunction undermines faith in the state. The only question left, which I can’t answer, is whether executions bring closure to victims’ loved ones and a sense of justice worth all that comes before. Or do executions fail them, too? I imagine, for many, they do.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

FBI director confronts police, race relations: ‘We are at a crossroads’ – Weighing in on the issue of police and race relations, FBI Director James B. Comey said Thursday that because patrol officers generally spend most of their time dealing with criminals, they may have a hard time believing that someone “could be innocent.”  LA Times article; New York Times article

Unarmed 15-year-old mistakenly shot by LAPD wants apology – A Los Angeles police shooting of a teenager this week has once again stoked law enforcement concerns about realistic-looking toy weapons, which have been part of fatal police clashes around the country and prompted calls for legislative action in California.  LA Times article

Reward payouts are rare in homicide cases, but potential keeps offers coming – How effective are the rewards offered in homicide cases? Payouts are rare, but detectives say they still believe in them, and politicians continue to approve them.  LA Times article

College program helps Oakland police in push to hire local — The department has an enthusiastic partner in Margaret Dixon, who heads the Administration of Justice Program at Merritt College in Oakland. Dixon is a fiery retired police officer who spent 25 years on the Oakland force. She uses her program to try to recruit young Oaklanders to follow in her footsteps.  KQED report


Fresno State basketball:  $10,000 prizes await students as part of incoming in-game promotions – Through a donation from a booster, the athletic department will be awarding four $10,000 checks to students to be used toward tuition, books and educational expenses — two at the March 4 men’s game against Air Force and two at the March 6 women’s game against Boise State. Fresno Bee article

UC students’ Israeli divestment push diverges from elite schools – When UC Davis student leaders voted last month to seek divestment from businesses that aid Israeli military efforts, it marked the latest formal victory for a movement that has steadily grown on elite campuses across the nation.  Sacramento Bee article

Jerrod Bradley: Common Core math is worth the effort – The high school math teacher at Sanger Unified School District writes, “As a high school math teacher who has been using Common Core in my classroom, I can already identify an improvement in how students approach problems and think through potential solutions. My students are better able to apply concepts across distinct math problems and can then communicate how they arrived at that solution.”  Bradley op-ed in Fresno Bee

Third-graders take on keyboard challenge – Third-grader Tycho Sedlachek throws his hands up victoriously as he finishes his typing test. It shows he has improved his score for accuracy and speed, and that’s good news, since he and his peers at Kaiser Elementary in Oakland need to know how to type by this spring.  EdSource article

Compton principal on leave; students allege ‘uncomfortable’ searches – A Compton principal has been placed on leave after allegations that he searched students in an inappropriate way. Several male students, 16 and 17 years old, said their principal at Dominguez High School, Oscar Méndez, searched them in an inappropriate manner and made them feel “uncomfortable,” said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Al Garcia.  LA Times article


Local board upholds South San Joaquin Irrigation District takeover of PG&E – If the arguments sounded familiar, so did the outcome Thursday as a local board stood by its earlier decision allowing a south-county water district to take over retail electric service from Pacific Gas and Electric Co.  Stockton Record article

‘Mystery goo’ on shorebirds is nonpetroleum fat or oil, scientists say — Scientists are a little closer to identifying the mystery goo that coated hundreds of birds along the Hayward and San Leandro shoreline in mid-January, ruling out petroleum oil, a state agency announced Thursday. The goo was a mixture of non-petroleum fats or oils, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said. But that’s a wide category, covering synthetic oils such as silicone fluids, tung oils and resins, animal fats and oil, and plant seed oils.  Oakland Tribune article

China is lead contributor to plastic trash in oceans, study finds — The first worldwide estimate of where the ocean’s massive amounts of plastic garbage comes from points at China and developing economies in Asia. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

California falling 400,000 short of health-care sign-up goal – California is falling short of its goal to sign up 1.7 million people for private insurance in the second year of the federal health expansion, but state officials hope to make up much of the difference this weekend.  Sacramento Bee article

Measles outbreak highlights the importance of adult immunization – Measles was once considered a childhood illness, spreading rapidly across schools, playgrounds and parks. But the national measles outbreak that began two months ago at Disneyland has showed another side of the highly infectious disease — that it is a danger to people of all ages.  LA Times article

Marin mom lashes back at ‘measles party’ media furor — Julie Schiffman is furious. For the past week, the 43-year-old Marin County woman has been savaged as the mom whose comments launched a national furor over “measles parties” — her life turned upside down by a media happy to stereotype Marin as a hippy-dippy haven, and her reputation turned into a social-media plaything for people eager to blow hard about a rumor that turned out to be pure baloney.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Covered California considering enrollment ‘contingency plans’ tied to tax deadline — The agency announced Thursday that people who start an application by this Sunday get until next Friday, Feb. 20, to finish it. That’s similar to steps that Covered California has taken in the past.  But advocates have long been frustrated with the timing of open enrollment. That’s because of how penalties for lacking insurance are assessed — on your taxes. The tax deadline is not for another two months, April 15.  KQED report;Fresno Bee article

Stanislaus County reports first seasonal flu death this year — Stanislaus County public health officials reported Thursday that a 43-year-old woman died after contracting seasonal flu. It was the first flu-related death of a county resident younger than 65 during the current flu season. The woman succumbed to her illness Sunday. A news release said she had underlying medical conditions.  Modesto Bee article

Diet and exercise alone are no cure for obesity, doctors say – A group of respected physicians has stepped forward to challenge the common assertion that obesity can be easily fixed by diet and exercise.  LA Times article

Anthem data breach poses big test for its CEO – Joseph Swedish’s fate may hinge on what several government investigations turn up and how well he can address customers’ concerns. After all, the CEO at retailer Target Corp. didn’t survive his company’s credit-card data breach.  LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Valley housing authorities receive nearly $4.4 million in HUD grants — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday awarded nearly $4.4 million to housing authorities in the central San Joaquin Valley to build and renovate housing facilities.  Fresno Bee article


High-speed rail agency behind schedule in buying land – California’s $68 billion high-speed rail project is as much as a year behind schedule in buying the land needed to start construction, having purchased less than a quarter of the parcels for the first 29-mile stretch in the Central Valley, rail officials say.  AP article

Valentine announcement: New flight from Sacramento International to Dallas’ Love Field — Southwest Airlines will begin its first daily, non-stop service from Sacramento International to Dallas’ Love Field, putting travelers closer to the action once they land in the Texas city.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Turlock mayor urges progress on water, roads – Mayor Gary Soiseth, in his first State of the City speech Thursday, called for decisions by year’s end on two major water projects. And he vowed to look out for Turlock’s interests in a possible 2016 ballot measure funding transportation projects throughout Stanislaus County.  Modesto Bee article

State launches new bureau to combat child truancy, trauma — California officials will launch a new effort aimed at protecting children by combating student truancy, trauma, human trafficking and education discrimination. In a letter issued to county officials Thursday, state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris announced that the new Bureau of Children’s Justice would particularly focus on foster youths.  LA Times article

Coach Jerry Tarkanian’s Armenian heritage remembered in Fresno – Few Armenian events in Fresno were held without mention of Jerry Tarkanian.  Fresno Bee article

Orange Cove struggling to balance residents’ safety with humane handling of stray dogs – Animals lovers were relieved this week when the Orange Cove City Council delayed a vote on a stricter animal control ordinance that some residents thought would lead to the killing of stray dogs.  Fresno Bee article

LA County to consider requiring cat owners to spay and neuter their pets – Los Angeles County officials will consider requiring cat owners to spay and neuter their pets, in hopes of reducing the population and, by extension, the number of cats killed in county shelters every year.  LA Times article

Costner to walk red carpet at Maya – Can’t wait until next Friday to see Kevin Costner on the big screen in “McFarland, USA”? Bakersfield fans don’t have to: The actor will be at Maya Cinemas Sunday for a red-carpet premiere.  Bakersfield Californian article

Merced youths attend ‘McFarland’ premiere, reflect on social issues — A select group of youths from Building Healthy Communities Merced traveled to Hollywood on Monday to attend the premiere of Disney’s “McFarland, USA.”  Merced Sun-Star article

Court: ‘Could I have an attorney’ is, indeed, a request for an attorney – Here’s today’s question for the police, the courts, and for you, dear readers: When a 13-year-old boy, after watching a video of a fatal shooting he was suspected of committing, said to an interrogating officer, “Could I have an attorney? Because that’s not me,” was he clearly asking for an attorney?  San Francisco Chronicle article

History with a nod toward Central Valley celebrated – Mark Arax is compiling more than 400 hours of oral histories he’s gathered in 25 years of Central Valley reporting into an online museum. His publishing company, West of West Books, published “Beyond Luck.” Before the forum, he said Kern County has one of the most industrialized farm belts in the world.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bill Cosby postpones Bakersfield performance — Bill Cosby has postponed a comedy performance in Bakersfield, California, amid allegations of sexual abuse of women. A message posted to the website of The Fox Theater states the Thursday night show has been postponed and the venue does not have a new date for the performance.  AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – President Obama is right to seek a declaration of war; We need a free flow of ideas on oil train safety.

Merced Sun-Star – President Barack Obama is right to ask Congress for formal authorization to wage war against the Islamic State.

Modesto Bee – President Barack Obama is right to ask Congress for formal authorization to wage war against the Islamic State.

Sacramento Bee – The veteran politicians involved in the tribute to ex-PUC chief Michael Peevey should have known better. Thursday night’s fiasco just made everyone look bad. Maybe future students of public policy will glean a teachable moment from it.

Stockton Record – We applaud Rep. Jerry McNerney’s inentions, even if his attempt at campaign finance reform is the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass from his own end zone. In other words, it’s not going to work.