February 15, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: Legislature’s Maddy was exceptional – Ken Maddy was not so much representative of his era as exceptional. Had the Legislature been dominated by Maddy-like legislators during the 1970s and 1980s – and there were a few others of note, such as Robert Presley, Al Rodda and Walter Stiern – California probably would have been better prepared for the socioeconomic changes that buffeted the state and wouldn’t have some of the deeply seated problems it has today.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Toni Atkins and Kristin Olsen: California Assembly to apply zero-based budgeting to UC budget – Assembly Speaker Atkins and Assembly Republican Leader Olsen write, “In hearings beginning this week, the Assembly will apply the principle of zero-based budgeting to the UC budget. Through the zero-based budgeting approach, every line item of an organization’s budget must be approved, rather than only changes from the previous year. This allows for a thorough public discussion of the items contained in an organization’s budget, and it gives the agency the opportunity to show that each dollar is being spent for the intended purpose and in the right way.” Atkins/Olsen op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Republicans say Obama giving immigrants ‘amnesty bonuses’ — Millions of immigrants benefiting from President Barack Obama‘s executive actions could get a windfall from the IRS, a reversal of fortune after years of paying taxes to help fund government programs they were banned from receiving.  AP article


Other areas

California anti-vaxxers push back from across political spectrum – As a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland spreads through California and beyond, vaccinations have emerged as a politically unpredictable issue. While most parents follow doctors’ vaccination recommendations, those who opt out are clustered in vastly different political climates.  Sacramento Bee article 

Mike Klocke: Aisle crossing a way of life in Sacramento – The leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in the state legislature strode the microphone one after another on Wednesday. The State Assembly and State Senate leaders had a lot to say, but you kind of expected them to break into a unified version of Kumbaya. Partisanship? Nah, that’s something that happens in Congress. It’s a Beltway thing. But out here in California? Well, listen to some of the words they had to say.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Obama acknowledges strains with Silicon Valley — The U.S. intelligence agency’s bulk data collection efforts and the government’s “slow” response have strained the White House’s relationship with Silicon Valley, President Barack Obama said on Friday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Morain: Artist honored to do Capitol sculpture of his friend Ronald Reagan – In the workshop at the rear of the studio, a new statue takes shape. It will be the one for which he will be best known. It is of Doug Van Howd’s friend, the 33rd governor of California, the one who defeated the father of today’s governor.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Victor Davis Hanson:  Suffer for your lies? Maybe, maybe not — The Greek word for truth was “aletheia” — literally “not forgetting.” Yet that ancient idea of eternal differences between truth and myth is now lost in the modern age. Our lies become accepted as true, but only depending on how powerful and influential we are — or how supposedly noble the cause for which we lie.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee


News Briefs

Top Stories

An encore of Valley drought crisis – only worse – The next train wreck in California’s drought is headed for the San Joaquin Valley this week when federal leaders forecast how much river water farmers can expect to irrigate nearly 3 million acres this summer. Most folks in farm country are expecting the same number as last year — zero for both east and west sides of the Valley. Consecutive years of no river water would be another unprecedented body punch from a drought dating back to the winter of 2011-12.  Fresno Bee article

State’s population expected to outpace water conservation in coming years — California water agencies are on track to satisfy a state mandate to reduce water consumption 20 percent by 2020. But according to their own projections, that savings won’t be enough to keep up with population growth just a decade later.  Sacramento Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Obama sends Labor secretary to California to jump-start port talks – President Obama is sending Labor Secretary Tom Perez to California to meet this weekend with ship owners and longshoremen involved in the ongoing labor dispute that threatens to shut down 29 West Coast ports, a White House advisor said Saturday.  LA Times article; ‘Q&A: Port dispute: What you need to know’ in LA Times 

West Coast port dispute hurts California citrus growers – The slow movement of goods is forcing growers to leave fruit on the trees longer in an attempt to avoid rot, but the unseasonably warm weather — temperatures hovered around 80 degrees in the San Joaquin Valley last week — is causing even unpicked fruit to deteriorate.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jock O’Connell: The real roots of congestion at California ports – The Sacramento-based international trade economist writes, “As easy as it is for many to blame the labor dispute for the current woes, the roots of port congestion go much deeper. To understand the predicament of vital maritime gateways such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as well as the Port of Oakland, a brief detour to sultry Panama would be instructive.”  O’Connell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California’s manufacturing sector, clobbered during recession, clawing its way back – Between 2004 and 2010, the state bled a whopping 281,492 manufacturing jobs, or 18.5 percent, according to state Employment Development Department figures. Some of those jobs were in hard-hit industries like aerospace, food canneries and auto manufacturing. The industry bottomed out in 2010, losing 40,000 jobs in one year, before settling at 1.24 million statewide. Since then, recovery has been decidedly slow.  Sacramento Bee article

Patty Guerra: Signs of new life at longtime Modesto shopping center – So many questions I get from readers – and I love them – seem to send me down memory lane. It was no different this week, when several folks asked me what’s going on at the shopping center on the northwest corner of McHenry and Briggsmore avenues in Modesto.  Guerra in Modesto Bee

Measure U provides unexpected windfall for Sacramento – The city of Sacramento has an unexpected windfall coming from the sales tax increase voters approved in 2012. While part of the new cash is already accounted for, there may be room to use some of the money for much-needed facilities in the city, officials said.  Sacramento Bee article

Kern rocket builder touches down on Top-10 list — Space may be a vacuum, but the competition to find cheaper ways to get there is getting pretty crowded here on Earth. A company based in eastern Kern County received an encouraging bit of publicity this month when Fast Company magazine placed Masten Space Systems on its list of “the world’s top 10 most innovative companies of 2015 in space.”  Bakersfield Californian article

California, which gains $400 million in unclaimed assets a year, urged to find owners – The state has a reduced incentive to track down the owners of unclaimed bank accounts, insurance policies and other financial valuables because those assets provide $400 million in annual revenue for the state budget, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.  LA Times article 

FAA seeking drone rules favorable to commercial operators — The government is readying rules largely favorable to companies that want to use small drones for commercial purposes, according to a federal analysis, potentially leading to the widespread flights by unmanned aircraft performing aerial photography, crop monitoring, inspections of cell towers and bridges and other work.  AP article

Donald Blount: Wine, a part of our region’s culture – In San Joaquin County, it is difficult to travel in any direction without seeing vineyards. That’s not really surprising given that winegrapes are the county’s most valuable crop worth an estimated $496 million in 2013. Blount column in Stockton Record

Joe Patterson:  Gambling commission rules exceed independent controls on tribal casinos – The executive director of the California Gaming Association writes, “Since 1998, the California Gambling Control Commission has enacted numerous regulations and has implemented a detailed set of internal controls for card rooms covering responsible gambling, security and surveillance, cage and count-room procedures and casino floor operations. These so-called ‘minimum internal controls’ exceed independent controls imposed on tribal casinos by a wide margin.” Patterson op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Threatened smelt touches off battles in California’s endless water wars – Drought and the pumping of water have depleted the delta smelt and the delicate ecosystem they inhabit, prompting limits on the amount of water sent to farmers and cities.  New York Times article

The Conversation: Almonds – The number of acres in California devoted to growing almonds has doubled in the past 10 years, as global demand has skyrocketed.  This year, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board will be exploring the world of almonds and issues of land use, water rights, job creation and food policy, among others.  To start the Conversation, we ask: What is California’s responsibility to feed the world?  Sacramento Bee article 

Urban beekeeping raises Southern California concerns — Apiaries have bloomed in residential backyards and gardens in recent years, posing new challenges for city and county government leaders nationwide as they consider how to regulate beekeepers. The trend has evolved in the last decade amid concern about the “Beepocalypse,” the nickname given to the massive decline of honeybees since the mid-2000s. The city of Los Angeles and San Diego County each are wrestling with how to balance the needs of beekeepers and the safety concerns of residents.  AP article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno Bee: Poorly drawn Prop 47’s criminal consequences – It has become clear that, at least in one way, our neighborhoods and schools were made less safe by Proposition 47. The initiative, the brainchild of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, reduced penalties for a range of nonviolent crimes, reclassifying numerous felonies as misdemeanors. But here’s what voters didn’t know: Because state law requires that only people who are arrested on suspicion of felonies have their DNA collected, thousands of people who commit less serious crimes no longer must provide DNA. Fresno Bee editorial

Study: Incarceration not behind crime drop – America’s predilection for locking up criminals has not necessarily translated into less crime, according to a study released this week. The findings further support other studies on the issue and echo many of the arguments used by proponents of Proposition 47 — the California law that recently reduced a handful of low-level, nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.  U-T San Diego article

(Allegedly) lost at Lerdo: Gold chains, watches, designer jeans, intimate wear — Glimpses into everyday life at Lerdo Jail are filed with the county of Kern nearly every week. Some stories are true. Some may not be. But inmates who make legal claims that their possessions were lost at the county jail open a window into the ways in which droves of people and possessions shuttle into and out of Lerdo each day.  Bakersfield Californian article



San Joaquin Delta College seeks land for North County campus – Got land in northern San Joaquin County? San Joaquin Delta College is seeking a home for its long-promised north county campus, and the college is inviting anyone with land or property to consider selling or donating it.  Stockton Record article

Lewis Griswold: Ground work begins at new Visalia middle school site — Work crews are installing underground utilities and creating building pads at the northwest corner of Akers Street and Riggin Avenue in Visalia for a new middle school. A fifth middle school is needed to relieve pressure on Green Acres Middle School, which has about 1,200 students instead of 800, said Jeff Ramsay,Visalia Unified director of facilities. Griswold in Fresno Bee


Health/Human Services

Measles fears: Mild case of mass hysteria – It’s not so much that more than a whopping 100 cases of measles have cropped up in California since December. It’s not even that concerns over the number of unvaccinated kids have been escalating in recent years. The reason measles is on the tip of so many people’s tongues these days, and the subject of so much sturm and drang in the media, is this: It’s a mild case of mass hysteria.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Growing number of seniors may aggravate doctor shortage — About 9.5 percent of Kern’s more than 864,000 residents are age 65 and older. That figure will rise as baby boomers age and medical advances extend life expectancy. By 2030, the California Department of Aging projects the number of Kern seniors will climb 89 percent.  Bakersfield Californian article

Raley’s ends tobacco sales, citing health concerns — Raley’s will no longer sell tobacco products, the West Sacramento-based grocery chain announced Friday. The company said its tobacco sales will end this month, emphasizing that the decision was made to “raise awareness about health and wellness.”  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno man receives mechanical heart on Valentine’s Day — A Fresno man received an unusual Valentine’s Day gift on Saturday — a mechanical heart that was implanted in his chest at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

 Dr. Lakshmi Dhanvanthari: Giving anesthesia to children should be the last resort – The Chief Medical Officer for Health Plan San Joaquin writes, “Given the risks, general anesthesia should be the last resort – not the first – when attempting treatment and when other options are applicable.”  Dhanvanthari op-ed in Modesto Bee


Land Use/Housing 

Fresno couple’s complaints lead to eviction — Felicia Navarro and Sisomphone Phanvongkham aren’t typical litigants in Fresno County Superior Court: they never finished high school and don’t have a lawyer to guide them. Yet when it comes to presenting their legal case against the Fresno Housing Authority and GSF Properties, Inc., they are determined. They contend they were wrongfully evicted from Parc Grove Commons, a public housing development in central Fresno, for practicing free speech — in a nearly two-year period they lodged dozens of complaints about unsafe living conditions and management harassing them.  Fresno Bee article



Jeff Jardine: ‘Ghost bikes’ reminder of latest tragedies — Two ghost bikes along rural roads east of Modesto memorialize cyclists killed by vehicles. With a big holiday weekend under sunny skies, motorists and cyclists all need to be aware as they cruise the streets and byways.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Other Areas 

David Mas Masumoto: Forget-me-not: Honoring the history of Japanese and Armenian Americans – This month I will plant forget-me-not flowers in honor of Japanese Americans who endured evacuation and internment. In the spring, they will bloom and commemorate the Armenian Genocide. I dream of our two communities filled with thousands of these delicate flowers, a crescendo of whispers united in a single cry: Forget me not.  Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Report finds much to fix at Stanislaus Regional 911 Center – A second consultant also has determined that the public safety agencies that use the Stanislaus Regional 911 Center are concerned about the quality of service, staffing levels and what they pay the center.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno musician’s songs of Chicano movement take flight with Smithsonian – It’s ironic: Agustín Lira should have been born an American. His mother, a U.S. citizen, was illegally deported in the 1930s. Lira was born in Mexico and came to California as an undocumented migrant farmworker before becoming an activist.The Fresno man’s experiences fuel his work, using art to talk about inequality. Despite the struggles — picking crops from age 7, growing up in poverty, being homeless for a while — he is on the brink of releasing an album of his songs from the Chicano movement of the 1960s for that most quintessential of American institutions, the SmithsonianFresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: Learning the coolness of Calgary – You know why Calgary is in the news, right? The Calgary Flames hockey team recently bought the Stockton Thunder. Next year, Stockton will be the top farm team for the Flames. Stockton has formed a closer relationship to Calgary than it has with its sister cities. Yet what do you know about Calgary? Nothin’.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Stockton vet hoping for a ripple effect with refugee relief – There’s the woman who was able to leave an area under control of the group — known as ISIS, the Islamic State and other names — but not with her 3-year-old daughter, said Richard Campos, a Stockton veteran who came back from the region last month. “ISIS basically told them if you want to live, keep walking,” said Campos, 63, who had been in Iraq as a soldier, but since has been back on small-scale humanitarian missions. This time, he and the group that went with him came back with pictures and hours of video footage he hopes to turn into a documentary. The idea is that it will help bring attention and raise funds to help people uprooted by the violence.  Stockton Record article

Lottery ticket worth $3.4 million sold in Coalinga – A lottery ticket sold in Coalinga earned someone about $3.4 million on Friday night. The Mega Millions ticket purchased at Ice Bucket/Chevron, located at 307 W. Elm St., matched five of six numbers drawn Friday night. Fresno Bee article

New Madera County supervising district attorney hired – Angela Hill, a veteran Madera County deputy district attorney, has been hired as the county’s supervising district attorney, the DA’s office announced Friday.  Fresno Bee article

Lois Henry: Tracking history through an old Kern map — This turned out to be such a fun story, and with more elements than we could run the first time around, that we decided to give readers a second look at an old Kern County map. For background, Dan Araujo brought in an old map that’s been in his family since the late 1970s after reading my columns on the lengths the Kern County Land Co. took in 1891 to catch some hay-burning malcontents.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It has become clear that, at least in one way, our neighborhoods and schools were made less safe by Proposition 47. The initiative, the brainchild of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, reduced penalties for a range of nonviolent crimes, reclassifying numerous felonies as misdemeanors. But here’s what voters didn’t know: Because state law requires that only people who are arrested on suspicion of felonies have their DNA collected, thousands of people who commit less serious crimes no longer must provide DNA; It’s obvious that former California Public Utilities Commission Chairman Michael Peevey and friends feel no shame.

Sacramento Bee – Prop 47: a bad idea’s unintended consequences – it restricts DNA collection;