February 16, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

That blockbuster California ballot will be a $452-million battle — The bottom line: an initiative season in the Golden State that could see total spending of at least $452 million — and perhaps even hitting half a billion dollars — by the time the final votes are cast. LA Times article

Proposal would shift bullet train funding for use on new water projects – The state’s powerful agriculture industry and its political allies are gathering signatures for a November ballot initiative that would grab bond money earmarked for California’s bullet train and use it instead for new water projects. LA Times articleVisalia Times-Delta article
State budget

Forgotten funds and unclaimed property boost state budget — The bag of glittering silvery gems is pretty hard to miss when you walk into  the secured media room at the unclaimed property office near Sacramento. The stones, discovered in a safe deposit box, haven’t been appraised, but they look an awful lot like diamonds. KQED report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Supreme Court speculation about Kamala Harris shadows Senate bid — Speculation that California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris could be on President Obama’s short list of possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court has reached a fever pitch — but don’t fit her for a robe just yet. LA Times article

Other areas 

Joel Fox: Antonin Scalia on Prop 13: ‘Close enough for government work’ — On an 8 to 1 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 13 did not violate the equal protection clause of the constitution and that there was a legitimate state interest in protecting property taxpayers by the method created by Prop 13. Justice Scalia spoke a number of times during the oral arguments, questioning attorneys on both sides and offering his thinking, often in his characteristic acerbic way. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Tony Quinn: The California impact of Justice Scalia’s death – The death of Justice Antonin Scalia ends, at least for now, the 40-year conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.  That majority began with justices chosen by President Nixon, and his picks ended a liberal majority that also went back four decades to President Roosevelt.  So Scalia’s death has a profound impact on the court, and on several cases that directly affect California. Quinn in Fox & Hounds

Cathleen Decker: GOP brawl in South Carolina may have repercussions in general election — As they fight for prominence in a South Carolina primary that has lived up to its riotous tradition, Republicans are framing their own candidacies and their party in ways that may hurt them in November. LA Times article 

Daniel Weintraub: On health care, Trump and Sanders sound a lot alike – Given that Sanders and Trump are each currently drawing support from large swaths of their party’s voters, it suggests that the public may be more open to radically changing the health care system than either party’s leaders in Washington seem to believe. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee 

Orange County conservative a hero for marijuana advocates — Dana Rohrabacher, the fiery Republican Congressman from Orange County, has seldom had to burnish his conservative credentials. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

Coalinga man’s hope for pain relief gets caught in controversy over medical marijuana — After a major traffic accident nearly crippled him, Anthony Schiozzi spent years searching for pain relief. He tried surgery, but it didn’t work. A second surgery could happen soon, but doctors don’t believe it will end the chronic pain that has made it difficult for the 39-year-old former security guard to walk, bend over or sleep. Next, he tried Oxycontin and muscle relaxers – still no luck. Fresno Bee article

Expert: CSU strike mostly symbolic, but shouldn’t be taken lightly – Unlike some strikes and protests conjured up in the private sector, this one has a scheduled beginning and end, with dates already selected in April if faculty members don’t receive a 5 percent salary increase. The chancellor’s office has countered with 2 percent. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Stockton mayor vows ‘no’ vote on water rates – Mayor Anthony Silva was blunt and direct late last week after news broke that city water officials are considering a significant rate increase. “I will be voting No! Period!” the mayor posted on Facebook while on a Sister Cities trip to Iloilo City in the Philippines. “End of Discussion for me!” Stockton Record article 

Dan Walters: California tax board gets a spanking, then makes it worse – The state can legally tax sales and leases of “tangible personal property” such as cars, clothing and appliances, with exceptions such as food and prescription drugs. However, it cannot tax services and other “intangibles.” And while there is a strong case for including services in the sales tax – particularly were it to mean an offsetting decrease in tax rates – until that moment comes, they are exempt. One might assume that the folks at the state Board of Equalization who collect sales taxes would know that. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California new car sales jumped 11 percent in 2015 — New-car sales soared by 11.1 percent last year in California, a growth rate that was more than twice the U.S. average. The California New Car Dealers Association said Monday that vehicle sales rose to 2.05 million in 2015, up from 1.85 million the year before. The growth rate in California compared with 5.2 percent growth nationally. Sacramento Bee article 

Green bonds grow in California — California Treasurer John Chiang is embarking on a national tour this month aimed at seducing investors with an environmentally friendly investment alternative. San Jose Mercury News article

USDA rules would increase food stamp access to healthy foods — Retailers that accept food stamps would have to start stocking a wider variety of healthy foods or face the loss of consumers under proposed rules expected to be announced by the Agriculture Department on Tuesday. AP article


Sacramento agencies ask: Why release water from Folsom Lake amid drought? — Northern California’s El Niño winter has been on pause lately, with barely a drop of rain for two weeks. Yet federal dam operators recently increased the flows out of Folsom Lake by thousands of acre-feet a day as a precaution against flooding. They did so even as the reservoir sat 40 percent empty. Sacramento Bee article

Springlike conditions prompt almond bloom in Modesto – Though the weather – and the blooming almond trees – would have many thinking it’s springtime in the northern San Joaquin Valley, the region still has another month of winter. Modesto Bee article 

Tulare farmer is new Cotton Incorporated chairman — Mark Watte, a partner in George Watte & Sons, a 3,000-acre mixed-crop farm that includes cotton, was elected by his fellow members of the Cotton Board/ Cotton Incorporated Board during their joint meeting in December, but outcome of that vote wasn’t announced until Monday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Downtown Bakersfield residents vent frustrations about crime, call for solutions — More than 50 residents exchanged ideas with police and their councilman Monday night on fighting criminals many said have become more organized and are increasingly targeting two of Bakersfield’s oldest downtown neighborhoods. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced track club to bring children, officers together — A Merced track club is organizing an event next month to give young people positive interactions with law enforcement officers. Merced Sun-Star article


Sacramento State graduation czar hired to improve completion rates – Jim Dragna is Sacramento State’s first-ever graduation czar. He likes the title, although he says it makes students laugh and embarrasses his children. The moniker gives a face to the school’s initiatives to improve graduation rates, he said, allowing him to make personal connections. Sacramento Bee article

Cal State Bakersfield advancement official has resigned – David Melendez, Cal State Bakersfield’s vice president for university advancement and the executive director of the Cal State Bakersfield Foundation for more than three years, has resigned. Bakersfield Californian article

Scalia’s death likely to alter outcome in Freidrichs lawsuit – With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the California Teachers Association will likely gain an unexpected victory, at least for now, in its legal battle to continue the right to require all teachers to pay the costs of collective bargaining. EdSource article

SAT exam redesigned to focus on practical college work — The test has been redesigned, focusing more on what students learn in school rather than in expensive test prep programs, according to officials from theCollege Board, which oversees the SAT as well as other college-entrance exams. San Francisco Chronicle article 

‘Gender-inclusive’ restrooms come to UC Davis – The university is in the midst of converting 120 single-stall restrooms around campus by March 1 to “gender-inclusive” spaces – facilities without gender designation – to accommodate transgender and gender nonconforming students along with others on campus. Sacramento Bee article

Charter growth spurs division among educators — Charter school growth has shaken up the landscape of public education in San Diego County in recent years, and there is no sign it’s slowing — stirring animosity and legal disputes that have made for tense relationships in districts that are scrambling to recoup enrollment. San Diego Union-Tribune article


LA County Supervisor Antonovich calls for air-quality spot checks in Porter Ranch area —  As crews inch toward a permanent seal of the Porter Ranch gas leak, Los Angeles County officials called Monday for a series of air-quality tests that will tell residents whether it’s safe to return home. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Latino youths see big rise in psychiatric hospitalizations – Psychiatric hospitalizations of Latino children and young adults in California are rising dramatically and at a much faster pace than among their peers, according to state data. Sacramento Bee article

Delta Blood Bank imposes donor restrictions to prevent Zika virus outbreak – Delta Blood Bank has established a one-month waiting period for donors who have recently traveled to a region affected by the Zika virus, a policy aimed at preventing contamination of blood supplies. Modesto Bee article

Tulare Regional Medical Center board re-votes to end doctor affiliations – The Tulare Advance-Register/ Visalia Times-Delta couldn’t confirm reports that the Tulare Regional Medical Center Board of Directors cast a second, public vote Monday to dissolve the leadership of its medical staff, which includes department heads. Visalia Times-Delta article

After San Bernardino shootings, a SWAT doctor reflects on lessons learned – Alex Jabourian wrapped up his presentation on neurological disorders with a surprise: a slide showing an image captured by a 13-week ultrasound. His wife, Nina, like him a resident at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, was pregnant. Cheers filled the hospital auditorium. Then a doctor burst in. Someone had opened fire at a building in San Bernardino, he said. LA Times article

From pets to people: UC Davis vets’ stem cell work gives humans hope — In a clinical trial underway by Arzi and his vet school colleagues, Morris and about 20 other cats are getting stem cell therapy that is showing promising results. Beyond being just a cure for cats, the stem cell treatment also holds tantalizing hope for humans afflicted with a painfully similar oral disease. Sacramento Bee article


High-speed rail on fast track to Bay Area — High-speed trains would roll into the Bay Area from the Central Valley years before they start going to Los Angeles, under a dramatic strategy change that the state is on the verge of approving. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Bakersfield’s new website shows everything from watering days to historic landmarks – in 90 languages – The City of Bakersfield’s new website transitions its roughly 16-year-old homepage from a functional but sometimes cumbersome design to one partly shaped by more than 369,000 of the sharpest critics — residents. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno County agencies could be starting a series of moves — A move planned for the Fresno County Recorder’s Office could trigger a game of musical chairs at the Fresno County Hall of Records. Fresno Bee article

 Playground supervisor still going strong at 90 — Duty supervisor Suellen Yoneda watches over energetic kindergartners and first-graders as they zip across the playground at Kennedy Elementary School. She and four other supervisors keep the peace at recess. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Drug disposal bins are a welcome tool in opioid fight.

Merced Sun-Star – Antonin Scalia’s legacy more than just the law.

Modesto Bee –– Antonin Scalia’s legacy more than just the law.

Sacramento Bee – U.S. Senate should vote on Obama nominee’s merits.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Bad timing for Stockton water rate hike, grand jury concerns valid and other issues. 

Maddy Events

Sunday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: Bad Apples: Blowing the Whistle on Improper Government Activities  Guest: California State Auditor Elaine Howle. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Exposing Fraud, Waste and Abuse in State and Local Government” – Guests: Paul Hurley, former editorial page editor of the Visalia Times-Delta, and Bill McEwen, opinion page editor of the Fresno Bee. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler. 

Sunday, Feb. 21, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Improper Activities” – 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.

Community Events

  • 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/

More Information

Please visit http://www.maddyinstitute.com/news/maddy-daily if you want to view the Maddy Daily with our comprehensive list of links to all federal, state and local government, public affairs institutes/regional entities, Valley media and public policy blogs. (Please note new website address.) 

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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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation

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