February 18, 2015


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Political Briefs

Featured articles

Mark Keppler: Ken Maddy’s last wish – The Kenneth L. Maddy Professor of Public Affairs and executive director of the Maddy Institute writes, “Last week, Lynda and Stewart Resnick and the Resnick Foundation made a generous gift to fund two $56,000 Wonderful Public Service Fellowships at the Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno. It will support two San Joaquin Valley students, who are accepted at a nationally ranked graduate program in public policy/public administration or a related area this fall, to pursue a career in public service. Applications are due Feb. 27. It’s not often someone’s last wish is granted 15 years after their death. The Wonderful Public Service Fellowship, together with our legislative intern programs, will help fulfill Maddy’s wish that programs be established to train a new generation of bipartisan problem solvers for the Valley. I’m sure Maddy is smiling.”  Keppler op-ed in Fresno Bee

Dianne Hardisty: Can valley’s future leaders be the state’s problem-solvers? – The former Bakersfield Californian editorial page editor and member of the Maddy Institute board writes, “Through a gift from Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the owners of Paramount Agricultural Companies, and the Resnick Foundation, the Maddy Institute now is offering two $56,000 fellowships for San Joaquin Valley students who are accepted by the fall of 2015 into nationally ranked graduate programs in public policy/public administration, urban planning, social welfare or business. The students awarded a Wonderful Public Service Fellowship are expected to return to the valley to apply their knowledge and skills, helping define future policies and contribute to ongoing progress.” Hardisty op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Paul Hurley: Leadership doesn’t grow on trees – The former opinion page editor of the Visalia Times-Delta and member of the Maddy Institute board writes, “No grower plants a seed and walks away. Those seeds must be guided to produce fruit. By establishing the Wonderful Public Service Fellowship program, the Maddy Institute, with the generous help of the Resnick Foundation, is taking steps to ensure the Valley has a bounty of leadership for generations to come.”  Hurley op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Top stories

Field Poll: Condoleezza Rice, Kamala Harris look strong for U.S. Senate — Nearly half of California’s likely voters are inclined to support Democrat Kamala Harris – the only announced campaigner for the seat – according to the statewide Field Poll released Wednesday. The only candidate faring better was former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Republican who has portrayed a run as “not even a consideration.”  Sacramento Bee article; John Myers in KQED; San Francisco Chronicle article

What happens now in the legal fight over Obama’s immigration plans — The court fight over President Obama’s plan to shield as many as 5 million immigrants from deportation involves a number of complex legal issues. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Texas issued an order late Monday at least temporarily blocking the program from going forward. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the case and the ruling.  LA Times article

State budget

Advisors push Brown administration to estimate prison savings — Analysts for the state Legislature determined the state could save $20 million in private prison costs due to Proposition 47, the statewide ballot initiative voters approved in November that makes drug possession and minor theft charges misdemeanor crimes. However, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office cautioned that the potential savings is difficult to estimate because Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has not yet provided the usual four-year projection of the state’s prison population.  LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chávez explores U.S. Senate bid — With the Democratic field unsettled, Republican California Assemblyman Rocky Chávez said Tuesday he is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer in two years.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Proposed California initiative requires condoms in porn films — After failing to pass legislation last year, supporters of requiring adult-film actors to wear condoms have taken steps to put their proposal before voters in 2016.  Sacramento Bee article


Fresno city leaders, rights groups denounce judge’s block of Obama immigration order – Fresno City Council Member Esmeralda Soria joined immigrant rights groups at a news conference Tuesday denouncing the federal court ruling that temporarily blocks President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.  Fresno Bee article

Kern immigration reform advocates say they’re undeterred – A host of Latino leaders from around Kern County urged undocumented residents not to lose hope after a Texas judge blocked the federal government from implementing programs that would have protected millions from deportation.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus immigration reform advocates call judge’s ruling a temporary setback – Gloria Sanchez has lived under constant fear she could be separated from her children. The expansion of a federal immigration program set to start this week was supposed to give the Modesto mother an opportunity to avoid deportation and live openly in this country. But a federal judge’s ruling has temporarily halted the program’s expansion, leaving many like Sanchez wondering how much longer they have to live in fear. Modesto Bee article

Immigration advocates decry ruling as ‘tool to intimidate’ – Local immigrant advocates said they were neither surprised nor daunted by the news that a federal judge in Texas halted implementation of executive action from President Barack Obama that would allow millions of people currently in the country illegally to stay temporarily without fear of deportation.  Stockton Record article

Obama administration puts immigration protections on hold after order — President Obama’s plans to protect millions of immigrants from deportation were frozen on Tuesday while his administration scrambled to appeal an order by a federal judge in Texas temporarily halting the program.  LA Times article

Jerry Brown backs Obama on immigration order — Gov. Jerry Brown, who has made California a more welcoming place for immigrants who are in the country illegally, criticized on Tuesday a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block President Obama’s executive order reducing deportations. LA Times article

Other areas

Police targeting of motorcyclists focus of California bill – Citing anecdotal evidence that California motorcyclists tend to get pulled over unjustly, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, has introduced legislation that would have police officers undergo training emphasizing that that profiling of motorcycle riders is prohibited. Assembly Bill 334 would also require law enforcement agencies to create policies barring discrimination against riders.  Capitol Alert

Lawmakers should start planning in case of loss of kids’ health funding, LAO says – The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office says lawmakers should start preparing for a possible loss of federal funding for low-income children’s health care.  Over a million kids in the Medi-Cal program next fiscal year will have health care partially funded through the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.  Capital Public Radio report

On Valley Edition: Jeff Cummins on his new book and state politics — California was once a national model for good governance. But after a decade of near constant budget battles and staggering deficits, in recent years the state has been more of a model of political dysfunction. A new book by Fresno State political science professor Jeff Cummins examines California’s budget problems. It’s called “Boom and Bust: The Politics of the California Budget.” Cummins joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the book and the race to be the next U.S. Senator from California. KVPR report

Nancy Pelosi leads first official House delegation to Cuba since Obama changed policy — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and a group of fellow House Democrats landed in Cuba Tuesday as part of the first official House of Representatives delegation trip to the country since President Obama in December announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba.  McClatchy Newspapers article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

California water officials eye new restrictions in drought — As the California drought drags on, water officials are considering expanding mandatory outdoor water restrictions on homeowners and adding new limits on restaurants, hotels and decorative fountains. At an informational meeting Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board also appeared ready to extend existing rules imposed last summer to boost water supplies.  AP article

Water fight intensifies as south Valley farmers, Delta interests prepare to face off — In a drought, every drop of water is contested — a fact that will be abundantly clear at a meeting today in Sacramento. Busloads of south San Joaquin Valley farmers plan to attend, in protest of a recent decision not to ship additional water from the Delta to their farms. Emotions there are “boiling over,” one water official said Tuesday.  Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Labor secretary meets with both sides in West Coast port dispute – U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez had “positive and productive” meetings with longshoremen and shippers on Tuesday and telephoned state and local leaders to discuss the seven-month standoff at West Coast ports, a spokesman for the secretary said.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Labor dispute at ports hits state manufacturers, farmers, even recyclers – The stalemate is hobbling businesses in California and beyond — manufacturers, farmers, retailers and even trash recyclers waiting to receive goods or export products using ships idling at 29 ports along the coast.  LA Times article

Small but powerful union is at center of port dispute – The dispute that has snarled West Coast shipping revolves around a rarity in American business — a small but mighty union. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union represents 20,000 dockworkers, a fraction of the organized ranks of teachers, truck drivers or healthcare workers. But the port workers — who still queue up at hiring halls daily for work and spend years earning full membership — stand guard over a crucial chokepoint in the global economy.  LA Times article

Is Proposition 30 reducing inequality in California? – So, what impact is Proposition 30 having on inequality in California? According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state’s top income earners now pay a larger share of the state’s tax revenue than ever before. This is despite the fact that California’s top 1% of earners is accounting for about the same – in fact, a slightly smaller — portion of the total income earned than it before the recession.  Grizzly Bear Project article

Jain Irrigation acquires PureSense assets – Jain Irrigation has acquired the assets of PureSense Environmental Inc., a Fresno-based irrigation technology company that shut down in December. PureSense was an early leader in the use of soil sensors and software to help farmers fine tune their use of water.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Visalia seeks deal on new downtown hotel – This week the Visalia City Council has scheduled a closed-door negotiation with an L.A. hotel developer to build a new hotel near the Visalia Convention Center.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Industrial supply company sets up shop in Stockton – Shepard Bros. Inc., a Southern California company providing a wide range of materials, equipment and services to the food and beverage, water treatment, commercial laundry and specialty industries, will establish a new location in Stockton.  Stockton Record article

Home construction slips in January – U.S. homebuilders slowed the pace of construction in January, breaking ground on fewer single-family houses ahead of the spring buying season.  AP article

Southern California home sales down, prices flat — Southern California’s housing market got off to a slow start for the year in January, with sales down and prices treading water. That’s according to new figures out Tuesday from CoreLogic DataQuick. They found that the number of homes sold in the six-county Southland dipped 6.3% compared to January 2014. The median price was up 7.6% from January 2014, but has been basically flat at $409,000 since May.  LA Times article

As Chargers’ future in San Diego hangs in balance, tempers rise – Political discord increased Tuesday between the San Diego Chargers and Mayor Kevin Faulconer over the volatile issue of whether the city will build a new stadium to keep the team from moving to Los Angeles.  LA Times article; U-T San Diego article

Do Chargers have one foot out the door? — Going…going… We’ll stop right there. The Chargers aren’t gone, but that day has never felt closer. There are still a million ways this thing could go, but it seems the leading candidate involves U-Haul.  U-T San Diego article

Obama administration to allow allied countries to buy military drones – The Obama administration unveiled a new policy Tuesday allowing foreign allies to buy military drones, a move that could have potentially far-reaching implications for global security partnerships and the U.S. aerospace industry.  LA Times article

With help from Sacramento soccer investor, VC firm hits $25 million — Boosted by an investment from the managing partner of the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team, a Folsom venture capital firm said Tuesday it has reached its goal of raising $25 million.  Sacramento Bee article


Mark Grossi: February is flowering like spring – just don’t turn on your sprinklers — There’s a reason why mid-February in Fresno feels more like early April — these temperatures should be happening six weeks from now. I just hope you don’t start watering your lawn like it’s April. Indulge me. I want to persuade you to hold off on landscape watering in this dry time even though your lawn is turning green. The groundwater table is likely to take another huge hit this year, and it’s better if you don’t turn on the sprinklers a lot.  Grossi in Fresno Bee

California ranchers are bouncing back, but still feel effects of drought – California ranchers are bouncing back after the drought forced many of them to sell their livestock last winter. The lack of rain stopped the grass from growing, and buying enough feed became too costly.  Capital Public Radio report

Drought could spur draining of Tulloch Lake – If winter weather doesn’t return soon with a vengeance, Tulloch Lake – a popular fishing and boating spot between Oakdale and Jamestown, and one of California’s few reservoirs lined with thousands of homes – might look more like a puddle by July.  Modesto Bee article

Scientists craft fly traps with 3D printer to fight Asian citrus psyllid — Florida scientists are using a 3D printer to create a sort of hi-tech fly trap that could help save the state’s multi-billion dollar citrus industry from a deadly bacterial disease known as citrus greening.  AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Experts: Trim California crowding to reduce inmate deaths – California’s extraordinary rate of prison homicides is rekindling a debate about how California protects vulnerable prisoners, especially sex offenders. Experts say trimming the inmate population is the best hope for protecting sex offenders.  AP article

Merced sets record for homicides in 2014; overall crime reports fall 4 percent – In 2014, Merced saw a record high for homicides in the city at 15, and just six of them were solved, police Chief Norman Andrade told the City Council on Tuesday. Still, the chief said, overall crime fell in 2014 by 4.03 percent compared with the previous year. Merced Sun-Star article

$1 million boost for San Joaquin County gang prevention – San Joaquin County is expecting an award of more than $1 million for a new program to divert youth away from gangs. The Board of State and Community Corrections recently announced the award that will supplement some existing programs and fund the district attorney’s new Project Navigate Constructive Change, a program that will emphasize prevention, education and alternatives to incarceration.  Stockton Record article

Visalia City Council names new chief of police – Capt. Jason Salazar was named Visalia’s chief of police to replace Chief Colleen Mestas when she formally retires this spring.  Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

New Ceres police chief aims at creating a department with opportunity – After serving as the city’s acting chief for seven months, Brent Smith was chosen from a pool of eight candidates to assume the role permanently.  Modesto Bee article

CHP officers Brian Law, Juan Gonzalez honored with Highway 99 dedication — Hundreds of people attended a dedication ceremony in Selma Tuesday to honor CHP officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez, who were killed in the line of duty a year ago.  Fresno Bee article

Hundreds mourn slain Exeter police officer at Visalia, Porterville services — Several hundred people, including dozens of uniformed officers, attended a funeral service Tuesday for Exeter police officer Daniel Green. Green, 31, was shot to death at his home in Goshen by former wife Erika Sandoval, 28, authorities said.  Fresno Bee article;Visalia Times-Delta article


Cal State’s African American enrollment down despite years of outreach –  For a decade, California State University leaders have set aside several Sundays each February to visit churches in the African American community and preach the benefits of preparing young people for college. During that time, undergraduate enrollment of African Americans at Cal State’s 23 campuses has mostly been on the decline, from 5.8% of the total student population in 2004 to 4.6% in 2013.  LA Times article

Many high school seniors taking early admissions to college – More than 460 colleges nationwide, many of them top private institutions, offer early options as well as the chance to apply during the later, regular period. Most students still choose the latter. But the number of colleges offering earlier deadlines has increased by about 7% in the last five years, according to the College Board.  LA Times article

CSU Bakersfield program gets $7.3 million grant – A Cal State Bakersfield program newly energized by federal funding will teach educators more engaging ways to instruct their students in science, technology, engineering and math. The program called Growing Rural Opportunities STEM Residency Program (GRO STEM) is tasked with helping narrow an achievement gap between students in high-need rural districts and their peers in more urban areas. It is funded through a five-year, $7.3 million grant it received in September to recruit and train elementary teachers in rural Kern County districts.  Bakersfield Californian article

Many parents aren’t sold on later school start times for teens — Sleeping in probably sounds like a no-brainer to most teenagers, but their parents aren’t so sure that it’s worth starting school later to get the extra shut-eye.  NPR report

Sacramento Bee: Later school bells in highs schools deserve an A+ — From college admissions to social and economic pressures, the demands on this generation of adolescents are enormous. It’s unfair to drive them to a state of zombie-like exhaustion and then require them to perform as we do.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Dan Walters: School bond shaping up as big fight – To get around Brown’s refusal, a coalition of school officials and housing developers is launching an initiative drive to place a $9 billion school bond on the 2016 ballot. This is shaping up as the year’s most contentious education issue.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Lillian Taiz: CSU hurts students by hiring too many part-time lecturers – The president of the California Faculty Association writes, “It’s bad enough that the California State University is using more part-time than full-time professors. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that CSU has been choosing, decade after decade, to follow a corporate model that builds its part-time workforce at the expense of recruiting and retaining permanent faculty. That model is bad for the employees, but it also has serious implications for the 447,000 students who rely on CSU for quality public higher education.”  Taiz op-ed in Sacramento Bee

UC Merced Connect: Pilot program plugs into usage by electric carts — When you plug in an appliance, chances are you don’t think of the plug as being particularly intelligent. But WattTime, a startup nonprofit developed through the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) Foundry at UC Berkeley, has developed one that is, and is testing it on electric carts at UC Merced during the spring semester.  Merced Sun-Star article

Joel Fox: UC students call for divestment could become entangled in tuition debate — The University of California Student Association board voted to support a resolution to divest from companies that do business in certain countries including the United States. While college students often make statements and take action on political matters, the timing of this advocacy could see the action become tangled up with the ongoing debate over tuition increases and funding for the University of California system. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Teachers, parents concerned by violence at Fresno’s Fort Miller Middle School – Fights, drugs in backpacks, and assaults on teachers and students have become endemic at the middle school located west of Blackstone and south of Dakota avenues. Parents say rowdy children are disrupting class, bullying others and sparking fights daily.  Fresno Bee article

California lawmakers urge archbishop to nix morality clauses — California lawmakers on Tuesday urged the archbishop of San Francisco to remove from a teachers’ handbook morality clauses they say are discriminatory and divisive.  AP article


Stockton Record: Difficult as ABC – Residents of much of southern San Joaquin County have dined on alphabet soup in recent months when it comes to the future of electrical utility service. To put it briefly: SSJID has gone through LAFCO in seeking a divorce with PG&E.  Stockton Record editorial

Lois Henry: PUC-PG&E entanglement gets even stinkier – Back in September, I noted a certain stinkiness emanating from a smattering of emails between PG&E and California Public Utilities Commission then-President Michael Peevey regarding the Hydrogen Energy California project. Now that several more waves of emails have been released, the stench is overpowering.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

West Virginia, Canada derailments renew focus on oil tank cars – The tank cars involved in back-to-back crude oil train derailments since the weekend were an improved design built since 2011, raising new questions about the safety of the tank car fleet used to haul North America’s energy bounty.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Len Hering: Boosting renewable energy will improve our national security – The executive director of the California Center for Sustainable Energy writes, “In short, Americans across the country and around the world are beginning to understand that energy security means innovation, diversity and resilience. California’s veterans and military leaders stand with Gov. Brown and the Legislature as they push forward to an energy future that keeps us safe.”  Hering op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County to reduce sign clutter on American River Parkway — Sacramento’s prized wilderness getaway, the American River Parkway, is suffering from its own type of urban clutter. Nearly 1,500 signs line the 23-mile parkway section in Sacramento County, some outdated, some confusing, and some so scratched they’re unreadable.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

White House: Health law signups top 11 million – More than 11 million people signed up for subsidized private health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law this year, the White House announced Tuesday evening. But that preliminary estimate — 11.4 million people — comes with a couple of asterisks.  AP article

Covered California may offer special Obamacare enrollment period – California’s health exchange, after notching 1.4 million in Obamacare enrollment as of Sunday’s deadline, said it may give uninsured people subject to a tax penalty yet another chance to sign up.  LA Times article

State health insurance exchange enrolls 474,000 – About 474,000 Californians signed up for health coverage through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, by Feb. 15 – the original deadline for the second open enrollment period.  Merced Sun-Star article

California measles identical to type found in Philippines – As California health officials search for the origins of the Disneyland measles outbreak, some of their detective work is pointing to the Philippines. This measles virus shares the same genetic material as the type most commonly found in the Philippines, according to lab tests of the virus.  LA Times article

LA Unified tracks measles shots, reports higher vaccination levels — Los Angeles school officials have launched an effort to increase and document the percentage of young children who’ve been vaccinated against measles, including hiring 10 nurses on a temporary basis.  LA Times article

Stanislaus County agencies receive $715,000 grant for youth services — A $715,000 federal grant was awarded to agencies in Stanislaus County for services to divert young people from criminal behavior. The Sheriff’s Department said the grant will expand services for at-risk young people and pay for education, prevention programs, mentoring and therapy. The law enforcement and nonprofit agencies to receive the funds want to get parents and the community involved in the programs.  Modesto Bee article

Sacramento ranks as 8th-fittest U.S. city — Sacramento was No. 8 on the Fit Cities Index released this week, behind top-ranking Aurora, Col. and a handful of other cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Cities were judged on three main factors: physical activity, healthy weight and access to public parks.  Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Merced council gets first look at Bellevue plans — Plans continue to move forward for the Bellevue Corridor – roughly 2.4 square miles of mostly vacant land to be developed to accommodate the living and shopping needs of UC Merced students, staff and faculty.  Merced Sun-Star article


Rep. Jeff Denham pushes bill to allow beloved pets on Amtrak trains – It all began with Lily, a 15-pound snowball of a French bulldog with the face of a tough guy and the personality of a princess. She and her owner, Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock, take the occasional coast-to-coast plane ride together. But when he tried to take her on Amtrak a couple years back, he learned that only service dogs were allowed aboard. It’s a policy he’s been trying to change ever since, and he appears to be gaining momentum.  AP article

Property owners vote for Sacramento streetcars – Sacramento’s effort to bring streetcars back to downtown got a major boost Tuesday night when property owners near the proposed line voted to kick in $30 million in construction funds.  Sacramento Bee article

California cyclists have mixed reactions to new bike helmet law — Democratic state Senator Carol Liu is proposing to extend the state’s requirement that riders under 18 wear helmets or face a $25 fine to all Californians riding bicycles. The proposal drew mixed reactions from riders passing through the park on the recent President’s Day holiday.  Capital Public Radio report

Other Areas

Philip Levine remembered as tough teacher, champion of everyday workers – U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine died on Saturday at his home in Fresno. He was age 87. The former Fresno State professor was known as the poet of the working class, and drew inspiration from his time working in the auto industry in his native Detroit and from the San Joaquin Valley, which he called home for nearly 60 years.  KVPR report; Sacramento Bee editorial

Jose Antonio Vargas, LA Times in multimedia venture on race — The Los Angeles Times and journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas are launching a multimedia venture called #EmergingUS that will explore race and the evolving American identity.  LA Times article

Will the elephant rides return? Still no answer from Kern fair board – With the issue of animal welfare at the heart of a contentious meeting of the Kern County Fair board of directors Tuesday, there was a figurative elephant in the room — and a real one just outside it.  Bakersfield Californian article

Remembering Allensworth, the only California town founded by African Americans – In rural Tulare County sits a small town that has a unique place in American history. It was there in 1908, near the shore of the former Tulare Lake, that Colonel Allen Allensworth started the community that bore his name. A former slave, Allensworth’s city remains unique to this day, a town founded, financed and governed by African Americans.  Today Allensworth is a state historic park dedicated to preserving his legacy and the story of African Americans in the San Joaquin Valley.  KVPR report

Hanford settles lawsuit from injured cyclist — The city of Hanford has reached a $60,000 settlement with a bicyclist who was allegedly hit by a city refuse driver.  Hanford Sentinel article

LA may take a new tack against personal items left on sidewalks – Los Angeles officials are taking a new run at the politically sensitive issue of clearing sidewalks of personal possessions left unattended by the homeless, without running afoul of court rulings.  LA Times article

LA lawmakers delay vote on raising cat ownership limit from three to five — The Los Angeles City Council delayed voting Tuesday on a proposed change to the city code that would ease the limit on the number of cats residents can own.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Kamala Harris failed to tell voters about Prop 47’s DNA impact.

Merced Sun-Star – Court ruling thwarts a humane immigration approach.

Modesto Bee – Court ruling thwarts a humane immigration approach.

Sacramento Bee –  Later school bells in high schools deserve an A+; Philip Levine: A poet laureate for his time and place.

Stockton Record – Residents of much of southern San Joaquin County have dined on alphabet soup in recent months when it comes to the future of electrical utility service. To put it briefly: SSJID has gone through LAFCO in seeking a divorce with PG&E.