February 2, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Thousands of immigration hearings cancelled until 2019 or later – Thousands of immigrants seeking legalization through the U.S. court system have had their hearings canceled and are being told by the government that it may be 2019 or later before their futures are resolved. Some immigration lawyers fear the delay will leave their clients at risk of deportation as evidence becomes dated, witnesses disappear, sponsoring relatives die and dependent children become adults. AP article

Dan Walters: Election law change aids politicians — When politicians tinker with the laws governing their own elections, one should view their proposals with a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude. Almost always, the politicians proclaim that they are acting in the public interest to make elections fairer. And almost always, election law changes would improve the politicians’ chances of holding their offices or advancing up the political food chain.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Olsen invited to prestigious fellowship — Kristin Olsen, who represents much of eastern San Joaquin County in her 12th Assembly District, has been selected to participate in the prestigious Aspen-Rodel Fellowship Class of 2015-16, which began in late January.  Stockton Record article


Safety for immigrant victims put on hold by U-visa delay — In the face of a growing backlog, the immigration agency recently began issuing temporary work permits to some of those on the waiting list. But that option is available only to those filing for U visas from inside the U.S., and protections for family members of the victim are not extended until the visa has actually been issued.  LA Times article

Other areas

California lawmakers set to tackle excessive prescribing of psych meds to foster children – California lawmakers will consider a major overhaul this year of how the state cares for thousands of traumatized foster children, a sweeping effort to curb the excessive use of psychiatric drugs in the child welfare system.  Contra Costa Times article

State Senate candidate says most intimidated by ‘powerful interests’ – Steve Glazer, the former political adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown and, years ago, Brown’s sister Kathleen, said he isn’t angry. But the pounding he took from organized labor in his Assembly race last year must still sting: Glazer thumbed through a collection of attack ads for the audience at a political conference over the weekend and acknowledged “they tend to take a toll on a candidate.”  Capitol Alert

Obama budget sets up battle with GOP-controlled Congress — After a year of relative peace in Washington’s budget battles, President Barack Obama will lay out a $4 trillion budget on Monday that needles Republicans with proposals for higher taxes on the wealthy and businesses to pay for education, public works projects and child care. AP article

Obama proposing $478 billion public works program in budget — The $4 trillion budget that President Barack Obama sends Congress on Monday proposes higher taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations, and an ambitious $478 billion public works program for highway, bridge and transit upgrades.  AP article; LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Labor judge rules Madera County must return pay to workers forced to take furlough — Madera County should not have placed about 200 employees on furlough in 2009 when the county was in a financial emergency, an administrative law judge ruled. The Public Employment Relations Board ruling gives the county 60 days to negotiate with the union. Without reaching a deal, the county would have to provide back pay with 7% interest to affected employees.  Fresno Bee article

Measles outbreak shows flaws in California vaccine law — California’s permissive vaccine law is under fire as the state struggles to contain an expanding outbreak of measles, a once-controlled infectious disease that has sickened more than 90 people across the state and threatens many more.  San Jose Mercury News article

Jobs and the Economy

A new way to shop: Instagram — You can shop online, shop at the mall — and shop through Instagram? Yup, shoppers are increasingly buying through the photo-sharing app on their phones and iPads.  Fresno Bee article

Downtown parking meters: Let them take plastic – With Stockton’s expected imminent exit from Chapter 9, the parking and garage system in the city’s core finally may be on its way to joining the second decade of the 21st century. Though you should still plan on bringing coins for the meter with you for the foreseeable future, when improvements do arrive, a bankruptcy settlement with a major Stockton creditor will be at least partly responsible.  Stockton Record article

Nyla Zender: Don’t protest Fresno water proposal – The president of the League of Women Voters of Fresno writes, “The League of Women Voters of Fresno supports the plan for infrastructure improvements to the city of Fresno’s water system. We urge Fresno water users to support these essential improvements and the rate plan to provide the revenue needed for construction.”  Zender op-ed in Fresno Bee

Elk Grove, hotels plan to unite to draw new visitors — Elk Grove wants to draw new visitors to the city by creating a marketing district to promote its hotels and sell the city as a destination for business, sports and leisure travel.  Sacramento Bee article

Pension shareholder clout reshapes corporations — A bitter breakup of a well-known Ohio company, Timken, approved by shareholders in a battle led by CalSTRS and one of its investment funds, Relational, has become a case study as activist shareholders try to squeeze more profit from companies.  Calpensions article


Tulare supervisors could approve sheriff’s plane purchase — More than three years after buying a new sheriff’s plane, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors could approve a more than $208,000 contract to buy a second one.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Dan Walters Daily: Symmetry in California prison realignment – Gov. Jerry Brown has overseen the rise and winding down of California’s prison population, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Armen Bacon: Tragedy in losing one of our own — I never imagined my morning would begin in a parking lot with arms wrapped around the father and grandfather of Janessa Ramirez, embracing their pain a grief so palpable it silenced the studio where I was scheduled for an interview to talk about my new book.  Bacon column in Fresno Bee

Bee Investigator:  Resident, Modesto police clash over handling of house party — Chaos struck a quiet street in the La Loma neighborhood recently when a small gathering turned house party went awry. Partygoers looted the home and spilled into the street. When the police showed up, people outside scattered, jumping over fences into neighbors’ yards.  Modesto Bee article


Lawsuit agreement to force schools to provide physical education – As schools tout the importance of exercise in an era of childhood obesity, a California parent and his lawyer have agreed to a settlement with dozens of districts across California that will force elementary schools to prove they are providing at least the minimum amount of physical education required by state law.  EdSource article

Smarter Balanced ‘interim assessments’ finally released — The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has finally released the “interim assessments” schools can use to gauge how well their students are doing in math and English language arts instruction aligned with the Common Core standards.  EdSource article

Local student touts FBI Teen Academy – Isaac Solis was Kern County’s lone representative at last year’s Sacramento FBI Teen Academy, a twice-yearly day-long program that enables teens to participate in classroom and hands-on activities.  Bakersfield Californian article

Early to bed, early to rise, early to school — The American Academy of Pediatrics reported last summer that teenagers don’t get enough sleep and recommended middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.  Stockton schools have not acted on the recommendation of the AAP, which said teens need an average 91Ž4 hours of sleep a night, but they’re not ignoring it, either.  Stockton Record article

City College of San Francisco special trustee retires unexpectedly — The state-appointed “special trustee with extraordinary powers” who replaced the elected Board of Trustees at City College of San Francisco in 2013 is abruptly retiring as the huge school appears to have escaped a closure threat, for now.  San Francisco Chronicle article

George Skelton: Don’t punish other districts for LA Unified’s problems — It’s very clear from readers that many don’t equate iPads with infrastructure. Nor laptops with labs. Schools, they logically believe, shouldn’t be borrowing money — selling bonds — to buy tech gadgets already en route to obsolescence. Payment plans definitely shouldn’t be outlasting the contraptions’ usefulness.  Skelton column in LA Times


PG&E wields ‘pervasive’ influence at PUC, now described as ‘rogue agency’ – What’s being described as the “pervasive” influence of PG&E with the state Public Utilities Commission extended well beyond disgraced former PUC President Michael Peevey and included other commissioners and top PUC staffers. That’s the conclusion of Bay Area political leaders, state legislators and a former PUC official who have reviewed a sampling of the 65,000 emails released by PG&E late Friday.  Contra Costa Times article

Buyer of tax-defaulted parcel won’t have to pay for cleanup, Stanislaus County counsel says — Stanislaus County Counsel Jack Doering has clarified an issue with a parcel sold at a delinquent property tax auction 21/2 months ago.  Modesto Bee article

John Boesel and Michael McAdams: California should stay on track with standard on cleaner fuels – Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART, and McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, write, “Legal challenges, political battles and scare tactics have not derailed California’s low-carbon fuel standard. As the state Air Resources Board gets ready to re-adopt the standard, we have one simple message: Keep going.” Boesel/McAdams op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services

Vaccine opt-out rate drops – first time since 1988; look up your California school – Under California law, all kindergarteners must be vaccinated against a range of communicable diseases before they can start school. But California also permits parents to opt-out of vaccines on behalf of their children. The opt-out rate doubled over a seven year period ending last school year. But now, for the first time since 1998, the opt-out rate has declined, from 3.15 percent statewide to 2.5 percent.  KQED report

Obama tells parents to get kids vaccinated to stem measles  — President Barack Obama is urging parents to get their children vaccinated in the face of a measles outbreak that has infected more than 100 people in the United States.  Reuters article

Millions of DNA samples stored in warehouse worry privacy advocates – Privacy advocates are calling for more safeguards related to a state collection of DNA samples from 16 million Californians in a nondescript government warehouse in the Bay Area. The biobank holds blood taken with the prick of a heel from almost every baby born in California for the last three decades. It is used to screen for 80 health disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.  LA Times article

Black Community Health Fair helps close health-care gap — A Super Bowl Sunday bike ride downtown turned into a winning touchdown in the life of Stockton musician Ronnie Martinez.  Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: Anti-vaping ads strike a blow for public health — We’d love to see some ads taking on the obvious, and despicable, e-cigarette marketing to youths. Somebody needs to shut down these candy-coated pushers. (Cough) Hello Kitty bootleggers (cough), we’re looking at you.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Other Areas

Merced to look at fixing soccer field on its own dime – The Merced City Council will consider paying no more than $250,000 to fix depressions in the field at McNamara Park, a problem that has kept the soccer field unusable for almost a year while the city and contractors decided who was at fault.  Merced Sun-Star article

Livingston manager’s last day brings some employees to tears – By all accounts, former city manager Jose Ramirez left the city of Livingston on Friday in better shape than he found it nearly four years ago. Ramirez announced his resignation in December for personal reasons, but Friday was his last day on the job. A goodbye luncheon drew more than 50 people, all lining up to say farewell to Ramirez – a few shedding tears over his departure.  Merced Sun-Star article

Approval of city attorney hire on Merced council agenda – The city has offered the job to Randolph Hom, who has worked in the city attorney offices in San Jose and Hayward.  According to the contract, the city has offered an annual salary of $180,000 for the five-year deal, plus moving expenses of up to $10,000. Hom, 51, is required to move to Merced within six months.  Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto airport neighbors push to take back park – Perhaps the best opportunity in years for law-abiding people to take a stand in support of a park in Modesto’s airport neighborhood will come Saturday.  Modesto Bee article

Enzo recovers at Fresno Bully Rescue, but more canines in need of help — Fresno dog rescuers used to call Enzo a walking skeleton made of stone. When they scooped up the abandoned American bully — a pit bull/bulldog mix — from the backyard of a vacant home a year and a half ago, it was a scorching summer day and Enzo was without water, was starving, and was covered in open, bloody sores, the result of a skin disease called mange caused by parasitic mites.  Fresno Bee article

Borrow a sewing machine?  Sacramento Public Library to start loaning more than books — Have you ever had the urge to play around with a music synthesizer or take a GoPro camera on an adventure, but didn’t want to own one? It may soon be possible, once the Sacramento Public Library launches its new “Library of Things” program later this month. Library patrons will be able to check out a variety of tools, technology and home appliances the same way they currently borrow books.  Sacramento Bee article

Angelenos say they generally feel detached from city government – In more than 50 interviews across districts where Angelenos will go to the polls in four weeks, similar themes of detachment were prominent, not just in residents’ views of their municipal government but in feelings of community isolation in the nation’s second-largest city.  LA Times article

Faith informs work of state’s first Muslim judge — He’s seen the Internet jibes. “The Sharia judge of Mexifornia.” “Jihadist judge.” Not that he didn’t see it coming. The governor’s people called him one final time before announcing his appointment. “California’s first Muslim judge,” the news release would say. Was that OK? Halim Dhanidina’s first thought: “Of course.” His second: “Maybe not.” But by then he’d hung up the phone, and he couldn’t take it back.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Step up, America, and vaccinate your children.

Sacramento Bee – We’d love to see some ads taking on the obvious, and despicable, e-cigarette marketing to youths.