The 31st Assembly District is in for a strange election year — The possibilities could confuse even the most hardened political junkie. For instance, one candidate could win in April, but lose in November. He would be in the state Assembly a little more than seven months. Or a candidate could win in April, come in third in June and not even be on the November ballot. District voters might also find themselves voting twice on the race in June – once for the special election runoff and once for the general election primary. Fresno Bee article
State spending more money than ever, but how to measure it? — When it comes to debating whether California government spends too much money or too little, there are multiple reasons agreement is hard to come by. Sacramento Bee article
AD 31: Top Democrat says Olivier violated state campaign finance laws — Michael Evans, chair of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, has filed a complaint with the state’s political watchdog, claiming that Republican state Assembly candidate Clint Olivier’s campaign has violated campaign finance laws. Fresno Bee article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Democrats Lorettz Sanchez, Kamala Harris diverge on for-profit colleges — The divergence between the two is notable given that college affordability and spiraling student loan debt are issues that resonate with Democratic voters. With Harris as the presumptive favorite, Sanchez’s chances in the race hinge on her advancing in the June primary, setting up a head-to-head matchup in November. Sacramento Bee article
Senate hopeful Harris talks education, economy, bullet train – The stakes are high in the race for California’s first open Senate seat in nearly a quarter century, Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Kamala Harris told around 80 Kern County minority leaders, union members and residents at least three times Friday evening. Bakersfield Californian article
Kamala Harris presses Democratic flesh in Fresno campaign visit — A week ahead of the state Democratic Party convention in San Jose, U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris came through Fresno on her “Winning Results for California Tour.” Fresno Bee article
Pot legalization hurdles — Californians are likely to vote this fall on legalizing marijuana for recreational use but whether Golden State residents can break out the bongs could depend on what happens at the top of the ballot. McClatchy Newspapers/USA TODAY article
San Bernardino Shootings
Apple and feds reveal San Bernardino shooter’s iCloud password was reset hours after shooting – Senior Apple executives underscored Friday that they have no intention of backing down in a high-stakes fight with the FBI over an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December’s San Bernardino terror attack. Separately on Friday, federal prosecutors and senior Apple executives also disclosed new details about what transpired privately in the weeks leading up to their very public legal battle this week. LA Times article
How California’s U.S. Senate candidates would handle a Supreme Court nominee – The question of how to move forward has divided the U.S. Senate, as well as candidates running for the upper chamber. Following are responses to three questions The Sacramento Bee posed to the four major candidates running for Senate in California, listed in alphabetical order. Sacramento Bee article
George Skelton: When Ronald Reagan was called a ‘liar’ it was shocking and disrespectful – times have changed — The president was speaking. And from the gymnasium nosebleed seats came a perfectly timed shout: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” I don’t think it was from Donald Trump. Probably not Sens. Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio either. It was 32 years ago, and when President Reagan paused between sentences, the outburst penetrated the silence. It was shocking. Skelton column in LA Times
Sacramento Bee: Daddy’s stakes on family leave — Women may be pushing this year’s parental leave bill – as usual – but men have much to gain, as do their employers. Sacramento Bee editorial
Latest high-speed rail shocker: Build the Bakersfield station in Shafter — When California’s first high-speed rail passengers come zipping down the Central Valley from San Jose in 2025, their first impression of Bakersfield could be a bit surprising. Because they might not be looking at Bakersfield at all. Rather than get off the train near the heart of the city at F Street and Golden State Avenue, as local officials thought was the plan as recently as Friday morning, passengers would instead arrive next to an almond orchard on the far northwestern edge of Shafter. Bakersfield Californian article
State finance officials give tentative OK to UC Merced growth plans — UC Merced won a small victory this week when the state Department of Finance gave preliminary approval to plans for the second phase of expansion. In a letter to members of the state Assembly Budget and Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committees, the department gave tentative endorsement of the $1.14 billion 2020 Project to double the size of UC Merced and accommodate up to 10,000 students. Merced Sun-Star article
Jobs and the Economy
Michael Fitzgerald: Economic uptick provides bright outlook – Shoppers won’t break any spending records in 2016, but they’ll whip out the credit cards more than they did during the recession. That’s got retailers feeling upbeat. The Great Recession’s hangover faded last year. Stockton’s retail sector can climb off the couch. Expect modest but steady growth, said Jeff Michael, a business forecaster. Fitzgerald in Stockton Record
The Numbers Crunch: Unemployment is down, but not for blacks and Hispanics – While recent headlines trumpet the lowest unemployment rates in years, since before the Great Recession, most of us know that the recovery has been uneven across California and the country. Also hidden beneath the overall economic progress are extreme and troubling racial disparities. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee
Momentum continues for Stockton’s inner core – The path a pioneer travels always is a bumpy one, a lesson attorney Jacob Loyal Benguerel was learning roughly one year ago at this time as he struggled to fully establish his law practice on the frontier of Stockton’s downtown. Stockton Record article
Following up record-setting years at Port of Stockton – Despite suspending its Marine Highway project in 2014 because of a lack of shipping volume, officials at the Port of Stockton still are looking forward to a future of increased traffic and usage. Stockton Record article
Steady hand helping in economic turnaround – While the nationwide banking community took varied hits during the extended economic downturn, local banks remained steady. Now that the economy in the Central Valley is showing sure signs of recovering, local bankers say their goals haven’t changed. Stockton Record article
Turlock chamber, city shake hands on contract settlement – The city of Turlock and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce have reached a tentative settlement in their contract dispute. The deal spreads repayment over 25 years for unsubstantiated spending by the chamber while serving as the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. Modesto Bee article
Yahoo moves closer to a sale — Moving closer to a sale, Yahoo said Friday it has formed an independent committee and hired three major banks to engage with “potentially interested strategic and financial parties.” San Jose Mercury News article
Michael Hiltzik: The truth about football stadiums: Those supposed great new jobs are bogus – But a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the firm operating concessions at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the site of Super Bowl 50, gives some insight into just what kind of employment this is. It’s low-wage workers routinely ripped off by their employers, according to the lawsuit’s allegations. Hiltzik column in LA Times
Tech may be fueling San Francisco’s growing gender pay gap – About three-quarters of computer and mathematical workers in San Francisco are men, according to census data, a figure that has remained stubbornly static for years. That gender segregation in one of San Francisco’s fastest-growing and most lucrative industries has helped fuel a growing pay gap in the city, experts say. Since the end of the recession, the pay disparity between fully employed men and women, those with advanced degrees and even those holding tech jobs, has grown wider, according to census data. San Francisco Chronicle article
Virgin Galactic rolls out new spaceship – Sixteen months after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo came apart in mid-flight, killing one of its pilots and dealing the space tourism industry a major setback, the commercial space company unveiled a gleaming second ship during an emotional and joyous event held in this desert community Friday. Bakersfield Californian article; AP article
LA city attorney sues to stop Speed Weed from delivering marijuana — The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has sued to stop a popular marijuana-delivery service from operating in the city, according to court records. Cosmic Mind, a corporation doing business as Speed Weed since 2014, delivers marijuana to an estimated 25,000 customers and has violated the restrictions of Proposition D, the lawsuit alleges. LA Times article
Oakland asking state to help fund housing – Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and real estate developer Mike Ghielmetti are pressuring the state to pay for nearly 500 units of affordable housing at the city’s massive Brooklyn Basin development, at a cost of $45 million. San Francisco Chronicle article
Tully MacKay-Tisbert: Homeless services don’t end homelessness – MacKay-Tisbert, who works for an organization in Los Angeles that provides support to homeless and vulnerable individuals, writes, “Homelessness is often described as a problem we must solve – and Los Angeles city and county now have expensive plans to do so. As someone who has spent eight years working in nonprofit homeless services and studying homelessness, I’ve learned homelessness is also an industry designed to manage costs rather than challenge the mechanisms that create and maintain homelessness. MacKay-Tisbert op-ed in Fresno Bee
Online reservations available at Woodward, Modesto reservoirs – People wishing to camp near the lake can use an online service to reserve campsites at Modesto and Woodward reservoirs in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article
Los Banos approves its first taproom — A microbrewery cleared its final hurdle this week to open up shop in Los Banos. The Los Banos City Council unanimously granted an alcohol license Wednesday to Paraiso Brewery, giving the owners permission to move forward with plans for a taproom. Merced Sun-Star article
Waning El Nino could signal state’s water woes not over – El Niño, as all things must, will be coming to an end over the next couple months, possibly to be replaced by its sister phenomenon, La Niña, which could spell a drier than average summer and fall, a foreboding prospect for a thirsty region suffering through an extended drought. San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report
New limits on California well-drilling sought – Warning that a drought-driven surge in well drilling is causing the earth to sag and imperiling long-term water supplies, a California senator wants to place more stringent limits on new wells. Sacramento Bee article
Congressman Jim Costa: Let’s get something done for Valley water – The Fresno Democrat writes, “Time is of the essence and every day of delay only results in losses of vital water supplies for Californians in need. Failure to provide relief to the people of the Valley during an El Niño event would be unacceptable, unnecessary, and immoral.” Costa op-ed in Fresno Bee
Cal Water, Visalia play nice — The rift between the city of Visalia and California Water Service is seemingly behind them. In a joint statement issued Thursday, the two agencies vowed to work together, seeking to “ensure that residents have safe, reliable, and high-quality water service for decades to come.” Visalia Times-Delta article
No drought of news: 2016 poised to be big year – When it comes to water, 2016 has to be better than last year — right? We’ll see. Stockton Record article
Digital tech transforms farming – Ever more powerful and less costly computer and graphics chips, better and cheaper digital cameras, steady advances in artificial intelligence and machine vision are helping bring more high technology into orchards and croplands, he said. Stockton Record article
Hanford council backs water reservoir effort with $5,000 — An effort to back the building of the Temperance Flat Reservoir received some support from Hanford’s City Council, but with no guarantees the city would directly benefit, council members were hesitant to pour a lot of money into the effort. Hanford Sentinel article
Rain little concern for blooming almonds – The rain and showers Wednesday night and Thursday should have little impact on the California almond crop, even coming at the peak of the critical bloom period, an industry expert and farmers said Thursday. Stockton Record article
Farm Beat: Could peas bring Miss America to Modesto? — Hey, kids! Want a visit from Miss America? Grow some peas! That prize awaits the student or team that wins a pea-growing contest sponsored this spring by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. It challenges kindergarten through fifth-grade students to produce as much volume as possible from 20 seeds. Modesto Bee article
Water customers in LA County foothill cities are asked to tighten taps further — Water customers in some of Los Angeles County’s foothills are being asked to tighten taps further and refrain from watering lawns for as long as 10 days starting Feb. 29 while the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California temporarily closes a La Verne treatment plant for infrastructure upgrades. LA Times article
State would give public access to police misconduct records — Records detailing police misconduct and serious use of force, long kept confidential, could become public in California if legislation announced Friday is passed into law. San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; AP article; KQED report
Police in Southern California have shot more than 2,000 suspects since 2004. Only one officer was prosecuted – he was acquitted — Last year, as protests against excessive force by police spread across the country, there was an increase nationally in the number of murder and manslaughter charges filed against officers for on-duty shootings. But such prosecutions remain almost unheard of in six Southern California counties — Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial — where there has been a police shooting roughly every other day since 2004, records show. LA Times article
Most law enforcement embracing social media – Crime rates rise and fall in communities throughout San Joaquin and Calaveras counties, but technology and the potential for community involvement in law enforcement never have been greater. Stockton Record article
Fresno police shoot armed man in Tower District – A Fresno man who police and witnesses say was armed with a handgun and made references to Lucifer was shot by officers Friday morning in the Tower District after he refused to drop the weapon, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Fresno Bee article
Kings County Sheriff’s Office resumes air operations – The Kings County Sheriff’s Office resumed air operations Thursday, one week after a Tulare County Sheriff’s plane crashed and killed two people. Hanford Sentinel article
Violent crime rising faster in Sacramento than other large cities, study finds – Violent crime rose faster during the first six months of 2015 in Sacramento than in any of the 25 largest U.S. cities tracked in an annual FBI crime report, according to an analysisreleased this week by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Sacramento Bee article
Report: Hanford crime ‘soaring’ – If you’ve spent any time on social media lately, you may have heard that Hanford is one of America’s “top cities where crime is soaring.” A report released this week by the financial news website “24/7 Wall St.” claims that the Hanford-Corcoran metropolitan statistical area, which encompasses all of Kings County, has seen a 29.9 percent increase in violent crime over the past five years. Hanford Sentinel article
Tim Ward: Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and a crime – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “I’ve said it before and will again – human trafficking is a crime that hides in plain sight and we have to begin to realize just how horrible a crime it is. It’s modern day slavery, and that is why the District Attorney’s Office is putting these ads across our county.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta
How did Orange County inmates saw their way out of jail? Investigators still don’t know – Weeks after three inmates escaped from an Orange County jail, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said that the ongoing investigation into the caper has not answered two big questions: What cutting tools the men used to saw their way out of the maximum security jail, and how they got ahold of them while behind bars. LA Times article
Men whose felonies were reduced by Proposition 47 arraigned on attempted murder charges – A man who had two prior felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors underProposition 47 and was subsequently released from custody was arraigned on Friday on charges of attempted murder on a peace officer, the Orange County district attorney’s office said. LA Times article
Parents alarmed after hearing about California student data transfer — Parents across California have grown concerned after learning that a Sacramento-based federal judge ordered the state Department of Education to release sensitive records for more than 10 million schoolchildren to lawyers and consultants representing special education advocates. Sacramento Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article; Stockton Record article
See which college majors lead to highest pay – The college degrees that most often lead to the highest earnings for full-time California workers between ages 25 and 34 include computer science, electrical engineering and applied mathematics. College degrees that lead to the lowest earnings include social work, elementary education, theology, drama and art history. Sacramento Bee article
Efforts afoot to address teacher shortage – As they receive an increase in budgeting to K-12 education, districts are attempting to lower the student-teacher ratios and reinstate classes and programs that were reduced or simply eliminated during the recession that struck in 2008. Stockton Record article
Despite new requirements, LA Unified’s projected graduation rate soars — L.A. Unified now claims it has, almost overnight, averted a looming graduation crisis and could be on the path to its most diplomas ever. LA Times article
Groups come together to promote literacy – University of the Pacific’s assessment of San Joaquin County literacy showed only 27 percent of the region’s third-graders have grade-level proficiency, an achievement experts insist is the key to future educational success. But if the number is disappointing, those working to improve the county’s literacy concerns see plenty of reason to be optimistic. Stockton Record article
School band invited to White House — The Fremont Elementary School Mariachi Los Toritos band will join 10 schools and community organizations from across the country in Washington, D.C., for a special workshop hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, the White House announced Friday. Stockton Record article
Southern California Gas Co. opposes legislation to require new tests of Aliso Canyon wells — Southern California Gas Co. is pressing to defeat state legislation to require new testing of all wells at its closed Aliso Canyon gas storage field before operations can restart at the field. LA Times article
Pipeline operator fined over Arvin gas leak — A state regulator has fined Petro Capital Resources $75,000 over a gas pipeline leak that forced about three dozen people from their homes for more than eight months, it was announced Friday. Bakersfield Californian article
Salmon experiment gets new twist in Yolo Bypass — A few dozen baby salmon that spent the past two weeks contentedly eating – and growing – in the invertebrate stew of a flooded rice field were netted Friday, dumped into coolers and hauled by pickup several miles to a drainage canal and to the Sacramento River. Sacramento Bee article
Fresno doctor wins part of lawsuit against cCare — A Fresno doctor who contends he was betrayed by his former partners at the California Cancer Associates for Research, widely known as cCare, will receive more than $1 million in unpaid deferred compensation and for his shares in the company, a judge has ruled. But the civil trial in Fresno County Superior Court for Dr. Michael J. Moffett is not over. Fresno Bee article
Partnerships, collaboration and innovation – Over many years, collaboration has been the hallmark of San Joaquin County’s health care landscape, developed out of the collective desire to provide quality medical services to a diverse community without all the resources necessary to ensure the best outcomes. Later this year, the county’s two largest health care players will hook up in a unique partnership that is sure to be watched closely by area residents and observers nationwide. Stockton Record article
Commercial carpooling (although it’s illegal) is growing in LA, Uber and Lyft say – A bill legalizing commercial carpooling stalled in the California Legislature last summer, but that hasn’t stopped Californians from embracing the transportation option now offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft. LA Times article
New ‘Lexus lanes’ open on I-580, but do you have the right FasTrack? — As of Friday morning, there’s a new way to skip the backup on one of the Bay Area’s most painful commutes. San Francisco Chronicle article
Hearing next month in ACLU’s Fresno County suit – Attorneys representing Fresno County and the State of California will be in court in early March asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging thousands of county residents go without adequate legal representation guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Business Journal article
South Merced town hall focuses on familiar issues – Merced residents and at least one member of the City Council expressed frustration over the lack of advancement on common complaints that resurfaced Thursday during a town hall meeting in South Merced. Crime, youth services and McNamara Park were hot topics, the same issues that have cropped up every year since the council began holding the public meetings in 2012. Merced Sun-Star article
Hanford council seeks to restart Sister City program — The residents of Setana, Japan, miss Hanford. Hanford City Councilman David Ayers said he’s been in touch with delegates from the Sister City Program in the rural farming community that once used to visit Hanford. They’d like to return and want to formally re-establish ties. Hanford Sentinel article
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.
Merced Sun-Star – Apple or FBI? Who is really protecting us?
Modesto Bee –– Apple or FBI? Who is really protecting us?
Sacramento Bee – Women may be pushing this year’s parental leave bill – as usual – but men have much to gain, as do their employers.
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: “IT Issues in State Government” – Guests: Margarita Fernandez, chief of Public Affairs, Office of the California State Auditor, and Lourdes Morales, an analyst with the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. 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.
- 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.
- The 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit will be held at Bitwise South Stadium in Fresno on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration launches March 1. More information: Jenna Chilingerian at email@example.com.
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/
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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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