February 21, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

‘Excessive water users’ fine would elevate drought-shaming to California policy — Last month, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced Senate Bill 814, which would require local water districts to set a definition of “excessive water use” and then fine customers by up to $500 for each hundred cubic feet, or about 748 gallons, of water above the limit when the state has declared emergency drought conditions. Sacramento Bee article 

As California considers licensing fantasy sports websites, experts warn of a major problem: Gambling addiction — As lawmakers consider licensing daily fantasy sports websites in California, compulsive bettors and those who treat them are warning that a new generation of problem gamblers is being created in the state. LA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno Bee: 5 critical questions to ask Fresno’s candidates for mayor — Here are some of the issues we consider important as Lee Brand, Henry R. Perea and H. Spees compete for your vote to be the next mayor. Fresno Bee editorial 

Michael Fitzgerald: Still feisty after all these years — I called Jimmy Rishwain, Stockton’s controversial former mayor (1964-67), and asked to interview him now that at age 85 he has applied to fill a vacant council seat. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measure

California Politics Podcast: Train turnaround – This week: A big change of plans for the bullet train; the California speculation about the U.S. Supreme Court; and our unofficial list of possible November ballot measures. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Lagos of KQED and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Erika D. Smith: Gavin Newsom ponders the reality of California’s hypothetical future – Maybe it’s because I’ve only lived in California for a matter of months – and because my last home was in a state so stuck in the past that its leaders recently considered a bill to fine transgender people for using the “wrong” bathroom – I think the lieutenant governor has some important things to say about the future. Some things that we all need to hear. Smith column in Sacramento Bee 

Rachel Barry and Stanton Glantz: Pot initiatives fail to adequately consider public health – The officials at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UC San Francisco write, “The only way to have a chance of treating marijuana like tobacco would be to do so from Day One. A politically protected, robust demand-reduction program modeled on California’s successful tobacco control program should be created concurrently with legalization.” Barry/Glantz op-ed in Sacramento Bee

San Bernardino Shootings

FBI rebuts report that county reset San Bernardino shooter’s iCloud password without consent — The FBI on Saturday rebutted media reports that San Bernardino County technicians acted without the agency’s consent when they reset the password for the Apple iCloud account belonging to one of the shooters involved in the Dec. 2 terror attack at a county facility that killed 14 people. LA Times article

Other areas 

Trump wins South Carolina primary: ‘Let’s put this thing away’ – Donald Trump rode a week of insults directed at a popular pope and a GOP president to trounce his opponents in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary Saturday, the most convincing evidence to date that his establishment-smashing campaign is on track to win him the nomination. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Victory in Nevada caucuses sets Hillary Clinton back on track for Democratic nomination – Hillary Clinton’s victory Saturday in the Nevada caucuses puts her back in command to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But it was close enough that Bernie Sanders has every incentive to stay in the race for some time, denying Clinton and the party establishment the swift resolution they hoped would let them turn their full attention to the general election in November. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Jeb Bush, an early frontrunner who couldn’t keep pace with is party or outrun his family history – Eight humiliating months later, in the South Carolina winter, defeated once again byDonald TrumpJohn Ellis Bush gave up, making him the most prominent casualty of an unruly presidential contest and marking a stunning public repudiation of a family that defined GOP success for decades during two turns in the White House. LA Times articleAP article 

Victor Davis Hanson: The return of appeasement, collaboration and isolationism — America is slowly withdrawing from involvement abroad, using the same isolationist arguments heard in the 1920s. Past interventions in the Middle East have worn on the nation. Ingrate nations did not appreciate American sacrifices. In tough economic times, some contend that defense spending should be diverted to more social programs. Appeasement, collaboration and isolationism always prove a lethal mix – past and present. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Harris Construction email sparks debate about Fresno Unified’s handling of contracts — Months before Fresno Unified school board members had a chance to vote on school construction projects that now are under federal investigation, the builder who ultimately got the job wrote an email to district officials saying “we are absolutely a go” in reference to those multimillion-dollar projects. Fresno Bee article

Stockton police struggle to recruit diverse officers – It is no secret the Stockton Police Department is in an ongoing struggle to increase staffing even as a steady flow of veteran officers departs for more lucrative jobs with other agencies. And it also is no secret the department’s stated goal for its hiring push is to increase the ethnic diversity of the officers charged with protecting public safety in a 300,000-resident city in which 73 percent are Latino, Asian or black, and only 23 percent are white. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto’s finances facing mid-year review – Modesto officials will get a midyear review of the city’s $113.9 million general fund budget, which pays for public safety and other basics. They also will hear from the city’s staff about a proposal to start a whistleblower hotline through which employees can leave anonymous tips about suspected wrongdoing at City Hall. Modesto Bee article

Crowds protest new Turlock farmers market selection process — Despite the protests of a passionate, overflow crowd, the Turlock City Council voted to accept a new proposal process that puts the operation of the downtown Turlock farmers market up for grabs. Modesto Bee article

Vision up for a vote — Eleven months after first going public with an audacious vision to revitalize 15 blocks of downtown Stockton, the Ten Space development company is awaiting the nod of the City Council so it can take its next step forward. Stockton Record article

Record year for charitable giving points to regional trend – Charitable giving scored a banner year in 2015 with the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, the largest area manager of charitable funds to nonprofits, posting a record year for new funds established. That increase may signal an upturn in giving in a region that has historically trailed the rest of the nation in certain types of charitable giving, experts said. Sacramento Bee article

New craft breweries race to join Sacramento’s flourishing beer scene — Permits, planning, problem solving, meetings, phone calls, deadlines, missed deadlines, maybe a lawsuit here and there, and all kinds of other headaches along the way. Oh, and beer. Let the brewing begin for Flatland, Sactown Union, Claimstake, Fountainhead, Three Mile, Tilted Mash and Moonraker, with Big Sexy poised to make beer soon. Sacramento Bee article

Aging workers find flexibility but not peace of mind in ‘gig’ economy — Clearly, more people are turning to “gigs” — freelancing, working as independent contractors — to make a living, or at least some extra money. Who are these people, how many are there, and why have they chosen “gigs” over steady employment? KPCC report

Lois Henry: Water, growth and a little history – Last Sunday, I had a column that asked what I thought was a simple question: How much more development can our water supplies sustain? I figured planners must be looking at this issue considering the drought and new groundwater legislation that requires a holistic attitude toward our basin as opposed to the “I got my straw, go get your own” way we’ve always done things. Nope. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Sacramento Bee: When drought became deluge 30 years ago – Today, officials at the Army Corps and Bureau of Reclamation are being cautious, so they don’t need to repeat what their predecessors did 30 years ago in a heroic effort to avoid what could have been a calamity. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Flow of frustration – Only in the wettest times is there enough water from the Delta to satisfy most everyone — farmers, fish, southland cities. In a drought, there is never enough. Stockton Record article

Assemblymember Shannon Grove: Bias, corruption on ag labor board – The Bakersfield Republican writes, “If the ALRB is to have any credibility as a peacemaker, the State Senate must reaffirm the state’s commitment to impartiality by refusing to confirm this reappointment (of Genevieve Shiroma). Gerawan Farms and its employees have a right to a fair hearing. How can that happen with a conflicted board member acting as their judge?” Grove op-ed in The (Ridgecrest) News Review 

Lewis Griswold: Visalia, California Water Service agree to collaborate — The city of Visalia and California Water Service, which supplies water to homes and businesses in Visalia, issued a joint news release Feb. 19 signaling a truce in their war of words from last year. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California backs off easing standard for inmate firefighters — California’s new corrections chief is backing off a plan to lower standards for inmate firefighters, focusing instead on persuading county sheriffs to send more jail prisoners to the state program. AP article

Mourners honors Tulare County sheriff’s pilot who died in plane crash — More than 1,000 people attended the funeral Saturday of James Chavez, a pilot for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department whose law enforcement plane crashed Feb. 10 near Springville, killing him and sheriff’s Deputy Scott Ballantyne.  Fresno Bee articlePhoto Gallery: Sheriff’s Pilot James Chavez remembered in Visalia Times-DeltaHanford Sentinel article


Lyles Center director blames Fresno State financial procedures for critical CSU audit — Timothy M. Stearns, director of Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said the university’s bad record-keeping practices were the cause of problems found in a California State University audit that faulted him. Fresno Bee article

Court’s move to give two nonprofits access to students’ personal data ignites privacy debate – School districts throughout the state are warning that students’ personal data will soon be accessed by two nonprofit organizations as part of a federal court case involving special education services, sparking an outcry from parents and lawmakers over privacy rights. LA Times article 

Parents can opt out of student data release – Parents who don’t want their children’s personal information released to an attorneys group can opt out by filling out a form available on the web. Bakersfield Californian article

James Vernon: Proposed pension limits will lead to UC’s decline – The professor of history at UC Berkeley writes, “What may be a good deal for the governor and the UC president is a dreadful deal for faculty and the people of California. The best faculty will no longer be able to afford to stay, nor be willing to come to work, at the University of California. But even more importantly, a degradation of the faculty is a degradation of the quality of the world’s best public university system.” Vernon op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Uncredentialed school administrator earning six-figure salary — A top administrator in the Lamont School District has been in his job for four years and in that time received a $20,000 pay raise despite the fact he’s not qualified to hold it and outside agencies have told him it violates state education code. Bakersfield Californian article


Matt Weiser: McClintock takes gavel, Yosemite quakes – It requires a certain arrogance for a Republican these days to conjure John Muir as a rhetorical ally. Especially when Muir’s words are used to support legislation allowing more development in Yosemite National Park. Weiser in Sacramento Bee

Mike Klocke: Methane, handbags? Get creative in hyacinth battle — So into this frustration steps the Port of Stockton and the Mayor of Stockton with ideas for dealing with water hyacinth. Methane gas and hand bags. You’re going to laugh and scoff. I say: you go guys. We need ideas — out-of-the-box ideas. Why not throw some creativity into the equation? Klocke in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services 

Experts share information about Zika virus at Sacramento event – A panel of experts spoke Saturday about the prevention, care, and transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus at a community forum hosted by the UC Davis Health System. Sacramento Bee article 

Jeff Jardine: Amputee extends prosthetic arm to another Ripon man in friendship — Robert Ballesteros’ prosthetic right arm, a battery-operated bionic marvel in its day and still better than most current government-approved issue, sat in a plastic box in his closet for the past 14 years. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Bakersfield Californian: Now it’s really a train to nowhere — The California High Speed Rail Authority’s new plan to drop southbound passengers at a dusty rural junction 23 miles from Bakersfield is nuttier than a pistachio orchard — which, perhaps appropriately, is what that land was destined to become until absurdity intervened. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Dan Walters: Big issues still dog fast train – The low-speed effort to build a high-speed rail system is switching tracks again. The previous “business plan” envisioned initially linking the San Joaquin Valley – where preliminary construction is already underway – to Los Angeles. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Freeloaders on board: Can Sacramento tackle its train problem? — After downplaying the issue for years, transit officials acknowledge they have a problem that needs fixing. RT security chief Norm Leong and General Manager Mike Wiley say they hope this summer to launch what could be the biggest crackdown on fare cheats in the system’s near 30-year history. Sacramento Bee article

 Other areas

Regulating pot shops a giant game of Whack-A-Mole – The number of medical marijuana dispensaries open in Bakersfield and unincorporated Kern County has ballooned to around 70 despite their longtime illegality, leaving officials scrambling to catch up. Bakersfield Californian article

Bee Investigator: Teenage party-throwers occupy Ceres home for blowout bash – Home for sale in Ceres: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, bright and cheerful with vaulted ceilings; featuring a big backyard and a pool. These last two features also were highlights on an invitation to a party at the home recently. The most important feature, though, for the teenage attendees? It was vacant. Modesto Bee article

Kern turns 150: The stories behind the names of these places you know — To celebrate Kern County’s 150th birthday — the California Legislature officially created it April 21, 1866 — The Californian plans to serialize historical pieces throughout the year. Today we dig into our archives and others’ research to tell the stories behind the names of local cities, towns and other well-known landmarks. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – The California High Speed Rail Authority’s new plan to drop southbound passengers at a dusty rural junction 23 miles from Bakersfield is nuttier than a pistachio orchard — which, perhaps appropriately, is what that land was destined to become until absurdity intervened.

Fresno Bee – Here are some of the issues we consider important as Lee Brand, Henry R. Perea and H. Spees compete for your vote to be the next mayor.

Sacramento Bee – Today, officials at the Army Corps and Bureau of Reclamation are being cautious, so they don’t need to repeat what their predecessors did 30 years ago in a heroic effort to avoid what could have been a calamity.

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. 28, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Public Employee Retiree Healthcare” – Guest: Lourdes Morales of 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.

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.
  • 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 jennac@csufresno.edu.


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

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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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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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