February 22, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Conniving by crossover voters is more myth than threat — Extensive research in California, a proving ground for various voting permutations over the last two decades, shows that that type of electoral sabotage is just about as prevalent as black-lagoon creatures bidding for a seat on the City Council.  LA Times article 

Eco-friendly California looks beyond gas tax to fix roads — In their search for new transportation funding, California lawmakers are confronting the unintended consequences of policies aimed at reducing emissions.  AP article


Other areas 

Internal report: Dems have lost their way – Democrats have become a confused political party with a muddled message and an inability to turn out enough of its loyal voters, a party task force charged with how to revive the embattled party said Saturday.  McClatchy Newspapers article

A rare sighting: Republican presidential prospects come to California — It was with no little optimism that Republicans here gathered Saturday under the slogan “Bringing the conservative wave to California.” Their faith was rewarded by a rarity — multiple presidential hopefuls in California prospecting for actual votes, not money.  LA Times article

Markos Kounalakis: Pitching American primacy for 2016 – The visiting fellow at Hoover Institution writes, “While his team plays the fourth quarter and the clock ticks down, the new 2016 presidential teams are positioning themselves for an electoral shootout. Each team – and there are many – needs to prepare to enter the Oval Office ready not only with a solid and popularly supported domestic agenda, but also be able adjust to what is left behind at the buzzer and to articulate a clear foreign policy plan and vision.” Kounalakis op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Phil Serna: Pushing for broader engagement in government for Latinos – The chairman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors writes, “I don’t challenge the notion that this is a complicated paradox, but I feel strongly that we as Latinos can pivot in a number of ways to better affect our collective political presence, and influence parity between the represented and those doing the representing.” Serna op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Ex-Reagan speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher a big backer of legal pot — Politicians don’t get much more conservative than Orange County Rep.Dana Rohrabacher. He was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, an inspiration behind California’s anti-immigration Proposition 187, a Cold War hardliner, and a man who self-deprecatingly calls himself a “Neanderthal Republican.” But now, Rohrabacher has emerged as a national leader in one not-so-conservative issue: legalizing marijuana.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Morain: Let’s politic like it’s 1991 — Times were rocky in 1991, and I wouldn’t want to return there. But I do remember fondly the attention given to the races for U.S. Senate, and how candidates felt obliged to take stands.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Donald Blount: Helmets crucial, but proposed law not the answer — I personally would not ride bike if I was not wearing a helmet and I think it is stupid for anyone to not wear one. But it is silly to try and force that upon others, particularly those who can least afford it.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Victor Davis Hanson: We are reliving the 1930s — The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war. And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first — but not the last — to be targeted by terrorists, thugs and autocrats.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee


News Briefs

Top Stories

Vanishing water, fewer jobs, but still hope in Central Valley — In this region that calls itself “The Cantaloupe Center of the World,” vast fields that once annually yielded millions of melons lie fallow. And, for some farmers, planting tomatoes and other traditional row crops may now constitute acts of courage. America’s largest agriculture economy is changing because of a lack of water. Amid a prolonged drought and an anticipated third straight year of cutbacks in federal water supplies, the one assured constant is stress.  Sacramento Bee article

Despite West Coast ports’ labor deal, normality not yet on horizon — West Coast ports are emerging from the most contentious labor dispute in more than a decade, but lingering resentment and structural problems may complicate a return to normality.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Jobs and the Economy

Increased vessel traffic at Port of Stockton is a good sign – Stockton’s ship came in last year. About 230 times. That’s how many commercial vessels tied up at the Port of Stockton in 2014, according to director Richard Aschieris.  Stockton Record article

At center of Silicon Valley Boom 2.0, San Jose remains broke – The Silicon Valley economy may be booming, but its self-professed capital, the city of San Jose, is hardly paving the streets with gold. The home of eBay, Cisco and Adobe can’t keep libraries open full time, plug most potholes or staff a police force that can investigate many burglaries.  San Jose Mercury News article 

Raiders’ owner says team is ‘trying to get something done in Oakland’ – The Raiders and Chargers claim they are trying to work with officials in their cities to avoid relocation, a point that was reiterated by Raiders owner Mark Davis.  LA Times article

San Antonio official says Oakland Raiders lied to city about moving – At least one official in San Antonio has expressed disappointment over the Raiders’ new plans after team owner Mark Davis approached the city last year about the possibility of relocating the franchise to their city.  LA Times article

LA County fire officials shared test questions used in hiring, audit finds —  An audit probing allegations of cheating in the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s hiring process found that high-ranking officials improperly shared job interview questions and answers that were supposed to be confidential.  LA Times article

Women are leaving the tech industry in droves – Plenty of programs now encourage girls and minorities to embrace technology at a young age. But amid all the publicity for those efforts, one truth is little discussed: Qualified women are leaving the tech industry in droves.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: At-risk children shouldn’t be an industry — There are about 60,000 California children in what’s termed “out-of-home care” overseen by child welfare and probation officials, and judicious use of group homes plays a role in that care. But a better goal, which state and local agencies are now pursuing, is to have as many as possible living with their immediate or extended families or in well-managed foster homes. Dealing with troubled children should be a humanitarian mission, not a lucrative industry.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Payday loans thwart regulators — Borrowing money at an annual interest rate of 2,320 percent? Hard to believe, but that’s what state officials say was charged to one California consumer who took out an online payday loan last year.  Sacramento Bee article

Owner has big plans for young greeting card company — That Lodi resident’s inspiration led him to create MemoryTag, a greeting card company whose products includes a unique QR code that works with a smartphone app or through the website — TheMemoryTag.com — allowing card givers to record and upload personal videos and recipients to just as easily view the recordings.  Stockton Record article



Fresno Bee: With human impacts escalating, Valley needs this water — If experts conclude endangered delta fish can survive for another year, then the board should send the additional water south because people’s lives hang in the balance. A caveat: Constant monitoring must continue to guard against further degradation.  Fresno Bee editorial

Almond growers plant wildflowers to help bees – The rented bees arrived to find quite a feast in Mike Silveira’s almond orchard north of Oakdale. He had sown mustard seeds between the tree rows in the fall, and by mid-January, they had burst out in flowers full of pollen and nectar for the bees to eat. This helped them gain strength for the almond pollination, now well under way up and down the Central Valley.  Modesto Bee article

Hollin Kretzmann: Oil industry’s toxic wastewater threatens California water supplies – Kretzmann, with the Center for Biological Diversity, writes, “It’s California’s other water problem – and, like the drought, it poses a profound threat to our future. Every year the state’s oil industry produces some 130 billion gallons of wastewater. But where do oil companies put this dirty fluid, and how dangerous is it to human health?”  Kretzmann op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Lois Henry: More overdraft doesn’t seem like best plan for desert aquifer — A plan that knowingly allows the Indian Wells Valley — Ridgecrest — groundwater basin to tip further into overdraft doesn’t seem like excellent water management to me. But that’s exactly what zoning changes being proposed by the Kern County Planning Department would do, though arguably the changes would leave the valley slightly less over drafted than if the county did nothing.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Modesto Bee: So many ways Oakdale Irrigation District is looking bad – There are bull’s-eyes, blind eyes and black eyes. Things happen in the blink of an eye but aren’t always what they appear, to which you can turn a blind eye to avoid getting a stick in the eye. You get the picture. How many visual cliches are applicable to Oakdale Irrigation District and its myopic board of directors?  Modesto Bee editorial

Hanford chlorination project finished — Hanford’s water supply is now fully chlorinated, meaning its signature hydrogen sulfide smell may soon be a thing of the past.  Hanford Sentinel article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Prop 47’s effect on jail time, drug rehabilitation is mixed so far — In the months since Proposition 47 became law on Nov. 5, California’s criminal justice system is already undergoing dramatic changes — and not always in expected ways. The idea was to reduce incarceration times for nonviolent offenders and focus on rehabilitation while easing jail overcrowding.  LA Times article

More officers could lead to more community interaction – Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones has laid out his vision for the future many times in recent years while working to rebuild a department that was decimated by staff reductions as the city spiraled into bankruptcy. Jones wants to see more police officers patrolling the streets and fewer criminals committing violent crimes that cause residents to live in fear. Stockton Record article

Kurt Wilson/Eric Jones: We want to hear more voices – Stockton City Manager Wilson and Police Chief Jones write, “Locally and nationally, there is increased focus on relations between police officers and the communities they serve. Use-of-force issues, specifically among people of color, are neither new nor specific to Stockton. It would be easy for us to downplay conflicts that are largely fueled by painful emotions from another time or place. However, as the two highest-ranking local officials in a position to affect change, we recognize our responsibility to tackle this sensitive issue head on, in search of ways to improve the lives and working environment of everyone in Stockton.” Wilson/Jones op-ed in Stockton Record 

Lewis Griswold: Visalia’s first Latino police chief welcomes technology – Visalia’s new police chief Jason Salazar is the first Latino chief in city history, but he took the milestone in stride when his promotion was announced last week.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Mike Klocke: Ripped from the headlines: Serious crime – It’s also vital to report what is going on, crime wise, in the interest of public safety and keeping the public informed. That said, there are some days when reporting this news can be downright depressing. Last Wednesday’s Record included these headlines.  Klocke column in Stockton Record 

Two-thirds of San Diego county police shootings involved drugs, report says — Two-thirds of police shootings in San Diego County in the past 20 years have involved persons who were under the influence of drugs, according to a new study by the district attorney’s office of 358 officer-involved shootings.  LA Times article



Lawmaker’s goal: A state college in Stockton – Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman wants to increase higher educational choices in Stockton. If her plan succeeds, it could have a profound effect on local colleges and students. Eggman, D-Stockton, is working toward what she called “Stockton State” and is planning to propose Assembly Bill 38 to fund a study to consider the feasibility of putting a state college in Stockton. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield teachers want more pay: What do they earn now? – Through a public records request, The Californian obtained a database of salaries for teachers and other certificated employees earlier this month. The district’s 42 principals earned $114,956 on average, with the top three administrator salaries ranging from $227,000 down to $147,200. Pre-kindergarten teachers — of which BCSD has 25 — earned the least of certificated workers, an average of $40,884. Average pay for other certificated employees fared somewhere in the middle — nurses earning $61,669, psychologists $101,333 and teachers (not including pre-k ones) $62,956.  Bakersfield Californian article

For Asian Americans, a changing landscape on college admissions — College admission season ignites deep anxieties for Asian American families, who spend more than any other demographic on education. At elite universities across the U.S., Asian Americans form a larger share of the student body than they do of the population as a whole. And increasingly they have turned against affirmative action policies that could alter those ratios, and accuse admissions committees of discriminating against Asian American applicants.  LA Times article

Whole-child approach becoming great equalizer — The day after Manteca Unified launched its historic initiative to equip every student from the youngest kindergartner on up with a digital device in January, a mother gratefully approached Superintendent Jason Messer.  Stockton Record article



Website to offer neighborhood-level air data – The air district is developing a website called the Web-Based Archived Air Quality System, or WAAQS, which initially will allow residents to examine historical air quality information for their neighborhood, and compare different years and different parts of a city, county or region.  Bakersfield Californian article

AP Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year – The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.  AP article 

Modesto Bee: Crude-oil explosions prove need for better cars – Two weeks ago we wrote our third editorial dealing with trains carrying volatile crude oil through the San Joaquin Valley. We called upon the U.S. Department of Transportation to finally approve a long-delayed new tank-car design that includes ceramic insulation, front and back shields and increased metal thickness, making them more puncture-resistant.  Modesto Bee editorial

Officials consider fallout if waste burner loses renewable-energy status – Stanislaus County and Modesto officials said they are not sure of all the ramifications if a waste burner next to Interstate 5 loses its renewable-energy designation. Their gut reaction? It won’t be good.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto considers turning pond scum into cash – Modesto may have found an environmentally friendly way to capitalize on the adage that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. The city could sell the algae that grows in its roughly 1,000 acres of sewer ponds at its Jennings Road wastewater treatment plant to Algix, a Mississippi-based company that uses the green goop to make biodegradable plastic. The goop is dried and turned into pellets that are used in making plastic.  Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: What lies beneath doesn’t always stay there, old Oakdale dump proves – Atop a hill on the east side of Oakdale stands a big water tank overlooking the Stanislaus River. OK, so the tank itself doesn’t look at anything. Tanks can’t see. But if you stand next to it, you can, with a view of the river to the north and much of the city to the west and south. The city needed to build a catch basin downhill from the tank, giving water a place to go if officials ever need to drain the system for cleaning or any other reason. It cannot simply go into the river.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Rare red fox sighting in Yosemite:  Bless skunk glands and automated cameras — Give credit to road kill, skunk glands and automated cameras. The strange-sounding combination helped Yosemite National Park get its first documented sighting of a rare Sierra Nevada red fox in 99 years.  Fresno Bee article


Health/Human Services

Sacramento Bee: Time to do more than be afraid of nightmare bacteria — Like all living creatures, bacteria are constantly evolving. Historically, the discovery of every antibiotic has been followed within years by the discovery of a bacteria that can withstand it. We are not alone, and we forget that at our peril.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Anti-vaccine mothers discuss their thinking amid backlash — One is a businesswoman and an MBA graduate. Another is a corporate vice president. The third is a registered nurse. These three mothers — all of them educated, middle-class professionals — are among the vaccine skeptics who have been widely ridiculed since more than 100 people fell ill in a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland.  AP article


Other Areas 

Michael Fitzgerald: Taking a limo to Fiasco Street – Today: Mayor Silva’s wild ride. On Dec. 14, Mayor Anthony Silva was riding home from The Mix, a Sacramento nightclub, in a limousine with several friends. Somewhere around 1:30 a.m. a passenger named Curtis Mitchell of Woodbridge began to argue with his fiancee.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Liquor licenses in Sacramento area exceed limits as leaders exploit loopholes — Communities across California have exceeded state limits for the number of businesses selling alcohol, raising questions about the approval process for liquor licenses. A Sacramento Bee analysis of data from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control found that 49 of 58 counties have exceeded limits for on-sale licenses, off-sale licenses or both.  Sacramento Bee article

The ecology of Fashawn: From the ‘slums of Fresno’ to a major record label — Fashawn was a child of social services. “I remember waking up in the Marjaree Mason Center. I remember waking up in the Craycroft Center and thinking I wouldn’t make it to 18,” he says. He did make it, and without a court case or a bullet wound. Today the budding superstar who’s known to music fans as Fashawn thanks hip-hop.  Fresno Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – If experts conclude endangered delta fish can survive for another year, then the board should send the additional water south because people’s lives hang in the balance. A caveat: Constant monitoring must continue to guard against further degradation.

Modesto Bee – There are bull’s-eyes, blind eyes and black eyes. Things happen in the blink of an eye but aren’t always what they appear, to which you can turn a blind eye to avoid getting a stick in the eye. You get the picture. How many visual cliches are applicable to Oakdale Irrigation District and its myopic board of directors?; Crude-oil explosions prove need for better cars; It’s time to do more than be afraid of nightmare bacteria.

Sacramento Bee – Even if California muddles through this drought, a most basic question lingers: How will it divide water on tragically beautiful winter days 20 and 30 years from now?; It’s time to do more than be afraid of nightmare bacteria.