February 22, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Acts by California politicians have backfired — When Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a criminal sentencing reform measure last month, he cited the “unintended consequences” of a law he had signed nearly 40 years earlier. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Health plans’ finances a big unknown in California tax swap package — A $2.4 billion managed-care organization tax package awaiting votes in the California Legislature reflects the heavy imprint of the state’s health insurance industry, which pushed for major changes to avoid any tax hit that could be passed on to customers. Sacramento Bee article
State budget

George Skelton: A tax hike that no one could quibble about — Holy Howard Jarvis! California legislators are close to passing a tax increase. But not even Jarvis, the iconic anti-tax rebel, is rolling over in his grave about this levy boost. It’s a good government version of “give me your money and no one gets hurt.” Skelton column in LA Times

Democrats push Gov. Brown for more anti-poverty programs — While Gov. Jerry Brown has made clear thathis priority this budget season is to put as much money as possible into the state’s savings account — known as a rainy day fund — to prepare for the next economic downturn, some lawmakers and others think the state should also be investing in things like increased welfare payments, child care subsidies and another minimum wage hike. KQED report

Valley politics

Merced supervisor candidates collecting signatures — The Merced County Board of Supervisors race is shaping up to be a crowded one, though no candidate has officially filed papers. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Only one of California’s pot initiatives has the green that counts — Just one has attracted the deep-pocketed donors and leading advocacy groups to emerge as the clear favorite to make the November ballot — the so-called Adult Use of Marijuana Act. That was in no small part thanks to the backing of Napster co-founder and former Facebook President Sean Parker, who so far has donated $1 million of the $2.25 million raised by the campaign. LA Times article 

John McGinness: California voters should get their say on multibillion-dollar projects – The former Sacramento County sheriff writes, “Fortunately, we will have the opportunity to vote on an initiative in November that would give Californians the right to vote on revenue bond debt. If it passes, voters will get a say before politicians put us further in debt.” McGinniss op-ed in Sacramento Bee

San Bernardino Shootings

Common tech would have let FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter’s phone — The county government that owned the iPhone in a high-profile legal battle between Apple Inc. and the Justice Department paid for but never installed a feature that would have allowed the FBI to easily and immediately unlock the phone as part of the terrorism investigation into the shootings that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article 

Other areas

Inspired by Sacramento teen, lawmaker proposes ‘student driver’ decals – Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, introduced SB 2322, a bill that would require the DMV to distribute removable student-driver decals to teens with learner’s permits. The teens could choose to put the decals in their windows when they go out to practice driving with adults. Sacramento Bee article

Cathleen Decker: Democrats move left, Republicans move right, middle ground disappears – Hillary Clinton usurped much of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ message and benefited hugely from the power of women and minorities in the Democratic Party as she reasserted command of the presidential nomination race with her victory in Nevada. But trying to hold onto those groups and handle the party’s ideological leftward swing will be a tough task during what remains a lengthy nomination fight. Decker in LA Times

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Why only 19 percent of Cal State freshmen graduate on time – and what lawmakers aim to do about it — Cal State University campuses are under pressure to boost their four-year graduation rates, which in most cases are far below the national average. A new state Legislature bill set to be introduced Monday could make their task easier. LA Times article

New squadrons at Lemoore air station left regional economy – Fighter jets rule the skies over Lemoore Naval Air Station, but the installation’s economic clout reverberates even more widely in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Payroll, base spending, retiree and veterans checks total more than $1 billion in annual economic impact to the region, according to the Navy’s most recent study in 2008. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

In moneyed Marin County, demand grows for food bank’s services — In Marin County, which the U.S. Census Bureau lists as the 17th-richest county in the U.S. by median income, poor people go hungry every day, even while they’re working two jobs with backbreaking hours. San Francisco Chronicle article

Tech stocks defy investor predictions of a bubble about to pop – Many technology shares shrugged off the LinkedIn-Tableau setback and have rebounded in the last two weeks. As a group, they’re still in the red so far this year but aren’t doing much worse than the stock market overall, which has had a rough start. Tech stocks also are holding up better than some other battered sectors, such as financial and healthcare stocks. LA Times article

Labor and business groups in LA are united against one housing measure – and divided by another – The bruising political fight over housing construction in Los Angeles just got way more complicated. LA Times article 

CalPERS president’s vote allows him to run again — With the vote tied 6-to-6 last week, CalPERS President Rob Feckner cast the tie-breaker that rejected term limits for top pension board posts, allowing him to run again and exposing a structural split between members backed by unions and the governor. Calpensions article

Gary McDonald Homes installs home water recycling system — A Fresno homebuilder and a San Diego manufacturer are introducing a home water catchment and recycling system that takes do-it-yourself gray water irrigation projects to the next level. Fresno Bee article 

Don Curlee: Beer depends heavily on ag — Depending on your heritage, you might or might not have a full appreciation of beer. But no denying it — beer emanates almost entirely from a recipe of agricultural crops. Its growing popularity as a craft beverage, and growing acceptance as a food product worthy of exploration, study and education gives new hope to those who produce its ingredients as well as those who enjoy brewing and consuming it in its many new formulations. Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Body scanner helps Merced County jail catch smuggled contraband – The new scanner increases security for both inmates and jail staff members, said Capt. Greg Sullivan, commander of jail operations. Merced Sun-Star article 

Modesto police volunteers get lesson in being good witnesses – A meeting of Volunteers in Police Services got off to a tense start when two young men carried into the Modesto Police Department’s community room a heated exchange over a fender bender. Who does that? Two Police Explorers, that’s who, acting out the quarrel to test the VIPS’s powers of observation. It appeared real, and the men were ushered out of the room within a minute or so. Modesto Bee article

Relatives demand to know how 31-year-old man died in Sacramento jail – Family members of a young Sacramento man who died at Sacramento County Main Jail gathered Sunday and demanded to know what killed the former high school and college athlete. Sacramento Bee article

Why Orange County police departments have trouble recruiting Vietnamese American officers — Although Orange County has made an effort since then to hire more Vietnamese American officers over the years, many say officials need to do better. LA Times article


California’s four-year universities reach out to immigrant students with low-interest DREAM loans — Officials at California’s four-year public universities are reaching out to an estimated 10,000 undergraduate students who might qualify for a special loan aimed at reducing their tuition — a program that further distinguishes the state as a national trendsetter in providing services to immigrants who are in the country illegally. LA Times article

Will California use chronic absenteeism as a new metric of school success? – Now that the California Department of Education has announced it will for the first time collect chronic absenteeism data – an early indicator of students at risk of dropping out – advocates are pressing the State Board of Education to include that information in the accountability system it is creating under the new federal education law. EdSource article

Big blunder over recycling school lunch trays in San Francisco — Millions of plastic trays from San Francisco school lunchrooms were sent to a landfill rather than a recycling plant over the past few years, an environmental blunder that city, school district and trash company officials scrambled to fix after The Chronicle questioned the practice. San Francisco Chronicle article

Turlock teens among the best in fending off cyberattacks – Two ​crack ​teams ​from ​Turlock High School’s Navy JROTC​ will find out soon if they are going to the national competition for CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition​. ​ Modesto Bee article

Modesto student organizes fashion show to help local VFW post — Natalia Cipponeri is a 16-year-old junior at Modesto High School and enrolled in a college preparatory program that requires her to create a project that demonstrates perseverance, teamwork and problem solving. It also has to provide a service to the community. Modesto Bee article

President Obama’s sister coming to Sacramento State to teach peace — As President Barack Obama struggles to resolve conflicts around the world, his younger half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng focuses on teaching young people how to live peacefully in their own communities. She is coming to California State University, Sacramento, on Thursday to share her thoughts on building peace from the ground up. Sacramento Bee article


The Aliso Canyon gas leak has been plugged.  Now what? — Now that the utility has plugged the leak that began Oct. 23, fouling the air with natural gas and methane, attention has turned to the future of the gas storage field, which is the largest in California and ranks fifth nationwide. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Vaccine has sharply reduced HPV in teenage girls, study says — A vaccine introduced a decade ago to combat the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer has already reduced the virus’s prevalence in teenage girls by almost two-thirds, federal researchers said Monday. New York Times article


Sacramento Bee: High-speed rail detour is smart, if tricky politically – Many questions remain, particularly about funding. But if the laws of politics can get on a parallel track with the laws of engineering, then this newly prioritized line will mean great things for all of the Central Valley, and maybe, someday, all of the state. Sacramento Bee editorial

First public meeting set for Merced rail future – The first public meeting related to high-speed rail planning in Merced is scheduled Wednesday, and planners are asking the public to come and share their thoughts on a project expected to have major implications in town. Merced Sun-Star article 

Ask TBC: When will the Hoskins interchange be finished? – There are still a number of work items that need to be completed on the State Route 99/Hosking Avenue Interchange project. We anticipate opening this project in mid-March, barring significant rain events. Bakersfield Californian article

More damage found to concrete wall in Bay Bridge tunnel — Corrosion in the Bay Bridge’s Yerba Buena Island tunnel that caused a concrete chunk to break loose last month, narrowly missing a motorist, is more widespread than Caltrans first believed, The Chronicle has learned. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Tulare County Judge Darryl Ferguson to retire — The Tulare County Superior Court judge who helped develop the county’s Veterans Court to help veterans with post-traumatic stress and other combat-related problems will retire from the bench on April 2. Presiding Judge Gary Paden said he received a letter from Judge Darryl Ferguson’s doctor informing him of his patient’s intent to retire. Visalia Times-Delta article

Modesto’s two acting deputy city managers made permanent — Modesto’s two acting deputy city managers have been given the permanent jobs. Joe Lopez and Brent Sinclair had been serving as acting deputy city managers since February 2015. City spokeswoman Amy Vickery said Friday that they now have the permanent jobs. Their salaries will stay the same, with each earning $168,251 annually. Modesto Bee article

Damning study finds a ‘whitewashed’ Hollywood – In one of the most exhaustive and damning reports on diversity in Hollywood, a new study finds that the films and television produced by major media companies are “whitewashed,” and that an “epidemic of invisibility” runs top to bottom through the industry for women, minorities and LGBT people. AP article

Special Girl Scout troop take cookie selling skills to public — Olivia made her first sale on Sunday, and the sparkle in her eyes said it all. It was a big deal. The 4-year-old is the youngest member of Girl Scout Troop 122, formed in November for girls who attend Walton Special Center in the Stockton Unified School District. The troop of 11 between ages 4 and 12 is comprised of nine special needs girls and two typical girls who serve as mentors. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee – Many questions remain (about high-speed rail), particularly about funding. But if the laws of politics can get on a parallel track with the laws of engineering, then this newly prioritized line will mean great things for all of the Central Valley, and maybe, someday, all of the state.

Maddy Events 

Sunday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “Mission Possible: Making Government More Customer Friendly”  Guest: Little Hoover Commission Executive Director Carole D’Elia. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “The Multi-Million Dollar Question: Can We Make State and Local Government More Efficient and Effective?” – Guests: Rebecca Moore of Kern LAFCO, David Fey of Fresno LACFO, Sara Lytle-Pinhey of Stanislaus LAFCO, and William Nicholson of Merced LAFCO. 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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