February 24, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Field Poll: Jerry Brown riding high, but not his big projects — Gov. Jerry Brown remains popular, according to a new poll. But not the big projects he supports, which appear to weigh him down. Although 56 percent of California voters approve of the job Brown is doing, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday, a majority fault him for favoring “too many big government projects that the state cannot afford right now.”  Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

GOP leader offers immigration vote to try to resolve impasse — Days from a Homeland Security Department shutdown, Senate Republicans sought a way out Monday by splitting President Barack Obama’s contested immigration measures from the agency’s funding bill.  AP article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republican David Dreier urged to run for U.S. Senate — Add his name to the list of Republicans possibly contemplating what would be an uphill run for the U.S. Senate. David Dreier, the former longtime congressman from San Dimas who chaired the House Rules Committee, is among those being approached about a potential campaign, a spokesman said Monday.  Sacramento Bee article

‘Draft Condi’ petition starts, but is it a ‘scam PAC’? — A conservative PAC is gathering petition signatures online to draft former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice into California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race.  Political Blotter



Judge’s ruling may free immigrant mothers and children from detention – Claudia Velasquez, a Honduran immigrant held with her 7-year-old daughter since October in a federal detention facility, looked at the judge Monday via a video hookup as he considered her request for bond.  LA Times article


Other areas

Bill would reveal what drive’s $1,000 pill’s price – The fight over the high cost of specialty prescription drugs is headed to the state Capitol as San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu will introduce a bill Monday to require companies to disclose what is driving up costs. At the center of the debate over prescription prices is the $1,000-per-pill drugs to treat Hepatitis C.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Online poker debate persists in California – There are now four bills pending in the Legislature that would make Internet poker legal in California.  It is an issue that has been debated, but unresolved, for years.  Capital Public Radio report

Dan Walters: Capitol veteran can’t move orphan bill – Amy King worked in the Legislature for 27 years, mostly on the staffs of lawmakers, helping them draft and manage bills. Despite that experience, however, King is frustrated by her failure – so far, anyway – to secure a minor, seemingly benign change in state law governing the handling of “human remains” in communities near California’s outer borders.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: They gave an election in LA and almost nobody came — It seems Los Angeles County is testing the old philosophical question: What if they gave an election and nobody came? The most populous county in the state had the lowest percentage turnout in last November’s election. While 42% of state voters turned out for the general election, Los Angeles County turnout was only 31%. The last mayoral city election in Los Angeles saw a turnout of a mere 23%.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Richard Weikart: Should we encourage life or death? – The history professor at CSU Stanislaus writes, “The California Legislature is considering Senate Bill 128 to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Perhaps some lawmakers see this as progressive, a way to promote humans rights and liberty. Is this the wave of the future? Or is it a descent into barbarism that undermines the value of human life?”  Weikart op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Upwardly mobile women eager to hear Hillary Clinton’s message – In her appearance before a Silicon Valley women’s conference Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is staking an early claim to voters who could be key to her 2016 presidential ambition: upwardly mobile professional women who might be called “Lean In” voters.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Debra Saunders: Clinton Inc. rolling into Silicon Valley — Tuesday Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women. The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state comes to the Bay Area at a time when I hear more people — on the left and the right — cringing at the prospect of Clinton heading the Democratic ticket next year — and worse, squaring off against Jeb Bush in a Bush-Clinton rerun.  Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Critics fear bullet train will bring urban sprawl to Central Valley – Gov. Jerry Brown says he has a powerful new weapon in the battle against such sprawl: The $68-billion California High-Speed Rail system. The bullet train, the governor believes, will help concentrate expected growth in existing population centers of the Central Valley, sparing farm fields. Whether the project can contain sprawl is uncertain at best, according to a number of land-use experts and Central Valley elected leaders. LA Times article

Fresno City Council members Olivier, Brand pitch proposal to safeguard ratepayer money — Two Fresno City Council members want better public review of expensive construction projects. It’s no coincidence that their concern comes on the eve of a proposed project of uncommon controversy.  Fresno Bee article

Caution urged over talk of CSU Stockton campus — Already beset by challenges, Stockton and San Joaquin County will face an even steeper climb in the decade to come if the region does not begin to develop more college-ready students and provide them with additional higher-education options. Joseph F. Sheley, the president of California State University, Stanislaus, made the remark Monday evening while speaking to about 100 educational and business leaders at the school’s satellite campus at University Park in Stockton.  Stockton Record article


Jobs and the Economy

Merced’s public safety need outpaces money to pay for it – If Monday’s City Council study session is any measurement, Merced has more public safety needs than it can address in the next fiscal year. The police and fire chiefs got their chance during the session to make an appeal to the council to add officers and firefighters. But between those appeals and the city’s other needs, the council has to figure out its priorities.  Merced Sun-Star article

Clearing cargo backlog at Southland ports may take three months – Southern California port officials say it could take up to three months to clear cargo that piled up during a labor dispute that threatened to cripple West Coast commerce.  LA Times article; AP article; Sacramento Bee article

Talk of oil prices leads to regulatory discussion – A Monday meeting promoted as a discussion of how low oil prices affect the local economy turned into a rallying cry against new and proposed oil regulations. There was some talk of why prices have fallen by half since June, and how that leads to layoffs and lower tax receipts for local government.  Bakersfield Californian article

Car dealers optimistic about coming year – U.S. auto sales grew 6 percent in 2014 to 16.5 million vehicles, the fifth straight year of gains following the Great Recession, and with the upward trend expected to continue this year, San Joaquin County auto dealers are optimistic about their prospects.  Stockton Record article 

LA County Fire Department cheating extended beyond hiring, audit finds – Los Angeles County auditors uncovered evidence that the type of cheating undermining the Fire Department’s hiring process extended to promotional exams and other testing requirements within the agency.  LA Times article

Oakland Raiders fans in Bay Area plead with team to stay –  As news of proposed plans by the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders to build a $1.7-billion stadium in Carson sunk in here, some Bay Area Raiders fans strenuously disagreed with the notion that the Southland would prove a more lucrative location.  LA Times article 

Inglewood stadium would boost city’s budget by up to $28 million a year –  The 80,000-seat football stadium and related office and retail development being proposed in Inglewood would boost that city’s budget by $18.7 to $28 million a year over the next 15 years, while creating manageable traffic and environmental impacts.  LA Times article

Business leaders to share insights at Modesto forum – Local business leaders Dan Costa and Mike Zagaris won’t try to explain conditions such as cheap gasoline prices or what’s driving the nation’s economic recovery. At a forum Wednesday, Costa, Zagaris and other speakers will discuss economic trends in the Central Valley and share their insights on business opportunities and ways to improve your personal net worth.  Modesto Bee article

Hugo Morales: CPUC can close Digital Divide – The founder and executive director of Radio Bilingue writes, “Simply put, if the CPUC commissioners show bold leadership, many parts of the San Joaquin Valley served by Comcast will finally have the tools to join the Digital Age.”  Morales op-ed in Fresno Bee

Two RadioShack stores in Merced County closing, layoffs coming – Less than a week after Carrows Restaurant in Merced went out of business and laid off nearly 25 employees, two RadioShack stores in Merced County also will shut their doors.  Merced Sun-Star article

Obama to propose tougher consumer rules to protect IRA investors President Obama on Monday proposed tougher regulations on investment brokers who handle retirement funds, saying new rules would limit hidden fees, “back-door payments” and conflicts of interest that eat into middle-class Americans’ savings.  LA Times article

A visit to Apple’s secret new headquarters — The world’s largest Apple product is taking shape in Cupertino. Apple is just one of several huge tech companies in the Bay Area building corporate campuses this year. But its project is perhaps the most secretive.  KQED report



Dan Walters Daily: How will California spend water bond? – Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature are deciding how the $7.5 billion water bond is spent, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Water thefts on the rise in drought-stricken California – As California’s drought drags on, officials are cracking down on thieves who wrench open fire hydrants and ignore or tamper with meters to access one of the state’s precious commodities — water.  AP article

Fresno Bee: Fresno’s water recharge plan deserves support – Residents should be applauding Mayor Swearengin and the five Fresno City Council members who have stated or signaled their support — Lee Brand, Oliver Baines, Steve Brandau, Paul Caprioglio and Clint Olivier — for their intelligence and political courage.  Fresno Bee editorial

Sacramento to speed up water meter installations – Sacramento utilities officials are proposing to speed up the years-long process of installing water meters in every home and business in the city.  Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial

California’s drought could mean another bad year for West Nile virus — Experts say the ongoing drought was largely to blame and predict another bad year in 2015.  Sacramento Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Merced court receives funding to fight recidivism — A grant of more than $500,000 has been awarded to the Merced County Superior Court to help reduce the number of repeat offenders coming through the criminal justice system by helping some receive mental health treatment.  Merced Sun-Star article

Former Fresno detective pleads guilty to taking bribe from drug dealer — A former Fresno police detective on Monday pleaded guilty to a federal charge of taking a $20,000 bribe from a suspected drug dealer.  Fresno Bee article

Poor children in Fresno would lose funds under House education proposal — Fresno Unified officials said Friday the district could lose $5 million to help educate the most disadvantaged children under a proposal approved by a House education committee.  Fresno Bee article 

Madera Unified superintendent appears to be on hot seat – The future of another central San Joaquin Valley superintendent has entered the crosshairs of a local school board. Madera Unified trustees on Tuesday will talk in closed session about removing or disciplining Superintendent Edward González, who was hired in summer 2013 and still has more than a year left on his contract. Fresno Bee article

Pamela Eibeck: Don’t forget about private colleges in higher education debate – The president of the University of the Pacific in Stockton writes, “As we continue to confront the challenges of a changing economy, we encourage decision-makers to think differently and act boldly. There is a path forward to enhance opportunities for all deserving California students, and the state’s independent colleges and universities are a fundamental part of it.” Eibeck op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Reporting error could cost Delta College funds – An error in attendance reports submitted to state officials is “very likely to have a fiscal impact” at San Joaquin Delta College, officials said Monday. The college would not elaborate on what that fiscal impact might be but did call a special meeting of its Board of Trustees on Thursday to discuss the matter.  Stockton Record article

City College of San Francisco’s trustees to be restored to power in July — City College of San Francisco’s elected Board of Trustees — sidelined for alleged incompetency since 2013 — will be restored to governing power in July, a year earlier than expected, if the trustees complete professional training, education officials said Monday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Lawmakers want probe of San Francisco archdiocese’s four high schools —
Two California lawmakers who called the San Francisco archbishop’s morality clauses discriminatory are asking for a probe of working conditions at four San Francisco Bay Area Catholic high schools.  AP article

Placer official says county could have the ‘automall’ of higher education — The regional demand for higher education is so great that a plan by a British university to build a 6,000-student campus west of Roseville is still viable even if Sacramento State makes good on its efforts to build its own Placer County satellite campus, project backers say.  Sacramento Bee article 

UC Berkeley studies international education campus in Richmond —  On the waterfront seven miles from UC Berkeley, the university owns what is now an isolated and somewhat ramshackle collection of storage facilities and labs. But Berkeley’s chancellor envisions it as a future showcase for international education.  LA Times article



Storm hit Valley with surprising punch – A storm system that initially wasn’t expected to pack much of a punch ended up surprising weather forecasters by soaking the South Valley Sunday and Monday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Tornado touches down in Kern County – The National Weather Service has confirmed the unusual phenomenon that occurred in Kern County Monday: It’s a twister, it’s a twister!  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno federal judge fines 3 execs $1.8 million for students’ asbestos exposure — Three former executives of the defunct nonprofit Firm Build have been ordered to pay $1.8 million to dozens of victims — many of them high school students at the time — who were exposed to asbestos at the former Castle Air Force Base in Atwater.  Merced Sun-Star article

Too much pressure in equipment triggered Torrance refinery explosion — Too much pressure in a piece of equipment at Torrance’s Exxon Mobil refinery resulted in Wednesday’s large explosion that sent irritating ash, filled with fiberglass and glass wool, into surrounding neighborhoods.  LA Times article


Health/Human Services

Health law drives down rate of uninsured adults, survey finds – America’s uninsured rate plummeted last year, with the improvement driven by states that have fully implemented the Affordable Care Act, a new nationwide Gallup survey indicates.  LA Times article 

FDA official casts doubt on new method to clean scopes linked to infections – A senior Food and Drug Administration official voiced reservations about the new method UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center is using to clean medical scopes linked to an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  LA Times article

UCLA superbug: Lawmaker asks Congress to investigate FDA response — Prompted by the UCLA superbug outbreak, a federal lawmaker is calling on Congress to investigate what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and device makers are doing to prevent further patient deaths and infections.  LA Times article 

Risk to public ‘very low’ in TB outbreak – San Joaquin County Public Health Services has been responding since 2011 to a tuberculosis disease outbreak centered in Lodi that affected 16 people in 2014. Over the course of the past three years, 21 individuals have been diagnosed with the airborne infection that impacts a person’s lungs. A statement from the health agency was quick to note that “the risk to the general public of getting TB from this outbreak is very low.”  Stockton Record article

Go Red for Women speaker warns women of heart attack risk – Margaret Patteson isn’t your typical heart attack victim. The baby boomer and mother of two is an avid runner and cyclist. She’s more fit than many people half her age, and president of the Bakersfield Track Club. But in March of last year, Patteson had a heart attack in a remote area while training for a cycling competition.  Bakersfield Californian article

Dual transplant recipient from Modesto gives birth to girl — When Ashley Brown’s kidneys failed her senior year in high school, she missed her class trip to Disneyland because she was on dialysis. As her name was being called at Modesto High School’s 2007 graduation ceremony, she was being wheeled into surgery for a dual kidney and liver transplant. Modesto Bee article

Early exposure to peanuts helps prevent allergies in kids – For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.  AP article 

UC Davis student hospitalized after being infected with a form of meningitis — A UC Davis student has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a contagious bacterial infection, university officials announced Monday. The student has been hospitalized and is doing well, said Constance Caldwell, health officer for Yolo County.  Sacramento Bee article

Sandy Banks:  Skid Row patients die as clinics lacks OK to dispense methadone — Voters passed Proposition 47 to lighten penalties for narcotics possession and spend the money saved on incarceration to help addicts get well. Many addicts are apparently not interested in treatment; they haven’t hit rock bottom. And those who are have discovered there aren’t enough options or slots. Our intentions were good, but our actions haven’t quite caught up. In some neighborhoods, that can be a matter of life and death.  Banks column in LA Times


Land Use/Housing 

Wesson Ranch secession plan plods ahead — The “Free Weston Ranch” movement first went public in November. Tonight, the movement’s leaders say, they will show they are not going away. Fritchen and Smith are predicting an organized turnout of as many as 200 fellow Weston Ranch secessionists for tonight’s City Council meeting, at 5:30 p.m. today at City Hall.  Stockton Record article



Bruce Maiman: One day, we’ll wonder what all the fuss about high-speed rail was about – Financially unsound, legally dubious, an aesthetic blight, an engineering hazard – opposition to high-speed rail? Nope. It’s what critics said about the Golden Gate Bridge throughout the decade before construction began in 1933.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee

San Joaquin County’s road maintenance bill: $1.25 billion over 10 years —  It might not seem like it to anybody driving past the heavy machinery and construction sites along the major freeways in San Joaquin County, but there’s a lot of concern about a shortage of money to pay for the roads and bridges that keep the county rolling.  Stockton Record article

San Francisco residents relying less on private automobiles – Travel surveys by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have shown that more than half of all trips — 54% in 2013 and 52% in 2012 — involved public transit, walking, bicycles and various car-share or ride-share operations such as Uber and Lyft.  LA Times article

Rods securing Bay Bridge tower show rust, cracking — California transportation officials said Friday that corrosion and cracking have been found on one of the steel anchor rods that secures the new suspension span tower for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to its foundation – reinforcing critics’ concerns about the structure’s vulnerability in a major earthquake.  Sacramento Bee article


Other Areas

Modesto to pay restaurant $100,000 in courthouse deal – Modesto will pay $100,000 to the owners of Gervasoni’s Restaurant to help them re-establish their business, which has to move to make way for a new downtown courthouse.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto considers adding second deputy city manager – Modesto could have two deputy city managers for the first time in more than a decade under a reorganization the City Council will consider Tuesday night. City Manager Jim Holgersson will ask council members to approve his plan, which includes other personnel changes and would cost the city $41,418 annually, according to a city report.  Modesto Bee article

City Hall move on Stockton council agenda – Few visible signs will be instantly evident at the precise moment when Stockton’s bankruptcy exit becomes effective sometime in the coming days or weeks. A rainbow will not magically appear in the sky. The streets will not suddenly be paved with gold. Money will not be falling off trees. But one thing citizens will notice is that Stockton will be moving into new digs.  Stockton Record article 

‘First Look’: Wendy Wayne awards recipients share humanitarian stories — A local activist and a student will be honored as Cal State Bakersfield’s 2015 recipients of the Wendy Wayne Awards on Thursday. The award is named for Wendy Wayne, who was a humanitarian activist and advocate for public health who died of cancer in 2012.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield’s mobile app expands, wins award — Nearly eight months after its debut, the city’s Bakersfield Mobile app, which lets smartphone users report problems from graffiti to potholes, has topped 1,500 incidents — an average of more than six per day — and has been expanded. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The City of Fresno’s water recharge plan deserves support.

Modesto Bee – From equal pay to ALS, Oscar co-star was politics.

Sacramento Bee – It is way past due, but the Sacramento City Council should seize the chance Tuesday night to put in water meters faster and cheaper – saving four years and $65 million; From equal pay to ALS, Oscar co-star was politics.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Sustained success for Delta coach, cheap shots from a campaign consultant, and other issues.