February 26, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Obama to press ahead on deportation relief as Congress tries to avoid Homeland Security shutdown — Senate leaders moved toward a deal Wednesday to avoid a shutdown of the Homeland Security Department, sidestepping a fight over immigration policy, as President Obama declared his administration would curtail deportations of immigrants in the country illegally despite losing a court fight on the issue this month.  LA Times article

Republicans line up to replace Assemblywoman Olsen — Modesto City Schools board member Cindy Marks, former San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel and Modesto Councilman Bill Zoslocki say they have started campaigning to succeed Kristin Olsen to represent the 12th Assembly District, which covers eastern Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties and Turlock, Manteca and part of Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown lacks transportation solutions – Everyone is waiting on a plan from Gov. Jerry Brown to fix California’s deteriorating highways, Dan says.   Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Plastic bag law:  Where did the referendum signatures come from? — More than a quarter of the nearly 599,000 signatures deemed valid came from Los Angeles County and 10 percent came from San Diego County. A combined 6.4 percent of the total came from the four-county Sacramento area.  Sacramento Bee article

Kamala Harris ‘the prohibitive favorite’ for Senate, which has drawbacks – Uncertainties abound as Harris trudges toward the June 2016 primary and, should she finish first or second, the runoff that November. Potential rivals have more than a year to declare their candidacies.  LA Times article

Latino leaders scramble to find another Senate candidate without Villaraigosa – A day after Antonio Villaraigosa said he would not run for the U.S. Senate in 2016, Latino legislators were scrambling Wednesday to find another candidate who might represent their interests in the contest.  LA Times article

Rep. Adam Schiff sees opening for Southern Californian in Senate race — Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) said that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s decision not to run for the U.S. Senate “means that there is a profound opportunity for a strong Southern California candidate” and signaled he is open to being that person.  LA Times article

Other areas

Parents lobby California Legislature from both sides of vaccine debate – A bill to require vaccinations for more California kids has not even been scheduled for a committee hearing, but advocates on both sides of the issue were lobbying lawmakers in the Capitol on Wednesday – carrying petitions, hoisting signs and dragging along small children.  Sacramento Bee article; KQED report

Assembly Democrats want real estate fees, tax credits for affordable housing – The leader of the state Assembly is unveiling an ambitious affordable housing proposal, one that could pump more than $600 million a year into development at the local level.  KQED report; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

California lawmakers want to exempt diapers from sales tax – Some of California’s most liberal and conservative lawmakers are joining forces to make diapers duty free. Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego announced Wednesday a bill that would exempt diapers from the state’s sales tax. Gonzalez says the move could save California families up to $100 per child a year.  AP article


California privacy package casts wide net – From televisions to body cameras to encrypted personal data, a package of bills announced on Wednesday underscored the California Legislature’s attention to privacy.  Capitol Alert

GMO-labeling advocates still hope for a bill in California – A proposal to label genetically-engineered foods sold in California has failed twice in recent years as biotech companies and the manufacturers of packaged foods mounted costly opposition campaigns. Voters rejected the idea at the ballot box in 2012, and legislators turned down a similar bill two years later. But ever-optimistic advocates who want labels on foods containing genetically-modified ingredients are still working at it. They sent out an email Tuesday pleading with supporters to help find a lawmaker to carry their bill.  Sacramento Bee article

Bid to move LA elections faces growing opposition from candidates — The campaign to combine Los Angeles’ elections with state and federal contests has been hailed by backers as a way to lift the city’s dismal turnout, which in the last mayoral race was 23%. But more than a dozen candidates for City Council now say that they oppose the idea, claiming it could make races more expensive and give a leg up to incumbents and others backed by special interests.  LA Times article

Campaign to shift date of LA elections wrongly claimed mayor’s backing – A leader of a campaign to shift Los Angeles city elections to align with state and federal contests acknowledged Wednesday that the campaign erroneously claimed it had the backing of Mayor Eric Garcetti in videos championing the measures.  LA Times article

Obamacare defense is tailored for key Supreme Court justices – With President Obama’s healthcare law once again facing possible unraveling at the hands of the Supreme Court, the administration and its allies have developed a novel argument tailor-made to appeal to conservative justices: states’ rights.  LA Times article

Democrats unswayed by Obama plan to use force against Islamic State — The biggest question surrounding President Obama’s request for Congress to authorize military force against Islamic State is how far his party will back him in the fight.  LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Field Poll: More Californians want mandatory water rationing — Amid stubborn drought conditions, more Californians are warming to the prospect of government-imposed mandatory water rationing, but a majority still favor the state’s current approach of urging residents to voluntarily curtail their water use.  Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Stockton officials return to court as city emerges from Chapter 9 — Shortly before court was gaveled into session Wednesday morning, City Manager Kurt Wilson checked emails on his cellphone and said Stockton was continuing on track for its exit from Chapter 9 bankruptcy. As expected, the city exited fiscal ignominy Wednesday with one more session in federal bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein’s courtroom in Sacramento.  Stockton Record article; Capital Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy

State officials send warnings on eve of Fresno’s big water vote – Two powerful state agencies have sent letters reminding Fresno City Hall that the stakes are high in Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposed water project.  Fresno Bee article

Martin McIntyre: Recharge Fresno is right for our community – The general manager of the San Luis Water District writes, “The appropriate utility rate is the rate that can provide a community with a safe, sustainable water supply system. We don’t have that. We need to get to it. Do not be misled by the disinformation of those who seek political gain from this most critical debate.”  McIntyre op-ed in Fresno Bee

Esmeralda Soria: Why I oppose the mayor’s water plan – The Fresno City Council member writes, “I am committed to making smart decisions for our future. Nothing is more critical than a reliable clean-water supply. But after examining this issue carefully, I have concluded that this proposal has too many uncertainties and is too high priced to earn my support at this time.” Soria op-ed in Fresno Bee

City of Fresno: Link to read our response to Doug Vagim – Officials from the city of Fresno’s Department of Public Utilities have released a comprehensive response to an opinion piece written by Measure W proponent and local politician Doug Vagim that was published in Wednesday’s Fresno Bee. The city maintains that his article is filled with inaccuracies, falsehoods, ill-informed theories and unfounded accusations and has provided evidence to refute his claims.  City of Fresno response in Fresno Bee

Central Valley forum educates on ADA law, gives hope to business owners A town hall meeting on Wednesday gave business owners the tools and information to defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits based on minor violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Joaquin County supervisors move to meet unfunded pension liability costs – With projections showing the fund providing retirement benefits for thousands of county employees about $1.3 billion shy of being able to pay for the long-term cost of providing pensions, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors agreed to start a fund devoted to reining in that unfunded liability.  Stockton Record article

Business leaders speak about business skills, opportunities – Accomplished businessmen had advice for nearly 1,000 people gathered Wednesday in Modesto: Don’t fear failure. Hang out with savvy people. And look how low interest rates have dropped.  Modesto Bee article

Merced County agency receives $950,000 grant to help laid-off workers – The Merced County Department of Workforce Investment, or Worknet, received a $950,000 grant this month from the state Employment Development Department to help laid-off employees find other opportunities.  Merced Sun-Star article

Companies spend $1 billion in California’s latest carbon auction – Companies spent more than $1 billion in California’s latest sale of carbon emissions credits, making it the largest auction since the controversial “cap and trade” program began in late 2012. The reason: The program was expanded effective Jan. 1 to cover transportation fuels, and the state expanded the pool of available credits to accommodate the larger demand.  Sacramento Bee article

Downtown Hanford regulations at crossroads – As development interests begin to pick up steam, city officials and downtown business owners find themselves at the same crossroads they stood at more than 20 years ago.  Hanford Sentinel article

Monthly real estate numbers – The Fresno Bee takes a look at monthly real estate numbers in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties.  Fresno Bee article

Report: Distressed home sales continue year-over-year drop – While the state average of distressed home sales increased in the month of January, figures for the Central Valley continued to fluctuate, according to the California Association of Realtors. The Business Journal article

Joel Fox: Prop 13 a player in NFL stadium game — A major component in the fight to keep professional football in Oakland and San Diego or move a team to Los Angeles is taxes – will taxes be necessary to build a stadium? Team owners want a public subsidy to help build a stadium in Oakland and San Diego but two new proposals for stadiums in the Los Angeles area are not tied to any tax proposals.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Stadium economics: How building a venue in Inglewood makes financial sense — It’s not every day that a real estate developer considers walking away from $400 million in tax money. But for St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, it just might make sense. Moving his team to his 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood will boost the Rams’ profits and greatly increase the value of the franchise, sports economists say. And there is even more money to be made in the massive real estate development around it.  LA Times article

Food waste is becoming serious economic and environmental issue – With millions of U.S. households struggling to have enough to eat, and millions of tons of food being tossed in the garbage, food waste is increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue.  New York Times article

Sprouts Farmers Market grand opening draws shoppers, protestors — The 25,000-square-foot Bakersfield store is its 21st in southern California. It’s located at 10650 Stockdale Highway. Sprouts spokeswoman Donna Egan said a lot of local consumers are familiar with the brand from other areas “because California is our largest market. But we’re looking forward to educating Bakersfield residents about our healthy living for less.” The opening also drew protestors. Bakersfield Californian article

LA County fire officials long ignored warnings that hiring was rigged — For years, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials ignored evidence of the sort of nepotism and cheating now fueling a widening scandal over the agency’s hiring and promotion practices, according to records and interviews.  LA Times article

Supreme Court restricts state license schemes that limit competition — The Supreme Court on Tuesday cut back on the power of state licensing boards to restrict competitors from offering low-cost services, a victory for consumers that could prove significant in industries as disparate as taxicabs, funerals and cosmetology.  LA Times article

Nonprofit agencies make pitch for piece of city budget windfall — The extra $21.6 million Mayor Ed Lee recently said the city would have at the end of the budget year on June 30 won’t last nearly that long if theBoard of Supervisors has anything to say about it.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Stricter water restrictions could be in Merced’s future – Water conservation efforts in Merced have had some success as the city tries to reach the 20 percent reduction goal, and now leaders are bracing for what is predicted to be another dry year. Merced Sun-Star article

Rain and cold could impact almonds — Many local residents were glad to see the rain on Sunday and Monday, including almond growers — well, maybe. The rain and the cold are welcome amid drought, but the precipitation knocked blossoms off trees early, raising doubts about how well the short-lived pollination season will take hold to produce a full yield in the fall.  Hanford Sentinel article

Oakdale Irrigation District water exports up in the air – Drought and a legal threat have combined to stall the Oakdale Irrigation District’s controversial idea of selling water to out-of-county buyers. Modesto Bee article

Giant waterslide cancels Sacramento stop, cites drought – The Utah company planning to crisscross the country with a massive inflatable waterslide has canceled its California dates – including a planned June 14 Sacramento stop – citing water use concerns.  Sacramento Bee article

Cemex, Lemon Cove neighbors with dry wells continue settlement talks — The Tulare County Planning Commission on Tuesday put off until April 5 a continued public hearing about complaints that wells are going dry at homes next to the Cemex Stillwell gravel mine in Lemon Cove. Lawyers for both Cemex and the mine neighbors told commissioners they are still in negotiations to reach a settlement and asked for another 30 days to meet before reporting to the commission.  Fresno Bee article

Waterwise: Reported well failures decrease around Tulare County — The weekly Tulare County Office of Emergency Services update, which provides information about the drought and its effects locally, had good news this week. For the weekly period ending Monday, county officials saw a decrease in the number of private wells failures. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Joaquin County retargets farm-related crime — San Joaquin County’s agricultural crimes task force, nearly eliminated by recession-era budget cuts, has been brought back to full staffing and assigned to work more closely with farmers, ranchers and other rural residents.  Stockton Record article

A bee heist? $52,000 in bees stolen in Fresno County — Last week, thieves stole $32,000 worth of bees and their hives from a ranch near Coalinga and $20,000 worth near Firebaugh, according to Fresno County Sheriff Spokesman Tony Botti.  KVPR report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

George Skelton: Movement builds to correct major flaw in Prop 47 – Here’s the big flaw: It is resulting in far fewer DNA samples being taken from suspects. And that is making it much harder — sometimes impossible — to solve old violent crimes such as murder and rape.  Skelton column in LA Times

Prop 47: LA County report details profound effect on justice system — Proposition 47 is having a profound effect on Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system, from the jails to mental health treatment to workloads for prosecutors and public defenders, according to a draft report by the county’s chief executive.  LA Times article

Marshall Plan released by Stockton — Jessica Glynn said Wednesday she was fired Feb. 13 without warning from her job as manager of Stockton’s newly established Office of Violence Prevention by City Manager Kurt Wilson.  Stockton Record article


Labor activists cancel faculty unionization vote at CalArts – Labor activists have halted efforts, for now, to unionize the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts, a move that reflects deep divisions at the Valencia campus and slows what had been a burgeoning trend to organize college professors in California and nationwide.  LA Times article

Starting early on college and career – Efforts to prepare students for college and careers are taking hold earlier and earlier, expanding beyond high school so that even students in primary grades are participating in university tours and job exploration events.  EdSource article

Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko set to outline wrestling’s return, other department initiatives – Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko on Thursday will outline a five-point plan for the future of the Bulldogs’ athletic department, which will include the steps required and a loose timeline for the return of a wrestling program that was cut in 2006.  Fresno Bee article

Stockton Unified teacher negotiations headed to fact-finding – Negotiations between the Stockton Unified School District and its teachers union are heading into fact-finding and could lead to a strike after mediation efforts failed to resolve a long-standing impasse, district and Stockton Teachers Association officials say.  Stockton Record article

Fresno Unified replaces principal at troubled Fort Miller – It didn’t take long for Fresno Unified officials to make switch-ups at the embattled Fort Miller Middle — the school will have a new principal by next week, following Fresno Unified school board approval Wednesday to appoint Hamilton K-8’s principal Mike Jones to the post.  Fresno Bee article

The Grade: Discipline program praised, criticized – IS GREENFIELD’S PBIS WORKING? Six teenagers, laughing and talking (but mostly laughing), stood along the outskirts of an enclosed field Wednesday at Greenfield Middle School. The campus on Pacheco Road is one of four schools — Planz, Palla and Granite Pointe elementary schools and Greenfield Middle — the Greenfield Union School District welcomed visitors to tour for the district’s first PBIS Summit.  Bakersfield Californian article

Joshua Pechthalt: Poor students need more help – not standardized tests – The president of the California Federation of Teachers writes, “Fortunately, Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that income inequality is a national problem. Let’s use that consensus view to truly help the growing number of poor children by reauthorizing the act while freeing our schools from the high-stakes testing mania that has squeezed out much of the joy and creativity of our public schools.”  Pechthalt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

UC Merced Connect: Campus to open for Research Week – Campus and community members are invited to learn more about UC Merced research – including work on sustainability, psychology and antibiotic resistance – during the university’s eighth annual Research Week, presented by the Office of Research and Economic Development.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Milt Younger: Bakersfield College influence is being felt around the world – The Bakersfield attorney writes, “It was 1997 and a young man from Mali in West Africa had arrived at Bakersfield College to begin his political science studies. A friend convinced him that it would be less expensive to attend a community college in Bakersfield than in Los Angeles, where he planned to enroll. Abdallah Ben-Hamallah’s decision to attend BC would forever affect him and his professors. It would lead to a movement that now stretches across continents, bringing help and hope to impoverished communities.”  Younger op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

San Francisco archbishop stands firm in face of pressure on morality clauses – San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is holding firm in the face of controversy that has erupted since he unveiled new morality clauses earlier this month for employees at high schools under his control.  LA Times article


Fresno Bee: Valley cities should ban single-use plastic bags – Not a single Valley city or county has banned plastic bags — and we see the ugly results every day.  Fresno Bee editorial

Berkeley experts’ study strengthens human link to global warming — Scientists training their instruments on the skies have caught the world’s major greenhouse gas right in the act of warming the planet, researchers reported Wednesday, reinforcing findings by climate experts that human activity is dangerously altering the environment.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Tulare County, Sierra Club settle lawsuit — A lawsuit filed nearly two-and-a-half years ago by members of a South Valley Sierra Club has been settled, with the county making 11 concessions intended to make its 2030 General Plan Update more environmentally friendly.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Stockton Record: Time to eradicate gnarly water weed — While it’s not realistic to expect everything to be taken care of this year, it’s time to start putting this gnarly weed in our collective wake. Stockton Record editorial

Health/Human Services

Valley patients win in expansion of medical residency programs – As the second open enrollment period for health insurance comes to a close, the number of Central Valley residents with medical coverage continues to increase, stressing local hospitals and rural health care clinics. The region already faces a chronic shortage of trained physicians and the newly insured have prompted health care groups to expand and create new medical residency programs.  The Business Journal article

Device manufacturer is being sued: Corcoran woman’s family alleges death part of UCLA ‘superbug’ outbreak – The family of Antonia Torres Cerda hoped the liver transplant she received in October would let her return home and resume her life as a mother of four and wife of a hard-working husband. Instead, it cost her life.  Fresno Bee article

Ultrafine particles linked to California heart disease deaths, study finds – A new study by California scientists has linked chronic exposure to microscopic air pollutants in vehicle exhaust to deaths from heart disease. The finding bolsters evidence that ultrafine particles, which are not regulated by state or federal environmental agencies, are a key contributor to health problems among people living near traffic.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

West Nile virus alert: Mosquitoes starting to buzz in central San Joaquin Valley — Spring is still three weeks away, but mosquitoes could be buzzing soon if warm weather heats up neglected swimming pools that are backyard hatcheries for the pests. Mosquito-control officials in the central San Joaquin Valley already are busy fielding complaints.  Fresno Bee article;Stockton Record article

Dr. Liza Pham, Dr. Theresa Ng, Sheila Hernandez, and Alex Abarca: Healthcare providers placing patient care, quality first at Golden Valley Health Centers – The Golden Valley Health Centers employees write, “Health care providers at Golden Valley Health Centers work tirelessly to serve the underserved in the Central Valley – that is our mission and passion. On average, we are required to see 24 patients per day, but we are scheduled to see from 35 to 40 patients per day.” Pham, Ng, Hernandez, Abarca op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Land Use/Housing

New Fresno social media campaign calls for ‘no more slumlords’ — A group of Fresno volunteers is targeting young people with a new social media campaign to improve the living standards of low-income properties around the city.  Fresno Bee article


RT’s historic moment: Can it improve service? — Sacramento Regional Transit may be on the cusp of a historic moment if the agency can turn recent business-community criticisms into bus and light-rail improvements, board member Phil Serna said Wednesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

‘First Look’: Lois Henry back at it again with recent fireworks votes — Californian columnist Lois Henry’s discussion about fireworks Wednesday on “First Look with Scott Cox” was as explosive as a firework itself. She didn’t hold anything back as she described the Kern County Supervisor’s decision Tuesday to continue allowing Piccolos and ground flowers to be sold in unincorporated areas of Kern.  Bakersfield Californian article

Carnegie Arts Center reports on 2014 – The Carnegie Arts Center has released its annual report for 2014 – a year that featured some world-renowned artists, field trips for nearly 3,000 local schoolkids and one unforgettable rock concert.  Modesto Bee article

California was warned of computer system’s troubles – Before the panicked phone calls and the embarrassing state audit, Ganesh Kumar knew the BrEze computer program would flop. Sacramento Bee article

Condors team name remains the same – There was a thunderous ovation on Wednesday night at Rabobank Arena when the announcement was made: the Condors will be soaring next season when Bakersfield becomes part of the American Hockey League.  Bakersfield Californian article

Protestor arrested on Sacramento’s Capitol Mall charged with ‘lynching’ — The arrest of a young woman involved in protests near the state Capitol last month has sparked further demonstrations and criticism by Mayor Kevin Johnson over the term used to describe the charges the woman is facing.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Not a single Valley city or county has banned plastic bags — and we see the ugly results every day.

Merced Sun-Star – If Congress were a kid, it would have been sent to bed without dinner long ago for playing a dangerous game of chicken with public safety. The Department of Homeland Security is not a toy.

Modesto Bee – If Congress were a kid, it would have been sent to bed without dinner long ago for playing a dangerous game of chicken with public safety. The Department of Homeland Security is not a toy.

Sacramento Bee – If Congress were a kid, it would have been sent to bed without dinner long ago for playing a dangerous game of chicken with public safety. The Department of Homeland Security is not a toy; The Kings and the City of Sacramento can’t neglect Natomas.

Stockton Record – While it’s not realistic to expect everything to be taken care of this year, it’s time to start putting this gnarly weed in our collective wake.