February 27, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Gov. Brown wins temporary court victory in fight over November ballot measure — The California Supreme Court on Friday evening allowed Gov. Jerry Brownand his political allies to begin gathering voter signatures for a November ballot measure to revamp prison parole policy, a temporary victory until the justices determine whether state officials properly followed election laws. LA Times articleSacramento Bee articleAP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Money, elected office help candidates in open seats — Last month, Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian said she wouldn’t seek re-election to her District 5 seat this year. Her announcement came less than five months before the June primary election. Given that short time, no one was better prepared to step into the race than Nathan Magsig. He is a sitting Clovis councilman and current mayor. More importantly, he had $130,000 sitting in his Clovis campaign account that he immediately transferred to a newly opened supervisor account. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown 

Joe Mathews: Brown gets a taste of his own extortion — In the days ahead, you may hear Gov. Jerry Brown or his fellow Democrats (or even anti-tax groups on the right) accuse Assembly Republicans of extortion. If you do, you can ignore the charge – and savor the irony. The Republicans are toying a familiar extortion tool for which Brown bears special responsibility. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Jerry Brown lets drunk driver out of prison, bans him from driving — Gov. Jerry Brown let stand about 86 percent of convicted killers’ parole releases in 2015, using his power to reverse decisions of the state parole board slightly less frequently than in previous years. Brown also modified one parole grant – letting out a repeat drunken driver involved in a fatal collision, but prohibiting him from drinking or driving a car, according to a report released Friday. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Harris vs. Sanchez Senate race tops weekend Democratic gathering – Forget about Hillary vs. Bernie or Trump vs. Everyone Else. The top billing at this weekend’s California Democratic Party Convention in San Jose is Kamala vs. Loretta. Harris vs. Sanchez, that is. KQED report

Foon Rhee: The Numbers Crunch: More the merrier for California’s minor political parties – The big takeaways from the latest California voter registration numbers are the continuing decline of the Republican Party (down below 28 percent) and the rise of voters unaffiliated with any party (up to 24 percent). But as a political junkie, I was also intrigued by the slight uptick in voters who claim membership in minor parties. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Pot legalization concerns local law enforcement — California voters may get a chance this year to consider legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana use. Local law enforcement officials say legalization would create a host of new problems. Hanford Sentinel article

California Politics Podcast: Brown’s campaign crisis — This week’s episode finds us wondering whether Gov. Jerry Brown will fail to get his prison parole initiative on the ballot, and what to make of new data on the trend towards political party detachment in California. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

It’s a boy! Gavin Newsom and wife welcome fourth child – As California Democrats converged in San Jose for their annual convention Friday, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom offered this unimpeachable reason for his absence: His child’s birth. Sacramento Bee articleAP article


Apple shareholders applaud Apple and Tim Cook in FBI fight — Apple shareholders gave Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, a standing ovation Friday during the company’s annual shareholder meeting and appeared to support the company in its running battle with the FBI. San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Modesto Bee: The Valley will feel better when medical reform passes – Filling an anticipated billion-dollar hole in California’s health care funding was so important that Gov. Jerry Brown put it right up there with fixing California’s roads last year, calling a special legislative session. While we’ve still got plenty of potholes, we could be well on our way to filling that health care funding void. Even better, our legislators are on the cusp of simultaneously improving our health care system. Modesto Bee editorial 

Expelled for sexting? California bill sets discipline for sexy texts — California high school students might have to think twice before they snap and send. Concerned by a practice he’s said is becoming more prevalent in schools, a state lawmaker is carrying a bill that would let schools suspend or expel kids for so-called sexting – sharing explicit pictures and recordings via electronic message. Sacramento Bee article

As speakership ends, Toni Atkins reflects: ‘This has been an incredible role’ – After nearly two years, Toni Atkins’ tenure as Assembly Speaker is winding to a close. The San Diego Democrat — who will be termed out of the Assembly this November and is running for a state Senate seat — will hand over the reins to incoming Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) on March 7. Atkins sat down with The Times for an exit interview to discuss the highs and lows of the leadership post. LA Times article

 Cathleen Decker: Desperate towel-snapping as GOP candidates try to take down Trump – Desperation spoke, and loudly, at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. Acting as if they had just discovered reams of opposition research that had lain unnoticed, Donald Trump’s biggest challengers, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, knocked into the New York billionaire repeatedly, and he responded in kind. Decker in LA Times

Danielle E. Shapazian: ‘Perplexing’ best describes 2016 presidential race – The Fresno nurse and writer writes, “As I watch the presidential wannabes jockey for position, I assess their potential with the same eye I use when hiring a new employee. I listen intently, but with a skeptical ear. Anyone can make bold promises. Show me what you’ve already accomplished. Model your integrity and show me your smarts. If you bring forth all these things – as well as a confidence tempered by humility – you will get my vote.” Shapazian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Lawsuits against Trump University claim students paid thousands for nothing – Donald Trump’s bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and three lawsuits over his defunct Trump University are on a collision course. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Dry February drops snowpack below normal, drought pushing toward fifth year — An extremely dry February has lowered the Sierra Nevada snowpack to below average levels, dashing hopes for an end to a drought that has gripped California for the last four years. Fresno Bee article

Nearly 1 in 4 Cal State students are going hungry, report says – A year-long study released by the California State University on Friday finds that 24 percent of the system’s 460,000 students could be going hungry. The report also found that as many as 12 percent of students suffer “housing displacement” such as homelessness. KPCC report

Jobs and the Economy 

Merced County and Deputy Sheriff’s Association negotiations at a standstill – Negotiations between Merced County and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association have come to a standstill until March without any agreement on key issues, DSA officials said. Merced Sun-Star article

Fulton Mall building sold; Hotel Fresno project could break ground in ’17 – A 50,000-square-foot building on the Fulton Mall that was once home to the Roos Atkins clothing store has been sold. The Business Journal article

Office building or entertainment venue? Bakersfield council to consider options – Five acres of key city real estate near Mill Creek Linear Park that’s long been earmarked for entertainment venues, retail or restaurants is being eyed for a privately owned office building, the Bakersfield City Council will learn Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

First homeless summit convenes in Merced County – Merced County’s first homeless summit, what amounted to equal parts educational seminar, church service and pep rally, took place Friday in Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento officials receptive to Seattle homeless camp model – Councilmen Jay Schenirer, Eric Guerra and Jeff Harris expressed various levels of support for allowing dozens of homeless campers to live in a contained facility connected with social service and affordable housing providers. Two staffers with Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office took the tours, and a spokesman for the mayor said Johnson “has been supportive in the past and he’s open to exploring it again.” Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco homeless camp shrinks as deadline for sweep passes – The looming threat that San Francisco officials would forcibly remove a sprawling homeless encampment along Division Street had by Friday induced dozens of down-on-their-luck campers to clear out, but about 100 veterans of the tent city south of downtown were holding fort as night fell. San Francisco Chronicle article

‘Tiny houses’ for the homeless seen as health and safety problem – Popularized as part of a lifestyle-downsizing movement, the bare-bones structures appealed to supporters as a simple and safe alternative to people sleeping on the sidewalk. The sweeps ordinance, however, targeted tiny houses to be seized and discarded as “bulky items.” LA Times article

San Joaquin County looks to air cargo for lift – Air Transport is taking advantage of the airport’s cargo apron. The $6 million, 10-acre facility was built in 2004 and can accommodate up to four large air freighters, but had gone largely unused for nearly a decade. Happy to see that investment again generating area jobs and economic activity, San Joaquin County officials also hope to build on ATI’s example. Stockton Record article

Auto mall taking shape along 7th Standard – A new auto mall is beginning to take shape along 7th Standard Road with a series of real estate transactions pending or recently completed to accommodate at least three new dealerships. Bakersfield Californian article

As Bay Area economy booms, the rich get richer, study shows – While the Bay Area’s economy is booming, much of the wealth being created lands in the hands of the region’s richest residents, according to a recent report by the California Budget and Policy Center. San Francisco Chronicle article

Neil McCormick: State forcing communities to cover price tag on costly mandates – The CEO of the California Special Districts Association writes, “A little-known state commission has quietly begun shifting the responsibility of paying for state-mandated programs to local governments and their ratepayers, disregarding the will of the people. Last week the Sacramento Superior Court reluctantly upheld the new scheme.” McCormick op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Atwater talks tax, water, gangs – The latest town hall-style meeting introduced residents to a potential half-cent sales tax, among other topics this week. Merced Sun-Star article

Junior college agreements, police reports, public safety tax on agendas – Both Hanford and Lemoore’s city councils have full agendas for Tuesday and will tackle topics that range from joint land-use agreements to city manager reviews and annual police reports. Hanford Sentinel article

Patty Guerra: Looking like more clothing options ahead at Turlock’s Monte Vista Crossing – I have yet to reach the shopping center’s owners or leasing agents, but another commercial broker in the area offered some insight, courtesy of a flier advertising remaining spots. According to the flier, retailers Forever 21, Petco, rue21, Torrid and Rack Room Shoes are planning to open in the new phase, just south of where Dick’s Sporting Goods is now. Guerra in Modesto Bee

Court taking another look at higher fishing fees for nonresidents — The state will get another chance to defend its former practice of charging nonresidents two to three times as much as Californians for commercial fishing licenses. Sacramento Bee article

The Barn rises on West Sacramento waterfront — What’s that Dr. Seussian structure that suddenly popped up on the west bank of the Sacramento River? It’s called, simply, the Barn, and its arrival this spring is another result of West Sacramento’s ongoing effort to turn its waterfront into a bustling district for housing and entertainment. Sacramento is also working toward that goal – but at the moment most of the action is on the west side of the Tower Bridge. Sacramento Bee article


Farm Beat: Wine exports – much of them from Modesto area – reach new high – American wine flowed to foreign consumers at a record rate last year, an industry group reported this week. Meanwhile, that big winery based in Modesto has added another Italian product. Modesto Bee article

Police and prosecutors can try to keep their turf rebate details private, a judge says — After a seven-month legal battle, a judge cleared the way Thursday for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to release the names and addresses of Los Angeles residents who received turf replacement rebates. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Which California counties hand down the most death sentences? – Among large communities, Riverside County emerged as the outlier in the analysis, condemning murderers to death row at more than five times the statewide rate during the last 10 years. About 6 percent of murder arrests in Riverside County resulted in a sentence of death during that time. By comparison, about 1.1 percent of murder arrests statewide resulted in a sentence of death over that same period. Sacramento Bee article

Stockton officer involved in fourth shooting – A Stockton police officer who has been involved in a series of lethal and nonlethal shootings was involved in another fatal shooting earlier this week under a different name. Stockton Record article

Fresno gang member arrested in officer-involved shooting – Fresno police fired several rounds at a suspect they say was wielding a gun in southeast Fresno on Friday night. The suspect, Daniel Telles, 27, is “very familiar” to local law enforcement, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Fresno Bee article

Lt. Joe Gomez: ‘Face’ of Fresno police intimately knows city’s tough streets – When Lt. Joe Gomez, who serves as the media liaison for the Fresno Police Department, was at the scene of an armed standoff near downtown in 2015, he was asked by a reporter if he considered the area to be a dangerous neighborhood. Without pausing, Gomez pointed to a building about half a block nearer than the area under siege by a SWAT team and an armored vehicle. “I grew up in a house right there.” Fresno Bee article

Another step toward ending violence – The conversation has been going on for some time, but recently the effort to curb Stockton’s ever-present violence took on new urgency with the first meeting of the Community Engagement Coalition. Stockton Record article

‘Not One More’ exhibit takes on violence in community — A powerful exhibit entitled “Not One More” runs through the month of March at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. “Not One More,” sponsored in part by a grant from the Stockton Arts Commission, unites artists of all kinds sharing their perspectives on the prevalence of violence in our community and how to eliminate it. Stockton Record article

The federal government is fighting Apple for something the police want too — Police in California and other states have complained for many months that data encryption creates a major investigative hurdle in the hunt for killers, human traffickers, child pornographers and other offenders. Some fear criminals are intentionally using devices that run on newer operating systems because they know police can’t access them, despite having search warrants signed by judges. LA Times article

Appeals court: Stanislaus deputy deserves a retrial on damages – A state appeals court ruled in favor of Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace, meaning his disability case will return to Superior Court for consideration of damages. Modesto Bee article

Mike Boudreaux: Proud of our deputies, grateful for your support – Tulare County’s sheriff writes, “In my nearly 30 years with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, I have witnessed some ugly situations that law enforcement faces on a daily basis. Yet somehow, the men and women of our department are able to go home to their own families and not burden them with tales from their last shift.” Boudreaux op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta


Uncredentialed Lamont admin blames woes on cancelled classes, paperwork problems– Following more than three hours of closed session deliberations and a week of pressure mounting from frustrated community members, Lamont school board members put off making a decision Friday about the employment of the district’s assistant superintendent, who has held his job for years without proper credentials. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno State reclassified as doctoral university – From now on, Fresno State will be known as a doctoral university. The reclassification comes from the 2015 edition of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher rankings system. Visalia Times-Delta article

School districts receive more money for adult education classes – Hanford Joint Union High School and Corcoran Unified School districts are set to receive funding to expand their adult education programs. Funding for both districts is coming through the Sequoias Adult Education Consortium, an association compiled of adult education providers in school districts and College of the Sequoias to provide better educational services to adults in Kings and Tulare counties. Hanford Sentinel article

New sex ed program at Hanford Elementary – Hanford Elementary School District is rolling out its new sex education program for eighth-graders that focuses less on abstinence and delves more into prevention. Administrators say the program is age appropriate and meets state requirements. Hanford Sentinel article

Hacker broke into UC Berkeley system with info of 80,000 UC Berkeley students, workers, alumni — A hacker broke into a UC Berkeley system holding financial data of 80,000 students, alumni, employees and former employees, including Social Security and bank account numbers, officials said Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Nicole Hudecek: Student journalists report struggles of Fresno’s people – The editor of social media for Fresno Christian’s The Feather Online writes, “Journalists assume the role and responsibility of reporting the news. As student journalists, we may be limited in the world of events, but the spirit of The Feather sparks among the laptops in Room 624. We seek the truth, we seek the news and foster community.” Hudecek op-ed in Fresno Bee

Obama’s sister urges Sacramento State students to seek peace at home — Peace activist and professor Maya Soetoro-Ng addressed hundreds of students at Sacramento State on Friday morning, displaying an eloquence reminiscent of her older brother, President Barack Obama. Sacramento Bee article


No rest for recyclers – San Joaquin County officials have been recycling mattresses for about four years, and a new statewide program aims to disassemble even more so they don’t take up as much space in landfills and aren’t dumped along roadsides as often. Stockton Record article

Gas company appeals order giving Porter Ranch residents weeks to return home — Southern California Gas is appealing a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s decision to extend the period during which the utility will be required to pay for temporary housing for people displaced by the four-month gas leak at its Aliso Canyon storage facility.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Mental health project tries to reach young people — Teens and young adults dealing with depression or anxiety may need a different way to tap into mental health services than adults. In order to figure out exactly what they need and how to deliver it, a new recruitment effort is about to get underway. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Children’s recognized for preventing health-care associated infection — Valley Children’s Hospital officials said Friday the hospital has been ranked in the top 10 percent of hospitals in the country in preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Fresno Bee article


Looking for a fair way to share transportation funds – Two county transportation agencies that previously fought each other for funding stood before the San Joaquin Council of Governments Board of Directors on Thursday evening asking for an allocation solution from which everyone could benefit. Stockton Record article

Fresno airport partners with ridesharing service Lyft — Fresno Yosemite International Airport has entered into an agreement with ridesharing service Lyft to immediately provide pickup services for travelers, the city announced Friday. Lyft drivers will be able to pick up passengers at a designated curbside area between the front of the terminal and baggage claim. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal articleKVPR report

Other areas

Hanford Sentinel wins journalism awards — The Sentinel was recognized with two journalism awards Thursday night. Joseph Luiz won the top honors in public service for a series he did on special education in the annual George F. Gruner awards. Hanford Sentinel article

Herb Benham: Grilled by the grand jury — Last week I spoke to the Kern County Grand Jury. Willingly. Without being subpoenaed. I asked Loretta, the woman who had invited me, what I should talk about. Loretta said Sheriff Youngblood was their last speaker. He talked about his career, opened it up for a Q&A and the hour went by fast. Benham column in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – The full cost of the Yosemite shakedown.

Modesto Bee –– Filling an anticipated billion-dollar hole in California’s health care funding was so important that Gov. Jerry Brown put it right up there with fixing California’s roads last year, calling a special legislative session. While we’ve still got plenty of potholes, we could be well on our way to filling that health care funding void. Even better, our legislators are on the cusp of simultaneously improving our health care system; The full cost of the Yosemite shakedown.

Sacramento Bee – Sacramento needs a bike-share program, sooner rather than later.

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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