February 29, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

CD 21: Huerta blocks Parra, Democrat endorsement – Democratic in-fighting in the 21st Congressional District has ended in a tie as the party’s state convention wrapped up Sunday. Bakersfield attorney Emilio Huerta, appealing to the entire California Democratic Party on Sunday, succeeded in reversing an endorsement for his Democratic rival Daniel Parra of Fowler. Bakersfield Californian article

Dan Walters: Are California ballot measures contracts? — So you, a conscientious voter, read the language, the official summary, the economic analysis and the pro and con arguments before voting on a state ballot measure. You concluded that it would be good for the state and enough of your fellow voters agreed to pass the new law. Was it an inviolable contract between voters and the politicians and officials who will later implement its provisions? Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

State Sen. Andy Vidak: A despicable health care tax hike scheme – The Hanford Republican writes, “The right thing to do is vote for funding for the developmentally disabled, which I will do. The wrong thing to do is to vote for a tax hike that will increase health care costs for Valley families, which I won’t do.” Vidak op-ed in Fresno Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Cathleen Decker: A threat ahead: California Democrats losing the fight for young voters – Numbers-wise, the party’s heading for trouble. That’s not to suggest that Democrats are about to lose elections in California; they retain strength at the ballot box. But as those who built the party into supremacy in the 1990s age out, Democrats are having a hard time attracting newer voters, who are allying themselves with no party at all. They are choosing, if they register, to officially be nonpartisan. Decker in LA Times

Kamala Harris builds enthusiasm to win over Democratic Party activists – The Democrats campaigning in California’s U.S. Senate race came into the weekend with clear, albeit opposite, objectives. Sacramento Bee article

California Democrats battle over endorsements on convention floor — Fierce endorsement fights erupted Sunday on the floor of the state Democratic Party convention, with a former assemblywoman and the son of a labor legend blocking earlier endorsements.  Sacramento Bee article

California Dems raise prospect of Trump candidacy to rally party – There is no doubt Democrats see Trump as a human get-out-the-vote machine, especially for Latinos. Almost every speaker at the San Jose convention Saturday and Sunday, which included many of the state’s top elected Democrats and union leaders, mentioned Trump, usually in context with his hard line on immigration or his mantra calling for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. San Francisco Chronicle article

FBI vetting of Dave Jones unlikely for full-time job — When the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited Dave Jones’ neighbors last fall, telling one of them he was being considered for an unspecified federal position, the state insurance commissioner declined to say anything about what that position might be. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

California lawmakers weigh revamped health insurance tax — California lawmakers are expected to take action Monday on a tax package aimed at appeasing federal regulators and preventing a $1.1 billion funding hole in the state’s health insurance program for low-income Californians. AP article

Assembly panel to take up gun control measures – Guns are once again a hot topic in Sacramento. Tuesday the Assembly Public Safety Committee will consider four bills regulating guns. Among the measures is one by Democrat Marc Levine that would expand the state’s assault weapons ban to include firearms with a button that allows magazines to be easily detached. KQED report

California ponders whether prostitutes are criminals or victims – When the deadline to submit new legislation arrived Feb. 19, lawmakers had submitted at least 20 bills tackling the (human trafficking) issue. Some stiffen penalties on traffickers or purchasers; some seek to aid victims; some require posting public information or better training people to recognize the signs of trafficking. Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers focus on untested rape kits – California lawmakers are pushing law enforcement agencies to ensure rape kits are being processed and victims are being heard, with several bills introduced so far this year in the state Legislature. San Francisco Chronicle article

New progressive majority begins to make waves at San Francisco City Hall – Aaron Peskin’s election in November has given progressive supervisors a 6-5 majority, although one that could end with this November’s election, when six seats are up for grabs. So while they can, they’re pushing through controversial measures they previously lacked the votes to get passed, and in the process putting Mayor Ed Lee on the defensive. San Francisco Chronicle article

Meg Whitman blasts Chris Christie for Trump endorsement — Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive who helped Chris Christie raise money for his failed presidential campaign, blasted the New Jersey governor on Sunday for his endorsement of Donald Trump, calling it “an astonishing display of political opportunism.” Sacramento Bee article

5 KKK members released from jail after brawl in Anaheim — Five Ku Klux Klan members who were arrested at a violent melee in an Anaheim park were released from jail after a video showed they were acting in self-defense, police said Sunday. LA Times article; AP article

Pentagon chief to appeal to Silicon Valley for help with cybersecurity — Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will visit a crucial front this week in the war the Pentagon considers its greatest potential threat: cyberspace. Carter will visit a Pentagon outpost in the heart of Silicon Valley, speak at a cybersecurity conference in San Francisco and go to Microsoft and Amazon headquarters in Seattle to highlight the risks of cyberattacks and the need for greater digital cooperation with the Pentagon. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

It’s bye-bye to Yosemite National Park, at least on T-shirts – The trademark spat that is prompting the National Park Service to change the names of a handful of treasured sites at Yosemite, including the Ahwahnee Hotel and Curry Village, has taken a startling turn – to the park’s gift shops. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno Unified invests $500,000 in gunshot-tracking technology — Fresno Unified School District is investing $500,000 in gunshot-tracking technology, giving the Fresno Police Department a boost in its fight against gang-related crime. But the Fresno Teachers Association says that the money could have been used in other ways to improve student safety. Fresno Bee article
Jobs and the Economy

Modesto sees good trends for general fund – The Modesto City Council’s Effective Government Committee received good news last week about revenue sources trending higher than expected for the city’s $113.9 million general fund budget, but officials remain concerned about the budget’s largest funding source – sales tax revenue. Modesto Bee article

Judges win lawsuits as pension conflicts continue – A superior court judge has awarded judges back pay and a pension increase, ruling that a five-year freeze on their salary did not keep pace with average increases in state worker pay, a requirement under state law. Calpensions article 

Yahoo’s forgotten faithful; small business owners may jump ship – When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer presented her vision this month to turn around the troubled search industry pioneer, her plan didn’t mention the company’s small-business division. At all. San Francisco Chronicle article

Antonin Scalia’s pro-business rulings may be at risk – Justice Antonin Scalia’s California-centered Supreme Court decisions on consumer arbitration didn’t attract nearly the same attention as his 2008 ruling allowing Americans to own handguns. San Francisco Chronicle article

Holdouts remain at San Francisco homeless encampment despite order to leave — Scores of homeless holdouts on Sunday continued to defy San Francisco’s now-expired deadline to pack up their tents under the Central Freeway, following last week’s exodus of hundreds of their fellow campers. San Francisco Chronicle article


Sacramento Bee: Weak El Nino fails to fix California drought – We prayed for rain, and this little slacker El Niño gave us our answer. Now we just all have to dig deep and get back into the conservation mindset that sustained us last summer. Here’s hoping it turns out to be enough. Sacramento Bee editorial

Johnny Amaral: Lost water is wasted water – The deputy general manager of external affairs for the Westlands Water District writes, “Despite the much-needed rainfall and the snowpack – enough precipitation that some regions experienced flooding and property damage – since Jan. 5, 2016, more than 500,000 acre-feet of water has been allowed to escape capture and ‘waste’ to the ocean. This water was unused, and is now gone forever.” Amaral op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Foster Farms plans near organic feed mill in Traver — Making good on its promise to expand availability of organic chicken, Livingston-based Foster Farms has taken out a $15.8 million building permit to erect a new organic feed mill next to its conventional feed mill in Traver. Visalia Times-Delta article

Don Curlee: Farm language still universal — For the most part farmers speak a pretty common language, but many new-age consumers either can’t comprehend it or insist on replacing it with their own. Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta


Modesto City Schools board to vote Monday on teacher contract – Modesto City Schools trustees will vote Monday on a 2015-16 contract with their teachers union that, assuming members also pass the pact, will end the sides’ stormy dispute just in time to start work on next year’s bargaining. Teachers must also vote to accept the deal. Modesto Bee article

Fresno State leaders speak at churches for CSU Super Sunday – Fresno State officials spoke at several local churches Sunday in the culmination of the three-week CSU Super Sunday campaign focusing on college achievement for African-American students. Fresno Bee article

Groups want early ed block grant pulled from this year’s state budget — As the deadline for the May Revision of the state budget approaches, a group of education organizations is asking Gov. Jerry Brown to remove his proposed early education block grant from the budget process. EdSource article

UC Merced shares STEM fun with Sheehy Elementary students — Science and engineering students from UC Merced planted seeds of inspiration in the minds of elementary students Friday by giving them a chance to try out several flying aircraft and learn to aim high when it comes to their education. Merced Sun-Star article

Grupes to receive honorary doctorates — Fritz Grupe and his wife, Phyllis Anne Grupe, will receive honorary doctorate degrees from California State University, Stanislaus, in recognition of their significant community contributions, outstanding service to the university and serving as exemplary models for the school’s diverse student body. Stockton Record article


Jose Gaspar: Two years later, Arvin families still seek answers — It’s been nearly two years since eight families living on Nelson Court in Arvin suddenly received a knock on their door from Kern County health officials accompanied by firefighters and were told they had to evacuate their homes because of a gas leak. Kern County Environmental Health found dangerous levels of explosive gases in and around the houses. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Appeals court upholds vehicle restrictions in Tahoe National Forest — A federal appeals court has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service was on solid legal ground when it put more than 90 percent of “user-created” miles off-limits to motorized vehicles in Tahoe National Forest. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Are synthetic playing surfaces hazardous to athletes’ health? The debate over ‘crumb rubber’ and cancer – Synthetic turf manufacturers say more than 60 studies over the past two decades have shown no elevated health risks associated with their products, but not everyone is convinced. Environmental health advocates worry about a complex brew of chemicals, metals and suspected carcinogens that may be found in crumb rubber. They characterize past research as incomplete. LA Times article

Joe Panetta: Breakthrough drugs cost a lot to develop and improve lives – The chairman of the California Biotechnology Foundation writes, “As politicians and pundits continue to decry the high cost of prescription drugs, one important fact is missing: Breakthrough biopharmaceuticals improve millions of peoples’ lives every year and reduce costs for the health care system as a whole.” Panetta op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Friendly Visitors make difference in lives of Stanislaus seniors — During their weekly visit Saturday at her Modesto home, 69-year-old Lauri Dugall and Friendly Visitors volunteer Don Wilbanks were hard at play on the Tri-ominos game before them. It’s become a favorite pastime for the two since they were paired a couple of months ago through the program of the Stanislaus County Area Agency on Aging’s Project Hope. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Merced plans study session on medical cannabis – Merced officials this week will revisit their decision to ban all dispensaries, cultivation and sales of medical cannabis. Merced Sun-Star article

3rd Merced County Parent Institute Conference draws hundreds – Accomplishments start with dreams, and dreams start with inspiration. When it comes to inspiring children to dream big, it all starts with parents. That was the message heard by more than 500 people who attended the third annual Merced County Parent Institute Conference, a turnout that helped make Saturday’s event the most successful yet in its three-year history. Merced Sun-Star article

No one knows what’s behind LA County’s rise in mental competency cases — Competency cases increased by nearly 50% from 2014 to last year. Between 2010 and 2015, the annual total ballooned from 944 to 3,528. LA Times article

Fitz’s Stockton: The candy man of Stockton — Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Outlet & Ice Cream Shop in Lathrop makes a killer milkshake. Here’s something perhaps you didn’t know: Ghirardelli started in Stockton. If you don’t count Peru. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A weak El Nino fails to end our water crisis.

Sacramento Bee – We prayed for rain, and this little slacker El Niño gave us our answer. Now we just all have to dig deep and get back into the conservation mindset that sustained us last summer. Here’s hoping it turns out to be enough.

Maddy Events 

Sunday, March 6, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “The Senior Boom: Preparing for the Baby Boom Aftershock”  Guest: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Laurel Beck. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, March 6, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Valley Seniors: Programs and Prospects” – Guests: Jeremy Oliver, program director for Kern County Office of Aging and Adult Services, and Fresno State professor Helen Miltiades. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, March 6, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Senior Citizen Boom” – Guest: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Marisol Cuellar. 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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