February 4, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

John Myers: Latinos strike hard on Senate race, seek to pump up Villaraigosa with new poll — The survey of 600 likely voters found that Antonio Villaraigosa had slightly more name identification than Kamala Harris (66 to 62 percent) though it doesn’t touch on either candidates favorability ratings. It found that Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney, would have a 10-point lead over Villaraigosa, the former Assembly speaker in a hypothetical four-way match up that included two white candidates: U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley SwearenginMyers in KQED; Capitol Weekly article

More than 50,000 California undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses — The January numbers are in, and they show a surge of applicants: between January 2 and January 30, 57,000 licenses were issued to undocumented immigrants; 366,000 people visited DMV offices, and DMV officials administered 415,000 written or road tests. There were more tests than visits because some people failed and had to retake tests.  Sacramento Bee article

State budget

California state spending well above national average — California contains 12.2 percent of the nation’s population but its state government accounted for 13.8 percent of all state spending in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a new Census Bureau reportCapitol Alert

Valley politics

Connie Conway: Assembly leader emeritus — One of the things Connie Conway has had to adjust to since leaving the California Assembly was figuring out what to call herself. But Conway — who ended her six years of state service as the leader of the Assembly Republican Caucus — said the question of her title ended up sorting itself out when, during a recent event, she was introduced as “Assembly leader emeritus.”  Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California Latino Caucus pushes Latino candidate to replace Boxer — Latino California state lawmakers on Tuesday urged a Latino candidate to seek California’s opening U.S. Senate seat, emphasizing that such a candidate would motivate voters to go to the polls in 2016.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Dan Walters: Senate seat opens a big Dem split – What’s happening in the state Democratic Party now is a conflict of identity politics, pitting long-dominant – and aging – white and black leaders against newly ascendant Latinos and, on occasion, Asian Americans.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Ethnic battles brewing in 2016 California U.S. Senate race? – Could California’s open 2016 U.S. Senate race turn into a a tussle between two powerhouse Democratic ethnic voting blocs — Latinos and African Americans?  San Francisco Chronicle article

Kamala Harris’ head start in Senate race may deter potential rivals – While former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other potential candidates decide whether to enter the U.S. Senate contest, state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris has been using her head start in the race in ways that could deter others from competing.  LA Times article

Sex-photo conviction shows Kamala Harris’ edge in Senate race – Incumbency can be a big asset to elected officials who aspire to higher office, and that maxim was on full display Tuesday when state Atty. Gen Kamala Harris hailed the conviction of a man who posted naked photos of women online without their consent.  LA Times article

Villaraigosa lags Harris in social media – As the former Los Angeles mayor ponders whether to join the Senate race, his lack of engagement in social media looms as a potentially major challenge. For years, Villaraigosa has treated Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets as little more than an afterthought. His last tweet, in June 2013, congratulated Eric Garcetti for taking over as mayor the following day.  LA Times article

Many California politicians finished election with funds for future use — Facing few serious challenges for statewide posts in last year’s election, many California politicians were free to make financial decisions with an eye toward the future, final campaign reports show.  LA Times article

Other areas

Dan Walters Daily: Legislature’s popularity may be fleeting – Regardless of what it does, the California Legislature’s newfound popularity may be short-lived, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Two California lawmakers aim to limit ‘personal belief’ vaccine exemption – Armed by the spread of disease as some parents decline to vaccinate their children, two state lawmakers plan legislation aimed at increasing the number of youngsters who have been immunized when they start school in California.  LA Times article

Ex-Sen. Yee pays $128,000 in campaign funds to lawyers since indictment – Former state Sen. Leland Yee’s campaign committee for last year’s secretary of state race has spent $128,000 on attorney’s fees since he was indicted on federal corruption charges, he reported this week. The practice is legal, but one ethics expert said it should be restricted.  LA Times article

California’s top political ethics cop resigns — The top cop for California’s political ethics agency is leaving the Fair Political Practices Commission, marking the second departure of an executive staff member in less than three weeks. Gary Winuk, the FPPC’s chief of enforcement for the last five years, said he’s resigning Feb. 27 to pursue other opportunities.  Capitol Alert; Sacramento Bee editorial

Attorney general to lead Oakland talk on police, race relations — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, charged by the Obama administration with examining police and race relations after a fatal police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., will hold a round-table discussion with community and law enforcement leaders Thursday in Oakland.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Californians meet call to cut water use by 20 percent — State officials reported Tuesday that residents in drought-stricken California met Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to slash water use by 20 percent for the first time in December, when water use fell by 22 percent compared to the same month in 2013. But officials at the State Water Resources Control Board cautioned that state residents may have been aided by a rainy month in December, which minimized the need to water lawns.  AP article; Sacramento Bee article;LA Times article; AP article: ‘Biggest California water saves, users at a glance’; Stockton Record article

Ratings agencies express concern for Kern’s finances — Kern County’s bonded debt is getting a close watch from two top ratings agencies after the Board of Supervisors declared a fiscal emergency last week. Kern is facing a projected $27 million deficit for the 2015-2016 fiscal year thanks to a 43 percent decline in property tax revenues from the oil industry. That, combined with steep escalations in pension bond costs and other fiscal challenges, was enough to spark concern from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto City Council approves police raises – The City Council unanimously approved Tuesday pay raises totaling 6 percent, as well as retention bonuses, for Modesto’s police officers and detectives.  Modesto Bee article

Baker Hughes plans 130 California layoffs this week – Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc. has notified Kern County’s Board of Supervisors it plans to lay off 130 California employees this week, including an unspecified number at the company’s Shafter plant.  Bakersfield Californian article

Kern supervisors delay department’s merger amid concerns – Supporters of the Kern County Board of Trade raised a cloud of dust with county supervisors Tuesday, speaking out against the board’s merger with Employers Training Resource. Supervisors chose to delay the merger one week to allow time for a through discussion of what the future holds for the two agencies.  Bakersfield Californian article

Chukchansi members recognize tribal governing body – Chukchansi tribal members Saturday voted to recognize a governing body of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians until a tribal council election can be held. The vote taken during a meeting at the Golden Palace banquet hall in Fresno is being viewed by many as a crucial step toward reopening Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold.  Fresno Bee article

Report: Fresno area home prices increased 5.7 percent in December 2014 – Home prices in the Fresno area, including distressed sales, increased by 5.7 percent in December 2014 compared to December 2013, according to a report released Tuesday by CoreLogic, a company that tracks real estate transactions across the U.S.  The Business Journal article

Fresno firm invited to SXSW to preach Google Ad Words – Fresno’s efforts to combat its image as a technology desert are about to get a boost from a local digital marketing firm presenting at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas this spring.  The Business Journal article

Merced supervisors approve lease agreement with Golden Valley at Castle – Golden Valley Health Centers has secured a five-year lease for the building that used to house AT&T’s two Atwater call centers at Castle Commerce Center, gaining unanimous approval from the Board of Supervisors at a board meeting Tuesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Assemblymember Jim Patterson: Fighting to keep gas prices low – The Valley assemblymember (R-Fresno) writes, “Everyone knows that global issues driving down the cost of oil are not permanent. While we are all enjoying the current boon, many of us across the state are preparing to fight to keep California’s gas prices low with Assembly Bill 23.”  Patterson in Fox & Hounds

Coke is betting big on ‘premium milk’ – Coke is coming out with premium milk that has more protein and less sugar than regular. And it’s betting people will pay twice as much for it. The national rollout of Fairlife over the next several weeks is one way the world’s biggest beverage maker is seeking to diversify its offerings as Americans continue turning away from soft drinks.  AP article

CalPERS, CalSTRS get $300 million in securities settlement – CalPERS and CalSTRS will receive more than $300 million combined as part of a multistate settlement with Standard & Poor’s over the credit ratings firm’s handling over toxic mortgage-backed securities sold during the housing bubble, it was announced Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Road to S&P settlement began with Jerry Brown chat, novel legal strategy – Two Justice Department lawyers leading an effort to hold financial firms accountable for the mortgage-fed debacle that fueled the Great Recession stopped in to talk strategy in mid-2009 with Jerry Brown, then California’s attorney general.  LA Times article

Merced City Council Oks budget deal for Applegate Park Zoo – The more than 50-year-old Applegate Park Zoo will continue to receive about 41 percent of its operating budget from the Merced Zoological Society after a recent agreement with Merced City Council.  Merced Sun-Star article

Beacon technology to target Union Station commuters with help, commerce – Soon, walking into Los Angeles Union Station could prompt a highly personalized cellphone message that goes something like this: “Welcome to Union Station. For the Metro Red Line, take the escalator to your right.” The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is developing a plan to place as many as 50 tiny wireless devices in the downtown station that would push text message-like alerts to smartphones.  LA Times article

‘Build it and they will come’: International developers flocking to Silicon Valley — Developers from all over the world are flocking to Silicon Valley, backed with money from Wall Street and international banks needed to build at a larger scale than ever before.  KQED report

Long-sought cuts in LA business tax advances — Los Angeles lawmakers voted Tuesday to lower the city’s business tax starting in 2016.  LA Times article

San Jose appeals A’s lawsuit against MLB to U.S. Supreme Court — Down to its last strike, San Jose is taking one last big swing in court in an attempt to lure the A’s to the South Bay. The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court its antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball that seeks to allow the Oakland baseball club to move to San Jose.  San Jose Mercury News article


Satellite images show a greener California but a shrinking snowpack – Recent satellite images revealed a much greener California following a series of December storms that brought much-needed rain to the parched state.  LA Times article

Stockton East: Some farmers might receive no water in 2015 – With the local water outlook even bleaker than last year, the Stockton East Water District will warn farmers soon that some might go without irrigation water in 2015.  Stockton Record article

Dry January breaks record in Merced — January marked Merced’s driest month in 17 years, but an incoming storm system could break the dry spell. According to the National Weather Service, which has kept track of rainfall in Merced since 1998, the city received only 0.02 inches this past month. The average rainfall for the month of January is about 2.61 inches.  Merced Sun-Star article

Research of atmospheric rivers key to understanding California’s water supply – When California gets a big storm, it likely started in the tropics a week before. The narrow corridors of water vapor are called atmospheric rivers, or AR’s. Get too many, California gets floods; too few, drought. Scientists have also discovered AR’s need to hold little particles called aerosols.  Capital Public Radio report

Atmospheric river set to soak Sacramento – A crack team of science experts is going along for the ride, part of an experiment known as CalWater 2015, many of whom gathered at McClellan Park near Sacramento on Tuesday in preparation for the major weather event and the vital information they hope to pull from the phenomenon. Sacramento Bee article

California’s drought worsens uranium pollution in Valley wells – California’s drought isn’t just causing wells to go dry, it’s also contributing to a long running water pollution problem.  KVPR report

Paramount gets into the beekeeping business – Paramount Farming announced Tuesday it has entered the beekeeping business by acquiring a large Florida operation it hopes will help provide an ample supply of bees to pollinate the company’s 46,000 acres of almond trees in the Central Valley.  Bakersfield Californian article

Merced supervisors set first reading of groundwater ordinance — The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday set the first reading for its highly anticipated groundwater ordinance, but not before a lengthy discussion about possible tweaks to the ordinance.  Merced Sun-Star article

USDA report:  2014 grape, peach crops down — California’s 2014 grape crop was down 12 percent from the previous year, according to a report issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).  The Business Journal article

How Orange County’s namesake was squeezed out – and is being squeezed in — There’s a flicker of life now in the citrus industry as micro-farmers like Don Neff harvest tiny fields of orange and avocados in the nooks and crannies of an urbanized county.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Federal judge orders California to stop isolation housing of disabled inmates – A federal judge in Oakland has ordered California to stop the “regular” practice of putting disabled inmates into segregation units because it lacks room elsewhere in its prisons.  LA Times article; AP article

One suspect in Janessa Ramirez murder freed from jail; the other pleads not guilty — One man suspected of taking part in last month’s crossfire shooting death of 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez has been released from Fresno County Jail, while the man accused of firing the fatal bullet was arraigned in Fresno County Superior Court on Tuesday.  Fresno Bee article


What will bachelor’s degrees from community colleges be worth? – Will employers know what to make of the new bachelor’s degrees when they start appearing on resumes in several years? Would a hospital prefer to hire a new health information manager from, say, Loma Linda University, which has offered that degree for nearly 50 years, or from San Diego Mesa College, which has never offered a four-year degree of any kind?  LA Times article

Corinthian students to get $480 million relief from ‘predatory’ loans — Students who took out private loans while attending schools owned by the for-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc. will be eligible for 40% reductions in their loan balances.  LA Times article; AP article

State pushing for exemption from NCLB test score requirement – For the second straight year, California will ask the federal government to exempt it from using scores on the new assessments that students will take this spring to measure progress in math and English language arts, a key requirement under the No Child Left Behind law.EdSource article

API should be replaced, state committee recommends — A state advisory committee that spent more than two years trying to find a way to rejigger the Academic Performance Index is now recommending moving away from that single number in favor of a more comprehensive system allowing for a broader picture of school effectiveness. EdSource article

Selma Unified board votes to oust superintendent over community opposition – “Recall” — that was Selma community members’ message for three Selma Unified school trustees Tuesday night after the district’s school board voted 3-2 to oust Superintendent Mark Sutton during a special board meeting.  Fresno Bee article

Central Unified superintendent Mike Berg to retire at end of 2015 — Central Unified Superintendent Mike Berg announced his retirement to staff on Monday after 10 years with the Fresno school district and more than 30 years in public education. District spokesman Cary Catalano confirmed Berg’s intentions Monday afternoon. Catalano said Berg plans to leave his position at the end of 2015.  Fresno Bee article

School district mulls new tech program – In a few years, high school students in Hanford may be able to use their cellphones in class. The Hanford Joint Union High School District is looking into a Bring Your Own Device program that would allow students to use their computer or mobile devices on campus for school work. The program is expected to launch in the 2016-17 school year.  Hanford Sentinel article

Kern High School District board: More money for schools; new schedule approved — The Kern High School District needs money, and lots of it, to build two new schools and reduce class size. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase next year’s state budget by $2.5 billion could help some.  Bakersfield Californian article

Gary Sedgwick: A teacher of many — Gary Sedgwick, 79, whose long career as a Lemoore educator touched not only the lives of his students, but the lives of his fellow educators, died Thursday morning following a long illness.  Hanford Sentinel article

Ernie Zarra: Eventually we’re going to leave a dumbed-down generation behind – The long-time Bakersfield educator writes, “There is an old adage in education: “Image is everything.” The Common Core embodies this. We no longer leave any child behind. Eventually, we will leave a dumbed-down generation behind. That is, if we can get them to put down their smartphones.”  Zarra op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Chinese educators, students enjoy visit to Manteca sister school – A day of cultural and educational exchange Tuesday between Woodward school students in Manteca Unified and visiting students and teachers from China included musical performances from both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  Stockton Record article

State Center Community College District reprimands Trustee Eric Payne — The State Center Community College District Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to reprimand Trustee Eric Payne, but decided not to strip him of his ability to represent the district at public events.  Fresno Bee article

UC Merced Connect: Assault survivors have support — Since 2010, UC Merced’s campus advocate has offered free and confidential services to students, faculty and staff who are survivors of or have questions about sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star


Michael Brune: It’s time for California to end risky fracking – The executive director of the Sierra Club writes, “Why would the Golden State allow fracking after New York found the practice – already linked to water contamination and earthquakes in Colorado, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania – too risky?”  Brune op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Excitement over rare red fox sighting in Yosemite – Wildlife biologists are giddy after their motion-activated cameras captured a rare Sierra Nevada red fox loping through the forests of Yosemite National Park.  San Francisco Chronicle article; KVPR report

Brian Dahle and Anthony Rendon: Aggressive path forward for California’s precious state parks – The state assemblymembers write, “After years of struggling, state parks appear to be on the right path thanks to the work of the Parks Forward Commission, which evaluated the failures of the park system.”  Dahle/Rendon op-ed in Sacramento Bee

PUC emails appear to show former chief Michael Peevey overstepping his role — Thousands of emails newly released by the state Public Utilities Commission present a damaging portrait of former PUC President Michael Peevey as a micromanaging, domineering leader who appears to have overstepped his role.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Many California child-care centers have low measles vaccination rates – Statewide, the measles immunization rate is about 96% for those ages 2 through 5 for children in licensed child-care centers. Yet there are about 1,500 child-care centers in California that have a measles vaccination rate of 92% or less. The vast majority — about 1,100 — are private. LA Times article

Measles outbreak puts Kings County on alert – A measles outbreak that started at Disneyland last month is spreading throughout the state and could affect Kings County. According to the California Department of Public Health, about 80 people have become ill with the highly infectious disease in California. The Kings County Department of Public Health said it is prepared if the disease makes it to the county. Hanford Sentinel article

Measles discussion on Valley Edition – Last week the measles concern hit Fresno County after officials revealed that a man with the virus visited the third and fourth floors of Community Regional Medical Center, as well as Fashion Fair Mall and Winco Foods on Kings Canyon and Peach between January 22nd and 25th. So what does this mean for you? In this segment we speak with two health experts about the local response to the measles outbreak.  KVPR report

Spread of measles in LA County appears to be slowing, officials say — Los Angeles County officials say the spread of measles appears to be slowing, but they’re concerned about low vaccination rates in some parts of the county. LA Times article

A boy who had cancer faces measles risk from the unvaccinated — The Krawitt family in Marin County, Calif., is taking action to try to increase rates of vaccination in their community because 6-year-old Rhett can’t be vaccinated.  KQED report

‘First Look’: ADAKC reaches $2 million mark, fundraising continues — Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. The symptoms of alzheimer’s become more evident as a person ages, however they may occur as early as age 40 and the risk doubles every five years beyond age 65. “Someone who is living with alzheimer’s has the mentality of a 5 to 7 year old child,” said Robin McGarrah with the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County Inc., Tuesday on “First Look with Scott Cox.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Salvador Sandoval: Community needs a Golden Valley that functions well – The family practice physician who has worked at Golden Valley Health Center for 34 years writes, “It would be a travesty to see this valuable not-for-profit institution fall. It is our patients who would suffer most. It is the solemn duty of the board of directors to ensure the survival of the organization. It can start by listening to its providers who serve and care for the patients of Golden Valley Health Centers.”  Sandoval op-ed in Modesto Bee

Larry Cohen: Vaping puts public health gains at risk – The executive director of Prevention Institute writes, “E-cigarettes remind us of the importance of remaining vigilant and prepared to address Big Tobacco tactics with the regulatory and advocacy strategies that have saved so many lives already. There may not be smoke this time, but there is certainly a fire. Let’s put it out before it grows.”  Cohen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Secondhand smoke exposure drops, CDC reports — Americans’ exposure to secondhand smoke has declined by half since 2000, federal health authorities reported Tuesday, as states and municipalities banned smoking in bars, restaurants and offices, and fewer Americans smoked inside their homes.  New York Times article


City Council to debate adding signals at high-profile intersection next to Fresno State — Fresno City Hall hopes new traffic lights can help bring peace among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists at a notorious intersection next to Fresno State. The intersection: Cedar Avenue and Bulldog Lane.  Fresno Bee article

Residents welcome B Street improvement project — Esmeralda Hernandez said she has noticed B Street, the West Tulare residential area thoroughfare she has lived on for 12 years, deteriorate over time.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Other Areas

Stanislaus County board chair calls for efforts to protect water supply and benefit youth – In his “State of the County” address this morning, Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Chairman Terry Withrow rallied the community in an ongoing struggle with the state over water.  Modesto Bee article

Waterford councilman, coach Whitfield stabbed on campus – A city councilman and Waterford High coach suffered a stab wound Monday night on the school campus. The wound was not severe and he was recovering at home Tuesday.  Modesto Bee article

Cameras, diligent residents can help stop taggers – Less than four seconds – that’s how long it took a tagger to spray-paint his moniker on the side of a McHenry Avenue law firm in Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

Sheriff’s plane purchase, library land lease approved – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday agreements to buy a new plane for the county Sheriff’s Department and to lease the site for a new library in the rural community of London.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced City Council eyes opening warming center – Merced City Council spent most of its meeting Monday trying to brainstorm ideas for a warming shelter in town as the end of winter is about six weeks away.  Merced Sun-Star article

School boundaries in Merced a popular topic at town hall – A controversy over new boundaries in the Merced City School District spilled over into the Merced City Council town hall-style meeting in north Merced on Tuesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Merced hires new city attorney – Merced has a new city attorney after a unanimous vote Monday to immediately hire Randolph Hom, who most recently worked for the cities of San Jose and Hayward.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lois Henry: Lost to history: H.H. and the undercover Land Co. saga – Let’s see, last I left you, “Operative H.H.” had made inroads into Bakersfield society and was preparing to head out into the countryside to look for the nefarious hay-burning gang. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, no worries. Let’s catch you up from Part 1 last week.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Telling the story of California by mapping Los Angeles — Getting to know California requires trying to understand Los Angeles.  Grizzly Bear Project article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Budget ideas on both sides deserve real debate.

Merced Sun-Star – Delays on safer rail cars are unacceptable.

Sacramento Bee – Fair Political Practices Commission chair has work cut out to find a new enforcer; What will cure our immunity to facts?

Stockton RecordStockton hockey gets a boost with move to American Hockey League.