Dan Walters: Brown’s projects face tests – The two immense public works projects that would be Jerry Brown legacies will soon face pivotal moments. The years-long debates over a north-south bullet train and twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have focused on whether they are needed, as Brown contends, to enhance the state’s future. Ultimately, however, whether they fly or die depends on securing tens of billions of dollars in financing. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
California’s $400 billion debt worries analysts — California has come a long way to dig itself out of budget deficits, but the state remains on shaky ground due to nearly $400 billion in unfunded liabilities and debt from public pensions, retiree health care and bonds, financial analysts say. San Francisco Chronicle article
AD 31: Joaquin Arambula kicks off campaign for Assembly, wins endorsements — Joaquin Arambula officially kicked off his campaign for the 31st Assembly District on Saturday – two months ahead of the April 5 special election to replace former Assembly Member Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, who resigned in December. Fresno Bee article
Tubbs has fundraising lead in Stockton mayor’s race – A single $50,000 contribution from the co-founder of the popular Snapchat mobile app has given mayoral challenger Michael Tubbs the clear fundraising lead four months before the June 7 primary. Stockton Record article
Stockton council candidates raising funds — Campaign contribution disclosure forms covering the period from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2015, were due to the city Feb. 1. Here’s a look at the council candidates and how much money they raised in the second half of last year. Stockton Record article
Dan Morain: Doctors dance with a toasty partner – The California Medical Association last week endorsed the initiative pushed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and billionaire Sean Parker that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. By legalizing it, Larson said, the state could better regulate it. Morain in Sacramento Bee
Jones made inaccurate claims about mass killer — Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, running for Congress against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, is making immigration and national security the center of his campaign. Sacramento Bee article
Finding statewide office hard to attain, tea party stakes claims to city, county races – Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau, an active member of the Central Valley Tea Party, said the movement continues to grow across California, especially in the state’s inland midsection, but it still doesn’t have the numbers to get an ideologically pure conservative elected as U.S. senator, governor or any other statewide post. So they’ve switched tactics. LA Times article
Fiery exchanges mark Republican debate, as Marco Rubio is hit hard — The target on Marco Rubio’s back grew larger Saturday, as rivals candidates, starting with Chris Christie, sought to turn the Florida senator’s polish into a liability in a critical debate on the eve of New Hampshire’s leadoff presidential primary. LA Times article; Cathleen Decker column in LA Times
Obama’s lofty plans on guns amount to little action – President Obama made an emotional announcement last month of his plan to crack down on gun dealers, though the lack of aggressive enforcement so far is a reminder of the practical limits of his executive authority. New York Times article
President Obama coming to South Bay on Wednesday — President Barack Obama will be in the South Bay next week to help raise money for Democratic candidates. Contra Costa Times article
High-speed rail agency says construction costs under scrutiny, control — Leaders with the rail authority assert that they’re doing everything they can to keep a lid on costs, and that they’re confident in their ability to minimize the effect of change orders on the project’s budget and schedule. They point out that almost $11 billion is embedded in the statewide project budget as a contingency allowance. Fresno Bee article
Oil’s latest slump takes a heavy toll on Bakersfield — Bakersfield is no stranger to the oil industry’s booms and busts. But this time, the slump is different. LA Times article
Jobs and the Economy
Madera County supervisors consider public safety sales tax — Madera County has been scorched by fires so seriously in recent years that the Board of Supervisors is considering a sales tax measure in November to add firefighters and improve firefighting services. Fresno Bee article
Local efforts to raise minimum wage could take back seat as cities wait for state to act – With one, and possibly two, labor-backed statewide initiatives on the minimum wage planned for the November ballot, advocates and experts said they expect to see the movement of local initiatives slow to a trickle. LA Times article
Modesto’s new mayor plans line-by-line budget review – There will be lots of long days during the first 100 days of Ted Brandvold’s first term as Modesto mayor. He plans to conduct a line-by-line review of the city’s budget to look for savings that can be used to hire police officers and firefighters. Modesto Bee article
Layoffs hit hard for three-generation Bakersfield oil family — Oil well workover specialist Russ Ramer switches on his television several times a day to check just one piece of news. Not the stock market, not the latest presidential election polls; he wants to know the price of a barrel of oil. Bakersfield Californian article
Michael Fitzgerald: Country Club’s 1950s survivor — You find them in the city’s old neighborhoods, small commercial centers filled with ma and pa businesses. Country Club Hardware is a holdout from those times. Country Club Hardware is a tiny — by today’s standards — store with tools on the wall, Tootsie Pops on the counter, an 80-year old proprietor and his 76-year-old wife. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record
Brockovich brings controversy – She received a hero’s welcome in Stockton, was lauded on social media and gave a passionate speech before a huge crowd. “I am one of you, I am just like you, and I am no outsider,” Erin Brockovich said before a standing ovation. But as good as she is at rallying the people, some critics say Brockovich falls short when it comes to science. Stockton Record article
Water safety: Power of persuasion – Some Stockton residents are pushing elected officials here to reconsider chloramines, following a similar presentation by Bowcock and his associate — famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich — at a packed town hall meeting last Monday. As the Tulsa story shows, some cities have indeed slowed down or abandoned chloramines as a result of public concern, though many have pushed forward. Stockton Record article
Donald Blount: Water issues everywhere – When it comes to California, water always seems to be in the news. The problems of having too much — rarely. More often the problems of having too little. Maybe it’s about where to get it or where to store it? Even how to protect us from it. Frequently in some form or another, whether it be snowpack or drought or flooding, water is on our minds. Here are just a few of the recurring issues. Blount column in Stockton Record
Rep. Raul Grijalva: Westlands’ cynical ploy uses farmworkers’ group to curb environmental laws – The Arizona congressman and ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources writes, “Unfortunately, congressional Republicans and powerful agribusiness interests are using the drought as an excuse to undermine the state’s and the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. An unprecedented lobbying effort by some of California’s biggest farmers is underway – largely hidden from public scrutiny – to cripple the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections in the name of ‘drought response.’” Grijalva op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Donald Munro: Farmworkers focus of thoughtful, beautiful Fresno Art Museum show — There are layers upon layers in the central San Joaquin Valley-inspired farmworker paintings of Richard G. Freitas in his new show at the Fresno Art Museum. Fresno Bee article
Richmond first Northern California city to accept 911 text messages — Richmond now boasts the first emergency dispatch center in Northern California to accept 911 texting, but officials warn that in most cases the finger-typing smartphone messages are no substitute for old-fashioned landline voice calls. San Francisco Chronicle article
Lacey Waymire: Statute of limits on sexual assaults limits justice – The former reporter for the Colfax Record writes, “The current statute of limitations hinders society’s need to protect itself from those who prey on children. Let a judge decide on the significance of time passed. End the statute of limitations on sexual assault.” Waymire op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Roseville police use workout program to recruit new officers — WOD, short for “workout of the day,” is a bimonthly gathering of Roseville police officers and potential recruits in a gym behind police headquarters. The department uses the meeting as a hiring tool, allowing officers to meet people interested in law enforcement even before they apply. Sacramento Bee article
A boy and his hair are behind the Clovis Unified dress code debate – William Pleasant, 17, likes to wear his black curls pulled back in a small ponytail; when he lets it down, it’s barely long enough to graze his shoulders. His hair was the reason he initially was not allowed to enroll in classes for his senior year at Buchanan High School, despite a 5.0 GPA, and is the cause of multiple detentions. It’s also behind the latest push against Clovis Unified’s decades-old dress code policy. Fresno Bee article
Modesto schools’ sports to benefit from big spenders at Super Bowl — Sunday, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Super Bowl 50. The Denver Broncos. The Carolina Panthers. The Davis High School Spartans, Downey Knights and Modesto Christian Crusaders. Yes, teams of locals have been training for their big-game performance – in concession booths. They have a long day ahead of them, serving suds, sausages, sodas, snacks and more, all for a cut of the profits. Modesto Bee article
More students qualify for free, reduced meals — Last week, the California Department of Education reported a large increase in K-12 students statewide who are automatically eligible to receive a free school meal. Stockton Record article
‘Comfort women’ and a lesson in how history is shaped in California textbooks – After nearly a decade of delays, California educators released a draft guideline that will shape how history is taught to students across the state. The nearly 1,000-page “History/Social Science framework” received little public attention and went largely unreported in mainstream media when it was announced in December. But in multicultural California, that hardly means it went unnoticed. LA Times article
American River College seeks to spark interest in welding careers — To help attract and train more welding professionals, American River College on Saturday promoted its technical education programs. Sacramento Bee article
State fire prevention fee money to fund Sierra dead tree removals – Money from a controversial “fire prevention” fee paid by many California foothill and mountain residents will be used to cut down trees that are dead or dying because of the drought and bark beetle infestation. Fresno Bee article
Largely invisible network of pipelines, gas storage presents regional methane risk – The thousands of miles of pipelines and seven underground natural gas fields in the Sacramento region offer little surface-level evidence of the billions of cubic feet of natural gas under storage. Sacramento Bee article
With Zika virus spreading internationally, local vector control districts brace for upcoming mosquito season — The Zika virus causing worldwide alarm gives central San Joaquin Valley mosquito-abatement leaders new reason to fret about efforts to control the pests. Fresno Bee article
Dick Hagerty: Celebrating warmth of sun and solar panels — Potential buyers will be cheered to learn that the 30 percent federal tax credit has been extended yet again and the PUC has blessed our current system of net metering. That makes installing solar panels a worthwhile investment for those who can afford the large initial outlay. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee
New medical school in Elk Grove makes history — When a new medical school in Elk Grove opened for business last year, Cai jumped at the opportunity. So did 59 other students in the inaugural class at California Northstate University College of Medicine. The first for-profit traditional medical school accredited in the United States hopes to make a dent in a physician shortage and lack of medical school slots in California and nationwide. Sacramento Bee article
New Bay Bridge corrosion problem: Concrete chunk falls in tunnel – Caltrans is investigating possible corrosion in the Bay Bridge’s Yerba Buena Island tunnel after a chunk of the concrete wall tumbled into the roadway and narrowly missed hitting a motorist, officials said. San Francisco Chronicle article
Sacramento Bee’s transportation reporter puts self-driving cars to test — I’m sitting in the back seat of a car with no driver, watching the steering wheel spin one way, then the other, as the car winds through suburban neighborhood streets. Yet I have no fear. Well, almost none. It’s a self-driving car built by Google, and I’m getting a glimpse of the future. Sacramento Bee article
Alleged bomb builder shakes up Kern County desert community — It wasn’t unusual to see Todd Sloan around town wearing a .44-caliber black powder six-shooter strapped to his hip, Western-style. Sure, it made some people nervous, but in this remote desert outpost of Johannesburg where the Second Amendment may carry more weight than the Second Commandment, Sloan was mostly ignored or thought to be a harmless eccentric. Bakersfield Californian article
Lois Henry: Tongs and a face mask are handy when opening my mail — Time for a look in the old mailbag. I got a lot of responses to my column on the Clovis Unified School District’s sexist (yup, I said it again) dress code, which has different rules for boys and girls on things like hair length and earrings. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian
Jeff Jardine: Nine-year-old sends loudest message in Ceres squalor case — One thing stood above all else in the case of the seven children found living in squalor in a Ceres apartment last week: The 9-year-old girl among them told police she ate only when she went to school and was totally fine with going to a foster home where, presumably, she’ll get regular meals, daily baths and clean clothing. Jardine column in Modesto Bee
Mike Klocke: Diverse committee will help advise newspaper — We recently sought to put together a Record Reader Advisory Committee to provide feedback in a regular, structured manner. We tried to make the committee diverse in regards to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, areas of residency and more. The first meeting was held on Tuesday, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the makeup of the group. Klocke column in Stockton Record
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – Burger King’s tax avoidance scheme was stomach turning. Pfizer’s gambit gave us a big headache. But this latest tax-skipping scam by Johnson Controls is enough to drive anyone bonkers, not just Bernie Sanders
Sacramento Bee – Burger King’s tax avoidance scheme was stomach turning. Pfizer’s gambit gave us a big headache. But this latest tax-skipping scam by Johnson Controls is enough to drive anyone bonkers, not just Bernie Sanders.
Sunday, Feb. 7, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “California’s End of Life Law: New Law, Old Question” – Guests: UC Davis Professor Ben Rich, The Arc of California Executive Director Tony Anderson, Disability Rights California Legislative Advocate Deborah Doctor. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
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.
- 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.
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/
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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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