February 9, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

In California’s U.S. Senate race, GOP again sees only slim chance — Unless a surprise GOP candidate emerges, the U.S. Senate race in California will mark the third straight election with the party’s top-of-the-ticket state candidate given virtually no chance of victory, even by fellow Republicans.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: California’s campaigns get trickier — The trends that make California campaigning ever more problematic are spreading across the country, and the tactical successes and failures here will, as they have in the past, influence national politics.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

Brown seeks money for fixing roads as gas tax value plunges — California lawmakers are looking at new ways to pay for crumbling roads, bridges and highways as the traditional repair fund from gasoline taxes dries up.  KPCC report

Other areas

George Skelton: Three common-sense bills worth supporting – Thousands of bills get introduced each legislative session, and most are sops to special interests or simply silly. But here are three no-brainers that should be passed. They’re not Earth-shattering, just sensible.  Skelton column in LA Times

Marcos Breton: California’s Latinos need to seize their seats at the table — Latinos remain hard to find on the councils of city and county governments throughout the state. In population numbers, they make up nearly 40 percent of California’s 38 million residents. But according to an analysis by GrassrootsLab, a political research and data firm in Sacramento, Latinos account for just 15 percent of elected officials in local governments statewide.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Legal clinic immerses aspiring lawyers in the political process — Meeting in a small classroom at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law one night each week, the students are part of an unusual clinic that teaches them to be advocates in the political arena instead of the courtroom.  LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Recent storms did little to boost California snowpack — Here’s the bad news: Despite days of precipitation, California’s snowpack was barely boosted after a weekend of storms that brought power outages, downed trees, thunderstorms and a threat of tornadoes. The water was there – dumping more than two inches of rain over Sacramento in just three days – but the temperatures weren’t.  Sacramento Bee article

Longshoremen labor dispute hurting Valley citrus industry – A labor dispute involving longshoremen that resulted in no ships being loaded and unloaded at 29 West Coast ports this past weekend is having serious consequences for the Valley’s citrus industry.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Jobs and the Economy

Former critics laud audit, voice concerns – When the city exits bankruptcy in the coming weeks, it will mark the end of what unarguably has been the most painful era in Stockton’s history, a Keystone Kops-style journey into financial ruin brought on by a toxic brew of bad luck and bad decisions. Some of the city’s harshest criticism has come from a small group of citizens that closely monitors Stockton’s budget, spending habits and financial accounting.  Stockton Record article

Tulare County businesses preparing for World Ag Expo – The week of the World Ag Expo is a lot like the Christmas holiday season for Melina Maack, manager of La Piazza Ristorante Italiano in Tulare. During both, business picks up considerably, as tourists and business people crowd in for a good meal.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Some see Sacramento region as agriculture’s Silicon Valley – Millions of dollars have flowed east in the past year into food technology startups working in the Sacramento region and the Central Valley, said people involved in the effort to establish Sacramento as a hub for food research and policy.  Sacramento Bee article

U.S. gas prices jump 13 cents a gallon; could go higher – The average price of a regular gallon of gas jumped 13 cents in the past two weeks to $2.20, ending a sustained drop.  AP article

Consumer protection agency seeks limits on payday lenders The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is starting to draw up regulations that could sharply reduce the number of unaffordable loans with high interest rates from payday lenders.  New York Times article

Generous CalSTRS ‘hybrids’ have unexpected risk – Two CalSTRS “hybrid” plans can provide monthly retirement payments based on 10 percent investment earnings, higher than the pension fund’s long-term earnings forecast of 7.5 percent.  Calpensions article

Carpenters union points finger at downtown Sacramento businesses – First he came for the organic kale at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op. Now the Grim Reaper wants your espresso and smoked trout sandwiches. Local 46, a carpenters union, uses a 15-foot Grim Reaper doll to protest companies that don’t use union carpenters. Sacramento Bee article

Inglewood football stadium developers run a hurry-up offense —  By the plodding standards of big development in Southern California, the plan to build a football stadium in Inglewood is moving at a brisk pace. The developers aim to slice through red tape that normally entangles major projects — often for years — by using a quirk in the way the state election and environmental laws work together.  LA Times article

SpaceX calls off launch of space weather satellite — SpaceX called off Sunday’s planned launch of a deep-space observatory — and a revolutionary rocket-landing attempt — after a critical radar-tracking system failed.  AP article


Nearly an inch of rain reported in parts of Merced — Nearly a full inch of rain poured into Merced over the weekend, which caused a string of vehicle collisions but did little to relieve drought conditions.  Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stanislaus sheriff wants to hire interns to train for law enforcement work – Want to learn about front-line police work and managing inmates in an adult detention facility? Ambitious young adults will be given that opportunity if Stanislaus County supervisors approve a sheriff’s intern program. The county board could greenlight the proposal Tuesday, contingent on approving midyear budget adjustments, which will recommend funding the internships.  Modesto Bee article

David Singer: On Duty: There’s more than patrolling to CHP; it offers many safety programs — I am the community outreach and media relations officer for the California Highway Patrol. One of my main jobs is to inform the public of the various education programs and services the CHP offers. With 2015 only a month old, it is a great time to provide a quick overview of our outreach opportunities. Singer column in Fresno Bee


Schools help families enroll in Covered California, Medi-Cal — With huge numbers of California children still uninsured, schools are beginning to take the lead in letting families know that affordable health care coverage is available.  EdSource article

Sacramento County schools classify fewer students as emotionally disturbed – Sacramento County school districts are classifying fewer students as emotionally disturbed, though the county rate per 1,000 students is still far higher than the state average.  Sacramento Bee article

Merced district needs parent input for education plan – The Merced City School District plans to hold more meetings to update parents on the Local Control Accountability Plan – a road map for how the district intends to meet goals for all students with specific activities and curriculum that address its priorities for learning.  Merced Sun-Star article

UC Merced graduate student to continue oral bacteria research in Brazil — A UC Merced graduate student will make his way to Brazil this spring to continue his research work on oral bacteria. Larry Johnson, a quantitative and systems biology student, was recently awarded a fellowship from the Brazilian government to spend one year doing lab work in Rio de Janeiro.  Merced Sun-Star article


What winter? Bakersfield breaks another record, and by a lot – Break out the tanning lotion. Kern County may be smack-dab in the middle of winter, but the atmosphere apparently thinks we’re closing in on May. Sunday’s high of 82 broke a 98-year record — and broke it by a substantial margin. The old record for this day in recorded weather history, set in 1917, was 77 degrees.  Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento Bee: California parks still far from needed turnaround – An optimist would say that California’s state parks are on the brink of transformation, now that there’s a blueprint to fix the department and appeal to the next generation. The realist, however, would say that there is a lot of work to get anywhere close to the ambitious vision for 2025.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Hey, California, Oklahoma had 3 times as many earthquakes in 2014 – Earthquakes are synonymous with California to most Americans, but West Coasters might be surprised to learn they’re far from the new center of the seismic landscape in the United States.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

PG&E reacted fast to ex-PUC chief’s complaint about size of his bill — When the state’s former top electricity regulator complained about a new Pacific Gas & Electric Co. “smart meter” at his vacation home, company executives reacted swiftly.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Shriners prosthetics lab helps kids be kids – The Shriners lab makes about 3,600 devices a year that help kids and teens walk, play sports – and even go to prom on an artificial foot with a high heel. It occupies a sunny wing of the hospital’s tower on Stockton Boulevard. Shriners treats children from Mexico, Canada and the western United States for burns, cleft lips, spinal cord injuries and other conditions, regardless of ability to pay.  Sacramento Bee article

Steve Flores: Join me and my family in the fight against cancer – “We are all fighting cancer all the time.” It’s a scary quote. I don’t remember where I read it, but it has resonated in a horrendous way to me, my children and my family. I have not spoken of this in my column but I lost Susie, my bride of 40 years, to cancer one year ago.  Flores column in Bakersfield Californian


The next airline trend could be narrower seats —  To squeeze more profits from each plane, the airline industry in the last few years has begun to install extra rows of seats, leading to a crunch in legroom that has sparked tiffs and feuds among frustrated passengers. Now, the squeeze may be on passenger hip room.  LA Times article

Other Areas

Modesto panel eyes art ordinance, crime numbers – The Modesto City Council’s Safety and Communities Committee will hear a proposal from staff Monday for a public arts ordinance and get an update from police officials regarding crime and traffic statistics.  Modesto Bee article

Dan Walters Daily: Enduring California icons in trouble — California is trying to save some of its most important symbols before they fall apart, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Brik McDill: Teach diversity, yes, but also teach universal ethics, morals – To be sure, we need to teach our kids the value of human diversity. But in so doing, we cannot ignore the importance of teaching them human commonalities, universal values and universal forms of the moral and ethical good.  McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

Donald Munro: With a parking fee increase and brash new house lights, Sayoran Theatre is a disappointment — A more than 40% increase in the price to park in the Fresno Convention Center garage. (A brazenly unprofessional looking, hand-lettered sign announced the increase, from $7 to $10, although seniors still get half off.) It’s now more expensive to park for a Fresno Philharmonic concert at the Saroyan than it is to park for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Concert Hall, which charges $9.  Munro column in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – FCC chief takes a strong stand on net neutrality;

Sacramento Bee – An optimist would say that California’s state parks are on the brink of transformation, now that there’s a blueprint to fix the department and appeal to the next generation. The realist, however, would say that there is a lot of work to get anywhere close to the ambitious vision for 2025.