February 9, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Lawmakers unveil California health tax plan proposal — The California Legislature on Monday unveiled a bill imposing a new tax on health insurance plans that would prevent a massive $1.1 billion hole in the state budget. AP article

November: Ballot props lining up — From school bonds to the environment to condoms to drugs to plastic bags, and more, voters already are set to vote on seven propositions on the November ballot.  Capitol Weekly article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Vote on smaller June construction bond possible within week – The Brown administration and the Legislature’s Democratic leaders are moving to craft a school construction bond package for the June ballot significantly smaller than one already scheduled to come before voters in November. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: California school bonds can be source of scandal – The case in Fresno Unified, the certainty that it represents a much larger problem and Harris’ opinion all imply that if school districts are cut free from the state’s underwriting of school construction, they need some new ethics standards. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

CA120: A rocky road for down-ballot propositions — As Capitol Weekly reported today, the November ballot is growing with seven measures already ready for the ballot, and another 66 in the wings.  Most won’t qualify, so there is little reason to fear a 48-measure ballot like California saw in 1914.  But we could near or exceed the modern high water mark of 29 on the 1988 Primary Election Ballot, and we will definitely exceed the average of 8.5 measures per ballot since 2000. Capitol Weekly article

Republican Rocky Chavez withdraws from U.S. Senate race; will seek re-election to Assembly – Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chávez is ending his cash-strapped bid for the U.S. Senate and will instead campaign for reelection to the Legislature. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleKQED reportAP article

Here’s where California Republican U.S. Senate candidates stand on the issues — Here’s a rundown of where the candidates stand. Their answers are summarized below for clarity and space. Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Property taxpayers in center of school bond debate — Property taxpayers are in the eye of a brewing storm whipped up by the contrasting efforts to pass a statewide school construction bond initiative and the Brown Administration’s insistence that future school construction bonds be funded locally. Depending on which way this wind blows, local residential and business property taxpayers could be hit with a higher property tax burden. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Capitol Weekly Podcast — John Howard and Tom Foster chat about moves to unseat California Coastal Commission Executive Director Charles Lester, the 43rd Annual Zeke Grader Fisheries Council Hearing at the capitol this week and then look 3000 miles eastward at this week’s New Hampshire primary. Capitol Weekly Podcast

Other areas 

Lawmakers seek to loosen encryption on smartphones – A fight over encryption-protected smartphone data is heating up in California and New York where lawmakers and law enforcement groups are pushing bills to enable investigators to unscramble data to obtain critical evidence in human trafficking, terrorism and child pornography cases. San Francisco Chronicle article

Democratic activists ramp up pressure on Rep. Ami Bera – Democratic activists involved in helping stall Rep. Ami Bera’s party endorsement are not going away. Sacramento Bee article

Gays’ fight against workplace bias gains White House as ally — Gay rights advocates have tried for more than a decade to get Congress to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now the Obama administration, in a court filing, has quietly suggested that discrimination is already banned by a 52-year-old federal law. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Tom Fife: Rubio too robotic to make connection with New Hampshire voters – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cut to the quick rising Republican star Senator Marco Rubio at the Republican Debate last week. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: The GOP debates: Fantasy on parade — Once again Tom Fife’s latest offering on this page can best – and accurately – be described as “Complete Fantasy on Parade.” Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

CSU faculty to strike for five days if contract deal not reached — The California State University faculty union announced Monday that it will strike for five days across all 23 campuses if an ongoing contract dispute is not resolved by the middle of April. The action awaits the conclusion of a fact-finding arbitration process with the university over a raise for the 2015-16 academic year. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleBakersfield Californian articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters bashes high-speed rail, government decision-making at Fresno gathering – Dan Walters, a Sacramento Bee columnist and author of several books and more than 8,500 columns on California politics, didn’t mince words at a Fresno County Rotary Club meeting Monday when discussing the present failings of the state government. Fresno Bee article
Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto considers pay raises for police managers – Modesto’s 39 police sergeants and lieutenants and four captains are in line to receive 2 percent raises and incentive pay – including one-time payments totaling $2,500 this year – in agreements that will come before the City Council on Tuesday night for approval. Modesto Bee article

Fresno County supervisors to again consider selling Elkhorn boot camp – Surplus property worth millions of dollars could help finance new projects for Fresno County, but after several attempts county supervisors have been unable to agree to terms for the sales. On Tuesday, supervisors will take another shot by trying to unload the Elkhorn boot camp land near Caruthers and its old juvenile hall at Ventura and Tenth streets near downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

Laborers in gig economy drive legal, political battle over the nature of work – As the ranks of those workers swell, generating billions of dollars in revenue for their parent companies, legal and political disputes about the nature of gig work have proliferated. Lawsuits have challenged the notion that gig workers aren’t entitled to wage guarantees or benefits. A new California bill allowing gig workers to organize mirrors a national debate about whether and how to allow workers to pursue the types of employment benefits attached to traditional jobs. Sacramento Bee article

Experts tell panel why gas is so expensive in California — Gouging by oil companies could be one reason California drivers pay about 76 cents more for a gallon of regular gas than motorists elsewhere in the nation, a state government panel was told Monday. Fuel experts and consumer advocates also told the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee that a high state gas tax and more rigorous regulations have kept prices relatively high as oil prices have plunged across the nation in recent months. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Diplomatic thaw opens Cuba to California wines – Cuba is a promising new market for California wine, said Joan Kautz of Lodi, who directs global-branded wine sales for her family’s Ironstone Vineyards and Kautz Family Vineyards. Stockton Record article 

Last year’s Lake County fires not expected to affect Napa, Sonoma vintages – The effect of last year’s big Lake County fires shouldn’t be noticeable in either the quality or price of wines from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. That’s according to two industry groups, the Wine Institute and Napa Valley VintnersKQED report 

New Fresno Chamber CEO hire gets rave reviews – According to those who have worked with him, Nathan Ahle, the incoming president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, has made a distinctive, substantial and positive impact everywhere he’s been employed. The Business Journal article 

Carmen George: Marianne LeCompte restoring dignity, hope to Fresno homeless – For Marianne LeCompte, helping Fresno’s homeless isn’t just about providing needed food or shelter. It’s about restoring people’s dignity. George in Fresno Bee 

Obama will seek $11 billion for homeless families – After making progress in reducing homelessness among veterans, the Obama administration is turning to the larger and more complicated challenge of homelessness among families with young children. New York Times article

Homeless saying no to new Pier 80 shelter — To say the much-ballyhooed homeless shelter on Pier 80 has gotten off to a slow start would be an understatement. San Francisco Chronicle article

LA homeless plans near approval, but where will the money come from? – Officials and some advocates say the plans represent a renewed political will and spirit of collaboration between the two powerful local government bodies in addressing an issue that has confounded policymakers for decades. But the question of how they will pay for the strategies in the long term remains unanswered, particularly on the city side. LA Times article

Activists call on LA council to stop arresting homeless people for being homeless — Skid row activists called on the city of Los Angeles on Monday to stop arresting homeless people for keeping tents and other belongings on sidewalks, and asked that enforcement money be directed instead toward building housing. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Children are a worthy cause, but Sacramento tax measure is flawed – No doubt, the city should be doing better by Sacramento’s 120,000 children and youths, nearly a third of whom are poor. But a proposed ballot measure to fund children’s by taxing marijuana cultivation is badly flawed – so much so that the City Council should vote Tuesday night against putting it before voters on June 7. Sacramento Bee editorial

Jay Schenirer: City Council should put children first with June tax measure – The Sacramento City Council member writes, “Tuesday night, the Sacramento City Council has the opportunity to make a statement of its values and priorities with a proposal to place a measure on the June 7 ballot to create a dedicated funding source for children and youths.” Schenirer op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Tentative pact to extend corporate shuttle program for year — The ubiquitous corporate shuttle buses that have become a symbol of gentrification in San Francisco will continue operating as is for another year — at which point the controversial program could face a major overhaul. San Francisco Chronicle article

Inglewood’s stadium rising soon, hoping to host Super Bowls — While the NFL wraps up its current season in the Bay Area’s Levi’s Stadium, the league’s newest edifice is preparing to rise 350 miles to the south. The largest contiguous block of unoccupied land in the Los Angeles area will be the site of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s lavish stadium and a massive surrounding complex. AP article

With crab season in limbo, fishermen line up for federal aid — On Monday, however, the roughly 50 commercial fishermen at the Santa Cruz harbor caught a small break. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in a sign of just how severe the crisis has grown, began offering low-interest disaster loans to those whose livelihoods depend on crabbing. San Francisco Chronicle article


California’s water supply at risk from warmer winters – Getting snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is crucial to the state’s water supply. But scientists say as the climate continues to warm, more precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow. KQED report

Bakersfield may reactivate wells as backup water measure — With sunny skies above, at least for now, and some form of historic drought likely to continue for a fifth year, the Bakersfield City Council will consider spending up to $3.5 million on Wednesday to keep the water flowing. Water Resources Department Manager Art Chianello will ask the City Council to approve spending around $3 million from his department’s domestic water capital improvement budget to add arsenic, ethyl di-bromide and 123-TCP treatment equipment and reactivate five off-line wells. Bakersfield Californian article

World Ag Expo opens Tuesday in Tulare — Towering tractors, juicy steak sandwiches and more technology than you can imagine are awaiting visitors of the World Ag Expo that opens Tuesday in Tulare. Fresno Bee article

A look at Ag Expo’s top 10 new products — This year’s top 10 include a lift gate for trucks that can be removed when it isn’t needed, a battery-operated backpack sprayer that can hold an eight-hour charge and a machine that washes solar panels with a large, spinning brush, like the kind used at automated car washes. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Calendar says winter, but it’s hot and dry: Has El Nino abandoned LA? — Has El Niño abandoned L.A.? It’s too early to be certain. But some scientists say El Niño is operating differently than they expected — at least for Southern California. LA Times article

Three years later, LA supervisors may revisit plans to raise funds for stormwater projects — Environmentalists and public officials have talked about trying another countywide ballot measure next year to pay for stormwater capture infrastructure, county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

An unprecedented experiment in mass forgiveness — In California, once a national innovator in draconian policies to get tough on crime, voters and lawmakers are now innovating in the opposite direction, adopting laws that have released tens of thousands of inmates and are preventing even more from going to prison in the first place. Washington Post article

Reports: Manhunt suspect Benjamin Ashley was diagnosed as bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic — Benjamin Ashley, the subject of a massive manhunt in rugged portions of eastern Kern County last year, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, according to statements contained in coroner’s office reports. Bakersfield Californian article

Visalia Police Department learns about illicit massage parlors — On Thursday, the Visalia Police Department attended a training session in Sacramento focused on the elimination of local illicit massage parlors. Visalia Times-Delta article

Chowchilla police officer arrested in sex-with-minor case — A 35-year-old Chowchilla police officer who has worked with schools was arrested Monday on suspicion of having sex with a minor, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office reported. Tyler Hormel was assigned as a school resource officer, but the alleged crime did not take place at any of the locations where Hormel was working, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Merced Sun-Star article


UC lecturers would get pay boost, earlier mentoring under tentative contract agreement – University of California lecturers would receive a pay boost, earlier job reviews and special funds that can be used for retirement under a tentative four-year contract agreement, UC and union officials announced Monday. LA Times article

New, reading-heavy SAT has students worried – The shift is leading some educators and college admissions officers to fear that the revised test will penalize students who have not been exposed to a lot of reading, or who speak a different language at home — like immigrants and the poor. New York Times article

Credentialing commission considers slowing rotation of substitute teachers – The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing this week will consider whether to create a new teaching permit in place of a decades-old permit that limits the amount of time substitutes can fill in for teachers on medical and other legally required leave. EdSource article

Modesto City Schools moves board meeting to Gregori to accommodate crowds – The Modesto City Schools Board has moved its Tuesday meeting to Gregori High to accommodate anticipated crowds protesting treatment of African Americans and stalled teacher contract talks. Modesto Bee article

Hoaxers increasingly going online to threaten schools – An anonymous email sent in December threatened El Capitan High School with a bomb and school officials sent students home for the day as authorities investigated. Investigators eventually concluded the threat was bogus. AP article

Charter schools say LA Unified is unfairly scrutinizing their campuses — Charter supporters say the district is unfairly scrutinizing their independently run campuses because it sees them as a threat. LA Times article

Karin Kline: Lawsuit isn’t way to fix California’s teacher laws – The freelance journalist from Orange County writes, “There are times when conditions are so bad – such as when low-income students went without the adequate textbooks that were basic in more affluent schools – that a lawsuit is the right and only path. This is not one of those times. Taking on teacher-protection laws, while ignoring worse conditions because they don’t fit the school-reform ideology, won’t forge a coherent path to better public education.” Kline op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Winter heat wave sets records in California as some ask where El Nino went — Southern California was supposed to be dealing with rain, floods and mudslides from El Niño at this time of year. Instead, the region is dealing with heat and even the occasional brush fire. Fullerton on Sunday was the hottest place in America — at 89 degrees, and Ventura firefighters battled a brush fire that for a time threatened homes. LA Times article

PG&E plans new electric substation to serve Clovis, northeast Fresno – Growth in northeast Fresno and Clovis is pushing the operator of the state’s electrical grid and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to explore options for a new substation to boost power service and reliability in the area. Fresno Bee article

EPA reaches settlement with Kings County and a company for pesticide violations – The Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Kings County and a company for pesticide violations in the San Joaquin Valley, the agency announced Monday. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Bridge over troubled Stanislaus about to be inundated again – Sometime soon, and possibly by the end of this week, we’ll again bid goodbye to the old Parrotts Ferry Bridge. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Big turnout expected at showdown over Coastal Commission chief’s future – On Wednesday, the commission will consider ousting Charles Lester, a 23-year veteran of the agency, during its regular meeting in Morro Bay. If he is removed, it would be a first in the agency’s history. LA Times article 

Californians fight over whether coast should be rugged or refined — It has been one of the most powerful governmental agencies in the nation, with sweeping powers to determine what gets built, or does not get built, on the 1,100 miles of cliffs, mountains and beaches along the Pacific Ocean, one of the country’s great destinations. New York Times article 

Relief well is closing in on Porter Ranch gas leak – A relief well is within 20 feet of reaching the leaking Southern California Gas Co. well in Aliso Canyon that released tons of methane into the air and led to the dislocation of thousands of residents, regulatory and company officials said Monday. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

For new hospitals, Tulare, Visalia look to bond measures – Two South Valley health care districts are putting bond measures on the ballot to pay for hospitals that will hold up in earthquakes. Fresno Bee article

Obama seeks $1.8 billion to combat Zika virus – President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says “there shouldn’t be a panic on this.” AP article 

Zika virus raises more questions than answers for pregnant women – As public health officials and epidemiologists race to understand the Zika virus, doctors in the United States are struggling to counsel patients and ease their fears amid a flood of constantly changing information. LA Times article

New rapid Zika test could contain spread of disease – Dr. Charles Chiu, a specialist in infectious diseases at UC San Francisco, is testing a new genetic device that he hopes will diagnose Zika, and other mosquito-borne infections like dengue, in under six hours. If the technique proves successful, he hopes to send it to Brazil, ground zero for the virus, by the end of the month. KQED report

Tulare County travelers warned about Zika virus — Those planning a trip to Mexico or Central and South American countries should take proper precautions against mosquito bites to prevent contracting Zika virus, county health officials warn. Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

Cedar Creek Apartments in southeast Fresno sold for $6.15 million — A southeast Fresno apartment complex has been sold to a Turlock investment company for $6.15 million. Boohmi Investments, Inc. bought Cedar Creek Apartments on Lane Avenue, behind Home Depot at Kings Canyon Road and Winery Avenue, according to Berkadia Real Estate Advisors, Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Conway unveiling possible glimpse of future — The only problem with eight new modular homes in south Stockton, officials say, is that there aren’t 800 more of them in the city. Stockton Record article

Aviation groups accuse city of making it difficult to operate at Santa Monica Airport —  In the ongoing battle over the fate of Santa Monica Airport, a group of aviation organizations and businesses has accused the coastal city of imposing illegal landing fees, diverting airport funds to non-aviation uses and setting unfair leasing policies to force out aeronautical tenants. LA Times article

Other areas 

Bakersfield council may eliminate fireworks use on July 1, fine scofflaws $1,000 — The fireworks will start earlier than usual Wednesday, as the Bakersfield City Council will consider at 3:30 p.m. eliminating one day on which legal, “safe and sane” devices can be used, and imposing new fines on violators. Bakersfield Californian article

‘Postcards from Stockton’ will celebrate city’s history, cultural diversity — Imagine a postcard from Stockton bearing a picture of downtown’s waterfront on a sun-splashed day. Or a postcard celebrating the city’s diversity. Or one that reflects the region’s agricultural roots. Murals with just such picture-postcard themes soon will begin covering the drab walls of buildings in Stockton’s core, according to Cindi Fargo, executive director of the Downtown Stockton Alliance. Stockton Record article 

Wall in Fresno park a canvas for graffiti artists’ tribute — There aren’t many places in California that boast long, legal, public walls open to graffiti artists. But in southeast Fresno, in the unincorporated community of Calwa, there’s a quarter-mile cinderblock wall that’s open to street artists year-round. KQED report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Merced Sun-Star – Call it gut instinct, Chipotle deserves a chance to regain our confidence.

Modesto Bee –– Call it gut instinct, Chipotle deserves a chance to regain our confidence.

Sacramento Bee – No doubt, the city should be doing better by Sacramento’s 120,000 children and youths, nearly a third of whom are poor. But a proposed ballot measure to fund children’s by taxing marijuana cultivation is badly flawed – so much so that the City Council should vote Tuesday night against putting it before voters on June 7;  Our gut says Chipotle deserves another chance.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers on jilted students from beauty school closing, the real estate rebound in San Joaquin County and other issues. 

Maddy Events

Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: Californian’s View of State Regulation and the Environment: Too Much, Too Little or Just Right?  Guests: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Dean Bonner. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Adapting to Climate Change: Implications for the Valley” – Guests: John Capitman, executive director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, and Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. 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.

Community Events

  • 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/ 

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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