January 12, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Tax overhaul bill would boost California revenue $10 billion a year

Even though a new crop of lawmakers has arrived at the Capitol, some old favorite issues have never left. Notably taxes. Already under discussion this year are tax increases on wealthy people’s incomes, cigarettes, crude oil, commercial property and more. Supporters are gearing up; so are opponents.  LA Times article

California Legislature seeks to curb police violence – After a year in which the use of lethal force by police officers spurred nationwide protests and bared outrage about the intersection of race and law enforcement in America, California legislators have returned to Sacramento determined to pass laws blunting police violence.  Sacramento Bee article


State budget

George Skelton: Brown’s budget is a skinny, homely thing, but it’s got brains — Gov. Jerry Brown’s new budget proposal is really boring. It’s bare-bones — for a Democrat — and hardly bold. But mostly it’s smart. It’s a brake on what otherwise could be a return to runaway spending in Sacramento.  Skelton column in LA Times

Brown plan to eliminate retiree health care debt — Gov. Brown wants state workers to begin paying half the cost of their future retiree health care — a big change for workers making no payments for coverage that can pay 100 percent of the premium for a retiree and 90 percent for their dependents.  Calpensions article


Gov. Brown

An idealist’s heart: Brown on poverty, politics and the budget — During his press conference outlining his new $164.7 billion state spending plan, Gov. Jerry Brown made extensive remarks about Californians living in poverty, and the challenges the state faces in dealing with those who continue to struggle economically.  Capitol Weekly article


Valley politics

Potential districts unveiled in Riverbank — Four options for splitting the city into voting districts are available for public review, and all would yield two predominantly Latino districts. The City Council is scheduled to review the options Tuesday, with town hall meetings in coming weeks to further examine them and collect public input, and a citywide vote expected in November.  Modesto Bee article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Attorney General Kamala Harris mum about potential Senate bid – California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris demurred Sunday when asked about a potential run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, saying she was focused on her current job as she held a swearing-in celebration in downtown Los Angeles.  LA Times article

Villaraigosa would add dynamic new element in race to succeed Boxer — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s announcement that he is seriously weighing a bid for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer added a dynamic new element to what is likely to be a crowded and expensive race.  LA Times article


Other areas

LA’s reluctance to vote by mail hurting candidates, causes – For California Democrats, sprawling Los Angeles County is the scary-looking guard dog that just won’t bark. In November’s election, California’s largest county was dead last in turnout, with just over 31 percent of registered voters casting ballots. And even that dismal number was a huge improvement from the June primary, when Los Angeles County turnout was 16.9 percent — also the lowest in the state.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Lenny Mendonca: Real answers about real issues in California – Even as a boy on his family dairy farm in rural Turlock, Lenny Mendonca — the grandson of Portuguese immigrants — managed to find a way to fuel his lifelong curiosity and passion for big-city politics and government issues.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Dan Walters: Audit slams bureaucracy in California’s judiciary – The Alliance of California Judges, a feisty band of rebels in robes, has complained for five years that the state’s judicial bureaucracy had become bloated, overpaid, arrogantly dismissive and incompetent.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Hundreds rally in San Francisco, LA in unity with France against terrorism — Hundreds of Bay Area and Los Angeles residents stood in solidarity with the millions of Europeans who gathered at unity marches in France this weekend.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

After tough win, Rep. Ami Bera looks to second term — Rep. Ami Bera was sworn in Tuesday for a second term in the House of Representatives, but only a few months ago, his return to the Capitol was anything but certain. In a recent interview, Bera talked about his tough re-election and the next two years ahead.  Sacramento Bee article

Economic mobility could be a defining theme in 2016 — Presidential hopefuls in both parties agree on at least one thing: Economic mobility, and the feeling of many Americans that they are being shut out from the nation’s prosperity, will be a defining theme of the 2016 campaign.  Washington Post article
California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Stockton City Council agenda shifts toward youth — Had you stumbled in off the street Tuesday night not knowing what sort of meeting you had walked in on, it would have been completely understandable to have been just a little bit confused. The place was packed. The discussion centered on Stockton’s generational issues of crime, poverty, joblessness and low academic attainment. The connection between the challenges facing many Stockton young people and the city’s tortured road toward its potential was the featured topic.  Stockton Record article

A glimpse at a changing downtown Visalia – A lot has been happening in downtown Visalia in past weeks. Two businesses have permanently shut their downtown doors, one long-time establishment has undergone renovations, and something new is in the works for another storefront last occupied roughly a year ago.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Jobs and the Economy

ADA legislation: Proposal would provide relief for businesses — New legislation in the state Capitol takes aim at serial lawsuits over Americans with Disabilities Act violations, giving small businesses more time to correct any deficiencies and requiring ADA plaintiffs to prove harm before they can collect money.  Stockton Record article 

Silicon Valley is trying to diversify, but strategies still lag — As pressure to diversify the largely white, male ranks of Silicon Valley has intensified, the nation’s most elite historically black schools have found their talent in increasing demand — 35 percent of all bachelors degrees in computer science earned by black men and women are awarded by HBCUs.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Kaiser workers still expected to go on strike Monday — Despite efforts at negotiation, it appears likely Kaiser mental health workers will strike as planned Monday. Hours of negotiations between Kaiser and the National Union of Healthcare Workers on Friday and Saturday came to a standstill and finger pointing.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento Bee: New leaders take helm of Sacramento region’s job recruitment — This is a time of great transition for economic development in the Sacramento region – and a real opportunity to up our game and achieve the more diverse mix of well-paying jobs that everyone wants.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Las Vegas casinos may be betting on high-speed rail – There may be some new big-bucks players when it comes to California’s high-speed rail line — Las Vegas casinos. It’s estimated that 18 million people a year hop on Interstate 15 from Southern California to Las Vegas. And while most eyes have been on California’s high-speed rail dream, Nevada has been moving ahead with its own $6 billion DesertXpress to link Vegas with the San Bernardino County town of Victorville.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Westlands deal may end long dispute over contaminated land — Westlands Water District says it has reached a deal with the federal government in a decades-long dispute over thousands of acres of contaminated land. The San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday reported the agreement involving Westlands, which covers 1,000 square miles of some of the country’s most lucrative farmland. The 600 farms in the water district produce $1 billion in crops annually. AP article

Businesses get far rebate checks for water-saving turf replacement — Local and state water officials have lauded the multimillion-dollar program as a water-saving boon for the drought-stricken state. Thousands of Southland residents have applied for financial incentives to tear out and replace turf with drought-friendly foliage, a move experts say is critical to recalibrating Californians’ attitude toward water. Businesses are cashing in, too, in a big way.  LA Times article

Watte receives cotton council award — Tulare farmer Mark Watte was among the recipients of the 2015 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards, presented earlier this week in San Antonio, Texas.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

More details released on south Tulare County jail – Construction of the first jail in southern Tulare County could begin in May of next year. The facility will contain 500 beds, including 360 in double-bed cells.  Visalia Times-Delta article

David Singer: On Duty with the CHP: Rescuing kidnapped children through AMBER Alerts — The CHP’s mission is to provide the highest level of safety, service and security to Californians. This is one of the reasons I feel the AMBER Alert system is one of the best plans developed in modern law enforcement history. Some of you might be asking what the AMBER Alert system is or how you can be an active part of the system, so let me tell you how you can save a life.  Singer column in Fresno Bee

Peter Bibring: So far, solutions to police killings fall far short of needed reforms – The director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California writes, “While there’s broad agreement that change is needed, no consensus has emerged about what should be done. That’s because the challenges we face are too big for one or two quick fixes. The solutions offered so far are important but fall far short.”  Bibring op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Silicon Valley turns its eye to education – The education technology business is chock-full of fledgling companies whose innovative ideas have not yet proved effective — or profitable. But that is not slowing investors, who are pouring money into ventures as diverse as free classroom-management apps for teachers and foreign language lessons for adult learners.  New York Times article 

Merced College projected to miss growth goal — Merced College’s spring semester begins Monday and officials are expecting the enrollment to be about the same as last year, which is below the school’s target for growth.  Merced Sun-Star article


Health/Human Services 

Happy Hearts hits $1 million mark — Happy Hearts of Visalia now has a special place of honor on the donor wall of Valley Children’s Hospital after the organization reached a milestone Friday. The organization, founded after the death of Heather Nugent 12 years ago, has now raised $1 million for the pediatric intensive care unit at the children’s hospital, just north of Fresno.  Visalia Times-Delta article 

New rules to limit tactics on hospitals’ fee collections — The Obama administration has adopted sweeping new rules to discourage nonprofit hospitals from using aggressive tactics to collect payments from low-income patients.  New York Times article



Shaw Avenue widening planned next year east of Clovis — Today, Clovis city officials are preparing to widen Shaw Avenue between DeWolf and McCall avenues. Construction is expected to begin next year, but meetings already have begun with residents about acquiring land for the expanded road. The city’s plans for growth, known as the sphere of influence, stretches to McCall.  Fresno Bee article
Other Areas

Les Kimber, ex-Fresno council member, remembered as West Fresno activist – Lesly H. “Les” Kimber’s baritone voice was slow and rich, one that commanded attention and could silence a room. The former Fresno City Council member, who co-founded The California Advocate Newspaper and was a strong activist for racial equality, died Saturday at age 80.  Fresno Bee article

King’s work for economic justice celebrated – Well before he became a civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had planned to devote his life to the social gospel, a movement dedicated to eradicating slums, unemployment, economic insecurity and other social ills. That was one of the central points made Sunday in a speech by Stanford University historian and King scholar Clayborne Carson at the Motherlode Martin Luther King Jr. Committee’s 20th annual celebration of the slain civil rights leader.  Modesto Bee article

San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors: Miller set to lead from another panel – When Kathy Miller was growing up, her father told her that if she wanted to play with her brothers and the cousins her age — all boys — she’d have to learn to keep up. When she was sworn-in to county office on Monday, she became only the third woman in the 165-year history of the county to sit on the board and only the second to serve as its chair.  Stockton Record article

Losing marijuana business, Mexican cartels push heroin and meth — Mexican traffickers are sending a flood of cheap heroin and methamphetamine across the U.S. border, the latest drug seizure statistics show, in a new sign that America’s marijuana decriminalization trend is upending the North American narcotics trade.  Washington Post article

Yosemite’s El Capitan stonewalls but doesn’t stop free climbers – Somewhere up on that impossibly vertical rock face, two men were inching toward accomplishing what had never been done before.  LA Times article

A high flying tradition like few others — Although it flies daily at schools, offices, homes and government buildings, the stars and stripes don’t merit a glance for many people and often, even less of a thought. But for a knot of folks who live near the east entrance of Stockdale Estates off Stockdale Highway, the (almost) daily raising and lowering of an American flag there for the past 46 1/2 years has become an institution.  Bakersfield Californian article

City Beat: Homeless woman caught in vicious cycle – Janice Moore is out on the streets, wandering somewhere in her own vicious cycle between the cold winter air and another night in jail.  Sacramento Bee article

Local Muslim leaders ‘abhor’ terrorist acts – In no uncertain terms, leaders of San Joaquin County’s Muslim community condemned the terrorist activity in Paris last week that left 17 people dead, resulting in the world pointing its collective finger at Islamist extremists.  Stockton Record article 

Hanford Sentinel to make changes in publication days — The Sentinel is making a significant change in just three weeks. Beginning Feb. 2, we will discontinue publication of a Monday newspaper. The Tuesday paper will become bigger to accommodate the local news you are accustomed to getting in print on Monday, and news and information will be posted online daily as it is now.  Hanford Sentinel article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Chancellor White must fight for CSU’s fair share of funds.

Sacramento Bee – This is a time of great transition for economic development in the Sacramento region – and a real opportunity to up our game and achieve the more diverse mix of well-paying jobs that everyone wants.