January 12, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Gov. Jerry Brown opposes $9-billion school bond measure – Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday came out against a $9-billion school bond measure that will go before voters in November, erecting a political hurdle for advocates of new spending on school construction. LA Times article

CalChamber sends ‘job killer’ bills to its personal graveyard — Every spring the California Chamber of Commerce introduces its so-called “job killer” list, a handpicked collection of bills the group says will reduce jobs and deter companies from doing business in the state. Critics of the long-standing lobbying practice call the list little more than a marketing campaign carried out on behalf of big business. One thing is certain: You don’t want your bill to be on it. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

AD 31: Arambula continues rapid fundraising clip for Assembly election – With the 31st Assembly District special election approaching fast, Democrat Joaquin Arambula is continuing his fundraising onslaught, absolutely dominating his Republican opponent, Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier. Arambula has raised around $185,000 for the April 5 special election, and has loaned his campaign an additional $50,000. Olivier has raised $13,900. Fresno Bee article 

It’s now official: Brandvold wins runoff for Modesto mayor — The Stanislaus County elections office has certified the results of Modesto’s Feb. 2 mayoral runoff election: Challenger Ted Brandvold has defeated incumbent Garrad Marsh. Modesto Bee article 

First Merced County District 2 supervisor challenger opens campaign — The first competition for any of Merced County’s sitting supervisors announced her presence on Wednesday during a campaign kickoff in downtown Merced. Lee Lor, 33, said she will make a run at the District 2 seat of the Board of Supervisors, which is held by Hub Walsh. Lor is the executive director of the Merced County Education Fund, an effort of the Merced County Office of Education to help families who can’t afford extracurricular activities for their children. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton Record: Mayor wrong for missing disclosure deadline — Campaign financial disclosures exist for a reason: transparency. Stockton Record editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Walters: DAs fight governor’s measure – Wily politician that he is, Jerry Brown tried to dampen potential opposition to an overhaul of criminal sentencing laws he’ll place on the November ballot. Brown met with some – but not all – law enforcement groups and made some tweaks in response to their criticism. However, one major group Brown didn’t consult beforehand – the California District Attorneys Association – has declared its opposition. Walters column in Sacramento BeeKQED report

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer provides a glimmer of hope for a Republican revival in California — San Diego’s mild-mannered mayor, Kevin Faulconer, appears destined to cruise to a second term, a notable achievement for a Republican politician who took the helm of this Democratic city just two years ago. That means Republicans are looking at Faulconer, a former public relations executive and two-time City Council member, as someone with a strong political future within a state Republican Party in desperate need of bright spots. LA Times article


Silicon Valley’s Indian community pushes to reform H1B visa program — The H1B visa is such a big deal for the Indian expatriate community in Silicon Valley that immigration lawyer Madhuri Nemali has been able to build her business around it. Nemali says over half of her clients are Indian nationals struggling with some aspect of the visa program. KQED report

Other areas 

Feinstein water policy bill could signal a compromise in sight — California’s congressional delegation has long disagreed over how to respond to the Golden State’s water crisis, balancing protecting endangered species and preserving waterways against agricultural demand and drying wells. Feinstein said the bill reflected two years of bipartisan meetings, consultation with federal, state and local groups and discussions with farmers and environmentalists. LA Times article 

Female lawmakers float package of bills seeking pay equity, child care funding – A package of proposals unveiled Thursday by female lawmakers would help women in California achieve equitable pay and expand family-leave job protections, as well as earmark more state funds for child care and for helping children on welfare. LA Times articleKQED report

State officials disagree on who will track medical marijuana plants – California’s new medical cannabis law will put the state in charge of tracking each marijuana plant from “seed to sale.” But the Brown administration and the state’s independent tax board are at odds about who will oversee it. Capital Public Radio report

GOP and Democrat congressmen hold joint fundraiser for marijuana — Perhaps only one thing could bring a Democratic and a Republican congressman together to headline a $1,000-a-person fundraiser in San Francisco: weed. Orange County Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Portland, Ore., Democrat Earl Blumenauer are holding a — wait for it — joint fundraiser Friday in San Francisco. So far, 30 people have signed up and organizers say roughly an equal amount of money is going to each representative. San Francisco Chronicle article

How did Eric Linder win the left and right? — California’s largest public employee union supports tax increases and government spending, so it usually finds more in common with Democrats. Its endorsement of Linder – the son of a Mexican immigrant who first won election pledging not to raise taxes – has left some politicos scratching their heads, and others wondering if it signals an emerging trend of labor making nice with the GOP. CALmatters article

Bill Whalen: Sanders’ young legions could have big impact in California — Twice now, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has walloped prohibitive favorite Hillary Clinton in that voting bloc, getting five out of six Democrats under the age of 30. That’s better than Barack Obama’s performance among African American primary voters in 2008. Why does this matter to California? Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Kings County opponents of high-speed get their day in court – Attorneys for and against California’s high-speed rail project made their final arguments Thursday to a Sacramento County Superior Court judge who will decide whether the proposed bullet-train system complies with the requirements set out in 2008 by Proposition 1A. Fresno Bee articleAP articleLA Times articleCapital Public Radio report

Gustine chooses new mascot after governor bans Redskins – After a new state law banned the Redskins mascot, Gustine High School will return to its roots by changing its nickname to the Reds, becoming the first of four California schools to move forward in complying with the law. Merced Sun-Star article 

Investors in huge California wind farm might end up repaying federal subsidies – A giant wind farm in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley is blowing gusts through a faraway federal court, with tens of millions of dollars potentially up in the air. Some of the wind farm’s early investors want more than $200 million in additional subsidies that they say the federal government owes them. Obama administration officials, in turn, argue that the government paid $59 million too much. This week, a judge sharpened the administration’s side of the sword, agreeing that the U.S. can try to retrieve some of the taxpayer dollars paid. McClatchy Newspapers article

Jobs and the Economy

Nordstrom Rack? Cheesecake Factory? Modesto eyes retail consultant – Could Modesto’s shoppers support such higher-end retailers as a Nordstrom Rack, Ann Taylor’s LOFT or Cheesecake Factory? That’s a question the city hopes to answer if it proceeds with paying a consultant $60,000 to conduct a retail and market study that would focus on opportunities for downtown, the east side, Sisk Road — home to Vintage Faire Mall, big box retailers and the NorthPoint Shopping Center — as well as perhaps a fourth study area. Modesto Bee article

Water rate hike advances to Stockton City Council – Stockton faces “very scary” consequences if it fails to approve a significant water rate hike starting this summer, a city official said Thursday before a committee agreed to forward the proposal to the full City Council. Stockton Record article

San Joaquin County housing more affordable in fourth quarter – San Joaquin County, along with Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Los Angeles counties, saw the greatest quarter-to-quarter improvement in housing affordability due to flat home prices and lower interest rates. Stockton Record article

Bad actions in state workforce cost taxpayers thousands of dollars — Psychiatrists at a state hospital routinely played hooky. A supervising nurse at a correctional facility forged military papers. A development center squandered thousands of dollars on state worker leave time. These are among the findings of a new government compilation of employee misdeeds, released Thursday by the California State Auditor. Sacramento Bee articleAP article

New role for homeless in Bakersfield – Starting next month, and funded by private sponsorships, Bakersfield Homeless Center clients will be increasingly visible in the city core as part of the Downtown Street Ambassador Partnership Team. Two BHC clients a week will be hired to work five hours a day, four days a week, in downtown, and may also help out on special events. Bakersfield Californian article

Raiders sign lease to play 2016 season in Oakland – The Raiders signed a lease to stay in Oakland this year, officials announced Thursday afternoon at a news conference. The team’s agreement with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority comes the week before the Feb. 17 expiration date of the Raiders’ current lease. The new deal includes one-year options for 2017 and 2018. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco real estate ‘overvalued’ according to new report — As San Francisco home prices continue to rise, a new report is calling the local market “overvalued” by about 16 percent. San Francisco Chronicle article

Uber will pay $28.5 million to settle two class-action lawsuits over safety claims – Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to roughly 25 million customers to settle two class-action lawsuits related to the way the company represented its background checks and the fees it charged passengers. LA Times article

Forever 21 to close Hanford location — After nearly seven years of business, fashion clothing retailer Forever 21 is shuttering its Hanford Mall location. The doors will close on April 1. Hanford Sentinel article 

Sacramento investors acquire half block on Broadway corridor — In another sign of economic revival in Sacramento’s Tower District, a local investment group has acquired a half city block at 19th Street and Broadway with plans that could include luring retailers and possibly a grocery store. Sacramento Bee article 


California grape harvest shrank in 2015 – California’s wine grape crop shrank to its lowest level in four years last fall, a 5 percent decline from 2014’s harvest, according to results released Wednesday. Sacramento Bee articleModesto Bee article

Mary Piepho: Tunnels aren’t the best fix for Delta – The member of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors and chairwoman of the Delta Protection Commission writes, “California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird is correct that California needs a Delta water fix that allows us to capture high flows in the rainiest of years (“To make the most of rain, state needs Delta tunnels,” Viewpoints, Feb. 5). However, he is incorrect in stating that the governor’s twin-tunnel proposal is the only way to accomplish this.” Piepho op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Lawsuit alleges union access to farms violates owners’ constitutional protections – In a legal challenge to unions’ longstanding access to farmers’ private property, a conservative public interest law firm filed a federal lawsuit this week against California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board — an action that may have repercussions for new rules under consideration by the state. Bakersfield Californian article

Drones a big draw at World Ag Expo – For most farmers, it’s all about the ground: What to plant in it, how much to irrigate it and how to tend it to generate the most bountiful yield. But at this week’s 2016 World Ag Expo, many farmers were looking to the sky. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Shoes for cows: World Ag Expo vendor has the latest in hoofwear — It’s the final day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, and thousands of students are expected to tour the grounds of International Agri-Center. The expo, which draws more than 100,000 visitors over its three-day run, has benefited from unseasonably warm weather. Vendors say they have enjoyed large crowds. Mike Brimble, project manager for Moowell, is one of those vendors. The British company makes cow shoes. Yes, shoes for cows. Fresno Bee article

Volunteering: The name of the game at Ag Expo — As a teenager, Rob Fletcher saw what seemed like larger-than-life farm equipment on display across the grounds of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, and he was in awe. It was then that he developed an interest in volunteering at the world’s largest agricultural trade show, and he has been doing so for the past 35 years. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Investigators seek cause of crash that killed pilot, deputy in Tulare County – The call for the Tulare County sheriff’s air support unit began with a report of a man brandishing a knife and fleeing in a vehicle. It ended in tragedy. For reasons still unknown, the Flight Design light sport aircraft – made specifically for law enforcement use – crashed into an empty hillside Wednesday near Springville, killing pilot James Chavez, 42, of Hanford and Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, of Visalia. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Michael Fitzgerald: Take the risk and pay cops more – Post-bankrupt Stockton is supposedly better run, but the most important process in the city is broken: the hiring of 120 police as promised to citizens. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Gary E. Brown: Kidnapper paroles stir up questions on sentencing laws – The former Chowchilla police chief writes, “Brown flouted criminal justice in 2012, when he released the first of the infamous Chowchilla school bus kidnappers. Another was paroled in 2015. A third may eventually walk. Readers under 50 may not recall the crime was selected as one of the Top 10 news stories of the world.” Brown op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Lawyer for dead man’s family allege cover-up in Sanger police shooting — Lawyers for the family of an unarmed, mentally ill Marines Corps veteran shot and killed by Sanger police in June 2012 alleged a cover-up of the shooting during Thursday’s second day of a federal civil-rights trial in Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

San Joaquin County Jail inmate dies in custody — A 57-year-old man has died in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday afternoon. The man’s identity has not been released pending notification of his family. Stockton Record article 

Mario Woods had 20 bullet wounds, drugs in system, autopsy shows –– Mario Woods suffered 20 gunshot wounds, many of them from behind, when he was killed by San Francisco police officers in December, according to an autopsy report that also indicated the presence of methamphetamine, marijuana, antidepressants and cough medicine in his system. San Francisco Chronicle article

Ex-LA Sheriff Lee Baca may go to jail but he’ll get to keep his county pension — Reforms enacted in 2013 to strip pensions from public employees who commit job-related felonies will have little effect, if any, on the roughly $328,000 annual benefit owed to Baca, who pleaded guilty this week to lying to federal officials investigating corruption and brutality by deputies at the Los Angeles County jail. LA Times article


Here’s where to go in California if you want to finish college in four years — Four-year graduation rates in California have improved slightly since the depths of the financial downturn, rising from about 36 percent in 2008 to roughly 39 percent in 2012, federal data show. This chart shows the four-year graduation rates at the 80 largest colleges in California, ranked by schools with the highest graduation rates, according to data submitted by the colleges to the U.S. Department of Education. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto Bee: Teachers, Modesto City Schools – figure out a deal — A strike hurts everyone, especially students. If teachers, Grenbeaux and the other board members can’t find a way to move past the impasse and the anger, they’ll all be making an apology – to the community. Modesto Bee editorial 

Fresno State looks for locals to share stories — Soon, a partnership between Fresno State and StoryCorps will make the oral histories of local Latino families more available to the public. Visalia Times-Delta article


David Hochschild and Matthew Freedman: California’s push for clean energy is paying off – Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission, and Freedman, a staff attorney at TURN, write, “Thanks to the steady hand at the wheel provided by the governor and legislative leaders, California is leading the race to a clean-energy future. Far from being an expensive option for ratepayers, renewable energy is proving to be one of California’s smartest investments.” Hochschild/Freedman op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Fired California Coastal Commission director speaks out – The newly fired executive director of the California Coastal Commission said Thursday that commissioners have shifted in recent years to be more accommodating to coastal developers and to exert tighter control over day-to-day activities at the agency. LA Times article‘Six times Charles Lester changed California’s coastline’ in LA Times

Transparency debate follows vote by California coastal panel – The agency that decides what gets built and where along the California coast is facing questions about transparency after it pushed out its top executive in a closed-door vote and without a clear explanation of why the change was being made. AP articleLA Times article

Firing of Coastal Commission chief Charles Lester leaves deep divisions – The California Coastal Commission’s decision late Wednesday to fire its executive director, Charles Lester, after closed-door deliberations sparked outrage by environmentalists and is expected to leave deep divisions. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Only a complete coastal reboot will do – Most of California now believes that its Coastal Commission is preparing to pollute its coast with resorts and golf courses. Nothing but a total reboot will do if public confidence is to be restored. Sacramento Bee editorial

Political drama is nothing new for California Coastal Commission – In the 1950s and 1960s, developers and urban planners had big ideas for the coast. They talked about high-rise residential towers, marinas and resorts. LA Times article

Fight brews over federal wildfire funding after devastating year – After the costliest of wildfire seasons ravaged the West last year, with three catastrophic blazes ripping through Lake County, the U.S. Forest Service may be headed for a showdown with Congress over how to cover the surging bill. San Francisco Chronicle article

Gas leak at Porter Ranch well is stopped – at least temporarily — Southern California Gas Co. announced Thursday it has temporarily controlled the flow of gas from a well near Porter Ranch, a crucial first step in the effort to stop the leak that has forced thousands to flee their homes. LA Times articleAP article

Benicia commission rejects crude oil trains – The Benicia city planning commission, voting unanimously, dealt a dramatic setback Thursday to an oil company’s plans to ship crude oil via train through Northern California, including downtown Sacramento, to its local refinery. Sacramento Bee article

Natomas flood insurance rates to stop going up — Residents of Sacramento’s flood-prone Natomas area stand to gain from federal government plans to limit their rising flood-insurance costs, according to Rep. Doris Matsui. McClatchy Newspapers article

Obama creates 3 new national monuments to protect 1.8 million acres of California desert — President Obama designated three new national monuments in the California desert Thursday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres of landscapes that have retained their natural beauty despite decades of heavy mining, cattle ranching and off-roading. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Health/Human Services 

Lawyer fights back at Fresno County in Seth Ireland death case – In the latest volley over the death of Seth Ireland nearly eight years ago, the Fresno lawyer representing the boy’s family says county officials are lying and hiding a report that exposed actions by social workers. Fresno Bee article

Kern Medical Center adopts new name as bigger changes loom – Kern Medical Center has a new name. But that’s actually the smallest change the venerable public hospital is set to undertake in the next year. After being run by Kern County for over a century, the hospital – now branded simply as “Kern Medical” – will be spun off later this year to a newly created, independent hospital authority. KVPR report 

LA County health officials want you to eat smaller portions at restaurants — In another attempt to reduce obesity rates, the Los Angeles County Public Health department is launching an advertising campaign to encourage parents and their kids to choose smaller portions and healthier foods the next time they eat out. LA Times article 

Sacramento Bee: Drug disposal bins welcome tool in opioid fight — We applaud Walgreens for being among the first corporations to step up and, at least, try to solve the problem. Sacramento Bee editorial

Too few kids getting preventive dental care, reports say — More than half of California’s emergency room visits for dental problems are from kids younger than 6, but only a little more than a third of children in this age group are receiving preventive care, according to a recent report. Merced Sun-Star article

Dungeness crab health warning lifted for more of California — Health officials say Dungeness crabs caught along a swath of California’s coast no longer show high levels of a marine toxin and are safe to eat. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Land Use/Housing

Commissioners add Hidden Valley to project list — Making parks more accessible to people with handicaps is a high priority for Hanford’s Parks and Recreation Commission, but developing Hidden Valley Park, renovating road medians and upgrades at other parks are also on a list of projects commissioners are evaluating. Hanford Sentinel article

Bay Bridge contractor says Caltrans owes $50 million — The main contractor on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge says Caltrans owes it nearly $50 million — a large chunk of what could add up to $140 million in cost overruns on the project. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Vehicle-vs.-pedestrian crashes will lead to police outreach — Modesto police plan to step up education efforts to cut down on collisions involving pedestrians. In the first month of 2016, there were 13 such crashes in Modesto, said Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves. That’s a bit higher rate than the department recorded last year, when there were 134. In January and February of 2015, there were 22 pedestrian-involved crashes. Modesto Bee article

County Pulse: Does Stanislaus County need an ordinance to combat cockfighting? – As a strategy to combat illegal cockfighting, Connie Goesch suggests that Stanislaus County government put a limit on the number of roosters kept on properties.  Modesto Bee article 

Nearly 1 in 5 inspected Berkeley buildings pose safety risk — Building inspection sweeps in Berkeley, prompted by a deadly balcony collapse last year, found that almost 20 percent of residences investigated need fixes to meet safety requirements. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The nation burns while justices fiddle on climate change; Most of California now believes that its Coastal Commission is preparing to pollute its coast with resorts and golf courses. Nothing but a total reboot will do if public confidence is to be restored.

Modesto Bee –– A strike hurts everyone, especially students. If teachers, Grenbeaux and the other Modesto City Schools board members can’t find a way to move past the impasse and the anger, they’ll all be making an apology – to the community.

Sacramento Bee – Drug disposal bins are a welcome tool in opioid fight; Most of California now believes that its Coastal Commission is preparing to pollute its coast with resorts and golf courses. Nothing but a total reboot will do if public confidence is to be restored.

Stockton Record – The Academic Decathlon continues to be one of the marquee events each year for San Joaquin County high school students; Campaign financial disclosures exist for a reason: transparency.

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. 

Sunday, Feb. 14, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Clean Energy Alternatives” – Guest: Margarita Fernandez – Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the California State Auditor. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez.

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

  • Fresno State President Joseph Castro and other university officials will hold a Community Conversation in the West Hills Community College conference facility, 555 College Ave., Lemoore on Tuesday, March 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.Seating for this free event is limited, so RSVPs should be made by February 26 at www.fresnostate.edu/presidentrsvpusing the code “Lemooreforum.”
  • 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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