January 16, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

On immigration, Denham, Valadao zig where GOP zags — San Joaquin Valley Republican congressmen Jeff Denham and David Valadao are now at the forefront of challenging party orthodoxy on immigration, a dissident position that brings both promise and peril.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Climate change influence at center of Steyer’s Senate consideration — Tom Steyer doesn’t care much for Pokémon. As he weighs a run for U.S. Senate, the billionaire environmentalist and Democratic benefactor took to the social networking service reddit Thursday to answer questions on anything – except Pokémon … and whether he’ll run to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016. Capitol Alert

State budget

Dan Walters Daily:  Social services prompt year’s biggest budget battle — Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders disagree over whether California is doing enough for the poor, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Bill Whalen: Jerry Brown is cautious – except on clean energy — Say what you will about Jerry Brown’s return to the Governor’s Office, but you can’t criticize the man for setting the bar too high – not in a first term highlighted by restrained rhetoric and an agenda more terrestrial than moonbeam.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Hedge-fund riches challenged as Steyer weighs Senate bid — San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer got a pungent sample Thursday of what awaits him if he runs for U.S. Senate as he fielded questions in an “Ask Me Anything” chat with an online audience.  LA Times article


Mexican consulates begin issuing copies of birth certificates — The Mexican government on Thursday began issuing birth certificates to Mexican nationals living in the United States to help them obtain the identity documents needed to apply for driver’s licenses and work permits.  LA Times article

Obama’s immigration order challenged in court by 26 states — Federal immigration officials will be breaking the law if they carry out President Obama’s executive order to let at least 4 million undocumented immigrants stay in the country, attorneys for Texas argued as they urged a U.S. judge to block the policy now while he decides whether it’s legal.  Bloomberg article

Other areas

AM Alert: Legislators’ per diem allowance raises slightly – The per diem rate rose slightly in October to $168, according to the Assembly Rules Committee, from $163 in the 2013-14 fiscal year. That’s up from $141.86 per day two years ago, but still below a peak of $173 in the 2008-09 fiscal year.  Capitol Alert

State of Jefferson brings three more California counties on board – Supporters of the aspiring State of Jefferson returned to Sacramento on Thursday to present “declarations of separation” from three more Northern California counties. The petitions from Tehama, Glenn and Yuba counties, expressing their desire to withdraw from California because of a perceived lack of representation in the Legislature, bring the total number of breakaway counties to five.  Capitol Alert

Effort would consolidate LA elections with state and federal voting — Hoping to reverse years of dismal voter turnout for Los Angeles city and school board elections, advocates recently kicked off what they say will be a “robust” campaign supporting two ballot measures to change when residents go to the polls.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Pete Chacon paved way for Latinos — There are two dozen Latinos in the California Legislature today, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, but when Pete Chacon unexpectedly won a seat in the state Assembly 44 years ago, he became one of only two. Chacon, who went on to serve 22 years in the Assembly, died last month at age 89. His death went largely unnoticed, but he played a key role in opening opportunities for Latinos to gain political power during the last two decades. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Obama pushes paid sick/family leave for workers — President Obama embarked on an effort Thursday to make paid family leave the new norm in America, using a strategy that garnered him some success last year in increasing the minimum wage for certain workers.  LA Times article

Widow of slain sheriff’s deputy to attend Obama speech — Susan Oliver, the widow of the Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy killed in a rampage last fall, will be among those in attendance at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. The invitation was made by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.  Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

California agency releasing more state water after storms — Recent storms will allow California to provide more water to local agencies and farms even as drought conditions stretch into a fourth year, officials announced Thursday.  AP article

Brandau’s decision muddies future of Fresno mayor’s plan to raise water rates – Historic legacies, human trafficking and job-boosting incentive programs were all part of Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting. But it was Council Member Steve Brandau’s announcement a block from the dais that dominated City Hall’s focus throughout the day. The District 2 representative held a late-morning news conference to say he’ll abstain from voting if any water-rate hikes come to the council in the near future.  Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Jobs and the Economy

California Economic Summit: A Roadmap to Shared Prosperity – The California Economic Summit is proud to announce the release of A Roadmap to Shared Prosperity.

It’s a broad set of proposals aimed at helping every region in California to accelerate middle-class job growth—and take on problems from growing income inequality to the environmental and economic challenges of climate change.  California Economic Summit blog

Fresno foreclosures are lowest level in eight years – Fresno County foreclosure filings have fallen to the lowest level since 2006, according to a year-end report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, a real estate data company.  Fresno Bee article

Latest housing stats bode well for home sales this year — Housing figures released Thursday point to a time that’s as rare as rain in the capital region these days: a “normal” homebuying season.  Sacramento Bee article

Kevin Valine: Modesto has plans for $5.2 million in its pocket – The city wants to spend the money on one-time projects its calls investments in Modesto and for maintenance the city put off during the recession. At a recent workshop, the City Council reviewed about three dozen projects and narrowed the list to 18, which council members will consider at more workshops in the coming months.  Valine in Modesto Bee

Could $2 a gallon gas be coming to Merced area stations soon? – There have been some smiles at the pump this week, and they may get larger in the near future. Three Merced gasoline stations are selling regular unleaded gasoline for $2.29 a gallon, and one station owner here says he will be lowering the price for regular to less than $2 a gallon soon.  Merced Sun-Star article

Union only wants jail corrections officers to vote in decertification effort – With decertification possibly looming for one unit of Fresno County’s Service Employees International Union members, the union wants to narrow the number of employees eligible to vote in an upcoming election.  Fresno Bee article

Power controls company to close Stockton plant – ASCO Power Technologies announced it will permanently close its Stockton plant at 705 N. Carlton Ave. later this year and move production to other company locations, putting more than 100 people out of work.  Stockton Record article

Visit Stockton’s sports development director on a winning streak – Tim Pasisz loves sports and earning a hard-fought victory. And as Visit Stockton’s sports development director, he’s been piling up plenty of wins.  Stockton Record article

U.S. judge rejects overtime for home health aides – California will not award overtime to home aides who care for the state’s elderly and disabled after a judge overturned a federal regulation requiring the higher pay, officials announced Thursday.  LA Times article

Solar jobs grew nearly 22 percent in 2014 –  U.S. solar industry jobs grew 21.8% in 2014 as the price of panels continued to fall and demand increased, according to a new report issued Thursday.  LA Times article

City Beat: New market coming to southeast Bakersfield – A neighborhood market in an under-served area of southeast Bakersfield got a warm reception Tuesday from the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Applicant Mohammed Alghazali, who also owns the Owens Street Grocery, at Owens Street and Virginia Avenue, visited the board to ask for a zoning modification that would let him reduce the setbacks on a new 5,000-square-foot grocery store at 900 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.  Bakersfield Californian article

Downtown Visalia names new events manager – Keeping downtown Visalia thriving is what Christi Metzner plans to do in her new role. The former downtown volunteer just finished her first week as the new Event and Membership Manager for the Downtown Visalians, an organization of business and property owners who seek to grow businesses in the downtown district.  Visalia Times-Delta article

San Jose strike out again in court over bid to let A’s move – A federal appeals court preserved Major League Baseball’s roadblock to the Oakland A’s proposed move to San Jose on Thursday, setting the stage for the South Bay city’s against-the-odds appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to roll back the sport’s nearly century-old exemption from antitrust laws.  San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

Chargers critical of mayor’s stadium plan — A day after Mayor Kevin Faulconer pledged to come up with a plan this year to keep the Chargers in San Diego, the team’s key lobbyist for a new stadium railed against the city’s effort, predicting it will only further delay the years-long quest for a new playing field.  U-T San Diego article

LA residents need to make $34 an hour to afford average apartment — You need to earn at least $34 an hour — $68,640 a year — to be able to afford the average apartment in Los Angeles County, according to Matt Schwartz, president and chief executive of the California Housing Partnership, which advocates for affordable housing. KPCC report

Chip Johnson: It was bad form for Contra Costa supervisors to hike pay 33 percent — A salary adjustment. That’s what one Contra Costa County supervisor called the $32,000-a-year raise she and her colleagues voted to give themselves in October. Johnson column in San Francisco Chronicle

Fresno-based advertising airship prepping for maiden flight – A startup aerial advertising service in Fresno said it is weeks away from taking its maiden flight, with a goal of gracing the skies above the World Ag Expo in Tulare next month.  The Business Journal article

Auburn regulates Airbnb, other home-sharing businesses — Auburn this week became the first jurisdiction in the Sacramento region to officially regulate home-sharing operations like Airbnb, a popular online platform on which residents rent private rooms for money.  Sacramento Bee article


Officials: California headed into fourth drought year – Still crossing your fingers for miracle storms to bail California out of the driest three-year stretch in the state’s recorded history? State and federal water officials aren’t.  Hanford Sentinel article

January looking dry, next few months warm – The National Weather Service doesn’t expect our drought conditions to get much better during the rest of the rainy season and the warmer-than-average temperatures we saw last year should persist through the summer, it said Thursday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Exceptional drought expands in Sacramento area, Sierra Nevada — The drought update reflects the lack of rain and snow in January. The December 2014 storms have had a positive effect in some areas of California, but a dry January have expanded the drought in other regions.  Capital Public Radio report

BPU commissioners waive dispensing project fees — The Tulare Board of Public Utilities agreed Thursday to waive the requirement of conducting a water study for a company seeking to build a domestic water dispenser, following a recommendation from city staff.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas says she has cancer, will retire – Visalia police Chief Colleen Mestas said she will retire next week due to a diagnosis of breast cancer. She said she notified City Manager Mike Olmos on Thursday that she will retire Jan. 23, and shared the news with upper level police staff at a meeting.  Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Body cameras for LA police: Not everybody trusts the new tech — Dozens of residents who filled a South L.A. gymnasium Wednesday night expressed doubts over the Los Angeles Police Department’s plan to equip its officers with body cameras, raising concerns over civilian privacy and public access to the footage. LA Times article

Fresno victim advocates discuss human trafficking at forum — Federal prosecutor Mia Giacomazzi faces significant barriers to finding labor trafficking victims, a crime she said is hidden but takes place in local industries including housekeeping, agriculture and restaurants.  Fresno Bee article

Fight against human trafficking changing in Merced County — Valley Crisis Center and the Merced County Human Services Agency are working on new methods of addressing human trafficking in the county, as the face of the approach statewide is changing.  Merced Sun-Star article

Homicides reach a historic low in Sacramento — Richard Nixon was in the White House the last time Sacramento logged a body count as small as it did last year – a historic low lauded by police as the result of new methods of policing and a growing police force.  Sacramento Bee article


Governor’s budget proposal called a ‘gift’ to adult education – The governor’s proposed budget, unveiled last week, allocates $500 million for an Adult Education Block Grant, with a provision that existing K-12 adult ed programs be funded for another year.  EdSource article

State considers changing how it evaluates schools – Standardized tests, in large part, have for more than a decade determined how California measures success of local schools. But with the onset of a new testing system, state officials are considering using more measures to hold schools accountable.  Bakersfield Californian article

Accountability plan reflects local goals for education – It’s name may be somewhat unwieldy, but a Local Control Accountability Plan gives local residents a chance to weigh in on how their schools are governed, Tammie Calzadillas believes.  Merced Sun-Star article

When hunger hits too close to home – eat at school – In a survey distributed to College of the Sequoias students at the Visalia campus in November 2013, 37 percent of 71 students said they regularly went to bed hungry each night.  Visalia Times-Delta article

LA Unified expands school dinner program as demand grows nationwide — The nation’s second largest school district is doubling the number of students served dinner, with an eye toward eventually offering it at every school. It’s a growing trend: Nationwide, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack soared to nearly 1 million last year.  KPCC report

Avenal district gets broadband grant – Students in Avenal will be experiencing a faster Internet connection soon thanks to a new state grant. The Reef-Sunset Unified School District is the only district in Kings County to get a piece of $27 million in Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grants, aimed to help districts improve their network connectivity so that the new computerized state tests can run without interruption.  Hanford Sentinel article

Investors put $186 million into Lynda.com, an online tutorial service — Investor confidence in the education technology sector suddenly looks a lot more serious — at least for digital learning companies with proven business models. Lynda.com, an online video tutorial service that provides professional skills training to individuals and enterprise clients, announced Wednesday morning that it had raised $186 million in financing.  New York Times article

Stockton Unified’s magnet school fair showcases opportunities —  Whether it’s the arts, science, a jump start on college or a health career your children are passionate about, chances are Stockton Unified has a magnet school tailored just for them.  Stockton Record article

Ballico teacher goes to head of class for e-learning — Joanna Conrado has been honored by a state organization for her efforts in computer-assisted learning in the classroom. Conrado, a fourth-fifth-grade teacher at Ballico Elementary School, was named the “e-Learning Educator of the Year” by Walnut Creek-based Computer-Using Educators.  Merced Sun-Star article


New head of CPUC says gas-safety shortcomings ‘keep me awake’ – The new president of the California Public Utilities Commission said Thursday that he agreed with a recent critical audit of the agency’s natural-gas safety enforcement and said the lagging effort “keeps me awake at night.”  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

New solar plant is second largest of its kind – A Spanish company has begun operation of a new solar power plant near Edwards Air Force Base believed to be the second-largest of its kind in the world.  Bakersfield Californian article

Matt Regan: State climate laws must keep up with electric cars – The vice president of policy for the Bay Area Council writes, “SB 375 should be amended to recognize that fact and give credit not only for reducing mileage, but also for successfully fostering and growing the use of low- and zero-emission vehicles.”  Regan op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Ocean life faces max extinction, broad study says – A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.  New York Times article

Pope Francis on climate change: Man has ‘slapped nature in the face’ — Pope Francis said Thursday he is convinced that global warming is “mostly” man-made and that he hopes his upcoming encyclical on the environment will encourage negotiators at a climate change meeting in Paris to make “courageous” decisions to protect God’s creation.  AP article

Health/Human Services

Obamacare: Latino enrollment numbers in California show mixed results — A retooled, multi-million-dollar marketing effort by the state’s health care exchange to persuade more of the state’s Latino residents to obtain insurance under the nation’s health care law is showing mixed results, according to enrollment data released Thursday. San Jose Mercury News article; KQED report

San Diego County has 10 measles cases; 9 weren’t vaccinated – San Diego County now has 10 confirmed cases of measles, all with ties to Disneyland, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced late Thursday. Nine were persons who had not been vaccinated.  LA Times article

Blue Shield, Sutter impasse about more than money — Contract breakdowns between insurance companies and health care providers are nothing new and often blow over after public posturing. But the current failure of Blue Shield and Sutter Health to come to terms on a new contract may be harder to resolve. That’s because the main issues appear to be about much more than money.  KQED report

California doctors use drug loophole to increase prices, study finds — Some California physicians who treat workers with job-related injuries and dispense drugs to their patients are exploiting a loophole in state regulations governing drug costs to increase their reimbursements by as much as 400 percent, a new study has found.  Sacramento Bee article


Bakersfield Californian: Do high-speed rail foes have a better alternative? No – Critics have long enjoyed calling the project “the train to nowhere,” and they’re right to question its expense. But if you ask some of these critics for alternatives, be prepared for silence and stammering. Few have credible solutions to solve the state’s mounting problems with traffic and transportation services.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

South County Corridor struggles emerge with new maps – Possible paths for the future South County Corridor were revealed this week, helping to unmask potential conflicts among those with competing interests.  Modesto Bee article

Stanislaus officials launch awareness campaign for safe driving in the fog – Stanislaus County officials on Thursday launched a public awareness campaign on Twitter and Facebook warning drivers it’s dangerous to travel in foggy conditions without their headlights and rear lights on.  Modesto Bee article

Musk touts Texas for speed-of-sound transit test site — Entrepreneur Elon Musk says Texas is atop his list to build a five-mile-long test track for his conceptual Hyperloop project that involves shooting capsules full of people through elevated tubes at the speed of sound.  AP article

Other Areas

Why make history on Yosemite’s El Capitan? ‘Inspiration,’ Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell say — After nearly three weeks of hanging onto minuscule, razor-sharp rock holds on the world’s largest chunk of granite, climber Tommy Caldwell said during a Thursday morning news conference below El Capitan, “I’ve totally fallen in love with that piece of rock.”  Fresno Bee article; Fresno Bee editorial; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Valle takes reins at Latino Caucus of California Counties — Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle is the new president of the Latino Caucus at the California State Association of Counties, a status that puts him in a prime position to shape the future of the fledgling organization.  Hanford Sentinel article

Michael Fitzgerald: A mayor out to lunch — I’m on record saying Mayor Anthony Silva is unfit for office. I strongly considered championing his recall. I backed off only because Stockton had more important fish to fry. I have written numerous columns and blog posts about his fecklessness. Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record

Candlestick Park will go out with a wrecking ball, not a bang — Plans for a pyrotechnic implosion of Candlestick Park have fizzled in favor of the wrecking ball — with health fears and political pressure playing a big part in the decision.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Critics have long enjoyed calling the project “the train to nowhere,” and they’re right to question its expense. But if you ask some of these critics for alternatives, be prepared for silence and stammering. Few have credible solutions to solve the state’s mounting problems with traffic and transportation services.

Fresno Bee – Let’s hope that Caldwell and Jorgeson’s remarkable climb inspires people to new heights in careers, education and athletics.

Merced Sun-Star – Let’s hope Caldwell and Jorgeson’s remarkable climb inspires people to new personal heights, if not actual ones.

Modesto Bee – Daring ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan made us recall past glories.

Sacramento Bee – Yosemite climb a remarkable feat of fingers and feet; Sacramento arena provides the spark for fixing Regional Transit.