January 16, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Rare murmurs about veto overrides in California Assembly — It’s a power play the Legislature hasn’t invoked in years: lawmakers are making noises about overriding one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s vetoes for the first time in Brown’s current tenure. Sacramento Bee article 

Patterson wants politicians who quit mid-term to pay for special elections — Assemblyman Jim Patterson is drafting legislation that, had it been law last month, would have required fellow Assemblyman Henry T. Perea to pay Fresno County for the special election to fill his seat. Fresno Bee article

Valley politics 

State’s political watchdog hits Fresno Chamber PAC with small fine — The state’s political watchdog has recommended a minor $200 fine against the Fresno Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee because it did not pay its $50 annual fee in 2014. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Faster executions or none at all? California voters may get to choose — Come November, California voters could have two completely different options for fixing the system. Two groups are preparing to collect signatures for ballot measures that would present stark choices. KQED report

San Bernardino Shootings

FBI is now convinced couple tried to detonate bomb in San Bernardino terror attack — The FBI’s top investigator in the San Bernardino terrorist attack said Friday that the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people on Dec. 2 intended to detonate an explosive device inside the room, though the exact timetable of the plot remains unclear. LA Times article

Many questions remain elusive in San Bernardino terror attack — Six weeks after the San Bernardino terror attack, the man leading the investigation said Friday that some of the most basic questions remain the most elusive to answer — was anyone else involved, was more violence planned, and why was the attack site chosen? AP article 

Other areas

Tom Steyer, billionaire environmentalist, to help advance Latino candidates – Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the former hedge-fund manager who has steadily increased his state and national political footprint, has been named co-chairman of the Washington-based Latino Victory Fund.  Sacramento Bee article

California Politics Podcast: Teacher troubles – The political power of California teachers may rest on the U.S. Supreme Court. Plus: a busy week at the Capitol, and a new leader-in-waiting of the Assembly. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Lagos of KQED, and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

California bill focuses on law enforcement’s safe storage of guns – A state senator is advocating legislation that would require all law enforcement officers in California to securely lock unattended handguns in their vehicles — a response to the summer shooting of Kathryn Steinle at San Francisco’s Pier 14 and other high-profile crimes committed with stolen firearms. San Francisco Chronicle article

East side of California Capitol will become staff, lobbyist entrance — Citing security concerns, the California Capitol will convert its east door to a designated staff, lobbyist and media entrance starting next month. Sacramento Bee article

Feds say Facebook posts show terror links of Iraqi refugee arrested in Sacramento — The case against Al-Jayab is laid out in a criminal complaint, indictment and search warrant affidavit in federal court filings, each made public in Sacramento over the past week. Those documents allege Al-Jayab lied to authorities about his travel overseas, praised anti-American acts and was involved at one point in the executions of three Syrian soldiers. Sacramento Bee articleAP article 

Ami Bera to Democrats: ‘We are not going to agree on everything’ – Rep. Ami Bera says he knows some liberal activists aren’t keen on endorsing him. But the Elk Grove Democrat emphasizes he will continue to seek their support while looking out for the broader interests of his closely divided swing district. Sacramento Bee article

Cathleen Decker: Too late to stop Trump? As he glides, other candidates fall back in debate — Thursday night’s fractious presidential debate was the long Republican campaign condensed into little more than two hours: Donald Trump sailed above the other candidates, who mostly engaged in round-robin fighting that left each of them wounded and him largely unscathed. Decker in LA Times

News Stories

Top Stories

Public outcry and pressing questions follow Yosemite name changes — The National Park Service’s announcement this week that it would change the names of some iconic Yosemite National Park places left many stunned. The decision was driven by a trademark dispute with the company that will run concessions at the park until a new company takes over in March. But the disagreement is likely to continue. Here are some questions and answers to help you understand what is taking place. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee editorial: ‘Bring back the Ahwahnee – literally’

Drought rules could be eased for Sacramento region, other inland areas – Acknowledging the challenges posed by the hot, dry climate endemic to much of inland California, state drought regulators Friday proposed easing the water-conservation rules for Sacramento and other communities where it takes extra water to keep trees from dying. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP article

Jobs and the Economy

El Nino raising the roof on business – Roofing contractors say they’re also seeing an increase in business because many homeowners’ insurance companies don’t cover older or outdated roofs. Some residents have received notices from their insurance company saying they need a new roof, and they’ve put it off until now. Bakersfield Californian article

Wal-Mart to close 269 stores, including 154 in the U.S. and 9 in California – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Friday that it will close 269 of its stores globally, including 154 in the U.S., nine of them in California, as the company looks to reposition itself in a difficult retail climate. LA Times article 

Hanford store unaffected by Wal-Mart closures – Wal-Mart’s plans to close 269 stores worldwide — 154 in the U.S., nine in California — won’t affect the Hanford supercenter, according to other media reports. Hanford Sentinel article

Costco may start building in Hanford soon – After years of waiting, construction may soon begin for the much-anticipated Costco store on East Lacey Boulevard. Hanford Sentinel article

A behind-the-scenes look at a Rams’ proposal the NFL couldn’t refuse – The National Football League‘s return to Los Angeles began behind closed doors — with a coin flip. The St. Louis Rams won the right to go first, and their owner and a top executive made their pitch in a hotel ballroom, outlining plans for a multibillion-dollar stadium in Inglewood. LA Times article 

Spanos-Faulconer begin dialogue – Chargers chairman Dean Spanos reached out to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday night by phone, at least opening dialogue between the two sides as the Chargers consider a move to Los Angeles. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Foon Rhee: The Numbers Crunch: What if NFL put fans first in LA relocation decision? – In my dream world, the NFL would decide which team could move to Los Angeles based mostly on fan loyalty in the teams’ current home cities. In the real world, it’s almost all about the money, and these days about lucrative development opportunities around new stadiums. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

CalPERS, CalSTRS invest in data centers – California’s two big public pension funds have been on a bit of a buying spree lately, adding data centers to their investment portfolios. Sacramento Bee article 

Stan Oken is winner of Fresno chamber’s Leon S. Peters service award – Longtime Fresno-area businessman and former Fresno County supervisor Stan Oken thought he was going to meet with a friend in crisis Friday. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article 

Life along concrete river hits bump for LA homeless as encampments torn down — Los Angeles is trying to work out a plan for dealing with its vast homeless population. But while strategies are plotted, the job of clearing out homeless encampments goes on. LA Times article 

San Francisco budget analyst says city got poor financial deal on Super Bowl – San Francisco’s budget and legislative analyst has slammed the city for not signing an agreement with the National Football League and the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee for full reimbursement of the city’s $4.8 million in costs. San Francisco Chronicle article

Audit: Basketball and working out commonly part of garbage truck drivers work days — The Sacramento City Auditor says employees in the city’s Recycling and Solid Waste Division spend hours each week playing basketball, working out, or reading -when they’re being paid to work.  Auditor Jorge Oseguera says an investigation found drivers commonly finished their routes early and stopped working. Capital Public Radio report 

LA lawmakers obtain formal power over 2024 Olympic bid — Los Angeles lawmakers approved an agreement Friday that formally ensures theCity Council would have to sign off on the upcoming bid for the 2024 Summer OlympicsLA Times article

Can SpaceX land a rocket on a barge off California? — Elon Musk’s ambitions to corner the space cargo market via reusable rockets will stand a crucial test Sunday morning, when SpaceX engineers will attempt to guide a Falcon 9 rocket back to a ship off the Southern California coast. LA Times article


Another step toward the twin tunnels – State officials on Friday announced a tentative agreement with water agencies on the design and construction of the $15 billion twin tunnels beneath the Delta. No formal decision to build the tunnels has been made, permits are not yet issued, and the legally required environmental review is still ongoing. Stockton Record article

Kern River at its lowest in 2,000 years – A new study confirms that 2015 saw the Kern River run at its lowest level since Jesus walked the earth. Bakersfield Californian article

As prices drop, almond farmers wonder if boom will last – Drive anywhere in Central California and you’ll see fields of almonds.  Some people wonder if the growth of the almond industry is sustainable. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the price of the nut just may have met a slippery slope. KVPR report 

Officials slash pumping to save threatened Delta smelt – More and more worried about the fate of the tiny Delta smelt, federal wildlife officials are requiring cuts in the amount of water that can be pumped south from the estuary. They are the first such mandatory cuts in two years. Stockton Record article

Ellen Hanak: A strong start for PPIC’s Water Policy Center – In our first nine months, the Water Policy Center waded quickly into the depths of California’s most pressing water issues, starting with the ongoing drought. Our first major report, What If California’s Drought Continues?, documented the drought’s effects on different sectors and suggestions to improve drought response in the most urgent problem areas—particularly water for rural communities and the environment. Hanak in Public Policy Institute of California blog

Flood insurance: A roll of the dice – You’ve seen the headlines, and you’ve heard the hype. Now you’ll have to decide: Does the arrival of El Niño call for buying flood insurance? Stockton Record article

Marquez dairy plant to get overhaul – The Marquez Brothers dairy products factory in Hanford is slated to get a major upgrade, according to city documents. The planned modernization project will affect many buildings and other pieces of property at the facility, including cold storage areas, parking capacity and office space, according to a blueprint. Hanford Sentinel article

Clean harvest incentive program launched – Kings County almond and walnut growers interested in reducing their carbon footprint with lower-emission harvesting equipment could be eligible for a new incentive program launched this year by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hanford Sentinel article 

Judge orders MWD to release data on recipients of turf replacement rebates – A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California must release the names and addresses of recipients of millions of dollars in turf replacement rebates. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Scott Shafer: Inside death row, inmates disagree on capital punishment – Among my first impressions of death row when I recently toured San Quentin Prison: It’s loud. Dimly lit. There’s really no privacy. And so many of the inmates are elderly that it can at times resemble a high-security old folks home. Shafer in KQED

The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’ — As a national debate has played out over mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, a new generation of technology such as the Beware software being used in Fresno has given local law enforcement officers unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens.  Washington Post article

Fresno County firearms offense bail amounts increase – Bail for convicted felons who are caught with a firearm in Fresno County jumped dramatically this week, following efforts by Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer and county District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp to reduce gun violence by gang members. Fresno Bee article

Three arrests in fight at Sikh temple in Turlock – Three people have been arrested in connection with a large fight at the Sikh Temple in Turlock over the weekend. Officials say two factions have been involved in a legal dispute over leadership of the temple. Turlock police Chief Robert Jackson said it has played out in court and meetings with law enforcement over the past two years but escalated to violence Sunday afternoon during services at the temple on Fifth Street. Modesto Bee article 

FBI-San Francisco police counterterrorism activity violated local law, advocates say — Activists from San Francisco’s Arab, South Asian and Muslim communities are reacting with angry disbelief to a Police Department report denying it violated a city ordinance governing local law enforcement participation in FBI counterterrorism investigations. KQED report

Coroner’s office: Death of former NFL player a suicide — Former NFL player and accused murderer Lawrence Phillips killed himself while in custody at Kern Valley State Prison, a coroner’s office news release confirmed Friday. The news release did not specify exactly how Phillips killed himself. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare sheriff’s SPOT on change — “We will be the difference.” The Tulare County Sheriff Department’s new logo carried a lot of weight at the most recent Sheriff’s Public Outreach Team meeting. Visalia Times-Delta article


Court of appeal to hear arguments in Vergara lawsuit next month – A state appeals court will rule on the high-profile Vergara lawsuit against the state and the California Teachers Association this spring. EdSource article

Advocates demand state end improper use of force on special ed students — A week after a video showed a 9-year-old boy in special education being held aloft as a teacher’s aide slapped his face and onlookers laughed, three advocacy groups issued a demand letter to the California Department of Education on Friday calling on the state to take “quick and decisive” action to eliminate the improper use of force on students with disabilities in classrooms across the state. EdSource article 

High schoolers bound for New York to pitch virtual businesses — Bakersfield, Centennial and Arvin high schoolers will be heading to New York in April for the National Business Plan Competition after impressing judges with their creative ideas at the state level this week. Bakersfield Californian article 

Livingston Middle School unveils new mural with message on diversity — A warm-colored mural with messages of unity, compassion and perseverance is adding new energy to the campus at Livingston Middle School. The mural, one of the first things visitors now see when entering the school, is the result of a recent collaboration with a UC Merced arts class. Merced Sun-Star article


Benzene risk from Porter Ranch gas leak is the same as rest of region, study finds — The first study of the health risks posed by emissions of benzene from a massive natural gas leak near Porter Ranch has found that cancer risk from the toxic air pollutant is similar to levels found throughout the Los Angeles Basin. LA Times article 

Regulators fear attempts to burn off leaking gas near Porter Ranch could lead to explosion — California utility regulators have asked Southern California Gas Co. to show that the ground around its leaking well is stable and that attempts to burn off escaping natural gas won’t lead to an explosion. LA Times article 

Turlock kids taking action against idling to improve air quality – The three are student body officers at Walter Brown Elementary School in Turlock, where students took part in sixth-grade science projects around air pollution. They shared their reports as part of an assembly Thursday put on by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Modesto Bee article 

Endangered fishers find new home at CALM — The California Living Museum has two new residents, endangered fishers Taz and Lola, who arrived at the museum Sunday. Fishers are a member of the weasel family and one of the porcupine’s few predators. Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services  

Olympus to recall and redesign medical scope linked to superbug outbreaks — Olympus Corp. said it will voluntarily recall and redesign a troubled medical scope that has been linked to scores of potentially deadly patient infections around the world. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Summerset Village tenants file multimillion-dollar lawsuit against owner Chris Henry — About 150 current and former residents of Summerset Village Apartments in central Fresno have fired back at the complex’s owner by filing a lawsuit asking for millions of dollars in damages stemming from their month-long stint without heat and years of negligence. Fresno Bee article

Nu Vang and Sher Moua: Remembering the Summerset Village Apartments – The Fresno residents write, “We are heartened by the response of the people of Fresno and organizations like Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries and the Red Cross to the crisis there created by natural gas pipeline leaks. But there’s work yet to be done so that all residents can live in safe, clean homes.” Vang/Moua op-ed in Fresno Bee


High-speed rail moving forward in Tulare County — Despite numerous efforts to stop the rail line, Tulare County officials have been readying themselves for the $68 billion project. Planning includes working with California High-Speed Rail Authority engineers and planners to make changes to the train’s 23-mile route through Tulare County, which has included adding construction of an overpass and underpass for vehicles heading east and west in the Alpaugh and Allensworth areas. Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced project expected to save lives, benefit economy – State Department of Transportation officials celebrated the completion of a nearly $80 million Merced County project on Friday, though commuters and truck drivers have been using it for about three months. Merced Sun-Star article 

American Airlines to offer nonstop service from Sacramento to Chicago — American Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Sacramento International to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport beginning June 2. Sacramento Bee article 

Other areas

Fresno Bee: Ireland case destroys credibility of Fresno County supervisors – The Fresno County Board of Supervisors is in charge of all of the county’s legal cases. The board majority running this case should be ashamed of themselves.  Fresno Bee editorial

Los Banos police chief to head city in interim role – Los Banos’ top cop will also serve as its top administrator while the City Council works to get its city manager ducks in a row. The council appointed Chief Gary Brizzee as the interim city manager during a special meeting Thursday. He’ll serve after City Manager Steve Carrigan leaves for a similar job in Merced on Jan. 25. Merced Sun-Star article

Symposium helps at-risk youths learn to dream – More than 150 at-risk youth filed out of the Wentworth Education Center for a lunch provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education on Friday, after spending the morning hearing stories from those who have walked in their shoes. The goal: to inspire, to learn from real-life experiences and to know it’s not too late to make a change. Stockton Record article 

New lawsuit targets California state tax building, officials – A dozen state workers are suing the Board of Equalization, alleging that agency leaders for years have known its 24-story headquarters is a health hazard but continue to tell employees that the building is perfectly safe. Sacramento Bee article

Francine M. Farber: On being a minority in Fresno – The retired school administrator and full-time community volunteer writes, “In Fresno, where many may not know any Jewish people, people take for granted that we celebrate Christmas and can’t understand why we wouldn’t want to join in that holiday.” Farber op-ed in Fresno Bee

World War II veteran Henry Topoozian of Fresno dies at 101 — World War II Army veteran, raisin grower and longtime Fresno resident Harry Topoozian died Jan. 10, just five days after his 101st birthday. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The Seth Ireland case destroys the credibility of Fresno County supervisors; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – Congress should strengthen federal laws to prevent this kind of overreach. And the National Park Service should redo its contracts to pre-empt other attempted hijinks. In the meantime, Delaware North should reconsider this shakedown.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. on Fresno ABC30 (KFSN) – Maddy Report: “How Political Influence is Changing California’s Political Landscape” – Guest: CAL Matters investigative reporter Lauren Rosenhall. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report: “State Politics – Valley Issues” – Guests: Bill McEwen (Fresno Bee Editorial Page Editor), Mike Dunbar (Merced Sun-Star and Modesto Bee Opinion Page Editor), Paul Hurley (fmr Visalia Times Delta Editorial Page Editor) and Cal State Fresno Political Science Prof. Jeff Cummins. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Jan. 17, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “California’s State Watchdogs” – Guests: Edgar Cabral (CA Legislative Analyst’s Office) and Margarita Fernandez (CA State Auditor’s Office)  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

  • State Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford) and The Wonderful Company will host a Career & Resource Expo at Tachi Palace on Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  More information: Claudia Salinas at 559.585.7161or Claudia.Salinas@sen.ca.gov.


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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