January 17, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Amount of lobbying done in shadows is growing, California ethics officials agree — Top state ethics officials have agreed that weak laws allow oil companies, labor groups and other special interests to conceal how they spend much of their money trying to influence state government, and that the amount of lobbying in the shadows is growing at an alarming rate. LA Times article

Race, ethnicity inject tension into California campaigns — The racial and ethnic overtones of politics in California, the country’s most diverse state, surfaced again last week. Two Democratic Assembly incumbents, Mike Gipson and Cheryl Brown, both of whom are black, are facing challenges from Latina opponents within their own party. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Modesto Bee: Mayor Marsh has his flaws, but he’s unafraid to lead – Garrad Marsh can be arrogant and can’t keep from tickling his tonsils with his toes. But he is unafraid to lead. That’s what Modesto needs in a mayor. Modesto Bee editorial

And this year’s Kern Lincoln Day Dinner speaker will be … – Each year, the Kern County Republican Party tries to bring Washington “up-and-comers” to Bakersfield to speak at its big annual fundraiser. Looking at the list, it’s been pretty successful. Eric Cantor. Paul Ryan. Trey Gowdy. Darrell Issa. For next month’s Lincoln Day Dinner, to be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield, the Kern GOP has tapped Oklahoma’s junior senator, Republican James Lankford, to be its keynote speaker. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Cathleen Decker: Within party’s big tent, Democrats grapple with divisions —En route to Hillary Clinton‘s expected coronation as the Democratic presidential nominee, her party has been caught in an ideological clash pitting the former secretary of State’s loyalists against the factions backing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Decker in LA Times

Obama to propose new unemployment insurance plan — President Barack Obama will include a new wage insurance program in his budget next month that would provide supplements to workers who lose their jobs and end up taking new jobs at lower salaries. Washington Post article 

Shawn Hubler: The untold stores in the abortion war – With the first major abortion decision in nearly a decade pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, pro-choice advocates have filed a minor mountain of amicus briefs in the case ofWhole Woman’s Health v. Cole, referencing or recounting stories like Maxwell’s – stories in which women opt not to go through with an unwanted pregnancy and feel satisfied, on balance, with their choice. Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

Anita Chabria: It’s a matter of equity. Period – The freelance writer in Sacramento writes that by seeking to exempt tampons, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia starts conversation about gender-based taxes.  Chabria op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

News Stories

Top Stories

Amid El Nino, a push to save California’s drought-drained aquifers — This winter, dozens of water agencies across the state are counting on a drenching El Niño to produce surplus water to stash in the earth and make up for what’s been pumped out at unprecedented rates due to the recent absence of surface supplies. San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters: State’s big housing dilemma — It’s time once again for some fun with numbers, in this case the data on California’s serious – and worsening – housing crisis. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Does Clovis Unified’s strict dress code help or hurt students? — Clovis Unified parents say that the district’s strict dress code, which has been questioned in the past, adds an extra layer of stress to students’ school day. New concerns about whether the decades-old policy is fair to all genders has the Clovis Unified school board reviewing the rules, many of which have been in place since the 1970s. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Vehicle sales make up ground in Kern – The Great Recession is fading further and further into the rear-view mirror along Bakersfield’s auto mall. After a painful few years, local vehicle sales are humming along, driven by what car dealers say is shoppers’ economic optimism tempered only by so-far limited concerns about low prices in the oil patch. Bakersfield Californian article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Downtown Stockton’s revival takes a quantum leap – A packed house applauded Thursday night when the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve Ten Space’s plan to revive 15 blocks of downtown Stockton. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

San Joaquin County officials hope for Super Bowl tourist bump – Elena Reyes, the county’s senior deputy administrator for economic promotion, believes a combination of Stockton Metropolitan Airport, the Altamont Corridor Express headquartered in Stockton, and an abundance of hotels and restaurants in the area will convince many people to stay in San Joaquin County and travel to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Stockton Record article

Businesses’ new buildings, houses taking shape around Modesto – Places to live, work and buy are among the high-profile construction projects going on in and near Modesto. The Bee visited three building sites for updates. Here’s what we found. Modesto Bee article
LA Times: Trademark grab in Yosemite is too clever by half – Trademarks over the names and other intrinsic features of iconic destinations such as The Ahwahnee should benefit the owners of those destinations — the taxpayers.  LA Times editorial 

Lottery officials say identifying winners a must — Andrew Stoltmann, an Illinois attorney who has represented winners, told the Associated Press that making winners’ names public is like “throwing meat into a shark-infested ocean.” But lottery officials say it’s important public information to ensure the drawings are transparent and to deter would-be cheaters. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento Bee: Protests won’t break cycle of homelessness – City and county leaders must focus on the bigger question: What’s the best way to balance helping the homeless with providing a decent quality of life for residents? Sacramento Bee editorial

Steve Lopez: Finally, a smart approach to helping LA’s homeless — This new outreach strategy is a big, long-overdue step in the right direction, and part of a collaboration between city, county and nonprofit agencies. Four six-person teams have been going out five days a week for two weeks now, gathering names and stories and trying to link people with services and ultimately get them off the street and out of the revolving doors at hospitals, courts and jails.  Lopez column in LA Times

Hanford council to hear Bastille update — The Hanford City Council will hold a study session Tuesday to hear an update on renovations at the historic Bastille in downtown Hanford. Hanford Sentinel article 

Sacramento Metro Fire dominates list of top-paid firefighters in region – The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District paid salaries of at least $200,000 to 67 employees in 2014, the same year it cited concerns about excessive pay as its reason for withdrawing a proposed hike in property assessments. Sacramento Bee article

Downtown Turlock turning into Restaurant Row — There’s some cool stuff going on in downtown Turlock these days. Within the next few months, three new eateries are scheduled to open – two of them nearly any day now. Modesto Bee article

Last Call Brewing brings craft beer to Oakdale — Josh Garcia and Brian Chiara tend to Last Call Brewing Co. when they are not answering calls as a firefighter and paramedic. The Oakdale residents opened the microbrewery last summer in a small industrial building southeast of downtown. There they craft 100-gallon batches of several beer types, served in their on-site taproom and at a few restaurants in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Rob Turner: Let’s find a bold vision for our city’s skyline – The co-editor of Sactown Magazine writes, “CalPERS has invested billions in cities around the country. It should build a signature project in Sacramento and invest in the place where most of its members live, work and play. When it comes to downtown, this building in this key location could and should be our architectural moonshot.” Turner op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Internet open-market Modesto Irrigation District water sales gaining in popularity – Modesto-area farmers sold each other double the amount of water in 2015 as they did the year before, with a little more than 10 percent of customers participating in so-called farmer-to-farmer transfers, according to updated Modesto Irrigation District numbers. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Hughson’s Duarte, feds fighting it out in court over farmland – ou’re a farmer embroiled in a dispute with the federal government over land use. Do you gun-up, seize a wildlife refuge and ask for snacks? Or do you take the government to court because that is the right and sane way to handle it? John Duarte, owner of Duarte Nursery in Hughson, intelligently chose the latter and is headed back to federal court in March. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Chilling out is a good thing for San Joaquin County crops – San Joaquin County farmers not only welcome this winter’s El Niño and its attendant rains, but also its chilly nights and cold, foggy days. Not that growers enjoy shivering — although some might. Rather, low temperatures benefit the nut and fruit trees that produce some of the area’s most valuable crops. Stockton Record article

Lemoore to weigh water rate study — The Lemoore City Council will consider approving a contract Tuesday to proceed with a water rate study. The $23,800 contract with Interstate Gas Services Inc. would pay for the study to determine long-term costs for water operations, as well as the maintenance and replacement of equipment.  Hanford Sentinel article

Changes in the drinking water — After a drought-related delay, the city of Stockton is about to fundamentally change the way it treats drinking water. And you may need to take action. Stockton Record article

Can Pacific Coast Highway withstand El Nino? — El Niño rains of the past have left portions of the coastal route battered. But they also have given transportation engineers and local officials lessons in how to make PCH more stable as California faces what experts forecast will be one of the strongest El Niños on record. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Mike Klocke: Stockton crime statistics: Going in the right direction – True, there still is an unacceptable level of violent crime, gang-on-gang activity seems intense, and things such as idiots firing their guns into the air on New Year’s Eve don’t really factor into crime statistics. Successes should be celebrated. This downward trend is a tribute to the Stockton Police Department and other community efforts. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Gov. Brown denies parole for San Diego police officer’s killer — Gov. Jerry Brown again has denied parole to a former gang member who was convicted of fatally shooting a San Diego police officer in 1978. LA Times article


Fresno Unified could get stuck with contractor’s fees in no-bid contract case – As attorney fees pile up for Fresno Unified over a controversial no-bid construction project, school officials worry that the district – and taxpayers – could soon also be on the hook for the legal costs of the contractor that built the school in question. Fresno Bee article

How Bakersfield High School scores its superstar lineup for Warren Cup – In one night, Bakersfield students got personal greetings from government leaders across the globe. A former U.S. president, onetime British prime minister and a host of celebrities took the stage of Bakersfield High School’s Harvey Auditorium — at least by television screen — to try to stump some Drillers participating in the Earl Warren Cup. Bakersfield Californian article

Former West Hills chief named president emeritus by board — The West Hills Community College District Board of Trustees recently presented former West Hills College Lemoore President Don Warkentin with the honorary title of president emeritus. Fresno Bee article


Farmers oppose SMUD proposal to add new power lines in Colusa and Sutter counties – Rice farmer Mike Cole has learned to live with the utility transmission towers and crackling lines on the 313-acre farm he co-owns in Sutter County. But he’s opposed to any new towers and the possibility that his land can be taken by eminent domain, as may happen under a plan proposed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration. Sacramento Bee article 

California coastal property owners face new fee on sea walls — Walking along the beach and building sandcastles may be priceless pastimes in California, but in places where sea walls are contributing to shrinking shorelines, state officials say someone’s got to pay. LA Times article

Carmel fears PG&E tampered with records in 2014 blast — A former Pacific Gas and Electric Co. official — now a whistle-blower in the federal prosecution of the company stemming from the San Bruno explosion — says she lost her job soon after she refused to help PG&E managers secretly gain access to records in a separate explosion, The Chronicle has learned. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services 

Drug overdoses propel rise in mortality rates of young whites – Drug overdoses are driving up the death rate of young white adults in the United States to levels not seen since the end of the AIDS epidemic more than two decades ago — a turn of fortune that stands in sharp contrast to falling death rates for young blacks, a New York Times analysis of death certificates has found. New York Times article

John Taylor: A 3-D view of health care – The public affairs director of Community Medical Centers writes, “Fact is, the “state of health care” is more robust now than when I first signed on to communicate and advocate on medical issues. That’s largely thanks to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Still, the nation’s so-called system is also a heavy breather on life supports. To me, health care expectations generally fall under ‘delivery, deliverance and dollars.’” Taylor op-ed in Fresno Bee

Community health clinic meets a need in Waterford — A new community health clinic opened here in December and already has expanded its hours. The Bentley Health Center is offering primary care to patients with Medi-Cal coverage, private insurance or other forms of payment. Modesto Bee article 

Land Use/Housing

New environmental report on 24th Street widening evaluates, discounts alternatives — Bakersfield’s redone environmental report on the greatly debated 24th Street widening will get its first public airing Thursday. The city released what it calls the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report on the project last Monday; later this week, the Bakersfield Planning Commission will take public comment on it. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas 

Sikhs in Fresno worry after recent attacks – In Fresno, California — the heart of that state’s agricultural community — police are looking for whoever attacked two elderly Sikh-American men. The incidents happened a week apart over the holidays. One man was fatally stabbed, another badly beaten. NPR report

New Kings County courthouse about to open – You may never want to go there, but if you do, the gleaming new Kings County courthouse is built to serve members of the public, judges, attorneys, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, plaintiffs, defendants, staff and jail inmates in style. Hanford Sentinel article

Clovis is selling former fire station site — Clovis city officials are putting a fire station up for sale, ending its 37-year watch. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – Garrad Marsh can be arrogant and can’t keep from tickling his tonsils with his toes. But he is unafraid to lead. That’s what Modesto needs in a mayor.

Sacramento Bee – City and county leaders must focus on the bigger question: What’s the best way to balance helping the homeless with providing a decent quality of life for residents?

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 (former Visalia Times Delta Editorial Page Editor) and Fresno State Political Science Prof. Jeff Cummins. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.

Community Events

  • 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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