January 19, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

New California Assembly privacy panel is ‘the key committee to watch’ — One of the Assembly’s hottest tickets this legislative session may be a seat on the new Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection. Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) this month created the panel to deal with the growing threat to privacy from the use and abuse of the Internet and digital information about the health, finances, education and shopping habits of millions of Californians.  LA Times article

Open top-2 Senate race presents strategic challenges for parties — California’s top-two primary is likely to get its first top-of-the-ticket test in the June 2016 Senate race, and the prospect has both Democrats and Republicans nervously playing out very different scenarios.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown

George Skelton: Brown should bend on school bonds — Since when did the state government chipping in to help build classrooms for kids become a bad thing? Since Jerry Brown returned as governor, that’s when. Correct that: It’s not a bad thing for most people in the state Capitol — only the contrarian governor.   Skelton column in LA Times

Valley politics

San Joaquin County District 3 supervisor race shaping up two years early — It might seem like election season just ended, but one 2016 race for an opening on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors already is starting to take shape. Stockton business owner Tom Patti and Stockton City Councilman Moses Zapien have their eyes set on the District 3 seat, a district that includes parts of Stockton and Manteca as well as most of Lathrop.  Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Kamala Harris’ camp hoping to keep Tom Steyer out of Senate race – Having jumped into the U.S. Senate race “feet first,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris will be hitting the phones to score as much money and as many endorsements possible — all in the hope of keeping rival Democratsfrom jumping in as well. Topping the list of those she hopes to stop is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — but ultimately, she’s most worried about billionaire environmental activist Tom SteyerSan Francisco Chronicle article

Billionaire Tom Steyer eyes climate change, education in potential Senate bid — Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who is weighing a run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Barbara Boxer in two years, is outlining a policy agenda focused on climate change, education and tax reform and pledging to serve only one term if he cannot achieve his goals, sources close to Steyer said Sunday.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

On gay marriage, Supreme Court to weigh equal rights and states’ rights – After the justices agreed Friday to take up the issue again, Kennedy and the other justices must reconcile what they left unresolved two years ago. Is marriage for gays and lesbians a matter of equal rights and individual liberty guaranteed by the Constitution? Or is it a matter left to the states?  LA Times article

Gay marriage case offers GOP political cover – If the high court resolves the issue as expected in June, it could deliver a decision that has the benefit of largely neutralizing a debate that a majority of Americans believe Republicans are on the wrong side of — and well ahead of the party’s 2016 presidential primaries.  New York Times article

Daisy Penaloza: Obama’s deal with Cuba could prove to be a terrible hypocrisy – The Bakersfield teacher who left Communist Cuba in 1967 writes, “Rapprochement with the Castro regime should not occur until civil liberties are restored, and human rights are respected. Otherwise, the U.S. reneges on its laws and principles, and such action constitutes hypocrisy of the worst kind.” Penaloza op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Briefs

Top Stories

MLK Day: Income gap widens between whites, African Americans in California — The income gap between African Americans and whites in California has reached its widest point in decades, a trend that reflects a broader, growing chasm between the state’s wealthy and poor, experts said.  Sacramento Bee article

California drought could end with storms known as atmospheric rivers — California’s drought crept in slowly, but it could end with a torrent of winter storms that stream across the Pacific, dumping much of the year’s rain and snow in a few fast-moving and potentially catastrophic downpours.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

From blight to bright, downtown Stockton renovation continues – Last week, a vote by the City Council set the stage for the renovation of the building, at the northwest corner of Channel and California streets. The council unanimously approved a $91,377 forgivable, federally funded Community Development Block Grant loan to the Cort Group that will pay for nearly 70 percent of a cosmetic makeover to the exterior of the Sutter Manor. Stockton Record article

Los Banos present industrial park project to Merced County leaders – An ambitious plan to build a “shovel-ready” industrial park in Los Banos was presented to the county Board of Supervisors by City Manager Steve Carrigan last week.  Merced Sun-Star article

Riverbank Wine & Cheese lives on – The Riverbank Cheese & Wine Exposition enjoyed mild success under new management in October and will return this fall.  Modesto Bee article

Horrible commute is a boon to East Bay tech firms — The commute to Silicon Valley has gotten so bad that it is becoming a recruiting tool — for tech companies in Oakland and Berkeley.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California eyes rules for commercial, police drones — With potentially thousands of commercial and police drones taking to the skies over California in coming years, state lawmakers in 2015 will again be charged with deciding how best to encourage the job-boosting industry while also safeguarding the privacy rights it threatens. U-T San Diego article

Placer County libraries to cut hours amid budget problems — Placer County will shutter one rural library and reduce hours at several popular branches as officials blame fiscal problems dating to the Great Recession.  Sacramento Bee article


Don Curlee: Odors trap them — Researchers work with insects all the time, but that doesn’t mean they like them. Now they’re finding ways to lure them to their deaths by introducing their favorite aromas. It’s a little like aroma therapy turned upside down.  Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police supporters in Sacramento rally for cops; counter-demonstrators also take to the streets — The protests have been relentless, the criticism harsh, and all Dany Mohler has been able to do is absorb it. Her husband is a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy, and so is her brother, and all of them have deeply felt the denunciation directed at their law enforcement community in the months since the police-related deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  Sacramento Bee article


Brown, Napolitano form unusual committee to study UC finances — University of California President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown are expected to take the unusual step at Wednesday’s regents meeting in San Francisco of becoming a two-person committee to study UC’s finances in hopes of agreeing how much state funding UC should receive.  San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article

Fresno State’s new AD Jim Bartko puts long-term success ahead of speed – Within 30 days, he expects to have a five-year plan in place, and then go from there. In a sit-down session with The Bee, Bartko discussed what is directly ahead.  Fresno Bee article

Jesus Luna, pioneer of Fresno State Chicano studies, dead at 70 — Jesus Luna, a former Fresno State history professor and pioneer of the Chicano and Latin American Studies program, died this month of cancer at age 70.  Fresno Bee article

New school attendance boundaries for Visalia Unified — With construction begun on the new middle school for Visalia, school district officials are looking to re-draw attendance boundaries. That lengthy process begins Wednesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Ag education gets state support — Gov. Jerry Brown proposes to keep a $4.1 million grant program that helps high schools teach farming and related skills. Meanwhile, the same cause has started to get money from the sale of agriculture-themed license plates to California drivers. Programs in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties got some of the first money.  Modesto Bee article

Changing the world by fighting stereotypes, encouraging achievement — He’s just 16, but Dahkota, a junior at Argonaut High School in Jackson and a member of the Wilton Rancheria Indian Tribe, was selected for President Barack Obama’s National Tribal Youth Network, he’s been featured in USA Today and MTV and other major media outlets across the nation, and the video of a poignant speech he delivered against the Redskins mascot at a 2014 news conference has been viewed thousands of times. Stockton Record article


Latest climate change battle may center on food pyramid — The political clash over climate change has entered new territory that does not involve a massive oil pipeline or a subsidy for renewable energy, but a quaint federal chart that tries to nudge Americans toward a healthy diet.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Valley hospital emergency departments busier than ever with Medi-Cal patients – One of the selling points for the Affordable Care Act, which has enrolled millions of Californians in Medi-Cal and Covered California health plans, was that patients with insurance would have primary care doctors to take care of them and less reason to use expensive and overcrowded hospital emergency rooms. However, as the second year of the health law unfolds, emergency departments in the central San Joaquin Valley are busier than last year seeing patients — many of whom have insurance.  Fresno Bee article

Blue Shield warns clients it may end coverage with Sutter Health — A tense contract dispute between Blue Shield of California and the Sutter Health network of doctors and hospitals may leave nearly 280,000 Northern and Central California consumers searching for someplace else to get health care.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Experts zero in on pizza as prime target in war on childhood obesity – Kids love pizza, but a new study shows that it doesn’t love them back. On days when children eat pizza, they consume an average of 408 additional calories, three additional grams of fat and 134 additional milligrams of salt compared with their regular diet. For teens, putting pizza on the day’s menu adds 624 calories, five grams of fat and 484 milligrams of salt.  LA Times article

Study shows cluster of under-immunization in Northern California — As a measles outbreak spreads rapidly across Southern California and beyond, scientists have identified clusters of under-immunization in communities in 13 counties in the northern portion of the state.  LA Times article; KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article


Dan Walters: Fixing California roads will be tough chore — Gov. Jerry Brown has issued two clarion calls for actions that would affect what tens of millions of Californians do every day – drive their cars – but there may be a conflict between the two.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Other Areas

Martin Luther King Jr. Day carries on the dream — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose actual birthday was last week, is getting his big party Monday, and countless admirers are trying hard to keep his passion for nonviolence from going the way of the soon-to-be-derailed Freedom Train.  San Francisco Chronicle article; Stockton Record article

Hostage files claim against Stockton, police in Bank of the West robbery – An attorney representing one of the hostages taken in a bank robbery that led to a deadly shootout has filed an injury claim stemming from the case against the city of Stockton and the Stockton Police Department.  Stockton Record article

Animal shelter workers cope with ‘compassion fatigue’ – Animal shelter workers in the Sacramento area are learning how to cope with “compassion fatigue,” a condition associated with the emotionally draining task of caring for abused and unwanted pets.  Sacramento Bee article

Cosby performs for appreciative crowd in Turlock — Turlock welcomed beleaguered comic Bill Cosby like an old friend Sunday evening.  Modesto Bee article; AP article;San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeDr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech after the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

Sacramento Bee – Gas station is the latest fight in Curtis Park plan; Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on fair housing is in jeopardy.

Stockton Record – ‘Let Freedom Ring’: ‘Dream’s speech’s text and meaning moves a nation to this day.