Fresno County growers claim ‘arbitrary legislative targeting’ in late-session bill — In a lawsuit challenging a multimillion dollar farm labor deal struck by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature last year, two Fresno County growers said Friday that they were illegally carved out of the agreement. Sacramento Bee article
Cellphone encryption bill pits police against tech industry and privacy advocates – A Democratic state legislator is taking aim at smartphone encryption, arguing the strict security measures to protect cellphone data hamper law enforcement’s ability to crack down on human traffickers and other criminals. LA Times article
Jim Patterson says he’ll run for state Senate in 2018 — Fresno Republican Jim Patterson, who is in the middle of his second Assembly term, says he will give up that seat in 2018 to run for the state Senate. Fresno Bee article
Many could line up for Poochigian’s supervisorial seat — The District 5 supervisorial seat held by Debbie Poochigian, who announced this week she will not seek re-election, is drawing interest from a number of potential candidates. As of Friday, Clovis City Council Member Nathan Magsig and businessman and agricultural committee executive Alex Ott were the only candidates to have pulled papers to reduce their filing fees, but others are emerging as possibilities. Fresno Bee article
Ceres woman launches campaign for Stanislaus Board of Supervisors – Eileen Wyatt-Stokman, a soon-to-retire child welfare employee for Stanislaus County, is running for the District 5 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Modesto Bee article
Deputy Kern DA announces run for judge — Kern County Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Organ-Bowles has announced her candidacy for a judge’s seat in a race that already included a defense attorney who’s challenging the sitting judge. Bakersfield Californian article
Recall effort against Fant fails — An effort to recall Manteca Unified School District Trustee Sam Fant will not move any further, as recall supporters were unable to collect enough signatures by their Dec. 24 deadline to put the recall before voters. Stockton Record article
San Bernardino Shootings
More claims filed against San Bernardino County in terror attack — The family of Sierra Clayborn, who was killed in the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terror attack, filed three claims against San Bernardino County this week, alleging it failed to prevent her death. The claims seek $204 million in damages. LA Times article
Darius Assemi: Don’t let terrorists define American values – The Fresno builder, farmer and philanthropist writes, “I became a proud U.S. citizen because of America’s values, the opportunities it provides for all of its citizens, and for its respect for human dignity. We cannot allow terrorists to reshape the values we hold most dear. These times test our political and moral character. Will we betray the heartfelt ideals our nation was built upon?” Assemi op-ed in Fresno Bee
San Francisco DA charges former city official, staffer with bribery — A former official and an ex-staff member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission were charged with bribery and money laundering for their alleged role in soliciting bribes for political favors and access to Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascón announced Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report
Prices falling for once high-flying nut crops — After producing record-size crops, prices for California almonds, pistachios and walnuts are on the decline or softening as export demand weakens and foreign competition increases. Still, San Joaquin Valley growers remain bullish on nuts, one of the fastest-growing segments in agriculture, saying a correction in the market was expected. Fresno Bee article
Reservoirs barely helped by rain – The recent onslaught of El Nino storms only slightly increased the levels of California reservoirs that stand at half of historic depths for this time of year, federal officials said Friday while releasing an initial water outlook for 2016. AP article; Sacramento Bee article
Jobs and the Economy
Valley unemployment rates rise in December – Unemployment rates rose throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region in December, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. Here are the December 2015 rates, followed by the November rates:
- Fresno– 10.3 percent, 9.9
- Kern– 10.2 percent, 9.2
- Kings– 10.9 percent, 10.3
- Madera– 10.1 percent, 9.9
- Merced– 11.9 percent, 10.9
- San Joaquin– 8.8 percent, 8.6
- Stanislaus– 9.1 percent, 8.8
- Tulare– 12.1 percent, 11.1
Fresno County’s 2015 unemployment rate is lowest in eight years – Fresno County’s average annual unemployment rate reached an eight-year low last year, dipping below 10 percent – barely – for the first time since 2007. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article
Kern unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in December – Kern County’s unemployment rate jumped a full percentage point to 10.2 percent between November and December, according to seasonally unadjusted data the state released Friday. Bakersfield Californian article
Merced County’s 2015 unemployment rate is lowest in eight years – The job outlook in Merced County improved last year, with the average unemployment rate for 2015 reported to be 11.1 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2007. Merced Sun-Star article
Seasonal layoffs bump up San Joaquin County jobless rate – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rose slightly to 8.8 percent in December, up from a revised 8.6 percent in November, due mostly to seasonal layoffs in farming and construction, state employment officials reported Friday. Stockton Record article
Stanislaus County unemployment rate up slightly – Figures released Friday by the California Employment Development Department showed Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate for December stood at 9.1 percent, up from an adjusted 8.8 percent in November. Modesto Bee article
California unemployment inches up to 5.8 percent despite big gain in jobs – California’s unemployment rate rose to 5.8 percent last month, although job growth was strong. The Employment Development Department said Friday that the unemployment rate grew one-tenth of a percentage point despite a gain of 60,400 non-farm payroll jobs. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article
Lower gas prices affecting city tax revenue – Declining gas prices across the state are creating a drag on the amount of money cities are getting in sales tax revenues, a consultant hired by the City of Lemoore said at the most recent council meeting. Hanford Sentinel article
ADA reform bills gain momentum – Two pieces of legislation meant to dampen predatory lawsuits brought under the guise of helping disabled people are making progress in Sacramento, both winning rare unanimous support in committee votes on Thursday. Modesto Bee article
Modesto to weigh homeless solutions – Modestans can learn about and give their opinions on recommendations – such as establishing a day center and creating more housing – to end homelessness Thursday at Modesto Centre Plaza. Modesto Bee article
The Numbers Crunch: Income inequality gets worse in America’s cities – As you might expect, San Francisco is among the most unequal cities, because so many techies are making so much money. But in Los Angeles, Fresno and Sacramento, the divide is worsening because so many workers had their paychecks shrink so much during the recession. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee
Kings County involved in Costco-related project – Kings County supervisors on Tuesday are expected to help Hanford get state funding to build Costco-related infrastructure. Hanford Sentinel article
Air cargo company lands at Stockton airport – Air Transport International Inc., an Ohio-based air cargo charter airline, is expect to begin daily operations by Feb. 1 at Stockton Metropolitan Airport, employing about 30 cargo handlers and supervisors, the company and airport officials announced Friday. Stockton Record article
Andrew Fiala on Ethics: Yosemite name debate isn’t that novel – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “While we might wax nostalgic about Yosemite’s trademarked landmarks and rue the intrusion of capitalism into the Sierra heartland, businesses have been making money in Yosemite for over a century.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee
Surcharges piling up on telephone bills — If your monthly cellphone or landline bills seem higher these days, take a look at the state surcharges. Since the fall, California phone bills have included almost 8 percent in telecommunication surcharges, the highest in nearly 30 years. They generate revenue for programs designed to bring phone or broadband service to millions of residents with low incomes and people who live in remote parts of the state. Sacramento Bee article
Lottery racking up sales, paying more prizes — Well before the largest jackpot in U.S. history had Californians queuing for a chance at Powerball riches, the state’s 30-year-old lottery had fully recovered from a recessionary dip in sales. Sacramento Bee article
7 reasons the tech sector should be scared — Has the tech bubble already burst, and we just haven’t figured it out? San Francisco Chronicle article
El Nino inspires hopes of ‘major dent’ in drought, but empty reservoirs point to long recovery – After two months of steady rain and snow across Northern California, officials are beginning to see some rays of hope. LA Times article
Lawmaker pushes for public vote on Delta water project — In a largely symbolic show of opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta water project, a Stockton lawmaker said Friday she is introducing legislation to require public approval of such plans. Sacramento Bee article; Stockton Record article; LA Times article
Mike Dunbar: Soon, state will explain why it wants our water – The state of California soon will tell us what we’re worth. Don’t be surprised if the answer is “not as much as south Valley farmers,” or “not as much as San Francisco fishermen,” or simply “not much.” Dunbar column in Modesto Bee
Stockton won’t take part in forum on chloramines, calling it a ‘political event’ – City Manager Kurt Wilson says City Hall officials will not participate in an upcoming public forum on the safety of Stockton drinking water, and Mayor Anthony Silva doesn’t like it. Stockton Record article
Merced County water basins among overdrafted regions – Merced County is part of a long swath of San Joaquin Valley areas where groundwater basins and subbasins have been critically overdrafted, causing land subsidence and chronically lowered groundwater levels, according to information released by the state Department of Water Resources. Merced Sun-Star article
Environmentalists say proposed desalination plant vulnerable to flooding – Environmentalists in Orange County are using the King Tides hitting the coast this week to argue that a proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach is slated for the wrong place. KPPC report
Harvey Campbell, a cotton breeder who transformed industry, dies at 87 — Harvey Campbell, who in the 1990s fought against and helped dismantle the so-called one-variety cotton laws that ruled for decades over the San Joaquin Valley cotton industry, died Thursday night at his home in Bakersfield from complications of congestive heart disease. He was 87. Bakersfield Californian article
New California death penalty rules debated — California’s death penalty took center stage Friday as officials held a public hearing on proposed new rules that would allow the state to resume executions using a single drug in its lethal injections. Sacramento Bee article
Lawsuit over deadly Modesto ambush settled for $1.5 million — Stanislaus County will pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by survivors of a locksmith killed alongside a deputy sheriff in a 2012 eviction gone bad on Modesto’s Chrysler Drive. Modesto Bee article
For the third time, Brown rejects parole of Manson follower Bruce Davis — Gov. Jerry Brown has rejected parole for a third time for a follower of cult leader Charles Manson 46 years after a series of bloody murders rocked Southern California. AP article
CSU Chancellor Timothy White gets earful at Cal State Long Beach visit – A visit by the California State University chancellor to the Cal State Long Beach campus this week was intended to give him an up-close look at innovative ways the university is increasing student achievement. But later in the day, he got an earful from students and faculty criticizing tuition costs and lack of teacher pay increases. Long Beach Press Telegram article
Classrooms get 21st century upgrade – Literacy coaches from Tulare Union, Tulare Western, and Mission Oak came together to find a way to change the classroom environment in order to improve learning while bringing classrooms to the 21st Century. Visalia Times-Delta article
Civil rights groups state concerns in implementing new federal education law – A coalition 37 of education advocacy and civil rights groups from across the country want more input into how states and the federal government implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act to ensure it better serves high-needs students, such as low-income children and English learners. EdSource article
North High boutique makes girls feel ‘as beautiful as possible’ — North High senior LeeAnne Younger finally found the perfect Winter Formal dress, a floor-length purple gown that fit just right the first time she put it on. But not where you’d expect. On the North High campus itself. Bakersfield Californian article
John Holland: Tuolumne River salmon debate goes back long way — I have written several times in the past two years about whether the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts should pay for a means to get salmon to the Tuolumne River stretch just above Don Pedro Reservoir. Old news, you might think. Really old news, it turns out. Holland in Modesto Bee
Kern’s vaccination rates remain above state average – The percentage of Kern County kindergarteners receiving vaccinations has climbed for the third year in a row, remaining above the state average, state health records released this week show. Bakersfield Californian article
The obscurity of drug spending in Medi-Cal — California will be a flashpoint in the policy debate this year around reining in the cost of high-priced prescription drugs. A measure expected to be before voters this November would restrict the state’s drug payment to no more than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. CALmatters article
Data Tracker: Two maps that illustrate California’s growing opioid epidemic — As prescription opioids and illegal heroin rise further in popularity, the number of drug overdoses in the state hit a new high in 2014, according to new estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sacramento Bee article
Fresno State professor key in new Alzheimer’s research – Fruit fly research from a Fresno State chemistry professor is playing a key role in developing a new approach to understand the role of environmental toxins in ALS and Alzheimer’s disease. The Business Journal article
Ana Ibarra: Let’s Talk Health: Finding safe housing for mental health patients — Late last year, I received a call from a reader who said she had some concerns about an apartment complex her mentally ill brother had been referred to. Ibarra in Merced Sun-Star
Transportation officials warn of plunging road funding – One day after Gov. Jerry Brown renewed his call for billions of dollars in new funding to repair dilapidated roads throughout the state, the California Transportation Commission moved to ratchet up pressure on lawmakers to approve a deal. The commission said Friday that it has reduced estimated funding available for the state’s transportation program by $754 million over the next five years. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article
Lower fuel prices boost airline profits, but fares to hold steady – The nation’s airlines are reporting soaring 2015 profits largely because of sinking fuel prices. The record income, however, isn’t translating into big cuts in airfares. LA Times article
Big win for Caltran: Leaks plugged on Bay Bridge eastern span — After spending more than $1.4 million trying to plug leaks that put the cable of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span at risk of corrosion, Caltrans says it has finally hit on a fix that costs less than $100,000 — and has all but eliminated a problem that plagued the project for years. San Francisco Chronicle article
Sacramento transit agency proposes 20 percent fare hikes — Sacramento Regional Transit is proposing to raise bus and light-rail fares by as much as 20 percent this summer, saying increases are overdue and desperately needed to pull the agency out of the red. Sacramento Bee article
Lindsay Callahan named new CEO of United Way Fresno – The United Way Fresno and Madera Counties announced their newest president and CEO, former Fresno County Office of Education consultant Lindsay Callahan. Fresno Bee article
San Joaquin County Fair returning after two-year hiatus – The San Joaquin County Fair is returning in June following a two-year hiatus brought on by a decline of attendance and financial problems. Stockton Record article
Family of Fresno paramedic killed in December helicopter crash files lawsuit — The family of a Fresno paramedic who was killed in the Skylife air ambulance helicopter crash in Kern County has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Rogers Helicopters, claiming it was negligent in the maintenance and operation of the Bell 407 aircraft that crashed in a field nine miles east of McFarland last month. Fresno Bee article
Oakland’s privacy commission could lead nation on surveillance oversight – Oakland’s history of distrust between social justice activists and government, along with the city’s proximity to Silicon Valley, make it a prime candidate to create one of the most active privacy oversight panels in the country. KQED report
Malik Simba: Heritage, sports and a racial slur – The emeritus professor in the Department of History/Africana Studies at Fresno State writes, “Now that the Washington Redskins pro football franchise has been eliminated from the National Football League playoffs, it is appropriate to comment on the name “Redskins” and how so inappropriate its use is in the public sphere.” Simba op-ed in Fresno Bee
Valley Editorial Roundup
Sunday, Jan. 24, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “Eliminating Fraud, Waste & Abuse in State Government: Who You Gonna Call?” – Guests: California Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor, California State Auditor Elaine Howle, California Little Hoover Commission Exec. Dir. Carole D’Elia and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, Jan. 24, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Discerning Fact from Fiction in State & Local Policy Debates” – 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. 24, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Workforce in California” – Guests: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Marisol Cuellar. 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.
- 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/
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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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