January 24, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

CD 21: House hopeful keeping national party at arm’s length – for now — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has had a rough couple of election cycles against Congressman David Valadao. So there’s a big question in local Democratic circles about what role it will play in this year’s contest. Democratic candidate Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney, says he’s running his own campaign with family and friends at the helm, including his mother, social justice icon Dolores Huerta. Bakersfield Californian article 

Dan Walters: Economic health a mixed bag — Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a mixed economic message to the Legislature last week – hailing California’s strong recovery from the Great Recession but warning it could quickly turn sour. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Morain: Loretta Sanchez runs against Kamala Harris and herself — Rep. Loretta Sanchez is, as pundits are wont to say, authentic, the sort of politician you could imagine inviting to a backyard barbecue. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Cathleen Decker: Is he or isn’t he? Tom Steyer isn’t saying whether he’ll run for governor — Everywhere you turned in politics last week, you could have bumped into Tom Steyer or his obsessions. Decker in LA Times

Sacramento Bee: Another shot at e-cigarettes — There are pros and cons to the proposed initiative to raise the tax on sales of tobacco, but one of the better arguments for it is that it includes e-cigarettes. Sacramento Bee editorial
Other areas

Advocates consider AB60 a success – Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants across California have been issued driver’s licenses during the first year of a program under Assembly Bill 60. Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, said AB60 has been successful statewide but has made a big impact on agriculture communities, such as San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article 

Retiring California lawmakers talk about what’s left to do and what’s next — With less than a year until their replacements are sworn in, California Sen.Barbara Boxer and Reps. Sam Farr and Lois Capps are checking off their to-do lists, trying to wrap up decades of work in Washington. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Bullet train’s first segment, reserved for Southland, could open in Bay Area instead – A valuable perk handed to Southern California from the bullet train project — a 2012 decision to build the first operating segment from Burbank north into the Central Valley — is being reconsidered by state officials. The state rail authority is studying an alternative to build the first segment in the Bay Area, running trains from San Jose to Bakersfield. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article

Oil prices plunge imperils Kern County services — Kern County government is used to the feast-and-famine cycle of the energy markets, but it has never seen what’s coming: a record drop in oil and gas property tax revenue for the second year in a row. And that means more budget pain. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

New homes just the beginning for Madera County growth – Madera County is on the verge of a building boom that creates the potential for a Clovis-sized city north and west of the San Joaquin River, with construction starting this spring. Fresno Bee article

What’s oil property worth? Industry, assessors will hash it out – Few people outside the oil industry have ever heard of it, but a conference scheduled for Feb 16-18 at Ventura’s Crowne Plaza Hotel will have a profound effect on everyday life in Kern County. The meeting of perhaps 100 industry representatives and county assessors around the state has a single objective: provide guidance for determining the taxable value of California’s oil and gas properties in fiscal year 2016-17. Bakersfield Californian article

Michael Fitzgerald: Sweet city pensions, Part 1 – Stockton is paying five retired city managers and eight retired police chiefs. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Modesto Bee: Without a tax, we’re just dreaming of better roads – We suggest that folks in Stanislaus County start dreaming of ways to claim our share of those soon-to-be-increased road taxes. Then we can start building better highways to a better future. Modesto Bee editorial

California building industry leader: Home construction making steady comeback – The homebuilding business lured 41-year-old Joseph Killinger from a good job with defense contractor Raytheon about 18 years ago, but he is painfully aware that it doesn’t hold quite the same appeal after the sharp, sudden and prolonged job losses during the Great Recession. Sacramento Bee article

Mike Klocke: Fitting the pieces of Stockton’s jigsaw puzzle – Stockton is a structurally fractured city. It has nothing to do with whether you’re for against the current mayor, although he’s perhaps the most polarizing elected official in Stockton since Ralph Lee White. No, the structure that’s fractured in Stockton is, well, the infrastructure. Stockton Record article 

Development rights no cure-all for Raiders stadium shortfall — Despite some major disagreements, Raiders and Oakland officials have the same game plan for financing a new football stadium: entice a developer to help pay for it in return for cheap land and a piece of the team. But real estate professionals doubt whether that strategy can close the estimated $300 million funding gap for a stadium the Raiders say will cost $900 million, leaving the team’s long-term fate further in question after the NFL rejected its bid to move to Los Angeles. San Jose Mercury News article

Looking for signs Apple’s runaway growth is waning – Investors have long relied on Apple to deliver one crucial attribute: growth. Now they are beginning to wonder whether Apple’s days as a growth stock are coming to an end. New York Times article

Modesto’s White Plum makes its mark on e-commerce — It started in 2012 as a side business. Something for Hilary Zwahlen to do after her baby was born to make a little money while she and her husband, Rod, decided their next step. They figured they might open a local nursing home, as that was the industry in which Rod worked. Modesto Bee article

Ali Youssefi: Smart urban living can be the future of Sacramento – The vice president of CFY Development writes, “Decades of misguided public policy intensified by cheap housing and an overdependence on cars have made it so that almost all Sacramentans live in the suburbs. But the future of urban living in Sacramento is bright. It’s not a question of if the paradigm is changing, it’s how fast.” Youssefi op-ed in Sacrameto Bee


24-hour storm puts month’s rain totals well above average — A storm that blew through Fresno over the weekend raised January’s rain totals to nearly 2 inches above the 30-year average for the month, said Jim Andersen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Hanford. Fresno Bee article 

Diving in on chloramines – When the city first notified north Stockton residents in 2014 that it planned to put chloramines in their drinking water, the phone started ringing at the Municipal Utilities Department. Stockton Record article 

‘Stockton is not Flint’ — This city is a long way from Flint, Michigan — in distance and in drinking water. Flint’s water is so laden with lead that it qualifies as toxic waste. Stockton’s water is well within federal standards for lead. Still, activist Erin Brockovich wrote in a Facebook post addressed to Gov. Jerry Brown and other state leaders on Friday, “You too have your own Flint Water Crisis, right here in Stockton.” Stockton Record article

Donald W. Blount: Water is still for fighting over – It did not seem that we had to go out of our way to fight ourselves. But that’s exactly what we are doing with the ruckus being raised over chloramines. The city recently began using the chemical, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, to treat drinking water for parts of the city. The alternative was to build a massively expensive plant that also was expensive to operate. Blount column in Stockton Record

California ranchers see wildfire as friend and foe — Ranchers talked about how their cattle can chew down the grass and brush that stoke intense wildfires. And they offered, when conditions are right, to torch the vegetation in strategic places to keep the threat at bay. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: The wading game: Valley folks dealing with standing water for first time in years — For the past four years, aside from a few relatively exciting but isolated storms, we’ve pretty much forgotten what it is like to deal with puddles, instant ponds and street flooding. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Bruce Blodgett: Land use rules need flexibility – The executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau writes, “Land mitigation is a burgeoning issue that will come before the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. At stake, are the future needs of agriculture.” Blodgett column in Stockton Record

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Mario Woods’ last moments: ‘You better squeeze that … and kill me’ — The final chapter of Mario Woods’ life began when he slashed a stranger for no apparent reason and ended with him staring at the barrel of a San Francisco police officer’s gun and saying, “You better squeeze that … and kill me.” That’s the account provided by officers who were on the scene of an incident that has caused an uproar in the city and shaken both the Police Department and Mayor Ed Lee’s administration. San Francisco Chronicle article


Fresno Unified delays public records request for no-bid contracts – The Fresno Unified School District has twice postponed public release of emails between district employees and Harris Construction officials. The Bee requested the emails under theCalifornia Public Records Act as part of its investigation of the district’s no-bid contract practices. Fresno Bee article

Clovis Unified could drop strict requirement for boys’ hairstyles — The Clovis Unified school board will consider dropping a decades-old policy that forbids boys from growing out their hair and wearing earrings. The recommended changes to the district’s strict dress code come after concerns surfaced about whether the policy is fair to all genders. Fresno Bee article

Marymount to study Visalia for college expansion — Marymount California University in Southern California will soon begin a feasibility study of Visalia for offering bachelor’s degree programs, which local boosters say could evolve into the first traditional four-year college in city history. Fresno Bee article

Modesto City Schools board to prioritize $1 billion in campus needs — The state of Modesto school campuses and the $1 billion needed to bring them up to par will be the topic of a study session of the board Monday. Modesto Bee article

Modesto Junior College considered for national Aspen Prize — Modesto Junior College is in the running for a $1 million prize, one of 150 community colleges in the nation being considered in a biennial contest that chooses its own candidates. Modesto Bee article

Fast-acting methane from Alisa Canyon leak is boosting global warming – In three months, one failed well at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage field has spewed more greenhouse gases than any other facility in California. At its height, the leak more than doubled the methane emissions of the entire Los Angeles Basin and surpassed what is released by all industrial activity in the state. LA Times article

Regulators order new steps to contain gas leak near Porter Ranch — Regulators on Saturday approved a comprehensive abatement order that requires Southern California Gas Co. to take immediate steps to contain a massive natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, permanently shut down the damaged well, establish a leak detection system and conduct an independent health study. LA Times article

Fish and Game upheaval reveals shift in state wildlife policy — The sudden resignation of the most adamant defender of hunting and fishing on the California Fish and Game Commission could put the finishing touches on a sweeping philosophical shift in the way the state views wildlife, sets rules for fishing and controls predators like mountain lions and wolves. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Antonio Villaraigosa: California should resist utility attacks on rooftop solar – The former mayor of Los Angeles writes, “We need to support and encourage the growth of local rooftop solar rather than making it harder for customers to embrace clean energy. Now, more than ever, California needs to think big when it comes to our energy production – and by thinking big, I mean thinking small, with rooftop solar. I urge the PUC to continue to embrace the positive impacts rooftop solar has on California’s communities and support its continued growth.” Villaraigosa op-ed in Sacramento Bee


At Sacramento airport, birds and planes don’t mix well — Each day at Sacramento International Airport, a high-stakes turf war unfolds in the fields beyond the runways. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

California marijuana grower face new crop of local bans — Facing what appears to be a rapidly closing window for action, dozens of cities and counties from across California are racing to enact new bans on marijuana-growing. Some apply only to commercial cultivation, both indoor and outdoor, but many would also prohibit personal pot gardens that have been legal — or at least overlooked — for 19 years. AP article

Sacramento legal bill nearly $50,000 for Councilman Allen Warren investigation — The city of Sacramento has been billed nearly $50,000 by two law firms that investigated an employee claim of sexual harassment against Councilman Allen Warren, according to invoices obtained by The Sacramento Bee under the Public Records Act. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Finally, the political will to help opioid addicts.

Modesto Bee – We suggest that folks in Stanislaus County start dreaming of ways to claim our share of those soon-to-be-increased road taxes. Then we can start building better highways to a better future.

Sacramento Bee – There are pros and cons to the proposed initiative to raise the tax on sales of tobacco, but one of the better arguments for it is that it includes e-cigarettes.

Maddy Events

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. 

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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