January 25, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Big budget issue for California is whether to spend or save money — The single most important factor in writing a new state budget is determining how much money there is to spend. It’s not an easy calculation under any circumstances, because it involves forecasting – or guessing – how the state’s economy will perform many months in advance. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

George Skelton: What Gov. Brown’s State of the States speech lacked: punch — The governor’s State of the State speech last week was not entirely a kiss-off. But afterward I found myself asking: What was that about?  Skelton column in LA Times

Valley politics

McNerney details work for constituents — So just what does a member of Congress do, other than vote on legislation, offer bills and sit on subcommittees? In the case of Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, handle more than 1,000 requests for action from constituents in 2015. Stockton Record article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Pension initiative refiling may include legislation — A bipartisan group announced the end last week of an attempt to put a public pension reform initiative on the ballot this fall, aiming instead for the November 2018 ballot. Its refiled initiative also may be put into a bill in the Legislature. Calpensions article

AP investigation: Feds’ failures imperil migrant children — As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved, or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found. AP article 

San Ysidro border crossing scheduled to get new pedestrian entrance — Starting in June, thousands of pedestrians can expect a choice when crossing the border from Tijuana to San Ysidro. A new entrance called PedWest is scheduled to open on the west side of the port’s vehicle lanes, augmenting the existing entrance on the east. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno council, administration divided over recycling and green waste contracts — Council members and the Swearengin administration are clashing over recycling and green waste. While largely waged behind the scenes, the battle has in many ways been no less contentious than those over commercial and residential trash pickup. At stake are taxpayer dollars and, of course, profits for the private companies competing for the city’s business. Fresno Bee article

Bumping up minimum wage helps workers, costs businesses and customers — Businesses and nonprofit groups have been adjusting to the state’s new $10 minimum wage since it superseded the old minimum wage of $9 an hour on Jan. 1. Some have raised prices or fees. Others have cut back hours. And many are thinking about the increases still to come. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Fresno Bee: Handing money to panhandlers helps no one – Giving somebody a buck or two might make you feel good for a moment. But the reality is, every time you do that, you are negating legitimate efforts to help the homeless and perpetuating Fresno’s abundance of aggressive panhandlers. Fresno Bee editorial 

The outlook and risks this year for five key sectors of economy – It looks like the schematic for a new theme park ride: plummet from a lofty height through a series of stomach-churning twists. Unfortunately for most investors and possibly the U.S. economy, it’s a chart of theDow Jones industrial average this month. LA Times article

Super Bowl 50: Residents list rentals at super-sized prices — In the San Francisco Bay Area, where high housing costs are notorious, residents looking to make a quick buck are offering to rent their homes at super-sized prices to the 1 million visitors expected for Super Bowl 50 festivities. AP article 

Merced County plan focuses on demographics of homeless population — First things first, the plan was adopted in May 2011 by the Merced County Association of Governments board. The plan has eight goals: Increasing access to housing with services; enhancing employment readiness and resources; preventing homelessness; implementing rapid rehousing; improving community outreach and engagement; evaluating effectiveness; conducting a cost benefit analysis; and increasing leadership, collaboration and civic engagement. Merced Sun-Star article 

Andy Furillo: Raiders conceivably could move to Sacramento — Now that nothing but the Super Bowl lies between us and the rest of our lives, it is time to talk about the Oakland Raiders’ future and an outer-limit scenario that includes a home in Sacramento. Furillo column in Sacramento Bee

State won’t take new prison officer applications until April — Want to apply to be a correctional officer with the State of California? You’ll have a wait a little longer. A recruiting push that started in mid-2013 has been so successful that Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials at the end of last year decided to stop taking new job applications until April 1. Sacramento Bee article

25 feet of El Nino snow piling up on California mountain peaks – Don’t get excited.  Don’t get rid of that bucket in your shower.  Don’t replant your lawn.  But do go skiing or take a trip up to play in the snow.  The amount of snow in the Sierra is off the charts for recent years, and by the end of this weekend’s El Niño storms, some Sierra peaks will have been buried under 25 feet of snow. San Francisco Chronicle article

Use of Delta land after proposed sale to be discussed – With news of the potential sale of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to a Southern California water agency, county officials are looking to put an ordinance in place that will give them time to determine what land uses will be consistent with the county’s general plan. Stockton Record article 

Pacifica in state of emergency over El Nino storm damage — Fears that crushing waves and powerful rains from El Niño would erode the coastal bluffs in Pacifica — where several vacant apartment buildings and homes have been left teetering for years — were realized this weekend. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Photos from inside jail show how inmates made dramatic escape — So how did those three inmates escape from the Orange County Central Men’s Jail? According to authorities, they were able to get past security points in at least three areas, getting away by cutting through half-inch steel bars, making their way through plumbing tunnels and then rappelling from the roof to the ground using a makeshift rope made of bed sheets. LA Times articleAP article

This LA-county program may have kept some at-risk youths out of legal trouble — Five years ago, Los Angeles County child welfare officials teamed up with criminal justice experts in the hope of stemming the flow of foster kids into the juvenile justice system. LA Times article 


Esther J. Cepeda: Struggles of the first to go to college – There are some ugly truths about being the first in your family to attend college: Those you leave behind aren’t always happy for you, they sometimes think you’re a traitor for leaving home, and, when you return on breaks, they might accuse you of acting like you’re better than everyone else. Cepeda column in Fresno Bee

State to reimburse costs related to Common Core tests — School districts in California may get a new influx of money to reimburse as much as $600 million in estimated costs related to the administration of mandated tests, based on a state commission’s decision Friday. EdSource article 

Winton schools ‘mix it up’ with tolerance-building program – Students at Sybil Crookham Elementary School in Winton were given a little push to “mix it up.” About 175 students in third, fourth and fifth grades participated in tolerance-building activities aimed at taking them out of their comfort zones and meeting new people through a program called Mix It Up Day. Merced Sun-Star article

Olivia Garcia: Bakersfield College online journal seeks alumni, student original works — A Bakersfield College online journal is seeking submissions from former and current students. The submissions can be in the form of scholarly or creative work, such as poems, plays, stories, formal essays or research papers, photography, musical or dramatic performances and more. Bakersfield Californian article

Carbon capture flops in California despite millions in investment – California is barreling ahead with its ambitious climate change goals, pushing renewable energy and cleaner cars. That doesn’t mean that fossil fuels are going away anytime soon. Some doubt that the state can meet its lofty goals without capturing carbon emissions from fossil-fired power plants and stashing it someplace, like deep underground. CALmatters article

Sacramento Bee: Sky won’t fall if solar companies share a little sun – Solar panels produce no greenhouse gases, which can help combat climate change. Much of the solar industry is based in California, and it provides economic benefits in the form of jobs. That’s all good. But the Public Utilities Commission probably could insist that the rooftop solar industry accept greater responsibility, without causing the sky to fall. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Tulare supervisors to consider landfill project — Tulare County Board of Supervisors could award a $7.6 million construction contract Tuesday to close a unit at the Visalia landfill when they meet in regular session. The Visalia site of the county’s landfill, located at the Road 80 and Avenue 328, reached capacity in 2007 and the county stopped putting waste into it. State code requires the county to build a closure at the landfill unit. Visalia Times-Delta article
Health/Human Services 

Wellness programs use carrots and, increasingly, sticks – Workers increasingly are being told by their companies to undergo health screenings and enroll in wellness programs, as a way to curb insurance costs. Many employees now face stiff financial penalties — often in the form of higher premiums — if they do not have their cholesterol checked or join programs to lose weight or better manage diabetesNew York Times article 

Problem of sexually transmitted diseases particularly acute in LA County — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise across the nation, but the problem is particularly acute in Los Angeles County. Not only does the county have the most cases, it also has some of the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in California and the nation. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

New life given to two formerly blighted Modesto properties – There is a new future for two Modesto properties that recently were bringing down their neighborhoods with blight. Modesto Bee article


BART’s damage-control scramble on decoy cameras — BART didn’t waste time announcing it would replace scores of dummy cameras on its trains with real ones — and with good reason. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Expecting Super Bowl’s dark side, volunteers fill survival kits for sex trafficking victims — Of all the global problems Emily Moreno could have chosen to tackle, she zeroed in on the sex trafficking of young girls about her age. But really, what could a 16-year-old suburban high school sophomore do? Volunteer to stuff survival backpacks on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, it turns out. San Jose Mercury News article

Stockton Animal Shelter: Outcomes improving, but critics remain — Just three years ago, only three of every 10 stray dogs and cats brought to the Stockton Animal Shelter left alive, but the news has dramatically improved since then, according to data recently released by the south Stockton facility. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Giving somebody a buck or two might make you feel good for a moment. But the reality is, every time you do that, you are negating legitimate efforts to help the homeless and perpetuating Fresno’s abundance of aggressive panhandlers.

Sacramento Bee – The Public Utilities Commission probably could insist that the rooftop solar industry accept greater responsibility, without causing the sky to fall.

Maddy Events 

Sunday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “Flunking College: California’s Looming Higher Ed Skills Gap” – Guests: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Sarah Bohn. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Jan. 31, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “College Grads: Can the Valley Grow Its Own?” – Guests: Debbie Young, director of the Career Development Center at Fresno State; Jeffrey Michael, director of the Career Development Center at University of the Pacific; and Garo Kalfayan, dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at CSU Bakersfield. 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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