January 27, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Immigration action will boost California economy, White House says – The White House said Monday that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration could boost California’s economy by as much as $27.5 billion. In a public relations blitz in advance of the rollout of Obama’s expanded deferred action program, White House adviser Cecilia Muñoz said the president’s move to give work permits to millions and ease restrictions on high-skilled immigrants will increase wages and productivity in the nation’s largest economy.  LA Times article

3 former California governors back independent redistricting – Three former California governors are wading in to an Arizona elections case before the Supreme Court that could have major implications on how California draws its congressional and legislative districts.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown appoints new Health Care Services head — Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed the head of a non-profit managed care association director of the California Department of Health Care Services, his office said Monday. Jennifer Kent replaces Toby Douglas, who announced last year that he was leaving. Kent is a former employee the department that handles Medi-Cal services for more than 11 million Californians.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Tulare’s long road to equal representation — Tulare Vice Mayor Carlton Jones has a vision. Jones wants the people who live in each one of Tulare’s districts to be equally and fairly represented on every one of the city’s committees, commissions and boards.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Riverbank’s eight voting district maps up for review — Leaders now have eight options for splitting the city into voting districts. All will be presented at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, and each can be seen on interactive maps at http://bit.ly/1zlnrrVModesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

White House gives a boost to Kamala Harris – State Attorney General Kamala Harris got an early boost from the White House for her 2016 U.S. Senate race Monday, as she was tapped to be the high-profile messenger of how President Obama’s executive actions on immigration are helping California’s economy.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Harris shadow-boxing Villaraigosa in Senate race – Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is not yet a candidate for U.S. Senate, and he might still skip the race altogether. But state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris made clear Monday that her Senate campaign team sees Villaraigosa, at least for now, as her chief rival in the June 2016 primary.  LA Times article

Wesson backs Kamala Harris’ bid for U.S. Senate – Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. announced Monday that he is endorsing Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ bid for the U.S. Senate.  LA Times article


Valadao joins weekend fact-finding trip to border — The U.S.-Mexico border drew Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and 20 other House members for a bipartisan fact-finding trip that concluded Monday. Led by the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the members visited San Diego; Tucson and Sierra Vista, Arizona; and McAllen, Texas.  Fresno Bee article

Garcetti, other mayors join lawsuit in defense of Obama immigration plan — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is one of a long list of mayors who have signed on to an amicus brief supporting President Obama’s executive order on immigration.  KPCC report

Other areas

Lawmaker wants to restrict e-cigarettes in California – A state lawmaker wants to ban e-cigarettes from restaurants, bars and other workplaces in California where smoking is currently prohibited, but the proposal is expected to face stiff opposition from the tobacco industry.  LA Times article; Capitol Alert

Bruce Maiman: Legislators drop ball on ride-sharing, then blame DMV – Depending on your musical tastes, what happened with the California Department of Motor Vehicles over the weekend was either part of a long and winding road, or a pit stop on a long, strange trip.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee

Dan Wall, longtime local government lobbyist, dies — Dan Wall, a fixture in and around the Capitol for four decades, mostly as an advocate for local government, died Thursday night of pancreatic cancer. He was 68.  Capitol Alert; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Lobbying lawmakers with a personal touch — As the Jan. 4 tweet demonstrates, London also lobbies for another cause – one that hits close to home, where he lives with his 18-year-old son Michael, who is blind and developmentally delayed. London represents the California Disability Services Association, which provides job training, transportation and other assistance to nearly 300,000 disabled Californians who live in private homes.  Capitol Alert

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File


News Briefs

Top Stories

California income inequality increased after recession – Income inequality sharply increased in California as the state emerged from the Great Recession, with the top 1 percent of Californians capturing 135 percent of income growth between 2009 and 2012, according to a new national analysis. In contrast, the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute study found, the other 99 percent of Californians saw an overall loss of income during the period.  Capitol Alert

Migrant college students face more stress than their peers, study says – Recent federal policies to limit deportations and state programs to expand financial aid have benefited college students who entered the country illegally, but those young people still face emotional, educational and money problems, according to a new national study by UCLA researchers.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

California Employment Report for December 2014 Now Available – The California Center for Jobs & the Economy has released its California Employment Report for December 2014.  California Employment Report

Supreme Court knocks down promised health benefits for union retirees – The Supreme Court cast doubt Monday on the future of old union contracts that had promised lifetime health benefits for retired workers and their families. In a case seen as a victory for corporate America, the justices ruled these promises should not be treated as “vested rights” unless they are spelled out in the contract.  LA Times article

Federal deficit lowest since Great Recession amid solid economic growth – Echoing other upbeat forecasts, a new report Monday said the federal deficit is on track to hit its lowest level in years as economic growth continues at a solid pace for fiscal 2016.  LA Times article

Keep? Cut? Change? What experts said about your state job class – In response to requests from a half-dozen State Worker blog users, here’s the first-ever job-class-by-job-class review of every title in California’s state civil service. It includes the reviewers’ recommendations for what to do with each class and why. The spreadsheet is searchable, so if you’re a state employee, you can look up you own classification.  Sacramento Bee article

Hanford Costco project awaits permit – As 2015 gets underway, the Costco Wholesale warehouse set to be located at East Lacey Boulevard and Highway 43 is still awaiting permits to begin building.  Hanford Sentinel article

Berkeley Dollar Tree pulls soda off shelves due to sugary drink tax — Shoppers at the two Dollar Tree stores in Berkeley will no longer find sodas and sugary drinks on their shelves following the passage of the soda tax last November.  KQED report

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento’s ‘wall of debt’ grows dangerously high – As Gov. Jerry Brown chips away at California’s “wall of debt,” the city of Sacramento’s version keeps getting bigger. That’s troubling news for taxpayers.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Glendale sues state over interest on loans – Glendale is taking the state government to court over a potential loss of more than $30 million in interest from loans it made decades ago to its now-defunct Redevelopment Agency.  LA Times article

LA officials move closer to lowering tax on business gross receipts – Los Angeles lawmakers took steps Monday toward cutting the city’s business tax rate starting in 2016.  LA Times article

Nearly $1 million in San Francisco bond money vanishes – The developer of a Rincon Hill luxury high-rise complex near the entrance to the Bay Bridge may have ended up with nearly $1 million in bond money that the city planned to spend on park and pedestrian improvements South of Market, according to public officials.   San Francisco Chronicle article

Rams notify St. Louis they’ll go year-to-year on dome lease – The St. Louis Rams took a step toward a possible move back to the West Coast, notifying the city’s Convention and Visitors Commission on Monday that they intend to shift to a year-to-year lease agreement for their use of the Edward Jones Dome.  AP article

Inglewood stadium plan garners 20,000 signatures – The plan to put a pro football stadium in Inglewood took its first big step forward Monday when organizers submitted more than 20,000 signatures for an initiative petition.  LA Times article

Sacramento drone maker pays $2 million in Pentagon contract probe — A Sacramento manufacturer of military drones will pay $2 million to settle charges that it overcharged the Pentagon for spare parts.  Sacramento Bee article


California poised to see driest January on record — While New York prepared Monday for a historic blizzard, California continued to court the record books due to a lack of precipitation. With just a few days left in the month, January is on track to be the driest on record across much of the state.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California’s dry January linked to northeast blizzard – The extremes on both sides of the country are connected, weather experts said Monday, by a mass of high pressure over the Pacific Ocean. The wall of air is diverting storms from the West Coast to the north, and eventually to the East Coast, much like what happened over the past three winters, pushing California deep into drought.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California may dam 3 Delta channels, if drought persists – State water officials say they may dam parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an emergency measure to protect freshwater used by millions of Californians. The Department of Water Resources said Monday that if the drought persists they may build temporary rocky barriers blocking three channels on the Delta.  AP article

Jim Patterson and Joel Nelson: Water bond promises must be kept – Assemblymember Patterson (R-Fresno) and Nelson, president of California Citrus Mutual, write, “The passage of the water bond has put our state on a path to building new water storage but now that we know Gov. Brown isn’t making new water storage projects a priority, we must remain vigilant to make sure promises he made to voters, farmers and legislators are promises kept.” Patterson/Nelson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Earth Log: Farm water agency reacts to drought with changes at the top — In drought-scarred farm country, there has been a shakeup at the Friant Water Authority, which represents 15,000 east San Joaquin Valley growers who got no river water last year. The authority board of directors Monday announced the general manager’s duties would be split into two roles, one being the new position of chief executive officer. The new executive would be the face of Friant, pursuing broad strategic and policy issues with legislators and water regulators.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Avian flu response draws praise from industry – The federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has reported no more cases of avian influenza since Friday’s detection of a strain at a Foster Farms turkey ranch near Waterford.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto Irrigation District subsidy will come under scrutiny – Fairness of prices charged by the Modesto Irrigation District for its two core services – water and power – will be examined at public workshops starting Tuesday morning.  Modesto Bee article

Q&A: Humane Society pressures egg retailers on treatment of hens – Not only is the group trying to build support for its interpretation of the new measures, but it is working to ensure compliance among supermarkets and others retailers it considers key to affecting change. Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle recently took questions from The Californian about the group’s next steps.  Bakersfield Californian article

Milk industry fights back against anti-dairy folks — The milk industry is fed up with all the sourness over dairy. As Americans continue turning away from milk, an industry group is pushing back at its critics with a social media campaign trumpeting the benefits of milk. The association says it needs to act because attitudes about milk are deteriorating more rapidly, with vegan groups, non-dairy competitors and other perceived enemies getting louder online.  AP article

Private wells in California farm area show high uranium — One in four household water wells in parts of California’s Central Valley contains potentially harmful levels of uranium, a U.S. Geological Survey study said.  AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno PD officer-involved shootings, use-of-force complaints tumble in 2014 — The Fresno police department saw a big drop in officer-involved shootings and use-of-force complaints in 2014, the city’s police auditor reported Monday.Rick Rasmussen, who heads the Office of Independent Review, said there were eight officer-involved shootings last year compared to 11 in 2013. That’s a drop of 27%. Complaints about excessive use-of-force fell from 41 in 2013 to 29 in 2014, a drop of 29%, Rasmussen reported.  Fresno Bee article

LA Police Chief Beck concerned traffic app Waze puts police in harm’s way — The real-time traffic app Waze has earned the ire of the Los Angeles Police Department, which contends the app jeopardizes the lives of police officers.  LA Times article

LAPD statistics illustrate the ‘nature of homicide in LA’ — Violence tied to gangs remained the leading motive for homicides in L.A., at 160 killings, or about 62% of the city’s total — up from 145 such killings in 2013. The LAPD’s 77th Street Division saw a 59% increase in gang-related homicides (16 more killings) compared with 2013, which Beck attributed to a couple of “strong gang conflicts.”  LA Times article


Dan Walters: Brown aims for reform of colleges – Without saying so directly, he’s employing his almost total control of the budget to overhaul the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education, one of his father’s major achievements 55 years ago.  Walters column in  Sacramento Bee

As Brown and Napolitano meet, a look back at UC’s historic autonomy — UC has an unusual amount of autonomy for a state school, and while lawmakers have the power of the purse, they can’t tell an individual branch what it should teach, how much money it should spend on research and what the tuition should be. KQED report

Sacramento Bee: Books before bowl games, regents — If ever there were a sign that the University of California needs to take a step or 12 back from sports-entertainment money, it was in the failure of regents last week to hold UC coaches more accountable for athletes’ education.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Schools encouraging parents to immunize students – The largest outbreak of measles in California in years is prompting school officials to redouble their efforts to convince parents to vaccinate their children.  EdSource article

Stockton Unified, teachers negotiations continue – A mediation session last week failed to resolve differences between the Stockton Teachers Association and the Stockton Unified School District, continuing an impasse that has stretched on since May.  Stockton Record article

Tiny Laton High School is big on FFA — Laton High School is neither large nor affluent. It has 175 students, about half are English learners and nearly three-quarters are low income. But the school in rural west Fresno County has achieved something remarkable among its San Joaquin Valley peers.  Fresno Bee article

Atwater schools give parents nutrition instruction — In Atwater schools, nutrition awareness extends beyond the classroom into the home. A “Parent Nutrition Night” was held Jan. 14 at Mitchell Elementary School and similar sessions are planned at other campuses this school year. The first target is beverages loaded with sugar.  Merced Sun-Star article

Grit and gratitude join reading, writing and arithmetic on report cards – Across the state, report cards are undergoing a sea change in how students are measured for academic performance. Where teachers once graded students on traditional math or English skills, they now judge attributes such as grit, gratitude or being sensitive to others.  Sacramento Bee article

LA Unified chief blasts teachers union’s salary demands — After 16 meetings and months of contract negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles, Cortines issued a public letter sharply criticizing the union’s demands for an 8.5% salary increase and other pay and earnings totaling 4.2% for the 2014-15 school year. He said the cost exceeded the district’s offer by $833 million.  LA Times article


Man injured in plant demolition settles with PG&E – A Bakersfield man who was badly injured by flying shrapnel during the August 2013 demolition of an old power plant owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has reached a settlement with the utility. But PG&E has also filed a cross-complaint against the contractor it hired to perform the explosive demolition, which went horribly wrong when chunks of metal were thrown thousands of feet into so-called safe zones following the blast.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lee decides to back San Francisco clean power program, but with conditions — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, in a major pivot on the issue of competing with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to provide cleaner power to city customers, directed officials Monday to develop a city-run renewable energy program by the end of the year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

6 unprovoked shark attacks along West Coast in 2014, all in California – A recent report says there were six unprovoked shark attacks along the U.S. Pacific Coast in 2014. All of them were in California, and all the sharks were great whites.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Obamacare cost to be 20 percent less than forecast, budget office says – President Obama’s healthcare law will cost about 20% less over the next decade than originally projected, the Congressional Budget Office reported Monday, in part because lower-than-expected healthcare inflation has led to smaller premiums.  LA Times article

800,000 households got health care subsidies in California — Some 800,000 California households received $3.2 billion in federal health care subsidies last year, officials said Monday. Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said the average household subsidy exceeded $5,200.  Capitol Alert

‘First Look’: Last chance to enroll in Covered California before Feb. 15 deadline – As Covered California gets ready to reach the end of its second enrollment period, the Kern County Department of Human Services has collaborated with local health care providers to reach out to those still uninsured before the Feb. 15 deadline.  Bakersfield Californian article; Merced Sun-Star article

Important tax forms sent to Covered California enrollees – Many Californians were given peace of mind when they purchased subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But filing their federal income taxes will be more complicated this year, said tax professionals, who also warn that those who lived without coverage in 2014 could pay higher-than-expected penalties.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno’s Community Medical Centers to expand pediatric, residency program – Community Medical Centers and UCSF-Fresno are joining forces to expand pediatric specialty services and pediatric medical education, the health organization announced Monday.  Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

California measles outbreak is up to 87 cases in 7 states, Mexico – Officials have now confirmed at least 87 cases of measles in seven states and Mexico, as the outbreak centered in California continues to spread.  LA Times article

30 babies under isolation as measles outbreak hits Bay Area – Thirty babies have been placed under home isolation in Alameda County after possible exposure to measles linked to a holiday outbreak at Disneyland last month.  LA Times article

Test results in possible Sacramento County measles case delayed, expected Tuesday — Sacramento County public health officials say results of a tests performed on an individual suspected of having measles have been delayed and probably will be available Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Once easily recognized, signs of measles now elude young doctors – The virus is now so rare that medical schools don’t dwell on it at length. Lack of familiarity can make medical providers, the vast majority of whom have never seen a sickened patient, slow to recognize the potentially deadly, and highly contagious, disease.  LA Times article

UC’s student health center doctors set for 1-day strike Tuesday — Doctors at 10 University of California student health centers, including UCSF and UC Berkeley, will stage a one-day strike Tuesday to protest what they call unfair labor practices on the part of university administrators.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Surgical sweet — When Ken Mayer first came to the newly built Sequoia Medical Center three months ago to undergo therapy for his broken ankle, one of the things that impressed him was a sign with a blue arrow he saw as he got off the elevator.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

Tulare supervisors considering Mooney Grove master plan — Tulare County supervisors will hear on Tuesday the proposed 20-year Conceptual Master Plan for Mooney Grove Park. The plan is intended to map out the long-term strategy to develop and improve the park while maintaining its historic value, states a report from the county Administrative Office for the supervisors.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Other Areas

Caltrans clears Merced homeless camp – The state Department of Transportation used heavy machinery to clear a homeless encampment on Monday in Merced near Highway 140, where an estimated 25 people lived in tents and makeshift buildings.  Merced Sun-Star article

HUD awards $10 million to Central Valley groups to help homeless — Homeless housing and service programs in the central San Joaquin Valley on Monday were awarded $10 million in federal grants to help those without shelter. The Central Valley’s grants were part of a broader announcement made by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. Throughout the nation, HUD awarded $1.8 billion.  Fresno Bee article

Sandy Banks: Homeless youth bring bold, confrontational approach to Santa Clarita – Crude encampments have come and gone for years in this once-rural niche of Los Angeles County. But that rustic version of homelessness has given way to something less benign and more in-your-face. The transients who bed down now amid the boulders and brush seem to be younger, bolder and more aggressive.  Banks in LA Times

Focus on politically charged leadership vote with San Joaquin supervisors – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors today is expected to take a second look at its leadership, three weeks and a day after the five-member panel side-stepped the rotation that had been followed since 2002.  Stockton Record article

Stockton council likely to approve appointments – After spending the past eight years of her life as a member of Stockton’s Planning Commission, newly elected Councilwoman Christina Fugazi found herself recently in the rare position of needing to choose her own replacement. Last week, Fugazi determined she had found just the guy: urban gardener Don Aguillard.  Stockton Record article

Gov. Brown appoints four more new directors to Kern fair board – The Kern County Fair has four new members of its board of directors, replacing four termed-out directors.  Bakersfield Californian article

Report: State worker sent alarming notes before gun arrest – A state employee arrested on suspicion of bringing a loaded gun to the California secretary of state’s office had been reprimanded for sending unsolicited messages to female co-workers, according to documents obtained Monday.  AP article

Livingston recreation committee lacks members and interest – A golf course, a water park and pony rides. These are just a few ideas the Livingston Parks and Recreation Commission might discuss in an effort to increase recreational activities in the city. But the commission that plans these programs is severely lacking in members – with 10 commissioner seats expiring at the end of the week.  Merced Sun-Star article

Cosby postpones Bakersfield Fox show — Bill Cosby has postponed his performance at the Bakersfield Fox Theater scheduled for Feb. 12, the venue reported Monday. A new date has not been scheduled. Tickets will be refunded at the point of purchase; credit cards will receive an automatic refund.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Believe it or not, there’s a glimmer of bipartisanship in the new Republican-controlled Congress — a bill to step up efforts to prevent suicides among military veterans.

Sacramento Bee – If ever there were a sign that the University of California needs to take a step or 12 back from sports-entertainment money, it was in the failure of regents last week to hold UC coaches more accountable for athletes’ education; As Gov. Jerry Brown chips away at California’s “wall of debt,” the city of Sacramento’s version keeps getting bigger. That’s troubling news for taxpayers.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Several events exhibit community concern, citizens band together to support Fair Oaks, and other issues.