January 27, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

It’s back to the negotiating table for transportation funding, threat of cuts – When the California Transportation Commission said last week that it planned to sharply reduce funding for transportation projects due to declining gas tax revenue, the resulting publicity served to reinforce Gov. Jerry Brown’s appeal for new taxes and fees to pay for road and highway work. Sacramento Bee article

Silicon Valley leaders express skepticism of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels plan – Three of Gov. Jerry Brown’s top water lieutenants came to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to make the case for his $17 billion plan to build two huge tunnels under the Delta to more easily move water from north to south. But rather than embracing the idea, five of the seven board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District — whose support is considered critical to the controversial project — instead voiced skepticism.  San Jose Mercury News article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown: ‘Three minutes to midnight is damn dangerous’ — In Gov. Jerry Brown’s most critical view of politics, climate change and nuclear proliferation have failed to gain attention because politicians don’t want to be downers, while an enabling media distracts itself with frivolous things. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: PUC mess: Did Brown play role? — On Tuesday, the Senate passed two new bills to crack down on secret PUC deals in reaction to Brown’s veto of similar legislation last year. Those vetoes, coupled with stonewalling Aguirre, increase suspicions that Brown does have something to hide. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Steve Lopez: Gov. Brown is mute as Coastal Commission coup gains steam — Defenders of the imperiled coast are rallying to defend Lester, while Gov. Jerry Brownand state legislative leaders — who share the appointment of commissioners — have been silent as sea slugs. Lopez column in LA Times

Valley politics

Swearengin endorses Bredefeld for Fresno City Council — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, looking to support candidates who share her vision for the city and will carry it on after she leaves office this year, is endorsing Garry Bredefeld for the District 6 City Council seat. Fresno Bee article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Here’s why California’s DMV voter registration law won’t raise turnout rates anytime soon — Though sold as one way to help boost the state’s dismally low voter turnout rates, improvement in the numbers may not materialize, at least not immediately. As more people join the state’s voter rolls, they won’t necessarily show up to vote, and that could drive the rates down even lower. KPCC report 

Joel Fox: Hollywood bigwigs want to raise property taxes — The ballot initiative to raise property taxes to pay for poverty programs is starting to report donations from influential Hollywood players. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Watch: Talking ballot initiatives and Senate race with Sacramento Bee political editor Amy Chance — Will pot legalization drive youth turnout? How do you choose which ballot initiatives to cover among potentially dozens of contenders? Could we really see two California Democrats square off in the general election for a U.S. Senate seat? Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Daily fantasy sports industry targets California assemblyman — Amid a legal fight over the daily fantasy sports industry’s fate, a group representing businesses like FanDuel and DraftKings has launched an advertising campaign targeting a California lawmaker who labeled the practice illegal gambling and voted against authorizing it in law. Sacramento Bee article 

Kate Karpilow: California lawmakers must adapt to changing families – The executive director of the California Center for Research on Women and Families writes, “Ozzie and Harriet are long gone. We need California’s political leadership to seek a state that works for today’s hardworking families.” Karpilow op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Former Obama campaign official says he will challenge Eric Garcetti in 2017 – A longtime Democratic operative who played important roles in the first Obama presidential campaign and the Clinton White House said Tuesday that he plans to run against Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2017. Mitchell Schwartz, 55, said he plans to take out papers for his campaign in the coming weeks. LA Times article

California independents have three choices for presidential primary — In California’s June 7 presidential primary, the state’s growing number of voters without a party preference will have just three partisan ballots to choose from – Democratic, American Independent, or Libertarian. Sacramento Bee article

Tom Fife: It’s because of Obama’s failures that U.S. looks at Trump — Actually the tremors and shakes liberals have been feeling lately are being caused by a political earthquake. Don’t be afraid. This earthquake is the result of global warming, Black Lives Matter, Nancy Pelosi, Obamacare, Iraq deals, Political Correctness, Planned Parenthood and Illegal Immigration. Every dangerous liberal idea or cause or organization that has been foisted upon America is about to be judged. Americans are angry. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta 

Joe Altschule: How good has Obama been? Way good — If you had just landed in the United States from another planet and paid even marginal attention to the Republican candidates vying for their party’s nomination, you might think that for the past eight years we Americans have been living under the cruel, tyrannical, and heartless yoke of a pretender to our presidency. However, if you were smart enough and advanced enough to actually make it here from another world, you would quickly see the crass and totally unsupportable lies being spewed by these fools in their effort to discredit our president. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

California to release more reservoir water thanks to El Nino storms — California officials offered some good news Tuesday amid the throes of the continuing drought, announcing they’ll likely have a little more water to release from the state’s mountain-fed reservoirs this year because of wet weather. San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee article 

Nordstrom to decide e-commerce project in spring, officials say – The much anticipated decision by Nordstrom on whether to build a jobs-heavy e-commerce warehouse in Fresno or Visalia, or perhaps go to another state, is now expected to come in April or May, according to Visalia city officials. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Park service wrong to change Yosemite names, concessionaire says – The legal and public relations battle over trademarked names in Yosemite National Park has taken a new turn in a federal courthouse far from California. The departing concession company that secured trademarks for famed Yosemite names such as “The Ahwahnee” hotel claims in a revised lawsuit that the National Park Service is trying to undermine the market value of those names. McClatchy Newspapers article

Michael Fitzgerald: Sweet city pensions, part 2: Police chiefs – Stockton has eight retired police chiefs. Together they pull down more than $1.3 million a year in pensions, according to the California Public Employee Retirement System. Fitzgerald in Stockton Record

Fresno County supervisors vote to build new facilities – Fresno County supervisors are putting $3 million each – $9 million total – to construct a new animal shelter, new sheriff’s substation and district attorney’s offices. The mid-year budget vote is because the county has received revenues that weren’t forecast when the budget was finalized last year. Fresno Bee article

Kern mental health department to add dozens of new jobs – Kern County Mental Health will add a total of 79 new workers after Kern County Supervisors approved a massive hiring boom for the department Tuesday. The workers will be tasked with stepping up Kern County’s efforts to treat mental illness and substance abuse cases and support law enforcement efforts to reduce the number of non-violent criminals who return to crime — and jail — after their release. Bakersfield Californian article

Improving job market thins job fair crowd – The Job Journal’s annual January job fair in Stockton on Tuesday drew a smaller crowd. Stockton Record article

Manteca No. 9 in growth, U-Haul says – Manteca ranked No. 9 on U-Haul International Inc.’s Top 10 U.S. Growth Cities for 2015, based on the net gain of incoming one-way U-Haul truck rentals vs. outgoing rentals, the moving equipment rental company announced Tuesday. Stockton Record article

Home prices jump in LA and Orange counties – and soar in San Francisco — Home prices in Los Angeles and Orange counties jumped 6.2% in November compared with a year earlier, and prices in San Francisco kept soaring, according to results from the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday. LA Times article

The State Worker: Union, Jerry Brown stuck on pay vs. benefits – After 28 bargaining sessions in nine months, despite a contract that expired last July, the state’s 10,000-employee maintenance workers’ union hasn’t reached a labor pact with Gov. Jerry Brown. The snag, says Tim Neep, director of the International Union of Operating Engineers Bargaining Unit 12, is that Brown wants employees to start paying into a retiree medical benefits fund but he’s too skimpy on salary increases. Sacramento Bee article
California regulators propose new round of rules for Uber, Lyft – Nearly two weeks after California regulators struck Uber with a $7.6 million fine, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission has proposed an updated set of guidelines for ride services that stop short of requiring more rigorous background and fingerprint checks for drivers. KQED report 

Bank of the Sierra acquires rival’s branch in Porterville — Bank of the Sierra has struck a deal to acquire the Porterville branch of Citizens Business Bank, just six blocks away from Sierra’s corporate headquarters. Fresno Bee article 

First Look: Bakersfield Councilmember Sullivan weighs in on oil impacts, ongoing local projects — City councilmember Jacquie Sullivan talked about the impacts of oil prices on the local economy and plans to mitigate the costs amidst ongoing projects in Ward 6 during a radio interview on Monday’s “First Look with Scott Cox.” During the show, Sullivan weighed in on how the drop in national oil prices and how it could potentially affect businesses in her ward, which includes areas west of Highway 99. She said city council members are currently working on plans to curb the costs. Bakersfield Californian article 

Community tries to help the homeless — On Thursday, a group of more than 100 volunteers will provide special services to the homeless in hopes of making a difference in their lives. The Kings Tulare Homeless Alliance will host the eighth annual Project Homeless Connect (PHC) to provide services and basic necessities to people who are homeless or about to become homeless. Hanford Sentinel article

LA is working to count a hidden population – homeless young people – The specialized count emerged from a growing consensus that young adults form a hidden homeless population, cycling on and off the street, and from city to city. They avoid shelters and other adult services, and often reject the label “homeless” because of the stigma, officials said. LA Times article

Large homeless protest at Sacramento City Hall – More than 60 homeless rights activists descended on Sacramento City Hall before Tuesday’s night City Council meeting as an ongoing protest over the city’s anti-camping laws reached seven weeks. Sacramento Bee article

Super Bowl boosters denounce San Francisco cost complaints – Growing complaints from San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim and others about the city’s plan to spend nearly $5 million for the celebrations surrounding the Super Bowl are little more than political grandstanding and opportunism, a group of business leaders said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Jose council approves raises for itself – Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council avoided giving themselves a raise for eight months — until now. After approving new contracts giving most city workers raises, the City Council approved a 4.4 percent pay increase for Liccardo and 8.17 percent boost for the council in an 8-3 vote Tuesday. Contra Costa Times article

Symbiosis Gathering will return to Woodward Reservoir – Stanislaus County collected $222,000 in revenue from the festival last year from fees and reimbursements, said Stanislaus County Director of Environmental Resources Jami Aggers. That’s more than initial estimates, which put the county’s take from hosting the event at Woodward at $87,000 to $134,000. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento treasurer: Arena lawsuit will cost city $27 million – The Sacramento City Treasurer says a lawsuit filed against the city and the Sacramento Kings’ arena project caused a delay in the bond-buying process. That delay will cost the city 27-million dollars over the next 30 years. Capital Public Radio report 

Sacramento commission to hold public hearing on utility rate increases – The Sacramento Utilities Rate Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday evening on proposed rate increases of 10 percent for water and 9 percent for wastewater service annually for the next four years. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: Sacramento can’t stop talking business – Even though some of his foes despise him and always will, Mayor Kevin Johnson has been good for the business of Sacramento. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

Sacramento Bee: Action, not talk, on Capitol Mall — Here’s hoping that this time, a makeover of Capitol Mall really happens. Sacramento Bee editorial

Apple gets green light for massive San Jose development – San Jose City Council Tuesday unanimously approved Apple’s plans to develop up to 4.15 million square feet of office space over 15 years in North San Jose, fueling hope among some leaders that one day the tech giant will be headquartered there. San Francisco Chronicle article

Bronco Wine CEO urges colleagues to make bargain bottles — Fred Franzia, the maverick winemaker from down around Ceres, urged the California industry Tuesday to vastly increase its production. Modesto Bee article


Officials say California has more snow than the drought-stricken state has seen in five years — Recent El Nino storms have boosted the Sierra Nevada snowpack to 115 percent of normal — more than the drought-stricken state has seen in five years, officials said Tuesday. The electronic reading by the state Department of Water Resources was the highest since it reached 129 percent in 2011. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Tulare Supervisor Ennis delivers State of the County address – A multi-year drought will have lasting effects on Tulare County, but as a whole, the county responded well, said Supervisor Mike Ennis. Among other efforts, Ennis said the construction of a grant-funded well in Porterville, the water tank program and establishing the Household Bottled Water program are examples of short and long term solutions the county has come up with in response to the drought. Visalia Times-Delta article

Residents angry about chloramines at Stockton City Council meeting – City Manager Kurt Wilson bore the full brunt of resident ire Tuesday night over the recent addition of chloramines to treat north Stockton’s drinking water and over his decision not to participate in an upcoming public forum on the hot-button issue. Stockton Record articleStockton Record editorial

El Nino lets landslide scientists get back to their research — The El Niño rains pounding the Bay Area are delivering both a threat and an opportunity to some of the region’s most precarious hillsides: After four dry winters, scientists are finally getting a chance to gather information that may improve their ability to predict landslides — a science that has been notoriously imprecise. San Jose Mercury News article 

Suzanne Redfern-West: On water, let’s stop pointing fingers and start solving problems – Redfern-West, of Redfern Ranches and a resident of Dos Palos, writes, “Do people really care whether farmers in a California water district contribute to political campaigns like anyone else or hire lobbyists to represent them? I’d guess not. They will, however, be interested in the fact that California grows one-third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, much of it in the beautiful region I know firsthand. And faced with living in a nation under threat, they will put near the top of any list of national security concerns the protection of a safe, dependable, and affordable food supply. Redfern-West op-ed in Fresno Bee

Rough fire and El Nino pose problems for Pine Flat Lake – Last summer the Rough Fire grew so large that fire crews from around the world came to the Sierra Nevada east of Fresno to fight the blaze. Today the area is still feeling the effects of the 150,000 acre burn. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports El Nino is bringing a whole new set of problems to the area. KVPR report

East Bay water guzzler list questioned after some figures turn out to be wrong – California’s only large water district that penalizes and publicly exposes people who use too much water goofed when it reported inflated figures for some customers. Contra Costa Times article

Discussion: The Ponzi scheme that rocked the Tulare County dairy industry – Arno Smit isn’t a household name in the valley. But starting in the 1990’s the South African immigrant pulled off a scam the likes of which the valley hasn’t seen before or since. The story of this self-fashioned cattle baron who was actually running a ponzi scheme is the subject of a new piece in the California Sunday Magazine by journalist Tessa Stuart. KVPR report

Farmers push for flexibility on enforcement of diesel tank rules – Diesel fuel tanks have become a major source of headaches for local farmers. Thousands of above-ground storage facilities used to supply tractors and other agriculture equipment with fuel are suddenly the focus of urgent talks between the Kern County Farm Bureau and local government agencies charged with carrying out California safety and environmental regulations. Bakersfield Californian article 

Farming industry balks at Obamacare requirements – Obamacare is throwing the agricultural industry into a tailspin. Farm labor contractors who must now offer their workers health insurance are complaining loudly about the cost in their already low-margin business. KQED report

Water fill means big Folsom Dam spillway project hits milestone – A significant milestone will be reached soon toward the completion of the $900 million auxiliary spillway project with the filling of water against part of the huge Folsom Dam improvement. Sacramento Bee article
Drone captures look at cliff-top homes near San Francisco that are threatened by El Nino — El Nino storms delivering crashing waves and powerful rain storms have put homes perched atop coastal bluffs near San Francisco in danger, forcing residents of an apartment complex on Monday to leave. AP article

Bull semen worth thousands stolen from local salesman — Tens of thousands of dollars worth of bull semen was stolen from the back of a truck in a residential Turlock neighborhood. Anthony Reis, a salesman for the artificial insemination company that sells the bull semen, said three tanks of bull semen were stolen from his truck on La Sombra Court sometime overnight on Jan. 17. Modesto Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Independent auditor commends Fresno Police Department for low number of excessive force complaints — In its latest audit, the city’s Office of Independent Review praised the Fresno Police Department for handling a number of sensitive issues well during a period of national scrutiny of law enforcement. Fresno Bee article 

Harassment and attacks from fellow officers in U.S. prisons – Female officers in U.S. prisons regularly face sexual harassment by their colleagues and superiors, and the fear of retaliation stops many from reporting them. New York Times article 

Assemblymember Kristen Olsen: Sex trafficking, the invisible crime in our backyard – The Riverbank Republican writes, “According to the California Attorney General’s office, human trafficking is an estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry – and the average age of a trafficked victim is only 12 to 14 years old. As a mother of three young children, this statistic is deeply alarming. The sex trafficking epidemic is something all of us as parents should be paying attention to.” Olsen op-ed in Modesto Bee

Suit challenging bail system runs into snag – A lawsuit claiming the bail system in San Francisco and elsewhere is unconstitutional, because it keeps poor people in jail while wealthier people charged with the same crimes can go free, hit a wall in federal court Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Kern County Sheriff’s Office gets new vehicles — You should expect to see a change in what a Kern County Sheriff’s Office cruiser looks like in the years to come. On Tuesday the Kern County Board of Supervisors blessed a request from Sheriff Donny Youngblood to make the Ford Interceptor Utility Vehicle the standard patrol vehicle for his department. Bakersfield Californian article 

Some sheriffs bristle at recall of military equipment – A federal order will deprive local authorities of critical tools in an age of heightened fears about terrorism and mass shootings, some law enforcement leaders say. New York Times article

Sacramento Bee issuing high tech traffic tickets – Traffic citations in Sacramento are moving into the 21st century. The Sacramento Police Department announced Tuesday that all patrol officers will be carrying new electronic citation devices. Sacramento Bee article

New details emerge from OC jail break; sheriff ‘extremely troubled’ — Orange County sheriff’s officials said Tuesday that they were “extremely troubled” by the amount of time it took deputies to realize three men charged with violent crimes had escaped from a Santa Ana jail complex last week. LA Times article


Bill would cap out-of-state enrollment at University of California – The Legislature may be putting its foot down on growing nonresident enrollment at the University of California. Assemblymen Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Jose Medina, D-Riverside, on Tuesday announced a proposal to withhold state funding from UC unless it caps the amount of out-of-state and international undergraduates on its campuses at their current level of 15.5 percent systemwide. Sacramento Bee article

Cal State schools should do more to embrace diverse student body, chancellor says – The 23 campuses in the California State University system must do a better job of dealing with the swiftly changing demographics in the state, Chancellor Timothy P. White said Tuesday. The largest university system in the nation’s most populous state needs to “empower those who have been disenfranchised,” White told a meeting of the Cal State Board of Trustees in Long Beach. LA Times article

CSU ponders proposals to admit more students, raise tuition – Inviting students to enroll at a different campus instead of closing the door altogether is one of several ideas for sustaining CSU — including future tuition increases — presented to the Board of Trustees at its meeting Tuesday in Long Beach. San Francisco Chronicle article

Students criticize CSU tuition increase proposal – A draft plan to buffer funding for the California State University system by raising tuition automatically each year attracted attacks from nearly all corners at Tuesday’s California State University trustee meeting in Long Beach. KPCC report

Nan Austin: Even at schools, so much comes down to size and money — Is bigger better? Would more money change things? It seems like so many stories lately seem to boil down to those two questions. Both size and resources make a difference. The tricky part comes in figuring how to measure what matters and if more would help. In schools, where attendance generates the lion’s share of revenue and correlates with administrator salaries, the two are inseparable. Size equals money. Austin in Modesto Bee

Plaintiff in lawsuit updates costs of inadequate funding – The California School Boards Association has updated spending numbers from studies published a decade ago to support the argument its attorneys will make Wednesday in an appeal of a lawsuit claiming the state is violating students’ rights by inadequately funding public schools. EdSource article

$1.5 billion helping career pathways take off in California high schools – As record numbers of high school students are applying to state colleges and universities, more are also receiving hands-on training in high-demand technical careers even before they earn their diplomas. The students, many beginning in the 9th grade, are in career pathways learning job skills alongside professionals in fields including aviation, health care, civil engineering, fashion design, tourism and new media. EdSource article 

He brokered deals for an empire of California charter schools – and now faces a felony — By the time Steve Van Zant left the Mountain Empire Unified School District in 2013, he had overseen the authorization of more than a dozen charter schools to operate in other districts throughout San Diego County — with several going on to hire his education consulting firm. LA Times article

Madera center to make run at college accreditation — Administrators for Madera Community College Center (MCCC) say the school has begun taking steps towards an accreditation run in 2019 that would transform the campus into the county’s first official college. The Business Journal article 

Stockton Unified board Oks investigation into allegations — Allegations of complacency, incompetency, corruption and hostile work environment within trustees of the Stockton Unified School District were raised at a board meeting late Tuesday. Stockton Record article

State issues new rules to avoid future methane leaks — New state regulations issued in the wake of a massive methane leak in Southern California require a range of safety checks at the state’s 322 active underground gas storage facilities. Environmentalists, however, criticized the new rules for not going far enough in preventing more leaks. Sacramento Bee article

Negligence by Southern California Gas Co. led to massive Porter Ranch-area gas leak, AQMD says – The government agency that regulates Southern California’s air quality sued Southern California Gas Co. on Tuesday, accusing the company of negligence in a massive gas well leak that has forced thousands to leave their homes. LA Times article

Two controversial crude oil train projects near key votes — Two controversial plans to bring half-mile-long trains carrying crude oil through California, including Sacramento, face key votes in the next two weeks. Sacramento Bee article 

California ranks 7th in national green building rankings — For a second straight year, California ranked seventh on the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 10 states for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Fresno County refuses to make public more complete report about Seth Ireland’s death – The lawyer representing the family of Seth Ireland in a wrongful-death lawsuit said Tuesday that Fresno County is doing a disservice by not making public an investigative report that details why Child Protective Services failed to prevent the 2009 killing of the 10-year-old boy by his mother’s boyfriend. Fresno Bee article

Federal panel recommends general physicians screen all adults for depression – In a sign that the treatment of depression is shifting to the mainstream of American medical care, a federal panel has recommended that general physicians screen all adults for depression and treat those affected by the mood disorder with antidepressant medication, refer them to psychotherapy or do both. LA Times article 

Panel calls for depression screening before and after pregnancy – Women should be screened for depression during pregnancy and after giving birth, an influential government-appointed health panel said Tuesday, the first time it has recommended screening for maternal mental illness. New York Times article 

Millennials at Cal State Long Beach weigh whether to get health insurance, pay fines — Fines for being uninsured rise sharply in 2016 — averaging nearly $1,000 per household, according to an independent estimate. It’s forcing those in their 20s and 30s to take a hard look and see if they can squeeze in coverage to avoid penalties. Many are trying to establish careers or just make progress in a still-bumpy economy. AP article 

Kaweah Delta approves new acute care hospital plan – Kaweah Delta Health Care District hospital is moving forward with a $550 million project to build a new acute hospital, which will be constructed over the next 14 years. The new tower is being built in order to meet California’s seismic safety laws. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Sacramento Bee: Vaccination rates make a speedy recovery – California’s new vaccination law won’t take effect until summer, but last week brought good news from state health officials: Immunization rates are already starting to rise. Sacramento Bee editorial

Dental advocates, Sacramento supervisors question managed health plans — After two decades of dissatisfaction with low provider reimbursement rates, insufficient state oversight and a gap in treatment for low-income children, Sacramento County is seeking to change a historically underused state dental program. Sacramento Bee article

First Zika virus case confirmed in LA County – A young girl from Los Angeles County who traveled to El Salvador was infected with the Zika virus, officials said Tuesday. The infection, which usually has no symptoms, worries public health experts because it appears to be linked to a recent spike of a serious birth defect in Brazil. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno’s biggest property manager replacing boarded-up windows with plexiglass — The largest rental property manager in Fresno said a well-funded and responsive code enforcement system to fight blight is fair for everyone. Bryce Hovannisian of JD Home Rentals said Tuesday he supports recommendations largely adopted by the City Council to address vacant homes and blight in the city. Fresno Bee article


Why lower oil prices are hurting California’s transportation projects – Falling gas prices are helping drivers — but they’re hurting transportation projects across the state. The average price of a gallon of gas in California is now $2.66. That’s cutting into gas tax revenues, the main source of funds for the state’s highways, bridges and public transit projects. KQED report 

Key North County Corridor report delayed again — A planned workshop for the North County Corridor has been delayed again. Instead of publicly releasing the key report in early January and holding an open house on Thursday, the release has been pushed to late April, with the open house tentatively set for May 19 in Riverbank. Modesto Bee article 

Sacramento transit agency backs off 20 percent fare hike proposal — Sacramento Regional Transit’s plan to raise bus and light rail fares by 20 percent appears to have died only days after it was proposed. Sacramento Bee article

After a million miles, BART cars are hella old — Fast-forward more than 43 years, and many of those original BART cars are still in use. Many of them have logged over 1 million miles. To put it simply, BART’s rolling stock is old. Hella old. KQED report

Southland transit agencies report shrinking ridership as investments continue to grow — The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the region’s largest carrier, lost more than 10% of its boardings from 2006 to 2015, a decline that appears to be accelerating. Despite a $9-billion investment in new light rail and subway lines, Metro now has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago, when buses were the county’s only transit option. LA Times article

Other areas

Committee recommends Bakersfield pay for more spay-neuter vouchers – A $20,000 city-sponsored spay-neuter voucher program for dogs could be renewed by the Bakersfield City Council next month after being so heavily used it ran out of money in December, six months early. Bakersfield Californian article

City seeks to extend restraining order against Patterson councilwoman – A judge on Tuesday gave Patterson Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten more time to hire an attorney to contest the city’s request for an extended restraining order. In September, Superior Court Judge John Freeland granted a five-month order for Lustgarten to stay away from Councilman Dennis McCord because of threatening remarks she made after a closed session in July. Modesto Bee article

Flight academy in Atwater remains in operation – Neither a federal investigation nor a power struggle between its owners has disrupted operations at an Atwater aviation academy, where classes were underway Tuesday and student pilots continued to venture into the skies, according to a spokesman for the school. Merced Sun-Star article 

First Look: Founders preview grand opening for Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame — The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame recently received a new look, in what owner and founder of the building Kyle Carter called a “community wide effort” on Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

San Joaquin County supervisors reappoint Blanchard to port commission — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 to appoint Elizabeth Blanchard to a third term on the Stockton Port District Commission. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.

Modesto Bee – Net metering is essential for helping us harness the power of the sun. Those who install solar panels shouldn’t be penalized for doing so.

Sacramento Bee – Here’s hoping that this time, a makeover of Capitol Mall really happens; California’s new vaccination law won’t take effect until summer, but last week brought good news from state health officials: Immunization rates are already starting to rise.

Stockton Record – This is not a run-of-the-mill town hall meeting. It’s highly topical, given that water with chloramines started coursing through city pipes in the northern part of the city this month and soon will be used in south Stockton. Mel Lytle should be there to represent the city. 

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.

Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Californians & Civic Engagement” – Guest: Mony Flores-Bauer, League of Women Voters of California.  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.

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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