January 5, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Jerry Brown selects California’s first medical marijuana chief — California has found its czar for medical marijuana. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Lori Ajax, currently the chief deputy director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, to the newly-created post overseeing the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation in the Department of Consumer Affairs. Sacramento Bee article

AD 12: Candidate for Assembly seat entangled in Sikh temple dispute – Harinder Grewal, a Democratic candidate for the 12th District Assembly seat, is embroiled in one of the more passionate religious disputes in the region. It remains to be seen whether his involvement with the Turlock Sikh Temple dispute helps or hurts his chances in the June primary. Modesto Bee article

Valley politics 

Adams to make run for Merced mayor; contributions coming into race — Small-business owner and longtime community booster Necola Adams became Merced’s third contender for mayor this week, telling supporters that she is the best hope to shake up city governance and bring needed attention to south Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jon Fleischman: June ballot measure reminder of Capitol corruption — If passed by the voters, Prop. 50 would amend the state constitution to allow either chamber of the legislature, by a two-thirds vote, to suspend a member of that body without pay or benefits. The measure stands as a reminder of the corruption that has gripped the California State Capitol in recent years. Fleischman in Fox & Hounds

California Politics Podcast: The Big Breakup? — This week, we discuss calls to break up the California Public Utilities Commission, and we examine some early 2016 campaign cash numbers. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Lagos of KQED, and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Other areas

Celebrity donors pour money into this open California congressional seat — What do Christopher Lloyd, the director of “Ghostbusters,” one of the nation’s largest coal companies, James Cameron and a political action committee representing the nation’s dentists have in common? They all have opened their wallets to influence what is shaping up to be the hottest open-seat congressional race in California. LA Times article

Shirley Bebitch Jeffe and Doug Jeffe: California here they come, maybe. Really — By now, most of us are aware that it’s been decades since California played a meaningful role in the Presidential nominating process, but this year there is a glimmer of hope.  Really.  In the meantime, we can all watch as our national political soap opera plays out, lurching from one bizarre episode to another. Jeffe/Jeffe in Fox & Hounds

Cathleen Decker: Tough talk and nasty ads: GOP ads are aimed at the angry and aggrieved — There are occasional glimpses of hope, to be sure, but the election is suffused with nasty campaign ads and tough denunciations of the country’s state of being. Decker in LA Times 

News Stories

Top Stories

Dan Walters: Debate over new supplies is microcosm of state’s water wars – Despite a wet winter, California’s historic drought continues to spark fierce – even bitter – debate over how the state’s water needs should be met in the future. The core issue is whether we should primarily rely on conservation of what may be a permanently diminished water supply, or make more energetic efforts to increase the supply with new dams and reservoirs, desalination plants, etc. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Stockton chief: Officers leaving at ‘alarming’ rate – The struggle to retain officers on his understaffed force is becoming an “alarming” problem, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said Thursday afternoon in his strongest public statements to date on the subject. Stockton Record article 

UC expands its recruiting efforts targeting black and Latino students – UC officials are ramping up a pilot program that helped 12,000 students last fall learn how to prepare themselves to become competitive applicants, navigate the admissions process and access financial aid. The Achieve UC program will be expanded this spring to reach 60,000 additional students at 50 events at churches, career fairs and other venues. Ultimately, officials hope to make it a year-round program. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

New legislation may not save BARC programs – Fosf is one of the 80 developmentally disabled clients who will lose his job next week when BARC shutters two programs — victims, BARC leaders say, of decreased funding in the governor’s budget. Local legislators will flock to the campus Friday to call attention to legislation that could save the programs and Fosf’s livelihood, though that’s far from guaranteed. Bakersfield Californian article 

San Joaquin County sellers see gains soar – San Joaquin County home sellers realized an average $61,500 gain in 2015, the highest sales-vs.-purchase advantage since the subprime-mortgage-fueled boom of the early 2000s, RealtyTrac reported Thursday. Stockton Record article

Obama to propose $10-a-barrel fee on oil – President Obama’s budget request to Congress will include a new fee on oil companies, requiring them to pay $10 to the federal government for every barrel of oil they produce, the White House said on Thursday. New York Times article 

Oil industry reacts strongly to Obama’s proposed $10-a-barrel tax – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said the proposed tax will not be accepted by the House of Representatives. Bakersfield Californian article

California controller seeks $4.8 million to fund litigation over failed payroll system – Locked in a finger-pointing lawsuit over a failed state IT project, State Controller Betty Yee has asked lawmakers for $4.8 million to cover court court costs through the end of this year. That’s on top of $6.8 million spent on litigation since the government payroll overhaul, MyCalPays, was suspended in February 2013. Sacramento Bee article

Small Biz Center comes to downtown Hanford – Small Biz Center is now open for business in downtown Hanford. Located at 207 N. Irwin St, the Biz Center provides services to help small businesses grow in the community. Small Biz Center is a franchise that is based in Houston. The Hanford franchise has been up and running for a few weeks. Hanford Sentinel article 

Cal Fire director told his department needs change at the top – Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott came to Thursday’s State Personnel Board meeting to report reforms in his department’s slipshod hiring and promotion practices. He left with a stern challenge to transform his leadership. Sacramento Bee article

Plans underway for former Lowe’s and Kmart buildings in Los Banos – The city of Los Banos confirmed new plans for an empty building that used to house a Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Pacheco Boulevard. The 140,000-square-foot building, which has been empty since Lowe’s closed its doors in November 2011, will be remodeled into a five-tenant retail building by the new property owner, according to the city’s Community and Economic Development Department. Merced Sun-Star article 

Daniel Borenstein: Plan to shore up CalSTRS doesn’t work as planned — Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed through a 32-year plan to shore up the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. He said the state, school districts and teachers would share responsibility to “fully fund” the $74 billion shortfall of the nation’s second largest pension system. But it may not work out that way. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office says the “abstract” calculation CalSTRS uses to implement the deal produces unexpected results. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

Oakland port seems to navigate past terminal operator’s bankruptcy – The unexpected departure, and abrupt bankruptcy, of a key tenant at the Port of Oakland has forced port officials to quickly navigate to new sources of revenue in the face of a sharp drop in income. Oakland Tribune article

Super Bowl 50 further divides San Francisco – These festive trappings cannot mask the tensions that have roiled San Francisco in recent years — tensions that are coming to the surface as football fans flood into town and attend over-the-top pregame events. In a city divided over gentrification, sky-high housing prices and the technology industry’s influence on local government, even the nation’s biggest party has become a battleground. New York Times article

Will protesting Uber drivers disrupt Super Bowl transit? – A price-cut war between Uber and Lyft has sparked Uber driver protests and highlighted differences in how some drivers view the two ride-hailing companies. San Francisco Chronicle article

New law could spark golden era of California spirits — A California law that went into effect at the start of this year is expected to remove major hurdles for small distillers — and spark the beginning of a new era of artisanal distilling. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Hanford City Council approves permits for taxicab businesses — Hailing a taxi may seem like a metropolitan mode of transportation, but with two more taxi operators in town offering their services, more residents may consider this option when they need a lift. Hanford City Council approved two separate permits for taxicab services at its Tuesday night meeting. The move adds to the list of six taxicab companies offering 18 cabs for hire in the city. Hanford Sentinel article


John Laird: To make the most of rain, state needs Delta tunnels – The California secretary of natural resources writes, “The intakes and tunnels proposed by the Brown and Obama administrations to modernize Delta water infrastructure are the subject of lively debate. Yet the discussion seldom includes the point that without them, we cannot maximize the storage of extra water in wet years.” Laird op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Testing on discolored water finds problem inside Fresno homes – Traces of lead have been found in water samples taken from some northeast Fresno homes, but city and state officials say it is safe to drink as long as homeowners flush their taps for a minute or two. The culprit of water discoloration found in the homes isn’t city wells, the surface water treatment plant or any supply lines, testing has found. Fresno Bee article 

Robin Abcarian: Barren a year ago, a snowpack station comes up deep and dense –  It was 22 degrees and snowing Tuesday morning. State snow surveyor Frank Gehrke slowly crossed a blanketed field. He periodically jabbed a hollow pole into the snow and then hung it from a portable scale, reading nature to draw a bead on where, exactly, the California drought is heading. Abcarian in LA Times

Lemoore looks to treat water, remove chemicals — The city of Lemoore attempted to make its drinking water safe by adding chlorine, however another problem was created – trihalomethane. A solution is in the works, but it will cost water users an additional $31.80 per month for the next 30 years. Hanford Sentinel article 

Pressure mounts on Tulare to supply water to Matheny Tract – Residents of Matheny Tract in Tulare County are frustrated that their long wait for clean water seems never to end, and the state of California appears ready to force action if no voluntary agreement is reached with the city of Tulare. But a decision by regulators may not be to the liking of Matheny Tract advocates. Fresno Bee article

World Ag Expo preview: Corraling rustlers, washing solar panels and a whole lot more – The World Ag Expo, the largest trade show of its kind, is getting ready to launch its three-day run at the International Agri-Center in Tulare. The annual event begins Tuesday and is expected to attract thousands of visitors from throughout the state, nation and world. Fresno Bee article

Customer’s lawsuit challenges SMUD’s use of water meters — A persistent critic of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s smart meter program has filed suit against the utility, seeking to recoup charges he paid for switching from a smart electric meter to an analog meter. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Michael Fitzgerald: No subsidies for intolerance — Police work is innately controversial. But it seems the Stockton Police armory includes a number of loose cannons that make it even more controversial. Fitzgerald column in Stockton RecordStockton Record editorial

Violence plagues neighborhood where gunman opened fire on officer — A police officer was fired upon but not injured Wednesday evening while driving in an unmarked vehicle through a high-crime neighborhood in north Stockton, officials reported. Stockton Record article


Bakersfield City School District readies $125 million bond measure — As they spend down the remaining dollars from a $100 million bond measure passed in 2006, officials at the Bakersfield City School District are preparing to ask voters in November for another $125 million for districtwide facilities upgrades. And if a preliminary report surveying the community is any indication, they’ll get that money. Bakersfield Californian article

 Boost in Cal Grant funding aims to keep pace with growing rate of college-ready students – The state could help more than 20,000 additional students pay for college under Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal. EdSource article

State to begin collecting data on students who are chronically absent – California will begin its first statewide collection of data on students who are chronically absent, a key indicator of academic trouble, the California Department of Education said Thursday. EdSource article

What happens to the $63 million if no one claims California Lottery ticket? – If no one claims the $63-million lottery ticket by the time it expires Thursday evening, where does that money go? The short answer: It goes to schools. LA Times article 

School districts prepare students for new state test — School districts are preparing students for the second round of the new Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments test coming in April for grades three to eight and high school juniors. Hanford Sentinel article 

$2 million endowment revs up Fresno State livestock team – It took about 70 Fresno State alumni, friends and organizations three years to donate and raise more than $2 million for the Ag One Foundation. The foundation supports the university’s livestock judging team. Visalia Times-Delta article

UC Merced names graduation speakers – UC Merced has tapped two speakers, each the first in their families to graduate from college, to be part of the 11th commencement ceremony in May, the university announced Thursday. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree candidates will hear from Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta and entrepreneur and engineer Dado Banatao during commencement ceremonies May 14-15Merced Sun-Star article 

Father, son donate $100,000 to Delano schools — A local family has donated $100,000 to the Delano Joint Union High School District for after-school programs, weekend tutoring, mentorships and scholarships, it was announced Thursday. The money came from Dr. Dilbagh Gehlawat, a pediatrician who has tended to Delano-area children for 35 years, and his son, Neil Gehlawat, an attorney at the Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Bakersfield Californian article

For-profit schools: Marinello Schools of Beauty loses certification, closes doors — Vanessa Cervantes, 21, had been looking forward to April, when she was scheduled to graduate from Marinello Schools of Beauty and move to Los Angeles to start her career. All that changed on Thursday, however, when her classmates emailed her to inform her that the private, for-profit school had closed. Stockton Record articleFresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

First responders asked to let teachers know to ‘Handle with Care’ — A way to alert schools when a 911 call involves a terrified child is being proposed for Stanislaus County. The goal is to improve the prospects of the kids who live with addicts and abusers. Modesto Bee article

Neuroscientist to return to Stanford as 11th president — Neuroscientist and entrepreneur Marc Tessier-Lavigne was named the 11th president of Stanford University on Thursday, returning to a school that is vastly more wealthy, more research-oriented and more globally renowned for its academic programs than when he served on the faculty more than a decade ago. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article


Kern oil field injections suspected of causing series of quakes – Kern County oil field wastewater injections probably contributed to three earthquakes magnitude 4 and stronger on the same day in September 2005, according to a study published Thursday in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters. Bakersfield Californian articleAP articleLA Times article

Top state legislators raise concern about electric grid expansion – California legislative leaders questioned Thursday a proposal to expand the electric grid to include one of the largest users of coal-fired power plants in the west. LA Times article 

Is the end in sight for Porter Ranch-area gas leak? – A state official said Thursday that under the most favorable circumstances, the damaged well that has spewed environmentally damaging natural gas from a storage facility near Porter Ranch could be capped as early as the end of next week. LA Times article 

A tale of tension at the Coastal Commission — For those attempting to oust Lester, the hearing is a referendum on his job performance. For the environmentalists who follow the commission, it’s a coup and an attempt to seize the upper hand in the power struggle between pro-development interests and a staff that they believe has appropriately enforced the Coastal Act in the Douglas tradition. Capitol Weekly article
Health/Human Services  

Covered California adds 425,000 new enrollees, sees increase in younger residents – More than 425,000 Californians – including a bigger percentage of younger residents – signed up for new health insurance policies by last week’s Obamacare enrollment deadline, Covered California officials announced Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Pharma CEO Shkreli takes 5th amendment, still infuriates – Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli refused to testify Thursday in an appearance before U.S. lawmakers over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired, yet even without answering questions, managed to leave them infuriated. AP article

How high-cost specialty drugs impact California — What’s behind the jaw-dropping cost of new “specialty drugs” like Orkambi, which has a sticker price of $259,000 per year for cystic fibrosis patients? CALmatters article 

Amid camping debate, Sacramento’s backpack doctors tackle homeless health care – As the battle against Sacramento’s anti-camping ordinance rages on at City Hall, the nonprofit clinic is putting more resources toward ensuring that those who do live outside, whether by choice or not, can survive another day in the elements. Sacramento Bee article

Whooping cough ‘booster’ vaccine protection fades quickly, Kaiser study shows — Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center looked at the protection level of 175,000 adolescents in the Kaiser Northern California system vaccinated with Tdap. And just as with earlier studies, they saw that protection faded. KQED reportLA Times article

Meningitis-linked vaccine hits 3rd Santa Clara University student — Health officials said Thursday that a third student at Santa Clara University has tested positive for a meningitis-causing bacteria, while authorities in Alameda County said an employee at Argosy Universityrecently died from the disease in an unrelated case. San Francisco Chronicle article


BART tries removing some seats to ease crowding on trains — With trains at capacity during every rush hour — who knew so many people could become such close friends? — BART’s testing a new seating layout that will allow more passengers to board each car. KQED report

Super Bowl hoopla dramatically pumps up BART weekday ridership — More than 471,000 people rode BART on Wednesday, up 40,000 from the regular number of riders on most days, according to a BART tally. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Fresno council funds organization to manage youth group – The Fresno City Council on Thursday agreed to spend $100,000 to pay an organization to staff and manage an advisory group focused on issues of interest to young people. Fresno Bee article

Judge Houry Sanderson: Civil grand jury keeps watch on government – The chair of the Fresno County Superior Court Jury Oversight Committee writes, “Here’s a frequent question: ‘What is the civil grand jury?’ My answer is that it is a group of informed, interested and caring citizens, who as a formal body, receive, process, investigate and report back on concerns brought to their attention regarding the local governmental departments.” Sanderson op-ed in Fresno Bee 

City Beat: Check out this bank shot – The ongoing restoration of Bakersfield’s venerable Security Trust bank building, at 18th Street and Chester Avenue in downtown Bakersfield, is one for the history books. Bakersfield Californian article

Woman withdraws sex harassment claim against Sacramento Councilman Allen Warren — The former city employee who accused Sacramento Councilman Allen Warren of sexual harassment has withdrawn her claim, saying in a statement Thursday she “regrets any negative impact her allegations may have had on Councilmember Warren or the city.” Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It is ever harder to watch the Super Bowl without mixed feelings. This week, as football fans geared up for the high holy day of sports on Sunday, researchers at Boston University confirmed that the late, great Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler was suffering from high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he died in July.

Sacramento Bee – It was long overdue, but Barack Obama picked a very important moment to visit a U.S. mosque for the first time during his presidency; It is ever harder to watch the Super Bowl without mixed feelings. This week, as football fans geared up for the high holy day of sports on Sunday, researchers at Boston University confirmed that the late, great Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler was suffering from high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy when he died in July.

Stockton Record – Easter invite-turned-snub was unacceptable intolerance.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Feb. 7, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “California’s End of Life Law: New Law, Old Question” – Guests: UC Davis Professor Ben Rich, The Arc of California Executive Director Tony Anderson, Disability Rights California Legislative Advocate Deborah Doctor. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 7, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Hinds Hospice: A Model End of Life Care” – Guests: Hinds Hospice Executive Director Jill McCarthy. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Feb. 7, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Improper Activities” – Guest: Margarita Fernandez, public information officer with the State Auditor’s Office.  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

  • The International Green Industry Hall of Fame will hold its sixth annual conference and induction ceremony at Buchanan High School in Clovis on March 9. Registration information is available here.


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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