January 6, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Gov. Brown takes fourth oath; targets climate change — Forty years after first taking the oath as governor of California, Democrat Jerry Brown was sworn in to an historic fourth term Monday, proposing sweeping changes to address global climate change while offering a measured approach to targeting the state’s long-term financial liabilities.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article; KQED report; ‘An annotated guide to Gov. Brown’s Inaugural Address’ in KQED/KPCC/Capital Public Radio; New York Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial

John Myers: Analysis: Governor’s inaugural tackles legacy head-on — For Gov. Jerry Brown, there’s no way around the big asterisk next to his name in California history books: He’ll always be the the only person to ever serve four terms as governor. And to listen to his remarks just minutes after taking the oath of office a fourth time, that asterisk suits him just fine.  Myers in KQED


Gov. Brown

Gov. Brown’s speech evokes praise, trepidation among lawmakers – State lawmakers reacted to Gov. Jerry Brown’s inaugural address with praise and trepidation Monday and, in a reflection of the political dynamic in California, that was just among the governor’s fellow Democrats.  LA Times article; ‘Stanislaus-area lawmakers respond to governor’s inaugural speech’ in Modesto Bee

Dan Walters: Gov. Jerry Brown now risk-averse, predictable – Perhaps Brown’s retreat into risk-averse conventionality merely reflects the fact that he’s 76 now, not a 36-year-old political wunderkind, and is focused on his place in the history books. Perhaps, too, it means that he hasn’t run his last race – that he still sees a Senate seat in his future should Dianne Feinstein retire in 2018 – and thus he should continue to be, as he said in 1982, “less interesting, more boring.”  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown reshaping California Supreme Court – While many people are busy paying attention to the bills and budgets Gov. Jerry Brown signs, Dan says Brown’s judicial appointments could end up being the most important part of his legacy.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Green benefactor gives high marks to Brown’s climate push — Climate change crusader Tom Steyer watched Gov. Jerry Brown’s swearing-in Monday morning from the gallery of the Assembly chamber — and he liked what he saw.  LA Times article 

Gov. Jerry Brown wants investment in California roads – With the bipartisan water bond accord in their rear-view, California Gov. Jerry Brown implored lawmakers Monday to come together and begin the costly task of repairing the state’s crumbling roads.  Sacramento Bee article

Gordon Webster: Brandau calls out Gov. Brown’s backward priorities — In business, priorities are a must. Making the right choices is tough, especially in a world of limitless problems and limited resources. That’s what makes leadership such a sought-after quality. On the eve of the groundbreaking for the state’s high-speed rail project in Fresno, I have to agree with Fresno City Councilmember Steve Brandau’s assessment that our leadership’s priorities for the state are backward.Brandau sent Brown, who was inaugurated today for a record fourth term as California governor, a letter outlining his concerns about the governor’s priorities. It sums up the real problems facing the Central Valley, as well as the state. Here it is in its entirety.  Webster in The Business Journal


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Surprise! Gavin Newsom sworn in by … Kamala Harris — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom began his second term in low-key, yet flashy, fashion with an intimate ceremony Monday at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building. The brief swearing-in included no formal remarks. But Attorney General Kamala Harris, a purported political rival of Newson’s, administered the oath.  Capitol Alert

Emotional Betty Yee kicks off day of swearing-in ceremonies — To become California’s new controller, Democrat Betty Yee eked past former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by fewer than 500 votes in the June primary. In November, she defeated Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a top Republican recruit. Yee’s swearing-in Monday morning was one for the underdogs.  Sacramento Bee article

Swearengin makes Sacramento day trip to attend Gov. Brown swearing-in ceremony — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin made a quick run to Sacramento Monday to be a part of history — watching Gov. Jerry Brown being inaugurated to an unprecedented fourth term in office.  Fresno Bee article

Watchdog eyes 2014 activities – California’s political watchdog, facing 2014’s high-stakes statewide elections in which a relatively small number of donors put in more than $158 million to influence voters on ballot propositions, closed hundreds of cases with settlements – the most in its 40 years of existence.  Capitol Weekly article; LA Times article

LA-area water district official agrees to $30,000 FPPC fine — The former manager of a Southern California water district with ties to the Calderon brothers – who are under criminal indictment – has agreed to pay a $30,000 fine for violating conflict-of-interest laws in awarding lucrative contracts.  Capitol Alert

28,000 seek driver’s licenses in first days of new immigrant law – Under a new law allowing immigrant drivers living in the state illegally to apply for drivers licenses, preliminary statistics show that the California Department of Motor Vehicles received 17,200 applications from immigrants on Friday and another 11,100 on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez, for a total of just over 28,000.  KPCC report

Arizona ordered to stop prosecuting job-seeking immigrants – A federal judge ordered an immediate halt Monday to Arizona’s enforcement of identity theft laws that penalize immigrants in the country illegally for seeking employment.  LA Times article


Other areas

Joel Fox: The ‘lawmakers’ are back – Here’s a New Year’s resolution for legislators returning to Sacramento from the holiday break: make fewer laws and get rid of some of the old ones.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Kamala Harris seeks review after recent shootings by police – California’s attorney general stepped into the national debate over the recent slayings of unarmed civilians by police on Monday, calling for a review by her agency and promising to lead a public dialogue.  AP article

Bruce Maiman: A good idea to fight DUIs — When debate begins on new legislation requiring ignition interlock devices to prevent drunken driving, opponents will truck out predictable arguments. Don’t believe them.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee

Richard Pan precincts on Nov. 4 had Republican flavor — Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan likely owes his Nov. 4 victory over Roger Dickinson in part to stronger support from the district’s Republican minority, according to a review of final Sacramento County election results.  Sacramento Bee article

Feinstein looks to implement reforms to bar U.S. torture — Battling to ensure that her landmark Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture leads to policy changes, Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Monday outlined new legislation and administrative actions she wants to see enacted to prevent aggressive interrogation techniques from ever again being used by the United States.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

White House: Allowing Scalise to remain whip says a lot about GOP’s values — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest would not say Monday whether Rep. Steve Scalise should give up his leadership spot for speaking to a white supremacist group in 2002, but he did say that if the House allows him to remain majority whip it would say a lot about Republicans “priorities and values.”  McClatchy Newspapers article

Why this could be a very big week for gay marriage — Gay couples began marrying in Miami on Monday, kicking off a pivotal week in which the Supreme Court will have a chance to consider whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry or whether states may limit marriage to a man and a woman.  Washington Post article
California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Brown, others to break ground on California’s high-speed rail project – California’s high-speed rail project finally leaves the station today. But how far will it go? Amid ongoing court challenges, funding uncertainties and sharp divisions among the state’s politicians, the bullet train system will chug into the dirt-moving phase with a noontime ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno attended by Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, labor leaders and 1,200 other bullet train backers.  Capitol Alert; AP article

Groundbreaking won’t guarantee high-speed rail – It would be easy to mistake Tuesday’s high-speed rail groundbreaking ceremony for a watershed, after which time the project will glide forward unencumbered by lawsuits, technical hurdles or financial uncertainty. But that’s almost certainly not the case. The project faces significant difficulties on all three fronts as opponents continue efforts to shut it down.  Bakersfield Californian article

Madera, Merced farm bureaus say state rail agency is violating farmland settlement – The Madera and Merced county farm bureaus allege that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is falling short of its responsibilities under a legal settlement stemming from the organizations’ lawsuits over the Merced-Fresno portion of the statewide bullet-train route.  Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Modesto fuel wholesaler Boyett expands distribution network to 500 stations – Boyett Petroleum, a family-owned independent fuel supplier headquartered in Modesto, has purchased fuel distribution contracts for 90 additional gas stations in a deal worth more than $5 million. The expansion will boost Boyett’s distribution network to more than 500 stations in California and Nevada.  Modesto Bee article

Turlock-based MedicAlert cuts 31 jobs – MedicAlert Foundation announced Monday that it has cut 31 of its 90 employees because of reduced demand for its services. The foundation, which produces bracelets and other items with medical information for emergency responders, said the decision came after a review of its global business.  Modesto Bee article

NFL stadium in Inglewood could mean $1 billion, 40,000 jobs —  If Rams owner Stan Kroenke has his way, an NFL stadium is coming to Inglewood. What does that mean for this L.A. County city, a mostly low-income area where most residents are African American and Latino? A billion dollars per year for the local economy plus 40,000 new jobs — many of those in the low-income city — are just two of the benefits, according to the text of a ballot initiative.  LA Times article

Falls Event Center to build in Clovis — A Utah-based events center company is in the process of acquiring a Clovis site to build its second development in the central San Joaquin Valley. The Falls Event Center, headquartered in West Jordan, Utah, south of Salt Lake City, has two buildings under construction in northwest Fresno. Company officials have not released information on the Clovis site until the acquisition is final.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

LA tourism expected to set its fourth record in as many years –  In another sign L.A. is shaking off the worst recession since World War II, local tourism in 2014 is expected to set its fourth record in as many years and Los Angeles International Airport — after more than a decade of struggle — will finally exceed its previous peak for airline travel.  LA Times article

How nonemployed Americans spend their weekdays: Men vs. women – Every year, the American Time Use Survey asks thousands of Americans to record a minute-by-minute account of one single day. For many “prime-age” adults, those between the ages of 25 and 54, a significant chunk of time on weekdays is taken up by work. But for the almost 30 million prime-age Americans who don’t work, a typical weekday looks far different.  New York Times article

San Francisco could learn its 2024 Olympic bid fate Thursday – The U.S. Olympic Committee could name its candidate for the 2024 Summer Games as early as Thursday after a meeting with its board of directors in Denver, the group announced.  San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento group seeks to put public market in downtown train depot – Seeking to capitalize on Sacramento’s growing profile as a food and agriculture hub, a group advocating for a permanent public market in the city has recommended that the facility be placed inside the historic downtown train depot.  Sacramento Bee article

Wet Seal workers protest store closings with angry posters, hashtag #ForgetWetSeal — Beleaguered teen retailer Wet Seal sparked a social-media firestorm among its workers after some learned that their stores were closing down with apparently little warning.  LA Times article

What do you do when Guy Fieri’s coming? Clean! – They’re all clean enough to have “A” grades from the Kern County Health Department, but four Bakersfield restaurants that have attracted the notice of Guy Fieri have learned the difference between clean enough and high-definition-TV clean.  Bakersfield Californian article

California Lottery offers a foodie’s dream prize — This month, the California Lottery is dishing up a delicious enticement for one lucky Scratchers ticket buyer. From now until Jan. 30, anyone buying an Emerald 10’s Scratchers ticket can enter an online contest to win what the Lottery is calling “The Ultimate Foodie Experience”: dinner for two at highly acclaimed restaurant The French Laundry in Yountville.  Sacramento Bee article

Oakdale Irrigation District to consider plan to pay farmers to fallow pastures – Plans to fallow more than 1,100 acres of Oakdale farmland so the water saved can be sold to out-of-county buyers for about $1.6 million will be considered Tuesday by the Oakdale Irrigation District.  Modesto Bee article

Earth Log: Don’t use this fake fish in delta smelt arguments — Scientists have not discovered a 9-pound version of an endangered Northern California minnow in Southern California lakes. And the scientific study about this fictitious fish was just as unreal. It was part of an annual April Fool’s Day joke posted on a blog in 2013 by a group of scientists at the University of California at Davis.  Fresno Bee article

Katie Johnson: ‘Food Justice’ label could help local farmworkers – The partner at Red Earth Farm in Sonora and student in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley writes, “Given the many problems farmworkers face, the most effective way to achieve fair working conditions could be by direct pressure from customers who are willing to say they want their food grown with fairness and respect.”  Johnson op-ed in Merced Sun-Star
Criminal Justice/Prisons

Death penalty case could be test for new state Supreme Court – The state Supreme Court upheld a Shasta County man’s death sentence Monday for the murder of a 98-year-old woman in a ruling so closely divided it could be a candidate for reconsideration after the court’s two new justices review it in the next few weeks.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims starts third term – Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims was sworn in for a third term Monday, saying that she was ready for both existing and new challenges that face law enforcement in the 21st century.  Fresno Bee article

Warnke sworn in as Merced County sheriff — Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke was sworn in Monday during a ceremony attended by scores of people, including elected officials and law enforcement leaders from around the county.  Merced Sun-Star article

Third third, third chance for new San Joaquin County jail – Third-term San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore hopes his third term is just as smooth, having already served eight years in the county’s top law enforcement post. He laid out his priorities, including a new jail so that inmates no longer are released early.  Stockton Record article



See how well your school district pays its teachers, superintendents – The average teacher salary in 2014 was $71,396, up 2.8 percent from 2013, according to new state figures. The average superintendent salary in 2014, excluding part-timers, was roughly $171,155, up 2.5 percent from 2013. The number of teachers grew by about 2,000, or 1 percent. Teacher pay varies widely by district.  Sacramento Bee article

Taft school district sues city in connection with Oliver school shooting — The Taft Union High School District has filed a lawsuit against the city of Taft in connection with the January 2013 shooting at Taft Union High, according to court records. KGET Channel 17 reports the district states in the complaint the shooting would not have happened if the city had a police officer on duty that morning. According to KGET, the complaint says the school is seeking damages for breach of contract and contractual indemnity.  Bakersfield Californian article



Safeway ordered to pay nearly $10 million for illegal dumping in California — A judge ordered Safeway to pay nearly $10 million to 41 California counties and cities for illegally disposing household chemicals and medicines from its stores and distribution centers over a seven-year span.  Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

CDC: Flu season continues to worsen, could peak this month – The flu is now widespread in all but seven states, and hospitalization rates match the dismal season two years ago. While health officials fear this will be an unusually bad year, it’s too soon to say.  AP article

Emergency health insurance regulation issued – The California Department of Insurance issued an emergency regulation Monday intended to assure improved healthcare access to Californians. Commissioner Dave Jones says the regulation will require insurance companies to provide adequate numbers of doctors, clinics and hospitals to patients within a specific service areas.  Capital Public Radio report

Blue Shield in dispute with Sutter Health over costs –  In a high-stakes fight over healthcare costs, insurance giant Blue Shield of California contends that a major hospital chain is trying to hide some of its business practices from public scrutiny.  LA Times article

Smoking in private homes used as day care centers is now illegal in California — Smoking during day care hours is already banned. The new law is intended to eliminate health risks from “third hand smoke” which lingers in furniture and carpets. Operators at 36,000 private family day care homes face penalties of $100 and license revocation if they violate the law.  Capital Public Radio report



Henry R. Perea: High-speed rail is Fresno game-changer – The Fresno County supervisor writes, “Tuesday, at noon, Gov. Jerry Brown will preside over a historic groundbreaking in Fresno that will provide another significant mode of transportation for all Californians, as well as forever change the economic landscape of Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley. This groundbreaking will be for the new California High-Speed Rail System.”  Perea op-ed in Fresno Bee

Bakersfield council to consider Rosedale widening contract — With the holidays out of the way, it’s back to business with major highway projects, including the long-awaited Rosedale Highway widening, at Wednesday’s Bakersfield City Council meeting. Here’s a primer on a busy evening.  Bakersfield Californian article


Other Areas

Pacheco, Mendes take seats as new Fresno County supervisors — Two new Fresno County supervisors were sworn into office Monday along with a board chair and elected department heads. Brian Pacheco and Buddy Mendes took their seats as supervisors, and Supervisor Debbie Poochigian began her second stint as the board’s chairwoman. Also sworn in were District Attorney Lisa M. Smittcamp, Sheriff Margaret Mims, County Clerk/Registrar Brandi Orth (in her first run for the office), Asseesor Paul Dictos and Vicki Crow, treasurer/tax collector/auditor.  Fresno Bee article

Miller named San Joaquin County Supervisors chairwoman – In a surprise move, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Monday passed over its vice chairman and, instead, picked new Supervisor Kathy Miller to be the board’s chairwoman for the year. The move bucked the board’s traditional rotation and pushed aside Supervisor Carlos Villapudua, 46, who had been the body’s vice chairman for the past year and was set to rotate into the chairmanship for the second time since first taking office in 2009.  Stockton Record article

Lisa Smittcamp takes over as Fresno County district attorney – For the first time in a dozen years, Fresno County has a new top prosecutor. Lisa A. Smittcamp was sworn in Monday as Fresno County’s district attorney, first in an official morning ceremony along with other county officials at the Hall of Records, and then in an afternoon ceremonial event attended by hundreds of friends and supporters at the Fresno County Plaza Ballroom.  Fresno Bee article

New San Joaquin County district attorney sworn into office – Local prosecutor Tori Verber Salazar, with her husband and three teenage children standing behind her, raised her hand on Monday evening and took the oath of office from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Consuelo Callahan, becoming the first woman to head the agency.  Stockton Record article

Merced County Supervisor McDaniel moves into new office – Atwater native Daron McDaniel celebrated two milestones Monday: turning 50 and being officially sworn in as a member of the Merced County Board of Supervisors.  Merced Sun-Star article

Tulare County officials sworn in – Monday was a momentous day for Jim Vidak. Not only was the 74-year-old Visalia resident sworn in as Tulare County superintendent of schools by his own son, but he also became the first in the position to be elected to a seventh term.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Livingston considers banning trash scavengers – People rummaging through trash every night is a rude awakening to some residents, prompting Livingston city officials to consider a law banning people from digging through trash for recyclables and other materials.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton council candidates make final pitch for open slot – Touting an array of backgrounds ranging from law to education to city government, five candidates will vie tonight for a single appointment to serve on the Stockton City Council for the next two years.  Stockton Record article; Michael Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record

Animal Shelter: New manager selected for beleaguered agency – After nearly two decades in the Stockton Police Department’s dispatch department, Phillip Zimmerman has been chosen to grab the reins of one of the city’s most controversial and emotionally charged divisions. Zimmerman took over New Year’s Day as manager of the long-troubled Stockton Animal Shelter, which in recent years has been beset by criticism and pending litigation by animal-rights advocates.  Stockton Record article

People in crisis don’t often seek help –-  Stephen Mingham is said to have been overwhelmed by his domestic circumstances, including an adult daughter who needed constant care, a son with a criminal record who lived at home and possible financial problems. Modesto detectives investigating the murder-suicide that occurred Thursday in the Minghams’ east Modesto home may never know what sparked the slayings. But some are led to believe the violence might have been prevented if Mingham had earnestly sought help for his troubles.  Modesto Bee article

In Merced, yoga and Facebook help one Marine with the residue of war — Reintegrating into society after war for many veterans is an isolating experience. They feel alone and without their comrades in arms, but in Merced one marine is overcoming those feelings with two unexpected things, a yoga mat and the internet.  KVPR report

Tagus Ranch sign comes down — It about two minutes on Tuesday to cut down the 100-foot tall “World Famous” Tagus Ranch sign, which greeted motorists on Highway 99 for decades. “That’s a lot of history right there,” said retired dentist Sarjit Malli, who owns the property just north of Avenue 264, off Highway 99.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – In an inaugural speech Monday seemingly aimed at a national audience, Gov. Jerry Brown set forth a lofty goal: Reduce California’s petroleum use by 50% in 15 years. He left unanswered how to achieve the ambitious goal in a state where the car culture dominates.

Sacramento Bee – In an inaugural speech Monday seemingly aimed at a national audience, Gov. Jerry Brown set forth a lofty goal: Reduce California’s petroleum use by 50% in 15 years. He left unanswered how to achieve the ambitious goal in a state where the car culture dominates; Giving the Mexican president some straight talk on corruption.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on elected officials facing many challenges, praise for former San Joaquin County DA Jim Willett, and other issues.