January 8, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Jerry Brown proposes $170 billion budget that bolsters reserves, school spending — Gov. Jerry Brown, issuing a $170.6 billion state spending plan Thursday, proposed billions of dollars in new funding for schools, climate change programs and services for the elderly and disabled. But the fourth-term governor, who took office amid a recession that devastated the state’s finances, repeatedly warned of the possibility of another economic downturn, rejecting calls for more robust spending increases. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleAP article‘Highlights of Gov. Brown’s budget plan’ in Sacramento BeeSacramento Bee editorial

Minimum wage boost hangs over California budget negotiations — They haven’t yet acquired enough signatures to go before voters, but ballot initiatives to bump California’s minimum wage to $15 figured into early discussions of the state budget proposal unveiled Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

SD 8: Jim Patterson says he’ll run for state Senate in 2016 — Fresno Republican Jim Patterson, who is in the middle of his second Assembly term, says he will give up that seat in 2018 to run for the state Senate. The former Fresno mayor, who turns 68 next month, will seek the 8th state Senate District seat currently held by fellow Republican Tom Berryhill, who can’t seek reelection in 2018 because he’ll reach his term limit. Fresno Bee article
State budget

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown adamant on reserves — Gov. Jerry Brown, warning that “the next recession is getting closer,” doubled down Thursday on holding down state spending and building reserves. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Brown’s budget earmarks big money for natural disasters — After one of the most destructive fire seasons in California history and with an eye toward the increased potential effects of climate change, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed spending more on fighting wildfires than the state has in more than a decade. LA Times article 

Words of gloom accompany governor’s budget – California’s economy is on the mend and revenues are fat, but Gov. Brown offered some words of gloom as he unveiled a $171 billion budget blueprint for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Capitol Weekly article 

Brown’s budget mantra: Caution — In the middle of his “good news” budget press conference Thursday morning, Gov. Jerry Brown took a moment to fondly remember a Jesuit teacher he had at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco. KQED report 

Local, state educators pleased with Brown’s state spending plan — Educators are hopeful about Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget, which was released Thursday. The proposed budget for 2016-17 increases public spending for education to $10,591 per student – an increase of nearly $3,600. About $300 million will also go to career technical education. Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian articleStockton Record article

Jerry Brown’s budget plan: $1.5 billion to repair, replace state buildings — Gov. Jerry Brown proposed building two new state office buildings in downtown Sacramento on Thursday, part of a $1.5 billion infrastructure plan that would also remodel a portion of the Capitol. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown 

Brown says he’s against current proposal to extend temporary tax increase — Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday that he opposes two education initiatives – as currently written – planned for the November election ballot, a $9 billion school construction bond and a proposal to extend Proposition 30’s tax on wealthy taxpayers. EdSource articleLA Times article

Valley politics

Brand put $100,000 of his own cash into Fresno mayoral campaign — Lee Brand on Dec. 30 put $100,000 into his Fresno mayoral account, a contribution that will boost his cash on hand to almost $250,000. Fresno Bee article 

AD 34: Fong outlines fights he’d take up in Sacramento — VInce Fong said Thursday he’s the right voice to lead the 34th Assembly District after Assemblywoman Shannon Grove leaves office this year. He called California high-speed rail a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and pledged to fight against those that would halt oil and gas production and steal water from the San Joaquin Valley. Bakersfield Californian article 

Patterson mayor considers running for Stanislaus board of supervisors — So far, questions about the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors election in June have centered on Patterson Mayor Luis Molina. Will he run? Or will he sit out the June election and seek another term as Patterson’s mayor in November? Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sean Parker puts money behind California marijuana legalization — Former Facebook President Sean Parker formalized his support for a proposed ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana with a half-million dollars in contributions. Parker this week donated $250,000 directly to the initiative committee and sent the other half through the Marijuana Policy Project of California as part of a matching campaign, according to state records released Thursday. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Bill Whalen: California’s most intriguing storylines in 2016 – Mark Twain observed that a new year is “the accepted time to make your annual good resolutions. Next week, you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” “Next week” has now arrived and, for California’s sake, here’s hoping we’re not purgatory-bound, specifically on these three political story lines in 2016. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: Initiative generals — It is strategy time for the Initiative Generals who are considering ways to promote their measures while trying to assess what opponents will do. Some of the more obvious maneuvers already on display are counter initiatives—putting up a measure to intimidate or undercut an opponent measure’s appeal. But other strategies are undoubtedly being considered. Fox in Fox & Hounds

A rush of Central Americans compounds Obama’s immigration task – When mothers and children streamed across the Texas border in 2014, the Obama administration devised a strategy to manage the influx, putting them in detention centers to convince others that illegal crossers would be caught and sent back. But that strategy is now under intense legal and political attack, leaving the administration with limited options as it tries to stem a new rush of families fleeing and seeking asylum amid escalating violence in Central America. New York Times article

Other areas 

Californians increasingly believe terror attack ‘very likely’ here – One in three of the state’s registered voters think more terrorist attacks are quite probable. By comparison, just 20 percent thought an assault was forthcoming in California following the violence in New York and Washington on 9/11. Sacramento Bee article

Iraqi immigrant arrested in Sacramento, suspected of lying about ties to terror groups – Federal agents have arrested an Iraqi refugee in Sacramento on a charge that he lied to immigration authorities over his ties to terror groups and travel to Syria, where he allegedly fought before returning to the United States in 2014. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Chuck Barnard: Going ‘beyond laws’ in dealing with guns – The Stockton resident writes, “Today we lead the world in technology, possess the greatest military force in the world, are among the most generous people on the planet and excel in the advancement of medical research. Yet we cannot come close to healing the open festering of gun violence in our streets. There has been no end to those who talk about it and write about it — and I am one. Yet nothing happens. What has brought about such national impotence?” Barnard op-ed in Stockton Record

6 California lawmakers and San Diego mayor back Marco Rubio for president — Seven California Republicans – including state Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen of Modesto — are throwing their support behind Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential campaign. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

‘Ghost’ voting outlaws by Fresno City Council – On a 7-0 vote, the Fresno City Council Thursday prohibited “ghost” voting by its members – the practice of having the city clerk enter a vote if a member steps out of the council meeting. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article 

As rain pummels California, some see a way to fight drought – Much of the torrential rain that fell on Southern California this week flowed right into the ocean, just like it did before the state’s epic drought. That seemed like a good idea for many years, as storm drains provided a crucial defense against flooding. But with California entering what may be a fifth year of drought, water agencies are slowly moving to capture and store more of this precious resource. AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County homebuilding permits down in November – The number of housing permits pulled in November are down in Fresno County compared to the month before, according to data from the Construction Industry Research Board, a service provided by the California Homebuilding FoundationFresno Bee article

Los Angeles County outlines strategies to reduce homelessness – Los Angeles County officials released a wide-ranging plan Thursday with nearly four dozen recommended strategies to address homelessness in the region.  LA Times article

Video purporting to be from hacking group Anonymous threatens city of Sacramento — A video that purports to be from the hacking group Anonymous has threatened an action against the city of Sacramento if it doesn’t suspend its ban on urban camping. Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco projects spending up to $4 million on Super Bowl — Super Bowl 50 will cost San Francisco between $3.5 million and $4 million, according to city estimates released Thursday, with most of the costs going to the transportation and police. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno Chaffee Zoo breaks another attendance record – The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has broken its annual attendance record for the sixth year in a row, reporting a total of 808,914 visitors in 2015.  That figure represents a 15-percent increase from 2014’s annual attendance of 703,325.  The Business Journal article

NFL wants a team or two in LA, and owners head to Houston for a vote — In a glass-walled room high above Park Avenue, NFL executives and billionaire team owners huddled around a long conference table this week to solve a problem that has plagued the league for two decades: how to get professional football back to Los Angeles. LA Times article

Arena opponents sue San Francisco, Golden State Warriors — Opponents of the Golden State Warriors’ planned 18,000-seat arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay went to court Thursday to make good on their promise to sue the city and the team, claiming that both ignored traffic and other impacts in a rush to win approval for the project. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Agencies seek community support to help homeless — The eighth annual Project Homeless Connect offers services, housing and hospitality to those who are without a home or near homeless. It is organized by the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance and will service Visalia, Tulare and Hanford. Visalia Times-Delta article

Lemoore hopeful about ‘orphaned’ 2011 bonds — Lemoore may finally get to spend part of a $19 million bond issue that has been in limbo for the past five years.During a study session on Tuesday, the Lemoore City Council learned that it may soon have access to about $6.5 million that could pay for things like street improvements near Bush Street and Highway 41, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalk improvements and the city’s proposed police and fire dispatch center. Hanford Sentinel article


First ‘textbook’ El Nino rains provide clues on possible damage to come – The first major El Niño storm system finished its path through Southern California on Thursday, giving officials a chance to study both the behavior of the storms and how officials responded to them. LA Times article

Kern farmland holds it value as boom wanes – Prices for Kern County agricultural property held stable last year, and rose in some cases, according to a new report suggesting the boom in local farmland since 2005 may have slowed but has not gone bust. Bakersfield Californian article

Playing high stakes for water – Four years of drought has ripped a painful chunk out of the water supply that is the lifeblood of Kings County — so much so, Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves is looking into ways to make sure that, when hot weather arrives, Pine Flat Reservoir is as brim-full as possible. Hanford Sentinel article

Judge grants Gerawan Farming access to labor board documents – A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Thursday partially granted Gerawan Farming Company’s request for documents related to an unfair labor practice complaint filed against it by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Fresno Bee article 

California farmers team up to find insecticide alternatives – Farmers are gathering in meetings across California this month to talk about insecticides currently used that could be harmful to human health. KVPR report

California citrus officials concerned about EPA effort to protect bees – California citrus industry officials are raising concerns about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to protect the nation’s bee population. Fresno Bee article

EPA confirms controversial pesticide can harm bees – The Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the California Department for Pesticide Regulation, has released its first assessment of one of those chemicals, imidacloprid. Essentially, the report found that pesticide residues in the nectar and pollen of certain crops, like citrus and cotton, pose a risk to bees. But residue on other crops, like corn and leafy vegetables, did not pose significant risk. KQED report

Valley dairies struggle to survive as milk prices continue to sour – An oversupply of milk — and the rock-bottom prices dairymen are now getting because of the imbalance — is resulting in tough times at Valley dairies. The Business Journal article

Lawmaker wants to throw checkbook at water hogs — A California lawmaker is dramatically raising the stakes in water management, proposing fines that could reach thousands of dollars a day and public shaming of people who use too much. Contra Costa Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

K-9 bite case settled for $2 million — A Bakersfield woman attacked by a Kern County Sheriff’s Office K-9 has been awarded $2 million in what her attorneys said is the largest settlement for a dog bite case against a public entity in California. Bakersfield Californian article 

Ceres police: Man pulled out hand torch when officers shot him – Police officials on Thursday afternoon released more details about an officer-involved shooting Tuesday night that left a wanted parolee dead after he pulled out a hand torch as two officers chased him. Modesto Bee article

San Francisco mayor pushes police to fast-track use-of-force reform, chief calls in feds — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has set a Feb. 15 deadline for city law enforcement leadership to deliver “any reforms that require new laws or expenditures,” as the Police Department and Police Commission launch multiple efforts examining use-of-force and training policies following the deadly shooting of Mario Woods last month. KQED report


Fresno Unified staying away from leaseback contracts — After a Fresno County court – and ultimately the FBI – raised questions about Fresno Unified’s use of no-bid contracts, the district has reverted to the traditional bidding process for school construction projects. Fresno Bee article 

More than 1,100 former Fresno Unified students now qualify for high school diplomas — More than 1,100 Fresno Unified School District students who received a certificate of completion from 2006 to 2015 but did not pass the California High School Exit Exam may now receive their high school diplomas. The changes come after the exam was scrapped by the state Legislature. Fresno Bee article 

Donors give Sacramento State $15 million — Sacramento State raised $15 million from more than 6,700 donors during the 2014-15 school year, the most the university has received since the recession hampered fundraising. Sacramento Bee article

Adam Schiff: California must beware of gap between public, private colleges – The Burbank Democratic congressman writes, “Over the past year, I have watched my daughter Alexa navigate the challenges and stresses of applying to college. It has been a treat visiting campuses around the country, but it has also opened my eyes to the growing disparity in investment between public and private institutions.” Schiff op-ed in Sacramento Bee


HECA offers concessions as last-ditch measure – The developer behind western Kern County’s Hydrogen Energy California clean coal project offered new concessions this week in a last-ditch attempt to save the project from possible rejection by the state Energy Commission. Bakersfield Californian article

Claims in Porter Ranch gas leak could cost utility billions of dollars — With ailing residents, displaced neighborhoods and a potential decline in property values, the leak at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility could cost the utility billions of dollars, some legal experts say. LA Times article 

Cellulose-to-ethanol process applied — Pacific Ethanol Inc. recently announced it is producing cellulosic ethanol at its Stockton facility using technology from Edeniq Inc., which mechanically and chemically breaks down cellulose materials to boost ethanol yields. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services 

Elective procedures rescheduled at Tulare’s hospital – A routine inspection from the California Department of Public Health led to the rescheduling of elective procedures at Tulare Regional Medical Center’s Operation Room this week. Visalia Times-Delta article

California ends Ebola monitoring of travelers returning from West Africa — The California Department of Public Health has announced that it no longer will monitor travelers returning from West Africa for symptoms of EbolaLA Times article 

Other areas

Los Banos bans all medical pot sales, cultivation – Medical cannabis users here will have to continue to travel out of town and spend their money in other cities’ dispensaries after a vote by the City Council this week. Merced Sun-Star article

Arturo Durazo and Tanya Golash-Boza: Merced residents should be able to access medical cannabis – Durazo, a Ph.D. candidate in health psychology at UC Merced, and Golash-Boza, an associate professor of sociology at UC Merced, write, “We urge our city’s elected officials to consider the scientific evidence that shows that regulated medical cannabis sales are the best option, and request that city staff partner with experts and community members to pass ordinances that allow residents safe, affordable and reliable access to medical marijuana.” Durazo/Golash-Boza op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

Michael Fitzgerald: Even Internet trolls have free speech rights – A Stockton cop named Aaron Adams has been placed on paid leave while police investigate what appears to be a clear-cut case of police retaliation against a critic. It’s a serious matter — though the case also involves a face-palm element of cops (allegedly) behaving ridiculously. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Storms create ideal training conditions for Merced firefighters – After days of hard-hitting El Niño storms, the Merced Fire Department took advantage of the high water level Thursday in Bear Creek for water rescue training. Merced Sun-Star article

City Beat: The latest scoop on municipal government — The amphitheater at The Park at River Walk will be named Bright House Networks Amphitheatre for four more years, the Bakersfield City Council decided Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco goats don’t want to eat your garbage Christmas tree — A herd of 80 hungry goats, tasked with eating a city’s worth of discarded Christmas trees, have had their fill of your ancient holiday foliage and want no more of it, their keepers say. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Voters are getting some scary reminders this week that it’s a dangerous world out there and that the next president must have the knowledge, experience and disposition to navigate America safely through it.

Sacramento Bee – Many of us put eating healthier on our list of New Year’s resolutions, so new dietary guidelines out Thursday arrive at a useful time; Gov. Brown is right to tamp down the expectations of plenty.

Maddy Events 

Sunday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: “Highway Funding: Still Stuck in Political Gridlock – Guests: Caltrans CFO Norma Ortega; Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable; Chris McKenzie, executive director of the California League of Cities; Matt Cate, executive director of the California Assn. of Counties; and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Farm to Market: Maintaining the Valley’s Highways” – Guests: Tony Boren, executive director of Fresno COG; Ted Smalley, director of the Tulare COG;  and Cal Trans District 6 Director Sharri Bender Ehlert. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7 a.m. on Univision 21 (KFTV) and UniMas 61 (KTFF) – El Informe Maddy: “State Watchdogs” — Guests:  Edgar Cabral of the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Margarita Fernandez of the State Auditor’s Office. Host: Maddy Institute 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.


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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