January 9, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Brown’s budget dominance starts with firm grip on revenue forecasts — Brown deftly uses the single most powerful budget-writing tool at his disposal: the official forecast of tax revenues, the foundation on which all spending plans are built. Lower the forecasts, say budget watchers, and you neutralize most every request to expand government services. LA Times article 

Brown’s opinion looms over proposals for November ballot – For any group looking to the November ballot – and perhaps more than a dozen complicated ballot measures – even a twitch from Brown can carry weight. Sacramento Bee article
State budget

Democrats, advocates eye California’s booming revenues — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $122.6 billion California budget plan would seem to please Democratic interests by pumping billions of tax dollars generated by the booming state economy into public schools and universities, health care for the poor and public infrastructure. Instead, Democratic legislative leaders and advocacy groups saw what was left out. AP article

Jerry Brown proposes special unit to clean up Cal Fire — Following a series of scandals that have washed over California’s state fire department, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed spending $4.4 million to launch a new unit to investigate personnel messes and prevent them from occurring in the future. Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Historian Brown presents a budget — Channeling philosopher George Santayana (“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”), Gov. Jerry Brown presented his budget yesterday looking to the future by considering the past. Warning that budget writers “put out of their minds” thoughts of recessions that could cripple state budgets, he vowed not to repeat past mistakes of building budgets that cannot be sustained in difficult economic times. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Who pays California government’s bills? — When it comes to who’s paying for California government, certain regions of the Golden State stand out. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

AD 31: Arambula uses expletives in fiery comments to fellow Democrats – Angry or passionate? Inappropriate or honest? Earlier this week, state Assembly hopeful Joaquin Arambula addressed the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, and his fiery talk included some expletives. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Former gubernatorial candidate Tye Champ Jr. gets 25 years to life — Despite dodging an attempted murder charge last year, former California gubernatorial candidate Tye Glenn Champ Jr. was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday. Fresno Bee article

Deportations revive rift between Obama and fellow Democrats — President Obama endured the “deporter-in-chief” label for months, only shedding it in 2014 when he used executive action to stop the removal of otherwise law-abiding immigrants in the U.S. illegally. LA Times article

Other areas

California teacher’s Supreme Court case challenges union power — The U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case Monday that could significantly change the landscape of political power in California and beyond. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association centers on the question of whether union dues are inherently political — and if they are, as the plaintiffs argue, whether represented employees who are not union members can be compelled to pay them. KQED reportSacramento Bee article

Bill would ban campus smoking, vaping in California – Colleges students across California would need to stub out their cigarettes and ditch their vape pens under a bill before the Legislature. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento sheriff, Feinstein split over guns sales to those on terror watch list – 
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican candidate for Congress, is breaking with other California law enforcement officials to oppose Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill to forbid people on a federal terror watch list from buying guns. McClatchy Newspapers article
Clash over guns shows Washington excels at stirring outrage – The ever-deepening partisan divide has for years fueled fundraising for both sides: Don’t like what the opposition is doing? Donate to us, and we’ll stop them! No event is too small anymore to gear up the hype machine, particularly in an election year and with such an emotionally fraught policy issue as guns. LA Times article

Washington raises pressure on Silicon Valley in fight against terrorism – The White House raised the pressure on the tech industry Friday to help rein in terrorism, dispatching top national security officials to Silicon Valley and announcing the creation of a task force to help prevent extremist groups from using social media to radicalize and mobilize recruits. LA Times article 

Despite fear of terrorism, Californians wary of government action – An increased number of Californians expect terrorist attacks close to home and don’t believe law enforcement can prevent them. But even more fear government actions to avert terrorism, according to a new Field Poll. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Suspect in terror case was American River College student, but unknown to Sacramento-area Muslim leaders — Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, the 23-year-old Iraqi refugee arrested on a charge of lying to federal officials over his ties to terror groups in Syria, is enrolled at American River College and has relatives in the area, but Sacramento-area Muslim leaders say they know nothing about him. Sacramento Bee article

Ghassane Habib –ISIS – A success story we do not need – The president of the board of trustees of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno writes, “Hear me, fellow citizens, ISIS is not Islam. It does not represent the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. The true faith of Islam condemns every terror act that ISIS commits. The true faith of Islam respects and protects other faiths and the sanctity of life.” Habib op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Jim Doyle: Now, more than ever, we need military equality for women – The Fresno resident and veterans advocate writes, “The recent Department of Defense decision to open all combat jobs to women is the first step toward the recognition that after 14 years of war, shouldered by less than one-half of 1 percent of the population, this country needs to enact a policy of compulsory foreign or domestic service equitably shared by all.” Doyle op-ed in Fresno Bee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee faces loud protests at his inauguration – It was supposed to be a celebration, the inauguration of Mayor Ed Lee for his second full term of office. But protesters turned the hour-long ceremony on Friday into a cacophony of boos and shouted demands that Police Chief Greg Suhr be fired. San Francisco Chronicle article

Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow found guilty — Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a Chinatown gangster who was hailed as a reformed man by San Francisco leaders after completing his last prison sentence in 2003, was found guilty Friday of running a century-old community organization as a racketeering enterprise and ordering the murder of its former leader. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleAP article

News Stories

Top Stories

Coalinga allows medical marijuana dispensary – the first Fresno County city to adopt new state pot law — The Coalinga City Council voted unanimously to allow a medical marijuana dispensary as well as commercial cultivation and delivery services within city limits – becoming the first city in Fresno County and one of the first in the central San Joaquin Valley to embrace a new state law regulating pot. Fresno Bee article

Brewery, restaurant add to downtown Stockton revitalization momentum – The two new businesses — Cast Iron Trading Co. and Channel Brewing Co. — hope to be prescriptions for resuscitating a chronic dead zone that in a more bustling time for downtown Stockton was the 1940s-era home of Hansen & Zinck Druggists. Perhaps more significant, though, is that when they open, the new businesses will represent a small eastward shift of the type of vibrancy downtown advocates have been hoping will spread naturally away from the waterfront focal point of Stockton’s core. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno State’s economic index continues to point toward economic growth in San Joaquin Valley – The December figures released this week from a leading economic index point toward continued growth for the Valley’s economy for the next six months. Fresno Bee article

China’s financial turmoil won’t disrupt California’s economy – Despite those disappointments, experts said slowing demand in China isn’t enough to disrupt California’s $2.3-trillion economy. Exports to China represent only about 1% of U.S. gross domestic product, for instance, and panic overseas could actually spark more investment in California’s attractive real estate markets. LA Times article

Three things to know about the hot jobs report – The U.S. economy entered 2016 with strong momentum as employers added 292,000 jobs in December, pushing the annual number last year to 2.7 million. McClatchy Newspapers article

Hiring quest for executive jobs rolls on for Merced County cities – The search to fill three executive positions in Merced County continued this week after decisions from area city councils. Merced needs a city attorney, while Los Banos and Livingston are hunting for city managers. Merced Sun-Star article

‘Culinary concourse’ proposed for downtown Sacramento – Downtown Sacramento’s historic D.O. Mills Bank Building could become a farm-to-fork showplace featuring a dozen high-end eating spots under plans being floated by the owners of the ornate, century-old building. Sacramento Bee article

Swearengin, Assemi walk back potential political battle — It hasn’t always been a cozy relationship between Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration and arguably the city’s most prolific and visible developer, Granville Homes. In fact, at times the political winds between Swearengin and Granville President Darius Assemi have felt downright icy. So when Granville raised 11th-hour issues over the city’s new development code, it looked like another clash of Fresno’s political titans was brewing. This time, however, it appears cooler heads have prevailed. Fresno Bee article

Asking voters to OK homeless funding would take LA into unchartered waters – A report released by city analysts this week set the cost of confronting Los Angeles’ surging homelessness over the next decade at nearly $2 billion, a stark acknowledgment of the money and work required to help the nation’s largest unsheltered population. Almost as remarkable as that sum is the method of raising it that the report suggests could be necessary: A ballot initiative that would probably require supermajority approval from city voters. LA Times article

Atwater canner adds Mexican products — Teasdale Foods Inc., which cans beans and hominy in Atwater, has bought the Mexican food business of Bruce Foods Corp. of New Iberia, La. The purchase, at an undisclosed price, provides Teasdale with the Casa Fiesta, Viva Mexico and Mexene brands. The Texas-made products include beans, peppers, sauces, corn items and seasonings. Modesto Bee article

Funding plan helps to cover rent at Tree Fresno’s headquarters — A Tree Fresno supporter has established a long-term funding plan to cover quarterly rent at the group’s headquarters on the Fresno State campus, the organization said Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Hanford Fox Theatre renovations nearly complete — Following almost two years of renovation, the historic Hanford Fox Theatre is just months away from making a comeback. Hanford Sentinel article


Fresno Bee: Can subsidence be fixed without sinking economy? — Many parts of California are sinking, and it’s time we did something about it.  Fresno Bee editorial 

Farmers, crop experts discuss possible pesticides ban – As federal and state officials move toward tighter restrictions on a widely used farm pesticide, dozens of farmers, crop and pest control experts gathered Friday in Stockton and focused on the safe use of the toxin and the impact of its possible ban. Stockton Record article

Sun could deliver Stockton’s water – It takes some muscle to move millions of gallons of water each day into Stockton pipes and all the way to your kitchen tap. But by year’s end, the sun might be doing the heavy lifting. Stockton Record article

Flood risk tops storage concerns – The canals that run through Tulare County have water for the first winter in a while. Many are wondering why. Visalia Times-Delta article

Los Angeles River banks to be raised for El Nino — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin work next week to temporarily raise the banks along nearly three miles of the Los Angeles River to improve flood protection during El Niño storms, officials announced Friday, just days after the watercourse roared to life during heavy rains. AP article

Sarkis Sahatdjian: 1920-2015: Raisin company founder remembered for his mentorship, humanity — Sarkis Sahatdjian lent a voice of painful experience to last year’s 100th commemoration of the Armenian genocide – and a hope for the future. Raised by parents who survived the genocide, he came to the United States in 1924 and settled in the San Joaquin Valley, eventually co-founding one of the San Joaquin Valley’s leading raisin packing houses. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Chandra Levy case returns with former Fresno gang chief as key witness — 
A former Fresno gang leader with a history of both violence and snitching will return as the key witness in the retrial of the man convicted of killing former intern Chandra Levy, prosecutors said Friday. This time, however, the witness’s past is likely to be a major issue. McClatchy Newspapers article

Attorneys file claim against Bakersfield in Subway shooting case – Using strong language rarely seen in a legal filing, attorneys representing the family of a man shot to death by a Bakersfield police officer at a Subway sandwich shop in August filed a wrongful death claim this morning against the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Police Department. Bakersfield Californian article 

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s canine survives multiple stab wounds in confrontation in Modesto – A Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department canine is recovering after being stabbed four times during an altercation with a suspect early Friday morning, the department said. Rocky, a 5-year-old male Belgian Malinois, is expected to make a full recovery. Rocky has served with the Sheriff’s Department for two years. Modesto Bee article

Retired sheriff’s deputy turns tables, opens fire on would-be robbers at ATM — A robbery victim turned the tables on a pair of bandits early Friday when the former sheriff’s deputy pulled a gun on them and opened fire at an ATM machine in northeast Fresno. Fresno Bee article

False police promise overturns murder conviction — When police promise a suspect that he won’t be prosecuted if he tells them the truth, and he does, can he still be prosecuted? Yes, a state appeals court said Friday, as long as the promise didn’t come from the district attorney. But anything he said to the officers can’t be used as evidence against him. San Francisco Chronicle article


Fresno State won’t see tuition increase – Fresno State students seeking bachelor’s degrees won’t see a hike in tuition this fall. This comes after Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016-2017 California budget proposal in which he allocated funding increases for the California State Universityand University of California systems. Visalia Times-Delta article

So how much do schools really get from Powerball? – Thanks to a California law that requires at least $1 billion of the state’s education funding to come from lottery revenues — or about 1% of the state’s spending — a monster-sized jackpot can inject significant cash into the education spending plan. LA Times article

Lawrence Salinas to oversee governmental relations at Fresno State – Longtime political adviser Lawrence Salinas was named director of governmental relations for Fresno State on Friday. Salinas, 54, a Fresno State alumnus who graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, formerly served as associate director of institutional relations and advocacy for the University of California system. Fresno Bee article

The Numbers Crunch: This ranking of colleges is more on the money – For its first-ever college rankings, The Economist magazine used federal information that matches student loan applications with those students’ tax returns a decade later. To calculate how much each university boosts a graduate’s income, it then used a complex analysis to compute how much graduates would be projected to earn. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Fresno State, Armenian university forge partnership – Fresno State announced a new partnership with the American University School in Armenia (AUA) as part of an effort to boost opportunities for Armenian studies. The new deal, signed into being by Fresno State President Joseph Castro, will allow for the exchange of students and faculty between the two schools and promote joint research. The Business Journal article

West Hills College Lemoore starts program to help struggling students — A group of West Hills College Lemoore students struggling with math got to participate in a new program aimed at helping them succeed. The college held a trial run earlier this week for a new program called M3=Success, an initiative where students learn about how to be successful in math, how to make a budget, how to make a schedule and more. Hanford Sentinel article


State air board criticizes Southern California smog regulators over adoption of industry-backed rules – The state Air Resources Board has criticized Southern California smog regulators for adopting industry-backed regulations to control emissions from the region’s largest facilities, saying they may violate state law and will harm people’s health. LA Times article 

Army Corps of Engineers to put up flood-control barriers in LA River – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received emergency funding to erect temporary barriers along the banks of the Los Angeles River to guard against flooding from future El Niño storms, officials announced Friday. LA Times article

Officials and gas company agree on plan to burn off some methane afflicting Porter Ranch — Air quality regulators and Southern California Gas Co. have agreed on a plan to capture and incinerate at least some of the natural gas from a leaking well that has sickened and displaced thousands of residents of Porter Ranch, according to a legal document filed this week. LA Times article 

Fire-scarred Lake County fears mudslides, flooding from El Nino – As winter rains pounded Lake County this week, Scotty Allen slogged through muddy water amid charred stumps and debris left by the devastating Valley Fire trying to shore up what’s left of his property on Cobb Mountain. San Francisco Chronicle article

Another wolf enters California amid tension over comeback — Another wolf has entered the far Northern California wilds, providing more evidence of a comeback for the animal that was absent from the state for nearly 100 years and driven to near-extinction by hunters and trappers. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services 

Smittcamp $1 million gift will help expand neurosciences services at Community Medical Center in Fresno – Community Medical Centers has received a $1 million gift from Robert E. Smittcamp and the Smittcamp Family Foundation to expand neuroscience services for the San Joaquin Valley. The gift is the single largest donation earmarked for Community’s neurosciences program, said Katie Zenovich, Community Medical Center’s vice president for corporate development. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Tax error complicates financial help for some with Obamacare — About 1.4 million households that got financial help for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law failed to properly account for it on their tax returns last year, putting their subsidies at risk if they want to keep coverage. AP article

Tulare hospital’s OR restored to full functionality – Tulare Regional Medical Center’s Operating Room Department was restored to full functionality Friday morning, hospital officials reported. Visalia Times-Delta article

Afrezza patients worry they’ll lose access to their insulin – As Valencia drugmaker MannKind scrambles to replace the strategic partner it was relying on to market and distribute its Afrezza inhalable insulin treatment, diabetics who have come to rely on the drug are wondering whether they’ll be able to continue using it — despite assurances that it will remain available. LA Times article

Sandra L. Archer: My family planning carries no remorse or guilt – The Coarsegold resident and retired marriage and family therapist writes, “The pro-life, pro-choice argument has been far too simplistic and rancorous for too long. Verbal and physical violence accomplish nothing. It’s time to find common ground, to educate ourselves and to work together to prevent unwanted pregnancies, which do take their toll in many ways.” Archer op-ed in Fresno Bee

Land Use/Housing

Turlock planners split on giving street to Sacred Heart Catholic School — A request to let Sacred Heart Catholic School absorb the street that divides its campus in half moves forward to the Turlock City Council with a neutral recommendation from staff and planning commissioners. Modesto Bee article 


Waiting for demolition — The line of six boarded-up homes on the west side of Ponderosa Road in a little neighborhood tucked off Lacey Boulevard east of Hanford might look like urban blight, but don’t be fooled. It’s the most visible sign of high-speed rail eventually coming to Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

No opening in sight yet for Highway 140 into Yosemite — It was unclear Friday when officials would be able to reopen the Highway 140 entrance to Yosemite National Park, which was blocked a day earlier by a rock slide that sent huge boulders and debris crashing onto the roadway, a spokeswoman said. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Kings County weighs tougher pot rules – County supervisors meet Tuesday to consider toughening up already-strict medical marijuana restrictions in advance of a new law shifting regulatory authority to the State of California. Hanford Sentinel article 

Feds set 2018 deadline for new ID requirements – More than a decade after Congress called for tougher standards for state identification cards and driver’s licenses, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced deadlines for states to comply with the new regulations. LA Times article

Bakersfield committee recommends cutting one day of fireworks use, citing violators – Members of a Bakersfield City Council committee on Friday recommended the city eliminate the use of legal fireworks on July 1, and ticket residents who don’t follow the rules with administrative citations. Bakersfield Californian article

Mike Dunbar: Another tragedy tied to pit bulls – Very little could make your heart ache more than seeing Alexandria Griffin-Heady’s face. Torn in grief, a reflection of a tortured mind, her miserable world made almost unbearable by the loss of her young brother. A loss for which she feels responsible. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Weather conditions may have played role in plane crash that killed five, report says — The pilot of a private, single-engine plane that broke up over Bakersfield last month, killing all five on board, appeared to experience trouble with cloudy, rainy weather and following the directions of air traffic controllers, according to a preliminary report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Many parts of California are sinking, and it’s time we did something about it; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – Uprooting teams for greed is the wrong call for the NFL.

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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