July 11, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

Governor’s finance office opposes bill raising minimum wage in California — Citing significant new costs to the state and a negative effect on businesses, the Brown administration’s Finance Department is opposing a bill that would raise California’s $9 minimum wage to $11 an hour on Jan. 1 and boost it again to $13 in 2017. LA Times article

Rate hike for healthcare providers gets no mention in tobacco tax petition language — A tobacco-tax initiative proposed for the November 2016 ballot would raise as much as $1 billion to increase reimbursement rates for healthcare providers, about three-quarters of the estimated revenue that would be generated by the $2-per-pack tax hike. But Friday’s title and summary from the Attorney General’s Office makes no mention of higher reimbursement rates, a priority of the California Medical Association and some other supporters of the effort, which has raised $2 million. Sacramento Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Subject: Please, please read our story about fundraising emails — Dependence on online donations, which can make up 10 percent to 40 percent of a candidate’s total, has campaigns experimenting with catchy subject lines that inspire supporters to open and read them. Lately, a subject line may include emojis (small symbols such as faces or timeclocks), all caps and/or multiple exclamation points. Sacramento Bee article



Can Obama shield millions from deportation? Arguments play out in court – Lawyers for the Obama administration and a coalition of states squared off in federal court Friday over whether President Barack Obama has the authority to launch programs that would shield millions of people from deportation. Texas and 25 other states have filed suit to halt the programs. LA Times article; New York Times article

Report: Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native born – At a time when the century-long American debate on whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born residents is raging again, a new report concludes exactly the opposite. Monterey Herald article 

Kamala Harris speaks out on Steinle, sanctuary, sheriff – and Trump — In the wake of the killing of Kate Steinle, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democratic candidate for US Senate, is standing staunchly behind sanctuary cities laws — and defends local law enforcement’s responsibility to make the call on how to deal with immigration authorities. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Mirkarimi deflects blame in furor over Pier 14 killing – San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi blamed federal prison and immigration officials Friday for the chain of events that led to the release of a Mexican national later arrested in the waterfront slaying of a 32-year-old woman, and said it was “sad and incomprehensible” that the killing has caused a political uproar. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

What exactly are ‘sanctuary cities’? Advocates of tougher immigration rules were quick to blame the city for its policy of not cooperating with federal immigration agencies to hold and report undocumented residents. So what’s the deal with these so-called sanctuary cities? KQED report

Donald Trump defends his message, even in liberal Los Angeles – Donald Trump brought his Republican presidential campaign to Los Angeles on Friday, unrepentant over his inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants that have drawn national ire and pushback from businesses and fellow party members. LA Times article; AP article

Group protests Fresno sheriff’s teamwork with ICE — A group which opposes Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims’ cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it wants the sheriff to halt a program that puts ICE agents in Fresno County Jail to monitor the release of undocumented immigrants. Fresno Bee article

LGBT immigrants taking a more forceful stand as reform efforts languish — Members of the LGBT community are increasingly at the forefront of the immigrant-rights movement, infusing it with a more in-your-face brand of activism. LA Times article


Other areas 

Special session on road repairs takes on $59 billion problem – Democrats and Republicans will soon present dueling proposals on how to close a $59 billion backlog of state roadway repairs. KPCC report

California Senate, ethics agency differ over release of documents – The state Senate and California’s ethics agency are differing over whether the public should be able to see changes to the Conflict of Interest Code set for employees of the Legislature. LA Times article 

Sacramento Bee: Assembly mugs tobacco control legislation — Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Modesto, $40,500. Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, $25,300. That’s the amount of money they’ve taken in tobacco company donations. On Wednesday, Gray, Perea and 11 other members of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee mauled a bill to regulate nicotine-injection devices known as e-cigarettes the same as tobacco. Sacramento Bee editorial

News Briefs

Top Stories

Water rights ruling is a setback for California drought regulators In a significant ruling that could hinder California’s ability to order urgent cutbacks in water use, a judge told state drought regulators Friday they can’t curtail the water rights of four Central Valley irrigation districts. Sacramento Bee article; AP article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Stockton Record article; New York Times article 

East battles west over extra farm water from San Joaquin River – May and June storms brightened a desperately dry year on the San Joaquin River, but now farmers are pitted against each other over the unexpected water. The faceoff is between east and west sides of the San Joaquin Valley, the nation’s most productive farm region. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Kern County proposes lower cap on loan to Kern Medical Center – In more good news about the health of Kern Medical Center, county administrators are recommending a much lower cap on the general fund loan that helps keep the public hospital operating. They will ask the Kern County Board of Supervisors Monday to decrease the not-to-exceed county general fund loan to KMC from $70 million to $40 million, according to a staff report from the County Administrative Office. Bakersfield Californian article

Chowchilla courts industry with incentives – Chowchilla’s new city administrator didn’t waste time pushing for incentives in an attempt to get industrial developers to expand or to move their companies to the city just off of highways 99 and 152. Brian Haddix, the city administrator, was hired by the council in May. He said the incentives Chowchilla adopted are similar to those he used in his last job as Sanger’s city manager. Merced Sun-Star article

Joel Fox: Another study, similar result – Oil industry essential to California economy — In 2009, the Milken Institute issued a report on the impact California’s oil and gas industry had on California. The report stated the statewide impact was immense with a ripple effect of over 300,000 jobs and a $46 billion impact on the state’s economy. Now comes a second study from the Institute of Applied Economics of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, which looked at the effect proposed cutbacks of gasoline to reach newly proposed emission reduction goals would have on the economy. This study showed jobs are at risk and consumer costs on many products will rise. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Marek Warszawski: Time for Fresno to become a professional soccer city — It’s time to get the ball rolling on professional soccer in Fresno. As many as 17,000 soccer fans will cram into Chukchansi Park for Friday night’s clash between Mexican league rivals Chivas de Guadalajara and Club Atlas. Twenty-four hours later, about 3,000 will turn out to see the Fuego play their Premier Development League season finale. Warszawski column in Fresno Bee

Home prices rising in Kings County – It’s getting more expensive to buy a home in Kings County and around the state. According to CoreLogic Inc., a real estate research firm, the median price of homes in Kings County has jumped to $184,000 as of May, an 8.9 percent increase over last year. However, that hasn’t stopped home sales from rising over the past year. Hanford Sentinel article 

Four-story Hyatt hotel proposed along Coffee Road near Stockdale – Long-vacant property at the southeast corner of Coffee and Westfield roads, just north of Stockdale Highway, may become home to a four-story Hyatt hotel within about two years, if a San Diego developer can win a conditional use permit from Bakersfield’s Board of Zoning Adjustment. Bakersfield Californian article

Study says downtown Hanford historic buildings need repair — Some of downtown Hanford’s aging buildings are in need of costly repairs, according to a recently completed study of several city-owned buildings. Hanford Sentinel article

John Lindt: Gas prices spike, solar shines – California gas prices exploded at the end of the week as supply issues again plague the state and there were calls of price gouging. Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Key downtown Sacramento parcels heading to market – Two of the hottest pieces of downtown Sacramento property are going to market later this month, with developers expected to bid high for city-owned land near the Kings arena site. Sacramento Bee article 

As LA moves toward more homeless sweeps, long-term solution elusive – In May, the city launched a cleanup that took six days and cost $66,000 by the time it ended in late June, records show. But while the encampments along the concrete riverbed were cleared, none of the displaced people were given housing, advocates say. They simply scattered into the nearby streets of Lincoln Heights and Highland Park, or took to the hills of Elysian Park. LA Times article 

State Senate leader says tax credit program is bringing TV, film crews back – California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León told a crowd of business leaders in Hollywood that the state’s newly expanded film and television tax credit program is beginning to bring crews back to Southern California. LA Times article 

Santa Clara County workers reject package proposal that recently averted a strike – After a marathon bargaining session averted a strike by thousands of Santa Clara County workers, SEIU 521, the county’s largest employee union, announced late Friday that the tentative agreement reached with officials less than two weeks ago had been rejected. Contra Costa Times article

Startups hoping to cash in on marijuana – In California, new companies are trying to corner different parts of the medical marijuana market, hoping to position themselves for widespread legalization. Delivery is one hot spot for competition.  Companies are jockeying to become the “Uber” of pot. KQED report

Medical dispensaries can’t deduct businesses expenses, court says — A San Francisco federal appeals court dealt a financial setback to medical marijuana dispensaries Thursday, saying that — unlike other commercial enterprises — they can’t deduct business expenses from their taxable income because their product is prohibited by federal law. San Francisco Chronicle article

Miranda’s Thrift Shop to open new Atwater location — Atwater residents looking for a bargain, will now have a new thrift shop in town. Miranda’s Thrift Shop will open its fourth location – the first one in Atwater – on Saturday. Miranda is a 2013 Fresno State graduate, who opened his first store in Merced about a month after his graduation. Merced Sun-Star article 

Phil Cox: Teens should have summer jobs to learn life lessons – The Tulare County supervisor writes, “Encourage your teens to get out there and work this summer. If they can’t find a job in the traditional market, put them to work in your home. Young people learn the value of a dollar when it takes their hard work to earn it.” Cox op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Planners to consider EIR for proposed cheese plant – The project to bring a 300,000 square-foot cheese processing plant will come before the Tulare Planning Commission on Monday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Foon Rhee: Once youths go off track, it’s hard to get back on – If you think the dystopian movies filling our screens lately are scary, just take a look at the latest numbers on disconnected youths – teens and young adults who aren’t working or in school. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

SpaceX rocket failure costs NASA $110 million – Taxpayers lost $110 million when a SpaceX rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station disintegrated shortly after liftoff last month, a NASA official said at a Friday hearing. LA Times article

Anaheim mayor gets into deep political waters in clash over Disney tax break – Tom Tait was doing something that few politicians have done in Orange County’s largest city: Publicly taking on Disneyland, the community’s biggest employer and tax generator. At issue was a proposal pushed aggressively by Disney that would exempt the company if Anaheim ever imposed a gate tax on theme parks. LA Times article

As rebate program ends, Turf Terminators slashes its workforce — This week, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — home to the largest turf removal rebate in the state — announced that about $340 million in rebate funding was all spoken for. Then, on Friday, a Los Angeles turf removal company that had drawn praise for creating hundreds of green jobs said it had slashed its workforce because the funding dried up. LA Times article

Uber fights back: Drivers want flexibility, not employment — Uber drivers prefer the flexibility of being independent contractors, Uber said in a sharply worded response to a lawsuit from drivers seeking reclassification as employees. San Francisco Chronicle article



Strong El Nino weather pattern spurs hope of drenching California winter – While nobody is saying the four-year drought will soon be over, a federal report indicates that an El Nino weather pattern is gaining in strength – making the chances better that this winter will be a wet one.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

California’s driest region finds short-term drought aid – Rural Tulare County, Calif., is now being called the epicenter of this drought. That’s because at least 1,300 residential wells have run dry, affecting at least 7,000 people. When your taps start spitting out air here, Paul Boyer and his team are who you call. NPR report 

A road trip through drought-stricken California with LA Times reporters – Open up your old photo albums and help us tell the story of drought.   California is changing and we’re out to see what our new land looks like.  Help us by sharing your vintage photos on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #drylandsCA (and the location where it was taken). LA Times article 

Delta smelt ‘abundance’ index hits zero as California drought worsens – It’s a milestone nobody wanted to see: A key index measuring the “relative abundance” of the troubled Delta smelt registered zero in the latest survey by state scientists, the first time that’s happened since the survey began in 1959. Sacramento Bee article

Research project in Stanislaus County will see if winter flood irrigation refills aquifers – Some of those concerned with the groundwater debate maintain that flood irrigation of crops can be an effective way of refilling aquifers. The University of California Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County is working on a pilot project to test the theory. The study could advance our understanding of how aquifers are replenished and show how agriculture could contribute to recharging groundwater in Stanislaus and other counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Modesto Bee article

Modesto Bee: A look at the issues surrounding water in California — Here are some of issues concerning the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers, groundwater, the Delta and more. Modesto Bee article 

Modesto Bee: California’s contentious water history – Drawing on various books and research, the Public Policy Institute of California has a relatively concise history on its website. We’ve extracted some of the most important dates and added a few of our own. Hopefully, it will help folks understand the issues of water and drought as we approach The Bee, Amplified: A Community Conversation on Water, July 15 at 7 p.m. at the Gallo Center. Modesto Bee article

Scott Bailey: Good news about water: Visalia’s remains top quality – The district manager of California Water Services Company writes, “In spite of this historic drought, Visalians can take comfort in the fact that our drinking water quality is high.” Bailey op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Weather, fears drive surge in pool building – While a devastating drought that has put California’s ubiquitous backyard swimming pools under the microscope, the demand in Tulare County is going along just swimmingly. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Drought, beetles preying on weakened California forests – Four years of drought have put an incredible strain on California’s forests – particularly stands of pine and fir. The problem is more pronounced in Southern and Central California, but foresters say it’s spreading north. Sacramento Bee article

Cal Water hooks up two Visalia neighborhoods – At least 26 Visalia families have been hooked up to California Water Services water lines after their wells ran dry. Visalia Times-Delta article

Official: Water Tom Selleck accused of stealing was paid for – Water from a public hydrant that Tom Selleck has been accused of stealing from in dry California was legally purchased, an official said. AP article 

Specialty food makes can get advice at Modesto-area event — You have arrived as a cook when someone says, “You really ought to bottle that sauce.” Or perhaps the praise is for your jam or tamales or anything else delicious enough to market. A gathering Wednesday near Modesto will offer advice on how to start a specialty food business. Experts will talk about gauging demand, producing safely, setting prices, building a brand and other topics. Established producers will share their thoughts. Modesto Bee article

Second case of citrus disease found in LA County — California agriculture officials have discovered the second case of huanglongbing, a fatal citrus disease, in the San Gabriel area of Los Angeles County. Fresno Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Murder charge filed against motorist in connection with officer’s death – A charge of second-degree murder was filed Friday against the motorist involved in a chase last week that led to the death of a Bakersfield police officer. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield police: Man fatally shot Tuesday pointed gun at officers — A man fatally shot Tuesday night by Bakersfield Police Department officers was pointing a gun at them, and he advanced toward them despite repeated orders to drop his weapon, a BPD spokesman said Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article 

AP Exclusive: Inmate was cut nearly in two, organs missing — Nearly 15 hours after a riot at a Northern California prison, guards found a missing inmate sawed nearly in two, with his abdominal organs and most chest organs removed, his body folded and stuffed into a garbage can in a shower stall a few doors from his cell. AP article

Fresno police: Carjacker + armed prison guard + brave Samaritan = a hero’s tale – A Fresno man ran down and detained an alleged carjacker Friday after the suspect tried to take another man’s car by force, police said. It was a bad day all around for the alleged bandit: He not only targeted an off-duty correctional officer armed with a concealed weapon, he did it in front of a good Samaritan not afraid to jump into the fray. Fresno Bee article

Livingston man shot by CHP officer charged with attempted murder – A man shot in June by a California Highway Patrol officer in Livingston has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assaulting a peace officer, court records show. Merced Sun-Star article 

Parlier Police Chief David Cerda goes on leave, interim chief named — Parlier Police Chief David Cerda has been on leave since Wednesday, city manager Israel Lara Jr. said. Lara declined to give an exact reason for Cerda’s leave, saying only that it was both a “personal and personnel” matter. He said that it was not a disciplinary action, nor was it the result of any criminal matter. Fresno Bee article 

K9 officer Nitro remembered in private memorial — In a private memorial service Friday morning, members of the Stockton Police Department’s K9 unit said goodbye to Nitro, the 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd who died in the line of duty earlier this month. Stockton Record article



Investment in STEM education adds up – Just two years ago, Brookings Institution ranked metro Bakersfield fourth in the nation for the number of technical jobs available in fields such as computer technology, engineering, science and math. Now (and then, too) analysts and industry leaders, locally and nationally, worry demand for highly skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and math fields, known as STEM, will far outpace supply. Bakersfield Californian article 

Has LA Unified’s approach to teacher discipline gone too far? – The removal of a renowned educator from his classroom in April has raised questions about whether the new approach to teacher discipline has gone too far. It also overshadowed recent efforts to treat accused instructors more humanely. LA Times article 

Career camp at West Hills College will help students learn about agriculture — A career camp for students from Avenal and Kettleman City will give kids an opportunity to learn about jobs in agriculture at West Hills College Coalinga Farm of the Future starting on July 19, the West Hills Community College District said. Fresno Bee article 

In highly educated Davis, parents anxious about changes for gifted students — The hot issue among Davis parents this summer is a bid to alter the city school district’s long-running gifted student program, which has about 2,500 eligible children and helps fuel its regional cachet as ground zero for rigorous academics. Sacramento Bee article



Panel: Fracking may put water, wildlife at risk — Hydraulic fracturing uses a host of highly toxic chemicals — the impacts of which are for the most part unknown — that could be contaminating drinking water supplies, wildlife and crops, according to a report released Thursday by a California science panel. Bakersfield Californian article

Recreational drones pose increased risk to firefighting – The rising use of recreational drones has created a dangerous situation for firefighters who say the small unmanned aerial devices are hampering their ability to stop forest fires. Sacramento Bee article

Merced Irrigation District power line project stirs concerns among residents – Residents have flocked to recent board meetings for the Merced Irrigation District to voice concerns about a proposed power line project. People living near Wardrobe Avenue are concerned the project will drive property values down, raise health risks and create an eyesore. Merced Sun-Star article

California beach to reopen two months after oil spill – The beach fouled by an oil spill will reopen to swimmers and campers two months after a pipeline ruptured and spewed thousands of gallons of crude along the coast, officials said. State Parks rangers toured the shoreline west of Santa Barbara on Thursday and cleared Refugio State Beach to reopen July 17. AP article;

Lemoore plans to bury ditch — Don’t you hate when it takes a few years to do that nagging home improvement project? Lemoore city staffers know the feeling. But after 10 years, the city will soon get started on a project that buries an open ditch running in front of the Lemoore Recreation Center. Water will continue to flow via underground pipes. Hanford Sentinel article

PG&E to remove 1,000 trees — San Joaquin County residents and businesses soon will be receiving notices or visits from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to discuss possible tree removal on their properties. Stockton Record article


Health/Human Services

New report highlights gaps in care for Valley Medi-Cal recipients — Medi-Cal recipients in California continue to face big challenges when it comes to actually accessing care, especially in the Central Valley. That’s the conclusion of a new report by researchers at the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation. KVPR report 

Scientists have discovered that living near trees is good for your health — In a new paper published Thursday, a team of researchers present a compelling case for why urban neighborhoods filled with trees are better for your physical health. The research appeared in the open access journal Scientific Reports. Washington Post article

Merced diabetics often forced to choose between food and medication – The idea of choosing between food and medication sounds like an issue faced by people far away, years ago – not a decision people living in one of the wealthiest states of one of the most developed countries have to make today. But the issue is closer to home than most of us would like to imagine. And the health implications that can come with it are worrisome. Merced Sun-Star article 

Golden Valley: Investigation of physician’s allegations finds no wrongdoing – Golden Valley Health Centers said an independent investigation did not substantiate any allegations of Dr. Liza Pham, who wrote blistering letters last year criticizing administrators and board members. Modesto Bee article

New program for stay-at-home dads takes root in Richmond – More dads are staying at home to take care of their kids than ever before, according to a recent study. A pilot program in Contra Costa County reaches out to low-income dads to give practical advice on child care. KQED report 

Bob Marcotte: The Caregiver’s Inch – The Fresno resident writes, “I was the primary caregiver to my wife, Carole, during her cancer journey for 1,224 days. It was tough, and it eventually became brutal. Hard days stretched into harder weeks. Heroes get medals, superheroes wear capes; I got neither, but she died knowing that she was forever loved as completely as humanly possible. And that is the Caregiver’s Reward.” Marcotte op-ed in Fresno Bee


Land Use/Housing

Judge issues injunction stopping 24th Street widening – A Kern County Superior Court judge on Friday agreed with residents who have sued Bakersfield and Caltrans, issuing an injunction that halts work on the 24th Street widening project until the city completes a supplemental environmental report. Bakersfield Californian article

Future of old research lab in southeast Fresno remains uncertain and controversial — A community advocate still believes it’s possible to turn an old farm in southeast Fresno into a soccer park. City officials still believe money talks and everything else walks. Fresno Bee article 

No settlement in sight, Amberton wall case heads for trial — As expected, the lawsuit seeking to bring down southwest Bakersfield’s now-storied wall dividing the Amberton and Stockdale Estates neighborhoods wasn’t settled Friday and will head to trial next month. Bakersfield Californian article



Rail Authority: Fresno station construction could begin by 2017 — Rail Authority officials said this week that plans remain on track to begin construction of the new station by 2017 or 2018. Diana Gomez, Central Valley regional director for the High-Speed Rail Authority, said her staff is “still working on revising cost estimates” for the new facility. The Business Journal article

City Beat: Get ready for GET fare increases – Get ready to pay more on the GET bus. Starting Aug. 1, the price of a single ride on a Golden Empire Transit bus will rise 20 percent, from $1.25 to $1.50. Bakersfield Californian article


Other areas

‘Hi, I’m Pete Dern:’ Fresno fire captain meets public for first time since accident — Fresno Fire Department Capt. Pete Dern, hospitalized since March 29 when he suffered second- and third-degree burns after falling through a roof while fighting a two-alarm house fire, made his first public appearance Friday morning. Dern walked to an outdoors news conference. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report 

United Way of Fresno County President R. Michael Alexander retires – United Way of Fresno County President and CEO R. Michael Alexander retired on Friday after nearly five years leading the local chapter of the nonprofit. Alexander cited personal health and family reasons for his exit, saying he planned to spend more time with his wife, two children and grandchildren. Fresno Bee article 

Lemoore defamation case appeal denied – An appeals court has rejected an attempt to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against Lemoore City Councilman William Siegel last year. Hanford Sentinel article 

Frustration grows over Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier delays — Plans to hire a contractor to build a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge have been delayed for several months, raising concerns that timetables are slipping as lives are lost. Contra Costa Times article

San Joaquin County court stops processing passport applications — The San Joaquin Superior Court has stopped its passport service in order to focus on court matters, officials said. Stockton Record article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A Confederate flag comes down, and history moves; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Just call Modesto a foodie paradise.

Sacramento Bee – California Assembly mugs tobacco control legislation; A Confederate flag comes down, and history moves.