July 12, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

Ballot measure threatens California water tunnels plan — In recent months, signature gatherers paid by Dean Cortopassi, a wealthy Stockton-area farmer and food processor, have started circulating an initiative to force large public works projects – Brown’s tunnels included – to go before voters for approval. The measure is expected to quality for the November 2016 ballot, and proponents of the tunnels project are reacting with alarm. Sacramento Bee article

Report shows a troubling turn for Latino politicians and voters — Put bluntly, the caucus report showed that the best chances for Latino politicians come in small towns populated by Latinos. The higher up the political food chain the job, or the less Latino the political district, the worse their odds of success. It was enough to feed fears that the desire for historic firsts — a first Latino U.S. senator, a first Latino California governor — will be thwarted in 2016 and 2018. LA Times article

Dan Walters: Fix state? Here are 16 ideas — There are no magic solutions, but California has always been willing to embrace progressive change, and it’s time we made some fundamental reforms in the way we are governed. Walters column in Sacramento Bee



Immigrants’ visas expire but many remain, despite repercussions – Lee and Lopez are among millions of immigrants who came to the United States with legal visas, and remained once those visas expired. Homeland Security Department officials estimate that up to 40% of the roughly 11 million people in the U.S. illegally arrived this way. LA Times article

On immigration, Donald Trump takes a page from Pete Wilsons’s 1994 playbook — More than two decades have passed since Republican Gov. Pete Wilson aired a television ad showing Mexicans scurrying across the border as an announcer declared, “They keep coming: 2 million illegal immigrants in California.” LA Times article

Dan Morain: San Francisco jailers dumped a prisoner and Kathryn Steinle died — Many blunders led to Steinle’s death, but one surely was prisoner dumping. Morain in Sacramento Bee


Other areas

Tom Steyer’s intensifying war on Big Oil takes center stage in California – As Gov. Jerry Brown used his inaugural address in January to call for broad changes to fight climate change, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer nodded approvingly from the Assembly gallery. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: California Senate leader de Leon melds two worlds – Kevin de León, the first Latino leader of California’s Senate in more than a century, remembers riding the bus with his mother, Carmen, a Mexican immigrant, as she traveled to her menial job on the fringes of American society. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

Michael Fitzgerald: What to do about ‘Kleagle Street’? – A state lawmaker has put forward a bill that would strip the names of all Confederate leaders from state and local property. Could be bad news for Lincoln Village (and LV West). Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Victor Davis Hanson: Disregard for the law is America’s greatest threat — Barbarians at the gate usually don’t bring down once-successful civilizations. Nor does climate change. Even mass epidemics like the plague that decimated sixth-century Byzantium do not necessarily destroy a culture. Far more dangerous are institutionalized corruption, a lack of transparency and creeping neglect of existing laws. Hanson column in Fresno Bee


News Briefs

Top Stories 

Taxpayers group threatens to sue over Modesto sales tax measure – The Stanislaus Taxpayers Association is threatening legal action against Modesto unless the city corrects what the association says are flaws and deceptive wording in the sales tax measure the city is putting on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article 

Fresno police shootings: Excessive-force lawsuits piling up long after landmark settlement — Close to four years ago, a prominent San Francisco attorney vowed to put the entire Fresno Police Department on trial over what he said was a pattern of unjustified police shootings. Arturo Gonzalez won a $1.3 million settlement from the city in that high-profile excessive-force case, which focused on the killing of Steven Vargas, an unarmed Fresno man who was high on drugs when a police sergeant shot him. Fresno Bee article

San Joaquin River revival pushes back deadlines – Years late, the first major project of the San Joaquin River restoration is closer to liftoff with a $326 million price tag and a load of political baggage. The construction of a channel in west Fresno County around Mendota Dam is expected to begin in 2017 — four years after it was supposed to be finished. The bypass and channel widening won’t be completed for a decade, officials estimate. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

California gas prices to soar this week – If you’re one of those California drivers who already resents having to pay a lot more to fill your tank than most Americans, you’re going to be sputtering mad this week. San Jose Mercury News article; LA Times article 

Donald Blount: Figuring out how to pay before we go – The credit card is burning a hole in the collective pocket of Stockton. What else could explain the push by both residents and some City Council members to reopen the Fair Oaks Library without first figuring out how to pay for it? Blount column in Stockton Record 

How to end homelessness – The first-ever large-scale study on the topic finds that permanent, stable housing can be more cost-effective than shelters. The Atlantic article

Lois Henry: Oil industry requires skeptical reporting, not scare tactics – I’m all for healthy skepticism of the oil industry. By its nature, it’s a dirty, dangerous business. And let’s face it, it has priors for obscenely reckless behavior. But a recent story in The Los Angeles Times went far beyond shedding light on questionable practices. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Fresno-area used bookstores stay alive in Age of Amazon — When Shirley Hart was ready to retire after running Hart’s Haven Books for almost 20 years, she faced a daunting challenge: In the Age of Amazon, who wants to buy a used bookstore? Fresno Bee article 

Kish Rajan: How to spread the wealth of California innovations – The chief evangelist at CALinnovates writes, “How do we unleash our full innovation capacity while ensuring universal participation? Our state’s entrepreneurs are great at delivering innovation to the masses, but our government has not figured out how to spread the wealth of these innovations beyond Silicon Valley, to the Central Valley, the Imperial Valley and all points between. This must be fixed.” Rajan op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Trade pact’s allies, foes unsure which side Mayor Garcetti is on — Some of President Obama’s steadiest allies in the fight over a sweeping Pacific Rim trade pact have been America’s mayors, who say the freer flow of goods through their cities’ docks and airports would fuel needed job growth. LA Times article

How LA is putting 20,000 young people to work this summer — The young workers, ages 14 to 24, are employed in city and county departments as well as at private companies such as Bank of America, Starbucks and Citibank. Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who has championed the county’s youth jobs program, said since federal dollars have dwindled, the county has relied on private companies to help create the jobs. LA Daily News article



Modesto Bee: Region will need time to adjust to reduce water flows – Generations ago, the state of California encouraged investments in water facilities, and our region made them. If the state now wants to put part of those facilities to other uses, it should willingly pay for the privilege. Modesto Bee editorial

Lester Snow: Drought serves a wake-up call for major changes – The executive director of the California Water Foundation writes, “This may come as a shock: When it comes to water, California’s biggest problem is not the drought. The real problem is what the drought has exposed – the fundamental weaknesses in how we manage water in the state.” Snow op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Paul Wenger: Drought has unprecedented effects on agriculture and our community – The Modesto farmer and president of the California Farm Bureau writes, “We must honor and protect the sacrifices and investments made by those who laid the foundation for our region, investments from which we have prospered. If not, future generations will look upon those of us who could have made a difference as a failed generation, too immersed in our own desires.” Wenger op-ed in Modesto Bee

Noe Paramo and Juanita Ontiveros: Drought is making matters worse for farmworkers – The workers with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation write, “Farmworkers already face issues of low education, low wages, poor access to health care, legal representation, uncertain immigration status; they often have inadequate housing, food and access to drinking water. The drought is compounding the situation and placing farmworkers in extreme poverty.” Paramo/Ontiveros op-ed in Modesto Bee

Peter Drekmeier: We can have a vibrant Tuolumne and strong farms, too – The policy director for the Tuolumne River Trust writes, “Imagine Stanislaus County supporting not only a robust agricultural economy, but a vibrant Tuolumne River coursing through its core as well. A river teeming with fish and wildlife, providing abundant recreational opportunities and supporting a flourishing tourist industry – visitors coming to fish and boat on the waterway, sample locally produced wines and enjoy local restaurants, hotels and other amenities.” Drekmeier op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Some residents ‘going gold’ in green lawn-loving Bakersfield – As Bakersfield, and much of the West, works through a fourth straight year of drought, golden-brown lawns are becoming more common as residents look for ways to reduce their water use. Bakersfield Californian article 

San Diego’s unusual water recycling program – San Diego’s $3.5 billion plan to fight the drought by recycling sewage into drinking water is forcing state regulators to rewrite their water recycling rule book. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

10 LA County jail workers on leave after ‘troubling’ allegations over inmate treatment –  Ten Los Angeles County Jail employees were relieved of duty pending further investigation following an incident involving an inmate who was allegedly “restrained” for 32 hours, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Saturday. LA Times article

Activist stands trial for chalking Fresno police memorial — Prosecutors contend Army veteran Brian David Sumner committed a crime when he used a piece of chalk last summer to scribble anti-police slogans on the Fresno Police Department’s memorial that’s dedicated to officers killed in the line of duty. Sumner, 26, isn’t admitting to anything. But if he did it, he says, he was just exercising his right to free speech and protesting what he says is a high number of police killings. Fresno Bee article 

Lewis Griswold: Coffee with a Cop launches in Visalia – Coffee with a Cop, a community outreach program for police that’s catching on nationally, made its debut in Visalia last week when uniformed officers spent two hours meeting and greeting the public at a McDonald’s restaurant. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Twice-bitten: White-collar crime victims mostly unpaid despite restitution orders – At the rate approved by a federal judge, it will take convicted swindler Tony Daniloo more than 10,000 years to repay what he stole from his victims. Modesto Bee article

San Francisco sheriff’s woes began before immigration uproar — Ross Mirkarimi was a rising San Francisco politician when he was elected sheriff – and then the trouble started. AP article

New SUV patrol vehicles offer police more space, technology — Long a mainstay in law enforcement agencies, the venerable Ford Crown Victoria is getting ready to retire. Police departments across the region are swapping the sedan patrol cars in favor of new, technology-laden, sport-utility vehicle patrol cruisers from Ford and Chevrolet as officers carry an ever-growing amount of equipment. Sacramento Bee article

Could LAPD ‘partnership policing’ have prevented Ezell Ford shooting? — With 1,064 units, Nickerson is the largest public housing project on the West Coast and a place that’s long struggled with gang violence. Tingirides, 44, leads a group of 50 officers who patrol the housing projects of Watts as part of the LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership. It’s the kind of policing advocates have insisted would have prevented last summer’s fatal shooting of Ezell Ford by LAPD gang officers on 65th Street and Broadway, a few miles away. KPCC report



In midst of controversy, Fresno Unified hires temporary PR help — The Fresno Unified School District hired two East Coast public relations specialists known for reshaping reputations — and who previously worked for the district as full-time employees — a week before Superintendent Michael Hanson held a news conference to address a controversial construction deal. Fresno Bee article



Kern’s new oil review: 8 things to know — At nearly 2,000 pages, the oil and gas environmental impact report Kern County released for public review Wednesday is not the easiest document to get through. The following compilation of observations, insights and assorted tidbits is intended to help readers better understand what the draft says, and more importantly, why it’s worthy of attention. Bakersfield Californian article 

Mathis Wackernagel: California is overusing its natural resources – The president and co-founder of Global Footprint Network writes, “Water, however, isn’t the only natural resource that our state is overusing and must manage more carefully to ensure a resilient future.” Wachernagel op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Health/Human Services

Sounding the alarm as prescription drug abusers turn to heroin — The prescription drug epidemic is stoking the nation’s appetite for heroin with disastrous results, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a teleconference. LA Times article

California foster children would be better protected from overprescribing physicians, under proposed new laws now in Assembly — Proposed laws aimed at cracking down on the overuse of psychiatric medication in foster care require more from judges, lawyers, nurses, social workers, caregivers and state investigators to better protect children from potentially dangerous drugs. The measures, however, create no new rules for the one profession at the heart of the problem — doctors who do the prescribing. San Jose Mercury News article

Modern doctors’ house calls: Skype chat and fast diagnosis — Health systems and insurers are rushing to offer video consultations for routine ailments, convinced they will save money and relieve pressure on overextended primary care systems in cities and rural areas alike. New York Times article



Modern plan could bring bicycling upgrades — Fehr & Peers is expected to finish developing Stockton’s new plan by the fall of 2016. McNickle said she is hopeful this time that the bicycling climate in Stockton is about to improve, even though the city acknowledges that four previous amendments to the 1995 plan were “not significant.” Stockton Record article 

Jim Brown: Sacramento way behind in planning for bikes – The executive director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates writes, “Updating the bicycle master plan on the cheap will leave Sacramento less competitive for the funding to pay for improvements. In the next several weeks, the City Council will be asked to ratify a consultant contract for the bicycle master plan update. If the city fails to budget appropriately, we’re in danger of getting exactly what we pay for.” Brown op-ed in Sacramento Bee

New airline seat arrangement looks to increase passenger capacity — One of the world’s largest airline seat makers, Zodiac Seats France, has applied for a patent to reconfigure the seats on airplanes so that every other passenger in a row is facing toward the back of the plane. That means that in a row of three fliers, the seat by the window and the seat by the aisle face toward the front of the plane while the middle seat faces toward the back. LA Times article


Other areas

Stockton council wavers between caution, action – The back-and-forth between Tubbs and Fugazi is representative of what seem to be increasingly frayed relations between some of the elected officials at City Hall. Stockton Record article

Stockton enforcement team touts success stories amid criticism – The three-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow on Pershing Avenue near Country Club Boulevard has been vacant for at least 15 years, says Peter Lemos, who manages housing-code enforcement for the Stockton Police Department. Squatters squatted and blemishes festered inside and out, threatening to metastasize myriad ailments on the property to the surrounding older homes and businesses in the midtown Stockton neighborhood. Stockton Record article

Mexican soccer clubs set Chukchansi Park attendance record — An announced crowd of 16,821 finally made its way in, setting a stadium record, while another 11,000 joined online via livestream — all of them treated to a tightly fought scoreless draw that spurred a nonstop celebration through the night. The previous stadium record of 16,125 was set in 2012 when Club America played Chiapas. Fresno Bee article

Children, parents get interactive look at drug abuse during Fresno Reality Tour — Nearly 200 people on Saturday witnessed the dramatic journey of an average high school student whose drug use lands him first in jail, then in a casket as part of the Reality Tour’s stop in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Family of Merced child injured by stray bullet speaks out — Ten-year-old Leo Serna was watching a black-snake firecracker expand on the ground with his family on the Fourth of July when he was shot in the leg. The bullet passed through the sixth-grader’s left leg, just below his knee, and lodged in his right forearm. Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto-raised graffiti artists do battle for the art form — Imagine a battle without blood, but still with plenty of red painting the streets of downtown Modesto – also gray and blue and orange and some purple. The Fasm vs. Kasm graffiti battle pitted two respected artists against each other Saturday in the city’s first public spray-paint showdown. Modesto Bee article

Volunteers clean Stockton streets to make a difference — Danielle Andrade’s braid bounced around her shoulder as she collected scraps of paper, discarded food wrappers and dead vegetation near the intersection of Church and South Harrison streets, an area populated by people mostly living in tents. Stockton Record article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – Generations ago, the state of California encouraged investments in water facilities, and our region made them. If the state now wants to put part of those facilities to other uses, it should willingly pay for the privilege.

Sacramento Bee – The GOP’s war on birth control.