July 13, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

California legislation would allow work permits for farmworkers here illegally – Frustrated by Washington’s inaction on immigration issues, California lawmakers are considering a measure to allow work permits for farmworkers living in the country illegally. LA Times article 

Union says initiative allows future pension cuts — A union coalition contends that a proposed initiative is being falsely portrayed as only a potential cut in pensions for new employees, when in fact it could cut or eliminate pensions earned by current employees for work done in the future. Calpensions article


Valley politics 

Filing period opens for Modesto election — The filing period opens today for mayor and three seats on the Modesto City Council in the November election. Modesto Bee article



Jose Gaspar: Trump’s words fuel ire of many Latinos – The Donald revealed his true self when he spoke recently on the issue of immigration and made disparaging remarks about Latino immigrants in particular. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian 

Donald Trump’s immigration stance divides, inflames and inspires — His denunciations of illegal immigrants and foreign competitors, from China to Mexico, have struck a chord with millions of voters — particularly older, white conservatives, polls indicate — who feel that most politicians have ignored their concerns. At the same time, Trump’s words have harmed the party’s already tenuous efforts to attract minority voters, particularly Latinos, whom a Republican presidential nominee would need to win key states in the 2016 election. LA Times article

Immigrant charged in slaying has strong defender in Matt Gonzalez — The lawyer who will represent Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the immigrant charged with an unprovoked random-shot murder on the city’s waterfront, is a veteran advocate described by one former colleague as a fearless defender of unpopular causes — a quality he’s likely to need in this incendiary case. San Francisco Chronicle article

Willie Brown: Sheriff should step up, admit sloppy work in pier killing — I didn’t think it could get any worse than Donald Trump trying to score political points on the Pier 14 killing — and then came the embarrassing revelations about how San Francisco’s sheriff had taken it upon himself to make city policy on illegal immigration. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

‘Sanctuary cities’ not changing policies after San Francisco shooting — A woman’s murder in San Francisco that police say was committed by an undocumented immigrant released from jail has not prompted other “sanctuary cities” to change their immigrant detention polices. USA Today article


Other areas

George Skelton: Confederate names have no place on California schools — Most everyone by now agrees the Confederate flag should not be flown on public grounds. Why then is it OK to name a public school after the turncoat general whose army carried that flag in battle? Answer: It’s not. Skelton column in LA Times

Assemblymember Matthew Harper: Committee chairman’s behavior is beyond the pale, even for Capitol – The Huntingdon Beach Republican writes, “The vote on SB 3 was nothing out of the ordinary. As an Assembly member of the minority party, I am often on the short end of split votes in the Labor and Employment Committee. What I wasn’t prepared for were the ridiculous actions of committee Chairman Roger Hernández to stop opposing points of view from being expressed.” Harper op-ed in Sacramento Bee


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Chaffee Zoo’s new employees make fresh start in Fresno – The zoo is recruiting new employees from across North America who are flocking to Fresno. Some are impressed by Fresno’s commitment to expand the zoo through the tenth-of-a-cent Measure Z sales-tax initiative. Measure Z has raised $100 million for zoo expansion. African Adventure’s 13 acres will take the lion’s share of the money, about $55 million. By the end of this year, Fresno Chaffee Zoo will hire 34 new employees, 31 full-time. Fresno Bee article

State prisons are relying less on solitary confinement as punishment – Even as it prepares for a courtroom showdown over the use of prolonged solitary confinement to keep order in its prisons, California has adopted emergency rules to dial down such isolation. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

Rising economic insecurity tied to decades-long trend in employment practices – When the California Labor Commissioner’s Office ruled last month that an Uber driver was an employee deserving of a variety of workplace protections — and was not, as the company maintained, an independent contractor — it highlighted the divided feelings many Americans have about what is increasingly being called the “gig economy.”  New York Times article

Fresno company ready to fly with drone business – When the federal government announced several years ago that it planned to create rules for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, Fresno businessman Ron Wingo already was trying to figure out how his company could benefit. Fresno Bee article 

Stockton charity gets new leader — A new leader has taken the helm of Stockton’s Gospel Center Rescue Mission. Loren Geiger has been appointed chief executive officer of the private, nonprofit agency that has spent 75 years providing shelter, food, clothing and spiritual guidance to Stockton’s homeless, hungry and addicted residents. Stockton Record article

NFL in LA? Here are some predictions for the next few months — With St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke proposing a stadium in Inglewood, and the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders backing a competing project in Carson, the stars are aligned for something to happen. The league could be on the verge of solving a 20-year riddle and returning to Los Angeles. Then again, this could all fall apart just like every other plan. LA Times article



How much do we really know about El Nino? – Long-range forecasters are growing increasingly confident that a strong El Niño weather pattern will at least put a dent in California’s four-year drought. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Turlock Irrigation District board will consider selling river water for treatment — The Turlock Irrigation District board could take a key step Tuesday toward a Tuolumne River treatment plant serving all or part of three cities. Modesto Bee article

Liz Carlisle: Is farming a public service – The fellow at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems at UC Berkeley writes, “Arguably agriculture is more than a good; it’s a necessity, because everyone eats. But given that most U.S. crops will become fuel, animal feed, processed food components, export commodities or waste, the reality is a bit more complicated. The truth is that agriculture is a hybrid public-private activity, and when it comes to evaluating the costs and benefits of its public fraction, not all farming is created equal.” Carlisle op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Restraint of inmate without food is part of a troubling pattern, sheriff’s watchdog says – The recent handcuffing of an inmate without food for 32 hours is part of a troubling pattern of similar mistreatment in the Los Angeles County jails since the beginning of last year, the Sheriff’s Department’s independent civilian watchdog said Sunday. LA Times article 

On Duty with the CHP: CHEATERS program lets citizens help enforce laws — Because not everyone does what they’re supposed to, there’s the CHEATERS program: “Californians Help Eliminate All of the Evasive Registration Scofflaws.” Wow, that is a giant acronym! California has a serious problem with out-of-state vehicle registration. The state loses millions of dollars a year in revenue from residents who unlawfully register their vehicles in other states. On Duty with the CHP column in Fresno Bee

Some homeowners turn blue lights on for Officer Nelson — Some flicked blue lights on instead of regular clear bulbs in a show of neighborhood solidarity, some to honor those who serve and protect the community and most to honor one law enforcement officer specifically — Bakersfield Police Department Officer David Nelson, 26. Bakersfield Californian article



Special education panel: This isn’t working, California too diverse to fragment services — Special education serves 1 in 10 California children, taking 1 in 3 school general fund dollars. Yet these students lag far behind the norm and similar kids in other states in test scores, graduation rates and employment after leaving school. That is where the conversation generally stops, with a collective sigh. Modesto Bee article

Aspire sees opportunity to grow teacher residencies — Aspire Public Schools, the state’s largest charter school system, is convinced that its intensive year-long residency program is the best method to train teachers, but it’s expensive. By launching Aspire University, the charter organization hopes to make the program pencil out. EdSource article

Hanshaw Middle School students spending summer breaking code to better life — Computer science camp on sitcoms is for nerds, but at Hanshaw Middle School in one of Modesto’s poorest neighborhoods, it’s seen as a game changer. Modesto Bee article



Oliver Baines III: Don’t let the sun shine on Fresno’s solar success – The president of Fresno City Council writes, “Our state and local leaders should continue to explore innovative ways to expand solar access to more of our residents and businesses, and that starts by preserving the solar programs that are already working for Fresno. That’s why I’ve joined more than 50 local officials from across our great state to urge the CPUC to protect net metering and build on our solar success.” Baines op-ed in Fresno Bee

What kind of car is the most green, fuel efficient and budget friendly? – With the help of the Union of Concerned Scientists, we examined seven powertrain options, analyzing their greenhouse gas emissions — including the power plant pollution required to produce electricity — along with their relative fuel efficiency and cost of operation. LA Times article

Start-up turns methane from manure into eco-friendly plastic – Scientists have long known it was possible to use climate-changing methane, rather than oil or natural gas, to make water bottles, Tupperware and other plastics. But they couldn’t do it cheaply enough to make the technology commercially viable. Now, a small Costa Mesa company says it’s cracked the code. LA Times article

Drone disrupts water drops on 35-acre brush fire near Yucaipa – A drone aircraft temporarily disrupted water drops over a 35-acre brush fire Sunday near Yucaipa, in San Bernardino County, authorities said. LA Times article


Health/Human Services 

West Nile virus spreads: Is California drought to blame? — Many scientists suspect that the state’s historic drought is making matters worse because it’s bringing mosquitoes and birds into closer contact at fewer watering holes. And the initial data this year seems to support that theory. San Jose Mercury News article

Fight for gay equality shifts to blood donations — On the heels of the Supreme Court victory on marriage equality, supporters of lifting the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men want blood-donor equality. San Francisco Chronicle article

Novel magnetic treatment helps people with clinical depression — The “train pulses,” as technicians call the strings of sound, are actually the back-and-forth flexing of the metal coil as the device sends out a 2-tesla-strong magnetic current. The coil creates a magnetic field that reaches 2 to 3 centimeters into brain matter to stimulate the dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex, the poker chip-sized area responsible for regulating mood, memory and decision-making. Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing 

San Francisco rent-controlled apartments lost as fast as new ones are built — San Francisco is losing rent-controlled apartments almost as fast as it is producing new affordable units, and even faster in neighborhoods like the Sunset and the Mission, where few low-income developments are being built, according to a new city study. San Francisco Chronicle article



Would California motorcycle lane-splitting rules be hard to enforce? – The California assemblyman who backed off plans last week to put limits on lane-splitting by motorcyclists said his hopes to corral the more extreme forms of the maneuver are far from dead. It’s just complicated, says Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. (And he knows complicated. He has a Ph.D. in astrophysics.) Sacramento Bee article 

Railroad development plan OK’d — Union Pacific Railroad has two years to pull development permits in order to keep its 40-year construction timeline active for its French Camp expansion project. Stockton Record article


Other areas

Merced grand jury tackles surrendered-baby policies, domestic wells – Members of the 2014-15 Merced County civil grand jury recommended changes to formal procedures for domestic wells, surrendered babies and detention facilities. Grand jurors released their annual report last week. In addition to required annual reports on the county’s jail system, jurors visited fire departments around the county and looked into a variety of complaints. Merced Sun-Star article

Dan Walters: State lets buildings decay – At the behest of the Legislature, the state Department of General Services commissioned a major engineering firm, HOK, to analyze 29 state-owned office buildings. HOK found nine of them to be in poor condition and four more to be “fair.” Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Destroy or not? Embryos at center of California divorce war – The couple is in the midst of a bitter divorce — and those embryos, still stored at UCSF, are at the heart of an unprecedented legal battle that could determine how California deals with such conflicts as fertility technology becomes an increasingly common part of everyday life. San Jose Mercury News article

‘No trespassing’ signs give pause to north Modesto trail users – San Francisco gets to run its water pipeline and high-voltage transmission lines through Modesto, and Modesto gets an easement for a paved walking and bicycling path along the right of way. That’s been the deal for decades, but signs recently posted at several trail entrances have given some residents pause. Modesto Bee article

Judge Lawrence K. Karlton, 80, man of ‘passion’ on federal court bench, dies in Sacramento home – Lawrence K. Karlton, who arrived in Sacramento while in the Army and stayed to become a federal judge whose rulings aimed to help people who needed it the most, died Saturday night at age 80. Sacramento Bee article

Injured firefighter starts physical therapy – A Cal Fire seasonal firefighter injured July 3 while battling a fire near Three Rivers began physical therapy over the weekend, but state officials don’t yet know his long-term prognosis. Visalia Times-Delta article

Former Atwater employees files lawsuit against city – Atwater’s former code enforcement officer, who was twice fired from the city, filed a lawsuit last month alleging breach of contract, retaliation, a hostile work environment and defamation. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley-bred colt California Chrome likely out for remainder of year — California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner bred at Harris Farms in Coalinga, will likely miss the remainder of the year after suffering a bruised cannon bone. Fresno Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California Assembly mugs tobacco-control legislation.

Sacramento Bee – Fire season is heating up even as lakes empty.