July 14, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

House sets stage for post-election showdown over California water — Controversial efforts to steer more water toward California farms advanced Wednesday in the House of Representatives, setting up yet another post-election showdown. Amid frustration and finger-pointing from all sides, the Republican-controlled House rejected Northern California Democrats’ efforts to strip the California water provisions from a fiscal 2017 funding billMcClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article 

Californians sour on nation’s direction, bullish on Golden State — The conclusion of a tumultuous presidential primary season has done nothing to improve Californians’ dim view of the country’s overall direction, according to a new poll, with a majority of voters saying the United States is seriously off on the wrong track. Sacramento Bee articleSan Jose Mercury News article

Gov. Brown 

Dan Morain: Brown calls on Bruce Babbitt, as time runs short on water fix — Bruce Babbitt has signed on to help Jerry Brown fix what the governor calls the California WaterFix. They are of a type, Westerners, who understand the precarious balance between being environmental stewards and having millions of people inhabit deserts. And at 78, Babbitt and Brown understand that time is not limitless. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Valley politics 

Think you could do better? Filing opens Monday to run for local offices — The mayorships of five cities in Merced County are among dozens of elected positions that will be open to candidates, who can begin filing paperwork to run as soon as Monday, according to the Merced County Registrar of Voters Office. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sex, drugs and a controversial AIDS activist – As an AIDS activist 30 years ago, Michael Weinstein helped defeat an inflammatory ballot measure that could have quarantined Californians with the disease. Today, Weinstein has turned to the ballot to advance his own controversial vision for public health. CALmatters article 

Kamala Harris says Minnesota police wouldn’t have shot Philando Castile if he were white — California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday said that Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop last week, would be alive today had he been white. LA Times article 

Other areas 

Should felons be allowed to vote from behind bars? – Thousands of felons serving time in county jails would be allowed to vote in California elections from behind bars under a bill moving swiftly through the state Legislature despite widespread opposition from law enforcement officials. LA Times article 

California’s key climate change program aims for new life –  In advance of a political showdown in the state Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration made its first formal effort Tuesday to extend the life of the program central to California’s bid to combat climate change. LA Times article 

These California congressional leaders spent the most taxpayer money communicating with constituents – California’s congressional delegation spent $3 million in taxpayer money talking to constituents last year. Almost a third was spent in just five of the state’s congressional districts. While many members of Congress have turned to free or low-cost ways to reach folks back home, five California members rank among the top spenders on so-called “franked mail,” or taxpayer-funded mass communications. LA Times article 

Group signs recall attempt against San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee — A group hoping to bounce San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee from his job has filed a notice of intent to launch a recall petition. Organizers filed their notice Tuesday, the same day another group launchedan apparently unrelated recall effort against Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Ami Bera snubbed by California labor group in endorsement list – If Rep. Ami Bera is to win a third term this fall, he will have to do it without an endorsement from the influential California Labor Federation, which has clashed with the Elk Grove Democrat over trade policy in recent months. Sacramento Bee article

Feinstein encryption bill, opposed by Silicon Valley, likely dead – Seven months after 14 people died in the San Bernardino terror attack, the push by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to give law enforcement access to encrypted cellphone data has fizzled. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Man gets prison time for fake 911 calls about California lawmaker — The man who put Rep. Ted Lieu through what the congressman called “one of the most traumatic half hours of my life” by phoning in a fake tip to police that the then-state senator had shot his wife has been sentenced to two years in prison. LA Times article 

Long San Francisco ballot looking for more liberals. Really? — Hard to believe but a potentially long San Francisco ballot in November is being driven by the expectation of a more liberal electorate. Excuse me, but we’re talking about San Francisco here. How much more liberal can the electorate get? Republican registration is in single digits, below 8%. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Sacramento Bee: Five reasons millennials must vote in November – There are plenty of reasons to turn out at the polls. Here are five reasons. Sacramento Bee editorial 

House backs bill designed to skirt California requirement for abortion coverage – The House backed legislation designed to circumvent a California order that requires health insurance companies to pay for elective abortions. AP article 

Senate committee considers nomination of California judge to serve on 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday considered the nomination of U.S. District Judge Lucy Haeran Koh to serve on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, Koh would be the first female Korean American to serve as a federal appellate judge. The Senate is not expected to consider her nomination before leaving at the end of the week for a seven-week break. LA Times article 

Ronald Magsby: Black Lives Matter is simply a cry for respect – The retired parole agent writes, “When you read or hear someone say Black Lives Matter, they’re not saying all police are racist. They’re saying they want to be treated fairly and not stereotyped. If you get mad at a person for wanting to be treated with respect then you must examine yourself.” Magsby op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

George Skelton: California Republicans would be wise to cut Trump loose rather than be tied to a sinking ship – There’s no question among California political pros that Trump will be a drag on down-ballot Republican candidates in November. Just how much will depend on their self-survival skills. Skelton column in LA Times 

Here are the 54 convention-bound delegates from the Sacramento area — As Republicans prepare for their national convention in Cleveland next week and Democrats look ahead to Philadelphia the week after, here’s a look at the district-level delegates representing the Sacramento region. Sacramento Bee articleTop of FormBottom of Form

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno police video shows Dylan Noble ignoring ‘show hands’ order – The Fresno Police Department released body camera video Wednesday showing Dylan Noble repeatedly ignoring officers’ demands that he stop moving back and forth at a gas station parking lot and show his hands before officers fired their weapons. Fresno Bee articleEditorial: ‘Calm must prevail as Dylan Noble shooting is investigated’ in Fresno BeeAP articleLA Times articleKVPR report 

Mystery donor helps UC Merced break fundraising record – A gift of nearly 40 acres of land helped push UC Merced’s fundraising total to nearly $21 million in the fiscal year that ended last month, a record level that marked a more than 300 percent increase over the previous year, the school said Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto approves 6 percent pay raises for employees, top managers – The City Council has unanimously approved a three-year labor agreement with the Modesto Confidential & Management Association that includes pay increases totaling 6 percent over two years as well as the city paying slightly more toward MCMA members’ health insurance. Modesto Bee article 

Kings supervisors approve Measure K retry – Measure K will experience a comeback in November. The Kings County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to put the measure on the ballot, after it fell 74 votes shy of the two-thirds vote it needed to pass in June. Hanford Sentinel article 

San Joaquin County foreclosure activity continues to slow – San Joaquin County foreclosure activity continued to slow in the first six months of the year, with related legal filings down nearly 15 percent from the preceding six months and more than 9 percent lower than the first half of 2015, RealtyTrac Inc. reported today. Stockton Record article 

California rejects Volkswagen’ plan to fix polluting diesel cars – California regulators Wednesday again rejected Volkswagen’s plan to fix diesel cars that were programmed to cheat on air pollution tests, saying the proposal lacked enough detail for the state to gauge its effectiveness. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Single-person fire stations could get help – The longstanding problem of single-person staffing at rural Kings County Fire Department stations would be partially addressed by the proposed 2016-2017 county budget. Hanford Sentinel article

Fitch removes Westlands from negative ratings watch list – Fitch Ratings has removed Westlands Water District from its negative ratings watch list and affirmed its ratings on the District’s bonds. The Business Journal article

Santa Monica convicts its first Airbnb host under tough new home-sharing laws – Santa Monica, which last year passed some of the nation’s toughest regulationson short-term rentals, has now convicted its first Airbnb host under the new law, prosecutors said. LA Times article 

Kings County: Taking the business pulse — Home owners, small businesses, farmers and large utility-size developers continue to invest in new solar projects in sunny Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article 

Jeff Jardine: Gervasoni’s eatery: Iffy courthouse project’s collateral damage — Rosalie Clark’s reaction, you might say, was priceless. “Crazy!” she posted on The Modesto Bee’s Facebook page Tuesday after reading that the funding for the proposed $267 million new Stanislaus County Superior Courthouse and other courthouse projects throughout the state is in jeopardy. Crazy, because the restaurant Clark and her daughter, Serena Sisson, own represents probably the most significant collateral damage of the Modesto courthouse project. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

New trust helps affordable housing in Monterey Bay area — Funding affordable housing projects will now be easier in three California counties. The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) and Housing Trust Silicon Valley announced the establishment of the Monterey Bay Housing Trust, a $10 million loan fund for the development of both affordable rental and ownership housing projects in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. California Economic Summit report

Why home prices in Southern California keep climbing – Dana Kuhn is a lecturer at the Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate at San Diego State University, and we asked him to summarize the market and what it means for would-be buyers and sellers. LA Times article 

Robocalls and flier from anonymous group target Elk Grove casino plan –The Elk Grove City Council chambers overflowed Wednesday night with residents eager to weigh in on the proposed Wilton Rancheria casino project. Sacramento Bee article


Exeter water ruled safe again; order to boil lifted — Residents of Exeter no longer must boil tap water in the wake of a massive water leak that flooded streets. The notice to boil water was rescinded Wednesday when water samples sent in for testing came back clean. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article 

Waterwise: New store in Tulare — The water you drink may not be the best quality you put in your body. Some may think water is water but Socorro Mercado, owner of Water2Go in Tulare, says, “Just because it tastes good, it doesn’t mean it is actually good for you.” Mercado lived an unhealthy lifestyle before she started her business, weighing more than 300 pounds. She realized she needed a complete lifestyle change. That’s how she came up with Water2Go, a purified and high pH water business. Visalia Times-Delta article 

LA County proposal to let landowners use hauled-in water worries environmentalists – Los Angeles County is considering a controversial plan to spur housing development in rural unincorporated areas by allowing property owners to haul in drinking water if no other source is available. LA Times article 

Grafting could give tomato plants higher yield, tastier fruit – Farmers markets are full of bright colored produce at this time of year. Think sweet stone fruit, tart berries and tomatoes of every color. People love tasty heirloom tomatoes but they can be hard to grow and they’re expensive. That’s why researchers want to create a stronger plant. They’re doing this using a new twist on an old technique. KVPR report 

Death of fallen Merced farmworker explained — 61-year-old man who died this week after fainting in a Merced County tomato field succumbed to heart disease, according to authorities. Merced Sun-Star article 

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

200 protest police brutality in downtown Fresno demonstration – About 200 community members gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Fresno to protest police brutality and urge city leaders to seek solutions to racial divisions. The demonstrators gathered in front of the Fresno County Jail, where speakers urged the public to remember those who have died at the hands of law enforcement officials. Fresno Bee article 

Organizer of anti-police-shooting protest cited by Fresno police – Fresno police have cited the organizer of Saturday’s anti-police-shooting protest as he left a Wednesday protest rally in downtown Fresno, Sgt. Tony Bustos said. Justice Medina, 20, was given a citation for violating city code as protesters took to the streets Saturday and caused Fresno police to shut down major north Fresno avenues. Fresno Bee article 

‘It’s time for action’: March emphasizes ‘peace and love,’ but some drivers express frustration – Four dozen anti-police brutality protesters staged a demonstration Wednesday afternoon in north Stockton, disrupting traffic for more than an hour as they marched up and down a major thoroughfare. While their message centered around the prevalence of officer-involved shootings and killings — both in Stockton and nationwide — it was made clear that “peace and love” between people from all walks of life is their goal. Stockton Record article

Slowly, San Joaquin County recidivism numbers are coming down as fewer reoffend – The number of offenders convicted after being released from jail last year is slightly down from previous years, and San Joaquin County officials and leaders say that’s a positive trend for state-mandated realignment in public safety. Stockton Record article 

Stockton Record: Police pay bump should pay staffing dividends – It’s essential to pay the men and women who put their lives on the line each day an acceptable and appealing wage. Stockton took a step forward with this pay bump. Stockton Record editorial 

Man questions events that led to brother’s death by Sacramento police – The brother of the man killed by officers Monday morning on Del Paso Boulevard questions why police did not use a Taser to subdue his brother. Sacramento Bee article 

California court widens scope of restraining orders – An Alameda County woman asked the courts in 2013 to extend a stay-away order against her abusive ex-boyfriend, saying he had harassed and threatened her by phone and had beaten her children after the order was issued. But a Superior Court commissioner refused, saying “annoying” phone calls don’t amount to abuse, and alleged attacks on children are irrelevant to their parent’s case for protection. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Judge to run on new trial in case against Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department — Sacramento Superior Court Judge David De Alba heard arguments Wednesday from Sacramento County attorneys seeking a new trial in a lawsuit filed by female sheriff’s deputies who claimed they were targeted for retaliation by their superiors. Sacramento Bee article 


Bakersfield school districts luring rural teachers away – A decision by Bakersfield’s largest elementary school district to drop salary caps for veteran teachers who want to work there has begun draining talent from neighboring rural classrooms. Bakersfield Californian article 

‘Get to green’: California wants to grade school performance with colors instead of a single number – For the last 15 years, a number between 200 and 1,000 told parents in California how good their child’s school was. Up next: They might have to decipher performance through a series of colored boxes. LA Times article

State board backs plan for California’s first college and career readiness indicator – Despite concerns, the State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a preliminary version of California’s first College and Career Readiness Indicator, a tool aimed at measuring how schools prepare students for postsecondary opportunities. EdSource article 

Bradley Hart: Fresno State students learn lessons from Brexit – The Fresno State professor writes, “On May 23, I departed San Francisco International Airport for London Heathrow with 14 eager Fresno State students. The trip was part of the College of Arts and Humanities London Intersession program, which generally takes a group of students to London over winter break and, occasionally, during the summer as well.” Hart op-ed in Fresno Bee 

LGBT history lessons edging closer to California classrooms – After multiple delays, California education officials are moving to comply with the nation’s first law requiring public schools to include prominent gay people and LGBT rights milestones in history classes. AP article 

District cancels town hall on charter schools – A town hall meeting to address concerns and answer questions regarding the potential revocation of Acacia Elementary Charter School and Acacia Middle School were canceled because of a threat of legal action by Tri-Valley Learning Corp., which operates the schools in Stockton, officials in the New Jerusalem School District said Wednesday afternoon. Stockton Record article 

Elementary-age students gain college experience at Fresno State — More than 1,000 elementary school students wrapped up a four-week program Wednesday that immersed them into the college culture at Fresno State. Called After School University, the program utilizes college interns who are getting teaching degrees and credentials. Fresno Bee article


Low Sierra snow seen as piece of alarming climate picture – A fifth year of disappointing snow in the Sierra is part of a much larger predicament of record-low snow across the Northern Hemisphere, a setback that scientists identified Wednesday as another reminder of the alarming pace of human-caused global warming. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Manager: PG&E knew years ago gas-line data was lacking — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. knew more than 15 years ago that it lacked information about the dimensions and strength of its oldest gas pipelines, but did not order its engineers to inspect them, a PG&E manager testified Wednesday at the utility’s trial on pipeline-safety charges. San Francisco Chronicle article 

What is killing California’s trees? — Drought and disease are ravaging one of California’s most precious resources – its trees.  Water-starved pines have been infested with beetles, which have killed up to 40 million of the towering trees. And as many as 10 million oaks have succumbed to disease in a death spiral that is past the point of eradicating, according to research from scientists at several universities.Their study was published in May in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. CALmatters article 

The port that fuels LA’s economy and fouls its air gets a pollution-reduction team – Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday announced the appointment of an advisory panel tasked with reducing air pollution from the Port of Los Angeles by expanding the use of zero-emissions technology. LA Times article

Blaze destroys two structures, sweeps through Onyx — Just two days after fire crews fully contained the deadly Erskine Fire, another brush fire sparked in the Kern River Valley, burning at least two structures in Onyx and hundreds of acres Wednesday, fire officials said. Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services 

Mental health made easier: Merced County to create ‘one-stop shop’ — Abandoned since 2010, the crumbling former Merced County Hospital is about to undergo a major renovation to become a centralized hub for mental health services. Merced County officials celebrated the groundbreaking Wednesday of the new Behavioral Health Center, calling the moment “historic” and “monumental.” Merced Sun-Star article


New rules for oil trains proposed by Transportation Department – The Department of Transportation on Wednesday released proposed new spill-response rules for rail carriers carrying crude oil. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Who you gonna call? Merced County mulls hanging up highway call boxes – The emergency call boxes that dot local highways, a symbol of reassurance to motorists worried about being stranded, may become a relic. Merced County transportation officials said Wednesday that they are considering hanging up the service, which has provided users with a 24-hour direct link to the CHP since 2000. Merced Sun-Star article

Digging up dollars for craggy Turlock streets – Two rows of tidy lawns and mature trees along Hedstrom Road testify to the care of homeowners, but between the sidewalks the crumbling asphalt of their city street tells a different story, of benign neglect and wary taxpayers. Modesto Bee article 

Repairs begin on collapsed Kings County roads — Kings County officials began work this week to repair several roads that have been closed due to damage from leaky irrigation pipes. Hanford Sentinel article 

Other areas

Joe Mathews: Silicon Valley jargon deepens California divide — Our technological masters no longer speak the same language that most Californians do. And that is a sign of a growing divide. The Valley’s growing cadres of wealthy and powerful technocrati have turned the Bay Area into an island that feels cut off from the rest of struggling California. Their outlook and lives are global while most of us exist locally. There are chasms between their technological sophistication and ours, and between our diversity and their lack of it. Mathews in Fresno Bee 

Golden Gate suicide barrier price could delay project — A suicide barrier expected to be installed on the Golden Gate Bridge later this year may be delayed due to high costs. AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – In an era when bipartisanship is rare, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a step toward providing more care and treatment of severely mentally ill people; Calm must prevail as Dylan Noble shooting is investigated.

Sacramento Bee – If not now, when should Justice Ginsburg have spoken out on Trump?; Five reasons millennials must vote in November.

Stockton Record – Police pay bump should pay staffing dividends in Stockton.