July 15, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Trump’s stance on high-speed rail clashes with House Republicans’ – High-speed rail potentially puts Republicans in the House of Representatives and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on different tracks. While Republican lawmakers used a hearing Thursday to question high-speed rail projects like one underway in California, Trump has urged greater federal investment in fast trains. The divisions could further complicate life for a Trump administration. McClatchy Newspapers article

Critics of California’s death penalty launch the campaign to pass Proposition 62 — A group of advocates and exonerated inmates gathered in Los Angeles on Thursday to officially launch a campaign in favor of a ballot proposition repealing California’s death penaltyLA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Dan Walters: Brown’s ARB makes a sly and maybe risky move in carbon chess game – Those who relish complex political gamesmanship will love this week’s sly maneuver by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration on its contentious – and imperiled – carbon emission crusade. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Jerry Brown wants to take California’s ‘message to Philadelphia’ — Gov. Jerry Brown, a fourth-term Democrat whose political aspirations faded on the national stage after seeking the presidency three times, will seek to promote messages surrounding climate change, immigration and nuclear proliferation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Sacramento Bee article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Teachers union writes a $10-million check for income tax ballot measure, Prop 55 — Backers of the effort to extend the lifespan of California’s tax rates on the most wealthy boosted their campaign coffers Thursday, with a $10-million contribution from the California Teachers Assn. LA Times article 

Leader of former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s PAC has a history with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — Former Los Angles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s newly formed political action committee, which he says will combat the anti-immigrant rhetoric being stoked by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has made an intriguing hire. LA Times article 

Other areas 

State Sen. Sharon Runner, author of ‘Jessica’s Law,’ dies at 62 — California Sen. Sharon Runner, who returned to the Legislature last year following a double lung transplant, died Thursday. The Lancaster Republican was 62. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

In conversation with the head of California’s physician lobby – The California Medical Association, which represents about 41,000 doctors, has been at the heart of health care deliberations in Sacramento for decades. This year, it has staked out strong and sometimes surprising positions on the legalization of marijuana, Medi-Cal provider rates and the role it believes nurse practitioners should play in patient care. KQED report 

More stalemates than resolutions as Congress recesses – A failed bill to help fight the Zika virus was among the high-profile casualties as partisan fights continued Thursday even as legislators were leaving town. New York Times article 

Jerrold Jensen: Put gun violence in perspective – The Visalia resident writes, “As mobs demonize our police, we may have to face a future where too many good men and women leave the profession. Today’s protesting single mom raising her kids in the inner city will rue the day when her neighborhood becomes a police-free zone. The rest of us are left to contemplate how to protect our own families if the mobs breach the thin blue line that preserves law and order.” Jensen op-ed in Fresno Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: Enemies see America as vulnerable prey — To be blunt, America’s vulnerable postwar global order may already seem to those abroad to be bloated carrion ready to be picked apart by opportunistic vultures. Hanson column in Fresno Bee 

Terrorism by truck has long been feared by law enforcement —  A terrorist attack involving a large truck — similar to the assault that killed at least 77 in Nice, France, Thursday — has been a scenario law enforcement officials in California and beyond have long analyzed. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Neither easy nor cheap to send California delegates to RNC – California will send more delegates than any other state to next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. And herding this large pack of elephants is neither easy nor cheap. Capital Public Radio report 

Trump supporters sue San Jose for after-rally attacks — Fourteen California Donald Trump supporters filed a civil rights lawsuit Thursday, saying that San Jose’s police failed to protect them from violent protesters after a campaign rally last month. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Natalie Gulbis among GOP convention speakers with California ties — Among the unconventional list of speakers that the Republican National Convention announced on Thursday was Natalie Gulbis, the professional golfer who was born and raised in the Sacramento area, and Kimberlin Brown, The Young and The Restless actress born in Hayward. Sacramento Bee article

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News Stories

Top Stories

Aera, long a holdout, considering layoffs – Even with oil prices up more than 50 percent since January, the pain continues in Kern County’s petroleum industry. The biggest local holdout — Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC, which says it hasn’t had to resort to layoffs since the slump began two years ago — said this week it is considering actions that might affect its employees’ jobs. Bakersfield Californian article 

By releasing video for police shooting, Fresno chief breaks ranks with other departments — By releasing police body camera footage of a controversial shooting, Fresno’s police chief has gotten in the middle of a fierce debate about whether the public should have access to these videos. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

Report: Foreclosures below pre-recession levels — New numbers show home foreclosure activity in California between April and June was below pre-recession levels.  Research firm RealtyTrac says about 25,700 California properties received foreclosure filings in the second-quarter. Before the recession, the state averaged almost 35,000 per quarter. Capital Public Radio report


City Beat: The State of the City is all Hall — Bakersfield’s 25th mayor, Harvey L. Hall, whose last day in office is Jan. 3, said Tuesday it will be a very sad day for him. But he was all smiles at the afternoon’s yearly State of the City event hosted by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce — devoted entirely to honoring Hall. Bakersfield Californian article 

Youth Build gets $8.5 million grant – YouthBuild USA Inc. has received an $8.5 million AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support 3,100 YouthBuild AmeriCorps members. YouthBuild programs allows unemployed, undereducated and out-of-school young people work toward their GEDs or high school diplomas, while learning job skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods and engaging in community service and leadership training. Stockton Record article 

What to do with empty terminals in Oakland? Nothing, port says — The half-dozen giant cranes that once lifted huge containers of goods on 160 acres of East Bay waterfront now lie dormant. And the Port of Oakland is pretty OK with that. In fact, the agency, which also operates Oakland International Airport, seems almost eager to not do anything with the vast tract of essentially vacant land. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Drivers win $10-million settlement in latest victory against trucking companies – A group of trucking companies in Southern California will pay $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by drivers who alleged that they were improperly treated as independent contractors, according to a court filing Thursday. LA Times article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Lively floating Delta city is burning, man – Ephemerisle, a temporary floating city for techies, artists, skinny-dippers and “seasteaders” among many others, is happening this week at Mandeville Point in the Delta. Stockton Record article 

Joel Fox: Pensions and taxes — In January 2015, the Manhattan Institute’s Steve Malanga, writing in the Wall Street Journal about public pension costs gulping down tax raises, quoted me saying that no matter what local politicians tell voters, when you see tax increases, think pensions. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: Here I go again! Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Sacramento River Cats again most valuable minor-league team — The River Cats are again the most valuable team in the minor leagues, according to Forbes. The magazine lists the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate tops for 2016 in value at $49 million. The team’s value is up from $38 million in 2013, the last time the magazine published minor-league baseball valuations. Sacramento Bee article 

Dog treat nonprofit gets boost from partnership — A local effort to get women out of the grips of drugs and alcohol and into gainful employment recently received a boost from a national nonprofit. The St. Francis Homeless Project and WestCare in Fresno have struck a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will provide the dog treat nonprofit business with new employees as part of a job training program. The Business Journal article 

Hundreds show up for shot at jobs with Sacramento Kings, Golden 1 Center — The pull of working in the soon-to-open Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento is strong, based on a Thursday job fair co-hosted by the Sacramento Kings and several hiring partners at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento Bee article

Daniel Borenstein: More CalPERS pension debt to hit taxpayers – The nation’s largest pension plan continues adding to state and local taxpayers’ $93 billion debt. The question now is whether the board of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System will stanch the bleeding. Or will it continue to laden our children and grandchildren with higher taxes and reduced public services because of its failure to properly fund the retirement system now? Borenstein in East Bay Times 

CalPERS hires new chief executive — CalPERS hired a new chief executive Thursday, tapping the director of Washington state’s retirement system to run the nation’s largest public pension fund. Marcie Frost, 51, will take over Oct. 3 for the recently retired Anne Stausboll, who guided the pension fund through a devastating bribery scandal. Doug Hoffner will serve as interim CEO until Frost’s arrival. Sacramento Bee article 

Pacific’s Eibeck named to Sacramento economic growth board – Pamela Eibeck, president of University of the Pacific, has been named to the board of directors of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council. Stockton Record article 

Trade group promises stricter scrutiny of payday loan ads – A trade group for online payday lenders has started to comb the Internet for sites making misleading claims, part of an  effort to clean up the reputation of an industry beset by complaints from consumer groups and regulators. LA Times article


Citrus pest quarantine spreads to Merced — State officials Thursday announced a quarantine in the Merced and Atwater areas for the Asian citrus psyllid, a threat to backyard and commercial trees. Modesto Bee article 

New find of citrus pest reported in Tracy – San Joaquin County farm officials said they will expand in Tracy an existing quarantine on the movement of citrus plants and fruit, with backyard trees a particular focus, following the discovery of another Asian citrus psyllid in the city. Stockton Record article 

Northeast Fresnans air water grievances to City Council – A coalition of about 20 northeast Fresno residents attended Thursday afternoon’s City Council meeting to support a water presentation by Fresno Citizens for Clean Water and air their own water grievances. Fresno Bee article 

Kern County farmworkers could soon have affordable energy efficient housing – Farmworkers in Kern County could soon have another option for housing. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on the USDA’s effort to give the people who pick the nation’s produce better homes. KVPR report 

Paying farmers to go organic, even before corps come in – The clamor for organic crops is so intense that major food brands, like General Mills, Kellogg and Ardent Mills, are helping to underwrite the switch. General Mills, for instance, recently signed a deal to help convert about 3,000 acres to organic production of alfalfa and other animal feeds. Ardent offers farmers a premium for crops grown on land while a farm transitions to organic. New York Times article 

Advocacy groups call for a ban recycled oil field wastewater to irrigate crops – Organizers of a petition drive to ban the practice of irrigating crops with recycled oil field wastewater will be pitching their cause on Saturday morning to customers at markets in nine cities across the state, including a Ralph’s in Los Angeles. LA Times article 

Carolyn Norr: Stop farmers from using fracking water on crops – The member of Protect California Food, an affiliate of Californians Against Fracking, writes, “Many people have heard that fracking creates large amounts of toxic wastewater, but other oil and gas technologies also produce tainted water that is being used to irrigate fruits and veggies sold all over California. The danger here is clear.” Norr op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Dylan Noble’s father files claim against city over fatal Fresno shooting – The attorney for the father of Dylan Noble has filed claims against the city on behalf of his client and the estate of Dylan Noble, saying Fresno police violated the 19-year-old’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force when officers shot him four times in a gas station parking lot last month. Fresno Bee article 

Social activist escorted from City Hall, meets with Baines to discuss police brutality – After listing the names of Fresno police officers who had been involved in shootings, and refusing to leave the podium after his allotted time was up, social activist Justice Medina was escorted by security out of the Fresno City Hall meeting on Thursday. His next stop was Councilman Oliver Baines’ office. Fresno Bee articleVideo: ‘Protest march organizer escorted out of Fresno City Council meeting’ in Fresno Bee 

LA Police Commission president calls for revisiting LAPD policy on body-camera videos – The president of the civilian body that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday that he wants to reconsider the department’s policy against publicly releasing police videos, such as those created by body cameras worn by LAPD officers. LA Times article 

Amid protests over police shootings of black men, Latinos note a disparity – There is no federal clearinghouse that tracks all police-related killings, criminal justice researchers say, so it is difficult to quantify how many Latinos are killed in encounters with officers. That has left advocates to rely largely on anecdotal evidence. Even with jurisdictions that include Hispanic or Latino as an option in statistics, the numbers can be unreliable; it is not uncommon for people to be incorrectly classified as white or black. New York Times article 

Health clinics going up at Corcoran prison in building boom — A building boom behind the walls of Corcoran state prison is putting the state on the right side of a federal receiver and boosting the local economy. At the prison, which holds about 3,570 inmates, work has begun on new health clinics to comply with a 2002 settlement in federal court requiring a higher level of medical care for inmates at all state prisons. Fresno Bee article 

At least two dozen San Francisco Police Department officers tied to teen at center of sexual exploitation scandal – The San Francisco Police Department has minimized the extent to which a sexual exploitation crisis rocking several East Bay law enforcement agencies has touched its side of the Bay Bridge, but a KQED analysis of current and former SFPD officers’ Facebook accounts shows the 18-year-old woman at the center of the sex abuse scandal was connected to dozens of people affiliated with the department. KQED report 

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones accused of unwelcome sexual advances toward deputy — Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward a subordinate, activity he denied in a sworn statement, according to newly uncovered court documents from a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department claiming retaliation. Sacramento Bee article 

San Joaquin County will screen repeat DUI offenders for mental health disorders – The San Joaquin Superior Court’s Collaborative Courts Department announced Thursday it has been selected as one of six pilot sites in the nation to use a mental health screening tool on repeat DUI offenders. Stockton Record article 

Forum help at Modesto’s King Kennedy Center in response to violence — About 100 people attended a community discussion at the King Kennedy Center in west Modesto to discuss recent violence across the nation, including the fatal shooting of five police officers in Texas and of two black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. Modesto Bee article 

Parole denied for Pacific freshman’s killer — California parole officials for the 10th time have rejected the release of a killer whose Stockton crime led to the creation of one of the state’s best-known crime victims’ groups. Harriet Salarno founded Crime Victims United of California after her 18-year-old daughter was fatally shot by her former boyfriend on her first day at the University of the Pacific in Stockton in 1979. Stockton Record article 


College district to ask voters for nearly $503 million – The Kern Community College District voted Thursday to place a $502.8 million bond measure for facilities upgrades on the November ballot, marking one of the largest bond measures the district has ever asked voters to approve. Bakersfield Californian article 

Harvey Hall: Why I’m endorsing the Kern Community College District’s bond issue – Bakersfield’s mayor writes, “I have had a relationship with Bakersfield College for 57 years, starting when I first enrolled as a student. I have always found faculty and staff to be of the highest quality, dedicated to the students and the community. As mayor of Bakersfield and a former Kern Community College School District trustee, I am invested in the growth and economic development of Kern County. For this reason, I strongly endorse the KCCD Bond measure. Hall op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Lemoore school district seeks $24 million bond — The Lemoore Union High School District is close to putting a $24 million bond measure on the November ballot to pay for school construction projects at Lemoore and Jamison high schools. The proposed bond measure would cost property owners in the area $30 per $100,000 in assessed property value. Hanford Sentinel article 

California students will soon learn more about LGBT history in schools – California’s students will soon be learning more about LGBT people and their struggles after state education officials voted to include contributions from the community in history and social science instruction. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Fresno State, Bakersfield receive grants to prepare future teachers – With the ever-present shortage of California teachers, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation has selected 11 California State Universities, including Fresno State and CSU Bakersfield, to receive grants to prepare the next generation of educators. Visalia Times-Delta article 

This electron microscope for tiny things is a big deal, professors say — UC Merced has unveiled a microscope that can see something even smaller than a strand of DNA, making it easier for Central Valley students to do nanotechnology research, professors said Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article 

After hours of testimony, state board adopts history guidelines – After listening to five hours of charged disagreements by Hindus, Muslims and others on how their religions and culture should be depicted in California classrooms, the State Board of Education adopted new social science guidelines Thursday that will stress teaching critical thinking and objective inquiry so that students can determine historical truths for themselves. EdSource article 

Feed Our Future receives $80,000 grant to help curb student hunger — A Fresno nonprofit dedicated to benefiting other Valley nonprofits presented an $80,000 check Thursday to its winning organization this year, Feed Our Future, as part of a special presentation at Olmos Elementary School in southeast Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

City College of San Francisco, faculty reach pay agreement — Two all-day negotiating sessions ended in a tentative agreement that will restore wage cuts to City College of San Francisco faculty members and give them modest raises over the next two years, the college and the faculty union said Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Teachers take a little we time — School starts in less than a month, but kindergarten teachers at Parks Elementary in Ceres will be ready. Sharon Crain and Lisa Maldonado are among 20 teachers spending a week at California State University, Stanislaus planning math lessons for the year ahead with math professor Viji Sundar. Modesto Bee article 

Fresno City College City Singers safe in France — News of the horrific events in Nice, France, is likely rattling friends and family of members of the Fresno City College City Singers, which is on a two-week tour to the south of France. Everyone is safe. Fresno Bee article


Valley biomass plants make pitch for dead trees to produce electricity — Trees are dying in the Sierra at modern-day unprecedented rates, posing elevated fire danger and creating health, water and air quality concerns, but a possible solution to rid the forest of dead and dying trees is getting the short end of the stick, officials say. Fresno Bee article 

PG&E cut pipeline inspection budget ahead of blast, records show – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cut its pipeline inspection budget by more than 25 percent in 2009, the year before the deadly San Bruno explosion, and got a warning sign soon afterward with a report that 15 of the company’s pipes had experienced gas pressures above legal limits, according to records disclosed Thursday at the utility’s criminal trial. San Francisco Chronicle article 

As heatwave bakes California, solar sets a big record – The same clear, sunny weather that broiled much of California in near triple-digit heat this week also helped the state’s solar power plants set a record, briefly generating enough electricity for more than 6 million homes. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Chevron refinery fire prompts state to propose tougher rules – California oil refineries may soon see tighter safety controls under state regulations proposed Thursday, four years after a leaky pipe triggered a fire at Chevron’s Richmond plant and sent 15,000 people to the hospital. San Francisco Chronicle article 

221-acre Onyx fire held at 80 percent containment — A 221-acre brush fire that sparked Wednesday in Onyx after an out-of-control house fire spewed embers into the air was 80 percent contained as of Thursday morning, Kern County fire officials reported. Bakersfield Californian article 

Nathan Graveline, Chris Trott, and John Buckley: Dead Sierra Nevada trees pose serious fire risk – Graveline, a wildlife biologist; Trott, a bioenergy consultant; and Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, write, “With limited staff and resources, the U.S. Forest Service will only be capable of planning and implementing the removal of a small fraction of dead trees compared to the enormity of the conifer die-off. To suggest that leaving every dead tree makes sense defies any logic when even prior to the bark beetles, the drought and wildfires already created unnaturally high levels of dead trees and wildfire risk.” Graveline/Trott/Buckley op-ed in Modesto Bee

Summer conditions growing toxic algae blooms in two California lakes — Visitors to Pyramid Lake this week are being urged to avoid touching the water because of a large algae bloom pumping toxins into the lake. Flourishing because of warm temperatures, calm conditions and plenty of sunlight, the blue-green algae bloom was detected Tuesday near the recreational swimming area and triggered the warning a day later, the state Department of Water Resources said. LA Times article 

Testing the waters – The clarity of the water in Lodi Lake has generally been declining since the drought started, a trend that was evident once again after student volunteers on Thursday performed an annual Secchi disc test. Stockton Record article 

Homeowner sued for $25 million over California wildfire — The federal government sued a homeowner for nearly $25 million on Thursday, contending his negligence sparked a 2013 fire in the mountains east of Los Angeles that forced 5,000 people from their homes. AP articleLA Times article

Health/Human Services 

As undocumented children enroll in Medi-Cal, some clinics see uptick in patients – Many of the new Medi-Cal enrollees had visited the clinics contacted by the California Health Report before they had full benefits, clinic workers said. That might be because families paid for the visits themselves, because the children qualified for limited services through a partial Medi-Cal program called “restricted scope,” or because they live in a county that offers a basic health care program for undocumented immigrants, such as My Health LA in Los Angeles County. California Health Report article 

Oakland soda tax backers to file complaint over opposition ads — Three Oakland City Council members are calling on local and federal agencies to investigate opponents of the city’s proposed soda tax on the fall ballot. They say the beverage industry’s advertising is deceptive. KQED report

Land Use/Housing 

Hanford to review Freedom Park playground issue — So what, if anything, went wrong in the events leading up to a public outcry earlier this year over what should cover the ground at Freedom Park’s disabled-accessible playground? Hanford Sentinel article 

LA takes a step toward tighter rules to curb mansionization — Los Angeles moved one crucial step closer Thursday to tightening city rules meant to stop mansionization – the phenomenon of big, boxy homes popping up on not-so-big lots. LA Times article

Other areas 

Chowchilla bus-kidnapping well in the rear view mirror 40 years later – but not quite forgotten — For 40 years, strangers from around the world have asked Jennifer Brown Hyde about her kidnapping. “People find out and are fascinated,” Hyde said. “And that’s fine. I don’t mind sharing it because the world stopped and was on its knees praying for us. And I feel, 40 years later, that I owe it to those people to share where I am at in life.” Fresno Bee article‘Video: Chowchilla: Then and now’ in Fresno Bee 

Old Central Valley prison going from big house to weed house – An old prison in the Central Valley town of Coalinga is getting a new life — as a cannabis oil extraction plant. The Coalinga City Council OKd the $4.1 million sale Thursday of its dormant Claremont Custody Center prison to Ocean Grown Extract, which will convert the facility that once housed drug dealers to make weed oil for medical use. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Photo postcards offer a rare glimpse of Valley history — Michael J. Semas has an interesting perspective into valley history thanks to his collection of thousands of rare postcards, many more than 100 years old. Real photo postcards captured everyday life in Central California, and in many cases, they may be the only images remaining of certain communities, people or buildings. KVPR report 

Golden Gate Bridge plans to add suicide nets despite high bids — Golden Gate Bridge officials still plan to install a steel net to deter suicides despite bids that came in at about twice the expected price. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee – While far from perfect and still a work in progress, the Iran nuclear deal has made the world slightly safer. In these turbulent times, that’s a real accomplishment.