July 16, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Valley Republicans divided on whether to attend GOP convention — GOP lawmakers from the Central Valley are split on whether to attend the Republican National Convention as presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to divide members of the party months after his last opponent conceded. Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, has decided to pass on attending the July 18-21 GOP convention in Cleveland, choosing to meet with constituents in his district instead. Fresno Bee article 

Could California’s new gun control laws be blocked by voters? – Referendums were filed late Friday to overturn a sweeping package of gun control bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month, possibly stalling the laws until voters weigh in. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics 

November candidates’ filing period opens — Anyone interested in running for a seat on one of six city councils in San Joaquin or Calaveras counties, take note: the first opportunity to file for candidacy is Monday. Same thing for those interested in running for various school boards. Stockton Record article 

Stockton Record: Supervisor, assessor should explain political fines — The public — the citizens whose mailboxes are inundated with cryptic, unidentified mailers before elections — deserve an explanation of why two people in such key leadership positions were judged to be “unfair.” The answers should come soon. Stockton Record editorial 

Lindsay council member abruptly resigns — Lindsay Council Member Steve Mecum has resigned after serving less than one term and will not be seeking re-election in November. Why he resigned may never be known. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California certifies low primary turnout, Clinton victory – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla certified Friday that more than 8.5 million people, or 47.7 percent of registered voters, participated in the June primary, and that Hillary Clinton decisively won the state’s Democratic race. AP article 

Many same-party runoffs set for California fall election – California’s November election will include 28 same-party runoffs for legislative and congressional seats, according to final results from the state’s June 7 presidential primary released Friday. Sacramento Bee article

A look at California’s most interesting legislative races — All 80 seats up for grabs in the California Assembly and half the 40 Senate positions, but the interest is focused most intensely on a handful of races with the potential to alter the balance of power in Capitol. Among the most interesting legislative races: Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, a moderate Democrat from Stockton, is seen as the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate. Republican Alan Nakanishi, a physician and businessman, won 28 percent to face Galgiani in November. AP article 


A Texas oil town goes bust.  Would housing immigrants for feds solve its problems? — The derricks along Highway 44 were still this month after the price of oil tanked and two dozen oilfield companies vanished. The booming tax base that buoyed the town of Alice evaporated, unemployment surged above 10% and county government cut 21 jobs, with more layoffs on the horizon. Then an unexpected savior appeared: A British correctional company offering to turn an abandoned nursing home on Highway 44 into a family immigrant detention center. It would employ 200. LA Times article 

Other areas

Water, historic sites are subjects of Washington legislative flurry – California has a stake in a sprawling public lands package moving through the Senate, including controversial water provisions that don’t even name the state. The package includes expanding one national historic site honoring famed conservationist John Muir and designating a new historic site at the former Tule Lake camp that housed Japanese-Americans during World War II. Both proposals easily won approval Wednesday from a Senate panel. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Foon Rhee: Racial gaps mean not all of us are being heard – Fully participating in our democracy is more than just voting once or twice a year. It’s also attending public meetings, contacting elected officials and supporting campaigns. By those standards, there are big, unhealthy gaps between white Californians and the majority of Californians who are nonwhite, according to an important new study that concluded that Latinos and Asian Americans are least likely to get their say beyond the ballot box. Rhee in Sacramento Bee 

Joel Fox: The politics of the greenhouse gas law extension — The California Air Resources Board set a match to controversy this week suggesting that the board could push the cap-and-trade deadline for funding greenhouse gas reduction programs past its 2020 end date by executive fiat. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Largest FPPC fine against local California official? Not exactly – California’s political watchdog proposed a $104,000 fine against a City of Commerce councilwoman earlier this week for allegedly using campaign money to cover personal expenses and a slew of other financial misdeeds. Some suggested it was the largest Fair Political Practices Commission penalty against a local elected official in California history. As it turns out, that’s not exactly true. Sacramento Bee article 

Steve Taylor: Sheriff, don’t try to take my high-capacity magazine – The Oakdale resident writes, “The Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies would most likely raid my home. I live in a county island inside Oakdale, but the deputies would probably have jurisdiction over the local police department, so I’m guessing they’d be the ones to kick in my door, toss in the flashbang, then blitz inside screaming “On the ground!” and all that other cool stuff.” Taylor op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Sheyanne Romero: On the scene: #BlackLivesMatter — I’ve attended two candlelight vigils in the last two months. I’ve stood by my friends and neighbors as they mourned. The recent shootings were heartbreaking and all too familiar. Romero in Visalia Times-Delta 

Andrew Fiala: In an arms race, there are no winners – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “The fallacy of the arms race is the idea that violence produces peace. In reality, the arms race enriches arms dealers while escalating violence. And in the end, our fascination with material solutions to spiritual problems prevents us from imagining ways to beat our swords into plowshares.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

Presidential Politics

Mike Der Manouel Jr.: Trump might be GOP’s last and best hope – The Fresno businessman and chairman and co-founder of the Lincoln Club of Fresno County writes, “Border security, national security, terrorism, deficits, debt, the drought, jobs and economic growth are issues that need to be addressed urgently and fearlessly by the next president. Trump appears to have the moxie to do just that, all while prioritizing ‘America First’ in his public policies. It’s a strong message, and explains his electoral success so far.” Der Manouel Jr. op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Valley CHP officers joining security effort at Republican convention — A handful of California Highway Patrol officers from the central San Joaquin Valley are part of a state contingent heading to Cleveland to help with security during the Republican National Convention. Fresno Bee article 

Chairman John Burton won’t go to Democratic National Convention — John Burton, in his last year as chairman of the California Democratic Party, said Friday he doesn’t plan to attend the national convention later this month in Philadelphia. Instead, the 83-year-old former congressman and state legislator will give his seat to a young Latino “Dreamer,” “helping bring a new generation into the process,” Burton said. Sacramento Bee article 

California Politics Podcast: Cleveland calling — This week, Republicans head to Cleveland and the California GOP gets a first look at the Trump effect. We also discuss the prison parole showdown between San Diego’s mayor and Gov. Jerry Brown. And we assess a surprising endorsement by state Senate Democrats. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News.  California Politics Podcast

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News Stories

Top Stories

State Supreme Court gives Metropolitan go-ahead to buy Delta islands — It’s official: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is going to own five islands in the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On Thursday, the California Supreme Court declined to temporarily halt the $175 million purchase, turning aside a petition from a coalition of environmental groups and local water districts, along with San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties. Sacramento Bee articleStockton Record articleLA Times article 

How revenue losses played into decision to relax conservation rules in California — It wasn’t just generous spring rains filling north-state reservoirs that had California’s urban water districts pushing back so hard against mandatory water cuts this year. All those brown lawns and shorter showers have cost them millions in customer revenue. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Amazon bringing 1,000 jobs to Sacramento — Amazon.com is bringing 1,000 warehouse jobs to Sacramento, providing fresh momentum for the region’s economic recovery while furthering the e-commerce giant’s goal of grabbing an even bigger share of Californians’ spending. Sacramento Bee article 

Measure K backers to focus on rural areas – For the Measure K redo in November, supporters will be zeroing in on the area where it did the worst: the unincorporated towns and rural areas outside Kings County cities. Hanford Sentinel article 

CalSTRS commits $2.5 billion to low-carbon investments — CalSTRS committed up to $2.5 billion this week to low-carbon investments in the United States and overseas. Sacramento Bee article 

Local businesses vie for New Product Award at Fresno Food Expo — Several beers and two olive oils from two Clovis businesses are in the running for the 2016 New Product Award at next week’s Fresno Food Expo. Clovis Independent article 

Al Smith steps in as interim director of Reedley chamber – Al Smith, former head of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce until earlier this year, is stepping in to assist the Reedley Chamber of Commerce after the resignation of its executive director. The Business Journal article 

United Security Bank reports $2.02 million in quarterly net income – Fresno’s United Security Bancshares, holding company of United Security Bank, reported second quarter net income of $2.02 million, down slightly from $2.06 million last year. For the first six months of the year, net income was $3.79 million, up 15 percent from the same period of 2015. The Business Journal article 

Valley Commerce Bancorp sees income growth in first half of year — Valley Commerce Bancorp, holding company of Valley Business Bank in Visalia, announced second quarter net income of $1.1 million, up from $911,000 in the same quarter last year. For the first six months of the year ending June 30, net income was $2.2 million, up from $1.7 million in the same period of 2015. The Business Journal articleFresno Bee article 

Homeless problem solving – The homeless who frequent downtown Visalia try to go unseen. But, for some community members and law enforcement, they’ve become a nuance. A rash of issues in the downtown area have prompted action by Mayor Steve Nelsen and police. They’re hoping a soon-to-be art project will bring more foot traffic to downtown Visalia, in turn, keeping homeless men and women away. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Patty Guerra: Chefs of New York expands into downtown Modesto — Vinny Altadonna is about the most colorful person I have interviewed since starting this column and certainly the most expressive. Altadonna recently opened Chefs of New York in downtown Modesto. The restaurant is an offshoot of Chefs of New York on Oakdale Road, which Altadonna bought in 2006, almost on a whim. Guerra in Modesto Bee 

Yuba County homeless become ‘tiny home’ residents — Friday was moving day for as many as two dozens of people who had been living along rivers surrounding Marysville and Yuba City. Nearly half of the former river encampment inhabitants opted for a newly constructed community of “tiny homes” dubbed 14 Forward. Yuba County officials are hopeful the remainder will follow suit. Sacramento Bee article


California eyes recycling wastewater for drinking – The State Water Resources Control Board, prompted by the legislature, has tasked a panel of experts with determining whether it is feasible to develop criteria for direct potable reuse (DPR) – where wastewater is treated for drinking and then piped directly to customers without first being mixed in a reservoir or groundwater aquifer. KQED report 

Farm Beat: Farm Credit System celebrates 100 years — President Woodrow Wilson did something 100 years ago Sunday that, to this day, helps bring in the crops in Stanislaus County and beyond. He signed the Federal Farm Loan Act on July 17, 1916, launching what is now known as the Farm Credit System. It came about because of a shortage of money for land, equipment and other needs. The advocates intended for it to stay strong when times got tough again. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Teen’s father contends Fresno police have ‘a culture’ of shooting unarmed people – A day after Fresno police released video footage of officers shooting and killing an unarmed 19-year-old, the man’s father filed a legal claim saying the department has a culture of using “grossly disproportionate” force against residents. LA Times article 

Police shootings add momentum to Fresno activism – Even though Fresno is a city similar in size to Oakland, people rarely take to the streets in large groups to protest police shootings. “This is a very conservative town,” says community organizer Taymah Jahsi. But, she says, things may be changing. KQED report 

Protestors march in Oakland; three arrested in San Francisco – About 50 Black Lives Matter protesters scrambled briefly onto a downtown Oakland freeway on Friday evening but a rapid response by police and Highway Patrol officers forced them to retreat before traffic could back up. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, three people were arrested after violence broke out among a group of a similar size during an unrelated demonstration in the Mission District, police said. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Inmate falls down elevator shaft at downtown Modesto county jail — An inmate fighting deputies at the Stanislaus County Jail on Friday morning broke free from them and slammed into third-floor elevator doors, which came off their tracks, allowing the man to fall 10 feet onto the top of the elevator car below, the sheriff said. The incident happened about 6:50 a.m. The inmate, 36-year-old Manuel Gabriel Rico, was taken to a local hospital with several lacerations and was examined for other injuries. Modesto Bee article 

Merced officer’s wife now a cop herself — A packed house in the Merced City Hall chambers looked on as five officers pledged their service to the city, bringing the police force to 88, and another officer was named the city’s newest captain. Merced Sun-Star article 

‘It’s an everyday struggle’: Amid tears, husband hopes to put lawsuit behind him two years after Misty Holt-Singh tragedy — Those memories are especially poignant today as family and friends observe the two-year anniversary of Holt-Singh’s death, which led to multiple lawsuits, an independent review of the Stockton Police Department’s actions and criminal proceedings against two men who will stand trial this fall. Stockton Record article 

Sacramento mayor pays for burial of man killed by city police — Mayor Kevin Johnson helped a south Sacramento mother pay the funeral costs for her son, who was killed by police in April. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: The costly bro culture of Scott Jones – Whatever did or didn’t happen between Jones and the deputy from the court files, with every lawsuit and every “boys will be boys” revelation, that culture costs the rest of us just a little bit more. Sacramento Bee editorial 

A tale of two exonerees: Their struggles to be paid for years in prison — In California, compensation is supposed to help ease the transition from prison to the outside world for the wrongfully convicted. Exonerees can submit claims to the California Victims Compensation Board to receive payment. But both Atkins and Pohlschneider are still waiting for money. Sacramento Bee article


No takers as Merced College calls for input on president search – More than three dozen chairs were set out for people interested in shaping Merced College’s search for a new president. Not one of them was used. The information-gathering forum at Rivera Middle School late Thursday afternoon was the second such event to go unattended this week, according to college staffers. A meeting held Tuesday in Le Grand also attracted no one. Merced Sun-Star article 

Nearly 1 in 4 students at this LA high school migrated from Central America – many without their parents – In Los Angeles’ Belmont High, nearly 1 in 4 of the school’s estimated 1,000 students came from Central America — many of them as unaccompanied minors. They crossed the border to reunite with mothers and fathers or to find refuge from unprecedented gang violence at home. Some dare to dream they will find success in America, not just the means to survive. Belmont Principal Kristen McGregor said it has forced the school to reimagine its role in its students’ lives. LA Times article 

How do you pass a half billion dollar school bond? Appeal to veterans – When it comes to the $502.8 million Bakersfield College bond that’s heading to the ballot boxes this November, the message is clear: Appeal to veterans. Veterans are mentioned 23 times in a 12-page resolution describing the purpose of the bond measure, approved Thursday by Kern Community College District trustees.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Facebook blames its lack of diversity on America’s lackluster public education system — Facebook blames its lack of diversity on the scarcity of quality computer science instruction in American public schools. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LA Unified magnet schools in demand, but slow to expand — Magnet applicants face long odds and long waitlists. Magnet programs received more than 44,000 applications for about 26,000 total available seats in the upcoming school year.* For years, the difficulty of getting a spot has prompted calls from district leaders — including, recently, King — to expand L.A. Unified’s magnet programs. KPCC report 

Riverside woman files lawsuit over her Corinthian College debt — A California mother of two and a former student of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, seeking damages and an end to daily collection calls over private loans she received to attend the for-profit school. AP article


Thorny issues challenge California’s commitment to renewable energy goals – As California pushes forward on its ambitious goal to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, it will confront a wide range of potentially troubling economic, technical and political questions — though there remains strong support among public officials for the state’s climate program. LA Times article 

State seeks federal disaster declaration for deadly Erskine Fire – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked President Obama for a federal disaster declaration because of the deadly Erskine Fire, which began June 23 and burned 290 homes and 75 square miles in eastern Kern County over the next 18 days. A presidential declaration could clear the way for additional assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and set the stage for possible low-interest loans for property owners who lost homes or businesses in the historic wildfire. Bakersfield Californian article 

Tech group plans ‘hackathon’ to develop wildfire assistance software — If the wildfires that recently devastated parts of Kern County had a positive side, it was that they brought together local communities for good, often through the use of mobile technology. That may have been just the beginning. Kern Innovation & Technology Community, an organization formed to promote the local tech industry, is putting together a competition next month pitting local software developers against each other to see who can invent the best computer app for assisting wildfire victims and emergency responders. Bakersfield Californian article 

California’s biggest utilities break own record for solar power — California’s booming solar industry had a record day this week when the state’s largest utilities generated more power than ever from the sun. Sacramento Bee article 

Rapid growth expected for electric storage in California – Solar and wind power have grown rapidly in California over the past decade, and now batteries to store some of that energy are expected to follow suit. Capital Public Radio report 

Cal Fire makes first arrest in drone flying over fire area — A Foresthill man has been arrested on suspicion of interfering with firefighting operations during the recent Trailhead Fire by flying a drone over the fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. AP articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

West Nile virus activity remains high in several area communities — The risk of West Nile virus in the Sacramento region remains high, officials say.The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District received confirmation Wednesday that 15 new mosquito samples tested positive for the virus throughout the two counties. Sacramento Bee article 

Single mom’s search for therapist foiled by insurance companies – A 12-year-old boy named Strazh hangs from the monkey bars, staring at the ground. The other kids in the park aren’t interested in him. And he’s not interested in them. “I just like to play by myself,” he says. Strazh has autism. Today is a good day. But on most others, Strazh has meltdowns. Something frustrates him and he can’t control his emotions. KQED report

Land Use/Housing 

The work behind the play: Awesome Spot playground ideas unveiled — The community on Wednesday got its first look at the rough plan for The Awesome Spotinclusive playground planned for Beyer Community Park. The audience at a downtown meeting also was introduced to its mascot, Homer the Rainbow Rhino. Modesto Bee article

Other areas 

Fire departments tackle radio woes — The Hanford Fire Department is preparing to upgrade its radio system, following more than a year of dealing with poor reception in some parts of town. The Homeland Security Grant Program awarded the Kings County Office of Emergency Management about $228,000 during its 2015 grant period. Hanford’s $87,000 share will be used to draw plans and install signal repeaters at two communications towers owned by the Kings County Office of Education. Hanford Sentinel article 

Four recent Calaveras County fires causes by pot growing operations — Four recent fires in Calaveras County were caused by negligence in marijuana-growing operations, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and cost taxpayers $1.4 million to suppress. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim vitriol makes it more likely that jihadists will recruit in America; Whatever did or didn’t happen between Scott Jones and the deputy from the court files, with every lawsuit and every “boys will be boys” revelation, that culture costs the rest of us just a little bit more.

Stockton Record – San Joaquin County supervisors, assessor should explain political fines.