July 19, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

On climate, a rough road ahead for California — Nearly a decade ago, California policymakers, facing a frightening future of shriveling snow packs and rising seas, created the nation’s most aggressive program to combat global warming. The 2006 law mandated broad reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Now, as the deadline approaches, Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers are intensifying their efforts. They are crafting emissions-reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 that will be far more difficult to meet. One bill seeks to slash petroleum use in vehicles to levels not seen since Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. CALmatters article

Cathleen Decker: State GOP worries that Trump’s trash talk could hurt its image — For California Republicans, an extended season of Trump would be close to the party’s worst nightmare. Decker column in LA Times


Gov. Brown

The Vatican and Jerry Brown — Gov. Jerry Brown is at the Vatican this week, where he will join Pope Francis and leaders around the globe for a climate-change conference. The gathering weaves together threads throughout the governor’s life which have all shaped him in profound ways. And it brings into focus the quest for legacy in a politician who, more than any other individual, has been at the heart of state politics for nearly half a century. Grizzly Bear Project article



Advocates for immigrant rights brace for backlash — Advocates are concerned that Kathryn Steinle’s death will create a sustained backlash, even as groups that want to restrict illegal immigration insist the tragedy is a legitimate springboard for their agenda. San Jose Mercury News article


Other areas

Passage of California climate change bill could set global example — Approval of the legislation, intended to enact goals outlined by the governor this year, would bolster Brown’s calls for global action on climate change with a display of regulatory muscle in his own state. LA Times article

A friendship that may change the state — Kevin de León, leader of the California Senate, and Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, have joined forces around their shared desire to fight global warming. After working together to pass an energy-efficiency ballot measure in 2012, they are teaming up this year to push for legislation that would reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions and shift the economy away from oil and gas. CALmatters article

Dan Morain: Union fight shifts from campaign trail to high court – For all its failings, labor helps balance the power of conservative billionaires and corporate interests, to the benefit of all working stiffs. Labor will win its share of races in 2016. But the real fight will be decided by nine aging lawyers, and that will affect us all. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Daniel Borenstein: Cynical labor bill seeks to keep public in dark about negotiations – Organized labor has lined up behind legislation purporting to promote government contract transparency. It’s a sham. The bill actually aims to keep the public in the dark about public-employee negotiations, ensuring taxpayers never learn the costs of collective bargaining agreements until they’re done deals. Borenstein column in Contra Costa Times

Obama pushes to extend gun background checks to Social Security — Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others. LA Times article


News Briefs

Top Stories

Moody superstar: Which face will El Nino show us this winter? – California is dreaming again of a cigar-shaped superstar hanging out in the sun for thousands of miles along the equator. El Niño, the moody blob of warm ocean water, is spreading in the Pacific right now. Fresno Bee article

Delta dispute raises urgent question: Whose water is it? — As California’s blue-green reservoirs are drained brown during this historic drought, Gardemeyer and other Delta property owners essentially are being accused of stealing. Both sides in the controversy have a heavy stake in how state regulators respond to the complaint. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: High rate of poverty bites California — We still have one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates. While “safety net” services are necessary stopgaps, they shouldn’t become permanent lifestyles for able-bodied adults. If California politicians really want to cure poverty, they should remember that a good job is always the best medicine. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


Jobs and the Economy

Sacramento miscalculated years of pension payments for some city retirees – The letters came without warning, notices from the city of Sacramento alerting retirees to an unsettling reality: For years, their pension checks had been wrong. About 5 percent of the 1,141 retirees that remain in the old Sacramento City Employees Retirement System, or SCERS, learned they had been underpaid for as long as a decade. Sacramento Bee article

Qin Fan: Central Valley losing top talents due to extreme weather? – The assistant professor in Fresno State’s Department of Economics writes, “If basic living conditions such as weather and air quality are unpleasant, most people are likely to “vote with their feet” and relocate to a different place, assuming they are mobile and could find jobs somewhere else. In the valley, air pollution is one of the pressing issues due to the valley’s topography and sources, such as pollutants and nitrogen oxide emissions from I-5 and Highway 99, diesel-burning locomotives, tractors, irrigation pumps, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.” Fan in CALmatters

 How China and Delano became ‘family’ – When former Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo met the Chinese chairman of a real estate development firm to talk about a massive commercial development, he didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Chinese, but as luck would have it, they both spoke Spanish. In spite of the language barrier and the company’s general reluctance to do projects in small cities, the pair’s efforts eventually paid off. Bakersfield Californian article

 Modesto, Modesto Irrigation District legal costs in their dispute top $4.5 million and growing – The Modesto Irrigation District and the city of Modesto remain locked in a dispute over which one has to pay $9 million in extra costs for the botched expansion of the Modesto Regional Water Treatment Plant. And they are on track to spend more for lawyers, experts and consultants than the amount of money they are fighting over. Modesto Bee article

 California cities cracking down on summer rentals – Millions flock to the Southern California coast each year, often renting a cottage or condo for a respite by the sea. But the explosive growth of online travel booking sites in recent years has prompted several coastal cities to consider tightening regulations on those who rent out their homes for short stays. Sacramento Bee article

 San Diego covets Silicon Valley’s fame – “Breakthrough Boulevard.” “Research Ridge.” “Innovation Coast.” San Diego is again sifting through possible nicknames for its huge science industry, hoping to find one that’s as catchy and — one day — nationally prominent as Silicon Valley. San Diego Union-Tribune article

 How wealth is making Healdsburg a miniature San Francisco – In a little more than two decades, the Wine Country city of Healdsburg has transformed from the fading buckle on California’s prune belt into what Fodor’s Travel calls “one of the best small towns in America.” Ringing its picturesque town square are caviar-tart-serving restaurants, a couple dozen wine tasting venues and $400-per-night hotel rooms that draw international jet-setters. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Raids bust dreams of tribal marijuana bonanza — On July 8, federal and state agents and the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department raided vast marijuana cultivation operations at the Alturas Rancheria and on the neighboring land of a larger sister tribe, the Pit River Tribe. The enforcement actions, which so far have not resulted in criminal charges, revealed an audacious effort to capitalize on the California marijuana market. Sacramento Bee article

Banks, insurers shunning pot shops — Fresh off a complex and expensive approval process, San Diego’s first wave of legal medical marijuana dispensaries is facing the additional challenge of being shunned by banks and insurance companies. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Energy improvement program can hobble home sales — A growing number of California communities – including the region’s second largest city, Elk Grove – are allowing homeowners to finance energy-saving improvements through their property tax bills. Sacramento Bee article



Modesto rainfall actually normal; snowpack is drought culprit – This could surprise you: Rainfall in Modesto over the past 12 months has been pretty much average. Don’t feel foolish if you didn’t know that. It sure sounds suspicious, until you check data put on the Internet by the Modesto Irrigation District, which has been measuring rain in Modesto since 1888. Modesto Bee article

Storm brings thunder, lightning – and welcome rain – to Valley – A tropical storm moving through Southern California made its way into the central San Joaquin Valley on Saturday, bringing thunderstorms and lower temperatures, the National Weather Service in Hanford said. Fresno Bee article

Unusual clues from the wild that El Nino’s coming – The parade of exotic southern-based critters — spiked by three full breaches by great white sharks off Seacliff State Beach — continued last week along the Pacific Coast. Based on wildlife, not the forecast, there’s strength in the premise that an El Niño is gaining muscle this summer. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno Bee: Status quo in the Delta is untenable – The status quo is not working for the Delta smelt, or the Delta itself, or the farmers and urban users who depend on it. Fresno Bee editorial

California drought: Here’s the secret weapon to curb water hogs – the flow restrictor — A 2-inch-long brass cylinder, the modest-looking plumbing device is to water wasters what handcuffs are to shoplifters and parking boots are to motorists piling up unpaid tickets. And now water agencies struggling to meet California’s tough new conservation rules have the devices at the ready and are giving them a fresh look. San Jose Mercury News article

Drought hitting Northern California golf courses hard — The state’s water shortage is challenging golf courses throughout Northern California. Bay Area courses are dealing with the drought in a variety of ways, in some cases leaving large swaths of land unirrigated and in other cases chasing elusive, expensive recycled water. San Francisco Chronicle article

Julian Morris: 6 water reforms California can take from Australia – The vice president of research at the Reason Foundation writes, “As Californians search for solutions to the worst drought in the state’s history, people are increasingly looking to the example of Australia. That’s a good choice: Australia has dramatically improved its management of water for agriculture over the past two decades.” Morris op-ed in Sacramento Bee

After 7 years, Mexican workers paid by growers near Galt, Clarksburg – After seven years of legal battling, 66 farmworkers from Mexico’s Colima state have been fully paid for work in orchards and vineyards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Sacramento Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Water war of yore still resonates with New Melones protestor — Mark DuBois did the impossible for five days in May 1979. With boats and helicopters combing the Stanislaus River canyon searching for him, the rising water of New Melones Reservoir practically lapping at his feet and chained to a rock in the canyon, DuBois hid beneath a small ledge to avoid detection and possible arrest. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Friends, family say Kern DA police review panel not truly independent — Less than a week after the Kern County District Attorney’s Office announced it would begin independent reviews of all officer-involved shootings and other police-related deaths in the county, protestors at a rally Saturday at Heritage Park in east Bakersfield said that’s not what they had in mind. Bakersfield Californian article

‘Person of interest’ related to discovery of 5 bodies in Modesto found — A man described as a “person of interest” related to the discovery of five bodies at a northeast Modesto home Saturday was located by San Jose police early Sunday morning, authorities said. Modesto Bee article

Thomas Hoffman: Misrepresenting impact of Proposition 47 – The former director of the Adult Parole Division for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation writes, “Here are the facts: Proposition 47 changed six felonies to misdemeanors, specifically: simple drug possession and low-level property crimes under $950 (shoplifting, writing a bad check, forgery, petty theft and receipt of stolen property). The measure excludes anyone with a previous sex offense or murder conviction from benefiting in any way. That’s all. All other crimes can be charged exactly as before.” Hoffman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Video of Ripon police officers arresting man at skate park goes viral — Ripon police Chief Edward Ormonde issued a statement Friday in response to a video depicting officers using a Taser and baton to subdue a 20-year-old man at a skate park earlier this week. The video posted on Facebook went viral with about a half-million views in one day. Modesto Bee article



School test results in soon; they won’t be pretty – Parents of public school children will soon be peeling back envelopes hiding test scores. A warning: they may defy expectations if you’re planning to see great improvement in your kids. Bakersfield Californian article

Can two federal bills finally fulfill goals of No Child Left Behind? — Both houses of Congress have approved sweeping education bills, but the effort could fall short of becoming law because of political and policy hurdles. LA Times article



Controversial agency battles climate change — The Air Resources Board, one of the most influential —and controversial — pollution regulatory agencies in the nation, conducts more than 1,500 tests each year at the lab. To environmentalists, the air board offers a bulwark against pollution, setting an example for the nation and the world on how to clean the air and fight climate change. To detractors, it is an out-of-control agency run by unelected bureaucrats who are throttling the state economy. Stockton Record article

Daniel Sperling and Thomas Turrentine: Tipping point for electric vehicles – Sperling, director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies and a member of the CARB board, and Turrentine, director of the PH&EV Research Center at the Institute, write, “California needs to stay the course with current EV incentives, but also to enhance its EV policy. A tipping point is likely in the next decade, the inevitable result of electric vehicle costs continuing to drop, charging and hydrogen infrastructures being built out, consumers becoming more knowledgeable and engaged, and technologies refined. Stay tuned.” Sperling/Turrentine in CALmatters


Health/Human Services

California’s high health enrollment surpasses projections – California has enrolled 2.3 million people under an optional expansion of the state’s Medicaid program — nearly three times more than the state had anticipated, according to the stateDepartment of Finance. AP article

Healthcare law helps sickest Americans – depending on their state – Between 2012 and 2014, when the major coverage expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act began, the share of callers connected with coverage more than doubled from 12% to 27%, according to data provided to the Los Angeles Times. The gains are not being evenly shared around the country, however, highlighting an issue still shadowing the federal healthcare law, even after it survived the latest legal challenge. LA Times article

Fast-growing Medi-Cal has shortage of doctors — California’s Med-Cal program, which offers health care to the poor, serves nearly one-third of the state’s residents. It has expanded rapidly — nearly doubling in patients over the past eight years — most recently because of the Affordable Care Act. In an effort to control costs, California has relied heavily on managed care insurance companies to treat patients like Abriha. San Francisco Chronicle article

E-cigarette industry has few rules, but change seems likely — It may appear laid back. But there is real muscle beneath the specialty e-cigarette retailer’s trendy skin: a booming billion-dollar industry that has operated largely free of government regulations, ruled almost entirely by small business vigilantes who are making hefty profits. If it’s not a Wild West, it’s close. But with anti-smoking groups demanding change, government regulations are all but imminent. One California state lawmaker backs legislation that would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco. AP article

Increasingly, young Bay Area doctors quit medicine to work for digital health startups — Tangney said dropout doctors are well-positioned for a career in digital health as they have an insider’s view of the industry — and ideas about how to fix it. KQED report

Sacramento County receives big money for mental health services, facilities — After suffering major cuts during the last recession, Sacramento County’s mental health programs are finally bouncing back with an influx of state money that will more than double the number of beds for people needing crisis mental health care. Sacramento Bee article

Legal fight between USC, UCSD could have implications for Alzheimer’s research – Some experts worry that a lengthy court battle could impede the search for treatments to halt or reverse Alzheimer’s, a disorder that causes dementia and memory loss and is a leading cause of death among seniors. LA Times article

Charles DeCarli: Dealing with people suffering from dementia – The director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center writes, “What we need is a health care infrastructure to care for these individuals before their symptoms turn to violence. It is a safe and fiscally wise choice.” DeCarli op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Land Use/Housing

Oakdale annexation idea will get vote WednesdayOakdale could add nearly 100 acres to its west end if a regional growth-guiding agency gives its blessing to the city’s annexation request Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

Students from across U.S. spiff up homes in southeast Fresno — It was World Changers’ second year in Fresno and its 11th year in the Fresno-Clovis area, said Annin. Houses were selected through referral from Every Neighborhood Partnership and from Councilman Sal Quintero. About 160 students came to work in southeast Fresno, laboring from Tuesday to Friday in 13 different teams at 13 housing sites. Fresno Bee article



Long-ago rail dispute turned deadly at Mussel Slough — As the California High Speed Rail Authority prepares to lay its line through the Valley, passionate voices opposing the project are echoes of similar debates 135 years ago over the fertile farmland of today’s Kings County. Although the parallels are broad, the grass-roots fighting spirit lives on. Fresno Bee article


Other areas

Mike Dunbar: Pit bulls are inappropriate pets for criminals — This is a broader issue than whether a single criminal (assuming he gets out of jail) should be allowed to own a pit bull – or any aggressive breed. Communities should be allowed to make and enforce sensible laws relating to ownership of dogs that can be used as weapons. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Donald W. Blount: Better to keep your mouth shut – Stockton Police Lt. Toby Will was placed on paid administrative leave last week as a result of his letter to the editor, published in The Record, in which he denounced same-sex marriage. I am reminded of the saying: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Blount column in Stockton Record

Mike Klocke: Soaking up a feeling of community — Where else can you find two local guys peddling Pom Ade hair gel, an eclectic band called the Polyester Wags and a Hemingway-inspired food truck that dishes out crab cake sandwiches and food proverbs — both spicy? All that, and more, was present Saturday at the second Stockmarket street fair in downtown Stockton. Klocke in Stockton Record

Mike Klocke: 12 big scoops of opinions on Ice Cream Day – In honor of National Ice Cream Day — and this will be celebrated with fervor today — here are a dozen flavors of comments. Klocke in Stockton Record

Michael Fitzgerald: Publishing a writer in agony — I created the 55-World Writing Contest 18 years ago, and it has been full of surprises. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The status quo is not working for the Delta smelt, or the Delta itself, or the farmers and urban users who depend on it.

Sacramento Bee – The status quo is not working for the Delta smelt, or the Delta itself, or the farmers and urban users who depend on it; Reagan, a statue, and a ferocious battle for poor Californians.