July 19, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Valley congressmen in competitive races flex fundraising muscle – As the fall campaign season prepares to kick into high gear, incumbents in the central San Joaquin Valley’s two competitive congressional districts are in a commanding financial positions. Hanford Republican David Valadao, the 21st Congressional District incumbent, and Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, the 16th Congressional District incumbent, both have well over $1 million in their campaign accounts as of June 30, according to new Federal Election Commission reports. Fresno Bee article

Tobacco companies drop nearly $17 million into anti-tax campaign — Game on. After months of eerie silence from the tobacco industry, Altria and R.J. Reynolds reported nearly $17 million in contributions Friday to oppose Proposition 56, which would increase tobacco taxes by $2 a pack in California. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Busy kickoff to election nomination period in Tulare County — At least 30 candidates took out papers promising to seek local political office, including some high-profile names. Farmersville Mayor Greg Gomez and Tulare City Councilman Craig Vejvoda will seek re-election while Brian Poochigian, who had an unsuccessful bid for a Tulare County supervisor seat, announced he would run for Visalia’s District 2 seat. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California school trustees get in gratis to Prop 51 fundraiser — State schools chief Tom Torlakson will headline a Fresno fundraiser next week to help Proposition 51, the $9 billion school construction bond on the Nov. 8 ballot. Tickets are $500, with event sponsorships to Thursday’s fundraiser topping out at $25,000. School board members, though, needn’t worry about the entrance fee. They get in free. Sacramento Bee article


Thanks to little-known rule, her trip to Mexico set her on a path to U.S. citizenship — A special travel permission called advance parole is one of the benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, President Barack Obama’s reprieve program for young undocumented immigrants. Reentering the U.S. under advance parole wipes away the original unlawful presence and its penalties. Critics see it as a cheater’s shortcut to citizenship. Advocates say it is neither quick nor easy. But for those who obtain advance parole and qualify for legal residency, it erases the uncertainty about what will happen with DACA after a new president takes office. Fresno Bee article

Other areas 

Preventing terrorism-by-truck in America would be ‘extremely difficult,’ officials say — In the wake of the terrorist attack in Nice, France, law enforcement officials here say preventing violence by attackers using common vehicles could prove a challenge. LA Times article

VIDEO: Getting public involved remains key to Political Reform Act revision — An ambitious effort to streamline and simplify California’s Political Reform Act is underway. The Fair Political Practices Commission is partnering with California Forward and the University of California to bring the venerable 42-year old law up to date.California Forward video

Presidential Politics

No contest: In California, Clinton holds nearly unbeatable lead over Trump – The GOP is about to formally name Donald Trump as its nominee for what promises to be a bitterly contested campaign against presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Meantime, the November contest between Trump and Clinton for California’s 55 electoral votes is essentially done. No contest. A non-race. A foregone conclusion. KQED report 

Dan Morain: Trump’s gravitational pull, as world seems to spin off its axis – The more dangerous the world seems, the more voters will want to believe in a strongman, even one who is gold-plated and regularly mentioned in tabloids. I don’t buy it, not any of it. But celebrity exerts its own gravitational pull, one strong enough to draw people to, of all places, Sandusky. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: California at GOP convention — There is one place that the influence and power of California–the home of the sixth largest economy in the world, cultural icons and high tech gurus–is relatively insignificant: the Republican national convention. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Dan Morain: Reality aside, McClintock delights the crowd in Sandusky – Rep. Tom McClintock brought ’em to their feet at the Kalahari resort in Sandusky, invoking Ronald Reagan’s name. Reflecting the tenor of the crowd, two-thirds of whom are new to national conventions, he proclaimed a new Republican Party. Morain in Sacramento Bee

GOP convention’s first day has dark, tense feel – “Make America Safe Again” was the theme of the first day of the Republican National Convention, but the mood both inside and outside the convention hall was dark and tense. And with prime-time speakers like former “Happy Days” star Scott “Chachi” Baio, it was often surreal. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Robin Abcarian: ‘I put lipstick on a pig,’ says Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ ghostwriter, ending a decades-long silence – Days before Donald Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president, the New Yorker has published a regret-laden interview with the ghostwriter of his best-selling 1987 memoir, “The Art of the Deal.” Abcarian in LA Times 

Brik McDill: U.S. cynicism toward all things political deservedly deep — Never before has American cynicism toward all things political been so deservedly deep. Exceeded only by the height of the arrogance of those who believe themselves above the rules. Once in a while, and more so recently, we get a glimpse of the true state of things that cast the differences between the political and economic elite and everyone else into true and clear relief. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian 

Danny Morrison: Plenty of reasons to vote for Trump, none of the legitimate — In this election cycle, a Republican was primed to take over the White House because Barack Obama instituted some of the most liberal policies in this country’s history. The pendulum historically always swings back. Instead, you let Donald Trump tap into your innermost fears and thwart that certainty from happening. Don’t now try to hide behind the same conservatism that some say “is the dread fear that somewhere, somehow, someone you think is your inferior is being treated as your equal.” Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories

Top Stories

LA water district buys Delta islands — A Southern California agency that provides drinking water for 19 million people officially became a substantial Delta landowner for the first time Monday after escrow closed on its $175 million purchase of several large islands. Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Saturday shootout stretched law enforcement thin – Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood called Saturday’s 1 a.m. shootout “domestic terrorism” and the most devastating he has seen in the Bakersfield area, but acknowledged at a press conference Monday that it also took a heavy toll on law enforcement and first responders already stretched thin. Bakersfield Californian articleAP article‘Five key comments from sheriff on shooting that left 14 wounded’ in Bakersfield Californian 

Buying insurance through California exchange could cost you more next year – It could cost more to buy health insurance through Covered California for next year, but Californians likely will not see the steep premium increases facing consumers buying coverage through health exchanges in other states. Fresno Bee articleAP article

Jobs and the Economy 

San Joaquin County union workers meet late Monday — Leaders from the Service Employees International Union 1021 met with union members into the evening Monday, and there was no word if workers would strike for a second time over stalled contracts with San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article

CalPERS earned less than 1 percent in fiscal year – CalPERS reported a 0.61 percent gain in investments in its latest fiscal year, well below the big California pension fund’s official target. CalPERS’ annual investment performance matters because a lackluster year increases pressure to raise contribution rates from state and local taxpayers. The 0.61 percent gain contrasts with the annual target of 7.5 percent, and follows a gain of just 2.4 percent the prior fiscal year. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Dan Walters: CalPERS unfunded liability grows as its investment earnings lag – With the fund stuck at around $300 billion for two years, it’s about $100 billion short of fully funding its pension obligations, and falling shorter each day. And that shortfall is based on its 7.5 percent discount rate, even though the average return has been under that mark for decades. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Fresno County property tax roll hits $73 billion mark – Fresno County’s assessed property tax roll has reached a new milestone, exceeding the $73 billion mark — up nearly 5 percent from last year, according to Assessor-Recorder Paul Dictos. The Business Journal article 

Retail, housing project up for review by public in Merced – City staffers are accepting comments on the nearly 80-acre retail and housing project called Merced Gateways, a planner said Monday. Merced Sun-Star article 

Bethany Clough: Amazon opens Fashion Fair store, potential changes at Fig Garden – Change is in the works for Fashion Fair mall and Fig Garden Village in Fresno. Fashion Fair is now home to one of only about a dozen Amazon stores in the country. The store at the main entrance to the mall near Starbucks is technically a kiosk, though it’s like walking into a room displaying all of Amazon’s gadgets. Clough in Fresno Bee 

Business, property owners to meet over J Street – The Downtown Modesto Partnership plans to talk with J Street businesses and property owners Tuesday over potential changes that could make the street better for those who do business along it and use it. Modesto Bee article 

Airbnb strikes deal with LA to collect millions in lodging taxes — Under a newly announced deal with Los Angeles city officials, Airbnb will soon start collecting lodging taxes from rental hosts, providing millions of dollars in revenue to the city annually. LA Times article 

Judge says San Francisco acted properly in OKing new Warriors arena – The Golden State Warriors’ three-year push to build a new arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood passed a key hurdle Monday. as a judge ruled against against a group that had filed multiple lawsuits to kill the project, according to City Attorney Dennis HerreraSan Francisco Chronicle article

Merced food bank stands by new director despite Modesto trouble – Leaders of the Merced County Food Bank are standing behind their hiring this year of Bill Gibbs as executive director despite his history with a Stanislaus County nonprofit that led to allegations of mismanagement and forgery. Merced Sun-Star article

Mechoopda Tribe wins right to build California county’s third casino — A rural Northern California county has fallen short in its long fight against a proposed tribal casino near the city of Chico. In a marked defeat for Butte County officials, and a victory for the Mechoopda Indian Tribe, an East Coast-based federal judge concluded the Interior Department had acted properly in taking land into trust for the proposed casino. McClatchy Newspapers article

Modesto-produced milk cartons honor scholar-athletes – Some of the milk cartons from the Crystal Creamery plant in Modesto bear the names of young people who excelled in sports and studies. Modesto Bee article 

Family-owned Madera pharmacy up for national recognition — Madera Medical Pharmacy is one of the few remaining locally owned and operated pharmacies in the area, and co-owners Ashley and Michael Melikian, who inherited the business from their late father Rodney, believe it to be the oldest locally owned pharmacy in Madera, having opened its doors in 1979. The family pharmacy is currently one of three finalists for the Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year, an award given to only one pharmacy in the nation. The Business Journal article 

Alameda could add second rent control measure to ballot — Facing an overheated housing market and simmering community tensions, the Alameda City Council will decide Tuesday whether to put a second rent-control measure in front of local voters in November. San Francisco Chronicle article


Reclamation increases Friant water allocation to 75 percent – The Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday an agreement between water contractors and agencies that will increase the federal water allocation for the Friant Division from 65 to 75 percent of contracted amounts. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno broadens notifications for discolored-water investigation – The pounding of a jackhammer rattled through an otherwise quiet northeast Fresno neighborhood Monday morning as plumbers dug up one resident’s water line. The work, contracted by the city’s water division, replaced the galvanized iron service line leading from the water meter to the Sharon Avenue home of Ronda Rafidi. Fresno Bee article 

David Ansolabehere and Barry Bedwell: Water from oil production is perfectly safe – Ansolabehere, general manager of the Cawelo Water District, and Bedwell, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association, write, “With our high standards for environmental protection, produced water is highly regulated. It is filtered, treated, monitored and blended with other ground and surface water before it is provided to farmers to irrigate crops. Produced water is tested monthly and results are reported to the state’s Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.” Ansolabehere/Bedwell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Exclusive: Victim, who was shot 5 times, recall chaotic night – Japrajiah Frutos was trying to keep the peace before she was shot five times Saturday in what authorities are calling a gang-related shooting. Bakersfield Californian article 

Stockton Police Department: Chief introduces 18 new officers – The 18 officers — already included in the department’s 409 sworn personnel achieved June 30 that helped the agency reach its highest staffing level since 2009 — are expected to hit the streets in a couple of weeks following orientation. All graduated last week from the Police Academy at San Joaquin Delta College. Stockton Record article 

Stockton police reach out to Latino community – Every Wednesday for six weeks, self-proclaimed community leader Zoyla Moreno attended the Stockton Police Department’s “first of its kind” Spanish-language citizens police academy. Stockton Record article 

Sacramento Sheriff’s Department loses bid for new trial in discrimination lawsuit – There will be no retrial in the case of four female Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies awarded nearly $3.6 million in May after claiming retaliation at the hands of their superiors. Sacramento Bee article

‘Watch your back,’ LAPD chief tells rank-and-file in wake of Baton Rouge and Dallas attacks – Citing his concerns over copycat violence, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck detailed Monday the steps the LAPD has taken to better protect officers after what he described as a “cowardly attack of assassination” onpolice in Baton RougeLA Times article 

Judge throws out ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca’s plea deal, saying 6 months in prison not enough – A federal judge rejected a plea agreement Monday under which former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca would have served up to six months in prison for lying to federal authorities, saying the punishment was not severe enough. LA Times articleAP article 

Clovis man gets prison time for flashing big laser at CHP plane — A Clovis man was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release in federal court Monday for flashing a large laser pointer at a California Highway Patrol plane, temporarily damaging the pilot’s eyes. Fresno Bee article


UC regent named as head chancellor of community college system — California’s community college Board of Governors on Monday named a regent of the University of California as chancellor of the nation’s largest college system, with more than 2 million students and 113 schools. Eloy Ortiz Oakley will continue to serve on the Board of Regents, to which he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee articleEdSource article 

Autism rates in California public schools jumped 7 percent in 2016 — More than 97,000 California public school students have been diagnosed as autistic, a number that has risen seven-fold since 2001, according to the latest special education data from the California Department of Education. The figure represents a jump of about 6,500, or 7 percent, from 2014-15 to 2015-16. Sacramento Bee article 

Katehi scandal at UC Davis called ‘worse than pepper spray’ – As Linda P.B. Katehi’s hold on her job as chancellor of UC Davis began to unravel in March and April, her staff alternately conceived talking points to lead her out of the controversy and blamed its own failings in helping to create the crisis, newly released documents show. Sacramento Bee article 

Tribe: A Tulare Union alum’s thoughts on the new mascot – Last month, Tulare Joint Union High School District made the final decision to cut ties with the Tulare Union High School Redskin mascot and voted to go instead with Tribe – a more ‘sensitive’ name. But not really. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Beth Slutsky: California students will be taught a far more inclusive history – The historian at UC Davis with the California History-Social Science Project writes, “Students throughout California are about to learn an updated version of the past in their history and social science courses. Last week, the State Board of Education adopted a new framework for teachers, administrators and textbook writers for K-12 history-social science.” Slutsky op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

UK university names dean for Placer campus — Demonstrating its seriousness about opening a Placer County campus, a British university appointed a dean Monday to take charge of the operation. Sacramento Bee article


Road trip! Steve Lopez explores California’s 1,100 mile coastline — On the 40th Anniversary of California’s Coastal Act, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez is on a road trip from Oregon to Mexico to explore the state’s 1100 miles of beaches, wetlands, wave-pounded coves, rocky cliffs and the characters who thrive in that iconic realm. How well have we preserved this resource? Where have we failed? What risks remain? Lopez column in LA Times 

Metrolink unveils new locomotives that could help improve region’s air – The Metrolink commuter railroad on Monday unveiled the first of 40 clean-air locomotives that will replace its aging fleet of diesel engines in an effort to reduce harmful exhaust emissions across the region. LA Times article 

Tesoro reaches $425 million settlement with EPA — The Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced a $425 million settlement with two companies to reduce air pollution at six petroleum refineries in the West. The agreement with Tesoro Corp. and Par Hawaii Refining resolves alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act at several refineries including one in Martinez, California and requires installment of new equipment to control emissions. KQED reportLA Times article 

Health/Human Services 

Where are California’s uninsured? – Where are the uninsured in California? Here is a map of California cities and their estimated percentage of uninsured residents. The larger the bubble, the higher the proportion of uninsured. Zoom in to see how neighboring cities compare–the results could surprise you.  You can also type the name of a city into the search box in the upper right portion of the map. CALmatters article 

UCSF chief makes millions from firms doing business with hospital — The chief executive of UCSF Medical Center sits on the boards of two companies that together do millions of dollars of business with his hospital and have paid him more than $5 million in stock awards and cash fees since 2007, a review of company filings shows. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Kids in crisis: One-third of California 11th-graders surveyed say they are chronically sad – In a potential crisis crossing demographic lines, one-third of California’s 11th-graders and one-quarter of seventh-graders reported feeling chronically sad or hopeless over the past 12 months, a survey released Monday showed. The California Healthy Kids Survey also found that about 19 percent of both ninth-graders and 11th-graders seriously considered attempting suicide. East Bay Times article 

LA veterans waiting too long for medical care — In Los Angeles, at the biggest veterans hospital in the country, former service members are waiting too long to get seen for care—something the hospital’s new director, Ann Brown, says it’s her top priority to fix. KPCC report

Land Use/Housing 

Madera planning panel could rule on controversial quarry north of Fresno — The Madera County Planning Commission at its Tuesday night meeting could decide the fate of the intensely scrutinized Austin Quarry, an aggregate mining facility proposed near the corner of highways 41 and 145. Fresno Bee article


Self-driving cars:  Consumer groups want government to hit brakes — As automakers race to create cars that can drive themselves, a growing chorus of consumer advocates is demanding that the companies — and their federal regulators — slow down. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Other areas 

Fresno Bee: Fresno makes progress as leaders stand for justice – There is much work ahead, but Mayor Ashley Swearengin and other Fresno leaders have taken an important step in addressing concerns about racism and police shootings that led to recent public protests. Fresno Bee editorial 

Jeff Jardine: Deciding how to decide future of new courthouse construction – So now the waiting game begins, with Aug. 11 the new date to await. That is when members of the State Judicial Council will decide how to proceed with new courthouse construction when they simply don’t have the money to complete all or even most of the projects on their to-do list. Or, more than likely, they decide how they’ll decide how to proceed. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Merced will move forward with cannabis dispensaries — A split Merced City Council approved four medical marijuana dispensaries and indoor cultivation during a meeting Monday. The dispensaries would be allowed in commercial offices, but the council said the city will not take applications from potential dispensary owners until the city has a regulatory system in place. Merced Sun-Star article

New emails detail Kevin Johnson’s fight with national mayors’ group – The city of Sacramento on Monday fulfilled a judge’s order to release more than 70 email documents relating to Mayor Kevin Johnson’s controversial takeover of an embattled black mayors group in 2013. Sacramento Bee article

Youth commission, high bids come to Bakersfield city council — Ten months after the youngest member of the Bakersfield City Council called for creation of a youth commission to advise the city, council members will consider appointing up to 16 high school students as representatives and alternates on Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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; There is much work ahead, but Mayor Ashley Swearengin and other Fresno leaders have taken an important step in addressing concerns about racism and police shootings that led to recent public protests.

Sacramento Bee – What we need is for everyone – police leaders, activists, politicians – to take a deep breath, then take concrete actions to bridge the divide between law enforcement and communities, to stop this madness.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Heinous killings at market, an inspirational athlete and other issues.