July 23, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

Most undocumented immigrants will stay under Obama’s new policies, report says – Under new immigration enforcement programs the Obama administration is putting in place across the country, the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants — up to 87 percent — would not be the focus of deportation operations and would have “a degree of protection” to remain in the United States, according to a report published Thursday by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. New York Times article 

Kern sheriff plans to invite ICE into jail — Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood has worked out a way to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detain undocumented criminals that have been serving sentences in Lerdo Jail. Bakersfield Californian article


Gov. Brown 

Think like Gandhi, Jerry Brown urges leaders at Vatican climate conference — Jerry Brown on Wednesday urged the world’s mayors to emulate Mahatma Gandhi and the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ as they fight to halt climate change and win over skeptics. In his speech at the second day of a conference on global warming hosted at the Vatican by Pope Francis, the California governor urged the mayors in the audience to “think of those instances where radical change occurred.” LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Jerry Brown views Sistine Chapel, helps docent with history — With a climate change conference winding down here Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown slipped into the Sistine Chapel, walked beneath Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam and stood for several minutes before the altar wall. Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown, ‘Are you Catholic?’ — Gov. Jerry Brown was doing a series of interviews on climate change Wednesday when a local reporter asked him, “Are you Catholic?” Brown’s acquaintances, including his wife, will tell you that he is. But the fourth-term governor, as a rule, does not like to discuss his religious practices. Capitol Alert


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joe Mathews: $2,000 vs. $10 million — Democrats in the legislature have reduced the size of their tax on political participation; they want to increase the filing fee for ballot initiative only from $200 to $2,000 – instead of $8,000. But as the Democrats reduce their price, I’m reconsidering the reasons for my opposition to the idea (as previously outlined here) though not my opposition itself. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Scott Walker to headline California Republican Party convention this fall — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose successes curtailing the political might of labor unions have earned him admirers in solidly blue California, will address the state Republican Party at its fall convention, officials announced Thursday. He is scheduled to headline the California GOP’s Sept. 19 banquet dinner in Anaheim. Capitol Alert



Kevin Johnson and Rose Cuison Villazor: ‘Kate’s Law’ is a misguided reaction to tragedy – Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law, and Villazor, a professor at the law school, write, “To address the nation’s immigration concerns, we need to focus deportations on serious criminals and reform our immigration laws along the following principles.” Johnson/Villazor op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Mexican official says Trump’s rant on border serves no purpose — After weeks of presidential candidate Donald Trump lobbing sharp criticism and insults at America’s southern neighbor, Mexico’s secretary of state delivered his country’s first response Wednesday, saying that Trump’s views are rooted in prejudice and “have no place in politics.” San Francisco Chronicle article

Prison system violated applicant’s civil rights — A federal court has found that a Stockton man’s civil rights were violated when California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation denied him employment because he had used a fake social security number in the past to work while he was undocumented. Stockton Record article


Other areas

George Skelton: California can’t stop global warming alone, but it can fix its highways —  The governor is in Europe saving the planet. The Legislature is on a monthlong vacation. And we motorists keep getting our cars beat up on California highways. Skelton column in LA Times

Pete Weber: Bipartisan conversations address next steps toward improved governance – California Forward has held multiple regional convenings to get input from civic and political leaders on what the next steps should be. We also convened a group of four bi-partisan leaders for in-depth conversations on the subject – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (R), former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (D), Davenport Institute Director and recent candidate for Secretary of State Pete Peterson (R), and former president of Green Dot Public Schools and recent candidate for Superintendent of Instruction Marshall Tuck (D). Weber in California Forward

Fort Bragg caught in debate over slave-owning namesake – The good folks in this rugged coastal city were understandably taken aback this past week when, out of nowhere, they were thrust headlong into a frothy nationwide debate about the Confederate flag and the ugly business of slavery. San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Morain: Blowouts, bubbly and Capitol games — Drybar is the oh-so-chic chain of salons in Orange County, Beverly Hills and Manhattan, where women of means get their hair professionally blow-dried, or something. Morain in Sacramento Bee


News Briefs

Top Stories


University of California announces $15 minimum wage — The University of California will raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next three years for all employees, including part-time and contract workers. “This is the right thing to do,” UC President Janet Napolitano said at the university’s Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco Wednesday, where she unveiled the plan. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; ‘Interactive: Comparing numbers after UC announces minimum-wage increase’ in Sacramento Bee; KQED report


Hope that El Nino will reach Northern California – and key reservoirs – The El Niño hitting the mountains of the north is critical because California’s vast waterworks rely on rain and snow from the Sierra to supply farms and cities. By contrast, much of the rain that falls in Southern California ends up in the ocean. Experts are becoming more optimistic about El Niño’s northern reach. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy 

Higher minimum-wage proposals gain ground on both coasts – The push for a higher minimum wage gained momentum on both sides of country Wednesday, with a New York labor board endorsing an eventual $15 an hour for the state’s 150,000 fast-food workers and the huge University of California system announcing the same raise for its employees. AP article 

‘Working poor’ on the rise in Tulare County – Tulare County has the highest percentage in the state of residents who are struggling to meet their most basic needs, according to a new United Ways of California report. Visalia Times-Delta article

Applications for U.S. unemployment aid plummet to 42-year low – The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid plunged last week to the lowest level in nearly 42 years, evidence that employers are holding onto their staffs and likely hiring at a steady pace. Yet the drop also reflects seasonal volatility in the data. AP article

Livingston expects first budget surplus in four years – Livingston City Council on Tuesday adopted its 2015-16 budget, which reflects its first surplus in four years. With general fund revenues of $5.18 million and expenditures of $4.86 million, the city projects a surplus of about $320,000. Merced Sun-Star article

‘Delinquent’: Thousands of Stockton residents receive bills in error – City officials apologized Wednesday after thousands of Stockton residents were notified incorrectly that they were delinquent on their sewer bills and that their service could be terminated. Stockton Record article 

Going to the Fresno Food Expo? – If you’re wondering whether there’s a local tie-in that might give you extra motivation to head to the Fresno Food Expo on Thursday, the answer is a definite “Yes.” Hanford Sentinel article

Merced Sun-Star: Supervisors: Give up your discretionary funds – In San Joaquin County, supervisors ended the use of discretionary funds in 2007 after one supervisor tried to spend $700,000 in his hometown. Here in Merced County, supervisors don’t want to be bothered even to fill out a single form. There’s another, better option: Get rid of discretionary funds altogether. Merced Sun-Star editorial

Visit Stockton seeks new brand for city – Visit Stockton announced Wednesday it is seeking a new Stockton brand to underpin its efforts to boost the city’s visitor and hospitality industry, as well as help in the bigger goal of attracting new residents and businesses. Stockton Record article 

Pot study in California covers tax, stoned drivers, Big Tobacco – Even if California voters legalize cannabis in 2016, it will take “many years” of patience to figure out how to tax and regulate a multibillion-dollar industry that’s forever been largely underground. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Judge can’t rule to remove group from Chukchansi business complex – A U.S. District Court judge said he doesn’t have authority to have members of a Chukchansi tribal faction removed from the tribe’s business complex across from the Coarsegold hotel and casino. Fresno Bee article


Sacramento Bee: Embarrassing error adds to pension tab – The city of Sacramento faces a daunting enough challenge to control pension costs without overpaying retirees. But because of an embarrassing foul-up, that happened for years. The mistake must be fixed, but unfortunately it is hurting pensioners. Sacramento Bee editorial

Trucking industry on losing end of I-10 bridge shutdown – The hours-long detours have led to lost productivity for the industry. A shipment that would usually take a day or less may now arrive in two days, said R.J. Cervantes, director of legislative affairs for the California Trucking Assn., which has about 1,500 carrier members. LA Times article

Apple employees file class action suit on bag searches — Apple is so concerned about theft of devices at its retail stores that some managers thoroughly search employees’ bags — a process that can take so long, staffers now want to be paid for it. San Francisco Chronicle article

Qualcomm to cut 15 percent of workforce — Qualcomm says it will cut jobs, update its board and review its business structure as part of an effort to improve its performance. The announcement comes as the wireless technology company reported a massive drop in its third-quarter revenue and profit and gave a weak quarterly outlook. AP article; LA Times article



California drought: High court hands setback to water conservation fight – Rejecting the pleas of California officials worried about water conservation, the state Supreme Court on Wednesday left intact a lower court ruling that makes it tougher for cities and water districts to impose punishing higher rates on water wasters. San Jose Mercury News article

Environmental groups blast Delta twin-tunnels plan – The surest way to improve the health of the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is to increase the amount of fresh water flowing through it, yet government officials insist on pushing ahead with a twin-tunnels plan that would continue to funnel water from the troubled estuary. So argues a group of environmentalists, Delta farmers and recreational anglers in a letter sent Wednesday to state and federal officials as part of the public comment on the project. Sacramento Bee article

Diana Marcum: The delta and the Central Valley: Locking horns over water – The sides in the fight over who should get the fresh water are largely regional. I live in the Central Valley. I’ve crossed into the land of “the other guys” from the land of “folks I know.” Marcum in LA Times

Q&A: El Niño could bring disaster and drought relief to California – How does El Niño work, and why might it bring rain and snow to California this winter? We answer your questions. LA Times article

Modesto water customers can expect to pay more for less – Homes, apartments, businesses and others can expect to pay Modesto more for water next year even though they are using a lot less. Blame it on California’s drought, which now is in its fourth year. Modesto Bee article 

Tankers pumping water in drought anger residents near Porterville – Tensions are rising in a rural neighborhood west of Porterville as water haulers pump from a community well for delivery to drought-stricken East Porterville a few miles way. Fresno Bee article

Fresno runs social experiment to stop water wasters – What’s the difference between a smiling mascot and a stern warning? More than 2.5 million gallons of water a month in Fresno. That’s according to a social experiment the city ran to encourage greater water conservation. Fresno used data from the city’s water meters to target people watering on non-approved days and sent each home one of two different fliers. KVPR report

Regulators say first water case aided by detailed records – Water regulators are proposing their first prosecution for unauthorized water diversions in the drought. They say unusually detailed records will spare them the usual challenges involving such cases as they seek to show they are serious about enforcing widespread cutbacks. AP article 

Another San Joaquin Valley water leader resigns — Kings River Conservation District leader Dave Orth has resigned after 13 years as general manager, the organization announced Wednesday. Orth, who is well-known in California water circles, will pursue other professional opportunities, according to KRCD board chairman David Cehrs. Fresno Bee article; Hanford Sentinel article; The Business Journal article

Aerial video reveals drought-ravaged lakes worse than imagined — Ugly brown rings where waves used to lap at the shore. Dry docks lying on desiccated silt. Barren boat ramps. Trickles of water. Those are just some of the disturbing images California’s Department of Water Resources team saw in an aerial tour of Northern California’s Folsom Lake, Lake Oroville and Shasta reservoirs released this week. San Francisco Chronicle article

California drought toll: First your lawn, now your trees — By now, most Californians have gotten the message: let the lawn go. There’s a drought on. Many have turned off their sprinkler systems all together. That has meant some collateral damage, however; along with the grass, trees are dying, too, and those are valuable in lots of ways lawns are not. KQED report

Sacramento Bee: Little drops of stormwater could add up – The freak storm that deluged Southern California last weekend didn’t make much of a dent in the drought. But it did highlight the latest talk of the town in water conservation – capturing stormwater for later use. Sacramento Bee editorial

Tulareans can resume car washing at home – Tulare residents can once again wash their vehicles at home. On Tuesday, the city council revised the ordinance that took Tulare to Stage 3 in the water conservation schedule. Visalia Times-Delta article 

San Gabriel Valley quarantine for citrus disease expands — Agricultural officials have expanded a quarantine in the San Gabriel Valley after discovering several more trees infected with citrus greening disease, a malady that has devastated orchards in Florida, Mexico and Brazil. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police sergeant shot and killed in California traffic stop — A San Francisco Bay Area police sergeant was shot and killed during an early morning traffic stop Wednesday, and authorities say the shooter hasn’t been arrested. Hayward police identified the officer as Sgt. Scott Lunger, 48, of Brentwood, California. AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

A homeless woman picked up an LAPD nightstick during the skid row shooting – and could get life in prison — The homeless woman, Trishawn Cardessa Carey, 34, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer and resisting arrest, and could face 25 years to life in prison under California’s three-strikes sentencing law for repeat offenders.  LA Times article

LA County task force suggests ways to divert mentally ill from jails — Cutting the number of mentally ill inmates in Los Angeles County’s jail system would require spending tens of millions of dollars on new treatment facilities and housing for offenders who would otherwise be released into homelessness, a long-awaited report concludes. LA Times article



UC Merced will host forum on 2020 Project, downtown plans — UC Merced leaders will host a forum on July 29 to provide the community with an update on the university’s plan for growth. The forum will focus on the 2020 Project, which is UC Chancellor Dorothy Leland’s plan to double the size of the campus by building new facilities and increase enrollment to 10,000 students. Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto City Schools contract negotiations include possible spring break move — With classes starting less than three weeks from now, Modesto City Schools and its teachers have not settled on a school calendar. The issue took on more significance this year with a union proposal to end spring break’s traditional tie to Easter. Modesto Bee article

Issue of collective bargaining threatens evaluation reform – Democratic leaders’ efforts to rewrite the state’s teacher evaluation law have stalled over the same disagreement that upended the last big push in the Legislature three years ago: stark differences in who gets to decide what goes into an evaluation. EdSource article

CSU Stanislaus student among California State University’s top brass – When the august body leading the California State University system gathered Tuesday, a 20-year-old student from its Turlock campus had a seat at the table. Maggie White, 20, of CSU Stanislaus is the board’s new student representative, notified two weeks ago of her selection after an application process that included interviews in San Diego and Sacramento with Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff. Modesto Bee article 

San Francisco middle schools no longer teaching Algebra I — Valentina says delaying Algebra 1 is going to hurt gifted students because some classes are “too easy” or “aren’t very challenging” for high-achieving students. The shift to now require Algebra 1 in high school may seem like a subtle change, but it hits on a deep-rooted debate over when advanced math should be introduced, and to which students. KQED report

Fant supporters cry racism — Fireworks erupted at the Manteca Unified School District board meeting Tuesday, with discussion on whether to censure Vice President Sam Fant and how to respond to a grand jury report taking center stage, and included calls from the executive director of the Stockton-San Joaquin chapter of the NAACP that the attempt to censure Fant was racist. Stockton Record article



Brown appoints panel to review California rules for fracking – Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s created a panel to study how California should monitor hydraulic fracturing for oil. The panel will review a state-ordered fracking study released this month that found some of the chemicals used in California’s fracking boom likely pose a risk to public health. It said the state has failed to track them. AP article

EPA, blasted for going to far in water rule, now sued for not going far enough — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been getting battered by industry and farm groups – as well as half the states in the nation – for allegedly going too far in its recent clean water rule. Now the agency is getting sued for not going far enough. McClatchy Newspapers article 

PG&E files claim against Fresno County in pipeline blast – Faulting Fresno County for causing the April 17 gas pipeline explosion at the Fresno Sheriff’s Foundation shooting range, Pacific Gas & Electric has filed a claim seeking more than $3 million. Fresno Bee article

Report: Marijuana grow sites causing environmental damage — Marijuana is big business in California. By some estimates pot is actually the state’s top cash crop. But with the boom in marijuana cultivation, there is also a significant environmental toll. Mountain tops are being leveled, and streams are being illegally diverted threatening species already stressed by the drought. With the possibility of marijuana legalization looming in 2016, the issue of how to clean up the environmental damage caused by pot production is a big concern. KVPR report

Lieutenant governor issues state of emergency in Kern – The lieutenant governor on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in several counties including Kern following this past week’s heavy rains, lightning strikes and flooding. That helps free up government assistance to fix damage. Bakersfield Californian article

Activists, Fresno faith leaders talk about need to protect environment after Pope Francis speaks in Bolivia – The need to protect the planet from pollution and climate change was discussed during a meeting in Fresno on Wednesday night organized by activists and faith leaders to echo recent comments from Pope Francis. Fresno Bee article

GMO rice could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, study says – Over half the people on the planet eat rice as a staple food. Growing rice emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas — to the tune of 25 million to 100 million metric tons of methane every year, a notable contribution to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. LA Times article

SeaWorld orcas live as long as whales in the wild, new study says — The debate over the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld has turned into a battle over scientific studies now that a new report has concluded that whales showcased at the marine-themed parks live just as long as whales in the wild. LA Times article


Health/Human Services

Drug prices soar, prompting calls for justification – As complaints grow about exorbitant drug prices, pharmaceutical companies are coming under pressure to disclose the development costs and profits of those medicines and the rationale for charging what they do. New York Times article

Superbug outbreak: UCLA will test new scope-cleaning machine — Following a superbug outbreak involving three deaths, UCLA officials are planning to test a new scope-cleaning machine designed by a small Arizona company. LA Times article

Sacramento County will pay $4 million to boy who was shackled, tortured in Tracy — Sacramento County has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that its Child Protective Services workers ignored numerous ominous signs and failed to rescue an abused boy who wound up imprisoned in a Tracy home where he was sadistically tortured for more than a year. Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing

Bakersfield council approves downtown apartments by 4-3 vote – Plans for a four-story, 28-unit building of loft-style apartments on 18th Street sparked two hours of public comment and debate at Wednesday’s Bakersfield City Council meeting, before members approved a project some called the future of downtown with a 4-3 vote. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento County to regulate halfway homes – Sacramento County supervisors approved a permitting process for halfway houses but expressed frustration that they could not enact stronger restrictions. Sacramento Bee article 

New agreement spares Sacramento urban farm tended by immigrant residents — A highway of garden hoses snake unregulated at the River Gardens urban farm in Sacramento, revealing the genesis of one of the city’s oldest urban farms. Initially planted by emigres from places such as the Ukraine and Mexico, it began as a small patchwork of squatter plots roughly two decades ago, irrigated by water hoses from kitchens in the adjacent River Gardens low-income apartment complex.  Sacramento Bee article



Hanford draws regional support for HSR — The Hanford City Council held a study session Tuesday to discuss a grant to pay for the planning of a proposed high speed rail station in Hanford. The council previously considered accepting the $600,000 grant from the California High Speed Rail Authority on June 2. The authority plans to fund the grant using $200,000 of Proposition 1A money and $400,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. As a condition of the grant, the city would have to provide a local match of $200,000, plus $50,000 for staff time and other services. Representatives from Kings and Tulare counties, as well as the city of Visalia, have offered to contribute to the matching funds. Hanford Sentinel article


Other areas

New Livingston city manager acknowledges domestic violence conviction, bankruptcy – The Livingston City Council unanimously hired its next city manager Tuesday. A Sun-Star review of public records shows he filed for bankruptcy and was charged with a felony about a decade ago. It remains unclear exactly what the council members knew about Eddie Duque’s past or what process was used to vet the 20 applications they reviewed for the position. Merced Sun-Star article

New CEO of Gospel Center Rescue Mission placed on paid leave – Loren Geiger, the new chief executive at the Gospel Center Rescue Mission, Stockton’s oldest homeless shelter and services agency, has been placed on 30-day paid administrative leave after information surfaced that she has a prior criminal record. Stockton Record article

Mathis visits Plainview, hears concerns from residents — Plainview residents want change and they’re looking to their state assemblyman for help. Residents Wednesday listed a lack of sidewalks, lack of a sewer system and public lighting, access to healthcare, public transportation and immigration reform as their top concerns during a community outreach visit from Devon Mathis (R-Visalia). Visalia Times-Delta article 

Joe Mathews: California keeps waiting for superheroes to save it – Maybe it’s because Superman, Spiderman and Batman all live in New York (or its fictional doppelgangers), but Californians have failed to grapple with our own dangerous dependence on superheroes. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Lightning deaths in Bakersfield both rare and random – Deaths from lightning strikes in California are exceedingly rare. Only seven fatalities in the state were attributed to lightning between 2005 and 2014, and none of them, according to the National Weather Service, occurred in the Bakersfield area. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton has its first poet laureate — Tama Brisbane has been named Stockton’s first poet laureate, a move that activists say will promote literacy in a community that desperately needs it. Brisbane is the energetic force behind With Our Words, a Stockton organization that encourages youth to express themselves through poetry and verse. Stockton Record article

First Look: Fire chief Greener weighs in on previous Fourth of July — Bakersfield Fire Chief Doug Greener used the term “war zone” to describe the previous Fourth of July weekend in Bakersfield on Wednesday’s “First Look with Scott Cox.” The fire chief argued that this year was just as bad as the last, with ongoing and widespread illegal activity. Bakersfield Californian article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, conservative House Republicans have embarked on a crusade to kill the obscure but important Export-Import Bank.

Merced Sun-Star – In San Joaquin County, supervisors ended the use of discretionary funds in 2007 after one supervisor tried to spend $700,000 in his hometown. Here in Merced County, supervisors don’t want to be bothered even to fill out a single form. There’s another, better option: Get rid of discretionary funds altogether.

Modesto Bee – It takes courage to stand up to domestic violence.

Sacramento Bee – The city of Sacramento faces a daunting enough challenge to control pension costs without overpaying retirees. But because of an embarrassing foul-up, that happened for years. The mistake must be fixed, but unfortunately it is hurting pensioners; The freak storm that deluged Southern California last weekend didn’t make much of a dent in the drought. But it did highlight the latest talk of the town in water conservation – capturing stormwater for later use.