July 23, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

As California Democrats party in Philly, state’s head teacher poised to lead Golden State — In a chain of events straight out of an episode of “The West Wing,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is poised to take the helm as acting governor at some point in the next week when Gov. Jerry Brown and nearly all of his statutory replacements head out of state to their party’s convention in Philadelphia, which makes them constitutionally ineligible to serve as governor. Sacramento Bee article 

Fresno Mayor Swearengin isn’t likely to endorse Trump for president — Like many Republicans, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says she’s struggling with her choices for president. She’s intrigued by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, and the tantalizing prospect of him shaking up the status quo in Washington D.C. But Trump’s controversial comments about racial minorities are too much for Swearengin and outweigh his upside. For that reason, Swearengin hasn’t endorsed Trump to date, and it’s almost certain that she won’t ahead of the November general election. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

 Gov. Brown signs law requiring registration of homemade guns — Californians who assemble their own weapons from parts they’ve bought or gathered will have to apply for a state-issued serial number under a law signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times articleAP article

Valley politics 

Lemoore council race shaping up — So far, the only candidate to turn in nomination papers to run for Lemoore City Council is incumbent Eddie Neal. The council seats currently occupied by Billy Siegel, Lois Wynne and Neal are up for election this year. Hanford Sentinel article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter express support for anti-death penalty proposition — Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter on Thursday endorsed a November ballot measure that would abolish the death penalty in California. LA Times article 

Race a factor in Obama’s endorsement of Kamala Harris, Loretta Sanchez says — Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, in an interview aired on Univision 19 Friday, injected race in explaining away President Barack Obama’s endorsement of U.S. Senate rival Kamala Harris, whose father is Jamaican. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Other areas 

Preacher who lauded gay nightclub massacre will host like-minded pastors in Sacramento — The controversial local preacher who praised the killings of 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub last month has organized a gathering of like-minded pastors in Sacramento next week. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Hillary Clinton picks Tim Kaine. Virginia senator and former governor, as he running mate – Hillary Clinton has tapped Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, adding a well-liked swing-state moderate with broad governing experience to the Democratic ticket. LA Times article 

Dan Morain: The showman and the politician – If Trump wins in November – and he could – we would not be safer, more prosperous or more secure. But the wealthy son of a wealthy developer running his first political campaign is striking chords that Hillary Clinton and Democrats ignore at their peril. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Bill Whalen: California should host all national party conventions — The math is the stuff of income inequality – billions in political donations taken out of California, but in return maybe one or two conventions likely to pump about $200 million apiece into a local economy. To level this playing field, let’s make California the permanent home of both conventions, starting in 2020. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee 

RNC recap: Californians you wouldn’t expect to find in Cleveland — KQED’s Senior Editor for Politics and Government Scott Shafer spoke to some California delegates this week at the Republican National Convention who might not fit the stereotype of Trump supporters. KQED report

Final thoughts from Republican convention — Hanford residents Vernon Costa and Aubrey Bettencourt and Coalinga resident William Bourdeau offered some final thoughts Friday about the last night of the Republican National Convention. All three were delegates who attended. Hanford Sentinel article

California Politics Podcast: Democrats descend on Philly — This week: California Democrats head to Philadelphia, and we assess the state’s delegation’s impact on the big show. We also discuss the U.S. Senate race, in light of the endorsement by President Obama of Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News. California Politics Podcast 

California ‘Dreamer’ to address Democratic National Convention — California Democratic Party Chair John Burton has been to his fair share of  political conventions over more than five decades in politics. So when this year’s convention rolled around, he decide to do something a little different with his pass: He offered it to a young immigrant who is in the country illegally. KQED report

News Stories

Top Stories

Cap-and-trade market could raise pressure on dairies, jet makers and refineries — California companies that refine gas, make cheese and build satellites may face bigger bills in the state’s underperforming cap-and-trade market very soon. But their counterparts that extract oil from the earth, turn wood into paper or produce fertilizer are in line for a longer cap-and-trade honeymoon. Sacramento Bee article 

California boosts payrolls by 40,300 workers in June, but unemployment rises to 5.4 percent – Defying critics of new state regulations, California continued to pad its hefty payrolls in June. Employers added a net 40,300 jobs over the month, the state reported Friday. But unemployment in California increased to 5.4%, from 5.2% in May. The national unemployment rate also ticked up, to 4.9% in June from 4.7% in May. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Unemployment rates climb throughout Valley – Unemployment rates climbed throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley in June, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the June numbers, followed in parentheses by the May 2016 and June 2015 figures:

  • Fresno– 9.4 percent (8.4, 9.7)
  • Kern– 10.8 percent (9.6, 10.4)
  • Kings– 10.2 percent (8.6, 10.3)
  • Madera– 9.4 percent (8.4, 10.1)
  • Merced– 10.6 percent (9.6, 10.8)
  • San Joaquin– 8.3 percent (7.1, 8.7)
  • Stanislaus– 9.2 percent (7.9, 9.6)
  • Tulare– 10.8 percent (9.4, 11.0) 

Surge in job seekers grows Fresno County’s June unemployment rate — The unemployment rate in Fresno County lurched upward by a full percentage point between May and June, as the number of people holding jobs was steady but the number of folks looking for work entering the summer grew. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article 

Kings jobless rate up in June – The unemployment rate in Kings County spiked in June, rising to 10.2 percent from 8.6 percent in May, according to numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. Hanford Sentinel article

Is the rising jobless rate a good thing? – An influx of people returning to the labor force drove Merced County’s unemployment rate higher in June, labor market analysts said Friday, but it remains lower than the same time last year. Economists said the higher unemployment rates, oddly, reflect continued improvement in the economy in June. Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus, Merced, San Joaquin, Tuolumne see jobless rates jump – The Stanislaus County unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent in June, up from a revised 7.9 percent in May. Merced County’s rate was 10.6 percent, up from 9.6 percent. San Joaquin County had 8.3 percent June unemployment up from 7.1 percent in May. Modesto Bee article 

Michael Hiltzik: If California’s a ‘bad state for business,’ why is it leading the nation in job and GDP growth? – State and federal statistics released as recently as Friday make it clear: California is smoking hot, economy-wise. Hiltzik column in LA Times 

Feds deny disaster declaration for Erksine Fire victims – The State of California’s request for a major disaster declaration for victims of the deadly Erskine Fire, which killed two and burned 75 square miles in eastern Kern County, has been denied, a Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Amazon cargo shipping ramps up at Stockton Metropolitan Airport – Stockton Metropolitan Airport has become an important hub for Amazon. Amazon’s cargo flights in Stockton began in February, but business has increased so much that a second jet was added Sunday and a third is scheduled to start next month. The increased traffic means more jobs and business for the airport. Capital Public Radio report 

Foon Rhee: Punishing the needy hurts us all – The time limit on food stamp benefits treflects our conflicted feelings about public assistance. We want to make sure our neighbors aren’t starving and to help families stay off the streets. But we also don’t want able-bodied – especially single men – to lounge around on the dole. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee 

Verizon reportedly close to acquiring Yahoo for about $5 billion – Verizon is reportedly nearing a deal to purchase Yahoo for close to $5 billion, bringing to an end a months-long bidding process for a now-ailing company that was once an Internet trailblazer. LA Times article 

Southern California’s aerospace industry, long in decline, begins to stir — Southern California is a long way from its aerospace glory years. Employment today is about one-third of what it was in 1990. But analysts and industry leaders believe that the sector is poised to grow again, behind a new generation of entrepreneurial private space companies like SpaceX in Hawthorne and Virgin Galactic, and defense projects such as the B-21 long-range strike bomber, which could bring thousands of jobs to the area. LA Times article 

Fresno Sweet Potato Project aims to plant seeds of growth for African American kids – About 15 middle school and high school students are spending their summer working on the Sweet Potato II Project – a skill-development project for lower-income kids, organized by theWest Fresno Family Resource Center. It is a neighborhood-level piece of a statewide project to address mental and physical health issues in historically disadvantaged groups. Fresno Bee article 

LA County likely to scrap proposed marijuana tax for homeless services – Less than two weeks after voting to pursue a tax on marijuana businesses to help pay for housing and health services for the homeless, Los Angeles County supervisors appear poised to pull the measure from the November ballot. LA Times article 

Some local businesses jump on ‘Pokemon Go’ train; others not quite convinced – A few local businesses have climbed aboard the “Pokémon Go” train, but others appear to be on the fence about the latest trend. Fresno Bee article 

PPG Industries sells its Fresno plant to Mexican company – Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, which operates a manufacturing plant in Fresno, is selling its glass operations to Vitro, Mexico’s largest glass maker. Fresno Bee article 

Della Wathen leaves behind legacy of hard work, charisma and style — On her 90th birthday earlier this year, Della Ann Wathen wore a glamorously sequined red dress, sparkly high heels and a tiara as she danced, smiled and celebrated with her friends and family. Mrs. Wathen, who died Tuesday, is remembered as a symbol of Fresno’s history – someone who was in touch with the community and people around her, someone with impeccable style and a knack for hard work. Fresno Bee article 

Hilmar-made beef jerky competes at Fresno Food Expo — College student Aubrey Lim has taken beef jerky, that staple of mini-marts everywhere, to a new place. Her gourmet version with beef hearts, made at the SnackMasters jerky plant on Lander Avenue, is one of 10 finalists for a new-product award at the Fresno Food Expo next week. Modesto Bee article


Fresno places water chief on administrative leave — The chief of Fresno’s water division has been placed on administrative leave over discrepancies in the reporting of water quality issues. In its announcement Friday afternoon, the city did not identify the employee. But other documentation indicates the division chief is Kenneth Heard, who according to his LinkedIn profile is a 16-year veteran with the water division of Fresno’s Public Utilities Department and has been the division chief for almost seven years. Fresno Bee article 

Tulare County may restrict new well drilling — Tulare County may join some other counties in the state looking to restrict how much groundwater can be pumped within their jurisdiction. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Farm Beat: Infill projects a big boon to agriculture – Putting stores and homes on such a small site, in this case 1.4 acres, means less sprawl onto farmland. It’s a return to the way cities were built before the 1950s, when widespread car ownership unleashed low-density growth. Modesto Bee article 

Grape growers urged to develop technology they need — For about the past three decades, machines have been used increasingly in grape vineyards, doing more tasks that used to be done by hand — from pruning vines to harvesting grapes. But as advanced as this machinery has become, there are still tasks that machines can’t do — or at lease do well — in vineyards. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Support Blue: Residents gather to express appreciation for Clovis Police – Lifelong Clovis resident Brandi Asacker was sick of logging onto Facebook and reading posts and comments from people putting down law enforcement officers. So she decided to do something positive to combat the negativity that has surrounded police — especially in the last couple of years. Asacker used Facebook to invite Clovis residents to show their appreciation Thursday night for the Clovis Police Department by bringing dinner, goodies and handmade cards. Clovis Independent article 

Communities shower police with support after killings – In light of recent violence targeting police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., Merced County residents have made an extra effort to show their appreciation to local law enforcement. Merced Sun-Star article 

San Joaquin County sheriff unveils new training system – The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office now has a state-of–the-art virtual force option training system to help deputies better prepare for split-second decisions in the field. The Sheriff’s Office on Friday unveiled its new VirTra simulation system, which features more than 400 real-life training scenarios, including patrol, special weapons and tactics and corrections situations, among others. Stockton Record article 

Overall crime is up in LA for the second straight year, LAPD reports — For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Police Department is reporting an increase in overall crime at the year’s midpoint, with the latest figures depicting a department still struggling to quell the rise after more than a decade of declines. LA Times article 

Arvin police: Man tries to strike officers with hammer, gardening tools — A man Arvin police said tried to strike officers several times with a hammer and gardening tools was arrested Thursday night after a several-hours stand-off that drew the Kern County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. Bakersfield Californian article

Governor names warden at Kern Valley State Prison – Kern Valley State Prison acting warden Christian Pfeiffer, 43, of Bakersfield, has been appointed warden by Gov. Jerry Brown. Bakersfield Californian article 

Killer ends life after triggering mayhem in Oildale – A man who killed his uncle Friday ended his own life several miles from the crime scene a few hours later. But sheriff’s deputies, unaware the suspect was dead, hunkered down for a seven-hour standoff outside a house in Oildale where they believed the killer was barricaded, and later issued an all-points bulletin that he had escaped. Bakersfield Californian article 

Inmate’s death under investigation as a homicide — The death of an inmate at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano on Thursday is under investigation as a homicide, prison officials said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article 

California governor denies parole for Manson follower — California Gov. Jerry Brown denied parole Friday for Leslie Van Houten, the youngest follower of murderous cult leader Charles Manson who is serving a life sentence for killing a wealthy grocer and his wife more than 40 years ago. AP articleLA Times article 

Richmond: Police officer who killed unarmed man to receive tax-free compensation for life — The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man during a brief scuffle in 2014 has retired from the agency but will continue to collect half of his final salary tax-free for the remainder of his life. San Jose Mercury News article


Dorothy Leland: Building a path that other UCs can follow – UC Merced’s chancellor writes, “At UC Merced, we are proud of our status as trailblazers. The first University of California campus in the San Joaquin Valley. The first to receive high-level environmental certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for every building on campus. The only campus with a research station based in Yosemite, conducting critical climate and water research in California’s Sierra Nevada. Now, we are ready to forge a new path to the future by expanding the entire campus through a cost-effective, innovative partnership with a single private developer – an ambitious plan we call the 2020 Project.” Leland op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

Modernization at forefront for sports facilities in Bakersfield College bond issue – The estimate to repair and modernize Gil Bishop Sports Center, which feels like a time capsule in places, is $40 million. The Kern Community College District hopes for a solution in November: a $502.8 million bond measure. The local ballot initiative will need 55 percent approval from voters for passage. Bakersfield Californian article 

Marek Warszawski: When it comes to Big 12 expansion, Fresno State doesn’t have the measurable — On a national conference call, Oklahoma President David Boren listed six criteria for Big 12 expansion: strength of the athletic department, fan base size, media market, reputation, integrity and academic strength. Allow me to translate and winnow to the three that really matter: revenue, football and TV sets. Warszawski column in Fresno Bee 

College Track students learn about Pacific – Dozens of Sacramento Charter High School students piled out of a bus early Friday morning to spend a day exploring, learning and seeing themselves as University of the Pacific Tigers. The girls and boys, who were mostly incoming ninth-graders, were part of the College Track program that “recruits students from underserved communities and works continuously with them from the summer before ninth grade through college graduation.” Stockton Record article 

Operation Homefront gives school supplies to NASL kids — The first day of school is around the corner and families are looking to purchase school supplies – which can be expensive. Operation Homefront hopes to ease the financial burden by donating backpacks filled with school supplies to children in military families. Hanford Sentinel article 

Brothers who dropped out to care for dad now on verge of diploma – and a career – James Wagner and Steve Wagner III had a choice to make a few years back: Stay in school to secure their futures, or drop out to help their father with his present. They chose to help their dad, potentially putting their futures at risk. Stockton Record article 

Beth Linder Carr: We are all intelligent; just different superpowers – The English and drama teacher at Sierra High School writes, “I can assure you, however, that everyone is smart, albeit in different ways; this I’ve learned teaching high school for 32 years. And effective educators recognize and cater to their students’ multiple intelligences.” Carr op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Former trustee says she would consider plea deal — A former Manteca Unified school board member says she would consider accepting a plea deal in a felony election-fraud case that also involves City Council candidate Sam Fant. Stockton Record article


PG&E defense wraps up its brief case – Five weeks of testimony over whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co. criminally violated federal pipeline-safety laws — allegations that emerged from a deadly gas line explosion in San Bruno nearly six years ago — ended Friday when the company’s attorneys wrapped up its case after calling just three witnesses over two days. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Once a healthy forest, now a botanical emergency room – Tens of millions of trees in California have been dying — withering from drought, bored into by insects or attacked by an organism that has been around for a decade but that scientists are only now understanding.  West Marin County recently provided a close-up look at the problem for a group of post-graduate students from UC Davis, who examined a devastated forest there. Julie Cart in CALmatters 

State seeks fee on dangerous chemicals crisscrossing California — Jolted by a series of oil train explosions nationally, including one in Oregon last month, the state this summer has drawn up a list of what it says are the 25 most hazardous materials shipped on rail in California. It plans to impose a new $45 fee later this year on every rail car carrying one of those materials. The money will be used to ramp up the state’s emergency spill and fire response capabilities. Sacramento Bee articleAP article

Mojave Desert at stake in far-reaching federal energy plan — A giant energy plan for the Mojave Desert attempts to reconcile two contradictory goals: fast-tracking big solar and wind installations across 10 million acres of public lands to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change, and preserving the region’s natural beauty and ecological integrity. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Kings recycling center closing following statewide trend — Over the past six months, Hanford has seen the closure of three recycling centers — J&H Metal’s recycling facility on Lacey Boulevard; Nexcycle on Grangeville Boulevard; and rePlanet on Hanford-Armona Road. Countywide, there are eight recycling centers — down from 14 a year ago. Hanford Sentinel article 

Pokeman players keep catching critters, cleaning up parks — Close to a dozen people put their Pokéballs down Wednesday night and picked up trash bags and grabbers to clean up the parks where they have found so many Pokémon in recent weeks. Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services 

With help of the community, Merced can end the stigma on mental health — On Friday morning, Golden Valley Health Center and the Merced County Department of Mental Health partnered for a presentation and discussion about ending the stigma that often follows mental health issues. Merced Sun-Star article 

Land Use/Housing 

Want to rent a place in Merced? Good luck — The Merced market is the tightest it’s been in Andy Krotik’s 27 years in real estate, he said. The agent with Coldwell Banker Gonella Realty in Atwater said the demand is driving up the cost of rentals too. Merced Sun-Star article


Workers in home stretch on Rosedale Highway widening — The ride may still be a trifle bumpy, but Bakersfield’s top public works official said Friday that work on the long-awaited widening of Rosedale Highway, one of the city’s signature northwest thoroughfares, should wrap in September. Bakersfield Californian article 

Other areas 

Merced County grand jury reports on supes fund, concealed weapons — The newest annual report from the Merced County grand jury touches on a variety of local issues including homelessness, the county’s use of discretionary funding, and concealed weapons. Merced Sun-Star article 

Looking for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson: Don’t try City Council meetings – In his last year in office, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has regularly left City Council meetings early without public explanation or skipped meetings altogether, leaving his colleagues to conduct city business without him, according to a Bee review of council minutes and video. Sacramento Bee article 

Kings County prepares to replace three fire trucks — The Kings County Fire Department will be receiving three new fire trucks next week, which have been almost entirely paid for by donation or grants. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – Hillary Clinton goes safe and steady with VP pick of Tim Kaine; In Trump vs. Clinton, will fear trump facts?