July 25, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Advocates for California disabled face uphill quest for more money — Rate freezes imposed as the state slid into recession, combined with inflation and minimum-wage hikes, advocates say, have hollowed out the ranks of the nonprofit agencies and businesses the state relies on to serve those with autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other developmental disabilities. Sacramento Bee article

Judge: U.S. violates agreement in detention of immigrant kids — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice’s current system of detaining children with their mothers after they’ve crossed the U.S.-Mexico border violates an 18-year-old court settlement. AP article; McClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article

Valley politics

Still time to run for office – There still is time for candidates to file to run for office for several dozen seats on city councils, school boards and special districts in the November election. The filing period ends Aug. 7, according to the Stanislaus County election office, though it can be extended if an incumbent is not running for re-election.Modesto Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Kamala Harris to review group behind Planned Parenthood videos – California Attorney General Kamala Harris will review whether the nonprofit organization behind controversial Planned Parenthood videos violated state law, her office said in a letter Friday. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Advocates for physician-assisted suicide dealt setback – A San Diego County Superior Court judge Friday dismissed a case asserting state law and the California constitution allow for physician-assisted suicide. The suit was filed by two California women with terminal cancer. The plaintiffs in the case say they will appeal the ruling.Capital Public Radio report

California state senators heading to Mexico on 4-day trip – Democratic members of the California state Senate are heading to Mexico for a four-day trip to improve government relations. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s office announced Friday he’ll lead a delegation of eight Democrats while the Legislature is in summer recess next week. AP article

Michael Hiltzik: Religious ‘freedom’: Judges bar pharmacies from withholding contraceptives – A federal appeals court has just struck back against the discreditable trend of healthcare professionals placing their personal beliefs ahead of their duties to patients.  In a case involving a family-owned pharmacy in Washington state that objects to “morning-after” contraceptives, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a state rule forbidding drugstores to deny any lawful drug to any customer for religious reasons. Hiltzik in LA Times

News Briefs

Top Stories 

Statewide report criticizes passage of school bonds — While bonds have allowed hundreds of districts to build and renovate facilities over the past decade, the California Policy Center — a nonprofit think tank — claims that in some cases, school bonds are unnecessary, and their increasing prevalence is leading to massive debt.Fresno Bee article

Teacher shortage reaching critical proportions – Years after severe educational layoffs due to the economic recession, school districts are now faced with a teacher shortage that is not only being felt hard in San Joaquin County, but in schools throughout California. Stockton Record article


Jobs and the Economy

Jobs announced for drought-affected workers – If you’ve lost your agriculture-related job due to drought, whether as a truck driver, a packing shed employee or a picker, new federal aid has been announced to provide alternative employment. The U.S. Labor Department is making $18 million available for displaced workers in California to give them jobs such as clearing brush and timber from forests, clearing out canals and doing landscaping. Hanford Sentinel article 

Record sales for California Lottery in just-finished fiscal year — The California Lottery posted more than $5.5 billion in total sales during the fiscal year ending June 30, its highest sales total ever and about 10 percent more than the previous year’s then-record of $5.03 billion dollars, according to preliminary figures. Sacramento Bee article 

California’s gas tax drops to fourth highest in U.S. — Both Congress and the California Legislature are noodling over whether to raise fuel taxes to pour more money into highway projects. Just in time, the Tax Foundation has published a state-by-state compilation of fuel taxes, revealing that Californians are paying the nation’s fourth highest, 42.35 cents a gallon, into state and local coffers. The data don’t include the 18.4-cent per gallon federal gas tax. Sacramento Bee article 

The Numbers Crunch: Cost of living could factor into minimum wage fight — We all know the cost of living is higher in California, so a new study mostly provides more annoying proof of how much more a buck buys in the rest of the country. But the analysis also shows that purchasing power varies widely across the state and that, in fact, in some cities, a dollar goes further than the national average. And the numbers are likely to be used as ammunition in the political fight over raising the minimum wage, now coming to Sacramento. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Hanford easing downtown business restrictions – As new development begins to perk up in Hanford, city leaders are beginning to lift decades-old restrictions intended to protect downtown from big-box retailers. Earlier this week, the Hanford City Council voted 3-2 to adopt an ordinance allowing full-service hotels to locate outside the downtown area. Hanford Sentinel article

Merced County land at Castle selling for new business construction – “Castle is open for business.” That’s what Merced County District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel is saying. That’s what the county’s economic development department is saying. And that’s what the numbers seem to be showing. Merced Sun-Star article

Number of homeless people in Sacramento County largely unchanged, survey shows – On a single night in late January, volunteers counted 2,659 people living in shelters, parks, along rivers and other places in Sacramento County where homeless people gather, according to a report issued Friday. The number is about 5 percent higher than the last such survey, in 2013, according to Sacramento Steps Forward, which coordinated the “point in time homeless count” on the night of Jan. 28. Sacramento Bee article


Renovation of Bakersfield parking structure starts Monday – Starting Monday, the city’s downtown parking structure at 18th and Eye streets will get its first renovation in at least 10 years. The city is throwing open all of its 509 spaces to the public, albeit at increased fees. Bakersfield Californian article

Judge rules in city’s favor in Sacramento arena lawsuit — In a detailed ruling issued Friday, a judge ruled in favor of the city of Sacramento in a lawsuit challenging its 2014 deal with the Kings to subsidize a new downtown arena. Sacramento Bee article

Anthem mega-merger would create California’s largest insurer – HMO giant Kaiser Permanente might lose its perch atop California’s health insurance world. Anthem Inc. could leapfrog Kaiser and become the state’s biggest health plan if its $54-billion acquisition of Cigna Corp. goes through next year. The deal was announced Friday. LA Times article; ‘Q&A: Will Anthem-Cigna deal cost you money?’ in LA Times

State says more borrowers using cars as loan collateral — Despite warnings, California’s auto title loan market more than doubled between 2011 and 2014, according to a new report by the state’s Department of Business Oversight. Sacramento Bee article

Hangar upgrades for F-35s at NASL – Hangars for new fighter aircraft are being upgraded at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The hangar upgrades are a $14.4 million project to create maintenance facilities for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The stealth fighter is under development by the U.S. military and this particular model is worth about $116 million each. Hanford Sentinel article

Stockton radio upgrade en route – Some radios used by police officers and other city employees are so old that the parts needed to repair them no longer are manufactured. So it was that the council approved $1.5 million in funding, most of it Measure A funds, the voter-approved public safety sales tax, to replace 460 of the city’s two-way radios this year. Most of those radios are obsolete or soon to be. For a police officer, after all, a functional radio can be more important than a weapon, as a city staff report notes. Stockton Record article

Stakes high in McDonald’s latest Kern test market trial – For faltering fast food behemoth McDonald’s Corp., the path to restored relevance could well lead through Bakersfield The once-mighty hamburger empire, trying to turn around many months of steady decline, is experimenting with an innovative, high-techy sandwich-ordering option — and, as it and other national chains have often done, it’s making Kern County its laboratory. Bakersfield Californian article

John Lindt: Visalia Mall finalizes lease for new shoe store – Lindt takes a look at a new shoe store headed for Visalia Mall, gas prices heading lower and other business issues.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Rosa Brothers wins award at Fresno Food Expo – Rosa Brothers Milk Co., an innovative Kings County dairy, received the Fred Ruiz Entrepreneurial Award at Thursday’s Fresno Food Expo. Hanford Sentinel article

Longtime Atwater business to exit hardware sales, focus on appliances, furniture – A nearly 100-year-old business in Atwater closed down a segment of its store Friday, leading some to again raise the “buy local” flag in the city. Passadori’s closed the portion of the 15,000-square-foot store that carried hardware supplies because it’s no longer profitable, co-owner Jim Passadori said. He was quick to squash rumors that the store will close altogether. Merced Sun-Star article

Amazon overtakes Walmart as biggest retailer – Amazon.com surpassed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the world’s biggest retailer on Friday after reporting a surprise jump in profit in the second quarter. LA Times article

Anaheim makes ambitious push to expand tourism beyond Disneyland – Known for 60 years as the home to Disneyland, Anaheim is pushing the idea that there’s more for tourists to do — and spend money on — than ride on Space Mountain and snap a selfie with Mickey Mouse. LA Times article

Malibu vintners fight to stop extension of ban on new vineyards — Malibu vintners and grape growers are trying to stop the six-month extension of a temporary ban on new vineyards, or extensions of existing ones, in the north area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Concerns about the drought and vineyards’ potential water use are behind the ban. LA Times article


5 reasons farmers grow thirsty crops in dry climates — Why do farmers grow water-intensive crops such as corn in states with low rainfall? Here are some of the government policies, financial pressures and other factors that encourage irrigation. McClatchy Newspapers article

Paul Betancourt: My farm, my family and the drought – The Kerman farmer and past president of the Fresno County Farm Bureau writes, “Without a reliable water supply, how can I make decisions about the future? Why should I invest in a drip system that costs over a thousand dollars an acre if I will not have water to run through the drip system? Why should I invest in a new well for the dry years, if the state will not let me turn it on? I have to make decisions now that will take years to implement. The wrong decision now and I could be hung out to dry.” Betancourt op-ed in Fresno Bee

Visalia and Tulare cemeteries adapt to water restrictions — The Visalia Public Cemetery received two watering violations for failing to meet city rules by just 10 minutes, but that’s the least of their worries. The stress-induced dry ground is making it harder to dig for burials, said Visalia Cemetery District Manager, Dona Shores. The same goes for Tulare, which has grounds covered by mostly dirt and browned-grass. Visalia Times-Delta article

Famous ‘E.T.’ trees suffering from California drought, worried neighbors say – This summer, neighbors of the more than 100 historic deodar cedars lining a Granada Hills avenue had become more and more worried about the threat posed by long-term drought to the landmark trees featured in the 1982 blockbuster “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” LA Daily News article

Foster Farms adds ground turkey to organic line — Foster Farms has added ground turkey to its new line of organic poultry, and whole turkeys raised this way will arrive by Thanksgiving. The ground turkey, processed in Turlock, is in stores in California, Oregon and Washington. Organic means no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used on the corn and other feed for the birds. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Conflict arises between Fresno police, transgender advocates over identification of murder victim – Fresno police drew criticism Friday for referring to a person stabbed to death as a man, as local activists and one Fresno council member said the victim was a transgender woman. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Atwater prison brawl ends in injuries – A series of fights Friday at the Atwater Penitentiary involving more than one inmate ended with multiple injuries, authorities said. U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials in Washington, D.C., confirmed altercations inside the prison, but said they would not characterize the incident as a “riot.” Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton chief attends Washington, D.C., forum – Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones returned Friday from Washington, D.C., where he and other law enforcement leaders from across the country attended the White House Community Policing Forum. Stockton Record article

Fresno police officer resigns amid investigation into prostitution involvement – A Fresno police officer resigned July 13 after he learned of an investigation into his alleged involvement with an accused prostitute operating locally, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Friday. Fresno Bee article

Detective portrayed in Disney film on paid leave for months – A detective with the Bakersfield Police Department whose exploits as a high school cross-country athlete were highlighted in the Disney film “McFarland, USA,” has been on paid leave from the department for five months. Bakersfield Californian article

Effort underway to name interchange after late Bakersfield Police Department officer – It won’t be finished until January, but when it is, the Hosking Avenue interchange could be named for Bakersfield’s eighth fallen police officer, David Nelson, who died in the line of duty last month. Bakersfield Californian article

Man accused of Hayward police killing faces capital murder charge — Uniformed police officers packed a Hayward courtroom Friday to watch an Oakland man accused of fatally shooting a Hayward police sergeant in the head during a traffic stop be arraigned on murder and special-circumstances charges. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento city review: Officers did nothing wrong in light-rail stop — On April 26, two Sacramento Regional Transit officers intercepted a train at 29th Street and wrestled two black teenagers to the ground. As they pinned the boys to the pavement, a bystander took photos with his phone. But this week, two investigations found that a Sacramento police officer did nothing wrong. The investigations found no racial profiling, no excessive force, no brutality, no breach in policy, no violation of the law.Sacramento Bee article


UC Merced conference to offer guidance to immigrant grad school hopefuls – Undocumented students seeking guidance for graduate school will have the opportunity to have their questions answered at an upcoming conference at UC Merced. The UndocuGrads conference, slated for Aug. 1, is designed for students who entered the country illegally and are interested in pursuing advanced degrees. These include students with temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the federal program implemented in 2012. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno State grant helps start new veteran program – Fresno State is introducing a program aimed at helping U.S. veterans to get college degrees, the university announced. The program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Education, is one of two programs at the college to receive a five-year, $2.5 million grant. Fresno Bee article

CSU Bakersfield receives $870,000 grant from NCAA — Cal State Bakersfield has received an $870,000 grant from the NCAA for academic enhancements that will help student-athletes earn their degrees, the NCAA announced Friday. CSUB athletic director Ziggy Siegfried said the dollar value of the gift was the fourth highest ever received by CSUB athletics. Bakersfield Californian article

West Hills gets new administrator — The West Hills Community College District has hired a new administrator in charge of several key areas. Rita Grogan is the district’s new associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and institutional effectiveness. Grogan, who started the position on Monday, was previously employed at Mission College in Santa Clara. Hanford Sentinel article

Two Bay Area universities among 10 best universities in the world — Stanford and UC Berkeley alum are accustomed to ranking among the world’s best, but another trophy for the case never hurts. Recently, both Bay Area universities were rated in the top 10 schools in the world by the Center for World University Rankings. San Francisco Chronicle article

State funds available for adult literacy programs – The Tulare County adult literacy program may get additional funding from the state. Earlier this week, the California State Libraryannounced there is $2 million available for local libraries with adult literacy programs. The funds, made available by Gov. Jerry Brown and theCalifornia legislature, will target libraries that lost literacy programs when state funding tightened up in recent years. Visalia Times-Delta article

UC San Diego wins legal battle in dispute with USC over Alzheimer’s project —  UC San Diego won a major legal battle Friday against USC when a judge ruled that control of a landmark project on Alzheimer’s disease belongs to the La Jolla school.  LA Times article


Salt worries building in Delta waters — State officials acknowledged this week that they are “struggling” to keep portions of the Delta fresh, as saltier water from San Francisco Bay pushes inland during yet another summer of drought. Stockton Record article

UC Davis researchers uncover key step in rice immune response — In the battle between harmful pathogens and plants, lines of communication must remain open. Researchers from UC Davis have uncovered details of a conversation between rice plants and bacteria that enables rice to mount an immune response to fight infection.Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Beverage group sues San Francisco over soda warnings, advertising ban – The American Beverage Association sued the city of San Francisco on Friday, claiming new legislation requiring health warning labels on sugary beverages and prohibiting advertisements of them on city property violates the First Amendment. San Francisco Chronicle article

Merced County recovery services move toward integration — Efforts to consolidate health services in Merced County continue to move forward. The rollout of the Mental Health Department’s Community Access to Recovery Services is the latest example. Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

Dr. Janine Nkosi and Jose Lopez:  Unhealthy housing demands attention – Nkosi, a sociology lecturer at Fresno State, and Lopez, a student at Fresno City College, write, “Plywood can’t speak, but it sends powerful messages to the community. Boarded up houses and run-down properties make a clear statement: this neighborhood — which is almost always in south Fresno — and all the people who live there aren’t worth the investment.” Nkosi/Lopez op-ed in Fresno Bee


Work on 12th Avenue interchange staying on track – If you’ve driven near 12th Avenue and Highway 198 recently, you probably had to wait a while to get through. Caltrans began work on the $23.7 million project late last year on a project to widen the overpass and upgrade the on- and off-ramps at 12th Avenue. Construction has required workers to periodically close lanes and redirect traffic. Hanford Sentinel article

Group blames ‘dangerous’ diesel filters for truck fires — A group representing California truckers, farmers and business owners is claiming the state attorney general’s office is ignoring a rash of recent truck fires it claims were sparked by faulty diesel particulate filters.  The Business Journal article

Sorry Bay Area: Study says our roads are the nation’s worst — That rattling and jostling on your morning commute isn’t in your head — a new study released by TRIP named the Bay Area’s roads the very worst in the nation. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Judge orders Sacramento to save 15 million emails – The city of Sacramento must preserve 15 million emails on its server for review, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled Friday in a victory for two Sacramentans who requested access to the city-stored information. Sacramento Bee article

A new story for an old building: Law firm’s renovation complete — Chain Cohn Stiles officially puts out its shingle after a six-month, seven-figure renovation that has brought energy and commotion to a downtown corner quiet and forlorn since 2012, when Goodwill closed up shop. Bakersfield Californian article

Francine Farber: Consumer complaints make a difference – The retired school district administrator and full-time community volunteer writes, “OK, I admit it: I’m taking advantage of my senior citizen status to be as cranky as I like. I’ve taken on a new cause. I like to think that, in my own small way, I am fighting for truth, justice and the American way of life by making justifiable complaint phone calls to suppliers of supermarket products.” Farber op-ed in Fresno Bee

County regulator calls for sweeping overhaul at Compton Fire Department — The Compton Fire Department needs a sweeping overhaul of how it responds to thousands of 911 calls for emergency help each year, according to a letter from the county’s top regulator obtained by The Times. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Modesto is on a “bad roads” list; how do we get off?

Upcoming Events

  • The Better Blackstone Association will hold a street festival, “Come Imagine the Possibilities for Blackstone …,” on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Susan B. Anthony school parking lot in Fresno from 5-8 p.m. More information: Call (559) 485-1416 or email info@betterblackstone.com.
  • “Unlocking Renewables: A Summit,” which will explore the clean energy potential in the San Joaquin Valley, will be held at Fresno State on Wednesday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Featured speakers include state Sen. Anthony Cannella and Ken Alex, senior policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown and director of the Office of Planning and Research. More information:  www.RenewablesInTheValley.org.
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. Visitwww.essentialelementsseries.com for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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