July 26, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Pushing for voter input on big issues is brilliant strategy — Polling has consistently shown that Californians like having the power to vote on big issues. That preference is an opportunity for sponsors of two proposed 2016 ballot measures that would indirectly affect two big political issues – public employee pensions and the twin water tunnels that would be bored beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Facing regulatory roadblocks, Uber ramps up its lobbying in California – Uber now spends more on lobbyists in California than Wal-Mart, Bank of America or Wells Fargo. And for good reason: The 6-year-old ride-hailing company needs powerful friends as it faces two serious regulatory challenges in the state — a move to reclassify its drivers as employees, not independent contractors, and a demand to turn over to state officials data on every Uber ride. LA Times article


Judge blasts ICE, says immigrant children, parents in detention should be released – A federal judge has ruled that hundreds of immigrant women and children held in holding facilities should be released, finding their detention “deplorable” and in grave violation of an earlier court settlement. LA Times article 

William Lansdowne: Keep clear, separate roles for local law enforcement and ICE – The former chief of police in San Jose, San Diego and Richmond writes, “In the wake of a devastating incident like this, it is difficult, yet important, to take a step back to examine why it is that so many law enforcement officers believe it is critical to maintain clear and separate roles for local law enforcement and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Carrying out our respective roles, we keep our communities and country safe.” Lansdowne op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 In immigration hearings, volunteer attorneys speak for mothers seeking asylum —In a ranch house up a red dirt cattle road, Brian Hoffman explained to the 13 attorneys before him the challenge at hand. The volunteer lawyers had come from across the country — from Chicago and New York, Washington and Minneapolis — to represent immigrants held at the detention center in Dilley. LA Times article


Other areas

Sacramento Bee: A how-to guide for legalizing pot – A panel of academic, legal and law enforcement experts led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has produced a sensible set of recommendations on how California should legalize recreational marijuana, if that’s the path we choose. Sacramento Bee editorial

Dan Morain: Newsom takes high road on marijuana – Newsom deserves credit for taking a stand that carries risks, some of which won’t be known for years if he succeeds. Perhaps I’m being paranoid. Maybe corporations won’t dominate the business. Maybe marijuana lobbyists will be more mellow than tobacco and alcohol lobbyists. Or maybe we’ve been here before, many times. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Purging Bragg’s name denies history’s complexity – Whether to purge this era’s objectionable names from public spaces isn’t the right question. More pressing is whether we’re doing all we can to understand all of our stories, from resisting efforts to dumb down AP History standards to truly examining what’s behind all those statues and street names. Like Braxton Bragg, we are all complex and human. It’s time we embrace the fact that our history is, too. Sacramento Bee editorial

Robin Abcarian: Fort Bragg to California lawmakers: Hell no, our name won’t go — “We’re not going to change our name,” Mayor Dave Turner told me. “There is no reason to. Fort Bragg has nothing to do with the Confederacy. This is a small town. We don’t have race issues here.” Abcarian in LA Times

Cathleen Decker: Biden offers from-the-heart counterpoint to GOP spectacle — Funny, maybe, but it reeked of desperation, as the campaign for the presidency once again played to the baser instincts that feed reality television. And then, in California, came reality itself. It arrived in a quiet interlude toward the beginning of a speech at a manufacturing plant in North Hollywood by Vice President Joe Biden, some of whose friends are holding out hope that he will join the Democratic presidential race. Decker in LA Times

News Briefs

Top Stories 

Public policy vs. private property:  Housing fight looms in Fresno — A new federal housing rule aims to end Fresno’s long history of concentrated poverty and open wealthy neighborhoods to minorities and the impoverished. One City Council member says the rule is full of social engineering that will harm all Fresnans. Housing advocates say equity demands immediate housing justice. Fresno’s city manager counsels patience. Fresno Bee article

Leader or a loner? California forges forward on controversial warming approach – Cap and trade is among the most pioneering — yet controversial — elements of California’s multi-layered approach to combating climate change. The program covers most major polluting industries and is generating billions of dollars for the state, money that must be poured into efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So far, courts have upheld the approach in the face of legal challenges. Yet the national reach of the program has fallen short of expectations. CALmatters article


Jobs and the Economy

Michael Fitzgerald: Needed: ‘Real policies’ to solve homeless problem — I have long advocated compassion toward the homeless. I always will. But the need for humane policy must be balanced with the rights of citizens to a clean and safe urban experience and the rights of business and property owners to a healthy business climate and an unblighted cityscape that rewards investment. That balance is out of whack. It’s not just the all-too-familiar understaffing of the police.” Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Settlement details show struggle to keep San Jose pension cuts – With mounting pressure to settle union lawsuits over divisive pension reforms, Mayor Sam Liccardo tried to spur talks in February by offering to give up half the additional cuts the city hoped to ultimately win in court. But a new analysis by this newspaper shows city leaders ultimately gave up all those additional cuts — worth some $49 million a year — and more in the settlement with police and firefighters they announced with great fanfare earlier this month. San Jose Mercury News article

 Sacramento takes next steps on arena financing — Armed with a crucial court victory on its downtown arena deal with the Sacramento Kings, the City Council will conduct a hearing Tuesday on the bonds it plans to issue to finance its share of the project. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: Facts prevail in Sacramento arena lawsuit – Anyone who has paid attention to the suit brought by three city residents could tell where it was going. There was no proof of a “secret subsidy” cut behind closed doors between the Kings and the city. There was no evidence that the city purposely undervalued parking spaces and digital signs thrown into the arena deal to entice the Kings. There was nothing to this suit except bitterness that wasn’t much more substantive than a Facebook diatribe. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Little-known Sacramento ad agency has national campaigns, powerhouse clients – MeringCarson’s list of past and present clients includes such heavyweights as Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Pebble Beach Resorts, Visit California, the Sacramento Kings and Thunder Valley Casino Resort. The agency is “a great economic driver for our region,” said Peter Tateishi, president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber. Sacramento Bee article

Home prices in high-end Lake Tahoe market still climbing — The Lake Tahoe real estate market, a decidedly high-end sector, continued its post-recession surge in the first half of this year, according to Nevada-based Chase International. The median sales price of a Lake Tahoe home increased 14 percent year-over-year to $525,000.Sacramento Bee article


Gary Soiseth: Decades in the making, historic deal puts Turlock on path to reliable water – Turlock’s mayor writes, “After 26 years of negotiations with the Turlock Irrigation District to secure drinking water from the Tuolumne River, the cities of Ceres, Modesto and Turlock have finally come together to unanimously agree to a surface-water treatment agreement that will annually provide up to 30,000 acre-feet of drinking water for decades to come.” Soiseth op-ed in Modesto Bee

Nearly 1 in 10 gallons of water disappears in Sacramento – Nearly 1 in 10 gallons of water vanishes as it flows through pipes and mains in Sacramento’s antiquated drinking-water utility system. Sacramento Bee article

Jeffrey Michael: Cost of Delta tunnels doesn’t add up – The director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific writes, “After yet another revision, the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta still makes no economic sense. A closer look at the three types of economic benefits claimed for the project to export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities shows why it can’t possibly justify its estimated $15 billion cost.”Michael op-ed in Sacramento Bee

What apartment renters don’t know about their water usage could hurt – In the fourth year of drought, Californians are under orders to reduce their water consumption by 25%, but a new study suggests that apartment dwellers may not be doing their share. About 86% of apartment owners in L.A. who pay for their tenants’ water have seen usage increase or stay the same since April — when Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the statewide reduction in urban water use — according to a survey by the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles. LA Times article

Chris Scheuring: California can solve its water problems in a way Australia can’t – The environmental attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation writes, “California is not Australia. Our water problem can be addressed in a way that Australia’s can’t: by adding storage. We have the opportunity to respond to our chronic water unreliability and increasing scarcity in this forward-looking manner, without cannibalizing each other’s water supplies by changing well-established rules.” Scheuring op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 David Mas Masumoto: Farm dogs — Farm dogs remain trusty and create life-long companions. And for old-time farmers like me, who often work alone and in solitude, they may be our only friend we interact with daily for hours and hours. In my lifetime, I’ve buried my share of farm dogs. We re-enact an age old farming ritual: we take care of the dead. Masumoto op-ed in Fresno Bee

Oceanside City Hall looking green despite drought – Despite the ongoing drought and mandatory water cutbacks, the outdoor areas around Oceanside’s civic center complex are looking as green as ever. The city has replaced much of its natural grass around City Hall with artificial turf as part of an effort to reduce water consumption. San Diego Union-Tribune article

More city dwellers embracing ‘hobby farms’: ‘It’s like we live in the country’ — In addition to chickens, today’s urban barnyards include goats, turkeys, potbellied pigs, cows and bees. And what distinguishes a so-called hobby farm from other animal-related enterprises? For IRS purposes, a hobby farm is a homestead run primarily for pleasure, not profit. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno police release new information on stabbing of transgender person — Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer released more information on the investigation into a fatal stabbing at a news conference Saturday afternoon. Dyer began by saying that police identified the victim as Kenton Haggard, a 66-year-old man, based on a driver’s license. He added that, based on Haggard’s dress, police believed the victim was a transgender person. Fresno Bee article

Stockton officers getting body cameras; Manteca likes what it sees – The Stockton Police Department has deployed more than 200 of its newly purchased body cameras and is in the process of training officers to use them. Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman for the Police Department, said 225 officers have been equipped with the body cameras. In the coming weeks, 50 more will be outfitted with the devices, Silva said. Stockton Record article

Increased use of police cameras raises more questions – What was once a powerful novelty — a controversial police encounter being caught on video — has become so common that the public now expects that such videos will be captured in all cases and publicly released, bringing light into darkness. But as expectations of cameras rise, their limitations also come into sharp focus. San Francisco Chronicle article

Kern deputy driving speeds plummet in wake of crashes, audits – Kern County sheriff’s deputies face a balancing act when they choose to drive fast. Data reviewed by The Californian show that until last fall, they leaned toward speed. Sheriff’s records reveal that until mid-September, deputies, detectives and administrators collectively spent as much as 110 hours a week driving at more than 80 mph. Then a deputy, lights and sirens blazing, flew through an Oildale intersection at 85 mph and hit a car, killing resident Nancy Garrett. Two weeks later, under orders from Sheriff Donny Youngblood, deputies’ use of speed had dropped by more than 90 percent. Bakersfield Californian article 

Chlld abuse investigations are emotional, take time – When authorities revealed – after the deaths of five people last weekend – that suspect Martin Martinez was believed to be responsible for the October death of a little boy, the question swiftly arose: Why hadn’t police arrested him sooner? The answer, authorities say, is simple, though the reasons are complicated: They couldn’t. Modesto Bee article 

Jeff Jardine: Deserved or not, murders put Modesto back in media’s lens – Reporters swarming neighborhoods. TV trucks parked outside the downtown courthouse, here to cover tragedies. Modesto has experienced more than its share of this over the past couple of decades, beginning with the Yosemite tourists’ murders in 1999, the Chandra Levy case that came home to Modesto two years later and the disappearance of Laci Peterson on Christmas Eve 2002. Then came last weekend, when two women and three children were found murdered in a home on Nob Hill Court in Modesto’s middle-class Village I area. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Video: Fresno woman writing book after clemency — Barbra Scrivner, 49, was granted clemency on a drug conviction by Barack Obama last December and is writing a book about her experience. She was imprisoned at age 27 and spent over 20 years in prison. Fresno Bee video

Times Investigation: Nearly 9 in 10 students drop out of unaccredited law schools in California – Nearly 9 out of 10 students at California’s unaccredited law schools dropped out, according to a Times investigation based on recent state bar data. LA Times article

Charter schools: Division in some communities, others begin to embrace the individual campuses — The spread of charter schools throughout the East Bay and California is often viewed as a blessing or curse, depending on whom you ask. Oakland Tribune article 

Leadership program opens minds to the possible – The academy is a free residential program hosted at the University of the Pacific that trains 40 of Stockton’s high school students to create solutions to the problems facing the city and learn that they do matter in the eyes of their community. Stockton Record article

Larry White: Reading: The language of learning — One of the most important skills areas necessary in teaching today’s students is that of reading. In fact, reading is the only area worth teaching students. And, it is a much greater challenge than imagined. White column in Stockton Record


Arkansas firm and its California climate connections – Welcome to the Clean Harbors Environmental Services incineration plant in El Dorada, Arkansas, which as of now, a CALmatters analysis discovered, has generated almost one-third of the offset credits approved by the California Air Resources Board under the state’s cap and trade system. That’s more than any project in the country. CALmatters article 

Inside fracking: Chevron offers rare look at controversial practice — Chevron invited a Californian reporter and photographer to witness this particular operation because, spokeswoman Carla Musser said, “I think we have a responsibility in today’s times to educate as much as we can.” The company has an incentive to clear up misconceptions about hydraulic fracturing. Bakersfield Californian article 

Wildfire in Bass Lake area leads to evacuations — A wildfire that broke out Saturday in Madera County south of Bass Lake continued to spread Saturday afternoon and evening, closing roads and leading to mandatory evacuations. The Willow fire covered 200 acres as of 8 p.m. and was zero percent contained, said Iveth Hernandez, spokeswoman for the Sierra National Forest. Fresno Bee article

Lowell fire in foothills threatens homes north of I-80 – Fire season in Northern California hit full bore Saturday, as yet another wildfire erupted near Colfax about 2:30 p.m. and quickly consumed 4,000 acres of forest north of Interstate 80 from Gold Run to Alta. Sacramento Bee article

Hundreds of firefighters battle wildfire on Southern California’s Palomar Mountain — More than 425 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection continued to battle a brushfire in steep and virtually inaccessible terrain on Palomar Mountain on Saturday, with smoke visible in northern San Diego County and southern Riverside County. AP article; LA Times article

Health/Human Services

State health insurance markets struggle with cost challenges – State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama’s health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states. AP article

Fresno Bee: We must do more to save black babies in Fresno County — “Black Lives Matter” has been the rallying cry of the year in civil rights, but in Fresno County, we need placards that say, “Black Babies Matter.” Fresno Bee editorial

Transgender community faces unique challenges in access to health care — Transgender people living in rural areas or smaller cities often do not have access to physicians and specialists who have the knowledge to serve their needs. They travel to bigger cities for medical care. Or, worse, they delay medical attention. Merced Sun-Star article


LAX could see more than 100 million travelers a year by 2040 — New aviation forecasts predict that Los Angeles International Airport, already straining under a record number of passengers, could have more than 100 million travelers annually by 2040, far more than the ceiling set by a 2006 court settlement that will soon expire. LA Times article

Donald W. Blount: Roads are meant to be shared – even with bikes — As I have said before, a person on a bike stands no chance in a collision with a car. The three-foot buffer zone when passing a bike is the law in California. And doing anything untoward to someone riding a bike is not cool, either. Blount column in Stockton Record

Other areas

Injured firefighter making progress to walk again – A little more than a week after being sent to a Southern California Hospital to begin a lengthy rehabilitation for crippling injuries, Firefighter Damien Pereira is showing a few signs of progress. Those sings include being able to stand for the first time since July 3 — though not on his own. Visalia Times-Delta article

Hero newspaper carrier to be recognized by Fresno City Council — Ever since Brian Sharp helped save the life of 86-year-old Ann Loeprich, people have been calling him a hero. Now the Fresno City Council is making it official. Fresno Bee article

The Bee asked and veterans answered, sharing their tales from a tumultuous time in history – When The Bee requested letters from Vietnam veterans marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, veterans answered the call.  Fresno Bee article

As Berkeley begins balcony inspections, records suggest balcony safety problems more common in region — Regardless of the inspection method, this newspaper’s review makes clear that there are many problems to find. And it raises questions about balcony conditions in the majority of local cities that don’t conduct such reviews — and in buildings exempt from inspection in the cities where reviews are done. Oakland Tribune article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – “Black Lives Matter” has been the rallying cry of the year in civil rights, but in Fresno County, we need placards that say, “Black Babies Matter.”

Sacramento Bee – A panel of academic, legal and law enforcement experts led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has produced a sensible set of recommendations on how California should legalize recreational marijuana, if that’s the path we choose; Like Braxton Bragg, we are all complex and human. It’s time we embrace the fact that our history is, too.

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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