July 3, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 State revenue now hundreds of millions higher than budget estimates — New numbers from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, reflecting the latest data from the Franchise Tax Board, show that the state took in $541 million more in income tax and corporate tax revenue than reflected in the budget approved two weeks ago. Sacramento Bee article

 Legislators tackle transportation, health care funding in special sessions – The state budget may be cooked, but discussions over how to fund two of the state’s most important government services — health care services and transportation — are just heating up in Sacramento. KQED report

State budget

 New budget spurs Standard & Poor’s to upgrade California’s credit rating — The Wall Street ratings agency Standard & Poor’s gave a vote of confidence to California’s finances on Thursday, upgrading its credit rating to its highest level in 14 years. The state’s new budget, which took effect Wednesday, “marks another step forward in the state’s journey toward improved fiscal sustainability,” said the agency’s report. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

 Jerry Brown signs ‘lynching’ law bill — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation removing the word “lynching” from a state law that makes it a crime to seize a person from police custody, his office said Thursday, after the statute was used to prosecute activists trying to free each other during protests. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

 Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Newsom, though ‘barely begun’ in 2018 gov’s race, raises $2.7 million – Gearing up for possible challenges from wealthy Democratic opponents three years before the 2018 gubernatorial race, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsomraised $2.7 million in the first five months of the year — and now has about $5.5 million cash on hand, his campaign said Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article

 The Rule of Law: California Politics Podcast – This week’s California Politics Podcast is chock full of news and notes. We discuss the ruling on the fate of independent redistricting from the U.S. Supreme Court as well as the justices agreeing to hear the case that could determine the future political power of the California Teachers Association. California Politics Podcast in KQED

 Tim Donnelly soliciting referendum help from Jim Carrey — Jim Carrey, he of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “Dumb and Dumber,” looks to have been inspired by the movie “Trace Amounts” when he denounced California’s tough new vaccine law. Capitol Alert

 Bill Whalen: California’s century-old initiative process requires a reboot — If we’re going to keep an initiative process that is a century old and showing its age, surely there’s room for improvement. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee


Immigrant tells why she became an American citizen — In her home country, coming to America is like a dream, said Lyn Mae Teves Alvarez. And to work in the United States is an even bigger deal for Filipinos like herself because she can send money back home to help her three younger brothers raise their families. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas

Vaccine opponents continue efforts against California law – Opponents of California’s new law to boost vaccination rates among schoolchildren by strictly limiting exemptions are continuing to fight the legislation online and in public protests, even after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law this week. AP article

Physician-assisted suicide backers try to woo balking Latino lawmakers – Supporters of a bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide have called in the heavyweights: Actor Edward James Olmos and union organizer Dolores Huerta have now joined the campaign for SB 128. The bill has hit a roadblock in the Assembly, and authors are hoping these celebrity reinforcements will help them win the votes they need from Latino lawmakers. KQED report

 California lawmaker folds on push to legalize online poker – A California lawmaker is folding his effort to legalize online poker. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat from Glendale, said Thursday that he’s cancelling the first hearing on his proposal, which was scheduled for next week. AP article

Sacramento Bee: It’s past time to regulate medical marijuana – Through the inaction of lawmakers, pot remains unregulated and spreads like weeds. Add to this the drought and speculation that California will soon join Washington and Oregon in making pot legal for recreational use, and our state has the makings of an ecological disaster on its hands. Sacramento Bee editorial

Joel Fox: Will union members stay if Friedrichs wins case against CTA? – If the case is successful – something that is far from certain – there is no telling how many union members will call it quits. CTA is certainly concerned with the outcome. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Resolution to replace Junipero Serra statue in U.S. Capitol put on hold – A measure calling for the statue of Father Junipero Serra in the U.S. Capitol to be replaced with one of NASA astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was shelved in the California Assembly on Thursday. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; AP article

 Congressman Kevin McCarthy: Obama needs to walk away from an awful deal with Iran – The House Majority Leader (R-Bakersfield) writes, “Now that the deadline for the negotiations has passed, Obama should ignore the rhetoric that his legacy depends on an agreement and be prepared to reject a bad deal.” McCarthy op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


California’s Rocky punching up at The Donald – In California, where Republicans often fret about (and sometimes bemoan) being tarred by their brethren in Washington, some GOPers also sought distance. Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he was saddened “the narrative being set for Republicans at a national level can be initiated by someone who has never been elected.” Capitol Alert

 Presidential run may be one of Trump’s costlier business decisions – Running for president may turn out to be one of Donald Trump’s more costly business decisions. Fallout from Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants continued Thursday as left-leaning groups pressed businesses to sever ties with the real estate mogul. The negative publicity could damage the personal brand that makes up a big chunk of Trump’s claimed net worth. LA Times article

 Victor Davis Hanson: We are all Californians now — California keeps reminding us what has gone astray with America in recent years. Hanson column in Fresno Bee


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

 Manufacturing jobs add to Valley economic surge in June – A measurement of the Valley’s economic health surged more than three points from May to June, representing the third increase in four months, in part on the strength of job growth in the manufacturing sector. Fresno Bee article; Hanford Sentinel article; Fresno State news release

 Ideologies clash as weather service realigns the annual rainfall calendar – After using the so-called rain year — July to June — for more than 130 years to measure precipitation totals, National Weather Service stations in Southern California recently started using the “hydrological year” — October to September. While this may seem like inside baseball — or inside rainfall — to the general public, it’s serious enough for those in the weather world to get hot and bothered about. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

 California property tax values increasing – California’s county tax assessors are reporting sharp increases in valuations that will generate billions of new dollars for local governments and schools, according to theCalifornia Taxpayers AssociationCapitol Alert

 We’re No. 8: California near top of world’s largest economies – If California were a country, it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world, maintaining its ranking from July 2014. LA Times article

 South Stockton gets boost of financial services – Financial Center Credit Union quietly opened Thursday morning its $2 million office in south Stockton, the first ground-up building project for the financial institution and only the second bank or credit union office south of the city’s downtown. Stockton Record article

 Nearly $1 million in grants to assist Valley job seekers – The Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board on Thursday awarded four grants totaling nearly $1 million to provide job training to veterans, individuals with disabilities, at-risk youth, and people who are unemployed or underemployed. Fresno Bee article

 CalPERS to get handle on management fees – CalPERS’ investment practices are getting scrutinized again, this time over the fees it pays to the investment firms that help manage its giant portfolio. Sacramento Bee article

 Judge rejects Sacramento’s request for immediate ruling in arena case – The judge in the downtown Sacramento lawsuit rejected a midtrial request Thursday by city representatives for an immediate ruling in their favor, saying he was not ready to rule. Sacramento Bee article


Golden 1 Arena trusses trek across region before installation – Starting next week, big chunks of the new Kings arena will begin a circuitous journey to their eventual home in downtown Sacramento. Two 52-ton trusses, destined for the roof of Golden 1 Arena, are being fabricated at Schuff Steel Pacific in Stockton. One piece of the trusses has already arrived at the arena construction site and five more pieces will arrive between July 10 and the last week in August. Sacramento Bee article

 No bucks, no bang: Cash-strapped towns cancel fireworks shows – Ron Lander is a barber. But he’s also a councilman in the Fresno County town of Coalinga, population 12,000. He’s heard a lot from locals about plans to cancel this year’s Fourth of July fireworks. KQED report

 Los Banos council clears path for more food trucks in city – The City Council on Wednesday approved changes to the mobile vendor ordinance that will keep Los Banos out of legal trouble and allow additional food trucks in town. Los Banos Enterprise article

 Storyland opening is set for Sept. 4 – Fundraising for Storyland/Playland has eclipsed $350,000 and officials with the new nonprofit overseeing the parks confirmed this week that they plan to open Storyland on Sept. 4. Fresno Bee article

 Whole Foods CEO admits overcharging: ‘Straight up, we made some mistakes’ – A week after a New York City investigation found that Whole Foods Market Inc. stores were overcharging for pre-packaged products, the company’s co-chief executives admitted pricing mistakes were made. LA Times article; AP article

 Garcetti stance on homeless crackdown draws critics from both sides – Faced this week with a choice between signing or vetoing controversial legislation that would crack down on homeless encampments, Mayor Eric Garcetti charted a complex middle course. LA Times article

 Mayor: San Diego to keep Comic-Con in town through 2018 — San Diego’s mayor says a deal has been reached with Comic-Con organizers to keep the comic book and pop culture convention in town through 2018. AP article

 Newman pallet maker highlights role in food production – The success of farmers and food processors rests, literally, on pallets such as those made at an L Street plant. Westside Pallets Inc. hosted a tour Thursday to highlight its role in getting dairy products, nuts and other goods to customers near and far. Modesto Bee article

 Obamacare cash drives healthcare merger mania – A gusher of Obamacare money is fueling a merger frenzy in U.S. healthcare. The latest jolt came Thursday when Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. agreed to be bought by Medicaid insurer Centene Corp. for $6.8 billion. LA Times article

Aetna to buy Humana for $37 billion, creating nation’s No. 2 health insurer — Aetna will spend $37 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal healthcare overhaul. LA Times article


 Focus shifts to price of water – The drought is placing renewed focus on how much we pay for water, and whether charging the heaviest users with higher rates could help the state meet its conservation goals. Examining water rates was one directive in Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought executive order in April, and state water regulators will discuss the subject at a workshop next week.Stockton Record article

 Drought-squeezed Kings River will rise for a while – A drought-shortened water delivery season is scheduled to begin Friday along the lower Kings River near Reedley, Kingsburg, Laton, Lemoore and Riverdale. Fresno Bee article; Hanford Sentinel article

 Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water — Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess – a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation in drought-stricken California is turning things around, proving it’s possible to get people to change their ways. AP article

 Encouraging news on Bakersfield water-use front – As the state recently reported, Bakersfield residents who are connected to the city water system — about two-thirds of city residents, mainly in the southwest — used 25 percent less water this past May as compared to May 2013. Bakersfield Californian article

 McNerney unveils plans for 27 new recycled water projects, calls for federal funding – Citing concerns over statewide water shortages and recent proposed legislation that “panders to South Valley water users,” Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, announced Thursday that he will introduce legislation to seek federal funding for 27 recycled water projects, all but six of which are based in the Bay Area. Contra Costa Times article; Stockton Record article

 Los Banos cemetery well fails, less watering scheduled for summer — Residents visiting deceased loved ones at the Los Banos District Cemetery this summer will notice a lot of yellow and brown grass, and it’s not just because of the governor’s water conservation mandate. Cemetery Manager Linda Brown said one of the facility’s two wells is no longer operating. Los Banos Enterprise article

 Folsom opens new water play areas after reaching reduction goal – The city of Folsom reopened water play areas at three public parks after exceeding state water reduction requirements for the month of June. Sacramento Bee article

 Edward Henry: Saving our ‘urban forests’ is a must – The Tulare resident writes, “It will rain again — and significantly — but until then let’s be environmentally conscious by practicing both conservation (of our water resources) and preservation (of our urban forests). Now that’s environmental stewardship at work.” Henry op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Animal rights group files complaint against Foster Farms — Just as the chickens were about to go to slaughter, employees at a Foster Farms poultry company in Fresno County, Calif., began hitting them and pulling out their feathers. That video footage, obtained in an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group based in Los Angeles, led it to file a complaint Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission against the American Humane Association and Foster Farms for falsely advertising that the slaughterhouse treats its animals humanely.McClatchy Newspapers article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Complaints against police drop to lowest level since 1990 — Amid increasing national scrutiny over shootings of unarmed minorities by police, citizen complaints about police are at a 25-year low in California, according to a report from the state attorney general. AP article

California’s jail-building boom – Across the state, county officials are laying claim to billions in state funding to refurbish old jails and build new ones.  The remarkable boom in jail construction casts a long shadow over a central promise of prison downsizing: that the policy would encourage counties to invest in the types of stabilizing services that might end the cycle of incarceration.  The Marshall Project article

 Tex McDonald sentenced in Chukchansi casino takeover, will be released Friday — Tex McDonald, former Chukchansi tribal chairman, was sentenced Thursday morning in Madera County Superior Court and will be released from jail Friday. Fresno Bee article

 Bakersfield training academy graduates 34 new police officers – The Bakersfield City Council has given the green light to BPD to field 404 sworn officers, its largest complement in history. With the 32 new officers from a class that began with 43, BPD will now have 398 sworn officers. One of the other two new officers will join Shafter Police Department, and the other will join the Cal State Bakersfield force. Bakersfield Californian article

 No federal charges filed in deadly police shooting of boy with replica rifle – No federal charges will not be filed against a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a pellet gun that resembled an assault rifle in 2013. LA Times article



 Fewer Californians got into UC, while offers to foreign students rose — With the number of University of California applicants at an all-time high, California residents faced slightly tougher odds in landing an acceptance to fall’s freshman classes, while students from other countries received somewhat more admissions offers than in the past, according to university statistics released Thursday. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article

 How Obama reversed course on federal college ratings — President Barack Obama dearly wanted to get the government in the business of rating colleges and universities based on value and affordability, promising a new system by 2015. Now that goal is shriveling under the weight of a concerted opposition from universities, lawmakers and bureaucrats in Obama’s own administration. AP article

 Teacher in union case headed to Supreme Court – A local teacher could make history in his fight against the California Teachers Association. Harlan Elrich, a math teacher at Sanger Unified School District, is one of 10 teachers across the state taking the union to court in an attempt to strike down laws that require nonunion members to pay fees. Fresno Bee article

 Program gives students leg up on college – There are a lot reasons local high school students don’t go to college: family culture, income status, peer/pop culture influences. Nestor Lomeli aims to make sure lack of resources isn’t one of them. Lomeli is a West Hills College Lemoore director of Upward Bound, a half-century old program to give students in families on the lower rungs of the income scale a better shot at getting a four-year college degree. Hanford Sentinel article

 Nan Austin: Evidence-based lessons from Ferguson, and a study pegs futures to neighborhoods – Stanford educators have created a series of lesson plans for middle and high school students based on the Ferguson, Mo., shooting of Michael Brown. Free for download on Edutopia, the lessons use source documents and discussion to delve into the complexities of the controversy. Austin in Modesto Bee

 Tracy Unified mediation fails; fact-finding hearing is Tuesday – Mediation has failed in contract negotiations between teachers and the Tracy Unified School District, but both sides remain hopeful a teacher’s strike will be avoided. Stockton Record article

 West Hills College Lemoore paramedic program graduating first class – West Hills College Lemoore is graduating students from its new paramedic program for the first time next week. Twelve students in the program will be graduating on July 10. Five have earned a paramedic associate’s degree while the others will be receiving a certificate for completing the program. All of the students will be qualified to take the national exam to become a licensed paramedic. Hanford Sentinel article

San Francisco State students, professor push initiative to live stream city meetings — Some students at San Francisco State want to make it easier for residents to participate in all the city’s public meetings — and they’ve taken the first big step toward making their idea reality. Professor David Lee and students from his political science classes turned in 16,000 petition signatures on Wednesday for a ballot initiative that would require all city government public meetings to be streamed live. KQED report



Electricity bills set to rise for millions of Californians – Electricity bills for millions of Californians could be on the rise, depending on what state energy regulators decide on Friday. It would be the most sweeping overhaul of electricity rates in more than a decade. KQED report; AP article

Dan Walters: Overhaul of power rates due – It’s high time for an overhaul. The existing tiers that Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric use are outmoded and unfair – especially in assuming that big users of power are necessarily the wealthy. Indeed, affluent Californians in enclaves along the cool Pacific coast have often received subsidies from inland California’s poorer residents. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bobby Kahn: Valley alliance advocates for reliable power The executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission and member of the Central Valley Coalition for Reliable Energy writes, “Recently, a diverse group of community leaders announced the formation of a coalition to bring attention to this important issue at the Water, Energy and Technology Center at Fresno State. Called the Central Valley Coalition for Reliable Energy, our group includes elected officials and industry leaders in education, business, local government and economic development from throughout the region. We invite the entire Valley to join us as well.” Kahn op-ed in Fresno Bee

Air pollution officials urge ‘fireworks restraint’ — With Independence Day celebrations fast approaching, officials at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District are urging local residents to put the kibosh on personal fireworks. Instead, they’re asking people to attend community-sponsored shows such as the one scheduled for Saturday night at Hanford High School’s Neighbor Bowl stadium. Hanford Sentinel article; Modesto Bee article; KVPR report

Third firefighting plane briefly grounded because of drone — Authorities briefly grounded a U.S. Forest Service reconnaissance plane flying over a series of small wildfires in Northern California after a drone flew too close to the scene. AP article

 ‘Wild’ growth in hikers on Pacific Crest Trail — A popular hiking and equestrian trail that stretches through the Central Sierra has started to see an increasing number of hikers. As FM89’s Jason Scott reports, Hollywood may be to thank for it. KVPR report


Health/Human Services

West Nile virus on upswing with hot temperatures in Sacramento – West Nile virus is on the rise along with temperatures in Sacramento County, according to mosquito-abatement experts. Officials of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District said Thursday that five new mosquito samples have tested positive for the virus in Sacramento County. It has also been detected in Yolo County. Sacramento Bee article

New imaging device to help detect breast cancer – Within weeks, Kern County women will be better positioned to fight breast cancer better than ever with new three-dimensional imaging technology. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno’s Eric Ceballos raises awareness by sharing his eating disorder story – Eric Ceballos tells his story because others like him have not. Because, when he was 17 and looking for help for his eating disorder, his Google searches all came back with stories from women or gay men. He was neither and felt alien and alone. Fresno Bee article

 Brain-eating amoeba kills woman in Eastern Sierra, health officials say — Test results show that a 21-year-old Bishop woman who died last month after waking up from a nap was suffering from a brain-eating amoeba, public health officials said. LA Times article



 State Sen. Andy Vidak: Californians deserve the right to re-vote on California high-speed rail The Valley state senator (R-Hanford) writes, “The High-Speed Rail of today is not what the voters approved in 2008.  Californians deserve the right to re-vote on this massive transportation project that could end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars if it is ever completed.  The money would be better spent on local roads and highways.” Vidak in Fox & Hounds

 Visalia launches app for bus riders – Last year, the city of Visalia installed Wi-Fi access on its buses, and the city has taken another step into social media for public transit commuters by launching an app for bus riders. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Robin Abcarian: A first-hand look at lane-splitting from a motorcyclist’s perspective — Susanna Schick had offered to show me what it’s like to ride a motorcycle between cars during rush hour. The controversial practice, known as lane-splitting, is commonplace on California’s clogged freeways but unnerving to some motorists. Abcarian in LA Times

 Other areas

 State Justice Department to investigate thefts in Fresno County Public Administrator’s Office — An investigation of the Fresno County Public Administrator’s Office has been turned over to the state Department of Justice for possible prosecution. The case follows an internal investigation by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office that uncovered alleged thefts from the estates of dead people by three employees, District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp said. Fresno Bee article

 Merced LGBT Center closes, but organizers hope to reopen it – The Merced LGBT Center has closed after being open for almost a year, according to itswebsite and a sign posted on its front door. The center’s partner group, Fresno-based Gay Central Valley, said it hasn’t been able to maintain a local staff and it never intended to run the center from the main office in Fresno.Merced Sun-Star article

 City of Sacramento agrees to take more time before releasing Mayor Johnson’s emails – A legal showdown has been postponed over the potential release of emails between Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his private attorneys regarding his controversial and short-lived leadership of a black mayors’ association. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article;Sacramento Bee editorial

 Court case could limit private emails from being used for public business – There’s a case -the City of San Jose vs Santa Clara County- before the California Supreme Court that could directly affect Sacramento Mayor Johnson and his staff’s use of private emails and electronic devices to conduct city business. Capital Public Radio report

 Andrew Halverson: A word to the wise: Leave those bears alone – The California Fish and Wildlife warden writes, “While the causes of the increase in black bear activity are myriad, the drought likely had an impact, as the lack of water forced them to roam further in search of food sources. Because of the drought, people might be considering whether to leave out food and water for bears. Don’t. This illegal practice (California Code of Regulations Title 14 251.3) will generally lead to conditioning a bear to the point where it has to be euthanized by CDFW. CDFW reminds the public that ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.’” Halverson op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Sick leave is great, but more needs to be done to make workplaces more humane, productive and family-friendly. State lawmakers could start by improving a California benefit that’s the envy of workers elsewhere in the nation: paid family leave.


Sacramento Bee – If it’s city business, Mr. Mayor, use your city phone; It’s past time to regulate medical marijuana.


Upcoming Events

  • 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 atwww.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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