July 3, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Report says Fresno Latinos among least likely to vote statewide – According to the report, Latino gaps in voting are most pronounced in counties of inland California, including Fresno, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino. For Asian Americans, gaps in voting are greatest in the Bay Area counties of San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Francisco. In Fresno and the other inland counties, there was a 25-28 percentage point difference between all Latino residents and those who are registered to vote in 2014. Fresno Bee article 

Dan Walters: California politicians often try to repeal the laws of economics — California has the nation’s largest population and the world’s sixth largest economy, thereby empowering its politicians – or so they believe – to go their own way on public policy. That hubris has its positive aspects, making California a pioneer on many policy issues. But it also has occasionally led its politicians to believe they can ignore basic economic principles. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Gov. Brown 

Can Gov. Jerry Brown keep the promises he made with Proposition 30? — A day after California voters helped patch the state’s recession-battered budget by approving Proposition 30’s temporary tax hikes in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to treat the money as a short-term stopgap. Four years later, making good on both of those commitments — keeping the taxes temporary and keeping red ink out of California’s budget — has presented a predicament for Brown. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

What you need to know about the 17 proposition on November’s statewide ballot – The list of 17 ballot measures certified by Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Thursday offers a dizzying array of public policy choices for Californians to sort out this fall. Here’s a look at the issues you’ll be hearing more about, from news coverage to multimillion dollar TV ad campaigns, in just a few months. LA Times article 

Candidates more willing to come out against capital punishment — When California voters decide in November whether to abolish the death penalty or speed it up, the rival measures will compete in a political climate that appears to be shifting, gradually, against capital punishment. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas 

Gun rights activists say they won’t comply with California’s new gun laws — Fifty or so gun activists gathered Saturday morning at Sacramento’s Cesar Chavez Plaza to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of six gun control measures they said would turn “law-abiding citizens into criminals.” Sacramento Bee article 

Marcos Breton: Why are California’s most vulnerable workers denied by Democrats? — Unlike other workers, they are not entitled to overtime after eight hours. A bill to secure overtime for farm laborers after eight hours of work died on the floor of the Assembly last month. It fell three votes shy of passage, a defeat made possible because eight Democrats voted no and seven abstained. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

Joyce Terhaar: Why weren’t neo-Nazis, anti-fascists kept apart at Capitol? — It was a melee between neo-Nazis – who had been given a permit for a rally on Capitol grounds – and a loosely organized group of self-identified anti-fascists, or “Antifa,” who came armed to shut down the rally. We have yet to hear satisfying answers to questions we’ve asked in the aftermath, particularly from the CHP: Why did officers appear to hang back as the initially quiet crowd erupted into violence? And why were no arrests made before protesters were allowed to leave? Terhaar column in Sacramento Bee

Presidential Politics

Dan Morain: Billionaire Steyer sets out to stop supposed billionaire Trump – Shortly before praising farm laborers at a United Farm Workers press conference, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer had some choice words for the supposed billionaire who aspires to be president. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Willie Brown: Any time you have to explain what was not said in a meeting, it looks bad – What in the world was Bill Clinton thinking when he dropped by to “just say hello” to Attorney General Loretta Lynch when they both had their personal planes parked at the Phoenix airport the other day? Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Victor Davis Hanson: Ruling elites created these populist monsters — Following the Brexit, Europe may witness even more plebiscites against the undemocratic European Union throughout the continent. Hanson column in Modesto Bee

News Stories

Top Stories 

Property assessment values hit record $44.3 billion in Stanislaus — The assessed value of property in Stanislaus County has reached an all-time high, reflecting a stronger residential real estate market and new construction in the commercial and industrial sectors, the county assessor said. The 2016-17 assessment roll, on which property taxes are based, is $44.3 billion, an increase of nearly 6 percent over the previous year. Modesto Bee article 

ACLU: San Joaquin among counties preying on low-income drivers – Last month, a coalition of nonprofits, including the ACLU, sent a letter to San Joaquin County Superior Court urging it to overhaul its traffic court’s practices, which they say disproportionately affects people who, like Cotton, are of minority and low-income communities. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto council to consider budget-review panel’s final report — The Modesto City Council on Tuesday will consider accepting the recommendations of Mayor Ted Brandvold’s 100-day budget review committee and directing Brandvold and City Manager Jim Holgersson to come up with a plan for the city to research and implement the recommendations. Modesto Bee article

Modesto Bee: Mayor’s committee could get Modesto rolling in right direction — The city of Modesto appears to be on the verge of an overhaul, thanks to 13 “mechanics” who spent 100 days under the hood. Modesto Bee editorial 

Jeff Jardine: Hard decisions to put more cops on Modesto streets stirs emotions – When the volunteer members of Mayor Ted Brandvold’s 100-day committee set about finding money in the city’s existing coffers to hire more police officers, one area stood out. OK, four or seven areas, depending on how you work the numbers. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

San Joaquin County hospital workers plan Thursday strike – Dozens of San Joaquin County employees are planning to strike later this week, but county officials are hoping to prevent it. Labor negotiations between members of the Service Employees International Union and county administrators have stalled after reaching agreements on 29 areas, but they have not agreed on a wage package, prompting the union’s call to strike. Stockton Record article 

Sacramento devotes $10 million to high-tech firm, but plan faces risks – When the City Council approved a $10 million fund for high-tech investments last month, Sacramento joined a handful of municipalities across the country hoping to buy their way into the economy of the future with public money. Sacramento Bee article

How Sacramento’s transit chief landed a pension that exceeds federal limits – For four decades, Mike Wiley has clocked in at Sacramento Regional Transit headquarters in midtown, working up the ranks to the top job and earning recognition for dedication to an agency he says he has been honored to serve. For that, he is being richly compensated. Some say too richly. Sacramento Bee article 

Who are California’s top-paid CEOs? – Among the top executives of California’s biggest companies, the highest paid, Mark Hurd, works for a tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area. So does the second best. And the fourth. And the fifth. Among the top five, Disney’s Robert Iger stands alone as the only CEO from outside of Silicon Valley’s burgeoning technology industry. LA Times article 

Can law enforcement curb San Francisco homelessness? – Would stronger enforcement of laws against street camping and petty crime reduce homelessness? San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco Chronicle: A civic disgrace – The reduction of homelessness to the extent humanly possible must be San Francisco’s No. 1 priority. San Francisco Chronicle editorial 

At $16,000 per person a Mission shelter is finding permanent homes for the homeless – It cost San Francisco about $16,000 for each homeless person placed in permanent housing in the city through the highly praised Mission District Navigation Center during its first year-plus of operation. San Francisco Chronicle article 

In Contra Costa, one man’s homeless outreach mission comes to an end – For the past dozen years or so, Doug Stewart has spent most of his nights in places most people would never choose to go. He treks through urban woodlands and along dark and dangerous train tracks in Contra Costa County, seeking the out-of-the-way places where those with no permanent shelter are camped out. KQED report 

Heather Fargo: It’s time to rethink Sacramento’s riverfront – The former mayor of Sacramento writes, “Let’s choose fun. Let’s plan for nature and romance. Let’s develop our riverfront to be shared by all of us. And let’s involve the community again in revising our plans.” Fargo op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Restaurants finding workers among the disadvantaged – It takes just a few minutes with him to understand why Keith Corbin was appointed director of operations of Locol, helping the company open its new Oakland restaurant a month ago. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco’s Bohemian Club to pay workers $7 million in settlement — Members of the San Francisco-based Bohemian Club will pay $7 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that alleges workers at the club’s private, ultra-elite Bohemian Grove campground were victims of wage theft, officials said Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Erika D. Smith: How to you break down Sacramento’s bureaucratic silos? — They say great ideas come to mind when you least expect them. For me, it was while staring out the window of a Regional Transit train to avoid staring at the homeless woman snoring and slouching drunkenly in a seat across the aisle. Smith column in Sacramento Bee


Heroes of farm-to-fork: Watanabe Farms scales back — Now, to the dismay of many, they are scaling back considerably. For the first time since they launched their farming way of life, they have not done a second planting, meaning that come September, when the last of the tomatoes have ripened, the summer squash has come and gone and the peach trees are barren, they will end their fruit and vegetable production. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Confidential Clovis police files ordered unsealed in civil rights case — Confidential Clovis police documents concerning one of four officers involved in the alleged September 2012 beating of a motorcyclist should be made public, a federal judge ruled Thursday in U.S. District Court. Fresno Bee article 

Lois Henry: Charges against 72-year-old who fought CHP would be overkill — For all those who’ve been wondering what happened to Joe Palme, he’s not in jail. Whether he’s eventually charged with failure to yield to an officer and resisting arrest remains to be seen. But for now, the 72-year-old Air Force veteran is home. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Ex-Stanislaus official’s death threats case postponed again — The case against a former Stanislaus County official accused of sending death threats to herself has been delayed again, partly because 67-year-old defendant Karen Mathews Davis is having “significant and continuing health issues,” a court paper says. Modesto Bee article


Unsung heroes: Edison staff, parents fund dream trips – When two of Temo Moreno’s Edison High School art students won an art competition and trip to Washington, D.C., he shared the happy news with colleagues during a staff meeting. His announcement, however, had a “but”: the students, who are twin sisters, do not have the means to cover a hotel, meals and transportation. Immediately, a teacher yelled, “Fundraiser!” Stockton Record article


Reaping the wind off California’s coast for electricity faces hurdles — As offshore wind farms gain momentum in the U.S., the industry predicts a clean-energy bonanza from the West Coast’s steady and powerful breezes that may go a long way to help the state meet its ambitious clean energy mandates. But reaping the wind off California’s coast must first overcome not only economic and political challenges but also requires technology that is still being developed.  LA Times article 

Diablo Canyon closure shows California’s power grid is changing fast — California’s system for producing, moving and using electricity is changing fast. And apparently it no longer has room for a nuclear plant. Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s surprise decision to shut down Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear plant in California, came after the company squinted at the future and realized that the massive facility would be an awkward fit. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Before battling blazes, firefighters chop down dead trees in Sierra – It has been a scene playing out daily in the Sierra this spring and now summer: Cal Fire firefighters cutting down trees and thinning out parts of the forest in the wake of an unprecedented crisis, the deaths of 66 million California trees, said Edwin Simpson, a forester with Cal Fire. Fresno Bee article

Outlook uncertain for uninsured fire victims – There’s no insurance check coming to South Lake resident Matt Smith, whose home of 25 years burned in the Erskine Fire — because it wasn’t insured. But some resources, including money, are available to residents with no home insurance. Bakersfield Californian article

‘Significant progress’ made battling Deer Fire – Firefighters, some of whom have been battling local blazes for two weeks now, fought heat, wind and exhaustion Saturday to protect hundreds of homes in Bear Valley Springs and Hart Flat from the growing Deer Fire. Bakersfield Californian article 

Curry Fire near Coalinga burns nearly 3,000 acres — The wildfire burning at Highway 198 and Curry Mountain near Coalinga has now spread to 2,944 acres and is 25 percent contained, Cal Fire announced Saturday evening. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services 

$55 million hospital bond campaign divides Tulare – Voters in Tulare and outlying areas are being courted to vote yes on Measure I, the proposed $55 million bond that supporters say is needed to finish the stalled Tulare Regional Medical Center expansion project. Fresno Bee article 

Vandals take aim at Tulare hospital campaign office – Tulare police are investigating an attempted break-in of the Tulare hospital’s Yes on Measure I campaign office. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Saint Agnes bid to modify minimum charity-care level draws ire – Saint Agnes Medical Center is coming under fire from community members for its request to reduce the amount it is required to allocate to charity care under an agreement with the state attorney general. Fresno Bee article 

Berkeley’s only hospital, Alta Bates, to close by 2030 — Berkeley’s only hospital and emergency room plans to shut down in 14 years to avoid state-mandated earthquake safety upgrades that hospital officials say would require costly reconstruction. San Francisco Chronicle article

Land Use/Housing 

Michael Fitzgerald: Out of his home, into a ’75 Caprice – Jerry Lee Ruff just wants to be home. The ailing 71-year-old man has been living in a filthy, ’75 Caprice parked in his driveway for more than a year, since Stockton code enforcers ousted him from his home. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Apartments on rise with luxury project – American Capital Group, a real estate development and management company based in Bellevue, Washington, has begun construction of the first market-rate apartment complex in Stockton since the Great Recession. Stockton Record article 

Sidewalk rule would hit homeowners — Don’t think you’re liable for cracks or breaks in the sidewalk in front of your house? Think again, according to a proposed ordinance that will be heard at Tuesday’s Lemoore City Council meeting. Hanford Sentinel article


Five California airports have the nation’s slowest passport checkpoint times – For the last 12 months, Sacramento International Airport had the longest passport wait times, with an average wait of 33 minutes. Just over half of all international passengers waiting at Sacramento International Airport waited more than 30 minutes, the study found. Among the other California airports with the longest average wait times over the last 12 months were Oakland (27 minutes), Fresno (27), Ontario (26), San Francisco (24) and Los Angeles (22). LA Times article 

Tesla and Google are both driving toward autonomous vehicles. Which company is taking the better route? – The divergent approaches reflect companies with different goals and business strategies. Tesla’s rapid-fire approach is in line with its image as a small but significant auto industry disruptor, while Google — a tech company from whom no one expects auto products — has the luxury of time. LA Times article 

Northwest Yosemite bridge will get some TLC — The James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge, which serves as the northwest gateway to Yosemite National Park along Highway 120, will get a series of repairs after the Fourth of July, Caltrans said. Fresno Bee article 

Modesto accepts grant for electric buses — Modesto could have four electric buses quietly rolling along city streets by the end of 2017. The City Council on Tuesday accepted a $4.085 million California Air Resources Board grant to purchase the zero-emission electric buses and their charging stations. The total project will cost $6.2 million, with the balance of the funding coming from state and federal sources, according to a city report. Modesto Bee article

Other areas 

Proposed fireworks rule ignites concerns — A proposed illegal fireworks ordinance is raising some concerns among property owners and property managers in Lemoore. The proposed rule, which received a 3-0 vote of support June 21 from the City Council when it was presented for an initial reading, would allow police to issue $1,000 fines to anybody considered responsible for the property from which illegal fireworks are launched. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California needs action now on groundwater protection.

Modesto Bee – The city of Modesto appears to be on the verge of an overhaul, thanks to 13 “mechanics” who spent 100 days under the hood.