July 30, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduces $1.3-billion California drought-relief bill –  Sen. Dianne Feinstein filed her long-awaited legislative response to California’s water crisis on Wednesday, hoping to broker a compromise that has eluded Congress through four years of fallow fields and brown lawns. Feinstein’s proposal would funnel $1.3 billion over the next decade to storage, desalination and other projects. Her plan is in marked contrast to one approved by the GOP-controlled House, which would pump more water to San Joaquin Valley growers by rolling back environmental protections. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

California officials arranged $28 million in payments to favored nonprofits — California lawmakers and other state officials arranged for donors, many with business at the Capitol, to contribute $28 million to nonprofit organizations, local museums and other favored causes during the first half of the year, according to the most recent filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission. Sacramento Bee article

John Myers: Poll suggests governor, Democrats winning climate debate – for now – For Gov. Jerry Brown, this has been a summer to remember. With negotiations over the state budget quickly and neatly sewn up in almost record time, he’s been able to focus instead on a national and international pilgrimage for action on climate change. And a new poll suggests he and his fellow Democrats are pretty much speaking what Californians want to hear. Myers in KQED; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Groups disagree on how to redraw downtown Merced districts — The window is closing to draw maps for Merced’s new City Council districts and a conflict is brewing between two groups wrangling over voting boundaries for downtown residents. Merced Sun-Star article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California public pension proposal would create ‘uncertainties,’ analyst says — Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said this week he doesn’t know what would happen if a new public pension ballot proposal becomes law. “There is significant uncertainty as to the magnitude, timing, and direction of the fiscal effects of this measure and its effects on current and future governmental employees’ compensation,” Taylor wrote in a Tuesday letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Sacramento Bee article


Sacramento Bee: Feds slow to probe guest worker abuse – Abuses of the H-2 visa program go unpunished, raising the issue of human trafficking.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Other areas

Fresno Bee: Gun violence must be thwarted – Have we become numb? Have we given up? Are those thwarting any solution to the epidemic of gun violence too politically connected and well-funded to be confronted? Fresno Bee editorial

 Court bars anti-abortion group from releasing new videos – A temporary restraining order has been issued preventing an anti-abortion group from releasing any video of leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers. The group is the same one that previously released three covertly shot videos of a Planned Parenthood leader discussing the sale of aborted fetuses for research. AP article; Sacramento Bee article

Export-Import Bank is dealt a blow as it is excluded from highway bill —  The effort to reopen the Export-Import Bank, which has helped thousands of U.S. companies export their goods, lost significant ground as House lawmakers approved a short-term highway funding bill that did not include new authority for the bank. LA Times article

Debra Saunders: Fort Bragg has no Confederate flag — The Confederate flag is a poke in the eye to African Americans. But how many Californians ever have been to Fort Bragg? Saunders in San Francisco Chronicle

News Briefs

Top Stories

Medicare and Medi-Cal’s 50th anniversary: Programs help more than half of Valley residents — The central San Joaquin Valley is a good place for an assessment of Medicare and Medicaid on their 50th anniversary Thursday. Nearly 58% of the people in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties rely on the government insurance programs to pay their medical bills. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Downtown votes on whether to form Modesto benefit district – There is an election going on over the future of downtown that turns upside down our understanding of what voting is about. Property owners are deciding whether they will pay annual assessments to make downtown cleaner, safer and more attractive in an effort to attract more visitors and investment. But the ballots won’t be counted based on one person, one vote. Instead, they will be tallied based on the assessments. Modesto Bee article

California workers’ comp costs still on the rise – Three years after one of the Legislature’s periodic reforms of California’s system of compensating workers for job-related injuries and illnesses, costs to employers are climbing, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says in a new report. Sacramento Bee article

U.S. economy likely rebounded to solid growth rate in spring – After a terrible winter, the economy is improving, with a solid rebound in the spring expected to be followed by stronger growth in the second half of the year. AP article

More millennials living at home, and you can’t blame the economy – The economy might be recovering, but millennials are still largely living with their parents, one survey says. According to the report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, the nation’s 18- to 34-year-old population is less likely to be living independently of their families and establishing their own households than they were during the recession. LA Times article

George Hostetter: Swearengin wants money for key traffic signals in city’s core – Urban architect Victor Gruen had it all wrong. The key to getting rid of cars in downtown Fresno isn’t Fulton Mall. It’s traffic lights. In other words, don’t ban motorists. Enrage them. This strikes me as the theme when the City Council on Thursday tackles an infrastructure idea from Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Hostetter in Fresno Bee 

Joe Mathews: California: Don’t get suckered by the 2024 Olympics – I’m hoping that L.A. and San Francisco will resist the temptation to jump back in and try to secure the Games – at least this time. Why bail out the U.S. Olympic Committee after they embarrassed us by foolishly picking Boston – a city too small and small-minded to host an event like the Olympic – over our two world-class cities? And why rush a bid (which would have to be complete by September) that could diminish your chances of winning the Games? Especially when there’s little chance that a U.S. city will win the 2024 Games. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Joel Fox: HHS spending and the quest for more money — Given the dramatic rise in HHS spending over four decades and the increased and dramatic rise in poverty, it is fair to ask how well the tax dollars are being spent to alleviate poverty and provide services for those in need. Just adding new dollars without a thorough examination of the current success or failure of HHS funding programs is a disservice to the states’ taxpayers. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Patt Morrison: California is falling apart; here’s why — California, and particularly Southern California, used to be a world leader in physical infrastructure, and we’ve gone from the top of the pack in 1960 to the bottom. We have been asleep at the wheel. We’re like Rip Van Winkle when it comes to infrastructure maintenance. Morrison column in LA Times

Six council members question plan to let Uber, Lyft pick up at LAX – Citing “significant questions” over equity and public safety, six members of the Los Angeles City Council said Wednesday that they want to reexamine the new rules that would allow Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport. LA Times article

Saving energy pays off for Pacific Ethanol – Pacific Ethanol Inc. on Wednesday received more than $470,000 from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for energy-saving improvements installed at its Stockton ethanol plant. Those improvements include a system allowing electric motors, which power pumps on the plant’s fermenting tanks, to run at variable speeds depending on the load. Stockton Record article

$200,000 grant to train Fresno County youth in renewable fuel production – The California Workforce Investment Board announced a $200,000 grant to the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board to teach job-seeking youth about the renewable fuel production sector. Fresno Bee article 

Alameda County wants out as A’s, Raiders’ Coliseum landlord – Alameda County leaders want out of the pro sports business and have told Oakland officials that they are ready to sell their stake in the Coliseum complex, which houses the Raiders, A’s and Warriors. San Francisco Chronicle article 

A’s, Oakland mayor talking new deal after years of stagnation – After years of stagnation in Oakland, A’s representatives are engaged in what clubhouse insiders describe as “positive” discussions with Mayor Libby Schaaf on either building a new ballpark at the Coliseum site or maybe retrofitting the old one. San Francisco Chronicle article

James Rosetta, 1919-2015: He helped turn Fresno Ag Hardware into a Valley institution — James Rosetta worked seven days a week at Fresno Ag Hardware, the store he owned for 56 years with his brother, helping to make business decisions while stocking shelves, waiting on customers and even cleaning the shop. Nothing was beneath him, say family and friends who remember a man deeply devoted to his work, his employees and his family. When he wasn’t working, he liked to travel. Mr. Rosetta died on July 23 after a brief illness. He was 95. Fresno Bee article

Artists aghast at anti-public art lawsuit against Oakland — Artists across the Bay Area are expressing shock and dismay after the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area (BIA) filed a lawsuit against the city of Oakland last week over the issue of public art in privately-funded developments. KQED report



Poll: Most Californians say climate change linked to drought – Nearly two-thirds of Californians believe global warming is having an impact on the state’s persistent drought, sharing Gov. Jerry Brown’s environmental concerns as he presses for tougher climate change standards, according to a new statewide poll released Wednesday. AP article

Official: Well failures probably understated – As the problem of dried-up residential water wells worsens amid punishing drought, county supervisors moved closer Tuesday to adopting a program to help rural homeowners in desperate straits. Supervisors instructed Kings County Emergency Services Coordinator Michelle Speer to move forward with a plan for isolated residents who have run out of water. Hanford Sentinel article

Create a drought-tolerant, lawn-free yard – Like many residents in the central San Joaquin Valley this dry year, Lisa and Joseph Libby of Fresno found themselves eyeing their front lawn with disdain. This spring, they finally made the decision to rip it out — a death sentence only partially inspired by California’s drought. Fresno Bee article

Tulare Elks Lodge makes water donation to PACC – The Tulare Elks Lodge No. 1424 donated 38 cases of bottled water to the Porterville Area Coordinating Council, making it the latest civic organization to jump in and aid East Porterville residents struggling with lack of water. Visalia Times-Delta article 

El Nino contributing to ‘monsoon on steroids’ behind Southland’s humid weather – California is experiencing a particularly muggy, sticky summer, and some experts say rising ocean temperatures are at least partly to blame. Record-high sea temperatures off the Mexican and Central American coast are supercharging moist air moving from Mexico into California, some scientists say, dousing us with weather that seems more like Houston than Hollywood. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Visalia man could spend life in prison after shooting two cops — Visalia gang officers Adam Collins and Bryan Ferreira were on a routine gang patrol when they came across two men attempting to steal a car. What happened next would change the officers’ lives forever. Visalia Times-Delta article


Body cameras go online – The Stockton Police Department held a demonstration Wednesday afternoon to unveil a small piece of technology that could play a big role in investigations into criminal activity and alleged officer misconduct. The Police Department recently purchased 275 VieVu body-worn cameras. Lt. Grant Bedford said 225 uniformed officers have been equipped with the devices since the first week of July. Stockton Record article

LA sheriff invests in new tech to expand biometric database – If you’re stopped by a sheriff’s deputy in Los Angeles County, get ready to have your photo taken. The sheriff’s department will equip deputies with mobile facial recognition technology to expand the largest biometric database outside of the FBI, according to procurement documents. Center for Investigative Reporting article

Families accuse state of failing to hospitalize mentally ill defendants — Several family members of accused criminals who were held in jail after being ruled incompetent to stand trial are suing the state of California over lengthy delays in placing the defendants in state hospital beds.  LA Times article


UC paid former president Mark Yudoff $546,000 in the year after he resigned — University of California paid former president Mark Yudof $546,000 in 2014 – the year after he stepped down from his post, according to salary data released by the UC system this week.  Sacramento Bee article

Coaches, doctors are top earners at UC, but administrators top list at UC Merced – The University of California had 28 employees who made more than $1 million last year, an elite group comprised of athletic coaches, doctors and hospital chief executives. At UC Merced, the newest campus in the system, administrators are the highest paid. UC Merced’s top earners are Chancellor Dorothy Leland ($342,166), Provost Thomas Peterson ($306,210), Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget Daniel Feitelberg ($283,962), Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute Roger Bales ($262,478) and Dean of the School of Natural Sciences Juan Meza ($253,024). AP/Merced Sun-Star article

UCLA coaches, doctors among top paid in UC system – UCLA athletic coaches and physicians occupied the top paid positions in the University of California system last year, earning more than $2 million in annual salary, according to a payroll report released this week. LA Times article

Fresno State reaches another milestone with community service – Nearly 15,000 volunteers helped Fresno State reach a new record during the 2014-15 academic year, earning over 1,324,843 hours of community service with an estimated economic value of $36.4 million. Fresno Bee article


Ousted Selma Unified superintendent to lead Central Unified — Mark Sutton, who was dismissed as Selma Unified School District superintendent earlier this year, is now superintendent at Central Unified School District. Fresno Bee article

Parlier Unified board puts superintendent on leave after grand jury report — Parlier Unified School District trustees voted Tuesday night to place Superintendent Gerardo Alvarez on paid administrative leave, following a grand jury report that found the district had misused millions of dollars and made unnecessary purchases. Fresno Bee article 

Statewide teacher conference to focus on Common Core — Thousands of teachers across the state will meet at different locations on Friday to discuss Common Core standards and share teaching strategies and resources. More than 400 teachers are expected to attend Fresno’s version of “Better Together: California Teachers Summit” at Fresno State. Fresno Bee article

Parents miss out on option to transfer out of low-ranking schools – Parents won’t be able to transfer their children out of California’s lowest-ranked schools under a little-known law because the state’s scoring index – the basis for the rankings – has been suspended. EdSource article

San Francisco Catholic school teachers near deal, but ‘morality’ fight goes on — Teachers at four Catholic high schools emerged from an emotional and drawn-out contract battle this week with a tentative agreement that limits the ability of San Francisco’s archdiocese to link their private lives to their job description. Yet amid the gains at the bargaining table, critics feared that a morality war ignited by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was not over. San Francisco Chronicle article



Sacramento Bee: Step outside – climate change is here – Climate change has occurred in slow motion, which has allowed too many of us to deny it. But step outside. It’s everywhere.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Willow fire containment to 30 percent, but Cascadal Woods warned to stay vigilant – Residents of the Cascadel Woods community east of North Fork were bracing late Wednesday for orders to flee as crews fighting the Willow fire worried that the blaze could spread to their community. Fresno Bee article

Big oil slick off Santa Barbara County coast sparks new concerns — Authorities have not been able to find the source of a three-mile-wide oil sheen off the Santa Barbara County coast but expect it will naturally dissipate, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Tulare County reports two West Nile virus cases — Two Tulare County residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus and another two people are being tested for the illness, health officials said Wednesday. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article


Teen pregnancy declines in Kings County, state — Teen births in Kings County and across the state are continuing to see a decline, according to the California Department of Public Health. Hanford Sentinel article 

Marjaree Mason Center expands to support families of domestic violence – The Marjaree Mason Center and the Fresno County Department of Social Services have joined in a five-year partnership to provide services to families in domestic violence crises. Developed as a new state initiative known as the Family Stabilization Program, the initiative will aid approximately 600 additional clients per year referred to the Marjaree Mason Center. Fresno Bee article 

Texting while walking: Are you cautious or clueless? — Do you roam city sidewalks with your nose buried in your phone, oblivious to what’s going on around you? If so, you may want to look up and start paying attention. Texting while walking decreases the ability to walk in a straight line and slows down pace significantly, according to a study published Wednesday in PLOS ONE. But this gait change may not be as dangerous as it sounds, the researchers say.  NPR report



Study: Stockton-area roads in poor condition – Motorists in Stockton and the surrounding area pay an average of $657 a year in additional vehicle maintenance costs because the roads are in such poor condition, a federal study reports. Stockton Record article 

FAA awards $448,000 for Hanford airport project — The Hanford Municipal Airport will be getting some much-needed repairs thanks to a sizable grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The city was awarded a $448,857 grant this week to begin repaving the taxi lanes at the airport. The project is expected to cost about $498,000. The difference will be funded through the city’s capital improvement budget. Hanford Sentinel article

New light-rail artwork to add character to Sacramento commute — Driving down Cosumnes River Boulevard in south Sacramento, it’s hard not to notice the intricately carved bronze-colored arch standing at the site of the new light-rail station on Franklin Boulevard. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas 

California DMV cracks down on misuse of disability parking placards – The Department of Motor Vehicles is cracking down on drivers who improperly apply for disability parking placards so they can use specially marked parking spots, officials said Wednesday. LA Times article 

Residents find hope, optimism with Neighborhood Blitz II – In south Stockton’s modern Merlo Gym, which features a shiny basketball court and atrocious acoustics, community members and police officials spoke, listened and, most importantly, seemed to hear each other Wednesday night even as words and paragraphs bounced off the soaring ceiling. About 100 residents turned out for the town hall held as a prelude to the police department’s upcoming “Neighborhood Blitz Team” operation in a 35-block area bordered by Sixth, Tenth, Sacramento and Scribner streets. Stockton Record article 

Fresno County Hall of Record remains closed Wednesday after pipe break, flood – The Fresno County Hall of Records will remain closed two days after a burst pipe flooded the building and forced employees to evacuate. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Stanislaus County insecure when it comes to supply of secure document paper – Birth, marriage and death, and generally in that order. They all require certificates of authenticity, which are available at the clerk-recorder’s office in the county of origin. But for a limited time only, people wanting copies of these vital documents from the Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder’s office will be limited to just one of each. Seriously. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Mayor Johnson’s attorney releases list of ‘private’ emails – As part of an ongoing legal battle, private attorneys for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson have compiled a list of 158 emails and associated documents that they believe should be considered privileged and withheld from public view. Sacramento Bee article

Former First Lady Laura Bush helps re-dedicate Yosemite’s Tioga Road — Former first lady Laura Bush attended the re-dedication ceremony of Tioga Road on Tuesday, held 100 years after the original ceremony, in Yosemite National Park. Fresno Bee article

Home at last: Emotional Haggard accompanies boxcar to museum — With their childhood home sitting on a flatbed nearby, Merle Haggard and his sister carefully climbed up on the raised foundation near the train tracks at the Kern County Museum and searched for a private moment together as dozens of observers, fanning themselves in the brutal heat, kept a respectful distance. Bakersfield Californian article

Locals talk poaching, trophy hunting in wake of African lion’s killing — As global outcry over the killing of a favorite lion outside an African wildlife sanctuary continued to build Wednesday, local hunters and animal rights activists stood together against poaching — but differed on the topic of trophy hunting. Bakersfield Californian article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Have we become numb? Have we given up? Are those thwarting any solution to the epidemic of gun violence too politically connected and well-funded to be confronted?

Sacramento BeeClimate change has occurred in slow motion, which has allowed too many of us to deny it. But step outside. It’s everywhere; Abuses of the H-2 visa program go unpunished, raising the issue of human trafficking.

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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