July 31, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories 

‘Sanctuary cities’ are focus of new immigration fight — The rekindled immigration debate is shifting beyond the theatrics of presidential politics and defying traditional partisan lines. Congressional Republicans are working to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities,” localities that effectively shelter unauthorized immigrants. And California’s Democratic senators have signaled their interest in participating in the debate as pressure from the public intensifies. Sacramento Bee article 

Dan Walters: Politicians foster circuses — Politicians are eager to foster athletic circuses, which contribute little or nothing to the economy. But they pay scant attention to attracting capital investment that would create jobs – bread, if you will – for California’s million-plus unemployed workers. Why are they so willing to slash red tape for teams, but not for everyone else? It just does not make any sense. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Other areas 

Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio: Only voters can solve California’s pension crisis – Reed, the former mayor of San Jose, and DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member, write, “Our bipartisan coalition believes voters must be given a voice in important government employee compensation and benefits decisions and politicians should ask voters before making expensive, life-long retirement promises to new employees.  That is why we are placing a statewide initiative on the ballot in 2016. The initiative provides a “check” on state and local politicians who too often cave into union bosses’ expensive, unsustainable demands.” Reed/DeMaio in Fox & Hounds 

Joel Fox: The uncertain futures of Propositions 13 and 30 — Two of California’s historical ballot initiatives – one brought by government outsiders to limit government revenue, the other brought by government insiders to expand government revenue – face an uncertain future if changes to these laws appear on the 2016 ballot. Fox in Fox & Hounds

How Black Lives Matter forced campaigns to toss their strategies on black voters – Democrats have never been more confident that their chances of hanging onto the White House hinge on black voters, who tipped key states toward President Obama — but they have never been less confident, it seems, about how to talk to them. The Black Lives Matter campaign is seeing to it that the rules they relied on for courting the vote no longer apply. LA Times article

Sacramento mayor’s takeover of national group was ‘messy’ — Sacramento city officials released 959 more pages of documents Thursday about Mayor Kevin Johnson’s fight two years ago for control of the National Conference of Black Mayors, revealing a few more details about the internecine battle. In one email to some of the now-defunct group’s members, Johnson warned, “It will be messy.” Sacramento Bee article

Washington’s fight over the budget might shut down government again – The next fiscal crisis could come as soon as Oct. 1 unless a new government spending plan is approved. But with House members having left Wednesday for summer recess and senators soon to follow, that leaves only about 10 legislative days next month to fix the problem, and there are no viable solutions in sight. LA Times article

Bill Whalen: Instead of listening to Trump, let’s play the what-if game — There’s not enough space here to call out every player who led us to this sad political juncture. Still, here are three what-ifs that might have changed things mightily. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

State reduced water use 27 percent in June, hitting conservation target – California residents reduced their water use 27 percent in June, beating a state-mandated target during the crucial first month of summer, according to figures released Thursday by the State Water Resources Control Board. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article;San Jose Mercury News article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

California judge says she’ll likely uphold water cuts — California’s demand for lower agricultural water use during the drought will likely survive a legal challenge, a judge indicated Thursday. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang said during a hearing that she believes the state’s revised approach to warning farmers of insufficient supplies is legal. AP article

Central Valley board allows wastewater disposal to continue despite contamination — Despite a finding that unlined wastewater pits near Kern County’s Edison oil field have contaminated groundwater, officials on Thursday delayed shutting down some operations. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

U.S. economy posts solid 2.3 percent growth rate in Q2 – The U.S. economy posted a solid rebound in the April-June quarter after a harsh winter, led by a surge in consumer spending and a recovery in foreign trade that bode well for the rest of the year. AP article


U.S. wage growth falls to record-slow pace in 2nd quarter – U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years, stark evidence that stronger hiring isn’t lifting paychecks much for most Americans. The slowdown also likely reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay for some workers. AP article 

Garcetti says ‘battle plan’ is on the way to fight rising homelessness –  In the wake of criticism that his administration is falling behind in the fight against Los Angeles’ surging homelessness, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday that his office and other agencies will soon unveil a “battle plan” to take people off the streets. LA Times article

Facebook wants to offer Internet service to remote areas by drone – Social media giant Facebook seeks to bring the Internet to remote areas of the world with its latest project involving a huge drone it has built. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm said Thursday that its Connectivity Lab has completed work on an unmanned aircraft it calls Aquila with the ability to send Internet signals from the sky to users below.  LA Times article 

Valero’s second-quarter profit soars with high gas prices – The San Antonio company said operating income from its two California refineries soared to $295 million for the quarter that ended June 30, or more than 11 times the $24 million earned in the year-earlier quarter. LA Times article

Michael Saltsman: UC researchers miss the mark on minimum wage increases – The research director at the Employment Policies Institute writes, “Sacramento is the latest California city to consider a higher minimum wage, and proponents have cited studies from researchers affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley, suggesting a wage raise is mostly beneficial. This same team is expected to release results for Sacramento. It’s an intoxicating conclusion for lawmakers in search of research that supports their policy preferences. But the predictive track record of team Berkeley suggests it’s not a credible one.” Saltsman op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Oakland’s public works employees call in sick as contract negotiations drag on – A large chunk of the city’s public works employees called in sick this week, the newest attempt by employees to pressure Oakland’s administration for a better contract as negotiations with five municipal unions continue late into the summer. San Jose Mercury News article 

LA’s general fund stands to gain from proposed DWP rate hikes – The proposed hikes in Department of Water and Power bills could have another beneficiary as well: L.A.’s annual budget for general spending, which could climb more than $100 million if the City Council signs off on the five-year package of increases. LA Times article 

Preparing for the future of naval aviation – In about 17 months, the first of 100 new F-35C Lightning II Fighters is scheduled to arrive at Lemoore Naval Air Station. But before the first $96 million state-of-the art fighter touches down here, a lot of work needs to be done. Visalia Times-Delta article

Silicon Valley startups are paying headhunters more than $30,000 a head for hot engineers – For startups trying to hire engineers in Silicon Valley, it’s not just about affording high salaries. Recruiter fees are also a big deal, according to a discussion on Twitter among founders on Thursday. Stockton Record article 

Black Caucus members seek Silicon Valley diversity — Rep. Barbara Lee will join Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on a Silicon Valley junket aimed at increasing African Americans’ representation in the tech industry. Political Blotter



California zeroes in on conservation stragglers amid drought — In the coming weeks, state regulators will review the conservation programs of communities missing their marks and will draft intervention plans for the worst performers. They have the power to levy big penalties but stress that fines don’t create water in the fourth year of drought. AP article

Stockton hits 41 percent water conservation – San Joaquin and Calaveras counties mostly passed their first big test under new mandatory water conservation rules, saving anywhere from 28 percent to 41 percent in June, state officials said Thursday. Stockton Record article 

Cal Water customers meet conservation mandate; Bakersfield ones fall just short – Compliance with state water conservation mandates proved hit and miss among urban water districts in and around Bakersfield, and those that missed will hear from the state. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced County cities miss targets as state water use falls in June – Water use in California fell by 27 percent in June, passing the conservation target set by Gov. Jerry Brown during the drought, regulators said Thursday, but not all cities in Merced County are hitting their targets. Merced Sun-Star article 

Who’s saving water in California and who isn’t — Almost 40 percent of urban water suppliers cut their water use dramatically, by 30 percent or more. About a third of water districts, 140 in all, fell short, mostly in Southern California. KQED report 

Outdoor watering ban proposed for north Morada – County supervisors next week may take the extraordinary step of banning all outdoor watering in an affluent Morada neighborhood — not because of the drought, but because the special district serving that neighborhood is broke. If not unprecedented, the ban at least would be the first in a very long time in San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article 

Newsom teams with tech to seek water solutions — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is teaming up with Silicon Valley’s Singularity University to challenge entrepreneurs around the world to come up with solutions to California’s water-supply woes, he announced Thursday. Political Blotter

Manual Mollinedo: When it comes to watering Fresno parks, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees – The director of Parks, After School, Recreation, and Community Services for the city of Fresno writes, “Our trees are valuable resources that provide clean air and shade, healthy communities, and increased property values. We must all do what we can to help Fresno’s trees survive this lingering drought and remain healthy and robust.” Millinedo op-ed in Fresno Bee

Kings farm bureau hires executive director — After months of going without one, the Kings County Farm Bureau has an executive director. The bureau announced Thursday that Dustin Ference, with a citrus farming background, has been hired to fill the position. Hanford Sentinel article

Dry wells: Homeowners in Stanislaus County can apply for temporary water supply – Drought assistance is on the way for Stanislaus County residents who are waiting for a new well and could use a temporary water source for their homes. Stanislaus County has begun taking applications for the temporary water assistance program, which received approval Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors. Modesto Bee article

Ken Carlson: Stanislaus County will discuss water issues, drought at meeting in Denair – As drought conditions intensify this summer, Stanislaus County’s water advisory committee will hold a community meeting in Denair on emergency assistance and groundwater. Modesto Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Growing pot outdoors is indeed a waste of water – As reservoir levels fall, farmers, ranchers and homeowners are cutting back. The same should go for marijuana growers. In our parched state, they can’t waste water on weed. Sacramento Bee editorial


Concerns rise over environmental impact of Carlsbad desalination plant – A water conservation group argued in court this week that the San Diego County Water Authority needs to do more to account for the potential environmental effects of its upcoming projects, particularly the water desalination plant scheduled to open in Carlsbad. LA Times article 

Robert Sutton: Brown orders water cutbacks, yet state mandates usage – The Tulare resident writes, “Is our water crisis really in dire straits at the present time? Just how concerned is the governor in his edicts to cut water consumption presently, when he knows the state has mandated the use of water at construction sites to combat dust that occurs, as well as other mandated necessities?” Sutton op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno Police Chief Dyer gets bonuses to help attract talented cops – Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer now has a beefed-up recruiting program. The City Council on Thursday approved a deal that pays a $10,000 bonus to any experienced California peace officer who joins the force and stays at least two years. Fresno Bee article

Governor won’t send back parole case of Chowchilla school bus kidnapper — Gov. Jerry Brown has decided against challenging the parole of one of three men convicted in the kidnapping of 26 Chowchilla children and their school bus driver nearly 40 years ago. The decision was announced Thursday by Brown’s office. The governor had until midnight to decide whether to send the case of 63-year-old James Schoenfeld back to the board that recommended his release for review. AP/Fresno Bee article

Glare of videos is shifting public’s view of police – The recording of encounters between the police and the public has begun to alter views of the use of force and race relations, experts and police officials say. New York Times article

Sacramento Bee: How body cams are supposed to work – State lawmakers need to develop body cam laws that will equip large and small departments, create sensible rules for public access and thwart bad cops who try to game the system. We haven’t a day to lose. Sacramento Bee editorial

Monitoring system locates dozens of shootings in North Sacramento – The Sacramento Police Department says the first six weeks using a gunfire tracking system called Shot Spotter have been a success. Under a year-long trial program, the company SST installed dozens of sensors in three square-miles of north Sacramento.  Since mid-June, the sensors have detected 71 gunshots. Capital Public Radio report; Sacramento Bee article 

Transgender advocates host Fresno vigil for stabling victim — Among dozens of activists at a Thursday night vigil in Fresno’s Tower District, there was no question about whether the victim in last week’s shooting was transgender. Casey, or K.c., Haggard died after being stabbed in the neck July 23 by a man in an SUV. Haggard was walking alone at night in a knee-length dress and white cardigan with shoulder-length hair. Fresno Bee article


California Community College chancellor says access and success are priorities – As the state’s community colleges make their way out of the economic downturn and find themselves with a fuller budget this year, Brice Harris, chancellor of California Community Colleges, on Thursday asked administrators to keep two priorities in mind: increasing access and helping more students succeed. San Bernardino Sun article 

California’s school system ranked 9th worst in nation – According to WalletHub’s analysis, California has the 9th worst school system in the nation, thanks in part to low reading and math test results, a high dropout rate and an abysmal score (worst in the nation) for the high number of pupils per teachers in our classrooms. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno State opening support services center for undocumented students – Fresno State is opening a Dream Outreach Center to address the unique needs and challenges faced by undocumented students who pursue a college education. The new program is designed to help make a Fresno State education more accessible for some Valley students. The Business Journal article 

Stockton Record: Wanted – more teachers – More must be done to entice people into the teaching profession, make classrooms more conducive to learning (read: decrease class size), make pay fair and equitable and foster emphasis among families in placing more emphasis on the education process. Stockton Record editorial 

First Look: CSU Bakersfield homestay to provide intensive language opportunity for incoming students – Families looking for a cultural experience without ever leaving the country can participate in Cal State Bakersfield’s homestay program, held in partnership with their Intensive English Language Center and the American Homestay Network. Bakersfield Californian article

Districts urged to step up for next generation of teachers — A report out this week urges California school districts to take a more assertive role in producing new teachers. A new half-billion-dollar appropriation to districts to improve teacher effectiveness presents the opening to do this, although more state encouragement and incentives would help, the study said. EdSource article

Our Lady of Miracles in Gustine avoids closure — Our Lady of Miracles Catholic School in Gustine will stay open,church officials confirmed. Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and Office of Catholic Education announced the decision to leave the school open late Tuesday, reversing actions taken a week ago to shutter the decades old religious school. Merced Sun-Star article


Cascadel Woods evacuation grows as Willow fire spreads – A wildfire near Bass Lake grew by a third as it pushed through a large granite face on its northern side, federal officials said Thursday morning. The expansion of the Willow Fire led to a mandatory evacuation Thursday morning of the Cascadel Woods community east of North Fork because of the advance of the Willow fire, which has grown to nearly 4,000 acres. Fresno Bee article 

Wildfire spreads out of containment in Sequoia National Forest — The Cabin fire grew outside of containment lines in the Sequoia National Forest Wednesday evening, prompting firefighters to hike to its location Thursday morning, the U.S. Forest Service said. It was estimated to have spread over 800 acres by 5 p.m. Thursday.Fresno Bee article

Willow fire, others polluting Valley air – The Willow Fire burning near Bass Lake and other fires in central California are fouling San Joaquin Valley air, creating health hazards for residents, according to a press release Thursday from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Hanford Sentinel article

Lyons Magnus new heat recovery system to annually save 2.5 million gallons of industrial water — A new heat recovery system has finished construction at Fresno’s Lyons Magnus food processing facility and will increase the efficiency of the onsite cogeneration plant. The new system will reduce Lyon Magnus’s annual purchase of industrial water by about 2.5 million gallons, and will save at least 750 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, MMR Power Solutions said. Fresno Bee article 

Why should we care about native lands? — Very little of the Tulare Basin’s native valley floor habitat remains. Many in the conservation community claim that about 90-95 percent of the region’s native landscape has been converted to other uses, namely agriculture and urban use. This is among the highest rates of conversion in California.Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services 

Two-thirds of uninsured Californians gain coverage after Obamacare rollout — More than two-thirds of Californians uninsured before the Affordable Care Act now have coverage, a new report finds. LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article

Audit cites California VA hospital’s ‘confusion’ in patient’s death – An erroneous wristband placed on a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran caused a “delay in life-saving intervention” at the Mather VA facility in Sacramento, federal investigators say in a new report prompted by the patient’s death under questionable circumstances last October. McClatchy Newspapers article 

At least two people in Tulare County sickened by West Nile — Two Tulare County people have been sickened from West Nile virus and a third is likely suffering the disease as well, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. Visalia Times-Delta article 

As West Nile season heats up, mosquito fight waged with fish, chickens – and spraying – With the deadly West Nile virus season heating up, state and local health officials are again battling the disease with an unusual arsenal of tiny fish, dead birds and plump chickens. That trio, part of a years-long, multipronged approach to squashing West Nile, helps health officials identify the mosquito “hot spots” that need ground or aerial spraying. Sacramento Bee article

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell: Half a century of Medicare and Medicaid — Today, about 1 in every 3 Americans has health coverage through Medicare and Medicaid. About 55 million seniors and those with disabilities depend on Medicare to get the preventive services that protect them from getting sick. It helps them stay mobile and independent. It gets them the treatments they need when they need them. And more than 70 million Americans children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and hardworking low-income folks—many who work full time—have that same sense of security thanks to Medicaid. These programs are a lifeline, and they are needed now more than ever. Burwell in HHS website 

Tulare Regional Medical Center reaches financial health under HCCA management — Tulare Regional Medical Center has improved its financial standing under the administration of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates. At the closing for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the hospital has improved the number of days of cash on hand, its net position and recorded 14 straight months of profit margin, according to Benny Benzeevi, president of HCA. Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing 

Hanford revisits sale of vacant park land — For the third time in the past 15 years, Hanford city officials are preparing to sell a vacant 18-acre parcel located west of Hidden Valley Park. Hanford Sentinel article 

Other areas

Merced LGBT Center could reopen in September — Merced’s LGBT Center, which closed its doors July 1 because of a lack of staffing, could be reopened as soon as September, area advocates said. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The California Public Utilities Commission plays by its own rules with taxpayers’ money.

Merced Sun-Star – State lawmakers need to develop body cam laws that will equip large and small departments, create sensible rules for public access and thwart bad cops who try to game the system. We haven’t a day to lose.

Modesto Bee – State lawmakers need to develop body cam laws that will equip large and small departments, create sensible rules for public access and thwart bad cops who try to game the system. We haven’t a day to lose.

Sacramento Bee – State lawmakers need to develop body cam laws that will equip large and small departments, create sensible rules for public access and thwart bad cops who try to game the system. We haven’t a day to lose; As reservoir levels fall, farmers, ranchers and homeowners are cutting back. The same should go for marijuana growers. In our parched state, they can’t waste water on weed.

Stockton Record – More must be done to entice people into the teaching profession, make classrooms more conducive to learning (read: decrease class size), make pay fair and equitable and foster emphasis among families in placing more emphasis on the education process.

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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