July 31, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

California initiative draws fire for opening door to TV ads that promote pot smoking — Nearly a half-century after tobacco ads were kicked off television in the United States, an initiative in California would take a first step toward allowing TV commercials that promote a different kind of smoking — marijuana. LA Times article 

New political and legal battle is shaping up for California’s bullet train – A seemingly obscure, two-sentence piece of state legislation is demonstrating the still unsettled political and legal foundations of California’s troubled bullet train project. LA Times article

6 things to look for when the Legislature returns — August is shaping up to be a busy month for California legislators, who return from their summer recess Monday to face a number of pressing issues. Here are six issues that will be up for debate. Sacramento Bee article


PedWest schedule stepped up — This month’s opening of a much-needed pedestrian border entrance from Tijuana to San Ysidro has been cause for celebration north of the border. But in Baja California, there has been mostly uproar over the quality of a temporary structure built by Mexico’s federal government to access the new U.S. PedWest facility. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Other areas 

Dan Walters: As Legislature reconvenes, it faces three leftover Jerry Brown priorities – As the Legislature returns to Sacramento, it faces three of Gov. Jerry Brown’s priorities that were left hanging when the state budget was passed in June – housing reform, transportation financing and the future of the state’s cap-and-trade program of reducing carbon emissions. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Bill would prevent LGBT discrimination at religious schools – A bill moving through the Legislature would remove a longstanding exemption from anti-discrimination laws for religious institutions, potentially exposing the schools to civil rights lawsuits from students and employees. AP article 

Why California may not see statewide rules on the use of drones anytime soon — As drones multiply in number and category, cities and states want to set boundaries. But drone manufacturers and associations this legislative session boosted their politicking, successfully beating back several bills they said would create a patchwork of laws that vary by state and hinder innovation. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump, Clinton work to appeal to voters who don’t like them — Both candidates have to plot a course to victory while most American voters don’t much like either of them. Trump is viewed unfavorably by a startling 57 percent of American voters, according to the RealClearPolitics poll of polls. But Clinton fares just a tick better, at 56 percent. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Willie Brown: Campaign’s not over yet, but Democrats did a great job in Philly – As they bask in the glow of the most successful convention we’ve seen in ages, Democrats need to remember one thing and one thing only: It’s still a neck-and-neck race. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle 

Dan Morain: Glass ceiling shatters in Philly but not in California – Clinton shattered one barrier, having shown a remarkable ability to withstand attacks from the right and left. If she survives attacks coming in the next 99 days and crashes through the final barrier, she will be a testament to the proposition that no job is too big for a woman. Back here in California, however, the ceiling will remain cracked, but not broken, for a little longer. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Feinstein skips Democratic convention because of husband’s cancer treatment — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) skipped the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia because she was caring for her husband, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, according to her spokesman. LA Times article 

Mike Klocke: Middle ground can be lonely when polarity rules — It’s so rare that a letter comes our way with even a modicum of neutrality or acceptance. There are, however, well-conceived opinions on whether “centrism” is the best — or even a viable — approach. Consider these thoughts. Klocke column in Stockton Record 

Critics see efforts to purge minorities from voter rolls — Months before the presidential election, blatant attempts to keep minorities from voting have been supplanted by a blizzard of more subtle changes and intimidating tactics, advocates contend. New York Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

It costs what? High bids forcing Bakersfield to strategize – From Centennial Plaza to Mesa Marin Sports Complex to a non-descript sewer lift station near downtown, contractor bids on at least five city projects have come in high during the past year and been rejected by the Bakersfield City Council. It’s a good news-bad news situation for the City of Bakersfield. The City Council has put the brakes on projects before they even begin to go over-budget. But it’s forcing already busy city staff to do more and more work. Bakersfield Californian article

New Fresno City College president pledges to listen first — For Carole Goldsmith, her recent appointment as Fresno City College’s new president is a homecoming. When she left Fresno Unified to marshal a period of tremendous growth for West Hills Community College District, she just couldn’t sell the Tower District home she and her partner raised their two children in. Now, she’s moving back in. Fresno Bee articleVideo: ‘New Fresno City College president prefers Livingstone’s over Landmark’ in Fresno Bee

Jobs and the Economy

The quest to keep San Joaquin Valley’s wine industry growing – Behind every glass of California wine there is a vineyard, a farmer, sunlight – and someone like Lindsay Jordan. To keep California’s wine flowing, the University of California Cooperative Extension areaviticulture adviser to Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties is working to create options for vineyard sustainability and act as a resource for the region’s grape growers. Fresno Bee article

Chukchansi starting disenrollment for some founding families’ members – The Chukchansi tribe is in the midst of a new disenrollment battle, one that could disqualify founding families in the tribe. It’s rekindling hard feelings that have been building over the years, sparking open feuding two years ago between rival leadership factions at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold and resulting in a 14-month closure of the tribe’s main source of income. Fresno Bee article 

Holly Wunder Stiles and Kate Hutchinson: Affordable housing would address cause of homelessness – Stiles, director of housing development for Mutual Housing California, and Hutchinson, deputy director of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, write, “Homelessness has become a part of our identity in Sacramento. It has been etched into our collective psyche now more than ever, and we can no longer ignore the problem. Collectively, we can change the landscape of Sacramento by building homes for those who lack shelter.” Stiles/Hutchinson op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

He was homeless – but to get help, the rules said he had to prove it — Nearly three-fourths of Los Angeles County’s 50,000 homeless people live on the streets — and there are far too few vacant units to house more than a fraction of them. To sort out the few who will receive housing from the many who are in need, a complex and sometimes confounding rule book has evolved. It defines chronic homelessness, sets standards for documenting it and rates every applicant on a competitive scale. LA Times article 

Gallo Winery cashing in on Modesto Irrigation District’s low industrial electricity prices – It’s not surprising that the world’s largest wine producer also is the Modesto Irrigation District’s biggest electricity customer. What may not be widely known is the huge savings enjoyed by E.&J. Gallo Winery by virtue of a preferred power rate. Modesto Bee article 

Not all new North Bay area train workers can afford to live there — Workers are turning down and in some cases abandoning jobs operating the spanking new commuter trains scheduled to start zipping through Marin and Sonoma counties this year because it costs too much to live in the increasingly posh North Bay, a report on the rail project concluded. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Hanford council to discuss hotel tax – The Hanford City Council will discuss on Tuesday the idea of raising the hotel tax paid by occupants of Hanford hotels/motels and using a portion of the tax to fund downtown revitalization efforts. Hanford Sentinel article 

Squeezed garment factories use check cashing services to mask true wages, workers say – After a week of 10-hour days folding and packaging clothing, Jesus Francisco Moreno walked out of the factory in downtown Los Angeles on a recent Monday afternoon to collect his $450 in wages. Holding a personal check, with no required deductions, he went to a white, unmarked van parked nearby. His cash was dispensed from a small window in the back. LA Times article

Grieving California mother fights for unemployment rights for family caregivers — Although during Caleb’s lifetime she was paid minimum wage as an In-Home Supportive Services caregiver, a loophole in California law means in-home caregiver parents and spouses can’t collect unemployment after their child or spouse dies. Now Williams is in a new fight — to help close that loophole so other caregivers don’t end up in her situation. San Jose Mercury News article 

More than 140 applicants submit innovation grants to city of Sacramento — The city of Sacramento received 142 applications after just a four-week recruitment period for $1.5 million in innovation grants that Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council hope will provide a catalyst for the growth of technology startups in the region. Sacramento Bee article 


Lois Henry: Taxpayer-funded water deal that makes me go: Hmmm … — I like following the Nickel water partly because it’s fascinating to see how many development dreams it continues to fuel. And also because the Nickel water was part of a deal that cost taxpayers $10 million back in 2000 and I like to see how that investment is working out for us. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Farmworker deaths may be heat related — The United Farm Workers union is investigating the deaths of at least three women grape workers at three separate Kern County vineyards last week. Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Thin Blue Line rally in Fresno gives kudos to cops – The community showed up Saturday evening for the Thin Blue Line rally despite the day’s intense heat. Hicks estimated the crowd, which gathered in the Shakespeare in the Park area where music stages, bounce houses and vendors were set up, at about 1,500. Both Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims attended. Fresno Bee article 

Tense moments for police as chaotic series of events unfolds – Stockton police officers had an auto theft suspect at gunpoint Saturday afternoon when an unrelated road rage incident led to a four-car collision at the same location. The suspect then fled in the stolen vehicle, but he was apprehended following a high-speed pursuit. Stockton Record article 

San Diegans call for dialog in wake of police shootings — It’s too soon to know if the shootings of two San Diego police officers are like the fatal ambushes on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, attacks that have heightened tensions about the relationship between police and the communities they serve. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Recent tragedies spark interest in active shooter training – Across the country, including Kern County, many are turning to “active shooter training,” developed to help those who find themselves in an enclosed space with a gunman. A Google search Friday turned up articles related to recent active shooter training events in Florida, Nebraska, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas. Bakersfield police Sgt. Gary Carruesco said the department began giving classes on active shooter scenarios following the San Bernardino killings, and plans to soon meet with the LGBT community. Bakersfield Californian article 

Man shot in face by Elk Grove police officer gets payout — As protesters take to the streets nationwide over police shootings of unarmed black men, the Elk Grove Police Department has settled a case in which the police officer admitted he was trying to kill a white suspect who was lying, hands cuffed, in the back of a police car. Sacramento Bee article


New president arrives at critical time at Clovis Community College — On her fourth day as president of Clovis Community College, Lori Bennett was learning about what she called “the Clovis process and the Clovis way.” “The work we do is exactly the same, but how we go about doing it is slightly different,” Bennett said. “I know what to do, but I have to say, ‘OK, how do I do it at this district or at this college?’ ” Fresno Bee article 

Lemoore students learn about solar energy — High school engineering students received a hands-on learning experience about solar energy this past week. Seventeen Lemoore High School students participated in a one-week summer camp called SunPower Solar Energy Academy. The statewide academy is provided by SunPower Corp. This is the first time the Lemoore Union High School District is offering the camp to its engineering program students. Hanford Sentinel article 

USC hosts ‘boot camp’ for military veterans aimed at easing culture shock of college life — At USC, the Warrior-Scholar Project aims to help veterans like Lafayette hone academic and social skills that may be lacking or forgotten, dissuading many from considering a top-tier school. LA Times article 


500-acre fire near Prather sparks evacuations, closes Highway 168 – A fast-moving wildfire in the foothills near Prather caused mandatory evacuations for hundreds of residents and closed Highway 168 from Millerton Road to Auberry Road in Prather, officials said Saturday. Fresno Bee article 

Fire in Big Sur area grows, 15 percent contained – A fire raging in the Big Sur area for more than a week has grown to 52 square miles, officials said Saturday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Should California restore the grizzly? — I support the idea. Crazy as it sounds. Part of it is personal. How can I call myself a wilderness hiker if I reject real wilderness? Part of it is — well, it’s hypocrisy to heap contempt on water exporters who drove the San Joaquin River salmon extinct if we’re OK with extinctions that suit us. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services 

Even with insurance, family of medically fragile child struggles to find home health care — The number of people at Brian and Laura Smart’s San Jose home has been steadily growing since February. By June, it reached six adults: Brian’s parents, Laura’s mother and an au pair. They’re all part of a makeshift medical team aimed at keeping Noah, Brian and Laura’s one-year-old son, alive. KQED report

Did Mike Lehmkuhl have to die? How California’s mental health system failed one family – Mike Lehmkuhl crawled out from under the brush at his campsite near downtown Sacramento, where for months he had been sleeping on flattened cardboard boxes, eating scraps of fast food, hiding like a hunted animal. Standing before him was a private security officer in a crisp tan uniform. Sacramento Bee article 

Lori Gilbert: Tribute would be fitting: Proposed VA should be named after Atherton, ‘father’ of GI bill — Ron Green made a pitch to both the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and the Stockton City Council on Tuesday to join him in writing letters in support of naming the proposed Veterans Administration medical clinic in Stockton after Warren Atherton. Gilbert in Stockton Record

Land Use/Housing 

Fresno Bee: City Hall task force dawdles over housing-inspection schedule — A reasonable person might think that all landlords would maintain their properties and protect their investment. But Fresno slumlords long have been allowed by City Hall to use a business model that allows them to prey on poor families and inflate their profits by maintaining and fixing nothing. Fresno Bee editorial 

Court supports real estate developer’s right to keep hikers off his land — The fight continues. An appellate court last week sided with a Los Angeles real estate developer who has been embroiled in a legal battle for years with a group of activists over their right to use a popular hiking trail that cuts across his property, which he is seeking to develop. LA Times article


Report: Turlock is tops when it comes to low commute times, costs — Just $31 per year. That’s what a new report by the Auto Insurance Center, titled “Jammed,” says Turlock drivers average each year in commute-related expenditures. It’s the lowest cost in the nation – the highest being $1,834 for drivers in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Vermont area. Modesto Bee article 

Other areas 

Rob Turner: Time for Sacramento to create a full-time city council – The co-editor of Sactown Magazine writes, “With a city budget approaching a billion dollars, are we really not willing to pay our council members enough so that they can afford to spend the time it takes to do their jobs as well as possible? Where exactly are our priorities?” Turner op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

David “Mas” Masumoto: Birthday wishes — “Happy birthday, you’re not just a year older but a year better.” My wife celebrated a special birthday this year, so I searched for the best birthday wish I could find. I hoped to avoid the typical clichés. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A reasonable person might think that all landlords would maintain their properties and protect their investment. But Fresno slumlords long have been allowed by City Hall to use a business model that allows them to prey on poor families and inflate their profits by maintaining and fixing nothing.