July 4, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

San Francisco slaying raises questions about ‘sanctuary’ for detained immigrants — Five times, the man accused of killing former Pleasanton resident Kate Steinle was deported to Mexico. Five times he returned. But the efforts of federal immigration officials to detain Francisco Sanchez for a sixth time failed when they turned him over to San Francisco officials, who released him in mid-April.  San Jose Mercury News article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article

Obama plans broader use of clemency to free nonviolent drug offenders – Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century. New York Times article


A look at San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city — What does it mean to be a sanctuary city? According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, sanctuary cities have policies in place to “bar any local official, including law enforcement officials, from asking people about their immigration status, reporting them to federal immigration authorities, or otherwise cooperating with or assisting federal immigration authorities.” San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Opponents vow to overturn vaccine law at Santa Monica rally – Three days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed one of the nation’s strictest mandatory vaccination bills, several hundred opponents rallied in Santa Monica on Friday and vowed to repeal it. LA Times article

California gun ownership rates below national average – California may be the home of the Western movie, but it’s not one of the top states for gun ownership. San Francisco Chronicle article

Police body camera debate continues in Assembly – with a demo – As lawmakers consider legislation on best practices for using police body cameras, one company came to the Capitol this week to demonstrate its product. Peter Austin Onruang, president and founder of Wolfcom, a Los Angeles-based body camera company, gave a demonstration of wearable recording technology for reporters Monday. Capitol Alert

Malik Simba: Journey to ‘more perfect union’ carries bloodshed – The professor emeritus in the Department of History and Africana Studies Program at Fresno State writes, “Fresno is the home of the largest Civil War re-enactment in the United States. While viewing this event, I have always wondered if the thousands who watch and participate view it as a historical “battle” between “good guys” and “bad guys.” This query leads to the debate over Confederate flags and memorials and whether the “bad guys” and their artifacts should be remembered fondly. I suggest you can better understand who were or are the “bad guys” by the use of comparative history.” Simba op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Regulators pass higher electricity rates for most residents — Most residential customers in California will see their electricity bills increase under a new rate structure passed Friday by state regulators. The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a plan that raises rates on more efficient users while giving a break to big energy users. AP article; Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

In California’s drought, canal now flowing backward – The drought has become so severe that water is beginning to flow backward along a major artery in California’s increasingly distressed water delivery system. This week, water managers switched on the first of three temporary pumps being installed along a 62-mile stretch of the Delta-Mendota Canal. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

California tax form checkoffs still a popular way for charities to raise – a little – money – From sea otters to peace officers, California taxpayers long have had the ability to give directly to selected charities through charitable checkoffs on their state tax forms. Creating new checkoffs or continuing existing ones is a recurring focus of state legislation. But history suggests it’s a hard way to make a buck: Many of the charities end up getting little from taxpayers, state figures show. Some raise so little that they ultimately lose their spot on the tax form.Sacramento Bee article

Visalia home building strong in June – Single-family home building stayed strong in June with permits for 45 new homes issued. That compares to 31 in June 2014 and 30 in May 2015. For the first half the year, home permits are up 40 percent and valuation is up 48 percent. Visalia Times-Delta article

Businesses aim to stay nimble in dry Kern River Valley – Isabella Lake waters have dropped lower than they’ve been in decades and the Kern River is flowing through Kernville at a chipper bubble rather than its traditional roar. The Kern River Valley’s economy has ebbed too. But the region’s business owners are determined not to let the drought get the better of them.Bakersfield Californian article

Workers see benefits to jobs program – H.O.P.E., which stands for Helping Other People Expand, is the local nonprofit organization running the summer jobs program in which Williams is participating. Funding for the jobs, and for more than 1,300 summer jobs in Stockton and San Joaquin County, comes from the county’s WorkNet program. Stockton Record article

Hanford continues work on Costco – As the city continues to prepare for the proposed Costco shopping center, the Hanford City Council will consider an agreement with Caltrans on Tuesday for the construction of a roundabout at East Lacey Boulevard and Highway 43. Hanford Sentinel article

Construction of office in Merced begins – A 12,000-square-foot office building is going up on Park Avenue in Merced to accommodate the specifications of a yet-to-be-disclosed tenant, according to city staff. Merced Sun-Star article

Organization aims to improve Stratford — Driving through downtown Stratford, it feels like a ghost town. Dilapidated and unused buildings abound and only a few people can be seen walking around. Thanks to the economic recession, drought and other causes, Stratford’s glory days seems well in the past. One new Stratford-based organization is trying to reverse that, however.Hanford Sentinel article

Sandy Banks: Garcetti, City Council throw homeless problem to police — Mayor Eric Garcetti took office with a promise to end chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Instead, two years into his term, we’re throwing $100 million annually at a problem that’s spreading and becoming more entrenched — and Garcetti’s largely been silent on the issue, save for platitudes.Banks in LA Times

Grand opening for lululemon draws crowds to Fig Garden – Building 712 in Fig Garden Village buzzed with anticipation Friday morning as women in yoga gear holding Starbucks coffee cups, mothers pushing their babies in strollers and other women, some in the company of their husbands, waited for the big red bow on the doors of lululemon to fall. Fresno Bee article

Oakland City Council to decide future of Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center — The city has committed to reopening its historic auditorium on the southwest shore of Lake Merritt, which was shuttered 10 years ago after it became too expensive to operate, and on Tuesday the City Council will take the momentous step of selecting a developer to handle the renovation. But concerned residents are raising a question — how will this new iteration of this old auditorium actually serve Oakland? Contra Costa Times article


California drought takes some sparkle out of fireworks displays – Even in this time of record drought and ominous wildfire alerts, California communities, particularly those that have the option of shooting their displays over bodies of water, are proceeding with their fireworks. Instead, they are focused on cracking down more aggressively on what officials describe as a surge of amateur illegal fireworks use, which is seen as a greater fire risk. New York Times article

Plant experts hope for a drought of invasives in ‘water-wise’ yards — Many Californians appear to be taking up Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for the removal of 50 million square feet of lawn energetically and enthusiastically. But all that energy may be misplaced: As homeowners and businesses seek out drought-tolerant, low-water plants at local nurseries and big-box garden departments, they may unwittingly be picking up invasive plants that wreak havoc on the state’s ecology. LA Times article

Lemoore may tighten water restrictions – As Lemoore works to meet state mandated water conservation targets, the City Council will consider an urgency ordinance Tuesday to impose stricter rules and penalties. Among the proposed changes are a ban on fundraising carwashes and increased penalties for water wasters. The ordinance would also reduce the watering of city parks to twice per week. Hanford Sentinel article

Drought drives greater household use of gray water – Costanzo is among millions of Californians who, amid the state’s fourth punishing year of drought, are increasingly turning to gray water – from the clothes washer, shower or bathroom sink — to keep trees and other plants hydrated. LA Times article

Low water prompts safety concerns on Tulare County lakes – As this extended holiday begins, the people who patrol Lake Kaweah and Lake Success warn that, with water levels far lower than average, there are added threats in the water. Visalia Times-Delta article

Dye job gives illusion of life to dry Modesto lawn — Natural or dyed? Only the hairdresser knows for sure – and he’s happy to tell. Modesto resident George Bakus, who owns and operates a downtown hairstyling salon that bears his name, didn’t like the look of his lawn, which was left largely yellow by reduced watering in this fourth year of drought. Modesto Bee article

Jamie Coston and Gail Altieri: We were civil in our meeting, despite assault on our lifestyle – The members of the Stanislaus Groundwater Alliance writes, “The Stanislaus Groundwater Alliance Committee would like to offer a few comments regarding the meeting in Knights Ferry on June 25 and the subsequent column by Bee Opinions Page Editor Mike Dunbar. In his article, Dunbar said we need to listen to senior hydrologist Vance Kennedy. We did and we do.” Coston/Altieri op-ed in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Repeat offenses down in San Joaquin County – The county Probation Department reported that offenders on probation supervision who were released from state prison or San Joaquin County Jail under “realignment” law AB109 are returning to jail at a decreasing rate. Stockton Record article

Two arrested in police plan to thwart violent crime in Fresno – A man and a teen were arrested on felony charges Friday after police initiated searches in an effort to reduce violent crimes citywide, the Fresno Police Department said. Fresno Bee article

Turlock’s top cop shares a good read and a little wisdom with kids — Police Chief Robert Jackson took a break from budgets and bad guys to read to youngsters at the Turlock library. He picked one of his favorite kid books, a story of the life and times of “Sammy: Dog Detective,” a Modesto K-9 officer immortalized by Colleen Stanley Bare. Modesto Bee article

Prison’s medical care deemed OK despite pressure to close it — Medical care at a prison east of Los Angeles has been deemed adequate despite claims that the facility is unsafe and should be closed. The state inspector general on Friday gave the California Rehabilitation Center at Norco a passing grade on health care, allowing federal officials to consider returning control to the state. AP article

Long waits outside LA County psychiatric units stall police, patients — The patient load has grown, some police and hospital officials said, partly because of recent state and local policy changes intended to shift nonviolent offenders — including many who are mentally ill — out of prisons and jails. So far, local mental health treatment services haven’t been able to catch up with the increased need for community treatment programs and psychiatric beds. LA Times article


Few local districts invest in summer school – Outside of the BCSD, however, relatively few local school districts are spending the hundreds of thousands of dollars required for summertime offerings. That’s the case despite the proven benefits: Summer school helps students retain information they learned during the year, and districts benefit from having better-prepared students in the fall. Bakersfield Californian article

UC system seems to gauge LGBT population to improve services – The University of California has a new feature on its undergraduate application — questions that ask aspiring students to share their gender identity and sexual orientation. The voluntary, three-question survey won’t affect a student’s chance of getting in, officials said, but will gauge the LGBT population on campus so the schools know how to best provide support and services. San Francisco Chronicle article

Trade schools have to find grads jobs, or lose financial aid – In the two decades since trade schools started popping up on U.S. stock exchanges to maximize profits, allegations of misconduct have been rampant. On Wednesday, new rules went into effect for any school with a career-training program. AP article

Grace Lutheran School in Modesto closing after 32 years of teaching young Christians — After 32 years educating young Christians, Grace Lutheran School will not open this fall, a decision reached with a vote of the congregation June 28, Principal Cindy Shinkwin confirmed. Modesto Bee article


Cluster of great white sharks has Monterey Bay scientists in awe — An unprecedented gathering of baby great white sharks near the Monterey Bay shoreline this week has scientists as curious as the public about what happens next. San Francisco Chronicle article

New fire restrictions on federal, tribal lands — Increasingly dry conditions due to the Valley’s severe drought are resulting in new fire restrictions in theSequoia National Forest, Tule River Indian Reservation and on U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in the South Valley. Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services

State auditor cites failure to protect foster youth from sex offenders – California’s auditor has issued a stark assessment of the state Social Services Department’s safeguards for foster youth, highlighting breakdowns that may have put children at risk and led to millions of wasted dollars. LA Times article

Human Services Agency hopes to improve services – Affordable Housing, job assistance and education are some of the greatest needs for San Joaquin County’s low income residents, county officials say, and a plan is being developed to better provide for those needs. The county’s Human Services Agency will present its Community Centers Strategic Plan 2015-2020 to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Stockton Record article

Patients swamped with medical bills find a solution in crowd-funding — Crowd-funding has grown along with the Internet as people increasingly band together to support charities, raise money for movies and other projects — and now seek money to pay medical bills. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Foon Rhee: Life, liberty and the pursuit of decent housing – If any doubt remained, a new study shows that the lack of affordable housing is a full-blown crisis, particularly for the poorest among us. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Big flap over a Little Free Library — When Jennifer Fontanilla won her own Little Free Library at an auction this past March, the librarian with the Linden branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library was thrilled to finally have one to call her own. People in her neighborhood loved the convenience and the selection and used it all the time, she said. Until her homeowners association told her to take it down because it was a violation of the rules. Stockton Record article


 Stanislaus County’s Kiernan expressway nearing completion — Caltrans has announced the completion of the second and final phase of converting two-lane Kiernan Avenue, which also is known as Highway 219, into a four-lane divided expressway with bike lanes and traffic signals, though some work needs to be completed, such as striping and activating the signals. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

 Doug Greener: Better to be safe (and sane) than sorry – The chief of the Bakersfield Fire Department writes, “As always, BFD/BPD Fireworks Enforcement Teams and BFD Arson Units will issue $1,500 citations for illegal fireworks use or hosting, with zero-tolerance. And there will not be a focus on any particular areas because illegal fireworks activity occurs citywide, and one neighborhood will not be held less responsible than any other.” Greener op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

 Lanny Lawson: Complaints wanted, tell the grand jury – The foreperson of the 2015-16 Fresno County civil grand jury writes, “We’re ready to get down to business, but we need your help. We invite you to use the complaint form online for new concerns or if an issue the past year wasn’t addressed and remains a concern. The privilege to have an independent grand jury examine local governance is only as vibrant as we, the people, want it to be.” Lawson op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Dawn Golik: Growing inspiration in Fresno’s hardpan – The Fresno resident writes, “Despite the heat, the bugs, the endless grueling physical labor, and the disappointments, outside in the yard is where my husband is the happiest. Under Mother Nature’s patient watch, it’s where the mysterious potential of dirt, hope, plants, a decade of Valley sunshine, and the moisture from blood, sweat, and an occasional tear combined to make his inspiration for something beautiful grow in Fresno’s hardpan.” Golik op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The Declaration of Independence.

Modesto Bee – On the 4th of July, we should be celebrating.

Upcoming Events

  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. Visitwww.essentialelementsseries.com for details of this no-fee policy series.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge atwww.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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