July 5, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

San Francisco killing sparks national outrage, likely political fallout — The barrage of outraged tweets from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump decrying the shocking San Francisco slaying of 32-year old Kathryn Steinle signals the start of what may be an intense immigration debate with potential fallout in California, home to the nation’s largest undocumented population. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Dan Walters: California’s leadership structure is weak — When a city, a county or a state is functioning well – providing vital public services at reasonable cost, educating its children, balancing its budgets with prudent reserves, prospering economically and culturally – one can infer that it has a effective cadre of civic leadership. Politics is, after all, a reactive business, and the efficacy of those whom we elect is largely determined by the civic leadership standing behind them. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


Slain woman’s parents focused on healing, not sanctuary law — The parents of a woman killed at a San Francisco pier say they are focused on healing and not on the fact that the man accused of shooting her has been deported five times. AP article

Debra Saunders: San Francisco is a sanctuary city for whom? – With the awful, senseless shooting of Kate Steinle, and the arrest of an undocumentedimmigrant who was convicted of seven felonies and deported five times, people are asking questions about San Francisco’s wrong-headed and dangerous Sanctuary City policy. I’ve been following the story for years. Here is some background. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

A year on, children caught on border struggle to stay, adapt — At 1-year-old, a wide-eyed, restless Joshua Tinoco faces the prospect of deportation to his native Honduras, one of tens of thousands of children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. While his teenage mother has been allowed to stay in the U.S. and seek a green card under a federal program for abused, abandoned and neglected children, Joshua has been classified as an enforcement priority by immigration prosecutors, his lawyer said. AP article

Other areas

Assisted-suicide bill facing defeat in California – The highly touted proposal by state lawmakers to legalize physician-assisted suicide suddenly finds itself at death’s door as Latino Democrats balk at voting for the measure. San Francisco Chronicle article

Marcos Breton: Latino power is more retail than political, for now – Focusing on the numbers, it is clear that Latino purchasing power is a force in American culture – one that caused those big companies to move away from Trump for fear of offending customers. But Latino power at the ballot box is not nearly the force Ferrera would like to believe it is – or as conventional wisdom would have us believe in the wake of Trump’s public shaming. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Fresno faith leaders respond to Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage — About a week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that clears the way for same-sex marriage in all 50 states, a number of religious leaders in Fresno share their thoughts about the landmark court decision that was split 5-4. Fresno Bee article

Gay marriage decision does little to sway views of local clergy — The U.S. Supreme Court may have made gay marriage the law of the land, but it didn’t change the minds of Sacramento-area religious leaders, some of whom have long supported gay marriage but most of whom remain opposed to the idea of marriage for anyone other than a man and a woman.Sacramento Bee article

Lawrence Levine: Once unimaginable, marriage equality is now established law – The law professor at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law writes, “The battle over whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry is over. But the issues surrounding whether LGBT folks will be treated with the kind of dignity that Kennedy wrote about in other contexts have just started.” Levine op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Cathleen Decker: Hope for a less-partisan Congress in Supreme Court ruling — In last week’s Supreme Court decision affirming the right of citizens’ commissions to draw political districts, many California Democrats saw a lost opportunity to expand their ranks among the state’s elected officials. One California Democrat, herself a former elected official, saw an opportunity gained. Decker column in LA Times

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dead trees and dread: State’s worst wildfire peril east of Fresno — California waits in dread of the next big wildfire. Ground zero is east of Fresno in the southern Sierra, home to Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks as wells as the last native giant sequoia groves on the planet. Fresno Bee article

For higher education funding, softer touch gave Cal State a leg up — California State University officials had one question in mind 18 months ago: In a state with billions of dollars in spending obligations to health and welfare services, prisons and pensions, how do we catapult our funding needs to the top tier of budget priorities? The answer involved a carefully plotted campaign that involved engaging key legislators, an aggressive social media push and socks — yes, red socks, saying #StandWithCSU, that were a bipartisan hit with Sacramento lawmakers. Those efforts, and others, helped the 23-campus system win an additional $97 million in state funding for 2015-16. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore gives small businesses a leg up – ReStore Director Todd Barrera says the shop’s ever-changing inventory has helped a variety of local entrepreneurs save money on necessities ranging from buckets of paint and other do-it-yourself products to filing cabinets, binders and swivel chairs. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto provides budget info on its website – The city of Modesto has added a feature to its website that allows the public to learn more about the city’s budget. The feature is at www.modestogov.com/fin/opengov and provides users a wealth of information, on such topics as overtime spending and the police budget. Modesto Bee article

Here’s how fed rate hike would pinch borrowers — The increases probably would be modest at first, tracking what’s expected to be a go-slow policy by the central bank. Still, any boost in borrowing costs would be painful for indebted consumers and small-business owners who have suffered meager income growth in recent years. LA Times article


Valley businesses speak on conserving and reusing water — As California’s drought drags on and water supplies get tighter, Valley businesses are finding ways to get more uses from the water they have, or just use less. Fresno Bee article

To encourage Californians to conserve, a tweak in wording can help — Officials at the state’s Save Our Water conservation program recently tweaked their “brown is the new green” message, advising instead that residents let their lawns “fade to gold.” LA Times article

Fresno’s extracted-water program has arrived — Grab a bunch of five-gallon plastic bottles, give the family pickup’s suspension a once-over and make sure those back muscles are warmed up — Fresno, your free water is here. The regional wastewater treatment plant’s long-awaited recycled water program for commercial customers got going about a week ago. Fresno Bee article

Silicon Valley struggles to pitch water-saving tech to farmers – If California is to find a technological exit from its perpetual water crises, it will take many more of these awkward encounters. The next generation of precision agriculture — a world of wireless sensors, cloud-based data crunching, aerial imaging and app-based decision-making — may germinate in Silicon Valley, but it will have to take root in the Central Valley, where growers soak up about 80% of the water diverted for human use. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: As lakes drain, we must rethink water – In this drought, water managers have no room for error. But gauges break. That mistake could turn out for the good, but only if it forces a more clear-eyed assessment of California’s future. Sacramento Bee editorial

Oakdale Irrigation District special treatment for the Trinitas? Follow the money – Water leaders’ willingness to risk angering longtime customers by catering to recently annexed almond investors can be explained in monetary terms, at least in part. Trinitas Partners pays far more money for far less water than established Oakdale Irrigation District farmers, in years wet and dry. And OID needs the money. Modesto Bee article

Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak: Proposed reservoirs are no panacea for drought – Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, and Hanak, director of PPIC’s Water Policy Center, write, “Building drought resilience requires a much broader set of actions, including conservation, water trading, managing groundwater and expanding nontraditional supplies like recycled wastewater and stormwater.” Mount/Hanak op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Museum tells story of California water conflict – The jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada that tower over Independence are almost all granite and no snow this year, one of the most visible signs of drought in Inyo County. Thousands of feet below in the Owens Valley, the Eastern California Museum, which houses an exhibit on a pivotal moment in the state’s water history, has failed to see an uptick in attendance. Sacramento Bee article

 Farmers eager for drones, but most can’t legally fly them — The small, relatively inexpensive vehicles could replace humans in a variety of ways around large farms: transmitting detailed information about crops to combines and sprayers, directing them very precisely to problem spots and cutting down on the amount of water and chemicals that a farmer needs to use in those areas. AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto police out front on body cameras – Before police body cameras became a forefront issue for politicians, civil rights groups and law enforcement agencies around the nation, Modesto officers were using them. Before body cameras even existed, Chief Galen Carroll understood the benefit of recording an officer’s interactions with the public. Modesto Bee article

 Heroin in the heartland: Small-town America at center of epidemic – Sam Quinones always has been fascinated by stories: Reading them. Investigating them. Writing them. This, though, was something else. “The idea you could sell heroin like pizza — in Ohio — was just astounding to me,” Quinones said. “That so much came from one small town. I’d lived in Mexico for 10 years and never heard of it.” Stockton Record article

 Business Watch meeting will address concerns along Wilson Way, MLK Boulevard – San Joaquin County Supervisor Carlos Villapudua wants to provide more aid to the Stockton Police Department to combat violent crimes in his district, particularly when it comes to crimes against business owners along Wilson Way and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Stockton Record article

 Blue lights for Officer Nelson sell out, more are ordered — Having swiftly sold out of blue light bulbs for buyers to use as their porch lights July 12 in the Lights on For Officer David Nelson event, The Kern County Bridal Association has ordered more, which should arrive Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Drugged driving cases on the rise in San Diego — Deputy City Attorney Taylor Garrot has his hands full. Since October, he’s been the sole prosecutor in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office to handle a growing number of DUI cases. That’s driving under the influence of drugs, not alcohol, or some combination of both. San Francisco Chronicle article


 Kevin McCarty: Legislature gave UC budget options to achieve – The chairman of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance writes, “UC now has an opportunity to re-establish confidence with the Legislature and governor by shifting priorities toward the enrollment of California students.” McCarty op-ed in Sacramento Bee


 Lathrop, Manteca push for state flood funds – With the clock ticking toward a higher flood-protection mandate, south San Joaquin County communities are stating their case for $111 million in state funding to enhance one of the region’s most important levees. Stockton Record article

 Michael Fitzgerald: Smith Canal: A flood of bureaucracy – Smith Canal is a 2.5-mile sampler of San Joaquin Delta tranquility drifting straight into the center of Stockton. It is a blessing. Now it may get a fairly senseless floodgate at its mouth. Uncle Sam’s minions cannot certify the sturdiness of the canal’s levees. People have built homes and other “encroachments” on them, thwarting inspections. No inspections, no safety certification: Presto, you’re in a flood plain. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Chevron fire sent U.S. Chemical Safety Board into a tailspin — The tiny federal agency that has urged big reforms in how California regulates oil refineries is in disarray. To some, the strife at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board — the 40-person authority charged with investigating industrial accidents and recommending ways to improve safety — bears strong resemblance to the headlines from developing nations. San Francisco Chronicle article

Lewis Griswold: Visalia relishes role in creation of National Park Service — One hundred years ago, a high-profile party of politicians, scientists and business leaders departed Visalia for Sequoia and Yosemite national parks to garner support for the creation of the National Park Service. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Health/Human Services

California tax officials blast Blue Shield in audit –  In a scathing audit, state tax officials slammed nonprofit health insurer Blue Shield of California for stockpiling “extraordinarily high surpluses” — more than $4 billion — and for failing to offer more affordable coverage or other public benefits. LA Times article

Fresno Bee: Fresno needs a seniors center — Here’s an issue to chew on for the want-to-be mayors who will duke it out in 2016 to become Ashley Swearengin’s successor: Why doesn’t Fresno have a seniors center? Fresno Bee editorial

Fear of Alzheimer’s is everywhere, but it’s spurring some to change lives — Perhaps the only thing as bad as Alzheimer’s disease is the fear among a growing number of older Americans that they may be at risk of the neurodegenerative disorder, which robs memory and cognitive ability and is the leading cause of dementia. Washington Post article


 Crosstown Freeway project on track – A major freeway widening project is set to have a grand opening this month, while another is on track and under budget to be completed later this year. San Joaquin Council of Governments project manager Kevin Sheridan presented an update of several major highway projects to the agency’s board of directors June 25. Stockton Record article

 Daniel Weintraub: Sacramento is not a friendly city for cyclists – The editor of the California Health Report writes, “Sacramento should be a great city for cycling. It is pancake flat with mild weather for most of the year. Its residents embrace the outdoors. And the city boasts many livable neighborhoods within a short ride of the downtown core, where wide streets laid out in a grid should make it easy to find your way through town. Yet despite these advantages, the city falls well short of its potential.” Weintraub op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Amid booming fireworkers, Modesto, Stanislaus County firefighters battle several blazes – As the booming sounds of fireworks penetrated neighborhoods throughout the Modesto area just after sunset Saturday night, firefighters from various agencies began furiously tending to several fires – both structure and grass. Modesto Bee article

 Bakersfield, Kern County task forces try to put a damper on illegal fireworks – On Saturday night, about 70 peace officers were out in force with specially designed ticket books, ready to hone in on Section 8.44.040 of the Bakersfield Municipal Code pertaining to fireworks. Bakersfield Californian article

 Lois Henry: No fireworks ban? OK, then let’s tighten things up a bit – Our City Council members and Board of Supervisors have made it clear they are too chicken to vote for an all-out ban of personal fireworks. All right, then, I’d like to suggest what I feel are reasonable restrictions that would enhance public safety without destroying anyone’s “fun.” Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

 Injured firefighter has surgery after tree falls on him — A firefighter who was pinned under a massive oak tree for several minutes Friday while battling a small wildland fire in Tulare County underwent the first of two major surgeries Saturday, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Berkeley balcony collapse: Could Segue’s civil disputes spark criminal charges? — Segue Construction’s troubled legal history over water infiltration on its balconies and throughout its properties has cost millions of dollars in settlements already, but now it could get the Pleasanton builder charged with manslaughter. Contra Costa Times article

Mike Klocke: Stockton poets getting ready to shine in Atlanta — It’s almost time for Hot-lanta for four of the strongest young voices in Stockton. The spoken-word poetry team from With Our Words is going through final preparations for the Brave New Voices national tournament July 15-19 in Atlanta. It will be the ninth time Stockton poets have gone up against the best in the country. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Here’s an issue to chew on for the want-to-be mayors who will duke it out in 2016 to become Ashley Swearengin’s successor: Why doesn’t Fresno have a seniors center?

Modesto Bee – Let’s talk about water in a Community Conversation; Visiting editors on breeding less thirsty plants and being a visiting editor; Finding our way to better roads will be tough.

Sacramento Bee – In this drought, water managers have no room for error. But gauges break. That mistake could turn out for the good, but only if it forces a more clear-eyed assessment of California’s future; We believe that we will win Women’s World Cup title.

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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