July 9, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

California water-bill fight is percolating again on Capitol Hill — California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming days, with compromise nowhere in sight. Deep into a largely arid legislative season, lawmakers will again reflect on the state’s drought as early as Monday and wrangle over efforts to address it. A hearing and one or two votes in the House of Representatives whose outcomes are effectively preordained will expose the divisions that endure. McClatchy Newspapers article

Judge tosses Valley growers’ lawsuit against Brown administration — A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a multimillion-dollar farm labor deal struck by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature last year, rejecting a claim by two Fresno County growers that they were illegally carved out of the accord. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

For Fresno candidates, Dylan Noble is difficult political calculus — The candidates vying for Fresno mayor and a vacant City Council seat each preached patience and voiced their general support for law enforcement Friday in the wake of national scrutiny over the Fresno police killing of Dylan Noble, an unarmed 19-year-old man who allegedly failed to obey officers’ commands during a traffic stop on June 25. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Proponents planning a redo of stalled water-train initiative – Backers of a controversial ballot measure intended to shift billions of dollars in state bond money from high speed rail to water storage projects say they will rewrite the stalled initiative in an effort to gain broader support. LA Times article

How California’s top officials are voting on ballot measures — The Sacramento Bee surveyed the partisan statewide officeholders, all Democrats, to see where they stand on Propositions 51 though 67. Nearly all of the politicians surveyed came out against Proposition 53, by Stockton-area farmer and food processor Dean Cortopassi, which would require a public vote on revenue bonds of more than $2 billion. The constitutional amendment could threaten large projects, including those championed by Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats. Sacramento Bee article 

Biden expected to endorse in California’s U.S. Senate race — Vice President Joe Biden is expected to endorse California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate, according to a source familiar with his decision. LA Times article 

Report finds ‘dark money’ dip in California — recent report finds California tracks political contributions more closely than other states. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University studied how much money is spent in state political campaigns where the donor isn’t disclosed. Study co-author Doug Keith says the center looked at six states, including California. Capital Public Radio report 

State finally wraps up primary vote count – a month after election day — The last vote in California’s 2016 primary has finally been counted, just over a month after the polls closed in the June 7 election. San Francisco Chronicle article

More delays for California’s voter registration database project — California’s long-delayed VoteCal database was scheduled to become the official record of voter registrations statewide by June, but now the Secretary of State has pushed back that deadline to late August. KPCC report

Other areas 

What California’s new gun laws mean for hunters, target shooters — Bolstering a body of firearms laws already considered among the nation’s strongest, Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a half-dozen bills to regulate ammunition sales, ban large-capacity clips and quick-reloading devices and clamp down on lending weapons, among other things. Some hunters and shooters have reacted with a mix of dismay and confusion, wondering what they will have to do to remain law-abiding citizens and asking if they will need to change their habits. Sacramento Bee article 

‘Too much death’: California congressional delegation mourns shootings – Members of California’s congressional delegation on Friday were mourning the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas.  LA Times article 

Coastal Commission slapped with four lawsuits over alleged secret communications — The lawsuit is one of at least four heading through California courts this summer that challenge Coastal Commission decisions partly on the grounds that its members have had improper private contacts with permit applicants — so called ex-parte communications. LA Times article 

Presidential Politics

Cathleen Decker: Will violence across America change the presidential campaign? – Crises that arise during presidential campaigns often define the candidates. Will this horrific week prove to be the crucible of the current campaign? Decker in LA Times

News Stories

Top Stories

Merced pitches downtown housing and retail project – Merced leaders are looking to spur a retail and housing project downtown, which would come on the heels of investment in the same area from UC Merced. Leaders this week announced the Downtown Commons project, which would have retail space on the first floor and housing or offices on the two stories above that, saying it’s an opportunity to appeal to students and downtown workers. Merced Sun-Star article 

Stockton, police union reach contract agreement – Police officers will receive an 11 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1 as the result of a contract agreement between the city and the 458-member union that represents them. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Surge in hiring calms fears about the economy – for now –  The strong rebound in hiring last month, after almost zero new jobs were added in May, allayed worries that the long recovery in the labor market and the economy was coming to an abrupt end. LA Times article 

Union, San Joaquin County await next move in SEIU strike — Some 4,400 county employees returned to work Friday, the first day of a waiting game for both sides involved in a work-stoppage that lasted three days. Stockton Record article 

Business booming, Current Culture H2O outgrows Fresno home – A Fresno-based company that caters to the burgeoning cannabis industry was named the 2016 Innovation and Technology Business of the Year by the UC Merced Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Business Journal article

Hanford Goodwill closes – A scant three years after opening, Hanford’s Goodwill store on Lacey Boulevard has closed. Sheryl Chalupa, president and CEO of Bakersfield-based Goodwill Industries of South Central California, released a written statement Friday saying the store was losing money and could no longer be propped up. Hanford Sentinel article 

CalPERS’ private equity fees under the microscope – A bill that would require more disclosure from private equity firms that manage money for California’s public pension plans has been weakened, prompting a former state investment official and early backer of the legislation to pull his support. LA Times article 

Court rules for government in fight over tribal expulsions – Federal officials are under no obligation to reinstate Native American tribe members who may have been wrongly expelled in cases where the tribe has final say over enrollment decisions, a federal appeals court said Friday. AP article 

Weatherby’s could be out by fall — Monterey developer, The Orosco Group, has closed escrow on the purchase of the Weatherby’s building at the corner of Mooney Boulevard and Walnut Avenue in Visalia. Visalia Times-Delta article 

LA County office market heats up in second quarter —  In April, Hasbro Inc. announced that it was ditching its old Burbank office for one about double the size in the city’s media district as part of a major corporate expansion. The reason the Rhode Island toy maker decided to sign a nearly 80,000-square-foot office lease? It needed more room for its growing number of Los Angeles-area employees.  That deal reflected an improving regional economy and office market in the second quarter as concerns over the national economy faded from the beginning of the year. LA Times article 

Why Twitter’s CEO gets back pats, Yahoo’s CEO gets backlash — Two CEOs were appointed to turn around companies where business was floundering and user growth lagged. They were each accused of being stretched too thin, criticized for their priorities. The firmsbotched acquisitions and laid off hundreds in an effort to thin bloated staffs. But one is regarded far less favorably than the other, and experts said that the negativity has much to do with her gender. San Francisco Chronicle article 


Valley student’s hackathon project becomes LinkedIn for ag — Alejandro “Alex” Avalos started working in the fields of western Fresno County around the same time he was learning to code. So when Avalos, a computer science student at West Hills Community College in Coalinga, joined a team of like-minded students at a “hackathon” competition last December at UC Davis, it seemed only natural to merge the worlds of coding and harvesting. Fresno Bee article 

Fallowing lawsuit narrows against Oakdale Irrigation District – Oakdale Irrigation District board member Gary Osmundson has been released from a lawsuit facing the district, and all other claims against the district but one also have been dropped. Modesto Bee article 

Tulare County officials seek water help for Cutler Park — County administrators are seeking help for the irrigation system at Cutler Park. Deputy County Administrative Officer John Hess said the irrigation well failed because of the drought. And the park’s domestic well, used to run restrooms and water fountains, and temporarily used for irrigation, lacked the capacity to continue providing adequate water to the park. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Dylan Noble’s family views police video of fatal shooting – The father and stepfather of Dylan Noble and their lawyers met Friday with Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer to view police video that showed their 19-year-old son being fatally shot by two Fresno police officers during a traffic stop last month. Fresno Bee article

Fresno Bee: Dallas ambush tests our resolve for fair policing – It won’t be easy, but if these Dallas officers are not to die in vain, we must redouble efforts to improve police-community relations. The alternative is that the grim toll of dead citizens and police officers will only grow. We can’t let that happen. Fresno Bee editorial 

Dyer, Mims react to Dallas police shootings — Fresno County law enforcement leaders reacted with dismay to the Thursday night murders of five Dallas police officers, with police Chief Jerry Dyer saying it was a “sad, sad, state we live in today,” and Sheriff Margaret Mims decrying the gunman killed by officers as “an evil person with evil actions.” Fresno Bee article 

National shooting deaths prompt protests, vigils in Fresno — Following the shooting deaths this week of two black men and five police officers in various cities around the country, Fresnans are calling for justice and peace. Fresno Bee article 

‘Hard to articulate the depth of pain’: Stockton community responds to horrific tragedies – While the flag outside flew at half-staff and Stockton police officers wore black bands on their badges to honor those who died Thursday in Dallas, a black woman walked into the Police Department’s downtown headquarters Friday carrying a box of cookies. Stockton Record article 

Law enforcement officers shocked, saddened by events in Dallas – Shock and sadness were the words used by Modesto-area law enforcement leaders to describe the shootings in Dallas that led to the deaths of five officers Thursday night. Modesto Bee article 

Local pastors show support for law enforcement – Amid shootings around the nation this week involving police officers and African Americans, five local church leaders held a press conference in the auditorium of the Bakersfield Police Department Friday evening to offer support for local law enforcement agencies. Bakersfield Californian article 

Merced reacts with anger, sadness, fear to violence in Dallas – Amanda Flowers called her family in Merced on Friday morning to make sure they knew she was a safe distance from the terrifying violence the night before in Dallas that claimed the lives of five police officers and injured more than half a dozen others. Merced Sun-Star article

All lives matter – While the nation mourns the many lives impacted by senseless acts of recent violence, a young girl is looking for solutions to this growing problem. Brianna Smith, a 15-year-old student at El Diamante High School, has felt the need to start an organization focused on mending relationships between law enforcement and minorities. Smith organized an informal meeting at the Visalia Convention Center Friday night. She used social media to advertise the gathering in hopes of bringing change and healing to the community. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Erika D. Smith: No justice, no peace, no patience – Revenge and vigilante justice aren’t the answer to police shootings.  Smith column in Sacramento Bee 

Former Fresno State athlete is widow of slain Dallas cop — A former Fresno State softball player from Fort Worth, Texas is the widow of a Dallas police officer who was killed Thursday evening by a sniper, a Dallas TV station reported. Fresno Bee article 

Paintball suspect makes brief appearance in court — The 19-year-old man accused of last month’s paintball attack at a gay nightclub in Stockton appeared briefly in court Friday morning, then was returned to jail to resume his detention, with bail still set at $6 million. Stockton Record article 

Richmond cop placed on leave in sex misconduct probe — A Richmond police officer has been placed on paid leave amid an internal affairs investigation into contact that the city’s cops may have had with a teenage sex worker, officials said. San Francisco Chronicle article


Parents to Visalia Unified: ‘Please protect our kids’ – Schools are typically regarded as a safe environment, where students can learn and grow both academically and socially. Teachers and administrators are trusted as the guardians of these campuses, ensuring every child’s protected. When parents learned that a Hurley Elementary School teacher was escorted off campus after fellow educators grew alarmed over her “volatile behavior,” many became concerned. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Beloved professor, philanthropist Jack Brigham dies – Jack Brigham died among his students Thursday night. The retired Bakersfield College professor, philanthropist, labor leader and social justice activist lost his nine-month battle with cancer at his condo in Bakersfield just after 10 p.m., said friend and former student Abdallah Ben’Hamallah. Bakersfield Californian article 

Lin Terrara: Cellphones are out-of-control classroom distraction – The Fresno resident writes, “Now it’s 2016, and we need to adjust this wonderful “advancement in technology.” Cellphones are great but in the classroom, there can only be one channel on the TV set at a time. It’s called a teacher. Please let your students know this – then the solution will be simple. When the teachers talk, listen!” Terrara op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Students at three Sacramento-area for-profit schools could lose financial aid – Students attending three Sacramento area for-profit colleges stand to lose financial aid if the federal government shuts down their accrediting agency. Sacramento Bee article 

California Attorney General probe leads to $168.5 million settlement with for-profit online school operator — Facing a torrent of accusations, a for-profit company that operates taxpayer-funded online charter schools throughout California has reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success. San Jose Mercury News article 

Closure in case that panicked Fresno State campus — A former Fresno State walk-on football player, who made threats on social media about doing a campus shooting “to release my frustration,” pleaded no contest Friday to a felony charge of making criminal threats. In a plea deal, Christian Malik Pryor, 18, faces up to 16 months in custody, but could get probation. Fresno Bee article


Engineer calls years of PG&E safety cuts ‘near criminal’ – Jurors considering criminal pipeline-safety charges against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. got a look Friday at bitter messages between PG&E engineers six weeks after the deadly San Bruno explosion, with one saying continued cutbacks in safety-related spending were “the (near-criminal) fault” of the company’s top brass since the 1980s. San Francisco Chronicle article 

PG&E power rates may be headed up – Fresh off the Stockton City Council’s approval of a substantial water rate hike, residents may also soon be forced to pay more to keep their lights on and air conditioners humming. Stockton Record article

Howard Hendrix: California’s ‘treepocalypse’ creates wildfire emergency – The Shaver Lake science fiction writer writes, “My neighbors in Pine Ridge roll their eyes and grimace when they hear the word ‘environmentalist.’” Hendrix op-ed in Fresno Bee

Health/Human Services 

KCAO tries to prevent child hunger — Some Kings County children rely on school breakfasts and lunches to stave off hunger. Come summer, they can lose that safety net. That’s where the Kings Community Action Organization comes in. The organization is providing free meals for children during the summer. Hanford Sentinel article

Other areas 

Kern County Fire Department: 52 fireworks citations issued during holiday — The Kern County Fire Department fireworks taskforces during the Independence Day holiday wrote 52 citations, the department reported Friday. Bakersfield Californian article 

Court orders release of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s emails – The city of Sacramento must release more than 50 emails relating to Mayor Kevin Johnson’s controversial takeover of an embattled black mayors group in 2013, a judge ruled on Friday. Sacramento Bee article 

Your county government: Kings County Finance Department — The Kings County finance department is the starting point for all county departments. It ensures funds are managed, residents pay their property tax and budgets are reported to state and federal officials. Hanford Sentinel article 

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down; It won’t be easy, but if these Dallas officers are not to die in vain, we must redouble efforts to improve police-community relations. The alternative is that the grim toll of dead citizens and police officers will only grow. We can’t let that happen.

Merced Sun-Star – It won’t be easy, but if these Dallas officers are not to die in vain, we must redouble efforts to improve police-community relations. The alternative is that the grim toll of dead citizens and police officers will only grow. We can’t let that happen.

Modesto Bee – It won’t be easy, but if these Dallas officers are not to die in vain, we must redouble efforts to improve police-community relations. The alternative is that the grim toll of dead citizens and police officers will only grow. We can’t let that happen; Illegal fireworks are a real problem, but there is a solution.

Sacramento Bee – It won’t be easy, but if these Dallas officers are not to die in vain, we must redouble efforts to improve police-community relations. The alternative is that the grim toll of dead citizens and police officers will only grow. We can’t let that happen; The California State Fair opens this weekend in deep-fried splendor. But tucked into the decadence is the real California – clean, green and alive.