June 1, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: Our rights are finally getting attention — It may be convenient for authorities to pile on traffic ticket surcharges, label someone a gang member or seize property. The latter may even be profitable for law enforcement agencies when they convert seized property into cash. But such actions violate our hard-won rights to due process, and Brown and the authors of those other reform bills deserve credit for defending those rights. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers seek to expand child care, unionize workers — Last year, it was preschool and transitional kindergarten. This spring, majority Democrats in the California Legislature have made a priority of another program for young people: state-subsidized child care. Thousands of child care slots would be added and reimbursement rates would increase under legislative proposals headed to a joint budget-writing committee expected to start work today, as negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown begin in earnest. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republican Rocky Chavez sees pathway to victory in U.S. Senate contest – Rocky Chavez yearned for combat duty during his 28 years in the Marines, but commanders kept him far from the battlefield. “It’s kind of like training for a football game and never getting into the game,” said Chavez, a state lawmaker now running for U.S. Senate. LA Times article 

Rick Zbur: California must reform initiative process to stop hateful measures – The executive director of Equality California writes, “Clearly, the initiative process, established more than 100 years ago to give the people of California more political power, is now being increasingly used against the people of California – particularly minorities and other vulnerable groups.” Zbur op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California medical marijuana may finally get elusive guidelines — Now that sophisticated political operators are crafting a 2016 measure to legalize pot, dispensary and law enforcement groups who want a regulatory framework for medical cannabis believe it’s time to settle the issue.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Senate to take up spy bill as parts of Patriot Act expire – The Senate will reconvene at midday on Monday to consider changes to a House bill that would curtail the government’s authority to sweep up vast quantities of phone records after the program, which began after the 2001 terrorist attacks, expired at 12:01 a.m. New York Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Lynda and Stewart Resnick rename company: The Wonderful Company — Nearly half of American households purchase products sold by the billionaire-backed holding company Roll Global, according to Roll, but most consumers probably have no idea. They haven’t realized that such brands like Pom Wonderful, Fiji Water and Wonderful Halos were all related. The company is hoping to change that. On Monday it announced it was aligning all 10 brands under a new corporate name: The Wonderful Company. Forbes article

Pool industry touts water savings in California drought – The California swimming pool and spa industry has launched a campaign to market itself as a drought-friendly landscaping option as the state enters a fourth summer of drought that has residential pools and other conspicuous water users in the crosshairs. AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Activists seeking new promise funds – Stockton’s unsuccessful Promise Zone application included plans for collaboration between city government, the Stockton Unified School District, community and housing nonprofits, and neighborhood activists to lift up the south side. Tubbs said follow-through on the plan should not be reliant on winning Promise Zone recognition from the federal government. Stockton Record article 

San Francisco police, Muni get boosts in Lee’s budget plan — The San Francisco Police Department and Muni are among the biggest beneficiaries of Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed two-year budget, with funding to pay for 400 new officers and 244 new transportation employees.  San Francisco Chronicle article

CalPERS looks at long-term rate hike to cut risk — CalPERS is considering small increases in employer and employee rates over decades to reduce the risk of big investment losses, a policy that also would lower an earnings forecast critics say is too optimistic. Calpensions article 

Super Bowl 50 vows to be the ‘most giving’ ever – With Trimiew and his board of advisers in the middle, some of the more than $13 million they hope to eventually raise from corporate sponsors already has started flowing to youth-focused nonprofits, each dedicated to closing what he calls “the opportunity gap for kids in the Bay Area.”  Oakland Tribune article

Homeowners hope to cash in by renting houses to Super Bowl fans – Paul Arys and Laura Hernandez’s tidy ranch house in Santa Clara is just a football toss away from Levi’s Stadium. So when Super Bowl 50 rolls into town in February, the couple hope to reap $25,000 by renting their two-bedroom via Airbnb for the week.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Homeboy, other nonprofits fear wage hike will lead to program cuts – These days, Homeboy staffers have been making their way up to City Hall’s third floor, where council members have been debating a plan to hike the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2020. That’s because Homeboy executives fear the wage increase, which comes up for a full council vote Wednesday, will force them to scale back the number of people they employ. LA Times article 

Virtual reality entrepreneurs chase the dream in LA — Just as smartphones and tablets have cut into television viewing, virtual reality is poised to put movies, games and apps on perspective-altering screens inches away from the eyes. The real world will disappear as viewers become part of the show, immersing themselves in a digital universe.  LA Times article


A deep dive into Cal Water’s new pool restrictions – Drought restrictions will hit many Bakersfield residents where they live during summer months — in their swimming pools — starting Monday as the California Water Service Co. bans draining and refilling pools, spas or hot tubs due to the drought.  Bakersfield Californian article

Drought, incentives spur turf replacement – Environmentally conscious home and business owners have been replacing thirsty turf with low-water landscaping for years, but the trend has increased dramatically in this, California’s fourth year of drought. Bakersfield Californian article 

Business booming for Fresno hydroponic company — Current Culture H2O, a Fresno-based designer and manufacturer of hydroponic equipment, has enjoyed double-digit growth over the last several years, thanks to a booming cannabis industry. But this fast-growing company wants to increase its presence with a different type of grower: the small farmer. Fresno Bee article 

LA County drought plan decried by residents facing big water bills – Under the proposed plan, which county supervisors are scheduled to vote on Tuesday, the county water districts would calculate a single monthly target for most residential users by deducting the percentage reduction from average usage for the area in 2013. Customers who exceed the target would pay double or triple the base rates. LA Times article 

A brief history of the California lawn – How did a state with millions of acres of desert end up with so many lawns? The answer, in part, has to do with nostalgia. But as you’ll see from the video, many Californians now are replacing that nostalgia with something new. KQED video 

Celebrities make splash with California drought awareness – From drought-shaming to eco-boasting, willing or not, celebrities are playing a role in raising awareness about California’s debilitating drought. Stars whose homes boast lush, green lawns at a time when residents have been asked to cut back on water may be drought-shamed on social media. Meanwhile, Eco-conscious entertainers hoping to take the lead on water conservation talk proudly of their drought-friendly gardens. AP article 

Wet May pushes Lake Tahoe back to natural rim — A wet May has pushed Lake Tahoe back up to its natural rim, but the lake will soon start dropping again because of the four-year drought. AP article

Ruling on water authority lawsuit near — The decades-long struggle between two water giants – one serving San Diego County and the other serving most of Southern California – is about to reach a critical milestone. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Defense attorneys’ controversial new tool – sympathetic videos about clients – Used primarily in federal death penalty and civil cases, video biographies have now begun to pop up in criminal cases in the Bay Area and across the country, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. San Jose Mercury News article 

Visalia Times-Delta: Tulare chief’s absence raises questions — We all deserve to know more about why the city’s No. 1 law enforcement official is unable to do his job. Visalia Times-Delta editorial


UC moving to simplify student transfer requirements – The University of California is working to simplify its transfer process, aiming to quell confusion for community college students struggling with differing requirements and responding to a push from state leaders.  EdSource article 

What to spend on? What to save for? Modesto trustees seek public input before deciding – The spending priorities for Modesto City Schools will be laid out at a public hearing Monday with board members taking input on plans put forward for a 2015-16 budget that could outpace this year’s by an estimated $36.9 million under the latest state figures. The board will also vote on buying football helmets with concussion sensors for all district football teams. Modesto Bee article

Seventh-grade dropout transforms into high school graduate — Alejandro Duran, who just turned 18 May 25, said he’s never been to high school — traditional high school, that is. Yet he and 265 other alternative education students met graduation requirements to graduate from high school. Bakersfield Californian article

Davis High Language Institute director named an Outstanding Teacher of America – The Davis High School Language Institute’s Lindsey Bird has won recognition as an Outstanding Teacher of America, one of five named for 2015 by the Carlston Family Foundation from nominations by former students. Modesto Bee article

In Texas, it could soon be legal to bring a gun to college — Legal gun owners in Texas may soon be able to carry concealed firearms on college campuses now that the Legislature has overwhelmingly passed a gun rights bill. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

San Francisco lawmakers try new tacks to curb soda drinking – San Francisco lawmakers are taking another stab at curbing soda consumption seven months after local voters rejected taxing sugary drinks in the name of public health. AP article

Fresno woman is on a sun safety mission — For the past year, Sarah Siemens of Fresno had been searching for a way to honor her mother, who died of skin cancer. She needed to document her grief, and she wanted to educate people about sun safety. Earlier this month, she completed her project: A video that culminates in an explosion of an indoor tanning bed her mother had used at a health club in Lemoore. Fresno Bee article


Sacramento Bee: Don’t take a detour on auto safety — A defective car threatens more than the driver. It’s a safety issue for passengers and other motorists. Well-intentioned though Gordon’s effort may be, AB 287 doesn’t do enough to protect the public.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Worker of Golden Gate Bridge, longtime Merced County resident dies — Gus Villalta, a builder of a California architectural icon, a World War II pilot and longtime Los Banos resident, has died. He was 98. Merced Sun-Star article

Fitz’s Stockton: Stockton history, writ in pipe — When California Water Service Co. remodeled its old main pumping plant on Sonora Street and opened it to the public as a pay station, the design left the building’s old boiler pit open for all to see.  Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – California Senate approves pay equity bill with bipartisan support; Congress should follow California’s lead.

Sacramento Bee – A defective car threatens more than the driver. It’s a safety issue for passengers and other motorists. Well-intentioned though Gordon’s effort may be, AB 287 doesn’t do enough to protect the public.

Visalia Times-Delta – We all deserve to know more about why the City of Tulare’s No. 1 law enforcement official is unable to do his job.

Upcoming Events

  • The California High-Speed Rail Authority is hosting an Industry Forum on Wednesday, June 10, from 1-3 p.m. in the Wasco Veterans Hall.  The event is for businesses interested in working on the next 22-mile phase of construction in the Central Valley.  Information and registration: http://hsr.ca.gov/Newsroom/events.html.


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.

This document is to be used for informational purposes only. Unless specifically noted, the Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno does not officially endorse or support views that may be expressed in the document. If you want to print a story, please do so now before the link expires.