June 12, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 John Myers: We ask California legislators: Do you help draft bills for influential groups? — Multiple state Capitol sources will confirm, quite comfortably as long as they aren’t on the record, that legislators routinely ask their own lawyers — at taxpayer expense — to privately draft bills for influential groups and lobbyists, bills those powerful players can then attempt to inject into the legislative bloodstream at just the right time for quick action. But saying it on the record? That’s a different story. Myers in KQED

 Dan Walters: A big debt omitted from ‘wall’ — Three years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown added “wall of debt” to the political lexicon. As he defined it, the wall was $33 billion in debt that the state had accumulated over the previous half-decade to cover state budget deficits and still had not repaid. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 State budget

 Democrats’ budget has more money for CSU, UC — Don’t expect a California budget deal before the Legislature’s constitutional deadline Monday.Lawmakers will instead vote that day on a plan by legislative leaders that relies on higher revenue estimates to fund several Democratic priorities – including more money for the UC and CSU systems. Capital Public Radio report

 Joshua Pechthalt: Debate over funding child care is a trap – The president of the California Federation of Teachers writes, “The current debate in the Legislature about where to secure additional child care money – as part of Proposition 98 or funded separately – is a trap we should avoid. While Proposition 98 has become the cornerstone for funding K-14 public schools, it is reasonable that early childhood programs be folded in as well, as they used to be.” Pechthalt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Valley politics

 CD10: Eggman’s next political step looks like Denham congressional rematch – Just what is Kingsburg Democrat Michael Eggman up to? It’s hard to know for sure because the voice mail on his cell phone has been full for weeks and he hasn’t returned text messages to the same number. At this point, based on a Thursday Facebook post, it appears he’s going to make a second congressional run against Turlock Republican Jeff Denham. Fresno Bee article

 Article: Assemblywoman Shannon Grove blames drought on God’s anger with abortion – The power of God disrupted normal weather patterns and meted out California’s ongoing drought as retribution for abortion, according to statements attributed to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. Bakersfield Californian article

 Merced district maps progressing slowly – The Merced City Council and a civil rights nonprofit have agreed to push back the due date for first drafts of a map designating voting districts for Merced elections. Merced Sun-Star article

 New legislation welcomed in San Joaquin County — New legislation aimed at increasing voter turnout across the state is being welcomed with open arms in San Joaquin County. Austin Erdman, the county’s registrar of voters, said Senate Bill 450, a bill that would make voting more flexible and convenient for residents, is a welcome measure. Stockton Record article

 Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Sacramento Bee: A promising plan to boost voter turnout – Voter turnout is so abysmal in California that something has to change. So while it may not be the ultimate or perfect solution, legislators ought to seriously consider Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s proposal  to overhaul how Californians vote. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Sanchez, a no on trade, points to Vietnam rights violations — U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez says she’ll vote against President Barack Obama’s trade agenda because his administration has not addressed Vietnam’s human rights violations. AP article


 Are feds deliberately delaying migration deal to keep kids, mothers behind bars? — Secret talks over the fate of the Obama administration’s family detention program may be breaking down, meaning many migrant mothers and children could remain locked up for the foreseeable future. McClatchy Newspapers article

 U.S. to release several immigrant mothers from detention, but most remain – With pressure building on the Obama administration to improve or abolish the detention of immigrant families, officials have agreed to release on bond at least half a dozen immigrant mothers, some of whom had sued the federal government for relief. LA Times article

 Deportees in Tijuana struggle with mental health problems — The largest wave of deportations in U.S. history — more than 2 million since 2008 — has been putting a strain on mental health resources in Tijuana, which receives at least 40 percent of the deportees the U.S. returns to Mexico. KQED report

Other areas

Old enough to vote, but not to smoke – it could happen in California – No one disputes that tobacco shortens life spans and encourages a host of potentially lethal diseases. The central question Senate Bill 151 poses to lawmakers is not whether tobacco use is desirable but whether Californians the state otherwise treats as adults should have the freedom, if they wish, to purchase and consume a harmful substance. Sacramento Bee article

 California official: Supreme Court risks ‘horrible moral precedent’ on Obamacare – The head of California’s Obamacare exchange says the U.S. Supreme Court risks setting a “horrible moral precedent” if it strikes down health-law subsidies across much of the country. LA Times article

 Joel Fox: Attack on Prop 13 faces long odds – The original Proposition 13 was four paragraphs long fitting on one side of a piece of paper. SCA 5, the measure to change Proposition 13 introduced by Senators Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell yesterday intended to increase taxes on business property is 30 pages long. Fox in Fox & Hounds

 Most Americans expect Supreme Court to OK gay marriage — Nearly two-thirds of Americans expect the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide when it rules on the issue within the next few weeks, according to a new poll. AP article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 California drought: Odds of an El Niño rising — Chances of an El Niño bringing a badly needed wet winter to California have gone up, the National Weather Service said Thursday. According to scientists, there’s a better than 90 percent chance the weather pattern often associated with plentiful rain will hit in the fall, and an 85 percent chance it will hang around through the end of the year. San Francisco Chronicle article; San Jose Mercury article; LA Times article; KQED report

 ‘Youth disconnection’ varies widely in state — Within California’s Central Valley farm belt, Bakersfield has stood out for having a relatively vigorous local economy, largely due to its very visible oil industry. However, a new nationwide study reveals that among the nation’s 98 largest metropolitan areas, Bakersfield has the second highest rate of “youth disconnection.” Sacramento Bee article

 State attorney general challenges ruling against tiered water rates — The California attorney general’s office has asked the state Supreme Court to depublish a controversial ruling that it argues will impede the state’s ability to encourage conservation by charging people higher rates when they use excessive amounts of water. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

 Fresno County supervisors quickly approve $2 billion-plus budget – Fresno County supervisors approved the county’s $2 billion-plus budget Thursday in five minutes, with only a brief diversion to discuss incentives and starting pay hikes for patrol deputies. Fresno Bee article

 Amazon looks to fill 700 positions in Tracy – As the result of newly completed construction that increases capacity at its 1.1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Tracy, Amazon is hiring for more than 700 full-time hourly positions there to meet growing customer demand.  No similar facility expansion or hiring is occurring at the Internet retailer’s 1 million-square-foot Patterson facility, a company spokeswoman said. Modesto Bee article

 City Hall helps firm with southeast Fresno expansion plans – Talk about an offer right up Fresno City Hall’s alley — spend relatively few bucks, secure as many as 400 jobs. The City Council on Thursday approved a deal with a food company that helps the firm expand its operations in southeast Fresno. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

 Millions of Californians struggle with financial burden of suspended driver’s licenses – Unable to pay this initial cost — and with job or health concerns often getting in the way — many drivers do not make it to court and have their license suspended. In this way, California’s system of fines and fees may disproportionately impact low-income drivers. KQED report

 Stockton Record: Step 1: Put Stribley to good use – The Stockton City Council approved its general-fund budget this week with some library components that likely will stir more debate instead of placating those calling for change. Stockton Record editorial

 Disneyland Resort generates $5.7 billion in economic activity a year, study says – The Disneyland Resort, Orange County’s largest employer, is responsible for more than $5.7 billion in annual economic activity throughout Southern California, supporting 28,000 regional jobs, according to an independent economic study released Thursday. LA Times article

 Ed Dena’s plans late June expansion into Visalia – It won’t be long before cars will once again fill the lot at Ben Maddox Way and East Main Street — that’s because Ed Dena’s Auto Center is moving in. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Manteca expects population increase of 44,000 in 20 years – Manteca expects its population to increase by about 44,000 by the year 2035, and is preparing to accommodate that growth.Stockton Record article

 Google’s latest project: Reinventing cities — Google’s Chief Executive Larry Page has announced the tech giant’s latest moonshot, a new company whose mission is to revolutionize urban life. Sidewalk Labs, based in New York, said it will develop new technologies to make transportation more efficient, lower the cost of living, reduce energy use and help city governments along the way. LA Times article


 ‘Extreme drought’ expands in California — The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that conditions worsened in two California counties in the midst of a fourth year of drought. Capital Public Radio report

 California drought changes what farmers grow — Water scarcity is driving farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable — less thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts. Capital Public Radio report

 Fresno home builder makes synthetic turf standard, grass an option — In the latest sign of the drought’s impact, synthetic turf is now standard in all front yards at Granville Homes while grass has become an option for home buyers. It’s a bold and expensive move for the Fresno home builder — which may be the first statewide — to say out with water-sucking grass and in with the drought-friendly alternative as the state enters another dry summer. Fresno Bee article

 Tom Nassif: Farmers need trade exports – The president and CEO of Western Growers writes, “Foreign trade is often an uneven playing field for U.S. farmers. We need trade agreements to level that field, but the biggest and most helpful one – the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership – is in jeopardy in Congress.” Nassif op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 California water wasters beware: #DroughtShaming on the rise – Pssst. Ready to water that beautiful lush lawn of yours? The one that’s the envy of the entire neighborhood. AP article

 Good news on groundwater – San Joaquin County is once again eligible for millions of dollars in grants to bolster the region’s water supply, after landowners agreed to provide private well construction details to the state, officials announced Wednesday. Stockton Record article

 How brown are those Modesto council members’ lawns? – The Modesto Bee looked at the front yards of Mayor Garrad Marsh and the six council members to find out. Based on that limited assessment, the seven elected officials appear to be doing a pretty good job. Of the four homes with lawns, three show signs of distress and browning. Modesto Bee article

 Dying trees may force a new outlook on irrigation during drought – The unrelenting drought that has ravaged parts of California’s forest land is now taking a toll on the trees that line urban parks, boulevards and backyards. From the traffic-clogged streets of L.A. to San Diego’s scenic parks, the trees that locals have come to love are increasingly falling victim to years of hot weather and little rain. LA Times article

 Robin Abcarian: A water park during California drought? Let it slide – In a case of what seemed like spectacularly bad timing, Dublin had just broken ground on a new water park. When the project is complete, there will be two pools. A water playground with a fake beach. And six 125-foot water slides shooting off a main tower. Abcarian column in LA Times

 ‘First Look’: End of Lake Ming? Californian columnist Lois Henry talks drought draining — For several weeks the city has lacked water from the Kern River, and that’s just the beginning. On Wednesday’s “First Look with Scott Cox,” Californian Columnist Lois Henry talked about the city’s decision to drain all the water in Lake Ming, in order to keep Hart Park and local golf courses open. She said that the city is now discussing unprecedented options just to keep water levels at the minimum. Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Fresno police focus on 15 percent crime rise – Fresno police are focusing on a surge in crime, up 15% this year from the same time frame in 2014, driven by a 32% increase in robberies — or 101 more than last year. Fresno Bee article

 Prop 47 drives down number of people on probation in Fresno County – There are roughly 1,000 fewer people in Fresno County who are on Felony probation. The County Probation Chief says that is due to changes brought about by Proposition 47. By turning some felonies, especially drug convictions, into misdemeanors there are now only about 8,000 people under county supervision compared to 9,000 a year ago according to Probation Chief Rick Chavez. KVPR report

 Michael Fitzgerald: What the U.S. military gave Stockton police – Recently President Barack Obama restricted Uncle Sam from giving many types of military weapons to police departments. Curious, I did a Public Records Act request asking the Stockton Police Department what weapons or other property it got from the Department of Defense. They got a computer, a giant, no-good truck and 74 M-16s. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

 Lawsuit: Barstow police used excessive force on pregnant woman – A woman who was eight months’ pregnant when she was handcuffed and slammed to the ground has filed a lawsuit against the Barstow Police Department, alleging officers used excessive force when they arrested her for refusing to identify herself. LA Times article

 After Ezell Ford ruling, LAPD chief’s video raises eyebrows among commission — After a controversial decision this week by the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission that a shooting by an officer did not conform with department policy, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck sought to reassure his troops. LA Times article


 Fresno Unified superintendent speaks out about lease-leaseback deal – The superintendent of Fresno Unified School District says school board members were well aware of a controversial preconstruction consulting agreement with a developer that built the new Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School, and that the district has penned similar consulting deals with other construction companies. Fresno Bee article

 Miguel Arias and John Leal: A blueprint for our community colleges – The State Center Community College District Board of Trustees members write, “Over the next few months, our district will make three critical decisions that will set our trajectory for the next two decades: (1) hire a chancellor for State Center, (2) hire a president for Fresno City College, and (3) consider a staff proposal for potentially $500 million facilities bond in 2016.” Arias/Leal op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Some California preschools serve young English learners well, but it’s tough – The California Department of Education now gives extra money to public school districts with more English learners, but that hasn’t been the case for preschool programs — not even those with state subsidies. KQED report

 Speak, read, write: Bilinguals seal the deal – Guidance counselor Agustina Sanchez yells out the names of 27 seniors at Dinuba High School. “Elizabeth!” she calls, as she goes down the list. “Daisy!” They get in line to pick up their biliteracy medals. It’s just one more task in the hubbub of today’s graduation rehearsal. KQED report

 Greg Lucas: Kids need to exercise their brains to prevent ‘summer slide’ – California’s state librarian writes, “Kids who start the new school year without exercising their brains during the summer begin behind their peers, for which they’ll be playing the difficult game of catchup. After a couple years, those kids fall behind, particularly the ones in underserved communities.”Lucas op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

 Stanislaus County mentor program receives national honor — A county program that mentors schoolchildren has received national recognition. The National Association of Counties gave an achievement award to the Stanislaus County Employee Mentor Program. In its 17th year, the program has improved attendance and classroom performance among students who were falling behind. Modesto Bee article

 Fresno State business school honored with $10,000 fellowship – Fresno-based accounting firm Baker Peterson Franklin has endowed Fresno State with a three-year, $10,000 summer grant to pursue its mission of establishing a faculty research fellowship with the Craig School of Business. Fresno Bee article

 Microbiology professor becomes UC Merced’s first Pew scholar – A UC Merced professor was one of 22 researchers named as a Pew Biomedical Scholar on Thursday for her work with communities of microbes. Clarissa Nobile, 35, is the first UC Merced researcher to win a Pew scholar award. Merced Sun-Star article

Waldner new provost for COS Tulare campus – Louann Waldner is the new provost for College of the Sequoias’ Tulare College Center. College officials announced this week that Waldner will take over the position on July 1. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Former Manteca Unified trustee to have hearing in August — A preliminary hearing for a former Manteca Unified School District trustee charged with election fraud has been set for Aug. 5. Alexander Bronson, who resigned from the board in May amid the controversy, had a court hearing Wednesday. Stockton Record article

 Stanford University President John H. Hennessey to leave office next year — Stanford University President John L. Hennessy, who helped make the prestigious northern California school among the most wealthy and well-connected to nearby Silicon Valley over the last 15 years, will retire next summer, the campus announced Thursday. LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article


 LA won’t buy power from Mojave Desert solar plant, after all — The city of Los Angeles has dropped plans to buy electricity from a controversial solar plant proposed for the Mojave Desert, delivering a serious blow to the most environmentally sensitive renewable energy project in the state. LA Times article

 Health/Human Services

 Senate approval of ‘health for all’ bill gives new hope to Merced’s undocumented workers — Last week’s news that a proposal to expand health care to Californians who are in the country illegally had cleared the state Senate with a 28-11 vote, renewed Hernandez’s hope. Senate Bill 4, which heads to the Assembly, would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance through Covered California and provide Medi-Cal coverage for eligible undocumented children. Merced Sun-Star article

 Growing Alabama company is building rehab hospital in Modesto — HealthSouth Corp. has started to build an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Modesto and promises to bring needed services to the area. The 54,000-square-foot center will take shape at the northeast corner of Coffee Road and Mable Avenue. Modesto Bee article

 Land Use/Housing

 Planning Commission recommends approval of proposed Sacramento Commons — A proposal to replace 1960s-era low-rise apartments in downtown Sacramento with high-rise and mid-rise condominiums received the unanimous backing of the city’s Planning and Design Commission. Sacramento Bee article


Denham takes a Capitol step toward stopping high-speed rail — The latest attempt to stall California’s high-speed rail by the $68 billion project’s most persistent Capitol Hill critic now faces scrutiny in the Senate. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who has tried multiple times to derail federal funding, successfully pushed a measure through the House of Representatives this week that would nullify a three-year-old agreement between the state’s high-speed rail authority and theFederal Railroad Administration. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Year sees increase in traffic-related fatalities — Among the trends that have defined the current year is one that can be a bit unsettling to motorists. The year has seen a big spike locally in traffic-related fatalities. With eight deaths reported on roadways by Visaliapolice within the last six months, the year has had as many fatalities as 2013 alone — and the year’s only half over.Visalia Times-Delta article

 BART trains to get longer under $1.6 billion budget plan — BART will end its much-detested three-car trains and add extra service to the Pittsburg/Bay Point and Fremont lines under a new $1.6 billion budget approved on Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

 Animal-rights group settles lawsuit with Stockton — Citing ongoing improvements in the conditions at the Stockton Animal Shelter, a national animal-rights organization has settled a lawsuit it filed against the city 15 months ago. Stockton Record article

 Little libraries have big impact — When Little Free Libraries sprouted throughout Stockton more than two years ago, the goal was to have 100. The number of Little Free Libraries has doubled to 42 from 21 this past January. There’s so much potential and considering how inexpensive it is to keep up, adding the fact that it provides literacy for all, Zapien said, there are plans in place to spread out into neighboring communities such as Farmington and Manteca, which already has several in town. Stockton Record article