June 13, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Brown, lawmakers continue budget talks ahead of deadline — California lawmakers have scheduled a vote Monday on a $117.5 billion spending plan that increases social spending for the poor even though Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t signed off on that version of the budget. AP article

 State lawmakers request millions in funding for district projects —  The proposed budget to be voted on by the Legislature on Monday contains millions of dollars in earmarks by lawmakers seeking state favor for their districts. The expenditures include money to renovate bridges, restore creeks, expand parks, erect sound walls and study the feasibility of opening a new university in Stockton. LA Times article

 Olsen wows Fresno chamber crowd, which could help her in 2018 — On Friday morning, Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Al Smith thanked Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen for venturing outside her district to talk about state issues. Yes, it is true that Fresno isn’t in Olsen’s 12th Assembly District, which is based in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. But the Piccadilly Inn on West Shaw Avenue, where the Modesto Republican spoke at one of the Chamber’s periodic Eggs & Issues breakfasts, is inside the boundaries of the 8th State Senate District.Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

 Jerry Brown names ongoing spokesman to Gambling Commission — Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed his outgoing chief deputy press secretary, Jim Evans, chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission. The appointment comes one day after Evans announced his departure from the Governor’s Office. He was appointed to fill a vacant “public at large” position on the commission, which regulates tribal casinos and card rooms. The position pays $138,867 a year and requires Senate confirmation. Capitol Alert

 Valley politics

 Shannon Grove under fire for linking drought to abortion — A conservative California assemblywoman has touched off a backlash by suggesting that God eased Texas’ drought after the passage of pro-life legislation. According to an article in RH Reality Check, an online publication that covers reproductive health, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, told a pro-life gathering that after Gov. Rick Perry signed “the fetal pain bill” – an apparent reference to conversational legislation that banned abortions after 20 weeks and put new restrictions on doctors and clinics – “it rained that night.” Sacramento Bee article

 Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Measuring the mood: California Politics Podcast — This week, our California Politics Podcast examines how the week is ending with no deal between legislative Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown on a new state budget. The legislative version gets a vote on Monday … but what happens then? California Politics Podcast in KQED

 Daniel Borenstein: Secretary of State’s new California voting proposal holds great potential — Padilla advocates a voter-friendly model similar to the one recently launched in Colorado, where election costs decreased and turnout rose. There, all registered voters receive ballots in the mail. They can mail them back or drop them off. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times


 Debra Saunders: Can California say ‘yes’ to everyone? Insuring the undocumented — If SB4 becomes law, the camel’s nose will have penetrated the tent. Within six years of the president promising that immigrants in the country would not be eligible for Obamacare — presumably because that would be wrong — the first state will have bypassed that promise. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

 Incidents show rising use of personal water craft by human traffickers — Two incidents this week at the U.S. border show one of the latest methods of smuggling people into this country without documentation: by personal water craft. LA Times article

 Other areas

California Assembly member pulls auto recall bill as opposition mounts – A measure pushed by auto dealers that would have created rules for how they sell recalled used vehicles was pulled by its author suddenly Friday even though it sailed through the Assembly on a 76-0 vote earlier this month. LA Times

 Proposed tax credit for quake retrofits runs into trouble in Sacramento – A proposed state tax credit to ease the burden of seismically retrofitting vulnerable buildings failed to make it out of a key committee in Sacramento this week, calling its prospects into question. LA Times article

 Rand Paul returns to California’s conservative corridor to court donors — Often, presidential candidates venture to California for a single purpose: to raise campaign cash. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is no exception. LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

 California curtails senior water rights — In a dramatic move that reflects the severity of the drought, California water regulators Friday ordered farmers and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state to stop pulling water out of California’s rivers. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; New York Times article; AP article; AP: Q&A: A look at California’s senior water rights holders; Stockton Record article

 California’s high-speed rail: A schedule under stress – A string of milestones passing month by month, year by year, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent over the past decade on planning, engineering, environmental analysis, right of way acquisition and administrative costs. For all of that, the only tangible work visible to the public has come in the past year with the demolition of buildings and relocation of utilities like storm drains in the path of the rail route. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

 LA confronts a spike in homelessness amid prosperity — Much of Los Angeles these days seems the portrait of prosperity. But a sweeping census of the homeless population in Los Angeles County released last month came as a jolting rebuke to the charities and officials who have proclaimed a mission to end the region’s stubborn problem of people living on the streets. New York Times article

 Aerial firefighting company expands its Fresno facilities nearly sevenfold – A company dedicated to fighting wildfires with cargo planes and cardboard boxes full of water has expanded its Fresno operations more than six times over. Fresno Bee article

Hanford council to focus on downtown – The Hanford City Council will hold a study session Tuesday to begin discussing an incentive package for downtown businesses. Hanford Sentinel article

 The Numbers Crunch: California’s pain at the pump comes with a premium – California’s higher gas prices cost businesses and consumers roughly $1 billion total in May, the California Center for Jobs and the Economy estimates. It’s a big chunk of our higher cost of living. Using federal data, the center estimates that the average California household spent $232 on gas last month.  Sacramento Bee article

 Twitter on the block? CEO’s departure spurs speculation — Following news that embattled Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down, some analysts are speculating that Twitter could be an acquisition target. LA Times article

 Tesla lease in Fremont helps city’s economy rebound — Fremont has recaptured all the manufacturing jobs it lost in the shutdown of the old NUMMI vehicle factory and the meltdown of Solyndra, and the East Bay city is poised to gain even more manufacturing following Tesla’s decision to lease a former Solyndra factory. San Jose Mercury News article

 New life envisioned for Sacramento’s Hostess plant — It was a Sacramento institution – a building school kids visited on field trips, a place with the aroma of fresh bread wafting through its ceiling vents. Now the Hostess Brands factory on Arden Way, closed since 2013, is being repurposed as “creative” office space or possibly a retail site. Sacramento Bee article


 $110 million in new drought aid going to California, other Western states, White House says – To help Western states combat what federal officials called “severe” and “historic” drought conditions, the Obama administration on Friday announced $110 million in additional funding to provide temporary jobs for dislocated Californians, support farmers and improve water efficiency. LA Times article

 Water level at Isabella Lake falling to critical levels – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday said the amount of water stored in Isabella fell by 1,090 acre-feet over the past week, a stark reminder that the reservoir in the Kern River Valley above Bakersfield is reaching a critical low just as summer is about to begin. Bakersfield Californian article

 Sacramento considers lifting longtime ban on artificial turf – Faced with a fourth year of drought, a Sacramento City Council committee this week voted 3-1 to consider lifting the city’s ban on synthetic turf in front yards. The prohibition has been on the books in some form since 1984. The main reason for the ban had been concerns the fake stuff looked too tacky. There is no restriction on synthetic turf for backyards. Sacramento Bee article

 Valadao introduces dam-raising bill – Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, introduced legislation Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives that would raise the elevation of dams to increase California’s water storage capability. Hanford Sentinel article

 Fresno Irrigation District announces short June, July deliveries – The Fresno Irrigation District announced that additional runoff into Pine Flat Lake from recent storms will enable the district to make partial water deliveries this month into the next. The Business Journal article

 Rain, though welcome, brings fire hazards in drought – Conventional wisdom holds that in drought-ravaged California, any hint of rain is considered good news. But when it comes to forest fires, that sprinkling can cause big problems. LA Times article

 State vows stricter enforcement of heat rules for workers – California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has committed itself to stepped-up enforcement of heat rules protecting outdoor workers, according to settlements reached this week in two heat-death lawsuits. Hanford Sentinel article

 Bees get help from seed company, lawmakers – A major seed company has joined the crusade to protect honeybees and other pollinators, and two congressmen are on board, too.Modesto Bee article

 Warmer winter nights mean small cherry crop — There’s just something about cherries. They’re small, sweet and crunchy, with an early harvest that tells us summer’s coming. Right now, though, this beloved fruit is a bit of a canary in a coal mine. The last couple of cherry harvests could be a warning about climate change and its impact on future tree crops. KQED report

 Trying to cultivate respect for water regulations among pot growers – State regulators and local officials in the Emerald Triangle acknowledge that the old way of doing things — which often paired environmental inspection with criminal enforcement — has not yielded good results. Instilling fear in growers, they say, has done little to encourage them to follow sound environmental practices. LA Times article

 Lemoore to weigh outside water hook-ups – As wells begin to go dry in a neighborhood south of Lemoore, the City Council will consider action Tuesday to allow emergency water hook-ups to properties outside the city limits. Hanford Sentinel article

 Tulare County dairies fined $34,650 — A dairy north of Farmersville has been fined $34,650 by a state agency after being accused of failing to file an annual report on the potential effects the dairy operation may have on groundwater and surface water in the area. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Retrial in Chandra Levy case set for 2016, but details unresolved — While resolving Friday on when to start the retrial of Ingmar Guandique, attorneys and the newly assigned judge now overseeing the high-profile case still face crucial questions whose answers will unfold over many months. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Madera County gets grant for mentally ill inmates — Madera County will receive $869,547 over three years to focus on keeping mentally ill inmates from returning to jail. The plan is to follow mentally ill inmates through the system with a Behavioral Health Court, similar to one already instituted in Fresno County, said Dennis Koch, director for Behavioral Health Services in Madera County. Fresno Bee article

 Lodi police drive home new armored rescue vehicle — The Lodi Police Department showcased its new armored rescue vehicle, which was recently driven 2,300 miles from Detroit to Lodi by Lts. Chris Jacobson and Steve Nelson. The reason for the extensive road trip was simple — economics. It was cheaper to drive the vehicle instead of shipping it. Stockton Record article

 Sheriff Mirkarimi questions move to grow San Francisco police force — Underscoring deep tension in San Francisco’s law enforcement community, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is questioning a recent push to put hundreds more police officers on the streets.  San Francisco Chronicle article


 UC may add only a few hundred students this fall, Napolitano says – Even if the state Legislature provides money for additional enrollment, the University of California system probably will be able to add only a few hundred extra students this fall, UC President Janet Napolitano said Friday. LA Times article

 Fresno Unified asks state Supreme Court to review lease-leaseback case — Fresno Unified School District trustees want the state Supreme Court to review a controversial lease-leaseback deal deemed illegal by an appellate court last week. Fresno Bee article

 Valley high school graduates: Forging ahead — Some are very ill, others are teen parents, a few are bound for the Ivy League, a handful dropped out — but didn’t give up and now are successful after a second, bolder try at school. They are the Class of 2015. Today we have collected an assortment of excerpts from their commencement speeches, which gives us a window into the world of the Valley’s optimistic young adults. Fresno Bee article

 Stockton Unified trustee says comment blown out of proportion – Stockton Unified School District Board of Education Trustee Kathy Garcia says comments she made during a board meeting Tuesday that to some could be viewed as racist are simply being blown out of proportion. Stockton Record article

 Departure of Stanford’s president ends a transformational era – In his 15 years at the helm of Stanford, President John L. Hennessy has more than doubled the university’s endowment, seen its undergraduate program displace Harvard as the most selective school in the nation and fostered a symbiotic relationship between campus brains and Silicon Valley money that created tech darlings such as Snapchat and Instagram. LA Times article

 Looking to steer Latinos into auto design —  Los Angeles is a world center for automotive design, and its Latino population has made massive contributions to American car culture — from custom paint and pinstriping to lowrider car design. LA Times article


 Bills show power rate disparities — The comparison of monthly bills from public and private electricity providers in California shows a notable discrepancy in the amounts customers pay for the same amount of power, depending on where they live and which provider serves them. San Diego Union-Tribune article

 First rehabilitated pelicans returned into wild after Santa Barbara oil spill — The rehabilitated brown pelicans waddled out of their cages and into the surf at Goleta Beach on Friday, slowly stretching their wings after a three-hour car ride from a Los Angeles care center. LA Times article

 Michael Hitlzik: Emissions cap-and-trade program is working well in California — More than two years into the program — which aims to reduce the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — it’s working very well, but it may not be doing as much as its biggest fans say. Hiltzik column in LA Times

 Center marks 3 millionth ton of recyclables — Trash haulers, recyclers and local officials marked a dirty, sticky, sometimes stinky milestone Friday morning: the 3 millionth ton of recyclables sorted by the Mount Vernon Recycling Composting & Facility, from atop a berm between the plant and a pond for treated sewage water. Bakersfield Californian article

Land Use/Housing

 Dreaming of a better Highway 41/198 interchange — If you’ve ever driven all the angles at the Highway 198/Highway 41 interchange, you’ll know it’s not exactly state-of-the-art transportation design. Going from westbound 198 to southbound 41, it gets awkward. Hanford Sentinel article

 Other areas

 Judge finds fault with Fresno County’s medical marijuana ordinance – In a strong rebuke of Fresno County’s medical marijuana cultivation ban, a Fresno County Superior Court judge said that $99,000 in fines should not have been imposed on a Laton man who got rid of his plants before Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies could cite him. Fresno Bee article

 Virginia Corridor trail between Bowen, Woodrow opens — It didn’t take long for word to spread that the new three-quarter-mile extension of the Virginia Corridor paved trail opened for public use Friday morning. By the 9 a.m. hour, the stretch from Bowen Avenue north to Woodrow avenue was shared by a steady flow of traffic – a mix of bicyclists, runners and walkers.Modesto Bee article

 In the studio with Juan Felipe Herrera: So much to say — He’s the second U.S. poet laureate to come out of Fresno and the second to walk into KQED’s Central Valley Bureau to record an interview with the San Francisco office. Four years ago it was Philip Levine. Now enter Juan Felipe Herrera. KQED report

 Former First 5 Fresno County head Kendra Rogers changing jobs again – Kendra Rogers, the former First 5 Fresno County executive director who almost a year ago left the organization after ugly confrontations with Fresno County supervisors over First 5’s direction, is on the move again. In early August, Rogers will start a new job as managing director of Children Now, an Oakland nonprofit that advocates for children’s health and education. She will relocate to the Bay Area for the job. Fresno Bee article

 Mortuary accused of defrauding Madera County donated $3,000 to undersheriff’s 2014 sheriff’s campaign – The mortuary accused of defrauding Madera County for more than $100,000 over at least the last four years donated $3,000 to Madera County Undersheriff Michael Salvador’s failed 2014 bid for the vacant sheriff’s office, according to county election records.Fresno Bee article

 Lauren Foreman: Flatter me more, NAACP leader – As the expression goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And that’s exactly what I, a black woman (to which my mother and father would attest), felt when I read media reports outing an NAACP leader, Rachel Dolezal, a self-identified black woman, as white. Foreman in Bakersfield Californian

 Courtenay Edelhart: Falsely co-opting black identity is an insult — There is some delicious irony in the fact that news of the bizarre case of Rachel Dolezal broke the week of Loving Day. That’s the annual commemoration of Loving vs. Virginia, the June 12, 1967, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared state laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. Edelhart in Bakersfield Californian

 Probe underway into possible case tampering in Orange County Superior Court — Attorney Charmaine Druyor said she was puzzled when she received a notice, two weeks ago, ordering her to appear Friday in the Westminster courtroom of Judge Thomas Borris. It concerned a man whose charge of driving on a suspended license had been dismissed in 2012. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – While it might not be the ultimate or perfect solution, legislators ought to seriously consider Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s to overhaul how Californians vote.


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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