June 16, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 State lawmakers beat budget deadline, but no deal yet with governor – If there is one narrative that Democrats in the California Legislature are working hard to kill, it’s that they have big differences left to iron out with Gov. Jerry Brown over a new state budget, differences reflected in the budget approved on Monday afternoon. John Myers in KQED; LA Times article;Sacramento Bee article; Dan Walters column in Sacramento Bee; AP: “Highlights of California budget approved by lawmakers”

 Shannon Grove denies having linked drought and abortion in Sacramento speech – Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, in a Monday post to her state government website, denied having linked California’s drought to abortion in a recent speech to a pro-life group in Sacramento, as was reported last week by RH Reality Check and picked up by other media, including The Californian.  Bakersfield Californian article

State budget

 Legislature scales back state high-speed rail reporting — Democratic lawmakers approved legislation Monday that would require less frequent reporting by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to the state Legislature as part of a state budget package. AP article

 Judge: Brown and Legislature illegally aided homeowners fund – Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature illegally raided a state fund that was created to help distressed homeowners and took $331 million to balance the budget, a judge has ruled. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Distracted GOP lawmaker accidentally Oks California budget — A Republican lawmaker accidentally cast his party’s first vote for the California budget in years because he was distracted by Facebook. Assemblyman Scott Wilk was the sole Republican to vote for California’s record $117.5 billion spending plan Monday. AP article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Redistricting: Are the 2011 lines still valid? — The Supreme Court is set to announce a decision in an Arizona redistricting case that could upend the California Redistricting Commission’s congressional lines and return to the Legislature the responsibility for conducting each decennial redraw. Capitol Weekly article


 Fresno immigrants, supporters celebrate 3rd anniversary of deportation relief — Before Juan Santiago received a work permit and Social Security number under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, he couldn’t legally be paid by courts needing him to interpret for other immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico who speak the indigenous Zapotec language. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Gun rights in California: Court to hear another showdown – It is time for another duel over gun rights in California. In a hearing set for Tuesday in San Francisco, a special 11-judge federal appeals court panel will consider whether to side with the gun lobby’s effort to dramatically loosen California’s restrictions on carrying concealed firearms. San Jose Mercury News article

 Sacramento Bee: Time to end humiliating and outdated welfare law – The maximum family grant law doesn’t reflect California’s core values.  Sacramento Bee editorial

 Kevin Johnson welcomes GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson — Republican Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon and unconventional presidential candidate, has no doubt received some glowing receptions during his career. But it’s unlikely he expected such a warm welcome from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat who once borrowed the Chicago Bulls theme music to introduce President Barack Obama at the White House. Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Bakersfield grapples with drop in sales tax revenue – Bakersfield’s sales tax revenue fell nearly 16 percent during the first quarter of 2015, in a year-over-year comparison, and department heads will attend an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss ways to account for the estimated $6 million loss. Bakersfield Californian article

 Developers can be required to include affordable housing, California high court rules — The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Monday that cities and counties may require developers to provide below-market-rate housing as a condition of a building permit. LA Times article; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

 Fresno Police Chief Dyer: Pleased with bigger budget, worried about violent crime – The Fresno Police Department is looking at a new year full of “more.” More money, more cops, more equipment. “This is a very good budget for us,” Chief Jerry Dyer told the City Council during Monday morning’s budget hearings. “We have not seen a budget like this in many years.” Unfortunately, Dyer added, the first half of 2015 also is seeing more violent crime. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

 Modesto to discuss sales tax for public safety – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday evening is expected to discuss the wording of a potential sales tax ballot measure and whether to bring it before voters in November. Modesto Bee article

 Legislature moves closer to tax relief for Stanislaus – Stanislaus County has moved one step closer to relief from a state funding formula that has cost it about $70 million over the past 30-plus years. Modesto Bee article

 Union approves contract with Tulare County – More than half of Tulare County’s full-time employees could receive 3 percent raises starting July 1. That is if the county Board of Supervisors approves a new labor contract on Tuesday with Service Employees International Union, Local 521, which represents about 2,800 county workers. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Higher pension contributions ahead for a few thousand California state workers – Starting next month, state workers who are in a lower-contribution, lower-benefit California state retirement plans will have to pay more money into their pension accounts. Sacramento Bee article

Stockton budget left Fugazi with unanswered questions – For those who lived through Stockton’s economic downfall, its 2012 bankruptcy filing, and its emergence from Chapter 9 back in February, it might have seemed a milestone worth celebrating last week when the City Council approved the 2015-16 fiscal-year budget. But not everyone was celebrating. The budget passed not by a 7-0 margin, but with Mayor Anthony Silva and Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi voting against it. Stockton Record article

 Clovis City Council cuts trash rates – Clovis City Council members approved a 3% reduction in city trash rates Monday night. The reduction equates to about 70 cents per month for residential customers and marks the third year in a row the city has cut trash rates. Fresno Bee article

 San Joaquin County home price, sales rise – San Joaquin County existing home prices and sales rose in May compared to a year ago, the California Association of Realtors reported Monday. The county median price — half of the homes sold for more, half for less — stood at $280,000 last month, up 12.6 percent from May 2014, but essentially flat from April’s median. The number of single-family-home, closed sales in May was up 10 percent from a year ago and 14.4 percent from April. Stockton Record article

 LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl proposes same minimum wage hike as city of LA – Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said Monday that she intends to propose a minimum wage increase for county workers and businesses in unincorporated areas that mirrors the plan recently approved by the city of Los Angeles. LA Times article

 New CEO of Sacramento aerospace company Aerojet commits to layoff plan — The new chief executive of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to a cost-cutting drive that is expected to eliminate 250 jobs at its Rancho Cordova headquarters over the next four years. Sacramento Bee article

 U.S. homebuilding drops in May, but pace stronger than 2014 – U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes in May, but the pace of construction remains significantly higher than a year ago as the real estate sector increasingly reflects the stronger job market. AP article

 Waste water bonds refinancing may be saving, investing – The refinancing of as much as $87.5 million in Tulare sewer bonds will lead to significant savings and, if city administrators can rack up the spared funds, capital improvement projects. Visalia Times-Delta article

 New Cal Fire demotions challenged, reveal more alleged cheating details – Can the state discipline employees, withdraw the punishments and then more severely discipline them? That question may soon be tested by Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott, who rescinded the single-rank demotions of three state firefighters for allegedly cheating on job interviews then imposed stiffer punishment after two of the men quickly regained their previous rank with new fire units. Sacramento Bee article

 Cable merger could have big impact on California — Change may be coming to millions of California cable TV and broadband users. A looming $78.7 billion merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications would affect California’s cable TV and broadband markets, with the new entity, called New Charter, serving nearly four of every 10 customers in the state.Capitol Weekly article

 More than $600,000 in consumer debt forgiven in settlement against debt collection company — More than $600,000 in consumer debt will be forgiven as a result of the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Kern County District Attorney’s office against a Chatsworth debt collection company that allegedly violated federal and state laws. Bakersfield Californian article

 Gap closing 175 namesake stores in U.S. – Gap plans to close 175 of its namesake stores and 250 jobs at its headquarters as the company tries to strengthen the struggling brand. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

 Sacramento City Manager John Shirey agrees to extend contract — Sacramento City Manager John Shirey has agreed to extend his contract, keeping him in the city’s top administrative post through Nov. 18, 2016. The 17-month contract requires City Council approval and will be voted on by the council at its meeting Tuesday night. Shirey’s contract will pay him a base salary of $268,423, according to a city staff report. Sacramento Bee article

 How the homeless live – and what they keep – in LA — The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on proposals to make it easier for the city to remove homeless people’s belongings from sidewalks and public parks. Previous efforts to seize property left on sidewalks and to arrest homeless people for sleeping in the streets were struck down by federal judges. LA Times article


 Farm interests planning to push back on water rule they say goes too far – Farm interests from around the country are pushing back on a recently finalized federal water rule after an analysis by a key trade group concluded that the rule “creates even more risk and uncertainty” for those who work the land. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Court battles loom over California’s senior water rights — The orders are expected to launch a flurry of lawsuits, with water right holders challenging the state’s fundamental authority to cut off senior rights. Court rulings could dramatically alter how water rights are handled in the state. KQED report

 Visalia cuts lawn watering to twice a week – In response to a fourth year of drought, the City Council voted Monday to reduce lawn watering to twice a week, and continue with no watering in winter months. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

 Water thieves are on the rise in drought-stricken California – Forget cash, jewelry and bicycles. Thieves are now after water as it becomes the liquid gold. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Endangered species protections at center of drought debate – Travel up and down California farm country, the Central Valley, and you hardly hear people lamenting the lack of rain or how dry this past winter was. What you hear from the agriculture industry and many local and national politicians, are sentiments like those expressed by Rep. Devin Nunes. NPR report

 State agency revises rules on grass – The California Department of Water Resources has proposed changes to an ordinance that would prohibit installing grass at most new commercial and residential properties. Capital Public Radio report

 Drought-resistant landscape replaces grass at Merced fire station – A landscaping crew began work Monday to remove a patch of grass behind the Merced fire station on 16th Street so it can be replaced with drought-resistant plants and other materials. Battalion Chief Mark Walker said the roughly 2,000 square feet of grass needed improvements because water would drain off of the grass and into the parking lot. Merced Sun-Star article

 John Coleman and Kathy Tiegs: Everyone needs to deal with the drought – The Association of California Water Agencies officials write, “Local water agencies will provide the careful management of supplies their customers expect and deserve. And Californians in turn will rise to the occasion and reduce their water use.” Coleman/Tiegs op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Don Curlee: Flourishing forests need constant care — As California forests recover from one fire-ravaged summer the possibility of another looms. The care and concern for forest health is one of the state’s major agricultural concerns. Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

 Floating island gardens made of plastic bottles treat water naturally – Floating islands are catching on, not just for public parks and ponds but for private citizens as well; the islands can be used as pool cleaners, putting greens and habitats for fish and waterfowl. Fresno Bee article

 Mountain House water source dries up – Outdoor irrigation could soon be entirely banned in San Joaquin County’s newest community, more evidence that the pain of the drought is not limited to local farmers. Mountain House, a planned community of about 9,600 people, buys its water from the Byron Bethany Irrigation District near Tracy. Stockton Record article

 Bradley Miller: Blame Humane Society for cooped-up egg-laying hens – The national director of the Humane Farming Association writes, “The inescapable reality is this: Had Proposition 2 actually contained what backers claimed, California would be cage-free at this very moment. The Humane Society has no one to blame for that but itself.” Miller op-ed in Modesto Bee

 Dairies see bright future, big savings in going solar — Brian Medeiros, owner of Medeiros and Son Dairy in Hanford, is a big believer in the power of the sun. Honored as Kings County’s Dairy Family of the Year in 2013, Medeiros is in the process of installing a 1-megawatt solar power system on his 1,400-acre South Valley dairy farm. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Fresno Police Chief: ‘Cop bashing’ making it harder to recruit – The Chief of the Fresno Police department is asking for more help to fight a rising rate of some crimes in the city. Fresno Police chief Jerry Dyer says it is increasingly difficult to attract people to law enforcement. KVPR report

 Court case hinges on claim of illegal CHP ticket quotas – For years, the California Highway Patrol has consistently denied that its officers are subject to a quota for the number of traffic tickets they write each month. Despite that, a veteran CHP officer testified in Sacramento this month that he was subjected to monthly admonishments from his superiors to boost his “enforcement contacts” with motorists to at least 100 a month, and that such performance evaluations went on for years. Sacramento Bee article

 Warnke requests to change qualifications for Merced undersheriff position – Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke has requested the Board of Supervisors change the qualifications for the undersheriff’s position, taking his first formal steps toward installing a retired sergeant as undersheriff. Merced Sun-Star article

 Police initiative tackles gang violence – A multiagency law enforcement task force over the weekend made 36 arrests and confiscated guns and drugs in an effort to curb ongoing gang violence in Stockton. Stockton Record article

 Plan to increase San Francisco police staffing advances through committee – A resolution seeking a major expansion in San Francisco’s police force passed a Board of Supervisors committee Monday after heated debate and objections from two supervisors. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Former San Joaquin County Sheriff Robert Heidelbach has died — The Sheriff’s Office Monday announced the death of retired San Joaquin County Sheriff Robert “Bob” Heidelbach, who served in that capacity for almost two years from 2005 through early 2007. Stockton Record article


 California helps Corinthian Colleges ex-students pursue federal debt relief – The state attorney general’s office has created an interactive tool to help former students of the defunct Corinthian Colleges understand debt relief possibilities under a federal plan announced last week. Sacramento Bee article

 Students are deeply divided on the meaning of consent – Many embrace “no means no.” They have grown familiar with another three-word standard, “yes means yes.” But America’s college students are deeply divided on how to read the unspoken language of sex. Washington Post article

 Assemblymembers Adam Gray and Kristin Olsen: Reforming school reserve caps crucial to educating our children – Gray (D-Merced) and Olsen (R-Modesto) write, “Senate Bill 858 limited the amount of money school districts can hold in reserve accounts at 3 to 10 percent of their total budget – which, for the average district, is only enough to cover from six to nine days of payroll. This policy puts districts at undue risk and undermines local control by preventing districts from maintaining adequate budget savings to protect classroom instruction and jobs during economic downturns.” Gray/Olsen op-ed in Modesto Bee

NASA funds new center at UC Merced – NASA awarded a group of researchers at UC Merced with $5 million to establish a research and education center, the university announced Monday, which will be the campus’s largest center to come from outside money. Merced Sun-Star article

Turlock Unified draws scrutiny for time teachers put in on Medi-Cal referrals – Turlock Unified School District became the focus of a federal probe after it submitted $3.4 million in claims for administrative time spent getting poor children to sign up for health care in the depths of the recession. Modesto Bee article

 Michael Hiltzik: From Wisconsin to California, the decline of public higher ed continues — Anyone concerned about America’s future generations has to be dismayed at the condition of public higher education.  Few institutions garner more admiration-by-lip-service from business leaders and politicians; few are more relentlessly shortchanged by budget-writers and tax-cutters in both camps. Few are consistently the target of ferocious political attack. Hiltzik column in LA Times

 Torlakson reinterprets department’s stance on teacher raises – Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has softened clear-cut guidance his department issued in a memo regarding the use of money intended for underserved students to fund across-the-board pay raises for teachers. EdSource article

 Brewing notable with Mexican roots donates $1 million to UC Davis beer program — A native of Mexico who made a fortune in beer in this country has donated $1 million to the brewing science program at UC Davis. Sacramento Bee article

 Summit focuses on early literacy – Business and education leaders met Monday at the University of the Pacific to discuss ways to improve early literacy throughout San Joaquin County at the 2015 Biz/Ed Summit. Representatives from First 5 San Joaquin, Wells Fargo, San Joaquin A+, Stockton Unified School District and others were on hand at the DeRosa Center to discuss how investing in literacy for all children at an early age can improve quality of life in a community. Stockton Record article

 New Mira Monte principal announced — The Kern High School District board appointed Director of Business Administration William Sandoval as acting principal of Mira Monte High School, effective immediately, Monday at a board meeting in the district EOC building. He is filling the role of former principal Jaime Quinonez, who the KHSD board voted to reassign at a board meeting earlier this month. Bakersfield Californian article


 Brown says state to lead on fighting climate change — California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be a model when global leaders meet this year to try and fashion a universal agreement to combat climate change, Gov.Jerry Brown said Monday after meeting with United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres and leading climate scientists. AP article

 Do a state’s politics influence its greenhouse gas emissions? Yes, study says – Over the years, it’s been a tough road for environmentalists pushing for greenhouse gas emission curbs at the federal level — but advocates shouldn’t give up hope, say researchers at Michigan State University. LA Times article

 Large solar project east of Taft will create habitat preserve — Work has begun on a 700-megawatt solar energy plant near Maricopa that will dedicate nearly 2,000 acres — about a third of the project’s total footprint — to conserve habitat for three endangered and two threatened species. Bakersfield Californian article

 Modesto-area dairy group touts way to save blackbirds — The tricolored blackbird, known to nest in dairy feed crops in the San Joaquin Valley, is not headed to the state’s endangered species list anytime soon. The California Fish and Game Commission declined last week to continue considering the bird as a candidate for listing, a decision that won praise from Western United Dairymen. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services

 Majority in U.S. wants Congress to ensure Obamacare subsidies, poll finds – Nearly two-thirds of Americans want Congress to ensure that residents in every state can receive insurance subsidies though the Affordable Care Act, according to a new national poll conducted as the Supreme Court prepares to decide a legal challenge that could strip away the subsidies in more than 30 states. LA Times article

 Naturopathic doctors push for mainstream recognition — Once considered on the fringe, this branch of health care professionals is growing in number. Naturopathic doctors are licensed to practice in 17 states, including California, and are lobbying for recognition in nine more. Sacramento Bee article


SpaceX asks students to design pods for Hyperloop — SpaceX said Monday it is launching a competition to design and build pods for the Hyperloop, adding more weight to billionaire Elon Musk’s theoretical transportation design. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

 FAA proposes state-of-the-art traffic control system for LA’s crowded skies — The agency is proposing a state-of-the-art air traffic control system that would track aircraft more precisely, potentially freeing up congested corridors and allowing pilots to make shorter, safer flights to their destinations. LA Times article

Other areas

 Carmen George: Fresno mindfulness walkers journey with compassion — Fresno Mindfulness Walks is about paying attention. It’s a call to bear witness to the “sights, sounds, smells and feelings” of neighborhoods in hopes the experience will empower people to make Fresno a better place. George column in Fresno Bee

 Clovis battles dogged owner who refuses to remove lost dog signs — A Clovis woman whose dog has been missing for two months is being told by the city to remove her lost dog signs around the city because they violate the city’s sign ordinance. Fresno Bee article

 Erika Smith: Rachel Dolezal case shows identity isn’t as simple as it seems — Identity isn’t just about what someone knows or thinks of himself or herself. It’s not just internal. It’s also shaped by the way that person is treated by others. For example, a big part of being a black woman is being seen and treated as a black woman by everyone I meet. My identity isn’t just something in my head. I live it every day. Experiences can’t be replicated. But does living life as a black person, even 24/7 for a decade, make a person black? Smith in Sacramento Bee

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We strongly back a proposed fix of California’s “middle-class scholarship” program.

Sacramento Bee – The maximum family grant law doesn’t reflect California’s core values; Nancy Pelosi engages in brinksmanship with her ally, President Obama.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on Little Libraries craze in Stockton, new voting legislation and other issues.


 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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