June 16, 2016

20Jun

Political Stories

Top stories

CD 21: Huerta makes the runoff in closely watched race – Emilio Huerta will face Congressman David Valadao in the 21st Congressional District general election race, according to a Californian analysis of results that flipped the contest Wednesday evening. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley’s GOP congressional delegation falls in line behind Trump — The presumptive GOP presidential nominee would seem an odd fit for central San Joaquin Valley legislators. He’s opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership. He’s taken a hard line on immigrants that are vital to Valley agriculture. He’s called Mexicans who cross the border rapists and criminals. Despite that, the Valley’s four Republican congressmen are all backing, or on their way to backing, Trump – even though the real estate mogul didn’t really seem to excite the delegation before he secured enough delegates to win the nomination. Fresno Bee article

California lawmakers approve budget bill – on deadline — California lawmakers, acting on the constitutional deadline to pass a state budget without losing their pay, approved a new state spending plan Wednesday that increases spending across a range of programs yet puts off some key decisions on affordable housing and the state’s cap-and-trade program.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; KQED report; ‘AP: California budget by the numbers’

State budget

California lawmakers unplug the state’s electric car program – The state’s new budget, which is awaiting Brown’s signature after the Legislature’s approval Wednesday, includes nothing for the vehicle subsidies or other efforts to make heavy-duty trucks more environmentally friendly. Meantime, the clean-car programs are pushing people to waiting lists. LA Times article

State budget heads to Gov. Brown: How education fared – Facing a midnight deadline, the Legislature Wednesday passed a $171 billion state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that steers an extra $2 billion that Gov. Jerry Brown demanded into a rainy day reserve and commits an additional half-billion dollars for early childhood education over the next four years. Brown is expected to sign the budget, which his staff negotiated. EdSource article

California budget pact cuts review for Capitol annex project — The new state budget package lawmakers began approving Wednesday gives the project to renovate or replace the aging Capitol annex a special provision designed to speed up judicial review of any environmental lawsuits challenging the work. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Brown won’t declare homelessness crisis an emergency – In a blow to Los Angeles officials grappling with the county’s growing homeless population, Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday he will not declare a state of emergency on California’s homeless crisis. KPCC report

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to extend California’s climate change law beyond 2020 — Gov. Jerry Brown is endorsing an extension of the state’s main climate change law. “We will not meet our world-leading clean air and emission reduction targets unless we solidify and redouble our commitment to the state’s cap-and-trade program and climate goals beyond 2020, and we will work hard to get that done,” Brown spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman told The Times. LA Times article

Valley politics

Goh pulls ahead of Carter in Bakersfield mayor’s race — Karen Goh stepped out into the lead in Bakersfield’s mayoral race Wednesday but it didn’t change the bottom line — she and Kyle Carter will be in the November runoff. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Perfect policy storm rains money on legislative races — Interest groups have more at stake this year than usual, and they are spending accordingly. Due to term limits that now allow lawmakers to hold their posts longer, this is the last year until 2024 that a batch of Assembly members will be forced out by term limits. CALmatters article

 Other areas

Fighting opiate abuse: Lawmakers, families demand action – Calling it a public health epidemic, legislators, law enforcement, health officials and families here and across the country are ramping up new efforts to combat opiate addiction and deaths, including those attributed to fentanylSacramento Bee article

George Skelton: 2nd Amendment talk is nonsense – until we control the weapons and the killing stops — Call that killer a radical Islamic terrorist. Call him a hateful homophobic. Or a homicidal wacko. It doesn’t matter much. Words don’t kill. Weapons do. Skelton column in LA Times

New California law could keep guns away from people like Omar Mateen – A law in California that took effect this year is intended to keep guns out of the hands of people like the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooter: They’re suspected to be violent but convicted of no crime. Center for Investigative Reporting article

Vidak reacts to gun control comments — With tensions on the rise in Sacramento as Democratic lawmakers push gun control bills in the wake of the Orlando shooting, state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, is getting into the action. Vidak wrote a letter to the Senate Legislative Ethics Committee Tuesday asking committee members to look into comments made by state Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Compton. Hanford Sentinel article

Shooting vigil’s message: ‘Rise up, be better’ — About 60 community members gathered Wednesday night in a small Stockton church to remember 49 lives stolen a continent away over the weekend in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. Stockton Record article

LGBT people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority group – Even before the shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were already the most likely targets of hate crimes in America, according to an analysis of data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. New York Times article

Protestors gather to denounce Sacramento pastor’s anti-gay remarks — About 100 protesters gathered Wednesday evening outside a worship service at Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, denouncing pastor Roger Jimenez for his Sunday sermon condoning the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Victor Davis Hanson: By November, voters will be back in their parties — We have become exhausted by the flurry of daily political news – Trump’s latest outrages, the fallout from Clinton’s email scandal, and the unhappiness of both Sanders supporters and members of the Republican establishment with the nominees. But in the end, as with most elections, the 2016 election will still offer a stark political choice between two diverse messages – however suspect and unpopular the respective messengers. Hanson column in Modesto Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Nordstrom delays e-commerce center sought by Fresno, Visalia – Nordstrom says it has delayed plans to open a jobs-heavy West Coast e-commerce center coveted by both Fresno and Visalia, citing changing retail economics. The company sent a letter to Visalia city officials Wednesday saying it had re-evaluated the project’s timing and did not anticipate it opening until sometime after 2020. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article; The Business Journal article

UC Merced has big plans for expansion — The unusual method being used to double the size of UC Merced by 2020 has the potential to not only transform the campus but have lasting effects on the greater Merced community, officials said Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article; ‘UC Merced awards $1.1 billion contract for growth’ in Merced Sun-Star; KVPR report; LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Stanislaus County vote coming on transportation tax – A transportation tax mainly aimed at fixing neighborhood streets appears headed to the November ballot, to be decided by voters throughout Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Swearengin explores past, future in final State of the City speech – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin delivered her eighth and final State of the City address Wednesday, a 54-minute summation of her time in office, with a focus on the previous year’s flurry of activity and a peek at what might be cooking in her final six-plus months on the job. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article; KVPR report

Modesto gets answers on hiring more cops – City officials have more answers about how Modesto will pay for Mayor Ted Brandvold’s plan to hire 22 police officers in the city’s upcoming 2016-17 budget, but some of the answers raised more questions. Modesto Bee article

Fresno considers selling naming rights for Convention Center – What’s in a name? That’s what the Fresno City Council hopes to learn over the next year or so by hiring a consultant to explore the value of naming rights to the Fresno Convention Center complex. Fresno Bee article

Software fuels nearly 1 million California jobs, report says – Nearly a million Californians work in fields that produce software or support it, according to an industry study released Wednesday. That’s about 6% of total state jobs, and about a tenth of all Americans with jobs tied to the industry. LA Times article

Atwater adopts a balanced $43.9 million budget – Atwater adopted a $43.9 million budget this week, which is a sign of the city’s slow crawl out of the red. The City Council voted 3-1 on Monday to approve the budget, which has a $12.5 million general fund. Merced Sun-Star article

What should Obama see in Yosemite? – As this is your first visit to the park while in office, we thought it would be only neighborly of us – as Californians rightfully proud of this phenomenal national treasure in our backyard – to offer some helpful suggestions. Modesto Bee article

Yanking licenses over unpaid fines harms the poor, suit charges – A repayment program established by the state last year to protect low-income Californians from losing their driver’s licenses over unpaid traffic fines is not working in many California counties, according to a coalition of civil rights advocates, who say local courts are failing to take a person’s ability to pay into account. San Francisco Chronicle article

CalPERS health premiums rising, but more slowly – CalPERS approved a 3.2 percent increase in health insurance premiums Wednesday, less than half the rate increase recorded a year ago. With more than 1.4 million members, CalPERS’ health care program is often viewed as an indicator of rate trends nationally.Sacramento Bee article

Costco work continues on East Lacey Boulevard in Hanford – With each passing day, the vision of local Hanford residence shopping at their own Costco becomes clearer and clearer. Bulldozers and earth movers shape the ground on which the 60 acre project will sit. Hanford Sentinel article

Organization funds new Vallarta supermarket in central Fresno – An investment fund that provides start-up capital to grocery stores and food entrepreneurs is helping to finance the new Vallarta Supermarket in Fresno and a Merced company that connects farmers to local schools. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Joel Fox: Job creators – With the news that California’s economy is now the sixth largest in the world and that the state’s economic growth last year exceeded nearly all other states, it is worth celebrating the state’s economic standing. Still, no one should lose focus on the number one issue for Californians—job creation.Fox in Fox & Hounds

Slow job growth, Brexit vote make Federal Reserve cautious about hiking interest rate – Federal Reserve policymakers on Wednesday held a key interest rate steady to take more time to determine if a surprising slowdown in job growth last month was an anomaly or a warning sign of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy. LA Times article; AP article

Tulare supervisors cut Lake Patrol attendants – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors eliminated four lake patrol enforcement services positions. The move to eliminate the positions, one senior attendant, and three attendants, comes after theTulare County Sheriff’s Department took over enforcement services and Kaweah and Success lakes. Visalia Times-Delta article

Appreciative fans flock to fair – Before the smell of fried food filled the air and the midway rides began to twist and twirl, dozens were lined up outside the main gate at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds Wednesday evening, eagerly awaiting the return of the San Joaquin County Fair. The fair is back after suspending operations in 2014 because of declining attendance. Stockton Record article

San Francisco will now require black boxes in most city vehicles – San Francisco supervisors have passed legislation that will require about 80 percent of the city’s vehicle fleet to carry black boxes to record data that it’s hoped will make city workers more accountable for their driving behavior. KQED report

Robot retail is here — The tall, slender robot that roamed the aisles of a Lowe’s home improvement store in Sunnyvale Tuesday didn’t have arms, legs or a head. But it represented an emerging face of the retail industry. The robot prototype made by Bossa Nova Robotics, a San Francisco company, presages the automation that customers could start encountering soon in Lowe’s and other retail stores, even if their presence means fewer jobs for human employees. San Francisco Chronicle article

Avenal theater about to shut down — The historic Avenal Theater, opened in 1935, is about to shut down. Reel Time Entertainment Inc., the company that operates the theater in Avenal and another in Coalinga, announced on its Facebook page that the Avenal Theater’s final day of operation will be Aug. 4. Hanford Sentinel article

Report finds California is costliest state for common auto repair — California was the most expensive state in the nation for a common car repair in 2015, according to data released Wednesday by Irvine-based automotive information/technology company CarMD Corp. Sacramento Bee article

Agriculture/Water/Drought

Groundwater levels still falling – What a difference a year doesn’t make. For anyone who doubts that we’re still in a drought, San Joaquin County’s groundwater “savings account” was even more depleted this spring than last, despite improved rainfall over the course of the winter. Stockton Record article

Delta smelt on the brink — The fight to save the delta smelt, the beleaguered fish at the center of an increasingly bitter tug-of-war over water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is as close to a lost cause as ever, but fisheries biologists vow to continue the struggle to protect the species. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno Bee: Westlands’ commitment to secrecy — Westlands must let the sunshine in and become an ethical, transparent public agency. If the district doesn’t, its fertile fields are destined to become dust in the wind. Fresno Bee editorial

Data show climate impacts from farming are getting worse — As signs emerge that the global energy sector is beginning to rein in what once had been unbridled levels of climate-changing pollution, new United Nations figures show pollution from farming is continuing to get worse. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Merced Sun-Star: Finally, getting some help in addressing murder – Finally, we’re beginning to see progress in confronting Merced County’s most critical crisis – murder. Merced Sun-Star editorial

Prosecutors ‘lack confidence’ in Stanford sex assault judge – and that could be a big problem for him — The judge who sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail in a sexual assault case is facing a recall effort as well as demands that he be disciplined. But he’s also facing a different kind of threat from the local district attorney’s office. LA Times article

Stockton Record: Calm shattered: Oak Park gunfire and resulting community discomfort — On a larger scale, what happened at Oak Park on Saturday certainly was overshadowed by the carnage and killing the same night in Orlando, Florida. The very scope of the two incidents would seem to preclude any sort of comparison. But there are commonalities including the disruption of everyday events and revelry by gun-toting criminals with wanton disregard for human life.Stockton Record editorial

Oakland’s new Police Chief Fairow removed from job — Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf abruptly fired interim Police Chief Ben Fairowon Wednesday, six days after hiring him to replace a chief who resigned amid a sexual misconduct scandal in the department. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Oakland police more likely to stop black people, study finds – Oakland police officers are far more likely to stop and search African American drivers and pedestrians than white ones, a practice that feeds community frustration and distrust, according to a report released WednesdaySan Francisco Chronicle article

Police say woman admits to hit-and-run that injured doctor on bicycle — A phone tip this week led to the arrest of a 23-year-old woman charged in a hit-and-run collision with a bicycle that seriously injured prominent Fresno doctor William Dominic, police said Wednesday. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Former NFL student Lawrence Phillips hanged himself with bed sheet, reports say — Former NFL player Lawrence Phillips hanged himself with a bed sheet and taped a note to his chest that read “Do No Resuscitate,” according to coroner’s office reports that recently became available. Bakersfield Californian article

Education

UC Davis chancellor sent aides to Switzerland to learn image-boosting tactics – Last November, as UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi was searching for ways to improve the university’s online image, she dispatched staff to companies in Switzerland, Texas and Maryland to study their digital operations. Sacramento Bee article

Voters would support new Fresno Unified school bond, poll says – A new $225 million bond measure for Fresno Unified School District would win voter approval, according to a poll conducted in April. Fresno Bee article

Group alleges corruption at Kern High School District – Kern High School District Trustee Chad Vegas said he’s laughing off accusations of corruption this week after a citizens group raised questions of nepotism within the district. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare teen wins scholarship gold: $60,550 – Madalyn Vieira thought her dream of studying dairy science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, was financially unattainable. Her family made too much for her to qualify for need-based financial aid, and she didn’t want to burden her parents with a mountain of school bills. So she applied for scholarships furiously. It paid off. Vieira won enough in scholarship aid to fully fund her first 2 1/2 years – $60,550.Fresno Bee article

Summer program prepares students for college – Students do not have to stop learning because schools are out for the summer. High school students across the Valley are taking advantage of the West Hills College Upward Bound Program to prepare them for college. Hanford Sentinel article

Aris Janigian: Should parents intervene when a teacher is unfair? – The Fresno author writes, “What if a student wrote a great paper and the professor dropped her paper from an A to an F, because she forgot to include something small, like page numbers, or a title. If you are saying to yourself, “No professor would do that,” you’d be wrong. Something like that is what happened to my daughter at Fresno City College last fall, and would set in motion a five-month process of filing grievances.” Janigian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Civil suit filed against Beardsley in teacher sex scandal – Three months before Beardsley School District teacher Vanessa Hooker had a sexual relationship with two teenage boys, school administrators knew she’d been inappropriately messaging another minor on Facebook, an attorney representing two victims alleges in a civil suit filed Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Aaron Steenbergen: Aerospace studies should take off at CSU Bakersfield – The Bakersfield resident and retired educator writes, “It is no doubt time for CSU Bakersfield to bring Aerospace Studies and an AFROTC Detachment to the University. In following its published “Strategic Plan Overview” and “Academic Strategy” of striving for excellence as well as leading to meet “changing student, community and economic development needs of our region,” now is, indeed, the time. Steenbergen op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

The Summit comes to Sierra Vista – Two dozen south Stockton children gathered in the recreation rooms in the Sierra Vista Homes Community Center to make bracelets, play board games and learn computer programming. Wednesday was the first day of The Summit Sierra Vista After School program. Stockton Record article

LA Unified’s school board wants to use state funds for special education students – Los Angeles school officials vowed Tuesday to fight to be able to spend the money they get from the state for special education programs. LA Times article

LA education reform group names board, signals shift from charter-school-only focus – A controversial group that began with the mission of rapidly expanding charter schools in Los Angeles has named its board of directors, come out with a plan and publicly defined its mission as supporting new, successful public schools of any kind. LA Times article

Energy/Environment

Deadly 2010 blast is backdrop as PG&E criminal trial starts – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. goes on trial Thursday, on criminal charges of violating pipeline-safety laws, because one of its gas pipes exploded and burned in San Bruno nearly six years ago, killing eight people, destroying 38 homes and devastating a neighborhood. San Francisco Chronicle article

Shark population off Huntingdon Beach increases dramatically, observers say —  If it seems like there have been a lot more shark sightings than usual off Huntington Beach lately, you’re not mistaken. For reasons that scientists have yet to determine, the number of juvenile great white sharks observed swimming along the Orange County city’s shoreline has increased dramatically. LA Times article

Brush fires tax resources — For the second day in a row, firefighters needed considerable resources and manpower to battle a wind-whipped brush fire Wednesday afternoon in the Stockton area while an even bigger fire burned in Calaveras County. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Larry Patten: Dying in California comes with a new option – The Fresno resident who works in a Fresno hospice writes, “California residents now have more choices for end-of-life decisions. I fervently believe everyone needs to openly and honestly share her or his thoughts. In order to start the process in California, a person must talk with a doctor. But I hope that’s not where the conversation ends for the patient. Please let your loved ones hear your worries, fears and beliefs. Your life and your decisions do matter.” Patten op-ed in Fresno Bee

Sacramento’s West Nile virus arrives early in mosquitoes, dead birds — West Nile virus is showing up earlier and faster this summer in Sacramento, with the count of infected mosquitoes and dead birds exceeding that recorded in mid-June last year. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Why keep banning gay men from donating blood? — It’s time for the FDA to stop unfairly singling out an entire demographic for no good reason. If we take anything from the tragedy in Orlando, it should be that. Sacramento Bee editorial

Land Use/Housing

Modesto will revisit controversy about including Wood Colony in growth map — The Modesto City Council’s decision more than two years ago to include part of Wood Colony – the close-knit unincorporated farming community west of Highway 99 – in the city’s future growth plans as part of amending its general plan ignited its biggest political firestorm in at least a decade. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Details, details on Sacramento railyard plan – Mayor Kevin Johnson says the railyard will be a “national model for how to build cities in the 21st century.” Maybe so, but only if officials get the details right from the start. Sacramento Bee editorial

Turlock will close road dividing Sacred Heart Catholic SchoolSacred Heart Catholic School will be able consolidate its campus after a unanimous decision by the the Turlock City Council to close one block of Cooper Avenue for good. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Fresno supervisors tell probation workers they can opt out of Chavez probe — Fresno County supervisors told employees Tuesday that they no longer have to cooperate with the Superior Court in its investigation of Probation Chief Rick Chavez because the investigation is having a destructive effect on the department, the county’s lawyer said. Fresno Bee article

New contract will be negotiated with Stanislaus County CEO Stan Risen – Stanislaus County supervisors are pleased with the performance of Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen and authorized the county counsel Tuesday to negotiate a new employment contract with the executive. Modesto Bee article

Kings supervisors won’t broadcast meetings – The Kings County Board of Supervisors discussed broadcasting future board meetings Tuesday but decided to hold the idea because of costs. Hanford Sentinel article

New home for Tulare County’s first responders – The county’s fire and law enforcement departments will room together in the county’s latest building purchase: The Cigna building on Akers Street. The 180,000 square-foot building, located in west Visalia, was purchased in March and will serve as the headquarters for both public agency divisions. County administrators will also seek to find tenants for vacant spots. Visalia Times-Delta article

Shawn Hubler: What we should talk about now in the Brock Turner case – The punishment for a crime is supposed to be the loss of freedom. We’re supposed to put people behind bars to protect the public, not to subject the guilty to medieval brutalization. But too often, that’s not how it turns out. Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

Joe Mathews: Why TV moved its crime bosses to Modesto and Oceanside — While the Golden State’s smaller cities and exurbs have long been featured on screens, they didn’t get to play themselves until recently. Instead, they have been stand-ins for other states, countries, and even planets. So the fact that Oceanside and other cities now play themselves represents a California milestone. Mathews in Bakersfield Californian

Greg Gallion: Orlando massacre demonstrates need for blood supply – The president and CEO of Houchin Community Blood Bank writes, “As the guns fell silent over the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and the dead were being counted, dozens of gravely wounded victims were being brought to an Orlando trauma center. And soon the call went out for people to donate blood, plasma and platelets. The need was so great that more than 2,500 miles away, in Bakersfield, Houchin Community Blood Bank sent 20 platelets. The support of Kern County donors made it possible for Houchin to respond quickly to the enormous tragedy.Gallion op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Westlands must let the sunshine in and become an ethical, transparent public agency. If the district doesn’t, its fertile fields are destined to become dust in the wind.

Merced Sun-Star – Finally, we’re beginning to see progress in confronting Merced County’s most critical crisis – murder.

Sacramento Bee – Mayor Kevin Johnson says the railyard will be a “national model for how to build cities in the 21st century.” Maybe so, but only if officials get the details right from the start; Why keep banning gay men from donating blood?

Stockton Record – On a larger scale, what happened at Oak Park on Saturday certainly was overshadowed by the carnage and killing the same night in Orlando, Florida. The very scope of the two incidents would seem to preclude any sort of comparison. But there are commonalities including the disruption of everyday events and revelry by gun-toting criminals with wanton disregard for human life.