June 17, 2016

20Jun

Political Stories

Top stories

California’s new motor voter law could add 2 million registered voters in first year, study says — A new study from the Public Policy Institute of California estimates that, if executed successfully, the state’s new motor voter law could add more than 2 million new voters to the rolls in its first year of implementation. LA Times article; Capital Public Radio report

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown backtracks on debt, Oks bonds for jail construction — Brown’s resolve on debt crumbled when faced with demands from legislators for more spending. He agreed to a $270 million pot of lease-revenue bond money for jails. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

Budget pushes UC to limit non-resident enrollment, CSU to boost graduation rates – California’s two public university systems are facing major decisions about enrollment and graduation rates as the result of the new state budget and financial incentives approved by legislators this week in Sacramento. EdSource article

California state corrections department to get budget bump – California’s newly-passed $122 billion budget includes more than $10 billion for the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The department, which runs the state’s 35 prisons, is also getting a funding bump over the prior year – an estimated $593 million. KPCC report

California workforce training gets $200 million boost from budget – The California Legislature Wednesday passed a budget that includes an additional $200 million for a workforce training program that takes aim at the looming skills gap across the state’s regions. California Forward report

California budget includes limit on Medi-Cal estate recovery — California’s $122 billion general fund budget includes money to dramatically limit a practice advocates had long lobbied against — the seizure of assets, after death, of people who had received health insurance coverage through the state’s Medi-Cal program. KQED report

Joel Fox: Two-thirds vote still an issue for some budget matters — Two-thirds votes are required to extend the quality assurance fee for hospitals and to use the Proposition 63 mental health tax as a revenue source to back bonds to help mentally ill homeless. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown again refuses to declare a state of emergency on homelessness — Los Angeles County’s latest efforts to needle Sacramento into giving more aid to the local fight against homelessness appear to be falling flat, with Gov.Jerry Brown saying he won’t declare homelessness to be a statewide emergency.LA Times article

Valley politics

Carter promotes ‘mayor’s council’; turnout numbers climb — Mayoral candidate Kyle Carter, who saw Karen Goh slip past him into first place Wednesday with a 436-vote lead in the primary, said he’s picked up about 15 general election endorsements from former competitors. Also, so far, 128,907 ballots have been counted and there are 11,604 left to count across Kern  County. If all those ballots check out and are officially counted, Kern County will have tallied 140,511 votes and booked a 41.3 percent turnout. Bakersfield Californian article

Updated voting results show Merced County challengers making gains — Updated results from Merced County’s June 7 election show two candidates challenging longtime incumbents on the Board of Supervisors have further widened their leads, according to figures released Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California election turnout nearly half of registered voters — California election officials have nearly 1.4 million votes left to count from the June 7 primary, Secretary of State Alex Padilla estimated Thursday. That would boost the number of voters to nearly 8.7 million, more than 48 percent of those registered in the state, a turnout that exceeds the 44.7 percent predicted by the Field Poll several days before the election. Sacramento Bee article

New ad for California gun control campaign focuses on deadly Orlando rampage and other mass shootings – The campaign behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s proposed ballot initiative to toughen California’s gun laws released a video Thursday focused on the deadly assault that left 49 dead at an Orlando nightclub Sunday and other mass shootings in the U.S. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

There could soon be a new ‘unknown’ voter category in California – As part of the budget deal expected to be passed by the end of this week, California will create a new category to describe voters, in addition to the eight existing options that exist, including Libertarian, the state’s American Independent Party and No Party Preference. LA Times article

Sarah Rose and Rachel Van Wert Bird: Voters stand up to oil industry – Rose, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, and Van Wert Bird, political director of Leadership for a Clean Economy, write, “The votes in California’s primary are in, and the environment and the clean energy economy are the clear winners. Voters weren’t fooled despite an astounding $29 million spent to influence legislative elections, much of it by the oil industry and its allies to prop up pro-oil Democrats.” Rose/Van Wert Bird op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Immigration

State urges feds to OK immigrants’ health coverage — Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in California would be able to buy insurance through the state healthcare coverage marketplace if the federal government accepts a newly signed state law to exempt them from the federal rule. Capitol Weekly article

Other areas

California lawmakers approve new regulations for marijuana growers – California lawmakers have approved a streamlined permitting process that would allow marijuana growers to divert water from streams. Capital Public Radio report

Obama likely to mix business with pleasure during Yosemite visit — President Barack Obama and his family will spend Father’s Day weekend enjoying the grandeur of Yosemite National Park after starting their mini-vacation with a stop at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Fresno Bee article; Modesto Bee editorial;Stockton Record article

Atwater’s Castle Airport prepares for Obama family’s pit stop — If the tight-lipped approach from those involved in President Barack Obama’s brief stop in Merced County is any sign, the commander-in-chief’s visit will be a brief but secure one. Merced Sun-Star article

Jeff Jardine: Roosevelt’s 1903 trip to Yosemite presidential first, most important — Teddy Roosevelt’s camping trip with naturalist John Muir ultimately resulted in the expansion of Yosemite, which the federal government began protecting while the Civil War still raged, and helped cement Roosevelt’s legacy as a conservationist. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Naimat Khan: Terrorists in Pakistan targeting LGBT community – Khan, a Karachi-based journalist who spent a month in Modesto as part of a journalist exchange program, writes, “Well over a year before the shooting in the Orlando gay nightclub, a police official in Karachi told me that Islamic State-inspired youths wanted to kill Pakistani gays.” Khan in Modesto Bee

California lawmakers create a University of California research center on gun violence – Legislators on Thursday approved $5 million for the creation of a new research center on firearm violence, with supporters saying it will provide statistically sound data on the effectiveness of existing gun laws. LA Times article

Feinstein wins support for watch-list gun ban but victory is unlikely – Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is touting support by the White House and Justice Department for her proposal to forbid people on a federal terror watch list from buying guns, but her measure still appears doomed in the Senate unless a compromise is reached by next week. Sacramento Bee article

After Orlando massacre, gun debate roils Bera-Jones race for Congress – The gun debate, renewed in the wake of the latest massacre in Orlando, Fla., is sweeping the nation, and touching down in the swing congressional district held by Democratic Rep. Ami Bera. Sacramento Bee article

Democratic supervisor, GOP sheriff clash on concealed weapons funding — Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Supervisor Phil Serna squared off this week during a budget hearing as Serna tried to divert $250,000 from Jones’ concealed weapons permit budget to fund a family services program. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial

In Sacramento region, gun dealers as common as Starbucks coffee shops — About 190 federally licensed gun dealers and pawnshops operate in the four-county area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That’s an increase of 17 percent in the last three years. To put that figure in context, about 190 Starbucks coffee shops do business in the four-county area, including multiple Starbucks located in Safeway grocery stores and Target markets. Sacramento Bee article

California Senate approves measure requiring more transparency — As wealthy Republican donor Charles Munger Jr. looked on from the gallery, the state Senate on Thursday advanced a measure it hopes will replace Munger’s expected ballot initiative requiring that bills be publicly available for 72 hours before they can be taken up for a vote. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Don’t look for me on Hillary Clinton’s ticket, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti says – Eric Garcetti wants to stay mayor of Los Angeles rather than join Hillary Clinton as vice president, he told KNX Newsradio on Thursday. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Bleak Kern County budget includes firefighter, deputy layoffs — Kern County officials could be forced to lay off 27 sheriff’s deputies, nine deputy district attorneys and 30 firefighters under a preliminary 2016-17 fiscal year budget released Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus County, cities put marijuana tax on back burner – Top county and city officials briefly considered the idea this month of putting a countywide marijuana tax on the November ballot. The proposal surfaced on a number of city council agendas this week before Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa and Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen told the cities “never mind” for now. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

In Fresno, top city officials bring home big paychecks – New salary numbers are out today for top City of Fresno administrators. Last year the city’s highest paid employee was retiring pension fund manager Stanley McDivitt, who was paid $345,000, including a $150,000 leave payout, nearly equal to his entire annual salary. Former Chief Information Officer Carolyn Hogg earned $279,000, including a $100,000 severance package. KVPR report

San Joaquin County union workers authorize strike – Hundreds of union members who work for San Joaquin County may walk off the job in July if negotiations with San Joaquin County administrators break down and contracts aren’t approved. Stockton Record article

Fresno’s street budget grows, but needs outweigh resources — Fresno’s Public Works Department is due for a 55 percent increase in its budget for badly needed road repaving in the 2016-17 fiscal year that begins July 1. But the $3.6 million included in Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposed budget is a far cry from covering the backlog of road repairs needed across the city, Public Works Director Scott Mozier told the Fresno City Council during a budget hearing Thursday afternoon. Fresno Bee article

Kelly Lilles: We can conquer poverty in Fresno – The executive director of Catholic Charities for Fresno, Bakersfield and Merced writes, “he struggle against poverty in the United States has been an ongoing battle for as long as anyone can remember, and with this year’s election, it has definitely been a hot topic with many proposed ‘solutions.’ But what if you could be part of the solution and contribute to your hometown’s fight against poverty? Catholic Charities invites you to be a part of the action and not just the debate.” Lilles op-ed in Fresno Bee

Downtown Hanford zoning changes on the table – For decades, the basic approach of city government has been to protect downtown with restrictive development policies that require certain kinds of businesses to locate there. That could be about to change, based on a discussion that took place this week at a joint meeting of the City Council and the planning commission. Hanford Sentinel article

Auto sales zooming in Tulare, Kings – First quarter auto sales are up 18 percent in Tulare/Kings counties says Visalia auto dealer Don Groppetti. Citing a private report Groppetti notes that while the rest of California has slowed some. Hanford Sentinel article

Remodeling allows Salvation Army to launch new services in Merced — Children no will longer feel chilled in the winter and sweltering in the summer when they visit the Merced home of The Salvation Army, where officers and volunteers this week celebrated the culmination of a two-year remodeling effort. Merced Sun-Star article

CEO steps down from Central Valley Community Foundation – Central Valley Community Foundation CEO Hugh Ralston has stepped down, the foundation announced in a news release Thursday. Former board member David Johnson will serve as interim CEO as the foundation conducts a search for a replacement.Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Electric car maker eyes Sacramento, Tracy for factory – Sacramento is in the running once again for a major factory in a hot high-tech industry: electric cars.After losing its long-shot bid for Tesla Motors Inc.’s battery plant in 2014, Sacramento has emerged as one of two California cities being considered for a 1,300-employee factory to build electric vehicles. Sacramento’s rival in California is Tracy, although the manufacturer is looking at out-of-state locations, too. Sacramento Bee article

Board Oks tax credits for 3rd electric car company — A state board on Thursday approved $10 million in tax credits for NextEV USA, the latest electric vehicle company to establish its U.S. headquarters in California. AP article

California regulator asks U.S. to block Anthem-Cigna deal – California’s insurance commissioner on Thursday urged the U.S. Justice Department to block health insurance giant Anthem Inc.’s acquisition of rival Cigna Corp., saying he believes it will lead to higher premiums and less access to care. LA Times article

Food truck in works for Riverbank’s Jacob Myers Park — A food truck could soon begin selling meals and snacks in Jacob Myers Park, a popular riverfront spot for picnickers, rafters, nature lovers and people looking to cool off in hot summer months. Modesto Bee article

Audit: Vets’ agency wastes $28 million on failed computer system — California’s state auditor has labeled yet another California government technology project an expensive failure. The California Department of Veterans Affairs has spent nearly $28 million on a system that launched years later than planned, wastes staff time and has not been fully implemented, according to an audit released Thursday by state Auditor Elaine Howle. Sacramento Bee article

Galt brewery with controversial name – Special Ed’s – vandalized — A Galt brewery that sparked online outrage for its name, slogan and merchandise appearing to mock developmentally disabled people was vandalized this week, even as one of its owners said he was considering a name change. Sacramento Bee article

Agriculture/Water/Drought

Water supply ‘a concern’ this summer in California – The U.S. Drought Monitor says a lack of rain in May and in early June has caused the expansion of abnormally dry conditions in northwest California. Capital Public Radio report

First step in California groundwater law stirs debate – Two years ago, California became one of the last states in the West to pass a law to manage groundwater. The political will to do so took decades. But the bigger battle may be putting the law into practice. Capital Public Radio report

Tulare County agrees to new groundwater agency — This week, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved entering into an agreement to be part of the Eastern Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency, right along with Lindmore Irrigation District, Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, Exeter Irrigation District, Ivanhoe Irrigation District and the Stone Corral Irrigation District. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton police achieve milestone – Retention issues have hampered the Stockton Police Department’s efforts to achieve maximum staffing, but the department reached an important milestone Thursday afternoon. Deputy Chief Trevor Womack introduced one new police officer, two new police recruits and six new police officer trainees, giving the department 406 officers. This is the first time the department has had as many as 400 officers since April 2009, Womack said. Stockton Record article

Merced leaders to discuss solutions to violence – In response to Merced County’s per capita murder rate – the highest in the state the past two statistical years – area elected officials have called a summit on Friday in Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Witness: Woman shot by Fresno police held knives but posed no threat — A maintenance man who witnessed the fatal shooting of Veronica Canter by two Fresno police officers two years ago testified Thursday in a federal civil rights trial that she held two knives, but did not pose a threat to the officers before she was shot five times. Fresno Bee article

Officials: Report expected terrorism to police — Hanford police Chief Parker Sever said citizens who witness anything suspicious should report it to local police first. If the report appears credible, police can report it to federal authorities. Hanford Sentinel article

Another Oakland Police Department employee under investigation — Oakland’s troubled Police Department, already the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation, is now being scrutinized in an unrelated criminal misconduct case, city officials announced Thursday night. San Francisco Chronicle article

Education

Fresno State joins effort to expand access to previously incarcerated – Fresno State is one of eight California State University campuses to partner in a statewide effort to expand college access to formerly incarcerated individuals. Project Rebound will help current and previously incarcerated persons enroll at Fresno State. Visalia Times-Delta article

Read the report UC Davis officials filed after Switzerland trip – After visiting Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland at the request of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, university officials envisioned a campus control center with large video screens displaying tweets and social media likes and comments about UC Davis that would monitor the school’s online reputation, according to a report provided to The Sacramento Bee on Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

An expensive law degree, and no place to use it – Thousands of debt-ridden law school graduates highlight a once unthinkable question: should their law schools close? New York Times article

Bullard valedictorian claims Fresno Unified violated student privacy laws — The Fresno Unified valedictorian who went public with his graduation speech after it was rejected by school staff is seeking monetary damages from the district, saying administrators violated his privacy and sought to defame him. Fresno Bee article

Defense says student responsible in pep rally beating — What should have been a playful skit turned into a bloody brawl at Bakersfield High School in 2010. Now, as the case plays out in civil court, defense attorneys say that Mitchell Carter — the then-class president who donned a chicken costume to rile up a crowd before a big football game — is responsible for what happened that day when a mob of students rushed out from the stands and piled on top of him. They kicked, punched and beat him as he lay on the gym floor. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto youngsters STEAM toward kindergarten — A little girl pushed a long earthworm onto an oversized magnifying glass, hoisting it like a small plate to show to the boy beside her. But he was busy with his own worms, caging them between two magnifiers until the teacher pointed out that, even without noses, worms still need to breathe. It was very practical science for 5-year-olds, a snippet of a program giving 24 youngsters a jump start on kindergarten over three weeks this summer at Orville Wright Elementary School in the airport district of south Modesto. Modesto Bee article

Alice Kessler and Steven Jacobs: California’s LGBT students need legal protection – The Equality California officials write, “Private religious colleges and universities should not be allowed to hold themselves above state and federal nondiscrimination laws.” Kessler/Jacobs op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Energy/Environment

Start of PG&E criminal trial pushed to Friday – The trial of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on criminal charges of violating pipeline-safety laws opens Friday in San Francisco after 21/2 days of jury selection. San Francisco Chronicle article

LA power plants may burn dirty diesel fuel to avoid summer blackouts — Air quality regulators will allow the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to violate pollution rules this summer by burning diesel fuel at three of its power plants, if doing so is the only way to prevent blackouts. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno code enforcement inspects complex featured in Bee investigation — City leaders made good on their promise to take action against the owner of the dilapidated southeast Fresno apartment complex that was featured in The Fresno Bee’s May investigation of substandard housing in Fresno, “Living in Misery.”Fresno Bee article

California Armenian Home breaks ground on $42 million expansion — The California Armenian Home broke ground Thursday on a $42 million expansion that will more than double the capacity of the southeast Fresno senior living community. Fresno Bee article

Transportation

High-speed rail workers ease massive girders onto Fresno bridge — Work began Thursday morning to install the first of 42 giant girders that will support the road bed of the new Tuolumne Street bridge in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report

Funds approves for Tulare County roads improvement projects — Tulare County Dairyman Ron Koetsier said he had an inkling road improvements were coming for Avenue 280, a main thoroughfare farm vehicles use in the movement of local goods. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas

Fresno Grand Opera reports financial misconduct to state attorney general — The Fresno Grand Opera charged Thursday that former key employees were involved in financial irregularities, conflicts of interest and improper corporate governance. Fresno Bee article

Stockton Regional Fire Academy: 17 take pride in graduating —  Seventeen members of the Stockton Regional Fire Academy’s newest graduating class marched out of the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium on Thursday evening and made their way across the street to the Fallen Firefighters Memorial at McLeod Lake. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: An attorney’s 69 years at law — Attorney Robert Mertz passed the bar in 1947. Not quite as far back as the Code of Hammurabi, but far enough to make him the longest-practicing attorney in San Joaquin County. Mertz, 93, is calling it quits after working in general practice law an amazing 69 years.Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

San Francisco creates position dedicated to transgender issues — San Francisco has become what’s believed to be the first city in the country to create a position dedicated to transgender issues. Mayor Ed Lee announced Thursday morning that Theresa Sparks will be appointed to the newly created post of senior adviser for transgender initiatives. KQED report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – Visit to Yosemite could be good for President Obama.

Sacramento Bee – It may be important to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, but 8,000 people walking the streets with concealed weapons – let alone 18,000 – sounds less like a public service than an accident waiting to happen. Let Jones pay for his own priority; Yosemite is the perfect place to honor the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service. And not a bad spot to enjoy Father’s Day.