June 21, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: California’s cap-and-trade emissions auctions could face bleak future — With the situation in flux and the next auction scheduled in two months, the Legislature passed a 2016-17 budget without making any appropriations from auction proceeds, even money the state had banked from previous auctions. This is just the beginning of what will be a long saga. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California initiative backers keep up fund-raising pace — They aren’t yet officially on the November ballot, but 10 would-be fall initiatives are being readied with healthy fundraising efforts. In the weeks since the May 20 deadline to submit initiative signatures, the campaigns pushing the measures have reported collecting more than $3.2 million. The biggest recipient has been the campaign to increase cigarette taxes by $2 a pack, to $2.87, with Save Lives California raising more than $1.1 million. Sacramento Bee article

State budget

James Earp and Will Kempton: Governor, legislature can’t forget about crumbling highways – Earp, a member of the California Transportation Commission, and Kempton, executive director of Transportation California, write, “The Legislature wrapped up another on-time budget that includes more money for a wide array of social programs, but we can’t help but wonder why lawmakers have so far overlooked California’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.” Earp/Kempton op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California health budget: Small gains, advocates look to November ballot for big-ticket items — The $122.5 billion state budget approved last week by California lawmakers will fund a variety of health-related efforts, including training of primary care physicians, dental care for schoolchildren and medical interpreters for Medi-Cal, the government-funded insurance program for people with low incomes. But big-ticket health items such as higher payments to Medi-Cal providers and potential Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented adults didn’t make it into the budget agreement for next fiscal year that’s now awaiting the governor’s signature. KQED report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California’s largest political party just endorsed legalizing marijuana — On Sunday, at their executive board meeting in Long Beach, Democrats opted to embrace the pot proposal after hearing from one of its chief supporters, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading candidate to succeed Brown as governor in 2019. Sacramento Bee article

California tobacco tax measure targets an industry under pressure — As the campaign mounts, players in the longstanding struggle say the new anti-smoking laws and well-funded backers of the ballot measure are signs of the industry’s waning influence in state politics. Others say it’s too early to underestimate a well-funded industry with a recent track record of winning statewide tax campaigns.Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Diversionary measures attempt to undercut transparency initiative — California has seen this scenario before–when the legislature tries to upend an initiative on the ballot by placing a competing measure on the same ballot that is not as forceful as the initiative. In this year’s version we are talking about the California Legislature Transparency Act (CLTA), which requires that all bills be in print and posted online for 72 hours before being voted on by either house of the legislature. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Villaraigosa says decision on the 2018 governor’s race is coming in November — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continued to stoke will-he-or-won’t-he speculation on running for governor of California in 2018, telling Fusion’s Jorge Ramos that he’d announce his decision after the presidential election in November. LA Times article

Survey finds California voters opposed to legalizing Internet poker — A survey Monday commissioned by several Native American tribes with concerns about legalizing Internet poker in California found a majority of California’s likely voters oppose the idea. LA Times article

How insufficient election funding can hold back voter turnout — California’s elections are paid for and managed at the county level, where officials are required by the state to implement voting mandates – such as vote by mail and distribution of sample ballots – since they are passed by the Legislature. But since the state’s 2010 budget crisis, the counties haven’t been reimbursed for these mandates. California Forward report


Supreme Court to decide if people awaiting deportation have a right to release on bond —  The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a case from Los Angeles on whether foreigners who are held for deportation are entitled to hearings that could lead to their release on bond. LA Times article

Other areas

Gun control compromise in Senate? Didn’t happen – The U.S. Senate voted down measures designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists on Monday, just over a week after Omar Mateen, who’d twice been investigated for possible terrorism links, attacked an Orlando nightclub, leaving 49 people dead. McClatchy Newspapers article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Supreme Court leave state assault weapons bans in place — The Supreme Court has rejected challenges to assault weapons bans in Connecticut and New York, in the aftermath of the shooting attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 50 people dead. AP article;

Civil libertarians see danger in bill that seeks to delay release on body camera recordings — Civil libertarians say they fear attempts to block or delay release of body and dash cam footage could become common if a bill moving through the state Legislature becomes law. Public safety groups, led by the powerful 66,000-member Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, are pushing legislation that would provide officers three days’ notice before the public release of any audio or video recording. LA Times article

Dalai Lama tells lawmakers ‘inner disarmament is very essential’ — The Dalai Lama brought his message of compassion and unifying humanity to Sacramento while also delving into gun control, education and environmental matters during his first address to the California Legislature on Monday. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Let’s shed some light on the high cost of drugs — SB 1010 supporters include business, labor, patients, health care providers and organizations from the AARP to the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. It doesn’t impose price caps or tamper with the market. It simply asks for some basic information. Lawmakers in the Assembly should follow the Senate’s lead and approve it.Sacramento Bee editorial

Presidential Politics

Sanders’ delegates in California cling to their dream, unfazed by math — Many of Sanders’ delegates here refuse to accept that, arguing that the race was fixed, that superdelegates backing Clinton could change their minds, or that new revelations in Clinton’s email scandal could force her to leave the race. LA Times article

Why the next president could be a buzzkill for pot advocates — Mark Kleiman, who served as Washington state’s top pot consultant after voters legalized the drug in 2012, says it would be easy for the next president to get rid of the nation’s marijuana shops. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

1 in 10 Cal State students is homeless, study finds – One out one in 10 of California State University’s 460,000 students is homeless, and one in five doesn’t have steady access to enough food, according to the initial findings of a study  launched to  better understand and address an issue that remains largely undocumented at the nation’s public universities. LA Times article

End of an atomic era: PG&E to close Diablo Canyon nuclear plant — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will announce Tuesday it will close California’s last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, in 2025, ending atomic energy’s more than a half-century history in the state. San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Kern supervisors prepare to confront deep budget gap — Kern County supervisors aren’t just throwing in the towel in the fight against a budget deficit that could mean the layoff of untold numbers of firefighters and sheriff’s deputies, Supervisor Mike Maggard said Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced adopts budget, disappoints youth advocates – Merced adopted a $200 million city budget Monday that promised to add police officers but left youth advocates raw over what they see as a lack of dollars going to an advisory council of young people. Merced Sun-Star article

Value of San Joaquin County property rises 5.5 percent – Property value in San Joaquin County is greater than it was last year, according to the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office. Stockton Record article

Skyrocketing costs prompt exodus of California residents – During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S., according to state Finance Department statistics. The so-called “net outward migration” was the largest since 2011, when 63,300 more people fled California than entered.San Jose Mercury News article

San Diego marijuana tax gets initial OK — San Diego officials endorsed on Monday a proposed local tax on recreational marijuana if Californians vote to legalize it in November. Supporters say the city tax is a proactive way to deal with an expected increase in local costs if recreational marijuana is legalized, particularly costs for law enforcement. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Tulare chamber CEO steps down Tulare Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Office Ben Brubaker is leaving his position. Brubaker’s last day at the chamber is Friday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Grocery union reports high turnout for strike vote — Grocery workers turned out in large numbers Monday to vote on whether to authorize a strike against Ralphs and Albertsons, which also includes Vons, Pavilions and Safeway stores, union officials said. LA Times article

Can Apple deliver on its privacy promises? — Striking a balance between collecting people’s personal information and protecting their privacy is a particularly tricky problem. In an effort to find a middle ground, Apple is pouring techniques from the latest research into its mobile operating system update this fall. San Francisco Chronicle article


Melting snow, water releases and La Nina complicate California’s drought picture — First, the good news: This winter, much of the Sierra had a near-average snowpack. Now, the bad news: It has melted early. Sacramento Bee article

Ag board member’s appointment moves forward despite conflict claim – Senate Democrats on Monday moved forward with the reappointment of Genevieve Shiroma to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, despite opposition from Republicans and growers who objected to her ties to a farmworker union lobbyist. Sacramento Bee article

Brad Gleason: Time for Westlands transformation – The Fresno farmer writes, “I am proud of the transformation that has taken place in the soil of Westlands over the past two decades. Most of the water we receive now goes to growing high-value nuts, fruits and vegetables that, unlike cotton or grains, receive no federal crop subsidies. Now it is time for a similar transformation to take place in our management. The Central Valley Project succeeded beyond the wildest predictions in turning the fertile soil of Westlands into some of the world’s most productive farms. That story, sadly, has been lost in all these shenanigans.” Gleason op-ed in Fresno Bee

Should California limit the number of new, small water systems? –  A bill by a Bay Area state lawmaker aims to slow the spread of little “mom and pop” water providers by making it very difficult to create new ones. The problem, says state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is that California has 7,642 water systems. Some serve only campgrounds, prisons or schools. Of the ones in communities with full-time residents, 63 percent have 200 or fewer connections. San Jose Mercury News article

Yolo County groundwater recharged by March Miracle storms — With this year’s storms helping to refill the Sacramento region’s lakes and reservoirs, local water district officials and state regulators are diverting and percolating stormwater from Cache Creek into the Yolo County canal system to recharge groundwater supplies used by local farmers, city residents and UC Davis. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Group urges Stockton council to support Prop 47 reforms – Supporters of Proposition 47 are asking the Stockton City Council today to pass a resolution that they say will prompt a collaborative effort in the county to assist thousands of people eligible to have their felony convictions reduced. Stockton Record article

Second former Bakersfield cop pleads guilty to drug trafficking – The contrast Monday was hard to ignore. And yet, pretty much everyone did. Just minutes before former Bakersfield Police Detective Patrick Mara pleaded guilty here in federal court to trafficking in methamphetamine, a young woman pleaded guilty to essentially the same crime. Bakersfield Californian article

Trial date set for former Fresno deputy chief Foster — Former Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster’s trial on federal drug conspiracy charges has been set for May 9, 2017 – more than two years after he and a handful of others were arrested. Fresno Bee article

Fatal shooting of woman by Fresno police justified, jury finds — Fresno police used justifiable deadly force in the 2014 shooting of a woman armed with kitchen knives near Fresno State, a federal jury ruled Monday. Fresno Bee article

New Atwater police unit nets three arrests, recovers stolen car, weapons drugs – Three people were arrested, a stolen car was recovered, and a large knife and small amounts of drugs were confiscated Saturday as part of a new effort by the Atwater Police Department to target “known criminals” in “high-profile crime areas” of the city, Lt. Samuel Joseph said Monday. Merced Sun-Star article

State backtracks, says Oakland can go on without acting police chief – After a day of confusion, state officials backed down late Monday on an assertion that Mayor Libby Schaaf’s plan to have the Oakland Police Department function without an acting police chief violated California law. San Francisco Chronicle article

Across LA County, law enforcement looks for resources to deal with the mentally ill — At a time when law enforcement is under intense public scrutiny for high-profile shootings of civilians, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is one of many agencies nationwide looking to better equip officers to handle the mentally ill people they face on the streets every day. LA Times article

Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca has Alzheimer’s disease, but he still faces a 6-month prison term — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but he nonetheless should serve time in prison for lying to federal investigators during a probe into jail abuses by sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. attorney’s office has concluded. LA Times article


Katehi refuses to turn over cell phone, iPad to UC investigators – Suspended UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has refused to turn over her university-issued cell phone, iPad and laptop to the UC Office of the President for use in its ongoing investigation of her conduct. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno students learn about adolescent domestic violence — A program through the Marjaree Mason Center is helping students in the Fresno Unified School District identify signs of dating abuse and understand the seriousness of domestic violence. Fresno Bee article

Inspire but don’t test for vital qualities of mind like grit — With the publication of “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” four years ago, author Paul Tough inspired a national conversation about learning mindsets like grit and perseverance: why they’re important and how they’re formed early in childhood. The book examined the latest research in neuroscience that found the effects of trauma and stress, particularly in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, inhibited children’s ability to learn at an early age and their later success in school. EdSource article

Summer camp focuses on high-speed rail — More than 70 middle and high school students will attend Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering Explore Engineering Camp this week, and the Summer Engineering Experience Camp June 27 to July 1. Camp activities will focus on high-speed rail and will include hands-on projects combined with academic lectures and talks with experts. Visalia Times-Delta article


Extreme heat will worsen in LA over the next century, scientists say – By the year 2050, there could be 22 days of extreme heat in Los Angeles, and by 2100, there could be 54 such days, a study released by UCLA scientists last year said.  It gets even worse the farther inland you go. LA Times article

California’s top electricity regulator is lukewarm on measure to strip agency’s power – The head of the state agency in charge of regulating myriad utilities, including electricity and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, lamented what he called an outdated system for protecting residents and ratepayers in a speech to the Sacramento Press Club on Monday. LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Early fire season, but fewer inmate crews for prevention — Weed abatement officers respond to complaints of potential fire hazards and put the onus on the landowners to clean them up. But another significant resource dried up two years ago, diminishing the availability of county jail inmate work crews to help reduce the fire risk. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Woman who defiled national parks banned from 524 million acres of public land – A San Diego woman pleaded guilty last week to seven misdemeanor counts of defiling rock formations with graffiti in seven national parks and has been banned from 524 million acres of public lands during her two years of probation. LA Times article 

Health/Human Services

Stanislaus man tests positive for Zika virus — Health officials announced Monday afternoon that a 19-year-old Stanislaus County man has contracted the Zika virus while traveling outside the U.S.Modesto Bee article

California rises in child well-being ranking – With more investments in health, the well-being of California’s children continued its three-year improvement, new data shows. East Bay Times article

Lawmakers renew push to block surprise medical bills — Even when patients make concerted efforts to see doctors covered by their insurance plans at in-network facilities, they run the risk of unknowingly being treated by other out-of-network providers during that visit. A new state bill would protect people from paying hefty surprise medical bills stemming from such out-of-network charges. KPCC report

UCSF study links pharm meals to brand-name prescribing by doctors — Evidence is mounting that doctors who receive as little as one meal from a drug company tend to prescribe more expensive, brand-name medications for common ailments than those who don’t. KQED report


Did bullet train officials ignore warning about need for taxpayer money? – The state rail authority repeatedly has asserted that it will not need a subsidy and that every high-speed system in the world operates without taxpayer assistance — despite significant evidence to the contrary. A number of projects around the world have failed financially, others require direct operating subsidies and many more benefit from government taxes and regulations on competing airline and highway systems, according to audits, studies and interviews.  LA Times article

Amtrak adds seventh train through Fresno, Valley — There is a new Amtrak passenger train rumbling through the San Joaquin Valley, providing a morning northbound option to the San Francisco Bay Area and a southbound train filling an afternoon schedule gap – a combination that Valley leaders hope will attract more day-trip business and pleasure travelers to the route. Fresno Bee article; East Bay Times article; The Business Journal article

Event celebrates new Kiernan interchange in Salida — Leaders on Monday celebrated a new Highway 99 interchange at Kiernan Avenue that helps big rigs, bicycles and other vehicles get where they’re going. The $42 million project, built over three years, provides extra room for entering and exiting traffic and a wider Kiernan bridge that includes a bike path. Modesto Bee article

Foon Rhee: Will a golden parachute sink Regional Transit? — Turning around RT was already going to be a heavy lift. So was getting Sacramento County voters to add another half-cent to the sales tax to help shore up RT’s finances. It’s not going to get any easier as word spreads about outgoing General Manager Mike Wiley’s very generous golden parachute. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Bakersfield pot petition supporters delay filing – Supporters of the Medical Cannabis Initiative, which would replace Bakersfield’s dispensary ban with state regulations, said Monday they’d collected as many as 17,500 signatures but weren’t ready yet to file petitions with the City Clerk. Fresno Bee article

Charter changes loom on Stockton council agenda – The council Tuesday will consider placing several proposed changes to Stockton’s charter before voters on the November ballot. The most noteworthy change would end citywide voting and put the selection of council members completely in the hands of the residents of the districts they represent. Stockton Record article 

Fresno County probation chief criticized in judges’ letter — An investigation of Fresno County Probation Chief Rick Chavez focuses on 10 allegations ranging from using profanity to failing to add more juvenile correction officers and policy issues related to dress code for probation officers. Fresno Bee article 

Lindsay council responds to grand jury investigation — Lindsay council will complete training on the Brown Act and be more deliberative when considering combining key city managerial positions, following recommendations from the Tulare Grand Jury. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Former Tulare City Councilman Mark Watte dies — Mark C. Watte, a Tulare farmer, dairyman, a former Tulare City councilman and a staple of the World Ag Expo, has died. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Wife raises questions after man crushed at Del Monte plant — Several hours had passed since Amanda Rafferty had texted her husband, Dave, a picture of their 2-year-old daughter. He hadn’t responded. She texted him again: “Are you OK? It’s not like you to not respond.” The 30-year-old equipment mechanic and welder for J.M. Equipment Co. Inc. had been sent to Del Monte Foods on Yosemite Boulevard in Modesto on Wednesday to repair a loading dock. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Why keep banning gay men from giving blood?

Sacramento Bee – SB 1010 supporters include business, labor, patients, health care providers and organizations from the AARP to the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. It doesn’t impose price caps or tamper with the market. It simply asks for some basic information. Lawmakers in the Assembly should follow the Senate’s lead and approve it.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers on Galt business brewing up angst, hopes for Fair Oaks Library and other issues.