June 24, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Kamala Harris can block gay murder initiative, court rules — California Attorney General Kamala Harris does not need to advance a widely reviled ballot initiative authorizing the murder of homosexuals, a Sacramento Superior Court has ruled. Sacramento Bee article; AP article; LA Times article

 The Cost of a Seat: California legislators raise more than $1,000 a day — Everyone knows it takes big bucks to run for office in California, but you might be surprised to learn that current members of the state Legislature competing for a seat in the 2014 election cycle had to raise on average more than $1,000 each day. KQED report

State budget

 California legislative budget to increase by 4.55 percent – California’s legislative branch will be among the beneficiaries of the $115.4 billion general fund spending plan on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, with both houses receiving funding increases nearly 10 times last year’s rate. Sacramento Bee article

 Toni Atkins: Smooth negotiations produce a prudent and progressive state budget – The California Assembly Speaker writes, “The final agreement brings us all together in support of a budget that is both prudent and progressive. We build reserves to more than $4.6 billion and pay down debts while also making new investments of $14 billion in our schools and community colleges and more than $1 billion in higher education, health care and anti-poverty programs.” Atkins op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

 Gov. Brown questions sustainability of health care spending, calls for special session — Gov. Jerry Brown last week issued a proclamation to convene a special legislative session on health care spending on the same day he agreed to a state budget that had many of its health-related provisions negotiated away. Financing the Medi-Cal program may not be sustainable, Brown said, given its expansion over the past two years and the looming loss of the managed care organization tax, which could cost the state about $1.1 billion. KQED report

 Brown’s latest nominee another young, judicially inexperienced Obama lawyer — Like his last state Supreme Court appointee, one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest appellate court nominees is a young Obama administration lawyer with no judicial experience. The current pick, Lamar Baker, is stirring up a certain amount of controversy. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Other areas

 Vote on California assisted death bill delayed – In a sign of political headwinds for a California bill allowing terminally ill patients to take their own lives, the measure’s author has delayed a hearing so she has more time to persuade wavering lawmakers. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Boy leukemia patient weighs in as big vaccine exemption vote nears – Rhett Krawitt, the 6-year-old Marin leukemia patient who became a vaccination poster child during the state measles outbreak that began in Disneyland, is going to Sacramento Wednesday to speak out in favor ofSB277. KQED report

 Sacramento Bee: Playing the race card on vaccines – Having trotted out just about every conspiracy theory in the book against the tightening of vaccination laws in California, the opponents of Senate Bill 277 have come up with a new and truly cynical angle – race. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Dan Walters: Reforming CEQA still vital work – The California Environmental Quality Act, signed into law more than 40 years ago, is a perfect example of how a political decree meant to do one thing can transmogrify into something else entirely. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 Dan Walters: Will California use congestion to coerce motorists? – Gov. Brown says he wants to do something about the state’s deteriorating roadways and has called a special legislative session to explore ways to put billions of dollars more into maintenance and reconstruction. However, he is silent on congestion. The special legislative session may bring a simmering dispute over that facet of the transportation conundrum into sharper focus. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 Jon Fleischman: Brown wants tax hike for roads — To be very clear about what is happening here–upon agreeing to a spending plan that, except for a small but prudent reserve, contemplates spending all of the state’s anticipated taxpayer-provided revenues (again, at their highest levels in history) the governor is asking for permanent pay-as-you-go funding for transportation. Translation: Brown wants a tax increase here, and he is willing to jam legislators who don’t go along with it as somehow not being concerned about showing a willingness to act on our state’s ailing and aging transportation infrastructure. Fleischman in Fox & Hounds

 How people use guns to kill in California – The recent shootings in Charleston once again have sparked a conversation about gun violence in the United States, with President Obama calling for tougher gun-control measures and some conservatives pushing back by saying that guns make America safer and save lives. Here are some facts and a chart about gun-related deaths in California between 2011 and 2013, based on the latest state health and crime data.  Sacramento Bee article

Fullerton neighborhoods find KKK fliers with candy on their lawns – Fullerton police are investigating a series of Ku Klux Klan-backed fliers with candy found scattered throughout two neighborhoods Sunday. LA Times article

 Guns in church? Local opinion varies widely — After last week’s horrific shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Kings County churchgoers are — like many other Christians in the U.S. — thinking about the proper response. They are coming to some very different conclusions. Hanford Sentinel article

 Lawmakers’ calendars list meetings with undercover agents – The appointment books of two disgraced state lawmakers appear to corroborate allegations that they met with undercover FBI agents at steakhouses and a lobbyist’s office, according to documents released Tuesday by the California Legislature. AP article; LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Obama softens hostage policy to ease families’ pain – U.S. officials are right that paying ransoms to terrorist groups helps bankroll their deadly operations and will only put more Americans in danger of being taken hostage. But they’ve correctly realized that prosecuting family members who are only trying to get their loved ones back is unnecessary.Sacramento Bee editorial

 David Crane: Big money talks in California politics – The president of Govern for California writes, “Everyone knows about the pharmaceutical companies, defense contractors and other financial interests that dominate political spending in Washington, D.C. Because federal spending provides a big share of those businesses’ revenues, it’s not surprising they spend heavily for a Congress sympathetic to their interests. But fewer know about the financial interests that dominate political spending in Sacramento, and fewer still know the identity of the biggest spender.”Crane in Fox & Hounds

 Assembly panel approves resolution condemning anti-Semitism – A state Assembly committee on Tuesday approved a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on California college campuses, a measure introduced after the defacement of a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis with Nazi swastikas in January and other acts targeting Jewish students. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Stockton judge won’t hear local farmers’ case over water cuts – Dozens of Central Valley farmers who were hoping a local judge would come to their aid and fend off sweeping state water restrictions imposed on some of California’s most senior water rights holders were dealt a blow Tuesday when the court declined to hear their case, citing a potential for “local prejudices.” San Francisco Chronicle article; Stockton Record article

 Amazon announces 200 new jobs in Patterson — A large crowd of jobseekers showed up at the Amazon Fulfillment Center here Tuesday to take part in a one-day hiring event. And for good reason: the company announced on Tuesday that it is adding 200 jobs, the biggest expansion for the center since it opened in 2013. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

 Stockton police contract approved; critics voice concerns – The constant thread throughout Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was policing and public safety. The council approved a contract with the city’s officers even as concern lingered that the new deal will not stop attrition from the police force. Stockton Record article

 Fresno City Council sends spending plan to Swearengin – The Fresno City Council on Tuesday adopted a $1.2 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Mayor Ashley Swearengin saw no need to personally pitch her spending plan. The vote was 7-0. Funny how piles of cash in the wake of a near-bankruptcy experience can soothe the partisan beast. Fresno Bee article

 Kern budget passed, fireworks banned in parks – Kern County supervisors approved a place-holder budget Tuesday morning for the 2015-2016 fiscal year that begins July 1. The spending plan cuts all county departments’ share of the county’s general revenues by 2.4 percent but manages to handle the losses without layoffs. Bakersfield Californian article

 Bakersfield council to mull budget adjustments, COLA increases – A week before it’s due, the Bakersfield City Council will be asked Wednesday to approve a series of updates to the proposed city budget of nearly $571 million, aimed at blunting the impact of a large drop in sales tax revenue. Bakersfield Californian article

 What will Yosemite contract change mean for visitors? – We recently spoke with Yosemite spokesperson Scott Gediman about the proposed new contract, the debate over the ownership of key Yosemite names like Curry Village and the Ahwahnee, and the fate of current Delaware North employees. KVPR report

 New startup helps new businesses start up – Daniel Romanello wasn’t looking to become a businessman, but when he heard from a client about a product that pulls moisture out of the air and turns it into drinking water, the Visalia handyman decide this might be the business for him. Visalia Times-Delta article

 U.S. economy on mend after harsh winter hits 1st quarter – The U.S. economy contracted in the first three months of the year, just not as much as previously estimated. More recent data show that the weakness was largely temporary, with a rebound in the works for the April-June quarter. AP article

 Dispute over union fees could return to Supreme Court – Powerful public-sector unions are facing another high-profile legal challenge that they say could wipe away millions from their bank accounts and make it tougher for them to survive. AP article

 Hobby Lobby rejuvenates former Hanford Walmart – Dozens of eager shoppers lined up Monday morning to be among the first to browse the aisles at the new Hobby Lobby in Hanford. Besides offering a new place to buy supplies for arts, crafts, home décor and other hobbies, the grand opening represented a new life for the former Wal-Mart building at 12th Avenue and Lacey Boulevard. Hanford Sentinel article

 Minimum-wage vote to be delayed by LA County Board of Supervisors — Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the main proponent of raising the minimum wage in county unincorporated areas, said the vote scheduled for Tuesday will be postponed at the request of her colleagues. LA Times article

 City Hall players offer different takes on Sacramento arena deal – Two City Hall players offered dueling views in court Tuesday on whether city negotiators buried secret sweeteners in a partnership deal with the Sacramento Kings to build a downtown arena. Sacramento Bee article

 Turlock Chamber president Silva announces retirement – The Turlock Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau is losing its leader. After more than 16 years as president and chief executive officer, Sharon Silva announced her retirement effective next Tuesday. Modesto Bee article

 Foon Rhee: Golden 1 is banking on a slam dunk – The name for the new arena in downtown Sacramento came with only a few rules: No companies known primarily for tobacco or guns, and nothing embarrassing to the city. I’m thinking that many bankers would have liked another restriction – no credit unions. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

 Startup makes Fresno return with restaurant analytics focus – A new software company founded by Fresno State grads aims to provide better analytics for restaurant owners with multiple retail locations. The startup recently graduated from the Boomtown technology accelerator in Boulder, Colorado and has been generating revenue since April. The Business Journal article

 North Morada residents protest rate change and win – Water rates in north Morada won’t be changing — at least for the time being. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday morning to have county public works staff return to a future meeting with different rate increase recommendations after more than half of the property owners protested a transition from fixed charges to metered rates. Stockton Record article

 When it’s time to tap emergency savings, 29 percent of Americans have none – Nearly 3 in 10 Americans have no emergency savings, the highest level in five years, according to a new survey. Although wages have been rising, 29% of adults have nothing to tap in the case of a job loss or other financial difficulty, the survey released Tuesday by Bankrate.com found. LA Times article

 CalPERS to keep eye on health rolls — Keep those marriage and tax records handy, state workers and state retirees. You’re going to need them. A bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk requires that state employers periodically verify the eligibility of the dependents on their health plans. Sacramento Bee article

 LA nonprofits aiding hard-to-employ may get temporary wage hike exemption – Nonprofits that help former gang members, the homeless and other hard-to-employ Angelenos get back into the workforce could get a temporary exemption from Los Angeles’ minimum wage hike, a move intended to ensure they won’t cut back on the number of disadvantaged clients they serve.LA Times article

Pleasanton care homes to pay $176,000 in back wages and damages — Owners of three residential care homes for seniors and the disabled in Pleasanton will pay more than $176,000 in back wages and damages to a dozen live-in workers who were denied minimum wages and overtime during a two-year period, the U.S. Labor Department announced Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

 ExxonMobil temporarily halts oil production off Santa Barbara after oil spill — ExxonMobil has shut down oil production at its three platforms off the Santa Barbara County coast a month after a corroded pipeline owned by Texas company Plains All American Pipeline burst, effectively cutting off the flow of Exxon’s crude. LA Times article


 Troubled Delta system is California’s water battleground – Fighting over water is a tradition in California, but nowhere are the lines of dispute more sharply drawn than here in theSacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that is the hub of the state’s water system. New York Times article

 Officials shred Hanford #1 drought ranking – The headline last week was enough to make Hanford residents quake in their shoes: “9 Cities Running Out of Water.” Sure enough, there was Hanford in the worst slot on the list. Hanford Sentinel article

 Tulare sues county in dispute over Methany water – Tulare has filed a lawsuit to change the agreement under which the city will provide water to Matheny Tract, a low-income rural subdivision south of Tulare where water is contaminated by arsenic. A mile-long water main from Tulare to Matheny Tract was installed two years ago, but no water flows in it. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

 Town’s water woes resolved – A water crisis that never quite happened was officially averted on Tuesday after a south county water district agreed to sell water to the town of Mountain House. Stockton Record article

 Doug Obegi: Valley rivers aren’t being singled out – The staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council writes, “Assemblyman Adam Gray misrepresents his legislation and the State Water Resources Control Board’s efforts to restore the health of San Francisco Bay, the West Coast’s largest estuary, and the rivers that feed into it.” Obegi op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Drought tops Bay Area residents’ list of concerns, poll finds – California’s drought surged to the top of Bay Area residents’ concerns, ahead of housing prices and the general high cost of living here, clogged commutes and crime in a new poll released Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Benchmark Communities offers xeriscaping on lawns — Benchmark Communities, a national homebuilding company, with homes in the central San Joaquin Valley, is getting into the xeriscaping game. The company decided a couple months ago, after the city of Clovis adopted steep water-use cuts, to begin offering buyers a landscape plan with drought-tolerant plants, mulch and an option for a riverbed, boulders and gravel. Fresno Bee article

 The Drought Sessions: A mixtape for a drying California — Historical movements, wars and disasters around the globe have created signature sounds in music. Think freedom songs like “We Shall Overcome,” Prince’s “Baltimore” and even Beyonce’s song “Halo” after Haiti was rocked by an earthquake. The Golden State is in its fourth year of drought and songs about a drying California are now emerging. KVPR report

 San Francisco requires water recycling — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday requiring developers to install water recycling systemson large, new buildings in the city. KQED report

 Groundwater: Managing a vital resource for the long-term – There’s a lot of talk about groundwater these days. The drought is the cause of some of that talk. But also, the recently passed Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local/regional entities to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) by June 30, 2017. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Despite drought, Sacramento golf course gorgeously green for U.S. Senior Open – Pros playing in the U.S. Senior Open this week in Sacramento could easily miss that California is in the middle of a historic drought. The golf course at Del Paso Country Club is a well-watered green – a fact that has at least one nearby resident grumbling. Sacramento Bee article

 Under new plan, Folsom Lake could be dangerously dry within months – Folsom Lake water levels will likely drop to historic lows by summer’s end, possibly hovering just above the point where cities and water agencies can still draw water from the reservoir, according to interviews with federal and local officials. Sacramento Bee article

 Regulations would allow quick removal of drought-killed trees — California’s drought has killed so many trees that the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is adopting emergency regulations to remove them. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the board is concerned about the growing threat of wildfires. Capital Public Radio report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Shorter California prison officer academy to start next month – California’s state prison-officer academy will shorten from 16 weeks to 12 weeks starting late next month, four years after Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and California’s correctional officer union began talking about abbreviated cadet training. Sacramento Bee article

 How to become a California correctional officer – After years of budget cuts and downsizing, California’s statewide prison system is hiring again. Big time. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials say they need to sign up 7,000 officers in the coming years to counter the wave of long-time officers retiring and to relieve others who work too much overtime due to short staffing. Sacramento Bee article

 Stanislaus deputy sheriff arrested, accused of stealing from inmates’ fund –Authorities on Tuesday arrested a deputy who served at the Stanislaus County Jail, alleging he stole money that belonged to inmates. Jose Pacheco, a nine-year veteran custodial deputy sheriff with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested on charges of felony grand theft and burglary.Modesto Bee article; LA Times article

 Supervisors badly split over call for more San Francisco cops — A sharply divided Board of Supervisors called Tuesday for an expanded police force to match the city’s growth, but only after a heated debate about racism in the department and whether more police officers actually prevent crime in the city. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Rape on the night shift: Working alone, at night, janitors risk sexual violence — You’ve probably been in an airport or office cleaned by one of its nearly 65,000 janitors. But you may not know that ABM’s been sued by janitors across the country for failing to protect them from sexual harassment, even rape. KQED report

 What’s the government doing to prevent janitors from getting raped? – Well, there’s the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which can respond to complaints of sexual harassment after the fact. But how about the agencies charged with preventing dangerous conditions at the workplace? KQED report

 Former janitors go undercover to clean up abuses — Marquez and Alvarado work for a nonprofit that’s trying to root out abuses in the janitorial industry. The Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, or MCTF, deploys teams of investigators across California. It’s a joint effort by theService Employees International Union, representing janitors, and unionized janitorial companies, who don’t want to be undercut by black-market competitors. KQED report


 2015-16 state education budget by the numbers – The $115.4 billion state budget that takes effect July 1 is full of numbers – big ones when it comes to record high spending for K-12 schools and community colleges. Here are some of the key dollar amounts, including funding for new programs, for 2015-16. EdSource article

 Fresno Unified leaders reject call to hire outside investigator on leaseback deal – Fresno Unified School District leaders have denied bids by school board members to schedule a vote on hiring an independent investigator to examine a controversial construction deal. Fresno Bee article

 Fresno Bee: Fresno Unified should hire independent investigator – The 5th District Court of Appeal’s finding that Fresno Unified School District’s contract with Harris Construction to build Gaston Middle School was illegal has raised many questions about how the district awards contracts and spends taxpayers’ money. Fresno Bee editorial

 To help kids read, Fresno library program brings in the dogs – Parents often wonder how they can get their children to read and at the same time have their kids enjoy doing so. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, one library in Clovis is inspiring children to open up books with the help of a four legged friend. KVPR report

 Modesto City Schools moving toward by-area elections for trustees – Modesto City Schools trustees moved forward with seeking by-area elections, voting unanimously to seek a change in the Modesto city charter to allow the board to divide its large high school district into seven trustee areas. Modesto Bee article

 Merced, Mariposa teacher introduced to engineering – It’s late June but classrooms around Merced are still buzzing with activity, including almost 70 school teachers who are learning at UC Merced to better teach engineering classes in schools in Merced and Mariposa counties. Merced Sun-Star article

 Nan Austin: Toasting a test: Study ties the AP edge to end of course exam — Testing has gotten a bad rap lately, but a study released Monday documented a benefit. Researchers challenged prevailing wisdom that Advanced Placement courses are better than regular high school courses. They are, it turns out – but only if students take the AP test. Austin in Modesto Bee

 UC Merced Connect:  Study shows link between walking, talking in infants — UC Merced developmental psychologist Eric Walle recently discovered a link between walking and talking in infants. This development, however, brought up additional questions. Was the link specific to culture? Age? Native language? UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

 LA Unified board Oks $7.8-billion budget that includes hundreds of layoffs — The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a $7.8-billion budget for the nation’s second-largest school system that includes the first pay raises in nearly a decade, including 10% for teachers and administrators, but also will result in the layoffs of hundreds of staff. LA Times article

 Detective to fill Manteca vacant trustee seat – The Manteca Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to elect Steve Schluer to fill the vacant Area 6 trustee position late Tuesday night. Stockton Record article

 Move to censure Manteca trustee put off again — Manteca Unified School District trustees at their Tuesday meeting voted once again to delay any action to censure board Vice President Sam Fant. Stockton Record article


 Debate over California’s renewable energy expansion goes through the roof – A political fight over California’s renewable energy industry is playing out in the corridors of power, but it deals with something closer to home: your rooftop. Capitol policymakers are advancing an ambitious proposal to have renewable sources generate half of the state’s electricity by 2030, up from the 33 percent benchmark already in law. Sacramento Bee article

 Enviro groups say climate plan should drop biomass plants – Fourteen environmental groups are asking officials at the Office of Management and Budget to drop biomass power plants from a White House plan to reduce emissions that lead to climate change. If their request is successful, Kings County farmers would be affected. Currently, local orchard waste is burned in biomass facilities. If those facilities were to shut down, farmers would be left with no easy disposal options. Hanford Sentinel article

 Ground breaks on Kings’ largest solar power project – San Jose-based SunPower Corp. has begun construction on one of Kings County’s largest solar power projects to date. The 102-megawatt facility, to be located along Highway 41 between Lemoore and Stratford, is more than double the size of a 48-megawatt array operated by Eurus Energy near Avenal. Hanford Sentinel article

 Wildfires in Oakhurst, North Fork area 90-95 percent contained – Two wildfires that burned hundreds of dry forest acres and prompted evacuations in Madera County are 90% to 95% contained, fire officials said. Fresno Bee article

 State expands car replacement program — The California Air Resources Board is giving low-income families in the Valley a chance to replace their old cars with cleaner vehicles. The Plus Up program, administered by the air districts in the Valley and Los Angeles, gives families up to $12,000 toward the purchase of a new car. It can be a gas-powered hybrid, conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle. Hanford Sentinel article

 Health/Human Services

 Covered California health insurance exchange at a crossroads – As millions of Americans nervously await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on a key provision of the health care law — whether or not federal subsidies are legal in 34 states that don’t run their own insurance exchanges — California’s newly insured can breathe a bit easier. San Jose Mercury News article

 Tech problems may crimp launch of state’s new prescription drug database – One week before California unveils an enhanced prescription drug database, some health providers say the upgraded program will be incompatible with their computer systems, hobbling their access to the tool that is meant to combat drug abuse. LA Times article

 Most uses of medical marijuana wouldn’t pass FDA review, study finds – If medical marijuana were a regular drug, it would need the blessing of the Food and Drug Administration before it could be prescribed to patients. And in most cases, those patients would be out of luck. LA Times article

 Bariatric surgeons gather in Clovis for conference — Weight-loss surgeons from across the United States and internationally met in Clovis on Tuesday to compare notes on patients who fail to keep weight off after bariatric surgery and who have complications. Fresno Bee article

 Planned Parenthood app brings STD testing to your door – Individuals worried about their sexual health need look no further than their mailbox for discreet testing services, courtesy of a new smartphone app released in California by Planned Parenthood. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Surgical Hospital recognized for low-cost services — Fresno Surgical Hospital’s average spending per Medicare beneficiary is lower than the state and national average, the hospital said Tuesday, citing a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fresno Bee article

 Oscar Alarcon: Health care a need, and a right – The Stockton resident writes, “All people deserve a healthy life. I want our state and communities to find a way to provide health coverage for Californians like me. Illness doesn’t discriminate, and no one should have to suffer or die from something that can be prevented or treated. Health care shouldn’t be a privilege — it’s a need for all humans whether we’re undocumented or not.” Alarcon op-ed in Stockton Record

Land Use/Housing

 Funding proposed for one downtown Stockton housing project — A planned housing development in Stockton for low-income and homeless military veterans appears poised to take a step forward, but a proposed downtown affordable-housing project that is to include a ground-floor supermarket has suffered at least a one-year setback. Stockton Record article


 Highway 99 near Atwater to see changes Wednesday — New northbound lanes of Highway 99 south of Atwater, which are part of the Atwater-Merced Expressway Project, will open early Wednesday, officials announced. Merced Sun-Star article

 Ominous new cracks found on Bay Bridge rods – Tiny cracks found on some of the rods on the new Bay Bridge tower potentially endanger the rest of the more than 400 remaining fasteners that secure the tower to the foundation in an earthquake, Caltrans officials said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Sierra Club would block Port of Stockton rail expansion – The Sierra Club wants to stop the Port of Stockton’s planned $7.4 million rail project, one that would double the port’s rail freight capacity, until the agency conducts a full environmental review of its potential impacts. Stockton Record article

 Funding and travel-time concerns impede proposed LA streetcar line — The latest estimate, released last week, puts the cost of the tram at $282 million, with just $62.5 million in funding secured. The price tag is presenting city officials with tough choices, including the possibility of cutting part of the route to close the $220-million shortfall and qualify for federal funds that are crucial to the plan. LA Times article

Other areas

 Modesto schools, city want to help neighbors take back their neighborhoods – Five Modesto campuses will pilot a joint city and schools initiative to create safer walks to school and more vibrant communities. The plan views schools as neighborhood hubs, hoping to harness parent concerns to bring neighbors together to fight blight and crime. Modesto Bee article

Fresno County gets four proposals to run animal control – Fresno County has four organizations interested in running its animal control program, which was previously operated by Liberty Animal Control Services, the group that filed for bankruptcy in May. Fresno Bee article

 Michael Fitzgerald: Busting blight without violating rights – A Neighborhood Blitz Team composed of code enforcers and cops spent 90 days in the blighted and problem-plagued Kentfield area. But that code blitz has backfired. It has resulted in two claims for damages — often the precursor to lawsuits — against the city. First the tenants of Adobe Hacienda apartments, then the landlords, cried foul. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

 Court sides with media outlet in California records fight – A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit Tuesday brought by a media outlet over a failure by the court in a California county to make some civil complaints available on the same day they are filed. AP article

 Grand jury: Patterson city officials failed to follow government regulations in building purchase — The Stanislaus County civil grand jury says Patterson city officials disregarded government regulations when they purchased a 100-year-old building that is incapable of operating as a City Hall annex without costly, extensive upgrades and repairs. Modesto Bee article

 Kings Gospel Mission tackles homelessness – Amid reports of rising homelessness in Kings County, the Kings Gospel Mission is the latest effort to offer help to those in need. Hanford Sentinel article

 LA City Council Oks crackdowns on homeless encampments – The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Tuesday to an aggressive crackdown on street encampments, setting the stage for the first major homeless sweeps in the city in decades. LA Times article; Steve Lopez column in LA Times

 DMV cranks ignition on production of black California license plates — California license plates are finally back in black. The Department of Motor Vehicles announced Monday that it had started production on new California plates with black backgrounds and yellow lettering. The model, originally used from 1963-69, is available through the California Legacy License Plate Program – a result of Los Angeles Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s Assembly Bill 1658. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Fresno Unified should hire an independent investigator on Gaston Middle School project.

Sacramento Bee – Capitol statue is a fitting tribute to Ronald Reagan; U.S. officials are right that paying ransoms to terrorist groups helps bankroll their deadly operations and will only put more Americans in danger of being taken hostage. But they’ve correctly realized that prosecuting family members who are only trying to get their loved ones back is unnecessary; Having trotted out just about every conspiracy theory in the book against the tightening of vaccination laws in California, the opponents of Senate Bill 277 have come up with a new and truly cynical angle – race.


 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!

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