June 26, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

CD 21: Valadao working to stave off what may be his toughest challenge yet: Huerta – This year could bring the toughest political fight Congressman David Valadao has ever seen. With Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket and turnout numbers the highest in years, Democracts might have a shot at beating him. They will have to go all out, spending millions of dollars, to help Bakersfield attorney Emilio Huerta win. Bakersfield Californian article 

Valley presidential delegates ready for rumbles at convention — This much seems certain: The national conventions won’t be business as usual, and could even be throwbacks to the times when such gatherings were full of intrigue and the nominee was unknown until delegates actually settled the matter after a good amount of infighting. Fresno Bee article 

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s bucket list doesn’t include vital reform of taxes — His two pet public works legacy projects, twin water tunnels and a bullet train system, are languishing. And there’s the state’s most stubborn political conundrum – a state budget that’s dangerously dependent on taxing a relative handful of wealthy Californians and thus is prone to boom-and-bust cycles. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

Lawmakers add the needs of veterans, homeless to state budget plan – Lawmakers have added earmarks for helping veterans and youth who are on California’s streets to a high-profile effort expected to become part of the new state budget by the end of the week. LA Times article

Valley politics 

Michael Fitzgerald: Stockton’s perennial ‘Brexit’ – At the risk of sounding crabby, the words “Brexit” and “Grexit” annoy me. So I hope there’s never a Stockton exit. The word “Stexit” would be the last straw. Granted, Stockton can’t exit California. That said, there is similarity between Britain’s exit from the European Union and Stockton politics. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Cathleen Decker: Billionaire Tom Steyer is spending millions on behalf of Democrats.  What will he get out of it? – Its seems an inauspicious time for someone to try to break one of the longest streaks in California politics: the unsuccessful run of extremely rich men and women trying to vault themselves into high office. Still, don’t be surprised if one of the candidates for governor in two years is a billionaire: Tom Steyer, who would seem an unlikely victor given the winds of anger circulating now. He seems both unconcerned and highly aware of California’s long-standing record of repudiating wealthy candidates. Decker column in LA Times


Marcos Breton: When it comes to immigration, fear should not make us allergic to facts — More immigrants are coming from Asia now than Latin America, but you don’t hear much about that because it doesn’t fit the narrative of fear. It’s hardly an American phenomenon. Xenophobia was a primary factor in voters in Thursday’s decision by U.K. voters to abandon the European Union. That vote, already having perilous economic effects on the English pound, was carried by older, white voters angry at how globalization was changing their country. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

No Safe Place: Afghans risked their lives for U.S., now struggle in Sacramento – Sacramento’s ethnic diversity and mild climate have made it a magnet for Afghan refugees, making California’s capital city home to 2,000 Afghans with these special visas.  Their transition has been difficult.  They’ve faced poverty and violence, and some long long for their war-torn homeland.  Read their stories. No Safe Place in Sacramento Bee; Sacramento Bee editorial

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Brock Turner case shows need to fix rape definition – It’s time for a unified stance against rape and the culture perpetuating it. Updating California’s definition of rape is the first step. It would go a long way toward clearing up the murky understanding of what constitutes consent and what is categorized as rape on college campuses.  Sacramento Bee editorial

San Diego City Council wants more options to oust wayward officials – Nearly three years after San Diego struggled to remove embattled Mayor Bob Filner from office, officials will ask voters in November to help expand the city’s options for ousting wayward officials. LA Times article 

Rachel Michelin: We need more women to run for public office – The CEO and executive director of California Women Lead writes, “While there is much to celebrate in California – the first state with two women U.S. senators, the first woman speaker of the House – we need more women to run for office, more women to apply for political appointments and more women supporting each other.” Michelin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: Ideologues like Obama make dangerous politicians — In general, politicians are rank opportunists, but at least most of them are malleable and attuned to public opinion. But ideologues are far more anti-empirical – and thus dangerous. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Vatican denies Pope has ‘Crusades’ mentality over genocide — The Vatican on Sunday strongly dismissed Turkish claims that Pope Francis has adopted a “Crusades” mentality by recognizing the Ottoman-era genocide of Armenians, insisting that Francis’ three-day visit to the Orthodox country was one of peace and reconciliation. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories 

Death toll may rise in California wildfire – Lighter winds are helping firefighters make gains on a voracious and deadly wildfire in central California that has burned 150 homes and claimed two lives. The toll may rise. AP article; LA Times article 

Erskine fire brings loss, gratitude — On Saturday, the Erskine fire burned more slowly, moving farther away from Lake Isabella along the steep ridgelines south of Weldon and through valleys of scrub brush, sparse grasses and yucca plants. But gray-yellow smoke shadowed the south end of Isabella Lake and cast a pall over the Kern River Valley. Bakersfield Californian article; ‘Residents displaced by Erskine fire could be going home’ in Bakersfield Californian; ‘Utility says power could be dark through weekend’ in Bakersfield Californian 

Local school districts do little to protect themselves from conflicted advisers — After the federal government recently fined a prominent former superintendent for allegedly playing both sides in several school financial deals, a review by The Bee shows that many Valley school districts don’t have safeguards to prevent possible conflicts of interest. And because these districts don’t police these possible conflicts, well-connected contractors can reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Tejon Ranch’s Grapevine project would providing housing for existing job center – At the far southern end of the Central Valley, along a remote stretch of Interstate 5, Tejon Ranch Co. hopes to turn a staffing dilemma into a major business opportunity. Bakersfield Californian article 

Hanford gives city manage a raise — The Hanford City Council narrowly voted this week to give City Manager Darrel Pyle a 5 percent raise. The raise was based on a citywide compensation policy that states that employees will be paid at least the average of what surrounding cities are paying. Beginning July 1, Pyle will receive $211,560 per year in total compensation, as determined by Bryce Consulting.Hanford Sentinel article 

As Fresno Grand Opera action percolates, questions remain – When Fresno Grand Opera went public June 16 with allegations of financial misconduct on the part of two former key employees, the news rocked many of the organization’s donors and supporters. Other local arts organizations, most of whom have scraped their way through a brutal recession and need every dollar they can raise, were rattled as well. One concern: Bad news about one organization has the potential to spook donors to others even when there is no connection. Fresno Bee article

San Jose to mull short- and long-term homeless housing – Solving Silicon Valley’s homeless problem takes more than one approach: Experts say it requires building housing for all types of needs — from immediately sheltering those who won’t have a place to sleep next week to long-term supportive housing for those who call a dark alleyway or empty storefront ‘home.’ San Jose Mercury News article 

First Priority to rebuild electric vehicle production in Stockton – First Priority Greenfleet Ltd., which in March acquired the assets of Electric Vehicles International in Stockton, looks to build sales of alternative-power specialty vehicles, including electric school buses, a top executive said this week. Stockton Record article 

Sacramento Bee: A better prescription for helping Sacramento’s kids — Taxing marijuana might not be ideal way to address these problems and keep kids on the path to success, but the 65 percent of voters who supported an imperfect Measure Y were sending a clear message. It’s time for Sacramento to make youths a priority. Sacramento Bee editorial


Arturo Rodriguez: Enforce pesticide protections for farmworkers – The president of the United Farm Workers of America writes, “Last year’s EPA pesticide standards finally provided the same protections for farmworkers that other U.S. workers have long enjoyed. But how can farmworkers exercise their new-found rights when they are denied a key safeguard workers in other industries enjoy: the right of access to critical information they need to preserve their health and ensure their proper treatment or legal protection?” Arturo op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Turlock dairymen taking a cooler approach to heat wave this time — Blount and son Ryan invested in two additional barns, each larger than his original one. All three have fans and soaker pipes that turn on automatically the moment the outside temperature reaches 72 degrees. They also work with dairy nutritionists Mich and Marc Etchebarne and veterinarian Kristen Etchebarne to make sure the animals’ feed keeps them cool and they remain healthy. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Officials: Heroin use on the rise in Kings County – Local law enforcement is seeing heroin use on the rise in Kings County, primarily among drug users who formerly relied on prescription opiates. Sgt. Mark Bevens, unit supervisor for the Kings County Narcotic Task Force, attributed the increase to a growing difficulty for drug users to acquire prescription opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Hanford Sentinel article 

Justice Fair gives felons second chance at a life – More than 1,000 people went to the first-ever San Joaquin Justice Fair on Saturday in search of a second chance and a path to becoming a more productive member of society. The Justice Fair, held at San Joaquin Delta College, was designed to give convicted felons an opportunity to learn more about and apply for Proposition 47 record changes to remove nonviolent felonies from their criminal records, organizers said. Stockton Record article 

Man says he hates his life, is shot by cops in east-central Fresno – What started as a search for a man with a rifle walking down the street in east-central Fresno ended in an officer-involved shooting of a 19-year-old who may have wanted to end his life, the Fresno Police Department said Saturday. Fresno Bee article 

Reports of elder financial abuse surge in Sacramento County – Reports of elder financial abuse jumped by 72 percent last year in Sacramento County as the public gained awareness of such crimes, more baby boomers entered retirement age and technology made it easier to perpetrate scams. Sacramento Bee article 

Disarmed and dangerous: Officers across the Bay area and state are losing firearms at an astonishing rate – and the consequences can be deadly — Nine-hundred and forty-four guns. From Glocks, Sig Sauers and Remingtons to sniper and assault rifles, some equipped with grenade launchers. They used to belong to law enforcement officers across California, but a new Bay Area News Group investigation found hundreds of police-issued weapons have been either stolen, lost or can’t be accounted for since 2010, often disappearing onto the streets without a trace. San Jose Mercury News article

For parents, Brock Turner case a teachable moment about sexual assault, consent — Before her son went off to college, Cindy Wilson realized there was one thing she had to do: make sure he read a powerful, 12-page letter from the victim of the Stanford sexual assault, describing in detail the devastating consequences of the attack. San Jose Mercury News article 


Davis Mas Masumoto: Letters leave a legacy to teachers who had an impact — The school year has ended, teachers are recovering and so are students. I remember I couldn’t wait for vacation to unfold. Yet years later, I regret I didn’t reach out to some teachers during summer break to let them know how much I appreciated them. Most have passed away. I have no idea where others may have moved. I lost track of many. So now I write a letter to a teacher and their memory. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee 

Buckle down, buckle up: Refugee youths get powerful push forward – While every school in every neighborhood earnestly wants to help these newcomers, few have support systems ready to serve the vast range of needs that walk in the classroom door with refugee children, and fewer still can offer them friends with similar stories. Modesto City Schools Language Institutes at Davis High and Roosevelt Junior High have both, and educational leaders from Sacramento to Washington, D.C., are taking notice. Modesto Bee article

New West Hills College Lemoore academy to help ease transition for students with disabilities — West Hills College Lemoore is starting a program this summer to help smooth the transition from high school to college for students with disabilities. The free program, Access Learn Progress Succeed (ALPS), will run from July 25-Aug. 4 at WHCL and will teach students essential skills for college success like time management, how to advocate and how to use assistive technology that best meets their needs. Hanford Sentinel article 

Central Fresno elementary students become playwrights, actors — Rodrigo decided to “take this new step” and participate in Theatre Summer School, a program for second- through fifth-graders at Roosevelt High School that began June 14. It is part of Fifth Grade on Broadway, an arts-enrichment program that Francine and Murray Farber began with a $100,000 grant to Fresno Unified School District. Fresno Bee article


Environmental studies stall Kettleman City water plant construction – The Kings County Board of Supervisors discussed the status of environmental studies stalling construction of the Kettleman City water treatment plant Tuesday with district engineers. The plant’s opening is now pushed back to 2019 instead of opening earlier this year. Hanford Sentinel article 

Folsom’s California ISO leading push for distributed energy resources – At the turn of the millennium, when the Toyota Prius hybrid was being introduced to California motorists, some energy experts talked of a day when electric vehicle owners would plug into the state’s power grid, pushing surplus energy back into the expansive system. The predictions had the ring of something that our grandchildren would see in some distant, Star Wars-like future. In reality, Californians could be plugging into the grid as soon as early next year, according to officials with the Folsom-based California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s electric transmission grid. Sacramento Bee article

David Freeman: Diablo Canyon agreement should put an end to debate about nuclear power – The former general manager of SMUD writes, “The Diablo Canyon agreement should put an end to the debate about nuclear power. It provides a template for a timely transition for all the nuclear and fossil fueled plants to an all-renewable future.” Freeman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Clovis to get LED streetlights, $48,000 in savings — Over 7,600 streetlights in Clovis will be upgraded to LED bulbs in coming weeks, saving the city about $48,000 a year, Pacific Gas & Electric announced Friday. Fresno Bee article 

Inside the deal that shaped San Diego’s power picture — San Diegans probably remember little about how they got the two massive stations in Escondido and Otay Mesa that are now their biggest sources of electricity. But more than a dozen energy experts interviewed by inewsource remember it well. Inewsource report in KQED 

Land Use/Housing 

Lewis Griswold: Sign of the times: Visalia ordinance tackles clutter — On a 3-2 vote, the Visalia City Council last week approved a sign ordinance likely to cramp the style of community groups, political candidates and some businesses. The new ordinance is one of the first to be adopted in the state following the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which held that municipalities must ignore the content of signs in regulating them and can only enact rules of placement and size, for instance. Griswold in Fresno Bee 

Can a rehab center for American Indian youths coexist with Yolo County farmland? — A Native American youth treatment center 25 years in the making may finally find its home on a 12-acre parcel near Davis, but the federal Indian Health Service first wants to address environmental concerns from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.  Sacramento Bee article


United Airlines hopes slim seats and exclusive lounges will help generate $3 billion — Hoping to match the profit margin of his competitors, United Airlines Chief Executive Oscar Munoz laid out a plan this week to generate $3.1 billion in new revenue and savings by 2018. LA Times article

Other areas 

Increased medical marijuana dispensaries might be on Stockton’s November ballot – Pending City Council approval, residents will have the opportunity in November to vote on whether to allow for the establishment of as many as three new medical marijuana dispensaries in Stockton. Stockton Record article 

Modesto’s Fourth of July fight against illegal fireworks fizzles – Modesto’s plan to cite property owners whose tenants set off illegal fireworks this Fourth of July is a dud. The ordinance authorizing $1,000 administrative citations won’t take effect until July 14 because of a clerical error by the Fire Department. Modesto Bee article

Lois Henry: Former Charger making progress, but it’s slow — With the terrible fire happening near Lake Isabella, it’s hard to focus on much else. So I’ll give you just a short update on former San Diego Charger all star Kenny Graham. He may be off the dirt but he’s a long way from settled. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – It’s time for a unified stance against rape and the culture perpetuating it. Updating California’s definition of rape is the first step. It would go a long way toward clearing up the murky understanding of what constitutes consent and what is categorized as rape on college campuses; We owe Afghan refugees far better than this.