June 28, 2016

29Jun

Political Stories

Top stories 

Jerry Brown signs $167 billion budget, makes no cuts – Gov. Jerry Brown signed the budget bill Monday for the coming fiscal year, fully embracing a package his office played a major role in shaping and making no blue-pencil reductions to individual spending items in the plan. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

CD 21: Vote surge gives Huerta the edge to face Valadao in November race — Bakersfield attorney Emilio Jesus Huerta has rallied from nearly 600 votes down to take a commanding lead over Fowler Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Parra for the second place spot in the 21st Congressional District, making him the likely challenger to incumbent David Valadao in the November general election. Fresno Bee article

State budget

Should California’s Rainy Day fund be used even when there is no recession? — When California voters approved a new state budget reserve two years ago, Democrats and Republicans urged its passage to help avoid steep cuts during the next recession. Now, Democratic legislative leaders are suggesting the “Rainy Day Fund” could help alleviate what Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration projects will be a $4 billion budget deficit in 2019 – even if there is no recession. Capital Public Radio report

Valley politics 

Turlock council to weigh competing Tin Cup ordinances — Turlock City Council members will consider dueling proposals to limit the influence of money in council politics at their meeting Tuesday. Charges of conflict of interest, raised during the farmers market controversy, brought the issue to the fore. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Dan Walters: California measures for three-day waiting period near showdown — It’s showdown time for two fiercely competitive measures that would give the public more time to see legislative bills before they are passed. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

California voters will be asked this November to change the rules for passing bills in Legislature —  An initiative requiring any legislation be in print for three days before final passage at the Capitol earned a spot on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot on Monday, an effort supporters claim will end the long tradition of 11th hour political deals quickly turned into California law. LA Times article 

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez misses House vote, gun control sit-in during week in Spain — U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez remained in Spain for a week after a trade mission this month, missing nine recorded votes and the Democrats’ dramatic attempt to force a vote on gun control through a sit-in. LA Times article 

Activists reveal more dark-money donors to campaigns against unions and schools-funding tax — The campaign for extending a schools tax on high-income Californians kicked off this week with the release of undisclosed donors involved in fighting against the levy when it last appeared on the ballot. LA Times article

Other areas 

California to spend billions to tackle homelessness – California has more than 115,000 homeless people, many suffering from some kind of mental illness. This week the state Legislature is acting on a $2 billion bond that would help get many of them off the streets. The state Senate approved the bond yesterday, the Assembly is expected to take it up later this week. KQED report 

Protestors claim police did nothing to stop violence at California Capitol on Sunday — Protesters on both sides of Sunday’s bloody riot at the state Capitol say police intentionally held back from intervening as a planned neo-Nazi rally spun out of control and left 10 people injured, including at least five who were stabbed. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial 

Police defend response to violent rally at California Capitol – Sacramento police and the California Highway Patrol are defending the way they handled Sunday’s bloody neo-Nazi rally that spun out of control and left 10 people injured – five of them stabbed – saying they intervened quickly to halt some assaults and that more than 100 Sacramento officers were on scene at the time violence broke out.Sacramento Bee article 

Violence in Sacramento shows old and new faces of white extremism – The two groups at the center of a violent Sacramento rally that left at least seven people with stab wounds on the Capitol grounds Sunday represent a marriage of the past and future of white supremacist organizations, experts and law enforcement officials said. LA Times article 

Neo-Nazis didn’t start the violence at state Capitol, police say – A series of violent clashes this weekend involving neo-Nazis permitted to rally at the state Capitol was initiated not by the white nationalist group but by counter-protesters, a law enforcement official said Monday. LA Times article

Sweeping Public Utilities Commission changes announced – A deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers announced Monday will bring major changes to the oft-criticized California Public Utilities Commission, including removing the regulator’s authority over ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

State senators block energy policy changes sought by Gov. Jerry Brown – Energy proposals stalled in a state Senate committee on Monday amid concerns that Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration was trying to push major policy changes without enough public scrutiny. LA Times article 

Dan Walters: Internet poker, fantasy sports gambling coming to California? — Even if it makes it through the Assembly, both measures could easily be chewed up in the cross-Capitol rivalry between the two houses during the final, hectic days of the session. If they survive, they also need approval by Brown, who’s never easy to predict. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Band-aid for closing recycling centers passes California Assembly – Recyclers and grocery stores would get a reprieve from the causes and fallout of a wave of recycling center closures – and policymakers could get prodded toward a larger deal – under a budget bill that passed the Assembly on Monday. Sacramento Bee article 

Joel Fox: Brexit and California business and politics – The immediate effect of British voters’ move to leave the European Union will hit California business but a ripple effect could also be felt with the state’s political decisions as well. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

California law lets you fiddle with your phone while driving – sometimes – A California Office of Traffic Safety study came up with this unsurprising but alarming finding last week: 1 out of every 10 drivers on the road is paying as much attention to his or her smartphone as to the road ahead. That’s illegal, right? Not necessarily. Sacramento Bee article 

Caitlin Maple: Blowing the whistle: It’s harder than you think — In light of the 2014 events where three state Senators were investigated and subsequently found guilty of various crimes including accepting bribes and gun running, it makes one wonder if such events could have been addressed sooner if their staff could have safely reported the behavior. I suppose we’ll never know, but we can potentially prevent the perpetuation of future unlawful behavior with legislation that includes Legislative employees in the California Whistleblower Protection Act. This legislation has been authored by Assemblymember Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), and its history tells an interesting story. Maple in California Forward 

Heritage or hatred? Assembly debates nixing Confederate names – Historical figures or hateful avatars? How you see former leaders of the Confederacy depends much on your perspective. Extending a debate that has swirled from Charleston to California, Assembly members on Monday spent a fervent few minutes debating and then passing a resolution that would urge Congress and the president to strip the names of Confederate leaders from federal buildings, roads and other pieces of property. Sacramento Bee article 

Charter school founder Steve Barr to challenge Garcetti in 2017 — Charter-school founder Steve Barr will run for Los Angeles mayor in 2017, opening up a potentially challenging front for incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti in what has so far shaped up as an all but uncontested re-election bid. LA Times article 

Pelosi tees off on Apple CEO for GOP fundraiser – Tuesday’s fundraiser for House Republicans in Menlo Park being held by Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t sitting well with a certain Bay Area politician whose district begins 30 miles to the north. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Texas’ limits on abortion clinics struck down by Supreme Court — The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law Monday that was blamed for the closing of 3 out of 4 abortion clinics in the state. The decision sends a warning shot to other conservative states, as well, that cite medical safety issues in applying new restrictions on abortion clinics. McClatchy Newspapers article; LA Times article; New York Time article

Supreme Court complicates corruption cases from New York to Illinois — Some saw the ruling that reversed the conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia as grounds to challenge past and pending cases brought by the Justice Department. New York Times article 

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

California has a lot more water than some think, new Stanford study suggests – Stanford University study released Monday said the state has three times more groundwater located in deep aquifers than earlier estimated. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said this water source is much deeper than traditional aquifers and that tapping it would likely require a lot of money and engineering expertise. LA Times article; Capital Public Radio report 

Several communities reopen following devastating Erksine fire — The Erskine Fire, which has ravaged the southern Sierra Nevada of central Kern County for five days now, had burned 45,000 acres, destroyed 200 structures, left dozens homeless and killed two as of Monday evening. Earlier Monday, area residents finally received a measure of positive news when fire officials announced several areas have reopened and residents could return home. Power is being restored, damage is being assessed and the long process of recovery is in its preliminary stages. Bakersfield Californian article; Visalia Times-Delta article; LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

Friant-area Indian casino plan having difficulties moving forward – A proposal for a new Big Sandy Rancheria casino and resort near Table Mountain Casino has been coming up snake eyes lately. Big Sandy has lost its water supply to a rival tribe and was told by federal officials that it can’t move the Friant-area property into its rancheria borders. And, earlier this month, a company sued Big Sandy because it claims the tribe failed to fully reimburse it for work related to the resort project. Fresno Bee article 

Modesto considers reviewing development fees – Modesto is poised to undertake its first review of development fees in about a half-dozen years. The City Council on Tuesday will consider reconvening the comprehensive fees task force to look at Modesto’s development-related fees – including permitting and plan review fees – as well as provide input on an update of the city’s capital facilities fees. Modesto Bee article 

Jeff Jardine: Lucas museum in Modesto: Dream big or dream on? — You know, George Lucas could help solve a number of problems burdening his old hometown if he’d just build his state-of-the-art museum here. He could change the city’s image to the rest of the nation. He could change the way many Modestans feel about their city. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Josh Pedrozo: Priorities clear: Public safety, new jobs and more for young people to do – The member of Merced City Council and candidate for mayor writes, “Though the overall budget was down, our data shows people are spending money in Merced. This allows us to rebuild our general fund after years of a downturned economy. The city council strived to ensure a healthy budget while addressing community concerns citywide. I can’t speak for the entire council, but it is clear we take our commitment as stewards of public dollars very seriously.” Pedrozo op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Valley banks, credit unions earn high ratings by national service — Six of nine central San Joaquin Valley-based banks and 10 of 15 credit unions headquartered in the region have been listed as five-star institutions by an independent bank research company based on their financial performance in the first quarter of the year. Fresno Bee article 

San Francisco Homeless Project: Letter to the City – To the city and people of San Francisco: Like you, we are frustrated, confused and dismayed by the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness in our city. Like you, we want answers — and change. We see the misery around us – the 6,600 or more people who live on the streets of San Francisco – and we sense it is worsening. We feel for the people who live in doorways and under freeways, and for the countless others who teeter on the edge of eviction. We empathize with the EMTs, the nurses and doctors, the social workers and the police. They are on the front lines of this ongoing human catastrophe. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Airbnb sues San Francisco – its hometown – to block new rental law – Airbnb Inc. filed a lawsuit against its home city of San Francisco on Monday in an attempt to block new regulation that it said would violate federal protections for Internet companies. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Oakland City Council bans coal shipments, killing a plan supporters say would create jobs – Arguing health risks, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted Monday night to ban coal shipments, killing a plan to transport Utah coal to Asia through a proposed marine terminal. Backers maintained the proposal would bring badly needed jobs to an impoverished area. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Erika D. Smith: Sacramento takes another shot at tech economy – Stodgy, recalcitrant government towns are boring after a while. That’s why I’m glad Sacramento is giving this whole technology and innovation thing one more shot. Smith column in Sacramento Bee 

Volkswagen reaches $14.7-billion emissions settlement – A person briefed on the matter says Volkswagen would repair or buy back polluting vehicles and pay each owner as much as $10,000 under a $14.7-billion legal settlement stemming from its emissions-cheating scandal. AP article; New York Times article

Agriculture/Water/Drought 

Sacramento region to California: We’ve got plenty of water — The Sacramento region’s largest water districts have given a resounding answer to the question of whether they could handle three more years of drought: We have plenty of water. Sacramento Bee article 

Rob Jackson and Mary Kang: Groundwater could be a godsend, if we can protect it – Jackson, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and Kang, a postdoctoral researcher at the school, write, “There’s a windfall of water below our feet. Now that we know it’s there, California should start planning how best to use or save it.” Jackson/Kang op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

How bad is water management in California? – California’s combination of climate, native ecosystems, and human uses makes water management inherently hard, unsatisfactory, and evolving.  California is doomed to have difficult and controversial water problems. No matter how successful we are. Capitol Weekly article 

Westlands Water District to split top jobs amid missteps, criticism – Westlands Water District, which has come under fire from farmers and the federal government over its financial and other dealings, has decided it no longer wants its general manager to also function as the district’s top lawyer, agency officials said Monday. Fresno Bee article

Excessive lead found in Stockton home’s tap water – Stockton city officials report finding high lead levels in tap water, above the federal limit of 15 parts per billion, in two samples taken from a single home. Stockton Record article 

Radanovich to take helm at California Fresh Fruit Association — George Radanovich has been chosen as the new president of the Fresno-based California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA). The former eight-term Valley Congressman will replace current CFFA President Barry Bedwell, who has led the organization since 2003.  The Business Journal article; Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Dyer: Shooting a ‘tragedy;’ officers’ body cameras key to inquiry – Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer on Monday called the shooting death of unarmed 19-year-old Dylan Noble a “tragedy,” but said body-camera videos of the incident show why officers “felt, at least in their minds,” the need to use their firearms in the Saturday afternoon confrontation. Fresno Bee article; ‘Friends remember Dylan Noble’s love of life, kindness’ in Fresno Bee 

Associate warden at Chowchilla prison held on child sex charges – An associate warden at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla was arrested Monday on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said. Fresno Bee article 

Dozens of student sleuths attend first Modesto police CSI camp – Dozens of juveniles were photographed and fingerprinted at Enslen Park on Monday morning, but they were absolutely on the right side of the law. The 25 fifth- through eighth-graders are participating in the first CSI Camp, presented by theModesto Police and Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods departments. Modesto Bee article

Police rousting miscreant attacked in central Stockton park – A police officer was attacked by a man after contacting him regarding violating a park curfew Sunday night in central Stockton. The officer was not injured, but the man was arrested, according to police. Stockton Record article 

Former top LA County sheriff’s official given 5-year sentence for obstructing FBI probe – Paul Tanaka, once one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County, was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for interfering with an FBI investigation into jail abuses by sheriff’s deputies. LA Times article; AP article 

Education 

Kern High School District found liable in pep rally beating case, could face millions in damages – It took only an hour of deliberation for a Bakersfield jury to decide Monday that the Kern High School District acted negligently by allowing Bakersfield High School students to violently pile on top of classmate Mitchell Carter, who was wearing a chicken costume meant to mock an opposing team’s mascot during a 2010 pep rally. The jury voted 10 to 2, a sufficient margin for a verdict in a civil case. Damages, to be determined in the second phase of the trial in Kern County Superior Court this week, could be worth several million dollars.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Kern High School District allows concealed guns on campus – Concealed carry weapon permit holders will soon be able to walk onto Kern High School District campuses without an internal screening process, board members decided Monday, ending a months-long debate that has fired up anti-gun advocates and divided a community. Bakersfield Californian article 

Tulare Joint Union High School District says no to guns – Tulare Joint Union High School District voted to prohibit concealed firearms on district campuses at their board meeting Thursday. The vote was prompted by Senate Bill 707, signed into law in October by Gov. Jerry Brown. Visalia Times-Delta article (scroll to item) 

Stockton Unified plans to stay course on LCAP – As part of a three-year blueprint, Stockton Unified School District officials are expected to vote Tuesday on an update to the Local Control Accountability Plan for the 2016-17 school year, aimed to reach specific goals for low-income, English-language-learner and foster students. Stockton Record article 

Sheriff blasts Merced College president over contract dispute – The Merced County Sheriff’s Department’s contract to oversee campus police at Merced College is set to expire this week, with a dispute over control of the officers standing in the way of an agreement, according to both sides. Merced Sun-Star article 

Stockton Unified arts program reaches students’ inner souls – Unlike many high schools, which are dormant during the first few weeks of summer, the gymnasium at Chavez High School was alive Monday morning with the thundering sound of music and dance. Art Coleman and his troops of band and performing arts instructors were putting the final touches on a performance to cap this year’s Summer Arts and Music Institute program. Stockton Record article 

To do better in school, kids should exercise their bodies as well as their brains, experts say — Attention parents: If you’d like to see your kids do better in school, have them close their books, set down their pencils and go outside to play. That’s the latest advice from an international group of experts who studied the value of exercise in school-age kids. LA Times article 

Criticism escalates for online charter operator — A full audit by the state controller and legislation that will be heard this week could threaten the operation of California Virtual Academies, a network of nonprofit online charter schools tied to the publicly traded education company K12, Inc. EdSource article

Energy/Environment 

Erskine Fire impacts air quality – The heavy winds that fanned the flames of the Erskine Fire also pushed the smoke and soot all over Kern County. The eastern region is seeing a lot of smoke and spreading small particles, which can create severe health problems for residents. Bakersfield Californian article

Nine California wildfires destroy almost 70,000 acres – Nine wildfires continued to burn throughout California on Monday, as flames left nearly 70,000 acres scorched, and occupied the efforts of more than 5,000 firefighters, according to state and federal fire authorities. The deadly Erskine fire in Kern County is the largest of the fires and has so far burned 45,388 acres since it began late Thursday, south of Lake Isabella. LA Times article 

Life wasn’t glamorous before fire ravaged South Lake, but it was home — The more than 43,000-acre Erskine fire that roared through eastern Kern County hit no place harder than a community that was already a hardscrabble home to retirees living on fixed incomes and a working class spirit that defied the more glamorous stereotypes of lakeside living. LA Times article 

California land regulators to weigh end of nuclear power – California regulators are expected to decide Tuesday whether to drop their longstanding environmental objections to the state’s last nuclear power plant in return for its promised early closing. AP article 

Plan for regional power grid raises hopes, doubts — A plan to expand management of California’s power grid to a six-state area is raising concerns that the energy — and the governance — might not be as clean as billed. The idea is to restructure and expand what’s known as the California Independent System Operator, or Cal-ISO, a nonprofit based in Folsom that manages the majority of state transmission lines and the electrons coursing through them. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Why plans to replace Diablo Canyon with 100 percent clean energy could fall short — When PG&E announced plans to close California’s last remaining nuclear plant last week, it also announced a historic plan to replace it with clean energy, like solar or wind, and energy efficiency gains. That way, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which doesn’t put out carbon emissions, won’t be replaced with something that does, like natural gas, the utility said. But a 100 percent clean energy transition is less certain than it sounds. KQED report 

Health/Human Services

Turning motel rooms into a recovery ward for the homeless — After someone has a health crisis and gets emergency medical care, the patient is sent home to recover. But what if that person has no home? The homeless can’t get well when they go back to the street, and they end up cycling back into expensive hospitals and emergency rooms. Now one program in Southern California has tackled that dilemma by giving people just out of the hospital a place to heal – by turning cheap motels into triage and recovery wards. KQED report

Transportation 

Work starts soon on high-speed rail trench into downtown Fresno — Motorists on Highway 180 through downtown Fresno will start seeing the effects of high-speed rail construction in July as crews begin building a trench that will take the bullet-train tracks beneath the freeway. Fresno Bee article; ‘Video: How high-speed rail will juggle Highway 180 traffic’ in Fresno Bee 

Merced high-speed rail workshop set – The three alternatives for how to use retail, housing and other space around Merced’s high-speed rail stop are the focus of a workshop Tuesday in Merced, according to organizers. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno boxing gym gets an unexpected boost from high-speed rail – A downtown Fresno boxing gym once found in the back of a graphics business reopened in a larger facility June 18 on H Street after being displaced by high-speed rail construction. Main Event Boxing’s new location is three times larger than the previous space in the back of Main Event Graphics on Belmont Avenue, which is now completely leveled to make room for the new rail system. Fresno Bee article 

Counties work on $30 million effort to widen McHenry, replace Stanislaus River bridge – Stanislaus County officials and their counterparts in San Joaquin County keep working on a plan to remove the bottleneck at North McHenry Avenue and River Road, just north of the Stanislaus River bridge, and improve the traffic corridor between Modesto and Escalon. Modesto Bee article 

Sinkholes damage county, city roads — Officials are asking drivers to stay vigilant as sinkholes start to take a toll on Kings County roads. Hanford Sentinel article

Other areas 

Time is tight for local pot initiative to make November ballot – More than 17,000 people have signed petitions asking voters to decide whether to replace the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries with state regulations, but those signatures still aren’t ready to be turned in to local elections officials. Bakersfield Californian article 

Did Tulare County grand jury foreman disclose too much? — A dispute over comments by Tulare County Grand Jury foreman Chuck White has led to accusations that he disclosed grand jury information illegally.  Visalia Times-Delta article 

Fresno boy recites Declaration of Independence – without cue cards — Nathan Bond didn’t know he was a memorization prodigy until he started homeschool a year ago. After a challenge from his father, Bond memorized the entire Declaration of Independence in two months. He is one of the youngest people to do so, according to Guinness World Records officials. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling affirms election’s importance.

Sacramento Bee – Sunday’s melee at the Capitol didn’t help anyone’s cause; The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling affirms election’s importance.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Success of events could lead to more, great timing for summer literacy program and other issues.