June 29, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

California marijuana legalization measure on November ballot — Californians’ November ballot will include an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, with the coming campaign likely to reverberate nationwide given the state’s size and implications for similar efforts elsewhere. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Police transparency reaches a stalemate at the Capitol — California lawmakers have reached a stalemate over how much the public should know about the official activities of police officers. All but one of the major pieces of legislation introduced this year to either increase access to police disciplinary records and body camera footage or further restrict disclosure are now dead after a state Senate committee killed two bills Tuesday that would have given officers greater control over the handling of body camera videos. LA Times article

State budget

California Arts Council in the money with new state budget — The California Arts Council continues its upward climb out of near financial starvation with news Tuesday that the new state budgetincludes a $10.8 million bump, bringing state support to the agency in fiscal year 2016-17 to roughly $21.1 million. KQED report 

Salton Sea restoration gets $80.5 million in state budget — The state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week includes $80.5 million for restoration of the Salton Sea — more than California has ever allocated for the state’s largest and most troubled lake. KPBS report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez: Extended trip to Spain was ‘on my own dime’ — As dozens of House Democrats staged a 25-hour sit-in on Capitol Hill last week to demand votes on gun control legislation, all but one Democratic House member from California joined in.  Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange) was unable to participate because she was in Spain after a two-day trade mission there, her representative said. Sanchez extended her stay after the trade mission by six days. LA Times article

Other areas 

Bill to limit tobacco sales in California can’t even get a vote – Three weeks after California’s most significant new tobacco regulations in decades took effect, another proposed restriction proved so unpopular with lawmakers that it couldn’t even get a vote during a committee hearing on Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

California keeps gender-based pricing for retail goods – A bill that sought to ban the practice of charging men and women different prices for similar goods is finished for the year. Facing opposition from business groups, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, pulled Senate Bill 899 from consideration on Tuesday, ahead of a Friday deadline to advance measures out of policy committees. Sacramento Bee article 

Brock Turner case leads California to advance tougher penalties — With the support of liberal Democrats who tend to oppose tougher crime laws, a California Senate panel moved Tuesday to fortify California’s sexual assault penalties in response to the nationally watched case of a former Stanford swimmer who received a sentence criticized by many as too lenient. Sacramento Bee article; San Jose Mercury News article 

Dan Walters: Should ‘ex-parte’ discussions with high officials be restricted? – The focus on ex parte dealings reflects conflict between two imperatives – that complicated utility policies and development proposals often require private negotiations to be resolved, but that those with business before regulatory agencies should not enjoy potentially corrupting access to decisionmakers that their rivals, or the public, don’t have. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Sunday’s rally at state Capitol was a ‘powder keg’ waiting to explode – There was never any question about the potential for violence at Sunday’s neo-Nazi rally at the state Capitol. Both sides had been warning over the Internet for months that they expected a confrontation at the “United Stand for Freedom” rally planned by the Golden State Skinheads and the Traditionalist Worker Party group that took out the state permit for the event. Sacramento Bee article 

‘We need to do more’: Vigil serves as call for action on gun violence – Rep. Jerry McNerney grew teary eyed as he ended his remarks during a vigil honoring victims and survivors of gun violence Tuesday at Dean DeCarli Waterfront Square in downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Merced County lacks abortion provider regardless of Supreme Court ruling – A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week to strike down a sweeping anti-abortion law in Texas was welcomed in Merced County by Planned Parenthood representatives who noted, however, that local women still must travel an hour or more to obtain such services. Merced Sun-Star article 

Supreme Court has next batch of cases, but still lacks 9th justice – Supreme Court justices are setting out for their summer vacation certain of some things – but clueless about when they’ll be back at full strength. The eight justices know they will return in October for challenges involving Texas death-row inmates, North Carolina political districts and high-tech giant Microsoft. On Tuesday, their last day before ending an extraordinary term, they accepted additional cases that will await their return. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Poll shows Americans support both an assault weapons ban and carrying guns for self defense — A narrow majority of Americans support banning assault weapons, but a majority also supports carrying guns for self defense, according to a new Washington Post/ABC news pollreleased Tuesday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Presidential Politics

Trump returning to California for high-dollar fundraiser — Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is headed to Southern California days before the Republican National Convention for a fundraiser where donors are being asked to contribute up to $449,400 per person. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

Erskine Fire update: 257 structures lost, containment not expected for week — The Erskine Fire that continues to burn in the Piute Mountains has destroyed 257 structures and scorched 46,679 acres and likely won’t be contained for about a week, the Kern County Board of Supervisors learned Tuesday before approving three emergency measures aimed at streamlining local response. Bakersfield Californian article; Visalia Times-Delta article 

Stanislaus County leaders give approval to put transportation tax on ballot — Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to put a transportation sales tax before voters in November. The ballot proposal for the half-cent tax is titled the “Local Roads First Transportation Funding Measure.” Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Bakersfield council will mull new budget, land acquisitions – The city’s new proposed budget of nearly $461.5 million, the reflection of a challenging economy buffeted by falling oil prices and industry layoffs, will get a last look and likely approval by the Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday night. Bakersfield Californian article 

Merced County supervisors approve budget, express optimism – The Merced County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the proposed 2016-17 budget – $537.1 million in total – which officials say was prepared with prudence as the county’s financial health begins to stabilize. Merced Sun-Star article 

Stockton City Council approves water rate hike – Customers of the city’s Municipal Utilities Department will see their water rates increase starting August. The Stockton City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2, with Mayor Anthony Silva and Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi dissenting, to approve a plan that increases rates for the next five years. Stockton Record article 

Homeless veterans with kids in Fresno need a place to call home – Fresno does not have transitional or short-term housing for homeless male veterans to live with their children while permanent housing is found for them. Transitional housing is available for females with children, however. Fresno Bee article 

At the corner of power and poverty – The Capitol dome looms over downtown Sacramento, a magnet for money and power. Shiny-shoed politicians and well-dressed lobbyists hustle toward the building where billion-dollar decisions are made. Nearby shops sell fine cigars and custom suits. A bar serves $16 martinis. But the streets that surround this regal building also are home to some of Sacramento’s most destitute residents, many suffering from mental illness or drug addiction in addition to extreme poverty. It’s not uncommon to see them rifling through trash cans, shouting incoherently or sleeping barefoot in the shade on the Capitol’s manicured grounds. CALmatters article 

Experience life on the streets of San Francisco — There are more than 6,000 homeless people in San Francisco, according to a 2015 report, and each person has a different story. KQED report 

Solution to San Francisco’s homeless problem starts with supportive housing – Fixing San Francisco’s homelessness problem is possible. It will require the addition of thousands of housing units for the hardest-core homeless people — the ones who wander the streets, screaming at the invisible, the ones who live in tents on sidewalks and shoot up in plain sight. The ones who make people who live and visit here think San Francisco has lost its way. San Francisco Chronicle article 

San Francisco opens new full-service shelter to get homeless off streets – The 93-bed center, like its counterpart that opened in the Mission District more than a year ago, is a one-stop complex where chronically homeless people can be moved straight off the street with their belongings and partners, then quickly routed into permanent housing. It has more counselors than a traditional shelter, and it’s more welcoming. San Francisco Chronicle article 

The street’s sickest, costliest: the mentally ill – The sickest people living on San Francisco’s streets are not only the most noticeable, but the most vulnerable and hardest to reach. Public health experts believe roughly a third — and maybe many more — of all homeless people in San Francisco are mentally ill, many of them battling severe conditions like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LA closer to finalizing homeless housing funding measure for November ballot – The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to approve details of two proposed ballot measures aimed at generating funds for permanent housing with services for the homeless. KPCC report

Persistence, community support help San Francisco neighborhood fight homelessness – As San Francisco struggles for solutions to homelessness, North Beach Citizens is viewed by many homeless advocates as a success story, and one that could be replicated in other communities. KQED report 

Foreclosure, delinquency rates continue downward trend – Central Valley foreclosure activity continued to trend downward in April, with Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties all boasting better rates than the national average. The Business Journal article

Pipeline closure pressures local oil producers – Pipeline problems are again crimping local oil producers’ efforts to get their product to market and fetch a good price for it. Bakersfield Californian article 

Hanford birthday plans get reset — Three local nonprofit groups were all set to hold three consecutive parties in August to celebrate Hanford’s 125th birthday. That was before the Hanford City Council said not so fast. Council members sent Main Street Hanford, the Hanford Chamber of Commerce and the Hanford Carnegie Museum back to the drawing board last week, rejecting plans for three separate parties proposed that would have cost the city more than $10,000. Hanford Sentinel article 

Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion settlement includes perks for California drivers, air quality — Two years after a California agency first exposed Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat on vehicle emission tests, the state netted a large portion of the $14.7 billion settlement the automaker announced on Tuesday to resolve claims that it misled customers and lied to regulators for years. Sacramento Bee article;Sacramento Bee editorial 

Hanford’s historic Fox Theatre stages comeback after repairs, renovations – Now the Fox is back, with a new ceiling and other features after structural problems closed the venerable landmark. Dan Humason joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the renovations, the theatre’s history and some of the shows that are coming up at the venue. KVPR report

South Stockton’s troubled New Grand Save Market heading to receiver — South Stockton’s New Grand Save Market, described by the city as a “cesspool” of illicit activity, will be placed in the hands of a receiver late this week, a judge ruled today. Stockton Record article 

Aerojet Rocketdyne reorganization creates space, defense business units — Rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc., which retains a considerable presence in the Sacramento area, continues to restructure operations, consolidating six business units into two – defense and space. Sacramento Bee article 

3 San Francisco supervisors move to put tech tax on November ballot — Highly paid tech workers are often blamed for the city’s housing crisis. Now, three supervisors want to levy a tax on technology companies in an effort to make them pay for the city’s two biggest woes: the high cost of housing and homelessness. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Yahoo shareholders eager to see company sold – Yahoo shareholders are eager for the struggling tech giant to sell its Internet properties so they can reap their gains, cut their losses — or just move on.San Francisco Chronicle article 

Oakland coal: A day after defeat, developer tone changes– The Oakland City Council has made its move, effectively blocking a developer’s plan to ship massive amounts of coal from the city’s port. Now, all eyes are on developer Phil Tagami and his project team, whose members repeatedly threatened to sue the city in what could become a costly, drawn-out court battle. San Francisco Chronicle article


Kings County 2015 crop values drop as milk prices fall — Declining prices for milk, cotton and nuts caused the 2015 value of Kings County’s crops to tumble 18.2 percent to $2 billion. Fresno Bee article;Hanford Sentinel article; The Business Journal article 

Fresno residents raise concerns about lead in their water – The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has led a lot of people across the country to ask what’s in their water.  Residents of Northeast Fresno are growing increasingly frustrated with their own water problem that’s been a decade in the making, one that they say is threatening their health. KVPR report 

Stockton homeowner downplays discovery of lead in tap water — The owner of the Stockton home that tested for elevated levels of lead in the tap water, above federal drinking water standards, said Tuesday that concern over the contamination was overblown. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Modesto group calls for resignation of judge, top prosecutor – A community group on Tuesday called for the resignations of a local judge and Stanislaus County’s top prosecutor for a plea deal that resulted in no jail time for an ex-sheriff’s detective once accused in a deadly shooting. Modesto Bee article 

Police shooting of unarmed Fresno teen sparks protest and calls for answers — Days after hundreds of people took to the streets demanding answers, the police shooting of an unarmed Fresno teen has sparked an online petition calling on officers to release body camera footage of the incident. LA Times article 

Gang violence prevention money headed to Merced — Gov. Jerry Brown approved the state budget Monday that includes the $4.5 million championed by Merced-area elected officials to fight gang violence and other law enforcement issues. Merced Sun-Star article 

Uncertainty looms for indigent criminal defense in Merced — The Merced County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to extend by one year its $2 million contract with a group that provides criminal defense to people who cannot afford it, but its rejection of a three-year deal leaves the future of the relationship in limbo. Merced Sun-Star article 

California may take closer look at treatment courts for veterans – Of California’s 58 counties, 25 operate courts for veterans, including six in the Bay Area. They allow vets with substance abuse issues or mental health problems to be placed in treatment rather than prison or jail. KQED report 

Inmate in sheriff’s work program posts photo online of euthanized shelter dogs — An inmate in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department’s Alternative Work Program won’t be doing his community service at the animal shelter any longer after posting online a photo of several euthanized dogs. Modesto Bee article 

Poorly performing LA sheriff’s deputies are not weeded out in their first year, report says – New sheriff’s deputies who perform poorly on the job during their first year are not being weeded out, leaving them to potentially cause problems years down the road in life-or-death situations, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s inspector general. LA Times article 

Manson murderer’s ‘disturbingly distorted’ view should prevent her release from prison, DA says — The Los Angeles County district attorney has asked Gov. Jerry Brown to deny parole for former Manson “family” member Leslie Van Houten, who was convicted along with other members of the cult in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. LA Times article


Kern High School District votes to allow guns on campus: What happens now? – Kern High School District leaders approved a controversial policy Monday allowing some to carry concealed firearms on campus, however the implementation of that policy remains murky with board members differing on their interpretations. Bakersfield Californian article 

UC spent $158,000 on campaign to counter critical state audit – In the wake of a scathing state audit released in March, the University of California mounted a $158,000 publicity campaign to dispute claims that its admissions policies had disadvantaged resident students. Sacramento Bee article

Kern High School District trustee on pep rally beating: ‘Mistakes were made’ – The Kern High School District’s board president admitted that Bakersfield High School made missteps in handling a pep rally in 2010 that left former student Mitch Carter with allegedly serious injuries. Bakersfield Californian article 

Stockton Unified sued over student arrest data – Before Stockton Unified School District trustees voted unanimously to approve an update to the Local Control Accountability Plan for the 2016-17 school year, the district was slapped with a lawsuit from the ACLU of Northern California for what the organization said is the district’s refusal to release documentation of student arrest and citation data. Stockton Record article; EdSource article 

Nan Austin: Ed makeover more familiar ride, but driving change still goal – The school year that just ended felt like a tipping point. So much that was so foreign in 2014-15 fell into a groove. But if the goal is to drive change, getting comfortable is not entirely good. Austin in Modesto Bee 

Bakersfield City School District trustee calls for term limits – Calling for an end to professional politicians, Bakersfield City School District Trustee Ray Gonzales said he plans to propose term limits for his colleagues Tuesday, limiting how long they could serve on the dais. Bakersfield Californian article 

Merced College president denies she ordered police to make arrest – Merced College officials on Tuesday denied allegations that acting President Susan Walsh tried to have a member of the board of trustees arrested in April. Merced Sun-Star article 

Kern Valley High looking for students displaced by Erskine Fire – Kern Valley High School staffers are looking for students who’ve lost homes in the Erskine Fire to help with clothing and other items. The Kern High School District is providing a $400 voucher per student for personal necessities. Bakersfield Californian article

Michael Fitzgerald: A classroom in Kampala – Imagine you’re 21, a lifelong Stockton resident. You’ve never been overseas. Then you find yourself in Kampala, Uganda, and the waiter is offering “vegetable lungfish.” That’s the experience of Carlos Delgado. Delgado is in Uganda on a summer internship. One that entails not only work but sensory overload and … wow, things are different here. It sounds like bar trivia, but University of the Pacific’s School of International Studies collaborates with Uganda’s Bureau of Statistics, the census bureau. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Merced County Office of Education offers program to shape young adults’ career plans — The Merced County Office of Education will offer guidance and training to young adults who are trying to figure out what steps to take after leaving high school. Merced Sun-Star article 

Despite disability, California student graduates into ranks of in-demand electricians – When Erwin Elenes graduated from Los Angeles Trade-Technical College this month with a certificate in its electrical program, it was quite an accomplishment.

That’s because Erwin Elenes can’t hear. He contracted chicken pox when he was 10 months old and his hearing has been severely impaired ever since. California Economic Summit report 

Teacher’s Neo-Nazi counterprotest prompts Berkeley school threat — Security at a Berkeley middle school was beefed up after the principal received a “vulgar and poorly written” email threat over a teacher’s involvement in a counterprotest to a neo-Nazi rally at the state Capitol building in Sacramento over the weekend that turned into a bloody melee. San Francisco Chronicle article


PG&E’s Diablo Canyon closure plan clears first hurdle – Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s plan to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plantin nine years cleared its first government hurdle Tuesday, despite pressure from opponents to shut it down sooner. San Francisco Chronicle article 

More wildfires, starting sooner, burning more acres – A report by the nonpartisan Climate Central says that 11 million people in California are at risk of wildfire and that climate change is lengthening the wildfire season. Previous reports by researchers have said wildfires in the western U.S. would become more intense, larger, and start earlier than usual as a result of climate change. Capital Public Radio report 

Witness rebuts prosecution on PG&E pipeline-testing methods – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. chose its controversial pipeline-testing methods for efficiency and safety and not — as prosecutors claim — to cut costs, a former PG&E supervising engineer testified Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

IBM research scientists in San Jose find new way to recycle plastic — Plastic from baby bottles, CDs and eyeglass lenses is tougher to recycle than soda bottles so it often end up in landfills leaching toxic chemicals instead of being transformed into something new. But a discovery by scientists at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose is giving this type of hard plastic, called polycarbonates, a new life in a safer form. San Jose Mercury News article

Health/Human Services

Blue Shield faces new criticism of shortchanging consumers in California — Blue Shield of California, already under scrutiny by state officials, is facing new criticism that it didn’t adequately pay back policy holders for excessively spending on administrative costs in 2014. LA Times article 

Pilar Medrano: Everyone deserves health care – The Healthcare Promotora and community health educator with Dignity Health and Vision y Compromiso writes, “Our farms and ranches — our way of life — would not thrive without ag workers, who are the force that powers this powerful economic engine. What would happen if they went away? What would happen if they were too sick to work? I don’t want to know, but we shouldn’t have to find out.” Medrano op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Andrew Wall, M.D.: Don’t dishonor our veterans by denying their choice of a physician – The practicing anesthesiologist with Anesthesia Consultants of Fresno writes, “Our nation’s veterans have risked their lives fighting for our country. It is wrong to make them risk their lives now in the operating room because of a new policy that would prevent them from receiving the safest level of care under a physician anesthesiologist.” Wall op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Marjaree Mason Center leader steps down — After nearly three years at the helm of the Marjaree Mason Center, executive director Genelle Taylor Kumpe is stepping down. She resigned Monday. Fresno Bee article


Stockton airport adds to San Diego flights — Stockton Metropolitan Airport has announced a third weekly flight between Stockton and San Diego International Airport will be added to its service schedule beginning Sept. 6. Stockton Record article

Other areas 

Tulare supervisors respond to grand jury’s investigation – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors and the grand jury are at odds over the performance of the Auditor’s Office and its dealing with local special boards. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Carmen George: Sisters become doctors, lawyers after childhood of farm labor — One scorching summer day in Selma, 8-year-old Leticia Corona Gómez asked her mother why their family had to toil in the fields all summer – work that began before dawn and lasted all day, all week, and often, all weekend – for a mere 17 cents per bucket of grapes. The answer that followed would stay with her and her sisters. “She said, ‘That’s why you have to get an education,” recalls Leticia’s older sister, Luz Corona Gómez, “so you don’t work in the dirt like us.’ ” George in Fresno Bee 

Lois Henry: Couple that died in fire loved church, music, each other — It hurts to even think about Gladys and Byron McKaig’s final moments. The elderly Squirrel Valley couple died trying in vain to escape the heat and smoke of the devastating Erskine Fire. Their deaths were a horrible tragedy. But they died as they had lived — together. Bakersfield Californian article 

Oakdale Irrigation District files lawsuit against two board members – The Oakdale Irrigation District’s anticipated lawsuit against two of its own board members was filed Tuesday, asking that a judge bar Linda Santos and Gail Altieri from board votes and discussions about a separate lawsuit on OID’s stalled fallowing program. Modesto Bee article 

Fireworks can put a damper on Independence Day festivities – Nothing says patriotism like fireworks bursting over a crowd-filled park on a July evening. For most Americans, going out to see fireworks on the Fourth of July is a time-honored tradition. But smoke in the air and eye injury from fireworks can leave lasting damage. Sparks from fireworks can ignite brush fires. For some, hearing explosions over their heads is traumatic. Fresno Bee article; Stockton Record article

Armenian foundation working on plans for Saroyan’s Fresno house-museum – An Armenian-based organization bought William Saroyan’s house in central Fresno last year with plans to turn it into a museum. Few details were released about the project. Fresno Bee article 

LA County extends ban on medical marijuana cultivation, distribution in unincorporated areas – Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to extend by one year a temporary ban on medical marijuana cultivation and distribution in unincorporated areas. LA Times article

State archives accessible online with new Google partnership — The California State Archives is teaming up with the Google Cultural Institute to make its exhibits available worldwide and online. AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Sunday’s bloody melee at the state Capitol didn’t help anyone’s cause

Merced Sun-Star – States can’t block right to an abortion; Sunday’s bloody melee at the state Capitol didn’t help anyone’s cause.

Modesto Bee – Sunday’s bloody melee at the state Capitol didn’t help anyone’s cause; States can’t block the right to an abortion.

Sacramento Bee – Volkswagen’s deal could aid innovation, but reputation is another question; Regional Transit trims some sweeteners from Mike Wiley’s exit deal.