June 30, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Ballot measure threatens bullet train, Delta tunnels – Two of Gov. Jerry Brown’s favorite projects — building a high-speed rail system and a pair of massive tunnels under the Delta — face a serious threat if California voters pass a measure heading for the November ballot. The “No Blank Checks Initiative,” bankrolled with $4.5 million from Stockton farmer and businessman Dean Cortopassi, would require a public vote on any state project in which $2 billion or more in revenue bonds would be issued.  San Jose Mercury News article 

California lawmakers punt once again on teacher tenure — Opposed by both the state’s powerful teachers unions and the education overhaul groups they are frequently at odds with – a sight so unusual it was noted by committee members – a bill to change how California schools retain and fire teachers fell short in its first legislative vote Wednesday. Sacramento Bee articleEdSource article

State budget

Joel Fox: No budget cuts? There may be a reason — Governor Jerry Brown did not find one spending item to cut when he approved the state budget. This is a rare occurrence. In fact, you have to go way back to 1982 to find a governor who did not veto a single item in the budget. That governor was one Jerry Brown in the last year of his first go-around as chief executive. Could it be he made the decision not to cut from the new budget because the overall budget is projected to be slightly smaller than the most recent state budget? Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gov. Brown 

George Skelton: Big fish in small pond: No room for bass in Gov. Jerry Brown’s tunnel plan — Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton….” Hold it there. Cotton growers don’t like those fish jumpin’. Neither do hardly any other growers in the thirsty San Joaquin Valley. Not bass, anyway, jumpin’ in the bucolic California Delta. They want `em dead. Striped and black bass, so popular with recreational anglers, are trying to survive in water that San Joaquin Valley growers desperately covet for their crops. And the fish are messing it up. Skelton column in LA Times 

Brown signs gambling agreement for Amador tribe — Gov. Jerry Brown has boosted the casino development efforts of a tiny Amador County tribe by signing an updated gambling agreement for a casino proposed near the town of Ione. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Rep. Valadao has change of heart on Donald Trump as GOP nominee – Rep. David Valadao, who represents a heavily Hispanic swath of the central San Joaquin Valley, has had a change of heart over his initial support of Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee. The Hanford Republican, in a statement released by his campaign last week, now says he cannot support a candidate whose divisive rhetoric “denigrates people based on their ethnicity, religion, or disabilities.” Fresno Bee article 

Once a rival, H. Spees now endorses Lee Brand for mayor – Holding true to a gentleman’s agreement, former Fresno mayor candidate H. Spees on Wednesday officially endorsed City Councilman Lee Brand for the November runoff against Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report 

Nunes opponent and small group protest GOP inaction on gun laws — Five protesters, led by Democratic congressional challenger Louie J. Campos, gathered outside Republican Rep. Devin Nunes’ Clovis office on Wednesday morning to urge Nunes and the GOP-led Congress to vote on gun legislation. Fresno Bee article 

Turlock passes voluntary Tin Cup reforms — A measure to keep city campaigns clean, civil and transparent passed in a split vote by the Turlock City Council after mandatory limits sought by political veterans failed to garner the votes. Modesto Bee article 

Fant hearing on election fraud charges set for August — City Council candidate Sam Fant’s preliminary hearing on felony conspiracy and election fraud charges will be held less than 11 weeks before voters cast their ballots Nov. 8. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Dan Morain: Labor mulls Newsom’s marijuana measure; Steyer offers water – As the temperature neared 100, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer joined United Farm Workers leader Arturo Rodriguez on the north steps of the Capitol to urge lawmakers to approve overtime for farmworkers, as described by The Sacramento Bee’s David Siders. Across L Street a short while later, supporters and opponents of the Gavin Newsom/SeanParker/Weedmaps marijuana legalization initiative made their pitches to the California Labor Federation for endorsements. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Billionaire Tom Steyer won’t decide whether to run for governor until after November — As he attended a Capitol rally Wednesday with the head of the United Farm Workers and later gave a speech to the Harry S. Truman Democratic Club, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer looked very much like a candidate running for office. But the former hedge fund manager hedged when asked when he will decide whether to run for governor of California. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article 

Voters will consider a new use for bag fees on November ballot – California voters in November will not only decide whether to uphold the state’s plastic bag ban, but will also whether to redirect fees on paper and reusable bags to environmental projects. LA Times article 

Ed Coghlan: Modernization of California’s landmark Political Reform Act announced — The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), in partnership with the University of California and California Forward, has announced a project to update California’s venerable Political Reform Act (PRA). Coghlan op-ed in California Forward


California House Republicans ask President Obama to halt benefits for immigrants in U.S. illegally — Nine California Republican House members are asking the Obama administration to reject California’s application to extend benefits under the 2010Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to those in the country illegally. LA Times articleKQED report

Other areas 

Assembly resolution asks Gov. Brown for a homeless state of emergency — Lawmakers from Los Angeles and San Francisco took the unusual step Wednesday of introducing a resolution asking Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a statewide emergency to help California’s homeless population. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Marcos Breton: Madness comes to Sacramento, and the cops weren’t ready – The examples of solid police work are numerous, but Sunday was different. Sunday was horrible. Ten people were injured and five stabbed at the state Capitol during a chaotic melee between a neo-Nazi group and so-called “anti-fascist” protesters. We’re not used to seeing that scale of violence on Sacramento’s streets because police usually defuse it. But not this time. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

After gun control sit-in, California House Democrats bring ‘day of action’ home to constituents – Hundreds of similar stories were told at events around California and the U.S. on Wednesday as House Democrats held a “day of action” to keep attention on efforts to vote on expanded background checks for gun purchasers and to keep those on the FBI’s watch lists from legally purchasing guns. LA Times article 

Lawmakers want to make rape survivor’s letter required reading – Millions have read it. Now Reps. Susan Davis and Juan Vargas, both San Diego Democrats, want to ensure future generations also read the letter written by a woman who was raped by a Stanford University student in 2015. The letter went viral this year because of its raw account of what unfolded after the attack. KPBS report 

Indian consul visit over Sikh genocide resolution creates backlash — The Indian consul of San Francisco’s effort to quash a proposed Fresno City Council resolution calling the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in 1984 a genocide has sparked a backlash among Valley Sikhs. Fresno Bee article 

California military and CA projects stung in Congress’ Zika fight – California military and veterans’ facilities are hostage to the congressional partisanship that’s hung up emergency Zika funding. McClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee editorial 

Mark T. Harris: Nexit: EU dominoes will continue to fall – The continuing lecturer, Management and Business Economics Core Faculty, Entrepreneurship Hub and Entrepreneurship Lab at UC Merced, writes, “Even a nation’s attempt to exit the EU, as we’ve now seen, is fraught with sudden and substantial currency destabilization and financial market disruption. We are witnessing the implosion of the EU in real time. While experts are unsure of which member nation may next pull out of the EU, most agree there will be more ‘exits’; as the dominoes continue to fall.” Harris op-ed in Fresno Bee article

Presidential Politics

Cathleen Decker: In Hollywood, Hillary Clinton looks to the future and brushes aside the past — For Hillary Clinton, the driving imperative of the presidential campaign is to focus voters on the future, the candidacy of Donald Trump and her myriad policy plans — and away from the controversies of the past. Decker in LA Times

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

Kern High School District settles chicken suit beating case for $10.5 million – The Kern High School District agreed Wednesday to pay $10.5 million to a former student injured in a violent dog pile that broke out during a 2010 Bakersfield High School pep rally, cutting short an ongoing civil trial that threatened to cost the district’s insurance company even more money. Bakersfield Californian articleLA Times article 

Shasta water release plan has no cutbacks to farmers – for now — After weeks of uncertainty and pressure from members of Congress, federal officials on Wednesday announced a plan for managing water releases from California’s largest reservoir this summer in a manner that will not involve cutbacks in farm water deliveries – at least if all goes as hoped. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Bakersfield council approves lean city budget, hears about fireworks – With little discussion on Wednesday night, the Bakersfield City Council approved a new city budget of nearly $461.5 million that reflects ongoing belt-tightening due to falling oil prices, industry layoffs and a corresponding loss in sales tax revenue. Bakersfield Californian article 

Riverbank again sees red in budget – The city’s income continues to grow, but expenses are expected to outpace revenue in the fiscal year starting Friday. City Council members Tuesday unanimously adopted a yearly budget just short of $20 million, up 6 percent from the last budget. But like last year, the document represents deficit spending because Riverbank expects to make only $18.1 million. Modesto Bee article 

Stockton Record: Unfortunate reality – There are no true winners after Stockton City Council voted this week to jack up water rates. Stockton Record editorial 

Modesto poised to raise garbage rates – Modestans soon could be paying more to have their garbage picked up. The City Council’s Effective Government Committee has approved a proposal to raise rates for garbage collection and forwarded it to the full council for consideration. The proposal is expected to come before the council July 12. Modesto Bee article 

San Francisco homelessness Q&A: Frequently asked questions, answers — The questions that arise around homelessness in San Francisco aren’t always easy ones and the answers can be quite complex. The most pressing question of where to find a bed—whether you’re looking for shelter yourself or helping someone secure it—brings up a complicated system of shelter shortages, long lines and waitlists. Below we aim to provide responses to some of the most common.  San Francisco Chronicle article

How San Francisco and LA are addressing homelessness – Instead of hundreds of tents concentrated on and around one San Francisco street, they’re appearing more and more on various alleyways and sidewalks — to the frustration of residents and merchants. It’s the latest in the city’s long, frequently controversial, and always frustrating relationship with the homeless people living on its streets. L.A.’s Skid Row, by contrast, is a roughly 50-square-block area of downtown that’s home to several thousand people either living on the streets or in one of many shelters and transitional supportive housing complexes. KQED report

LA’s chief bureaucrat takes a moral stance on homelessness – while guiding Los Angeles on its painful budget recovery, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana often had to be the naysayer. He told the city no to hiring, he told the unions no to raises and he told the voters no to fixing sidewalks and streets without new taxes. But when it comes to the city’s homeless crisis, Santana has a vision he believes the city can’t say no to. LA Times article 

Homeless blanket project ‘Undercover’ extends long past Super Bowl City – Super Bowl City’s a thing of the past, but San Francisco has beenclearing streets of homeless encampments since the week-long event began. Yet, despite the city’s continuous efforts to push the homeless out of sight, they’re still there. KQED report 

In my experience: Homeless in the Bay Area — Over 6,600 people are homeless in San Francisco, according to a 2015 count by the city. That includes not just people living on the streets, but those residing in shelters, cars, and other temporary locations. As part of Forum’s “In My Experience” series, and as part of the SF Homeless Project media collaboration, homeless Bay Area residents take us inside their day-to-day lives and share some of the personal stories behind the statistics. KQED report 

Joy, tears at graduation ceremony for formerly homeless women – Women’s Empowerment, founded 15 years ago and now with a $1 million annual budget, attests that 80 percent of its graduates either have a job or are enrolled in school a year after completing more than eight weeks of training in basic computer skills, writing résumés and searching for employment. Sacramento Bee article 

LA manufacturing job loss hampers state recovery, report says – Los Angeles has hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs since 2007, casting a pall over the state’s economic recovery, according to a forecast released Tuesday by Chapman University. LA Times article 

Mayor, business groups line up to fight San Francisco tech tax proposal – Mayor Ed Lee, at least one of his political allies on the Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and a group that represents the city’s tech sector are fighting a new proposal to tax the technology industry. KQED report 

Golden 1 Center to hold summit on sustainable sports venues – A major summit focused on environmental standards for sports facilities will be held at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center next year, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article 

Airbnb’s legal argument: Don’t hold us accountable for the actions of our hosts — The company filed a lawsuit on Monday against its home city of San Francisco, alleging a new ordinance that would fine short-term rental firms for not proactively removing unregistered property listings from their websites and apps violates the Communications Decency Act, the Stored Communications Act and the 1st Amendment. LA Times article 

Chargers stadium faces higher vote hurdle — The state Supreme Court late Wednesday temporarily blocked a March lower court ruling that said tax increases like the Chargers stadium initiative need approval from a simple majority instead of two-thirds of voters. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Sacramento Bee: California needs action now on groundwater protection – As if California’s water supplies weren’t already sufficiently imperiled, a bill that would have taken a small step toward groundwater regulation unfortunately has now stalled. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Stanislaus County dispute with Turlock grower not over yet — Four years ago, Stanislaus County officials took action against watermelon grower Dan Avila, who was packing and shipping produce without county permits at a yard on North Washington Road near Turlock. Modesto Bee article 

Cutler Park gets water — County administrators got approval to secure a construction contract for two water wells at Cutler Park. Deputy County Administrative Officer John Hess said the irrigation well failed because of the drought. And the park’s domestic well, used to run restrooms and water fountains, and temporarily used for irrigation, lacked the capacity to continue providing adequate water to the park. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Drug use appears to rise in California prisons even after crackdown – Drug use behind bars appears to have increased since California started using drug-sniffing dogs and machinery to try to stop smuggling at state prisons, where overdose deaths are nearly five times the national rate, records show. LA Times article

Teen details police sex abuse scandal: ‘Hurry up and turn 18’ — The sexually exploited teenager at the center of a Bay Area police scandal said she told investigators that four officers had sex with her when she was 16 and 17 years old, including an Oakland cop she considered her “boyfriend” and a Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy who would pick her up and drive her to a rural road near the Caldecott Tunnel. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Judicial agency gets more petitions in Stanford sex-assault case – Angered by a relatively light sentence given to a former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted a drunk and unconscious woman, activists, including survivors of rape, delivered thousands of signed petitions Wednesday to the state judicial discipline agency demanding it remove the judge in the case from the bench. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LAPD officer was unjustified in killing a man who zapped his partner with a Taser, panel finds — The rookie Los Angeles police officer screamed, her body shaking, as the 38-year-old man zapped a Taser against her thigh. “He’s tasing me!” she yelled to her partner. “He’s tasing me!” LA Times article 


Fresno Unified refuses to disclose potential legal fees in Harris construction case – Fresno taxpayers could be paying even more for Fresno Unified School District’s legal battle over a no-bid construction contract – but the district won’t disclose how much. Fresno Bee article 

Public Policy Institute of California: The rise and fall of for-profit colleges — Increased demand for postsecondary education in California has contributed to dramatic growth in enrollment at for-profit colleges. But in recent years, this trend has begun to reverse. Many students who saw for-profit colleges as a viable alternative to public and private nonprofit institutions are in debt and without a degree, and some for-profit colleges are now the focus of state and national investigations, lawsuits, and sanctions. PPIC blog 

Deputy: Merced College president pushed him to arrest board member, investigate staff – The sheriff’s sergeant at the center of a fight between Merced College and the Merced County Sheriff’s Office said President Susan Walsh pressured him to arrest a school board member and also to investigate college faculty members. Merced Sun-Star article 

Fresno State gets $350,000 nursing grant — The School of Nursing at Fresno State has been awarded nearly $350,000 to increase the number of advanced education nurses in the central San Joaquin Valley. The Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship Program grant will allow nurses to be trained to practice as primary care providers and to become nursing faculty. Fresno Bee article 

Obama administration has forgiven $171 million owned by former Corinthian students —  The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to forgive $171 million of debt owed by former students of the bankrupt for-profit school Corinthian Colleges Inc., most of them in California. LA Times article


Death toll rises to four in California wildfires as bodies found in rural areas – A series of deadly brush fires that hit Southern California this month claimed two more victims, as authorities Wednesday confirmed the discovery of two bodies in a rural area scorched by the Border fire in San Diego County.  LA Times article

Report: Fresno leads state in industrial solar installations — According to a new report, Fresno has emerged as the state’s top region for industrial solar power. Fresno is No. 1 in the state for industrial solar power, with 11,132 kW installed, which is larger than the amount of installed industrial solar power in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim regions combined. The Business Journal article 

PG&E kept faulty pipeline records, witness says – A Pacific Gas and Electric Co. engineer testified Wednesday that the company relied on records that it knew were faulty when it spiked pressure on its gas pipelines, including the line that later exploded in San Bruno.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

First audit in 20 years finds a lot wrong with the agency that regulates your utilities — Major reforms may be coming to the California Public Utilities Commission, but the agency still has plenty of room for improvement, auditors said Wednesday. LA Times article 

Upgrades help Save Mart save energy at Ripon store – Apples shone brightly in a Save Mart produce bin Wednesday, lit up by LED fixtures that save energy and money. The chain’s Ripon store showed off several conservation measures installed with help from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Such places use plenty of power for refrigeration, lighting and other needs, and any savings could help trim costs for shoppers. Modesto Bee article 

Jeff Jardine: Talking trash too frequently a topic on city streets, county roads — More and more dump-and-runs are happening on the roads and even city streets. Wednesday morning, a mattress and a box spring adorned one of Modesto’s main streets into downtown and represented just one little dot of blight. Scenic Drive looked anything but scenic. Blight never does. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

San Francisco supervisors OK toughest Styrofoam ban in U.S. — San Francisco will soon have the most extensive ban on Styrofoam in the country. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation by Supervisor London Breedthat bans the product in food packaging such as meat trays, packing peanuts, ice chests, dock floats and mooring buoys. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Health/Human Services 

Heart disease and cancer are now responsible for nearly half of all deaths in U.S., report says – What are the most common ways to die in America? The answer depends on how old you are, whether you’re a man or a woman, and your racial and ethnic background, a new report shows. LA Times article 

California drug transparency bill clears key Health committee — A measure that would compel pharmaceutical companies to disclose and justify drug price increases overcame a show of skepticism by Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon, passing the Assembly Health Committee 12-4 on a party-line vote. KQED report


Merced’s high-speed rail plans back on track — After a few months of uncertainty in the spring, when the California High-Speed Rail Authority plucked Merced’s stop from the initial stages and then put it back in, the planning is back on track, according to Frank Quintero, Merced’s director of economic development. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Two appointed to Tulare County Superior Court bench – Gov. Jerry Brown appointed two new judges to the Tulare County Superior Court. Attorney John Bianco and Nathan Leedy, a supervising Attorney at the Tulare County Public Defender’s Office, were appointed to the bench this week. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Erskine Fire brings out looters but also countless acts of charity — On a day when road re-openings brought untold numbers of residents to the crushing realization the fire had claimed virtually all their possessions, and that looters were making off with much of the rest, a surprisingly positive outlook shone through. People were coming together in selflessness and charity, convinced the disaster would not weaken their community but strengthen it. Bakersfield Californian article 

Firefighters concerned about July 4 — With conditions ripe for vegetation fires, local fire officials are urging citizens to exercise extra caution when using fireworks this Fourth of July. Hanford Sentinel article 

Joe Mathews: San Diego boasts the finest Fourth in California — My fellow Californians, declare your independence. Skip your local parade and fireworks show. And head instead to San Diego, where this truth will be self-evident: No place in California celebrates the Fourth of July half as well as San Diego. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Gridlock in Congress gets dangerous as anti-Zika funding delayed.

Sacramento Bee – As if California’s water supplies weren’t already sufficiently imperiled, a bill that would have taken a small step toward groundwater regulation unfortunately has now stalled; Gridlock in Congress gets dangerous as anti-Zika funding delayed.

Stockton Record – Sometimes it takes tough action to truly prompt change. This receivership for the New Grand Save Market is both prudent and necessary; There are no true winnersafter Stockton City Council voted this week to jack up water rates.