June 6, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 California’s congressional delegation can’t agree on response to drought – The state’s splintered congressional delegation — despite its size and influence — has been stymied by fundamental disagreements over the causes of the drought and the role of the federal government in mitigating its consequences. If anything, recent fights have only hardened positions, with both sides questioning each other’s motives. LA Times article

 Jerry Brown, lawmakers pull cap-and-trade out of budget talks — Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have agreed to set aside a dispute over cap-and-trade revenue until after adopting the state’s annual spending plan, eliminating a point of contention in budget talks 10 days before the deadline for its approval. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

 Reducing poverty a budget priority for California Democrats — Reducing poverty has emerged as the key theme in California after state lawmakers moved closer to raising the minimum wage, expanding health care to immigrants and allowing child-care providers to unionize. AP article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Proposed marijuana initiative has counties working on regulatory framework – In California, counties are planning for the possibility that adult recreational use of marijuana could be legalized. Polls suggest that a measure to legalize pot would stand a chance if it’s on the statewide ballot in November 2016. Modesto Bee article

 Daniel Borenstein: Latest Chuck Reed pension plan would give voters a voice they deserve — Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s latest statewide pension reform initiative is smart policy and smart politics. It poses one simple question: Should voters have a say before state and local officials grant retirement benefits to new public employees? Borenstein column in Contra Costa Times

 Joel Fox: Voters could decide pension reforms — Pension reform is headed to the voters via initiative, and if successful, any future pension decisions will remain in the voters’ hands. Fox in Fox & Hounds


 Illegal arrest? No problem, if it’s immigration — Immigration officers in Seattle strolled into a gas station one day in 2007 and saw Argelio Guerrero-Renovato standing, as they put it, with a group of Hispanic individuals who had been “observed on various occasions speaking only Spanish.” They proceeded to arrest Guerrero-Renovato, who admitted he lacked documentation and soon found himself facing deportation. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Other areas

California Senate nixes late-night ride service — The California State Senate has ended a late-night ride service for lawmakers that stirred indignation and questions about the use of public resources. Capitol Alert

 Data dilemma looms for state in any mid-decade congressional remap – At the time of the 2010 census, exactly 4,890 people lived in a Fair Oaks census tract that later became part of Sacramento County’s 7th Congressional District. That number has since grown to 4,974 people – give or take a few hundred, according to more recent census figures. The disparity underscores the data dilemma that would confront California lawmakers if, as some experts think is likely, the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Arizona Republicans’ argument that Arizona’s independent redistricting commission had no business drawing the state’s congressional lines after the 2010 census. Sacramento Bee article

 California Senate won’t appeal landmark open records court ruling, leader says — The leader of the state Senate announced Friday that his legislative body will not appeal a Sacramento Superior Court judge’s order to turn over key calendar information for two suspended senators, saying he supports the ruling on a lawsuit filed by Bay Area News Group, publisher of this newspaper, and Los Angeles News Group. Contra Costa Times article

 Some of the bills advancing in California Legislature – California lawmakers passed hundreds of bills through their house of origin this week ahead of a deadline. Here’s a look at some of the proposals working their way through the Legislature.  AP article

 Maynard lobbied Gov. Brown on aid-in-dying bill just before death –  As one of her last acts before she took her own life, Brittany Maynard talked by telephone with California Gov. Jerry Brown about her desire to see her home state adopt an aid-in-dying law, her husband says. LA Times article

 Internet poker stymied in Capitol — Legalized internet poker – a fruitless effort in California that has spanned seven years, a dozen major bills and hundreds of hours of tense talks – was headed for defeat again in the Capitol, following opposition from a key Senate committee leader. Capitol Weekly article

 Jerry Brown signs bill to pay Chuck Reed $106,173.50 — Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation that pays $106,173.50 to former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to cover legal expenses he incurred during a successful legal fight with the state. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Gov. Brown says $10,000-a-day fines for water-wasting cities not ‘bluster’ — Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday said he won’t back down on his threat to fine cities, water districts and private water companies $10,000 a day if they fail to meet strict water conservation targets during California’s relentless drought. San Jose Mercury News article

 California is sinking, and it’s getting worse – California is sinking – and fast. While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it. Center for Investigative Reporting article

Jobs and the Economy

 Sheriff’s office gaining new positions in new Fresno County budget – In the coming year the board will work to begin restoring salaries of those who lost wages when 9% cuts occurred in 2011. The 2015-16 budget includes 116 additional positions — to 7,375 overall — with more than half in justice and public safety services and nearly all of those in the Sheriff’s Office. Fresno Bee article

 U.S. hiring surges, tamping down recession fears – Broad-based and stronger than expected, hiring by employers in May should put to rest any concern about sluggish U.S. economic growth and the potential for a slide into recession. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Fresno Fulton Mall project to shift into gear next month – Downtown’s six-block-long Fulton Mall is poised to undergo a dramatic facelift. After years of discussion, debate and delays — and amid still-pending lawsuits — city officials are poised to begin the Fulton Street Reconstruction Project, an ambitious plan to reopen the 50-year-old pedestrian mall to two-way auto traffic.Fresno Bee article

 Clovis City Council to discuss $198 million budget – The Clovis City Council is expected to approve a $198 million budget that will create sports fields, add 10 new positions and other new amenities. Fresno Bee article

 Indians, Filipinos earn most income among California immigrants – For California immigrants, place of birth often predicts household wealth. Californians born in India earned a median household income of $110,000 in 2013. By comparison, Californians born in Mexico earned a median household income of $40,000, according to a Bee review of U.S. Census data. Education is the biggest predictor of income by nationality. Sacramento Bee article

Woodland Avenue fire district puts special assessment before parcel owners – The Woodland Avenue Fire Protection District is not making big promises of better service with its proposal for special parcel assessments. But the annual assessment of about $82 per house will assure the all-volunteer department maintains its level of service, Fire Chief Mike Passalaqua said. Modesto Bee article

 Athletic wear giant lululemon announces opening date in Fresno – The highly anticipated lululemon athletica store in Fig Garden Village has announced an opening date: July 3. The athletic wear giant most known for its yoga pants will open in a newly rebuilt portion of the shopping center near Starbucks. Fresno Bee article

 Parking, traffic to be manageable at arena, report says – On Friday, the day after the Warriors won their first NBA Finals game in four decades, city officials released an 800-page environmental impact report on the proposed 18,000-seat arena, a document that over the next few months will be as obsessively dissected as the championship series itself. But there’s already a plan to deal with one issue: traffic. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Ellen Pao demands $2.7 million from Kleiner Perkins to cover her legal fees — The former venture capitalist who lost a high-stakes sex discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has demanded $2.7 million from the powerful venture firm to drop her appeal and to cover her colossal costs and fees during the three-year legal battle. San Jose Mercury News article; San Francisco Chronicle article


 Foon Rhee: Which crops produce most ‘pop per drop’ of water? – A category of crops that include vegetables such as carrots and lettuce, along with garden plants and strawberries, produce the highest revenue for net water used ($14,318 per acre-foot). Rhee in Sacramento Bee

 Clovis nearly reaches May goal for cutback in water use – Clovis’ government and residents cut water consumption by 34.2%, nearly meeting the state’s required reduction of 36% from 2013, city officials announced Friday. Fresno Bee article

 California’s drought spurring water recycling at home –  Showering during California’s drought is a guilt-free experience for homeowners Catarina Negrin and Noah Friedman. The Berkeley couple — she runs a preschool, he’s an architect — are early adopters of a home plumbing do-over that’s becoming more popular during California’s record four-year dry stretch. AP article

Gov. Brown to Bay Area water managers: You’re off to a good start on conservation — Gov. Jerry Brown told a group of Bay Area mayors and water managers Friday that they’re off to a good start toward meeting the state’s conservation goals. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Paul Shapiro: It’s high time to eliminate cage confinement for egg-laying hens – The vice president of farm animal protection at Humane Society of the United States writes, “California egg producers can meet this growing demand while respecting the will of voters by shifting to cage-free production systems. It’s better for the birds, it’s what the people want, and it’s an important step toward creating a kinder world where the law recognizes that all animals, whether they bark or cluck, deserve protection from inhumane treatment.” Shapiro op-ed in Modesto Bee

Federal amendment takes aim at striped bass – An issue at the heart of our water debates – whether nonnative fish prey heavily on salmon and steelhead – wriggled through Congress this week. Modesto Bee article

 Young dairy farmer promotes health with NFL — Brielle Prock, 12, part of a dairy farming family near Denair, will head to Chicago next month to promote healthy eating and exercise. She is one of three students who will represent California as “ambassadors” at the Fuel Up to Play 60 leadership summit, July 22 to 25. Modesto Bee article

 Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Stockton council to discuss police body cams – More than six months after an anonymous donor promised to buy body cameras for the Stockton Police Department, a proposal will come before the City Council next week for the purchase and associated costs of the equipment. Stockton Record article

 Is capital punishment dead in California? – Legal challenges and a shortage of the three drugs used in the state’s current execution formula have kept anyone from being executed since Allen. But death penalty advocates who sued in Sacramento Superior Court in 2014 won a critical settlement last week when the state agreed to develop a new method for lethal injection executions that would use just one drug. Sacramento Bee article

 Attorney for Taft Union school district responds to dismissal of school shooter’s mother from lawsuit – The attorney representing Taft Union High School District in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of a school shooting victim said Friday they agree with a judge’s decision to dismiss the shooter’s mother as a party in the lawsuit and “remain committed to trying the relevant facts in this case.” Bakersfield Californian article

 LAPD clears two officers in fatal shooting of Ezell Ford, sources say — Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and the Police Department’s independent watchdog have determined that two officers were justified in fatally shooting Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man whose killing last year sparked protests and debate over the use of deadly force by police, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. LA Times article

 Prevalence of gang colors fades, but they can still be deadly — Today, colors, so tied to gang affiliations in popular culture, are rarely at the root of street conflict. As authorities cracked down on gangs with injunctions and other new tools, the culture has become less overt. LA Times article


 Why California State Universities pay for presidents’ global travel — From a golf trip to Scotland to a funeral in China, campus presidents in the California State University system racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel between July 2013 and June 2014. LA Daily News article

 Modesto high schools getting anti-concussion football helmets for full teams – Modesto City Schools Board members expanded a bid for impact-monitoring helmets to cover all positions on every high school football team next year. One speaker said the move will make Modesto the first public district to have such helmets for all its athletics. Modesto Bee article

 Fresno State rebranding ag business center – The Fresno State Center for Agricultural Business has been renamed the Institute for Food and Agriculture as part of the group’s efforts to encourage growth and innovation in California’s food and agriculture industry. The Business Journal article

 Kern High School District board to reassign Mira Monte principal — Mira Monte High’s principal, who was accused of bullying teachers and students, will lose his post, the Kern High School District board president announced Friday at a special board meeting. Principal Jaime Quinonez will be reassigned to a different district position, said KHSD board President Chad Vegas.Bakersfield Californian article

 First Health Careers Academy class tosses the tassel – When Health Careers Academy first opened its doors in 2011, Principal Traci Miller had a freshman class of about 150 kids with a new blueprint. Stockton Record article

 Lincoln to reissue yearbook with omitted photos – Lincoln Unified School District will begin the process of reissuing yearbooks a week after two graduating seniors were left out because of what they chose to wear in their portraits. Stockton Record article

 Richmond: Cash for college renews public vs. charter school debate — A proposal to give college money to every Richmond teen who graduates from a local public school has angered some charter school proponents who say the plan leaves out too many residents. Contra Costa Times article

 LA Unified board to weigh easing high school graduation requirements — Los Angeles Unified School District board members are scheduled to vote Tuesday on two policy changes that would make it easier for students to graduate from high school. KPCC report


 Air quality rules tightened after cancer risk found to be 3 times higher – Dozens of Southern California facilities, including oil refineries, aerospace plants and metal factories, will face new requirements to reduce toxic emissions or notify their neighbors of the health risks from their operations under rules approved Friday by air quality officials. LA Times article

 Head of California agency accused of favoring oil industry quits — Mark Nechodom, the director of the California Department of Conservation, which oversees the embattled agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, resigned Thursday. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Capitol Alert

 Owner of ruptured oil pipeline has history of big spills, fines — Mechanical failures on the company’s network have contributed to more than a dozen spills that have released nearly 2 million gallons of hazardous liquid in the U.S. and Canada since 2004. That does not include more than 100,000 gallons of oil spilled along the Santa Barbara County coast on May 19, about 20,000 gallons of which went into the Pacific Ocean, prompting a massive and ongoing cleanup. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

 Bill would limit efforts to recoup Medi-Cal costs from patients’ estates – The state’s Medi-Cal program has long looked to the estates and heirs of deceased Californians to recoup public money spent on their healthcare in the last years of life. But the practice — including suing survivors and filing liens against the homes of poor families — is coming under attack in Sacramento.LA Times article

 Blue Shield faces more heat over nonprofit status, $1.2-billion deal — Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California is facing more questions over its loss of tax-exempt status as it tries to win state approval of a $1.2-billion acquisition. LA Times article

 FDA weighs approval of first-in-class cholesterol drug — Federal health regulators said Friday that a highly-anticipated, experimental drug from Sanofi lowers bad cholesterol more than older drugs. But officials have questions about whether to approve the drug based on that measure alone or wait for additional study results. AP article


Land Use/Housing

 Planada could see first new homes in nearly a decade — In the coming months, the Merced County Planning Commission is expected to see a plan for a new housing subdivision in Planada, the first in about a decade, according to county officials. Merced Sun-Star article

 Sacramento mayor launches downtown housing initiative — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Friday formally launched a “Think Downtown” marketing campaign to brand the central city as the region’s “in” place to live. Sacramento Bee article


Modesto near milestone on Pelandale interchange — Motorists soon can expect more traffic headaches at Modesto’s Pelandale Avenue-Highway 99 interchange, where construction workers are building a new $54.76 million interchange to replace the congested, obsolete one. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

 Stockton’s red-light cameras go dark – The city’s red light cameras have been turned off. And it’s been that way for several months, at least. Stockton Record article

 Fresno Bee: Public Administrator’s Office needs top-to-bottom scrub – It is abundantly clear that District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors must remake the Public Administrator’s Office from top to bottom. Fresno Bee editorial

Drought, construction alter Valley Fourth of July fireworks shows – Wildfire concerns in the Sierra National Forest and construction at Buchanan High School will alter two large Valley fireworks shows this Fourth of July. Fresno Bee article

 Pismo, Cayucos only Central Coast towns with pro fireworks shows — Three Central Coast towns have cancelled their professional fireworks shows due either to drought or money woes, leaving things to know about two remaining ones. Cambria, Morro Bay and Paso Robles have opted not to put on shows (though they will still offer other activities) but Pismo Beach and Cayucos will. Bakersfield Californian article

 Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hired home builders’ advocate as new legislative adviser – Mayor Kevin Johnson hired a former home builders’ advocate in April to fill one of five new positions he is seeking in Sacramento’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Sacramento Bee article

 Transgender kids: ‘Exploding’ number of children, parents seek clinical help — Now, as the nation sees a growing acceptance of transgender people such as the former Olympian Jenner, Bay Area therapists and physicians are seeing a surge in the number of families seeking advice — and sometimes medical intervention — to help kids whose perceived genders and bodies don’t seem to match. San Jose Mercury News article

Estate sale signals end of an era for historic theater – When it opened in the late 1920s, the Granada Theater was a draped palace where celluloid fantasies and hot-buttered popcorn could lift the spirits of everyday Americans facing down what would become the Great Depression. Bakersfield Californian article

 William Tweed: BASE jumper death raises ethical questions — The sad story several weeks ago about the death in Yosemite National Park of famous rock climber and BASE jumper Dean Potter set me to thinking once again about the values we profess as a society while we enjoy our public lands. Tweed in Visalia Times-Delta