March 10, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

CD21: Fowler’s Parra weighing Valadao congressional challenge — Democrats are looking for someone to mount a congressional challenge against incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao. Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel T. Parra is interested. But Parra won’t commit to a 21st Congressional District run if he’s simply viewed as a token challenger. He wants to know the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will offer financial backing.  Fresno Bee article 

California senators focus on oil industry, drinking water – A hearing by state lawmakers Tuesday on problems in California’s protection of drinking-water aquifers from the state oil and gas industry also is slated to focus attention on the way oil companies in the state use high-pressure steam to force up petroleum.  Sacramento Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

John Myers: Big money won all its bets on 2014 propositions — The campaign with the bigger bank account often has the advantage in California ballot measure fights, but in 2014 that advantage was insurmountable. A new analysis shows that the side that spent the most got its way all four times last year with the passage of Proposition 47 and the defeat of Propositions 45, 46 and 48.  Myers in KQED

Legislature’s image on the mend? — Is the California Legislature making a comeback? The poll numbers would certainly indicate it is, but lawmakers shouldn’t start popping the champagne corks.  Capitol Weekly article



Immigration officials:  Laws limiting detainers risk officers — Diminished local cooperation is putting federal immigration officers in dangerous situations as they track down foreign-born criminals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say.  AP article


Other areas

Lawmakers outraged over American flag ban at UC Irvine — State Republican lawmakers said they will introduce a constitutional amendment that would prohibit state funded colleges and universities from banning the American flag on campuses, a move that comes a week after a student government council at UC Irvine banned the flag from being displayed in a school lobby.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee 

State panel considers thresholds for campaign reporting — Citing inflation, the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency is considering a proposal to raise the fundraising thresholds at which campaigns must report their financing, drawing some concerns from an advocate for fuller disclosure.  LA Times article 

Dan Walters: Steve Glazer’s foes use an old trick in California Senate election — One of the sneakier campaign tricks employed by politicians is helping a weaker opponent draw votes away from a stronger rival.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Kern Medical Center looking to replace ‘class of the 1970s’ physicians — Kern Medical Center is working with mixed success to bring more doctors to Bakersfield. Russell Judd, the CEO of the county-owned hospital, told Kern County supervisors that Kern continues to be troubled by a chronic lack of physicians -— especially in family practice.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Modesto Irrigation District growers could have to get by on 16 inches of water – The drought could limit irrigation for Modesto-area farmers to 16 inches of water per acre this year – a little more than a third the normal amount and far less than needed for most crops.  Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Economic outlook: Is Fresno’s star finally rising? – Dr. Ernie Goss, a research faculty member at the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, said the city is in the midst of a robust economic expansion. “Fresno is definitely coming back,” Goss said. “Right now, the Fresno/Clovis area’s economic recovery is outpacing much of the rest of the country.”  The Business Journal article

State board sides with union in wage fight with Tulare County – A state panel has ruled in favor of a labor union engaged in a long-running battle with Tulare County officials about unpaid back wages. The Public Employment Relations Board, which hears disputes between government agencies and employees, ordered the county to pay $3.4 million to about 900 Tulare County government employees represented by Service Employees International Union.  Fresno Bee article 

Stanislaus County CEO proposes to restore public safety positions – In a midyear budget report, Stanislaus County’s chief executive office recommends funding more than 50 staff positions to restore public safety and meet needs in other departments.  Modesto Bee article

Stockton businesses hit by access lawsuits – A disabled Carmichael man who filed dozens of disability-access lawsuits in the Stockton area late last year apparently remains active, this time targeting businesses on the city’s south side.  Stockton Record article

Joel Fox: CA jobs are booming, but what kind of jobs? – First the good news on the job front: California is leading the nation in job creation. Job growth in the Golden State last year increased by 3.1% while job growth in the rest of the nation settled in at 2.3%. And with 67,300 new jobs created in January alone, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.9% from 7.1%, the lowest in nearly seven years, although still higher than the national unemployment figure of 5.5%. Still, the January California job gains made up 28% of all jobs created in the entire nation.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Konrad Moore: How privatizing libraries became an option – The Kern County Public Defender writes, “The Kern County Board of Supervisors should be applauded for its decision to consider privatization of the libraries (“Library supporters concerned about privatization talk,” March 8). The supervisors’ extraordinarily difficult decision occurs in the context of shrinking revenues associated with, among other things, the crashing price of oil, upon which so much of our local tax base relies.”  Moore op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Tulare supervisors consider support for veterans funding – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will vote on Tuesday on whether to sign a letter of support for the state to provide $5.6 million to help counties provide services for veterans.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Aerojet plans downsizing, 10 percent cut in payroll — Aerojet Rocketdyne said Monday it expects to cut payrolls by 10 percent over the next four years via an extensive efficiency drive, eliminating some 500 jobs nationwide.  Sacramento Bee article

AEG abandoning plans for downtown stadium, cuts off talks with NFL – After investing five years and $50 million in an attempt to bring an NFL team back to Los Angeles, AEG is abandoning plans for its Farmers Field football stadium downtown.  LA Times article 

Oakland may have the most yards to cover to save its NFL franchise – Here in Oakland — where all three major pro teams have talked about fleeing, development pressures spilling over from San Francisco are altering the city’s landscape, and a new mayor recently took office — the puzzle presents intriguing options but might be the most difficult to solve.  LA Times article 

Sacramento Kings owners say lobbyist ‘grasping at straws’ in ownership lawsuit – Sacramento Kings co-owners Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov have asked a judge to get rid of a lawsuit by a lobbyist and developer who claims they reneged on a promise to let him invest in the team.  Sacramento Bee article 

MLS: Expansion decision in 45-60 days — With its labor issues resolved, Major League Soccer is on track to decide within 45 to 60 days whether Sacramento will get an expansion team or will lose out to some other city. Sacramento Bee article

$142,448.33: What you need to earn to buy ‘median’ home in Bay Area — How much income do you need to purchase that median-priced home in the Bay Area? HSH calculates that at a 30-year fixed rate of 4.02 percent and 20 percent down on that $742,900 home — meaning an upfront payment of almost $150,000 — your monthly mortgage payment would come to $3,323.79.  KQED report 

Dave & Buster’s restaurant and arcade plans to open in Fresno — Dave & Buster’s, the bar, restaurant and arcade billed as “Chuck E. Cheese’s for adults,” is planning to open a location in Fresno. Developer Ed Kashian has filed plans with the city for a conditional-use permit and requested a tweak to zoning rules at Friant Road and Highway 41.  Fresno Bee article



Well went dry last Easter, but one Kingsburg man gets blessed with new water supply — At the usually quiet, rural home of Abelardo De Leon Garcia, a drilling machine hammered the sandy soil all morning Monday, creating a well shaft three times deeper than a dry well only a few yards away. Garcia, 81, had lost his water well on Easter Sunday last year. Nearly a year later, his water supply has been resurrected, thanks to federal funding and a Visalia-based nonprofit called Self-Help EnterprisesFresno Bee article 

Citrus psyllid pest found in Visalia, agricultural officials say — A single Asian citrus psyllid was found on a lemon tree in a southwest Visalia neighborhood, Tulare County agriculture officials said Monday.  Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Visalia crime falls big in 2014 — Crime fell in Visalia in 2014 in comparison to some of the other towns in the state where the bad guys were busier. Total crime recorded in 2014 numbered 5,506 in 2014 compared to 6,579 through all of 2013 — a 16 percent decline. In 2012 the same statistic was 7,363.  Visalia Times-Delta article 

Galgiani accuses Sheriff’s Office of improperly deleting records — Sen. Cathleen Galgiani said Monday that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office had improperly deleted records from the national database of missing persons, including suspected victims of the serial killer duo Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog, before the victims’ bodies could be recovered.  Stockton Record article



Lynnette Zelezny and Frank Lamas: Admissions standards rising, but mission remains the same — Zelezny, Fresno State’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Lamas, vice president of student affairs, write, “Our highest priority at Fresno State is student success. We have a responsibility to make sure that students coming to our university are prepared to succeed, and that we provide them with the support and resources they need once they enroll.”  Zelezny/Lamas op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Stockton Unified teachers vote today on whether to authorize a strike – The Stockton Teachers Association is holding a strike authorization vote today that would, should certain provisions be met, enable the union to call a strike against Stockton Unified on behalf of the 1,700-plus teachers in the county’s largest district.  Stockton Record article

U.S.-born students in Mexico risk becoming ‘lost generation’ — The transition for these American-born students is often no easier than that of Mexican immigrants entering U.S. schools — and often it is worse. Many encounter long delays in enrollment. Once admitted, many struggle to learn Spanish or have trouble adjusting to a new classroom culture and teaching methods.  LA Times article



Forest issues plan for Rim fire replanting – The Stanislaus National Forest proposes to replant conifers on 30,065 of the acres burned by the massive Rim fire of 2013. The plan, which involves about 12 percent of the total burned acreage, has drawn initial support from timber industry and environmental leaders.  Modesto Bee article

New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests — With a fourth year of drought looming, state and federal agencies have launched an ambitious partnership to improve the Sierra’s ability to store and filter water, as well as reduce fire risks, by restoring its forests.  Sacramento Bee article

Feds propose levee plan to protect Stockton – The federal government has released a long-awaited $800 million plan to protect Stockton from future floods, but the plan is not as ambitious as local officials would have liked.  Stockton Record article

Modesto planting seed for tree nursery – Modesto soon should start growing its own trees for the first time since 2008, when the city closed its nursery to save money.  Modesto Bee article

California salmon season looks good, despite drought – In their annual preseason estimate, the Pacific Fishery Management Council predicted the Sacramento River salmon run will be good with a number of 652,000 fish, about 100,000 higher than last year.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Home improvement program approved in Tulare — Tulare homeowners seeking to finance a property-improvement project featuring energy-efficient, environmental-friendly components can receive financing through a new program.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Health/Human Services

Obamacare’s expected costs continue to tumble, CBO report says – Costs of providing healthcare under the Affordable Care Act are projected to be almost one-third less than what had been anticipated by the Congressional Budget Office in 2010. By 2019, the costs are expected to be 33% less than forecast.  LA Times article

Latino and young make up large number of newly enrolled – Statewide data released by Covered California officials late last week show that nearly 500,000 people signed up for health coverage through the exchange during the second open-enrollment period – and a large chunk were Latino and young adults.  Merced Sun-Star article 

Parents take extreme steps to keep their kids from the unvaccinated – A Bay Area mother formed a Facebook page where parents could arrange play dates for their children with other vaccinated youngsters. Another mom advocates socially isolating the unvaccinated by asking parents if their child is inoculated before accepting a birthday invitation, or even using the swings at the playground. And an Eagle Rock mom says she now asks about vaccine records when she buys used baby clothing.  LA Times article

Covered California looking at ways to reduce burden of high-cost drugs – Covered California is in the process of setting prescription drug benefits for health insurance plans in its 2016 marketplace. The health plans will base next year’s premiums partly on that formula. Capital Public Radio report

Backers of proposed San Francisco soda tax propose warning labels on ads – San Francisco would become the first city in the country to require warning labels on advertising for soda and other sugary beverages under new legislation to be introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Scott WienerSan Francisco Chronicle article

Advocates question children’s access to care — A year after California added nearly a million children to the Medi-Cal program, advocates say the state is not doing enough to ensure that all of those kids have access to doctors and other health care providers.  HealthyCal article



Officials in Fresno, Madera counties look at shared traffic trends – Traffic between Madera and Fresno counties will grow significantly in the coming years when thousands of new homes sprout up along the San Joaquin River. But officials from both counties realize there is no way that existing routes between the two counties can stay the same without severe traffic problems.  Fresno Bee article

Stop-and-go week ahead for Bakersfield road projects – Late next week, Bakersfield officials will achieve a first in local highway history, breaking ground on two road improvements and cutting the ribbon to finish a third — all within about 24 hours.  Bakersfield Californian article

Legislators sees safety in adult helmets; cyclists see mostly harm – A proposed law that would make California the first state in the country to require that adult bike riders wear helmets has reignited a decades-long debate between regulators and the bicycling community over safety.  LA Times article 

Bruce Maiman: We all have skin in bicycle helmet game — A bill requiring adult bicyclists in California to wear helmets presents all sorts of conflicts, contradictions and conundrums.  Maiman in Sacramento Bee


Other areas

Stockton City Council to consider animal adoption fee changes – If Phillip Zimmerman had any illusions regarding the magnitude of the challenge facing the Stockton Animal Shelter, they disappeared for the facility’s new manager roughly 72 hours after Valentine’s Day. After placing 94 stray dogs and cats in new homes as the result of a Feb. 14 promotional event, workers at the perpetually jam-packed shelter had a brief moment to breathe.  Stockton Record article

Consulate of Mexico in Fresno pursues multifaceted mission — More than 80 years since its inception, the Consulate of Mexico in Fresno has gone from an agency protecting Mexicans’ rights to one that also promotes their culture and supports their educational advancement.  Fresno Bee article

Vulgar tweets to Curt Schilling highlight sexually violent speech, advocates say – A Merced organization that advocates for victims of domestic and sexual abuse said high-profile vulgar and threatening language on Twitter sent to the daughter of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling this month are examples of all-too-pervasive “rape” language in American culture.  Merced Sun-Star article 

San Francisco homelessness a picture of futility in 2015 – Welcome to San Francisco 2015. For thousands of tourists and commuters, the first impression coming out of the Ferry Building isn’t Coit Tower or the downtown skyline, but the tents and carts that litter the landscape at neighboring Justin Herman Plaza.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Capitol rally denounces anti-Semitism after swastika incidents in Sacramento area — Carrying signs bearing the slogan “Not here! Not now! Not Ever!” members of Sacramento’s Jewish community were joined Monday evening by people of other faiths, as well as local and state political leaders, in denouncing anti-Semitism.  Sacramento Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Teach kids “yes means yes” well before college.

Sacramento Bee – Sacramento City Council should rise above local politics and approve Koons sculpture; When in Rome, tagging is not OK.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Green light for downtown project, water savings take a drop and other issues.