California smoking age increase, vaping bills move to Jerry Brown — California is one step away from enacting some of its most significant tobacco legislation in decades. The state Senate on Thursday approved a far-reaching package of bills that will raise the legal purchase age to 21 from 18 and regulate e-cigarettes like a traditional tobacco product. Six measures now head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, where their fate is uncertain. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article
Olsen will seek Stanislaus County post, likely passing on Senate run – It has long been assumed that Modesto-area Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen would in 2018 seek the state Senate seat currently held by fellow Republican Tom Berryhill, who represents a district that covers much of the Fresno-Clovis region. Those assumptions took a sharp turn Thursday, however, when Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O’Brien said he wouldn’t seek a fourth term and Olsen immediately stepped up to say she would seek the seat. Fresno Bee article; Modesto Bee article; Stockton Record article
CD 16: Rep. Costa makes run official in Merced announcement – Though it came as no surprise, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, announced his intention on Thursday to run for another term for the 16th Congressional District seat. Merced Sun-Star article
Vagim’s late entry into Fresno mayor’s race makes for five candidates — It looks like five candidates will seek to replace Ashley Swearengin as Fresno’s mayor after former Fresno County supervisor Doug Vagim on Thursday made a late entry into the race. That’s a much smaller field than 2008, the last time the mayor’s office didn’t have an incumbent seeking re-election, when 11 people sought the post. Fresno Bee article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Kill high-speed rail and spend the money on reservoirs? California proposal sparks debate — Supporters of a proposed ballot initiative to kill California’s high-speed rail project and use the money to build new reservoirs are racing to gather enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. But the campaign, which is being bankrolled by San Joaquin Valley farmers, is already drawing fire from fellow farmers and environmentalists, who call it a “Trojan horse.” San Jose Mercury News article
Central American immigrants, wary of recent raids sweeping up young people, adjust to life in fear — Acosta was one of 336 young people snared in raids this year, an attempt by U.S. immigration officials to send a message of deterrence to Central America and avoid a repeat of the 2014 crisis when tens of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala arrived at the U.S. border. LA Times article
In fight over locked iPhone, justice officials push back against Apple — Justice officials on Thursday made the latest move in their high-stakes legal battle with Apple, pushing back against the technology company’s efforts to escape an order compelling it to help unlock a terrorist’s iPhone. LA Times article; NPR report; AP article
In FBI encryption fight, Apple seeks Latino support — When Apple sought to promote its music streaming service, it talked to the tech press. When it wanted to drum up interest in its new watch, it went to fashion magazines. But as the iPhone-maker’s defends its security technology and defies a court order in a terrorism case, it turned this week to a news outlet that surprised many: Univision. LA Times article
Terminally ill patients in California can seek aid-in-dying beginning June 9 – Dying Californians can ask their doctors for a lethal prescription to end their lives beginning June 9. California’s law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, is modeled after Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which was enacted in 1997 to give terminal patients the option of dying earlier. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; KQED report
Harris wants funding boost as state struggles to seize illegal guns – California law prohibits felons, people with a history of domestic violence and others with severe mental illness from having guns. It falls to Attorney General Kamala Harris and her Department of Justice to confiscate those guns. But 11,830 people currently banned from having guns may still possess them. KQED report
Speaker Rendon names new California Assembly committee chairs – On Monday, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, officially became the powerful speaker of the California Assembly. On Thursday, he announced how that power will be distributed. Sacramento Bee article
Joel Fox: Adding sympathetic decision makers is an old, but unwise idea – Reading that Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León wants to add three commissioners to the South Coast Air Quality Management District board so as to tip the board to a more favorable perspective from his point of view reminds one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s plan to pack the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of getting more friendly rulings. Fox in Fox & Hounds
Kevin McCarthy says Trump’s intensity could help GOP win House seats — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday rejected the possible calamitous effects a Donald Trump nomination could have on the Republican Party, arguing instead that the businessman and political newcomer may improve the chances of GOP House challengers in November. Sacramento Bee article
Local high schoolers to be ushers at Reagan funeral — Three Frontier High School students who are members of the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps have been chosen to be ushers at former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral today. Bakersfield Californian article
Bond jitters spread after Westlands Water District investigation – Jitters over a federal investigation of Westlands Water District bled over into the proposed delta tunnel project Thursday as a bond rating agency placed a negative watch on a $29.8-million bond helping to fund the controversial water diversion plan. LA Times article
Fresno’s city pension program boasts surplus – rarity in California – The city of Fresno’s employee retirement system is the only major public pension program in California – and one of only a few in the U.S. – that has a surplus instead of unfunded pension liabilities, according to a report issued Thursday by a Nevada-based think tank. Fresno Bee article
Jobs and the Economy
New bullet train business plan could pay big dividends for Fresno – A recent decision by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build the first section of the $68 billion bullet train further north appears to improve Fresno’s chances of landing the system’s heavy maintenance facility. The Business Journal article
Robin Abcarian: No one wins while Yosemite trademark fight drags on – Kelly P. McCarthy is a 40-year-old San Francisco native with more than a passing interest in the legal fight between the National Park Service and its former concessionaire, Delaware North, over trademarks to Yosemite‘s most famous amenities. Abcarian in LA Times
Kern supervisors to discuss goals for 2016 — Kern County supervisors will discuss their goals for the 2016 year on Tuesday and — for the most part — the County Administrative Office is proposing plans to merge and consolidate county operations while planning to cut back spending wherever possible. Bakersfield Californian article
Bakersfield saw the country’s 8th-steepest rent hikes in March? Really? – A new rental housing survey seems to contradict what’s going on in the local economy, concluding Bakersfield experienced one of largest apartment rent hikes in the country this month. Bakersfield Californian article
Costco project waits for Caltrans sign off – After months of just a sign and an empty field, there’s finally some activity at the Hanford Costco site. Contractors have been cutting down trees at the Highway 43/East Lacey Boulevard site in preparation for dirt grading and earth-moving operations. Hanford Sentinel article
Modesto approves $1.5 million for new budget software – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday approved spending more than $1.5 million for a new budget software system that city officials say will provide the city with better budget and performance data and will replace a system that is more than 15 years old. Modesto Bee article
Lathrop poised for ‘explosion in population’ – The number of residents in the city of Lathrop is expected to increase by more than 32,000 over the next 20 years, according to an agency’s draft municipal service review and sphere of influence. Stockton Record article
Stockton air cargo flights full of Amazon packages – Air Transport Services Group Inc. unwrapped Wednesday the cover on its daily cargo flights at Stockton Metropolitan Airport, announcing it is part of a custom air freight network set up forAmazon.com Inc. Stockton Record article
Owner of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank plans store closings – The company that owns Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank clothing stores has announced plans to close hundreds of stores, part of a cost-cutting push. Tailored Brands has not released a list of which stores will close. The central San Joaquin Valley has one Jos A. Bank store in the Villaggio shopping center on North Blackstone Avenue in Fresno. In addition, Fresno, Visalia and Merced each have a Men’s Wearhouse. Bloomberg article
Sacramento Kings build entertainment mecca downtown as team struggles – The Sacramento Kings often look a mess in the nightly grind of the NBA. As the team closes in on its 10th consecutive losing season, sports reporters portray it as an organization in chronic disarray. It’s a different story at the dusty construction site that the Kings will soon call home. There, the team is a well-oiled entertainment machine building a pleasure palace that management has designed to dazzle the fans and – for the first few years, anyway – distract them from wins and losses. Sacramento Bee article
Sacramento’s Sutter Health saw steep decline in net income in 2015 – Sacramento-based Sutter Health reported net income of $81 million in 2015, a nearly 80 percent plunge from $402 million in 2014. The nonprofit health system cited multiple factors that prompted the decline. Sacramento Bee article
Notes from the underground: The treasurer’s vault — The inside of the vault looks like a large filing cabinet. Open the vault, and a golden glow emerges. No, it’s not money – in fact, there’s no cash at all in the vault. Capitol Weekly article
Bay Area housing crisis fueled by greed, study finds— There are numerous reasons why the Bay Area has a housing crisis. The reason we most often hear about is the influx of new residents to the area. The one we hardly think about, however, can be found in our own collective backyards. San Francisco Chronicle article
Daniel Borenstein: Contra Costa County doctors’ illegal pension spikes rejected – In another crackdown on pension spiking, the Contra Costa retirement board trimmed payments to four county doctors who had been overcompensated since 2012. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times
Harris Ranch presented with Lifetime Achievement Award — Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for their strong commitment to agriculture for over 100 years. Hanford Sentinel article
San Francisco supervisors, MTA cut deal to reduce city’s towing charges — The cost of retrieving a towed vehicle in San Francisco will drop by $111.25 — to $380 — under an agreement reached Thursday between the Board of Supervisors and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency. But drivers won’t want to get towed twice, because the fee shoots right back up the second time around. San Francisco Chronicle article
Reservoirs filling, but snowpack worries in California — The first wave of ‘Miracle March’ storms in California offset three dry weeks in February and improved storage in some reservoirs. Now, the state is primed for drought improvement, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released March 10. Capital Public Radio report
Have a backyard citrus tree? Check it for this little pest – With spring around the corner citrus trees are starting to push out new growth, but FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports new leaves and stems also mean more space for an invasive pest. KVPR report
Modesto luncheon honors people inspired by Cesar Chavez — Some of the honorees at a Modesto luncheon Thursday had marched with Cesar Chavez. One of them used to wield a short-handled hoe, a dreaded tool that the farm labor movement worked to outlaw. Modesto Bee article
State eases cuts to urban water use in San Diego region — In response to the recently launched Poseidon desalination plant in Carlsbad, state officials have agreed to dramatically ease water conservation goals in San Diego for almost all residential water users. San Diego Union-Tribune article
A behind-the-scenes battle to divert LA’s storm water from going to waste — By the time Eric Batman arrived at work at 7 Monday morning, a hard west wind was driving rain and hail sideways against windows. Thunder reverberated across the L.A. Basin. Batman reveled in El Niño’s long-overdue rumbling. His job, as senior civil engineer for the county Department of Public Works, is to keep as much rain as possible from escaping to the ocean. LA Times article
Is California’s bail system ‘fair to all?’ state chief justice asks — A year after eliminating court fees for motorists trying to contest a traffic ticket, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is launching an examination into whether the state’s practice of detaining people on bail unfairly penalizes the poor. Sacramento Bee article
Kern County Sheriff’s Office: About 75 inmates involved in fight at Lerdo jail – Deputies from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office were dealing with a large-scale fight at the Lerdo Jail Minimum Security Facility housing men Thursday night. About 75 inmates were involved in the disturbance that broke out at 8:20 p.m., sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said outside the jail. Bakersfield Californian article
Bad convictions have cost California millions of dollars, report says – A study of more than 600 overturned felony convictions in California calculates the cost of those botched cases to taxpayers at more than $220 million over two decades. LA Times article
William Lansdowne: Don’t blame Prop 47 for crime spike – The former San Diego police chief writes, “Since the initiative’s passage, critics have tried mightily to blame it for a rise in crime, but there’s no data proving such a link. After two decades of steep declines, crime has inched up in many parts of the country, including areas that have not adopted Proposition 47-style reforms.” Lansdowne op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Officer in Charge program approved for Tulare sheriff’s office – The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has a new Officer In Charge program, following action by theBoard of Supervisors earlier this week. The new program seeks to address the lack of on-site supervision or immediate supervisory response when a patrol sergeant is unavailable. Visalia Times-Delta article
San Jose: Chief, city leaders declare unprecedented crisis in police staffing — No one will be spared from having to work overtime in the San Jose Police Department as the once-storied agency continues a years-long struggle with meeting minimum patrol levels, and a meager trickle of recruits has brass contemplating whether to bother running a new academy, officials said. San Jose Mercury News article
Group of Fresno boys beating, robbing homeless men, police say — A group of boys who rob homeless people and other vulnerable victims in gang-style beatings is being tracked down by police in southeast Fresno. Lt. Mark Salazar said charges have been filed against six juveniles who are part of the group. The attackers range in age from 12 to 14 and call themselves “The Goers.” Fresno Bee article
Judge dismisses one of three charges against Livingston police officer – A judge granted a motion Thursday to dismiss one of three charges against a Livingston police officer accused of assaulting a man during a supervised child exchange, a reversal of another judge’s earlier decision. Merced Sun-Star article
Gun from LAPD officer recovered by Fresno police – A gun taken in a Las Vegas home invasion, in which a retired Los Angeles Police officer was the victim, was recovered after three men selling drugs in southeast Fresno were arrested, police say. Fresno Bee article
Jury clears San Francisco police officers of wrongdoing in Nieto shooting – An eight-member jury found no wrongdoing Thursday on the part of four San Francisco police officers who fatally shot a man in Bernal Heights Park two years ago. KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article
A woman gave birth, returned to jail and died. Now her family wants answers — After inmate Angela Monica Zuniga gave birth to her son, Exodus, and immediately underwent an emergency hysterectomy in early February, the intense pain from surgery never went away, family members say. LA Times article
San Francisco D.A. Gascon’s divide with law enforcement deepens — The aggressive drive by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to reform the city police force he once led has further divided him from much of the law enforcement community, gratifying supporters who laud him as a progressive and independent watchdog but drawing bitter fire from opponents who see a political calculation. San Francisco Chronicle article
Laton students walk out in protest, say school administration is ‘too white’ – Dozens of Laton High School students walked out of class in protest on Thursday, some saying the school administration is “too white” and does not fairly represent the diverse student body. Fresno Bee article
Dan Walters: Judging schools isn’t easy – California’s education establishment is happily jettisoning the strict, test-based systems of rating schools under both state and federal laws. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Governor’s budget proposal may affect future of transitional kindergarten – After years of effort to implement transitional kindergarten, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to eliminate the requirement that school districts offer the program, which provides an extra year of public school for 4-year-olds with fall birthdays. His proposal would also allow districts that offer it to charge enrollment fees for parents who aren’t low-income. EdSource article
Second lawmaker calls for Katehi to resign as UC Davis chief – A second state legislator has called on UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to step down, citing reports in The Sacramento Bee that she served on corporate boards and received outside pay. Sacramento Bee article
Lockdown at Visalia schools over, no gunman found — A report of an armed man on a school campus prompted a lockdown of five schools Thursday morning, but no gunman was found in a police sweep of the Golden West educational complex. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article
CSU Bakersfield engineering students work closely with LA company to tackle wastewater treatment – A partnership between Cal State Bakersfield and a Los Angeles water treatment company is giving local engineering students real-life experience with one of Kern County’s most intractable challenges: how to divert wastewater for economical reuse in agriculture. Bakersfield Californian article
California secretary of state takes voting message to Modesto High School – Modesto High School students got a lesson in why voting matters from the children of Mexican immigrants, one now a Modesto city councilman and the other the California secretary of state. Modesto Bee article
Trump University’s ex-students give enterprise a failing grade — Trump University spelled hope in 2008 for George Hanus of Fremont, whose startup information technology business was crumbling under the weight of the sinking economy. San Francisco Chronicle article
Schools prepare for poor air quality — The Hanford Elementary School District is taking preventative measures to help students who are sensitive to poor air quality. Hanford Sentinel article
Sacramento Bee: It’s time to move on a countywide plastic bag ban – The supervisors have scheduled a vote for March 22. If the ban is approved, it would likely go into effect in July. There’s no reason to wait any longer. Sacramento Bee editorial
San Francisco Planning Department gets ready to get ready for sea-level rise — The long-term threat of a rising bay has prodded nearly a dozen city agencies to come together and respond with an action plan — “action” being a relative term. San Francisco Chronicle article
Merced County hopes to turn blighted hospital into mental health care hub — Merced County officials hope to restore the blighted old hospital on 13th Street as a new, all-in-one mental health facility. Merced Sun-Star article
Diabetes a serious risk for one-third of younger adults in Stanislaus County – A new study reveals that one third of younger adults in Stanislaus County have prediabetes, a condition that often leads to life-threatening Type 2 diabetes. Modesto Bee article
Sacramento Bee: California’s best tool for ending opioid abuse is underused – The upgraded, online version, CURES 2.0, is obviously faster and more effective. Physicians and pharmacists should register for it without delay, and efforts should be made to eliminate technical glitches with the registration process. The lives of too many addicts who slip between the cracks are at stake. Sacramento Bee editorial
Kaiser Permanente’s new medical school will be in Pasadena – Kaiser Permanente has selected Pasadena as the home of its new medical school, the healthcare giant announced Thursday. LA Times article
UC Davis patient donates record $38.5 million for research, treatment — A wealthy real estate investor and grateful patient of the UC Davis Health System has given a $38.5 million gift for eye research and treatment, marking the biggest individual donation in the university’s history, according to officials. Sacramento Bee article
California driver licenses won’t fly with airport security by 2020 – In October 2020, you might have to kiss using your California driver’s license at airports goodbye because it won’t be a valid form of identification for domestic air travel. San Francisco Chronicle article
Sacramento Regional Transit proposes hiking bus and train fares — Sacramento Regional Transit officials on Thursday proposed raising bus and rail fares roughly 20 percent in two steps over the next year in an effort to pull the agency out of its financial tailspin. Sacramento Bee article
Idea of fines for BART seat hogs gains support at board meeting — BART riders accustomed to spreading themselves or their belongings over two or more seats might want to start mending their ways. Most of the transit agency’s directors expressed approval Thursday for colleague Joel Keller’s plan to let BART police cite patrons occupying more than one seat on packed trains. San Francisco Chronicle article
Grassroots effort under way to restore Fresno’s historic Crest Theatre – Sometimes revitalization happens en masse, with government money and City Council debate and a groundswell of public support – as was the case with the Fulton Mall’s conversion to Fulton Street at groundbreaking last week. Other revitalization efforts are quieter, more grass-roots. Fresno Bee article
Public blasts Lode commissioner’s comment that ‘people from Mexico’ are invasive species – A Calaveras County planning commissioner has drawn scathing criticism after suggesting that “people from Mexico” qualify as an invasive species. Kelly Wooster, a cattleman and attorney from Copperopolis, apologized on Thursday at the most recent commission meeting, according to members of the public who were in attendance. Wooster did not reply to requests for comment from The Record. Stockton Record article
Michael Fitzgerald: In defense of a group’s intolerance – If a religion includes an element of discrimination increasingly frowned upon by our changing society, that’s its members’ problem. We don’t need to pile on and yank their legal rights. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record
Fresno Fire Department captain dies in off-duty incident — A 15-year veteran of the Fresno Fire Department was killed Thursday in an off-duty accident at his home in Madera County. Fire officials said Capt. Daniel Lopez-Galvan died while working on his property. Fresno Bee article
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – California has a tall order to find the next community college chancellor.
Sunday, March 13, at 5 p.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “The Governor’s 2016 Budget: Sunny Today, Rain Tomorrow?” – Guest: Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor and Fred Silva, fiscal policy analyst with California Forward. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, March 13, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Governor Brown’s 2016 Budget: What It May Mean for the Valley” – Guests: Fresno Bee opinion page editor Bill McEwen and Fresno State political science professor Jeff Cummins. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, March 13, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Californians and Civic Engagement” – Guest: Mony Flores-Bauer of the League of California Voters in California. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez.
The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel. Check http://www.calchannel.com to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area. You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at http://www.maddyinstitute.org/policy-analysis/the-maddy-report-tv.
- Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and other university officials will participate in a Community Conversation at the Reedley College Student Center in Reedley on April 7 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Seating for this free event is limited, so RSVPs should be made by Tuesday, April 5, at www.fresnostate.edu/presidentrsvp using the code “Reedleyforum.”
- The 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit will be held at Bitwise South Stadium in Fresno on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration launches March 1. More information: Jenna Chilingerian at email@example.com.
Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge – For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance. However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs. Budget choices affect us all. Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from. Next 10 California Budget Challenge
Next 10: Federal budget challenge — The Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms. Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at www.federalbudgetchallenge.org.
Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone? Next 10 California Water Challenge
LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link. http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/
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Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials. The list is available here.
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