March 12, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Mettler to challenge McCarthy for Congress; 18-year-old set for Assembly run — The re-election campaign of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, went from sleepy to intriguing this week when local conservative Republican and businessman Ken Mettler leapt back into the political world to challenge the House majority leader for his 23rd Congressional District seat. Bakersfield Californian article

California tobacco bills spurred hardball political threats — Tobacco industry lobbyists threatened to scuttle unrelated ballot initiatives if California lawmakers passed sweeping anti-smoking measures, health advocates said on Friday. Sacramento Bee article

 O’Brien, Olsen raise eyebrows with their timing in Board of Supervisors election — Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O’Brien and Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen are catching flak for the timing of their last-minute announcements this week. O’Brien waited until 1:40 p.m. Thursday, the day before Friday’s filing deadline, to announce he would not seek a fourth term on the county Board of Supervisors. Olsen announced 25 minutes later that she was running for supervisor to represent the Oakdale and Riverbank area, with O’Brien’s endorsement. Modesto Bee article

Valley politics

AD 26: Republicans Mathis, Mendoza go for round 2 in Tulare County district — Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza, a Republican, has filed to run for election in the 26th Assembly District in hopes of unseating one-term incumbent Devon Mathis of Visalia, also a Republican. It’s a grudge match. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Merced County Districts 1, 2 have their final candidates – The filing period for candidates for two Merced County Board of Supervisors seats closed Friday, revealing the list of people who will face off in the June 7 primary. Districts 1 and 2 drew a total of five candidates. District 4 is also up for a vote, but the filing deadline was extended until Wednesday because the incumbent, Deidre Kelsey, opted not to seek re-election. Merced Sun-Star article

Healthy field gets in line for Stockton primary – Eight candidates will run in Stockton’s mayoral primary in June, familiar names joined on the ballot by several political newcomers pursuing City Hall’s top elective office. Stockton Record article

Mathis vice chair of agriculture committee — California Assemblyman Devon Mathis has been named vice chairman of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Tobacco industry threatens referendum on smoking bill — Just days before the Legislature approved a bill that would raise the smoking age to 21, a lobbyist warned that the tobacco industry would file a November ballot referendum to overturn the law if it’s signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to a coalition supporting the measure. LA Times article

California Politics Podcast: Smoke signs — This week, we look at the big legislative tobacco fight, proposals on the “gig economy” and a soda tax, as well as the leadership selections from Speaker Anthony Rendon. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Mike Dunbar: A lot we can learn from Colorado’s experience – Colorado lived up to the connotation always evident in the term “Rocky Mountain high” and legalized it in 2012 with retail locations opening in 2014. As Californians consider similar measures this year, we have an opportunity to learn from Colorado. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Local reaction: Higher California smoking age won’t help – Saephan said changing the tobacco-buying law wouldn’t make much of a difference for local smoke shops because he believes most store owners will likely sell tobacco to youngsters anyway. Visalia Times-Delta article


What happens when toddlers defend themselves against deportation? – Can young children represent themselves in immigration court? One federal immigration judge thinks so. Judge Jack Weil is assistant chief immigration judge for the U.S. Department of Justice. Part of his job includes coordinating training for other immigration judges and court staff. In a recently unsealed deposition, he asserted that migrant children as young as 3 are capable of representing themselves in deportation hearings. LA Times article

Where did unaccompanied migrants go? — Two years ago, tens of thousands of children fleeing the troubled nations of Central America flocked to the Southwest border, igniting national protests over immigration policies as overwhelmed federal agencies scrambled to find places to house and process the children. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Obama backs law enforcement in encryption fight — President Obama said Friday that law enforcement must be legally able to collect information from smartphones and other electronic devices, making clear, despite disagreement within his administration, that he opposes the stance on encryption taken by technology companies like AppleNew York Times article

Other areas 

California tax on candy proposed by Democratic lawmaker – Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia on Friday announced a plan to apply sales taxes on candy in California, an idea that was rejected at the ballot box in 1992. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

How a state senator – whose family is in the taxi business – put the brakes on two Uber bills – San Diego taxi company owner Alfredo Hueso is a frustrated businessman. State regulations are helping companies like Uber and Lyft rob him of business, he believes. And as he complained in a recent letter to the state Senate president, elected leaders aren’t doing anything to fix the problem. In that battle, though, Hueso has one advantage over the ridesharing companies: His younger brother is state Sen. Ben Hueso, an important advocate in Sacramento for the taxi industry. LA Times article

Joel Fox: The big stumbling block for tobacco tax compromise – The possibility that a new effort to raise tobacco taxes in the near future could not be guaranteed held back any legislative compromise on taxes. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Senate bill would require 7-day notice before mosquito spraying – A proposed State Senate bill requiring greater advance notice of mosquito control would do more harm than good, vector control districts argue. Stockton Record article

What Schwarzenegger’s role as governor says about Trump — Like Trump, Schwarzenegger’s rise reflected the restiveness of an electorate primed in 2003, as it is today, to embrace an outsized personality with a populist appeal. Schwarzenegger laid bare not only that such a candidate could win, but once in office, how short of his initial promise he could fall. Sacramento Bee article

Cathleen Decker and Michael Finnegan: Campaign violence and Donald Trump: Hardly surprising, entirely predictable – What many had feared as Trump’s campaign has proceeded had finally happened on a large scale: A flammable brew of populist anger, campaign mismanagement, a candidate’s own provocative encouragement and protesters fighting back — quite literally — finally found its fuse. Decker/Finnegan in LA Times

Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly aims for Congress, auctions off guns — Former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a tea party favorite and unsuccessful candidate for governor, said Friday he is running for Congress, bidding to unseat fellow Republican Paul Cook in Southern California’s desert region. His first fundraising event? According to a campaign announcement, Donnelly “will be auctioning off several firearms.” Sacramento Bee article 

Stephen Sacks: Here’s why ‘Black Lives’ movement spotlights injustice – The Fresno resident writes, “As an older white male who has spent 50-plus years living in north Fresno, I have to confess I did not fully understand the ideas behind the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Of course, black lives matter but really, all lives matter. However, recent events and education have helped me understand.” Sacks op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

As rain falls in California, tensions rise over who gets the water — With prolonged and steady rain falling on Northern California for the first time in weeks, tensions are rising over how to manage the stormwater flows now streaming through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Sacramento Bee article

Drop in sales tax revenue makes ‘adjustments’ to Bakersfield’s general fund budget likely – Bakersfield’s sales tax revenue for last year’s fourth quarter dropped more than 4.8 percent compared to the same period of the previous year and the city will have to make $3.5 million in further adjustments to its general fund budget, City Manager Alan Tandy said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County posts strong gains in jobs, wages – San Joaquin County showed strong gains in employment and in average weekly wages in the third quarter last year, federal economic officials reported this week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the county’s 4.2 percent job growth ranked 22nd among the nation’s 342 largest counties and a gain of 4 percent in average weekly wages (to $834/week) made it No. 44 of those counties. Stockton Record article 

Fulton Mall merchants anxious, uncertain over construction – As crews get ready to start tearing up concrete on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno, some mall merchants are concerned that the city’s $20 million project to restore Fulton Street to carry automobile traffic will be a major disruption to their businesses during the 14 months of construction. Fresno Bee article 

Is oil-price rebound for real? Maybe, but don’t get hopes up – A new report that petroleum production has declined more than expected, especially in the United States, raised hopes Friday that global oil prices may have bottomed out, even as local oilmen worried foreign countries will reverse the trend by boosting output. Bakersfield Californian article 

Interchange crucial to nearby shopping center opens – Local, state and federal officials cut the ribbon Friday morning on the Hosking Avenue interchange at Highway 99 in south Bakersfield, a long-awaited improvement crucial to development of an 800,000-square-foot shopping center. Bakersfield Californian article

Hanford firefighter expansion linked to Measure K – If Hanford voters want faster response times for firefighter/paramedics in the near future, they need to support Measure K, the sales tax measure scheduled to go on the ballot in June. That’s the message from Hanford leaders as they move forward with plans to open a new fire station in 2017. Hanford Sentinel article

In Yosemite, Native Americans ask, “Whose names are they, anyway?’ – Names like the Ahwahnee and the Wawona are gone, at least for now, while the park service and its former concessionaire, Delaware North, battle out the cost of these trademarks in court. Now there are new signs directing visitors to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and the Big Trees Lodge. KQED report

Google fights AT&T, Comcast over Bay Area Google Fiber service – Google’s plan to bring ultrahigh-speed Internet service to the Bay Area has run into a decidedly nontech hurdle: utility poles. To roll out Google Fiber in five Silicon Valley cities, the tech giant needs access to the poles for stringing up fiber cable. But in several cities a who’s who of Google competitors are standing in the way. San Jose Mercury News article 

New Smart & Final planned for Mooney – Smart & Final wants to open a second store in Visalia at 3424 S. Mooney Boulevard according to a plan filed with the city. The store would open where JoAnn’s Fabrics is now, just north of Caldwell. JoAnn’s plans to move to where Circuit City south on Mooney. Visalia Times-Delta article

Treasury retirement plans could assist Californians without employer-sponsored savings – A recent study shows nearly half of California workers don’t have a retirement savings plan available at work, and the U.S. Treasury Department is hoping a new no fee, no minimum deposit retirement saving program will fill the gap. LA Times article

California Public Employment Relations Board fights case backlog – The board that referees government employees’ contract disputes has a backlog so serious that Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget for next year proposes adding staff at a cost of nearly $1 million. Sacramento Bee article

For Bay Area tech elite, a second home is just, you know, normal — Santa Lucia Preserve is a gated community that doubles as a wilderness preserve on 20,000 acres adjacent to Carmel Valley and Pebble Beach. With custom homes selling for between $3.6 million and $11.8 million, it also is one of the many getaways — from the Central Coast up through Napa Valley, Sonoma County and Lake Tahoe — that lure affluent Silicon Valley families looking for summers and weekends away from the brutal work routines of the tech economy. San Jose Mercury News article


‘A first step’ on groundwater – Sixty years after the Bay Area laid claim to the Mokelumne River’s precious snowmelt, water interests that have spent most of that time fighting are about to propose a project that is small in scope but large in ambition. Stockton Record article

Pesticide use in Fresno County drops due to drought, fallowed fields – Fewer bugs, favorable weather and a decline in acreage contributed to a drop in pesticide use for Fresno County in 2014. The county’s pesticide use dropped 7 percent, or 2 million pounds, over the previous year, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s 2014 pesticide use report, the most recent year the state has for complete data. Fresno Bee article 

Video: Storage a key part of California water solution, says new Speaker Rendon — California’s lack of storage capacity has begun to be addressed. When Californians passed the Prop 1 water bond two years ago, the voters who have not been in a spending mood lately, acknowledged that we need to invest in order to better manage our water. New Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon rose to public prominence in California through his work on the water bond, which he and others presented to the state. California Forward video

Stockton Record: Be very wary – SoCal behemoth utility becoming Delta landowner — Well, there goes the neighborhood. Or, at the very least, it’s time to ramp up the Neighborhood Watch program. That behemoth thirst monster, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, apparently is no longer content to play politics and wait patiently as a key state water issue — the north has it, the south wants it — continues to play out. Stockton Record editorial

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lerdo jail no longer on lockdown after large fight – Lerdo Jail is no longer on lockdown but visitation for male inmates at the Minimum Facility has been canceled through the weekend following a fight Thursday evening involving an estimated 75 inmates. Bakersfield Californian article

LA Police Commission recommendations emphasize avoiding use of deadly force — In a move that’s already provoking contention among police experts, two Los Angeles police commissioners Friday called for changes to policies on when LAPD officers should use deadly force. LA Times article


Modesto teachers approve hard-fought contract – The Modesto Teachers Association overwhelmingly voted for its 2015-16 contract, closing the books on one of the most tense and protracted negotiations in recent years for Modesto City Schools. Modesto Bee article

UC pension overhaul shifts away from guaranteed benefits – The University of California is set to adopt a new pension tier for its underfunded retirement system that it calculates will save nearly $1.5 billion over the next 15 years. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Fresno State officials Hmong minor program would boost workforce — Administrators pushing for a new Hmong minor at Fresno State say the program has the chance to transform the university into a national leader in Hmong cultural studies while creating long-lasting changes for the local business community. The program currently awaits final approval from several of the university’s review committees, but is expected to be included as an option for students by the start of the new fall semester. The Business Journal article

State’s 22 unaccredited law schools will be required to show dropout rates by June – California’s unaccredited law schools, which collectively have an 85% dropout rate, will soon have to disclose their attrition rates to prospective students. State bar trustees voted Friday to require the schools to publish their dropout rates for the last five years. LA Times article

Parents react to lockdown: Communication failure at school – Parents who went to the schools after learning about the lockdown complained about the lack of information from the school district during the incident. Tamara Ravalin, Visalia Unified School District assistant superintendent of human resources, said there’s a notification system. But it wasn’t used after the lockdown was lifted. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Rising to the challenge – The California National Guard, San Joaquin County Office of Education and local elected officials joined together Friday morning for a ceremony marking both the groundbreaking and renovation of the Discovery Challenge Academy at the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop. Stockton Record article

Modestan makes great strides through Spanish-language GED program – Leticia Monreal become somewhat of a “poster child” for the Spanish GED program, which in Stanislaus County is offered only by LearningQuest. Because of successes like hers, the nonprofit is in the midst of a fundraising drive to add another Spanish GED class, said Executive Director Karen Williams. Modesto Bee article

Belmont fills need for higher education in Tracy – Notre Dame de Namur began offering classes in Tracy’s Transit Center in business administration for both undergraduate and graduates pursuing master’s degrees, last fall. Stockton Record article

Protestors call on UC Davis chancellor to resign in campus march, sit-in — A peaceful protest Friday seeking the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi morphed into a sit-in in her office lobby with 35 students and protesters criticizing her acceptance of questionable board seatsSacramento Bee article 

Victor Davis Hanson: Can our colleges be saved? — The public is steadily losing confidence in undergraduate education, given that we hear constantly about how poorly educated are today’s graduates and how few well-paying jobs await them. The cost of college is a national scandal. Collective student loan debt in America is about $1.2 trillion. Campus political correctness is now daily news. How could higher education be held accountable and thereby be reformed? Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Merced children donate books to fledgling library — Students at Burbank Elementary gathered and donated nearly 2,000 books Friday to their peers at Rivera Elementary, which now has nearly tripled the size of its collection for students at the new campus. Merced Sun-Star article

Project Prom offers more than 2,000 dresses to Merced teens — Project Prom will host its first event in Merced all day Saturday at the Alliance Church of Merced, with more than 2,000 dresses available for any high school girl who would like one. The event is put on by the Bay Area chapter of Hmong Women Today. Merced Sun-Star article


Complaint alleges PG&E conflict by Brown’s top aide – A consumer advocacy group filed a complaint Friday with the state ethics agency seeking an investigation into whether the top aide to Gov. Jerry Brown influenced appointments to the state Public Utilities Commission while she owned stock in PG&E, an allegation rejected immediately by the Governor’s Office. San Diego Union-Tribune articleLA Times article

Steve Lopez: Join me at the circus, I mean, a California Coastal Commission hearing — It’s becoming harder and harder for me to describe in believable terms what goes on at a California Coastal Commission hearing. But I’m going to give it my best shot. Lopez column in LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Domestic violence help available in Merced – A Hmong woman killed in Fresno this week, allegedly by her husband, led domestic violence advocates in Merced and around the Central Valley to remind residents they offer services tailored specifically for the Southeast Asian community. Merced Sun-Star article

Thomas Gray: Measure H: A matter of life and death – The assistant medical director of the Kaweah Delta Medical Center Emergency Department writes, “When you receive your ballot for Measure H in May vote YES!! A YES vote allows our progress to continue; services grow with the community; more skilled jobs are created; the area continues to prosper.” Gray op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta


GET board to hear presentation from high-speed rail authority – Board members of the Golden Empire Transit District will hear a presentation next week from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, according to a meeting agenda released Friday. The presentation at the board’s 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting will deal with the rail agency’s proposal to build a bullet train station on property partly occupied by GET’s headquarters, 1830 Golden State Ave. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno airport tops 1.4 million travelers for third straight year — Flight cuts by several airlines to and from Fresno Yosemite International Airport last year put a dent in overall passenger traffic through the airport. But 2015 marked the third consecutive year in which the airport topped 1.4 million passengers. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Other areas

San Joaquin County supervisors to consider night workshops – In an effort to get more residents involved in government, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will consider creating study workshops to be held during the evening hours this year. Stockton Record article 

Retired Kings fairgrounds CEO returns to job – With the fair fast approaching, the Kings County Fairgrounds is keeping a full schedule following the recent departure of its CEO and fair manager. Kate O’Neil, who had managed the facility since January 2014, resigned in September 2015. Her last day was Nov. 15. The fairgrounds’ board of directors appointed former longtime CEO and manager Angie Avila to take over in the interim. Hanford Sentinel article

‘A very unfortunate choice of words’ – A Calaveras County planning commissioner has apologized for suggesting that “people from Mexico” qualify as an invasive species, saying that his intent was merely to question a vague county policy. Stockton Record article

180 bodies are stacked up in LA County morgue, coroner says — About 180 bodies are in storage at the Los Angeles County morgue because of delays in processing, Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Mark Fajardo said in an interview Friday. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee –– Let’s stop the summer slide: Support Bee a Reader Fund.

Sacramento Bee – UC’s new pension proposal, unveiled by Napolitano on Friday, is sensible, measured and generous, compared to retirement plans in both the private and public sectors.

Stockton Record – Well, there goes the neighborhood. Or, at the very least, it’s time to ramp up the Neighborhood Watch program. That behemoth thirst monster, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, apparently is no longer content to play politics and wait patiently as a key state water issue — the north has it, the south wants it — continues to play out.

Maddy Events

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 to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at

Community Events

  • 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 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


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

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.

More Information

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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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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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