March 13, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Kristin Olsen calls for more bill scrutiny, 2-year budget cycle — Seeking to promote her party as the alternative to a scandal-scarred Democratic majority, Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, trumpeted on Thursday a package of bills that would change how the Legislature conducts business.  Sacramento Bee article; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Obama immigration program, blocked by Texas judge, wins 14 states’ support — California, New York and 12 other states are joining in the push to salvage President Obama’s plan to grant legal protection to millions of people in the U.S. illegally – even if it’s only revived in their parts of the country.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown to Washington for dinner, government talks — Gov. Jerry Brown will travel to Washington, D.C. this weekend to meet with federal officials on climate change, health care and water policy, and to attend the annual Gridiron Club Dinner, the governor’s office said Thursday.  Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown’s new foil? Rick Scott — Gov. Jerry Brown may have his new foil. Less than two months after Texas Gov. Rick Perry left office, another Rick – Scott – announced Thursday he is California-bound. The Florida governor said he will travel to Los Angeles in April to encourage shipping companies to move their operations to ports in his “low-tax, business friendly” state. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California pension reformers rev up for 2016 ballot — Two former city officials who persuaded voters to accept local public pension rollbacks have teamed up for another stab at putting the issue to a statewide vote. Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, plan to issue a proposal within the next six weeks, DeMaio said in a recent telephone interview. He declined to disclose specifics.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Assembly leader Toni Atkins denies conflict of interest in funds proposal – When Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins proposed recently that the state provide $500 million for apartments for low-income Californians, she ignited criticism that such a program could benefit her spouse, whose consulting firm specializes in affordable housing.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Insurance Commissioner Jones again tries to expand power – The underlying issue is that California now has, in effect, three health insurance regulators, not only Jones but the Department of Managed Health Care and Covered California, the exchange for insurance under Obamacare. Jones’ slice of the regulatory pie has been shrinking.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Obama on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’: ‘No excuse’ for criminal acts’ in Ferguson – President Obama called years of racial targeting in Ferguson, Mo., “oppressive and objectionable and worthy of protest” but decried the gunfire that left two police officers injured there early Thursday.  LA Times article

Fiorina shapes herself as GOP foil to Clinton – She has been the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, a senior adviser to a Republican presidential nominee and a candidate for the United States Senate. But Carly Fiorina recently took on her boldest role yet:Hillary Rodham Clinton’s loudest critic.  New York Times article

Victor Davis Hanson:  America’s e-gate epidemics – In all of these email scandals, the root of the problem is not, as is sometimes alleged, undue government intrusiveness into the private lives of federal officials. After all, the public deserves transparency — even with regard to bureaucrats’ private correspondence, at least while they are in office and communicating as public figures. The real problem is that our public servants are using their electronic correspondence to affect their public records — indeed, to massage history itself far more easily than had been done in the pre-computer age.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

DOJ names Stockton for police-community pilot program — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that Stockton has been selected as one of six pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a program designed to improve relationships between law enforcement officers and their communities.  Stockton Record article; AP article

State poised to step up crackdown on water wasting – Drought-stricken California is preparing to raise the ante on water conservation. Starting next month, households around the state may be limited to two days a week of outdoor watering. Restaurants might be barred from serving water unless a customer requests a glass. And hotels could have to get approval from guests before washing their towels.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Best state for business? Yes, California — Maybe high taxes and strong regulations don’t daunt business leaders if well spent and well aimed. Places that prepare for big 21st-century challenges such as urbanization, climate change and globalization are likely to be the most successful. California companies lead the U.S. in confronting these risks with superior results for shareholders and bondholders. Bloomberg article

Tulare County to appeal $4 million ruling – A ruling by the California Public Employees Relations Board that would compel Tulare County to pay more than $4 million in back wages to hundreds of employees will be challenged in court.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Fresno leaders expect Fulton Mall work soon – Fresno City leaders say ground could be broken on the Fulton Mall project as early as this summer. Opponents of the project say they are not giving up the fight. KVPR report

End of refinery strike in sight; gas prices may fall – The United Steelworkers reached a tentative contract with Shell Oil Co. on Thursday after more than a month of contentious talks and strikes, union officials said.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Foes rage over idea of privatizing Kern libraries – A couple weeks of heated emails and letters have set a hot stage for Tuesday’s Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting. Supporters and defenders of the Kern County Library system have peppered county officials with fiery opposition to the idea of turning over Kern’s libraries to a for-profit Maryland company.  Bakersfield Californian article

Discussion on developing Atwater’s old air base highlights difficulties and opportunities – There’s hope for the former Atwater military base, according to participants in a roundtable discussion at the complex Thursday. A large contingent of legislators, elected officials, economists, educators and researchers gathered to share their ideas on the future of Castle. And the question on everyone’s minds: How do we transform Castle into a thriving business and commerce center?  Merced Sun-Star article

See how much income you’d need to afford a home in most California cities – The household income needed to afford a median-priced home ranges from $27,000 in the farming town of Tulare to $442,000 in the Silicon Valley town of Palo Alto. This graphic shows the amount of income a household would need to buy the median-priced home in each California city with more than 50,000 residents.  Sacramento Bee article

New development underway in Hanford – It may be a while before Kings County residents can enjoy shopping at their own Costco or Hobby Lobby stores, but meantime some new retail businesses could open their doors.  Hanford Sentinel article

Hobby Lobby craft store coming to northwest Fresno — Hobby Lobby has confirmed it will open a store in Fresno early next year. The popular craft, home decor and art supply store will build a new store in the shopping center at the northwest corner of Blackstone and Sierra avenues, said Hobby Lobby spokesman Vince Parker.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Stockton is priciest area for auto policies – Stockton is among California’s most expensive cities for auto insurance. Motorists living in other San Joaquin County cities will pay on average at least 10 percent less than the average rate in Stockton, according to a recent study by, a financial services comparison site.  Stockton Record article

Friction between union, developers could snarl Inglewood NFL stadium project – Friction between organized labor and the developers of a potential NFL stadium in Inglewood threatened Thursday to tangle up the project even before construction starts.  AP article

San Diego stadium financing takes center stage – In the quest to come up with a financing plan for a new Chargers stadium in Mission Valley, the mayor’s task force plans to meet next month with the NFL commissioner, while city and county officials have already begun stepping up efforts toward a possible collaboration on the project.  U-T San Diego article

S&P raises credit rating for Community Medical Centers – Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s raised the credit rating on more than $483 million in certificates of participation issued on behalf of Community Medical Centers in Fresno, boosting the rating from BBB to A-minus. The bonds were issued in 2007 and 2009 by the California Municipal Finance Authority for CMC. Fresno Bee article

Old Town Clovis gets younger as beer tasting, lounges join antique shops – Old Town Clovis isn’t just the land of antiques anymore. Craft beer tasting, new and different stores, an outdoor plaza and an influx of young people — hipsters, even — are putting a twist on the traditional “Clovis way of life.”  Fresno Bee article

Realtor writes book to guide buyers and sellers through real estate — Look! What’s that in the sky? It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No…it’s a Realtor. A Guarantee real estate agent in Fresno wants housing professionals to be superheroes in the stressful and confusing world of buying and selling a home. Christine Cerda has a written a small book using superhero cartoon characters to help Realtors, lenders, appraisers and others guide clients through real estate deals.  Fresno Bee article

Google giving bus drivers a raise, but not everyone is happy — Google is giving the shuttle bus drivers who haul its employees to and from Mountain View a raise — but some view the news as an attempt by the tech giant to undercut efforts to unionize Silicon Valley contract workers.  San Francisco Chronicle article


As drought worsens, LA water agency offers cash to Sacramento Valley farmers — With the drought stretching into its fourth year, a heavyweight water agency from Los Angeles has come calling on Sacramento Valley rice farmers, offering up to $71 million for some of their water. The price being offered is so high, some farmers can make more from selling water than from growing their rice.  Sacramento Bee article

California bill would provide health care for farm workers – Assembly Bill 1170 would create a pilot program to pay for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment for farm workers. It would not only cover on-the-job injuries but also other illnesses.  KVPR report

California’s walnut boom slows due to several factors — The walnut industry has hit a rough patch, leaders said Thursday near Modesto, but the long-term future looks strong thanks to consumers who see the health benefits.  Modesto Bee article

Eggman floats groundwater bill — Stowing away water in our underground emergency “savings account” could get easier under a proposed bill supported by local water officials.  Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento sheriff defends surveillance technology use, criticizes ACLU – Two days after a lawsuit was filed against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department over its controversial use of surveillance technology, the sheriff spoke out against what he called an unfair misrepresentation of his department and its use of that technology.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Police Chief Dyer hopes new panel will build trust with local youth — Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he wants to improve communication and trust between his officers and young people. That’s why he announced a plan Wednesday to create a new youth advisory panel for the department.  KVPR report

State audit faults evaluations of sexually violent predators – The state auditor released a report Thursday criticizing the Department of State Hospitals’ evaluation system for determining whether prisoners due for parole or psychiatric patients being held at Coalinga State Hospital are sexually violent predators.  LA Times article

Modesto launches police cadet program – Police cadets Vishal Malli and Mike Fuzie spent part of Thursday afternoon helping hand out steering wheel locks in southwest Modesto neighborhoods hit hard recently by auto thefts. The two are among the first members of the Police Department’s new cadet program, which started about three weeks ago.  Modesto Bee article

Body of possible Fresno copper thief found wedged inside wall — The body of a man who may have been stealing copper wire was found wedged inside the walls of a business west of Highway 99, Fresno police said.  Fresno Bee article


Public schools see windfall after $1-million lotto prize goes unclaimed – California public schools just won the lottery — sort of. The Powerball winner seen above failed to claim his $1-million prize by 5 p.m. Thursday, officials said.  LA Times article

Michael Fitzgerald: Judging teachers in a post-fact world – Since 1,700 Stockton Unified teachers may walk out on almost 38,000 school kids — and shame hundreds of union substitute teachers from crossing the picket lines — you might ask why. When you ask, though, you find out strikes are post-truthiness environments in which people stretch facts like flubber, then attack others for inaccuracy.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Stockton Record: Message sent – We urge SUSD and STA officials to work diligently toward an agreement that will satisfy both sides. We also ask they consider the stakeholders — students, families, non-teacher education colleagues and the community as a whole — who would suffer from a work stoppage of any duration.  Stockton Record editorial

Flag ban vote: UC Irvine faculty, students push back — Students and faculty at UC Irvine are beginning to push back against the angry condemnation of six university students who created a national stir last week when they voted to remove the U.S. flag from a lounge.  LA Times article

Uninsured rate for Latino students down sharply at state universities – The rate of uninsured students at two California State University campuses dropped dramatically overall, and Latino students in particular saw a steep decline, according to poll results released Wednesday.  KQED report

Why some schools serve local food and others can’t (or won’t) — Surprisingly, school districts in Big Ag states like California or Washington weren’t serving the most local food for lunch. That distinction belongs to handful of schools in the northeast — Maine, Vermont, Maryland and Delaware. Why them? Some of those states have focused heavily on building local food economies, and their small size, arguably, has made it easier for local food to gain market share.  NPR report

Sacramento Bee: Napolitano can send a message with UC pensions – UC hasn’t done all it can to limit pension obligations.  Sacramento Bee editorial

UFW president tells students about the power of ‘fire in the belly’ – The can-do spirit of late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez was invoked Thursday to inspire a new generation in Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

High schools get high-tech kiosks — Hanford Joint Union High School District students will soon have a new way to get important school information. Last week, the district installed touchscreen kiosks at all three main campuses that will allow students to obtain information about school events, receive safety notifications, purchase school products and more.  Hanford Sentinel article

Potential exists for ‘much richer and in-depth math experience’ – Math teacher Timothy Smith earned a 2014 California Teacher of the Year award and was chosen by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to be the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year award.  EdSource article

Trevethan named interim chief for Turlock Unified — Former Turlock High Principal Dana Salles Trevethan will take the reins of Turlock Unified as Superintendent Sonny Da Marto retires. Modesto Bee article


State awards $8 million to help harness biogas at Kern dairies – Two Kern County dairies will be outfitted with technology for turning cow manure into renewable energy with the help of $8 million in state grant money. The California Energy Commission voted Wednesday to give an outfit calling itself American Biogas Electric Co. $4 million to retrofit Lakeview Farms Dairy in Bakersfield and another $4 billion to do similar work at West Star North Dairy in Buttonwillow.  Bakersfield Californian article

Oil producer faces fine over ‘likely’ fracking spill – A Los Angeles-based company that produces oil in Kern County faces a $67,700 fine for “likely” spilling fracking fluid in the South Belridge Oil Field in 2013. BreitBurn Operating LP, part of publicly traded Breitburn Energy Partners LP, is accused of discharging between 420 and 840 gallons of the fluid into a series of six unlined sumps during a 17-day period between May and July of 2013.  Bakersfield Californian article

‘Miracle’ expansion of California coastal sanctuaries – After more than a decade of effort by California lawmakers, the Obama administration gave final approval Thursday to a giant expansion of two marine sanctuaries off the coast north of San Francisco that will protect one of the planet’s most prolific ocean ecosystems.  San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

California Energy Commission seeks boost in energy efficiency of computers, monitors — The California Energy Commission on Thursday proposed energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors that it says will save consumers hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  Sacramento Bee article

PG&E: Diablo Canyon nuclear plan can withstand 10,000-year quake – California’s last remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, can withstand a major earthquake striking on multiple nearby faults at once, according to a report Pacific Gas and Electric Co. filed with federal regulators Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Disposal site near McKittrick seeks to expand — The owner-operator of a landfill and waste treatment plant one mile south of McKittrick is requesting permission for a substantial expansion of the operation.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Fresno VA hospital announces $20 million in new hires at town meeting — The Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Fresno) announced at a town hall meeting on Thursday that $20 million of additional funding will be used to hire 86 new employees, most of whom will replenish a specialty care department that both VA officials and veterans say is lacking.  Fresno Bee article

Kern health safety net scores well in new study – A new study that looks at health care safety nets after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act generally praises Kern County’s indigent care, but calls on all counties to do more to provide services to undocumented immigrants.  Bakersfield Californian article

Report highlights indigent care needs in Fresno County — A new report by Health Access California has revealed that hundreds, and potentially thousands, of Central Valley residents still depend on indigent services despite increased access to state and federal health programs. The Business Journal article

Critical condition:  How a broken medical records system is endangering America’s health — Every time she visits a new doctor, long-time breast-cancer patient Jeanne Patterson prints out dozens of paper files about her medical history. She carries bags filled with sensitive documents, CDs and DVDs to each specialist. Patterson has no choice: her medical records have ended up scattered among 20 different hospitals and health systems, and none of them can be easily shared or accessed electronically in one place.  KQED report

Prime Healthcare founder defends decisions not to buy 6 struggling Catholic hospitals — The founder of Prime Healthcare Services Inc. defended his decision to pull out of a deal to buy six Catholic hospitals, saying critics were wrong to suggest that he placed profit over patients.  LA Times article

Dr. Michael Cadra and Dr. Jacob Barber: Be careful, 3 million teeth will be knocked out in sports – The Modesto dentists, who practice oral and maxillofacial surgery, write, “The mouth and face of a child or young adult can be easily injured if the proper precautions are not used while participating in sports or recreational activities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say more than half of the 7 million sports and recreation injuries each year are sustained by children as young as age 5.”  Cadra/Barber op-ed in Modesto Bee

Other areas

City Beat: We’re hard-working? Yes – Oil industry woes aside, Bakersfield is still one hard-working city. For background: This is the ninth largest city in the state and 52nd largest in the nation. According to the not-entirely-famous listicle generator Wallet Hub, otherwise a mild-mannered online clearinghouse for financial products, Bakersfield is California’s second-hardest-working city, behind only San Francisco.  Bakersfield Californian article (second item)

Fresno State bulldog mascot Victor E. II dies unexpectedly – Victor E. Bulldog II, the mascot for Fresno State athletics, died unexpectedly Thursday from severe anaphylactic shock caused by a bee sting, the university announced.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Diocese agrees to pay fired coach $4 million — The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento agreed Thursday to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a football coach it fired after he reported a sex-hazing scandal in his program.  Sacramento Bee article

California Consumer Affairs’ officials admit IT flop, ask for more money – Contrite officials with the Department of Consumer Affairs admitted Thursday that a 2-year-old computer system is a mess, then explained why lawmakers should give them another $17.5 million for it.  Sacramento Bee article

Value of collaboration is focus of Modesto event – The Stanislaus Community Foundation is holding its second “Connecting for Good” event to help people learn how to work together to tackle complex and seemingly intractable problems, such as homelessness, poverty and illiteracy.  Modesto Bee article

Thomas Powell: Sacramento must rethink public art – The Sacramento sculptor writes, “Commissioning ‘art’ objects for public sites is an exercise of vanity, not common sense.” Powell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Aiming the steam in another direction — paint vs. pee — The urine-soaked walls that line San Francisco’s alleys and streets are getting ready to fight back. Mohammed Nuru, head of the city’s Department of Public Works, is looking at a new weapon in his long-running — and so-far losing — war against people who make the world their toilet. The streets czar is looking for public suggestions about the best places to test a new paint that is so, ah, water repellent that a stream of, shall we say, liquid directed against a wall rebounds onto the shoes and pants of the offender.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Stop complaining about gas prices and hunt bargains.

Merced Sun-Star – UC hasn’t done all it can to limit pension obligations.

Modesto Bee – UC hasn’t done all it can to limit pension obligations.

Sacramento Bee – UC hasn’t done all it can to limit pension obligations; China’s leaders control plenty, but not the afterlife.

Stockton Record – We urge SUSD and STA officials to work diligently toward an agreement that will satisfy both sides. We also ask they consider the stakeholders — students, families, non-teacher education colleagues and the community as a whole — who would suffer from a work stoppage of any duration.