March 16, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Ho-hum California election cycle paid off for political world – The past two years were anything but ho-hum for the hundreds of consultants, fundraisers, pollsters, media buyers and various campaign operatives that collectively netted almost $300 million from campaign committees for state offices and initiatives, according to a Sacramento Bee review of records filed with the secretary of state last month.  Capitol Alert

Dan Walters Daily: California Legislature switches gears – It’s that time of the year when legislators finally get to legislating, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee


LAPD officer suspected of smuggling a person across U.S.-Mexico border – A Los Angeles Police Department officer was arrested by federal authorities on suspicion of smuggling a person across the U.S.-Mexico, a source said.  LA Times article

Other areas

Big money arrived too late for LA election debate — Two years ago, a defining issue in Los Angeles’ mayoral election was campaign money — more specifically, the huge amounts spent by the union that represents most Department of Water and Power employees.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: LA politicians play musical chairs — At any given moment, there are more than 100 professional politicians who want one, so local politics are in a constant state of agitation, sorting out who gets which job and who’s left out, at least until the next election.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bay Area Senate race pits unions against Democrat Steve Glazer —  War has broken out in the neatly tended suburbs east of San Francisco Bay, over a simple question: Is only one kind of Democrat allowed in blue California?  LA Times article; George Skelton column in LA Times

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Stanislaus Alliance taking pulse of businesses that drive local economy – The Stanislaus Business Alliance says there are at least 300 of what economic development people call “base employers” in the county. These are companies that drive a local economy because they export goods and services while importing money that circulates throughout the rest of the economy. The alliance – for the first time – is surveying these employers.  Modesto Bee article

James Fallows: California’s center of technology: Bay Area, LA, San Diego and … Fresno? — Earlier this week I mentioned a tech company in the Mural District of Fresno’s tattered-but-struggling-to-recover downtown called Bitwise Industries. It’s a company we first visited one year ago and have followed ever since. In this and a follow-up post or two, I’d like to say something about the ways in which Bitwise’s story sheds light on conditions distinctive to Fresno and its surrounding, hard-pressed Central Valley of California, but also about the ways in which it reflects trends we’ve seen in every corner of the country.  Fallows in The Atlantic

Jobs and the Economy

Oakland minimum-wage hike puts child caregivers in a jam — Workers who benefit from Oakland’s minimum wage hike might soon lose a service that enables them to work in the first place. It turns out the well-intentioned law is putting a financial squeeze on Oakland’s child care industry, leading some providers to panic.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Community based on ‘farm to fork’ coming to Davis – Work has started on the most ambitious expansion in Davis in more than a decade, a new residential and business development that city officials and developers say may be the first farm-to-fork community in the region, if not the state.  Sacramento Bee article

Daniel Borenstein: Labor perpetuates pension myth that 80 percent funding goal is OK — Public employee unions repeatedly insist that workers’ pension funds need not be fully funded, that a target of 80 percent is fine. So it wasn’t surprising that a retired labor leader advocated that position at a recent talk I gave in Oakland. It was, however, disconcerting that the city’s assistant city administrator went even further, saying 75 percent funding was OK.  Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

High court ruling weakens retiree health benefits — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in January weakens the “vested rights” protection of retiree health care based on a labor contract, potentially making it easier for government employers to cut a growing cost.  Calpensions article

16 ski resorts worth hundreds of millions could be sold – A real estate investment trust that’s considering getting out of the snow business could sell more than a dozen ski resorts from Maine to California that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  AP article


Historic Merced County groundwater ordinance up for adoption Tuesday — The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt Merced County’s historic groundwater ordinance on Tuesday, with some in the community waiting to see if the board will delay the process again.  Merced Sun-Star article

Cover crops: Long-term benefit — Farmers and ranchers primarily focus on growing plants that produce food or fiber — something of value they can sell and get cash to pay their bills for seed, farm labor, fuel and fertilizer and, hopefully, keep something for themselves. But researchers at the Lockeford Plant Materials Center are encouraging growers to think differently — to cultivate cover crops, noncommercial plants that can improve the soil and more.  Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Officers’ lawyer says texts show bad taste, not animus — The attorney for one of the four San Francisco police officers under investigation for sending racist and homophobic text messages said Sunday her client’s messages, while “wholly unacceptable,” were not reflective of his true attitudes on the job.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Monday Q&A: Ceres police office preserves department history — Preserving his family’s mark on the history of law enforcement always has been important to Jason Coley, but more recently he became the Ceres Police Department’s resident historian.  Modesto Bee article


State’s choice of testing contractor disputed — The State Board of Education last week endorsed the current contractor’s three-year, quarter-billion-dollar bid to continue administering the state’s standardized testing system – but only if it agrees to extensively involve teachers in scoring the parts of the new tests on the Common Core standards that can’t be done by machine. EdSource article

‘It’s a huge relief’ – Students and educators across the state will get to breathe a little easier during the new state testing this spring. The California Board of Education decided to suspend the Academic Performance Index for this school year in order to give schools time to adjust to the new computerized state tests, aligned with the Common Core standards. Hanford Sentinel article

Visalia Unified to present six more attendance boundary maps — Visalia Unified School District presented 11 potential attendance boundary maps to community members in past weeks and the public provided feedback on changes they’d like to see in the maps.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Valley cities shatter heat records, but cooler days are ahead – Heat hit the Valley Sunday, melting temperature records in Fresno, Hanford and Madera.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno-area Sikhs start recycling at temples as part of global call to action — Representatives of six Central Valley Sikh temples participated in the worldwide Sikh Environment Day with a recycling program kickoff at Guru Ravidass Gurdwara in Selma.  Fresno Bee article

Anne Steckel: Without fuels standard, biodiesel industry faces uncertain future – The vice president of federal standards at the National Biodiesel Board writes, “The Obama administration must understand that the lack of regulatory clarity on the RFS is having real world consequences for American biodiesel producers.” Steckel op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Stanislaus County to replace Crows Landing Road bridge for $18.5 million — Stanislaus County is designing a major project to replace the Crows Landing Road bridge over the San Joaquin River, which is a link between Interstate 5 and Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

Fitz’s Stockton: A Queen retakes her throne — The Delta Queen, a royal Stockton native and a national historic treasure, has gained a new lease on life. A new owner says he’ll return the grand gal to river passenger service.  Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: From local cops to NSA secrets, let sunshine in – From NSA surveillance to the secretary of state’s emails to the choice of art outside your town’s new civic arena, democracy depends on everyone having all the information.  Sacramento Bee editorial

3 San Joaquin County fire protection agencies join forces, nix borders – Three rural San Joaquin County fire districts have entered into a written automatic aid agreement that will improve response times and streamline the deployment of resources, fire officials said.  Stockton Record article

Robb Korinke: Open data policy would help solve many issues – The leader of California Forward’s Technology-Enhanced Government efforts writes, “Someday – five, 10 or 20 years from now – we’ll look back and wonder how the state of California operated without knowing how many businesses are created in a given week, or the true cost of pension obligations, or which public programs were achieving desired results. How long we wait for information like that is dictated by how long public agencies wait to embrace the open data movement.”  Korinke op-ed in Sacramento Bee

‘Promoting Merced’ next museum exhibit — A world fair about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, that had a lasting impact on Merced County, is the focus of the next Merced County Courthouse Museum exhibit.  Merced Sun-Star article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – UC President Janet Napolitano can send a message on UC pensions.

Merced Sun-Star – California is the new Texas on immigration; UC President Janet Napolitano can send a message on UC pensions.

Sacramento Bee – From local cops to NSA secrets, let the sunshine in.