March 19, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers to propose $1 billion drought relief bill — With California entering its fourth year of drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders will propose more than $1 billion in emergency legislation Thursday for flood protection and water supply projects and to alleviate impacts of the drought.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; AP article 

Jerry Brown, Janet Napolitano stand their ground on UC tuition — Tuition is set to rise at the University of California over the next five years despite private meetings between President Janet Napolitano and Gov.Jerry Brown intended to iron out their disagreements over UC’s funding.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article


Gov. Brown

While promoting climate change policies in Washington, Jerry Brown weathers fire at home — As the Democratic governor worked in Washington, his administration was coming in for a clobbering on environmental concerns back home. In hearings at the Capitol last week, lawmakers excoriated Brown’s staff for letting oil drillers inject wastewater into wells in protected aquifers and for allowing a battery recycler in Southern California to operate under a temporary permit for decades while emitting hazardous waste.  Sacramento Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

George Skekton: State GOP, emerging from denial, is taking steps to recovery – Has the GOP hit rock bottom? Maybe not. But party leaders, at least, no longer are in denial. They’re acting like they want to recover by changing their ways.  Skelton column in LA Times

‘Shoot the gays’ initiative likely to be circulated — A Southern California attorney’s “shoot the gays” initiative is not destined to become law — for one thing, it’s clearly unconstitutional. But Attorney General Kamala Harris is scheduled to clear it for circulation in May, and she may not have any choice.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Kamala Harris uses personal email ‘rarely’ for state work — California Attorney General Kamala Harris — a candidate for U.S. Senate — uses a personal email account to communicate with her state staff in rare cases.  AP article



New online resource available for immigrants seeking driver’s license — Under Assembly Bill 60, people who are in the country illegally can now apply for a driver’s license. To help them study for the written portion of the exam, the online driving school program eDriving from created a free course in Spanish.  Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Creativity by outside campaign groups didn’t start with East Bay race – It wasn’t the first time an independent committee seemingly took a sneaky/creative approach to shaping the general election runoff to their liking. And it likely won’t be the last in California’s top-two primary landscape.  Sacramento Bee article

Home-sharing companies such as Airbnb talks taxes, regulation at Capitol — Lawmakers grilled representatives from short-term rental companies Airbnb and Homeaway on taxes, regulation and safety concerns Wednesday, previewing what will likely be a hot debate in the Capitol this year.  LA Times article

Dan Walters Daily: Republicans turn up heat on legislative oversight – There’s some political bait in legislative Republicans’ request for an oversight hearing on the backlog of prohibited gun owners, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

House takes up new Armenian-genocide resolution — California lawmakers on Wednesday helped relaunch the latest, long-shot bid to put the House of Representatives on record as recognizing the Armenian genocide.  McClatchy Newspapers article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

UC Merced takes step in growth toward 2020 goal — The University of California Board of Regents on Wednesday approved $1.3 million for the design of UC Merced’s downtown Merced office space, part of the university’s push for growth in enrollment by the end of the decade.  Merced Sun-Star article

Legal battle against pot shops is not swift – When Bakersfield’s ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries took effect Aug. 1, 2013, 25 such businesses were open in the city. Nearly 20 months later, 16 have closed but others have taken their place. Today, some 28 are believed to be operating within city limits. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Kern County considering privatizing more services – Kern County is now considering turning to private companies to run county services as one way to help cover a big decline in tax revenue.  KVPR report

Unions, retirees blast Jerry Brown’s state worker medical plan – Unions lined up Wednesday to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to offer high-deductible medical coverage to state employees, suggesting it could hurt workers’ health instead of improving it.  Sacramento Bee article


Smart & Final, Mayor Ashley Swearengin pursue peace on Blackstone project – The controversy surrounding the Smart & Final project in central Fresno may be losing its fizz. The Planning Commission on Wednesday agreed at the developer’s request to postpone debate on the retail project for two weeks.  Fresno Bee article 

Double pay on holidays bill gets initial backing in California Legislature – California employers would be required to pay their employees double for working on Thanksgiving or Christmas under a bill advancing at the state Capitol. The measure passed its first committee vote Wednesday.  Capital Public Radio report

Why did it take 7 months to learn Blue Shield lost its tax-exempt status? — Health insurance giant Blue Shield of California and state tax authorities both came under fire for not disclosing seven months ago a landmark decision taking away the insurer’s tax-exempt status, which had been in place since 1939.  LA Times article

UC Merced Connect: University, city to team on business incubator — The link between UC Merced and downtown Merced will grow stronger this spring with the opening of a new-business incubator. The partnership between the city and the campus’s Office of Research and Economic Development culminates this summer when UC Merced begins occupying part of the Parcade building at 18th and M streets.  Merced Sun-Star article

Small potatoes mean big business in Arvin – Forget what they used to say about small potatoes: A new, state-of-the-art facility in Arvin proves miniature spuds have become quite a big deal. Tasteful Selections LLC hosted a ribbon-cutting Wednesday at its new, 200,000-square-foot plant built to sort, wash, store and pack up to 60 million pounds of potatoes per year along Di Giorgio Road.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno Chaffee Zoo board signs on to save Storyland and Playland – Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation board agreed Wednesday night to come to the rescue of Rotary Storyland and Playland. Under the agreement, the zoo corporation will oversee a new board to run the parks, initiate a fundraising effort for Storyland and Playland, and use zoo employees on a donated or reimbursement basis to get the parks operating again by early next year.  Fresno Bee article

Green energy equals more ‘green’ for Tulare – The City of Tulare has an electricity bill of around $1.2 million annually, as well as a huge volume of waste gas coming from its wastewater treatment plants. Former city Public Works Director Lew Nelson recognized that and worked for years to promote green energy as a partial solution.  The Business Journal article

California taxis sue Uber, allege false advertising, unfair competition – Taxi drivers in California must submit to fingerprinting for criminal background checks. UberX drivers don’t have to. Yet Uber Technologies advertises itself as “the safest rides on the road” and executives tout Uber as “safer than a taxi.” That’s deceptive advertising and has caused “significant harm” to the taxi industry, 19 cab companies in California claimed Wednesday morning in a lawsuit filed in federal court.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Ortiz hired to lead Bakersfield Chamber – Local oil industry representative Nicholas “Nick” Ortiz was named president and CEO Wednesday of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.  Bakersfield Californian article

Gas prices slowly going down again – Although California motorists continue to pay the highest pump prices across the nation, Visalia prices Wednesday were down by 10 cents, according to AAA. On March 7, the price of a gallon of regular was around $3.32; on Wednesday it averaged $3.22. A year ago in this area, the price was $3.88.  Visalia Times-Delta article 

Hanford council starts hotel, medical offices changes – Following on the heels of its Feb. 24 town hall discussion, the Hanford City Council voted Tuesday to begin the process to change some longstanding restrictions placed on motels and large medical facilities.  Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento County median home prices hit 7-year high – Median sales prices for all Sacramento County homes reached $270,000 – a seven-year high – in February, according to the monthly report released Wednesday by Irvine-based CoreLogic DataQuick.  Sacramento Bee article

LA County fire employees will face discipline in cheating scandal – A number of Los Angeles County Fire Department employees will face dismissal or lesser punishment as part of a crackdown on cheating in the agency’s hiring process, fire Chief Daryl Osby said Wednesday.  LA Times article

California security firms stay in business after licenses are revoked — Management Security is among dozens of California security companies that continued operating after regulators discovered abuses of power or evidence of mismanagement or fraud, according to a Reveal analysis of disciplinary orders issued since 2000.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson sets agenda on spending — Although Sacramento voters didn’t give him “strong mayor” powers last year, Kevin Johnson is maneuvering to play a far bigger role in deciding how City Hall spends your money.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Poor snow conditions end Sugar Bowl ski season — Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is closing early due to the lack of snow, the latest casualty of the California drought.  Sacramento Bee article




Intensifying California drought sets off alarms – As California’s epic drought continues with no end in sight, it is setting off new alarms about unprecedented water shortages, increased wildfire threats, fewer crops and farmers, higher electric bills and huge economic losses for years — or even decades — to come.  USA Today article

San Joaquin County supervisors to weigh ‘Zone 2’ water fee – Its name invokes visions of black helicopters and barbed wire, but the “Zone 2” assessment is not quite so conspiratorial. It’s a relatively small sum that property owners across San Joaquin County have been paying for 25 years, whether they know it or not. The money helps to fund local water planning efforts, including the fight against Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed twin tunnels.  Stockton Record article

New study, old data in Stanislaus County effort to manage groundwater – A long-awaited tool created to help manage groundwater was unveiled Wednesday to the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee, whose members listened politely but seemed less than thrilled.  Modesto Bee article

Farmworkers in Baja California protest low pay, poor conditions — Farmworkers protesting working conditions at Mexican export farms in Baja California blocked a major highway and occupied several government buildings as officials scrambled to quell a widening strike that threatens one of Mexico’s most valuable harvests.  LA Times article

Tulare County details top priorities identified in water study — County officials detailed their top priorities after the release of the Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Jeff Jardine: Sorry, Boston, you’ll get no sympathy from parched Californians — The Massachusetts city, about 20 feet above sea level, set a seasonal record last week when it got its 108.6 inches of the white stuff, with at least four more days of it in the extended forecast. By comparison, there’s Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley, two Central Sierra ski resorts with mountains that rise to beyond 8,000 feet and rely on snow to stay in business.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Recent burglary increase likely an impact of Prop 47 – The recent rash of burglaries that have plagued commercial businesses throughout Hanford may be a result of the passing of Proposition 47, according to Hanford Police Department officials.  Hanford Sentinel article


$13,000 donation to help Modesto police fight sex trafficking – Without Permission, a Modesto nonprofit organization committed to ending the “culture of human trafficking” in the Central Valley, has donated $13,000 to the Modesto Police Department.  Modesto Bee article

San Diego police body camera report: Fewer complaints, less use of force — The use of body cameras by San Diego police has led to fewer complaints by residents and less use of force by officers, according to a city report released Wednesday.  LA Times article

Family fights parole board decision for Fresno murderer — Only Gov. Jerry Brown can stop Weidert’s release, and Morganti’s family is on a mission to convince Brown to keep him behind bars. Coming to the Morganti family’s aid is Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp and a bipartisan group of state legislators who already have written to Brown urging him to overturn the parole board’s decision.  Fresno Bee article

Shooting aftermath: Police, residents alarmed by number of victims outside store — The dawn of another day shed new light on the horrors that unfolded inside and outside a central Stockton convenience store Tuesday during one of the darkest nights in the city’s history.  Stockton Record article



Students strip down in demonstration at UC regents meeting –  The UC regents meeting was interrupted Wednesday by a demonstration by students who stripped down to exercise outfits and underwear to symbolize giving the shirt off their backs for higher tuition. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

UC President Napolitano says regents don’t need to hear protestors’ ‘crap’ —  As student protesters interrupted Wednesday morning’s UC regents meeting, university President Janet Napolitano had a tart reaction that she probably thought was private.  LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown’s school funding formula needs tweaking – The governor and the Legislature ought to consider a midcourse correction that directs even more of the money for high-need students to the schools in which they are actually enrolled.  Sacramento Bee editorial

New funding law creates disparity among low-income schools — The state’s new education funding formula provides extra money for all low-income children, students learning English and foster youth, and contributes more dollars if they make up the bulk of students in a district. But if these “high-need” kids happen to be concentrated in a few schools within wealthier districts, they get less funding than they would receive in a poor district, a recent study revealed.  EdSource article

Fresno State’s Handprint Project named standout program – The National Women’s Studies Association named Fresno State’s Handprint Project the standout program sponsored by a college or university women’s and gender equity center.  Fresno Bee article

The Grade: Common Core skepticism – Kern High School District board members are questioning whether new learning standards packaged as more rigorous will work here.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno leaders launch effort to teach students civic responsibility – Fresno County educational, legal and business leaders Wednesday kicked off a project that wants to ensure today’s students have a stake in tomorrow’s democracy.  Fresno Bee article

Civics program helps students find their democratic voice — Transit planner Stephen Newhouse didn’t know what to expect when he was asked to evaluate a high school student project on transit options in a neighboring county. What Newhouse found when he stepped into Richmond City Hall that day was a transit planner’s nirvana. EdSource article

COS Hanford reaches new milestone — The College of the Sequoias Hanford Center reached a turning point in its history this week. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors voted on Monday to designate the campus an official college “center,” taking effect on July 1. This will net the campus additional money from the state each year, along with other benefits. Hanford Sentinel article 

Stockton Unified stepping up security at HQ – Security has been stepped up at Stockton Unified School District’s administration building in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly shooting just across the street, and the roughly 100 district employees who work there have been cautioned not to take walks around the neighborhood for the next couple of days, interim Superintendent Julie Penn said Wednesday.  Stockton Record article 

Accreditor kicks tires of Columbia College auto tech program, gives thumbs up — The automotive training program at Columbia College has received accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Columbia College’s automotive program has been accredited in the area of “automotive service technician.”  Modesto Bee article

Cal State LA receives $1-million gift to study urban environment —  Cal State Los Angeles has received a $1-million gift to study environmental problems afflicting large urban areas, officials said this week.  LA Times article



PG&E giving rebates for electric cars? – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Wednesday proposed offering one-time rebates to customers with electric cars. If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the rebates could be available as soon as next year. The amount of the rebate has not yet been determined.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Greg Bynum: Everyone in Kern has a stake in future of oil and gas production – The member of the Leadership Committee for Kern Citizens for Energy writes, “Make no mistake: Kern County is on the frontlines of the battle over the future of oil and gas production, and this is not just a local issue. Oil and gas is under assault throughout the nation, even in states not known for their oil and gas resources. The outcome will involve much more than the prices and availability of gasoline and natural gas.”  Bynum op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Water officials hear predictions of looming crisis at Salton Sea — After listening to seven hours of doomsday predictions, state water officials agreed Wednesday to look at one of California’s largest but often ignored environmental problems: the deterioration of the Salton Sea. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

 Ban on fast-food eateries in South LA hasn’t cut obesity, study says — Seven years ago, Los Angeles made national headlines with a novel attempt to reduce obesity in South L.A. by banning new fast-food restaurants. But a new study found the effort has not achieved its intended goal.  LA Times article


Cracks, doubts haunt Bay Bridge tower rods —  When recent tests revealed rust and tiny cracks on one of the massive steel rods that secure the tower of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to its foundation, bridge officials expressed concerns that other rods might be cracked, raising questions about whether the tower would be vulnerable in a major earthquake. Sacramento Bee article

 Sacramento agency: Too many distracted pedestrians hit by trains — Concerned about the growing number of people hit by trains, Sacramento Regional Transit launched a campaign Wednesday warning pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to focus more on their surroundings and less on their headphones, smartphones and text messaging.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Merced groups seek grant to fight elder abuse in Southeast Asian communities — Elder abuse is not something people discuss much in Southeast Asian communities, but local organizations believe it’s an issue worth learning more about.  Merced’s Healthy House, along with the Valley Crisis Center, the Merced Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office have teamed up to apply for a federal grant that would allow for further education on this issue.  Merced Sun-Star article

Wings of Rescue: Off they go – Wings of Rescue loaded its final cargo plane with more than 100 Kern County dogs, and a few cats, Wednesday. It flew them to rescue organizations in Idaho, which have more homes than animals.  Bakersfield Californian article

Joe Mathews: We need to learn the right lessons from Bell to prevent corruption – Instead of imposing limits that force city officials into dark corners, let’s ease restrictions and give officials more discretion to operate in the daylight. The best reform would be to give California’s local governments more power to raise taxes and other revenues themselves. When cities can tax, people who might pay more have a strong incentive to watch what’s happening in City Hall.  Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Ticketed parkers happy to get citations reversed – According to BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs, after receiving the inquiry from a reporter, the department consulted with the city attorney’s office. It was determined that the municipal code, originally designed to govern curbside street parking, was not a good legal fit to support the citations in the parking structure.  Bakersfield Californian article


Crowd welcomes newest jet to Castle Air Museum in Atwater – Cameras clicked and flags waved Wednesday as scores of people showed up at the former Castle Air Force Base to welcome the newest addition to the aircraft museum here.  Merced Sun-Star article

Harvick’s foundation to remodel Boys and Girls Club gym – They came in the hundreds, young and old and everything in between. They came in their No. 4 hats and No. 29 shirts, with a license plate that read “HARVIC4” and with dozens of other items for the champ to sign. And then there he was, Bakersfield’s own Kevin Harvick, Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Kern County at 801 Niles Street.  Bakersfield Californian article

Dousing homeless at church gets San Francisco archdiocese in hot water — First the water rained down, and then the condemnation rained down — and on Wednesday, San Francisco’s embarrassed Roman Catholic Archdiocese said it would tear out sprinklers that have been dousing homeless people sleeping in the doorways of its premier church in the city.  San Francisco Chronicle article



Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Our flag represents our ideals – may it fly forever; Anti-vaxxers are determined to derail needed health bill.

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Jerry Brown’s school funding formula needs tweaks.


Modesto Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s school funding formula needs tweaks.


Sacramento Bee – The governor and the Legislature ought to consider a midcourse correction that directs even more of the money for high-need students to the schools in which they are actually enrolled; Although Sacramento voters didn’t give him “strong mayor” powers last year, Kevin Johnson is maneuvering to play a far bigger role in deciding how City Hall spends your money.


Upcoming Events

  • The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley board of directors will hold its quarterly meeting at the John W. Wells Youth Center in Madera on Friday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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 challengeThe 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

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.

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.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

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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