Dan Walters: Expensive ballot measures are on tap for California ballot — California voters will be hammered by a perfect political storm this year, facing at least a dozen major, high-dollar ballot measures. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Thanks to Trump, these House Democrats from California can breathe easier — If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is at the top of the ticket for the Republican Party come November, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) can take a bit of a breather. A new analysis by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which handicaps U.S. House races, shows seats held by Aguilar, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) were upgraded from “likely” to “solid” Democratic seats, thanks to their heavy Latino population. LA Times article (scroll to article)
Fresno mayor candidates address homelessness, police trust at forum — Three of the five candidates for Fresno mayor were at Fresno State on Saturday for a forum to discuss local issues such as police trust and diversity, and one linked homelessness to pedophilia. Fresno Bee article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Villaraigosa appears poised to enter 2018 governor’s race — The presidential contest is dominating national headlines, but the toughest campaign in California might be two years away. The race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018 is emerging as a potentially historic and crowded competition that could bring the state its first Asian governor, the first Hispanic in modern times or, maybe, the first woman to hold the job. AP article
Cathleen Decker: Don’t expect populist rhetoric in low-key California Senate race — There’s a disconnect between the message being delivered by the Democratic candidates for president and the message being delivered by Democratsrunning on the presidential ballot for California’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Decker in LA Times
Dan Morain: Beware of Good Schools and Good Jobs, and cynical politics – By the shady standards of politics these days, oil giant Phillips 66 made a shrewd investment by spending $81,000 to kill a ballot measure to raise oil taxes in the hard-luck Southern California town of Rialto in 2012. Aided by practiced Sacramento consultants, Phillips 66 hid its involvement by slipping much of its money into an apple pie-sounding campaign committee, Californians for Good Schools and Good Jobs. Morain in Sacramento Bee
Dan Morain: Rep. Ami Bera’s path suddenly gets tougher – Last week, Joint Council 7 took the extraordinary step of endorsing Bera’s Republican foe, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Bloch cannot remember the last time the Teamsters endorsed a Republican in a contested congressional race. Morain in Sacramento Bee
Steve Lopez: Trump circus rolls into Phoenix in a taste of what’s in store for California – It appears to me that there hasn’t been a more divisive political figure in recent times. Trump has even torn apart the Republican Party. Now that we know California will be in play this primary season, I traveled to Arizona to have a peek at what we’ll be in for in June. And I can tell you it’ll be a spectacle. LA Times article
Fresno Bee: With long campaigns, California returns to presidential spotlight — This year, California’s presidential primary will almost certainly matter, especially for Republicans – a boon to political junkies, TV stations and voters alike. Fresno Bee editorial
Willie Brown: Trump’s triumphant formula: ‘I’m famous, vote for me’ — It’s similar to what Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he blew the doors off the 2003 recall of Gray Davis and got himself elected governor, but it goes far beyond that. Schwarzenegger at least had dabbled in politics, funding a ballot measure that paid for after-school programs. He never made the case for himself quite as baldly as Trump, who essentially is saying, “I’m famous. I hear you. Vote for me.” Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle
Candidates are gone but not forgotten on California’s presidential primary ballot — When California Republicans cast their votes in the June 7 primary, an election that could decide the GOP’s presidential nominee, they’ll probably be confronted by the ghosts of candidates past. That means Republicans could still cast a vote for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, even though they all have ended their campaigns. LA Times article
Sacramento County supervisors to examine elections office — Less than three months before a presidential primary, Sacramento County supervisors will examine findings Wednesday that election workers suffer from poor morale, bad communication and shoddy work practices under Registrar Jill LaVine and Assistant Registrar Alice Jarboe. Sacramento Bee article
Lawrence C. Levine: A different Scalia legacy: The gift of same-sex marriage – The law professor at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law writes, “Much has been written about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia since his sudden death last month, some of it praising him and some highly critical. Yet, nowhere has Scalia been praised for the role he played in creating a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to marry.” Levine op-ed in Sacramento Bee
When mental health, law enforcement collide — Stockton police officers responded to 124,494 calls for service in 2015, 1,783 of them involving an individual designated as a “5150.” The “5150” calls accounted for nearly 1.5 percent of all calls for service to Stockton officers. Adults with mental illness cost jails up to three times as much as do adults without behavioral health issues, according to the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort to help counties reduce the number of mentally ill and substance-abusing adults in jails. Nearly one-quarter of state prisoners have a recent history of a mental-health condition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports. Stockton Record article
Coding courses a rarity in California high schools despite tech explosion – California is home to Silicon Valley, a hub of technological innovation. The computer industry boasts hundreds of thousands of well-paying information technology jobs, with more on the way. IT departments are now a staple of corporate America. Yet the large majority of California’s public high schools don’t offer dedicated computer science or computer programming courses, according to a Sacramento Bee review of teacher assignment data from the California Department of Education. Sacramento Bee article
Jobs and the Economy
Lois Henry: Another day, another Kern County official’s horse-choking pay raise – I’ve been seeing this happen for decades but still my jaw dropped when I read about a county official’s proposed raise that would, on its own, be a darn good annual salary for a lot of working folks around here. Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt didn’t quite get the raise she wanted, an extra $59,428 a year in pay and benies. She got about half that, bringing her yearly haul to a little more than $262,000 including benefits, her pension and a $7,100 car allowance. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian
Modesto boy’s backpack idea rates high in Entrepreneur Challenge – Several startup business ideas – including a Modesto boy’s vision of a backpack that can be doodled upon and erased – advanced in a contest Wednesday night. Modesto Bee article
Movement afoot to take some sting out of traffic tickets — When U.S. Justice Department officials warned state courts this week that soaring financial penalties for low-level wrongdoing might be damaging people’s lives, they could have had Mariah Robinson in mind. San Francisco Chronicle article
Future of holding X-Fest in downtown Modesto challenged – The future of one of Modesto’s signature music festivals is up in the air as dueling petitions have been circulated to keep or move the event out of downtown this year. Modesto Bee article
Sacramento Food Bank invests $2.5 million, expands outreach – Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services finished up a $2.5 million remodel of its Arata Bros. building two weeks ago, boosting energy efficiency while celebrating the evolution of the 90-year-old structure. Sacramento Bee article
State’s rebate program for green car buyers shifts gears March 29 – A state program that aims to make clean vehicles more accessible to California drivers will soon implement increased incentives for low- and moderate-income consumers. At the same time, the program will institute an income cap restricting the eligibility of relatively high-income green car buyers. Sacramento Bee article
Orange County Register to be sold to Digital First Media — Freedom Communications, the bankrupt owner of the Orange County Register and Press-Enterprise of Riverside, has decided to sell to Digital First Media after a judge blocked a higher bid by the owner of the Los Angeles Times, a Freedom attorney said Saturday. AP article; LA Times article
Bike-besieged Sausalito seeks balance between tourists and locals – Combined with visitors who show up in buses, ferries and cars, the annual tourist crunch has spurred ongoing public debate, a program that stations bike valets and ambassadors on the streets and a controversial, yet unsuccessful, push to put a tourist impact plan on the June ballot. Sacramento Bee article
U.S. hotel company Starwood to run 3 Cuban hotels — Starwood signed a deal on Saturday to renovate and run three Cuban hotels, returning U.S. chains to the island more than 50 years after American hotels were taken over by Fidel Castro’s socialist revolution. AP article
Silicon Valley’s zero-gravity space startup boom — The next big thing in space exploration might not come from a shiny NASA research facility. Instead, it may spring from an abandoned gas station or a converted McDonald’s in the heart of Silicon Valley’s growing space startup scene. San Jose Mercury News article
Key questions in water rights hearing – On the surface, hearings in Sacramento starting this week will determine whether a Delta water district with century-old water rights pumped illegally for 12 days last summer — and whether the district should be penalized $1.4 million as a result. But the proceeding before the State Water Resources Control Board may also be a move toward answering broad, weighty questions about water rights and the future of Delta agriculture, some participants say. Stockton Record article
Tulare, Matheny Tract nearing agreement on clean water delivery — Residents of Matheny Tract, a rural community south of Tulare where tap water is contaminated by arsenic, are close to an agreement to get clean water from nearby Tulare. But they are not there yet. Fresno Bee article
Paul Wenger: Half-truths disguise true drought impacts – The president of the California Farm Bureau Federation writes, “The commentary “Thirsty farmers must wise up over water use” (Viewpoints, March 13) was rife with half-truths that distort the real situation facing California farmers.” Wenger op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Despite rainfall, Tulare County still relying on water tanks – Heavy rains brought water back to her well, at least for now. But more than 800 domestic wells still are dry, according to Tulare County officials. And where the water has returned, the supply remains unpredictable. Center for Investigative Reporting article
El Nino upsets seasons and upends lives worldwide — The World Health Organization has estimated that changes related to the weather phenomenon are putting 60 million people at increased risk of malnutrition and illnesses. New York Times article
North Fork water-boiling order is lifted — Madera County officials lifted a water-boiling order for North Fork on Saturday after new water tests taken the day before were negative for bacteria, said Tom Wheeler, a county supervisor for the North Fork area. Fresno Bee article
Who gets to see police body camera footage? State lawmakers may decide this year – With police departments across California continuing to equip their officers with body cameras, state lawmakers are trying again to set rules for their use, including one of the thorniest policy issues: who gets to see the footage and when. LA Times article
If you’re burglarized, how quickly will the police come? — Police Chief Greg Williamson said recently that BPD surveyed residents last year, and guided by their responses created its current policy on how to handle burglaries. Since then, policies have changed so that only the most urgent burglaries draw the police department’s swiftest response — but the chief said downtown’s smaller area has helped keep responses there quick. Bakersfield Californian article
Modesto rape victim speaks out about attacker, a wanted parolee — The man who raped her is out of prison. He’s supposed to be 200 miles away in Butte County, his movement tracked by an ankle monitor. But he’s twice cut it off and returned to Modesto. Now he is a wanted parolee at large who has failed to register as a sex offender. Modesto Bee article
John Diaz: California bill would lift shroud of secrecy on police misconduct — Unions representing law-enforcement officers up and down the state have served notice that they will fight legislation by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that would allow public access to cases involving serious uses of force or wrongdoing. Diaz in San Francisco Chronicle
UC Davis’ Katehi explains board seats in letter to students – In her first letter to students, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi explained why she accepted paid board seats many have found questionable and apologized for the ‘distraction’ the issue has caused. Sacramento Bee article
CSU presidents can avoid disclosing personal financial details – Although most CSU employees must file state disclosure forms, called statements of economic interest, they only must report items that fall into specific categories designated by the university. Even then, they are only required to do so if they believe the income could pose a conflict of interest, said Carrie Reith, university counsel for the personnel department of the Office of the Chancellor. Sacramento Bee article
Cal under fire for arbitrary discipline in sex harassment cases – UC Berkeley has a clear system in place for investigating employees accused of sexually harassing students or colleagues— but a gaping hole exists when it comes to disciplining the rule-breakers. Punishment is often arbitrary. San Francisco Chronicle article
Estela Bensimon: 3 changes to get racial equity at California community colleges – The professor of higher education and co-director of the Center for Urban Education at USC’s Rossier School of Education writes, “A well-formulated statewide policy on equity in higher education can be crucial to closing racial gaps, and California might just have one that could work: the Student Equity Policy.” Bensimon op-ed in Sacramento Bee
First phase of Oakdale school farm could break ground soon — By fall, Oakdale students will likely have a farm where they can learn about raising crops and livestock. The board of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District voted this week for the $500,000 first phase of the project, along Brady Road near the west edge of town. The site will be used by kindergarten through 12th-graders and their 4-H and FFA chapters. Modesto Bee article
Mike Klocke: Home-run hire could provide long-term success — There was a perfect storm: a struggling team, multiple players in limbo during an academic fraud investigation that embarrassed a proud alumni base and a community that doesn’t care much about Pacific basketball anyway. The program needed a home-run hire. It might have happened. Damon Stoudamire doesn’t have one second of head coaching experience at any level, and that could be an impediment at times. But he has cachet. Klocke column in Stockton Record
An outlet for their feelings, talents — Hundreds of children from San Joaquin County schools filled The Haggin Museum on Saturday afternoon to see their work displayed at the 85th annual McKee Student Art Exhibit, the longest-running student art exhibition in the country. Stockton Record article
Santa Monica firm says it has found a way to salt away electricity, literally — The Santa Monica company recently completed what it touts as a first-of-its-kind solar power plant that stores electricity using salt. The facility, in Nevada between Reno and Las Vegas, is 20 times larger than a SolarCity-Tesla solar and storage operation in Hawaii, which incorporates batteries. LA Times article
Medical Board puts Fresno doctor on probation for faking wife’s death — A Fresno doctor who was accused of going along with his wife’s phony claim of being French royalty and faking her death in order to trick a couple into buying his ranch has agreed to three years of probation by the Medical Board of California to avoid serious sanctions. Fresno Bee article
Fred Ruiz: New hospital will secure jobs, growth for Visalia – The chairman emeritus and co-founder of Ruiz Foods writes, “You can be sure our new hospital will attract more doctors and will bring those “Medical Miracles” of the future to us right here in Visalia. Please support Measure H, a bond measure that will help pay for our new hospital. Your ballot will arrive in the mail in early April.” Ruiz op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta
The worst of California’s flu season might be over — On Friday, California’s good fortune was confirmed by new state data that shows the worst of the flu season may have already come and gone. LA Times article
Planning commission opposes scaled-back chicken ranch — Despite significantly reducing the number of roosters, hens and chicks on their property, a Lodi couple’s plans to raise the birds as a hobby has once again been rejected by the San Joaquin County Planning Commission. Stockton Record article
Kings’ high-speed rail legal fight stalls – Kings County supervisors and administrators are reassessing their legal fight to stop high-speed rail in the wake of a major court ruling that went against them earlier this month. Hanford Sentinel article
Fatal crashes increase in Kings County — Kings County saw a huge increase in traffic crashes last year, prompting local officials to urge drivers to be more vigilant. According to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, there were 18 fatal collisions in the Hanford California Highway Patrol jurisdiction in 2015, killing 24 people. Unsafe turns and stop sign violations accounted for the majority of those crashes. Hanford Sentinel article
Better Highway 41/Bush St. interchanged discussed — Lemoore leaders are considering options to ease congestion on the Highway 41/Bush Street off-ramps, each of which would cost millions. Caltrans officials showed up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to discuss three options. Hanford Sentinel article
Gail Marshall: Bernice, 96, and Chenda, 30 – Fresno’s world-record, mother-daughter ‘miracle’ – It’s a girl! And with those words, allow us to introduce a Fresno family, quite possibly unique in the world. About six months ago, Bernice Dyck, age 96 and a widowed mother of two sons, finally got a daughter after adopting Chenda Kaub Chumb, age 30. The day those papers were signed, she may have become the oldest adoptive mother in the world, according to the Guinness World Records website. Marshall in Fresno Bee
Reading Heart collects more than 280,000 books in Fresno campaign — During a 24-hour book drive, Reading Heart in Fresno collected a world-record-setting 280,110 books, the organization said Saturday afternoon. The nonprofit fell short of its goal of 500,000 books but surpassed the current record of 275,000, said Dwayne Ferguson, whose daughter, Danay, founded Reading Heart. Fresno Bee article
Lewis Griswold: Visalia makes list of nation’s happiest cities — Visalians are happy – just not as happy as it seemed at first blush. Esquire.com published on its website a list of the 30 happiest cities in the United States, and Visalia came in at a very respectable No. 6. Alas, it was not to be. Not No. 6, anyway. Griswold in Fresno Bee
Michael Fitzgerald: Introducing Adopt-a-Dragon – Two old dragons need your help. The dragons are fire-breathing dragon mosaics embedded in the pedestrian mall called Chung Wah Lane in downtown Stockton. They’re part of our heritage. But they’re falling apart. In fact, the mosaics look like they have been neglected since they were created in 1969. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record
Former Stanislaus County prosecutor offended co-workers, DA says – A senior prosecutor was not disciplined for backing the political opponent of District Attorney Birgit Fladager, but because he refused to stop “alienating, insulting and offending his co-workers, judges, law enforcement officials and members of the public,” lawyers representing Stanislaus County say in recent court documents. Modesto Bee article
Jeff Jardine: Ceres child cases resonate with Turlock woman who’s been there — Once again, and for the second time in six weeks, Ceres police took young children from homes where they reportedly lived in squalor and with no food to eat. Such stories generate outpourings of heartfelt sympathy for the children, anger toward the parents and head-shaking disbelief that someone could treat the most vulnerable among us so horribly. Linda Neal understands what these children and others like them endure. Jardine column in Modesto Bee
Donald Blount: Easter service organizers needed some advice – Today, I am turning over my column space to faux advice columnist Charles M. Weber. Who better to address a Stockton problem than the city’s founder himself? Blount column in Stockton Record
Armen Bacon: Fresno, the center of gravity for five writers — As each of us delivers carefully crafted words, we long to capture the global within the local, adding shape and form to this place called “home.” Our writings will reveal “worlds within the other California” and a diversity not only represented by color of skin, but in the lives we have lived. Influenced by history and heritage, time and memory, we will proudly represent Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley. Bacon column in Fresno Bee
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – This year, California’s presidential primary will almost certainly matter, especially for Republicans – a boon to political junkies, TV stations and voters alike.
Sacramento Bee – Next supervisors must find balance in growing Sacramento County.
Sunday, March 20, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “El Nino and the Drought” – Guests: Rachel Ehlers, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and Alvar Escriva-Bou, an analyst with the Public Policy Institute of California. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.
Sunday, March 20, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “El Nino: The Perfect or Not So Perfect Storm?” – Guests: Joe Del Bosque, a farmer on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley; Sarge Green, water management specialist with the California Water Institute at CSU Fresno; Jason Peltier, head of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority; and Johnny Amaral, Westlands Water District deputy general manager for external affairs. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler
Sunday, March 27, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “The Governor’s Budget” – Guests: Edgar Cabral, an analyst with the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, and Margarita Fernandez, public information officer for the State Auditor’s Office. 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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