March 21, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Vaccine debate returns to California Capitol – One year after a debate over vaccinating public school children reverberated through California Legislature, a new proposal would protect doctors from discipline or liability for issuing students medical exemptions. Capital Public Radio report

Trump bump could be good news for California Republicans – With no statewide officeholders, little pull in the Legislature and a dwindling number of registered voters, California Republicans have teetered on the brink of irrelevancy for years. But there’s an unlikely savior on the horizon who could help them inch back toward relevancy just in time for the June 7 California primary: Donald Trump. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Daniel O. Jamison: ‘Tweets’ of the Founders – The attorney with Dowling Aaron Inc. writes, “Political discourse on social media is disheartening. What did the nation’s Founders say and what “tweets” might they make today?” Jamison op-ed in Fresno Bee

McConnell says Obama’s Supreme Court nominee won’t even have a vote after the election – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, doubling down on his opposition toPresident Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, said Sunday that there’s no way the Republican-controlled Senate will hold a confirmation vote — not even after the November election. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno City Council approves $1.8 million in new park acquisitions, improvements — The city of Fresno, often blasted in national rankings for a lack of parks and green space, approved several measures in the last month that will bring a new park into the fold, adopt an existing one and improve a third. Fresno Bee article

Downtown Modesto nonprofit hires director away from city — Modesto’s point person for revitalizing downtown is taking the job of running the newly formed assessment district that also aims to improve the city center. Josh Bridegroom – the city’s downtown program manager – is resigning to become executive director of the Modesto Improvement Partnership, the nonprofit that operates the Downtown Modesto Community Benefit District. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Wal-Mart center in Merced still in limbo – More than 10 years ago, the world’s largest retailer approached the city of Merced about a development project that would potentially create 1,200 jobs. Merced Sun-Star article

Pummeled for years by drought, Sierra ski economy on the rebound — The Sierra snowpack is actually below the historic average, but skier visits, hotel stays and the number of people spending money in the Lake Tahoe area are way up. It’s a welcome turn from last year, when the drought left resorts virtually empty. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Modesto considers budget review panel — Mayor Ted Brandvold will ask the City Council on Tuesday to form a committee to conduct a 100-day review of Modesto’s budget, honoring a promise he made during his recent campaign. Modesto Bee article

Hotels are using guest perks to battle online travel agencies — Hotels are giving out extra perks to guests who book directly from their websites as part of an increasingly heated war with online travel businesses. LA Times article 

Amazon leans on government in its quest to be a delivery powerhouse — Amazon has pushed officials to allow new uses for commercial drones, to extend the maximum length of trucks, to improve roads and bridges and to prop up a delivery partner, the United States Postal Service. New York Times article 

No Social Security raise, but pensions up 1.5-4 percent — Social Security recipients get no raise this year because inflation last year was near zero. But more than half of CalPERS pensions will get a raise in May of 1.5 to 4 percent. Calpensions article


Why some reservoirs don’t fill as quickly – Years of drought followed by the recent pounding storms to hit the Bay Area and Northern California has turned water watching into a spectator sport. It has been a spectacular show this month. The formula is different for every watershed and every lake. San Francisco Chronicle article

Modesto Bee: Tunnels don’t add up, now we know why – Remember feeling victimized by Enron’s dishonest accounting? The tunnels only make sense with more “Enron accounting.” If they’re built, forget getting our water back. Modesto Bee editorial

Thomas G. Del Baccaro: Practical, plus high-tech solutions can ease California’s water crisis – The candidate for U.S. Senate and former chairman of the California Republican Party writes, “California should be the high-tech water capital of the world. Rather than build high-speed rail, we should allocate funds to retrieve storm water from our roads and have the water pumped to recycling stations. Within 10 years, no lawn in California should be watered with anything but recycled water.” Del Baccaro op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Don Curlee: Next gold rush may be farming — Unofficial of course, but widespread is the belief that marijuana is already California’s largest cash crop. Many who believe that also predict that “we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.” Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta 

Lodi engineer, inventor honored — Claude E. Brown of Lodi, one of the area’s most prolific inventors and developers of innovative farm equipment, was honored Saturday at the Notably San Joaquin dinner and auction. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Jose Gaspar: New Arvin police chief has controversial record — Should a candidate for chief of police be beyond reproach in his or her professional and personal background? Largely depends on whom you ask, I would say. The question arises after the Arvin City Council, last week, finally appointed a new permanent chief more than a year after the retirement of Luis Covarrubias. Arvin’s top cop is Richard “Jerry” Breckinridge. The 49-year-old is a veteran officer, serving as police chief in the City of Tulare since 2009 and spending more than 20 years with the department. His last couple of years in Tulare brought about controversy. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian 

Ask TBC: What does the sheriff’s office spend flying around airplanes? — The Sheriff’s Office said it operates three fixed-wing aircraft used to transport prisoners, perform surveillance missions and transport county executives and elected officials to remote business events (meetings in Sacramento, etc.). The costs to operate those fixed-wing aircraft, provided below, do not include any staff cost for the pilots or maintenance staff who service and operate the planes. Bakersfield Californian article

Many voices, one hope: Not one more – Hardly a day goes by in Stockton without another report of an armed robbery, assault or shooting. Violence, many residents will tell you, is everywhere. But so is art. And it was art — visual, music and dance — that was on full display during Sunday’s Not One More event — part of the monthlong Art Against Violence 2016 show that wraps up at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds on March 31. Stockton Record article 

Tulare County DA’s office adds Chief Deputy District Attorney position — The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office will have a second in command. The DA’s office, described as the largest law firm office in the county, will also add two more victim witness workers. Visalia Times-Delta article

Illegal marijuana, violent crimes grow in Sacramento neighborhoods — While law enforcement can’t pinpoint the exact number of marijuana-related crimes because of the way such incidents are classified, they note that the amount of pot seized from illegal grows has increased steadily over the past few years. Sacramento Bee article 

California’s Elderly Parole Program forcing victims to face attackers decades later — The program — which offers parole hearings to state prisoners who are 60 or older and have served at least 25 years — is now the center of a passionate debate, with victims saying they feel betrayed by the judicial system, which promised their attackers would be put away for good, and prison reform advocates who believe it’s one of the most humane, practical and cost-effective solutions to prison overcrowding. The only ones who don’t qualify are inmates serving life sentences without parole or who are on death row. San Jose Mercury News article


More raises up for Modesto City Schools board vote – Modesto City Schools trustees will be asked Monday to give additional raises to bring employees up to the 6 percent increase granted teachers in their 2015-16 contract. Modesto Bee article 

Why coding camps are taking so long to get licensed in California – In January 2014, the state bureau that regulates for-profit vocational schools sent cease-and-desist letters to nine coding boot camps operating in California without a license, threatening to shut them down if they didn’t get approval. It later sent similar letters to at least eight others that appeared to be unlicensed boot camps. Yet in all that time, only two have gotten licensed — Dev Bootcamp and General Assembly. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Manteca Unified teachers to fly on NASA observatory – Larry Grimes remembers that day from his childhood, his eyes glued to the family television set, watching in awe as astronauts landed on the moon for the first time in human history. Now 62 years old, he will have the opportunity to come as close as he can to entering the tip of outer space. Grimes and colleague Jeff Baldwin are two of 22 educators selected to fly on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, the world’s largest flying telescope, this summer. Stockton Record article 

Students learn harsh lessons about adulthood — On Friday, 120 Porterville Union High Schoolstudents learned what it takes to be an adult. And it wasn’t pretty. Bite of Reality, hosted by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation and the Tulare County Federal Credit Union, is the first money-management simulation of it’s kind in Tulare County, and gave students a chance to understand the financial responsibilities adults are faced with. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Program in Waterford helps parents help kids – Families of students at Richard M. Moon Primary School are “Raising Readers.” It’s one of the elements of the pilot summer program that will be held for a second year at the K-3 school to help combat the “summer slide” in learning. Modesto Bee article 

Merced College to honor ranching couple — Merced College plans its 2016 State of the College Address and President’s Medallion ceremony in April, when a Le Grand couple will be given the award. The ceremonies are planned from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22 at the 3600 M St. campus’s IAC amphitheater, where Jim and Carlene Cunningham will be honored. Merced Sun-Star article 

The ‘Broad Plan’ for LA schools grows to more than charters only — It landed like a bombshell last summer, a leaked plan to double the number of charter schools in Los Angeles Unified and students attending them over the next eight years. It talked of raising half a billion dollars from foundations and high-wealth donors to get it done, all with the idea of improving the quality of education for low-income students. EdSource article


Fresno Bee: Valley communities take note, Davis charts its own energy path — The city of Davis and Yolo County, north of the San Joaquin Valley, are taking a step toward energy independence, and other municipalities ought to take notice. Fresno Bee editorial

Shasta County pot farm owner fined $100,000 for fouling watershed — A Virginia man who leased out property for a marijuana farm in Shasta County has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty and complete an extensive environmental cleanup for fouling tributaries with sediment from illegal grading. Sacramento Bee article

How can gas company offset emissions from Alisa Canyon leak? Regulators offer a plan — To offset greenhouse gas emissions from the massive Porter Ranch leak, Southern California Gas Co. could pay to plug abandoned wells, install methane-gobbling digesters at dairy farms and help people buy more efficient furnaces and water heaters, state regulators say. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Patients in ecstasy clinical trial find drug beneficial — Gold and Saul are among the first research subjects to complete a months-long clinical drug trial to determine whether psychological trauma sparked by life-threatening diagnoses such as theirs can be lessened through intense, five-hour sessions of talk and music therapy aided by MDMA a substance better known as the illegal party drug ecstasy. San Francisco Chronicle article

Lifestyle changes are key to California’s diabetes crisis — In California, more than half of all adults – 55 percent – are considered diabetic or prediabetic, according to a UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study released this month. Even more worrisome, those afflicted are getting younger, with roughly one in three adults ages 18 to 39 considered prediabetic – a danger zone that means they’re at major risk of developing life-threatening Type 2 diabetes. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Boutique winery’s plan approved — A Lodi native’s plan to open her own boutique winery and tasting room can finally move forward after she revised the project. The San Joaquin County Planning Commission last Thursday approved Lorraine Paskett’s proposal to convert a 1,000-square-foot garage into a tasting room and wine cellar, where no more than five accessory and industry-wide events would be held each year. Stockton Record article


BART woes to drag into another workweek — Commuters should expect no relief Monday from the delays, crowded trains and service disruptions that plagued BART much of last week, transit authorities said Sunday, even as crews continued to investigate the mysterious mechanical problems causing the chaos. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Dan Walters: Hopes rise as winter rain brings green spring – The National Weather Service distributed a remarkable photo the other day – a satellite view of California showing just how green it has become after heavy winter rains. The occasion was St. Patrick’s Day, but the photo’s true meaning was the vernal equinox’s age-old promise of renewal. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Merced set to study zoning code, fire fees — The Merced City Council plans two study sessions before its regular meeting Monday, when the members will discuss changes to the new zoning ordinance and to firefighter-related fees. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento Bee: A more open manager search, but timing off — On the bright side, the Sacramento City Council is being far more open in selecting a new city manager than the last time. Unfortunately, council members remain on a hiring schedule that makes little sense, though there are a few encouraging signs of flexibility to take the election into account. Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The city of Davis and Yolo County, north of the San Joaquin Valley, are taking a step toward energy independence, and other municipalities ought to take notice. 

Merced Sun-Star – Remember feeling victimized by Enron’s dishonest accounting? The tunnels only make sense with more “Enron accounting.” If they’re built, forget getting our water back.

Modesto Bee –– Remember feeling victimized by Enron’s dishonest accounting? The tunnels only make sense with more “Enron accounting.” If they’re built, forget getting our water back.

Sacramento Bee – On the bright side, the Sacramento City Council is being far more open in selecting a new city manager than the last time. Unfortunately, council members remain on a hiring schedule that makes little sense, though there are a few encouraging signs of flexibility to take the election into account

Maddy Events

Sunday, March 27, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “The Price of Education”  Guest: CALmatters reporter Judy Lin. 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 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

Please visit if you want to view the Maddy Daily with our comprehensive list of links to all federal, state and local government, public affairs institutes/regional entities, Valley media and public policy blogs. (Please note new website address.)

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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