March 23, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Minimum wage initiative set for California’s fall ballot — A ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 is headed for the November ballot, elections officials said Tuesday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

AD 21: Merced state Assembly district among state’s most partisan — In the 21st Assembly District, which encompasses Merced County and the southern end of Stanislaus County, only 19.8 percent of voters registered as “no party preference,” making the district one of the state’s most partisan. Merced Sun-Star article

Will Central Valley town’s Latinos lose political clout if youth don’t vote? — When we last visited the Central Valley farm town of Lindsay, Amy Huerta and her brother, Luis, were in the middle of a pretty intense

But other potential young voters in Lindsay come from families where politics are not a main course during family dinner. KQED report

Valley politics

Fresno council candidate Holly Carter faces complaint of violating state campaign law — Holly Carter, a candidate for the District 6 seat on the Fresno City Council, has violated campaign-finance laws by, among other things, paying her own company for campaign consulting, according to a complaint filed with the state’s political watchdog. Fresno Bee article


Doug Vagim wants to bring ‘watchdog’ approach to City Hall – Over 50 years after he helped his led a grassroots effort to save the old Fresno County Courthouse from the wrecking ball Doug Vagim remains a self-described government watchdog. The former Fresno County Supervisor now wants to become the City of Fresno’s next mayor. Fresno Bee article

First Look: Sen. Fuller talks terrorism in Brussels, local energy summit — State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, was at The Californian on Tuesday to offer her comments about key political issues as well as that morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joel Fox: Pension issue could benefit Swearengin in governor’s race — The public pension issue could rise in the voters’ conscience because of recent information released by Controller Betty Yee. Ironically, that information could benefit Yee’s opponent in the last controller’s race, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, if she runs for governor. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Proposed ballot measure would use high-speed rail money for water storage – Just two years ago California voters approved a water bond that set aside billions to pay for new water storage. Now a new group backed by many of the valley’s most influential farmers says that’s not enough to build new dams and expand existing ones. KVPR report

Does Loretta Sanchez have what it takes to be California’s senator? — Whether she’s sending out cat Christmas cards, mimicking a Native American war whoop, or suggesting that up to 20 percent of Muslims might resort to violence to overthrow the Western way of life, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California is known as much for her personality as her policy. McClatchy Newspapers article

Why do women dominate political fundraising? — It’s shaping up to be a pricey election cycle in California, maybe the most expensive ever. And politicians at all levels are trying to tap into the state’s deep-pocketed donors. Raising money for all those campaigns is a full-time job — and it’s a job done largely by women. KQED report


What it means for Apple if feds have found a way to crack shooter’s iPhone — What would be worse for a company that has insisted privacy is core to its identity — and whose marquee device is among the safest on the market? Caving to government pressure and writing its own decryption software, or conceding its phones are not as secure as some believed. LA Times article

San Bernardino Shootings

Why Brussels attacks exceeded San Bernardino’s: A terrorist infrastructure — Experts say the terror attack in San Bernardino pales in comparison to the Paris and Brussels attacks due to those cities’ much more sophisticated and vast terror networks. LA Times article

Other areas

Calaveras divided over commissioner’s fate – Some felt the planning commissioner’s comments on race couldn’t be forgiven and were a sign of bigger problems. Others said it was time for Calaveras County — still recovering from the devastating Butte Fire — to forgive and move on to other matters. Stockton Record article

Bill would limit communications for California Coastal Commission – Frustration over the controversial firing last month of veteran California Coastal Commission head Charles Lester continues to simmer. On Tuesday, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, announced legislation to prohibit any private, off-the-record conversations between a commissioner and someone with business before the board. Sacramento Bee article

Kevin Johnson’s accusers detail their claims of sexual misconduct on HBO show – The woman who accused Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson of molesting her two decades ago when she was a teenager in Phoenix appeared on camera to tell her story for the first time Tuesday night. Sacramento Bee article

Paul Mitchell’s tip sheet for California’s presidential primary — California is diverse, ethnically and politically. As a rule, coastal districts tend to be liberal, while inland voters are more conservative. Also, the preferred terminology is Latino, not Hispanic. If someone says “The City,” he notes, they are not referring to Los Angeles, the state’s largest city, they are referring to San Francisco. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories 

New dispute erupts over Sacramento Delta tunnels project — A potentially major new fight has erupted over Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two huge tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and this time the protests are coming from a group of farmers that wants the tunnels built. Sacramento Bee article

Stanislaus State students, faculty berate CSU chancellor over pay — Demands for higher wages for faculty eclipsed topics raised by California State University Chancellor Tim White at an open forum held at Stanislaus State. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno Oks breaks for job generators – A program of economic incentives for job-creating businesses in Fresno will be taking effect soon – but only after the Fresno City Council debated whether those incentives should be limited to businesses locating in disadvantaged parts of the community. Fresno Bee article

Turlock council picks Cipponeri market, names city manager – Despite passionate pleas from the crowd to turn back the clock, the Turlock Council award on Tuesday awarded the bitterly contested farmers market contract to the only remaining bidder. In closed session, the Council named former Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton as city manager. Modesto Bee article

My Brother’s Keeper: Will youth pay the price or reap the rewards? – Stockton is in bad shape, Jagada Chambers said matter-of-factly. There is no secret about the challenges facing young men and boys of color in the city. Stockton’s My Brother’s Keeper plan reveals that information, he added, and now it’s time go to work. Stockton Record article 

Save Mart drops 51FIFTY energy drink; name is offensive, mental health advocates say — Save Mart has stopped selling the energy drink 51FIFTY, responding to a campaign by mental health advocates who say the name is offensive. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report 

Save Mart, owner of most of East Hills Mall, mulls a sale – Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets, which has worked with Bakersfield developer Clyde Barbeau to buy up all but one building at East Hills Mall, is mulling a sale of the property, a real estate official with ties to the group said Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto’s solar industry fends off perceived extinction threat – The Modesto Irrigation District will negotiate new pricing with solar representatives rather than risk destroying the rooftop industry throughout the utility’s service area, the MID board decided Tuesday. Modesto Bee article 

Crisis in starter home affordability: Oakland feels pinch — As the spring house-hunting season approaches, tight inventory and rising prices are casting a lengthening shadow over the plans of starter homebuyer across the United States. And guess where the crisis is most pronounced? Oakland. San Jose Mercury News article

Supreme Court upholds workers’ class-action verdict is setback for corporations — The Supreme Court dealt a setback to corporate America on Tuesday by upholding a nearly $6-million class-action verdict for a group of Iowa meat-packers who claimed they were not paid for time spent putting on and taking off safety gear. LA Times article

Rosedale refinery may have to be sold in pieces, say industry observers – When all else fails, what do you do with an aging industrial plant situated on a prime but possibly contaminated piece of real estate? That’s the question facing Alon USA Energy Inc., owner of the 70,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery that has sat idle on Rosedale Highway since at least 2013. Bakersfield Californian article 

Carnegie still pushing visitor center idea – It’s never say die for the Carnegie Museum’s effort to get funding from the city to offer expanded tourist visitor services in Hanford. Hanford Sentinel article

Geoffrey King: I also hope our economy and orchards aren’t allowed to die – The certified public accountant who grows almonds in Wasco writes, “We must bring back some common sense in managing our precious water resources and other environmental concerns. The current scorched earth environmental policy being followed by government policy makers and environmentalists are failing the people of California miserably.” King op-ed in Bakersfield California

San Francisco mayor wants to put second homeless center at Market Street hotel – Six months after pledging to open a second Navigation Center to help alleviate the city’s stubborn homeless problem, Mayor Ed Lee on Wednesday will announce its location: the Civic Center Hotel at 12th and Market streets. San Francisco Chronicle article

Garcetti’s top homelessness advisor leaves post after 18 months – Greg Spiegel, Mayor Eric Garcetti‘s top homelessness policy advisor, has left his post after 18 months, saying he felt he had accomplished his goal of making “a major impact” on the problem. LA Times article

Gender pay gap widest among computer programmers, study says – For all the lip service the technology industry pays about valuing diversity and equality, it has struggled to close the gender pay gap, according to new research from Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies and management. LA Times article

The Uber model, it turns out, doesn’t translate – The ride-hailing service is a giant, but companies that aim to get stuff done on demand for customers, like food delivery, grocery shopping and parking, are faltering. New York Times article

FresYes fest debuts beer named for Mayor Swearengin — Tioga-Sequoia will unveil the first FresYes Tribute Beer, a new series honoring important people in Fresno. The first person to be honored is Mayor Ashley Swearengin. The beer: A strawberry blonde ale. Fresno Bee article

Lumber Liquidators pays $2.5 million to settle California clean-air claims — Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. has paid the California Air Resources Board $2.5 million to settle claims that the business sold, supplied or offered for sale composite wood products that ARB testing showed exceeded state formaldehyde limits. Sacramento Bee article


In first-of-a-kind summit, White House rallies corporate investment in water supplies — The White House on Tuesday unveiled several billion dollars’ worth of corporate commitments to water research and development during a high-level summit. Pegged to World Water Day, the summit was intended to draw attention to specific state and corporate pledges as well as new Obama administration initiatives prompted in part by Western states’ drought and the Flint, Michigan, drinking water scandal. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters: California’s high water should be captured — The form of the storage is much less important than its capacity. California had a very severe drought during Brown’s first governorship in the 1970s and that should have been the wake-up call. We now have had another. It’s time to quit talking about it and do something about it. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Michael Fitzgerald: Proposed bill: Police shouldn’t fear sunlight – Police deserve support. But also scrutiny. Scrutiny translates to accountability. But it is impossible to scrutinize police in California when they enjoy special secrecy. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Sergeant sues Fresno Police Department for discrimination, retaliation – A decorated sergeant has sued the Fresno Police Department and three detectives, accusing them of subjecting him to workplace harassment and discrimination due to his Hispanic ethnicity. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report

Jerry Breckinridge takes over as Arvin chief — Former Tulare Police Chief Jerry Breckinridge has a new job in law enforcement. He’s the top cop in Arvin, a city in Kern County south of Bakersfield. He will start on April 4. Visalia Times-Delta article


California community colleges embark on path to new accreditor – The California community college system’s governing board on Monday approved a resolution to begin searching for a replacement for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Sacramento Bee article 

Split votes pass raises for nearly all in Merced City Schools – Chad Brown took his seat on the Modesto City Schools board Monday, his first vote serving as tiebreaker. In other votes through the evening, the board split 5-2 to pass all so-called me-too raises sought by employees after teachers were granted a higher hike than other groups. Modesto Bee article
Stockton’s achievement gap wider than many – Students from Stockton, Modesto and Sacramento’s low-income families are far less likely to attend schools that provide equal educational opportunities than those in other major U.S. cities, new data has shown. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield City School District selects top Monterey County administrator as new superintendent – Harry “Doc” Ervin, a superintendent who runs a four-school, 3,500-student district in a rural farming community in Monterey County, has been selected as the top administrator at Bakersfield City School District, the state’s largest elementary school district. Bakersfield Californian article 

Gene Bigler: CSU Stanislaus president decision needs local voices – The former University of the Pacific professor writes, “An open forum was held in Turlock on Feb. 17 to encourage public comment on the search for a new president for California State University, Stanislaus. Dozens of faculty, staff, students and community members participated, but only two people spoke out on behalf of the interests of our area in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley that this university is also supposed to serve.” Bigler op-ed in Stockton Record

Fresno State students use spring break for community service – Thirty-five Fresno State students are using their spring break this week to perform 800 hours of community service. Fresno Bee article

State’s education chief lauds Yosemite High for ‘green’ efforts – Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, visited with Yosemite High students on Tuesday and congratulated them on being awarded the Gold Level of the California Green Ribbon Schools Award. Merced Sun-Star article

University of California to consider anti-Semitism statement – The University of California is debating whether to affirmatively oppose anti-Semitic behavior amid a wave of impassioned campus activism that has sparked tensions between Palestinian rights supporters and strong allies of Israel. AP articleLA Times article

UC Berkeley chancellor defends provost under fire in sexual harassment case – Did a high-ranking UC Berkeley official go easy on a law school dean accused of sexual harassment in order to secure a faculty appointment for himself? No way, said Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. LA Times article 

Supervisors hiring ex-dropout to lead LA County education office — Debra Duardo, a former high school dropout, will become the top education official for Los Angeles County, heading an agency that provides schooling for teenage inmates as well as for thousands of disabled students—programs that have been criticized in recent years. LA Times article


Sacramento County bans plastic bags beginning July 1 – Grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores will no longer be able to give out carryout plastic bags in unincorporated Sacramento County starting July 1. Sacramento Bee article

229 leaks found in state’s underground gas storage facilities, most considered minor – Only one of the dozen underground gas storage facilities in California had no leaking gas wells or fixtures, according to tests required by state regulators in the wake of a well blowout in Southern California. LA Times article

Forum will explain upcoming changes to electric bills — The California Public Utilities Commission will host an informational event Tuesday in Bakersfield to help prepare Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers for upcoming changes in the way they pay for electricity. Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services 

Merced County offers discount card for prescriptions, other health needs – A new service is available to help residents get substantial discounts on health services through Merced County’s Public Health Department. With the Coast2CoastRx discount card, essentially anyone can average a 65 percent discount on brand-name and generic prescriptions and other health services, including vision, dental, hearing, diabetes supplies and certain veterinary drugs for pets. Merced Sun-Star article 

Tainted cheese sickens eight in Tulare County – Illegally manufactured Mexican-style soft cheese is being blamed for eight cases of salmonella in Tulare County, the county’s health department said Tuesday. The illnesses are part of a larger cluster of cases being investigated by the state Department of Public Health. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Stanislaus leaders say McHenry clinics won’t affect college area – Stanislaus County officials stressed Tuesday that two health clinics moving to the “Black Glass” building on McHenry Avenue are not for drug or alcohol rehabilitation. The county Health Services Agency clinics will provide medical services mostly for patients in the Medi-Cal program. Modesto Bee article 

Pharmaceutical companies hiked price of aid in dying drug — When California’s aid-in-dying law takes effect this June, terminally ill patients who decide to end their lives could be faced with a hefty bill for the lethal medication. It retails for more than $3,000. KQED report

LA County plans to open a sobering center for chronic alcoholics on skid row — Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to open a “sobering center” on skid row where emergency responders will be able to take dangerously intoxicated people, including those living on the streets of downtown. LA Times article

Other areas 

Summerset Village widow suing landlord for husband’s wrongful death — The widow of a tenant at Summerset Village Apartments in central Fresno alleges her husband’s death was caused by pneumonia he caught during the month the family and hundreds of other tenants spent without heat this winter. She is suing the out-of-town landlord for wrongful death. Fresno Bee article

Art by traumatized children basis for Modesto fundraiser — The show, at Cressey Manor on 17th Street, features the children’s artwork alongside interpretations by adult artists. This year, the kids’ work inspired 87 pieces of art, valued at more than $24,000, said Cindy Schneider, director of Art Restores Kids and coordinator of Camp Hope for the Family Justice Center. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The difference between tough talk and hanging tough.

Sacramento Bee – It’s time to act on Sacramento school kitchen to feed students’ brains; Belgian attack offers lessons but doesn’t suggest need for more marginalization of Muslims; President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba.

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 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “K-12 Education in the Valley: Rising Expectations and Rising Costs” – Guests: Dr. Todd Otto, superintendent of the Visalia Unified School District, and Michael Johnson, associate superintendent administrative services for the Clovis Unified School District. 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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