March 25, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Parties and views differ, but House intelligence leaders work together – The two California lawmakers atop the House Intelligence Committee approach part of their work very differently. On Tuesday, though, they found common ground in a new cybersecurity bill. The bipartisan introduction of the Protecting Cyber Networks Act marks a notable public step by the committee’s new chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Until now, the 41-year-old conservative from the rural San Joaquin Valley has largely shunned the spotlight as he settles into his new role.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Valley politics

Visalia on the way to district elections for city council — The city of Visalia is getting closer to altering how they elect their city council. As FM 89’s Jeffrey Hess reports, it’s a move that some hope will increase diversity in city government.  KVPR report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Officials powerless to stop proposed anti-gay initiative –  The proposed initiative submitted by a Huntington Beach attorney that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head” — or “any other convenient method” — is testing the limits of the state’s normally liberal attitude on putting even the most extreme ideas on the ballot if enough signatures are collected. The proposed initiative has been met by a firestorm of anger, yet there appears to be nothing that can stop it from being given a formal name and advancing to the signature gathering process.  LA Times article

Automatic voter registration sought in California — Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote under legislation Secretary of State Alex Padilla is exploring. The proposal follows Oregon’s new, first-in-the-nation policy sending ballots to every citizen who has made contact with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.  Capitol Alert


Fresno advocates urge supervisors to take action, provide health care for undocumented — It’s been over three months since undocumented residents in Fresno County lost access to a program that provided specialty health care. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, local health advocates rallied Tuesday to support its return.  KVPR report

Other areas

Right-to-die group offers aid, in secret, as California legislation is debated – As legislators prepare to debate a “right to die” bill in the state Capitol, volunteers are already helping suffering people end their lives — surreptitiously, without authorization or official oversight — in bedrooms across California.  San Jose Mercury News article

California women’s caucus pitches bills on pay equity, child care, poverty — Democratic members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus on Tuesday announced a package of legislation aimed at providing pay equity on the job, expanding access to child care, creating family-friendly workplaces and addressing poverty.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article;Noreen Farrell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California Democrats give snazzy party favors to donors – How’s this for a party favor? Goody bags given to lobbyists and other politicos who attended California Senate Democrats’ annual golf fundraiser in San Diego over the weekend included an order form for an Apple Watch.  Capitol Alert

Congress may have cure for Medicare ‘doc fix’ — With deep pockets and huge memberships, politically influential physician organizations think they’re on the cusp of achieving something they’ve aggressively sought for years: a congressional cure for a Medicare payment system that regularly threatens to cut their fees.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Veterans’ paid helicopter flight training should be rolled back, advocates say — Veterans groups told a congressional committee Tuesday they supported a proposal that would essentially eliminate government-paid helicopter flight training for former service members because it is wastefully expensive.  LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Kern supervisors will ask Gov. Brown to speed review of injection wells — Kern County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter of concern to Gov. Jerry Brown expressing concern about the state’s approach to water and gas injection wells. Since last summer, there has been close scrutiny of the practice of injecting “produced” water, the fluid that comes up when oil and gas are pumped out of the ground, back below the surface.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fulton Mall project to become reality? – After years of delays, and ongoing lawsuits, officials with the city of Fresno say they are finally going to turn the Fulton mall back into a street. The question of what to do with the aging pedestrian walking area in the center of downtown Fresno has been a sore spot in the city for years. City and business leaders say all signs point to the project breaking ground as soon as this fall.  KVPR report

Cal State students are better prepared for college math, English – The latest crop of high school graduates to enter Cal State’s 23 campuses were the best prepared in history to tackle college-level math and English under a new program that provides intensive instruction over the summer, officials said Tuesday.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

As expected, Franklin files appeal – The last angry creditor in Stockton’s bankruptcy case has filed initial court documents in its appeal to wring more money from the city’s coffers. Franklin Templeton Investments continued its fight this week, filing its first brief with the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit.  Stockton Record article

City vs. Kings County tax lawsuits continue – The dispute over tax-related fees that morphed into a rare city-vs.-county lawsuits drags on in Kings County, pitting the claims of Hanford and Corcoran against the arguments of Kings County officials.  Hanford Sentinel article

Stockton Record: ‘Open Window Project’ could revitalize downtown Stockton – The Open Window Project ultimately could takes years or even more than a decade. It’s that large in scale. But a city sometimes needs to collectively dream a little dream. Ten Space is doing that, and we truly want to think that these dreams can come true. Stockton Record editorial

Gas price swings prompt questions about state’s market – State lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the recent wild swings in California’s gas prices and asked whether state regulators can do more to reduce market volatility.  AP article; LA Times article; Dan Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Rising gas prices push up inflation for first time in four months – Consumer prices rose in February for the first time in four months as gasoline prices rebounded from a steep fall that had helped to drive down inflation since the middle of last year.  LA Times article

Joel Fox: CalChamber’s campaign to stop ‘job killer’ bills a success as California gains jobs — While surveys of business executives still rank California as one of the worst places to do business, the record on job creation has been bright in the Golden State over the last year. Part of the credit for this success goes to the California Chamber of Commerce’s effort to rally against bills that would hinder job creation and hurt the economy.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Lodi co-op buying Modesto cannery for $175 million – Pacific Coast Producers, the Lodi-based grower-owned cooperative that operates fruit and tomato canneries in Lodi, Woodland and Oroville, has agreed to purchase Seneca Food Corp.’s fruit processing plant in Modesto for $175 million.  Stockton Record article

New look, fees eyed for Bakersfield parking structure — A proposed makeover could make more than 400 public parking spaces newly available in Bakersfield’s city-owned parking structure at 18th and Eye streets — for a price — if the Bakersfield City Council approves at its meeting Wednesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Should LA nonprofits get more time to hike minimum wages? – As Los Angeles launches a series of hearings on boosting the minimum wage, several lawmakers are pushing to let some small businesses and nonprofits increase pay more gradually.  LA Times article

Silicon Valley watching closely as gender-bias case nears its conclusion – An attorney for a woman suing one of Silicon Valley’s oldest and most prestigious venture capital firms argued in court Tuesday that the company created a boys club that damaged the careers of female employees.  Washington Post article

Is a male nurse worth $5,148 more than a female nurse? – Registered nurses who are male earn nearly $11,000 more per year than RNs who are female, new research shows. Only about half of that difference can be explained by factors like education, work experience and clinical specialty.  That leaves a $5,148 annual salary gap that effectively discriminates against women, who make up the vast majority of the nursing workforce, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.  LA Times article

Federal workers owe more than $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes — Federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes last year, a $200 million increase over the previous year, the IRS said Tuesday.  AP article


Governor’s $1 billion plan is ‘a start,’ but more money needed for drought-related expenses — Fresno County Board of Supervisors declared a drought emergency Tuesday so it can obtain state and federal government reimbursement for local drought emergency costs.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Water details become vital as drought worsens – For the third year running, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is pushing legislation to provide public access to otherwise confidential reports about groundwater wells. Her Senate Bill 20, which cleared its first committee Tuesday, clearly warrants approval by the full Legislature.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Robert Wright: We deserve to hear both sides of debate on Delta tunnels The senior counsel of Friends of the River writes, “We call upon the governor and the BDCP agencies to respect American traditions by resuming the posting of all comment letters from organizations and public agencies on the BDCP website. It is time for them to stop hiding contrary information from Californians.”  Wright op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California urged to solve delta, water issues – fast — Disputes over California’s fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta, the troubled heart of the drought-stricken state’s water system, must be resolved immediately because what happens there affects the western region, a top water expert says.  Capitol Weekly article

March drought update: Never mind the reservoirs; where’s the snow? — The April 1 snowpack, to be officially reported next week, will be the lowest on record. And “lowest on record” doesn’t quite convey how extreme the situation really is.  KQED report

Modesto Irrigation District blunts water rate hike for some – Modesto-area farmers will pay more for Tuolumne River water this year, irrigation leaders decided Tuesday, but they blunted a proposal to significantly increase rates for those not getting water while reserving future rights.  Modesto Bee article

Visalia, Tulare, Tulare Irrigation District to partner up in water agency – The county’s two largest cities and the Tulare Irrigation District have agreed to establish a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a move to comply with a state mandate on legislation adopted last year. The cities of Tulare and Visalia and TID are the perfect partnership because they all are located in the Kaweah Sub-Basin.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Proposed office to help poor communities get clean drinking water — The emergency drought relief bill proposed for California would create a new state office. That might sound fairly mundane. But it could go a long way to help disadvantaged communities. Capital Public Radio report

Drought: Rafting season cancelled for many in Kern County – With California mired in a historic drought, and snowpack only around 10 percent of normal for this time of year average, this year may be different. Among those feeling the pain are the many companies that specialize in whitewater tours on the Kern River, both below and above Lake Isabella.  KVPR report

California drought: Photos show skiers on more dirt than snow at Squaw Valley – A series of photographs taken at ski resorts in Northern California show just how grim winter has been. Skiers were photographed taking off on patches of snow surrounded by dirt and rock at Squaw Valley, which was forced to cancel a world cup snowboarding event in February because there was little snow.  LA Times article

Citrus bloom kicks off — The citrus bloom is in full effect in Tulare County with a common goal of protecting the thousands of bees that pollinated trees across the county.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Early strawberry harvest eclipses last year’s — The unseasonably warm weather has lit a fire under strawberry production statewide, prompting one of Monterey County’s top crops to blow past the volume harvested by this time last year.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Steep water rate increases for EBMUD customers – The worsening drought is spurring the East Bay’s largest water supplier to consider slapping a 25 percent surcharge on customers’ bills — on top of an 8 percent general rate increase.  Contra Costa Times article

The family peach farm that became a symbol of the food revolution — In the heart of California’s Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto’s decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production. Yet the Masumoto farm’s story isn’t just one of saving peaches. It’s become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America’s agricultural heritage.  NPR report

50,000 farmworkers in Baja California strike for better conditions — Workers at large, export-oriented farms in the Mexican border state of Baja California have led a week of violent protests over low pay, abuses and poor conditions, threatening a harvest that supplies millions of dollars worth of tomatoes, strawberries and other crops to the United States.  AP article; LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

How Prop 47 could tank drug courts – Drug courts have been heralded as a successful and humane option for those suffering from drug addiction who find themselves in trouble with the law. But when Prop 47 made drug possession a misdemeanor, those fitting under the umbrella of drug court protection dwindled — as these courts typically only serve felony crimes.  KPCC report

Dan Walters Daily: Lawmakers push back on Prop 47 – Legislators were silent on Proposition 47 during the election, Dan says, but now they’re looking to fix perceived holes in the law. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

California inmate’s parole reflects rethinking of life terms for youth – Edel Gonzalez, now 39, was released from the custody of the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — making him one of the first prisoners sentenced as a juvenile to be released since state lawmakers approved a landmark reform in 2012 that gave inmates like him the chance to earn parole.  LA Times article

Federal jury clears Tulare officers in wrongful death civil case – A federal court jury on Tuesday cleared two Tulare police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man who allegedly tried to grab the gun from the holster of one of the officers as they wrestled on the ground.  Fresno Bee article

Violent crime up 26 percent in LA, LAPD chief says — Violent crime is up 26% and property crimes 11% in Los Angeles this year, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday. Overall, serious crime has climbed 14% in 2015 compared to the same period last year, Beck told the police commission.  LA Times article

Should LA County lift ban so parolees can live in public housing? – Los Angeles County officials are considering easing restrictions that bar people with criminal records from housing assistance programs.  LA Times article

San Francisco supervisors call for hearing on unspent $1 million grant to fight crime — Eighteen months have passed since the San Francisco district attorney’s office announced it received a $1 million grant to fight crime in the eastern Bayview district. But the money still hasn’t been spent, as a long planning process and bureaucratic delays have stalled rollout of the money in the violent neighborhood.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Retired Oakland police officer recruits locals to police their own city — Police departments around the county are under more and more pressure to diversify. In Oakland, Calif., officials say police-community relations also might be improved by increasing the number of cops who actually live in the city.  NPR report

San Jose police officer shot to death — A veteran San Jose police officer was shot and killed Tuesday night by a suicidal man apparently wielding a high-powered rifle, authorities said.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Fewer professors, more managers work on CSU campuses – As enrollment at California State University soared over the last decade, the number of professors did not soar with them. But managers and supervisors increased aplenty, according to numbers compiled by faculty who are angry about the shift.  San Francisco Chronicle article

CSU administrators’ pay gains outpace those of faculty, report says — California State University administrators made significant gains in hiring and compensation over the last decade while faculty lost ground or failed to keep pace in both areas, according to a report released Tuesday by the California Faculty Assn.  LA Times article

CSU faculty set stage to push for raise – As it prepares to reopen contract negotiations in May, the California State University’s faculty union has launched a campaign arguing that workers’ salaries have not kept up with the times.  Sacramento Bee article

Efforts to expand California systems are growing – Even as arguments continue about proposed tuition increases and limits on state funding, a variety of new proposals are aimed at increasing the capacity — and number — of public universities to enroll more students.  LA Times article

Bakersfield City School District seeks $4.5 million in tax revenue, other school district want their cut, too – The Bakersfield City School District wants a $4.5 million cut of taxpayer dollars originally intended for local redevelopment. And the district is willing to force the Kern County Auditor-Controller’s hand to get it.  Bakersfield Californian article

Two UC Merced graduate programs rank among the best — Two of UC Merced’s graduate programs recently ranked among the top in the country in U.S. News & World Report – a first for the 10-year-old university.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno State nursing program lauded – Fresno Sate’s School of Nursing is among the 25 best nursing programs in the country, according to Nurse Journal’s 2015 Western Rankings for America’s Best Nursing Schools. The program is 24th on the list.  The Business Journal article

More local kids present science fair projects than ever before – More students showed off science fair projects than ever before at the 27th annual Kern County Science Fair Tuesday at the Rabobank Convention Center.  Bakersfield Californian article

Report calling for more oversight to prevent charter school fraud draws rebuke – California lawmakers must strengthen financial oversight of charter schools to stem cases of fraud and mismanagement that have already cost taxpayers $81 million, according to a new report from several advocacy groups.  LA Times article

Schwarzenegger pushes Congress to save after-school funding – Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger held a national summit Tuesday calling on Congress to preserve more than $1 billion in federal funding for after-school programs that have been criticized over lackluster academic outcomes for participants.  AP article

Board approves additions by Modesto City Schools HQ — Modesto City Schools’ historic administrative building on Locust Street will get a permanent addition, replacing the hodgepodge of aging trailers and portable buildings stacked in the adjacent parking lot.  Modesto Bee article

More charges possible after mom, stepmom allegedly assault son’s bullies at Cooper Academy — The mother and stepmother of a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly being bullied at Cooper Academy in central Fresno were arrested on suspicion of assaulting the two girls they say bullied their son, according to Fresno police.  Fresno Bee article


Turlock Irrigation District looks to boost renewable power — The Turlock Irrigation District board took a step Tuesday toward securing renewable power sources for the future.  Modesto Bee article

Q&A: How can California handle the challenges of renewable energy? – Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies in the Legislature want California to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, an increase from the target of one-third by 2020. However, making sure all that clean energy can be used when needed is a big challenge, because the state lacks adequate storage capacity.  LA Times article

Michael Fitzgerald: Saving trees in a fallen city – Stockton’s municipal forest is 100,000 trees in decline. City Manager Kurt Wilson was recently asked if the city can give them much-needed care now that it is out of bankruptcy.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Supreme Court hears arguments in dispute over EPA mercury rule – Lawyers for the coal and electric power industries go before the Supreme Court on Wednesday hoping to block a strict new federal rule against mercury and other toxic air pollutants.  LA Times article

Altamont’s wind farm’s permit extended despite fear of bird deaths – The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend permit rights for Altamont Winds Inc. to operate in the Altamont Pass, despite charges by environmentalists that the company’s technology is outdated and will unnecessarily kill nearly 2,000 birds.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Deal on Stanislaus River fish could aid Lake Tulloch – A tentative agreement on Stanislaus River flows could shore up irrigation supplies and keep Lake Tulloch from emptying this summer.  Modesto Bee article

Environmental groups urge feds to consider beef’s cost in U.S. diet — Full page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday called on the federal government to advise Americans to cut some meat from their diets. The ads, sponsored by more than 100 health and environmental groups, come as U.S. policymakers evaluate evidence that meat, particularly beef, takes a toll on the environment, and as they consider adjusting the nation’s dietary guidelines accordingly.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Yosemite National Park marks 125th anniversary with youth gathering — Watching a group of young children press their palms against the rough bark of a massive ponderosa pine here Tuesday, a park ranger standing nearby said Yosemite is the “ultimate classroom.” Some 300 children gathered near Yosemite Falls to help start the park’s 125th anniversary celebration, which is themed, “Youth of Today: Park Stewards of Tomorrow.” Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

Roosevelt teens race to meet 1,000-pound weight loss challenge — The goal of the challenge is steep but doable. Draft dozens of Roosevelt teens to get active and healthy, and hopefully lose a collective 1,000 pounds by the end of March.  Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Sacramento City Council approves urban farm ordinance – Buying locally sourced fruits and vegetables may soon become as simple as walking over to a neighbor’s garden, thanks to a new urban farm ordinance passed Tuesday night by the Sacramento City Council.  Sacramento Bee article

A shed too far – Whether you live next to a well-known attorney or Joe Shmoe, you might be surprised what your neighbor can build on his property.  Hanford Sentinel article


Fresnans attend first planning meeting for bullet-train station — The first planning meeting for Fresno’s newest train station ran like clockwork. Now if construction of high-speed rail can somehow follow suit. About 60 people showed up Tuesday evening at fire department headquarters to pitch ideas, offer hopes and express worries for downtown’s proposed bullet-train station. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Stockton council rejects Sanchez nomination – Activist Motecuzoma Sanchez, accused of homophobia and racism by LGBT leaders in Stockton, fell short in his bid Tuesday night to gain a mayoral appointment to a citizen’s commission developing proposed amendments to the city’s charter.  Stockton Record article

Lois Henry: A lesson on the true meaning of transparency — It’s easy to talk about transparency in government. But as we’ve seen time and again, walking that walk takes a lot of practice for some agencies. And in my view, the Kern High School District has stumbled. Badly.  Bakersfield Californian article

Save Mart owner, Modestan Bob Piccinini dead at 73 — Robert “Bob” Piccinini, the congenial and savvy chairman of the board and majority shareholder of the Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets empire, died Tuesday morning at his Modesto home. He was 73.   Modesto Bee article

Books on wheels: Expanding access to Merced County library services – With nearly 2,500 books, three laptops and Wi-Fi access, the Bookmobile is an effort to bring library services to residents who do not live near a county library branch.  Merced Sun-Star article

William Todd Perry: Women get less for disabilities – The Bakersfield attorney writes, “A female police officer is exposed to hazardous chemicals and diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing a double mastectomy, the woman gets a zero percent disability rating under California’s workers’ compensation system. However, the removal of a male officer’s prostrate due to cancer resulting from the same exposure would yield a 16 percent disability rating.” Perry op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Protests prompt LA County board to slow work on emergency radio plan — Faced with protests from scores of firefighters and residents from across Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday decided to slow down work on a long-awaited, comprehensive emergency communications system.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeCalifornia’s fall is greatly exaggerated – again.

Merced Sun-Star Wildfires happen every year and the federal government should budget for them.

Modesto Bee – Wildfires happen every year and the federal government should budget for them.

Sacramento Bee – For the third year running, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is pushing legislation to provide public access to otherwise confidential reports about groundwater wells. Her Senate Bill 20, which cleared its first committee Tuesday, clearly warrants approval by the full Legislature; No more backsliding on Afghanistan pullout.

Stockton Record – The Open Window Project ultimately could takes years or even more than a decade. It’s that large in scale. But a city sometimes needs to collectively dream a little dream. Ten Space is doing that, and we truly want to think that these dreams can come true.