March 26, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Proponents put brakes on California proposal to divert high-speed rail money — Proponents of a proposed initiative to divert high-speed rail funding to water projects said Friday that they are pulling their petitions from the street and instead will pursue a place on the 2018 ballot. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

Browns out: Political bigwigs to gather for California fundraiser – Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown will emcee a ceremony set to include Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, and Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley. They’ll be at the California Museum on Tuesday night for an event benefiting the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute, a Fresno State University institution named after the former Fresno Republican that seeks to nurture civic participation. Sacramento Bee article

AD 31: Arambula’s fundraising juggernaut rolls on — Kingsburg Democrat Joaquin Arambula continues to both raise and spend money at an incredible clip in his quest for the 31st Assembly District seat. In a campaign finance report released Thursday, Arambula reports raising more than $742,000 for the election between Jan. 1 and March 19, and spending $666,000 during that same time. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown pardons 59 for Easter — Easter is around the corner, which means it’s time for a fresh batch of pardons from Gov. Jerry Brown. Continuing his tradition of announcing leniency around Christmas and Easter, Brown released a list of 59 gubernatorial pardons on Friday. As usual, the bulk of them addressed old drug crimes and lower-level offenses such as burglary and insurance fraud. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Political scramble: News from the Kern campaign trenches — Bakersfield’s unprecedented slate of 25 mayoral hopefuls was bound to produce some, shall we say, ambitious candidates. None may qualify for that description more so than T.J. Esposito, who lists a remarkably broad and enterprising range of goals on his to-to list. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Joe Mathews: Blame Brown and Dems for high initiative signature costs — The reason why there are so many measures moving toward the ballot at the same time – right now – is that the Democrats and Brown wanted it this way. They changed the law to put all citizens’ initiatives on November ballots. This means all initiative sponsors have to qualify measures at about the same time. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Marijuana legalization gaining traction across U.S. Is California next? – California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure most likely to qualify for the statewide November ballot is the product of months of negotiations between groups with varying interests, from drug-law reformers, to growers and distributors, to famous financiers and politicians. Here’s a primer. Sacramento Bee article

Mike Dunbar: Just talking about marijuana is an important first step – Volumes of research show the benefits of cannabis in treating seizures and relieving pain, but there are also volumes showing its dangers – from heart disease and respiratory dysfunction to loss of cognitive focus, relationship problems and “downward social mobility,” according to a recent UC Davis study. There’s so much more to talk about before we begin casting ballots in November. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Joel Fox: Villaraigosa’s non-announcement announcement — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came as close as one can to making an announcement about running for governor without crossing the line as he responded to a question at Town Hall Los Angeles yesterday. But if he wasn’t over the line, the shadow of his future ambition was way past it. Fox in Fox & Hounds


U.S. border officials accused of denying food to asylum seekers — The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego sent a complaint letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection stating that the agency has been denying food to asylum seekersawaiting processing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. KPBS report 

Other areas 

San Francisco mayor bans government travel to North Carolina – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has banned city workers from non-essential travel to North Carolina after that state approved legislation preventing anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people. AP article 

3 ways the unpredictable GOP presidential race could shake out – After 39 contests and more than 20 million votes cast, the Republican presidential race has narrowed to three candidates and three possible scenarios. LA Times article

Trump fuels citizenship drive among immigrants — It’s been almost half a century since Concepción Álvarez, a 75-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in northern San Diego County, became eligible for U.S. citizenship. But it wasn’t until this year that she decided to undergo the naturalization process. The reason? She points to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Capital Public Radio report

News Stories

Top Stories

Chukchansi tribe sues Gov. Brown to stop Madera casino – The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians announced it has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jerry Brown to prevent a casino proposed for Madera County. The lawsuit challenges Brown’s agreement with the federal Department of Interior to place 305 acres off of Highway 99 into trust for the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians. The Business Journal article

Water picture brightens – While much media attention in recent weeks has been on northern reservoirs such as Shasta, Oroville and Folsom, which are above normal and dumping water for flood releases, the southern reservoirs of the San Joaquin River have not been blessed as abundantly by El Niño-fueled storms. Most significantly, New Melones Lake, which provides critical storage for San Joaquin County farmers and residents, is just 25 percent full or 40 percent of normal. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Raiders get new lease at and it comes with a steep rent hike – Few tenants, it seems, have escaped the escalating rental costs of living in the Bay Area these days. Add the Raiders to that list. The NFL team’s lease for Coliseum in Oakland and a training facility in Alameda includes a steep increase from last year’s rent of $925,000: It’s now $3.5 million for both venues. San Francisco Chronicle article 

David ‘Mas’ Masumoto uses crowdfunding to publish new book – For his latest work, “Changing Season: A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm” (Heyday, $16), written with his daughter Nikiko, he’s taken a different approach. The author turned to a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to get the book printed and for a book tour that will happen in May. The initial goal of $7,500 was surpassed, with $13,686 raised. Fresno Bee article

Tracy sales tax drops April 1 – Tracy will cut ​its sales tax beginning April 1​; it’s no joke. The state Board of Equalization said it is one of three cities in California due to reduce its use and sale tax that day​. In Tracy’s case​, the rate will drop to 8 percent from the current 8.5 percent. Stockton Record article

Bay Area’s population grows by more than 90,000 in a year — The Bay Area’s population was boosted by 90,834 people — the size of Santa Barbara — between 2014 and 2015, according to estimates in a U.S. Census Bureau report, dramatically outpacing housing and transportation needs of the region, experts say. San Francisco Chronicle article

Least affordable markets: Marin, Santa Cruz and San Francisco are in nation’s top five — Marin, Santa Cruz and San Francisco counties are among the five least affordable markets in the nation. That’s according to a first-quarter analysis of 456 U.S. counties by RealtyTrac, the real estate information company. San Jose Mercury News article

Bay Area buys in to hottest homeless housing trend: ‘tiny homes’ – On a weed-pocked parking lot behind a batch of government offices, Sonoma County is about to propel California into the hottest trend in housing for the homeless: “tiny homes.” The county is planning to build an entire village of them. San Francisco Chronicle article

‘It’s like delivering Christmas every week’ – Le Tote, an e-commerce startup providing a subscription clothing service for women, recently moved its distribution center to Stockton, where it now employs about 150 people. Stockton Record article

Bay Area company signs tentative deal that could bring 2,500 jobs to Elk Grove – Elk Grove, now mostly a bedroom community for Sacramento, could land up to 2,500 jobs under a tentative deal between the city and a Bay Area tech company. Sacramento Bee article

Uber will pay $10,000 to hackers who find bugs in its system — Think you can find a bug in Uber’s app? If you do, the company is willing to give you $10,000 to share your findings. San Francisco Chronicle article 

State regulators deny LA request to fingerprint Uber, Lyft drivers – The California Public Utilities Commission has denied a request by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and two City Council members to launch a pilot fingerprint background check for Uber and Lyft drivers. KQED report

Fraud prompts Hanford to increase financial security — City officials have beefed up security in the aftermath of more than $8,000 of fraudulent charges made to a city bank account. Hanford Sentinel article


Valley counties receive money for water studies — Four central San Joaquin Valley counties have been awarded state grants to improve their understanding of underground water so they can prepare for a state law that takes effect in four years. Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties each will get $500,000 in Proposition 1 funding set aside for local governments to adhere to guidelines of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Fresno Bee article

California’s largest reservoir filling too fast thanks to El Nino, must release more water — To make room in Shasta for water from last weekend’s storms, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation ramped up releases from 5,000 cubic feet per second to 20,000 cubic feet per second on March 18. It was the first time since 2011 that the bureau released water into the upper Sacramento River at such a rapid rate, said spokesman Shane Hunt. LA Times article

Granite Bay water district says it will no longer follow state water conservation mandate — Pointing to improved conditions at Folsom Lake, a water district serving one of the region’s wealthiest areas announced Friday that it would not follow conservation targets mandated by the state this year and would instead ask its customers to voluntarily cut water use by 10 percent. Sacramento Bee article 

Levee ‘armoring’ along the American River Parkway draws concerns — Years of rumbling dump trucks and backhoes placing 2.75 million tons of rock “armor” along nearly a dozen miles of riverbank is an unpleasant thought for many who bike, jog, fish, bird-watch, golf, boat and swim along the lower American River Parkway. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno lawyer’s secret could lead to new trial for death row inmate – For two decades, Keith Zon Doolin has been on California’s death row, proclaiming his innocence in the shooting of six prostitutes in Fresno. But now a Fresno lawyer who has never represented Doolin wants to provide information that could save Doolin from the executioner. Fresno Bee article

Man fatally shot by Fresno police was wanted in an earlier shooting — The man fatally shot Wednesday by Fresno police was being sought for a shooting two weeks earlier at a park west of Highway 99, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Thursday. The Fresno County Coroner’s Office on Thursday identified the man as Raymond Gonzalez, 34, of Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Bail: The next frontier of criminal justice reform – There are the indignities of being poor that are out of one’s control. And then there are theindignities of being poor that government can control. Bail is one of the latter, and California is uniquely positioned to move the needle on this systemic wrong. Sacramento Bee editorial

Tim Ward: Victims of crime and California legislation – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “Please stand with the district attorneys across this state in supporting crime victims by reading and analyzing very carefully any proposed initiative involving crime. We owe crime victims at least that much.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

Joe Farrow: The badge signifies duty and honor, in death as in life – The commissioner of the California Highway Patrol writes, “I would like to thank members of the public for their overwhelming support of the California Highway Patrol following the recent death of Officer Nathan Taylor.” Farrow op-ed in Sacramento Bee


A path ‘to debt relief’ for defrauded Corinthian students — U.S. Education Secretary John King announced findings of fraud against 91 separate campuses of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges at a press conference in Boston Friday.  The announcement is intended to smooth the way for more former Corinthian students to apply for relief of their student loans. KQED report

Jim Makofske: We teach IT, you can learn IT – The instructor at Fresno City College writes, “Recent magazines and YouTube videos have maintained that schools today are not teaching courses leading to high-demand, technically oriented jobs in computer coding and programming. We offer such instruction at Fresno City College to qualify you for these careers.” Makofske op-ed in Fresno Bee

The Numbers Crunch: These March Madness brackets aren’t busted – If you’re a college hoops fan, equal pay for women probably doesn’t jump to mind in all the March Madness excitement. College graduation rates, maybe, since the players are supposed to be student-athletes, as the NCAA makes sure to say in press conferences. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee 

Valley schools recognized for focus on civic learning — Several schools across the Central Valley have been recognized for their focus on students’ civic engagement. Select schools in Fresno, Clovis, Sanger, Madera and Tulare have received Civic Learning Awards, which honor schools that motivate students to become engaged in the democratic process. Fresno Bee article

CEAL the deal: Teen entrepreneurs create line of trendy, dress-code compliant clothes — Spring is a tough time to stay within Clovis Unified’s dress code, students say, because shorts and dresses sold in popular clothing stores aren’t long enough to comply with the district’s “five inches above the kneecap” rule. It’s also tough to find tank tops with straps that are wider than two inches, to comply with the district’s dress code, said sophomore Emily Laing, who attended Buchanan High School but now does her work online through Clovis Online School. Laing, 16, and her business partner Charles Harris, 17, came up with a solution. Fresno Bee article

Avenal district expands AVID program – More students will have the opportunity to improve academics in high school and become college and career ready with the expansion of the Advancement Via Individual Determination program which is better known as AVID. Hanford Sentinel article

FFA members will display agriculture-related skills at Modesto Junior College — FFA members from 100-plus California high schools will descend on Modesto to show what they know about judging dairy cattle, arranging flowers, interviewing for jobs and other career skills. Modesto Bee article

Terror impacts Hanford student — It’s interesting how many sometimes-hidden connections link Hanford with events thousands of miles away. In the case of Tuesday’s terrorist bombings in Belgium, one such connection is Marie Laloux, a 21-year-old college student. Hanford Sentinel article

Schools nationwide still grapple with lead in water — The Flint, Mich., crisis has cast attention on the issue, but in schools from Jersey City, N.J., to Los Angeles, problems have dragged on for years. New York Times article


Two organizations want Fresno County to cover legal costs, damages in pipeline blast — Two organizations named in several lawsuits along with Fresno County for their apparent roles in a deadly pipeline explosion in northwest Fresno last April want the county to cover their legal and damages costs. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Visalia City Council backs Measure H – Visalians have a stark choice before them next month as they decide how to vote on Measure H to authorize bonds for a new hospital. So says the Visalia City Council in a resolution passed this week in support of the measure offered by Kaweah Delta Hospital. Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento County reports 12 cases of opioid poisoning – The Sacramento County Division of Public Health has received reports of at least 12 poisoning overdoses at local hospitals within the last 48 hours, all tied to ingestion of Norco – a strong prescription medication containing both acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Sacramento Bee article

First Californian contracts Zika through sex —  In the first such case in California, a woman from San Diego was infected withZika virus through sexual contact, health officials said Friday. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

City of Fresno sues apartment landlord for substandard conditions — Fresno city officials are asking Fresno County Superior Court to force a landlord to fix a laundry list of housing issues that code enforcement officers found during an inspection of the property two months ago. Fresno Bee article


Vidak pitches bill allowing landowners to buy back high-speed rail seizures – State Sen. Andy Vidak says landowners forced to sell property to the California High Speed Rail Authority ought to have first dibs on buying it back if the authority alters the proposed train alignment. Vidak, a Republican from Hanford, calls his SB 940, introduced Feb. 3, landowners’ “right of first refusal.” Bakersfield Californian article

Atwater-Merced Expressway’s first phase complete — Elected officials could have borrowed the catchphrase from the popular 1989 film “Field of Dreams” for Friday’s Atwater-Merced Expressway dedication ceremony, with a slight modification: “If you build it, (dollars) will come.” Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

LGBT+ center coming to downtown Visalia – They want it to be a gathering place, a referral center and a provider of services. But most importantly, they want it to be a place where you feel at home and don’t have to be out to come in. Poth, and Nick Vargas of Visalia are leading a campaign to raise $5,000 for an LGBT community center in downtown Visalia. If the fundraiser goes as planned, the center is scheduled to open on May 1. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Fallerts resigns as Tulare deputy city manager – Margee Fallert resigned as Tulare deputy city manager on Feb. 28, 10 months after she was placed on paid administrative leave. Fallert received $112,410 while she was on leave. Visalia Times-Delta article

The judge, the mentor – There’s a framed poster hanging in Anthony Fultz’s office. It’s a subtle reminder for the way he lives his life. It’s motivational, inspirational and encouraging. The gift from his wife, a fellow attorney, helps the judge get through even the toughest days on the bench. Visalia Times-Delta article

Doug Hoagland: Reedley takes the lead in peace-building efforts – The freelance writer in Fresno writes, “As the sun slipped below the horizon on a Friday, I drove east on Manning Avenue to a destination that is more a state of mind than an actual place. Google Maps was leading me to the Reedley Peace Center. The ‘center’ is a group of like-minded people who explore what it means to strive for peace and justice in the world. Hoagland op-ed in Fresno Bee