March 27, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California Assembly passes drought relief package — Over the protests of Republicans who said the measure unnecessarily extends the government’s reach over water policy, the California Assembly on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a $1.1 billion drought relief package.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Newsom, other supporters call for study before 2016 pot ballot measure – A group led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a proponent of legalizing marijuana, is calling for a public airing of the issue to prepare the ground for an expected 2016 ballot measure that would decriminalize use of the drug.  LA Times article; Capitol Alert; Sacramento Bee editorial

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown holds out presidential hopes — Despite three unsuccessful campaigns, Gov. Jerry Brown still wants to be President of the United States, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Walters: Censorship of evil idea also wrong for ‘killing’ initiative – The best disinfectant for vile thoughts is sunshine. Let the measure’s sponsor have his title and summary and then fail to gain enough signatures to place it on the ballot. We would prove both that Californians uphold free speech rights and don’t want hatred on their ballots. It also would avoid plunging down a slippery slope of empowering politicians to censor unpopular political thoughts.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: Don’t damage the initiative process out of anger — Shame, chastise and rebuke authors like Matt McLaughlin who submitted the Sodomite Suppression Act, as he so much deserves for his heinous proposal. And, don’t give bizarre initiatives the attention they crave. Most will disappear without a trace. But the legislature should not use the righteous outrage people feel over the filing of one particular initiative proposal to undercut the people’s initiative power. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gavin Newsom doesn’t think marijuana legalization stance will hurt him — No, Gavin Newsom told me, being the frontman for California’s drive to legalize marijuana in 2016 will not hurt him in 2018 — when he likely will be running for governor.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California secretary of state proposes automatic voter registration — Every eligible Californian with a driver’s license would be automatically registered to vote under a proposal Thursday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who estimated it would add millions of people to the voter rolls.  LA Times article

Plastic bag lobby isn’t going down without a fight — In the final months of 2014, the nation’s plastic bag manufacturers spent $3.1 million to sidetrack a California law that sought to ban throwaway bags. But that political spending spree may be a small down payment on what could be a hugely expensive environmental fight on the state ballot in 2016 – and one with profound national implications as well.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, leaps to forefront of Senate race — With a speed and efficiency that startled many in her party, Ms. Harris has appeared, at least for now, to dispatch what most people had expected would be a sprawling generational battle with powerful ethnic overtones, given that Latinos now make up nearly 40 percent of California’s population. New York Times article

The Tax Debate of 2016: California Politics Podcast — This week, we discuss the politics of extending 2012’s taxes in a 2016 campaign… we offer up our weekly political side dish picks (a President of California?)… and a discussion about the issue of initiative reform sparked by a bizarre proposed initiative that’s now making national headlines.  California Politics Podcast in KQED

Other areas

State lawmakers slam oil regulators after embarrassing lapses — The agency that regulates the oil industry in California is — by its own admission — in disarray. After a series of embarrassing disclosures about regulatory lapses that allowed drilling in protected aquifers, officials at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources are trying to untangle years of chaotic operation.  LA Times article

California lawmakers headed to Cuba for trade mission — Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is leading a delegation of nine California legislators and 18 other state officials on a five-day trade mission to Cuba starting on Monday.  Valley lawmakers on the trip are Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Rudy Salas Jr. (D-Bakersfield).  LA Times article;Capitol Alert; The Business Journal article

Assembly Republicans lay off veteran staff amid new PR push — Assembly Republicans laid off eight staff members Thursday as part of a long-expected restructuring that focuses on strengthening the caucus’s public outreach. Four months after letting go of two senior-level officials, the move by Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen effectively collapses the policy and budget staffs, freeing up positions for public relations.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Appeals court to reconsider ruling against San Diego gun-control rule – A federal appeals court agreed Thursday to reconsider a decision that made it easier to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Bill Whalen: Democratic field could benefit from Brown’s centrism – Absent Gov. Jerry Brown entering the presidential race, Democrats will be without a significant candidate preaching his “paddle left, paddle right” philosophy of centrist government.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Fran Blackney: Beware of California’s proposed tax hikes – The business advocate and communications director for the Clovis Chamber of Commerce writes, “Before asking for citizens to pay higher taxes, the government should determine how much money it has and choose the most effective way to spend it. Instead, they find pet projects they would like to fund, then raise our taxes. The results are wasted spending on inessential programs that has created an insatiable tax beast demanding to be fed. This ever-expanding tax beast needs to be put on a strict diet.”Blackney op-ed in Fresno Bee

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won’t seek re-election — Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in U.S. Senate for the past decade and for eight years the Senate’s majority leader, said Friday he will not run for reelection in 2016.  LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Westlands Water District hires Rep. Devin Nunes’ top aide – The politically muscular Westlands Water District is reinforcing its already estimable roster by hiring Rep. Devin Nunes’ chief of staff. Tulare native Johnny Amaral, the longtime top staffer for Nunes, will start May 1 as the water district’s deputy general manager for external affairs. The newly created position will oversee the district’s lobbying, governmental and media operations.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno deputy police chief arrested in federal drug investigation – Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster was among four people arrested on federal drug charges, including conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, heroin and marijuana. Foster, 51, who oversaw patrol operations for the department’s four police districts, was arrested for conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone, heroin and marijuana. He has been put on paid administrative leave and his police powers and equipment will be removed, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Fresno Bee article; KVPR report; LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Report: Home price growth outpacing wages – New housing market data show California’s Central Valley has some of the country’s largest gaps between price increases and wage growth. Capital Public Radio report

February real estate statistics in the central San Joaquin Valley — Home sales remained stable in February while home prices faltered month-to-month, but increased from a year ago. Fresno Bee article

Report: Valley foreclosures declined in February – Foreclosure rates in the Fresno/Clovis area decreased for the month of January over the same period last year, according to newly released data from CoreLogic.  The Business Journal article

Stockton Record: San Joaquin County outlook: All is good – As the county’s sibling, the city of Stockton, pinches pennies and sheds the pain and embarrassment of bankruptcy, the county emerges from the Great Recession in remarkably good shape and poised for a bounteous future.  Stockton Record editorial

You’re not crazy: The Bay Area is getting way more crowded You’ve been thinking for a while that it’s getting crowded around these parts — a lot more crowded. On the freeways. On BART. Even at your hot yoga/vegan sushi takeout place. And now, the U.S. Census Bureau confirms you’re not crazy — the Bay Area’s population is growing rapidly, largely driven by people flocking here from all over the United States.  KQED report

Bankrupt San Bernardino reveals details of deal with CalPERS – The bankrupt California city of San Bernardino revealed on Thursday details of its deal with the state’s public pension system Calpers, in which the retirement fund will be paid in full under the city’s bankruptcy exit plan.  Reuters article

Inglewood stadium developers, labor group reach jobs agreement – Developers of the proposed NFL stadium in Inglewood reached agreement Thursday with a powerful labor group on jobs for the $1.86-billion project, avoiding a referendum that could have delayed the undertaking. LA Times article

‘Excessive’ workers’ comp costs LA taxpayers millions, audits find — Los Angeles police and firefighters work in a culture that encourages filing “excessive” workers’ compensation claims, according to a pair of city audits released Thursday, and taxpayers are doling out up to $28 million a year for what amount to preventable injuries.  LA Times article

Hundreds of joyous shoppers at Nordstrom Rack’s opening – Hundreds of shoppers — the vast majority of them women — descended on the Nordstrom Rack department store Thursday morning in Bakersfield. For many of them, the grand opening was the fulfillment of a long-rumored and, once confirmed, long-awaited dream.  Bakersfield Californian article

The Partisan in Merced closes for renovation as city entertains buyer for downtown buildings – A popular downtown Merced venue to grab a drink and enjoy live music has temporarily closed its doors for remodeling. The Partisan, a familiar Main Street fixture since 2008, will be closed for three to five months, according to RC Essig, one of its owners.  Merced Sun-Star article

Visalia’s well-known meat market changing ownership – Glick’s Old Fashion Meat Market has a history in Visalia. The business became a city fixture when founder Louie Glick opened its doors in 1976. It closed in 2010 — just to reopen again one year later. The meat market’s story is entering a new chapter Monday when ownership departs the Glick family name and goes to restaurateurs with a swiftly growing presence in the city, James and Michelle Jessen.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Payday lenders warn that proposed new rules could hurt consumers – Payday lenders complained loudly that tough new federal regulations proposed for their industry would force many operators to shut down and leave cash-strapped consumers with fewer options for getting short-term loans.  LA Times article

San Francisco Fed President John Williams expects momentum in labor market – Williams said job growth may slow in the coming months as economic growth has weakened some this year, but the labor market “still has a lot of momentum going forward, and I have a lot of confidence in that.” LA Times article

MLS heads to Minneapolis, but questions persist on stadium financing — Sacramento’s dreams of a Major League Soccer franchise are on hold for the time being after MLS awarded a team to Minneapolis. But the Minneapolis decision appears to be anything but final.  Sacramento Bee article


Harold Johnson: Let’s stop the federal water wasters – The attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation writes, “If you came across somebody gasping with thirst, you wouldn’t give him one of those prank drinking cups that would trickle water down his shirt. By the same token, in drought-parched California, we can’t afford to have federal environmental bureaucrats drilling holes in our dams. Yet that’s what they’ve been doing, figuratively, by imposing Endangered Species Act regulations that have sent vast quantities of water straight out to sea.” Johnson in Fox & Hounds

Processors adopt radio frequency tech for safer food – A Sacramento company wants to change the way farmers ensure food safety. Since its founding in 2008, Sacramento-based RF Biocidics has been pioneering methods that use radio frequency technology to safely eliminate food-related pathogens, pests and fungi from products like nuts, grains and seeds.  The Business Journal article

Brad Gleason: Almond growers are not the bad guys in our water struggle – The president of West Hills Farm Services writes, “Over time, farmers have adapted to answer the demands of water shortage, new crops, cities and fish, and I know we’ll continue to adapt as California confronts a new era of limits. But demonizing us — and what we grow — is no way to meet the challenge. We’re not the bad guys.” Gleason op-ed in Fresno Bee

TEDx Manhattan: Reigniting the soul of farming – The Valley’s Nikiko Masumoto talks about reigniting the soul of farming at TEDx Manhattan.  Masumoto in TEDx Manhattan (video)

Decline of Valley biomass plants a threat to ag – Once upon a time, local orchard farmers taking out trees piled them up in large heaps and struck a match, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air. More recently, the waste has gone to biomass power plants that crank out electricity, meet stricter air pollution requirements and provide a renewable energy component. But now that the whole biomass industry in California is threatened with extinction, the issue has become a hot topic in the ag industry. Hanford Sentinel article

Livingston to hold community workshop on water system – The city will host a community workshop to update residents on its water system, one of the requirements of a lawsuit the city settled with an environmental nonprofit last year.  Merced Sun-Star article

Don Curlee: Farming’s growth based on research — In many ways, the Cooperative Extension Service mirrors the experience and character of its main constituent, farming. In California, strength and increased outreach is the future for both. Their health and vitality can serve as an example for much of the California economy and the celebrated California way of life.  Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

Drought brings early opening of Pinecrest Campground — The dry, warm weather means people can already pitch their tents at one of this area’s most popular campgrounds. The Pinecrest Campground has opened several weeks early, with more than 100 sites available.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Keith Foster’s arrest a blow to Fresno police, black community – As the highest-ranking black law enforcement officer in Fresno, Deputy Chief Keith Foster was seen as a pillar of the community, looked up to by fellow officers, city officials and civic leaders. When news of his arrest on federal drug charges emerged, it sent shock waves throughout the city.  Fresno Bee article

California loosens sex offender residency restrictions — California will alter its 8-year-old ban preventing all registered sex offenders from living near schools or parks, state officials announced Thursday, instead imposing the restriction only on pedophiles and others whose sex crimes involved children.  AP article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno City Council hears call for ‘ShotSpotter’ system, says yes — The Fresno City Council has approved a request by Police  Chief Jerry Dyer for funding to install gunshot detecting microphones in a three square mile section of the city. KVPR report

Leaders address criminal justice reform at Fresno forum – A group of elected officials and community leaders addressed criminal justice reform in a packed southwest Fresno church on Thursday night. The forum focused on reducing crime, recidivism and bail amounts for those who have not been criminally charged in a court of law, alternatives to incarceration, and the passage of Proposition 47, which reduces a number of sentences from felonies to misdemeanors.  Fresno Bee article

Stockton police: It’s all about respect – In the past year, every sworn and civilian employee of the Stockton Police Department has undergone a newly developed training unit in Procedural Justice and Police Legitimacy, emphasizing the critical need for police to build trust with every member of the community in order to have the greatest impact in carrying out their duties. Stockton Record article

Two claims filed against Kern County in connection with alleged sexual assaults at Juvenile Hall – Attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have filed two claims against Kern County on behalf of girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted by correctional officers in separate incidents at Juvenile Hall.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco jail inmates forced to fight, public defender says – San Francisco sheriff’s deputies forced County Jail inmates to fight each other and gambled on the outcomes, Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s public defender, said Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; KQED report

Police: San Jose cop killer shot dead by officer — The suicidal man found dead after he shot and killed a veteran San Jose police officer was killed by police gunfire, authorities said Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

1 in 3 LA County youth offenders is re-arrested within year, study finds —  It took $400,000 and nearly four years of work to uncover, but experts now know a basic fact about Los Angeles County’s juvenile delinquency system: One-third of probationers are re-arrested within a year of their release.  LA Times article

A shift in gang tactics means drive-bys are giving way to walk-ups, observers say — Jorja Leap, a UCLA anthropologist who studies gang culture, agreed. “In a walk-up, you see who you’re killing,” Leap said. “You’re going to listen to what they say as you shoot them.” Fatal drive-by shooting statistics were not publicly available from the LAPD, and there are no recent national statistics. But Leap sees a shift in how gangs operate.  LA Times article

Morse’s gun in his office determined to be ‘nonissue,’ sheriff says — An issue investigated by the California attorney general’s office into whether Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II violated any laws by storing a firearm in his office is considered closed, Merced Sheriff Vern Warnke said.  Merced Sun-Star article


University of the Pacific in talks to continue Drexel programs in Sacramento – The University of the Pacific revealed Thursday that it has entered negotiations with Drexel University to continue some its Sacramento-based graduate programs after Drexel leaves the region over the next two years.  Sacramento Bee article

Angry parents ask San Francisco Archdiocese to remove school’s leaders — In an emotional and at times angry meeting with representatives from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, more than 100 parents of Star of the Sea School children pleaded Wednesday night for the controversial leaders of their school’s church to be removed from their posts.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Preserve and Tejon Ranch look for common ground for wildlife, public — Two of the largest private landowners in Southern California this week launched discussions on proposals to connect the Tejon Ranch Co. and adjacent Wind Wolves Preserve with wildlife corridors and public access.  LA Times article

Forum near Tulloch will explore river flows – Critics of boosting river flows for fish will gather Saturday near Lake Tulloch, which is at risk of emptying this summer because of drought. Modesto Bee article

Deputy director to lead San Joaquin River parkway trust — Sharon Weaver has been named executive director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, taking over for 25-year veteran Dave Koehler, who in mid-April will become executive director of the Sonoma Land Trust.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Kings say 98 percent of Downtown Plaza scrap has been recycled — The bulk of Downtown Plaza isn’t really gone. It’s just been recycled. The Sacramento Kings said Thursday that they’ve been able to recycle 98 percent of the rubble that resulted when they tore down much of Downtown Plaza to make way for the new arena. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Do high-deductible health plans cost costs now, but backfire in long run? — Consumers with high deductibles sometimes skip procedures, think harder about getting treatment and shop for lower prices when they do seek care. What nobody knows is whether such plans, also sold to individuals and families through the health law’s online exchanges, will backfire. If people choose not to have important preventive care and end up needing an expensive hospital stay years later as a result, everybody is worse off.  KQED report

Fresno Bee: Limiting fast-food joints isn’t cure for obesity – The link between obesity and income is real, and the link between fast food and obesity is probably real as well. The truth is, to lose weight, people must reduce their calories, increase their activity — or, preferably, do both. Meaning: Personal initiative trumps government intervention. Policymakers should keep this in mind.  Fresno Bee editorial

‘First Look’:  ADAKC one step closer to new Alzheimer’s facility — Nearly two years ago, the organization — that serves as an adult day care center for a minimal fee — begun their quest to raise $2 million for its new building in the Seven Oaks Business Park, south of Buena Vista Road and White Lane. The ADAKC has reached their mark and have closed escrow on the land and are now looking to raise $500,000 to start construction.  Bakersfield Californian article

Olympus says new steps needed to clean medical scopes of dangerous bugs — Olympus Corp., the manufacturer of a medical scope linked to recent deadly superbug outbreaks, reversed course Thursday and said it was issuing an urgent update on how the device should be cleaned.  LA Times article

Clinic brings access to southeast Stockton – Primary medical care is a hot commodity anywhere in Stockton — a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area. For residents of the city’s southeast quadrant, access to care is almost nonexistent. That changed this month as health providers with Community Medical Centers Inc. started seeing patients at CMC’s newest clinic at 1031 Waterloo Road, just off North Wilson Way east of a Rite Aid pharmacy.  Stockton Record article

Merced program recruits youths, young adults to become sexual health educators – Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in Merced has started a new round of recruitment for its Peer Education Program, an effort that promotes sexual health education among youths.  Merced Sun-Star article

Hospital donates breast surgery to patient — Sarah Smith isn’t a breast cancer survivor, but she feels a great deal of empathy for women disfigured by the disease. She knows what it feels like to live without a breast. Bakersfield Memorial Hospital performed Smith’s surgery for free after she wrote a heartfelt letter about her condition as part of a bra decorating contest for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, which was Oct. 15.  Bakersfield Californian article

Doctors Medical Center to pull plug next month — Doctors Medical Center, the cash-strapped public hospital in San Pablo that has been on the brink of closure so many times, is slated to start closing April 21 after its governing board voted to begin the process of shutting it down unless a last-minute proposal can save it.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Germanwings tragedy reminiscent of ’87 jetliner crash in California — The troubling narrative emerging from the Germanwings crash in the French Alps — that the co-pilot deliberately plowed the plane into a mountain after locking the captain out of the flight deck — has some similarities to the 1987 crash of a jetliner in Central California.  LA Times article

Aeromexico to fly nonstop between Sacramento and Mexico City — Aeroméxico will offer nonstop flights between Sacramento and Mexico City beginning April 6.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Fresno City Council votes to loosen tough marijuana law – The new law would amend another passed last year by the council that banned all marijuana cultivation in the city. If the new proposal becomes law, residents would be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants indoors, for their personal medicinal use.  KVPR report; Fresno Bee article

Cesar Chavez portrait to go on display at Smithsonian – On Friday at 9 a.m., the photograph will be donated to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony at the Japanese American National Museum.  LA Times article

Kevin Valine: City committees by other names? Not so sweet – The City Council adopted Modesto’s latest strategic plan this week. The plan, which covers important issues, is pretty dry reading. But it does offer unintentional comedic relief regarding the part of the plan that renames three of the council’s four subcommittees.  Valine in Modesto Bee

Rancho Cordova homeless people allege police harassment — Rancho Cordova police officers routinely and unlawfully detain, arrest, harass, threaten and assault homeless people in an effort to drive them from the city, alleges a civil complaint filed this week in Sacramento Superior Court.  Sacramento Bee article

Government halts enrollment of veterans in helicopter flight program — The federal government, concerned about violations that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, has barred new enrollment of military veterans in an Arizona flight program and is reviewing the conduct of a second, Utah-based school.  LA Times article

Joe Rubin: Sacramento’s email purge is bad for public – The Sacramento-based investigative reporter writes, “We just marked another Sunshine Week, a national initiative sponsored by good government groups and media organizations to promote transparency and freedom of information. But the city of Sacramento is about to make a drastic move counter to that spirit, deleting 13 years of emails dating to 2000.”  Rubin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Filing sealed by court is unlawful censorship, newspaper attorneys argue – An appellate court order sealing a previously public court filing that disclosed parts of a report on an officer-involved shooting was an unconstitutional censorship of the press, attorneys for the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations wrote in papers filed Thursday.  LA Times article

Video shows Berkeley ambassador beating homeless man — Shocking video surfaced Thursday that appears to show a community ambassador with a Berkeley downtown merchants group attacking a homeless man — sucker punching him, then repeatedly striking him in the face — as another ambassador stands by.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The truth is, to lose weight, people must reduce their calories, increase their activity — or, preferably, do both. Meaning: Personal initiative trumps government intervention. Policymakers should keep this in mind; New Afghan president must keep his promises to the U.S.

Merced Sun-Star – For the third year in a row, 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.

Modesto Bee – For the third year in a row, 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; Visiting editors on the perils of living in a digital society and cyber bullying vs. free speech.

Sacramento Bee – A blue ribbon commission led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom deserves a pat on the back for taking a thoughtful approach to a likely 2016 initiative to legalize marijuana in California; Restricting fast-food joints is no silver bullet for obesity epidemic.

Stockton Record – As San Joaquin County’s sibling, the city of Stockton, pinches pennies and sheds the pain and embarrassment of bankruptcy, the county emerges from the Great Recession in remarkably good shape and poised for a bounteous future.