March 27, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Deal reached to boost California’s minimum wage to $15, avoiding ballot box battle — California lawmakers and labor unions have struck a tentative deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $10.50 an hour next year and then gradually to $15, averting a costly political campaign this fall and possibly putting California at the forefront of a national movement. LA Times articleAP articleSacramento Bee article

AD 31: Complaint alleges Olivier campaign violated campaign finance laws — For the second time in as many months, a complaint has been filed with the state’s political watchdog, alleging that Republican state Assembly candidate Clint Olivier’s campaign has violated campaign finance laws. Fresno Bee article


When serving in the U.S. military isn’t enough to prevent deportation — When they pushed him off the prison bus into the swirling dust of the U.S.-Mexico border, they gave him only one instruction: Run. He watched the other inmates scamper in all directions across the line dividing Laredo, Texas, from Mexico. This is how it ends, he thought to himself, after three honorable years of service in the U.S. Navy and one serious run-in with the law, he was being set adrift, here in a deadly Mexican border town hundreds of miles from home. LA Times article

Other areas

Dan Morain: In Jones-Bera race, globalization fight turns local and bitter – As he makes a decision that could determine his political future, Bera will not only have the weight of political expectations on his shoulders, but the weight of all those global questions. Hard to envy him that. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Cathleen Decker: Donald Trump leads in California primary race but threatens a GOP fracture — A quarter of California Republican voters polled said they would refuse to vote for Trump in November if he is the party’s nominee. Almost one-third of those backing Trump’s leading competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said they would not cast a ballot for Trump. Voters who back Trump, meanwhile, are critical of Cruz, with only half holding a favorable impression of him. That division sets up the potential of cascading losses down the ballot for Republicans already fighting the tide in one of the nation’s most Democratic states, including in a number of contested congressional districts. Decker in LA Times

Anti-gay bill pits Georgia’s conservative values against Hollywood’s inclusivity – much like the nation’s political divide — Hollywood’s threat to boycott production in Georgia over proposed anti-gay legislation is a collision of politics, culture and economics that reflects the divisive lines between conservatives and liberals playing out in the race for the White House. Both sides say it’s about values. LA Times article

Bonnie Reiss and Christian GroseCalifornia provides lessons on ending political gridlock – The USC Schwarzenegger Institute representatives write, “Many candidates running for the Legislature have become more moderate and more interested in appealing to voters across party lines in recent years. The USC Schwarzenegger Institute, which is committed to supporting policies that make our elected officials more responsive and less divided, commissioned research to look more deeply into this phenomenon.” Reiss/Grose op-ed in Sacramento Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Stockton’s post-bankruptcy recovery still a struggle — Thirteen months after exiting Chapter 9 bankruptcy, Stockton continues to stride slowly toward recovery but still struggles mightily to provide sufficient services to its population of more than 300,000 residents. The reason is a city payroll that remains much smaller in actual dollars than it was before Stockton declared bankruptcy in 2012. The city’s payroll slide becomes even more pronounced when factoring inflation into the equation. Stockton Record article‘Database: Stockton employees making more than $100,000’ in Stockton Record

‘Am I Invisible?’ Fresno family fights for equality for twin boys – The 10-year-old brothers have many differences. Samuel has long brown hair; Elijah likes his short and covered with a hat. Samuel timidly shakes strangers’ hands; Elijah blows them kisses. Elijah has Down syndrome; Samuel does not. And for the past several months, Samuel has had access to a public education; Elijah has not. The boys’ mother, Jami Hamel De La Cerda, has fought tirelessly to have the boys she birthed one minute apart attend the same school. Her goal is to provide them both with the same opportunities, despite Elijah’s disability. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Stanislaus must account for $200 million in employee pension debt — Stanislaus County’s financial reports won’t look as healthy as in previous years because of rules that require the county to account for a $202 million unfunded pension liability. The $1.8 billion fund managed by the Stanislaus County Employees’ Retirement Association is short $202 million in fulfilling the retirement benefits promised to county employees and retirees, and taxpayers are on the hook for a significant portion of that. Modesto Bee article

Stockton post-bankruptcy: Other cities seek advice on the QT – City officials who endured Stockton’s fiscal downfall and eventual bankruptcy have become occasional mentors to California counterparts whose governments today are facing their own financial worries. Stockton Record article

Building on a military economy: New report will look at diversification of eastern Kern — So much of eastern Kern County’s economy depends on the area’s two military bases that it’s hard to imagine what would happen if suddenly defense spending were drastically cut, or worse, one of the two installations shut down. A federally funded study launched this month in California City will take a close look at that very issue, ideally developing practical strategies for making eastern Kern less reliant on the military, and take stock of the existing workforce and other assets outside businesses might find attractive. Bakersfield Californian article

Poverty rate jumps among California seniors – For a growing number of California seniors living on the edges of poverty, that’s the uncomfortable reality. In the Sacramento region, the number of residents 65 and older living at or below the federal poverty line – $11,400 for a single individual – roughly doubled from 2005 to 2014, according to a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. census data. Sacramento Bee article 

Retailers shedding stores, shifting gears among industry changes – The first quarter of 2016 has been marked by the great shrinking retail store chain. A rash of local and national store closings have made headlines in the first three months of the year, and retail industry analysts contend that large retail chains are shedding stores and tightening budget belts amid an environment of increasing online shopping by consumers. Sacramento Bee article

Anita Chabria: Failing a ‘litmus test’ to aid homeless – The freelance writer from Sacramento writes, “Mayoral candidate Angelique Ashby says she finds images of government-sanctioned homeless tent camps in other cities to be “deeply disturbing.” Darrell Steinberg, her main rival, says that tents aren’t solutions, but may be better than “riverbanks and doorways” in the short term, because “what is happening now is not what any great city should allow.” They’re both right.  Chabria op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Mayor Swearengin tastes her tribute beer at downtown’s FresYes Fest — Thousands of people celebrated downtown Fresno with food and music Saturday, and Mayor Ashley Swearengin sipped a tribute beer bearing her name and likeness during the fourth annual FresYes Fest. Fresno Bee article

San Francisco can’t keep up with demand for children’s recreation programs — A small line began to form at 1 a.m. on March 19 in San Francisco. It wasn’t for the latest iPhone release, but parents outside McLaren Lodge trying to secure summer camp spaces for their kids. The spots went up for grabs nine hours later at the lodge, 12 recreation centers and online, and more than 5,000 families snapped up slots in the first hour alone. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Chef seeks to redefine arena food for new Sacramento venue — Riding Sacramento’s campaign as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” the arena’s food and beverage program might be the most ambitious, if not idealistic, ever attempted at a mainstream sports venue. The concept centers around a written charter that pledges to source 90 percent of all ingredients from a 150-mile radius.  Sacramento Bee article


Water worries everywhere – The first resident to speak during Saturday afternoon’s special City Council meeting at the Bob Hope Theatre said she never had seen “anything as outrageous” as the rate increase likely to soon be paid by Stockton water users. Later, another speaker called the prospective increase “adding insult to injury.” And a third invoked Easter in framing Stockton’s current unrest over a potential rate hike and the recent use of chloramines to chemically treat the north side’s drinking water. Stockton Record article

Beekeepers hoping for a good spring – David Bradshaw’s workers aren’t happy. Not his five human employees, but the 6 million or so honeybees he moved to a field, south of Woodlake. Visalia Times-Delta article

Marek Warszawski: Upper Kings flowing again, and so is Kings River Expeditions — Justin Butchert’s worst days have passed. He no longer wakes up with “the 3 a.m. sweats over how we’re going to feed the kids.” They’ve passed because near-normal flows have returned to the upper Kings River following four years of drought. They’ve passed because Kings River Expeditions, the commercial rafting company he has owned and managed since 1981, can once again offer four months of happy, thrilling whitewater to its loyal clients. Warszawski in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Jail-reform commission urges scores of changes, including seizing sheriff’s command — In the hours before it disbanded, a heralded jail-reform commission formed after three guards were charged with brutally murdering an inmate called for “immediate steps” to remove control from Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, among scores of recommendations to fix the county’s beleaguered jails. San Jose Mercury News article

Modesto adding to arsenal of traffic cameras at intersections — Modesto will install cameras at two busy intersections along Briggsmore Avenue as part of what city officials say is their ongoing effort to monitor and improve the flow of traffic. Modesto Bee article


UC President Napolitano to keep close tabs on Berkeley’s actions against sexual misconduct – University of California President Janet Napolitano announced new steps Saturday to closely monitor UC Berkeley‘s handling of sexual misconduct cases following outcry that campus administrators gave light sanctions to powerful faculty members found to have sexually harassed students and staff. LA Times article

From farm to city: Who is ‘Doc’ Ervin, Bakersfield City School District’s next superintendent? – If Ervin is appointed Tuesday, he’ll make the leap from superintendent of a four-school, 3,500-student district in a rural farming community near Salinas to the state’s largest elementary school district, which serves roughly 30,000 children, most of whom reside in the inner city. It would be the second superintendent job in Ervin’s career, and a post he would likely hold until he retires, BCSD officials said. Bakersfield Californian article

Hate-filled fliers target UC Davis, other campuses – UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is condemning racist and anti-Semitic fliers that were received on networked campus printers on March 25 and have also been transmitted to universities across California and nationally. Sacramento Bee article

Steve Lopez: How teaching taught professor Lopez to appreciate teachers – and students – I can’t begin to recall how many classrooms I’ve visited in more than 40 years as a journalist. Dozens for sure. More than a hundred, perhaps. Everything from grade school to graduate school. But my knees wobbled when I was offered a chance to teach an evening class at Cal State L.A. Lopez column in LA Time 

UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez celebrated with multiday event at Fresno State — Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers’ march from Delano to Sacramento, Fresno State will host a celebration of labor activist Cesar Chavez from Monday through Wednesday with events including a photo display, movie screenings and a visit from Chavez’s son, Paul. Fresno Bee article 

Big win predicted at Turlock High election convention: Learning — Candidate speeches, delegate caucuses and even a sophomoric stunt or two brought election year politicking home to Turlock High School students. Red, white and blue took over the blue and gold at the Turlock High boys gym Wednesday for the THS Election Convention, an event of the students, planned by the students and geared for the students. Modesto Bee article

Jury blown away by defendant’s charm — Benner and her fifth-grade classmates at Tully C. Knoles School capped a month of lessons about the legal system by taking roles in the Three Little Pigs court case as a part of First Impressions. The program, initiated by Superior Court Judge Barbara Kronlund, involves local judges, attorneys and other court officials volunteering their time to teach the court process to students in local fifth-grade classes. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

‘It’s not supposed to be this way’: Why it’s getting more difficult for foster families —  Foster care asks caregivers to perform an almost impossible task: Love the child as your own, but relinquish the youth without delay or protest when social workers say the time has come. The anguish sometimes associated with such removals came into sharp focus last week when social workers removed a 6-year-old Santa Clarita girl who is part Choctaw, from her longtime foster parents. LA Times article 

Lewis Griswold: Demolition begins to clear way to new Visalia hospital — A wrecking crew demolished two buildings at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia last week to make way for a new hospital. But the sound wasn’t loud enough to drown out one critic of the Measure H hospital bond to help fund the project. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Veterans are using pot to ease PTSD, despite scant research — 
A growing number of states are weighing whether to legalize marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. But for many veterans, the debate is already over. They’re increasingly using cannabis, even though it remains illegal in most states and is unapproved by the Department of Veterans Affairs because major studies have yet to show it is effective against PTSD. AP article

Unsung hero: Breast cancer screening is medical assistant’s top priority — Lilia “Lilly” Montoya has never had a female patient leave Kaiser Permanente without having a mammogram or at least making an appointment for the cancer-screening procedure. Her method, the medical assistant said, is simple: she shares her family’s experience with cancer and simply, but politely, doesn’t take no for an answer. Stockton Record article

Nurse on rash of area poisonings: ‘I’ve never seen overdoses like this’ — After the Sacramento County Division of Public Health said it had received reports of at least a dozen poisoning overdoses tied to the ingestion of Norco at area hosptials the past few days, a local nurse said Saturday, “I’ve never, in a decade of emergency nursing, seen overdoses like this.” Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Non-Chinese buyer loses battle over right to buy building in Locke — A nasty five-year legal battle in the historic Delta town of Locke seems to have reached an end, allowing the village established by Chinese immigrants a century ago to move forward with its plan to attract more tourists and preserve its heritage as the only Chinese-built rural settlement in the nation. Sacramento Bee article


Bullet train: Failure to identify funding for Southern California leg unacceptable, official says — The California rail authority’s failure to identify a source of funding to connect Los Angeles to the future bullet train system is not acceptable, said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments. LA Times article

Dan Walters: Anti-auto campaign falls flat – Over the last decade, many legislative bills, numerous executive orders and a paper blizzard of plans and regulations from state agencies have declared war on petroleum-burning cars. But, as with the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty and the war on drugs, so far it’s been a failure. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Experts say they’re safe, but is Kern roundabout-ready? – California currently has about 25 roundabouts on state highways — and, in Bakersfield, nearly a dozen from Oleander to Seven Oaks. But over the next  five years, the state Department of Transportation plans to build around 20 more examples around the state, including five in Kern County. Bakersfield Californian article

Deaths in San Francisco traffic not falling despite Vision Zero efforts – Vision Zero, San Francisco’s ambitious program to eliminate traffic deaths, is off to a rough start this year — with six people in crosswalks struck and killed by cars and accusations that the Municipal Transportation Agency is protecting parking instead of pedestrians. San Francisco Chronicle article

Has BART’s cutting-edge 1972 technology design come back to haunt it? — Did BART’s ingenuity decades ago doom it for shutdowns such as the ones that have crippled the system in recent weeks? Or is the agency’s problem typical of a 44-year-old system with infrastructure nearing or exceeding its life expectancy? San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

David Mas Masumoto: Who tells the story? — In the near future, I fear no one will be around to report the news we need and must hear. Who’s going to tell the story? Masumoto in Fresno Bee

Mike Klocke: Random thoughts on water, youth, hoops and more – Random thoughts for a Sunday morning. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Michael Fitzgerald: New book celebrates 55-word guru — I doubt very much that serious literary short forms such as haiku were created when a newspaper guy threw a contest for silly micro-writing. But then, what do I know? All I know is that Tuleburg Press on Thursday will launch a new book, “55 and Counting: Poems by Dave Waldon,” a collection of 55-word writings by a man who took my annual 55-Word Writing Contest way more seriously than I do. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

California Chrome earns decisive win, and vindication, in $10-million Dubai Gold Cup, the world’s richest race – California Chrome became the highest-earning thoroughbred in North American history Saturday when he impressively and decisively won the $10-million Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. LA Times articleAP article