March 28, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Jerry Brown signs drought-relief package — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $1.1 billion drought relief and flood protection package Friday, as California’s dry conditions stretch into a fourth year. The package’s enactment marks the second time in two years that Brown and lawmakers approved emergency legislation related to California’s ongoing drought.  Capitol Alert; San Francisco Chronicle article

 Seven lawmakers have committees for 2018 lieutenant governor’s race — With Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom termed out in 2018, seven current and former state legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), have opened committees to raise money for possible campaigns for lieutenant governor. Others who have formed committees include Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of the Central Valley.  LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Dan Walters Daily: Kamala Harris ignores Californians – Attorney General Kamala Harris seems more interested in impressing Washington politicians and the East Coast media than the people of California, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

 Supporters crowd Los Altos Hills for Duf Sundheim — Republican Duf Sundheim has yet to register in the polls. But interest in the possible U.S. Senate candidate appears to be brimming. At least in some circles. Capitol Alert


 Lawsuits challenge detention of Central American families seeking asylum — Gilman and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing to stop ICE from locking up asylum seekers with children solely to deter others. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the policy. The government has until April 1 to appeal. Otherwise the case proceeds.  KQED report

 Other areas

 Joel Fox: Politics behind 16-year-old voter and mandatory vote proposals — In San Francisco, Supervisor John Avalos proposes that 16 year olds should vote. In Cleveland last week, President Barack Obama suggested mandatory voting was a transformative idea worth considering. One can’t help but sense political agendas at work.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

 As protest, San Francisco Mayor Lee won’t send city workers to Indiana — Mayor Ed Lee is banning city employees from traveling to Indiana for business after that state’s governor signed into law a controversial “religious freedom” bill that critics say will promote discrimination.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Measure seeks to regulate program for gay teens — In an effort to halt reported abuse at programs claiming to help young people — such as offering to “fix” gay children — a state lawmaker and LGBT activists on Friday announced a campaign to regulate the so-called troubled teen industry.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

 California drought: Sierra snowpack hits historic low — The abominable snowpack in the Sierra Nevada reached an unprecedented low this week, dipping below the historic lows in 1977 and 2014 for the driest winter in 65 years of record-keeping. Electronic surveys show the water content of the snow throughout the Sierra is a shocking 8 percent of the historical average for this time of year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Plunging milk prices compound drought trouble for Merced dairy farmers — Falling milk prices this year are further hampering Merced County dairy farmers plagued with four consecutive years of withering drought.  Merced Sun-Star article

City manager supports Dyer in wake of Foster arrest – City Manager Bruce Rudd on Friday expressed total confidence in Fresno’s police chief, saying it was impossible for Jerry Dyer to have known about a beloved deputy chief allegedly gone bad.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

 John Cox: A roadmap pointing toward a stronger economic base – What timing! The Milken Institute’s analysts nailed it when it decided this was the month to release recommendations for strengthening Kern County’s economy. The report’s key suggestion — that four important things can be done to lessen the region’s dependence on oil and agriculture — might have fallen flat a year ago, when Kern was less fearful of the drought and still riding high on the commodity prices that made it a top performer through the recession.  Cox in Bakersfield Californian

 Hundreds celebrate downtown Fresno’s revitalization at State of Downtown 2015 –  State of Downtown 2015 had a much different atmosphere than the first event held in 2010, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, because of what’s been accomplished in the last five years. She credited the work of local business owners, the Downtown Fresno Partnership and the Fresno City Council’s decision to open up the Fulton Mall to car traffic last year with greatly improving conditions.  Fresno Bee article; ‘Fresno Mayor reads mean tweets’ in Fresno Bee; The Business Journal article

 Mexican soccer clubs draw 15,087 to downtown Fresno – Vendors hawking jerseys, flags, soccer balls, noisemakers, food and more confirmed that a sea of people were headed that way for a Mexican League exhibition between popular clubs Leon and Cruz Azul on Friday night at Chukchansi Park. By the time night rolled in, a standing-room only crowd of 15,087 nearly filled the stadium as fans clamored, cheered and jeered nonstop for the 90 minutes of game action. Fresno Bee article

 Downtown Visalia spring revival – If you take a stroll downtown, you might notice the heart of Visalia has officially made its transition into spring. And with that transition comes a ton of new trends, restaurant specials and public events.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Kings County keeps losing people – Kings County was the only southern San Joaquin Valley county whose population declined from 2010-2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday. Kings lost 2,713 people during that time to decline from 152,982 to 150,269, while Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties gained population, according to the report.  Hanford Sentinel article

 Two weeks’ schedules notice for workers on California labor agenda – Having already raised one child through the abrupt cancellations, short notice and other challenges of the fast-food industry’s erratic scheduling, Holly Dias anticipates that another on the way will require a similar juggling act.  Capitol Alert

 Report: California construction contracts top $25 billion in 2014 – Major metropolitan areas in California saw more than 7,500 new construction contracts released for bid with a combined value of nearly $25 billion in 2014, according to BidClerk, a Chicago-based tracker of construction project data.  Sacramento Bee article

 Kleiner Perkins prevails in Ellen Pao sex-bias case Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did not discriminate against former junior partner Ellen Pao for her gender, nor fire her because she filed a high-profile gender-discrimination lawsuit against the firm, a jury found on Friday.  San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report; AP article; LA Times article; New York Times article

 Daniel Borenstein: Richmond’s $446 million retirement debt work out to about $4,150 for every city resident – Richmond has promised its employees pensions and retiree health coverage, but has only 61 percent of the invested assets it should to pay for benefits that have already been earned. The shortfall of $446 million works out to about $4,150 for every city resident.  Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

 California lawmakers OK another $17.5 million for troubled tech project — Despite the Legislature’s concerns, a leading state lawmaker has authorized spending another $17.5 million on a flawed state computer system that has blasted its budget, fallen behind schedule and still doesn’t work as originally promised. Next question: Who should pay for it?  Sacramento Bee article

 Arkansas legislator urges ban on California wine over egg law — An Arkansas lawmaker said Wednesday that the state should ban California wine as retribution for the West Coast state’s law requiring egg-laying hens to be able to stand up, turn around and fully extend their wings.  AP article


Drought forces district to cut off ranchers — The drought continues to cause pain as cattle and sheep ranchers in the Arvin-Edison Water District have had their water cut off.  Bakersfield Californian article

Delta flows may be diminished again – State and federal water agencies again are seeking permission to bypass water-quality rules in the Delta in order to hold back more water in upstream reservoirs while pumping a limited amount south from the estuary.  Stockton Record article

So, why are those Stanislaus canals filled with water? – Why are some canals full of water if Modesto Irrigation District’s season doesn’t start for another week? And why is the Stanislaus River brimming with water? Don’t the people who run those dams up in the hills know we’re facing one of the worst droughts in history? Calm down, people. These questions have answers.Modesto Bee article

 Henry T. Perea and Valley farmers headed to Cuba for trade mission – In response to the Obama administrations hope to better relations with the island nation, state leaders like Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Henry T. Perea are leading a trip to Cuba. They hope to increase Valley exports and commodities into the country.  KVPR report

 What drought? California table grape growers have record year – Despite the worst drought in recent memory, Central California’s table grape growers enjoyed a record crop in 2014. KVPR report

 William Tweed: Thoughts on rain, climate change If you believe our elected leaders and most of the news media, you would believe that the big story during our recent winter was the lack of precipitation. Quite simply, in this view, everything would be OK if the “drought” would end and we could get back to “normal” rainfall in California. Allow me to disagree. The biggest story this past winter was our extraordinarily warm temperatures.  Tweed column in Visalia Times-Delta

 Farm Beat: McCormick & Co. offers to spice up healthy fare — McCormick & Co. has advice for people not thrilled with low-fat, low-salt diets: Sprinkle on the cumin, the curry or whatever it takes to liven them up. The company, whose holdings include part-ownership of SupHerb Farms in Turlock, told federal officials this week that its products can make healthy dishes taste better.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Mayor Swearengin: Arrest of Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster an ‘isolated incident,’ FBI said – Mayor Ashley Swearengin said Friday the arrest of Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster was called an “isolated incident” by the FBI. Furthermore, the FBI agent who discussed Foster’s arrest with the mayor said Fresno police could not have known about the alleged drug dealing Foster is accused of conducting.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

 Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster to be freed from custody as drug case proceeds — Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster is cleared to be released from custody as he awaits trial on drug-conspiracy charges, a federal court magistrate decided Friday.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

 Fresno Bee: Fresno Police Department has our trust – We ask that you support these men and women at this difficult time with a kind word. Most of them never make headlines. They just quietly protect us and serve us. And just like the rest of us, they are searching for answers as to why Keith Foster betrayed the immense trust placed in him.  Fresno Bee editorial

 Foster testified by marijuana doctor without Dyer’s knowledge – Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster testified in front of a state medical board last year in support of a Fresno doctor known for writing medical marijuana prescriptions and acknowledged that he was one of the doctor’s patients.  Fresno Bee article

 Report: Kings County had highest lockup rate in California – With California voters, judges and legislators increasingly favoring alternatives to jail cells, the number of inmates in California has steadily dropped since peaking in 2007, according to new statistics from a state corrections agency. Just not in Kings County.  Hanford Sentinel article

 Attorney says there may be more girls allegedly assaulted by officers at Kern Juvenile Hall — An attorney who filed claims against Kern County this week on behalf of two girls allegedly sexually assaulted by correctional officers at Juvenile Hall says he knows of a third victim and there may be even more.  Bakersfield Californian article

 LAPD not sufficiently checking patrol car videos for officer misconduct, audit finds — The Los Angeles Police Commission’s civilian watchdog has faulted police supervisors for not proactively checking in-car video recordings to monitor for officer misconduct, according to an audit released Friday.  LA Times article

 Deputy in San Francisco inmate fights faced 2006 complaints San Francisco deputy in force fighting case bribe inmates with cheeseburgers — Bullying behavior, offers of cheeseburgers for silence, threats of violence, rumors of other deputies knowing but doing nothing — the accusations in the 2006 sexual assault civil cases against San Francisco sheriff’s DeputyScott Neu echo the allegations made Thursday by County Jail inmates who said the deputy forced them to fight each other for his entertainment.  San Francisco Chronicle article


 Stanford lets more students in tuition-free – Good news for brainy but cash-poor applicants to Stanford University: Tuition will now be waived for families earning up to $125,000, up from $100,000, the university said Friday. Stanford also announced that families with incomes below $65,000 (up from $60,000) won’t even pay room or board.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Stanford University looks into allegations of cheating by students – Stanford University is investigating allegations of academic cheating by students during the winter quarter. University Provost John Etchemendy on Tuesday sent a letter to faculty and teaching staff that pointed to “an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty” reported to the school’s Office of Community Standards at the end of the quarter.  San Jose Mercury News article

 Panama teachers OK 7 percent raise over two years – Teachers in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District approved a tentative agreement Thursday that would, if approved by the school board, mean a 4 percent raise next school year and a 3 percent raise the following year. The first would go into effect July 1; the second would one year later, July 1, 2016.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Nan Austin: Transitional kindergarten, special programs provide early options – On a warm day in early March, students in Eliana Fiorini’s class at Atkison Elementary took a wiggle break – a two-minute stretch and move between 12-minute sessions studying the letter “j.”  Austin in Modesto Bee

 Fresno Unified get $500,000 grant — A new $500,000 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation will help Fresno Unified find new ways to improve children’s health and academic success.  Fresno Bee article

 Schools wait for millions in reimbursement for Medi-Cal outreach — It was, without question, a call to action. Millions in federal Medi-Cal funds would flow to California schools, the state auditor said in 2005, if districts filled out the paperwork to collect a little-known reimbursement for the cost of referring low-income students to the health care program. Now, a decade later, California districts and school programs are caught in a fight with the federal government over $500 million in unpaid reimbursement claims.  EdSource article

 Drexel classes and professors could have new home at McGeorge School of Law — University of the Pacific is in talks with Drexel University to allow Drexel students to finish their degrees on U.O.P’s Sacramento campus.  Once Drexel students have completed their degrees, some classes could be offered to Pacific students if U.O.P. continues the Drexel programs.  Capital Public Radio report

 Officer who zip-tied kindergartener dismissed – A longtime lieutenant who was the former second-in-command at the Stockton Unified School District Police Department and once zip-tied a kindergartner has been dismissed, a district official confirmed off the record.  Stockton Record article

 Merced Parent Preschool to close after 68 years — Merced Parent Preschool, known to many as the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” will close its doors at the end of this school year after 68 years as an educational staple in the community.  Merced Sun-Star article


 In store for visitors to Yosemite:  a drier, browner park – Yosemite National Park is bracing for its driest year on record, with visitor bureaus downplaying the allure of the park’s most famous waterfall and instead touting the park as a destination for hiking, bicycling and photography.  LA Times article

 State PUC faces $5.1 million in legal fees; public to pay — The state Public Utilities Commission’s legal tab related to the ongoing state and federal corruption probes of the agency will probably top $5.1 million, documents show — more than 100 times the sum specified in the original contract.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

 Sprayers go after hyacinth on Tuolumne River near Modesto – A crew Friday sprayed a herbicide on water hyacinth clogging part of the lower Tuolumne River. The spraying in the Fox Grove area, where Geer Road crosses the river, is part of an increased effort against the aquatic weed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and some of its tributaries.  Modesto Bee article

 Hyacinth sides working together – A telling moment at Friday’s water hyacinth hearing in downtown Stockton came as boater Roger Kelly stepped to the podium with a question. Did the state Division of Boating and Waterways intend to spray herbicides to prevent a recurrence of last year’s infestation on the Calaveras River?  Stockton Record article

 Hearing opens in Los Angeles green waste case – The first installment in a two-day hearing into Kern’s fight with the city of Los Angeles over green waste allegedly trucked here in violation of state quarantine regulations began Friday at county offices.  Bakersfield Californian article

California hydro power dries up as drought worsens; utility customers paying more — The drought is drying up California’s once-plentiful supply of cheap hydroelectricity, and utility customers are paying for it.  Sacramento Bee article

 Hanford residents say water chlorination killed fish — Three weeks ago, Hanford resident Alfred Benavides went to check on his backyard fish pond. What he found, however, was far from what he expected. About 40 of his fish were lying belly-up on the surface of the water, most of them dead, a few still alive and struggling to breathe.  Hanford Sentinel article

Health/Human Services

 ‘Grim’ health picture in San Joaquin County urban planning – In the old days, urban planners looking to widen a freeway or build a new road weren’t likely to consider local obesity rates or the prevalence of chronic diseases. But there is a link between planning and public health. And in a new report, the local agency that coordinates regional transportation planning has acknowledged that link in the clearest language yet.  Stockton Record article

 Blue Shield of California is under new pressure to lower rates — With billions of dollars in reserve, nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California is facing new pressure to offer better prices for its policies.  LA Times article

 Sutter Health reports 2014 profits up 34 percent — Sacramento-based Sutter Health said Friday that it had net income of $402 million in 2014, up 34 percent from $300 million in 2013. Sacramento Bee article

 Land Use/Housing

 State bill would help downtown LA developer with billboards – At the request of the builder of the massive Metropolis Los Angeles development, state legislation has been introduced that would exempt signs and giant electronic billboards in that section of downtown Los Angeles from state restrictions.  LA Times article

 Other areas

 District ordered to close fire station – A rural San Joaquin County fire department has been ordered to shut down a fire station that has been in operation for nearly 50 years, prompting officials to assess the potential impact on response times while searching for a new location.  Stockton Record article

 California Chrome ‘thriving’ before World Cup – After a 25-hour flight from California and coping with an 11-hour time difference, California Chrome apparently has adjusted very well to Dubai, say his co-owners. The 4-year-old thoroughbred looks ready for Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race.  Sacramento Bee article

Merced County rejects $3 million claim in man’s death – A Los Banos family filed a $3 million claim against Merced County alleging Riggs Ambulance Service is to blame for the death of a 30-year-old family member. The claim was rejected by the Board of Supervisors last week. The family now has six months to file a lawsuit. The family declined comment when reached on Friday.  Merced Sun-Star article

 Shawn Hubler: Others repeat I do, but Californians don’t – A quarter of the nation’s married people are repeat customers at the altar. Boomers are driving the spike in remarriage. But supposedly freewheeling California has surprisingly low rates.  Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

James Tyner: Priceless days with Philip Levine, Pulitzer-prize winner with a taste for poetry – Fresno’s first poet laureate writes, “His writing had been a guide for me. I was late to poetry. But as I learned more and more about it, I kept coming back to his books. His poetry was a big inspiration for me, drew me to poetry. His words spoke about my own experiences with Fresno. Hard work, being poor, and using my words to capture that.”  Tyner op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee –.The Fresno Police Department has our trust; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Save Mart founder Bob Piccinini always made quite an impression, looking over Valley issues through the Maddy Institute, and other issues.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

 Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge

 Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

 LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

 Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

 Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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