March 29, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Gender inequities persist on California Capitol payroll — Two days after actress Patricia Arquette made an impassioned call for women to be paid equally to men as she accepted an Academy Award last month in Hollywood, state legislators called a news conference in Sacramento to make the same demand.  Capitol Alert‘See how staff pay for men and women compares in California Legislature’ in Sacramento BeeSacramento Bee editorial

Supreme Court may hear case on school barring American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo – A California school dispute that arose when students wore shirts emblazoned with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo could prompt the Supreme Court to take a new look at free-speech rules for high schools.  LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Shawn VanDiver: Change the initiative process – The 12-year Navy veteran writes, “Referendums are being abused by people with money and are being used to oppress those less fortunate. I didn’t spend 12 years in the Navy fighting for the American way of life to come home and see rich people upending the democratic process.  VanDiver op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Number of deportations from LA area are down, new statistics show — The number of people deported from the Los Angeles area has fallen sharply in recent years, with the biggest drop occurring in the last few months, new federal statistics show.  LA Times article

Other areas

Recent election gains show Asian American voters’ power surge – Some of the power of Asian American voters stems from their growth spurt — they were the fastest-growing ethnic group in the last U.S. census. Like Latinos before them, they are rapidly diversifying the electorate in a state where the divisions used to be binary, between black and white. And their growth in California presages growth elsewhere in the nation.  LA Times article

Jennifer Siebel Newsom a leader of new generation of feminists – As documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom took the stage this week to a standing ovation at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, her husband — now California’s lieutenant governor — found himself in an unusual spot: on the sidelines.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Morain: When conventional wisdom slips – You have to love it when conventional wisdom is badly mistaken. When insiders guess wrong, politics can go askew. A politician elected without establishment backing can turn out to have an independent streak. No telling what might happen then. Example: Jeff Stone, Republican.  Morain in Sacramento Bee
LA-born political leader has high hopes for Latinos in Washington — California recently rode shotgun with Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and its educational fund, on a quick tour of his childhood neighborhood in L.A.’s Pico-Union district.  LA Times article

Armenian genocide: 100 years later, history not forgotten — San Joaquin Valley Armenians next month will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide: April 24, 1915, the day several hundred intellectuals were arrested and later executed. By its end in 1923, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians — two-thirds of the population — were dead, many children left orphans.  Fresno Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dan Walters: California’s bullet train: High cost, tiny impact — The project’s currently projected cost is $68 billion, and with no more federal financing on the horizon, officials may seek a massive construction loan, perhaps from the federal government, and repay the debt with cap-and-trade revenue. It would be a lot of money, at least $100 billion with interest, to spend on an unnoticeably tiny dent in automotive travel.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Ghost on California’s rooftop:  Close look at smallest Sierra snowpack on record — In a 9,700-foot-high meadow surrounded by wind-blasted Jeffrey pine trees, the helicopter finally landed on snow — a truly terrible thrill. The haunting peaks, robust subalpine ecosystem and March chill are a heart-pounding experience. Unfortunately, so is this ghost of snowpack, which will rank as the smallest ever in the Sierra Nevada.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

James Fallows: Downtown Fresno kicks off its campaign – A year ago, my wife Deb and I happened to meet Craig Scharton, a Fresno entrepreneur, publican, and civic evangelist, at a conference of California-city officials, held at Yosemite. He said that Fresno’s recovery was about to happen. We were intrigued, visited Fresno for a few days on our way out of Yosemite, and then thought (but did not say), Are you kidding? But we’ve stayed in touch with Scharton and other locals, we’ve made two more reporting visits there, and as chronicled in a series of posts we have become impressed by the ways in which people in Fresno are trying to wrestle with the city’s glaring economic, environmental, urban-planning, workforce, and social problems.  Fallows in The Atlantic

Documents reveal long trail of Kern library privatization talk – A lot of ground work went into plans to privatize Kern County’s libraries long before the concept came to the public’s attention earlier this month, documents obtained by The Californian show.  Bakersfield Californian article

Businesses, workers adjusting to Oakland’s higher minimum wage – For small businesses that employ minimum wage workers like Salazar, however, the rapid growth of their payrolls has brought caused some growing pains, particularly in the restaurant industry.  Contra Costa Times article

Court overturns part of San Francisco workers’ pension cuts – A state appeals court has overturned part of the pension cutbacks for city employees that San Francisco voters approved in November 2011, a reduction of cost-of-living increases for retirees when their pension fund was earning more than previously expected.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Tech’s concept of  ‘culture fit’ and the Ellen Pao trial — From the first day in court, it was evident that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was not the only party on trial in the gender discrimination suit against it. Ellen Pao, the former junior partner suing the firm, was also on trial. Whether her personality “fit” with the Kleiner Perkin’s culture was a question debated with as much relevance as the culture at the firm itself.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict —  Though Ellen Pao lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Silicon Valley observers say her case and the attention it received will embolden women in the industry and continue to spur firms to examine their practices and cultures for gender bias.  AP articleKQED report

Hotel giants target tech-savvy millennial travelers – At the latest breed of hotel, rooms are up to one-third smaller than traditional quarters, with furniture that looks fresh from an Ikea showroom. The work desk is downsized and might double as a nightstand. The Internet speed is super fast. The Wi-Fi is free. Power outlets and USB ports dot the walls, especially near the bed to accommodate binge watching.  LA Times article

Exotic car sales see rebound — In the last four years, one recent study found that luxury sales in the 16-county Sacramento regional market more than quadrupled, another sign that the recession’s aftermath is easing its grip on car buyers.  Sacramento Bee article

Jacobsen Trailers sold to Texas company — Jacobsen Trailers in Fowler, a longtime San Joaquin Valley business, has been sold to Big Tex Trailers. In business since 1938, Jacobsen is well know for its construction of trailers for use in agriculture. The company makes everything from flatbed trailers to dump trailers.  Fresno Bee article




Lois Henry: Money, politics and nature conspire against Kern ag – Kern relies on three sources of water: 1. Imported from Northern California via state and federal projects; 2. The Kern River; 3. Groundwater. Each has its own brand of troubles.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Steve Knell and Jeff Shields: State could derail delicate Stanislaus water deal – Knell, general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District, and Shields, general manager of South San Joaquin Irrigation District, write, “We believe this consensus plan balances the needs of fish and farmers, domestic users, recreation, power generation and carryover storage. It is the result of weeks of serious discussion and compromise between our irrigation districts; the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages New Melones; and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which has regulatory responsibility for steelhead trout and salmon in the Stanislaus River.”  Knell/Shields op-ed in Modesto Bee

Joe Byrne: Where to store water? Above ground or below ground? – The chairman of the California Water Commission writes, “The California Water Commission has been entrusted with this investment to help meet the state’s water needs in the future and takes this charge from voters with utmost seriousness. We have already launched a public engagement process to help the commission as it develops the grant program, called the Water Storage Investment Program.”  Byrne op-ed in Sacramento Bee


California drought: San Francisco seeks tech fix to leaky pipes – Bess is no tourist. He’s searching for water leaks in the city’s underground pipelines with a special microphone and earpiece that enables him to hear escaping water from the street — rather than having to dig down and find it.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Drought threatens American River fish – Endangered steelhead about to hatch in the American River could soon be killed by low flows and warm temperatures caused by the drought, a sign of the ongoing struggle over scarce water supplies.  Sacramento Bee article

Baja labor leaders learned tactics from their efforts in U.S. — Before Fidel Sanchez led protest marches this month against growers in Baja California, he fought for higher wages from tomato farmers in Florida.  LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Foster’s arrest puts spotlight on Dyer’s tenure – It had to come, but no one thought it would be Keith Foster allegedly pushing dope. Thursday’s arrest of the deputy police chief on federal drug charges may have blindsided Jerry Dyer with the defining crisis of his time as Fresno’s top cop.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield Police Department struggles to diversify – The Bakersfield Police Department is twice as white as the city it serves. More than 69 percent of BPD’s sworn force is Caucasian. Hispanics comprise just 25 percent of a police department that protects and serves a city that’s almost half Hispanic.  Bakersfield Californian article‘How other police forces rank on diversity’ in Bakersfield Californian

Police academy’s biggest hurdle: Written test – More Hispanics than whites applied to enter two Bakersfield Police Department academies last year but more whites were accepted — perhaps because Hispanics had more trouble than any other ethnic group with the written entrance exam.  Bakersfield Californian article

LAPD is more diverse, but distrust in community remains – The LAPD, once a predominantly white institution, now closely mirrors the city’s demographics and is majority nonwhite — from the glass offices at headquarters to patrol cars working the beat. There is wide agreement that the transformation has helped, turning even some longtime LAPD critics into supporters.  LA Times article

Police body cameras: State bills would limit access to information – As Stockton Police are getting ready to embarking on an ambitious program to outfit many officers with body cams, they find themselves among the ranks of departments trying to figure out the best use for the data that is taken from them. Across the country, state legislators are trying to come up with the language that will protect both the officers who wear the cameras and the people they serve and protect.  AP article

DNA lab irregularities may endanger hundreds of San Francisco PD cases — A new scandal at the San Francisco Police Department’s beleaguered crime lab may imperil hundreds of criminal cases based on DNA evidence, The Chronicle has learned.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gang chief, international fugitive among dozens paroled under California policy — A former prison gang kingpin and a black revolutionary-turned-international fugitive are among 74 inmates who owe their freedom to a year-old California policy of granting parole for convicts who are deemed too old to commit new crimes.  AP article



Fresno State dean named American Council on Education fellow – Luz Gonzalez, dean of Fresno State’s College of Social Sciences, was among 47 college and university leaders to be named to the American Council on Education Fellows Program. Fresno Bee article
Fashion Inc. students learn the business of fashion at Fresno State – The fashion show at Fresno State last weekend was a night of pretty dresses and elegant models on the runway. But it was also a dose of real-world experience. Students studying fashion merchandising who are part of the Fashion Inc. club organized the show.  Fresno Bee article

Conference guides local students toward college – A little more than one year from now, 16-year-old Terrelle Moss will reach the familiar crossroads that students inevitably arrive at as high school draws to a close. That crossroads can be explained with a simple two-word question: What’s next? Moss, a junior at Merrill F. West High School in Tracy, considered that question Saturday afternoon while attending a conference at University of the Pacific geared toward giving high school students a taste of college life’s rewards and challenges.  Stockton Record article

 Su Jin Jez: Wealth, not income, matters for getting into college – The assistant professor of public policy and administration at CSU Sacramento writes, “When it comes to college opportunity, family wealth matters much more than family income. In fact, wealth’s role is so prominent that it trumps academic achievement as a predictor of who will attend a four-year college.” Jez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Larry White: Classroom challenges of addressing student needs – The segregation I am referring to here is the need to address the extreme levels of ability and behaviors that exist in many of today’s classrooms. As a result of overcrowding, lack of resources, poor parenting, behavioral disorders, and minimal classroom assistance, too many students are not receiving the attention they need in order to be successful.  White column in Stockton Record

 LA Unified pays metal workers, lawyers, police better than teachers — Lawyers, metal workers and police employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District were among groups of employees who earned more on average than a typical teacher last year, according to recently released payroll records.  LA Daily News article


 Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season — A road leading to spectacular views of California’s Yosemite National Park opened to drivers on Saturday, marking the earliest date for the occasion in at least 20 years.  AP article

 John White: Achieving California’s goal of sustainable energy future –The executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies writes, “With the price of renewable energy continuing to fall, it makes sense to buy more. But as we achieve greater use, how all the pieces fit together will matter.” White op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Health/Human Services

 Sacramento Bee: Brown should heed warnings: E-cigs aren’t benign – In much of the state, particularly in the Central Valley, it’s perfectly legal to suck on battery-operated cigarettes and exhale toxic vapors that can affect the health of co-workers and patrons. That needs to change.  Sacramento Bee editorial

 Rising hospital costs prompt mental health review in Sacramento County — Sacramento County expects to spend $16 million this year on hospital costs for the severely mentally ill, almost three times more than originally budgeted for care at area hospitals.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

 Others’ trash turns into tiny homes for Oakland’s homeless – A phone call in the middle of the night usually means one thing to Gregory Kloehn: Someone is alerting him to a fresh pile of junk dumped in his neighborhood. Come morning, he will climb in his truck and scour prime dumping spots, seeking material for his latest project, building tiny homes for the homeless out of things other people throw away. Sacramento Bee article

 Michael Fitzgerald: When con men call the wrong guy – Today: Let’s go inside the IRS tax scam. You’ve probably heard of it. The scam is epidemic. Crooks posing as stern IRS agents call victims, warn them they owe back taxes and demand money, or else. One savvy Tracy guy played along, just to see how the scam works. Richard Holtz, 64, a semi-retired contractor, wants you to know, too, so you can outwit the con men.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

 Modesto Bee reporter walks a mile in firefighter’s boots – Today I watched flames lick the air over me, smoke so thick it could only be seen in the beam of a flashlight. I opened a hose nozzle and realized the force could have flicked me around like a bug. I did CPR until my shoulders ached – 30 seconds, out of 30 to 40 minutes given most patients. Safe to say, the city of Modesto will not be hiring me as a firefighter.  Modesto Bee article

 Last Fresno resident of prominent pioneer family remembered for generosity, support of classical music — The last Fresno resident of a prominent pioneer family has died, leaving behind a legacy of support for classical music in Fresno and ties to historic ranches. William David “Dave” Phillips, who retired as a Fresno insurance agent, died March 25 after a battle with emphysema. He was 87.  Fresno Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – E-cigarettes should be banned in workplaces, including bars.

Sacramento Bee – In much of the state, particularly in the Central Valley, it’s perfectly legal to suck on battery-operated cigarettes and exhale toxic vapors that can affect the health of co-workers and patrons. That needs to change; Inequality doesn’t just hurt women; it hurts everyone in every household who depends on a woman’s paycheck. Isn’t it time to do more than talk? It’s 2015.


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 challenge — The 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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