State redistricting plan under scrutiny at Supreme Court — Supreme Court justices raised tough questions Monday about Arizona’s use of an independent commission to draw legislative maps, in a case crucial for political operators and reformers in California and beyond. Conservative justices, in particular, sounded skeptical about independent redistricting commissions that effectively leave state legislators in the lurch. McClatchy Newspapers article; LA Times article; John Myers in KQED
Backers of Prop 8 marriage initiative lose disclosure case – Sponsors of California’s now-repealed ban on same-sex marriage lost another legal battle Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to exempt them from state campaign disclosure laws. San Francisco Chronicle article
Tequila is among the gifts received by Gov. Jerry Brown – Gov. Jerry Brown collected just under $4,000 in gifts last year, including $200 in tequila from the president of Mexico, according to a state report released Monday. LA Times article; Capitol Alert
McNerney will skip Netanyahu speech — Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, said in a statement he would not be attending the joint session of Congress when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking on the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Stockton Record article
Statewide politics/Ballot Measures
Dan Walters: Legislature may regain mapmaking — One can read too much into questions and comments from appellate judges during oral arguments, but with that caveat, it appears that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to erase the redrawing of congressional districts by independent commissions created by voters through the initiative process. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Kevin De León: ‘Too early’ for Senate endorsement – He also weighed in on some controversial policy debates in the Legislature, and said he hasn’t decided whether to endorse Attorney General Kamala Harris in her 2016 race for U.S. Senate. Capitol Alert
Sacramento Bee: GOP takes a small step toward equality — The California Republican Party’s decision to charter Log Cabin Republicans as one of its volunteer organizations won’t rank near the top of the great civil rights achievements of the 21st century. But by voting 861-293, delegates attending the state party convention over the weekend in Sacramento removed one more obstacle to equality. Sacramento Bee editorial
Women gaining leadership in California Legislature – In November state Senator Jean Fuller will become Senate Minority Leader. She’ll be the Senate’s first woman Republican leader. And she’ll be joining Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen on the “big five,” which also includes the governor and the Senate president pro tem. Fuller says she’s looking forward to her new role. Capital Public Radio report
Ten California Assembly bills on unusual issues – The deadline to file legislation has passed, yielding 1,504 Assembly bills that cover every imaginable topic. Some seek ambitious, far-reaching policy changes; some solve obscure district-specific issues or tweak new laws with “cleanup” language; many will spark special interest clashes. Sift through the Assembly’s list and you’ll find proposals that, worthiness aside, address some narrow, specific issues. Capitol Alert
Jerry McNerney: Put elections back in the hands of voters – The California congressman (D-Stockton) writes, “I believe the way we finance campaigns in this country is a threat to our cherished democratic institutions and values. The system contributes to wasteful government spending, political paralysis in Washington and voter apathy.” McNerney op-ed in Sacramento Bee
John Myers: Bay Area legislator says fight outside campaign cash … by taxing it — Critics of the outsized role that independent political action committees now have in campaigns often talk about clamping down, imposing contribution limits and the like. But one brand new idea in the state Capitol suggests something different: impose a tax. Myers in KQED; LA Times article
The GBP Interview: Kevin De León — Kevin De León is the poster child for on-the-job training. He was elected to the Assembly in 2006 as the product of a political deal, anointed by his childhood friend, then-Speaker Fabian Nuñez as the speaker in waiting. De León came to Sacramento with a level of expectation and lack of political seasoning didn’t always make the best first impression. He inherited all of Nuñez’s political foes, and made a few of his own, and his bid for Assembly speaker fell short. Grizzly Bear Project article
In election with bid to boost turnout, participation may be lacking — In an election Tuesday where voters will weigh in on an idea to boost L.A.’s low voter turnout, it remains an open question how many people will go to the polls. LA Times article
Obama calls for changes in policing after task force report — President Obama on Monday called for prompt action to change police practices across the country after the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island at the hands of white officers exposed frustrations about law enforcement in minority communities. New York Times article
California Government Today:
California drought: State to boost water deliveries after feds pull back — California water officials delivered a rare piece of good news Monday, saying the state’s vast system of lakes and reservoirs is full enough to offer cities and farms slightly more water than they expected to provide earlier this year. The State Water Project’s 29 customers, a mix of urban and agricultural users that include Bay Area water agencies, are forecast to receive about 20 percent of what they normally get — up from a January projection of 15 percent. San Francisco Chronicle article; The Business Journal article
California Supreme Court rejects blanket ban on where sex offenders can live – The California Supreme Court said Monday that San Diego County’s blanket ban on where sex offenders may live is unconstitutional. The high court struck down blanket mandatory residency restrictions on San Diego County sex offenders, ruling that the limits had raised the risk of homelessness and hampered the ability of law enforcement to monitor parolees. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article
Jobs and the Economy
Gas prices in Sacramento, throughout California are in full flight – Gas prices in the Sacramento area and throughout California are in full launch mode. The average retail price of gasoline in the Sacramento area spiked 40.5 cents over the past week to $3.18 a gallon, according to the weekly report issued Monday by national gas price tracker Skyrocketing prices in Southern California have helped push the statewide average price of gas up to $3.38 a gallon, up from $2.95 just one week ago. Sacramento Bee article; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee
Restaurants, retailers sign up to occupy former Three-Way site – Coffee fiends, pizza lovers and frozen yogurt fans all have something to look forward to at the retail center being built along California Avenue west of Highway 99. Blaze Pizza will be joined by Starbucks and a national yogurt franchise at the former Three-Way Chevrolet Co. property northwest of California and Easton Drive, a broker working on the project said in an interview Monday. Bakersfield Californian article
Falling flat at California’s Capitol, soda tax wars go local – The Berkeley measure, which imposes a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on soft drinks and other sugary drinks, comes amid growing public concern about childhood obesity and related diseases, including diabetes. Its passage followed failed efforts in more than 30 other cities and states and served as an inspiration to soda tax advocates around the country. Sacramento Bee article
Oakland now has the state’s highest minimum wage – Oakland’s minimum wage hike went into effect Monday providing a significant raise to the city’s lowest paid workers. The law raises the minimum hourly wage from $9 as set by the state to $12.25. Workers also are now entitled to paid sick days under the law that was approved by 82 percent of voters last November. Oakland Tribune article
Visalia-based Edeniq engineering ethanol’s future – With oil currently trading around $50 per barrel, Brian Thome says 2015 is “going to be a very interesting year for ethanol.” Thome is president and CEO of Edeniq, a Visalia-based company that just received $16 million from venture capitalists betting the company’s patented technology will help boost the biofuel’s future. The Business Journal article
Fair foundation seeks to keep economic boon – Geneva Shannon said she wants to show where funds raised by the Tulare County Fair Foundation go. Shannon, the foundation’s president, said community members are more willing to participate and support fundraising efforts if they know where the money goes. The Visalia woman is hoping that a new look at how the organization raises funds will in turn brings new things to the Tulare County Fair. Visalia Times-Delta article
Turlock council will discuss police, fire – The police and fire departments are up next in the City Council’s review of city services. The council will talk about staffing, budgets and other public safety issues at a workshop Tuesday, one of several scheduled by Mayor Gary Soiseth for the start of his term. Water and roads are done, and other topics will follow into April. Modesto Bee article
Downtown Stockton project nearly up in the air – Haggling over the price tag attached to a small patch of second-story airspace in downtown Stockton might seem like a punchline in search of a joke. But during a 77-minute discussion at last week’s City Council meeting, a complex dispute over airspace in the financing package for a new and ballyhooed affordable-housing project in downtown Stockton seemed for a time to jeopardize the deal. Stockton Record article
San Diego consults its civic playbook on stadium situation – Even if the mayor and City Council find a site and a financing plan to build a stadium, the next task may be more daunting: Winning support from fiscally conservative voters who roundly rejected a half-cent sales tax in 2010 to improve police and fire protection and fix potholes. LA Times article
Chargers fans plead with mayor’s committee: ‘Save Our Bolts’ — Thousands of cheering Charger fans flocked to a meeting Monday night of the mayor’s stadium advisory committee to plead the case for building a new stadium to keep the team from moving to the Los Angeles area. LA Times article; U-T San Diego article
Employees not benefitting from slower growth in healthcare costs – American workers already struggling with stagnant wages are being saddled with higher medical bills even as employers reap the benefits of a sustained slowdown in the growth of healthcare costs, a new report indicates. LA Times article
Joel Fox: State Treasurer Chiang on taxes and the economy — With the rising conversation about extending Proposition 30 taxes, I asked state Treasurer John Chiang if he would advise that the taxes be continued. Chiang said that a promise was made that the taxes would be temporary and circumstances would have to change, such as the economy tanking, to justify continuing the taxes. Fox in Fox & Hounds
131 Californians make Forbes’ billionaire list — California has 131 billionaires, greater than nearly all countries, according to Forbes. Only the United States and China had more. Silicon Valley denizens at the top of the list are Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (16th) with a net worth of $33.4 billion and Google CEO Larry Page (19th), who Forbes says is worth $29.7 billion. LA Times article
Alex Spanos again on Forbes billionaire list – Stockton’s Alex G. Spanos is again on the Forbes magazine list of billionaires, coming in with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Of the record 1,826 people among the world’s richest people, Spanos, 91, is ranked 1,500th in a tie with 33 others. The real estate mogul who once was the largest U.S. apartment builder, now lives quietly at home. Stockton Record article
Hackers get info on 50,000 Uber drivers — On Friday Uber disclosed that an unauthorized person had breached its driver database, gaining access to 50,000 drivers’ names and driver license numbers. Uber said the one-time breach happened May 13 and was discovered in September. San Francisco Chronicle article
San Francisco Airbnb law off to slow start; hosts say it’s cumbersome — San Francisco’s new vacation-rental law is off to a slow start. Only a fraction of hosts who rent homes to temporary visitors have registered with the city, and many say the process is mired in time-consuming bureaucracy. San Francisco Chronicle article
Scientists explain how climate change helps fuel California drought – Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study. Rising temperatures resulting from increased greenhouse gas emissions mean warm and dry periods are coinciding more frequently, the study authors say. And that is amplifying the effects of low precipitation. LA Times article
Oakdale Irrigation District considers drought surcharge – If irrigation leaders decide later to sell water to Fresno-area buyers, terms of the purchase deal agreed on in January could change. A staff report for Tuesday’s Oakdale Irrigation District board meeting says unidentified “options of the revised program” could be reviewed after federal water officials firm up how much the district might get from the Stanislaus River in this fourth consecutive drought year. Sacramento Bee article
A new, stronger tunnel to bring Hetch Hetchy water to Bay Area – The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has opened a new 3.5 mile-long tunnel in Sunol Valley, a few miles east of Fremont, that will transport 265 million gallons of water a day, on average, to customers of the Hetch Hetchy water system. KQED report
California drought likely a fixture, says Stanford study – Human-caused climate change is increasing drought risk in California — boosting the odds that our current crisis will become a fixture of the future, according to a major report Stanford scientists released Monday morning. San Jose Mercury News article
Water and eminent domain: A volatile mix — A Southern California city has launched eminent domain proceedings to take over the private water agency that has served the community for more than 80 years – an unusual move, even in California, where fights over water are common. Capitol Weekly article
Merced County groundwater ordinance on agenda; farmers rally agency to halt sale – An ordinance regulating groundwater transfers outside Merced County basins will have its first hearing Tuesday, while a group of concerned farmers turns the spotlight on a federal agency responsible for authorizing a large groundwater sale that’s depleting the precious supply. Merced Sun-Star article
Storms being nearly 3 feet of snow to Lake Tahoe — Forecasters say Northern California’s weekend storms brought as much as 32 inches of snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Scott McGuire of the National Weather Service’s Reno office says the Squaw Valley ski resort “was the big winner” from the storms. AP article
Developer pledges $1 million to aid Merced police — Developer Greg Hostetler pledged $1 million to the Merced Police Department on Monday to go toward a foundation for officers. Merced Sun-Star article
3 officers in LA Skid Row death had training on mentally ill – The three officers who fired their weapons in a videotaped struggle that left a homeless man dead were veterans of the beat on Los Angeles’ downtrodden Skid Row who had special training to deal with the homeless and mentally ill, police leaders said. AP article
Source: LAPD body cameras show struggle with homeless man — LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials scrambled Monday to stay ahead of the wave of international attention brought on by the video of the shooting. With anti-police sentiments still running high throughout the country over several recent high-profile killings of unarmed black men, they were at pains to acknowledge the outpouring of anger but also portray Africa as the aggressor. LA Times article
Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo — University of California admissions officers are sifting through a record number of applications, but they have no idea how many new students they can enroll. AP article
Bill would create new tech-focused University of California campus – The University of California and Gov. Jerry Brown are currently embroiled in a heated showdown over the system’s finances and admissions policy. Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s novel solution: open a new tech-focused campus. Sacramento Bee article
Student-run investment fund provides triple payout – Stock market investing is all about the money. Calculations run to the tenth of a cent on stock prices, brokerage fees, long- and short-term capital gains and annual average appreciation. But the Student Investment Fund at University of the Pacific pays additional dividends — if somewhat less tangible — on top of that. Stockton Record article
New state preschool funding is having an impact – California has invested $219 million this school year to increase the number of preschool slots, train teachers, renovate facilities, increase funding to preschool operators and eliminate parent fees for part-day programs. EdSource article
CSU Bakersfield to unveil two new kinesiology labs – Cal State Bakersfield will open two new physical education and kinesiology labs for public tours Tuesday. Faculty members hope the labs, the Human Performance Lab and the Gait and Posture Neuromechanics Lab, will enhance learning. Bakersfield Californian article
Kevin de León wants to bring fight against sexual violence to California high schools – After successfully passing a bill last year aimed at combating sexual assault at California colleges, Senate leader Kevin de León wants to bring the fight against sexual violence to the state’s high schools. Sacramento Bee article
ACEL charter families, staff question school’s future — A Fresno charter school that’s in the red by nearly $300,000 is taking desperate steps — including cutting the school’s lunch program and slashing several staff positions — to keep its debt from ballooning, moves that have alarmed families and staff and sparked worries about the school’s future. Fresno Bee article
Some owners of private colleges turn a tidy profit by going nonprofit – After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down. But a few others have moved to drop out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution. New York Times article
Three-legged dog to get 3-D-printed limb from UC Davis students — Hobbes the terrier mix can do a lot, for a dog with three legs. He can climb stairs, graze the backyard and jump roughly 4 feet in the air – more than high enough to clamber onto the bed with his owner, Andrea Bledsoe. Even so, Bledsoe and a few of her fellow UC Davis graduate students are determined to give him a fourth leg. Sacramento Bee article
Mark Grossi: Earth Log: What if winter skipped February? It just did – If you were starting a suntan, February was a great month. Winter skipped the shortest month of the year. There. I said it without mentioning the word drought. I know, you’re tired of hearing about it. And you may already know February temperatures were up all across California while rain and snow took a holiday. Grossi in Fresno Bee
Fracking: Oil company sues to overturn San Benito County fracking ban; could affect other counties – An oil company has sued to block San Benito County’s voter-approved fracking ban in a move that could affect the growing trend of California cities and counties’ efforts to stop the controversial oil drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing. San Jose Mercury News article
More no-burn days in San Joaquin County – Another year, another record number of no-burn days in San Joaquin County. But it wasn’t that way for everyone. For the first time this winter, residents who had installed cleaner-burning fireplace inserts or gas stoves were almost always allowed to keep burning, even when their neighbors were not. Stockton Record article
Solar ‘suitcase’ lets Valley students experiment with clean power – One hundred portable “solar suitcases” capable of converting the sun’s power to run a light or charge a mobile device will be made available to high school students across Central and Northern California to experiment with creative ways the kits can be used in developing countries. Fresno Bee article
Gallo Glass targeted in hazmat lawsuit — Modesto’s Gallo Glass Co. illegally recycled hazardous dust by adding it to other ingredients when making wine bottles, California’s attorney general charged in a lawsuit made public this morning. Modesto Bee article
California’s homeless kids face health, learning difficulties – Young kids are not often the face of homelessness. Yet, in California more than half a million children don’t have a stable home. Instead of using the shelter system, parents with kids often shuttle between the homes of friends and relatives. That’s called “doubling up,” says Melissa Schoonmaker, homeless education consultant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. And she says it has a big impact on the development and health of small children. They face poor nutrition, lack of health care and immunizations. KQED report
Child Life staff help kids cope with stay at Valley Children’s Hospital – Eight-year-old Brenda Martinez didn’t feel much like talking a week into her hospital stay at Valley Children’s. The Delano girl was there after she rescued a younger sister from a dog attack; she was mauled in the process. But her spirits changed when the Child Life department at the hospital arranged back-to-back visitors. Fresno Bee article
Fresno’s Mendez family stays strong despite child’s medical battles – Bright explosions of red, blue and white sparkles explode on the screen of the electronic device being held by Joy Barton, a child life specialist at Valley Children’s Hospital, every time the tiny fingers of Neymar Mendez touch the screen. Fresno Bee article
Pregnancy center launches services on wheels — Alpha Pregnancy Help Center in Merced is expanding the reach of its services with a new mobile office. The center provides confidential services, including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling, parenting classes and post-abortion support, at its office at 700 Loughborough Drive. Now on wheels, the center will be able to take some of those services to outlying areas in Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article
Courts: Mansions generally don’t need environmental review — Just because a planned home is huge doesn’t mean that it should receive additional environmental review, the California Supreme Court decided Monday. LA Times article
Jeff Jardine: The survey says: Modesto is safer than Capitola, Nevada City — Telegraph Today, an online site that produces lots of lists on lots of topics, recently named California’s 10 most dangerous cities, based upon violent-crime rates generated by law enforcement agencies. Joyfully, Modesto isn’t on it. Jardine column in Modesto Bee
Cal Fire scandal widens to prostitution, unwanted sexual advances — A Cal Fire assistant chief is accused of hooking up with prostitutes on his state cellphone and then taking a state vehicle to meet them, according to new records released to The Sacramento Bee. Sacramento Bee article
Rev. Jeremiah Wright shares highs, and lows, of his life with Fresno State audience — There was a time when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was front-page news for controversial comments he made while pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago — statements that might have gone largely unnoticed if then presidential candidate Barack Obama had not been one of his parishoners. Fresno Bee article
Claudia Newcorn: Much has changed in 25 years — I’ve dwelled in Modesto for over a quarter of a century, arriving as a naive Easterner from Boston with a very skewed perception of California. While local old-timers probably will grin at this retrospective, having seen far more dramatic changes, it’s been fascinating to see the region’s evolution (or not). So, here’s an outside-in viewpoint of my Top 10 observations. Newcorn column in Modesto Bee
Bruce Maiman: Do officials even realize a swastika is free speech? — I wondered whether to waste any words on the now well-publicized swastika display in front of a Sacramento home. Then some elected officials opened their mouths. Maiman column in Sacramento Bee
Valley Editorial Roundup
Fresno Bee – California’s poor need more than handouts.
Merced Sun-Star – All lawmakers should see Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress.
Modesto Bee – All lawmakers should see Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress.
Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: It’s on to the future for Stockton, Read-in makes for fun, and other issues.
- The California High-Speed Rail Authority, in coordination with its resource partners, is organizing a Spring Procurement Fair to bring government and corporation procurement specialists together with small businesses. The Spring Procurement Fair will be hosted at the University of California Center in Fresno on March 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event will provide networking opportunities for small businesses to potentially gain access to private and public contracts. Buyers may still register for this event by contacting Peggy.Chiok@hsr.ca.gov.
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 atwww.federalbudgetchallenge.org.
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. http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/
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 http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. 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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