March 30, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 California leaders routinely use private email — Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other top elected officials in California acknowledge using personal email accounts to conduct government business, and it’s not clear if their private exchanges are retained as public records or subject to disclosure.  AP article; AP: ‘Top elected officials on their private email use’

 Dan Walters: California schools gain in financing — One of the Capitol’s perpetual debates is over how much California spends to educate its 6.2 million elementary and high school students, especially in relationship to other states.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee


 States are divided by lines they draw on immigration — This is immigration geography: Some states are reluctant to accept undocumented immigrants, while others are moving to incorporate them. And the polarization is sharply crystallized in a lawsuit by Texas and 25 other states against the executive actions by President Obama to give work permits and deportation protection to millions of undocumented immigrants.  New York Times article

 Other areas

 George Skelton: Charles Munger Jr. stands ready to protect democracy — Charles Munger Jr. isn’t waiting around idly for the U.S. Supreme Court to act on congressional redistricting. He’s hoping for the best but planning for bad news. The political activist has resurrected his old reform coalition and is getting ready, if necessary, to bankroll another ballot measure to preserve citizen redistricting of congressional seats in California.  Skelton column in LA Times

 Doctors with major illnesses back state’s right-to-die movement — Dan Swangard knows what death looks like. As a physician, he has seen patients die in hospitals, hooked to morphine drips and overcome with anxiety. He has watched death drag on for weeks or months as terrified relatives stand by helplessly.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Marcos Breton: Young, Latino and a candidate for Sacramento City Council – Eric Guerra is running to fill Kevin McCarty’s seat on the City Council. At 36, he represents a new guard in Sacramento politics. The decision comes in a little-noticed special election April 7.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Carly Fiorina says ‘higher than 90 percent’ chance she’s run for GOP presidential nomination — Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, said her chances of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 are “very high.”  Washington Post article

News Briefs

Top Stories

 As death row runs out of space, Brown eyes space of those newly sprung – Warning that there is little time to lose, Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the California Legislature for $3.2 million to open nearly 100 more cells for condemned men at San Quentin State Prison. The proposed expansion would take advantage of cells made available as the state releases low-level drug offenders and thieves under a new law voters approved last year.  LA Times article

 New tests to tell juniors if they’re college-ready – This is a transition year for the California State University’s Early Assessment Program, a decade-old early warning system that tells 11th-graders whether they are prepared for college-level work – and steps they should take if they’re not. Caught in the switch to a new test and new academic standards, more juniors may be told that they’re not yet ready.  EdSource article

 Jobs and the Economy

 Reviving a run-down city – A group representing the city’s young professionals wasn’t expecting to change the scene much by adding a chalk mural. But maybe their stab at public art can help.  Sacramento Bee article

 CalPERS urged to avoid Obamacare ‘Cadillac Tax’ — Employer and employee groups are urging CalPERS to “undertake all efforts” to avoid the “Cadillac Tax,” a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans imposed in 2018 by President Obama’s health care law, a CalPERS staff report said this month.  Calpensions article

 Feds, state question Dixon’s use of its downtown ‘depot’ — Federal and state officials have amped up the pressure on the city of Dixon this month, demanding more explanations about the city’s use of its downtown train “depot” – a facility built a decade ago with federal transportation funds that has yet to have a passenger train land at its front door.  Sacramento Bee article

 Frank Mecca and John Bauters: Housing is key to move Californians from welfare to work – Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, and Bauters, policy director of Housing California, write, “This session, lawmakers introduced bills that would raise the minimum wage, increase affordable housing, create a state earned income tax credit, increase CalWORKs grants and repeal exclusionary policies that deny basic aid to poor children. These policies should be enacted, and the Housing Support Program should be expanded to meet demand, amid the growing recognition that homelessness undermines the goals of CalWORKs.”  Mecca/Bauters op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Federal funding in short supply for rural water projects – The federal government is responsible for paying about $3 billion to complete several rural water projects around the country. The amount — expected to grow by the time the work is done — represents a fraction of the more than $600 billion needed to address the nation’s water and wastewater needs over the next 20 years.  AP article

 Turlock Irrigation District staff urges 18-inch cap on water – The staff of the Turlock Irrigation District recommends capping water at 18 inches this year – a tiny bit more than had been discussed, but still much less than the accustomed amount.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Fresno Bee: City manager’s ‘inappropriate’ comment about Foster case — At a time when Fresno City Hall should be as transparent as possible about the operations of the Fresno Police Department, Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd would rather limit inquiries into how a deputy police chief could be dealing drugs right under the noses of the department.  Fresno Bee editorial

 15 arrested, firearms seized in gang detail — A multi-agency gang detail targeting the cities of Visalia and Woodlake resulted in 15 arrests and the seizure of firearms Friday. The Tulare County Gang Task Force swept 24 locations throughout the communities to ensure parole and probation compliance.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Open cases: Why one-third of murders in America go unresolved — If you’re murdered in America, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that the police won’t identify your killer. To use the FBI’s terminology, the national “clearance rate” for homicide today is 64.1 percent. Fifty years ago, it was more than 90 percent.  NPR report


 Stockton youth: Tyler mentoring program ready to kick off — Councilman Michael Tubbs will be the keynote speaker at a kickoff reception Tuesday for the Tiger Mentoring Project, a one-on-one pairing of at-risk students at Tyler Skills Elementary and adult volunteers from the community willing to invest their time in making a difference in the child’s life.  Stockton Record article


 Sacramento Bee: Sacramento council should pass plastic bag ban, for the environment – The city should do what it can now to stop plastic bags from fouling our environment.  Sacramento Bee editorial

New campaign of levee work planned along Sacramento River – A massive new round of levee improvements is ahead for Sacramento over the next decade, this time focusing primarily on the Sacramento River south of downtown.  Sacramento Bee article

 Probe of back-channel dealing continues at California PUC — In the months since Michael Peevey left the PUC, however, the scandal that ushered him out of office continues to erupt.  Sacramento Bee article

 How banquet for ex-PUC head Peevey went sour for UC Berkeley — A tribute dinner for the embattled former president of the state Public Utilities Commission may have seemed a good way to help bolster funding for UC Berkeley’s public policy school, but the event turned into a nightmare that ended only when the school rejected the proceeds, e-mails released by the university show. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Health/Human Services

 Rising healthcare costs are pressuring patients — A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they’re more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids’ education.  LA Times article

 Sacramento Bee: Sacramento County gives needed focus on care for mentally ill people — After years of incoherent policies driven by budget cuts and misguided decisions, Sacramento County is on the verge of moving smartly to improve services for people who suffer from mental illness. The change can’t come soon enough.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Land Use/Housing

 Work on Modesto’s Virginia Corridor turns into a marathon — The wait continues for those eager to use Modesto’s latest addition to its Virginia Corridor, the paved trail popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. A city official said last week it should take at least two more months before the roughly three-quarter-mile extension from Bowen to Woodrow avenues opens.  Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Fresno firefighter falls through garage, rescued by teammates and Good Samaritans — A firefighter fell through a roof into a central Fresno garage while battling a two-alarm house fire Sunday afternoon, prompting a frantic rescue by fellow firefighters and several good Samaritans.  Fresno Bee article

Jose Gaspar: Records law lets the sun shine in — The Associated Press just released an excellent analysis of how the public’s right to information is being undermined at all levels, from the federal government to town halls. One can only hope government officials will stop trying to run out the back door, come forward and answer for their actions and comply with the letter and spirit of open government.  Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Painting ‘Out of the Box’ beautifying downtown Stockton streets — All Michael Oliva has set out to do is make a difference, one wall at a time. And he’s well on his way to achieving that. The former Hanna-Barbera cartoon animator turned art educator and mentor created the Stockton Mural Art Resource Team — SMART for short — last year and, in partnership with the Downtown Stockton Alliance, has recruited high school artists for the “Out of the Box” mural program to bring some beauty to downtown streets.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – At a time when Fresno City Hall should be as transparent as possible about the operations of the Fresno Police Department, Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd would rather limit inquiries into how a deputy police chief could be dealing drugs right under the noses of the department; A blue ribbon commission led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking a thoughtful approach to a likely 2016 initiative to legalize marijuana in California.

Sacramento Bee – After years of incoherent policies driven by budget cuts and misguided decisions, Sacramento County is on the verge of moving smartly to improve services for people who suffer from mental illness. The change can’t come soon enough; Sacramento City Council should pass a plastic bag ban.


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 at

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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