March 30, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: California’s nonvoters lean more to the left — Voters have repeatedly displayed their liberal tendencies, particularly on social issues, in ballot measures. Notwithstanding all of that, the state would be even more liberal – much more – were its voters to reflect its adult population, a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California has found. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown evokes threat of inmate prison release to push for ballot measure on parole – Evoking the threat of court-ordered prison releases, Gov. Jerry Brown this week appealed for help in collecting signatures to get his parole initiative on the November ballot. LA Times article

Valley politics

Interview: AD31 special election preview with John Ellis — Election day in California is still 10 weeks away, unless you live in the 31st Assembly District. That’s because voters there go to the polls on April 5th in a special election to fill the vacant seat once held by Henry T. Perea. Joining us on Valley Edition to talk about the race between Republican Clint Olivier and Democrats Joaquin Arambula and Ted Miller is John Ellis of The Fresno BeeKVPR report

Quick-thinking senator saves drivers from falling tree limb — A California state senator is being credited with helping to prevent injuries when a massive tree limb fell across a Sacramento street. Republican Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford tells KCRA-TV ( he was walking by a large sycamore tree about 1 1Ž2 miles east of the state Capitol when he heard it crack. He says he knew the branch was coming down and started directing traffic away from it. AP article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Who votes, who doesn’t? The have and the have nots — Eighty-two percent of California’s adults are eligible to vote, but only half will bother to cast ballots in 2016. And those who do vote will not reflect the state’s diversity. That’s a key takeaway of California’s Exclusive Electorate, a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) examining voter participation. KQED report

California Counts: As June primary nears, Latina influence could be key to turnout — As get-out-the-vote efforts ramp up in California ahead of the primary election, the influence of women, even those who like Salas can’t cast a ballot, could prove key in fulfilling the promise of the Latino vote this year. KPCC report

Loretta Sanchez super PAC formed to push her Senate bid into top-two — Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange, is getting some outside help as she campaigns for the U.S. Senate. California’s New Frontier, a super PAC formed to support her candidacy, is gearing up to push her into the top-two positions in the June 7 primary against fellow Democrat Kamala Harris and a group of lesser-known Republicans. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article (scroll to article)


Apple wants the FBI to reveal how it hacked San Bernardino killer’s iPhone — 
Apple Inc. refused to give the FBI software the agency desperately wanted. Now Apple is the one that needs the FBI’s assistance. LA Times articleNew York Times articleSacramento Bee editorial

Minimum Wage

California’s plan for $15 minimum wage could have huge effect – A landmark plan to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 could create sweeping changes across the industries that rely on low-wage workers and improve the living standards for millions of Californians employed in farm fields, restaurants and retail stores. Sacramento Bee article 

Who wins with a $15 minimum wage? – The people who stand to benefit most from minimum wage hikes across California are low-income adults, most of them household breadwinners, according to an analysis by UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education. LA Times article

Marcos Breton: Local concerns are missing piece in state minimum-wage discussion — In practice – and on the ground in Sacramento, a city that passed its own minimum-wage increase in October – the inexorable move toward $15 an hour could have unintended consequences that ultimately undermine the stated goal of helping workers. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: Here come the minimum wage increases; here come the robots — At Gov. Jerry Brown’s press conference supporting a deal on the minimum wage, an overarching point was merely touched upon: Will the minimum wage help or hurt workers that are subject to the proposed law? Business response to the law likely would be increased prices, reduced jobs opportunities and opening the door to working robots. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

California Chamber releases list of ‘job killer’ bills — The California Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday released a list of 18 bills it says will reduce jobs and hurt the state economy. The chamber introduces it’s so-called “job killers” every spring and boasts a high success rate of blocking bills on the list from becoming law. Critics question the organization’s methodology to determine the list. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Will the Valley go for Cruz? Not necessarily — June will bring California Republicans a rare treat: the chance to make a big difference in the identity of the party’s presidential nominee. So who will Republicans in the southern San Joaquin Valley pick? “This is a real puzzler this election,” said Rachel Kennedy, a Bakersfield conservative. “I can’t think what people are going to do.” Bakersfield Californian article

Ashby says most of Steinberg war chest banned in Sacramento mayor’s race — Sacramento Councilwoman Angelique Ashby took aim Tuesday at mayoral rival Darrell Steinberg’s huge campaign war chest, saying city contribution limits prevent him from using most of the $1.4 million he raised for a potential lieutenant governor’s race. Sacramento Bee article 

Cathleen Decker: Among California voters, support for trade deal doesn’t clearly fall along party lines – California voters have grown more optimistic about the economy, but persistent concerns about the future and about the impact of international trade deals have strengthened the statewide campaigns of Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found. Decker in LA Times

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Stockton aims for $120 million reserve fund — Only 13 months after exiting bankruptcy, the city has established a long-range goal to set aside up to $120 million in general-fund reserves for Stockton’s future needs. Stockton Record article

Yosemite’ ex-concessionaire wants details of disputed appraisal kept secret — Yosemite National Park’s former concessionaire wants a federal judge to keep secret an appraisal that set a $44 million value on the company’s trademarks. The report is at the heart of a high-profile dispute pitting the Delaware North subsidiary against the National Park Service, which calls the privately commissioned appraisal grossly exaggerated. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Supreme Court’s deadlock on union fees could be the first of many tie votes – A well-planned legal assault on public unions collapsed Tuesday when theSupreme Court deadlocked over a California woman’s lawsuit to strike down mandatory fees, the strongest evidence yet that Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has stymied the court’s conservatives. LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleCapital Public Radio reportEdSource articleFresno Bee articleNew York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Chukchansi tribe looks to Congress to stop North Fork casino – The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians and two Northern California tribes have enlisted a Northern California congressman to help them block a proposed tribal casino near Madera. Fresno Bee article

Fresno gas prices leap 45 cents per gallon over past week – Gas prices in Fresno are on the rise – 10 cents in the last week and up 45 cents in the last month, according to GasBuddy.comFresno Bee article

One oil field service company sells, another sheds in latest shakeout – One company prepares for a second major round of layoffs. Another sells out to a large competitor based outside the state. And so continues the struggle for survival in Kern County oil fields. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto budget review committee will gather for first time – Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold’s 100-day budget review committee will meet for the first time Friday, and is expected to take care of procedural business such as creating subcommittees and receiving updates from city officials on the city’s finances and the state laws that govern public meetings. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento City Council passes water, wastewater rate increases – The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday to increase water and wastewater utility rates by nearly 45 percent by July 2019. There will be a 10 percent hike in water rates and a 9 percent increase for wastewater annually for the next four fiscal years, starting July 1, 2016. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Food Expo goes independent, unveils high-powered board – The increasingly popular Fresno Food Expo (FFE) is shifting gears as it begins its sixth year, launching itself as an independent, nonprofit organization with a new board of directors made up of some of the Valley’s most successful agribusiness leaders. The Business Journal article

Report: Valley foreclosure rates continue to decline – New data released today by CoreLogic shows the rate of Fresno area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.61 percent for January 2016, a decrease of 0.16 percentage points compared with January 2015. The Business Journal article

Treading a fine line, LA council considers ordinance to boost homeless sweeps – Faced with the most unsheltered people in the country, and ratty shantytowns from the Cahuenga Pass to the harbor, the city in June rewrote a municipal ordinance — 56.11 — authorizing aggressive encampment sweeps. It later approved an ambitious, $2-billion plan to end homelessness in the next 10 years. LA Times article

Roberta MacGlashan and Don Nottoli: Director will coordinate Sacramento County’s homeless efforts – The Sacramento County supervisors write, “The Sacramento Bee’s editorial characterizing Sacramento County’s creation of a director of homeless initiatives as more bureaucracy showed a lack of full understanding of the complex homeless situation.” MacGlashan/Nottoli op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Bakersfield ranks 61st largest metropolitan area – How’s this for a local chant: “We’re No. 61! We’re No. 61!” Granted, it needs work, but it beats the old one: “We’re No. 63!” Bakersfield California article

California pot industry contemplates future in Sacramento – With comprehensive medical marijuana regulations kicking in and full-scale legalization headed for a vote, cannabis entrepreneurs and policymakers convened in Sacramento on Tuesday to discuss their industry’s future. Sacramento Bee articl 

With Bill Clinton event coming to Cal UC caves to union demand — With labor threatening to throw up a picket line this week around former President Bill Clinton’s big student gathering at UC Berkeley, the cash-tight university agreed to spend millions of dollars to hire dozens of contract and part-time workers as full-time campus employees. San Francisco Chronicle article

Report details Chargers’ plans for $1-billion stadium in San Diego – Details are trickling out about the $1-billion stadium the Chargers are envisioning in downtown San Diego, with the venue as the centerpiece of a proposed $1.8-billion convention center-stadium project. LA Times article

Man pays $400 a month to sleep in wooden box in San Francisco — From tents to trucks, the next logical step in San Francisco has taken shape – in the form of a literal box. This makeshift bedroom, which its owner prefers to call a pod, is no larger than a wide bookshelf and inconspicuously stationed at one corner of an apartment living room in the Sunset District neighborhood. Its exterior resembles a large crate, while its inside houses a twin bed, a fold-up desk and some LEDs. Washington Post article


California drought rules likely to be relaxed — With the wettest winter in five years having taken the hard edges off the historic drought and a key Sierra snowpack reading Wednesday expected to show big gains, Californians can look forward to substantial relief from mandatory statewide water restrictions. San Jose Mercury News article 

Unimpressive El Nino leaves California in water limbo — The rain storms and blizzards that were supposed to come with El Niño were conspicuously non-biblical in California this winter, leaving the state in an ecological limbo that has regulators thinking about easing water-use restrictions in some places but not in others. San Francisco Chronicle article

State snowpack has changed a lot in last year – as have Californians’ attitude toward water — The snow situation isn’t the only thing that’s changed in a year. Californians have largely risen to Brown’s challenge and begun to transform their relationship with water — even as they prepare for another hot, dry summer. LA Times article

Irrigation water on the way for Merced County farmers — The Merced Irrigation District’s farmers will get more water than they did last year – but some growers worry the price they will pay for that water is too high. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton Record: Water issues abound locally, statewide – Water, water everywhere — at least compared to last year. Water continues to be in the news, at state and local levels. Here are some news and views on water-related issues. Stockton Record editorial

Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District agree on operating Don Pedro Reservoir — The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts have added five years to their 1990 agreement on how to manage Don Pedro Reservoir. The extension will maintain the status quo at the massive Tuolumne River impoundment while it completes the renewal of its federal license, said Wes Monier, strategic issues and planning manager at TID, in a memo to his board. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Deputies: Pot plants seized in Merced linked to ‘organized crime’ – Thousands of marijuana plants were seized Tuesday from numerous makeshift greenhouses at an abandoned farmhouse just south of the city. Merced Sun-Star article

Man on most wanted list shot by officers in Lindsay — Randall Ver Steeg was shot at the Super 8 motel in Lindsay after undercover officers confronted him. He’s on the Tulare County Sheriff’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Fresno police arrest man, teen in beating of 68-year-old Sikh man — One man and a 17-year-old juvenile were arrested Tuesday for allegedly beating and running over a 68-year-old Sikh man in December, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer announced at a news conference. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report


State auditor blasts University of California over tuition policy — The University of California has disadvantaged resident students with its recent emphasis onrecruiting applicants from out of state and overseas, leading to a drop in the number of Californians enrolled at UC. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

California bill tackles teacher tenure, firing, layoff rules – A California lawmaker is introducing legislation to answer a court ruling that could upend California’s teacher employment rules. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Unified to rebid project after trustee’s conflict of interest – Fresno Unified administrators are recommending that the school board rebid a $9 million construction project after concerns arose that a trustee’s involvement posed a conflict of interest. Fresno Bee article

Report: 17,000 California children eligible for preschool aren’t enrolled – About 170,000 California children who are eligible for publicly funded preschool are not enrolled because there are not enough spots for them, a new report says. EdSource article

Bakersfield City School Districte appoints ‘Doc’ Ervin as superintendent – Bakersfield City School District officials ended a months-long, nationwide search Tuesday for a top administrator by unanimously appointing Harry “Doc” Ervin, a Monterey County educator, as superintendent of the 30,000-student elementary district. Bakersfield Californian article

Michelle Rhee-founded StudentsFirst to merge with D.C.-based organization – StudentsFirst, the Sacramento-based national education advocacy organization that endeavors to create more school choice for parents and accountability for educators, is merging with 50Can, a group with a similar mission, officials told The Bee. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Anke Schennink: UC should have zero tolerance for sexual harassment – The president of UAW Local 5810 writes, “A culture of sexual harassment and assault in our scientific community is antithetical to reaching our full potential in research and discovery and must not be tolerated at UC. We have the chance to set new standards for accountability that can improve our universities and be a model for other institutions.” Schennick op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Hoverboards banned on Fresno State campus — If you are planning on riding your hoverboard to class, think again. Fresno State now prohibits the use of hoverboards in buildings on campus because of their potential fire hazard. Visalia Times-Delta article

Turlock university math education expert takes broader view – 
The Bee’s special section on Common Core math brought a range of responses, including an introduction to an expert on math education with an international perspective, right in our own backyard. Modesto Bee article

Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in U.S. schools? — Who needs algebra? That question muttered by many a frustrated student over the years has become a vigorous debate among American educators, sparked by a provocative new book that argues required algebra has become an unnecessary stumbling block that forces millions to drop out of high school or college. AP article

Robin Abcarian: Domestic violence victims have no business carrying guns to school — It’s tough for a gun owner to get a break in California.And frankly, I feel pretty good about that. Tuesday in Sacramento, an Assembly committee rejected a proposal that would have allowed victims of domestic violence to carry concealed weapons onto school campuses to protect themselves from their abusers. Abcarian in LA Times


California will rate big energy users – State officials recently added a new piece to the patchwork quilt that is California energy policy:  a mechanism for easily—and publicly—tracking how non-residential buildings use energy. The details aren’t worked out yet under a law that took effect three months ago. But such programs are already in place in San Francisco and a smattering of other cities across the country. CALmatters article

Air board may replace ousted leader with an industry consultant with EPA experience — The top candidate to lead Southern California’s air quality agency is a formerU.S. Environmental Protection Agency official who now works as a consultant to industry, The Times has learned. LA Times article

LA County to set up strike team to look at oil and gas wells — Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to set up a strike team of fire, public health and planning officials to look at the safety of oil and gas fields in unincorporated county areas. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Blue Cross finds Affordable Care Act enrollees to be sicker — Consumers who signed up for Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces these last two years tended to be sicker and incurred greater medical costs than people with BCBS coverage through their jobs. Washington Post articleNew York Times article

Dr. Tina Lin: Valley patients prefer doctors who look like them – The neurologist at Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center writes, “As we celebrate our physicians this Doctor’s Day on March 30, I am reminded of the importance a diverse physician workforce has in providing culturally competent healthcare to the members and communities we serve.” Lin op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Overdoses from fentanyl spread in Sacramento County — As Sacramento County’s opiate overdose crisis spread to 28 people, including six deaths, federal drug enforcement officials called it “a serious health threat” that marks Northern California’s first major wave of illegal sales of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Land Use/Housing

Michael Fitzgerald: A home that’s the Catts’ meow — The 1897 Catts House is up for sale, a chance to peek into one of Stockton’s well-preserved Victorians and see not only the old-time elegance but anachronisms such as servants’ quarters. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Open house will update high-speed rail work in Madera – The California High-Speed Rail Authority and its contractor, Tutor Perini / Zachry / Parsons, will hold an open house in Madera on April 20 to give residents an update on construction of the state’s high-speed rail project, particularly a three-mile extension of work north of Madera. Fresno Bee article

High-speed rail work slated for Hanford — High-speed rail related road work is coming to Kings County next week. Shoulder closures are slated to take place on both East Lacey Boulevard and Seventh Road, according to Toni Tinoco, a spokeswoman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Hanford Sentinel article 

Accounting may change, but Stockton airport funding remains – The Stockton Metropolitan Airport will not lose any future funding due to proposed accounting changes that reallocate six years’ worth of unsecured property tax revenue to the general fund, according to San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino. Stockton Record article

BNSF expanding Stockton rail yard — BNSF Railway is beginning an expansion of its intermodal rail yard in Stockton as part of $180 million in planned capital expenditures in California this year. Railroad spokeswoman Lena Kent said the work in Stockton over the next two years will include the addition of 7,000 feet of loading and unloading track and adding approximately 300 truck/container parking stalls. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Lindsay council to follow grand jury recommendations – Interim Lindsay City Manager William “Bill” Zigler said he is confident council members will follow the recommendations the Tulare County Grand Jury issued about Brown Act laws and deciding on combing high-level positions. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Longtime Merced public defender Paul Lyon retires – A longtime public defender who retired this month from Merced County said he prided himself on pushing back against government forces he said are given too much leeway. Paul Lyon, 63, who spent the past 10 years of his career in Merced County, said public defenders play an important role in supporting the Constitution. Merced Sun-Star article

Alameda County DA not filing criminal charges in Berkeley balcony collapse – The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office announced today it will not file criminal charges in connection with the Berkeley balcony collapse last June that killed six Irish citizens and injured seven others. KQED report

Modesto-area veterans thanked for their sacrifice, forgiveness – In a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War, nearly 500 veterans of that conflict received pins, challenge coins and belated messages of “Thank you” and “Welcome home.” Modesto Bee article

Sacramento region eyes new area code as 916 phone numbers run out – Big changes are coming to the 916. The California Public Utilities Commission said this week it plans to add a new area code to the Sacramento area in 2018. The new, overlapping area code will be given to new phone numbers within the Sacramento region as early as June 2018. Sacramento Bee article 

California Chrome still a winner as former owner watches from afar — Sure, he had a bit of a meltdown after his 2014 Horse of the Year, California Chrome, finished fourth at the Belmont Stakes that June, ending a historic bid to become the first colt to win the Triple Crown since 1978. But these days things are simpler for Foothill High grad and former Bakersfield resident Steve Coburn, who is out of the game after selling his 30 percent share of the famous chestnut thoroughbred to Kentucky-based Taylor Made Stallions last summer for an undisclosed sum. Bakersfield Californian article