March 5, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Rise in Latino political power in California could give new momentum to health care – When Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, is sworn in as Assembly Speaker Monday, it will mark a historic moment in California politics: For the first time, the two top posts in the state legislature will be held by Latinos. KQED report

California gas leak threatens Jerry Brown’s image as climate change hero — In his final term as California’s governor, Jerry Brownhas made the battle against climate change a signature issue: He is fighting to vastly reduce the state’s emissions of greenhouse gases, to accelerate the move to electric cars and to rewire the state’s electrical grid. In December, he had a star turn with world leaders at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris. New York Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jerry Brown’s parole measure and politics at the California Supreme Court — In papers filed with the Supreme Court, Brown argues that the new law was intended to allow proponents to change their ballot measure before they begin collecting signatures — without starting back at the beginning of the process. But Jessica Levinson, election law professor at Loyola University and president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, isn’t so sure. KQED report


Prosecutor: iPhone could ID unknown San Bernardino attacker — Information contained in an encrypted iPhone could help finally answer whether there was a third assailant in the San Bernardino terror attack that killed 14 people, according to court papers filed by the county’s district attorney. AP article

Other areas

How Asian Americans climbed the ranks and changed the political landscape – The number of Asian Americans seizing opportunities to work on the staff of elected officials at local, state and federal levels has expanded dramatically. And from the ranks of those who, like Kim, started out working for white or African American politicians, a cadre of Asian American political leaders has emerged. LA Times article

Outgoing California speaker discusses accomplishments, regrets and vetoes – California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will step down on Monday from the chamber’s top job. She cites as two top accomplishments the new state earned-income tax credit and middle class scholarships to California universities. But she wasn’t able to push through another top priority–affordable housing. Capital Public Radio report

Cathleen Decker: Trump fends off debate mockery, trips on specifics.  Will his supporters care? – Were this a normal campaign, Trump would have lost the debate, Rubio would have damaged himself, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich would have won. Throughout, even when prodded by the moderators, Kasich refused to join in the back-seat rumble and kept the mien of a parent threatening to stop the car if the fisticuffs didn’t end. But this campaign is as far from normal as any in modern history, and it remains both possible and probable that the debate changed nothing at all. Decker in LA Times

News Stories

Top Stories

Officials looking into allegations of improper pay — Authorities are investigating allegations that dozens of San Joaquin County correctional officers embezzled tens of thousands of dollars under a payroll scheme in which they did not properly record paid time off. Stockton Record article

UC Davis chancellor apologizes for controversial moonlighting activities – UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi apologized Friday for her controversial moonlighting activities, which had prompted key state lawmakers to call for her resignation and announce legislative hearings on paid outside activities by university officials.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Jobs and the Economy

Valley unemployment rates up in January, down year-over-year – Valley unemployment rates rose in January but remained below January 2015 rates (see articles below), according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the January 2016 and January 2015 rates:

  • Fresno– 10.6 percent, 10.2
  • Kern– 10.7 percent, 10.4
  • Kings– 11.4 percent, 10.9
  • Madera– 10.2 percent, 10.5
  • Merced– 12.8 percent, 11.8
  • San Joaquin– 8.9 percent, 8.7
  • Stanislaus– 9.4 percent, 9.1
  • Tulare– 12.3 percent, 12.2

California unemployment down to 5.7 percent – California’s unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in January even though payroll jobs actually shrank during the month. Sacramento Bee article 

Fresno County has lowest January unemployment rate since 2007 — Fresno County’s unemployment rate was estimated at 10.6 percent for January, the lowest rate to start the year since 2007. Fresno Bee article

Kern jobless rate rises again, to 10.7 percent — Kern’s unemployment rate continued its gradual climb in January, rising to a seasonally unadjusted 10.7 percent from a revised 10.4 percent in December and registering its fourth consecutive monthly increase after what had been an encouraging downward trend. Bakersfield Californian article

Year-over-year Merced unemployment improves in January – The rate of Merced County unemployment improved in January compared with the same time a year earlier, while labor force numbers remained steady, labor market analysts said Friday. Merced Sun-Star article

State reports strong one-year job gains in San Joaquin County – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in January, up from a revised 8.7 percent in December, due mostly to seasonal layoffs in retail, transportation and warehousing, and construction, state employment officials reported Friday. Still, the region’s jobs market remained much stronger than the year before, when unemployment in January 2015 was pegged at 10.5 percent. Stockton Record article 

Stanislaus County sees jobless rate fall – Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent in January, down from 11 percent from a year ago. The county also added 4,700 jobs in the past year, with many of the gains coming in retail, restaurants, bars and hotels. Modesto Bee article

California export trade starts 2016 on down note – California export trade began 2016 the same way it ended 2015 – on a downward slide. Golden State businesses shipped merchandise valued at $11.96 billion in January, down 5.6 percent from $12.67 billion in January 2015, according to Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Sacramento Bee article 

California tobacco sales, revenue down – Sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products have steadily declined in California over the past several decades, with tobacco excise tax revenue eroding from its peak in the late 1990s. Sacramento Bee article

Why poorer, uneducated people are leaving California — More people are leaving California than coming, and it is the poorest and least-educated residents who are leading the exodus, according to a new report from Beacon Economics and the independent nonpartisan organization Next 10. KPCC report

Timely snowstorms help avert another disastrous year for California ski industry — Thanks to well-timed storms blanketing California peaks this winter, ski resort operators in the state say lift ticket sales have increased as much as 50% compared with the last few years, a feat that they attribute to pent-up demand among snow fans who have had to suffer through a four-year drought. LA Times article

Bakersfield business conference names more speakers – Among the biggest names released this week is former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a recent presidential candidate who won praise for his emergency response work during and after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Here’s someone else who might ring a bell: Bakersfield’s own Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader who will return to the podium with no small local following. Bakersfield Californian article

Save Mart closing store at West, March lanes – Save Mart Supermarkets is closing its S-Mart grocery store at 1616 E. March Lane, Stockton, in the Village at Weber Ranch shopping center, a company official said earlier this week. Stockton Record article

Stockton dispensary ordered to close by March 18 – A judge this week sided with the city and ordered a central Stockton medical marijuana dispensary to shut its doors by March 18. Collective 1950, on West Fremont Street, continued to dispense items Friday morning, according to a customer outside the facility who said he had purchased a “pre-rolled cigar” and a “gummy square” a few minutes earlier. Stockton Record article

Advocates seek tent city in Councilman Jay Schenirer’s district — In the most significant sign yet that a sanctioned homeless camp could be in Sacramento’s future, attorney Mark Merin and advocacy group Safe Ground Sacramento sent a letter to City Manager John Shirey this week asking for a permit to create a tent city. Sacramento Bee article

The Numbers Crunch: Making the rent is too hard for too many Californians – Across much of California, finding decent and affordable housing is difficult enough if you have a job, even for some otherwise comfortably in the middle class. Now imagine how tough it would be if you’re on public assistance. Actually, we don’t have to imagine because the California Budget & Policy Center comparedwhat families receive from CalWORKs and what it costs to rent an apartment.  The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Bill aims to give crab industry $138 million in disaster relief — California commercial crab fishermen, many struggling to keep their businesses afloat amid an unprecedented season closure caused by a toxic algae bloom, could see more than $130 million in disaster relief under a last-ditch federal proposal to bail them out of financial doom. San Francisco Chronicle article 

CalSTRS joins legal fight over Volkswagen diesel scandal — CalSTRS said Friday it’s joining a German shareholder lawsuit against Volkswagen over the diesel emissions scandal, adding its considerable weight in ramping up pressure on the embattled automaker. Sacramento Bee article

Five takeaways from February’s surprising jobs report — The labor market showed surprising strength last month in the face of slowing global growth, adding a robust 242,000 net new jobs after disappointing gains in January added to fears the U.S. economic recovery was losing momentum. LA Times article

Farm Beat: Stanislaus Grown honors local food advocates — Jicama helped a grocery manager win one of four awards bestowed Friday for local-food efforts in Stanislaus County. Stanislaus Grown, a group that promotes the county’s farm products, gave its Business of the Year award to Del Ambris, store director at the Cost Less Food Co. store in Ceres. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Santa Clara County jail brawl is captured on Costco cameras personally purchased by sheriff – A massive brawl that erupted among inmates inside the troubled Santa Clara County jail Thursday was captured on surveillance equipment installed a day earlier after Sheriff Laurie Smith had purchased the cameras with her personal credit card. LA Times article

On-duty Merced deputy hits, kills pedestrian on Lander Avenue – 
An on-duty Merced County sheriff’s deputy driving his patrol vehicle struck and killed a 51-year-old man who was walking along Lander Avenue south of Third Avenue in Stevinson on Thursday night. Merced Sun-Star article

Hanford Police Department keeps eye on unsafe bicyclists — Hanford police have seen positive results in continuing their efforts to combat unsafe bicycle riding. The Hanford Police Department increased its focus on bicycle safety in October 2015 amid a growing number of accidents and increased complaints about unsafe bicyclists. Hanford Sentinel article


 A new California bill would let schools expel kids for sexting — A new state Assembly bill, AB 2536, would give schools the right to expel or suspend students for what it calls sexting — sending nude or sexually explicit photos and images electronically, “with the purpose or effect of humiliating or harassing a pupil.” They would be able to do that when students are at, or en route to and from, school or school-sanctioned events. LA Times article 

Fresno State receives CSU system’s largest alumni association gift – Learn 4 Life Charter School and Choice in Learning National Foundation recently donated $108,000 to the Fresno State Alumni Association (FSAA) to help fund a new scholarship program. The gift is the largest donation given to an alumni association scholarship fund in the 23-campus California State University system and will benefit the soon-to-be-established Dante Simi Scholarship Fund. The Business Journal article

State schools chief decries discrimination in Fresno speech – In an effort to promote religious and cultural tolerance across the Valley, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson made a rare visit to the region on Friday, speaking at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno alongside other Valley leaders to take a stand against discrimination. Fresno Bee article

Andrew Fiala on Ethics: Teachers are the core of our union – The Fresno State philosophy professor and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Caring and creative educators cultivate the next generation of democratic citizens. It is not easy to transform a child into a compassionate and engaged citizen. But no task is more important. The future of our democracy depends upon the work done in our schools.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee 

Homeschool: Building a foundation – California Connections Academy is an online-based public school program. The Heathcote’s are taught through the Central program, which includes about 500 students from Fresno, Tulare, Kern, Kings, and Inyo counties. Because it is a part of the public school system, the national academy’s curriculum is set by each state’s individual education standards, said CCA instructor Zig Elizondo. Visalia Times-Delta article

UCLA will get hundreds of millions for rights to prostate cancer drug – A prostate cancer drug developed at UCLA will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for research under a record-setting deal announced Friday by university officials. LA Times article

Oakland district at heart of drive to transform urban schools — The 70 teachers who showed up to a school board meeting here recently in matching green and black T-shirts paraded in a circle, chanting, “Charter schools are not public schools!” and accusing the superintendent of doing the bidding of “a corporate oligarchy.” San Francisco Chronicle article


Southern California air board moves to weaken pollution regulation — Southern California’s air quality board moved forcefully to weaken pollution regulation Friday, firing the agency’s longtime leader and reaffirming new smog rules backed by oil refineries and other major polluters. LA Times articleSteve Lopez column in LA Times

This summer the Rough Fire burn area could take on a new life – The lighting sparked Rough Fire burned over 150,000 acres in the Central Sierra Nevada last year. Today most of that area is closed and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports forest agencies are antsy about reopening. KVPR report

How is California doing on climate change? — A panel of energy experts gave mostly passing marks to California’s landmark climate change law, but raised concerns about the cost of implementing additional, more stringent, measures. CALmatters article

Health/Human Services 

Kern Health Systems has a long history behind its effort to move east – The City of Bakersfield has a parcel of land for sale. Kern Health Systems wants to buy it, build on it and move 350 well-paid employees into an area of town that Heaven knows could use an injection of infill development — not to mention hundreds of workers buying lunch and coffee and possibly even dinner and entertainment in the neighborhood. But there’s a glitch. Bakersfield Californian article

Lucia Robeson: Thank you, organ donors: My kidney transplant story – The Fresno resident writes, “My baby boy is now a 25-year-old man. The transplant works very well, and I continue to enjoy good health, all thanks to a person who took the time to register as an organ donor. Miracles still happen in this day and age. I know. I received a miracle when I needed it the most.” Robeson op-ed in Fresno Bee

2 imported Zika cases reported in Contra Costa County — Two additional East Bay residents have tested positive for the Zika virus, bringing the total amount of Bay Area cases to at least five, public health officials said Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Tom Johnson: Support for Kaweah Delta hospital bond – The Visalia resident writes, “This need is not a wish; it is a reality. This is a mandate from the state as well as a prudent investment for the next generation of Visalians. Won’t you join me in support of the general obligation bond that will keep our hospital at the forefront of providing the best in care for all of us?” Johnson op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Land Use/Housing

Environmental report on widening 24th draws largely supportive comments — When the time for people to comment on Bakersfield’s latest environmental report on widening 24th Street ended recently, only 65 responded — with a healthy majority in favor of the project. Bakersfield Californian article


Michael Hiltzik: The bullet train is troubled, but it’s necessary – The rail project, which aims to start carrying passengers on an initial segment connecting Silicon Valley and the Central Valley in 2025, may be suffering now through its most vulnerable period. Hiltzik in LA Times

225 California transportation projects in trouble — Californians are paying less in gas taxes, and much less at the pump, as oil prices have plummeted. While that may pad drivers’ wallets, the result could be what officials are calling a “catastrophic” impact on the Golden State’s highways and city streets. San Jose Mercury News article

End near for Visalia air service? – The Visalia City Council will likely vote to end years of taking a federal subsidy to lure passenger air services to town at their Monday meeting. Visalia Times-Delta article

One Voice gearing up for annual trip to nation’s capital – With the annual One Voice trip weeks away, staffers at the San Joaquin Council of Governments are preparing a list of projects local leaders hope to discuss with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Nicole Gorham, SJCOG’s public information officer, said 19 projects have been submitted by city and county officials for discussion when requesting vital transportation funds this summer. Stockton Record article

Modesto closes Pelandale bridge over Highway 99 – City officials closed the Pelandale Avenue bridge spanning Highway 99 in north Modesto on Friday after a 150-foot section of a water main underneath nearby Salida Boulevard failed, releasing a torrent of water. Modesto Bee article

BART pulls plug on suspect substation, and train-car woes improve — A brand-new, multimillion-dollar BART power substation near the Transbay Tube has been taken off line while officials try to determine whether it was responsible for knocking more than 80 train cars out of service in recent weeks, causing commute-hour crush loads on shortened trains. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee –– Wondering about weed? Attend Modesto Bee’s forum to learn more.

Sacramento Bee – UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi must explain DeVry blunder, and UC must examine policy.

Maddy Events 

Sunday, March 6, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: “The Senior Boom: Preparing for the Baby Boom Aftershock”  Guest: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Laurel Beck. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, March 6, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580 (KMJ) – Maddy Report-Valley Views Edition: “Valley Seniors: Programs and Prospects” – Guests: Jeremy Oliver, program director for Kern County Office of Aging and Adult Services, and Fresno State professor Helen Miltiades. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler. 

Sunday, March 6, at 7 a.m. on Fresno Univision 21 (KFTV)– El Informe Maddy Report: “Senior Citizen Boom” – Guest: Public Policy Institute of California analyst Marisol Cuellar. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Deputy Director Ana Melendez. 

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at

Community Events

  • The International Green Industry Hall of Fame will hold its sixth annual conference and induction ceremony at Buchanan High School in Clovis on March 9. Registration information is available here.
  • The 2016 San Joaquin Valley Parks Summit will be held at Bitwise South Stadium in Fresno on Thursday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration launches March 1.  More information: Jenna Chilingerian at


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 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.

More Information

Please visit if you want to view the Maddy Daily with our comprehensive list of links to all federal, state and local government, public affairs institutes/regional entities, Valley media and public policy blogs. (Please note new website address.) 

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.

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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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