March 6, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Central Valley congressmen epitomize California GOP’s immigration woes — Like most Republicans, these GOP congressmen (Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham and David Valadao) publicly oppose Obama’s unilateral actions to loosen immigration enforcement. But the Central Valley lawmakers have resisted their colleagues’ efforts to wage a larger battle with the president that would highlight Republican opposition to broader immigration changes favored by many Latino voters and agricultural interests in their districts.  LA Times article

John Myers: California politics podcast:  UC budget battle – It was a shrewd example of the political carrot and stick: a decision to limit non-resident admissions at two University of California campuses while also capping resident admissions at all UC campuses — just another sign that the UC budget battle is the main event at the statehouse in 2015.  Myers in KQED

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters: 2 governors confronting universities — Jerry Brown and Scott Walker would seem to have little in common other than both govern states with big dairy industries and Brown won his one and only 1980 presidential convention delegate in Walker’s Wisconsin. Democrat Brown and Republican Walker, however, are similarly sparring with their state university systems over state financing, academic priorities and managerial control.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Fresno resident Valdez re-elected to second term as state GOP Central Valley Region vice chair — As expected, Fresno Republican Marcelino Valdez this past weekend was re-elected to a second two-year term as the state GOP’s Central Valley Region vice chairman.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republican Rocky Chávez launches bid for Boxer seat — Assemblyman Rocky Chávez formally entered the contest to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday, offering himself as a pragmatic leader focused on strengthening national security, educational opportunities and the state economy.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report; Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

As Assemblyman, Rocky Chávez has focused on veterans, education — During his tenure in the Legislature, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who announced a bid for U.S. Senate on Thursday, has established himself as a moderate Republican with an interest in veterans affairs and education.  LA Times article


7,000 immigrant children ordered deported without going to court – More than 7,000 immigrant children have been ordered deported without appearing in court since large numbers of minors from Central America began illegally crossing the U.S. border in 2013, federal statistics show.  LA Times article

Settlement could allow thousands of Mexican deportees to return to SoCal — Thousands of Mexicans deported from Southern California could be eligible to return under an agreement between federal authorities and the ACLU. The civil rights group in 2013 sued the government on behalf of nine plaintiffs who claim U.S. border agents pressured them into signing voluntary departure papers while in detention.  KQED report

Other areas

Chiropractors lobby against bill ending belief exemptions for vaccines — Legislation that would do away with personal-belief exemptions for childhood vaccines, filed in response to the recent measles outbreak in California, has quickly emerged as one of this year’s most polarizing bills. One interest jumping into the fray: chiropractors.  LA Times article

Joel Fox: Don’t tax independent expenditures, eliminate campaign donor limits — A solution to the problem of beefing up candidate-controlled committees is to end the donation limits. Let candidates receive as much as a donor wants to give, report the donations immediately so that the public is aware of the donors, and let the candidate and his or her consultants fashion the campaign messages and be accountable for any promises or outrageous claims made during the campaign.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

More handguns sold in California in 2014 than during any other year on record – Dealers sold more than 510,000 handguns in California during 2014, more than double the number sold four years prior, according to new figures from the state Department of Justice.  Sacramento Bee article

Barry Bauer: Tight ammunition supplies hurt conservation – The president of Herb Bauer Sporting Goods in Fresno writes, “Less ammunition means fewer hunters, and fewer hunters means less money for conservation. Wildlife funding is based on license and tag sales as well as excise taxes on firearms and ammunition. These excise taxes go into a federal wildlife restoration fund that is then remitted to the states. With California hunters denied the opportunity to hunt with legal ammunition, they stay home.” Bauer op-ed in Fresno Bee

President Obama plans LA trip next week for Democratic fundraiser —  He has no campaigns left to run, President Obama likes to remind audiences of late. But he nonetheless will return to Los Angeles next week to raise money for his party as it gears up for the next presidential race.  LA Times article

Victor Davis Hanson: The audacity of weakness — For the last six years, lots of American allies, besides Israel, have become scared of this strange new diffidence of the United States – as if the Obama administration feels that America’s prior prominence as leader and protector of the West was either unwarranted, too costly, or resulted in an unfair world order in need of adjustment.  Hanson column in Modesto Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Report touts high-speed rail achievements, identifies challenges and risks – The California High-Speed Rail Authority issued a progress report to state legislators this week describing progress made in recent months, acknowledging ongoing hurdles and providing an update on the cost and schedule of California’s proposed bullet train.  Fresno Bee article

ACE expansion could mean $1.14 billion boon – A plan to expand the Altamont Corridor Express farther south into new territory while speeding up service between Stockton and the Silicon Valley would have an economic impact of $1.14 billion through 2029, according to a report commissioned by rail officials seeking to expand and improve service on the rail line.  Stockton Record article

California prisons have released 2,700 inmates under Prop 47 – California’s prisons have released 2,700 inmates after their felonies were reduced to misdemeanors under a ballot measure that voters approved in November, easing punishment for some property and drug crimes.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno to apply for $165 million in state loans for big water project – Fresno City Hall and its big water project are returning to their favorite lender — the state of California. The City Council on Thursday told its staff to apply to Sacramento for nearly $165 million in low-interest loans for water-system upgrades. Success could mean a cut in the residential monthly bill of $3 or more on top of a rate cut already secured.  Fresno Bee article

Commission: Cut Mayor Silva’s salary – A commission that studies how much the mayor and the City Council are paid is recommending the mayor’s $104,970 salary be slashed by more than $32,000 starting July 1, to $72,384.  Stockton Record article

Another solid month for job gains expected for February – U.S. employers are expected to follow the best three-month burst of hiring in 17 years with another solid round of job gains in February.  LA Times article

Construction moving along at Park Crossing in north Fresno – The shell of a building is finally standing on one of the most coveted — and long vacant — pieces of land near the busy River Park office centers in north Fresno. The building, along Fresno Street near Cole Avenue, is the first stage of construction for the retail portion of Park Crossing, a Zinkin Family Development project two decades in the making.  Fresno Bee article

Hanford Fox in flux – It’s been nearly a year since the Hanford Fox Theatre was forced to close its doors, and it could be several more months before the historic venue is up and running again.  Hanford Sentinel article

Merced Multicultural Arts Center lays off administrative staff – The Merced Multicultural Arts Center will lay off its administrative staff, whose duties will now be maintained by volunteer work from the Merced Arts Council’s dozen board members, the president confirmed Thursday. The executive director, program manager and operations manager will all be laid off no later than Friday.  Merced Sun-Star article

CoreLogic: Valley foreclosure rates mostly fell in December — Valley foreclosure rates mostly continued their year-over-year descent in December, according to new data from real estate information firm CoreLogic.  The Business Journal article

Kern supervisors to consider some lofty ideas – Next week Kern County supervisors will discuss a lofty-minded set of 2015 goals intended to “increase efficiency, maximize resources and improve services to Kern County residents.”  Bakersfield Californian article

John Cox: What’s next with Bakersfield Commons? Have a seat – Bakersfield had cause for celebration last month when the state’s high-speed rail agency announced it had settled a lawsuit filed by a developer proposing a very big, mixed-use real estate center northwest of Coffee and Brimhall roads. No longer is the train’s route expected to slice off one-sixth of the 255-acre project known as Bakersfield Commons. The settlement meant the property’s South Gate-based owner-developer, World Oil Corp., is free to move forward with the retail, office and residential project. So what’s next?  Bakersfield Californian article

Rancho San Miguel opens doors in Livingston; council approves residential project – A colorful supermarket known for its fresh Mexican food deli opened in Livingston on Wednesday, adding 80 new jobs to the economy.  Merced Sun-Star article

Slackening demand from China hurting a variety of U.S. industries – With its economy slowing amid a global glut of commodities, China is ordering less and driving steep price cuts for many goods — hurting a range of American industries such as scrap-metal dealers in Los Angeles, manufacturers in the Midwest and cotton farmers in the Mississippi Delta.  LA Times article

New app ‘Requested’ brings dynamic pricing to Sacramento restaurants – An ambitious smartphone app released this week promises to bring dynamic pricing to the restaurant industry, allowing restaurants to fill seats on slow days while giving customers the chance to negotiate deals to save money.  Sacramento Bee article

Building begins on blighted block of Sacramento’s K Street – The evolution of downtown Sacramento continues. One day after the first steel beams were placed at the site of a new Kings arena, city leaders held an upbeat ceremony a block away on Thursday to celebrate the beginning of construction on housing and shops on the 700 block of K Street.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Feds should back off, let state trim pension costs – Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has won an important victory in its modest effort to curb pension costs. Inexplicably, President Barack Obama’s Labor Department still is trying to undermine Brown.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Silicon Valley gender bias suit puts spotlight on industry – A sex discrimination trial against one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture capital firms is providing a rare peek into the elite investment companies vying to fund the next Google and Amazon.  AP article; New York Times article

Drug, criminal background checks for Uber and Lyft sought — The drive to treat Uber and Lyft more like taxi companies has sparked another California bill requiring drivers to undergo drug and background tests.  Capitol Alert


El Nino finally here; but this 1 is weak, weird and late — A long anticipated El Nino has finally arrived. But for drought-struck California, it’s too little, too late, meteorologists say.  AP article; LA Times article

Big businesses weighing in on California drought — As the California drought stretches into its fourth year, the business community wants to have a say in how water is managed. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new collaboration.  Capital Public Radio report

Valley citrus growers learn about the latest research to fight pest, disease – Specially trained dogs, heat therapy and nutrient cocktails are among the methods being used by farmers worldwide to slow the spread of a deadly citrus disease, several growers and experts said at Thursday’s annual Citrus Showcase in Visalia.  Fresno Bee article

Citrus growers gather to plan for drought and bugs — Over that last few years the citrus industry was hit hard by a freeze, a drought and a disease. This year, as Ezra David Romero reports from Visalia Thursday, the industry faces even more issues.  KVPR report

Fight against citrus disease moves to gardens — Huanglongbing — or “HLB” — isn’t just a threat to the state’s $2.4 billion citrus industry, said Steven Olson, noting that about 60 percent of California’s citrus doesn’t come from commercial groves but instead come from trees growing in the yards of houses and apartments.  Visalia Times-Delta article

January-February 2015 is Sacramento’s 7th driest period on record — An arid January and a middling amount of precipitation in February have placed the two months squarely in the top 10 driest in Sacramento history.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno police investigate video of teen beaten near Sunnyside High School — Fresno police are attempting to identify a group of teenagers caught on video at the scene of an apparent beating of another teen in southeast Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Drone bill gives cops broad power – Eager to fight more crime from the sky, a law enforcement group has sponsored a bipartisan bill that would give police broad freedom to use drones in California, but privacy advocates say the legislation could open the door to mass government surveillance.  U-T San Diego article

Dying inmates may appeal court decisions against early release — The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday that dying prisoners may appeal a judge’s decision refusing them an early release. The ruling overturned an appeals court decision that said only the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or the parole board could challenge a trial court’s decision denying a so-called compassionate release.  LA Times article; AP article

Oakland to drop controversial gang injunctions — After an expensive legal fight and questionable results, Oakland’s controversial gang injunctions — restricting the movements of more than four dozen men — are being dropped, the city attorney confirmed late Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Anthony York: Are soaring pensions and administrative costs at heart of UC budget fight? – This week, the University of California announced it would cap enrollment for in-state students at some campuses. In the wake of this escalation of the game of budget chicken between U.C. President Janet Napolitano and state lawmakers, I’ve reposted a collection of Tweets from December that include links and facts about how and why costs are skyrocketing at the University of California.  York in Grizzly Bear Project

Entrances to UC Santa Cruz cleared; student protest ends – University of California, Santa Cruz officials say student protesters against tuition increases have cleared both entrances to campus.  AP article

Protest over tuition hikes shuts down UC Santa Cruz — All entrances to UC Santa Cruz were blocked Thursday morning by protesters as part of an ongoing demonstration against tuition hikes, and university officials were advising people not to come to campus.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; KQED report

UC improves its investment returns but still lags behind other schools – The University of California’s $13.1 billion endowment produced better investment returns last year but still trailed most of the other richest colleges in the country, new financial data shows.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

UC computer project behind schedule, millions over budget – As the University of California began to feel the pinch of state budget cuts during the economic recession, it introduced a new initiative promoting systemwide efficiencies to save the university hundreds of millions of dollars. But it has fallen at least two years behind schedule, its cost has ballooned to $220 million and counting, and the financial benefits of the overhaul are now unclear. The university is forging ahead, with no end date in sight.  Sacramento Bee article

Early-grade Modesto teachers protest: Too much testing – A drive to catch kids up and make sure they’re reading by third grade has put heavy pressure on early-grade classrooms. Modesto City Schools teachers say they are testing through much of every day, but administrators insist that tracking kids’ early progress is essential for effective teaching.  Modesto Bee article

Republicans’ bills would change teacher tenure, layoff laws – Assembly Republicans announced bills Wednesday that would change state laws that establish teacher tenure and a layoff system based on seniority – two employment protections for teachers that a California Superior Court judge threw out in his sweeping Vergara v. the State of California ruling last yearEdSource article

Judge to decide if suit against Kern High School District holds up – A Kern County Superior Court judge is considering a Kern High School District request to dismiss a civil suit alleging it used discriminatory disciplinary practices targeting black and Latino students.  Bakersfield Californian article

ACEL charter school to close in downtown Fresno – Trustees at ACEL, a charter high school in downtown Fresno, voted Thursday to close the school, citing financial reasons. Rumblings of financial trouble surfaced earlier this week after word spread that the board had cut the school’s lunch program and slashed several staff positions to keep a $300,000 debt from ballooning. But the decision Thursday to close the school left students and parents reeling.  Fresno Bee article

Drexel closing Sacramento campus — Drexel University of Philadelphia said Thursday it is closing down its Sacramento campus, ending a six-year experiment to create a bi-coastal college. Sacramento Bee article

In UCLA debate over Jewish student, echoes on campus of old biases — It seemed like routine business for the student council at the University of California, Los Angeles: confirming the nomination of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics major who wants to be a lawyer someday, to the council’s Judicial Board. Until it came time for questions.  New York Times article


UC Merced gets 15th energy efficiency certification — The Half Dome student housing building at UC Merced has been officially certified for its energy efficiency, the university announced Wednesday, which makes it the 15th certification on campus.  Merced Sun-Star article

Critical eye cast at Atwater recycling bins — Bright green donation bins are popping up all over town, offering Atwater residents a convenient way to get rid of old clothes and shoes while promising to help the environment. But one city official says the bins are deceiving the public and preying on the kindness of Atwater residents.  Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Covered California: Almost 1.3 million have signed up for new coverage through Obamacare — Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, has released its latest numbers for 2015 enrollment to date.  KQED report

State sees higher minority, youth sign-ups for health plan – California did a better job of enrolling more minorities and young people for health care coverage during the second year of expansion, but a shortfall in overall enrollment could lead to increased fees in the future, according to new state data released Thursday.  AP article

Preschools a microcosm of debate on measles vaccinations – Kindergarten classrooms and preschools have been pushed to the front lines as measles cases continue to roll in and the national debate over vaccines grows more heated.  LA Times article

Whooping cough claims life of San Joaquin County infant – Whooping cough has claimed the life of a 3-week-old infant and is considered a health threat to other children and adults in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.  Modesto Bee article; Stockton Record article

Local woman wins $5.7 million in lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson — A jury returned a $5.7 million verdict Thursday in favor of a 50-year-old Tehachapi woman who had sued Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary over a medical device that has generated a slew of similar lawsuits nationwide.  Bakersfield Californian article

Visalia boy with autism finds his voice – A 7-year-old Visalia boy who suffers from severe autism is beginning to speak. Max Cutler benefits from a specialized program at Veva Blunt Elementary School which is raising money for new technology.  Visalia Times-Delta article

6-way kidney swap: First surgeries completed in San Francisco — Surgeons at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center began the first of a series of operations over two days Thursday morning in a rare six-way kidney swap that was started by a woman who wanted to donate a kidney to help save a life, but didn’t have anyone to give it to.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Land Use/Housing

City Beat: Key Bakersfield senior housing approved — The last of the five affordable housing projects Bakersfield committed to in order to win a state grant six years ago won approval Wednesday from the Bakersfield City Council.  Bakersfield Californian article


GET board votes down $40 million new facilities — Plans for a $40-million upgrade to Golden Empire Transit’s facilities were put on hold Tuesday when the board voted to have staff gather more information before spending that money.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fixing Bay Bridge tower’s lean put crucial rods at risk — More than half the 400 steel rods that hold the new Bay Bridge eastern span’s tower in place were put at significantly greater risk of cracking when engineers fixed a lean in the landmark tower by tugging it into its proper position, a bridge official revealed Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

San Francisco plans to move entire homeless encampments into housing – Greg Fairrer lay facedown on the sidewalk in the Mission District on Thursday while one block away San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was trumpeting what could be Fairrer’s salvation — a homeless-aid Navigation Centerdesigned to move entire homeless encampments from sidewalk to permanent homes in just 10 days.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Michael Fitzgerald: This piece of public art soars – Uproar over public art is so predictable. Right now some Sacramentans are bellyaching over the selection of an $8 million Jeff Koons sculpture of Piglet to adorn the city’s new arena. So inevitable. Which makes the silence surrounding the Stockton council’s approval of the $250,000 sculpture “Anchored” by Bay Area artists Diana Pumpelly Bates and Steve Petrushka remarkable. A cash-strapped city buys art and nobody objects? Amazing.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Huntingdon Beach imposes moratorium on new massage parlors — Huntington Beach city leaders have imposed a 45-day moratorium of new massage parlors in the beach town after the number of massage business skyrocketed from eight to 74 in a five-year span. LA Times article

Brik McDill: Slow down and connect: There are unsung heroes all around us – Cal State Bakersfield’s Kegley Institute of Ethics again proved that personal goodness and ethical excellence has not disappeared from the face of the earth but is very alive and well in Kern County. The spotlight was lit, and two lifetime awards for exemplary ethical behavior were recently awarded following a banquet at Seven Oaks Country Club — one in the youth category, the other for an adult.  McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

Modesto pop culture references – you might be surprised — A chronological timeline of Modesto references in pop culture. As Modesto gets ready to be featured in the new ABC series “American Crime,” a look at the other times the Central Valley city has made it into television, movies and music.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Will U.S. Supreme Court ideology decide Obamacare, redistricting cases?

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano must put students first.

Modesto Bee – Gov. Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano must put students first.

Sacramento Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has won an important victory in its modest effort to curb pension costs. Inexplicably, President Barack Obama’s Labor Department still is trying to undermine Brown; The public must help solve Sacramento animal killings.