March 7, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

AD 31: Joaquin Arambula considers state Assembly run — Joaquin Arambula has the political pedigree. Now, he may have the calling. The Kingsburg Democrat is the son of former Assembly member and Fresno County Supervisor Juan Arambula, but up until now he’s stayed out of politics, instead focusing on his medical career. He’s currently an emergency room doctor at Adventist Medical Center in Selma. Now, he’s considering a 2016 run for the 31st Assembly District, which is currently held by Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who will be termed out next year.  Fresno Bee article

Whitman, Kashkari among Republicans backing gay marriage in court brief — California’s last two Republican gubernatorial candidates – including Meg Whitman, who once supported the state’s same-sex marriage ban – are among more than 300 conservatives who have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of gay marriage.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Tubbs forms committee for San Joaquin County supervisorial run – Confirming the expected, Michael Tubbs said last week he will forego seeking a second term on the City Council and instead run for a seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2016.  Stockton Record article

Modesto councilman Madrigal raising cash for 2017 — It’s a long time until the November 2017 election, but Councilman Tony Madrigal has started raising and spending money in his re-election bid. Madrigal, who was elected to the council for the first time in November 2013, has raised $8,713, according to his most recent campaign finance form filed with the city.  Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Villaraigosa is coming to Fresno; local supporters plan to lobby him for 2018 gubernatorial run – Former Los Angeles Mayor and Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa is coming to Fresno, and now that he’s passed on a 2016 U.S. Senate run, some of his local supporters want to bend his ear about the state’s next big race — governor.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Giants ask Supreme Court to support gay marriage — The San Francisco Giants are going to bat for gay marriage. The Giants, along with the Tampa Bay Rays and football’s New England Patriots, have signed on to a legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to end state bans on same-sex marriage.  San Francisco Chronicle article

New red-light cameras would be banned under California bill – State Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) has introduced a bill to prohibit the installation of red-light cameras, a move that he says would improve safety and traffic flow on California streets.  LA Times article

Joel Fox: Split roll debate continues — While supporters of changing Proposition 13 to increase taxes on commercial property usually focus on raising the tax rate or frequently reassessing property, UCLA Law School professor Kirk Stark has a different idea – broaden the base of business property taxes by reassessing more often but at the same time lower tax rates on property and other business taxes.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Hillary Clinton emails illuminate California debate about what’s public — Reliance on private email accounts to conduct government business has for some time irked citizens and watchdog organizations who argue the tactic has been exploited to effectively shield conversations from public view. California law on the subject remains unsettled, leaving many public officials essentially free to conduct back-channel communication. The Legislature has made no moves to clarify the situation, and a court battle is raging in San Jose.  Sacramento Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Merced ag industry scrambles to survive drought — Winton dairy farmer Ray Veldhuis won’t be hiring any extra workers this year as he prepares to survive a fourth consecutive drought year in Merced County. Typically, in a non-drought year, he hires about 10 seasonal workers. Veldhuis said, like many farmers in Merced County, he’s going to have to fight this year just to maintain the 50 employees he staffs full time.  Merced Sun-Star article

Home prices climb 10 percent in February as Bakersfield market gains steam – Bakersfield’s median home sale prices jumped 10 percent in February as the local housing market sprang to life “like a bear coming out of hibernation,” according to a new report by appraiser Gary Crabtree.  Bakersfield Californian article

Health benefits are a promise school districts find hard to keep – California school districts once viewed lifetime healthcare coverage for employees as a cheap alternative to pay raises. That decision is coming back to haunt school leaders, and districts are scrambling to limit the lucrative benefit promised decades ago.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

California unemployment rate drops to 6.9 percent — California’s employment picture kept improving in January at a healthy clip, as the jobless rate dipped to 6.9 percent with the addition of 67,300 new positions, a state agency said Friday.  AP article; McClatchy Newspapers article

Back to the future may be answer for Fresno’s Granite Park – Maybe the only thing Granite Park needs is a fresh start with the original idea. That’s the message being pitched by veteran Fresno developer Terance Frazier to a City Hall desperate to turn the expensive, city-owned failure into something of lasting value.  Fresno Bee article

Merced County pays food truck’s phone bill, personal car mileage – The founders of Make Someone Happy, the nonprofit that landed a six-figure Merced County contract to run a produce truck, are paid for their cellphones and a personal vehicle, the Merced Sun-Star has learned.  Merced Sun-Star article

Atwater firetruck equipment costs remain under wraps – Less than a month after the Atwater City Council approved purchasing $80,000 of equipment for the city’s new firetruck, fire officials still haven’t released a list of prices to the public.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lemoore to engage young entrepreneurs — The Lemoore Chamber of Commerce is preparing to launch a program that will teach students ages 11 to 18 how to start their own business. Hanford Sentinel article

Labor fight at ports puts small dent in exports – Near-gridlock at West Coast ports and a rising dollar did not do as much damage to California’s January exports as some analysts had feared.  Sacramento Bee article

LAPD officers win tentative contract with 8.2 percent raise — Los Angeles’ police officers on Friday secured a tentative contract agreement that would raise their pay by 8.2% over the next four years, the most generous package of concessions Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration has offered an employee union.  LA Times article

Daniel Borenstein: Obama administration punishes Gov. Brown for pension changes — The Obama administration is holding up federal transit money for California as it continues to claim Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012 pension changes violate workers’ collective bargaining rights.  Borenstein in Contra Costa Times

Delay could cost Sacramento millions in sale of Kings arena bonds – Nearly a year after finalizing the deal for the new Sacramento Kings arena, and four months after construction started, the city can’t issue the bonds needed to finance its promised $255 million contribution. City officials say the delay could cost taxpayers millions of dollars because interest rates are almost certain to go up soon.  Sacramento Bee article

Nine reasons Sacramento is a city on the verge – Several developments this week show Sacramento, once ground zero for inferiority complexes in the Golden State, defining itself on its own terms instead of in comparison to others.  Sacramento Bee article

Study: San Diego stadium unlikely without taxes — Building a new Chargers stadium without tax support seems “doubtful,” a new analysis from a National University think tank showed Friday.  U-T San Diego article

Oakland Coliseum board approves Raiders lease extension — The authority that operates O.Co Coliseum approved a lease extension for the Oakland Raiders that will keep the team in town for at least one more season while team officials and local leaders discuss options for a new football stadium at the Coliseum complex.  Oakland Tribune article

Bay Area housing lags booming economy — With the Bay Area economy on fire and employment now matching the 2000 peak of the dot-com boom, regional leaders are concerned that housing lags.  San Jose Mercury News article

John Wayne among first airports to clear way for Uber, Lyft — John Wayne Airport has positioned itself to be one of the first large Southern California airports to permit Uber, Lyft and other smartphone app-based ride services to operate alongside the traditional fleets of taxi cabs, town cars and shuttle buses.  LA Times article


‘Limited’ water exports ok’d – State water watchdogs may allow more water to be pumped south from the Delta this month, but only under “very limited circumstances.” The decision, announced late Thursday, came two weeks after an emotional hearing in which south San Joaquin Valley farmers and farm workers pleaded for more Delta water, saying their livelihoods were at stake.  Stockton Record article

Citrus psyllid found near Orange Cove — Two more Asian citrus psyllids have been found near Orange Cove, prompting the California Department of Food and Agriculture to expand a protective zone in the area.  Fresno Bee article

House bill raises ag hackles – A Republican-backed bill that would require all employers to verify their employees’ right to work in the U.S. is raising red flags among Valley agricultural groups.  Hanford Sentinel article

UFW urges Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner to take action against Gerawan Farming — About 30 members of the United Farm Workers union rallied outside the Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner’s office on Friday, demanding that the county take action against Gerawan Farming for violating pesticide regulations.  Fresno Bee article

Farm Beat: Stanislaus County Fair CEO will retire — Chris Borovansky, chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Fair, announced this week that he will retire in August.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Oakland demonstrations by the numbers:  2 cops for every 3 protestors – The Oakland Police Department has produced a “by the numbers” summary of its activity during the November-December 2014 police brutality protests.  KQED report


Stockton Unified, teachers post information before vote – With teachers being asked to cast ballots Tuesday on a strike authorization vote the union called this week after negotiations moved into fact-finding, Stockton Unified School District has posted an informational page on its website that details its double-digit compensation offer and spells out the potential consequences of a work stoppage.  Stockton Record article

After ACEL charter school abruptly closes, families want answers – The vote to close ACEL charter came after several days of student protests and concern about the school’s tumbling financial situation. Last week, the board agreed to cut the school’s lunch program and several staff positions, moves administrators said at the time would keep ACEL’s debt from swelling to an estimated $500,000.  Fresno Bee article

Dan Morain: John Mockler left deep footprints – Here’s some of what John Mockler left behind: Public schools will receive $65.7 billion in the coming year, $5 billion more than this year. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Farm for Hanford ag students discussed – Hanford Joint Union High School District’s students in its agriculture program could soon have a facility to call their own. The district is working on creating an farm where students could plant crops, garden, tend animals and take their ag classes. Hanford Sentinel article

American flag, others banned in UC Irvine student area –  In a push for what has been described as cultural inclusion, the student government at UC Irvine has voted to ban the display of all flags — including the American flag — in an area of the campus.  LA Times article

Officers suspended as video of attack on Oakland student surfaces — Two school security officers have been suspended and a criminal investigation is possible after the Oakland Unified School District’s new superintendent and police chief discovered security-camera footage showing what they say is an unprovoked attack on a high school student that was then covered up by former officials.  San Francisco Chronicle article


New Bay Bridge headache:  Demolition could harm threatened smelt — Caltrans has traded one wildlife problem for another in its dismantling of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge — finding a solution to pesky cormorants that refuse to leave the bridge, but facing the possibility it is threatening a state-protected fish.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Air quality board Oks tighter pollution limits for battery recyclers —  Air quality officials imposed stricter emissions limits on two Los Angeles County battery recycling plants Friday, attempting to protect surrounding communities from lead pollution released by Exide Technologies in Vernon.  LA Times article

Urban sprawl is reducing June gloom in coastal Southern California —  In a meteorological twist, heat rising off urban sprawl is driving a trend toward fewer annual summer invasions of dense overcast known as June gloom in coastal Southern California areas, a new climate study says.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Authorizations denied for low-income kids with dental decay – As health experts and politicians in Sacramento this week debated the merits of raising Medi-Cal reimbursements, the problem with access to dental care has hit close to home in Stanislaus County.  Modesto Bee article

Rural clinics extend medical care around Tulare County – Rosemary Navarro visited the Kaweah Delta Dinuba Health Clinic earlier this week, making it her second visit to the new clinic. Initially going there after her daughter saw the clinic while shopping, Navarro, who lives in Reedley, said her visit was good. The clinic’s staff was friendly and the wait time was minimal, Navarro said.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Shocking local statistics about sugary drinks – Local kids and adults consume far more sugary drinks like sodas and energy drinks than water, leading to sky-high rates of obesity and diabetes, according to a new survey released Friday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Rare 6-way kidney swap is complete at San Francisco hospital – Doctors at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco on Friday finished the final rounds of a marathon six-way kidney swap that started Thursday with three patients successfully receiving new kidneys from three compatible donors.  San Francisco Chronicle article

FDA approves knockoff of Amgen’s Neupogen chemo recovery drug – Amgen Inc., the Thousand Oaks biotech giant, has for decades sold some of the nation’s top-selling drugs with little competition. That ended Friday as the FDA approved a competitor’s knockoff version of Amgen’s chemotherapy recovery drug, Neupogen, heralding a new era of fierce competition — and lower prices — in the multibillion-dollar biologic drug market.  LA Times article

Bay Area day cares show high rates of unvaccinated kids — While much of the recent attention has focused on kindergartners who aren’t fully immunized, preschools and day cares may also be beds of infection, state data show. In Santa Clara County, 12 percent of preschoolers and day care kids 2 and older were not up-to-date on their shots at the beginning of this school year. In Alameda County, more than 9 percent of preschoolers were not fully immunized, and some reports from individual preschools showed far higher rates of undervaccinated children. CHCF Center for Health Reporting article in San Jose Mercury News


Kristine Williams:  Proposed law would have many negative impacts – The executive director of the San Joaquin Bike Coalition writes, “Senate Bill 192 ignores the bigger issue of why helmets are perceived as needed, the lack of education and infrastructure in many California cities.  Rethinking and enhancing our bicycle networks — which Stockton will be undertaking this year — is what will protect and encourage citizens riding their bikes, as well as advocating for helmet use through improved educational outreach, not legislation by force.”  Williams op-ed in Stockton Record

Other areas

Staying inside the lines: A cautionary tale – The Bakersfield Police Department will likely reverse a spate of parking tickets issued in the downtown parking garage this week after The Californian began looking into the citations.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: Hiccups in the spay voucher program, but advances too – It’s been almost a year since Kern County Supervisors agreed to give $80,000 to three local nonprofits to try and jump start the county’s targeted spay/neuter efforts. How’s it going?  Well, there’s good news and bad.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

100 Kern dogs fly to freedom – Another 100 animals made it out of Kern County shelters Friday morning thanks to Wings of Rescue, a Los Angeles based non-profit dedicated to getting animals out of high kill areas and into loving homes.  Bakersfield Californian article

Chowchilla seeks public input before filling top 2 posts – The city of Chowchilla put out a call this week to residents, asking for their input and ideas on what they would like to see in the next city administrator and police chief. Merced Sun-Star article

Former Kern judge remembered as ‘historic figure,’ respectful and close to family – John Donald Jelletich felt strongly the importance of building and keeping enduring bonds among family and friends. And he took action to make sure those bonds stayed strong.  Bakersfield Californian article

Harrison Ford’s plane may have ties to Tulare County history — Excitement rippled through Tulare County when photos of Harrison Ford’s downed vintage airplane clearly showed “Sequoia Field Visalia, Calif.” stenciled on the side.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Our Views:  Highway 99 is ugly, so let’s crowd-source the solutions; the beauty of almond blossoms; and other issues.