March 8, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Potential redistricting reset could tighten California Democrats’ grip – A U.S. Supreme Court case that could force California to redraw its congressional districts has stirred up fears of a return to partisan gerrymandering, a divisive process that has been criticized for both cementing and crushing political careers.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: ‘Reality lag’ plagues our politicians – Not only are politics reactive, rather than proactive, they are characterized by what one might term “reality lag.” It takes an astonishingly long time for those in office to recognize, much less respond to, issues that need attention.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Mike Dunbar: Our Central Valley finally taking its seat at the table — With nine Assembly members and five senators, the Central Valley Caucus is still small compared with Los Angeles – which has 26 Assembly members alone. But it’s harder to ignore 14 representatives than to shut out one or two at a time.  Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

GOP dream candidate Condi Rice says no thanks to U.S. Senate bid — Condoleezza Rice — Stanford professor, Soviet specialist, former U.S secretary of state — once said her dream job was commissioner of the National Football League. So she knows a Hail Mary pass when she sees one.  LA Times article


ACLU searches for immigrants denied deportation hearing — The American Civil Liberties Union has started searching for deportees in Mexico who may be eligible to return to the United States as part of a class-action lawsuit against the federal government.  KPBS report

Other areas

Crumbling roads, privacy among California lawmakers’ priorities — Debates over California’s soaring higher education costs, its crumbling roads and severe shortage of affordable housing are shaping up as the most prominent at the state Capitol this year.  U-T San Diego article

Obama marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ anniversary: ‘Our march is not yet finished’ — Standing before the landmark Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate a historic moment in the civil rights movement, President Obama on Saturday called upon Americans to acknowledge progress the nation has made in easing racial tensions but remain vigilant for the hard work still ahead.  LA Times article

Fresno Council President Oliver Baines participates in Selma anniversary march — Marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” was “absolutely electric” for Fresno City Council President Oliver Baines III.  Fresno Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dried and confused: Some get water, many won’t – what’s wrong with this? — In the withering California drought, 15 water districts will deliver precious irrigation supplies to Kern County growers while 15,000 farmers face summer without their Millerton Lake allotments — a confusing repeat of last year. How does the south San Joaquin Valley get some water in back-to-back drought years while the east side goes without? And, by the way, vast tracts of farmland on the Valley’s west side also will be shut out.  Fresno Bee article

Kern library supporters concerned about privatization talk – A proposal to privatize the Kern County library system that’s been quietly kicked around for months has agency supporters worried services would be cut. The County Administrative Office, looking for ways to save money, plans to bring the idea to the Board of Supervisors for discussion by the end of March. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Kevin de Leon: Valley is poised for green energy economic boom – The president pro tem of the California Senate writes, “When I look at California’s increasingly post-industrial economy, renewable energy and clean technology are not simply smart for the environment, they are currently the fastest growing job sectors and I cannot help but see a giant opportunity for cities in the Valley.” de Leon op-ed in Fresno Bee

Bakersfield enjoys hotel boom – In another sign of the resurging economy, Bakersfield is getting at least two new hotels between now and next year, and developers are sniffing around with an eye toward building more. Two upcoming projects will add 180 rooms to the market.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton, Tracy compare prices to other U.S. cities – Stockton and Tracy are among the least expensive urban areas of California according to cost-of-living calculations that allow anyone to easily compare prices here to communities across the nation. Both cities have recently become included in those cost-of-living calculations, which show that the cost of living in Stockton is 9 percent and Tracy 24 percent higher than the U.S. average.  Stockton Record article

CEO pressured on future of Bakersfield refinery – The chief executive of Alon USA Energy Inc. told investors Friday the company is talking with “a number of parties” about using a proposed oil-by-rail terminal on Rosedale Highway, even as he declined to say when the company might decide whether to restart its Bakersfield refinery.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton’s water bond rating rises – Standard & Poor’s has upgraded Stockton’s water-system bond ratings, a move that came just days after the city’s emergence last week from Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The bond upgrade comes as the city prepares to launch a $150-million improvement project at its wastewater treatment plant near the Port of Stockton.  Stockton Record article

Susan Sward: Putting the focus on income inequality – California, long viewed as a leader among the country’s states for its precedent-setting legislation, has a couple of top ratings that tarnish its progressive reputation – dire poverty and a yawning gap between rich and poor.  Sward in Sacramento Bee

Health benefits boost board compensation at Sacramento area special districts – Of the nearly 1,000 special district board members in the capital region, about 70 percent received no compensation. The other 30 percent, however, received an average of $4,300 in total compensation. All of the two dozen directors who received the most compensation – $15,000 or more – served districts in the Sierra foothills or around Lake Tahoe, in particular water districts with a long history of providing health coverage to board members and their immediate family members.  Sacramento Bee article

Conservation Corps:  Young people learn skills while cleaning up Stockton – Arturo Aleman pulled up to a curb last week in a city-owned pickup truck, switched on a mechanical sprayer and fired a cleansing coat of white paint over a graffiti-obliterated brick wall separating a row of north Stockton homes from a bustling thoroughfare. In just a few seconds, thanks to Aleman’s efforts, a large, ugly and ultimately pointless black circle was gone. And a symbolic, meaningful and ongoing circle continued. The latter circle is one that is joining the city, a San Joaquin County Office of Education program, and at-risk 18- to 25-year-olds in a relationship that benefits everyone.  Stockton Record article

San Diego’s options for financing stadium — Recent discussion of how San Diego can pay for a new Chargers stadium has shifted away from traditional tax increases, which need approval from two-thirds of voters, toward different approaches that wouldn’t face that daunting requirement.  U-T San Diego article

Getting to the pint: Not hard in beer-loving Kern – California is home to more than 300 craft breweries — by far the most of any state — as well as droves of hop heathens who brew beer in their own garages and kitchens. In fact, there are five craft breweries right here in Kern County, with a sixth slated to open in Bakersfield later this year. To say residents here are in on the Golden State’s craft beer craze would be a sudsy understatement.  Bakersfield Californian article

Manteca’s Delicato tops state’s wineries again – A co-owner of Delicato Family Vineyards watched as an employee drew samples from a 6,250-gallon load of white zinfandel bound for Finland. The samples would help the company guarantee that the  That attention to quality helped Delicato increase its sales volume by 12 percent last year over 2013. And it earned the company the California Winery of the Year award for 2014 from Jon Fredrikson, a leading industry consultant. Delicato also won in 2011.  Modesto Bee article

Homeboy Industries hope more space will better serve gang community — Homeboy, located in a two-story office building in Chinatown, is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround. The nonprofit recently purchased a 6,000-square-foot building next door so it can better serve the community.  LA Times article

Can ‘fast casual’ burger chains overcome the merely fast? — As one of the region’s growing “better burger” chains, Krush Burger is on a roll. Part of a national trend, it’s biting into the traditional burger market long dominated by big chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King.  Sacramento Bee article


Fresno Bee: Water storage projects need critical analysis – Hope springs eternal, unlike certain other assets. The California Water Commission was born in a long-ago era, in a hopeful attempt to filter some of the politics out of the state’s most important natural resource. How that worked soon will be on display, as the agency’s nine commissioners take on the most contentious tasks of implementing the $7.5 billion water bond approved in November: retrofitting the state’s plumbing in a way that will store as much water as possible despite a historic drought.  Fresno Bee editorial

Bay Area water agencies considering big water rate hikes to cover cost of lost water sales –  Three of the largest Bay Area water agencies — the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which runs the Hetch Hetchy system — all are considering water rate hikes of up to 30 percent this year.  San Jose Mercury News article

Jay Lund and Maurice Hall: Shaping water storage expansion in California – Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, and Hall, an independent water resources consultant, write, “In California’s vast interconnected water system, storage projects should not be evaluated in isolation. Instead, specific storage projects should be integrated into larger portfolios of actions that include various water sources; types and locations of water storage; water delivery options; and managing all forms of water demands. These portfolios should be evaluated systemwide.”  Lund/Hall op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

LAPD uses its helicopters to stop crimes before they start — The LAPD is pioneering the use of helicopters to stop crimes before they start. Tapping into the data-driven policing trend, the department uses heat maps, technology and years of statistics to identify crime “hot spots.” Pilots then use their downtime to fly over them, on the theory that would-be criminals tend to rethink their nefarious plans when there’s an airship hovering overhead.  LA Times article


Sacramento Bee: Teach kids ‘yes means yes’ before their freshman year — It’s a lot to process, even for adults. So how can we imagine that a day or two of college orientation will be enough for students to figure it out? So yes, let’s discuss it in high school. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss it as families, too.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Focus on test scores for poor students paying off in Ceres – Local school districts have poured a lot of resources into making sure students have every opportunity to succeed despite their personal difficulties. Ceres Unified School District, where 80 percent of high school students are socio-economically disadvantaged, is one of them.  Modesto Bee article

Ban on American flag at UC Irvine reversed – A five-member executive cabinet overseeing UC Irvine’s student government on Saturday vetoed a decision to ban the display of all flags, including the American flag.  LA Times article

UC campuses roiled over claims of anti-Israel bias — The politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict keep seeping into campus life at the University of California.  LA Times article


Drones are latest tool in conservation science – Cheap, fast and flexible, drones are quickly becoming a favored tool for organizations conducting scientific research. The Nature Conservancy has four drones operating from San Diego to the northern Sierra. The remote aircraft count sandhill cranes, survey flood restoration projects and perform other tasks.  Sacramento Bee article

Sick, starving sea lion pups wash up in record numbers on California coast — Along the length of the California coastline, an extraordinary rescue effort is underway. In January and February alone, 1,450 malnourished or dying sea lion pups have washed up on shore – compared with just 68 in the same period last year.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Sacramento County proposal would use vital records fee to fund domestic violence programs — Sacramento County leaders want to increase fees on marriage, birth and death documents to fund domestic violence programs, pointing to more than 21,000 crisis calls made each year to three local shelter programs.  Sacramento Bee article

For breast-feeding teen moms, high schools don’t make the grade — Parenting is hard, Acker says. Being a teen parent is even harder. Acker was barely 15 when she had Gracie. Even though she was a young mother, she’d heard about the benefits of breast-feeding and decided she would try to breast-feed while attending her local high school in the Central Valley town of Reedley.  KQED report


Futuristic city planned for Kings County gets people-mover to match — It’s something that exists now largely on a drawing board, but a Southern California entrepreneur has ambitious plans to begin construction next year on a project to build, test and prove the concept of a futuristic, high-speed people-moving system called a “hyperloop.” And he wants to do that test in, of all places, the shadow of the Kettleman Hills in southwestern Kings County.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Stockton building becoming a higher court – John Bernadicoy tilted his head back, slightly arching his back, and gazed in awe at the mid-rise structure for just about a minute. The tallest building in the entire county, a 13-story courthouse, is taking shape in downtown Stockton with the steel frame built and the floors now being installed.  Stockton Record article

Lisa Gamoian’s first judicial stop is the entry level — Lisa Gamoian is transitioning from the fast lane of high-profile prosecutor and high-profile politician to the slow lane of life as a rookie judge. Most of her days are spent refereeing landlord-tenant disputes.  Fresno Bee article

David Mas Masumoto: Defying time – Once a year (actually twice) I want to defy time. I pretend daylight saving time doesn’t happen. I wake up at the same time. My body wants to work in my fields when the sun tells me. I still eat whenever I come in from work — earlier in the winter because it gets darker sooner and later in the summer with long days.  Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Donald W. Blount: Bias does not provide legitimate basis for prejudice – Truth be told, we all have our biases whether they be based in race, physical appearance, geography, religion or even sports teams affiliation. But once you are aware of and understand that bias, then you can operate in spite of it and get to know others for who they are and not for that one quality that differs from you or may have put you off before.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Jeff Jardine: Documentary maker brings personal experience to Islamic State’s captives’ Modesto family – Two weeks ago, a Modesto family learned that its loved ones were among those taken hostage by ISIS militants in Syria.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Mike Klocke: Take 10: A downtown walk – I heart downtown Stockton. It’s a great place to work, dine, meet people and just walk. So why don’t you come along for my recent 60-minute lunch-time walk around downtown Stockton — handy I-phone in tow so I can capture, ahem, “award-winning” photos.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Lewis Griswold: ‘Women of Tulare County’ exhibit honors 10 women for their unique lives — The “Women of Tulare County” exhibit opening Tuesday at the Visalia branch of the Tulare County Library honors 10 local women for impressive achievements. Timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, the exhibit highlights their unique contributions to the world from 1855 to the present.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The California Water Commission must do a critical analysis of the state’s water storage projects.

Modesto Bee – The California Water Commission must do a critical analysis of the state’s water storage projects; Visiting editors on growing older, and what we can do about it.

Sacramento Bee – The California Water Commission must do a critical analysis of the state’s water storage projects; Teach kids “yes means yes” before their freshman year.