March 9, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

State’s Republicans seek rebranding as power, image erodes — Republicans are down on their luck in California. They don’t hold a single statewide office, and their image isn’t getting any help from their colleagues in Washington, who seem unable to get anything done in Congress. Those problems have led some in the embattled party to conclude that the California GOP is in need of a rebranding, perhaps going so far as to de-emphasize the “R” affiliation in upcoming campaigns.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Bills on workers’ comp bias and ride-sharing safety are resurrected – Lawmakers once again are grappling with complaints from injured workers that insurers unfairly slash their disability payments. A bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) would partially address the problem of alleged bias against women hurt on the job. The bill has strong backing from labor unions.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown no longer fighting the politics of influence — Gov. Jerry Brown’s long-ago effort to clean up California politics never loosened lobbyists’ grip on the Capitol, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Walters: Could Anne Gust Brown be the next governor? — Let’s assume – at least for this missive – that two years hence, Kamala Harris will have begun her new job: U.S. senator. As she takes her seat in the Senate, of course, Harris would resign as attorney general midway through her second term, which coincides with the midway point in Jerry Brown’s fourth and final term as governor. Brown would name Harris’ successor as attorney general – subject to confirmation by the Legislature – and therefore could potentially set up someone to succeed him as governor two years later.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Dan Morain: Liquor bill’s fate could be smooth, or harsh — Distillers make and rectifiers flavor whiskey, gin, vodka and anything else that can be fermented from grain or fruit and distilled. You can visit their shops, and they can charge you for tasting their wares, thanks to a law approved in 2013. But if you offer to buy a bottle, they will tell you, sorry. They risk losing their licenses if they sell directly to you. That’s what Levine, a second-term assemblyman with a taste for whiskey, in moderation, hopes to change.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Feinstein wants Clinton to provide details on personal e-mail use — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called Sunday on Hillary Clinton to “step up and come out” to explain in more detail why she used a personal e-mail account to conduct government business during her time as secretary of state.  Washington Post article

Willie Brown: Hillary Clinton and the perils of being early front-runner — The explosion over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state proves the dangers of being the early front-runner in a presidential race.  Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Cal State is tightening admissions criteria to control demand — Across the Cal State system, campus officials are limiting enrollment using higher admission standards to do so. Currently, 18 of the 23 universities restrict applicants; a decade ago only eight campuses did so. As with Northridge, Fresno State also is looking to further reduce enrollment. The Cal State Board of Trustees must approve those plans.  LA Times article

Taps may run dry in western Fresno County town after residents vote to oppose rate hike – Residents of this tiny western Fresno County town recently told Fresno County supervisors that they don’t want to pay higher bills for water service to their tiny community — even if it means having their water shut off. If they don’t agree to pay more, Cantua Creek residents will stop getting water as early as mid-May.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Baby boomers will keep debt high for foreseeable future – As debt jumped over the past decade, economists warned that retiring baby boomers might soon overwhelm retirement programs, swamp the federal budget and keep the debt unusually high as far as the eye can see. That day has come and the answer now apparently is “get used to it.”  McClatchy Newspapers article

Brown plan may cut state retiree health benefits — Something that rarely happens in California could result from Gov. Brown’s proposal to contain growing state worker retiree health care costs — benefits received by current government retirees might be reduced.  Calpensions article

AEG, falling behind in fight for NFL stadium, takes the gloves off – Not long ago, AEG was the front-runner in the race to return a National Football League team to the region with the Farmers Field project in downtown Los Angeles. Now it lags behind rival proposals in Inglewood and Carson, both of which, unlike Farmers Field, have the backing of an NFL owner. AEG is pushing back.  LA Times article

Airbnb spawns vacation rental confusion — Vacationers longing for a coastal getaway in Coronado but who can’t afford pricey hotel rates may inevitably find their way to Airbnb where there are plenty of private rooms to rent, yet without the budget-busting price tag. Trouble is, many of those rentals are also skirting the law.  U-T San Diego article


Grant could solve East Porterville’s water problems — Of the 952 dry wells that have been reported to Tulare County officials, nearly 600 are in East Porterville, said Andrew Lockman, manager of the county Office of Emergency Services. But for residents here, some of whom have been without water for months longer than Herrera, hope may be on the horizon.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Riverbank council to consider rules for ag preservation — Riverbank leaders will join a larger debate over how much cities should charge developers when replacing farmland with homes or businesses.  Modesto Bee article

Landscapes are changing with water conservation in mind — Around this time each year, people begin spring gardening, and in this fourth year of drought, more are landscaping with water conservation in mind. Some are making small steps by choosing more drought-tolerant plants such as native grasses or succulents for decoration, while others are doing complete overhauls – tearing out lawns in favor of rocks, pavers or bark and a few low-maintenance plants.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Two inmates killed in separate incidents at Sacramento County Jail – Since 1984, only four people have died at the hands of other inmates at Sacramento County Main Jail. Two of those have happened in the past three months. Do the recent killings raise questions about oversight of inmates?  Sacramento Bee article

David Singer: Sirens sounding, lights flashing – what to do? – CHP officer David Singer offers helpful advice for motorists who encounter emergency vehicles.  Singer column in Fresno Bee


Gov. Brown offers $50 million carrot for college innovation – Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been critical of public colleges and universities for what he sees as a failure to adapt to the 21st century, is putting state funds behind his position.  AP article

Tom Torlakson: New tests focus on what students really need to learn – The state superintendent of public instruction writes, “The changes we have begun are focused on helping students succeed in the long run, achieving their dreams of college and a career. While this spring’s tests are just one measure of their progress, let’s support them as they take their place on the starting line and begin the challenging journey to their future.”  Torlakson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Jose Gaspar: Kern High School District fails transparency test – again — Remember the TV game “Password”? One contestant would give a one-word hint to a partner. The partner, in turn, had five seconds to ponder the meaning of that hint in the hope of being able to guess what the password might be. So here’s a hint to the Kern High School District: “transparency.” For the moment, it appears KHSD leadership has no clue what the word means. Or maybe doesn’t want to know.  Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

What’s next for City College of San Francisco? — While a two-year reprieve has eased City College’s troubles from the red-hot critical level to a slow simmer, the school still has numerous repairs to make before it can kiss the accrediting commission good-bye for another seven years.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Lincoln Unified reorganization will merge three alternative schools — Lincoln Unified School District is reorganizing its alternative program structure and will consolidate Civic Pride Independent Academy, Sture Larrson and John McCandless high schools onto a single site beginning this fall.  Stockton Record article

Fitz’s Stockton: A thank-you note, 60 years later — You remember your best teachers. For a long time, it seems. Andrew Viscovich just received a thank-you letter from a woman he taught in fourth and fifth grades at an Oakland elementary school — in 1954-56.  Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record


Some states fight EPA to keep wood fires burning — Citing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency now is pressing ahead with regulations to significantly limit the pollution from newly manufactured residential wood heaters. But some of the states with the most wood smoke are refusing to go along, claiming the EPA’s new rules could leave low-income residents in the cold.  AP article

Health/Human Services

Construction on rehab center in Merced reaches halfway point — A large rehabilitation building going up at Yosemite Avenue and R Street in Merced could yield more than 100 jobs when it’s completed this year, according to a company official. The roughly 47,000-square-foot structure will be Anberry Transitional Care, a counterpart to Atwater’s Anberry Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  Merced Sun-Star article

Closing Sacramento’s Sutter Memorial Hospital requires big relocation effort — Come early August, a fleet of ambulances will shuttle 180 patients from the venerable Sutter Memorial Hospital, built in the Great Depression and scheduled for demolition, to Sutter’s gleaming new hospital tower in midtown Sacramento.  Sacramento Bee article


Monday Q&A: Turlock resident advocates for bicycling, walking — Elizabeth Claes bicycled to a meeting Friday at City Hall, watching for traffic and pavement hazards. She spends much of her time advocating for cyclists and pedestrians as road improvements are planned in Turlock and the rest of Stanislaus County.  Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Bee Investigator: Traffic tickets can ‘wreak havoc’ on the poor – “Driving while poor.” Some critics have used the phrase to describe the injustices of the legal system as it applies to traffic penalties. Generally, it’s used in reference to license suspension as a result of unpaid traffic fines.  Modesto Bee article

Children out to make other think, speak positively of Merced – A newly formed effort called Promise Merced, spearheaded by local children, is looking to change the way people think and talk about the city.  Merced Sun-Star article

Ruben Macareno: ‘Farmersville USA’ – The chairman of the Tulare County Democratic Party writes, “A movie titled, “Farmersville USA” could be about the Farmersville Aztecs Valley Championship football team or Soccer team which came within a match of winning a state title despite challenges and stereotypes; or “Mendota USA” about their football team whose players worked in a fields together as a team in a community with 40 percent to 50 percent unemployment. The stories are there.”  Macareno op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The federal government should retreat, let state trim pension costs.

Merced Sun-Star – Teach kids “yes means yes” before their freshman year.

Sacramento Bee – Eric Guerra gets the edge in Sacramento City Council District 6 special election.