May 1, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: California gets full 2016 treatment — The circus of the absurd – otherwise known as the 2016 presidential campaign – has set up its tents in California for a five-week run. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Road tax, Crow Landing plan come up in Stanislaus supervisors race – Three-term Supervisor Jim DeMartini has never had a free ride to re-election in Stanislaus County’s District 5. As he seeks a fourth term in the June primary, DeMartini is challenged by Patterson Mayor Luis Molina and Ceres resident Eileen Wyatt Stokman, who believes a woman’s voice is needed on the all-male Board of Supervisors. Modesto Bee article

Valley politics

Mike Klocke: Bathrobe, relief … and dandy satire — There are five weeks to go before the June 7 primary election, and things are starting to get serious in Stockton. How serious? Why, the city’s mayor posted a photograph of a toilet — presumably his — on his Facebook page overnight recently. By noon the next day, more than 400 people had commented on the toilet on various social media sites. Klocke column in Stockton Recor 

Kings Republican committee contest heats up — Local Republicans can’t stop talking about the pitched battle over whether Donald Trump should be the party’s nominee for U.S. president. But the even hotter action may be the race for Kings County Republican Central Committee, a party organization many residents probably know little or nothing about. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republicans cold on measure to legalize pot in California — A proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California isn’t getting much love from state Republicans. LA Times article
Other areas

In the flesh or on the mind, Trump dominates state GOP convention – Donald Trump, as usual, stole the show. He was the guy who drew the protesters, who had to crawl through a cut chain-link fence and walk in a back door to avoid the angry throngs, who required metal detectors and Secret Service searches for his Friday lunch speech at the California Republican Party’s state convention. Fresno Bee article

Cathleen Decker: Trump, Kasich and Cruz makes their cases to California GOP: non unity, electability and fish – The challengers trying to derail Donald Trump‘s march to the Republican presidential nomination detailed sharply different paths to a victory in California’s June primary as they made their pitches before state GOPdelegates facing the unusual prospect of an election that matters. Decker in LA Times

California GOP ready to play kingmaker in presidential politics – This isn’t how Donald Trump imagined closing the biggest deal of his life. Instead of triumphantly addressing California’s GOP convention this weekend with his enemies silenced and his sights on Hillary Clinton, he is now hunkering down to spend the next several weeks in the Golden State — usually an afterthought in presidential politics — fighting a series of bloody battles with John Kasich and Ted Cruz, congressional district by congressional district. San Jose Mercury News article 

Ted Cruz, John Kasich rally troops for last stand in California – While Donald Trump charged into California ahead of the state’s critical primary election in recent days, the candidates who could deny him the nomination stepped up their efforts at the margins on Saturday, marshaling supporters to prepare for a last stand. Sacramento Bee article

State GOP convention marks end to very bad week for Ted Cruz — His lunchtime speech came at the end of a tumultuous week for the Texas senator, when two 11th-hour moves designed to revive his campaign, in which he badly trails GOP front-runner Donald Trump, were widely panned. Plus Trump crushed him in five East Coast primaries Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Ted Cruz has a Delta smelt plan: Disco ball, a little Barry White – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, speaking at the state Republican Party Convention, dug into the state’s complex water policies Saturday, suggesting that it might be possible to replenish the Delta smelt population with a little romantic music and a disco ball. Sacramento Bee article

Carly Fiorina doubles down on Delta smelt – Picking up on Sen. Ted Cruz’s criticism of environmental protections for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Carly Fiorina, Cruz’s newly-announced running mate, moved Saturday to reinforce his presidential campaign’s appeal to conservatives and farm interests in the Central Valley. Sacramento Bee article

Cruz campaign focuses on the only way he can win: Convention delegates – In a private meeting with his most ardent California supporters, Ted Cruz told them that they are vital to his hopes of snatching the GOP nomination from front-runner Donald Trump. LA Times article

With her early reveal as running mate, Fiorina says she ‘checked the box for Ted Cruz’ – Carly Fiorina took to her new role as Ted Cruz’s would-be running mate on Saturday, lashing out at his rivals and defending him from critics. LA Times article

GOP race shifts California’s political fault lines – The Republican Party in California has been riven for decades between those who want to tack to the ideological center to expand its diminishing appeal and those who want it to enforce conservative purity. But the prospect of Donald Trump clinching the nomination in the Golden State has scrambled the party’s political fault lines in advance of its pivotal June primary, forging unexpected alliances that blur those longstanding divisions. AP article

Bernie Sanders supporters rally in downtown Los Angeles — Several hundred Bernie Sanders supporters marched through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, culminating with a rally on the steps of City Hall. LA Times article

Pete Wilson endorses Ted Cruz for president – Former California Gov. Pete Wilson jumped into the presidential fray Saturday, announcing his endorsement of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in front of a packed house at the state Republican Party’s spring convention. LA Times articleSacramento Bee articleKQED report

Willie Brown: The Trump Express is rolling to victory — The Trump Train keeps rolling along. It looks as if the once unthinkable is coming true: Donald Trump is certain to be the Republican nominee. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle article

Debra Saunders: Donald Trump crosses a border — Donald Trump had to squeeze through a hole in a fence to speak at the California Republican Convention on Friday. He said it felt like “crossing the border.” Meanwhile, his supporters swaggered into the Burlingame Hyatt Regency banquet hall as if they owned the place. Maybe they know something I don’t, I shuddered. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Airbnb spends $230,000 on San Francisco candidates and propositions on June 7 ballot — Airbnb contributed $230,000 to candidates and measures on the June 7 ballot in the days leading up to and just after legislation was introduced at the Board of Supervisors that could expose the short-term rental company to millions of dollars in fines and potential misdemeanor charges. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories

Top Stories

Documents give glimpse into Dog Pound gang’s million-dollar reach — Inside an upscale suite at the San Joaquin Hotel near Fig Garden Village, leaders of a notorious Fresno gang – the Dog Pound – bought guns and talked about killing rivals. For more than 15 years, the gang has made money by selling drugs and luring foster children and runaways into the prostitution trade with promises of freedom and riches, but kept them in check with beatings and threats of death. Fresno Bee article 

Tax would raise $15 million a year for Kern libraries — The future of Kern County’s library system is in the hands of county voters. Advocates for Library Enhancement — formed to oppose privatization of Kern County’s 25 library branches — is now spearheading the political campaign to pass Measure F, a one-eighth cent sales tax on the June 7 ballot. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Kings’ jobless rate will improve, experts say – King’s County’s jobless rate remained almost unchanged at 11.4 percent in March, barely up from 11.3 percent in February, but below the year-ago estimate of 12.3 percent, the state Employment Development Department reported April 15, but analysts expect to see improving job opportunities in the coming months. Hanford Sentinel article

A pedestrian mall no more: Fulton facelift underway – As bulldozers and other big equipment slowly make their way down Fulton Mall, tearing out concrete paths and taking down trees to make way for asphalt streets and vehicle traffic, Fresno Bee photographer John Walker took a final stroll to record the last days of the once-historic walkway. Fresno Bee article

Job seekers crowd into employment fair for marijuana industry – Thirty-two companies, ranging from industry-focused magazines to dispensaries to cannabis-based data and technology startups, attended the Join the GreenRush event, searching for candidates to fill jobs as budtenders, cultivators, delivery drivers, marketers and even software developers, in order to meet their expanding needs for workers as the market for legal marijuana continues to grow across California and several other states. San Francisco Chronicle article

Children’s Alliance to ask San Joaquin supervisors for funds – Now that a commitment to children has been adopted by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, a coalition of community groups is asking that action to implement the document be taken soon. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: When Stockton walks on water – In most cities, the waterfront is the most valuable land. In Stockton, the waterfront is a ghost town with ducks. OK, a few developments are quite nice. But they are stranded. And so it has been for decades. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Hardworking heroes work faster than City Hall to help homeless — Within view of the mayor’s balcony at City Hall last week was a display of fast-moving, innovative, entrepreneurial work about homelessness. Say what? We’ve told you before about Lava Mae, the nonprofit started less than three years ago to turn decommissioned Muni buses into mobile shower stalls for homeless people. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Business Bank to pay 10-cent dividend – Valley Commerce Bancorp, the Visalia-based parent of Valley Business Bank, will pay a 10-cent-per-share cash dividend to its shareholders in June. Fresno Bee articl 

Wild ride on city’s boom to wherever future goes — San Francisco is still San Francisco, only better than ever. We’re in the middle of a huge boom, a new Gold Rush. The Bay Area is the home of dozens of amazing companies on the frontier of new ideas. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Lemoore council mulls online pay system — The Lemoore City Council is considering adopting a system that will allow residents to pay their utility and other city bills online. Hanford Sentinel article 

San Diego County is divided over proposed half-cent tax for transportation projects – A battle is raging over one of the most fundamental aspects of San Diego County’s future: how folks get around. Will commuters overwhelmingly continue to drive their cars to work, as they’ve done for decades? Or will lawmakers fashion a public transportation system — consisting largely of bus, trolley and train lines — that’s efficient and sexy enough to appeal to millennials and perhaps their parents? LA Times article


Oakdale Irrigation District quietly cancels water sale — Irrigation leaders have privately canceled plans to sell up to 9,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water to buyers south of the Delta, court documents say, but intend to pursue an undisclosed variation of the deal. Modesto Bee article

Valley Milk cuts ribbon on Turlock dehydrating plant — A state-of-the-art milk dehydrating plant will begin construction in June on Turlock’s western edge, built to turn locally produced milk into protein powder bound for U.S. sports drinks and food supplements around the Pacific Rim. Modesto Bee article

Jay Lund: Inevitable changes in California’s water supply – The director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences writes, “Here are six inevitable changes that California will need to deal with to sustain the state’s ecosystems and water supplies.” Lund op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Jon Rosenfield: Faulty comparison on Delta water exports, flows to San Francisco Bay – The conservation biologist and lead scientist for The Bay Institute writes, “Unless government agencies start protecting our water quality and fisheries soon, we will witness the extinction of several species that have survived in this ecosystem for millennia; toxic water quality will become common; and the last major fisheries will close. In order to stop this nightmare, Californians must reject the self-serving narrative that environmental stewardship conflicts with food production or the economy at large. Rosenfeld op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Wine grape growers work with nature — Peterangelo Vallis walked into a vineyard near Waterford to show how worms and microbes are doing their part for the 2016 vintage. The creatures enrich the soil with their waste products and decay, reducing money spent on fertilizer. And this farm has grassy strips between the vines to guard against erosion. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Public safety: ‘Sometimes she forgets to take her medicine’ – Loreen Gamboa is one of four Stockton officers trained by the department as mental-health liaisons. When there are no unusual calls coming over her police radio, she patrols in her vehicle like any other officer. But her first priority is providing assistance to other officers on dispatches involving individuals who are mentally disturbed or described as “5150” — a danger to themselves or others. Stockton Record article 

San Joaquin County D.A. seeks efficiency, thoroughness, ethics – The simulation occurred at the end of a daylong meeting last week organized by District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. The meeting was a step toward updating the protocol that county law enforcement agencies observe following an officer-involved shooting. Stockton Record article

Candace Skrapec: There is no mystery: Violence begins in the womb – The professor in the criminology department at Fresno State writes, “Why do some individuals go through life leaving a multitude of victims of their impulsive rage in their wakes while others become calculating, cold-blooded predators? A large part of the answer to both questions relates to factors that affected the development of their brains.” Skrapec op-ed in Fresno Bee


Lois Henry: Schools are the big losers in school district bickering – The mess unraveling at the Vineland School District illustrates exactly why, of all the beats I’ve covered in my career, I have avoided the education beat like the plague. Whiny teachers. Whiny administrators. Whiny parents. The only good guys are the kids. And like most good guys, they seem to come last in the constant power plays between those mentioned above. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Marcos Breton: It’s time to end the UC Davis drama – Linda Katehi’s time as UC Davis chancellor is effectively over. There is no repairing or rescuing what should have been a celebrated tenure of leadership but wasn’t. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Let’s stop back from UC Davis turmoil – We do believe that Katehi’s resignation would be in everyone’s best interest. To the extent Napolitano and the UC can make that easy for her, and restore equilibrium to the campus, they should do what it takes to make that happen. Sacramento Bee editorial

Student test scores have stalled nationally. What can be done about it? – From 2013 to 2015, reading scores for high school seniors dipped (from 288 to 287 out of 500), while math scores also went down a point (from 153 to 152 out of 300). “We’re not making any progress,” Schneider said. He had the same concern last fall when the government released test scores for fourth- and eighth-graders, which showed a similar pattern. So why have Americans hit an academic wall? Can it be broken? LA Times article 

Truancy the norm at some Sacramento area high schools – Valley High School achieved an undesirable status last school year. The south Sacramento school recorded the highest truancy rate of any traditional campus in the Sacramento region, with 97 percent of its 1,600 students absent at least three days without an excuse or arriving half an hour late three or more times during the year. Sacramento Bee article

Young Sikh American author speaks in Fresno on bullying in schools — A Sikh American teenager from New Jersey brought his message of hope in the face of bullying to young Sikhs in Fresno on Saturday. Karanveer Singh Pannu, 18, spoke to the Sikh Women’s Alliance at Central High East Campus while promoting his book, “Bullying of Sikh American Children,” which he wrote after being verbally and physically bullied in middle and high school. Fresno Bee article 

Encouraging literacy — As the winds picked up late Saturday morning, so did the imaginations of readers both young and old. The Downtown Stockton Alliance, partnered with the City of Stockton and the Stockton San Joaquin County Public Library, came together to organize the first Great Big Read event, the sole purpose to promote literacy. Stockton Record article


Buildings must improve their energy use; here’s what that means for you – Exactly how the state’s ambitious goal will be achieved is unclear, and agreement on the price tag is elusive. What is certain is that making homes and other buildings use energy more efficiently will cost money up front, in a state that has some of the country’s most expensive real estate and is struggling to create more affordable housing. CALmatters article

San Francisco’s ‘benchmarking’ was first in California; state will follow — Barry Hooper’s co-workers can be forgiven if they try to avoid him in the office. No one wants to be fingered as an energy hog. Hooper manages San Francisco’s five-year-old building-efficiency ordinance, created to measure wasted energy in the city’s largest structures, give them a score the public can see and prod owners to lower the lights and the thermostats. CALmatters article

A ‘zero net energy’ vision for California homes doesn’t mean going off the grid — Eight years ago, when California regulators decided that by 2020 every newly built home should produce as much power as it used, the idea was novel enough to be nearly unimaginable. Today, a Golden State dotted with futuristic homes is in sight, the notion of thousands of new residences running tiny rooftop solar-power plants no longer far-fetched. CALmatters article

Cameras new tool in fighting forest fires — As California forests face another dry summer, firefighters around Lake Tahoe are deploying high-tech mountaintop cameras to spot lightning strikes and the first wisps of smoke before wildfires blaze out of control.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Jane Braxton Little: Fish win, birds lose in Klamath agreements – The freelance writer writes, “The Klamath Basin negotiators have done well to ensure a future for salmon returning from the Pacific to their natal spawning grounds. We can all rejoice in this success. Now they must turn their attention to the birds and the wetlands that sustain them.” Little op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Health/Human Services

More reaction to changes in medical services at Dameron Hospital — Sunday is the first day that for practical purposes the partnership between St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente begins. The recent effects have been felt by throughout the community as Kaiser services once offered at Dameron have been transferred to St. Joseph’s, effective Sunday and Dameron’s announcement last week that it was shutting down its Maternal Child Health services unit and eliminating 70 positions that are no longer needed because of the change of services. Stockton Record article

Randal Beeman: Opioids, ‘pill mills’ and the ongoing war on drugs — The professor emeritus of history at Bakersfield College writes, “When President Barack Obama recently chose to highlight the national opioid addiction crisis, I couldn’t help but think that folks in this community hardly need a lecture on opioid addiction. Heroin has been a plague in parts of Kern County going back over a hundred years. The current crisis is driven by prescription opioids, and the statistics, as the president noted, are beyond staggering.” Beeman op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

How Fresno man started biking and reversed Type 2 diabetes — Jaime Rangel holds a bike tire and begins checking with his hands for thorns and other sharp objects that might be puncturing the tire’s rubber tread. His fingers, stained with black patches of oil, move quickly and seamlessly. He’s done this type of work dozens of times before. KQED report

Other areas

Jeff Jardine: Knights Ferry folks driven to frustration by loss of post office – You can’t blame residents of this Gold Rush-era community for feeling as though they are being pushed back in time rather than moving forward. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Fresno Bee wins 9 first-place awards in annual statewide newspaper contest — The Fresno Bee received nine first-place awards Saturday in the annual Better Newspapers Contest sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, including Online General Excellence. Fresno Bee article

Modesto Bee collects honors from publishers association — The Modesto Bee has taken home the top award for investigative reporting in California. The newspaper’s Justice Delayed series of stories by reporter Garth Stapley placed first among midsize daily papers in the 2015 Better Newspapers Contest sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Modesto Bee article 

Sports league gives everyone a chance to play — League of Dreams is just one of 117 nonprofits participating in Give Big Kern, a one-day fundraiser set for May 3 that aims to drum up as much money as possible for local charities. Bakersfield Californian article