May 10, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Arizona redistricting case could shake up Valley congressional districts – A political battle is raging next door in Arizona that could have major ramifications in California — especially in the central San Joaquin Valley. Change could be dramatic, especially for some incumbent Valley Republicans. Fresno Bee article

California vaccine exemptions: Lawmakers dilute legislation to ease passage – A bill originally aimed at ensuring that virtually all schoolchildren are fully vaccinated is getting watered down — but in a politically astute way that will most likely ensure its historic passage.  San Jose Mercury News article

State budget

Lenny Mendonca and Peter Weber:  Revenues may be rolling in – for now – but state budget must heed lessons of past – Mendonca, co-chair of California Forward, and Weber, a member of the California Forward Leadership Council, write, “For sure, there is no shortage of worthy public programs. But the long-term viability of those programs will be influenced by how well lawmakers incorporate into next year’s budget the lessons learned over the last 15 years—and how smart they can be about the next 15 years. Drawing from its Financing the Future analysis, CA Fwd believes the following four budget insights could minimize regrets and strengthen public programs no matter what the future holds.  Mendonca/Weber in California Forward

Other areas

Dan Walters: California’s tech hubris falls short in politics – It is, in a sense, endearing, even heartening, that rich people in Silicon Valley want to fix California, either by running for office or proposing ballot measures. But so far, their business success doesn’t compute for politics. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

GOP’s Rand Paul ventures into San Francisco — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul faced a high-energy, high-tech crowd in San Francisco Saturday and sounded off on all his favorite targets — government surveillance, warrantless searches and senators who hold office too long.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dr. Ashok Daftary: More legislation? Bad call for patients, physicians – The University of the Pacific professor writes, “The Senate agreed to impose its oversight responsibilities over the Iran nuclear negotiations and the House and Senate unanimously approved a bill jointly sponsored by John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi to overturn fee cuts for physicians for years of overspending their budgeted Medicare allotments. These actions were quintessential Washington behaviors. While I hope that our senators can divine the intentions of the atomic Ayatollahs, their approval of the Medicare reimbursement changes are fiscally reckless and medically unsound.”  Daftary op-ed in Stockton Record

Jeb Bush’s war against Florida high-speed rail shows his governing style – After slashing funding for the project, Bush campaigned in favor of a second voter referendum, to kill the project. It took him four years, but he won. Bush’s war against high-speed rail offers one of the clearest examples of his governing philosophy and style. It mixes a willingness to go against both the desires of voters and an influential political ally — and an unromantic fiscal conservatism that has endeared him to some Republicans. LA Times article

Victor Davis Hanson: Tax dodgers, law benders foretell U.S. collapse — Increasingly in the United States, the degree to which a law is enforced — or whether a person is indicted — depends on political considerations. But when citizens do not pay any income taxes, or choose not to pay taxes that they owe and expect impunity, a complex society unwinds. And when the law has becomes negotiable, civilization utterly collapses. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Doing the math on California’s bullet train fares — Riding California’s bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost “about $50 a person,” supporters wrote in ballot arguments seven years ago when voters approved billions in funding for the project. In the years since, the state high-speed rail agency has projected the fare would be $83, $105 and, most recently, $86.LA Times article

San Joaquin County to become medical marijuana no-grow zone — On Thursday, a new ordinance will take effect that clearly prohibits all cultivation of marijuana for any purpose including medical in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County.  Stockton Record article

Dan Morain: Prepare for a deluge as Delta begins boiling over — Perhaps the tunnels are the best solution for the Delta and California’s 39 million residents. I haven’t spent a million hours studying the situation. But in the coming months, as our lawns turn brown, our showers get shorter and our water bills rise, we all will become steeped in the Delta, and likely be called upon to vote on its future. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

California: The nation’s most unequal state Those who live in the tech Mecca of Silicon Valley enjoy the highest level of well-being in the nation. Residents live more than four years longer than the average American, earn nearly double the income and have nearly triple the number of graduate degrees, according to a recent report measuring opportunity in the nation’s 435 congressional districts and Washington D.C. Less than 100 miles away in the state’s Central Valley, however, residents have the lowest level of well-being. CNN Money article

Grizzlies merchandise now a uniquely Fresno brand – Most baseball teams rely on outside vendors to make their souvenir T-shirts, swapping out the name and logo on the same generic merchandise around the country. But Fresno broke away from the pack, creating its own shirts and its own spirited style. The result is a uniquely Fresno brand of merchandise that had its highest grossing year ever last year. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento wants to grow; will drought say no? – The six-county Sacramento region is projecting 285,000 new housing units over 25 years, expanding the region by nearly 30 percent. Much of that growth is envisioned as the sort of suburban expansion that has made Sacramento residents among the biggest water users in the state. With water cutbacks now a near-daily headline, those expansion plans are starting to raise questions. Are local leaders failing to recognize a harsh new climate reality? Or are they simply avoiding the mistake of overreacting to temporary conditions?  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Fix California’s paid family leave for Mother’s Day — More than 40% of the state’s workers are at companies too small to fall under the paid family leave law; they risk their jobs if they try to use the program, even though their state disability insurance deductions pay for it. That should be fixed. Sacramento Bee editorial

Dick Hagerty: Former mayor has thoughts about the future – Last week I had lunch with Carol Whiteside and, as usual, the former Modesto mayor was abuzz with ideas and suggestions about ways to better our community. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee

Despite strong-mayor defeat, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wants major increase in his office staff — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who lost his bid in November to bolster his powers through a ballot measure, has engineered a citywide spending plan that would nearly double his office’s budget and give him more staff than the mayors of Oakland and Fresno.Sacramento Bee article

Foon Rhee: Sacramento piles on utility rate hikes – Sacramento City Hall has been piling on utility rate increases, and another one may be on the way. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee

How Leap Transit is gaming the system to get a license — When Leap Transit rolled into San Francisco in 2013, its plan to hack overcrowded public buses by offering a lux, app-powered private alternative was met with immediate fury. San Francisco Chronicle article


Kathryn Phillips: Time to stop the tunnel vision – The director of Sierra Club California writes, “The Delta is teetering between salvation and ecosystem collapse. If we respond to this latest drought by creating a smarter water system throughout California, and reducing our farm and drinking water dependence on the Delta, we have a chance of saving that ecosystem. We can’t do that, though, if the state’s governor and water engineers continue to have tunnel vision.” Phillips op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Water proposal would reward conservers, punish wasters – Some customers of California Water Service Co. in Bakersfield would get a new incentive to save water on June 1 under a proposal up for state approval. Water wasters would pay. Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: Your water rates are all about location – We have five major water purveyors serving the metropolitan Bakersfield area. They are each very different entities, governed by different rules and oversight agencies and they charge widely different amounts for water service. Here’s the rundown. Bakersfield Californian article

California water cuts ignore past changes by some cities – Some California cities are finding their past preparations for drought count for nothing under sweeping new statewide cuts to water consumption. AP article

George Hostetter: City Hall: Get your no-cost, guilt-free water – I watered a piece of my front lawn last Thursday with city of Fresno water. I live near Bullard High School. Someone passing my house might have assumed I was breaking just about every landscape-irrigation rule known to the city’s water police. For starters, Thursday is a non-watering day for everyone. In fact, I had City Hall’s blessing. Hostetter in Fresno Bee

The Fresno Bee’s George Hostetter grabs free Fresno water (video) – Fresno Bee reporter George Hostetter demonstrates how the city of Fresno’s Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility on Jensen Avenue will soon begin dispensing water to those who will come get it. Fresno Bee video

Vance Kennedy: Yes, groundwater is interconnected – The Modesto citrus farmer writes, “We have two ongoing disasters. The first is the drought that has reached its fourth year, one we can do little about. The second is the result of large, deep wells draining water from nearby shallower wells. We can do something about that, but action is needed very soon.” Kennedy op-ed in Modesto Bee

Green waste: Another drought casualty – Fresno officials expect to collect less green waste — lawn clippings, tree trimmings, shrubbery prunings — as California struggles through a fourth straight year of drought. The result could be a blow to City Hall’s efforts to meet state guidelines for solid-waste recycling and landfill deliveries. Fresno Bee article

Hughson nursery deals with problem pistachio trees — A Stanislaus County nursery sold a widely planted type of pistachio tree that has posed serious problems for growers in the San Joaquin Valley.  Modesto Bee article

Sewer water put Tri-Valley on the map — In the fourth year of drought, the most popular place these days appears to be in line to fill up on free sewer water. More than 900 people have signed up to haul home sewage effluent given away by the Dublin San Ramon Services District treatment plant — the first in the state to dispense free recycled water to do-it-yourselfers. Contra Costa Times article

San Francisco’s ugly yard contest seeks to encourage drought-tolerant gardens — Wilson Ng is certain he has a homely yard. His scrappy corner patch near Ocean Beach is full of weeds, cracked concrete and dead plants and has been ravaged by gophers, snails and the drought. But in a city known for quirky microclimates that tend to either mold or dry up plants, is Ng’s garden the ugliest? He will find out in mid-May, when the city announces the winner of its first Ugly Yard Contest. San Francisco Chronicle article

Dr. Brad Spellberg and Dr. David Relman: California should end the misuse of antibiotics in farm animals – Spellberg, the chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, and Relman, a Stanford University professor, write, “We need to phase out all uses of antibiotics on animals that are not sick and combine it with a robust reporting system to track progress. That would help us better respond to resistance trends. It can be done. California can lead the way in protecting us all by safeguarding the efficacy of the antibiotics we have left.”  Spellberg/Relman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

San Jose Police Department data show San Jose cops detained greater percentage of blacks, Latinos — Police officers here pulled over, searched, curb-sat, cuffed or otherwise detained blacks and Latinos last year at far higher percentages than their share of this city’s population, an analysis of traffic-stop data by this newspaper found. Yet the stops seldom led to arrests or evidence of crimes.  San Jose Mercury News article

Assemblyman Jim Cooper: Body cam bill lacked details – The Elk Grove Democrat writes, “The use of body cameras is a highly complicated issue with many invested stakeholders. A hurried, last-minute deal is not the answer.” Cooper op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Fresno State brings back Asian American and Pacific Islander Commencement Celebration — After a 13-year hiatus, Fresno State held a special recognition event Saturday honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander students who will earn diplomas at the university-wide commencement next week. Fresno Bee article

First Pacific graduates receive their degrees – Let the commencements commence. University of the Pacific held the first of its four graduations Saturday. After all of its schools finish the commencement season, some 2,029 degrees will be awarded in three cities over a six-week period. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Heald, and the wolves of academe – How’s this for a business model: A for-profit college. We go after low-income people. Minorities. People struggling to better themselves, and to provide their families a better life. We tell them a diploma from our college is an open sesame. It’s not, but we’ll gin up our job placement numbers — and fake grades, attendance records, whatever.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Louis Warren: Cutting research at UC would slow advances – The history professor at UC Davis writes, “Reducing historical research at the University of California and elsewhere will not balance the books but it will leave key facts buried and essential stories untold. Our changing world could become less comprehensible, less predictable, and ultimately, a much harder place to explain to our own generation and the next.” Warren op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stanislaus County gains 2 of 6 California Classified School Employee of the Year nods – State recognition did not faze Raul Torres, who took his usual place in the Glick Middle School cafeteria in east Modesto, handing out high-fives and chatting with lunch-goers. Fellow awardee Phoebe Minick, too, spent just another day as bus driver for the Foothill Horizons Outdoor School outside of Sonora. For the first time in memory, two of the state’s six 2015 Classified School Employees of the Year hail from Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Dana Kivel: Additional course will not undermine teaching of history – The professor and chair of the General Education/Graduation Requirements Policy at CSU Sacrsamento writes, “Missing from the Forum commentary about the inclusion of an additional course to assist students with meeting their American Institutions requirement at Sacramento State is some very important context and background information.”  Kivel op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Restoring his reputation: Former Bakersfield College coach sues after being let go following complaints — This wasn’t how it was supposed to end for Bill Kalivas. Kalivas, who coached wrestling at Bakersfield College for 27 years, said he was only worried about the health of his wrestlers and his coaching staff when his criticism of the mat conditions in the BC wrestling practice room came to a head last June.  Bakersfield Californian article

Campus debates on Israel drive a wedge between Jews and minorities — Student groups across the United States are proposing that their colleges divest from companies that do business with Israel, a sign that a campaign is gaining traction. New York Times article


Earthquake: 3.7 quake strikes near Bakersfield – A shallow magnitude 3.7 earthquake was reported Sunday morning 24 miles from Bakersfield, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 8:42 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 0 miles. LA Times article

In Western states, idea of reclaiming federal land still has a strong allure – The Lands Council’s goal is grand but simple: to wrest control of vast swaths of land from the federal government and turn them over to the states. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions, that could be made off land administered by the federal government. The big-dollar opportunities include oil leases in Utah grassland, all-terrain vehicle tourism in Arizona and rare-earth mineral mining in Nevada. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Designing the perfect baby: UC scientists call for a pause to technology they invented – The University of California has transformed biology by designing a cheap, fast, precise and powerful way to “edit” DNA, creating the prospects of a future with less sickness, more food — and perhaps perfect babies. But now it wants to hit the pause button. San Jose Mercury News article

Nursing home closure strands residents – It took more than a year for Bakersfield City School District board member Andrae Gonzales to find his father, paralyzed from an autoimmune disorder, a local nursing home that could give him the care he needs. But the trustee, also founder of the local Children First nonprofit, found one: Corinthian Gardens Health Care Center in northeast Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article

South LA ban on new fast-food restaurants has little effect – Now, as evidence mounts that the Los Angeles City Council’s ban on new fast-food restaurants is so far failing, leaders and thinkers are again scrutinizing the role restaurants of all kinds play or could play in this historically troubled cluster of largely low-income neighborhoods. LA Times article

Hash tags, selfies spread mental health message to Sacramento teens – Getting through high school is tough. Doing it with a mental illness can be brutal. So local teens and outreach organizations teamed up at McKinley Park Saturday to provide education and resources to teens struggling with mental illness and to get the message out that they are not alone. Sacramento Bee article

UC, MIT battle over gene-editing tool — Will the University of California reap the financial rewards of CRISPR’s commercial use, likely worth billions of dollars? That’s the source of a bitter fight.  San Jose Mercury News article

How one hospital brought its C-section rate down in a hurry — Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, one of the largest and most respected facilities in Orange County, needed to move quickly. A big insurer had warned that its maternity costs were too high and it might be cut from the plan’s network. The reason? Too many cesarean sections. KQED report


Plague of problems puts Bay Bridge seismic safety in question — Californians spent $6.4 billion to replace the old Bay Bridge eastern span because it was unlikely to survive a major earthquake. Now, mounting revelations of construction problems are calling into question whether the new bridge can withstand the Big One. San Francisco Chronicle article

Donald Blount: We all need to share the road — There are plenty of drivers who do not follow the laws. Anyone drive over the speed limit? Change lanes without signaling? What about talking on a cellphone without using a hands-free device while driving? So it cuts both ways. Remember that, the next time you see someone riding a bike. Blount column in Stockton Record

Other areas

Sacramento City Council holds private ‘ad hoc’ meetings without documentation — The Sacramento City Council takes many steps to ensure the details of its regular weekly meetings are made public. Agendas are generally posted five days before meetings are held, and a video broadcast of those meetings is often available on the city’s website just hours after sessions adjourn. However, a roster of committees made up of City Council members meet in secret, their agendas and even their schedules unavailable to the public. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Bee wins 4 top awards, 8 seconds in annual state newspaper contest – The Fresno Bee took first in four categories, was second in general excellence and brought home 12 total awards in the California Newspaper Publishers Association 2014 Better Newspapers Contest. Fresno Bee article

Lewis Griswold: Advocates petition for pygmy goats in Visalia — Gingi Freeman of Visalia has launched agrass-roots campaign to change the city’s animal ordinance so miniature goats can be kept as household pets. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Teens raise funds to volunteer with Honor Flight – If Victoria Scoggan and Timber Miriah are any indication, the old trope, “Kids these days” may soon be taken as a compliment. The pair of Kern Valley High School students were already active, with Miriah, 17, on the cheer squad and Scoggan, 18, on the varsity football team. They spent 10 days of their summer vacations at Camp Pendleton going through one of the toughest experiences of their lives as part of the Devil Pups boot camp program. And they volunteer as officers on the student board at the local Sheriff’s Activities League. As if that weren’t enough, last year they decided they wanted to become guardians for aging military veterans on a trip to the nation’s capital with Honor Flight Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Baker Branch Library marks 100th anniversary — Dozens of children and longtime library patrons flipped through books and listened to stories at the Baker Branch Library on Saturday for the library’s 100th anniversary celebration. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – More than 40% of the state’s workers are at companies too small to fall under the paid family leave law; they risk their jobs if they try to use the program, even though their state disability insurance deductions pay for it. That should be fixed.

Sacramento Bee – More than 40% of the state’s workers are at companies too small to fall under the paid family leave law — they risk their jobs if they try to use the program, even though their state disability insurance deductions pay for it. That should be fixed; Presidential candidates begin to turn the page on law-and-order politics.