May 12, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Union coalition campaigns to extend income tax increases – A group of unions, hospitals and doctors said Wednesday it will turn in more than enough signatures to qualify a ballot initiative asking Californians to extend for another 12 years a tax increase on the wealthy that was pitched to voters four years ago as temporary. AP articleLA Times article

Here’s why California’s shoddy roads won’t get fixed any time soon — Over the last few months, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators have reached major deals to increase taxes on healthcare plans and boost the state’s minimum wage. But as Brown prepares to release his revised budget on Friday, one big issue appears to be far from a resolution: California’s shoddy roads. LA Times article

State budget

State retiree health care could cost California $6.6 billion a year — California is spending more than $2 billion a year on health care for retired state employees – up more than 80 percent in the last decade, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Bakersfield mayoral candidate profile: Tanner Thompson — Tanner Thompson, unemployed/advocate. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County elections officials handle ballot complaints — Visalia’s Tracy Arnett said she was excited when she received her Primary Election sample ballot earlier this week. “I am interested in everything that was on the ballot,” she said. But she said she was disappointed when she took a closer look. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 50: The weirdest measure on the ballot this year – Proposition 50 on the June 7 ballot asks whether legislators who are suspended from duty should also have their paychecks taken away. In a year of weird ballot measures – should porn actors be required to wear condoms? – Proposition 50 may be the most unusual one California voters face. Here are three reasons why. CALmatters article

Cathleen Decker: Five California candidates in one hour makes for an unsatisfying U.S. Senate debate – Maybe this year’s outlandish presidential contest has set too high a standard for political drama, making everything else seem humdrum. Whether it was that comparison or just reality, Tuesday night’s fleeting 55-minute debate among five California candidates for a U.S. Senate seat delivered disappointment as much as anything. Decker in LA Times

Government transparency initiative closer to landing on California’s November ballot — The measure would amend California’s Constitution to require all bills to be publicly posted online in their final form at least 72 hours before a vote on the Assembly or Senate floor, require all open legislative meetings to be video recorded and posted online within 24 hours, and guarantee the right of every individual to record and share videos of open legislative meetings. CA Fwd report


Victor Davis Hanson: Elites can afford to support looser immigration policies – Support for, or opposition to, mass immigration is apparently a class issue, not an ethnic or racial issue. Elites more often support lenient immigration policies; the general public typically opposes them. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Filipino World War II vets’ relatives may come to U.S. sooner under rule change — Some relatives of elderly Filipino American World War II veterans may be able to immigrate to the United States sooner than they planned. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos served with the U.S. military during the war. Decades later, many of the vets were granted U.S. citizenship and moved here. But many of the relatives they sponsored to join them have faced long waits for visas. KPCC report

Other areas

State Senate leaders propose repealing ban on fundraising during budget season – Two years after the state Senate adopted fundraising restrictions in response to a series of scandals, lawmakers plan to rescind the ban on collecting money during budget season. LA Times article

Donald Trump has another California delegate problem – Donald Trump has another delegate problem in California. One day after the Republican frontrunner’s campaign blamed a “database error” for the inclusion of a white nationalist on its list of California delegates, a former state assemblyman said he was mistakenly listed as a delegate. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Union for Border Patrol agents under fire for endorsement of Trump – Criticism of the endorsement, the first time the union has taken sides in a presidential campaign, has come from all directions. Many agents lean conservative and were Ted Cruz supporters. LA Times article

Bernie Sanders loses his California director — Bernie Sanders’ plan to win an upset victory in California was dealt another setback Wednesday when the staffer directing all of the insurgent’s California operations left the campaign. California state director Michael Ceraso, who has been working with the Sanders campaign since the early days of the race, parted ways with it on Wednesday. LA Times article

Sanders supporter recalls his day with candidate – Cody Seibel never will forget the roar. It rose over the back of the stage at Weber Point Events Center, cascaded down to the roadway below and engulfed Seibel’s ears — not to mention the ears of Bernie Sanders, as well. Stockton Record article

Erika D. Smith: Bernie Sanders: The Democratic Party’s only hope – Selflessly fighting for the greater good is what superheroes do. So help us, Bernie Sanders. You’re our only hope.  Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Bill Clinton to raise money for Hillary in Sacramento later this month – Former President Bill Clinton is expected in Sacramento on May 23 to raise money for his wife’s presidential campaign. Tickets for the event, at the home of former state Treasurer Phil Angelides, will start at $500, according to a note from organizers. Sacramento Bee article

Vaccine tiff between Richard Pan, ‘Vaxxed’ producer roils Twitter – The latest flareup of a conflict between vaccine skeptics and an inoculation-championing state senator has moved from a Capitol corridor to the realm of hashtags. Sacramento Bee article

Coastal Commission chairman may recuse himself from vote after failing to disclose private meetings — The chairman of the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday asked the agency’s attorney to determine whether he should recuse himself from voting on a massive development along the Orange County coast after he held two unreported private meetings with project representatives. LA Times article

Speakers discuss discrimination during  ‘Islamaphobia’ panel Wednesday — Several community groups and cultural leaders came together on Wednesday in northeast Fresno for a panel discussion entitled “Islamaphobia: The Current Face of Racism in America.” Fresno Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

California schools will soon be on the hook for things like suspensions, attendance and graduation rates – California’s schools are going to have to answer for more than just test scores, by the year after next. The state may also judge them on suspension rates, graduation rates, attendance and the rate at which students who are still learning English are becoming proficient. LA Times article

Modesto heads into unpredictable budget hearings – The city’s budget hearings are scheduled for next week, and they could be lively. That’s because the seven-member City Council has four new members since the November election. They have been asking staff a lot of questions, and questioned the assumptions underlying how the city operates. The other reason is new Mayor Ted Brandvold’s 100-day budget review committee. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Governor signs ADA reform – Predatory lawsuit legislation that followed a joint investigative reporting series of The Modesto Bee and The Merced Sun-Star has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 269 will allow some small businesses time to fix specified technical violations of laws requiring access for disabled customers. It falls short of the meaningful reform sought by three lawmakers from this area, but represents incremental progress, advocates say. Modesto Bee article

Atwater still trying to catch up to pension debt – A plan to refinance a portion of Atwater’s debt didn’t get the support it would need this week, leaving some city leaders and employees unsure what happens next. Merced Sun-Star article

Big box retailing set to boom in Lodi – If the age of brick-and-mortar retailing is over, somebody forgot to tell Lodi. The sprawling new Walmart shopping center at Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento Road in southwest Lodi is nearing completion. And at least one of the smaller retailers in the space, Jamba Juice, already is open. Stockton Record article

Realtors: Kings County the most affordable homebuying market for Q1 – New data from the California Association of Realtors reveals a mixed bag when it comes to housing affordability in the Central Valley. The Business Journal article

How California home prices got sky-high – In California, where the average home price is roughly two-and-a-half times the national average, buying your first home is more than a little daunting. KPCC report

Joel Fox: Another bad idea: A local income tax — Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have suggested an income tax on millionaires dedicating the money for homelessness relief. Opening the door for local governments to impose income taxes would erode the state’s major fund raising mechanism, burden taxpayers with more paperwork, hit small businesses whose owners pay business taxes through personal income taxes, and subject more government revenue to a highly volatile revenue source. All in all a bad idea. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Google tells payday lenders to take their advertising business elsewhere — Google has a message for payday lenders — your ads are no good here. The Internet search giant announced Wednesday that it was banning advertisements for payday loans in order to protect its users “from deceptive or harmful financial products,” delivering another blow to an industry under increasing fire from regulators and consumer advocates. LA Times article

Government ‘shames’ businesses to make workplace injury stats available online — Employees will soon be able to look up a businesses’ workplace safety record on a public government website. A new measure from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the Labor Department will require industries that see a lot of injuries, like manufacturing, construction, farming and trucking, to electronically report statistics of injuries and illnesses on the job. McClatchy Newspapers article

How politics could disrupt the SpaceX rocket revolution — As competition in the satellite-launch sector intensifies, the battle between traditional aerospace giants and upstart companies backed by tech billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson is increasingly shifting to Congress. LA Times article


With reservoirs nearly full, EBMUD declares water emergency over – Nearly full reservoirs and a return to normal rain and snow patterns mean that the water emergency in the East Bay is over, the East Bay Municipal Utility District has decided. San Francisco Chronicle article

George Skelton: So the drought has you watering less? It won’t matter much – Let’s not forget: Residential lawns soak up only about 5% of developed water in California. All residential outdoor use — including pools, shrubs, trees — amounts to less than 7%. Total urban use — showers, washers, business landscaping, golf courses, ball fields — account for just 20% of human water consumption. Skelton column in LA Times

Delta land buy still a ‘go’ – Southern California’s huge water wholesaler declined to reverse course Tuesday on the purchase of roughly 20,000 acres of land in the Delta, a $175 million deal that has Delta advocates worried. A vote to pull out of the deal failed 54 percent to 29 percent, with another 10 percent abstaining. Stockton Record article

Turlock council approves sale of recycled water – The city will sell recycled wastewater to West Side farmers under an agreement approved Tuesday night. The Turlock City Council voted 5-0 for the deal with the Del Puerto Water District, which has had drastic cutbacks in its federal supply. Modesto Bee article

Drought worsening inland water quality — San Diego County’s inland water quality is suffering amid the ongoing drought, according to a new San Diego Coastkeeper report that found high amounts of bacteria and low oxygen levels in the region’s creeks and streams. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

State officials downplay execution obstacles, ACLU report says – Newly released documents on California’s plans to resume executions of condemned inmates show that state officials have understated the cost and the difficulty of obtaining lethal drugs and downplayed the likelihood of botched executions, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

FBI director says ‘viral video effect’ blunts police work – The director of the F.B.I. reignited the factious debate over a so-called “Ferguson effect” on Wednesday, saying that he believed less aggressive policing was driving an alarming spike in murders in many cities. New York Times article

California prison officers OK contract with raises, sweeteners — California’s correctional officers will see a raise on their July paychecks under terms of a new contract they overwhelmingly ratified, the union announced this week. Sacramento Bee article

Commercial burglaries spike in downtown Visalia – Two months ago, the Visalia Police Department began seeing an increase in two areas within the city, East and West Main Street. Since January, property crimes detectives have responded to 13 commercial burglaries along Main Street. Visalia Times-Delta article

Waking up with law enforcement – The Visalia Police Department asked residents to skip their morning routine and instead have a cup of coffee with officers Wednesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

4 San Francisco supervisors say Suhr shouldn’t remain as police chief – After months of intense protests demanding that Mayor Ed Lee fire Police Chief Greg Suhr, four city supervisors joined the chorus Wednesday and demanded a national search for a new chief. San Francisco Chronicle article

Hanford police station infested with termites — The Hanford Police Department is preparing for a logistical nightmare as it works to deal with a widespread termite infestation in its main building on Irwin Street. Hanford Sentinel article

UC regents are frustrated that campuses haven’t made bigger strides on diversity – University of California regents Wednesday bemoaned what they called disappointing progress on efforts to increase diversity among students and faculty at the system’s 10 campuses. LA Times article

State board adds school climate to potential list of metrics – The State Board of Education approved a historic policy shift Wednesday in how it will evaluate schools, moving from a system based solely on standardized test scores toward one taking a broader look at school improvement, academic achievement and student well-being. EdSource article

Fresno Unified invests $2.5 million in English learners – Fresno Unified is investing big in its English learners, with plans to expand bilingual programs for Spanish speakers and add a new focus on Hmong students. Fresno Bee article

Report: Nation needs to replicate California’s English learner efforts — Nearly three out of four American public school classrooms now includes at least one student who is learning English as a new language, and California is emerging as a leader among states for helping long-term English learners get up to speed. KPCC report

UC regents set to OK policy to boost academic performance of athletes – The University of California is set to adopt new guidelines for its athletic programs aimed at raising the academic achievement of student-athletes. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Fresno Unified trustees: Career technical education still lacking – Fresno Unified is falling behind on its promise to provide more career technical programs, some trustees say. On Wednesday, the district recommended the school board approve more than $600,000 to enhance programs next year, aiming to graduate students with trade skills that can land them well-paying jobs. Fresno Bee article

Clovis Community College presidency candidate embroiled in controversy – Clovis Community College has narrowed its search for a new president to three candidates, but one is embroiled in a recent controversy involving being fired from her previous job. Fresno Bee article

Arroyo Grande student with brain tumor barred from prom, gets apology from superintendent – Jared Springer, who collapsed at school in 2014 because of a brain tumor and is confined to a wheelchair, was told by Lucia Mar Unified School District representatives late last week that he would not be allowed to attend the prom with his classmates because a broken hip had kept him out of classes for three weeks. San Luis Obispo Tribune articleSan Luis Obispo video in Fresno Bee

Should students face criminal charges for senior pranks? – Senior pranks are a tradition at some high schools: Outgoing students play some harmless joke on faculty and other students before they move on to the next chapter of their lives. But some senior pranks can cost hundreds of dollars in damage. And, rather than handle the incidents with the students and their parents, some schools are choosing to pursue criminal charges. McClatchy Newspapers article

Excitement grows over Edison grad’s appointment – Reaction from teachers and administrators from the Stockton Unified School District has been positive after Eliseo Davalos, a Stockton native and graduate of Edison High School, was selected on Tuesday to become superintendent of San Joaquin County’s largest school district. Stockton Record articleStockton Record editorial

Modesto Junior College staffer named a 2016 White House Champion of Change – A Modesto Junior College staffer is one of 12 school workers nationwide named as a White House Champion of Change for School Support. Debbi Partridge is a multimedia technician at the Modesto campus, making sure computers, audiovisual equipment and other high-tech devices in nearly 200 smart classrooms are ready for when classes begin. Modesto Bee article

Ethnic studies deal brings end to San Francisco State hunger strike – Four hunger strikers called off their 10-day protest Wednesday at San Francisco State University after the school’s president agreed to provide an additional $480,000 in funding to the College of Ethnic StudiesSan Francisco Chronicle article

West Hills Community College trustee: 30 years of service — Jeff Levinson has served on the board of trustees for the West Hills Community College District for 30 years and was honored for his service by the California Community College Trustees at an annual conference recently in Palm Desert. Hanford Sentinel article


PG&E trial on San Bruno explosion delayed until June 14 – PG&E’s criminal trial linked to a fatal gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno will be delayed until mid-June after a fierce battle by the utility to postpone the case. East Bay Times article

Modesto Irrigation District says selling power lines will help it avoid power-rate spike – Selling power lines that bring electricity here from a coal-burning plant in New Mexico ought to keep Modesto Irrigation District’s electricity prices from spiking in a few years, MID officials say. Modesto Bee article

Seeds amid the scraps: Forward-thinking Stockton landfill growing fruits, veggies — It seems surprising at first: The largest landfill in San Joaquin County, where millions of tons of trash has been buried over the decades, that man-made mountain where useless stuff goes to die, has created something new and alive. Forward Landfill has started a garden. It’s not literally on top of the landfill southeast of Stockton, but on land immediately adjacent to it. Stockton Record article

California’s use of coal drops dramatically – to almost nothing – When it comes to dependence on coal, California is not exactly West Virginia. But it is still striking to see that the Golden State’s use of coal to generate electricity has dropped so dramatically — essentially going from small to almost microscopic. LA Times article

Sludge composting plant starts up — A plan 12 years in the making has finally arrived: A facility to compost Los Angeles county sewage sludge is up and running in Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

Hunter, environmental regulator appointed to California Fish and Game Commission — A longtime water regulator and a lifelong hunter have been appointed to a powerful state board that lists endangered species and sets hunting and fishing regulations enforced by California game wardens. Sacramento Bee article
Health/Human Services 

California’s Obamacare premiums may rise 8 percent this year – California’s health insurance exchange estimates that its Obamacare premiums may rise 8 percent on average next year, which would end two consecutive years of more modest 4 percent increases. KQED report

UCSF study: Smokers quit and health care costs drop – in next year — When smoking rates decline, health care spending declines, too, and fast. An analysis from researchers at UC San Francisco finds that if 10 percent of smokers nationwide quit, it would save a whopping $63 billion in national health care costs the next year. KQED report

Supervisors ban sugary, fatty snacks from San Francisco vending machines – City workers will have to forgo their afternoon fix of Snickers, Doritos and other yummy but not-so-healthy snacks if they rely on a vending machine on city-owned property. San Francisco Chronicle article

Zika’s coming, and there’s not enough money for another health emergency – Less than two years after the Ebola epidemic set off a scramble for money to contain that deadly virus, state and local health officials around the country are rushing to prepare for Zika outbreaks this spring and summer. But after years of declining funds, many are coming up short. LA Times article

Trilok Puniani: Think FAST: It might be a stroke – The chief of neurology at Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center writes, “Recognizing the sudden signs of a stroke can help get the necessary treatment you or someone you love needs. May is Stroke Awareness Month and a good time to remind everyone to remember this easy acronym FAST.” Puniani op-ed in Fresno Bee

Sacramento judge to rule on continuing life for brain-dead toddler — It’s been nearly a month since toddler Israel Stinson was declared brain dead at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Roseville, but the 2-year-old’s life remains in limbo. Sacramento Bee article

When do you give up on treating a child with cancer? — Andrew Levy’s parents knew that the rare and deadly cancer in his blood could not be beaten, so they began to prepare for the worst. Then something mysterious happened. New York Times Magazine article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno Councilman Steve Brandau says tenants create most ‘slum housing’ problems – Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau believes irresponsible tenants create the vast majority of the city’s problems with substandard housing. Fresno Bee article

Fresno code enforcement case files show examples of slum living – Excerpts from code enforcement case files offer a glimpse into the conditions many Fresnans have endured throughout the years. Fresno Bee article

Fresno community engagement organization to host tenant workshops – Lowell Community Development Corporation wants to know what people think about its new tenant education curriculum. The community engagement organization plans to start hosting workshops this summer about tenant rights and responsibilities. In preparation, it is seeking feedback during a public event Saturday morning. Tenants from all neighborhoods are welcome. Fresno Bee article


Hyperloop One succeeds at first of many much-hyped tests — Development of the nearly supersonic transportation system known as the hyperloop reached a new milestone Wednesday as entrepreneurs propelled a small sled about 100 yards at half its eventual targeted speed. LA Times article

Lack of funds found to stall key Bay Area transportation projects — Political gridlock in Sacramento and Washington threatens to stall planned improvements to the Bay Area’s crowded and congested transportation system, according to a study released Wednesday by a national transportation research group. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

How big is too big? Some theme park riders fear small seats and ‘the walk of shame’ — Universal’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has bedeviled many big and tall riders who discover at the last moment that their journey aboard the new attraction is indeed forbidden because they don’t fit in the “enchanted benches.” LA Times article

Merced Multicultural Arts Center hires new director — After a year without a paid top employee, the Merced Multicultural Arts Center has a new executive director, the Merced County Arts Council announced Wednesday. Colton Dennis, 42, started in the new role for the council on April 18. Merced Sun-Star article

Joe Mathews: California needs to improve its golf game — With fewer customers and higher water bills during the drought, California golf courses are struggling, with a few dozen closing. But replacing a golf course isn’t easy. Regulations and politics make it hard to turn courses into the housing and parks California communities so desperately need. Mathews in Sacramento Bee