May 16, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

California’s cap-and-trade program is key to Gov. Jerry Brown’s agenda – For Gov. Jerry Brown, fighting climate change is more than a central tenet of his political agenda. It’s also a key source of funding. California’s cap-and-trade program, in which permits to pollute are traded and fees are levied, has been a swelling source of revenue, helping to fuel major initiatives in the updated spending blueprint released by the governor this week. LA Times article 

Advocates push lawmakers to help social programs in budget — As California lawmakers begin drilling into Gov. Jerry Brown’s $115 billion budget proposal, Democrats and social welfare advocates say they see many areas that need even more funding to make up for deep cuts during the recession. AP article

Steve Westly gears up to run for governor — While Gavin Newsom – the only declared candidate for governor in 2018 – soaked up applause from young Democrats and a shout-out from Sugar Ray at a party in Anaheim late Friday night, Steve Westly met privately with activists and supporters in a hotel across town, laying groundwork for his likely campaign. Capitol Alert


State budget 

Lenny Mendonca and Peter Weber: Spend unexpected revenues in ways that will make money in lean times – Mendonca, co-chair of California Forward, and Weber, a member of the California Forward Leadership Council, write, “Here are four ideas for investing a portion of the windfall—the byproduct of California’s innovative private sector—into innovations in the public sector.”  Mendonca/Weber in Fox & Hounds

Prop 98 makes schools budget winner, but is it still fair? – With several billion dollars in new tax revenue flowing into the state treasury, a confluence of complex budget laws means schools will absorb virtually all of it. The scenario has dismayed advocates for health and social programs, and prompted questions of whether Proposition 98 remains fair to other budget interests. Sacramento Bee article 

Jerry Brown moves to modestly improve meager state arts budget — Gov. Jerry Brown has gone from an arts Scrooge in January to an arts Santa Claus of sorts in May. State tax coffers have filled faster than expected this year, and the governor’s annual “May revise” of the original spending plan he proposed in January would share a modest morsel of the wealth — $5 million — with the California Arts Council, the state’s arts grant-making agency. LA Times article 

Jerry Brown’s budget aims to end California personnel shell game — For decades, California state bureaucrats have played an illegal shell game to inflate their salary budgets and then use the money to cover other expenses. Now, following a Sacramento Bee investigation and subsequent state audit, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to abolish a toothless law often blamed for departments’ deceptive personnel practices. The governor has also proposed overhauling how the government budgets for its employees. Sacramento Bee article


Gov. Brown

Move over, Sutter: Jerry Brown gets new dog — Gov. Jerry Brown, who has used his Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sutter, to soften his image and advance his political agenda, announced Friday he has acquired another dog.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article


Valley politics

AD31: Arambula announces he’ll seek seat — Joaquin Arambula, an longtime emergency room doctor in Selma, but also scion of a politically active local family, this week officially announced that he would seek the 31st Assembly District seat. Fresno Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

In battle over Boxer’s Senate seat, Jerry Brown and Nancy Pelosi take no sides – On Friday night, party elders tried to steer clear of the clash between the two Democrats now tussling over Boxer’s job: state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and her newly announced rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County. LA Times article

Tom Steyer eyes new oil tax and gas-price transparency — Wealthy Bay Area environmentalist Tom Steyer, who for weeks has been lambasting oil companies about gasoline prices, said Friday he was exploring another potential cudgel against the industry: ballot measures to tax oil extraction and require more public disclosure on pricing and supply. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article 

Xavier Becerra prods media to probe Kamala Harris’ positions — Rep. Xavier Becerra, mulling a run for the U.S. Senate, urged the media to more aggressively question Attorney General Kamala Harris, the Democratic frontrunner in the race. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas

Linell Hoffman: We call ourselves ‘Redskins’ – The Chowchilla resident writes, “With all due respect to Native Indians, there was never a moment of time that we thought of our cherished Reddy Redskin as a racial slur. The community of Chowchilla, students of Chowchilla High, alumni, administrators, teachers, and staff treated the Redskin name with reverence. There is no way that anyone visiting our town could mistake the pride we display for Chowchilla Redskins as anything remotely derogatory.” Hoffman op-ed in Fresno Bee 

On trade, Democratic split puts Bera, Obama at odds with labor — Bera is one of only 13 Democrats in the House of Representatives who have pledged to support the president’s fast-track request. And he’s the only one of California’s 39 House Democrats to publicly side with Obama. McClatchy Newspapers article

Arlington ceremony honors Hmong for long-ago sacrifice — The old Green Beret stood as erect as age would allow and remembered his lethal times in Laos. Arrayed before 85-year-old John H. “Scotty” Crerar were Hmong veterans, come together from Fresno, Anchorage, Alaska, and Minneapolis, all the domestic places where a lost war had cast them. Crerar was their blood brother, one who helped train them and fought alongside them. Fresno Bee article


News Briefs

Top Stories 

Bright economic year predicted for Tulare County – Farmers, business operators and others in Tulare County are deeply worried about the Valley’s drought and how it may affect businesses and jobs this year and beyond, but Christopher Tornberg urged them not to worry so much. In fact, the economist told a crowd of mostly business people and local government employees who gathered Friday at the Visalia Convention Center that despite the drought, Tulare County’s economic outlook is looking good for the coming year. Visalia Times-Delta article

Best hope for California drought: El Nino pattern next year — This week’s wet storm isn’t expected to provide much, if any, relief from California’s historic drought. But there is hope for a serious drenching next year in the form of El Nino, a tropical weather pattern over the Pacific Ocean that typically brings rain to the West Coast. Climatologists say the system forming near the equator looks like a big one that has the potential to provide relief from the yearslong dry spell. Here are some things to know about El Nino.  AP article


Jobs and the Economy

Mayor Macedo describes Tulare’s state as stable – Mayor David Macedo summed up Tulare’s state as stable. In the annual State of the City address given Friday, Macedo also praised Tulare’s police and fire departments and other city workers, gave an update on recent infrastructure projects and hinted future projects might include a partnership between city administrators and residents. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Joaquin County home prices rise, but sales flat – San Joaquin County home prices are up, with the median sales price nearing $281,000 in April, but the number of monthly sales year-to-year is essentially flat, the California Association of Realtors reported Friday. Stockton Record article

LA’s minimum wage plan to advance without time-off mandate Los Angeles City Council members said Friday that they are stripping from landmark legislation to raise the minimum wage a controversial provision that could have forced businesses to give employees 12 paid days off each year. LA Times article 

San Bernardino offers plan to emerge from bankruptcy – The city of San Bernardino hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by making retirees cover more of their healthcare, contracting out firefighting and garbage services, and paying pension bond holders 1% of the $50 million it owes them. LA Times article

Foon Rhee: Millennials are being left out of economic recovery – As higher education becomes more important to career prospects, costs are rising and access is decreasing to public college and universities. And as California becomes ever more diverse, the report highlights that minority and gay millennials feel discriminated against in the job market. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

CalSTRS, others can cash out of gun investment — A month after protestors demanded that CalSTRS dump its investment in a firearms manufacturer tied to the mass shooting at a Connecticut school, it appears they will get their wish.  Sacramento Bee article; New York Times article

Salida district parcel owners asked to foot bill for staffing two stations – Residents and business owners of Salida, Wood Colony and Del Rio can learn about a proposed $156 per home annual fire assessment by attending a community meeting Saturday at the main Salida fire station, 4820 Salida Blvd. Modesto Bee article

Four-dollar gasoline returns to LA area — On Friday, the average for a gallon of regular in the Los Angeles area was higher than $4 for the first time since July, according to daily fuel price reports by AAA and The recent surge in regional fuel prices has left local drivers paying more on average than motorists anywhere else in the U.S. LA Times article



Town fights turning on long-installed water meters — Even in the Central Valley, where paying a dirt-cheap, flat rate for all the water you want, is often seen as a birthright, Morada stands out: San Joaquin County installed water meters here five years ago, but Moradans have managed to avoid using them by employing a questionable — some say outrageous — stalling tactic.  Contra Costa Times article

Stockton council to review water ordinance – The City Council will consider an urgent water-conservation ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting, legislation that would regulate everything from when you irrigate your lawn to how and when you wash your car. Stockton Record article

Nestlé plans big water savings at Modesto milk plant – Nestlé plans a new use for the water it extracts in making evaporated milk in Modesto. It will be reused in the plant, with no need anymore for the city supply. Modesto Bee article; Tim Brown op-ed in Modesto Bee

Lemoore to look at water rates – Facing decreased water revenue due to conservation, the Lemoore City Council will review its water rates Tuesday in preparation for a potential rate increase.  Hanford Sentinel article

Steve Brandau says his freeway billboard is more pro-dam than anti-high speed rail – The billboard’s message is loud and clear — thumbs up to new dams, thumbs down to the bullet train. Go to the website touted on the billboard, and it’s more of the same: “Governor Brown, we need Temperance Flat Dam. We don’t need a train.” Fresno Bee article 

San Francisco PUC reverses course, says recycled water can’t be used for Candlestick dust control – The contractor demolishing Candlestick Park can’t use recycled water in aerial spraying to hold down the project’s dust, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission said Friday. San Jose Mercury News article 

Betting on a drier future – On the 21-mile, back-road drive from Hanford to Ted Miller’s house, it doesn’t take long to figure out the nature of his water problem. Dusty green almond groves alternate with dairies, wheat and alfalfa. All of them are sucking groundwater out of the same aquifer as Miller. They’re doing it with bigger pumps that draw a lot more water. Hanford Sentinel article

Assemblyman James Gallagher/Aubrey Bettencourt: Fulfilling the promise of new water storage – Gallagher (R-Nicholas) and Bettencourt, executive director of the California Water Alliance, write, “New storage will do more than simply help farmers and urban residents. New storage means additional water to protect salmon and other fish as they migrate and spawn. New storage means, infrastructure projects, valuable jobs and a boost to the faltering California economy.” Gallagher/Bettencourt in Fox & Hounds

Dan Morain: Why almond orchards are sprouting in Solano County – In the week when Gov. Jerry Brown decreed that we who live in cities and suburbs cut water use by 25 percent, sprinklers soaked a newly planted almond orchard south of Interstate 80 between Davis and Dixon. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Overwhelmed water agency considers limits on law rebates – Overwhelmed with requests for turf replacement rebates, the Metropolitan Water District says it is temporarily out of money for its cash-for-grass program. And as Southern Californians rush to remove thirsty lawns amid the lingering drought, the agency says it is considering new limits on turf replacement rebates. LA Times article 

LA getting no Owens Valley runoff for first time since 1913 — For the first time since 1913 — when Department of Water and Power chief architect William Mulholland opened the waterway with the words, “There it is. Take it!” — the 233-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct has stopped carrying Owens Valley runoff to Los Angeles. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tracking and treating California’s paroled sex offenders – According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), there are about 6,000 sex offenders on parole in California. When it comes to public image, you’d have to place them near the very bottom of the totem pole. KQED report

Behind bars: A correctional officer’s story – Many children dream of becoming a police officer at some point? It’s a perfectly natural desire of many, yet only a few follow it through to adulthood. This is the story of one of those children. He became a correctional officer (CO) at California State Prison, Corcoran. To protect his identity, his name is not revealed. Hanford Sentinel article

Five Chukchansi tribal police agree to plea deals in casino takeover case – Five Chukchansi tribal police officers on Friday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge for their role in an October raid at the tribe’s Madera County casino.  Fresno Bee article

New Madera County sheriff position pays off with burglary bust – Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney is touting a newly created position of Problem Oriented Policing sergeant after the man who filled the post solved a burglary at a Bass Lake-area school.  Fresno Bee article

Group to urge no current, former sheriff’s employees on civilian panel – A committee set up to hammer out the details of a new civilian commission that will oversee the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrived at several key recommendations Friday on who should serve on the panel and how the body will get access to internal department records.  LA Times article

Ex-Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona leaves prison, moved to halfway house — Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona – who was sentenced to federal prison for witness tampering – was moved this week from a federal prison medical center in Kentucky to a halfway house in Los Angeles County. LA Times article



Rep. Jim Costa: Building on UC Merced’s success is good for the Valley – The Valley congressman (D-Fresno) writes, “As someone born and raised in our Valley, I am proud we have a university of the stature of UC Merced, and I am deeply encouraged by the opportunities it offers today’s deserving young people. I have no doubt many have parents who, as mine once did, dream of a better future for their children through education. Let’s place no limits on their – and our – success.” Costa op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

State educators hail budget boost but say schools still struggling — California educators hailed the $6-billion windfall in funding for elementary, secondary and community college students announced Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown — but cautioned that it would not make up for devastating cuts over the past several years. LA Times article

BC graduation: A walk to remember – Each faculty member and student who took center stage Friday at the Bakersfield College graduation ceremony shared a slightly different sentiment with the roughly 650 graduates ­attending. Bakersfield Californian article

Farm Beat: Ag-related degrees pay off quickly – Four-year college graduates in farming and related fields will find jobs ripe for the picking, according to a federal report issued this week. Modesto Bee article

UC Merced engineering students pitch their projects – About 50 teams of UC Merced students showed off their semester-long projects Friday during Innovate to Grow, an annual engineering expo. Merced Sun-Star article 

Best high schools for all types of kids rated by U.S. News — Le Grand High School in Merced County and Ceres’ Central Valley High in Stanislaus County were the top-ranked campuses in this area. Dos Palos High, Waterford High and Turlock High rounded out the top five. Modesto Bee article

California tells for-profit chain to stop enrolling veterans – A for-profit college company with 15 campuses in California was ordered by the state Friday to stop enrolling new or returning students who plan to fund their educations with GI Bill benefits. The order to ITT Educational Services came in a suspension notice issued by a division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs that sanctions training programs to serve veterans. AP article

Student earns first Tony Cantu President’s Medallion – In honor of Fresno City College’s late president, student Sukhvinder Kaur was awarded the inaugural Tony Cantú President’s Medallion at the Dean’s Medallion Recognition Ceremony on Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

Larry White: Teach your … teachers well? – Unfortunately, the code or training provided to prospective teachers all too often falls far short of the dream needed. If teachers cannot be properly trained for their profession, then the likelihood of them achieving success in the long term for themselves or their students is also significantly diminished. White column in Stockton Record

Stanford band in trouble again, banned from road games — Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the Stanford band is in trouble with university officials. The irreverent band, known for its free-form halftime shows that taunted football rivals, has been banned from traveling to road sporting events for a year, the university announced Friday.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Health/Human Services

Valley fever study highlights toll, barriers faced by families of pediatric patients – A UC Merced researcher is leading an unprecedented study of the impacts of Valley fever on pediatric patients and their families.  Merced Sun-Star article

Grant to expand KCAO child care program — Kings Community Action Organization will soon be able to serve more infants and toddlers with its Early Head Start Program.  The organization was awarded an Early Head Start Childcare Partnership grant that will provide $1.2 million per year for the next five years. KCAO will partner with the state Family Child Care Home Licensing program to provide quality child care to more Kings County residents. Hanford Sentinel article


Land Use/Housing 

San Joaquin County planners look at liquor regulations — The city is studying ways to strengthen its regulations on new and existing markets and liquor stores in what it says is an effort to make some of Stockton’s more troubled neighborhoods safer for residents. Stockton Record article



Carpenters labor leader named to high-speed rail board – Daniel Curtin, executive director of the California Conference of Carpenters, is the newest member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board of directors.  Fresno Bee article 

Valley counties take control of Amtrak trains from Caltrans — Representatives from 10 Valley and East Bay counties are taking over the management of Amtrak’s San Joaquin passenger trains from the California Department of Transportation. Fresno Bee article

Google’s adorable, pod-like driverless cars will hit public roads this summer —  but with ‘safety drivers’ on board — On the heels of an admission this week that 11 of its self-driving vehicles have been involved in “minor accidents” over the past six years, Google announced Friday that its latest version of a driverless car will be hitting public roads in California this summer. Washington Post article; LA Times article

What it’s like to ride in Google’s jittery new robot car — If you’re late to work and find Google’s new self-driving car in your path, take a deep breath before you flip the bird. Many people will love spotting the cherubic two-seaters when they begin roving through Mountain View neighborhoods this summer. They portend a bright future full of helpful robots. But the most impatient drivers caught behind these vehicles might find them a little smug.  San Jose Mercury News article


Other areas 

Merced Sun-Star: Judge right to step down from bench – The resignation of Superior Court Judge Marc Garcia was appropriate and necessary. Merced Sun-Star editorial

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson pushes past harassment claim – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson projected an air of normalcy on Friday, a day after it was revealed that a former aide to City Manager John Shirey had accused Johnson of sexually harassing her multiple times over a seven-month period in 2013 and 2014. Sacramento Bee article

Kern Literacy Council could snag $25,000 grant – if you vote — Bakersfield ranks among the least literate cities in the U.S. — dead last in at least one study — but residents can help efforts to remedy that. And all they have to do is log on to Facebook. Bakersfield Californian article 

Al Sandrini: Appreciative heroes visit their memorial and world cheers – The Bakersfield resident writes, “On behalf of Honor Flight Kern County, I want to thank them and all veterans for their service to our country, as well as the wonderful people of Kern County who have generously provided the financial support needed to continue this enterprise.” Sandrini op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Who will grab BSO baton? Decision promised soon — The fun for the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and its supporters was in meeting and auditioning six finalists for the job of music director over the course of the recently completed, audience-packed season. Now comes the work: Choosing the man or woman who will lead one of the city’s oldest and most revered arts organizations forward. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – The resignation of Superior Court Judge Marc Garcia was appropriate and necessary.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Stanislaus mayors need a graceful retreat plan on LAFCO dispute, Modesto’s help in Boys & Girls Club of Stanislaus County expansion is good for kids, and other issues.