May 17, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories

As California withers, federal water bill mired in secrecy — Five months into a new Congress, and deep into a lasting drought, California water legislation still stymies and splits the state’s lawmakers. Draft copies are tightly held, as if stamped Top Secret. Myriad details are in flux. The legislative timing, though a June 2 Senate hearing could yet happen, remains unsettled. Democrats are divided; some are distinctly unhappy. McClatchy Newspapers article

Vaccination protests at Democratic convention compare California to Nazi Germany — Spurred by the state Senate’s passage this week of a controversial bill that would require vaccinations for more California schoolchildren, dozens of protesters showed up outside the state Democratic Party’s convention Saturday to assail the party’s leaders in Sacramento.  LA Times article; Capitol Alert


Gov. Brown

Brown’s arid California, thanks partly to his father — The stark challenge that confronts this state is putting a spotlight on a father and son who, as much as any two people, define modern-day California. They are strikingly different symbols of different eras, with divergent styles and distinct views of government, growth and the nature of California itself. New York Times article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Harris, Sanchez dominate Anaheim gathering of California Democrats — The contours of California’s U.S. Senate race sharpened Saturday, with Kamala Harris trying to keep stride as the leading contender while upstart Loretta Sanchez sought to knock her off balance. LA Times article; KQED report 

Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez appears to disparage American Indians — Two days after entering the race for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Loretta Sanchez met with an Indian American group on Saturday and mimicked a racial stereotype of American Indians. Capitol Alert; LA Times article; AP article

Kamala Harris makes the case against inequality in Democratic convention speech — Addressing the state Democratic Party convention Saturday, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris laid out a sweeping case for an overhaul of federal policies that she said foster inequity. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Elizabeth Warren rouses California Democrats: ‘America is ready to stand with us’ — Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a tub-thumping speech to delegates at the California Democratic Party convention in Anaheim on Saturday, touching on the policy themes that have made her the increasingly popular champion of her party’s liberal wing and bestowing conspicuous praise on state Atty. Gen. and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris.  LA Times article

Gavin Newsom: Political ‘bridesmaid’ — Pity the lieutenant governor – always on stage, never the main event.  Sacramento Bee article 

Sugar Ray, Gavin Newsom party like it’s 1999 — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to upgrade his digs and become governor in 2019. But on Friday night at the state Democratic Party convention, the former San Francisco mayor partied like it was 1999, welcoming onto the stage the frosted-tipped band Sugar Ray.  Sacramento Bee article


Other areas

Campaign finance rules obscure review of Senate slugfest – They’ve sent the same kinds of glossy mailers and hired the same types of media buyers, consultants and precinct walkers-for-hire. But when it comes to California campaign-finance laws, the nearly two-dozen outside groups that have injected more than $9.3 million into the East Bay’s 7th Senate District special election are covered by much different rules. That makes it difficult for the public to keep track of the donations and spending behind it all.  Capitol Alert

Jessica Levinson: Campaign finance reformers should remain depressed – The professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, writes, “It is time to rain on the parade of anyone who is vigorously celebrating the latest U.S. Supreme Court campaign-finance decision.” Levinson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

John Kirlin: ‘Precision medicine’ should help inform vaccine policy – The founding editor of California Policy Choices writes, “Vaccination policies should be informed by science but cannot be made just by scientists or in a bureau’s regulatory processes until the emerging understanding of individual variations is more advanced.” Kirlin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Give Asia-Pacific trade deal a chance – Like it or not, globalization is here. The real question is how America can steer it in ways that boost our economy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a significant opportunity to do that. There’s every reason to see what the negotiations produce before a final verdict. Sacramento Bee editorial

No love for Obama trade deal at California Democrats’ protest — Union workers gathered for a demonstration on the second day of the California Democratic Convention harshly criticized President Obama, giving voice to the grassroots angst that has turned much of the president’s own party against him on a signature trade deal. LA Times article

California donors wait for a favorite to emerge from big GOP presidential field – The size of the field — well over a dozen likely candidates — coupled with the lack of a clear favorite mean many Republican donors in California share Dykema’s reluctance to commit. LA Times article

Mark Powell: Dreading Bush, Clinton? It could be worse — Three-hundred and forty-one. As of Friday afternoon, that’s how many people have filed papers to run for president in 2016, according to readily available, and humorously fascinating, public data from the Federal Election Commission. Powell column in Bakersfield Californian


News Briefs

Top Stories 

California water officials deliver sobering facts on depleted wells – As the drought persists and groundwater levels drop, thousands of Californians have been left without well water and some parts of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking. But with such a wide array of water concerns in the fourth year of drought, should Californians be alarmed about 1,900 dry wells? LA Times article 

Behind the barrel: A police perspective of officer-involved shootings – Four Modesto police officers who’ve had to make that split-second decision, including Police Chief Galen Carroll, described their experiences recently in interviews with The Modesto Bee. All of the cases were found by the District Attorney’s Office to be justified.  Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto’s legal payouts much higher than first reported – It cost Modesto a lot more to settle lawsuits and claims filed against it for such incidents as city trees smashing into homes and parked cars and police officers crashing into other vehicles. The city initially reported paying about $1.17 million in 2013 and 2014 to resolve lawsuits and claims. But city officials now say Modesto paid an additional $357,398 over those two years, bringing the total payouts to nearly $1.53 million. Modesto Bee article

City managers highly paid regardless of city size, raising questions — Our first-of-its-kind examination of managers’ pay and benefits, using data collected from 104 cities and towns in the greater Bay Area, indicates that compensation doesn’t depend on the factors you might imagine — such as the population of a city, the size of its workforce, or, seemingly, the challenges of running it. Instead, a scattershot pattern emerges across the region, with a manager’s pay, benefits and extra sweeteners determined as much from what they can negotiate from elected officials as from hard facts. San Jose Mercury News article

Merced County leaders to voice need for water and more in DC – Water advocates and political leaders from around Merced County are set to board a plane early Monday morning on their way to Washington, D.C., where they will lobby for funding for water, transportation and economic development back home. Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto Bee: Thanks to Chiesa, governor, end of ‘negative bailout’ near – We must fight through the temptation to do a victory dance and keep the high-fives on the down-low, at least for now.  Modesto Bee editorial

Annette Bernhardt: Low-wage jobs are California’s Achilles heel – The senior researcher at UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education writes, “It’s been six years since the end of the Great Recession, and California has shown solid gains in terms of employment growth and fiscal stability. It’s time to confront the Achilles heel of low-wage jobs and the short-sighted business models that create them.”  Bernhardt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Michael Fitzgerald: It’s wise to invest in the south side – Few leaders possess the wherewithal to devise the necessary range of strategies. Such problems as the southside presents are among government’s toughest challenges, after all. Yet the effort has begun. The Grand Jury’s report can be read as another sign of a shift in favor of it. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Raiders’ stadium deal is ‘gurgling blood’ — The deal to build the Raiders a new stadium in Oakland “is gurgling blood” — the only question being when it’s going to be declared dead, according to one Coliseum official close to the talks.  San Francisco Chronicle article

NFL owners’ agenda include Deflategate, LA situation — While much of the NFL world has been obsessed with deflated footballs, backers of competing Los Angeles-area stadium proposals are focused on moving the ball forward. LA Times article

Donald Blount: Amgen’s visit to Livable, Lovable Lodi a success — There was plenty to do, from watching the race on a video screen that was large enough to be comfortable at Stockton Ballpark, to buying food, drink or various products or listening to music. It was a signature moment for Livable, Lovable, Lodi. Blount column in Stockton Record

Sacramento Bee: Curb nail salon worker abuse — Mostly, abuse like this, in salons and elsewhere, cries out for stronger government oversight of employers and workplaces, which has weakened as globalization has grown. Sacramento Bee editorial



Way of life withers in California’s parched citrus belt — In this corner of the scorched Tulare Lake Basin, where lives and livelihoods depend on water that comes from the ground, a human crisis is accelerating amid California’s unrelenting drought. In northern Tulare County, drinking-water wells are running dry in Monson and other farmworker communities, unincorporated specks on the map called Cutler, Orosi, East Orosi, Sultana, Yettem and Seville.  Sacramento Bee article 

Lois Henry: We need a plan for next inevitable drought – I wrote last year about how the plights of several small towns and neighborhoods in Tulare County had revealed how terribly unprepared California is for one of our most regularly occurring disasters. Now it’s happening in Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno City Council to hear about river-water deliveries – Billions of gallons of water are coming to Fresno. The City Council on Thursday will figure out what to do with them. The item before the council is simple: Should Fresno buy nearly 3,000 acre feet of water from Millerton Lake?  Fresno Bee article

Drought cuts production power of California dams — A reduced supply from dams forces the grid operator to turn to more expensive sources of power, such as natural gas, which also enlarges the state’s carbon footprint. LA Times article 

Water conservation is agency’s primary goal – Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, sat down with The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board last week to talk about the drought and the state’s efforts to mandate water conservation. Sacramento Bee article

Orange County Water District eyes deal with planned desalination plant – Faced with the continuing drought, Orange County water officials are looking into the possibility of purchasing water from a proposed Huntington Beach ocean desalination plant. LA Times article

Southland saying goodbye to lawns — When Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 25% cut in urban water use, he declared war on the California lawn.  LA Times article 

Visions of grapes dancing in his head – In an industry revered for its history and tradition, a 25-year-old winemaker from Linden is committed to making a mark and adding variety to the business.  Stockton Record article 

Andrew Watkins: Tackling rural crime head-on – The president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau writes, “Be it copper thefts, stolen tractors or even newly planted walnut trees, crime plagues rural agricultural communities, and San Joaquin County is no exception.”  Watkins column in Stockton Record


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson talks family, sports, challenges facing law enforcement – The chief, 51, is an avid sports fan who enjoys simple pleasures like cooking and relaxing in the yard. He took some time to answer questions about growing up in Bakersfield and challenges facing today’s law enforcement community. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto police focus on theft targets, leave courtesy notices – “If I were a thief … you would now be a victim.” It’s a startling warning to find printed on yellow paper and tucked under the windshield wiper of your car, but it’s better than finding no car at all. The Modesto Police Department is behind the courtesy notices, an effort to combat vehicle burglaries and auto thefts along the Sisk Road corridor. Modesto Bee article

Should taxpayers foot the bill to send cops to out-of-state funerals — Sending officers to attend out-of-town funerals also is costly in time and money, and in more than half of the Bay Area police agencies queried by this newspaper, the taxpayer picked up all or some of the tab. Oakland Tribune article

Jessica Price: When cops are immune from law enforcement – The staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California writes, “When law enforcement is immune from enforcement of the law, then the presumption of fairness that our system of criminal justice is hinged on loses all credibility. A license plate should not be a license to commit criminal behavior. Our police ought to be out front in saying so.” Price op-ed in Sacramento Bee



Fresno State 104th commencement a celebration of diversity, dedication – Waving to his son from the stands of the Save Mart Center before the start of the 104th commencement ceremony at Fresno State, Richard Amstadter laughed and said, “I’m feeling really old. Proud and old.” Fresno Bee article

UC Merced holds 10th graduation ceremony – UC Merced began its 10th graduation ceremonies Saturday, when about 500 students crossed the stage to mark their educational accomplishments. The ceremony, which included natural sciences and engineering students, was just the beginning as about 600 social sciences and arts students are expected to do the same on Sunday. Merced Sun-Star article

Dan Walters: New school money kills old excuses — Obviously, there is more to the achievement equation than just money, yet the political debate in and around the Capitol always begins and ends with money. Here’s an idea: California should swallow its anti-Texas bias and spend some time figuring out why it succeeds where California lags.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Activists look to court to weaken grip of California teachers union — Thwarted at the Capitol – and on the ballot – a coalition of advocates working to overhaul the state’s low-ranking public schools increasingly have turned to the courts in search of more favorable outcomes. Current cases center on the effect of tenure and dismissal rules on students and the fees teachers pay to their unions.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno State alumnus receives President’s Medal of Distinction – Armando Rodriguez, a retired Fresno County Superior Court judge and Fresno State alumnus, received the President’s Medal of Distinction from Fresno State for his distinguished legal career and service to the community.  Fresno Bee article

Armen Bacon: Making a choice to #BeBold — Although I’ve yet to walk across the stage of Save Mart Center, I stroll quite regularly across the vast campus, eyeing with wonder a magnificent landscape of learning — where students from all walks of life converge with singular purpose and passion: to earn a world-class education and a shot at their dreams. Bacon column in Fresno Bee

Delta instructor sees essay published again – now in textbook – Some day, Rodrigo Villagomez might write another essay. His first — and only — one twice has been assayed as a persuasive teaching tool. Stockton Record article

Visalia boy stands up for his Native American culture — Alex Fierro of Visalia is only 10 years old, but he’s being hailed in the Native American community as a hero for speaking up about culturally offensive lyrics in a song taught at his school. Fresno Bee article 

Novelist funds scholarships for 11 Pacific students – Celebrated novelist James Patterson has helped fund new scholarships for 11 selected students at the University of the Pacific who are gearing up to become teachers. Stockton Record article 

Mira Monte principal fights back against district with second claim — Mira Monte High School principal Jaime Quinonez, the subject of a Kern High School District investigation, has filed two civil court claims against the district.  Bakersfield Californian article 

Carolina Miranda: Behind the impasse that led to USC’s 2016 MFA students to withdraw in protest — The graduate class of 2016 at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design withdrew in protest Friday from the visual arts program over administration and curriculum changes. Miranda in LA Times


Health/Human Services

Dignity, launching new medical residency program, takes on Valley physician shortage – Dignity Health and Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona are partnering to launch a new medical residency program in Bakersfield. Slated to begin next year, the program will start out with three family medicine residents and five internal medicine residents per year, each receiving three years of training. The goal is to expand it over time, as well as add additional residencies in pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology in 2017. Bakersfield Californian article 

PSA aims to increase valley fever awareness – More than 50 valley fever survivors and their friends and family members gathered Saturday at Jastro Park, just west of downtown Bakersfield, to reconnect and record a television commercial promoting the fourth annual Valley Fever Awareness Walk Aug. 8.  Bakersfield Californian article

HIV, hepatitis cases surge, but not support for needle exchanges – In contrast to a new willingness by state politicians to accept needle exchanges, Congress appears unlikely to overturn the moratorium even with drug problems hitting hard in states represented by those responsible for the spending bills that impose the ban. New York Times article

LA County slow to probe nursing home complaints, state statistics show – Statistics released this week on investigations of complaints of abuse, neglect and poor conditions at California nursing homes and other health facilities show Los Angeles County lagging behind other areas of the state. LA Times article

Unsung hero: Brookside High junior gives life to nonprofit — Soon after Brookside Christian High School Vice Principal Adam Lichter met Hunter Chambers, the then freshman mentioned wanting to “do something special — be someone special.” Chambers, who Lichter said follows through on what he says, is doing just that by his undeviating devotion to help others and his nonprofit, Signature for Life. Stockton Record article


Land Use/Housing

Chowchilla passes ordinance to deter ‘halfway houses’ — City Council put restrictions on group homes, or so-called “halfway houses,” in town last week with a unanimous vote, an effort to deter anyone looking to open one. Merced Sun-Star article



Salty water swamping some Bay Bridge rods — The steel rod that is now the focus of a $4 million investigation into potential saltwater infiltration and corrosion on the new Bay Bridge eastern span is among a cluster of rods that were swamped by as much as 5 feet of water over a recent two-week period, The Chronicle has learned.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas 

Mike Klocke: A win-win: mayoral pay, mayoral maturity – The pay cut seems punitive and targeted rather than strategic with long-term vision (i.e. future mayors). But if the panel wants to cut the mayor’s salary, then do so starting in 2016. That way all potential mayoral candidates can decide whether they want to run for the office. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Many questions remain in Delano boy’s death – A 13-year-old boy collapses during a P.E. class at a school in Delano. The 911 call is inexplicably routed to Canada. The call is then routed back to the Delano Police Department via its public phone line. Only then does it end up where it needs to go — to the Kern County Fire Department’s 911 dispatch center. Bakersfield Californian article 

Sarah Reyes: South Fresno needs more parks – now – The former member of the California Assembly writes, “Fresno’s own numbers show a blatant disparity of park space in south and north Fresno. According to Fresno’s own General Plan, south Fresno has a little more than 1 acre of park space for every 1,000 residents while north Fresno has nearly five times the amount of park space per thousand residents. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy those living in the north have green space, but shouldn’t everyone be allowed that great fortune? I say yes.”  Reyes op-ed in Fresno Bee

Jeff Jardine: Airport neighborhood champion moving on – To suggest Heather Sherburn has been the go-to person in the poverty-stricken airport neighborhood since taking over as the school’s principal seven years ago would be somewhat misleading. To the contrary, she’s been driving change for good in an area where gunfire and gangs still dominate, where homelessness is home for some, where poverty forces three and sometimes four generations of families to live in the same home, and where drugs remain a huge problem. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Virginia Cowenhoven: At TBC, we build upon our legacy, embrace change and value community – The associate publisher of The Californian writes, “At TBC, we endlessly work to be good stewards of our community. We know our people and the businesses and institutions that make this a unique place to live. As your media company, we want to build on these strengths and be a voice for you, while also allowing the community a forum for its own voice and opinions. TBC may be my family’s company, but it can only thrive if it continues to be a public platform and bulletin board for the community at large.”  Cowenhoven column in Bakersfield Californian

Promise Keepers Message: Men are problem … and solution — When 40-year-old Josh Barrett first stepped foot in a Butte County church four months ago after years of drug addiction and incarceration, he didn’t know his new path would lead him to Stockton.  Stockton Record article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Making those nails pretty often is hazardous work; Senate hard-liners are blocking NSA reform.

Modesto Bee – Thanks to Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, governor, the end of “negative bailout” is near.

Sacramento Bee – Curb nail salon worker abuse; Like it or not, globalization is here. The real question is how America can steer it in ways that boost our economy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a significant opportunity to do that.